Feeling Inspired…

Sewing Satin Shoes

I wrote this post several months ago but got caught up in final exams and forgot to post it. I hope you enjoy a taste of my creative writing! 

The stinging in my fingertips, the cracking of the glue, the unadulterated satin, and that distinct factory smell. The sweet satisfaction that a new pair of pointe shoes brings to a dancer’s heart.

It’s probably been about a year since I last sewed a pair of pointe shoes. I’m performing in Cal Poly’s Spring Dance Concert: Catalyst, and my grimy, worn-out old pair of Bloch Jetstreams just wasn’t going to cut it. I faithfully returned to Discount Dance Supply to order the pink satin shoes I love to hate. They came in the mail and my roommates acted like little girls, anxiously waiting to see the magic pink shoes emerge from their inconspicuous cream box.

As they focused on the shoes, I inspected the ribbons and elastic, making sure they were the appropriate width and length. After more than six years of this beautiful, torturous dance form, I’ve established some very precise specifications for my pointe shoes. I cut and measured the elastic, hoping it wouldn’t be too tight and cut off the circulation to my feet.

Foil, nail polish, and scissors: the ingredients for making fray-proof ribbons. With all the preparations made, the painfully tedious sewing, rather stitching, began. First sewing the elastics to the heels, then the ribbons on the sides, attaching the elastic over the ribbon…I might sound insane, but to my bunhead readers, this is completely normal. The final stitch never comes soon enough, but when it does, I can never resist slipping the shoes on and trying a few harmless relevés.

In retrospect:

My Bloch Jetstreams were the finished touch and the essential ingredient to my ballet piece in the Spring Dance show. In the rehearsals prior to the show, I attempted wearing a pair of Gaynor Mindens that I once optimistically purchased but have never had the patience to adapt to. I love that my Blochs feel wonderful (that might be a bit of an overstatement) after a thorough barre. However, I’m never completely satisfied with my shoes. I have an incessant compulsion to find a different shoe that will serve as a better vehicle for my dancing. But for now, I’m happy sticking with my Jetstreams.

After the Spring Dance Show, I grabbed my amazing dance friends, Nikki Sullivan and Lauren Creger for a quick picture with me. Both ladies choreographed brilliant pieces for the show. And, they’ve been interviewed for this blog!

To my lovely Bunheads, comment below and tell me what kind of pointe shoes you wear! I love comparing shoes with fellow dancers, it’s almost as fun as comparing blisters and other wounds on our feet!

Final Self-Assessment

A Final Review

Dear dancers and L&L readers,

I’ve been writing this blog since mid-January and it has been a wonderful learning experience for me. I hope you’ve learned a few things too from reading my blog. Now that it’s March and winter quarter is wrapping up at Cal Poly, Lashes and Leotards will either fade into my memory along with my other winter quarter classes, or I will continue producing content for the page. So I think it’s a good time to take a look back at the past nine weeks and evaluate my work as a blogger.

Since Lashes and Leotards launched, I’ve worked diligently to create a brand. The same day my blog went live, so did the Lashes and Leotards Facebook page and Twitter account. I wanted to give this blog a life of its own and clearly define what it was about.

In retrospect, I could have used Twitter more effectively by tweeting more often, following more people, and working harder to generate a Twitter following.

Facebook was the key ingredient in making this blog successful. I can easily say that I owe a majority of the visits to my blog to the Facebook page.

Coming up with plenty of tags each week was important for driving pay-per-click views. I hope people who don’t know me or know about my blog, were able to find it through a search engine entry that then led them to my page. I’ve had about 1,700 hits; it’s extremely gratifying to know that people are taking time to navigate to my site to read my content.

I have not yet decided if I will continue writing content for Lashes and Leotards. I might change its focus to being a little more personal, although I’d like for it to continue being informational and not entirely in a narrative form.

In order to make the blog financially viable, I’d like to have some dance-related advertisements on my page, whether they were for dance supply stores, dance academies, summer intensives, or shows.

One of my peers and good friends, Taylor Crump, gave me some much-appreciated feedback about my blog.

Crump told me she liked the overall quality of my photos and how they were incorporated into my posts.

She also took note of the experienced dancers and experts I used for sources and how they established my credibility as a journalist.

One of Crump’s favorite things about my blog is the “Why Do You Dance?” page. She said it was “a cool way for followers to get involved and to get feedback as well.” I admit that I have not updated this page as regularly as I should, but I promise to post all of my sources’ responses to that question in the very near future.

Crump said she liked the format of my stories and how I used pull quotes to highlight the most important points of a story.

“Your stories sometimes were actually stories rather than “how-to” posts, which was refreshing and fun to read,” Crump said. “Finally, I’m obsessed with your header pictures and the phrase, ‘a blog for bunheads and dancers everywhere.’ So cute and so appropriate for your blog!”

