Saturday, May 26, 2018

Learn How to LINE DANCE

008 14-07-2012 Line Dance auf der LGS Löbau
Photo  by LineDance90As 
There is a style of dancing that is growing in popularity by leaps and bounds. While you are far more likely to see a line dancing contest at Gilley's than on ESPN or any other sporting event network, it doesn't make it any less valid as a dance or even as a method of bringing fitness back into the everyday.

Line dancing has been associated primarily with country music for long time-best estimates say since the 170's. The good news with line dancing is that there aren't too many rules other than keep trying and don't spill your beer if you can help it. Otherwise, if you are willing to get stepped on forgoing the right way or being stepped on by those going the wrong way, it's a great way to spend an evening.

Line dancing is great for many laughs and a lot of fun. It is, however, much more fun if you go in a group rather than going it alone. This is one form of dance that you truly must try before you can decide whether or not you will like it. I can honestly say that watching others participate is not nearly as fun as being right in the middle of them all and watching them participate.

The good news for those who aren't clued in as to the latest steps, twists, turns, and maneuvers, is that most other line dancers began their journey somewhere else as well and are rather patient and often willing to teach those who are less knowledgeable. Of course, if they are anything like me, they are so delighted to find someone less knowledgeable that they are almost giddy at the prospect of sharing their knowledge.

Even better for the utter novice is that most clubs offer lessons before things got really hopping. In fact, most of these clubs will offer these lessons for no extra charge in hopes of selling you a nice cold one or two before prime selling time kicks in. You can also find local groups that often offer line dancing classes in an alcohol-free environment for those who consider this an important consideration and for some of the younger crowd that might find line dancing to be of interest.


Line dancing is a style of dance that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and fitness levels. This is one thing that makes it so widely appealing. You can find line dances at county fairs, local festivals, and even church raffles on occasion. Line dancing is quickly becoming a 'heartland' sort of entertainment that is enjoyed even by those who aren't traditional country music fans.

Believe it or not ladies, line dancing is also an excellent way to talk your fellow into dancing with you. Believe me when he sees you on the line with all those other guys he's most likely going to want to step up and stake his claim. Of course, it's also a great way for couples to have fun together even in the middle of a crowd. Line dancing is great fun almost any way you look at it. If you are new to the notion of line dancing there is no time like the present to head out and get acquainted. You just might find a great new hobby that also happens to burn a few calories in the process.


Friday, May 25, 2018

A New MUSIC OF THE ORIENT: a Touch of the West and a Dash of the Divine

Pipa
Photo  by max_wei 
A new musical fusion has arisen in New York and it's not the kind you can catch for ten dollars at a club in the West Village. For the many thousands of Chinese immigrants trying to stay afloat in a new world and for those westerners who have always wanted to understand the Chinese but have shied away for lack of a way in--for anyone who has wondered where the two civilizations connect, the answer may lie not in words, but in music.

Lisa Li is a master of the pipa (Chinese lute) and a graduate of the Chinese Conservatory of China. She has composed and performed across Europe, Asia and the United States, and her playing was featured in the Academy Award-winning movie The Last Emperor.  Now, as one of the lead composers for New Tang Dynasty Television's Chinese New Year Spectacular, a grand scale performance of traditional Chinese dance and song, Lisa has created what she believes to be a new kind of sound--based on ancient Chinese folk and religious music, but going beyond either of them. 

“Music is alive because, in the view of the Chinese ancients, every single object in the world has a life. In fact, in Chinese, when we refer to a musical note we call it a ‘live note,’” she explains. But according to Lisa, it must be composed and played from the heart—sometimes in ways that sound foreign to the western ear. 

But the melodies are far from random. Lisa’s music, like all traditionally composed Chinese music, is based on a series of pentatonic (5-note) scales. This system has its roots in Taoism, which teaches that all matter is formed from the five basic elements of metal, earth, wood, fire, and water. It teaches that in order for a being to be healthy, it must have all of these elements in balance. So, from the Chinese perspective, a song or piece of music must also contain a uniquely crafted balance of these elements. There are also eight note scales that relate to the Taoist symbol called the Bagua, which is most commonly known in the West as part of the practice of Feng Shui, or geomancy.


An example of this is the piece she wrote for the dance “A Dunhuang Dream.” The dance is set against a backdrop of thousands of caves carved into the sides of cliffs as they are in the Moago Grottoes in the Dunhuang region of China. Seated at the mouth of each cave is a Buddhist or Taoist deity. As the dancers emerge, one can hear from the orchestra pit the voices of the erhu (Chinese violin) and guzheng (zither), but these are soon joined by the more recognizable resonance of cello, bass, oboe, and brass.  The result strikes the ear as achingly otherworldly and yet also solidly familiar. 

