Teaching Dance Online

We all were skeptical when we first heard of University of Phoenix... you know, the one that is everywhere and nowhere because you get the entire degree online. I mean, how enriched could your learning be if it's all from a computer and without actual live interaction between an instructor and a student??

How I feel about University of Phoenix is how I feel about something I just watched on YouTube. Here it is... someone teaching dance choreography for Ciara's "1, 2 Step" music video:

Now, my initial concern with this video is the fact that the person teaching the choreography and breaking it down step-by-step and putting it online is NOT the choreographer. Despite my research efforts, I've been unable to identify the actual choreographer- as I would love to know what he/she has to say about their work being put up on YouTube and having someone else reap the benefits without acknowledging the choreographer's work.

Getting beyond that point, how effective is this so called "teaching" of choreography? And is it good or bad for the dance industry?

For one thing, it's free... that's great for expanding the amount of people who even have access to dance education. Also, people can learn this at their own pace and practice it and from it even create their own style or explore more with dance as an art form. On the other hand, this is stealing. And it's taking dance education to a level of simple memorization and regurgitation of steps, as if that's enough. The teacher/student interaction is just as important in dance as other kinds of education, if not more important, because the content matter is physical movement.

Another issue this brings up, copyrights. So, from further research I learn that Corey Vidal, the guy in this video, is actually a YouTube partner who is PAID to show these videos because he is creating original content. Here is Corey's official website. He gets PAID when someone watches his video because there are advertisements running along side of it. *** AHEM... Does the actual choreographer get ANY of this revenue?!?!!? I think not!!!*** How is this liable? How is it not illegal? Anyways... not sure.

On a related note, there is a different site that I heard about from the choreographer I assist, Christina Woodard, who is involved with a project that puts Across the Floor progressions, as well as center combinations, and even choreography for competition routines online for a fee that people can buy so that studios can essentially outsource the creative content they teach to their kids.

This is an interesting concept... I'm not so sure how it will work, as I see part of the reasoning for spending a lot of money on hiring an outside choreographer is because they are "famous" or "known" in the dance world and the kids get really, super duper excited having their favorite choreographer actually team them at their home studio. Regardless, here is a the website, along with a screen shot- the site is called OnlineDanceAcademy.com

Anyways, that's all for now folks. :-) Go check those sites out on your own and comment back on what you think the effect of this online dance teaching/education/choreography means for the industry. Ciao!



So, after extensive research about TenduTV ... There's not much to report back. But I did find a couple articles and found an email address for inquiries about TenduTV so hopefully I'll know more about it soon. I'll tell you what I found out and then offer my opinion of the possible profitability and value of this company, TenduTV Inc.

TenduTV appears to be working hard to put up a fully functional offering of their product by the summer. For now the following info is all they have on their site"TenduTV is proud to present the best of Dance performance, available for the first time on demand.  From the established masters of today to the emerging choreographers of the future, the global dance audience finally has a place to go, without having to go anywhere. TenduTV is theater in your home. Coming this summer, to a stage, monitor or television near you."

... Yes, PLEASE! Finally! How amazing would it be to have access to real Dance performance in the comfort of your bed at home before you doze off to sleep, during your lunch break at work, at the studio preparing for a job... you get the drift.

Anyways, strangely (or not so strangely, considering how Facebook is taking over the Internet in general), TenduTV's Facebook page has more information about their goals for a summer release of their service than their company website. Here's what's up:
  • Specifically, their mission is: "To provide the opportunity for dance companies to benefit from new revenue streams while growing the global dance audience."
  • Also... "TenduTV will be the leading provider of high quality dance performance video on the internet. TenduTV will be launcing as a channel on leading video portals in the Summer of 2008."
  • Finally... "Are you a choreographer wanting to show your work on TenduTV? Send an email to inquiries@tendu.tv with your contact information, and a content associate will get back to you."
In addition to this info, the TenduTV Facebook page has a note attached that introduces some new TenduTV advisory board members who: "Provide industry-specific expertise related to the varied issues faced by TenduTV and its content partners." Here's a summary of the new
 contributors' backgrounds:
  • Jay Franke: Lar Lubitrov Dance Company member since 2005, Chicago Dancing Festival co-founder. Danced with Twyla Tharp, Lyric Opera Ballet Chicago and Hubbard St Dance.
  • Jason McDole: Conservatory of Perorming Arts at Point Park College and the New Jersey Dance Theater Ensemble faculty member. Alumnus of Twyla Tharp, David Parsons, Lar Lubovitch, and Battleworks dance companies.
  • Andrea Weber: Merce Cunningham Dance Company member and AGMA delegate since 2004.

