A Dancer’s Perspective – Vlog

Voilà! Vlogging!

This week, my post is in the form of a video, or as it’s called in the blogosphere, a “vlog.” I spoke with four Cal Poly dancers who shared their signature dance moves, their definitions of dance, and their inspirations for dancing. Enjoy!

Love and pliés,



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,


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.

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

“Immersion” Impresses and Inspires

 Cal Poly’s Orchesis dance company displayed exceptional talent in their recent performance, Immersion

Photographed by Christina Favuzzi

Cal Poly’s elite dance company, Orchesis, presented a beautifully impressive showcase of hard work and tremendous talent in their recent performance entitled, Immersion.

The dancers have spent the past several months preparing for the six shows, which were on January 27-29 and February 2-4 in Cal Poly’s Alex and Faye Spanos Theatre.

The show consisted of several pieces choreographed by Cal Poly dance faculty, as well as pieces by four guest choreographers and three student choreographers.

Immersion began with a piece entitled “Torque,” choreographed by Orchesis Dance Company Director, Diana Stanton. The music’s heavy bass beat matched the dancers’ sharp movements and strong attack. The partnering and resistance work was particularly impressive.

Illustrated and Photographed by Christina Favuzzi

A Dancer’s Perspective

Melissa Smitheram, sophomore nutrition major and Orchesis company member, danced in a classical, yet lively ballet piece called “Plaza de la Villa,” set to the music of Carmen and choreographed by Cal Poly dance teacher, Lisa Deyo.

“The most challenging part of my performance in Immersion was staying on top of my movements,” Melissa said. “With school and late night rehearsals we were all pretty exhausted.”

So how did she make it through all the rehearsals, late nights,and keeping up with schoolwork?

“I stayed energized and healthy through the long rehearsals by eating well, working out, and getting as much sleep as I could. We would end our rehearsals and performances around 10:15 every night, so it was challenging to study and get enough rest.”

After months of rehearsal, Melissa said she will miss her Orchesis friends, but she will not forget the passion she discovered through her performance in Immersion.

“I learned that I am so passionate about dance! I do not know what I am going to do without seeing and dancing with my friends in the company every Tuesday and Thursday from 6-10 p.m. now!” –Melissa Smitheram, Cal Poly Orchesis Dance Company Member

Photographed by Christina Favuzzi

Dancers in the Audience

For a dancer in the audience, myself included, watching the performers on stage was an inspiring experience.

Jane Redmond, a freshman journalism major and lifelong dancer said watching Immerison made her miss performing.

“It made me miss that feeling of being on stage but it also made me look forward to performing with my dance studio at home this summer,” Jane said.

“It’s like a reinforcement of why I love dancing so much when I have the opportunity to see performances like Immersion.” –Jane Redmond, Cal Poly freshman and recreational dancer

Jane was impressed by the variety of pieces and dance styles in Immersion.

“There wasn’t really a theme to the show, which I liked, because you got a taste of a lot of different types of dance. That was refreshing,” said Jane.

Both Jane and kinesiology freshman Melissa Hollister, said that the piece entitled “Coexistence,” was especially memorable. Computer science senior and Orchesis company member, Ryan Badilla, choreographed “Coexistence.” The dancers wore black, full body suits and two red masks, one on their face and one on the back of their heads. This created a creepy and effective optical illusion that stuck with audiences long after the piece ended.

Immersion Inspires

Melissa Hollister said watching the Orchesis dancers in Immersion has inspired her to audition for the dance company next year.

“Seeing Immersion made me realize how diverse the dance styles are that Orchesis performs. Also, the whole performance just seems like it’d be so much fun to be a part of.” –Melissa Hollister, Cal Poly freshman and recreational dancer

Looking for Local Dance Classes?

If seeing an inspirational show like Immersion has encouraged you to start taking dance classes, the San Luis Obispo area is a great place to start your dance career. The Google Map below pinpoints local studios that you might consider taking class at.

Dance Obispo
• Academy of Dance San Luis Obispo
• CORE Dance
• Street Heat Dance Studio
• Dello Performing Arts Center

If you can’t make it downtown to take dance class, the Cal Poly Rec Center offers jazz dance and cardio dance sculpt classes…for free!

Cal Poly students can also take dance classes in Crandall Gym through the Cal Poly Dance Department. Most classes are two units and meet twice a week. There are beginning, intermediate, and advanced level classes.

Dance Obispo

Looking for Lovely Leos?

Whether you’re a new dancer or a prima ballerina, everyone needs a pretty leotard. Downtown SLO’s The Dance Shop, located on Morro Street, provides a great selection of leotards, shoes, and general dance apparel.

The Dance Shop

A Dancer’s Diet

Healthy, Nutritious Foods for the Non-Stop Dancer

Dancers often call the studio their second home. And it makes sense when you’re spending five, six, sometimes seven days a week there for hours on end, in technique classes and rehearsals. But no one can keep dancing at that rate without the proper nutrition to stay fueled and energized.

