“Starting Your Career As A Dancer” review and CONTEST!!

Firstly, a MASSIVE thank you to Allworth Press for allowing me the opportunity to review this book. I really appreciate the opportunity.  I am really excited because I have been in 4 Barnes and Noble and have yet to see this book on their shelves!  Released in May of 2012, do not let the title fool you.  Any performer can find the words of wisdom in this paperback useful!.

Secondly, THANK YOU to Mande Dagenais for writing this book!

Starting Your Career as a Dancer is written by award winning author Mande Dagenais, who has worked as a dancer and choreographer all over the world.  Along with several interviews with many people in the industry, Mande draws from her experiences to deliver an informative, well written and important guide to everyone who wants to pursue a lifetime of performing.

I love this book.  With 18 chapters ranging from goal-setting to attitude adjustments to injury recognition and prevention to career transitions, this book is filled with so much great information.  I started reading and couldn’t put it down.  It wasn’t only the informative sections that were great.  What made me want to keep reading, even through the parts you often see in other career guide books, is her personal experiences.  I love to hear other performers’ stories and the writing is so casual and it reads as though we are having a conversation. It just draws you in.

As a performer, one must never stop learning.  Learning from corrections, learning from other people’s mistakes or corrections, and learning from other people’s experiences.  This book is a whole lot of learning.  Right from the get go, you can tell that Ms. Dagenais truly does have a love and passion for her chosen career.  Her desire to share her knowledge and experience  permeates throughout the book.

Now there are some books that talk about most facets of the business, but Mande breaks it down.  Not just breaks it down, but she breaks it down!!

She brings up some really great points that I’ve never even considered, like a choreographer has copyright protection on their works unless the rights are given to someone else.  She specifies a number of things that could or should be on your contract. She talks about the mental, physical, and nutritional needs and how they all tie into each other.  And I think most importantly, she offers several examples of not only her but other performers who have shifted gears in their careers for a variety of reasons.  It’s important to plan ahead and think what will you do when the time comes when you can’t get on that stage anymore.  I know I personally don’t like to think about that, but this book has seriously opened my eyes to the many things I could and should be doing to better run my “business.”

So taking all this into account, I have already begun to take steps based on the suggestions she offers.  Already I feel like I am making progress.  I am so happy that I’ve gotten to read this book.

If you would like to buy this book you can find it HERE through the Allworth Press site or through Amazon.com.   BUT here’s a twist.

AND because of the great people at Allworth Press, you can get your hands on it too!!

Dancing is universal.  You don’t have to be a professional, you don’t even have to take classes. For the rest of September, let me know about your dancing experience in the comments below.  Just let me know why you love to dance and your most vivid memory of dancing. Winner will be selected at random on October 1.

I Needed Something “Brain”less…

Zomie-O-Rama downtown San Jose 8/31/12
Peter Woolhouse and John Teidmann (We did JSC together what seems a million years ago.)

The last two weeks have been…trying.  They’ve been stressful and frustrating as well.  First my car broke down.  That isn’t SO bad, but then my dad, who isn’t in the best of health, went into surgery for 6 hours for bone spurs on the vertebra in his neck.  Then my mother shared some of her own bad news.

Having dealt with THAT, I needed to get away and enjoy something that would inspire and reinvigorate my creative mind to “boot up” once again.  Luckily, my friend Jennifer told me about the Zombie Crawl in downtown San Jose.  I was so bummed that I had to work the closing shift so I couldn’t get there at the actual start time.

I remember as a kid during Halloween one year trying to figure out what do be.  Several of my friends were zombies (this was around the time of the Night of the Living Dead relaunch) and some were vampires.  I ended up being a stupid ghost and feeling like a total turd.

As to what the actual “crawl” portion of the event is, I do not know.  I believe it’s a route that all the zombies take, but as I am a crawl virgin I am not sure.

In one of the large parking lots downtown, there were a large crowd of people doing various things but mostly milling about and checking out fellow zombies or getting a good spot for the public showing of Shawn of the Dead.  I since I couldn’t find my buddy, Jennifer, I assumed that she was out and about shuffling through the streets of the city.  After I get my initial sweep completed, I take a moment and grab some dinner while thinking of what I wanted to focus on.  Did I want to get a picture of as many of the zombies as possible?  Did I want to only focus on the big companies that were there?  or Should I just focus on what I found the best?

Ultimately, I decided that I wanted to show the ones that I found most impressive. Although there was a very, very tall man dressed up that held a sign saying “Zombies for Equality” which I thought was clever and hilarious.  Get it?  Equality because they’ll eat everyone! hahahaha…

So while some of the pics that follow are not just zombies, but I liked the work that when into their costumes.  But the ZOMBIES?? There were a few that were great, and I want to share.

These four military men are the newest undead “recruits.”

It’s a little steam punk and a little twisted.  I dig the “X”-eyed goggles.  The mouthpiece is pretty cool too.  It’s got a faux jaw on the right side (well, left side in the picture) It looked like it was burned into the leather of the mask.   The puppet is attached to a cane that has a trigger to pull and makes the mouth snap shut.

He offered to slice off a piece of grey matter for me, but I just couldn’t fathom eating brain jello.

While not technically a zombie, I couldn’t tell if this character was dead, undead, or other.  I think I would place him in supernatural.  Either way, still freaky enough where I wouldn’t want to wake up and see this thing. Would have liked it if this person wore some sort of gloves or painted some details on their hands to finish out the character.

She was FABULOUS!!! From the Tina Turner-esque wig to the totally punk rock costume she was completely IN it.   Her jaw pieces are completely hand made by her and are adhered to the area just around her mouth.  The top and bottom teeth are fully independent of each other.  One of the absolute best for sure.  But my favorite zombies of the night were:

These guys were so in character that when I asked for a pic the suit fella just kinda swung his arm to hit the other guy.  An up close look at the make up showed that it was much more than mere makeup.  There was texture throughout the surface and slight peeling.  The blood stayed constantly runny and glossy thanks to a fresh supply in the plaid zombie’s hand.  Good ol’ food coloring and corn syrup make for a perfect fake blood effect.

Since I didn’t have time to go home and get ready, I refused to go in a costume.  If there is one thing I can’t seem to do, it is to just half try to create a character.   I think that one Halloween turd left a left a lasting impression on me that it wasn’t as fun if I couldn’t be as creative as I really want to be.  If I find out when the next Zombie Crawl is early enough, I think I will take the whole day off just to work on my makeup.

Have you gone to an event like this in your city or town?  What was your experience like?  Is it more fun to dress up?  Lemme know what you think in the comment section below!