by Lesli Blackman
DE = Director Extraordinaire
Teamster = Team Member
New D’s = New Director
Pop Tarts = Jr. Drill Team Members
What’s up-down-and-all around with the fabulous and entertaining world of dance teams this week?
T.V. Time: Did you see the recent installment of "Inside Edition" that talked about the "uproar" over suggestive moves in dance team competitions? Pretty funny and it just goes to show you the outrageous journalistic slant in the media today. The entire uproar was from a FEW parents who would like to eliminate "pelvic thrusts and midriff baring tops." Granted, even I have touched on the subject of age appropriate movement, but the seven year-olds the show kept mentioning sure looked high school age to me! What’s worse is the video they showed was of dance team members performing Fosse-style choreography that is considered to be a true classical jazz form. The level of choreography in competition has risen so much in the last ten years. Thank goodness we are not still marching around to "Yankee Doodle Dandy!"
Tryout Trauma: Tryouts are stressful enough for a Director, but lately I am hearing of more and more problems hiring experienced judges to audition team members at the yearly tryout. I am wondering if some qualified judges find the team tryout experience to be too tedious? Yes, at times it is, but as a Director there are a few things you can do: If numbers are not a problem and you have no limit, have the judges score each girl with a yes, no, or maybe. Maybe's will be girls you call back at the end to see again. If this seems too black and white, use a score of 1,2, or 3 in the various categories that you must see. 1 means "no" and 3 means "yes." The total each girl can make should be around 20, so limit it to six or seven categories MAX. Those girls with the highest scores (probably around 15) will make it. This can really make life easier for the judges and trim time off the tryout experience! And you are paying, right?
Self-Taught Dancers? I read this description as I flipped through one of the DT mags the other day and as an instructor, it really struck a sour note with me. How can one be self-taught in an art form that requires years of constant discipline, reinforcement and critique, and modeling. Sure there are many good videos (Oops! And many not so good) out there, but who is there to tell you when your alignment is off, your foot not extended, your arms too far behind you? How many of you have a mirror and can see yourself from behind even if you do? Maybe I am confused about what "self-taught" actually means??? Can someone enlighten me?
Convention Mention: The big DTDA convention was held in April in Austin. I wasn’t able to attend but have heard some gossip (Surprise, surprise!). Apparently, a big uproar occurred between two major camp companies over a choreographer both had hired to teach camps. Now with all the starving artist choreographers out there, why would any company need to fight over ONE? There is sooooo much talent out there, when will we all start using it? It occurs at contest season, too, when ten teams in the same area use the same choreographer and all the poms start looking just alike. Call me if you need some ideas, people!! Check the Choreographers category in the dcNET Spirit Mall. Try your local colleges. Look at the choreographers who work the convention circuits and area studio instructors - you’d be surprised who will be willing to help, if you’d only ask!
Final Sign-Off: I have enjoyed originating and bringing you THE SCOOP for the past year. Thanks to Leslie with an E for providing me a venue for my many opinions, complaints, questions, thoughts, or mere blabber. Thanks also to the many readers and friends, who provided their opinions, inspired and provoked thoughts, and allowed me to relay their stories. I hope we have learned something from this year’s SCOOP! My crystal ball reveals a new life in San Francisco, a new baby boy Blackman in August, and continued adventures, which will include DANCE in some capacity! Much love and remember to kick high, smile real, and standing O’s to all you!
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Lesli Blackman has had over 20 years of drill team experience, including directing, performing, choreographing, teaching, and judging. She directed her own teams for six years, taught camps for 10 years, judged national and international competitions for 10 years. Lesli taught jazz and ballet for studios and musical theater and dance in the public schools. Her performing experience includes high school drill team, University of Houston Cougar Dolls, Houston Oiler Cheerleaders, Six Flags, and community theater performances in musicals such as Guys and Dolls. She has choreographed and served as Dance Captain and Entertainment Supervisor for Six Flags Houston. Lesli currently serves as a Regional Representative for National Dance Week, is a Regional Director for United Performing Association, an instructor for American Dance Drill Team School (ADTS), outside sales of dancewear for a leading dancewear manufacturer, as well as persuing her MFA in Theater and Dance.
DanceCheer.NET would like to thank Lesli for her awesome SCOOP column. We wish you the best of luck with your move, your new baby, and your search for fulfillment in the dance world of California...you'll be dearly missed. Who knows? Maybe you'll get involved in dance/drill again and come back to write for us. Or maybe dcNET visitors will step forward and email you with enough info to keep you going. Here's hoping...
With all our love,
Leslie Goettsch & the DanceCheer.NET community
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