10th Way to Redefine Yourself: Hip Hop with Gary at Joy of Motion/Friendship Heights

Hip Hop with Gary Beauford

Liz, Gary and Cecile. Thanks for taking the pic, Karen!

Last night, I was at Joy of Motion/Friendship Heights for hip hop with Gary Beauford. I’ve taken his class before, but it was my birthday and the last day of my 10 day dance challenge so I decided to treat myself. The first time I took class with Gary was actually his last class with Culture Shock DC. I had also seen his choreography when his company GnC Crew performed at the DCypher show last year.

The combination Gary taught for his last class was choreo to Total’s “What About Us?” Remember that song? I think my brain had reached its mental capacity so I had a hard time picking up the routine, but the select groups he picked at the end had it down. They looked dope! He also singled out one of his students who also trains with Future Shock/Culture Shock to do the combination one last time. She did great.

About 30 dancers, including my friends Liz and Karen, came to last night’s class. Gary’s class is usually pretty crowded, but this was the most crowded I’ve ever seen it. It was probably because he announced on Twitter and Facebook that this would be his last class at Joy of Motion for almost a year. He’s leaving on Saturday to go on tour with UniverSoul Circus. Congrats on the gig, Gary! It’s sad that he won’t be here for most of 2011, but he’s hoping that Kevin Simon of GnC Crew and Culture Shock DC will be able to take over the class in his absence. He’ll be conducting the class the same way Gary did. Three weeks learning the same routine so you can really get something out of class and get your training on. It’s a bitter sweet ending to my 10 day dance challenge as I’ll miss taking class with Gary, but I’m happy to have been inspired by his creativity and wish him the best of luck.

Culture Shock DC Season 9 Auditions

Culture Shock DC held Season 9 Auditions at the CityDance Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda, Maryland yesterday afternoon. If you don’t know about Culture Shock Dance Troupe, they are a network of nonprofit hip hop organizations with dance companies in San Diego, Los Angeles, Oakland, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Chicago, Canada and DC. I’ve taken Culture Shock DC class a few times, but this was my first time auditioning.

Season 9 AuditionsThe registration process took place in the room next door to where they held auditions. Dancers lined up to sign in, pay the $5 audition fee and to receive their registration forms. The form was pretty standard with questions about your dance background, availability and reason for auditioning. Once completed, the form was handed in and they took a picture of you with your audition number.

Chris Law of Culture Shock DC and GnC Crew led warm ups in the same room as registration then we moved over to the larger studio next door to learn the audition choreography. The former and current artistic directors of Culture Shock DC taught eight 8 counts of choreography to Usher’s “Monstar” – an ambitious amount to learn in only 45 minutes. Luckily, dancers were given the opportunity to practice on their own before they called in groups of five to perform for the panel of judges.

After everyone performed the choreography in groups of five, they had a freestyle section. Dancers were grouped by style so they could dance to music that was most appropriate for the movement. Bboys and girls started off the freestyle section, followed by lockers, poppers, krumpers and finally waacking, house and vogue dancers.

After the freestyle section, they made their first round of cuts. Numbers were called and these dancers were invited to perform the choreography from the first section again. Unlike the first round of choreography, this part of the audition was open to all dancers so you had a much larger audience than last time. It was hard not to clap for the dancers after they finished the routine, but the judges asked us not to so most people were waving their hands in the air to show their support.

To everyone who auditioned, good luck and great job. Thank you also to Culture Shock DC for a fun day of dancing. For more information about the organization, visit their website at www.cultureshockdance.org, Like the Culture Shock Dance Troupe – Washington DC fan page on Facebook or follow @CultureShockDC on Twitter.

KODACHROME Season II Workshop II at HeartBeats Studio

photo credit: Justin Jaro

Over 80 dancers made their way to HeartBeats Studio in Springfield, Va. last Saturday, October 23rd for the second workshop of KODACHROME Season II. If you’re not familiar with KODACHROME, it’s a dance workshop series in Virginia that aims to promote and support the East Coast dance community. It was my first time at a KODACHROME event and I was beyond excited to fork up only $5 for three amazing classes. Four dancers from various crews in the DC, Maryland and Virginia area fused their styles for the workshop including Andrew Ton, Kristin Santiago, Chris Munar and Lauren De Vera.

