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
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.
Chelsea’s Fitness III: Stability Ball Exercises: Give Yourself a Ballin’ Workout
Monday, November 8, 2010
You’ve tried the basic cardio equipment, various exercise classes, and have even maybe lifted a weight or two, but have you ever tried using a stability ball? Stability balls are a great way to get a toned body. However, a lot of people think that the only thing stability balls are good for is crunches. This is not true!
Stability balls can be used to work out your abs, arms, legs and can provide a good cardio workout. Here are different parts of your body to focus on and various exercises to keep you looking good: Do 3 sets of 10 for each different exercise.
1. Basic Crunch: Make sure that your shoulders and upper back are on the medicine ball and your hips are off. Keep your hips elevated at a 90 degree angle. Begin your crunches.
2. Ball Pass Off: This crunch requires you to lay on the ground. From here, you pass the ball from your hands to in between your feet every time you crunch up.
3. Plank on the ball: This requires your feet to be on the ground and your forearms on the ball. Your body should be in a straight line. From here you want to pike your body up so that you butt inverts your body into an “A” shape. The ball should roll as you move under your arms.
4. Ball Twist: Get into a push-up position with your feet separated on the ball. Then slightly twist and roll the ball from side to side. This does not need to be a large twist, just a slight movement. You want to avoid losing your balance.
5. Side Wall Crunch: Lay on your side with your hip on the ball and your feet resting against a wall. Crunch to the side and twist your shoulders toward the ceiling. After you do one set, repeat to the other side.
1. Backwards Crunch: Lay with your stomach on the ball and your body in a straight line. Arch your back, lifting your head and shoulders toward the ceiling.
2. Butt Lift: Lay with your shoulders and upper back on the ball and your feet on the ground. Let your body relax so that your body is mostly lying on the ball. Extend your hips up to a 90 degree angle for one repetition.
3. Roll In: Lay with your back on the ground and your feet on the ball. Lift your hips up and roll the ball in. Bend your knees as you roll the ball in.
1. Wall Squat: Place the ball between you and the wall and simply squat so that your legs make a 90 degree angle. Let the ball roll as you move.
2. Overhead Squat: Hold the ball above your head and squat. Once again make sure that your legs make a 90 degree angle.
3. Frog Jump: Start in a squat holding the ball in front of your chest. From there jump straight up while lifting the ball over your head. Bring the ball back to your chest and land in a squat after completing the jump.
1. Push-Up: Get into the normal push-up position with your arms making a straight line with your shoulders. Place your feet on the ball behind you. Proceed with normal push-ups.
2. Tricep Hold: Sit straight up on the ball. Place your arms next to you on the ball then lift your hips up, so that you are simply balancing on your hands. Hold this for 30 seconds then repeat.
Do each of these exercises for one minute each right in a row for three sets.
1. Ball Jog: Sit on the ball and basically jog. Lift each knee one at a time up and down towards your chest as high as possible. This is supposed to be a quick motion.
2. Step Touch: Stay seated on the ball. Step to one side and have your other foot meet the other. Then repeat to the other side. The ball is supposed to roll under you. Once again this is a quick motion.
3. Ski Step: Jump your feet from one side of the ball to the other. Your upper body should twist in the opposite direction of your legs.
I hope you enjoy these ballin’ exercises!
Chelsea’s Fitness II: Spinning Class: A Quick Cardio-Filled Slim Down
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
The thought of biking for 45 minutes to an hour straight may leave you running away from the gym. However, spinning classes are not at all as bad as they may sound. With motivational music blaring and slightly dimmed lights, spinning classes are extremely energetic and fun to take; not to mention an awesome workout!
If you are in the need of an intense cardiovascular workout that will give you a quick slim down, spinning is the key to a drenched shirt and a fully toned body. The various positions spinners take on the bike, as advised by the instructor, focus on multiple parts of the body including legs, abs, and arms.
Still intimidated? The instructors at Temple University always advise throughout the workout that “you are in control of your ride.” This means that you have the ability to make your workout as easy or as rigorous as you want. The instructor simply guides you through different levels of intensity to give a basic structure to your workout.
