… And SPANFEST 2015 Was Here

Ladies and Gentlemen, what a festival it was!

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Starting with performing art workshops, followed by interactive classes and performances, and then presenting events using various tools of the performing arts which included Dance, Music, Spoken Word, Visual art, Theatre and Comedy, SPANFEST 2015 revealed an understanding and awareness of a community’s historical diversity and cultural context.

The Festival kicked off with TEN days of intensive performing art workshops between November 7th – 16th, 2015 with international professors that will unveil the new voices in our Nigerian artists using the mediums of dance, music and drama.

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It was followed by five performance nights which showcased the diversity and richness of our culture and heritage. The grande finale was a family community experience. It started with the SPAN academy graduation ceremony which had both SPAN Academy of Jazz and Contemporary Music, and SPAN Academy of Dance graduating students showcasing what they have learnt from SPAN with spectacular performances. It closed with “Voice Of The Voiceless”; a final performing art production gathering 200 dancers, musicians, and actors on one stage.

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Intensive workshops, Exciting performance shows… SPANFEST 2015 remains the biggest Music, Dance and Drama Festival to ever hit this side of the planet.

We will be giving you more details on each event and how it all went down! Stay tuned!

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SPAN @10 speech given by Mrs. Sarah Boulos

SPAN Gala Night_Photography By_by Akara Ogheneworo_Top Nigerian Concert Photographer_32                                              “Life without industry is guilt; industry without art is brutality.”

                                                                                                        –John Rushkin

Imagine our life in Lagos not filled with a LAGOS HERITAGE FESTIVAL, a MUSON CENTER FESTIVAL, a school band or Theater Dance Performance, a SARO THE MUSICAL, a TARUWA NIGHT, a JAZZ HOLE or SERIES CONCERT, a LAGOS FASHION SHOW, or a SPAN FESTIVAL.

Lagos would be brutal and simply lifeless!

WE CANNOT OPERATE OR CONTINUE TO BE PRODUCTIVE WITHOUT THE INVOLVEMENT OF THE ARTS, AND ESPECIALLY ART EDUCATION IN ALL OUR SCHOOLS! The arts have a crucial impact on our economy and are an important catalyst for stimulating creativity, learning, discovery, and achievement in our country.

Today, ten years after, I stand before you proud and honored to have been given such a gift from God and to have witnessed hundreds of artists lives changed because of SPAN. I’m humbled by the numerous success stories that are imbedded in our communities, and the bright future ahead of us.

SPAN, from a garage in Ikoyi, to 100 sqm2 in Banana Island. Our path has grown to now occupy a three-story building in Lagos Island, where over 100 students come every day to develop their performing arts gift, to realize their dreams.

Sarah Boulos, SPAN Board of Directors and SPAN Executive Team

Sarah Boulos, SPAN Board of Directors and SPAN Executive Team

The last decade has been such an exciting and thrilling journey, and I am very proud to see that SPAN has inspired the creation of healthy communities throughout Lagos and has changed lives; SPAN members and affiliates have started their own vibrant performing art studios and businesses, and are getting employed by major performing art productions and events.

It is also today that I RECOGNIZE the patrons of SPAN who have listened to our needs and supported us with their DIAMOND PATRONAGE for TEN YEARS.

ITB Construction, SCOA Nigeria PLC, CHELLARAMS, CoolFm/CoolTv, Strachan Partners, D-United foods, 7up PLC, Eko Hotel & Suites

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ITB Construction receiving a plaque

 SCOA NIG PLC

Dr. Massad Boulos, SCOA NIG PLC

Mr. Chellarams

Mr. Aditya Chellaram receiving on behalf of Chellarams Plc.

On behalf of Strachan Partners

Mrs. Muna Iyanam on behalf of Strachan Partners

Mr. Nodin Churston - 7up Plc.

Mr. Norden Thurston – 7up Plc.

Thank you.

 “Art is a nation’s most precious heritage. For it is in our works of art that we reveal to ourselves and to others the inner vision which guides us as a nation. And where there is no vision, the people perish.”

 –Lyndon Johnson, on signing into existence the National Endowment on the Arts

To embark on our next decade, I would like to recognize our board of trustees in the persons of:

Pastor Wale Adeferasin, Pastor Olufunmi Olajoyegbe, Dr Yemi Johnson (SAN), Dr Massad Boulos, Mr. Gabi Massoud, Mrs Muna Iyanam, Mr. Adithya Chellarams, Mr. Patrick Koshoni, and Ms Evita Moussalli, along with me will be entrusted to insure our organizations mission and vision is brought forth.

