Taking some time off

Nataly and I have both been busy. She's been putting in more hours at the clothing store, and school has more or less consumed most of my time. When we do have some down time, we don't dance together or work on choreo; we binge-watch shows on Netflix instead.

One night Nat said, "I haven't been to dance practice in forever." She told me she was feeling  bad about not going.

 Nataly, far right, performing. Photo by  Mac Dimanlig .

Nataly, far right, performing. Photo by Mac Dimanlig.

PNL usually holds practice Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons, and lately Nat has been working most weekends. On the days that she had off, she chose not to go to dance.

"Do you still like dancing?" I asked her.  Her answer was duh. 

 

It reminded me of conversation she and I had when we talked about me. I worried about school and graduation and wondered if I really was a writer. Nat had asked me, "Well, do you still like writing?" and the answer was something along the lines of duh. "Then okay, you can be a writer." she said.

There's a narrative that if you pursue your dreams, you have to take on all of the hardships that come along. Those hardships might be little things, like going to dance practice on a weekend in the winter, but you still have to accept them and roll with the punches.

I read a few blogs about taking time off from writing and decided to look up "taking time off from dance." I showed it to my sister. She felt better when she read that it was okay to take a break from something she loved so much.

Life isn't linear and clear, and neither are the paths that we carve out for ourselves. We change. We get bored, excited, and distracted by the things in our lives and our interests ebb and flow.

Nataly is a dancer even when she isn't dancing, and she'll be alright as long as she knows that.


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Stephanie Dor

Stephanie Dor is a student, barista, and athlete. She divides her time between homework, serving coffee at Bridgehead, and going on long-distance runs. One of her goals is to publish a novel, but in the meantime she is content with hanging with family and cuddling with her dog.

Blogs and sites I follow: Culture Shock Canada | The Dancer Lifestyle | Ladies of Hip Hop

Something That Moves You

When Nat and I first watched the music video for Sia’s song "Chandelier," we were blown away by both the music and Maddie Ziegler’s dancing. In the video, she’s bouncing off of the walls and rolling around on the floor to Sia’s distraught lyrics. “Is she just moving and kicking randomly?” I asked about Maddie’s moves. That's how it looked to me.

Nataly was surprised by my question. “Are you serious? The moves aren’t random at all,” she said. “The movement is supposed to look crazy because it fits with the song, and the choreography wanted the dance to look and feel a certain way.”

She and I have been trying to choreograph a routine for two weeks. I wanted to see first-hand how choreography works. I knew Nat had created dances for her high-school dance team before, and I wanted to be a part of the creative process.

“First we have to pick song,” she said. “And it can’t be any song. We have to be able to dance to it. It’s got to have the right hits so we can put moves to the beats.” I pretended to understand what she was saying. I knew our main genre was hip-hop, so I decided to rattle off some famous artists.

“What about something by Drake?” I suggested. She shot me down.

“God no. I’ve danced to so much Drake. And I’ve danced to Beyonce too many times.”

According to my sister, we needed new material. We listened to some R&B songs and whenever we came to one we liked, there was always the same issue.

“Do you think the swear words are a problem?” I asked reluctantly. We listened to the “clean” versions of the songs, but they sounded so weak.

We decided on a song and started thinking about the moves. I had no experience in putting together dance moves (obviously) and initially left everything up to Nat. I sat back and watched her develop the beginning of a routine. She stepped and turned and dropped to the bass, and I just sat in wonder. She listened to the song once through. She played the chorus a couple of times.

“How do you remember it all?” I asked.

“Well, I’m not just moving randomly,” she said. "I'm planning."

I’ve been helping with the routine by suggesting moves and letting Nat know if the moves she suggests are doable. I’ve also been watching several how-to videos on choreography. Here’s one that I thought was pretty good:


Stephanie Dor

Stephanie Dor is a student, barista, and athlete. She divides her time between homework, serving coffee at Bridgehead, and going on long-distance runs. One of her goals is to publish a novel, but in the meantime she is content with hanging with family and cuddling with her dog.

Blogs and sites I follow: Culture Shock Canada | The Dancer Lifestyle | Ladies of Hip Hop

Dance on, Sister

When my sister dances, she becomes a different person. She transforms from a shy, nerdy One Direction fangirl to a fierce and passionate young woman. When she teaches me steps, she becomes assertive and in control of the situation. It's exciting to watch her take the leadership role, which is usually mine.