While you have control of your ride, it is important to know what exactly you have control over. It is vital to focus on your cardiovascular fitness as well as your lower body strength training. In fact, spinning may very well be a better workout than simply running on a treadmill, because it combines the effectiveness of these two elements. It is also a low impact form of exercise, which helps if you have bad ankles or knees.
Livestrong.com states, “Depending on how fast you pedal and the amount of resistance you have on the bike, your heart and lungs will benefit, as well as your gluteus maximus, hamstrings and quadriceps.” The website states that this is a perfect option to increase energy levels while burning fat and calories. The spinning instructors at Temple University advise that an average 50-minute spinning class burns anywhere from 300 to 600 calories depending on how hard you push yourself.
Throughout the ride, the instructors will inform you to add resistance on the bike by turning a knob below the handle bars. Slight turns up in resistance signify a hill. There are also three different positions that a spinner may take to focus on different parts of the body. Quick changes in position are called jumps. Instructors also set aside time during the workout to sprint. During sprints, it is not necessarily how fast you are going but how hard you go against the resistance. These different spinning techniques split up the ride to make it less tedious and more about focusing on each individual song that is played.
I was absolutely terrified by the thought of riding a bike for an hour straight. However, after my first ride, I fell in love and rapidly saw the benefits. I started going every morning at 7:00 am and found that it quickly slimmed my stomach down in the first week. Spinning class is a terrific way to get rid of all of the toxins in your body as you sweat profusely from head to toe. So don’t forget your towel!
Temple University’s Independent Blue Cross gym holds daily spinning classes three times a day Monday through Friday starting at 7:05 am, 12:05 pm, and 5:10 pm. They also hold class on Saturday at 12:05 pm and Sunday at 5:10 pm. So, whether you are a morning or night person, Temple offers a variety of times for you to get a great combination of cardio exercise and strength training. Don’t be intimidated, just do it!
Fresh Eats I: Your College Guide to Eating Healthy Snacks
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Late night bites, partying, cafeteria food, and the infamous Philly cheese steaks just add on the calories and the pounds. And who really wants to gain the “Freshman 15” that just keeps adding on pounds year after year? Not me and I’m sure you don’t either. While leading a college lifestyle, it is very difficult to eat well and get the proper nutrition. I am here to give you simple tips and recipes that are tasty, healthy, and can fit right into your busy college schedule and small budget.
It is important to put yourself on a schedule when it comes to eating. Do not just eat to eat. This is where many college students run into trouble. There is nothing wrong with having a snack when your stomach starts to growl, but that does not mean you eat an entire large bag of your favorite chips. Portion sizes are key! When picking out a snack it is important to find one that will give you energy and take away your mid-day tummy rumbles without making you feel guilty.
“If you enjoy a nibble between meals but are afraid that you’re eating too many calories, reduce your portions at mealtime,” says registered dietitian of the American Dietetic Association, M.J. Smith, “that way you can have a snack without the guilt or extra calories.” It is also vital to find a snack that is smart too! Think about munching on a piece of fruit or vegetable with a dip maybe or even a whole wheat cracker. Nuts and popcorn are also healthy options that will fill you up.
Many nutritionists have found that five or six smalls meals and snacks are better for your body and health than simply purging for one or two meals a day. This will ensure to keep your energy level up throughout the day to avoid that sluggish feeling before classroom hypnosis hits you.
Here is a spin on a simple snack that gives you the perfect energizing blend of protein, carbs, and sugar to help you last the day; especially when you feel as though you just can’t keep your eyes open another minute in class.
Your favorite cereal or granola
Your choice of nuts
Dried fruit (mix it up and don’t just use the typical raisins)
M&Ms or other chocolate-y treat
Sunflower or Pumpkin seeds
Keep each ingredient proportionate to the others, but add a little extra nuts and fruit for better nutritional value. This is a great snack to throw in a small container and take with you to class.
Not only is this remix on the trail mix tasty and a great boost of energy, but it can also be stored for a long while. So, when preparing the Trail ReMix, make enough to last you a couple of weeks. However, you must be sure to seal whichever container you place it in well. I recommend filling up a large ziplock bag and squeezing all of the air out before sealing up the bag.
This great “on the go” snack will keep your eyes peeled and energy levels up to stay alert in class. You’ll be ready to work and not feel fatigued. Just allow yourself to keep everything in proportion and don’t overeat. So, when the snack attack hits you, just be sure to stay smart and you’ll be energized for the day.