Seeing these bios made me curious as to the nature of this site because it seems very east coast based and appears that people involved largely have a background of modern and ballet. Being based out of LA I'm naturally wondering how they plan to incorporate the LA dance world (and international world if their goal is to 'grow a global audience.'" The founders may think that focusing only on dance companies they view as legitimate or professional is smart... I beg to differ. The beauty of the Internet is in the long tail of space available to reach an audience that is simultaneously mass and niche. All the videos posted could be sorted by:
  • Dance style: (ballet? modern? tap? jazz? hip hop? contemporary? swing?)
  • City/country/region: (Broadway? LA? Spain? China?)
  • Intended distribution channel/venue: (live theater? music video? cinema? TV?)

If TenduTV isn't exploring options for expansion beyond modern, ballet, and the east coast they should definitely reconsider. Choreographers want the opportunity to distribute their work and doing so is only an opportunity to make more money and draw more eyeballs to the site.

**TenduTV was founded only a month ago and is funded by Sumaki LLC. They are currently planning on launching a branded channel on leading video portals in summer 08.


Dance and choreography with technology!

I actually thought that I was bored of this topic and had nothing else I cared to write about. I thought that dance reality TV was shamefully oversaturating and cheapening the dance market. I thought that dance agencies hadn't changed since last time I wrote about them. I thought I didn't need to talk yet again about how exciting the prospect of 3D live action movies are for the dance industry. I thought I talked enough about dance content on the internet with the rise of YouTube an my mentioning a couple social networking sites.

I thought wrong.

After darting around on the internet for the past coup
le hours (and finding some very interesting dance articles, blogs, and other content...), I FINALLY found something that encouraged me into thinking that at least a certain part of the dance world is utilizing available technology.

It's called DanceForms 1.0 and it's a computer software program that allows choreographers to use software animation to choreograph, review, teach, and store their creative process. I stumbled upon it after googling "motion capture dance," which referred me to Merce Cunningham Dance Company's website (Merce is a very impressive, well-known choreographer, so once I saw that Merce uses the software I was interested)...
Take a look at the animation company's website: Credo Interactive Inc. and their site further explaining the product: DanceForms. Here is a quick screen shot to give you a glimpse of what the software is like:

This really sparked my interest. Before stumbling upon this program I was considering blogging about motion capture technology and my experience in a motion capture lab at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering with world renowned choreographer, Mark Morris, but dreaded the dullness of that topic. The reason I thought motion capture was dull was because my experience with motion capture was for use of performance enhancement where my motion capture dancing was shown during a solo performance of mine last spring at a USC School of Theater show. I felt it took away from my dancing instead of adding to it.

Anyways... Seeing this software, DanceForms, I'm really impressed with how Credo Interactives Inc. has used motion capture and applied it to teaching, recording, and suggesting choreographic movement. I'd really like to order it-- ooo, 20 day trial! Yes. :-) Then if I like it maybe I can somehow work it into my "books" budget for next semester.... hmmmm...

So here are a few other sites I discovered that may be of interest or relevant:
-TenduTV= New dance video online distribution site launching summer '08 (like YouTube, but just for dancers)... they also have a Facebook "fan" page for their updates.
-The (inter)Mission and Movmnt.net= Two social networking sites geared for dancers. The (inter)Mission was created by a New York City ballet dancer, Kristin Sloan, and is more East coast/ballet/musical theater, whereas Movmnt is a social networking site that was co-created by publisher David Benaym and Danny Tidwell, a So You Think You Can Dance finalist who sides more with LA and popular culture.
-The Winger, which is the parent website of The (inter)Mission and is a "community oriented dance website that shows the lives, insights, and personalities of professionals, students, experts, and pioneers in the dance world."
-Dance Blogathon! :in case you're interested :-)

Next time I'll research some more and expand on TenduTV... Do you think this could be cool? Will anyone go there instead of YouTube? Will this be used more as an added revenue stream or as a distribution channel?