Be sure to check out Taylor Crump’s amazing fitness blog, TLC Your Body.

In conclusion, I am proud to add this blog to my resume and repertoire of work as a journalist. I hope future employers will see how I was able to identify a niche audience and provide it with interesting and relevant content.

I am so happy that I chose to write a dance blog. It was an ideal niche for me to cover and I’ve learned volumes that I can apply to my own dancing. This blog was a significant catalyst in making my decision to minor in dance. Perhaps I’ll work for Pointe Magazine, Dance Spirit Magazine, or as a dance critic one day, combining my two loves, dance and journalism.

As always…love and juicy pliés,

Christina

Cal Poly dancers prepare for Spring Dance Show 2012

Spring into Cal Poly’s Spring Dance Show

Preparations for Cal Poly’s annual student-produced Spring Dance Show began on Tuesday night as the Crandall Gym dance studio filled with dozens of dancers attending the mandatory information meeting.

“The Spring Dance show is a completely student-directed, choreographed, and danced show,” Misty Moyle, senior biology major and show director, said on Tuesday night.

Moyle explained that the Spring Dance Show provides an equal opportunity for anyone interested in dance. She described the show as being very experimental and as a launching pad for people to become involved with dance at Cal Poly.

Photographed by Christina Favuzzi

Audition Information

Auditions for the show are next week, Thursday, March 8 at 6 p.m. in Crandall Gym. The mandatory information meeting was last night, however, if someone missed the meeting and would like to audition, he or she must contact the directors at calpolyspringdance2012@gmail.com.

Moyle and her co-director, junior kinesiology major, Tyler Ratcliff, are looking for dancers of all abilities and styles to become involved with the show.

“As a director, I look for dancers who have a proficiency in movement. But as a choreographer, I look for specific skills that I need the dancers to be able to do for the particular dance.”           -Misty Moyle, student director of Spring Dance Show 2012

A Spring Show Veteran

Sophomore environmental engineering major, Ariana Johnson, is returning to the Spring Dance Show for the second time after having a great experience participating in last year’s production. Johnson auditioned for Cal Poly’s dance company, Orchesis, during her freshman year however she was not chosen to join the company. When she heard about the Spring Dance Show, she jumped at the opportunity to start dancing and performing again.

“I hadn’t done any dancing last year so I was looking for a way to get my ‘dance kick.’ When I heard that the Spring Dance Show was all student-choreographed and directed, it sparked my interest.” -Ariana Johnson, Spring Dance Show dancer

Besides gaining an opportunity to expand her ability as a dancer, Johnson said she met many great, talented people who have since become some of her closest friends.

Moyle echoed Johnson’s statement, saying that the show is an excellent networking opportunity for people to meet other Cal Poly dancers and become familiar with the dance department.

But seriously…

As fun and exciting as the show may be, Moyle and Ratcliff stressed the seriousness of the time commitment and dedication the show requires.

This year, they hope to improve dancer attendance at rehearsals in order to increase the overall quality of the show.

“We just want to make everybody look fantastic, but we need you to be at all rehearsals for that to happen,” Ratcliff said to the dancers during the information meeting.

Although the show is entirely student-produced, there are still enormous expenses that must be accounted for. The Cal Poly Theatre and Dance Department sponsors the production.

Cal Poly dance instructor and Spring Dance Show advisor, Diana Stanton, said that it is very important for dancers to understand the commitment they are making when they join the show.

“It costs tens of thousands of dollars to put this show on and get you in the theatre, so you need to hold up your end of the deal and take this seriously. But know that this is all in the interest of making you look good.” -Diana Stanton, Cal Poly Dance Instructor and Spring Dance Show advisor

More than 200 Cal Poly students participated in the show last year and Moyle predicts that roughly the same number of dancers and choreographers will be involved with the 2012 Spring Dance Show.

Illustrated and photographed by Christina Favuzzi

Quick Info

  • This year’s show is entitled, Catalyst
  • Performance dates are Thursday, May 24 and Friday, May 25
  • 8 p.m. both nights
  • Cal Poly Spanos Theatre
  • Tickets are $5 for students
  • The show sold out both nights last year, so don’t wait to get tickets.

“Come support people you know in the show. There’s such a broad variety of dance; it’s a good way to be introduced to dance for non-dancers.” -Ariana Johnson

Check out the Mustang Daily’s article on last year’s Spring Dance Show.

Here’s a video from last year’s performance.

Deviating from Dance

Pay based on Popularity?

Hello Readers,

Although many of you are not journalists or ever plan to be, you are all consumers of media, much of which comes from online sources such as this. I want to discuss an interesting topic for aspiring journalists of the digital age (such as myself) and make you aware of some issues.