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!
Fresh Eats II: Lacking Energy? It Could Be Iron Deficiency Anemia
Monday, November 8, 2010
Is Mr. Sandman coming to get you when you have to be your most awake during the day? Well, it may not be just a lack of sleep from the night before, but the most common nutrition disorder in the world.
Iron deficiency anemia affects one in five American females, according to HealthTree.com. The deficiency is due to a lack of sufficient amounts of iron in their diet. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) explains, “Women are more likely to suffer from an iron deficiency anemia because the flow of blood from monthly period contains iron.”
If iron deficiency anemia goes untreated, heart problems may develop and lead to a rapid or irregular heartbeat. MayoClinic explains that since iron creates the oxygen carrying protein, hemoglobin, which transports oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. If there is a deficiency, the lack of oxygen causes your heart to compensate and pump more blood.
To avoid this kind of deficiency, there a few foods you can eat that will help put iron in your system and increase your energy:
– Meat: beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey
– Dark Leafy Veggies: broccoli, mustard greens, and a variety of lettuces
– Dried Fruit – raisins, prunes, apricots, cranberries
– Beans, Peas, Seeds
– Potato Skins
– Whole Wheat Bread
– Vitamin C & Citric Acids – oranges, grapefruit, lemon, lime
Now what do you eat if you can’t afford or do not have access to the foods above? There are plenty of options on campus that can help add to daily iron intake.
Some iron enriched options around campus include:
– SAC: Make yourself a salad from the salad bar. You can include your dark leafy veggies, dried fruit, beans, seeds, and occasionally meat depending on what time of the day you go. You can also pick up an orange or orange juice before you check out.
– Einstein Bagels: They carry the option of picking out a whole-wheat bagel with your choice of lunchmeat and lettuce.
– Charleston Market: This place in the SAC always has a different type of meat and a green vegetable to choose. You can also opt to get a baked potato or mashed potatoes if they are offered.
– Master Wok or any other Chinese Place on Campus: At these places, opt to get a meat with vegetable such as chicken/beef and broccoli or chicken/beef and vegetables.
– J&H: There is a wide variety of options at J&H that can help your iron deficiency needs. Once again there is the salad bar option that is also found in the SAC. You can also create your own tacos or burger with meat and lettuce.
– Jimmy Johns: Get your sandwich on wheat bread or ask for the “un-wich,” which is basically a lettuce wrap style. Here you will get your meat, dark leafy vegetable, bean sprouts, and wheat bread.
If you try to rearrange your diet and problems still persist, go to the student health center to get a blood test. If you test positive for iron deficiency anemia, they can give you an iron supplement. The supplement will help boost iron in your system and energy in your every day life.
Exercise is also vital in keeping your energy up throughout the week. So, head over to the gym and boost your cardio. If you are not too fond of the idea of using one of the dreaded machines, try taking a fun class like Zumba. To read more on Zumba follow this link: http://hercampus.com/school/temple/shake-your-booty-zumba.
Roommate Survival Tips
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Lions, and tigers, and roommates! OH MY!
Starting a new life at college can be one of the most challenging things a student may have to undergo, especially if you are moving in with a complete stranger! Whether this is your first time having to share a room or your first time without your sibling, having to live in tight quarters with a complete stranger can be awkward and sometimes scary.
But don’t worry, even if you and your roommate are already having troubles, there are a few things you can do to keep a healthy relationship with your roommate despite your differences. After all, you might as well make the best of the situation since you’ll be living with this person the rest of the year.
At Temple, the dorm coordinators make you and your roommates come up with a contract. However, that contract may not cover everything for you and your roomie to pleasantly live together.
THREE BIGGEST PROBLEMS: Quiet hours, Cleaning, and Food.
Come up with a particular time that you both agree on for the room to be quiet to either study or go to bed. Be open and honest with each other about what your own personal needs are. Do not forget that if you need extra time to study while your roommate is sleeping there are study rooms in 1300, 1940, and White Hall. The tech center and library are also open all night on weekdays.
Make a schedule for cleaning. Each week someone should get a different chore no matter how many people you share a room with. The different chores you can assign are cleaning the floors, cleaning the bathroom, taking out trash, or picking up. If you prefer to take care of your own things, clearly tell your roommate that you think you should both just clean up your own side of the room.
