M.I.N.D.ful Monday Musings #031
Current State Of Mind
Hello beautiful humans!
Here we are another Monday, and I’m home in Austin. The sickness I mentioned in my last newsletter got a bit worse. The week was filled with saline nasal rinses, boiling ginger, and squeezing lemons to then mix them together with honey to make a healing remedy tea.
Being sick is an interesting mind space to be in because you really can’t rush the getting better part, yet at least for me, I want to make sure I’m giving my body all it needs to get better sooner than later. I’m probably 90% back now, but I'm gonna take the lemon ginger teas and shots into this cold season, for sure.
Besides being sick, I’ve wanted to stay productive with the course creations, the content, reading, and learning, etc. Working on some Black Friday, Cyber Monday deals, so be on the lookout for those!
Some of you may have also seen my post about leaving the fusion dance scene. Since I’ve been reached out to by some fusion and non-fusion dancers, I’ve been reflecting more and more on the reason, and it's no surprise to anyone, but the list keeps getting longer. Not so much about the reasons themselves, but the nuances behind each along with the patterns I’ve observed.
This will probably be its own blog and podcast down the line, but here are the reasons. I feel I also need to explain, for some people, that fusion dancing is its own entire dance scene. I’m not referring to dances like zouktango, bachatango, urbankizouk, etc. Those are more like fusion dances where there’s 80-90% of one dance style with inspiration and influences from another complementary dance style, making up the other 10-20%.
I’m referring to the actual fusion dance scene, the scene of the “glorious non-denominational” partner dancing.
I apologize in advance if I use a term incorrectly or in an unintentionally offensive way.
10 Reasons I’m exiting the fusion dance scene:
- The space is too queer, alternative, white, and exhibits an “inclusive-yet-exclusive" atmosphere. To be clear, I'm defining queer as the general non-cis-heterosexual population. I have no problem with queerness/neuro-divergence "QND" (I'm not queer but I'm probably neurodivergent) and it's interesting to see white QND overshadow BIPOC QND in and out of the dance scene under the umbrella of intersectionality. White QND seems to have a fascination to mostly focus on their marginalization and yet don’t realize the privileges they benefit from. Maybe the absence/limiting of BIPOC people allows this fascination to reign free in the fusion scene. I once felt and believed that fusion was supposed to be an example of diversity and inclusivity (music, dance styles, leadership roles), but seems to really champion that for only select demographics.
- There’s a pattern over the years of some fusion people who very rarely if at all comment or share positive, encouraging messages of the intellectual dance content I produce (and I produce a lot!), yet have and will nitpick/stretch the context of some of my posts to include some perceived “marginalization” of theirs and then use those privileges mentioned above to center the commentary of my posts from its original context to their “suffering”, drowning my Black voice.
- I do not enjoy being a token black person in the space, or any space really. I’ll hold off on further unraveling this point for now.
- I have experienced several times in conflicts or perceived ones, I haven’t and won't be shown grace and will be easily cast aside at times just for sharing my thoughts and feelings.
- It's very easy for me to be perceived as a threat or making someone “very afraid” in moments of miscommunication or conflict, or just simple discourse where humans can share their thoughts and feelings in a safe container. It’s almost like day to day life in & out of the dance scene (at least here in the U.S.) is a microcosm of the American judicial system where black men receive harsher sentences/judgements for crimes, but now instead of crimes it’s conflict or the perception of conflict, misunderstandings, "uncomfortable" discourse that includes simple accountability, and/or maybe just simple dialogue with a black male.
- There's a lack of diversity in music played which can come off as whitewashed. I’m tired of hearing acoustic versions of black R&B and hip-hop artists; I want to hear the original tracks by Black artists. I wonder how many song covers there are by white artists of original black music versus song covers by black artists of original white music. Even music from other continents in other languages would be nice to hear more of.
- There appears to be no real effort from the current leadership to include BIPOC in any influential positions that might seed a change in the direction of “inclusivity and diversity” because they seem to just hire their friends, partners, and/or metamours on repeat versus hiring based on the values of inclusivity, diversity, or talent.
- The rarity of basic dance techniques and basic musicality does not bring me joy; there does not seem to be a culture of growth or improvement which doesn’t resonate with my core values as a dancer. I’ve had too many 'happy puppy' dances. What is a happy puppy dance? Find a really happy puppy and tell them they’re gonna go for a walk, leash the happy puppy, and then play music.
- Over time, I’ve been less and less impressed with the “DJs” of the scene. They are more playlist curators “PCs”. The PCs tend to, more often than not, just use it as an opportunity to play the music they want to dance to. Very few PCs consider the flow of energy and BPMs from one song to the next over their set. Very rarely do they check to see what songs are resonating with the crowd and which aren’t. Very few even try to get a basic DJ controller to try to learn basic beat-matching and blending for smoother dance experiences.