The next decade of SPAN will give you a vibrant and sustainable community center, a state of the art performing arts center with a training academy of excellence, and a theater in the new Eko Atlantic city that will bring our nation to the forefront of the entertainment industry of West Africa.

I will personally continue to work hard and advocate for the arts in our nation, demanding tax relief for all corporations and individuals who support the arts financially as it s a crime not to provide our children with a wholesome future and develop the creative minds of our nation.

Ladies and gentleman embark on this journey with us, make a difference today by supporting us to build span performing art center, sponsor a SPAN student from inception at SPAN all the way to the Lebanese American University for his/her performing arts degree, or simply donate to life changing programs in the art.

Thank you.

Health benefits of dance

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These days, people love to watch other people dance. Competitive dance shows like So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing With the Stars or competitions here at home like SPAN/IDO: street dance battle and salsa show dance competition are dominating the entertainment world.

What you may not realize, however, is that dancing a great way to keep your body and mind healthy. Studies show that dancing can do a host of things which we will examine closely in this article.

Boost Memory

According to a study in The New England Journal of Medicine, dancing may boost your memory and prevent you from developing dementia as you get older.

Their method for objectively measuring mental acuity in aging was to monitor rates of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.

The study wanted to see if any physical or cognitive recreational activities influenced mental acuity.  They discovered that some activities had a significant beneficial effect.  Other activities had none.

        Reading – 35% reduced risk of dementia

        Bicycling and swimming – 0%

        Doing crossword puzzles at least four days a week – 47%

        Playing golf – 0%

        Dancing frequently – 76%:  That was the greatest risk reduction of any activity studied, cognitive or physical.

If the essence of intelligence is making decisions, then a valid question would be … how do you develop such a skill?

Involve yourself in activities which require split-second rapid-fire decision making, as opposed to rote memory (retracing the same well-worn paths), or just working on your physical style. One way to do that is to learn something new.

Image02838Take a class to challenge your mind.  It will stimulate the connectivity of your brain by generating the need for new pathways.  Difficult classes are better for you, as they will create a greater need for new neural pathways.

Improve Flexibility

Flexibility is an important part of being healthy. Most dance classes begin with a warm-up including several stretching exercises. Most forms of dance require dancers to perform moves that require bending and stretching, so dancers naturally become more flexible by simply dancing. Increasing your flexibility will help ease joint pain and post-exercise soreness.

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Reduce Stress

Dancing to slow music, with a tempo that is easy to follow, or dancing to a fast beat are equally wonderful ways to relieve stressful times provided you enjoy yourself. Allow yourself to feel the music, move your arms, and sway your body. Enjoy the movements as you stretch your arms, and your body to release all tension.

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Recently, a paper published in the American Journal of Dance Therapy linked tango training, meditation and exercise with reductions in stress and improvements in insomnia.

Diminish Depression

Dancing really does lift your spirits, according to a study in that tested the effects of dancing on people with depression.

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Research tells us that dancing improves mood in the following ways:

  1. Gives you an endorphin boost from exercise
  2. Increases self confidence
  3. Improves social skills
  4. Expands your social network
  5. Lifts your spirits
  6. Reduces depression
  7. Laugh at yourself (you will make mistakes)
  8. Keeps you in the moment.

Feeling a lil’ depressed? Grab a friend and go dancing.

 Help Your Heart

For someone with mild to moderate heart failure, dancing lessons may be the perfect gift this season.

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In a study, people with heart failure who took up waltzing breathed better, exercised longer, and generally felt better.

Dancing boosted heart health just as much as exercise, says researcher Romualdo Belardinelli, MD, a professor of cardiology at Università Politecnica delle Marche School of Medicine and director of cardiac rehabilitation and prevention at Lancisi  Heart Institute in Ancona, Italy.

The study was presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2006.

 Lose Weight

Bored with your bicycle? A study in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology found that an exercise program of aerobic dance training is just as helpful for losing weight and increasing aerobic power as cycling and jogging.

In fall 2012, Roni Tarver was in a bad mood.

The 5-foot-6-inch teacher weighed 235 pounds and suffered back pain almost constantly. She was popping 10 to 15 ibuprofen daily, which took a toll on her stomach. It didn’t help that she was on her feet most of the day and dealing with the stress and exhaustion of being a relatively new teacher.