In fact, the specific ya yue used in the score is the same as that found in the ancient pipa music written on scrolls that were discovered by archaeologists in the actual Dunhuang caves years ago.

“I feel very deeply that music is a heavenly language, a divine language,” Lisa says. “It is able to uplift people’s hearts and minds. It is good for the soul.”





Thursday, May 24, 2018

How To SING From The Diaphragm

Diaphragma - Photo: Wikimediahttps://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fa/Diaphragma.jpg
You must have heard people saying "Sing from your diaphragm", but what exactly do they mean? How can your diaphragm sing? What they actually mean is to use your diaphragm to control your singing breath.

Well, you must actually practice with good vocal exercises to perfect your singing breath. Singing from the diaphragm is a complex muscle/breath coordination that many singing teachers find it difficult to their students in words effectively. That is why there is so much confusion on this topic.

Just to give you an idea of how your diaphragm works when you are breathing, try this breathing exercise. Stand up straight with a relaxed posture, and then take a big yawn - Ahhhhhh! While you are taking that big yawn, notice how your tummy expands outwards? That is the diaphragm at work, pushing out your tummy so that your lungs can drop lower so that you can take in more air.

Now the diaphragm muscle is also used for the control of airflow by sending the correct amount of air to the vocal cords. As you sing the higher notes, less air is required for the vocal cords. By sending the correct amount of air, your voice quality will be stable and relaxed and the overall singing voice will sound so much better.

However, you need to practice with the correct vocal exercises until "singing from the diaphragm" is an ingrained habit so that you don't even have to think of it when you are singing because you are automatically using this singing technique. You don't even need to remember how much air to release to your diaphragm because you will be releasing just the right amount of air naturally.

Contrary to popular belief, you do not need breathing exercises for singing to strengthen your diaphragm! The muscles in your diaphragm are already strong enough already as it is. This is because your vocal cords are very small and delicate muscles and thus do not require too much support.

Since this is an article, it is not possible to show you the vocal exercises breathing technique demonstrations. However, you can get a feel for it by experimenting with this exercise.

Now put your palms lightly on your tummy. Take in a deep long breath. As you are breathing in, extend your tummy outward and sideways as the air comes in. When you breathe out, pursed your lips together to release a controlled stream of air and at the same time, with your tummy becoming smaller and back to its natural state as air is being released. Now, this is how you will feel when you are singing from the diaphragm.



Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Theater Arts – History of OPERA

Interior of La Fenice opera house in Venice in...
Interior of La Fenice opera house in Venice in 1837. Venice was, along with Florence and Rome, one of the cradles of Italian opera. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In the 1600s Opera started to flourish in Italy. French opera was popular for adding the element of dancing to opera other than the already existing elements such as singing and music. In Italian, opera means works and in Latin, it means the plural of labor. This means that there can be a duet, trio, and group singing. It also utilizes various aspects of the spoken theater, like costume and backdrop.

Greek was the first known theater artists especially people from Athens. Their theater plays included all the elements like acting, dialogues, singing, scene, dancing, chorus and music. This art was cultivated by different civilizations having few or all the elements. One of them was the opera. The western classical theater arts which involve conveyance through singing and dancing and not through dialogues is known as Opera. Composition by Jacopo Peri, Dafne, was written in 1597 and was the first known composition specifically meant for opera although it was inspired by Greek theater arts, it no longer exists. Euridice composition by Peri wrote in the 1600s was the first recorded composition which is available till this date.

The performances are most of the times accompanied by chorus and instrumental music. The libretto is the word in opera and there have been great composers who have written famous libretti like Richard Wagner. Handel was the famous German composer who wrote for theaters in England. Mozart and Lorenzo da Ponte are famous for the great musical works which were played during the opera performances.

There are two types of singing in opera. The first is recitative in which the story is being narrated in a non-melodies style and the second is an area, where the performers were more melodious. Chorus is used as a commentator and sometimes as a narrator. Subcategories of recitative are secco or dry recitative and Accompagnato or stromentato in which orchestra accompanies the performance.  Opera can be further classified as a singspiel, operetta, semi-opera and opera comique. In these types of opera, dialogues are used on the contrary, instead of recitative. Arioso too is replaced by semi-melodic passages.