Dance. Pure and simple.

For all that I preach about how the dance industry should use technology to the best of its advantage in order to make more money and become more relevant to mainstream culture, it's important to take a step back and remember what's so amazing about dance: LIVE dance- in person, in a theater.

I performed in a dance show this weekend at the Stella Adler Theater on Hollywood Boulevard. I've been rehearsing for the show for a couple months now and it's crazy that it's finally over. We performed on the Irene Gilbert Stage at the Stella Adler Theater. It's a very intimate setting with four rows of comfy old time movie theater style seats. It holds about 85 people when you add an additional row of folding chairs in the back, which we did because we were sold out over capacity every night (woohoo!!!).

There's nothing like live theater. Especially with a dance concert that is so intimate where audience members even in the back row can see sweat dripping from the performer's faces, as well as if they have a bruise on their right knee.

The thing about an intimate live dance concert is that it's SO real. SO human. This is what makes me think back on all my posts I've written about digital dance concerts distributed in cineams, or amazing performances on YouTube, and the like. F the digital world.

....... Then again:
-The "SHE Dance Company" MySpace profile page
-The Facebook event invitations
-The countless emails and  text messages to schedule rehearsals
-The video recording of every dance to review and improve dances between each performance
-The photographer who took digital photos of "SHE Dance Company" for future digital promotion
-Apple computer's music editor, GarageBand, that enabled quick music editing and mixing
-The online database system used for hiring dancers to perform in the show

Wow- guess we did use a lot of digital technology. Maybe that's part of the reason we sold out? At the bare minimum the online social networking event pages (MySpace, Facebook) proved successful. :-)

And if you're interested... Here's the SHE Dance Company (very minimal) MySpace page. And our flier: 

And as soon as some video footage from our show is available I'll post it up!


Choreographer's Carnival, Opportunities for New Media

This past Wednesday, as an intern at a dance talent agency, I was lucky enough to be able to go VIP to Hollywood's monthly Choreographer's Carnival that's held on Sunset Boulevard at the Key Club. This post will describe the amazing experience of Carnival and how technology could be further utilized to promote it.

Going to Carnival is a great learning experience for me, featuring new work by professional dance choreographers, producers, directors, and dancers. As a prospective business person or creative production force of the dance industry, steady exposure to Carnival is invaluable.

Here's a little about Carnival from their website just to introduce you to it if you've never heard of it: "Carnival started eight and a half years ago to give working choreographers and dancers a venue where they can have free artistic expression without the constraints of an artist, a director, or a script. Carnival is an event where it features not only choreographers from the film and video industries, but from all over the world: -Paris, Japan, New York, Las Vegas, Texas, Florida, and many more... Where else can you see a show that highlights not only hip hop but ballet, funk, lyrical, tap, modern, performance art, and spoken word? Only at the Carnival, whre you get more dance for your dollar."

Here are a couple performances from last week's Carnival:

I appreciate many things about Carnival and what it does for the dance industry:
  1. Increases exposure of dancers and choreographer's work to a more popular, mainstream audience
  2. Provides a place for the dance community to meet and thrive
  3. Allows professionals in the dance industry to see new and promising talent
  4. Offers a welcoming, free space for artists in the dance world to showcase their work
  5. Puts on a legit dance show monthly in the heart of Hollywood

On the flip side, there are some issues Carnival creates that doesn't support a thriving industry:
  1. Dancers and choreographers aren't paid for their work (The Key Club must be making outrageous profits)
  2. Time and effort spent to present this work unpaid detracts from valued professionalism, open scheduling, and quality of paid, industry jobs
  3. It seems about 90% of the view of the stage are obstructed, which detracts from viewers' experience
  4. Past Carnival performances are never revisited for monetization purposes

