Fitness related topics such as fashion, music and travel.

Rebel Ballet: How Pop Music is reinventing the dance

I always thought of Ballet as something you see associated with affluent, preppy and pompous members of society over gymnastics. Although I find the complexity of the dance form incredible, it wasn’t something I can relate to as a creative person. What usually grab my attention are unconventional, iconoclast and breath-taking physical movements and people. From chopping boards in martial arts to scoring impressive far away shots in both soccer and basketball, I am automatically drawn to the technicalities and effort of what athletes can do. However, I was proven wrong about ballet recently, thanks to a few game changers, especially in pop music.

If you heard Sia’s hit song Chandelier, you are drawn to Sia’s incredible vocal performance and can relate to the melancholic theme of the “party girl”. However, the dance performance of twelve year old dancer, Maggie Ziegler made the music video what it is, while wearing the iconic blonde Sia wig.  Directed by both Sia and Daniel Askill and choreographed by Ryan Heffington, Ziegler’s flexibility and athleticism complemented with her uncanny facial expressions and movement.

Sia writes:

“I like the whole dance. It was really different and weird for me, because I usually don’t, you know, be a crazy person every time. It was so fun to do and it was really out of the box and it expanded me a lot, because I’m used to competition dances where you’re like, ‘Point your legs!’ But this time it was like, you just need to let go and feel it.”

For a talented young dancer vividly expresses the actual meaning behind the video, she continues to blow us away with Sia’s latest video “Elastic Heart”.

Going back to my adoration of unconventional, iconoclast and breath-taking movements and people, recently ballet has become in the spotlight, thanks to Ukrainian ballet prodigy, Sergei Polunin who was featured in David LaChappelle’s music video remake of the international hit, “Take Me to Church” by the band Hozier.  The soulful and bluesy song (not to mention powerfully known as the anti-gay oppression anthem) accompanied   Polunin’s raw and explosive ballet performance and was choreographed by Jaade Hale-Christofi.

Polunin destroys the conventionality of the typical ballet dancer as he graciously dances through a sun-light building with black tattoos noticeably inked across his body. As he spends more time in the air than the ground with his jaw-dropping spins and kicks, his skill and artistry during his video in combination of the video’s illuminated environment expresses freedom over incarceration and fear that society allows. All in all, I strongly believe that the body is one of the most creative aspects of art because of movement, especially dance. Just because ballet has been done a certain protocol for decades, creativity is constantly transforming, whether we are ready or not.

Iron and the Soul – Henry Rollins

This is a reposting of an article by Henry Rollins:

I believe that the definition of definition is reinvention.

To not be like your parents. To not be like your friends. To be yourself. Completely.

When I was young I had no sense of myself. All I was, was a product of all the fear and humiliation I suffered. Fear of my parents. The humiliation of teachers calling me “garbage can” and telling me I’d be mowing lawns for a living. And the very real terror of my fellow students. I was threatened and beaten up for the color of my skin and my size. I was skinny and clumsy, and when others would tease me I didn’t run home crying, wondering why. I knew all too well. I was there to be antagonized. In sports I was laughed at. A spaz. I was pretty good at boxing but only because the rage that filled my every waking moment made me wild and unpredictable. I fought with some strange fury. The other boys thought I was crazy.

I hated myself all the time. As stupid at it seems now, I wanted to talk like them, dress like them, carry myself with the ease of knowing that I wasn’t going to get pounded in the hallway between classes.

Years passed and I learned to keep it all inside. I only talked to a few boys in my grade. Other losers. Some of them are to this day the greatest people I have ever known. Hang out with a guy who has had his head flushed down a toilet a few times, treat him with respect, and you’ll find a faithful friend forever. But even with friends, school sucked. Teachers gave me hard time. I didn’t think much of them either.

Then came Mr. Pepperman, my adviser. He was a powerfully built Vietnam veteran, and he was scary. No one ever talked out of turn in his class. Once one kid did and Mr. P. lifted him off the ground and pinned him to the blackboard.

