Where is the key to purity? – August, 1794

I watch the walls become greyer and greyer around me each day. In the pits which I pee the portrait of my son is a growing mirage with every passing hour. The lone window slices me open like a perfectly placed rapier, it is but too high to see out of but less too small to block out the world entirely. Instead, it burrows into my soul, cutting into my memories, my thoughts. My head burns from its brightness. This light has no more place in this cell than I a place in that world. I have a place in that world! AAAAHHHHH. What have I become? Was I never more than a try-hard ‘bout to get barred? I am a prisoner of my own goodness, the truth is that I don’t know what not being a prisoner is like. My Declaration was the key, turns out it was the key to my cage. I am now locked in my own doings, none of which I am not proud of, but to speak loudly of any which set of my actions in front of any which group of people would be a death sentence. I guess trying to be nice is a death sentence. When you play too many cards you may as well not play at all. How am I still even playing? Why? At least there are four nice things in this world still. Nothing and no one will ever take away the crown jewels of my monarchy, the suns of my world. I will wait until I hold them again, whether it be in death or in life.  I’ll say it not, but for what those fools think of what I have done, it may be said that they are taken dead than rather alive. What I would give to throw myself in place of them for any mortal wish they face, even to kiss their cheeks clean of dripping tears before their heads are torn from their torsos and drips of blood replace them. I know not what has occurred, nor what is occurring, nor the fate of My Dear Heart and my dearest children. But they are now the only key that can unlock me. Their tender faces, so pure. Hands clean of civil blood. They are the real suns in my darkness. To hold them I wish. Everyday. Feel their warmth fill me with joy and love for love is lost in my soul in this cell. Everyday. Oh please, if my one wish can escape this prison, let it be love, let them live. 

La Fusillade du Champ-de-Mars – July 17th – 1791

My Dear Heart does not know what she hides from in this house. I pray she takes the children away, but I further debate the looming consequence of my position and, then, whether I might join them too. Oh Dear Heart there is nothing that I want you to see less than these sights I’ve seen today.

I will never understand the purpose of these conflicts, if you can even call them that. We all want the same thing, they just don’t seem to understand the way in which I believe we shall reach that goal.

More importantly I wish they’d not put me in these positions. Sometimes I regret why I even entered the military in the first place. A young helpless decision maybe? The French forces are the people who have the most power to make a real difference, for better or for worse, but there is not a simple way of making that change. If we should attack the royalty we’ll lose the support of half our troops, nonetheless, of course, unnecessarily kill innocent people and people who do not deserve to die.  I could never do such a thing even if my life depended upon it. The King has done so much for our country, provided funds for Amerca’s success, gathered the peoples from all across our nation. Nowhere is it written: his name accompanied by a sentence of death.

Rather on the other hand, should I lead my men at regular into the city streets banging on doors and without relent, looking to kill any loyalists, or further even revolutionaries at large, I would be destroying the very revolution that which I wanted to create.

For what is my very purpose within this turmoil? Please Lord help me, I know not what to do. I have come to confess my crimes but I fear this is not enough to account for the deadly crimes which I did commit today.

http://frda.stanford.edu/en/catalog/rb028ps3693; Here I confess my sins at the Abbey of Saint Martin

I cannot ever be seen, nor heard, nor be doing the things I did today ever again. My very soul shan’t allow me to do such things. These filthy dogs left me for dead and left me for bringing death upon hundreds! Which I did not do!

This day I entered the grounds of a grand petition that was growing. I looked only to keep the peace, but upon my appearance the peoples of the radical factions erupted! There was nothing I could do! They stoned my men. They stoned me. Thank the Lord my children and wife were not present. For a time they left, relented the strength and allowed me to regain the morale of my troops. We thought it smart to stay to ensure the situation did not escalate again. But, merely hours later the citizens returned. All citizens who supported my document explicitly giving them the right to have say legally, safely, respectfully. Yet, they pursued more violence. And death. Might there have been 50,000 men there today, I did not want to fire on a single one of them. In fact, I found hope in the depths of my heart when I rode up to the grounds, seeing the masses that which had gathered for their own rights. To stand up for what they believe, and for a good cause. It lifted my spirits, after being asked to enact military power upon them, I mustn’t have been in the lightest of moods, but the lump in the pit of my stomach was lifted at this sight. My heart bloomed, and joy began to fill my body.

Only moments later I had to fire.

They gave me no choice.

What was I to do?

If only they had listened to my requests. I asked them, trust me I did. Peacefully I pleaded their cooperation for ne’er had I dreamt n my worst nightmares I’d be shooting on my friends, my fellow citizens. I hope these men can return to peace, and know I meant no intentional harm: Danton, Brissot, Marat… Robespierre.

Oh my Dear Dear Heart I came home to. She sat in her chair in the corner of our living room. Georges sitting on the floor by her feet, Virginie and Anastasie on either side of the room, all sitting at peace, unknowing of the horrors that I had just seen.

Oh please let them be safe from this terror.

Now I rest at my desk. Her breathing soothes my soul, to the depth that which it can be cleansed in these times of dread and fear, and crime. She sleeps behind me. Please keep her this way. There is nothing more pure in my life, no more beautiful or right. Right. This is what I search for: right. There may be nothing more I can do in this fight. There is no more my heart can take surely. It may now be my time, to bid adieu to my friends, those of which who still fight here in this terror, to take my family to a better place. A place where hope will not be taken from one’s soul. To a place where we can live right. 

