The Beautiful Street

Free yo' self

Dance, Popping, TravelKatie JanovecComment

Today, I am driving up to Seattle for a dance battle. I know, I know! If you’re my friend, you see me go to Seattle on the regular. Approximately 100% of my travels to this city are for dance battles, events or performances. I get a lot of joy out of visiting and grow as a dancer and human each time, so I'm almost always down to go.

While preparing for this short journey, I am remembering my trip from last month and have pics I want to share, and a few thoughts too.

In January, Angel Langley aka Moonyeka invited me, along with Agatron, Angyil Mcneal and Lady Scarecrow (all pictured above), to participate in a SeattleDances performance where she received an award for her event, What’s Poppin’ Ladiez (WPL). The same weekend she premiered the WPL documentary, Battle Grounds: The Hard Hits of Female Poppers.

Dancing with these ladies is beyond inspiring but eating, sleeping, practicing and getting to know everyone’s personalities and quirks is what it’s all about. I love having conversations, vibing and expanding.

 Backstage #1 Me, Angyil Mcneal, Moonyeka, Lady Scarecrow, Agatha (not pictured)

Backstage #1 Me, Angyil Mcneal, Moonyeka, Lady Scarecrow, Agatha (not pictured)

 Backstage #2

Backstage #2

Reflecting on conversations with the ladies, I returned to Portland last month thinking, what does it mean to be free? Specifically wondering, am I holding myself back from free expression. How do my choices in my daily life affect my dance life?

And more recently, I have been meditating on what it means to commit, as a human being, as a dancer, a partner, a new dog owner(!!). Without going into all the details, sometimes commitment is hard for me! Right now, I recognize a new level of commitment in my life and it feels good.

I'm realizing how connected freedom and commitment are. With commitment comes freedom and with freedom comes commitment. So let’s just say, I’m working on both -- being free in my movement and life and committing to my passions.

Excited to see what come from this weekend.

 Photo by  Warren Woo

Photo by Warren Woo

Vancouver Street Dance Festival

Dance, Popping, TravelKatie JanovecComment
 Yoshie Locking Final

Yoshie Locking Final

Whew! It has been a busy summer. I am so excited that I am getting around to writing about my Vancouver Street Dance Festival Experience. Were you there? It was truly awesome and I loved everything about my trip to the city.

Let’s get to it.

Vancouver Street Dance Festival (VSDF) is an all-day free festival in downtown Vancouver, BC, featuring battles, performances, workshops, deejays and lots of dancing. This year, VSDF celebrated its 5th year!

I arrived in Vancouver Friday and after checking into my Airbnb, I went to the battle prelims for the festival. They were held Friday evening with the top 4 winners in each category advancing to the final battles on Saturday. There were 6 categories: popping, hip hop, breaking, waacking, house and locking. I milled between the two rooms battles were held in, battled in popping and took inspiration from the other styles.

Let's get to the LADIES.

Ladies definitely represented in each category with waacking, hip hop and house having the largest number. Popping, breaking and locking had fewer, but overall there were strong dancers (ladies) in each category.

I got to catch up with a few of the ladies participating in the festival and wish I could have spoken with more!

So here are my...

Best Lady Highlights of Vancouver Street Dance Festival!

Kosi Eze - Hip Hop, House, Locking Dancer

Kosi is from Toronto and a fun-loving and giving mover. I saw her prelims and loved her energy and style. I spoke with her in between battles and was excited when she took the W in both hip hop and house. Well deserved. She lays her heart on the dance floor and flourishes in battle.

Clearly, Kosi trains a lot and has progressed immensely over the last 4 years of her dancing career. She said, “I have never been as happy as I am when I dance, ever.” She shared how finding Lady C as a mentor and teacher changed her life. She saw how her dance could have a feminine energy, be powerful, aggressive and emotional. Ultimately, be HER.

When I asked her how she feels women are supported in street dance, she said the community dictates the level of female engagement, which I love. She had just come from Ladies of Hip Hop in NYC where she felt men definitely supported the event and the ladies. She believes, we as women, have a responsibility to put ourselves out there and jump in that cypher, because it is important for younger generations of ladies to see.

And I totally agree.

Watch her VSDF final here!
 

DJ Beaubien - House Deejay

I also got to catch up with DJ Beaubien from Vancouver. She deejayed the house dance battle and plays east coast, soulful, uplifting, positive music with vocals and nice rhythms. I personally loved the music she played and have been listening to her Soundcloud since.

 DJ Beaubien

DJ Beaubien

She began deejaying 4 years ago due to a shortage of deejays playing what she liked to hear - soulful house. As she says, “I was a big fan of the music, first and foremost.” It was a natural transition for her to move from being an avid listener to deejaying herself. While she asked her mostly male deejay friends to teach her how, some were open, but mostly she learned on her own.

We had a great conversation about people who like to go out and dance to house music and people who dance the style of house. Confused? House dance is a style of dance that originates from the music. Within the music (and the dance) are influences from African, jazz, Latin, funk, etc. I love that she said, “I think music is meant to be played loud, on a good sound system, in the dark.” I definitely agree and often want more house dancers (people who dance the style of house) to go out to clubs.

I was excited she closed out the festival with a fun set everyone was groovin' to. I mean really, these dancers competed and cyphered all day long and then danced some more. Her music was good.

Listen to her weekly radio show Saturdays from 7-8pm PST on SpinzFM.com. Check it!
Find her at
djbeaubien.com


MAKING IT TO TOP 16 IN POPPING

I'm going to take a moment to say, I feel really good about making it to the Top 16 in Vancouver and am proud of myself. I am having more battle rounds where I feel I am accurately expressing myself. What more could I want?

Out of roughly 60 poppers, there were a handful of women, myself included. So I feel like I was holding it down for the ladies. 