Kristin Santiago formerly of UMBC’s Major Definition and currently of Ajnin Precizion, Tito Boy Scouts and Halo Dance Studio collaborated with KODACHROME staff member Lauren De Vera, also of GnC Crew, for the first class. The girls taught fun and fast choreo to Janelle Monae’s “Lettin Go.” If you’ve never heard the song, it has a Michael Jackson/Jackson 5 feel. Before they started teaching, they described the song as being “so us” and their personalities definitely came through in the combination.

The second class was taught by two members of the Baltimore Dance Crews Project. In addition to working with BDCP, Andrew Ton is Co-Artistic Director of dop (Dancing’s.Our.Poison) and Major Definition alumnus Chris Munar is a current member of Ajnin Precizion and Tito Boy Scouts. The boys taught a combination to one of my favorite songs of all time – Brian McKnight’s “Anytime.” Andrew told a story about a man who turned his life around after meeting his girl. The day he planned to propose to her, she didn’t show up and was never to be seen again. We were asked to think about this story while dancing this smooth and syncopated combination.

The four teachers came together for the last class to teach grimey choreo to Nicki Minaj’s “Monster.” This combination had a completely different feel from the others yet still showcased the unique styles of the choreographers. This combo had the most personality of the three, but was also the most advanced in terms of class level. Although people had a harder time picking up the choreography, dancers were definitely letting loose and having fun with the moves.

After the final class of the workshop, each teacher shared a few words. Andrew talked about the power of positivity while Lauren encouraged dancers to try each time to be better than the last. Each touched upon their own insecurities as a dancer, but recognized the strength they found from working with one another and also being part of the KODACHROME family. Next up for KODACHROME is their third workshop at Christopher Newport University in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. For more information, visit their website, blog or YouTube page.

IN IT TOGETHER Dance Workshop at Contradiction Dance Studio

MaryAnn Reyes and Josh Gilmore

MA and Josh

Lisa K picked me up from the Harman Center after watching some of the Arts on Foot dance performances last Saturday and we made our way to Contradiction Dance Studio in Silver Spring for the IN IT TOGETHER hip hop dance workshop. This event was a farewell fundraiser to support Joshua Gilmore and MaryAnn Reyes, who are both moving to Los Angeles to pursue their dance dreams. The former Culture Shock DC members presented two one-hour hip hop dance classes for the price of $25.

The first class was a collaboration between two guest artists from Los Angeles – Cheryl Koo of The Other Duck and Beau Fournier of Fanny Pak (as seen on MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew). They taught a little more than seven eight counts to a song I’ve never heard of but had a hot beat. They described the style of the combination as being both bourgie (bourgeoisie) and grimey at the same time. I can’t really give you better detail than that. It’s a perfect description.

Josh and MA taught a combination to Chris Brown featuring Tyga and Kevin McCall’s ‘Deuces.’ I wasn’t familiar with this song either, but I’m guessing from watching the video on YouTube that they cut the music for the dance. Josh and MA’s style was really different from Cheryl and Beau’s which made for a well rounded workshop. Although I had a harder time picking up the choreo in the second class, it was still fun to do. It also helped work on my control as some moves alternated from fast to slow.

Josh and MA ended the class by thanking everyone for coming and also by reminding us to support each other in our dance endeavors. It was a positive way to close out the workshop especially as they prepare for their journey in LA. If you missed the workshop last Saturday, you’ll have at least one more chance to take class with MA. She’ll be teaching Culture Shock DC class this Thursday night at Strathmore. Hope to see you there!


source: DMV Dance Network

Alana Hill Advanced Beginner Hip Hop at Joy of Motion/Bethesda

Finally got the chance to take Alana Hill’s advanced beginner hip hop class at Joy of Motion Bethesda. As you may recall, I tried going a couple weeks ago but there weren’t enough students for the studio to hold the class. Instead, I checked out Culture Shock hip hop at Strathmore with Gary Beauford.

I got to Joy of Motion Bethesda a little early so was able to catch the tail end of Alana’s beginner class. The combination she taught was to Ryan Leslie’s “You’re Not My Girl,” which has kind of a jazz-y vibe to it. She ended up teaching the same combination from her beginner class at the advanced beginner class. The only difference between the two classes was that she was able to get through a bit more choreography.  At the advanced beginner class, there were a lot less students than in her beginner class – five compared to about fifteen plus. The manageable class size however gave Alana the opportunity to point out individual moves to work on.