Carnival could:
  1. Create a better website with online purchasing options where one could download a high quality video of a particular performance for an affordable rate. This would decrease the amount of piracy and free downloading of Carnival performances on YouTube
  2. Collect tips for dancers on site and distribute funds accordingly (although the reason The Key Club is avoiding this is probably so that people spend all their money on drinks at the club)
  3. Build a social networking site where scheduling and communication is mainstream and made available to all the necessary people. This could even extend to a dancer's agency where they could align schedules and check for availability of a particular client based on Carnival.
  4. Create a yearly DVD of "The Best of Carnival" with different editions for different cities. All could be sold together as a box set. It could even be offered through Netflix or as On Demand on Digital Cable
  5. Make that DVD release in 3D theaters around the country for wider distribution
  6. Revolutionize the dance industry by somehow making the show a 3D live event in theaters on a monthly basis. It would become the national event of the tightly knit and ever-growing dance community

All in all, Carnival is offering a great service to many dancers and choreographers. It's increasing publicity and legitimacy for an industry that hardly gets the credit it deserves. However, it could do so much more to maximize the influx of cash from producing and performing a monthly show. By taking advantage of the long tail on the internet, as well as new media like 3D live action films, Carnival could propel the dance industry into a full fledged, well paying entertainment industry instead of a group of struggling, undervalued artists.


Dance in Movie Theaters

To extend my last post about the upcoming film, Step Up 3-D, I'm going to share some of my ideas on how dance can be further integrated into theaters and other mainstream culture.

Simply speaking, the majority of the population no longer goes to live shows, theaters, and concerts-- unless they're in NYC and want to see Wicked on Broadway. Imagine if actor's performances were limited to stage concerts. Their revenues would be a marginal compared to the amount of money they are able to pull down by being distributed in thousands of theaters in the United States, as well as all over the world.

Before you dismiss me for a dancer who's delusional about the ability for a non-film to be competitive with cinematic distribution, let's look at some examples of how the music industry has used 3D live action film technology to expand their distribution and profits. There are two music concerts in particular from this year that have impressed audiences around the world and gained great profits for the struggling music industry: 1. U2 3D, which has made more than $6.5 million in the US box office so far, and 2. Hannah Montana/Miley Cirus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour that has already grossed over $64 million in the US since its release in early February!!!

Here's a YouTube video of the U2 3D concert so that you can see for yourself what's appealing about presenting various performance arts in these new 3D live action theaters:

And here's a posting from a U2 fan on YouTube about his experience:
"Basically put it like this, you would think the band was beside you, at one point Bono reaches out his hand to the camera and it looks like you're in front of him and at the start of the film the camerica cut the crowd and a fan jumped, I was about the tell the person in front of me to sit down, that's how realistic it is, hope you can get to see it, as I said to my mates, it's the closest you'll get to being on stage with the Greatest Band Ever..." 

And just for you Hannah Montana fans... (I know you're out there)... here's a clip from her concert:

I think dance concerts should have a special place in cinemas... Some may argue that dance is not as mainstream or popular as music in terms of being able to pull in a large profit throughout the United States. This may be true for now, simply because the dance industry has failed to revolutionize and adapt to remain relevant with the prospect of new media.

I would also urge those who think a properly marketed dance show wouldn't be profitable in 3D live action theaters to remember a few recent dance related movies and their resonance in the cinema industry as proven by their respective box office revenues:
-Step Up: $65,269,010 in the US

And as if that weren't enough, think about all the successful TV shows that showcase different types of dance: ABC's Dancing With The Stars, MTV's Americas Best Dance Crew, of one of the summer season's highest rated shows, FOX's So You Think You Can Dance, which doesn't even rely on celebrities from other industries to bolster audience viewership. Here's a clip from SYTYCD:

It's clear that dance is growing and creeping into the mainstream entertainment industry. It's time dance concerts come to 3D live action movie theaters. This will a create an experience that's over all:
         1. cheaper than a concert
         2. presented up close and personal
         3. more convenient for all people around the US


Step Up, Step Up 2 The Streets... now Step Up 3-D?

