Viral Video- Superfruit “Hip Hop Goes Broadway”

I love these 2 dudes videos!!  They are 2 of the 5 members of the group Pentatonix (an acapella group who got it’s initial fame from the show the Sing Off).  Pentatonix seriously has talent and their rendition os classic pop, hip hop, Star Wars scores, Christmas music, and original songs are uncontested!!  Check them out!!

Back to Superfruit…. they made Broadway versions of some of the most popular hip hop tracks of 2015 and they are super catchy!!  Im listing part 1 and part 2 of their videos because they are best when watched back to back!  My faves include:

Hip Hop Goes Broadway Part 1

“Coco”
“Pills and Potions” sounds like a real Broadway song!
“Anaconda”

Hip Hop Goes Broadway Part 2

“Hotline Bling”
Bobby Shrmurda- Lion King rendition on fleek!
“Blessed”- it’s now a ballad!!
“Energy”- better than the original version

 

 

The Youth of IABD- Dance On!!!

** Featured Image from Ballet Afrique Contemporary Dance company in Austin, Texas**
This past week I attended the International Association of Blacks in Dance conference (IABD). It’s 4 days of taking master classes, listening to panel discussions about various topics by legeIABD_W-BGnds and greats in the dance world, seeing performances by professionals and youth companies, and being saturated with the essence of dance and movement from your peers, colleagues, mentors, teachers, and legends.

Thursday night was the first performance of the event by various youth ensembles around the country. Some of these ensembles are the academies or schools to professional dance companies like Lula Washington Dance Theater, Dallas Black Dance Theater, Divine Dance Institute, and Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Theater. Others were middle and high schools that concentrated on the arts or had a major in dance such as Duke Ellington School of the Arts and Lewis Cass Technical High School. As someone who has been dancing since the age of 3, AND someone who currently teaches dance in a DC charter high school, AND dances professionally with a modern dance company, AND someone who cannot identify myself separate from the art of dance, I was more than overwhelmed, inspired, and hopeful to see the youth of dance on that stage.

All of the performances were executed impeccably. Young dancers of today are stronger, more technically sound, more experiential, more willing, and more hungry to challenge, test, and prove themselves than ever before. Students were performing movement that I only learned to do within the past 3 years!! Their flexibility made my hips begin to hurt just watching it! As much as I wanted to be jealous of their technique, or reminisce about my own dance training as a child, I had to stop myself and look at not only what they were bringing to the table currently, but also what their technical and performing skills would bring to the world of dance in the future. These kids are the future of dance… and it is promising!

What struck me most about their performance was not their high jumps; not their multiple turning sequences; not their amazing athleticism (which I thrive on as a dancer); and not their physical stamina to complete such feats with grace and ease. Instead, it was their commitment and dedication to be so immersed in this art form that I love so much that they would dedicate hours of training, make sacrifices from their social life, travel across the country to be apart of this conference, and meld it with their academic journey in middle and high school. Dance does not have to be done within a vacuum. Dance should not be done within a 2016_IABDvacuum. It should be learned, experienced, and witnessed by everyone! And most importantly, all youth should have the opportunity to be exposed to it at its purest form.   When young people are exposed to the art of dance, then the future of dance not only is guaranteed to continue, but it is guaranteed to evolve and grow. This is what makes it so exciting to witness youth perform dance. The youth of dance make it possible for dance to continue and reinvent itself so it will always live on!!

For this reason I believe that the youth ensemble performance at the International Association of Blacks in Dance was the most uplifting and inspiring moment of the conference for me. Sure I got to sit in on panels and listen to speakers, and see professionals perform, and take master classes myself, and learn from legends and master teachers, and audition for professional companies….. but NOTHING will beat seeing the future of dance right before my very eyes. Nothing will overshadow the feeling of hope I have for the art of dance by seeing these young people perform it with such rigor, dedication, skill, and passion.

To know that even when I am done with my work in dance, that the art of dance will still live on……. That is enough for me to continue to dance on. To dance on in my training… To dance on in my teaching… To dance on with my students…. To dance on in life. Thank you IABD youth for inspiring me to dance on!!  #IABD #PopStyle #DanceisLife #Dance

~Ashlee Dawne
Twitter: @PopStyleBlog
Instagram: @manifested55
Subscribe to the blog!  www.popstyleblog.com

 

 

My Goals from the VS Fashion Show 2015!!