Some online news sources are currently or considering paying their journalists based on the number of page views their stories receive. Essentially, journalists getting paid based on how popular their stories are.

It kind of makes sense, doesn’t it? Give the writer a bonus if people love his/her work in hopes of promoting more great writing and more readerships. It seems like a fine business model.

The question at hand, however, is how this approach might affect the quality of journalism, for better or for worse.

Personally, my main concern is that entertainment writers would be making exorbitant amounts of money for writing about the latest celebrity baby names while foreign correspondents risk their lives in unstable nations to report about unrest and revolution, yet get paid a fraction of what the Hollywood journalist would receive.

So how can we, as journalists, combat this problem and be paid appropriately for our work published online?

In a word: Branding.

It’s our saving grace in this digital media landscape. If one can establish him/herself as a credible source with a refined message and community to support it, he/she is on the road to success and paychecks.

Len De Groot, data visualizations instructor at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, outlines the critical steps to building one’s brand.

  • Know your message and communicate it clearly: No one has time to sift through a long narrative. Make it quick, simple, and informative.
  • Use design to reinforce your message: A simple, clean, and recognizable logo is far more credible and memorable than a flashy graphic that constantly changes. You want to be identifiable.
  • Build a community and reciprocate: This is basically the concept of incentives. Give people a reason to return to your site over and over. Hopefully that motivating reason is excellent content.
  • Be relatable and engaged: People find love via online dating profiles, so make your readers love you through your writing. Respond to feedback your readers give and make sure they know how much your value their opinions.

For more on De Groot’s steps to creating a brand, see this video

While rewarding journalists for producing popular content makes sense to me, I foresee many dilemmas in determining which stories are actually worthy of reward.

For that reason, I hope that this practice is not adopted by all news organizations. It would greatly affect the quality and focus of journalism. Sure, sex sells, but honestly, does it get us anywhere in the long run?

Regardless, our job as journalists is to serve democracy. We will cater to our audiences to the ends of the earth, but I hope that we will retain our dignity and passion for telling truly important stories that people ought to be aware of.

Much love and juicy pliés,

Christina

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Releves at the Rec

Cal Poly’s Rec Center offers a variety of free dance classes in their beautiful dance studios. Student dancers are often found utilizing the Rec’s dance studios to rehearse pieces, practice pirouettes and pliés, and cross train with fitness programs like Pilates and yoga. Check out the Cal Poly Rec Center and start dancing!

Transitioning to Dancing in College

Pirouetting to Podcasting

This week’s post is in a podcast form. This gives you an unique insight into my conversations with the amazing dancers I have the opportunity to interview each week.

In this podcast you will hear from Cal Poly Dance Team captain, Robyn Schmidt. She shares her experiences dancing for a university dance team and compares them to her high school dance career.

Katie and Jamie Elster are sisters who have both been dancing for 13 years.

Dancing sisters, Katie and Jamie Elster, contrast their dancing careers as Katie dances recreationally during her freshman year of college while Jamie, a high school junior, aspires to dance professionally. Katie said she plans to continue dancing as a hobby throughout college. Jamie would like to major in dance at a university and later dance with a professional company.

Watch these great videos of the Cal Poly Dance Team:

To see Katie Elster dance with Santa Barbara’s Rhythm Street Crew from Rhythm Dance and Fitness, watch this video:

Choreography by Tamarr Paul. In case you were wondering, Katie is the dancer wearing a black tank and yellow bandana in the video.

Here is an interesting article from DanceSpirit Magazine about professional dancers who earned a college degree in addition to starting amazing dance careers: Making School Work

Cheap Seats to Tweet Seats

Tweeting from the Theatre

“Ladies and gentlemen, during this evening’s performance, flash photography and video recording are strictly prohibited. Now, turn on your cellphones and enjoy the show!” – Peter Funt, The New York Times

Earlier this year, Peter Funt wrote an op-ed piece in The New York Times about several theatres that are experimenting with “tweet seats” in their theatres.

What are tweet seats?

Essentially, the back row of a theatre is reserved for people to live tweet during a performance. In an environment where cellphone users are usually strictly admonished, theatres are now encouraging theatergoing tweeters to continue their “digital conversations” throughout performances.

The advent of tweet seats has spurred a controversy in the theatre world over this new section of the audience. Some argue that live tweeting from the tweet seats generates effective publicity. On the other side, some feel that phone use of any kind is disruptive for fellow theatregoers.

In his article, Funt asks if the risk of upsetting the majority of paying theatregoers is worth it.

He responds by writing, “The answer, in five characters, ‘u bet.’”