Food is a huge issue for roommates. Some people are used to sharing their food with a huge family and have no problem sharing with you or even eating your food. Other people, including myself, get testy when people their food. Be sure to clearly state how you feel about sharing food and if you roommate is not a fan of sharing, just don’t touch their food!
Whatever you do, ask before you borrow anything; even if its as small as a stapler. This will help keep from getting on your roommate’s nerves over little things. Make sure you always have permission and return whatever you borrowed as soon as possible. Also, be sure to talk about what is going too far with personal items and privacy.
If you and your roommate are already having communication problems, it’s not too late! Tell your roommate that you want to get to know them better and tell each other about yourselves. Talk about things like where you come from, your family, your likes and dislikes, hobbies, and beliefs. The more you know about your roommate, the more you’ll be understanding of their habits. Whatever you do, do NOT talk about your roommate. If you have a problem or something is bothering you, approach your roommate first. You do not want to be on bad terms because of gossip though!
MAINTAIN A FRIENDLY ENVIRONMENT.
Keep the environment friendly. With Halloween coming, maybe bring home a pumpkin for your roommate or decorate your room together for Autumn. This will let them know that you are putting forth an effort to be friends with them.
Find one night a week to designate as “Roommie Night.” Choose one night a week you go to fourth meal together for a late night snack, join an organization together with a common interest you two share, go to a workout class together, or even go to a party. No matter what you are doing, just try to designate one night a week to bond. If you make it a weekly ritual, you both will always have something to talk about with each other.
Post up your schedules somewhere in your room. Put on your schedule your classes, work hours, workout schedule, and any other hours you may have. This will help give your roommate a good idea of when they will have the room to themself to have friends over or time to study.
If you try these tips and you and your roommate still can’t get along, don’t let that ruin your college experience. Be sure to come to some sort of agreement about your responsibility for the apartment or dorm room. If you can, try to get a room switch. Temple offers these within the first month of living in the dorms. But overall, relax! People have survived bad roommates before. Just join a club or organization so you can meet lots of new people.
Hopefully these tips will help you and your roommate bond and get closer. Remember, your roommate does not need to be your best friend, but it is always good to maintain a friendly and respectful relationship with them. Good luck!
How do you and your roomie work together to maintain a great environment? Tell us about it in the comments below!
THE TEMPLE NEWS
Speaking words and spreading truth
By touring the nation and spreading her message of truth to thousands of people, Nina “Lyrispect” Ball, a 2005 Temple alumna of the African American studies department, said she hopes to empower America with her spoken word performances. Although she has been an actress and performer since third grade, Ball said she believes attending Temple was what led her to the dream career path she now leads.
After discovering her passion for the arts, Ball studied theater at the Baltimore School for the Arts, a high school where she was classically trained as an actress. Her interests became more guided toward the media-art world and led her to enroll at Temple in hopes of becoming a screenwriter. Ball wanted to create a more balanced work for people of color, and she knew she could create characters that were not segregated or prejudice.
“There is no substitution for human to human contact [and] the exchanging of energy and the exchanging of ideas,” Ball said. “There is just something about watching someone in a moment that cannot be rewound or done over.”
Ball said taking Temple’s Poetry and Performance class helped her understand how she could make a career of her passions and sparked her ambitions of spoken word. She began to take advantage of frequent open-mic nights around Main Campus, which allowed her to gain courage and expand her personal abilities as a performer.
Eventually, this led to her involvement with Spoken Soul 215, a collective group of five spoken-word performers from a variety of backgrounds. All the members had their own style, whether it was writing and reading poetry, singing, performing hip-hop or mentoring the youth in the community. Ball was asked to join Spoken Soul 215 three years ago, after her friend in the group heard her perform at some on-campus open-mic nights.
Together, the members of the diverse group – which now includes Ball – express the importance of free expression through the arts of voice.
“There is just you and the audience, and when you open your mouth, then that is your moment to share what you represent in this world,” Ball said.
Ball said she felt it was especially inspirational to have like-minded people to bounce ideas off, instead of carrying the loneliness of a solitary performing artist. Spoken Soul 215 created a strong support system, with each member offering individual talents to a collective whole.