This post is going to focus on Disney's dance feature film franchise, Step Up, and how Disney is going to utilize new technology to draw a crowd for the final installation of the trilogy, which is now being called Step Up 3-D. First I'm going to talk about the original Step Up, then Step Up 2 The Streets, which came out about a month ago, and finally I will talk about the upcoming Step Up 3-D.

Variety has announced and it has become apparent in the dance world that the dance film series Step Up is planning a final installment of the trilogy after an impressive opening weekend for the second movie in the series, Step Up 2 the Streets. The movie made nearly $19 million at the box office opening weekend alone, which is great considering the film's budget was $20 million. As of today, the total domestic gross at the box office is nearly $50 million!

Step Up was very good from a dancer's perspective. Okay, it was not an amazing film. I wouldn't consider it equal to a comparable dance movie, Stomp the Yard that had all the components of a great film, such as dramatic characters, a compelling plot, a deeper theoretical concept, AND uberly amazing choreography and dancing. Regardless... Step Up held its own in the box office and offered something valuable to consumers: great choreography and dancing (especially in the movie's closing performance, attractive actors, and an acceptable story/plot/character development, etc. Here's a YouTube clip of the end sequence if you'd like to see what I mean:

This movie, the first Step Up, had to be good because it was an original screenplay and a fresh story coming the the market. Accordingly, the film had a great team of directors, producers, and a big name actor with lead Channing Tatum. On the other hand, Step Up 2 the Streets could ride the wave of a successful prequel. This resulting in the movie being a bit of a disaster in every sense BUT the box office figures... and that's coming from a dancer who endlessly roots for any film promoting dance and employing choreographers and dancers. This sequel didn't indulge by any means. Disney opted for a cheaper directing team, production process, and non-famous talent. Step Up 2  was basically an unoriginal cookie-cutter sequel to make money. The dancing in the movie didn't even look impressive because the less expensive director didn't seem to have prior knowledge about filming dance... For example, one sequence featured various jumps that should look very impressive, however, the director shot the scene from above the dancer instead of from below them, which made the jump look low and anticlimactic.

Granted, studios (Disney in this case) need to make this type of financially stabling movie to make up for other losses. I understand the necessity to create a sequel... However I'm hesitant to promote the creation of such an uncreative/disappointing sequel because it can oversaturate the market and cheapen the future of dance movies in general.


Thankfully, Step Up 3-D has a new twist. It will be shot with live-action 3D cameras... you know, the ones where you get to wear those dorky red and blue lense goggle glasses? The movie will debut in IMAX-like movie theaters with 3D technology enabled. This should bring great promise and profits to Disney, so long as the lack-luster Step Up 2 The Streets doesn't too negatively affect the Step Up brand name.

The fact that 3D live action has already proven to be very profitable. This new technology is a great advancement in cinema, especially in a digital age where many movie goers are now opting to stay in and rent new releases from Netflix or ON Demand versus making the trek to the movie theaters. This new technology is pulling people back into the cinemas for huge opening weekends. Take a look at projects that are planned to release or re-release in 3D between now and 2011 and beyond: List of 3D Movies.

If normal feature films are impressive in 3D, just imagine how great the dance sequences of Step Up 3-D will be... or how impressive they SHOULD be. I'm excited just thinking about how the choreographer is going to utilize this new technology. The director, who as of now will be Jon Chu, the same director as Step Up 2 The Streets, better know what he's doing. This technological advancement could prove to be a huge opportunity for the dance world... If the film is impressive it could become a way to distribute other types of dance concert and theater besides feature films to a mass audience.

My next post will discuss the success of 3D music concerts, in particular those of U2 and Hannah Montana, and how the dance industry can similarly use this new 3D technology to expand the distribution of their performance art to millions around the US.

Want a different perspective on this topic? Check out a blog I stumbled upon from someone without the bias of a dance background: The Movie Blog