My Dear Heart and I will truly be free.

The Declaration of the Rights of Man of the Citizen – FrenchRev


Above is an artistically designed representation of the Delcaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which was originally proposed and then signed in the National Assembly in 1789. This artifact is a particularly special and relevant document to my character, the one and only Lafayette, as he was the key creator of the document. He had the assistance of Thomas Jefferson before he left to return to the newly founded United States, but Lafayette was the passion behind the creation of this document for France.

Here is a link to an English translated version of the document that clearly shows the different points of the Declaration.

The Declaration plays a very large role in the French Revolution starting right at the beginning in 1789 when it is accepted by the National Assembly in August. The King is later forced to sign an agreement to the document when he is being held in house arrest at the Tuileries Palace in Paris, bringing it to the national forefront. It remains a key driving backbone behind the beliefs of the revolutionaries throughout the revolution and the events that follow years after. In fact, the Declaration officially remains in the French constitution today.

The document shows us how the many French were unhappy with the treatment of people from all backgrounds: race, religion, class. It states that they want equal representation and treatment in the court of law and opportunity to participate in society.

Lafayette wrote this to outline what was important to the people and why they wanted change. It was the beginning of his ideas of an ideal nation and what needed to become of the country. However, as radicals became more and more in power, the document was taken on backroads and roller coaster rides Lafayette may not have intended it to go on. With the extremist groups rising and the violence being created, Lafayette may not have intended the document’s meaning to stretch so far as to justify such actions. Nonetheless, in the end, it had its glory, and the real fight, for the rights of man, came true.

My Dear Nation – August 29th, 1781

My Dear Heart,

I’ll be home. Whilst my heart is with this fight, it is also with you. My Dear Heart, I know you are strong enough for us to be apart for else I’d not have left you for this time. Please know that. But I must have this fight. This fight is for my Papa, for me, for us. I pray for nothing more than this to be us one day. You cannot understand the want I have for our own freedom in France. To create what we are creating here: There would be nothing greater for our nation. This war will give us that chance. I will come home, to you, and Henriette, and Anastasie, and my dear little son Georges. Oh I do hope Georges is well. I trust that the deliverer of your next letter can tell me of this, of our child’s state. Please pass this on to me, for I wish to love him and to see him and to hold him. I do wish I could be there with you now as he comes to be a young boy but I shall be there soon. We shall finish this battle soon. I trust we’ll not be longer in this fight.

It’s been very hot here of late. We sit in our canvas tents by night, awaiting any sign of the British. I have been moved to Malvern Hill where we are expecting a large contingency of British any time now. I can hear the York River nearby, and all the peaceful birds that accompany its existence. It is so at peace with itself, with the rest of nature, it occurs so fluidly. I dream that maybe one day we can live in such a way, that people of all religions and beliefs can coexist with equal rights for pay, land, and vote. I know it’s a big dream, but I think we can do it my Dear Heart, I truly do. With these men I have come to know as my brothers and cousins I believe we could do anything. With Washington at the lead, guiding us as a father, down the streets of history and through roads that which we’ve not seen before. Washington has helped me more than I could have ever asked for. Upon my return he has taken even greater action in making sure I am respected amongst our fellow Continental militia. He is making sure that I am being valued for my intellectual skills that can help us conquer the British in seemingly insurmountable circumstances.

Not quite a month ago I was alone with only a small number of troops when the British set siege upon us from every angle. I organized expeditions run by small groups to do the same to them, and while we executed short and powerful sessions against them they became fearful there were more of us than there were. This led to their retreat only a week later. Washington has recognized my abilities and trusts me to get the job done whatever the situation.

He has become a father to me more than my own ever got the chance to be. Though I hold it not to be the one who wishes against my birth parent, George has done more of a job than I could ever imagine a father could do. He comforts me in the quiet of his home on leave, but allows me lead in the heat of battle. He cares for me with more honour and heart than anyone ever has before and I don’t know in what position I would be without his support to this point. I don’t know how I would be here, and without you, surviving if it was not for his words of love. I’ll not look ahead to the time I must bid him adieu, to the time beyond when I can no longer embrace him after an unpleasant adventure or a a disappointment that breaks me to the bone of my heart. ‘Twill not be a pleasure for the neither of us. I do wish he could come and live with us, a a grandparent to our little ones and teach them as he has taught me, all the most important and moral lessons of one’s life. But that, for obvious reasons, will not be a feasible future.

However at the present I am still here, and the good man has told me of our plans for the battle to end it all. Yorktown shall be the place, a fight for the history of our young nations. Not only shall we overcome the British but this shall prove the possibilities of belief. From here we can bring these ideals to France and our beloved people. Washington, Jefferson and the others can help me prepare for our own fight. I promise it will be the best outcome for you and our young children, I would not nothing more than to provide your babies with a society of utmost civility and liberty.

Upon my last visit, though short, I was able to gain some support from the reluctant French militias, and with the surviving Continental contingent I should think it likely we can pull off the victory.

