Category: blog

This is my general blog category.

Most entries, that are not part of the documentaion of my work, are going here. Therefore you find a collection of different topics. You can further refine the shown topics with the use of tags.

#blog

The Matrix Metaphor

Matrix code with the text "what has been seen, can not be unseen"

The movie “Matrix” from 1999 is referenced daily to describe moments where people are aware of or unaware of different situations. We use the Matrix Metaphor to state that some newly gained knowledge changes the way we think or radically perceive our surroundings.

Typical moments of insights in a dance career are:

  1. The connection to the music is more profound than the regular drumbeat.
  2. There is something like the quality of movement.
  3. It’s seriously interesting if people come up with their own creative moves.
  4. That music is telling a story.
  5. Some dancers tell stories with their dance.
  6. You can dance to multiple instruments at the same time.
  7. I must learn and master everything.
  8. (years later) I don’t.

Of course, everyone has his personal insights that transform his way of thinking.

In the dance field (and I guess in all arts), I feel the tendency that we want to consume the work of people that explore the same topics as we do. Another side of the matrix is that things, once understood, can’t be unseen.

You know… I know this steak doesn’t exist. I know when I put it in my mouth; the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy, and delicious. After nine years… you know what I realize? Ignorance is bliss.

‚ÄēCypher justifying his decision to betray his friends and re-enter the Matrix.

This means that we might perceive the dance of others who did not experience the same insights as we did as immature and unformed. And the more we learn about dancing, the more we take for granted and postulate it has to be a certain way. We neglect that others are on a different point in their development or maybe even on a different path.

This is one of the reasons why a lot of experienced dancers state that they are bored with events. The longer you are in the scene, the more you have seen and the further you move away from the average level of knowledge.

What we sometimes don’t think about is that the dancer we see might explore an aspect of the dance that is beyond our comprehension. So, let’s not be too quick to judge.

This article is a translation (and slight rework) of an old text that was originally in German. Comments might reflect that.

Supporting the community

A local clothing pop-up store at an event
The clothing Market at Circle Industry 2019 | foto: Christian Poschner

Hip Hop is a culture that lives and thrives through the activities of its members. So far so cool. When we talk about supporting the scene or culture most people think about big things like throwing a jam, founding a crew, organising parties, teaching classes and so on. Not exactly things that everyone is going to do, because of to little time, knowledge, money or other reasons.

What I want to talk about today are three easy ways that everyone can utilise to support and keep the momentum for everyone going. Things that most people don’t think about when talking about community backing.

Be at the events, take a class or visit a show

While a lot of people think about organising jams or teaching as a way of support, there is another side to it as well. Being at the events or in the class is also a kind of support? How so, you ask? Given that you pay for your entry or for being in the class you support the promoters or the teacher and therefore enable them to invest their time in doing what they do. This helps the scene grow. Same goes if someone has a gig.

On the other hand: If you could afford to buy a ticket but try to get on the guest list every time, you actually decide not to fully back the guys that are doing their thing.

Spread the Word

Often overlooked but it goes a long way. Tell people about what is happening. Do it in person if you meet someone who might be interested. Hit that like and share buttons on social media. It costs you nothing but a click but potentially shows the event to dozens of interested people, sometimes hundreds or even thousands.

If only one of the newly reached guys comes, it was worth it.

Buy from your community

This is not only true for food. Hip Hop has many small clothing labels, independent DJs, music producers and more creative peeps that create stuff. Buying their clothes, albums or whatever they are creating instead of the shirt at H&M or listening to their music only via Youtube, once again enables them to keep going.

Here you have it, three easy ways to support your community that do not require extraordinary amounts of time, skills or dedication.

If you can think about more of them, let me know in the comments.

Of Freestyle and Choreography

Foto von Expanding Energy
Expanding Energy / Davis Freeman - Random Scream / Sommerszene 2011

Sometimes people argue about stupid shit. A prime example for this is the discussion of freestyle vs choreography in hip hop dance. What this discussion misses is that freestyle and choreography are the same things but under different conditions. Both are about the creation of our dance, one of them is spontaneous and the other in a slow and very reflected process.

Before we jump into the topic itself: for the sake of this article I refer to freestyle as “improvisation within the boundaries of a dance-style” and not “do whatever you want”.

Here are my two cents why this discussion does not go anywhere and why you should be able to freestyle and create choreography. To make my point more clear, I will use my favourite metaphor where I compare dance to a language.

The moves we have in any given style are comparable to words in a language and therefore form our vocabulary. Our grammar is the flow of the style and how we connect our moves to form our dance being the text that has a meaning that is created by the combination of words. And finally in hip hop and it’s related styles, music is the topic we talk about.

The difference between dancing freestyle or a set choreography is like the difference of talking free versus reciting a poem. Both are fine at the correct time. You can make a serious impact by having the right poem at hand for the right occasion, but bringing a poem about the beauty of x-mas in a discussion about the ecologic crisis is just stupid.

At the same time, you miss out on a big part of the beauty of choreography if you don’t understand how the moves connect. This is the same as learning a poem in a foreign language when you can tell it to people but don’t know what it means.

And you can’t say you are a master of a language/dance if you can’t create a speech/choreography to a given topic.

This means: there is no “which is better/superior/whatever”. You need to understand both to master your craft. There is nothing wrong in specialising in one or the other if you want. But if you choose to do so, don’t divide what’s one in an artificial discussion and openly admit that you don’t care enough to put in the work to learn both.

acknowledge your roots

Every great thing that happens has it’s roots somewhere. Hip hop freestyle is based on social dances and breaking took a lot from rocking and martial arts. Even krumping, which is not officially hip hop, can not deny that it has roots inside the hip hop culture. The music we krump to evolved from hip hop music, some of the moves that are used in krumping have been there before in the hip hop dance styles.

