What I’m here for in 2013

I’ve been gone for a while. Life has been tough. The media has been uninspiring. Music has been blah. But three weeks in to 2013, it looks like things will change.

Here’s what I’m here for in 2013.

New Justin Timberlake and Beyonce albums – Being a 90’s child, these are the idols. Both of them are releasing albums this year and what makes me the most excited about it is they’re keeping true to themselves and not hopping on the dance music bandwagon.

Beyonce said to GQ magazine:

“I’ve been working with Pharrell and Timbaland and Justin Timberlake and Dream. We all started in the ’90s, when R&B was the most important genre, and we all kind of want that back: the feeling that music gave us.”

Hearing that made me love her even more. I loved Beyonce’s last album, more than any of her other albums. It wasn’t as successful as her previous albums because it was strictly R&B. There are rumors her first single is called “Ratchet” with Lady Gaga. If that’s true, all I hope for is an amazing dance video like “Telephone.” With the Super Bowl performance, the album and the HBO documentary, Beyonce is about to take over 2013 and I’m ready.
Justin Timberlake hasn’t released an album in seven years. I was starting to give up on him and hate him for focusing on crappy movies instead of music. Then I heard the single and now I’m a JT stan again. Suit and Tie picks up right where FutureSex/LoveSounds left off. Screw the trends in pop music, JT kept it R&B and did what he does best. The reviews of the single were mixed, but according to Rolling Stone, Suit and Tie is projected to sell more copies then SexyBack. I can’t wait until his album, until he starts releasing videos. I’m excited for two of my favourite artists to come back hard this year.
Washington Heights on MTV – I’m a sucker for shows about young people of colour in New York City trying to achieve their artistic dreams. It’s like the books I write. As soon as I heard this show was in production. I knew I was going to watch it. I just didn’t think I’d love it so much.
It follows a group of friends living in the Heights following their drama with relationships and friendships. With reality shows, there’s always the question of if it’s real or not, but with this show, I don’t care. The boys are good looking, the girls are smart and I absolutely love the New York accents.
Whenever I watch it, all I want to do is write, which is a good thing.
Scandal – Best show on TV, hands down. It has been ages since I’ve been so addicted to a scripted television drama. Did I originally tune in because the lead was a black female? Yes. But the acting is incredible and the writing? Mind blowing. I didn’t realize how the stellar writing sets this show apart until I watched Megan Good’s show Deception last week. It was predictable with corny dialogue and an unoriginal story. Scandal takes twists and turns you’d never see coming, with smart, witty dialogue. Every Thursday night, Scandal fans take over Twitter. This show owes a lot of its popularity to social media and it actually lives up to the hype.
New adventures – 2013 is a year where I really have to make things happen for myself. I want that job, I want my books to be published, I want to travel more and I want that relationship. Anything can happen and I hope it will.

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Life Updates

At the end of this week, I’ll be finished school. I was so worried about going back after vowing I’d never ever go back to school. It turned out to be a pretty good experience. I met some amazing people, dealt with some hard challenges and came out stronger. There were moments I was literally on my kitchen floor crying, close to dropping out. But I stuck with it and hopefully I’ll have the experience and the education to get myself a real job that I enjoy.

I’ve been writing like crazy. It feels amazing. I’ve created a small challenge of finishing a novel in 8 weeks. I have three days left, I’m at 100 pages and almost 60, 000 words. I don’t think I’m going to be able to do it though. I’m near the end, but there are a few loose ends I have to wrap up before I can finish it. It’s another teen novel. I’m so proud of it. I love my main character, I love the boys in the book and its funny. Teen novels might be my new thing now. I’ve also started posting my fiction on another  blog. It’s an experiment, just to see what kind of feedback I get. So far I’ve gotten ZERO feedback, so we’ll see how it goes.

I’ve read some amazing books this summer. “Cutting for Stone”, “Silver Sparrow”, “In Darkness”, “Manchild in the Promised Land” and I re read both of Junot Diaz’s novels. When going through hard times, nothing makes me feel better than good fiction. I’m picking up “This is How You Lose Her” tonight. I’m dying to sink my teeth in to that book.

In November I am going back to NYC! It doesn’t even feel real yet. I’m going to be there for six days. Six days! The longest I’ve ever been there. I plan to do a lot of sightseeing, listen to some poetry, experience the nightlife and hopefully make some friends which would give me an excuse to go back soon. I haven’t been there in two years. I can’t wait to be in the city of my dreams again.

Now that school is over, I’m at a crossroads. I can throw myself in to finding a full-time job right away. Or I can stay at my shitty part-time job, keep making steady money and travel to NYC in November and possibly go to Europe in January. Going to Europe is a dream. I feel like I want to get that out of the way before I find a full-time job and am forced to become an adult.

Being in your 20’s is rough.

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The Problem with So You Think You Can Dance

Last night since season 9 of So You Think You Can Dance started, I was emotionally invested in the show and it was because they were doing classic Mia Michaels routines from the past.

This season, I’ve flipped on SYTYCD for a few minutes and always ended up turning it off, frustrated. There are a lot of reasons, the lack of diversity in the top 20, the same dance styles, the same tired, over used choreographers and judges. It’s just become boring. But last night, with the tribute to Mia Michaels, it showed the weakness of this season and how it will never measure up to the glory days of the past.

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Childish Gambino Concert Review

I almost didn’t go see Childish Gambino last night.

I’ve been feeling down lately. I had two tickets to the show and could not find anyone who wanted to come with me. This is always a problem I have. I buy two tickets for shows, thinking I can find someone to come with and I never do. Since I was feeling so low, I thought why am I going to go to this show, that’s in an outdoor venue on a beach, alone? I could curl up on the couch and write my book.