Mr. P. could see that I was in bad shape, and one Friday in October he asked me if I had ever worked out with weights. I told him no. He told me that I was going to take some of the money that I had saved and buy a hundred-pound set of weights at Sears. As I left his office, I started to think of things I would say to him on Monday when he asked about the weights that I was not going to buy. Still, it made me feel special. My father never really got that close to caring. On Saturday I bought the weights, but I couldn’t even drag them to my mom’s car. An attendant laughed at me as he put them on a dolly.

Monday came and I was called into Mr. P.’s office after school. He said that he was going to show me how to work out. He was going to put me on a program and start hitting me in the solar plexus in the hallway when I wasn’t looking. When I could take the punch we would know that we were getting somewhere. At no time was I to look at myself in the mirror or tell anyone at school what I was doing.

In the gym he showed me ten basic exercises. I paid more attention than I ever did in any of my classes. I didn’t want to blow it. I went home that night and started right in. Weeks passed, and every once in a while Mr. P. would give me a shot and drop me in the hallway, sending my books flying. The other students didn’t know what to think. More weeks passed, and I was steadily adding new weights to the bar. I could sense the power inside my body growing. I could feel it.

Right before Christmas break I was walking to class, and from out of nowhere Mr. Pepperman appeared and gave me a shot in the chest. I laughed and kept going. He said I could look at myself now. I got home and ran to the bathroom and pulled off my shirt. I saw a body, not just the shell that housed my stomach and my heart. My biceps bulged. My chest had definition. I felt strong. It was the first time I can remember having a sense of myself. I had done something and no one could ever take it away. You couldn’t say **** to me.

It took me years to fully appreciate the value of the lessons I have learned from the Iron. I used to think that it was my adversary, that I was trying to lift that which does not want to be lifted. I was wrong. When the Iron doesn’t want to come off the mat, it’s the kindest thing it can do for you. If it flew up and went through the ceiling, it wouldn’t teach you anything. That’s the way the Iron talks to you. It tells you that the material you work with is that which you will come to resemble. That which you work against will always work against you.

It wasn’t until my late twenties that I learned that by working out I had given myself a great gift. I learned that nothing good comes without work and a certain amount of pain. When I finish a set that leaves me shaking, I know more about myself. When something gets bad, I know it can’t be as bad as that workout.

I used to fight the pain, but recently this became clear to me: pain is not my enemy; it is my call to greatness. But when dealing with the Iron, one must be careful to interpret the pain correctly. Most injuries involving the Iron come from ego. I once spent a few weeks lifting weight that my body wasn’t ready for and spent a few months not picking up anything heavier than a fork. Try to lift what you’re not prepared to and the Iron will teach you a little lesson in restraint and self-control.

I have never met a truly strong person who didn’t have self-respect. I think a lot of inwardly and outwardly directed contempt passes itself off as self-respect: the idea of raising yourself by stepping on someone’s shoulders instead of doing it yourself. When I see guys working out for cosmetic reasons, I see vanity exposing them in the worst way, as cartoon characters, billboards for imbalance and insecurity. Strength reveals itself through character. It is the difference between bouncers who get off strong-arming people and Mr. Pepperman.

Muscle mass does not always equal strength. Strength is kindness and sensitivity. Strength is understanding that your power is both physical and emotional. That it comes from the body and the mind. And the heart.

Yukio Mishima said that he could not entertain the idea of romance if he was not strong. Romance is such a strong and overwhelming passion, a weakened body cannot sustain it for long. I have some of my most romantic thoughts when I am with the Iron. Once I was in love with a woman. I thought about her the most when the pain from a workout was racing through my body. Everything in me wanted her. So much so that sex was only a fraction of my total desire. It was the single most intense love I have ever felt, but she lived far away and I didn’t see her very often. Working out was a healthy way of dealing with the loneliness. To this day, when I work out I usually listen to ballads.