A couple things that stood out in my mind about Alana’s class happened before and after she taught the combination. Her warm up included your typical stretches, sit ups and push ups, but she added a couple exercises that I haven’t seen in awhile. For example, she had students do a back bend while lunging and we did center split stretches. She also had us sit on our heels in releve while moving our arms in different positions. After we did the combination a few times, she did a short cool down which included a quick bow to the “audience.”

Overall, it seemed like a decent hip hop class for beginner/intermediate dancers. Alana is a fun and positive instructor who clearly enjoys teaching. According to one of the students who took the class with me, the style was a bit more jazz-y than some of the other hip hop classes she has taken but it was still enjoyable.

The Deets

  • Alana Hill
  • Advanced beginner hip hop
  • Joy of Motion – Air Rights Building; 7315 Wisconsin Avenue; Bethesda, MD 20814
  • Thursdays 730-830pm
  • $17 drop ins (cash or credit)

Capital Funk Dance Auditions Sunday, September 5th

Capital Funk hip hop dance team is holding auditions this Sunday, September 5th. Third year veteran Brad Sickels took the time to tell danceDC a little bit more about the group and what dancers can expect from Sunday’s auditions.

According to Brad, Capital Funk has been one of the most enriching experiences of his life and practicing with the team is always the highlight of his day. “It’s great to be part of a well-respected and FUN team that is really making a name for itself in the East Coast dance scene,” he said.

Who is Capital Funk?

Capital Funk is a group of extremely talented, dedicated and off-the-wall dancers. “Cfunk” as we call it is a giant family and anyone who joins is immediately adopted into that family whether they like it or not.

Capital Funk was created by a group of George Washington University students and is based at GW. However over the years, the team has opened its doors to the amazing talent of the DC community. Our team is now made up of about half GW students and half DC/MD/NOVA locals, which makes for quite the interesting dynamic. We perform frequently in the GW arena but have successfully branched out into the greater DC area. We also travel to compete all over the East Coast.

What type of dance do you do?

We’ve got so many talented individuals on the team whose styles range from botting and locking, to vogue, Baltimore club and house.We try and keep things fresh and evolving and it’s always been important to us to encompass different dance styles and techniques.

What dance background do most of your members have?

Everyone on our team is so incredibly different. For instance, there are several members on the team who are classically trained in modern and ballet and have been dancing since they could walk. We have dancers who have been doing hip hop for years, and have trained with amazing choreographers and instructors. But then, you have people on the team like me whose first time ever officially doing hip hop was at the Capital Funk audition. Capital Funk is unique in that we don’t ask for a dance resume at our auditions. We don’t require extensive training. We value talented dancers who are passionate about dance and our leaders realize that can come in ANY shape or form. We value diversity in every meaning of the word.

Where and how often do you perform?

Traditionally, our Fall season is comprised of local performances. These can include GW basketball games and events, local universities’ talent showcases/competitions, and promotional events. We spend a lot of the Fall term training, learning and growing together as a team.

Our Spring semester has traditionally been our competition season. In the past we’ve done two to three major competitions in the Spring, traveling to Boston, New York and New Jersey. We also hold our annual Showcase at the end of the Spring season. For this Showcase, we invite local dance crews and artists, as well as talent from other East Coast cities. Our Showcase has been very successful, bringing in a crowd of over a thousand last year.

Where and how often do you rehearse?

We hold regular practice two to three times weekly at a variety of locations. We rehearse at GW and also at DC Dance Collective in Friendship Heights.

What can people expect from the auditions?

They can expect to have a lot of fun! Auditionees will learn two combinations from different choreographers, and then perform them in small groups for the captains. Each group will include at least one Capital Funk member so you can ask for help and rehearse with them.  We then have an informal freestyle cypher, where dancers are given the opportunity to show off their own styles.

Any words of advice for people trying out?

I’d say take a class or two just to fine-tune your pickup. The best way to progress as a dancer is to be constantly learning. Joy of Motion has some pretty tight classes and DC Dance Collective offers a few varieties of hip hop.  Maybe spend a little time with your headphones in just free-styling. Our auditions are fun so be ready to have a good time!