The VS Fashion Show is the biggest fashion show of the year.  Primarily because of the marketing machine of the brand and it’s the only televised fashion show.  (Seriously, when else have you seen Alexander McQueen, Marc Jacobs, or Michael Kors on tv??  NEVER!!)  The VS Fashion Show is an iconic staple in the fashion, pop culture, and entertainment world.

I have been a fan of the VS Fashion Show for years now.  I used to think people (mainly men) only watched it to see tall, “exotic”, women strut in skimpy lingerie and high heels.  But it’s so much more than that!!  I watch the show ritually every year for the production value, the musical performances that enhance the fashion itself, and the artistry and creativity of making a bra/underwear into wearable art.

Goal 1:  I want my boo to look at me, smile, and sing to me as I strut in my stuff 
Goal 2: I want a fireplace, a cuddle buddy, some fur boots and snow stat!!
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Goal 3:  I need this as my wedding dress… Just imagine a skirt attached to it.  (I wonder if my parents would be mad at this choice)
Goal 4:  The next time I enter a room

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Goal 5:  How I will walk into my high reunion next week.. remember me bishes??Goal 6:  My attire for when I go to Denver in January… Snow bunny on Fleek!!k!IMAG0371IMAG0376


Goal 7:
 My future reception dress or all white party dress.. whichever comes first

Goal 8:  My after the reception… or party…. well you can figure it out…..
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Goal 9: I want to look like this when I stand on beach…. Sun on my back
Goal 10:  To one day appear on a runway/stage with my wings spread wide, and a crowd cheering me with their love and support
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This is a pretty lofty list to get through… should hold me over til next year ya think 😉  Til next time, Keep it #PopStyle
~Ashlee Dawne
Twitter:  @PopStyleBlog
Instagram: @manifested55

#Earworms: What I’ve Been Listening to Lately- Nov. 10, 2015

Well PopStylers there has been quite a lull in my #MusicCrushMonday posts… 4 weeks to be exact. 😦 It’s not that I haven’t been listening to any music, or even crushing on any songs/artists.  I just haven’t been able to sit down and right about them.

  1.  All things Justin Bieber!  I am so excited for this #Purpose album to drop on Friday!  I particularly like the newest track “I’ll Show You.” 
  2. Adele’s heart wrenching track “Hello” which leaves me in my feelings for a long time afterward…. sigh…. I just had a flashback… double sigh
    dumblonde
  3. Dumblonde’s self titled album.  This duo is made up of Shannon and Aubrey of the legendary girl group Danity Kane.  They have an electro-pop feel through the entire album that makes your earbuds sizzle.  My favorite track is “Waiting on You.”
  4. Newcomer Tory Lanez with his track r&b track “Say It.”  It’s a remix of the song “If You Love Me” by 90s girl group Brownstone.  Check it out.
  5. Off the mix tape What a Time to Be Alive I have made my rounds to “Big Rings” by Drake and Future.  Maybe because Im choreographing it for a class of mine, but it gets me hype to rep my #squad or myself for that matter.
  6. Andy Mineo’s “You Can’t Stop Me.” from his NeverLand album.  Andy Mineoandy mineo is a hip hop artist with christian perspective.  His music hits and speaks the heart and mind, as well as, making you bounce and wild out! (saw him in concert lately and he’s been an #earworm ever since).
  7. Chonique Sneed’s “Let It Go.”  Listen, I don’t know who this chick is but I love her sound!  She’s like a Queen Leshurr mixed with #Leikeli47 (peep my Music Mania post on her) mixed together.  This song hits hard making my neck sore at the end of it!
    halsey
  8. Halsey’s entire Badlands album!!  Yes yes Im late to the Halsey frenzy but Im glad I arrived!!  “Colors” has captured my ear this week… everything is blue!

~Ashlee Dawne

#PopStyle
Twitter: @PopStyleBlog
Instagram: @manifested55

Dance Viral Video- “What Do You Mean?” #DVV

The first pick for my #DVV (Dance Viral Video) is none other than the Epic Segway Hoverboard rendition of “What Do You Mean?” by Justin Bieber.   Not only is the song super catchy, but the creativity of using the Segway Hoverboards takes it to another level.  The way the boys use their bodies to move the hoverboards seamlessly in and out of formations and positions is eye catching.   Enjoy this Dance Viral Video!  And do’nt forget to subscribe to PopStyleBlog!

~Ashlee Dawne
Twitter: @PopStyleBlog
Instagram: @manifested55

I DONT DO SCARY!! So why I am tuning back in tonight for American Horror Story?