Oh how I do wish to see your face my Dear Heart. When my brothers have their women about them at night I imagine myself with you in your gracious presence, and how you would outshine them as the brightest star fills the night sky. You are but the Sun in my universe and I will revolve around you my Dear Heart. For this time parted is not of my enjoyment. Please forgive me for my absence, for  upon my return I’ll have though of you every step of the journey.

Please set a kiss upon the heads of our little ones, and though I think it not necessary to present, I only wish to set a kiss upon yours my glorious Dear Heart.


Hop In to the Hype! – Final In-Depth Post (#6)

Well, it’s coming to a close again. It’s been a mix and mash of chaotic events the past couple of weeks but I’ve made some significant progress on my In-Depth and started working towards my presentation!

After my last post, I was able to contact Minlyn about setting up a session to learn a few moves. He was kind enough to work with me during a lunch time last week and he showed me a few pretty cool things! He taught me four different moves that you can use in different ways or scenarios:

  • Handstand; can be done stationary or while walking on hands.
  • “Pop and lock”; with the arm over your chest and popping your
    One-hand-stand; http://best-sports.tumblr.com/

    shoulders and upper body side to side or in other ways.

  • One-hand-stand; specifically a kick up with both feet and a grab
    A Stall; http://chris-fiction-mae.skyrock.com/3223776871-chapitre-98.html

    with your free hand to the closest foot.

  • A “stall”; often referred to as the “baby freeze”, a balance on both hands leveraged on your hips with your feet in the air.

I struggled with most of these moves as they require a lot of strength, and most importantly, practice. They are all breakdancing moves, which is what Minlyn specializes in, and he gave me some tips for practicing them on my own and for how to execute them. For example, with the one-hand-stand, he showed me how you want to enter it from a virtually sideways position like you would a cartwheel. Then it’s just a matter of kicking up as high as you can and maintaining that flat sideways position, not falling to either side or bending over. It was very new for me to try these types of moves but it was a lot of fun because I have always admired breakdancers and their wicked moves. This certainly reinforced the message that it is a lot harder than it looks and this form of dance particularly requires an especially large amount of strength in each individual move.

Breakdancing is also sometimes referred to as “B-Boying” which is a term I heard a lot when I watched So You Think You Can Dance back in the summer/fall! Another cool connection is from a song I heard a lot as a childhood that many people would recognize from Hannah Montanna, an old kids’ show, the Hoedown Throwdown! In probably the most famous part of the song she sings…

Pop it, lock it, polka dot it
Countrify it, hip hop it
Put your hawk up in the sky, move side to side
Jump to the left, stick it, glide

This is pretty cool because I actually know what all of these different words mean now! Pop and lock is basically when you isolate a part of your body in movement while the rest of your bod stays “locked” in place. And gliding is a form of footwork in hip hop or breakdance where you have your weight distributed on your feet so that you can move one of your feet with it looking like it is “gliding” over the floor, almost like anti-gravity.

I have also watched a lot of online videos and picked up quite a few other new moves, many of which are quite complimentary to the tricks Minlyn taught me, or vise versa. I also learnt about the popping,  locking, and gliding that I talked about above in these! I’ve listed a few of the moves I learned below.

  • Lower Body Isolation; turning on your heels either with or without your upper body at the same time, creating a robotic movement.
  • Head and Neck Isolation; a stepping down or up movement of your head separate from your shoulders, you can add different arm movements or positions to it for more emphasis.
  • Arm Roll; the classic, I’ve always wanted to properly learn this so now I have, although it is very difficult as you want to really emphasize the different parts of the motion. You maintain a straight line with your arms that is only broken when the wave arrives at that section.
  • Arm Popping; tensing and releasing of your arm/s for an instant to create a locked position almost like you are being electrocuted.
Basic Glide Footwork; http://i.makeagif.com/media/4-30-2016/BfpO6p.gif
  • Glide Footwork; I’ve known the basics of this for a long time it turns out, but the tutorials gave me some ideas of how to use it in different ways to move around. You use different weight distributions between your heel and toe to move in circles or just from side to side. I’m definitely excited to apply this move in some cool ways in my performance!
  • and many more…

These have helped me a lot in preparation for planning my performance and they have given me a lot of ideas for some different things I can include! A lot of these are also a more ‘raw’ style of hip hop, as opposed to a more ‘feminine’ type which was what our class was focused on, so this has been really fun getting to try a different sub-genre, so to speak!

I have also just started to plan for my performance! I’ve gotten it down to about five songs but I’m going to leave it for the night for you all to find out as there will be a little bit of a surprise in the music I’m dancing to!

Lastly, our group, Elyssa, Alyssa, and myself, are going to be starting work on our group routine this Sunday and we plan to meet quite a few times over the next few weeks. We will likely also put in some time at school to practice things together. Hopefully this Sunday we can get out song “locked” down and start some choreography together! This will also be a great opportunity for us to share some of the things we have been working on and give each other some support and feedback. We’ll be able to help each other a bit in preparing our performances which I think this will help when it finally comes time to step on that stage and break it down, as I am starting to get pretty nervous about that. It is sure going to be nerve-racking being up there all on my own, but I think if I just focus on having fun and I’ve prepared well then it will turn out fine. Plus, we will be able to practice in front of each other lots to get more comfortable.