Despite Ball’s passion for the arts and performing, she said difficulties can arise in speaking from your heart. She challenges ideas of a conforming society and explores how society views the world and each other as individuals.
“Even if you don’t agree with what I am saying, at least I have you thinking about something in a new way,” Ball said. “There is a payoff in knowing that you have hopefully affected someone’s life in a positive way.”
One group Ball recalled making a positive impact on was a group of Native American youth who never experienced life off their reservation. After her performance for the young audience, they presented her with a handmade wool blanket they draped on their guest of honor. Ball said she was truly shocked and felt honored to be thanked in such a momentous way.
Another moment Ball said she would never forget took place in 2006, when she was honored to perform at the Trumpet Awards in Atlanta. They enjoyed her performance so much, she said, that they asked her back the following year, after she performed in front of an audience that included Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin.
Though this performer has positively influenced many different groups by her spoken word, she finds her biggest accomplishment in being a mentor to the girls of Black Girls Rock, an organization based in Brooklyn, which was represented on BET this past weekend. This organization focuses on establishing self-esteem in 12- to 17-year-old girls through the arts.
“The real reward is being able to mentor young girls who I get to share [their] art and passion with, and help them find their voice within performing,” Ball said.
After looking back on her college career and comparing it to her current lifestyle as a spoken word performer, Ball advised students to use every bit of information they learn in class to accomplish their dreams. Using what is learned in poetry is the best way to challenge one’s mind, she said.
“There is a dangerous amount of conformity in youth,” Ball said. “The more of us who can speak up with our own individual voices, the better off we will all be and the more enlightened we will all be to avoid the many misconceptions about the world.”
Bluebond guitars strums strings for learning
From teenage angst to music lessons, Bluebond Guitars has held its pick for more than 20 years.
With its walls lined with guitars of all shapes, sizes and brands, Bluebond Guitars gives new meaning to the average guitar store. An old mom-and-pop store at Fourth and Lombard streets, the shop considers its customers to be more like family than sale prospects.
“We help more than sell. Instead of a service, we try to maintain a relationship with the customer,” owner Richard Chodak said. Bluebond Guitars, which has been in existence for more than 20 years, not only sells guitars, but it serves as a repair shop and music school as well.
Chodak said his love for music began when he was a teenager in the 1980s.
“It was typical teenage angst that I was getting out on the electric guitar,” he said.
He said he loved the idea of rebellion and the punk lifestyle and just wanted to take his frustrations of youth out by blasting his electric guitar.
The guitar shop first opened in 1989 by one of Chodak’s close friends, whose last name was Bluebond. Chodak began working at the store for his friend in 1991, but two years later, his friend was killed in a car accident. Chodak found such potential in the store that he began to run Bluebond Guitars himself to further customers’ love for music in his friend’s honor.
Currently, the vintage guitar store sells used and affordable equipment, as well as items that big name stores do not typically carry.
Chodak said the store’s repair shop has proved quite successful as well. More than half the store is covered with unrepaired equipment that customers are waiting on.
“We don’t even advertise,” Chodak said. “Word of mouth pretty much covers it.”
Throughout the years, the Bluebond music school went from teaching a few students to its currently enrolled 180 students. The program places teenage musicians into groups that create original songs together. After three months, the groups perform their music at the Balcony at the Trocadero. It’s not uncommon for the bands to stay together after the program ends.
The instructors at Bluebond offer the bands guidance and encourage the students to fully express themselves through their music. Chodak described the instructors as the student’s creative coaches.
The school also holds open-mic nights for its adult students at local bars, which offer an encouraging environment for the performers.
Chodak and his staff play nearly every instrument necessary for a typically rock band, and most employees have worked at the Bluebond for 10 to 15 years. Chodak said he believes the workplace is enjoyable and hardly feels like work at all, which has made Bluebond Guitars more like a family than simply a place of employment.
“We have created a community here where people can come in and just hang out,” Chodak said. “It doesn’t matter how young or old or rich or poor someone is. Anyone is welcome to come in and jam out on any guitar they please.”
Students examine society’s injustices through conversation and narratives
Students’ personal stories bring the Philly Fringe play “54: All Together Equal” to life.