- I don't feel safe. I’ve come to the conclusion that I do not want to fight for white people's (or anyone's) acceptance/recognition of my talents or humanness. I’m also exhausted from being hyper-vigilant about how I show up in these spaces out of fear of saying or doing something the “wrong” way to then receive a harsh “sentencing/judgement” instead of any healthy dialogue or discourse.
These are kind of my unpolished thoughts for now, they are still formulating in my mind and soul.
If your fusion dance experience has been/is different, that’s great! It doesn’t negate my experience.
My experience is also not reflective of the entire scene as I haven't been to every fusion event in every fusion community.
This list could potentially come off as if I didn’t have any positive experiences in the fusion scene, I certainly did and I’m super grateful for those moments and the people I shared them with.
I know there are different definitions of what fusion is even within the fusion dance scene. I wonder if there are any shared core values of what fusion is, should be, can be?
I'm not saying there should be any less of any demographic in the fusion, it's AND. Everyone currently in fusion AND more representation.
My fusion “mom” is Vanessa, and about 6 years ago I was introduced to fusion dancing in Austin, TX at a fusion side room at the Austin Rocks West Coast Swing festival. That was a super fun time dancing fusion with WCS dancers because they had a foundation of technique and musicality.
I really enjoyed working with Vanessa, we organized several fusion festivals together here in Texas, and did a podcast about fusion dancing and that was lovely. I think I started falling out of love with fusion when I started branching out on my own to be a part of things in fusion without Vanessa and realized, oh, this is what the real fusion scene is like.
As I reflect on this, I’m really grateful for Vanessa taking me under her wing to show me the ropes of fusion, the possibilities, recognizing my talents, and co-creating those events together.
Vanessa recently asked me about wanting to join forces together to create a BIPOC focused fusion event. I know I have the event organization skills of website design, graphic design, video editing, logistics, etc but it really feels like the “juice isn’t worth the squeeze”. Why fight to be seen in a space that doesn’t see you or want you to be seen?
Maybe before at the beginning I was more inspired to fight but I definitely don’t have the inspiration I had before and I feel there are other spaces where my talents and skills would be more worth the investment.
A part of me is still in love with the potential of fusion dancing with dancers who have strong foundations in their core dances coming together to dance to dope diverse music from around the world and getting a chance to blend their dance skills together in creative, playful imagination. Unfortunately, at least in my experience, this is more a dream than reality on the fusion dance floor, in my experience.
Will I ever attend another fusion event? I don't like using absolutes because life is crazy and unpredictable, but at the moment I'll focus on urbankiz and Brazilian zouk. We'll see...
Thanks for opening another newsletter! Enjoy the rest of your week!
Song I'm Currently Jamming To
Saw a post from Stephanie out of Toronto who share a cool Soundcloud playlist of nice tracks of urbankiz from 2013 to present.
- A reel breaking down a reverse J-Hook Exit from my time in Warwick.
- A reel about missteps in your dance journey.
- A reel of a practice session with Rika in Boston earlier this year tinkering with CCW touch steps rotations.
- A carousel on actively seeking out feedback in your dancing.
- An image of the communication channels in a dance class and the 42 channels being used with the timeframes of before, during, and after a dance class.
- An image showcasing the 6 lanes of kiz.
- The 16-count phrase mapping worksheet is now available for download!
Photo of the Week
Practicing more flash photography at with Ninja & Serena at Bailame, and I also started a media page, Ogarocious Media.
Dance Meme of the Week
On oldie but a goodie!
Cool Video I'm Watching
I was getting my haircut earlier today and saw for this video for first time of a DJ mixing with cassette tapes!!
11/17-20: Neokiz Intensives - Atlanta, GA (will be rescheduled to next year)
12/1-4: Attending Elevation Zouk Festival (Available for Privates) - Denver, CO
01/11-15: Attending Interfusion Festival (Available for Privates) - Arlington, VA
05/3-6: Neokiz Weekender in Edmonton - Edmonton, AB, Canada
05/17-20: Kizowna 2024 - Kelowna, BC, Canada
07/20-24: 8th Annual Neo Kizomba Festival - Austin, TX
Question Of the Week
How aware is the dance scene of the separation of skill sets between performing, entertaining , social dancing, and teaching? If we are aware of these separate skills sets, how do they come show up in our different dance events?
Answer of the Week
How do you make those quote graphics you post online?
You can view past newsletters here.
Dope Dance Resources
- A cool project to create a global directory of dance events for dancers, artists, and organizers!
- Find out how you can thrive at your next dance event with the Ultimate Dance Event Survival Kit.
- Find out how you can organize your dance journey with the Dancer’s Training Journal 1.0.
- Level up your kiz online with Mr. Neokiz!
- Learn more about the Ultimate Musicality Course For Dancers to level up your musicality!
- Get the 16-count phrase mapping worksheet download for free!
- Join me at my urbankiz festival in Austin, July 18-22, 2024!
- The WhereCanWeDance.com Podcast - Check out my dance podcast!
Thanks for reading!
Thoughts and feedback on the newsletter or on anything covered within are always welcome, just hit reply. The thing I love most about writing this newsletter is follow-up interactions with readers.
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