The Deets

  • Capital Funk
  • Fall Dance Auditions
  • The Marvin Center Grand Ballroom – 800 21st Street NW; Washington, DC 20052
  • Sunday, September 5th at 6:30pm

DCypher Dance Auditions at Joy of Motion Friendship Heights

After dropping by Lounge 201 for nGAGE DC, I hopped on the Red Line at Union Station and made it just in time for the DCypher dance auditions at Joy of Motion Friendship Heights.  This studio is just south of the Friendship Heights Metro station.  Walk toward the Jennifer Street exit, take the elevators up to street level, go right and walk a couple blocks south on Wisconsin.  The studio will be on the other side of the street in the same building as Chevy Chase Ballroom.

I was still in work clothes, but there was a small changing area where I could put on my sweats and sneaks.  The girl at the front desk gave me a short form to fill out and handed me a cloth number to safety pin on.  The waiting area was tight so I hung out in the hallway and read some of the fliers hanging up on the bulletin board.

The audition started with a warm up by DCypher’s founder Juli Calderon.  After some stretching and intense sit ups, Juli went into the combination.  She chose a great song ‘The Garden’ by Mirah.  If you don’t know this song, download that ish on iTunes stat!  The choreo wasn’t complicated but gave a lot of room to show your own personality with several freestyle hits.

We did the combination in two groups a few times before breaking into smaller groups of four.  Each small group went a couple times, then the judges called out individual numbers to see again.  At the end, we had a cipher where dancers could show off their other dance talents including breaking, jazz, tap and booty popping.

If you’ve never been to a dance audition, I definitely recommend it.  It’s a great way to challenge yourself as you need to perform for the panel of judges.  It’s also a free class as companies usually don’t charge for auditions.  A couple more auditions are coming up soon so stay tuned for the details.  Keep dancing!

East Coast Dance Concert at Carter Barron Amphitheatre

Culture Shock DC and Mason/Rhynes Productions presented the 7th Annual East Coast Dance Concert at the Carter Barron Amphitheatre last night. Local crews including Virginia Hip Hop Academy, DCypher, as well as the various Shock groups performed along with visiting crews from Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York and Germany.

Before the doors opened around 630pm, performers and spectators freestyled at a pre-show cipher featuring DJs from LifeXHipHop. Here are a few clips from the action. There are more videos on my YouTube page. This is actually the only footage I have from the night since they don’t allow cameras into Carter Barron.

Culture Shock DC started off the night, followed by a group of young dancers from Virginia Hip Hop Academy. Philadelphia’s best hip hop group Point Blank made me laugh by incorporating sound bites from the movie Office Space and the YouTube sensation My New Haircut into their routine. The references and one move in particular were probably not as family friendly as the show claimed to be. Culture Shock’s D.C. Freestyle Team showed off their skills in breaking, popping, locking and waacking. Project D from New Jersey created a unique performance with unexpected music choices including ‘Escape’ by Enrique Iglesias and ‘Crush’ by Jennifer Paige. And Mighty Shock, Culture Shock’s group for dancers aged 7-11, finished off the first act with a crowd pleasing number.

Culture Shock’s group for dancers aged 11-17 Future Shock opened up the second act. It was easy to see why they placed first in a recent dance competition in Barcelona, Spain. They were sick! Definitely my favorite routine of the night. Dennis Caindec of New York presented his project ‘Pleasure Pagoda,’ featuring a group of all Asian dancers. He used a cool remix of Lady Gaga/Beyonce’s ‘Telephone’ and Rihanna’s ‘Rude Boy’ as the music for this Asian inspired piece. Local group DCypher performed an older set choreographed by former Culture Shock member Tony Czar and hip hop group Juvenile Maze showed America why Germany is at the top of the bboy game. Jared Jenkins and Neil Schwartz and their New York based crew repped the city and showed DC some love by wearing I heart DC shirts. They also racked up a bunch of points in my book by including Salt N Pepa’s ‘Shoop’ into their mix. Afta Shock, the newest Culture Shock group for grown and sexy alumni, made light of the fact that they’re an older crew by blatantly saying I’m to old for this sh*t at the end of their routine. Giant cut outs of Bayer Aspirin and Bengay also helped drive that point home with some humor. Culture Shock closed out the show. Their piece included the choreography I learned last Thursday from Gary Beauford. You know I was dancing along!

If you didn’t make it this year, definitely look out for details next year. They’re hoping to host it at Carter Barron again which is easily accessible via the S2 and S4 bus up 16th Street NW. You may have to take a cab on the way back though since the buses were ridiculously spread apart once the show got out. Good news for those who drive. There’s plenty of parking.  If you were there, what did you think? Who was your favorite and do you agree that they could have done away with the in between host chatter?