So last week I watched the premiere episode of Season of 5 of American Horror Story: Hotel.  This was the first time that I have EVER watched an episode of the American cult classic amongst TV viewers.  I had always heard of the show but never actually ventured to watch it because… well… Im scared of all this horror like.  SERIOUSLY!!  I dont even look at the commercials for scary movies, especially if I see them by myself, in my house, and its dark outside!  I cant even watch Law and Order SVU, and certainly not Criminal Minds, once nightfall has happened!  My imagination is way too big, way too expansive, and way too independent to have that much extra visual and sensory stimulation from outside sources!!   Granted, I do love a good Halloween party (and the movie Hocus Pocus), but not all that evil clown, possessed dolls, ghost story telling, seance mess.  I DONT DO SCARY!!  I remember having to close my eyes and run past the living room when I was a child so I could avoid seeing and envisioning the scary demon from Tales of the Crypt (a show that my brother and father watched religiously)!  Whew!

lady-gaga-ahs-hotel-gloveSo with all that said, I am still watching the next episode tonight at 10:00pm on FX.  Why you may ask?  Because of the following 5 reasons:

  1. Lady Gaga, my artistic and creative muse who gives me on a daily basis, plays the Countess this season and she is the most flawless vampire EVER!!!  I would voluntarily give her my blood to drink if she asked me…. just saying
  2. Matt Bomer, her vampire lover, has got the sexiest blue eyes and “a matt bomerjawline for days.”  YAASS HUNTY!!   (No, I dont care that he doesn’t play for my team).
  3. The story line for the Hotel Cortez is quite intriguing…. the tag line is “You can check in, but you can never really check out.”
  4. The little ghost children who keep running through the hall ways….. umm.. where are their parents?
  5. The bald headed employee of the Hotel C05-denis-ohare-ahs.nocrop.w529.h378ortez who flawlessly walks down the hallway in his lavish garb and wear…. Fashion for the Gawds!!

So join me tonight as I watch episode 2 of American Horror Story: Hotel.  Im sure I will be staying up even later after its over to calm my nerves and turn off my imagination!

~Ashlee Dawne
#PopStyle #AHS #GagaonAHS #HotelCortez
Twitter: @PopStyleBlog
Instagram: @manifested55

#MusicCrushMonday- Oct. 12, 2015

Happy Indigenous People’s Day!!  Welcome to another edition of #MusicCrushMonday!!!  

This week, my shout out goes to a pop star who has been on the scene for a while.  I remember him becoming an #earworm via YouTube back in 2008-ish with the help of a mega R&B mentor.  His puberty falsetto voice and luscious healthy bangs enthralled the Pop Culture world and we swooned over his peppy, catchy, and sometimes irritating melodies and songs.  (But admit it… you sang those lyrics in your car like you were on the Teen Choice Awards!!)  Now 7 years later, this Pop “Baby” has grown into a Pop-Pre-Man (come on, we can’t really think he’s all grown up)…..  This week’s #MusicCrushMonday goes to………     JUSTIN BIEBER!!!!

justin bieber little

I chose Justin Bieber as my pick this week for a few reasons:

  1. justin bieber vma I was very happy to see him return to the stage at the MTV Video Music Awards this August after a 2 year hiatus!  He killed his performance of Where Are U Now and What Do You Mean?

  2. His new song “What Do You Mean?” has become a recent #earworm, as well as, the subject of my newly obsessive dance video in which 5 males are performing choreography to his song on none other than Self-Balancing Segways!!!  (if you have any desire to buy me one…. or donate to my #AirBoardBudget please contact me… Im serious tho!!)   Click on Video below to witness choreography greatness!! 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y33xNa2L-e8

3.  His leaked #NSFW photos were not that bad actually… I was pleasantly (and slightly ashamed that I was) surprised by the image…. Maybe Justin really is “growing”…. up.

Anyways, I am certainly looking forward to the new evolution and growth of Justin Bieber after his bad boy, immature years got the best of him and took him away rihanna shockfrom Pop music.  Now he is coming back and he has all of our attention…. both visually and audibly.   (Im still in a little shock over those pics- sorry).   Til next time, keep it #PopStyle

~Ashlee Dawne
#PopStyle #MusicCrushMonday #MusicMania
Twitter: @PopStyleBlog
Instagram: @manifested55

Misty Copeland- America’s Humble Prima Ballerina

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Misty Copeland

This name invokes such inspiration and passion to me.  As a dancer, I look to others in my field who perform the art form I love so much for inspiration, encouragement, motivation, and who can be used as a positive role model and aspiration for the dance students I teach everyday.  Just in case you have been living under a rock that blocked out any and all visual, auditory, or kinethestic run ins with this woman, let me introduce you to her….