And Finally...

Hip Hop with Natasha Gorrie

AND Natasha Gorrie! Taking class with her and kicking it post-battle were all super fun. She is incredibly kind, giving and a dope dancer. Her class was so fun, groovy and I need more of it. Hip hop, I’m coming for you.

 Natasha Gorrie Judge Showcase

Natasha Gorrie Judge Showcase

Closing!

Overall, it was a great weekend. Lots of learning, inspiration and feedback that I am still integrating!

Until the next battle...

Katie J Dances

Dance, LifeKatie JanovecComment

I am excited to publish a video of just ME! Woohoo. Take a watch!  

This was my first solo video and it was filmed by my buddy and roommate Conrad, aka Icon SleepyTut. I have danced with Conrad many times, but something about a camera being in my face made me feel a little uncomfortable and pressured to perform?!

Chill Katie. It is always about feeling the music.

I am grateful to have worked with Conrad who is a dancer; he gave me specific suggestions as to what sort of movement or energy looks dynamic in the camera. He also helped me find the right music, as it is truly a challenging process to find the right music for what I'm feeling and how I'm moving. (This song is by Kaytranada - Track Uno) 
 
Through watching myself on screen I am reminded of essential movement tools I want to utilize while I'm dancing such as to look up, be patient, breathe and listen to the music. This video was shot back in April and I can see I have made progress since then. Some newer tools I am integrating are to use my head more, be aware of the story I tell with my face, utilize space, direction and that new new - how to interact with the camera.

I've watched videos since then that have really inspired me such as this clip from Natasha Gorrie. She appears to be almost calculated with her movement. Originally I mistook it for slight hesitation but it isn't hesitation, she is just listening and being patient. I love this Sun and Dassy video and this Black Lives Matter vid I shared last week. 

Looking forward to the next shoot and hope you enjoy! Thanks for watching.

(Hit up Conrad at sleepytut.com for any of your film needs)

We Must FEEL

DanceKatie JanovecComment

On Saturday I came home from a trauma-informed yoga training, opened my computer and began reading the news. I read articles, scanned Facebook, and I came across this video. WATCH

 "Strange Fruit" Nina Simone Movement Artists = SHE Streeter, Angyil Mcneal & Kevin "Konkrete" Davis Jr.

"Strange Fruit" Nina Simone
Movement Artists = SHE Streeter, Angyil Mcneal & Kevin "Konkrete" Davis Jr.

Movement speaks to me in a way that words cannot. Viewing this video, my entire body could FEEL the pain, the loss, the desperation.

Watching and reading the news and linking from one Facebook post to another, the emotion hits me in my heart and in my mind. But watching this video my entire body can feel. It is so important for me to feel, for everyone to feel, because if black people are experiencing injustice and pain, we all have a part, we are all fragmented.

And as a white person who may have a hard time reading the news or watching a video like this, this is for me and for you. We absolutely have to look at the injustice. This isn’t the time to look away, because as my friend says, “I can’t check out from the daily experience of being a black person. I can’t take a break from it all."

And so I’m staying checked in and after sitting on my couch and crying Saturday night, I went out and danced. I went out to release, to move how I wanted to move and to be a part of the community. I went to JUMP JACK Sound Machine, an event for "queerdos, art makers, qweens, movers, and allies." 

Stepping into that space I immediately felt comfortable to experience me, whatever I was in that moment. Seeing everyone be themselves and being able to dance exactly as I wanted was therapy, and provides the ability to stay checked in.

For years the dance floor has been home to people who have been ostracized because they were labeled "different." I feel such joy on the dance floor because different is so beautiful in movement. Just like the many faces I see in the media, protests or in my city, different is beautiful.

Stay checked in. 
#blacklivesmatter

 

Goin' IN at What The Festival 2016

DanceKatie JanovecComment

I had the joy of attending What the Festival 2016 out in Dufur, Oregon, and after a week of getting back into the groove of city life, I am sitting at my kitchen window and remembering all the good times from last weekend.

So to recap…

Goals: Fun-having and Performing

This year, I got the pleasure of roboting around the Illuminated Forest in a full light-up LED suit with the awesome Vo Vera from the Sacred G’s. Friday, Saturday and Sunday we cruised around and interacted with festival goers on the path and in the art installations. I loved being in character for long spans of time and felt so rewarded by all of the people who stopped and played with us. We were greeted with eyes wide open, jaw dropping stares and exclamations of, “You are awesome!”

I specifically loved the ladies who would interact, either by imitating me as a robot, giving me a high five, smiling at me or just observing. Those moments made the slow, 20 minute robot walk uphill so worth it, and I thank you! I am so happy I got to add a layer of happiness to people’s festi experience. (P.S. If anyone has more pictures, I’d love to see them).

Saturday and Sunday, I performed in an all styles piece with Donna and Daisy, ladies from my crew Upjump, at the Shinto stage. Donna curated and brought Portland street dance - breaking, popping, house, krump to festival land, and I am so grateful that Allowe (Shinto extraordinaire creator) invited us to grace her stages.

If you did not spend time in the Shinto - weak! Put it on your list for next year. I experienced three consecutive sunrises, bowls of miso, dance sessions, and of course, beautiful dj sets by my friends. So good.

Other highlights include, laughing with my ladies, music (duh), being surrounded by people that I love, daytime dance classes with Donnamation, Todd, Jungwho + Westin, a Krump lesson at 6am with Tyler, Bonobo and all the feels of gratitude, witnessing my talented friends do them, whether that be as dancers, musicians, performers, comedians, builders, or all of the above. It is so great to see my friends becoming even better versions of themselves.

Thanks WTF for bringing it real. I feel blessed to be able to participate and experience the fun.

And next year, I want to see all those talented, dancer friends of mine performing on the main stages ;)