Dancing Through Life: Ashanti C
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Dancing her way across the country, Ashanti C. has performed on a myriad of stages in front of countless audiences. However, after ending up in Philadelphia for the past four years, she has seemed to have found a personal love for dancing on the basketball court.
Ashanti, originally from Anchorage, Alaska, began dancing at the age of seven and was hooked from the very first second she slipped on her ballet shoes.
“What I like most about dance is the fact that I can be someone I’m not in my everyday life; kind of like an alter-ego,” she said, “dancing and performing successfully demands that you be expressive, exaggerated, and outgoing, which is definitely opposite from who I am regularly.”
Ashanti began her career at Temple University in 2008 as a member of the Diamond Gem Dance Team. The Diamond Gems are best known to perform at most sporting events for the university including both football and basketball games.
After performing with the Diamond Gems for two years, Ashanti decided to test her luck by taking her dance career to the next level. The 76ers Dance Team it was! And although Temple’s dance team was sad to lose one of their best dancers, they were proud to be represented on the professional level.
The audition process was strenuous and extremely nerve-wrecking for Ashanti, but exciting nonetheless. She spent countless hours in the gym ahead of time building up stamina and getting her body both physically and mentally prepared for the pressure it would be placed under.
The audition process was divided into two sections. The initial tryout, before the first round of cuts, consisted of technique and the learning and performing of two different dance routines.
Ashanti knew that her technique and jazz were her strong points, but she was worried about performing the hip-hop dance. Thankfully, her tryout number was called at the end of the first round and she was moving on to finals where she would perform in front of friends, spectators, and a wide panel of judges at Chickie’s and Pete’s about a month later.
“I knew that being a part of the 76ers dance team was something I wanted to do by the feeling I got from just performing at the auditions,” Ashanti said, “all of the girls, both those auditioning for the first time as well as the veteran dancers, were so personable and enthusiastic. But most importantly, they all enjoyed being there and being a part of the organization.”
Ashanti knew that she would fit in with the Sixers girls really well, yet there was still doubt in her mind. Dancing at Chickie’s and Pete’s was such an amazing experience for her and she would have been happy to have just had that memory even if she did not actually make the team.
Two days later, however, she went online and saw her name listed as a 2010-2011 dancer for the 76ers professional basketball team. She had so many emotions swimming about, excitement, relief, but mostly the thrill to bring her passion of dance to the professional level.
“I feel as though my experience on the Temple Diamond Gems definitely helped me make the Sixers Dance Team. Before Temple, I had never danced on a team, so I am very thankful for everything I learned while on their team,” she said.
Not only was Ashanti excited to be dancing again, but she was proud of the fact that she was going to be a part of a positive organization in the larger community of Philadelphia.
Gaining a spot as 76ers dancer, Ashanti began to consider her role on the team as a job. “Yes we are dancers, but most importantly we have to consider ourselves as professionals, producing great entertainment, as well as spreading positive images for the sport team.”
Ashanti hopes to make dancing a long term profession. “All I can say is I want to dance for as long as physically possible while also being involved in some of my other interests,” she explained.
Not only is Ashanti talented, gorgeous, and fun, but she also has the brains to back her up. She is currently studying public relations out of the School of Communications and is also aspiring to create her own jewelry line. The sketches of her jewelry line are stunning and she is planning on bringing her idea to fruition in the very near future.
Hip-Hop in Heels
Monday, October 3, 2011
Hip-hop has seemed to soften up its hard side as the female dancers are beginning to change their image in the culture.
The I Am Phresh Dance Studio is the first place in Philadelphia to bring hip-hop dance to a new level, literally by placing it up in heels. On Wednesday, September 21, Shanika Boston taught a class in the style of femme where high heels were a requirement at the studio.
The name “femme” might not ring a bell, but Beyonce spells it all out in her music videos. Femme is basically short for feminine and expresses how sexy, yet powerful a woman can be. Boston believes that it is the essence of being a woman.