Misty Copeland is a Principal Ballerina with American Ballet Theater in NYC.  She is known for her fluid and graceful motion, her strong musicality, her humble spirit in interviews and on stage, and her inspiration to young girls in ballet.  You may have:

  • misty under armourSeen her on billboards and commercials advertising the athletic wear for UnderArmour (becoming the 1st ballet dancer to be a spokesperson for the company)
  • Seen her at book signings for her memoir “Life in Motion” or her children’s book “Firebird.”
  • Heard her speaking in interviews on 60
    Minutes, Late Night with Stephen Colbert, NPR, ABC News, Essence Magazine, or Elle Magazine
  • Noticed her gracing the cover of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People edition
  • Heard of her new documentary entitled “A Ballerina’s Tale to be released Oct. 14, 2015
  • Established her as the epitome of the phrase “Started from the Bottom” or “I Will What I Want.”

Now that you are all caught up to speed with her accomplishments… I have one question for you?

Did you know Misty Copeland is an African-American 32 year old, 5 foot 3 inch female who didnt start taking Ballet until she was 13 years old at her neighborhood Boys and Girls Club in California?

EXACTLY!!!  This is why Misty Copeland epitomizes the phrase “I Will What I Want” and “Started from the Bottom!”  She made headlines this summer when she was promoted to Principal dance with American Ballet Theater, making her the 1st African-American principal dancer the company has ever had in its 75 year history!!

I mentioned earlier that I look to other people in my field of dance that are both inspirational and motivating to me as a dance artists and teacher, and can serve as a positive role model to the high school students I teach on a daily basis.  Misty Copeland is certainly one of those people!  The girl is basically me (same age, a couple inches taller, same ethnicity) except I started Ballet when I was 3 years old!!! (ugh… sometimes life isn’t fair… 😦  pout face.  Why God why couldn’t that be me??)  Anyways….. I digress to my original post.  The reason I believe that I admire her so much, and that America admires her so much is her humility as both an artist, entertainer, and role model.

In today’s society where many female superstars are touted for their beauty (a lot of which is superficial- Kardashians), or for the amount of money they make (yes Beyonce Im looking at you), or who they are dating, married to, or romantically linked with (Rihanna, Taylor Swift), Misty Copeland defies them all.  She speaks with a level of humility that simply makes you want to be a better person.  She does not elevate herself above others in her field, nor does she promote herself only based on her superficial appearance.  I find this statement of hers very poignant:  “I just had to remember why I’m getting the attention I’m getting. It’s because of my dancing. It’s because I’m a ballerina, and no other reason.” (NY Daily News 2015)

misty copeland timeThanks to Misty Copeland, Ballet is speaking for itself and making waves in its own way.  World Ballet Day was just celebrated on October 1st, where people from around the world could tune in and stream 24 hours of professional Ballet companies ranging from Australian Ballet, Royal Ballet (London) National Ballet of Canada, Bolshoi Ballet, and San Francisco Ballet.  The world got to experience Ballet this way- and due to Misty Copeland’s wise to to stardom in the arts world and the pop culture world, other Americans who would have never seen or experienced Ballet, will now be exposed to it through the many barriers that Misty Copeland has broken.  Thanks Misty for all that you have done.  Thank you letting your heart speak through your feet.  Thank you for letting the dance do the talking.  
~Ashlee Dawne
#PopStyle
Twitter: @PopStyleBlog

#MusicCrushMonday- Stevie Wonder (October 5, 2015)

Another week…..Another Star”….. Another #MusicCrushMonday….

I went to see Stevie Wonder in concert this past weekend at he Verizon Center in DC.  It was his “Songs in the Key of Life” tour that he claimed would  be his last musical tour in the United States.  When I first saw the notice of his tour posted on Facebook (of course) back in August, I knew that I had to get these tickets.  I even skipped out on a professional development workshop to make sure I was logged on to ticketmaster.com at 10am to get the best seats possible!!  This week’s honor goes to the Myth… the Man… the Legend… the One… the Only….     STEVIE WONDER!!!stevie-wonder01