Gary Beauford Hip Hop At Strathmore

I signed up to take hip hop with Alana Hill at Joy of Motion Bethesda last night, but due to the rain only me and one other dancer showed up!  The policy at Joy of Motion is that they need three paying customers to conduct a class so they gave me credit on my online registration account and Alana said I can be a guest at her class in two weeks (she’ll be away next week).

After heading out of Joy of Motion, I realized that it was Thursday night and Culture Shock class started at 830pm.  I was already in Bethesda so hopped on the train and took it two more stops north to Grovesnor.  Unfortunately, I hadn’t eaten yet but luckily there was a vending machine so I took two Pop-tarts to the face and headed upstairs to class.

Thanks to Twitter, I knew beforehand that Gary Beauford was teaching.  He also teaches at Joy of Motion in Friendship Heights, but I haven’t had a chance to check it out.  I’m definitely going to after this class.  Gary taught a combination to India Arie’s ‘Little Things’ – a beautiful song that everyone should know.  He obviously knew it well as he choreographed movements that fit perfectly.

One thing I hate about taking class is when teachers fumble around with counts or words.  They teach it to you one way, then it completely changes when the music comes on.  This could be another reason why I really appreciated Gary as a teacher.  He knew what lyric or beat every move was on.  Even though he taught the combination at a pretty fast pace, I was able to keep up.  You may have trouble though if you are more of a beginner/intermediate level.

At the end of the class, Gary announced that this was his last time teaching as a member of Culture Shock DC.  It definitely seemed like an emotional moment as he thanked Culture Shock for giving him the opportunity to dance with so many talented people.  Tomorrow’s East Coast Dance Concert at Carter Barron will also be his last performance with Culture Shock so definitely check it out.  Lisa K and I will be there!  Cipher at 5pm if you want to dance, doors open at 630pm and performance starts at 730pm.

The Deets

  • Gary Beauford/Culture Shock
  • Intermediate/Advanced Hip Hop
  • CityDance Center at Strathmore – 5301 Tuckerman Lane; Bethesda, MD 20852
  • Thursdays 830pm-930pm
  • $15 cash or credit (they prefer cash though)
  • 9/17/10 Update – Found video from the class on Gary’s YouTube page. Check it out.

Capital Funk Hip Hop Class at DC Dance Collective

I heard about hip hop dance group Capital Funk from some of my friends who saw them at The Main Event.  After watching the YouTube video below which shows their first place routine and doing some Googling, I found out that they hold weekly classes at the DC Dance Collective in Friendship Heights every Monday night at 730pm.  I had to leave about 40 minutes before class started to be there on time.  It was a short ride on the Metro (four stops from Dupont Circle to Tenleytown-AU) and about a 10 minute walk up Wisconsin Ave NW to the studio.

You walk downstairs to the basement of DC Dance Collective and down a long corridor full of old school recital photos to get to the front desk.  Since it was my first time at the studio, I paid $10 for the class and they waived the $15 annual registration fee.  If I do go back for another class though, I’ll have to pay up for class and the annual fee.  Luckily if you don’t carry cash around like myself, they also take cards.

After signing in, I went up two flights of creaky stairs to the third floor.  We were at the studio facing Wisconsin Ave NW, which was separated from the Flamenco class next door by a room divider.  Surprisingly though, the noise wasn’t an issue.

After a quick warmup of walks, turns and jumping jacks, Brad Sickels of Capital Funk taught a combination to ‘Bottoms Up’ by Trey Songz featuring Nicki Minaj!  Even though we only had about an hour, he was able to get through about six counts of eight.  The dance alternated from very fast to a moderate pace which made some parts more difficult than others.  He went over smaller sections multiple times though so it seemed like everyone had it down by the end of the class.  Since he had a lot more choreography for that song, he plans on adding to the combination next week.

At the class I went to, there were about seven people including two other Capital Funk members.  Brad said that turnout has been about four to seven people this Summer since most of their following (college students) is back at home.  During the year, it’s apparently packed so don’t be surprised if attendance shoots up come September.  If you like what you see, definitely try out their class and keep checking their Web site for upcoming audition information.

The Deets

  • Capital Funk
  • Intermediate Hip Hop
  • DC Dance Collective – 4908 Wisconsin Avenue NW; Washington, DC 20016
  • Mondays 730pm-830pm
  • $10 cash or card (plus $15 annual registration fee if you come more than once)
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