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Best books about society in 2023

Strange times, that’s for sure. We are confused. Some of us scream for more personal responsibility and freedom, while others want stronger government intervention and control.

I did not publish a lot recently. Life kept me busy with things that were not related to dance. I also took the time to read and think a lot. Some books were more thought-provoking than others. Here are some that I want to recommend if you are looking for stuff to read.

  1. 1984. George Orwell. (there are also two graphic novels available, and you might consider grabbing Animal Farm as well)
  2. Schöne Neue Welt. Aldous Huxley. (Original title: Brave New World)
  3. Die gefährliste aller Religionen. Larken Rose. (Original title: The Most Dangerous Superstition)
  4. Psychologie der Massen. Gustave Le Bon. (Original title: Psychologie des Foules, French. Psychology of Crowds, English)
  5. Fahrenheit 451. Ray Bradbury.
  6. Beyond Freedom and Dignity. B. Skinner.
  7. The Handmaid’s Tale. Margaret Atwood.

If you are reading them in 2023, I guarantee a mind-bending journey.

I also have a more extensive list of book recommendations for various topics.

The links in this article are affiliate links, which will take you to Amazon.

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No common ground: the hidden issue with values in society

When we look around in our social circles, around our friends and even in families, many of us perceive that we are divided on multiple fronts and often seem to have no common ground, even with people we once were close to. This gets even more obvious when we see there is more and more activism, as people try to support or spread their values. The issue, in my opinion, is that those values are so manifold and diverse as if they were just opinions.

How do we want to live our lives?

What is this all about? What should be the fundamentals of our social structures and our communities? What should be the rules we live by? The diverse answers to these questions reveal a missing understanding of the complex interrelations beneath our society’s surface and deep insecurities.

The answers reach from the classics, like freedom or safety, over equality or equity, to more trendy answers, like diversity and sustainability. Sounds like we have our values there. But sadly, this is not the case.

A thousand tongues: different meanings of the same words

We mean different things while using the same words. My understanding of freedom may differ from the next person’s. For one of us, freedom might be the state of being able to do what she wants. For another, it can just be that he is not imprisoned. Often we hear, “your freedom ends where mine begins.” Depending on our understanding of freedom, this can resonate with us or make absolutely no sense.

Equality is another hot topic. Do we talk about equal chances or equal results? Do we consider it problematic when the free choices of individuals lead to inequality? If so, do we want to regulate people – means take away their free decision – into doing things they disagree with to reach a state of equality?

Already these different interpretations of the same terms make reaching consent on related topics challenging, but there is more trouble along the road.

The reason I talk to myself is because I’m the only one whose answers I accept.

George Carlin

Double standards: inconsistency in applying so-called values

Besides having different values and not being able to reach consent on what they actually represent, we have a considerable amount of people who only apply their so-called values in some circumstances – meaning only when it suits their own bias. There are many examples, with the most prominent one being supportive of “my body, my choice” when it comes to abortions but not when talking about vaccine mandates.

When we assume that the decision for physical autonomy is based on moral values and not something else, it has to apply in both or neither case. Of course, these discussions are far deeper, faceted and not necessarily connected but pretending “my body, my choice” needs to be holy and agreeing on mandating a vaccine to someone does not go along. In that case, finding another foundation for those choices would make more sense.

It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.

Voltaire

But why?

I assume the reasons for that are based on the diversity of leadership and information. Nowadays, everyone has a chance to find role models and information on many different platforms and places. Back in the days, education, thoughts and opinions were regionally consistent. When most people were religious – not only on paper – the core values of that religion were generally agreed upon. Opinion leaders would influence a group of people exposed to them – but limited to those in their surroundings.

Today the same processes apply, but the sources are diverse. Your parents might be only religious on paper, but you are attending religious education in school, and your friends are becoming engineers and think logic is the only way. You learn about generational tyranny based on race, gender and religion on social media or in your social circles. So your personal view of the world might be very different from the person beside you.

There is no general difference in how we form our opinion to back in the days as our opinion and worldview still reflect the worldview of the people we spend the most time with. But today, we can pick anybody to be a part of the people who influence our thoughts and beliefs. And no matter if we pick people around us or strangers on social media, sometimes it is for the better and sometimes for the worse.

Finding out if you are in a good spot is no easy task. Regularly trying to understand people who disagree and checking if your answers to them would make sense, with brutal honesty, is a good start to avoid becoming part of an army of brainless zombies that simply repeat what they hear from others instead of using their own brains.

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Best Christmas Presents for Dancers in 2022

Check out our list of suggestions for Christmas presents and gifts specifically for your dancer friends.

It is that time of the year again. The months before Christmas, when we start wondering about the presents, we can gift our friends or kids. I’ll refer to friends for the rest of this page. Dancers tend to care a lot more about their skills and motivation to practise instead of material things, so it’s often hard to find the perfect thing. But no worries, I got you covered in case you are lacking inspiration yourself.

1. Workshops and classes

Did I mention that dancers often care about their skills? They really do. Most dancers will be delighted to take an additional class with their favourite teacher or a workshop with a pioneer or expert in their specific dance style. You might need to do a little bit of research to find out which class or teacher is the right one. If there is a name popping up regularly, you know who to pick.