Her husband never once said anything about her weight, which made her feel worse about not taking care of herself. She had quit smoking, but knew she needed to get active because climbing stairs still left her winded.

January 3rd, 2013, she signed up for her first Zumba class.

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It was the beginning of her new life.

 Balance Better

If you are nervous about falling as you get older, some dance lessons might help ease your worries, according to a study in the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity that showed tango dancing can improve balance in aging adults. Dancing requires a lot of fast movement and good posture, so frequent dancing will help you stabilize and gain better control of your body.

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Increase Energy

Can’t seem to find your get-up-and-go? Taking a dance class might help.

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Research published in The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition found that a weekly dance program could improve physical performance and increase energy levels among adults.

Dancing provides heart-healthy aerobic exercise, which increases energy by improving blood flow, in an upbeat environment that includes music and the opportunity to socialize with others. Because you have to focus to keep up with the coordinated movements and steps required in dance, dancing also provides a mentally stimulating workout.

Make Friends

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A dance class is the perfect setting to make new friends and branch out socially. Maintaining positive relationships may just rank up there with healthy eating and exercise. Being socially engaged leads to increased happiness, reduced stress, and a stronger immune system.

Ref:

WebMd, CNN, DARC festival (SPAN exchange program)

Sarah Boulos: After 10 Years, I’m Happy Telling the SPAN Story

24 Apr 2015

Mrs. Sarah Boulos

Mrs. Sarah Boulos

Founder, Society for Performing Arts of Nigeria  (SPAN), Mrs. Sarah Boulos, has helped artistes of diverse ages and fields to realise their dreams. As her organisation clocks 10 this year, she speaks with Mary Ekah about its impact on the Nigeria’s entertainment industry and her determination to do more

What does it feel like to celebrate 10 years of SPAN?
It is very emotional. When we started, I never thought that so many people will be empowered and educated and that they would succeed like they are doing today. Sometimes you just embark on an adventure expecting something good to come out of it and so you work so hard even when you do not know what will be the outcome. And seeing the outcome of SPAN today and our achievements, especially for all the people that have benefited, I am just so happy and humbled because I can see that God has worked through me to use me for something that is so necessary and needful for Nigeria. So I am humbled and so emotional about it.

You said SPAN has been doing something necessary and needful for Nigeria. How do you mean?
We hear every day of people trying to achieve their purpose, trying to follow up on what they are supposed to do for themselves to better their lives and at the same time trying to find out what job opportunities are available for them out there as well as trying to make a difference, especially when they are artistes. Such people need a platform to actually explore their talents – play their musical instrument or learn their dance skill or act on a stage in order for them to develop their talents and nurture it, you need a place to do it and then you are not able to find the right place in Nigeria. Although we have universities where some of these skills are taught, SPAN has a different approach. What SPAN does is that it provides that opportunity for people who cannot afford university education. Usually what they do is that they come to SPAN where they are taught for free and then they raise money because sooner than later, they become very good dancers, musicians and actors, they save that money and then could go to the university.

So we aid this transition period from the high school diploma to the university degree and some times they can’t even afford to be on a high school diploma because some cannot even finish their exams before they came in contact with us. So SPAN with its curriculum and academic work has been able to open doors for those that have been forgotten and lack opportunities. It has also been able to answer the needs for those that want to further develop in their already identified profession because what a lot of the universities in Nigeria offer is theoretical and not practical, so what we do is that we groom the students to a point where they are able to find themselves and bring out the best in their professional works so that heir brand can sell and also become part of their entity.

So to explain this in my own way of thinking: I am a student of the art, I love what I do. I have a talent and I need to make money out of it. I need to finds a way of being productive. Now, how many dropouts from college are able to find jobs in the entertainment industry. Unless you push them towards somewhere, they would never be able to achieve their dreams, you need to guide them and that is what SPAN does – it is answering the needs for these young students who want to achieve something in the performing arts but cannot but when he/she comes in contact with SPAN, he is able to ignite what he has been called for and so he is able to get job, open a bank account and build a family because he has been empowered by SPAN through his studies, training programmes and leadership empowerment programmes; he is groomed to function properly where he fits in the society. And I think that is why I am still here – answering a need.