So, that’s where I’m at. Hopefully I can “glide” right into my performance without getting “locked” up anywhere. Although if there are some mishaps, which there are sure to be, I’ll just have to find a way to “roll” through them! So for now, until my performance, best wishes to you, and I’ll be hip hopping into the hype of the show!

I’m a Helpless Cause – Ham4School 2016

Disclaimer: I apologize in advance for excessive use of puns and Hamilton quotes to anyone whom it may pain or concern.

Yup, that’s basically me with Hamilton right now. I really don’t know how to say no to it, so you could pretty much call me helpless. I’m full-out, non-stop with everything to do with it, and so I was not going to throw away my shot at spending class-time analysing and discussing Hamilton with fellow classmates who are also blown away by this outstanding creation! Then the opportunity to use the very beauty of the musical and its quotes through imagery (in memes) and I am completely, wait for it,  satisfied. Oh right, memes, that’s what this post is supposed to be about, not just my dearest Hamilton, although that would probably be enough for me to fill a blog post with.

Any ways, let’s get right into it!

I made a few memes to show some of the different messages that stood out to me in Hamilton and how they relate to some of the current events in our world as well as the big ideas.  Here is one of them.

I created this one based on how different these two scenarios are regarding the topic of immigrants and foreign politicians. I think it particularly embodies the big idea of how disparities in power alter the balance of relationships in societies specifcally. This is shown in how Hamilton was in power, and that was it, he was in power, and now Trump believes that people born outside of his own home physical landmass shouldn’t have the right to have that power there. Now it is important to note that Trump is a fairly extreme case on the spectrum, but he is certainly not the only one who disagrees with the entry of immigrants in general in to the United States of America. As the issue of Syrian immigrant displacement grows and carries on many people in western countries feel uncomfortable or even fearful of the possibility of a large number of them, or even any, coming to their homes. Most fear a certain risk in who exactly is coming into the country but needless to say it wasn’t so much of an issue back in Hamilton’s time when virtually everyone involved in the newly founded societies was an immigrant in one way or another. This is an example of how “Collective identity is constructed and can change over time.” (another big idea). It’s definitely interesting to consider this and how all of the leaders didn’t necessarily consider themselves immigrants then, nor do they now, but there are and were countless people entering the nation for different reasons all the time. Likewise it’s interesting to look at the public opinion on these events in the respective times.

The next couple memes were a little more personally inspired and special to me as they reflect and issue that I am a little more directly related to.

This first one originated from a brief discussion we had in class about the difference between the meanings of “Work” and “Werk”. In conclusion it was generally determined that the word and meaning of “werk” could be attributed to the usage of “work” in the song The Schuyler Sisters in Hamilton. The reasoning behind this was that the consensus meaning of “werk” was that it is more of an adjective to describe someone who is doing a really great job at something that could be relatable, and can also be used in a somewhat sarcastic or fun-loving way. For example, it could be used to describe someone who is really rocking a unique outift, like “Werk it girl!” Also often used in a longer, more drawn out format, ie. “Weeerk!” as was found difficult to describe without the presenting of it as such.

Any ways, back to the meme. I do agree that in this song of the musical Angelica Schuyler is really showing how she can be just as strong of a presence in society and in equal in force to the men and here Eliza and Peggy are cheering her on for it. For them she is really showing how women can “werk it” just like the guys and don’t just assume them to go along with the status quo or not to be aware of what is going on in society. We also did mention in class how in the actual script of the musical it is written rather as “work”, nonetheless I feel it suits this situation more accurately, at least for a meme, to use the above style. As Eliza and Peggy are supporting Angelica in this segment I think it is also something that women today could stand behind and cheer as we are still not looked upon as equals to men on the daily basis and for what we can really achieve. Additionally this could be a relatable reaction for some women watching say for example Emma Watson make her remarkable speech about women’s rights at the UN in support of her HeForSHe campaign. It could also be used in this context synonymous with “You killed it!” or “Great job!” Kind of like “Awesome. Wow.” haha(Hamilton reference) not quite. This meme represents the big ideas “Emerging ideas and ideologies profoundly influence societies and events.” as well as “Disparities in power alter the balance of relationships between individuals and societies.” Thememe represents the former in the idea of feminism both then and now and women’s rights, and the latter in how women have opportunities to use their abilities in the world. This was an issue in the 1700s and other than a few technical improvements such as the right to vote many commonplace interactions are still impacted by prejudice and sexism.

Which is largely what my next meme is about.

Again, as you can see, this is from the song The Schuyler Sisters and I think it really shows how women can be treated in society. Even down to the smallest of gestures or comments by people that really don’t seem to mean much but give a vague and far-more-often-than-not inaccurate description of a woman. These are really truly insulting for the woman to whom it is aimed and also to women as a whole society. The recent rise in public pressure against these societal ‘habits’ is what we know as the “emerging idea” of feminism, and as we can see from this song, sparks were starting fly for this flame even way back in the 1700s at the very beginning of North American Western colonization. One of the biggest current storylines that is an issue on the table, is the gender pay gap. This issue is  becoming so prominent hat groups such as the United States women’s soccer team have recently gotten very involved. Additionally campaigns such as the HeForShe campaign and feminism in general are garnering more and more attention and bringing new light to the opinions around women being capable in the workplace and as strong as men in society. I think that the internet and social media have especially helped this rise where it couldn’t have before as it has given women a stronger voice and more power to present themselves and their side of the story. This is a perfect  example of how “Disparities in power alter the balance of relationships between individuals and between societies.”

