© 2010 Christopher Charles McDaniel

. . . . . Ms. Jackson If You’re Nasty. . . .

Okay I’m sure you’re assuming that this blog will be about the extremely talented and sexy Janet Jackson (Ms. Jackson IF you’re nasty), but it’s NOT. BUT I guess I should tell you how this blog got it’s title.

My cousin is a huge fan of Ms. Jackson and is constantly watching videos of her live performances, and music videos. She knows every song, and has even met Janet.  My friend Ellenore Scott (Finalist on SYTYCD season 6) who I went to LaGuardia HS with, is now dancing with Janet. SO I’m hearing and seeing a lot of Janet. In watching her in performances I notice how greatly versatile her dancers are. Janet’s music can range from ballads to very upbeat pop numbers in any given performance. This requires an eclecticism and a keen sense of artistic brilliance from her dancers. Her choreographer Gil Duldulao, has a very sensual yet disheveled style of movement. Having a very well rounded training base that includes ballet, jazz, and his “first love” hip-hop he makes dances that challenge the dancers, and bring Janet’s shows to life. I LOOVE HIS WORK AND HOPE TO ONE DAY WORK WITH HIM (hint hint *cough*) I asked my cousin what my next blog should be about and she said “Janet” so I decided to write about the versatility and eclecticism that is required of dancers here in the 21st century.

I started dancing in church. That meant African dance, and liturgical dance. This gave me a basic understanding of movement and how my body transitioned through space. I took this sense of movement a step further joining the Dance Theatre of Harlem School gaining ballet, Jazz, Tap, and African dance training. From there I went to LaGuardia High School [of Music & Art and the Performing Arts] and studied ballet, modern (Graham, Horton, Paul Taylor Technique), Jazz, and Tap. We also worked with contemporary dance choreographer Nathan Trice.

Nathan and I had a rough start, because I was such a “bunhead” and did everything balletically and refused to try and switch it up. His style includes some balletic influence but should in no way be danced like its classical or neoclassical. The sense of risk taking and abandonment is what makes his work so beautiful. So for someone to dance it trying to control it all and make it upright and stiff does it an injustice. I unfortunately learned that the hard way. lol. ANYWAY – during one of the classes Nathan grew furious with me and made me sit down. He told that if I wasn’t going to try  and make myself more versatile I would never become a dancer. At the time I thought it was harsh and I thought he was trying to break me down and embarrass me but, he was saying the best thing he could ever say to me. It made me step back and look at what “dance’ was becoming. It became clear to me that the days where the person who trained at the ballet academy for 10 years became a “Ballet Dancer” and the person training at the modern dance schools became a “Modern Dancer”  were long gone. After working hard and trying hard I ended up being chosen by him to dance in his piece for our Senior Graduation Concert!

Because the arts [or Dance specifically] are somewhat becoming an endangered species, people have been trying to find ways to keep it new and interesting. That new and interesting idea, was combining the two disciplines that people had always put up in combat with each other. The vocabulary of ballet took on more modern dance concepts. This by no means takes away from the classics that many ballet companies perform,but  it just adds to their repertoire, and sparks interest in audience members and arts supporters. It makes a company a bit more worth your money. From the fusion of ballet and modern came breakouts of jazz, hip- hop, tap, and ethnic dancing added to the “Ballet World”.

Here in 2010 I am pressed and inspired by many outlets showcasing the current way of dancing. Such outlets as Music Videos, Television shows, like So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing With The Stars, and Glee, performances of American Ballet Theatre and the New York City Ballet all make me strive to explore and get a taste of the new way.

At DTH we have a pretty ambidextrous repertoire.  However in my free time I want to advance myself and a little more, and tackle some hip-hop. I want to be able to dance the role of Albrecht in “Giselle” one night and then be able to ’slay’ some Janet/Gil choreography the next.

One day I WILL dance for Janet. . . . . . Excuse Me. . . . . Ms. Jackson If You’re Nasty. . . .

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