For a dozen people crowded in a small apartment room, brainstorming seemed to become a communal experience. Although they did not have the most ideal space to rehearse for their upcoming play, “54: All Together Equal,” their ideas and struggles made their play come alive.
In just 20 days, 12 Temple students from Insomnia Theater company created their Philly Fringe show about inequality in the world based on their experiences, stories and prejudices.
“We focus on every group who has been discriminated against while trying to achieve that all-too-familiar American Dream,” said director Kevin Stackhouse, a junior theater major.
Stackhouse, the mastermind behind the play, originally planned for the piece to be a rock musical.
“[The actors’] real-life stories had much more importance and soul to them,” he said, “and they are all based on fact.”
Insomnia Theater assembled with the hope of sharing its talent and messages with Philadelphia. This was all, in part, due to Stackhouse. Everyone in the production either knew Stackhouse personally or through a friend.
The collaboration of these friends creates a personal glimpse into the actors’ lives to create a montage of various monologues and scenes. Topics covered include gay rights, female African-American political figures, obesity and interracial relationships.
“It is more of a conversation than a performance,” Calvin Atkinson, a junior theater major, said about the show.
Insomnia Theater wants their audience to see inequality in the country as a whole.
“[Inequality] is holding us back in general. People can’t go out and do what they want to do,” said cast member Victoria Evans-Quilloin, a junior communications major.
The cast added that the United States has many difficulties because the country lacks the freedom of personal expression. They also said prejudices and discrimina
tion keep people from being themselves, as expressed in a scene in which they each write “Equality” a personal letter.
The cast members of “54: All Together Equal,” who all wrote something of their own for the play, said they are proud of the intimacy and personalization they created in developing the play.
Despite the cast members’ distinctive personalities and experiences, they all come together to impose one strong statement of love.
Stackhouse said he wants his audience to leave remembering one thing.
“It is not your physicality or what you wear that makes you unique, but your choices,” he said.
Reach Nirvana, and for your wallet, at Buddakan
With the Starr name attached, Buddakan naturally puts a modern twist on Asian cuisine.
Stephen Starr’s Buddakan lures in lovers of Asian cuisine with its modern twist on age-old traditions. From lobster tempura to sesame chicken to fried spiced duck, Buddakan serves a variety of foods to satisfy any craving for a tasty Asian-infused meal.
The Old City restaurant features a giant statue of Buddha as the setting’s focal point and dim lighting, so the mood is set for a dressier occasion. The dishes come family-style and can be a bit pricey, as dinner plates range from $18 to $32.
Lunch, however, is the perfect option for the average money-saving college student. Buddakan offers a slightly different menu during this time, so lunchtime items range from $12 to $18. It is also possible to create a custom three-course meal for lunch, an option not available to dinner guests.
While at Buddakan, be sure to save room for dessert. This restaurant serves mouth-watering sweets that will have some patrons wishing they saved a little more room in their stomachs. Buddakan is known for its Chocolate Bento Box and doughnuts.
If you are looking to experience a modern twist on Asian cuisine during a nice afternoon or night out, check out Buddakan, and you will not go home hungry.
Get your ‘feast-esta’ on at El Vez
El Vez executes some traditional, and not so traditional, Mexican dishes with a kick.
Mexico is calling loud and clear at El Vez, Steven Starr’s critically acclaimed Mexican “feast-esta,” with the largest variety of tacos in Philadelphia.
Whether you’re a fan of chicken, beef, pork or seafood, you’ll find flavorful creations at El Vez that will have you asking your friends for a bite of their dishes.
But if tacos aren’t your thing, don’t worry. This eccentric Mexican restaurant also serves large, juicy burgers, plates of zesty nachos that nearly fill the table and many more delicious items.
Considering the food’s high quality and the restaurant’s Center City location, El Vez offers quite a bargain – an average meal costs between $20 and $30.
Not only is the food exceptional, but with the restaurant’s bright lights and casual outdoor seating, El Vez also lures in passersby looking for a good time. Inside, Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, decorations cover an entire wall, and other décor pays tribute to the award-winning Latin musician and female actor, Charo.
But El Vez isn’t just about great food: Some go to the restaurant to enjoy a drink at the large center bar, where patrons can soak up the Mexican-American atmosphere.
For those looking to find a place that shouts “fun,” and satisfies their Mexican cravings, El Vez will not disappoint.