I created another meme that can be found on my Twitter page but I chose not to include here as I was just getting the hang of it with that one and I think these embody the ideas a little more.

Overall I think this was a very useful and productive way of looking at the messages in Hamilton and applying them to events today in a way that is very relevant to our society now. Memes! I wasn’t very experienced myself with the meme and internet culture that I had to explore a  little for this and so even though it may seem a little weird this was actually a  very useful area to learn about. I think it’s actually important that we are aware of this form of communication in this day and age because as we discussed, it is how many of us communicate, and so understanding this is obviously very important. Further, as the age category that utilizes this form of expression grows it will become more and more prominent in culture.

Needless to say I also thoroughly enjoyed this activity because, well, Hamilton! So for now, though I’m sure you’ll be back to memes soon, I myself need to take a break for a little bit. Haha who am I kidding this is an absolutely amazing current event in itself and I don’t know how to say not to it! Well I hope you enjoyed my memes, I’ll see you on the other side of the war!

Spin Around – In-Depth Post #5

Hello again! Well I hope you all had a wonderful break either at home, or away, with friends or family, or on your own. I had a nice get away to refresh myself and I’m back at it for the conclusion of this improvement.

I’m at a bit of a turning point in my project, hence “Spin around”, okay sorry, that was not really even a good pun. Well I finished off my last dance class right before I went away wherein I got to be a part of the video of the dance we have been working on all along! So without further ado, as I’m sure you’re all curious, here’s the link to the video, edited by our instructor Bev Soh, of our dance to the Demi Lovato song Confident!

I’m not in quite as many clips as some of the other dancers as I was not there the first day of filming however it was great that I was able to be a part of this and have this to document what we’ve been working on!

In addition to this over the break I did practice a few times just messing around with some different moves and watching a few videos and trying them out! One particular session, I had a little personal dance workout earlier this week to the musical Hamilton, that many of you have probably heard about, while listening to it for the first time for Social Studies. That was a lot of fun, and it was actually really good practice for some of the different moves that I have seen and just experimenting on my own! I will now be looking to get into a regular practice schedule of at least twice a week for an hour on my own now that my classes with Bev have ended.

This is  not the end of my mentoring however, as I noted at the beginning of this project, I am now on the search for a mentor to guide me through my development in the last couple months of the project or possibly another class that could supplement this role with some extra individual sessions on the side. I have already spent some time looking into some local classes but I am really trying to find an individual who is willing to be my mentor on a regular mentor for these last two months. If you know anyone who might be right for the job please comment below, and I was also recommended a few people recently who I will be trying to contact this weekend.

So for the sake of this week’s blog post I’ll be reflecting on my mentoring relationship with Bev and looking forward to what comes next for me.

What kinds of learning opportunities does the mentor provide to expose you to new learning?

With Bev it was mainly a teaching focus with her at the front of the room and going through the various steps and then the whole dance multiple times as a group. Something unique she used in one of our later classes was peer feedback. This was when half our group performed for the other half without her leading and we gave them feedback, and then we switched.

What kinds of learning opportunities exist to reinforce new learning?

Bev was very good, as I’ve mentioned before, at sending us a video of our most recent rehearsal every week so that we could follow along and practice the dance on our own. This was very useful for reinforcing individual learning because I was able to replay certain parts that I really struggled with and just watch that part closely until I got it. Bev was also supportive and always offered for us to come early to class, especially on the performance(filming) days for extra assistance and review if we needed it.

What kinds of opportunities exist that might accelerate learning?

Some things that are really going to help me know as I try to do more on my own are online tutorials and thus personal practice time. Another opportunity I will be taking advantage of is a fellow classmate who is very skilled in hip hop and breakdance and has agreed to help me out in my project, Minlyn! I will be setting up a session with him for sometime in the next couple of weeks likely as an extra learning session.

When you get together what do you talk about?

Well as I was participating in a class our mentor-mentee relationship was a little different. We didn’t really talk in a one-on-one setting or develop a more personal relationship. I am hoping that this type of individual connection and support is something that I will be able to have with my soon-to-be-unknown mentor.

What is going particularly well in your mentoring relationship right now?

Well, for our classes, I’m done! Not so much that, but rather, I performed! Now it was in a slightly different form than a normal performance but I did have to dance in front of the rest of my class at times and put myself on the internet. This is definitely a good step towards stepping on the stage in my final performance at in-depth night, which, by the way, is not worked out yet, however I believe the three of us are planning on at least a bit of a group dance and definitely live performances in general!

What are you learning about one another?

This is again also something that I didn’t develop much for from my relationship with Bev as I didn’t get to know her very closely. However, I will say that as I mentioned earlier in the project, something that I have learned about Bev is that she is very passionate about dance and that is one of the very important and special things in her life. She is always ready to go and fully energized for our classes and she even brought extra materials for our last class to make sure everyone had accessories that fit the group theme. Not to mention she is the one who takes the time to edit all the clips and angles together to make sure everyone is in it and everyone looks great!