Literally at the last minute, I decided what the hell? If I didn’t go, not only would I be throwing $100 bucks down the drain, I’d probably regret it later because I’m a huge Gambino fan.

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Step Up 4 – Revolution

No one wanted to go see Step Up Revolution with me. I blame Step Up 3D. In my review last year, I called it the weakest of all the Step Up films. It was a major disappointment. Sitting in the theatre to watch Step Up Revolution I just prayed it didn’t suck so my sister, who I dragged along with me, wouldn’t complain.

It didn’t suck.

Besides Step Up 2: The Streets (one of my favourite dance movies of all time) this was the next best one in the franchise. Strong dancing, a storyline that made sense and good music. That’s all I need to enjoy a dance movie.

Set in Miami, it follows Sean, played by Ryan Guzman, and his friends who are part of a dance flash mob. He meets Emily, played by So You Think You Can Dance season 6 finalist Kathryn McCormick, who is a contemporary dancer who dreams of becoming a professional. Together, they use the dance flash mob to protest the demolition of Sean’s neighbourhood by an evil land developer – who happens to be Emily’s father.

There were elements of the story that I could see coming from a mile away. The acting was very weak. There was one point in the movie that Emily calls Sean “John” and no one caught it. There wasn’t any chemistry between the two main characters, but they’re both nice to look at and Kathryn is an incredible dancer.

Did it have to be in 3D? No.

Dancing is always what saves these movies. I really enjoyed all the dance scenes. I liked the idea of the flash mobs. Some of them were cool and inventive and others were a little far-fetched. The best flash mob scene was the one in the office building. However, the song choice was a little controversial to me being a Les Twins fan. They danced to a song called Ants by the group Edit. It’s a great dance song because Les Twins danced to it first. It’s the kind of song you hear and think of Les Twins. It would have been great to bring them out at that point in the movie and watch them dance to a song that is pretty much their own.

There were a lot of familiar faces in the movie, like Twitch, Philip Chbeeb, Celestina and Mia Michaels. I liked that they brought back the contemporary aspect of dance. Travis Wall killed the choreography for those sections. And that final dance? Almost as good as the one in Step Up 2. Bringing out familiar faces always makes me lose it.

I enjoyed this movie a lot. As with every dance movie, no matter how bad the storyline or the acting is, inspires me and makes me admire dancers. Especially watching Twitch. I’m so proud of him for living the dream. Being in a movie like this is every dancers dream.

If the Step Up franchise ends here, I’ll be okay with it. They ended on a high note.


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Dance and YouTube

When I was younger, taping music videos was a full-time job. I remember days when I’d watch BET or MuchMusic for hours waiting for one specific video. If that video came on, I had to jump to grab the remote and press record. Most of the time it was a dance video. I’d have to tape it so I could get the choreography. I’d rewind and fast forward and pause making sure I was able to hit every single move. There were so many times I’d work up a sweat in my basement and wish people could watch me and see how I was killing the movement.

Now kids all over the world can have millions of people watch them dance thanks to YouTube. YouTube has made so many regular people instant stars by singing or doing weird stunts or having unique talents but dancers have really taken off because of YouTube.

French dancers Les Twins owe a lot of their fame to YouTube. A performance they gave at World of Dance in San Diego in 2010 has over 11 million views. Beyonce saw them dance on the internet and invited them to dance in her videos and live shows. They are worldwide stars now who have danced for other artists and teach all over the world. (I met them too, check out the post if you haven’t.)

A dance battle featuring Miley Cyrus and cast members from the movie Step Up 2 that was featured on YouTube made headlines in 2008. Celebrities got involved and people flocked to the internet to watch this dance battle. In my opinion its one of the most exciting things that’s happened on YouTube.

Now there is a new dance channel on YouTube that is all about the “dance lifestyle.” DS2DIO has four shows that feature interviews with famous dancers, videos of dancers in interesting locations and actual classes taught by choreographers to the stars. I find the classes the most interesting part of the channel. Most people will never get to take a class with Fatima Robinson, Wade Robson or Brian Friedman. Now they can because of YouTube. If I was still in the culture, I would totally set my computer up, put some comfortable clothes on, grab a water bottle and try to get the combination. Dancers are encouraged to learn the routine and post it on YouTube for other people to watch.

Dancers have always been in the background. It’s only recently with dance reality shows like America’s Best Dance Crew and So You Think You Can Dance that they’re really getting the fame and recognition they deserve. When I was younger, I’d do my research and learn who each dancer was. Now a lot of dancers are recognized thanks to social media and reality shows. I think it’s great. Dancers are athletes who make music come alive.

Next time you’re bored, go on YouTube and watch some good dance videos. Here are some of my favs:

Mos Wanted Crew (the real winners of ABDC)

Les Twins, Chachi Gonzales and Smart Mark

Jabbawockeezz PYT (from ABDC)

Chris Brown doing the dougie

Beyonce rehearsing “Why Don’t You Love Me”

What are your favourite dance videos on YouTube?


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Fear Means You’re Alive

“Fear means you’re alive,” is a tweet written to me written by spoken word artist and writer Bassey Ikpi last week. I tweeted her asking for advice for a writer who wants to move to New York City. Moving to NYC has been my dream since I was twelve years old. As I get older, the dream is starting to weigh heavily on my shoulders. I know that it’s something I have to do. Even if I don’t end up spending the rest of my life there, I want to be able to look back and say that I lived there for a period of time. It’s probably the number one thing I want to do before I turn thirty.

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