And you know what? There is nothing bad about that. Cultural movements can part, despite the fact of having common roots. What’s not ok, is denying your roots. None of us would be doing what we do, without the people who layed down the foundation. And there is a foundation to everything new, because nothing comes from nowhere.

If you have inspiration in other things, don’t deny it, own it.

3 reasons for slowing down in your dance practise

Featured Image for the "Slow Down in Practise" post

Quality of movement is a term that comes up often when you are talking with professional dancers. Depending on who you are talking to, it might have a slightly different meaning, but in general it refers to how good a movement is executed. In my personal point of view this translates directly into how beautiful a move looks. Some people might have a different opinion on this. For the sake of this blog, we will ignore those other opinions. My blog, my rules. ūüôā

B-Boy dancing with text overlay about 3 reasons to slow down in dance practise

No matter if we learn a new move or try to polish an old one, doing it slow helps us being more conscious about what we do instead of relying on the autopilot to take over. The more moves we have the higher the chances that we apply techniques of another similar move instead creating the muscle memory for the new or changed one. While the results can be quite as good, we miss the topic of creating or polishing.

An additional benefit of moving slow is that we focus more on details of the movement. Being clear about all the details of a move results in cleaner execution.

Last but not least: moving slower gives us more time to come up with new ways.

If you have different experiences with moving slow while creating or learning, feel free to let us know in the comments.

The creative Break

A lot of books in the old library of Stangass Asylum
A lot of books in the old library of Stangass Asylum

When you are deep in a creative project and force yourself to work on it every day, chances are high that you will encounter some sort of mental block on your way.

For people who write we call it writer’s block. It is a state where you seem to can not proceed any further in the process of creation. While there are many recommended ways how to deal with this kind of issue, there is only one that works well for me. To walk away from the project for some time. This does not mean you have to stop doing your work completely. It just means you should leave this topic alone.

If you write, you can write another story. If you do choreography, you can work on other music. The goal is to give you mind a break from the thing that causes the block. Of course the best thing is to do something completely different, if you can.

When you do this, your subconscious mind keeps working on the issue and more often then not, the solution will come to you in a moment where you are doing something totally unrelated to the topic.

I am out, going to play some video games, to cure my writer’s block.

don’t talk to talk

I am not quite sure if I’ve become intolerant or if our society cultivated a certain kind of behaviour where it seems more important to talk about stuff, than actually doing it.

For every guy out there that is creating something or doing his own thing there are five that talk stupid behind his back or upfront without ever trying to do the same he does.  That is plain stupid.

I think most of us know when they have something valuable to say and when not. If the big NOT is the case, it is a great thing to remain silent or openly state that you have nothing to contribute in the actual matter.

Of course there is nothing wrong about giving feedback to other people. That is one hell of an important tool that helps us grow in whatever we do. But giving somebody shallow or crude feedback that is far beneath the amount of thought that went into creating the thing or idea in the first place, is an affront and a waste of precious time.

If you want to waste some time, waste yours. Don’t get into the way of people who actually do things.

Reading Matter for the next Year

In my last post for this year 2017 I am doing nothing but recommending 5 books that I enjoyed very much this year. All of them gave me some new insights and helped shaping the work I do.

Without further bla bla, here are my top 5 book recommendations to read, if you haven’t read them yet.

I) Tribes from Seth Godin. The book is about global community building and how the concept of the tribe has evolved through the internet age.

II) Rework from David Hansson & Jason Fried. Rework introduces ideas that change the way one can approach work. A lot of these are completely the opposite of the status quo. The authors explain why they do things different, so you can decide for yourself if you stick to the old ways or the suggested ones.

III) Steal like an Artist from Austin Kleon. This really small gem is an introduction into doing your work as an artist. It installs methods and rituals that help you do your daily work.

IV) Die gro√üe Hitze from J√∂rg Mauthe. This one is fiction in german language. I don’t think it is translated to other languages and it’s relevance to readers from outside Austria might be small. For everyone living in Austria or having friends there, get this book and have an excellent satiric novell about austrian officialdom and dwarves. (No joke)

V) The Prophet from Khalil Gibran. Philosophic stories and metaphors about dozens of timeless topics.

If you have any books that you recommend, let me know in the comments. If you already read some of those above, share your thoughts.

Balancing Inspiration

Most forms of enternainment can serve as inspiration for getting your own creative juices going. But the abundance of options and the volume of material that can be consumed might become a source of further procrastination.

If you are diving into movies, books, videogames or music for inspiration you should know that these different types of input effect you thinking in different ways.

Television or cinema (everything that is moving image) give you a very clear image of what is happening. There is very little left to imagination. You might be engaged emotionally but most of the time your brain is not really motivated to work because it is getting everything served. It is dumbing you down, especially when you apply the repeated patterns that are imprinted deep into television productions.

Video games are very similar with the difference that they require you to actively engage.

Music and reading are not as clear about the things they say and you make up a good portion of what might be happening on your own. When two people read a character description in a book, they still envision the character differently. The same goes with music. While we hear the same sound, it triggers different emotional responses in everyone of us.

There is nothing bad in turning on the tv or going to the cinema. But in order to keep your mind active I highly recommend that you grab a book or listen to music more often than you switch on tv.

Have a good night everyone.