What if there was a tweet seat section in your local theatre? Audience members in the special section could write live tweets about sold-out shows so that those who couldn’t get tickets could at least read the highlights via Twitter.

But is it disrespectful, disruptive, and distracting?

Without a doubt, it’s distracting for both the regular audience and the tweeters.

Imagine having to tolerate hearing incessant clicking of keys and seeing illuminated phone screens during a beautiful ballet, elaborate opera, or amazing concert.

And if someone is busy tweeting, his/her eyes aren’t on the stage. A critical moment might be missed because those multimedia-obsessed eyes are glued to a phone screen.

No one is going to patrol the tweet seats to make sure the tweeters don’t start a game of Angry Birds or Words with Friends.

People who sit in the tweet seats are often given their tickets for free in exchange for their publicity tweets.

It begs the question whether those sitting in the tweet seats are really there to critically analyze the show and if can they actually provide meaningful insights in 140 characters.

A month in review

Hello readers,

It’s been a little over month since I started my blog, Lashes and Leotards, so let’s take a few minutes to review. Writing this blog has been such a didactic and entertaining experience for me. Not only have I learned a tremendous amount about multimedia reporting and the blogosphere, I’ve also had amazing opportunities to learn more about my favorite art form: dance.

One of my highest priorities with my blog is to engage my readers and increase traffic to my site. I worked to achieve this by creating a Facebook page for Lashes and Leotards, along with a Twitter account. I added widgets to the blogsite that allow readers to link directly to Twitter to follow @lashesnleotards or like the Facebook page. The Facebook page was extremely beneficial for alerting my readers of new posts and involving them in my blogging process. I like to ask my readers for suggestions and requests for posts, either in the form of a brief question or a poll.

It is so rewarding when a reader leaves a comment. Thank you to everyone who took a few seconds to let me know what you thought of my blog. Feedback is the best way to improve and understand what readers enjoy and want to see more of. So please, keep it coming!

I installed a hit counter widget several weeks ago and without a doubt, it is my favorite and most valuable widget. I get a mini adrenaline rush every time I see my hits jump up by 10, 20, or more! Lashes and Leotards has gotten 1,266 hits to date, hopefully with many hundreds more to come!

Topics that seem to generate the most traffic usually have to do with beauty and health. My “Discipline of the Ballerina Bun” post had 134 hits in one day. I think this is because it gave anyone the steps to achieve a classic look, so my audience expanded beyond dancers. This shows that it’s important to balance your niche audience and the general audience appeal.

My hope is that my readers regard me as a credible source. I am dedicated to bringing them interesting and relevant stories each week. I aim to do so by interviewing at least three knowledgeable sources for each post. Even though I have a fair amount of dance knowledge due to my 13+ years of ballet training, my goal is to educate my audience with the information I gather from other dancers and professionals. Any dancer can sit down and write about their experiences, but I want write as a dancer learning from other dancers and experts and then share that valuable information with my readers.

I hope my writing style is entertaining to my readers. Naturally, I write with a very professional, “newspaper journalism” style. But in the blogosphere, the writing is slightly more relaxed and colloquial. Spelling, grammar, and basic mechanics will always take first priority, but I’m enjoying playing with my syntax and word choice to best suit my content.

My posts provide readers with thorough information that they would not find through a simple Google search. Interviews with experienced dancers, dance teachers, and various other professionals and people of expertise, raise the caliber of my content and give readers insight they can’t find elsewhere.

Lashes and Leotards targets an excellent niche audience: the dance community. I could narrow it down further by focusing on only one dance style, but more than ever before, dancers need to be versatile and knowledgeable of all styles of dance to be successful.

One of my biggest goals is to improve on the presentation of information in a condensed, yet still informative way. My posts have been a little longer than is appropriate for blogging. In my upcoming posts I will aim to write with brevity without sacrificing valuable content.

I’ve enjoyed learning from other members of the blogosphere. My best friend’s sister, Chloe McDonald, writes Sunny Styles. I am always impressed with her creative writing style and how she presents a story. She has a very artistic style that is evident in her photography and storytelling. One of my newest fav blogs is my good friend and fellow classmate’s blog, The Natural Beauty. Mia Mendola has done an amazing job of presenting her content in an original and informative way. I am in love with the design of her site. From the header image to the color scheme, it’s working wonders for her blog. To stay in touch with the latest news in the dance world, I occasionally check out Discount Dance Supply’s blog, Dancing Times. The site offers interesting features on dancers and choreographers, along with tips for things such as auditioning and taking care of costumes.

Writing Lashes and Leotards has been an amazing introduction into the blogosphere. I look forward to a long life in this interesting, informative, and unique media community. Happy dancing and blogging…or dance blogging!

Much love and juicy pliés,

Christina