Opera started with court performances and then shifted to royal theaters. In 1637 this performance was open to the public when the idea of opera festival in Venice was brought up by Monteverdi. It was then known as Baroque opera which had a mixture of both the tragic and comic elements along with some education. This started a reform which was promoted by Venice’s Arcadian Academy. Metastasio was a part of this academy and his libertti became famous till the end of the eighteenth century in Italian opera. And this mixed with baroque opera was known as opera buffa.


The characteristic of Opera Seria is that it had a high tone along with secco kind of recitative. It was greatly liked due to it highly stylized form and the singers at that time were very popular and Opera Seria was in great demand all over Europe except France. The hero had the castrato voice such as Farinelli and Senesino and the heroines had the soprano’s voice such as Faustina Bordoni. Alessandro Scarlatti, Porpora, and Vivaldi were some of the great Opera Seria composers.

But Opera Seria had few loopholes. It concentrated more on drama and left music, singing, and ballet behind.  It was Francesco Algarotti who brought all these elements back with his composition Essay on the Opera. He was then followed by other great composers such as Niccolo Jommelli, Tommaso Traetta and the most successful, Gluck. He used a rich orchestra and vocal lines and brought a reform in Opera Seria.


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

What Is a POWER SONG and Where Do I Get Mine?

Native American "conjuror" in a 1590...
Native American "conjuror" in a 1590 engraving (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Power Songs are oral prayers expressing your true self, your nature, your individuality, your power. All cultures have power songs but you can have your own power song too. We think of the power in a hymn or an African chant, a Shamanic ceremony song or even in the howling of a wolf. And there is definite power in sound.

All Shamans have several power songs because the vibration of the notes in the voice and in the fourth chakra of the throat stimulate sympathetic vibrations in the universe to respond. Everything is connected. What you put out comes back to you. When a butterfly flutters his wings in Cost Rica the winds of Africa are stirred. And when a sound is offered, the universe responds.

Power songs are used in preparation for journeying, healing, offering Reiki, praying, grounding, for protection, for celebration, for solace, anytime you want to connect with the universe in this very special way.

To demonstrate the power of voice and musical notes I would like to you try this exercise.

The fourth chakra is the note FA as in Do Re Me FA. Find a piano and discover the sound of this note if possible. Or find your own closest approximation to it. It is important to find the sound of FA. It is the F key above middle C on the piano but any F key in any octave will also work.

The fourth note or sound of FA is also the note of manifestation or creation upon this planet. So if we want to manifest healing, for example, we can send our intention out upon the note FA into the universe and healing will resonate with our voice of FA and become manifest where we are intending. It really is that simple.

Don't try to complicate it like so many others have. This little simple secret is one that some people have paid thousands of dollars for. Some people have made millions creating musical tapes based on the sound of Fa, subliminal, holosync tapes that offer healing are based on the sound FA. But now you know how to do it yourself.

The visual symbol for the universe made manifest is the square. This symbolizes the power of thought and vibration becoming solid and material in this apparent world. So let’s combine the sound of Fa with the visualization of a square.

Get yourself someplace comfortable where you will not be disturbed for a while. Close your eyes and visualize a square. Intone the sound FA and watch the square and see what image appears there.

You can also do this backward by visualizing the person you want to heal in the square and intoning the sound of FA. Or anything that you would like to manifest for the good of yourself and the world.

Shamans use this technique all the time. The last ingredient the Shaman uses here is desire or strong will. He or she really wants this healing to happen, they can really feel the wish, they put all their emotional energy into the intent.


I often get to dancing and rattling while I intone my power song and bring my whole body into the act of intending a healing for someone. The more feeling you put into it, the stronger the vibration.

Have you ever listened to a Native American song? There is usually one major tone for the song, isn't there! Now you know why!

As a final thought, each note in the scale represents a unique vibratory pattern in the universe. You could do a study to find those out if you would like to know more about sound.

So you see the need for your own power song. Create one this week. it is usually just a line or two repeated over and over. You can use words or vowels or an imaginary language. As long as you create it with FA as your base and emotion and intent, it will be perfect. Power songs are usually kept private and seldom sung in public. The only time they are sung in public is when a group of Shamans has gathered to do a combined healing. It is your prayer to the universe.


    Come Walk With A Shaman Indigenous Traditional Shaman Elder Maggie Wahls offers an introductory course starting with the history of Shamanism around the world. You learn about healing herbs, finding your totem, what Shamanic ecstasy is and how to achieve it without drugs, how to meditate and many actual visualizations to help improve one's skills and much more. To Start Today visit: www.shamanelder.com Article Directory: Article Dashboard