Overall this was a very fun and positive experience for me as my first formal dance training in a while, and it was a great way to introduce me to hip hop and get me going. I hope that I can build on this in the next few weeks and also I will definitely incorporate some of the moves and skills that I learned from this class into my final performance in May!

Have a great week, and remember, there is nothing wrong with being confident!

Slow but Growing Confident – In-Depth Post #4

First of all I want to apologize for such a slow update this past week. From Provincial basketball to poetry all the way back to practicing for our dance video shooting, it has been a little hectic, to say the least. Nonetheless, I have made it, and had a lot of fun along the way! As you may remember at the conclusion of our dance class we are filming a music video of the dance as a means of presenting it to all of you. Unexpectedly, I am now going to be able to be in this video as the group did not finish last week when I had to miss the last class. So I will be able to participate in this fun activity after all, and all of you will get to see a nice polished version of what I’ve been up to so far in my project!

Now for the not so great news, we are finishing the filming tomorrow, which means that unfortunately, again, I will not have the video to show you just yet. Additionally, tech wrecks continued in the saga of our practice dance clips as I again tried, this time transferring directly through a USB with Elyssa, to put some clips online to show you. Yet again, the videos would not cooperate. Therefore, it will be the next post, and I promise the next post, that I will have a solid video representation of the dance we have been working hard on!

So in the meantime, I had to get some practicing in. As I realized I hadn’t been at it with the dance for a little bit of time now. Bev has been an amazing mentor by staying in touch with me and keeping me up to date on any changes. She let me know that the class in fact would be filming a bit more and so I could be in it! She has also been super helpful by filming a video of our dance every week at class and sending it to us to practice with. I especially used this past week as I needed to practice up and remember it all again for the filming. This is however, as you have likely concluded, the last week that I will be partaking in this class. Well, the last class was actually last week, but additional filming has made a slight extension. Nonetheless I guess you could say that our mentor-mentee relationship is in the “coming to closure” stage, as Zachary in our mentorship book calls it. I am really looking forward to putting it all together tomorrow and seeing how it turns out. And it appears as though a little break has gained me some understanding of the dance. Funny how that works sometimes. So after some touchups, I think I’m feelin’ pretty confident! Hey, Confident, isn’t that the name of the song we’re doing? Yup, it sure is!

Throughout my learning of our dance to Demi Lovato’s Confident, there have been a few challenges, but one in particular is that there isn’t much time to learn it in the classes. This is obviously to do with the fact that it is a class and so we are limited to how much time we have the space. For the most part it hasn’t really been a problem but with certain parts of the dance, for example the ending which has a lot of fast footwork, I have struggled a little to keep up. I have however been able to make some of this up in some practicing on my own and also with Elyssa and Alyssa.

Something that has been working very well throughout this process is my knowledge of different dance moves and ability to do them. The latter is more obvious, but in terms of the former we have been covering a lot of difference dance moves that are incorporated into our dance, as well as some additional ones that we use in our warm-up at the start of class. In turn, because of the repetitions that we are doing these in, I am improving my ability at each of the moves and also my understanding of some basic concepts in Hip Hop, such as how to hold yourself and how to portray different attitudes. This is all because of how experienced Bev is and what a strong leader and teacher she is of our class. She puts a lot of effort in to her dance, as I have mentioned before, and so it makes it easier to see what we should be doing to show the emotion we want and really make it look good.

Finally, something that could work better, that relates to the one main challenge I’ve had, is the amount of one on one teaching. When you are in a class you don’t notice it so much but when the three of us really worked together on some sections that we struggled with you could see how this form of teaching can be very effective and helpful. This aspect is 100% because I am in a class nonetheless I would like to say that I have been getting a very good experience and education from this, especially as my first real dance class. The next stage in my project is to start working with an individual mentor on a regular basis. So as soon as I come back from spring break I will be looking for the person to fill that spot. This will allow me to really focus on areas of Hip Hop that I want to, and even areas that I’m not necessarily struggling with but am just interested in exploring a little more.

Another aspect I will be looking to do more of, which I have started to get into a little more in the past week, is watch and try some online tutorials for various songs, and from various teachers. This will be a fun way to expose myself to some different styles and levels of Hip Hop in working towards my final presentation.

I hope all of you have a wonderful spring break and I’m going to go show some confidence tomorrow in that dance! (Which will be viewable in my next blog post online!) Thanks!

(Note: Written from Friday, March 11th, night)

Fire In the Tunnel – Finding Our Way Out of Syria

How do we get out of this tunnel? Is there a light at the end of it? Well right now there are actually a lot of lights in the tunnel, fires, but that’s certainly not a good thing.

There are many proposed, discussed, and presented, routes to success in the conflict of Syria, ISIS, and the rebels, but none have been successfully executed to this point.

Amongst discussions with classmates, parents, and teachers about the role of the world in the Syrian crisis, there are endless questions that arise.

  • Is there a non-violent solution to this conflict?
  • What is the ‘best’ way to end this conflict? What would ‘best’ mean?
  • Is what we, as Canadians, are doing effective(helping the rebel forces and now withdrawing air strikes)?
  • Which side are we on? Is it the right one?
  • Do we fight fire with fire, or with water?