A gift certificate or voucher is the easiest way to package a workshop or class. If you are design-savvy, you will have an easy time making it happen. Otherwise, you can pick up a voucher template and customize it.

2. Workout gear or tools

An essential part of being prepared to dance as good as possible is to keep the body in shape. Some dancers rely on dancing only, but the majority work out in addition.

Tools that almost all dancers can apply in their training are Resistance Bands or a Deuserband. Both are made from elastic rubber-like fabric, and both can be applied in stretching or strength training.

In case your dancer friend is specifically into strength training, you could also pick up a kettlebell, which is simply a big weight with a handle. There are tons of exercises you can do with them, and there are hundreds of tutorials on Youtube to get started.

Got a friend who suffers from unnecessary body tension? Grab a Blackroll or another tool for fascia relief.

3. Books

There is a plethora of books that would make a good gift for your dancer friends. This can be books about the dance itself and how to improve your skills, but it could also be about the history of the dance, the scene the dance originates from or a photography collection.

Here are some recommendations:

4. Event tickets or travel expenses

Dancers love travelling to dance events all around the globe. Often these travels have to happen on a budget. If you can provide the event tickets or pay for some of the travel expenses, your friends will surely be happy.

If the event tickets are not yet available, you can, once again, go for a voucher.

5. Fresh gear or apparel

The term style usually means the individual interpretation of the dance, but there is also style in fashion and gear. Looking fresh is an essential part of most freestyle dances, and many dancers elevate the curation of their outfits into an art form.

The number one spot in the gear section is the sneaker. The variety of available shoes and personal taste makes it difficult to shoot from the hip, but you will get an idea of their preferred model if you take a look at their existing sneaker collection. The best-case scenario is probably taking the trip to the sneaker store together.

In my opinion, the second best guess is either headgear or accessories. Watch how your friend dresses at events, and you will know which one it is. Not going to dance events with your friend? A swipe through their social media might help as well.

6. Wall art

If nothing else seems to fit, you might want to consider some kind of poster. It can be a fantastic dance image, a motivational quote or a combination of both. Maybe it is a really big print of their favourite dance photo of themselves.

Many options are available for the seeker of presents. Depending on your budget, you can go for a digital download to print at home, for a framed museum-quality print or anything in between.

If you have additional ideas, meaning more Christmas presents for dancers, let us know in the comments.

The links in this article contain affiliate links which take you to amazon or etsy stores.

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blog

Your Art is NOT the Issue

Many artists and content creators struggle with monetizing their work. They are confronted with biases and self-doubt. More often than not, they think the problem is that their art is just not good enough. In the majority of cases, this is not true.

Being an artist and the ability to earn money from your art are two entirely different animals. Turning your art into a sustainable business needs an entrepreneur’s mindset. More important, mediocre art can thrive, if paired with a viable marketing approach.

The main issues why artists fail to generate income with their work are:

As an artist, we don’t have to take care of everything on our own but can trust others with taking care of those things for us. I still recommend doing everything yourself for a short amount of time, so you know what these tasks are about.

As you see, I am back at writing. Let’s dive deeper into these topics in the near future.

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blog listicles martial arts

Amazing Christmas Gifts and Presents for Martial Artists and Fighters

Finding the perfect gifts or presents for your martial-arts-obsessed friends, kids or spouse can be a serious pain in the ass. Worry not, I have some suggestions that might help you out.

1. Workshops and classes

Martial artists care for their personal skill development. So naturally, working on those comes first. If you totally run out of ideas, you can always pay for their regular classes or book them a workshop with their favourite sifu or sensei.

A gift certificate or voucher is the easiest way to package a workshop or class. Many schools offer these, especially around Christmas. If they don’t you can create one on your own when you are design-savvy or simply use a template.

2. Workout gear or tools

An essential part of being prepared to fight (be it in a cage, harder sparring or in self-defense situations) is to keep your body in shape. Some martial artists only rely on their practice, but most of the work out too.

A jump rope (better a speed jump rope) is essential for boxing and kickboxing but will be helpful with most modern fighting sports. Even though traditional martial arts rarely use them, the strength, coordination and stamina they build are helpful for all martial arts practitioners.

A new contender in the ring is the Octomoves Flow Rope, which feels like a jump rope without jumping. It works the core, the back, the arms and the shoulders and has some similar techniques to traditional weapons like the rope dart or meteor hammer. If your friends are into flow exercises with any martial arts weapon, they will love this thing.

Almost all fighters can apply rubber bands in their training. Common ones are Resistance Bands or a Deuserband, which support numerous higher kicks and stretching exercises. The resistance bands can be used to work on your punches as well.

kettlebell, which is simply a big weight with a handle, is also a very versatile tool. There are tons of exercises you can do with them, and there are hundreds of tutorials on Youtube to get started.

Got a friend who suffers from unnecessary body tension? Grab a Blackroll or another tool for fascia relief.

3. Books

A plethora of books would make a good gift for your fighter friends. This can be books about their preferred fighting style, about some fighting-related philosophy or about known martial artists.