I prefer to work out alone. It enables me to concentrate on the lessons that the Iron has for me. Learning about what you’re made of is always time well spent, and I have found no better teacher. The Iron had taught me how to live.

Life is capable of driving you out of your mind. The way it all comes down these days, it’s some kind of miracle if you’re not insane. People have become separated from their bodies. They are no longer whole. I see them move from their offices to their cars and on to their suburban homes. They stress out constantly, they lose sleep, they eat badly. And they behave badly. Their egos run wild; they become motivated by that which will eventually give them a massive stroke. They need the Iron mind.

Through the years, I have combined meditation, action, and the Iron into a single strength. I believe that when the body is strong, the mind thinks strong thoughts. Time spent away from the Iron makes my mind degenerate. I wallow in a thick depression. My body shuts down my mind. The Iron is the best antidepressant I have ever found. There is no better way to fight weakness than with strength. Once the mind and body have been awakened to their true potential, it’s impossible to turn back.

The Iron never lies to you. You can walk outside and listen to all kinds of talk, get told that you’re a god or a total bastard. The Iron will always kick you the real deal. The Iron is the great reference point, the all-knowing perspective giver. Always there like a beacon in the pitch black. I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me, never runs.

Friends may come and go.

But two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds.

-Henry Rollins

How the hell creativity has anything to do with fitness?

I admit. I have a long way to go before I acquire the knowledge of a certified fitness professional. Whew, I just have to put that there before I rummage the internet for endless loads of information about diet and exercise to write for and customize my diet and exercise plans to get stronger. There is so much I learned so much about circuit training and body-weight exercises that my body not only shred off the fat, but I was able to do more pullups than I ever expected. (I can hit 10 proper pullups, but I’m a nutcase and want to do 25 pullups and at least 5 muscle ups) Let’s get to the point here, I really am not used to talking about myself if it doesn’t have to deal with my photography/videography work, even thought I haven’t edited videos in ages (in my terminology). I’m still conscious and nervous as shit when I have the camera focused on me. And most importantly, I am not used to asking for things versus always being the one giving out a helping hand in general.

Everyone has their starting points in life. Everyone have struggles, difficulties and things they wished they done in the past. People have their ups and downs, plateau on their health, passions and other things (This article from Nerd Fitness helped me alot), jerks that took advantage of your time, energy and kindness and etc. As a  press photographer and freelancing video editor, the art of picking up projects and doing them comes with creativity. You have to be in “the zone” to really have a product that “wow” your audience and you have to do this often and often and often! For me, it means the excitement, passion and zeal in everything you are doing. Pretty much, you have to feel good about everything. If you feel like shit, everything you do will eventually show. Your work is not as strong as before. You have that “creative block”. Flustered, pissed off and depressed, you get stubborn about changing your career choice, but you do want to get back in creating again. So I took a 5 minute walk every time I get pressed.

“Exercising on a regular basis may thus act as a cognitive enhancer promoting creativity in inexpensive and healthy ways.”

I realized that when I had my first training session for a few months with my trainer, I noticed a change beyond my weight. I became more creative, or in other words  improved divergent and convergent thinking, which are considered the two components of creative thinking”. I saw improvement on my photography when I shoot, I feel a lot confident in reaching out to strangers in general, whether if I’m doing a set and need someone to hold my camera to get video of me and most importantly happier. Long story short, fitness makes you more creative. The more I pushed myself, through the workouts, sets and reps, the more creative and understanding I become of myself. I realize how much I missed video editing and would love to get more opportunities. On the flip side, I became more resilient when dealing with people that aren’t worth my time. I actually don’t mind being in front of camera a bit more and have more ideas than I did when I didn’t start working out. I will post more content of my results, not just the fitness aspect, but my creative stuff too. Who knows, maybe I can do my own photoshoots with me in it.

Oh and enjoy this picture I took of Taylor Swift.

Question of the day: What tips that you have experiences that helps you get over your creative blocks? Please share you comments below.

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