I asked Nataly what she thought about teaching me dance, and her response surprised me.“It’s weird being better than you at something,” she said.

“This isn’t about me at all,” I told her. “I want you to be the best dancer. Better than me, better than everyone.”

I asked if she liked dancing in a group, or if she'd rather dance alone. "I like being a part of a crew," she said. " If you're dancing by yourself and you mess up, it's a big deal. But in a group, mistakes are hardly noticed. It's about the bigger picture."

“And why hip hop?” I asked.

“It’s the first type of dance I ever learned. But eventually I want to learn lyrical and contemporary.”

 Nataly (centre) dancing with PNL. Photo by  Mac Dimanlig .

Nataly (centre) dancing with PNL. Photo by Mac Dimanlig.

The way she dances is completely different from how I dance; I’m just memorizing steps and recalling movements. But Nat, she’s feeling. She's feeling the music and listening as she moves. More importantly, she’s having fun. Even when she messes up, she laughs and moves right on through.

It's not always easy for her, however. There was a recent Pulse N' Limited performance that, according to Nat, didn’t go so well. She bumped into another dancer on stage and forgot a few moves. “As soon as I walked out on the stage, I was nervous. I couldn’t even remember the first steps.” After the performance she went straight home and sulked for a few hours. “Whatever, I’m over it,” she says, “It was just a bad day, I guess.”

But she’s moved on. She always does. She learns new dances, gets excited about new songs and mixes. Nat even goes back to her high school to help teach dance class. Dancing is a big part of her life (probably bigger than One Direction) and I know she’ll go far with it. I can see the spark in her movements when we practise together.


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Stephanie Dor

Stephanie Dor is a student, barista, and athlete. She divides her time between homework, serving coffee at Bridgehead, and going on long-distance runs. One of her goals is to publish a novel, but in the meantime she is content with hanging with family and cuddling with her dog.

Blogs and sites I follow: Culture Shock Canada | The Dancer Lifestyle | Ladies of Hip Hop

"And 5, 6, 7, 8!"

 Albert, Jon, and Linh (from the left) are the founders and directors of PNL. Yes, they're as cool as they look.

Albert, Jon, and Linh (from the left) are the founders and directors of PNL. Yes, they're as cool as they look.

I can’t dance. My sister Nataly is a member of Ottawa’s Pulse N’ Limited (PNL) Urban Dance Crew. She’s an amazing dancer and watching her is such an experience for me, but I know it doesn’t compare to actually being there on the floor. I thought dancing was going to be easy. I regularly kickbox and have a rigid exercise regimen. To me, dancing was just working out to music. Newsflash: It’s a whole lot more.

Last week I had my first dance practice with PNL. No, that's a lie: I sat out for the entire practice because I was intimidated by the crew and the complicated routine. I sat out and recorded their choreography. Nataly and I practised the moves over and over at home. Even though I didn’t feel the pressure of dancing in front of the crew directors and members, it was still hard.

I got frustrated. I kept messing up moves, confusing the steps... I CAN’T BODY ROLL. Bottom line: I don’t like not being good at things. During one of our practices, my sister and I got into a little fight.

Me: I’m giving up! I hate that I’m not good at this.  

Her: You’ve never danced a day in your life, Stephanie. You’re not going to be good at this after two days!

She had a point. I found that I was comparing myself to the other dancers, especially to my sister, and it was making me anxious. It was taking the fun out of dancing. I wasn’t listening to the music, focusing too much on the steps of the routine, and not having any fun.

I have to change my mindset if I’m going to commit to this. I know I’m not actually going to join PNL, I’m doing this because I want to share an experience with my sister. I want to have fun. Practice is tomorrow, and I promise to do the moves with everyone else.

Check out the routine! Only the directors knew it beforehand. Everyone else learned from scratch, and they all look pretty good! (Can you imagine why I was intimidated?)


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Stephanie Dor

Stephanie Dor is a student, barista, and athlete. She divides her time between homework, serving coffee at Bridgehead, and going on long-distance runs. One of her goals is to publish a novel, but in the meantime she is content with hanging with family and cuddling with her dog.

Blogs and sites I follow: Culture Shock Canada | The Dancer Lifestyle | Ladies of Hip Hop