During the 4 hour concert, I realized just how much Stevie Wonder’s music has contributed to not only my musical horizons, but also to my dance life.  As a dancer of 29 years, and a dance teacher of 6 years, Stevie Wonder has been played in many a dance classes/workshops and used for multiple choreographic works and dreams.  Currently on my Spotify Playlist entitled “To Choreograph”, I have at least 3 Stevie Wonder Songs.  As the concert began and Stevie Wonder began to dazzle us all with his poignant lyrics, graceful musical stylings, captivating musicianship with a full orchestra in tow, and pure artistry as he drew in the crowd, I began to feel my body move to each song.  And each song invoked its own choreography, whether taught to me, or created by myself.  So in honor of Stevie Wonder’s musical catalog, I give you my Top 5 Stevie Wonder Songs to Dance to:

  1.  “As from the album Songs in the Key of Life-  In 2000, I saw a dance piece by my former modern teacher Alvin Mayes at the University of Maryland College Park at the Maryland Dance Ensemble performance, and I have been obsessed with choreographing the song ever since!  I tried once in 2011 and cut it from the performance, simply because I didn’t think it lived up to Stevie Wonder’s standard.  Still chasing this golden unicorn choreographic dream.
  2. I Wish from the album Songs in the Key of Life-  I learned a tap dance routine to this song in 2012.  I still remember how intricate the steps were to the multiple rhythmic layers of this song.  Im posting the version sung by Lady Gaga at the Stevie Wonder Tribute in 2015 (which won
    an Emmy by the way) because I admire her artistry with this great song.
  3. Dancing to the Rhythm  from the album Natural Wonder.  This song is my musical happy place.  It is thrilling, enthralling, upbeat, melodic, graceful, passionate, and strong.  Not to mention the fact that it speaks about dancing as a way to invoke pure joy within oneself.  I have used this song of modern dance warm-ups and jazz dance pirouette combinations.  It’s a stevie wonderfantastic song to use for choreography.
  4. Master Blaster” from the album Natural Wonder.  I have used this song for many a tap dance warm-up sequence and for many a nights-in dance party.
  5. “Higher Ground” from the album Innervisions.  This song is a staple piece of choreography that I pull out for any jazz class or introductory level dance class!  I have used it for 4 years now and it never feels to invoke sass, funk, energy, and freedom!  (Thanks to the movie CenterStage for giving it a spotlight… click below to watch) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZfzdR_J_3c

Thanks for reading and listening to this week’s #MusicCrushMonday dedicated to Stevie Wonder.  Til next time, keep it #PopStyle!!

~Ashlee Dawne
Follow me on Twitter:  @PopStyleBlog
#PopStyle

#MusicCrushMonday- Twenty One Pilots (Sept. 28, 2015)

Hey Pop-Stylers!!!  Im so glad to be back!!  It’s been longer than I wanted since my last post but Im back now with a new edition of #MusicCrushMonday!!  Lately, music has been my saving grace.  It is the thing I reach for after I wake up, when Im grading assignments, when Im planning my next lesson (remember Im a dance teacher), when Im feeling my outfit, when Im going out on the town, when Im searching for motivation, and unfortunately, when I need to pull myself out of a funk.  I discovered this band via the MTV Video Music Awards this year, and their album has been speaking to me ever since.  My #MusicCrushMonday goes to…..

TWENTY ONE PILOTS

blurryface 21 pilots

I had never heard of this band until their performance with A$AP Rocky on the MTV VMAs.  I was instantly hooked and looked up their album “Blurryface.” (which is actually there 4th album).  It’s a slightly dark, existential questioning, honest lyric, soul searching album that has really resonated with me recently.  Their sound is a combination of synthesized rock, pop hip-hop, and open mic funk.  Every song, honestly, hits in its own way.  My favorite is “Fairly Local which just lets your head knock to a constant beat while your ears get invaded with monotone raps.  I also love the upbeat anguish cry of Heavydirtysoul and the longing of childhood peace and easier days in Stressed Out.

The meaning behind Twenty One Pilots music is somewhat abstract and yet purposeful.  The bandmates (Tyler and Josh) speak about communicating encouragement and meaning to their listeners- almost giving them reason to find themselves the will to continue and march on even in their times of struggle.  The album title (Blurryface) is the personification of Tyler’s insecurities- it’s the thing that distorts your vision/purpose/motivation for doing what you do.   This is probably the reason why I resonate with their music so much right now.  According to the band, their purpose for making music is “to make people think”, as well as encourage them to find joy in what they come to believe in life.  Thanks Twenty One Pilots for helping me do this right now and confront my Blurryface“.   Til Next Time- Keep it #PopStyle

~Ashlee Dawne
#PopStyle
@PopStyleBlog on Twitter
@manifested55 on Instagram