This week I spoke with two Cal Poly dancers and a Cal Poly nutrition professor to gain insight on best meals, snacks, and drinks to keep a dancer’s energy up for those long days at the studio.

Tiffany Davids is a freshman business major and Orchesis company member. She began her dance career as a “tapper” at age seven, adding jazz, ballet, and contemporary to her repertoire in the following years.

Orchesis is currently performing their annual showcase, Immersion, which consists of six shows over the course of two weeks. Preparation for the performances has required many hours of rehearsal, often late into the evening and on weekends. Tiffany knows first-hand how important it is to stay fueled during these long rehearsals.

Tiffany is a fan of trail mix full of nuts, raisins, and other dried fruits.

“It’s easy to just pop in those little morsels in your mouth between dances and you get a burst of energy.” -Tiffany Davids, Orchesis company member

Illustrated and Photographed by Christina Favuzzi

In addition to trail mix, Tiffany said baby carrots are a “go-to” snack. She also likes crackers as a source of carbohydrates.

Backstage at the Immersion shows, Orchesis dancers are provided with a “food table,” Tiffany said. On the table they have grapes, apples, mangos, blueberries, trail mix, pita chips and hummus, and acai berries covered in chocolate for something sweet but not sinful. And of course, tons of cases of water.

“I only drink water during rehearsal but afterwards I will sometimes drink Gatorade or PowerAde to regain some electrolytes.”

Alexa Dack is a sophomore architecture major and this is her second year on the Cal Poly Dance Team, which performs at Cal Poly sports events and competes nationally. With practice at least three days a week for two hours, plus game performances several times a week, she knows how to pick foods that will boost and sustain her energy.

“I like to have some kind of nuts, like almonds, for some protein. Peanut butter is also good.”

Like Tiffany, Alexa reaches for fruits such as apples, oranges, or bananas to refuel.

Illustrated and Photographed by Christina Favuzzi

“I don’t like to eat a lot before practice because it can make me feel sluggish. If I do eat something before dancing, it’s something light and healthy because I know those types of foods won’t slow me down.” -Alexa Dack, Cal Poly Dance Team

Cal Poly nutrition professor, Dr. Susan Swadener, recommends eating two to four hours prior to dancing because, as Alexa mentioned, eating a heavy meal before dancing can make you feel sluggish.

She also advises eating within 15 to 30 minutes after working out. Dr. Swadener said it is important to restore glycogen quickly. Glycogen holds starch, which holds water, so when you restore your glycogen, you also hydrate your body.

Whether it’s a pre or post-workout meal, she recommends having a meal that has low fat, high carbs, and moderate protein because it will help you to digest the food more quickly and it won’t weigh you down.

“I think carbohydrates are so important but we’ve become so carbohydrate-phobic today, with people saying that carbs are ‘bad,’ but muscles use carbohydrates for fuel and to help them rebuild when they break down.” -Dr. Susan Swadener, Cal Poly Nutrition Professor

Whole grains are the ideal carb and can be found in cereals and whole grain breads and pastas. They are also rich in vitamins and fiber, Dr. Swadener said.

Illustrated and Photographed by Christina Favuzzi

Protein is an important part of a dancer’s diet and Dr. Swadener’s recommendations are easy and delicious.

“I think yogurt can be a fantastic snack. Or string cheese is a great option. Have peanut butter and an apple, because you need some protein and fat to sustain you through those long hours of exercise.”

Illustrated and Photographed by Christina Favuzzi

Dr. Swadener said that protein bars are also good for refueling because they have a good mix of protein, carbs, and fat.

“I think smoothies are another good snack because you can throw in yogurt and you can throw in fruit. And if you’re nervous before a performance, sometimes a liquid is easier to digest and handle.” -Dr. Swadener

Another beneficial fluid: non-fat or low-fat milk.

“It’s fantastic because it’s high protein, it’s low fat, and it’s fluid, so you get your fluids in to be hydrated.”

Dr. Swadener is a believer in “everything in moderation” and said that sweets are okay to have, but she said to make them “fun foods.”

“Personally, I like frozen yogurt because it’s lower in fat, it’s sweet but it’s healthy because it’s got calcium and protein.”

Photographed by Christina Favuzzi

Lastly, in addition to refueling with food, dancers should never underestimate the importance of sleep. With that said, try to limit caffeine intake to about two cups of coffee a day, one in the morning and perhaps one mid-afternoon.

“Be careful with coffee and caffeine in the evening because then you’re jittery, can’t sleep, and you really need to get good rest as a dancer.”

A Quick Recap:

  • Trail Mix
  • Dried and Fresh fruits
  • Nuts
  • Carrots
  • Crackers
  • Pita chips and hummus
  • Whole grain breads, pastas, and cereals
  • Yogurt
  • String Cheese
  • Peanut Butter
  • Protein Bars
  • Smoothies
  • Milk
  • Frozen Yogurt

Want to learn more?

Check out this video: A Healthy Dancer’s Diet