To some, this conflict might even seem irrelevant as we, as young Canadians, sit on the other side of the planet, largely unaffected by the catastrophe that is tearing apart the teenagers of an utterly different world. However, as refugees come closer and closer to us and we may now even come face to face with them in our own communities, there is no denying our involvement in this conflict.  In fact, our very efforts in welcoming these war-torn civilians into our homes makes it even more important for us to consider what our actions mean overseas. Even greater, it forces us to remember that we are not uninvolved in this fight and we cannot become uninvolved, because these people are now our family and friends, they are us. We do not abandon ourselves.

In addition, our actions now, though they may seem unapparent to the average citizen here in Canada, could greatly impact our lives in the future: one, five, even ten years down the road. This war is a fight between morals and beliefs and if we want our world to remain the way it is now, we have no choice but to act.

As was shown in November when terrorists attacked various public locations in ‘the city of love’, there are people in this world who believe in different things than we do, some of which are unthinkable to our culture. Not everyone believes the same thing, and it is imperative that we do not generalize or stereotype in this fight, but we must not sit around and do nothing either whilst out own people get torn apart and ravaged. That is simply not humane.

That being said, maybe our actions right now shouldn’t be actions at all. Perhaps for the time being to act is to think. For, this war has been active for over five years now, and with the definition of insanity looming over our own heads, might it be time to start pouring water onto the flames?

This, as it happens, is what our new Prime Minister has begun to do, one could say. Mr. Trudeau has at this time removed all air-strike actions on Syria and the surrounding combat regions. Throwing it back to Paris, Mr.Trudeau himself in fact made it important to get French President Hollande’s blessing before proceeding in this course as Hollande had recently encouraged all Allied Forces to apply more airstrikes specifically. Here his actions were influenced by the recent events at the heart of his people. This had obviously brought on a new sense of urgency and emergency as it was effecting them directly. But is that the right way to go about this? If a bunch of people are killing a bunch of our people, does that make it okay for us to kill a bunch of theirs?

Another perspective in the Kurdish Allies of Canada stated that Trudeau’s new actions were “bad news”. Their opinion is likely influenced by the fact that they were directly benefiting in support from the air strikes and their physical presence in their conflict region. They will no longer have this backing from the Canadian Forces, but then again they might get some new partners soon.

Canadian Forces will continue to be active in supporting and training rebel troops in Syria. As for whether those are the right people to be supporting is another question. Situations are becoming more and more complex and intertwined as new colours emerge on the palette of the Middle East, and interests and purposes mix just the same. The side on which we believe is moral or right may not be as easy to pick out, and when the tensions of war are ever-present, the task is again more difficult.

A viewpoint that might side with Mr. Trudeau’s recent actions, is the Christian community. An article about the conflict in the Sojourners magazine, “a progressive monthly publication of the Christian social justice organization Sojourners” according to Wikipedia, that claims itself a “Faith in Action for Social Justice” organization, focuses on finding non-violent solutions. They agree in that they do not want air strikes to continue as the chemical weapons being used in the regions could be set off by explosions. This would and is killing thousands of people. It also becomes difficult in the heat of battle, they point out, to locate the source and initiators of any chemical warfare. The Sojourners also propose a “humanitarian safe zone” or a no-fly zone. Again these would look to protect the most possible human lives within our control.

This perspective comes from the humanitarian root of the Christian community, and thus respecting all lives. Their goal is, though they recognize it is extremely complicated, to talk our way out of war peacefully with the various parties involved. This as it seems is a daunting and more and more seeming unlikely task, but is it still worth a shot?

Then you can throw in the major world players of the United States and Russia.  Now Putin and Russia are likely looking at a military option of dismantling the violent organizations. One article on Newsweek presented that Putin “wants… Washington and the West to face a binary choice: Bashar the Barrel Bomber or Baghdadi the False Caliph.” From this you could guess that he is going to militarily and aggressively attack the chosen region and take them once and for all out of the picture. One must add however that that will be easier said than done, as we can now see through Paris that the organizations are not solely isolated to those regions.

Lastly, you now throw in the changing picture of the U.S. government and what the threat of Trump in that image brings. How would Trump do sitting at a table bartering for the lives of millions of people? Would he care about each individual one? Or would he throw himself into a big picture scenario and pick out what he thinks is that fastest way to dis-involve and save the U.S.

His point of view is to ” bomb “the shit” out of the Islamic State”, according to Foreign Policy In Focus .org. This is obviously a very right wing perspective, not so much focused on the humanitarian rights of individuals but seeing the benefit for his side.

Trump also views that refugees should not be allowed out of the regions they come from.  Going back to the Paris attack, a French Affiliate stated that at least one of the attackers in that instance entered the country with refugees. This acts as evidence for Trump’s perspective in protecting his own people at home.  He proves his point by stating how “We are the worst when it comes to paperwork.” when discussing how the Western world really doesn’t know who each of these individuals are when they enter.

So after much thought and deliberation there is now simple way out of this. You can see that even the most radical views have their benefits, and some of the reasons for the people we trust can be wavering. Ethically it is important that we respect the lives of each person as ourselves, but physically that is hard to put in to play. Might there be a point at which we do have to see the bigger picture, and solely that? Not looking at one live and the next but the tally of lives over years? The thoughts of this very task is horrific and terrorizing but it’s ultimately where we stand, and unless something drastically changes soon, we could be in it for the long haul. At this point it seems to be the direction we’re headed, we just keep throwing matches onto the flame, and that is clearly not working.