Here are some recommendations:

4. Weapons or Fighting Gear

Many traditional martial arts use weapons like the staff, sticks or knives. There are also fancier ones like the chain whip, three-section staff or nunchucks. Find out which ones they want, before buying.

Boxing Gloves, Pads or a Heavy Bag might also be the right thing.

Also, if you have a specialised store in town where you can get good customer service, prefer this one over ordering from the internet.

5. Wall art

If nothing else seems to fit, you might want to consider some kind of poster. It can be a fantastic fighting image, a motivational quote or a combination of both.

Many options are available for the seeker of presents. Depending on your budget, you can go for a digital download to print at home, a framed museum-quality print or anything in between.

If you have additional ideas, meaning more Christmas presents for fighters, let us know in the comments.

The links in this article are affiliate links which take you to Amazon or Etsy.

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Jasmin Rituper in Tanzcafé #8

In another episode of Tanzcafé, I sat down with the prolific performer and content-creator Jasmin Rituper. She is a dancer but prefers to call herself a movement artist, to avoid labels and prejudice.

She trained many styles and worked in Austria, Amsterdam, New York, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. All of her experiences as a dancer, as well as a spiritual being, led to the creation of her own movement method, called Mechanimal Movement.

Check out her story in Tanzcafé #8, as usual for the podcast – in German language.

Find or share this episode:

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Messy beginnings: Be brave and early

“Messy beginnings:” Doing something that has never been done, or at least has never been done in a specific context. Infrastructure is missing, issues are fixed with patches and bandages. The result is a patchwork from a few or many enthusiastic people that work towards a common goal.

Different people bring different experiences and different opinions, which often leads to disagreements on how to do things. That is the hard part of being first in a new space. But it is also the beauty of the process. Different brains on the same topic, give the option to do things better than in streamlined environments, where we have a “correct” way of doing things.

Working in a new, messy environment gives us room for innovation. That is what’s happening right now with Breaking at Olympia. It is also what is happening with NFTs. Both are messy beginnings and have massive potential to change breaking and business with breaking forever.

Don’t ignore things, just because they are messy. Innovation always is.

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Let’s find new ways to do business with art

2020 and 2021 taught me that doing business with art in the way we did relies way too much on things that I can’t control. I also learned that I absolutely detest that. So what can one do, who spent half of his life dancing, teaching, and producing dance. Doing something else is not an option. Honestly, it would be too easy.

From now on, I will embark on a journey to find new ways to work with art. Ways that are more self-sufficient and less reliable on existing structures or gate-keepers.

In the tech world, decentralization is the buzzword that promises solutions to issues that only arise because we gave too much control to people who only care for profits, and not for the art. We can do the same in art. Finding alternative places to show what we do, move even more in the public space and at the same time in the digital realm. There are new distribution models that promise proof of ownership and direct compensation flowing from the audience to the artist, without being eaten up by middlemen.

I am excited to take a deep dive into these new opportunities. Let’s see what the future brings.

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blog documentation tanzcafe

Tanzcafé with Olivia, Sina, Jaekwon and Chris Cross

In the last weeks, life was a roller coaster. I neglected writing for the blog, the newsletter and promoting the new podcast episodes. Despite not promoting them, I recorded and published. As life is getting a little bit more stable again, meet the Tanzcafé episodes 2-5 with the amazing Olivia, Sina, Jaekwon and Chris Cross.

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Who is fact-checking you?

Recently I witnessed the question “Who is fact-checking you?” popping up on Social Media more and more. Not aimed at me, but at good people I follow. That question is a sign of ignorance and misunderstanding of the process. In my opinion, it’s a testament to one of the most underrated issues of our society: the missing ability to check and verify the information yourself.

What is fact-checking?

Fact-checking is an elementary form of research. If you are confronted with new information, you look for the real source of this information. If you get it from someone who just heard/read it somewhere and you don’t know where it comes from, you can not judge if the source is trustworthy. If you find the source, look if the statements make sense. Is it about what someone said in an interview? Check the interview, not an article about someone writing about the interview. About science? Is the source a scientific paper that quotes other sources, or is it a text that is all anecdote and no data?

Depending on what you are fact-checking, the process differs. 

Why you need to fact-check yourself

Because you never know the reasons why other people do it. More often than not, so-called fact-checkers are on the payroll of governments, corporations, or NGOs with their own agenda, which is not revealing the truth but supporting their interests. These fact-checkers are just part of the propaganda machine.

If you can’t do it yourself, have someone on your team who can do it, or you lose in the information war.

The basics

Here is the absolute basic process if you want to get started with fact-checking yourself.

  1. Check Google and DuckDuckGo for the stuff you want to read about. We use 2 different search engines to rule out algorithmic bias or censorship. You can use any 2 search engines of your choice as long the second is not based on the first. If you can not confirm this info, just go with Google and DuckDuckGo.
  2. See if you can find the original source. Example: if it is about something someone said: try to find a video interview where he did. Then check if the video has been cut at that place. If yes, it might be out of context as it has been edited.
  3. If your results from multiple search engines align, you are good to go. Otherwise, you need to properly research the stuff.