This style of dance is not just about being “an object.” Boston said, “Some of the pop culture or rap videos may display females in a negative way, so what would be natural or what comes from way back in history with just moving your body in Africa or even in India they may take it and make it more raunchy than feminine. You can be sexy without taking it to a place where it doesn’t have to go.”
Boston had her class wear heels to express this femininity. Some of the girls were terrified to be dancing two inches higher than usual, but others were proud and understood the importance of it.
“I look up to a lot of femme women like Beyonce and a lot of her dancers,” Whitney, one of the dancers, said, “I just like to look grown and learn how to walk in heels, because it’s embarrassing if you don’t know how.”
Although some of the women snuck into their sneakers halfway through the class, their beauty and womanly power graced the dance floor all night long.
I Am Phresh Dance Studio holds weekly classes teaching various styles of hip-hop dance. For more information check out their website: www.iamphresh.com
Chelsea’s Fitness I: Shake Your Booty Off with Zumba
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Shake what your mama gave ya! When I entered the group fitness room at Temple University’s Independence Blue Cross gym, I had no idea what to expect with the Zumba class. Girls were lined up outside of the room trying to get in to dance the night away with some Latin flavor. Excitement and energy filled the air while demonstrations about favorite dance moves were being exchanged. After seeing how thrilled everyone was to begin the class, I could not wait to get my shake on. Little did I know that dancing for an hour would leave me with a drenched t-shirt and in desperate need of a shower.
Whether you are a pro-dancer or have never taken a dance class before in your life, Zumba is very easy to catch on to. Each song that is played is infused with basic Latin dance steps that repeat throughout the song. This allows for the steps to be simple to catch on to while keeping your cardio up. The music played during the workout is a variety of mostly salsa, samba, reggaeton, and merengue. However, there are a few hip-hop songs added to the playlist that will keep you pumped and ready for more.
Zumba is a complete full body workout. “The routines feature interval training sessions where fast and slow rhythms and resistance training are combined to tone and sculpt your body while burning fat,” the official Zumba website explains. Through jumping, squatting, and shaking your booty, your heart rate is sure to stay up while you are having fun. The time goes by so fast in this class that an hour workout actually seems like nothing.
Alberto “Beto” Perez invented Zumba in the 1990s while in Columbia. He had actually previously trained and choreographed for Shakira and brought his knowledge of Latin style dance to an aerobic setting. From there, Zumba was brought to the states through Miami, Florida in 1999. From there, the style gained much attention and popularity and is now taught at over 60,000 locations with about 7.5 million participants around the world, according to Zumba.com.
Not only is Zumba a great full body, aerobic workout, but this hip new dance trend is also helping to save lives. Instead of having walks for breast cancer, women across the United States have begun to hold “Zumbathons” to raise money for breast cancer causes. In fact, the Zumba organization and Susan G. Komen for the Cure recently partnered up to make the fundraising official. The two organizations came together as a means of reaching a larger number of people with different interests to raise the most money for the organization. So, if you ever come across a Zumbathon, definitely try to participate in it. You will not only be helping others, but yourself as well in a fun way!
Zumba’s aerobic activity actually burns anywhere from 400 to 500 calories in only a 45-minute session, according to Shape.com. Julie Kelly, a ceritified instructor, explains, “Zumba really works your core, because the Latin dance moves specifically target the abdominal area.” And we all know that the core is what most women obsess over. So, instead of experiencing the pain and dread of running on the treadmill and hurting your neck and back over crunches, you will actually look forward to going to the gym if you are taking a Zumba class.
Temple offers four Zumba classes per week in the IBC gym. They hold hour long classes every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday nights at 7:30 with different instructors throughout the week. If you are planning on taking a Zumba class however, be sure to get there early! The classes tend to fill up fast. So, if you want to get your dance on and not be stuck with the dreaded treadmill, remember the early bird gets the worm! And I hope you enjoy your Latin fitness frenzy!