Steppin’ It Up – In-Depth Post #3

Well the past couple weeks have been busy as always, but they have also been busier on the dance front! My classes continued with my hip hip class mentor Bev and I think I have made some steps in my confidence and capabilities in our group dance!

I had two more classes with Alyssa and Elyssa at Room To Move and I am proud to say that we have almost choreographed the entire song! I should say, however, that we are only doing a one and a half minute trimmed down version. Nonetheless, this is certainly an accomplishment! As I may or may not have mentioned before, we are dancing to the song Confident by Demi Lovato in our class and are going to be filming a music video of our dance at our last class, which is only two weeks away! These classes are going by so quickly! The song has its challenges with a fairly quick beat, meaning that some of the moves are a little difficult up to pace. I have been keeping up with it pretty well in classes but I wanted a chance to really practice it out in a relaxed environment. So, this morning, Alyssa, Elyssa, and I got together at Elyssa’s house for a little over an hour to practice it together lots! We also wanted to use this time to film some clips of our dance so we can show you some of our moves and progress, however, unfortunately there were some technical difficulties in uploading them today. We filmed multiple clips of us individually doing the dance as well as together in one group however it seems that computers have caused us agony today and are not willing to support our learning as well as our mentor does! I will post again soon with the videos once Elyssa and the continual confrontation with computers have sorted themselves out.

Now for the mentoring. Bev is not going to be my mentor for the entire project, however, for the time being she is my teacher and guide in learning. So, with that in mind, here’s to address a few things about how our mentor relationship is going.

Obviously Bev is quite a bit older than me, so you could say, contextually, we are from “different generations”. In some cases this could be an issue when communicating openly with each other, however I have found that because Bev is so friendly and relatable, as I mentioned in my previous post, this hasn’t really been an issue. With that in mind I would say our mentor relationship is going well.

To answer question one of this week’s mentor relationship topics, “What went particularly well during your mentor sessions?” I would say that first of all, I have made a lot of progress! Some contributing factors to this are definitely that I am getting more comfortable with myself and also with the people around me.  As we have now had a couple of classes, the environment is starting to become more familiar along with the other people in my class and things are becoming a sort of habit. Meaning, for example, that we have our spots in the room we always stand and we know the people who talk more and who talk less in classes.

From this I have been also able to communicate better with my mentor. For example, this past week, when we were running through our dance one more time at the end of class and some of the people for the next class were waiting outside I was feeling a little uncomfortable with them watching a little through the door (I stand right beside the door). With a little encouragement from Elyssa, I wasn’t afraid to ask if I could close the door for that run through, just to make it a little less awkward. Of course Bev said that was fine, but this made me a little more comfortable practicing it that last time.

“What learning challenges emerged?”As with anything we do, the learning is only valuable if we can retain the knowledge that we have gained. This is especially important in dance as any final product relies on the memorization of not only how to do a skill, but also when and where to do it. As I said before, I have been keeping up fairly well in classes with the pace of the learning and the moves we are doing, this is a beginner class after all, but I am still not quite as confident as I should be to really do all the moves justice. To hold myself accountable for this I suggested that we (Elyssa, Alyssa, and I) meet to run through it a few times in a more relaxed environment. This was nice to do because I am good friends with both Elyssa, and Alyssa so I think we all felt more comfortable running through it and working out a couple weak spots in certain moves, like the hip sways at the start of the routine for example. Part way through our rehearsal today the three of us just stood in a mini circle and swung our hips back and forth for about five minutes and evaluated each other from head to shoulders to feet. I must say that this was very effective because by the end of it I was looking a lot more “Confident” in my posture, position, and presentation of the hip sways!

Bev has also been sending us videos, that we record of our dance each week at the end of class, to practice with. I am not sharing these because they have our entire class in them and I do not have everyone’s permission. This is another very helpful thing that Bev does to improve our communication and help us out in our improvement given the tight timeline. I have been able to practice at least a couple times each week with these videos on my own at home in a little spare time.

Question four, “What logical challenges affected your communication?”, brings out a couple things that are specific to the class environment that I am in right now. This includes, the number of people in the class, and how little time we spend working together. Though there are only around 10 people in the class, it isn’t a one on one setting and therefore some little details or moves that I could use a little help and improvement with I don’t always ask about. Not only would this take far too long if everyone asked about everything, but it would also be unnecessary for people to learn about things that they might be very good at already. Nonetheless, I recognize that this is only a class and I will be moving on to hopefully a strong mentorship in a one on one setting later in the project. And for the time being, I have been able to work through most of the little issues with things like hip sways and body rolls on my own and with some help from my fellow learners from TALONS!

It is also difficult in this class setting because we only meet for one hour each week. Which it turns out, goes by very quickly! One minute we’re step touching in warm up and the next we’re running it through from the top reviewing everything we learned on the day. However, as they say, ‘time flies when you’re having fun’, so surely it’s a good thing that this is the case.

Well that’ll be about it for now, however I’ll be back soon with some clips of what I’ve been up to as soon as possible! I’ve been having a lot of fun with this project so far and I hope I can sway into our final classes and video presentation just as smoothly!

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