Are you saying that every student that has passed through SPAN has done so free of charge?
Yes, they didn’t pay a dime.  Like they didn’t pay for a whole years of training at SPAN; they get a one year free training after which, every time they want to get a class, they give back through performances like when they go to perform and they get paid or they give back through community services. And then people who were trained by SPAN got hired to be teachers and earn salaries and could also pay back from what they are paid as salaries. And I could go as far as telling you that the first two generations of SPAN go transport allowance to come to the training school then.  They were paid and fed to train, so a lot of them, once I started taking away some of these privileges, of course, they felt that there was something missing. That is where the power of service comes in. So you give back by helping your fellow brothers and sisters. Whatever you do has to benefit others and if it does not benefit others, why are you doing it in the first place? That is why SPAN is running today.

The act of service is very important to us. Once they finish the free training programme, we tell then straightaway that we need to guide them. So now what they do is that the people that come back to SPAN to further their training are making money even while they are still on training with SPAN. They are hired everywhere because we have given them a platform that is sellable and we do not ask anything in return. The only thing that we ask them to do is to serve their fellow man. Right now a lot of them have opened their dance and music companies as well as production houses.  Interestingly, I met most of them recently and they all said that SPAN has helped them take the step further to a world that is yet to be discovered. And they were able to fit in the society and excel in what they do. So SPAN pushes.

We take them as refugees even though some have been graduates of universities, they end up in SPAN because they have not been able to achieve what they wanted in life or find themselves. These are young people that are artistes at core and need to find themselves, so what happen is that in SPAN, after the free training, all we ask from them is to service humanity by teaching in the schools in their neighbourhood, teach community classes and perform for us if we need to perform but after that there is no holding back unless they are teachers in SPAN officially hired an are paid salaries.  So the whole process of training is a free will. They may decide after that one-year if they want to service humanity or just walk away but we audition those who can stay on with us after the one-year free training because if they were not grounded enough, they didn’t need to stay any longer with us. So they have to be ready to be auditioned to stay in SPAN, that is very important.   So out of the amount of people that we have trained in SPAN, only a few stay back to serve in the society a lot of others just went away.

So how does SPAN generate income to sustain itself?
SPAN generates incomes not from the performances but from schools by teaching. So for the music department we have Chellarams Plc, an Indian group that is into performances, the group also own the Chellarams Foundation and Art House Foundation, which is in support of Fine Art and they also have a trust fund for education and so they have spread their tentacles to leadership, business, Fine Arts and performing arts.

And especially, the young son of the Chellarams groups is a musician himself and so he is very interested in supporting and growing the Jazz Contemporary School of SPAN and that is how we pay the salaries of our teachers to train people for free.  Now how do we pay our staff? That is a very interesting aspect. We teach in over 20 private schools and the money generated us used in paying our staff and also the money generated goes back to SPAN so that we can pay the salary for the admin staff and the teachers. We have support fund for all the events that we do. The support fund system is to present the events and there is one particular company that has been of huge support to us, which is the SCOA Nigeria plc.

SCOA has provided us a building in Lagos Island and it is also providing us the diesel that we use in running the classes. So we do have a support system that helps sustain us over time.  But what pay our staff with is 100 percent from the dance, acting and music class that we teach in private schools. So we go everywhere around town and collaborate with studios and schools that we can generate income from. We have organisations that have been there for us and they have not stopped being there.

These include Indomie, Seven Up Bottling Company and ITB Construction. These companies on a yearly basic give us what they can afford so that we use their money to present the events of SPAN and also to educate the community. The money that sustains our school is from either SCOA Nigeria Plc. of Chellarams for the music department, dance class and the art classes that we teach.

That is how we have been able to survive.  Without events, we cannot have any credibility. So the events sponsored by the Indomie company, the Seven Up Bottling Company and ITB Construction Company gives leverage for us to expand and that is why this year Access Bank just came in to support us with a small fund for our gala night. So we are building a relationship with them.  So it is about building relationships and seeing the importance of developing the entertainment industry. So everything we do, is serving a purpose to make sure that our community centre is run and is giving back by providing education to the people who are in need.

Are your events only held in Nigeria?
We have done tours with the Spirit Of David in the past, where we took them for five days outside Nigeria and I have a very strong leading next year to take a group of SPAN artistes on a tour across West Africa with the story of SPAN and it would be sponsored by Groupe Fadoul Afrique, my father’s company which owns SCOA Nigeria Limited and has branches across West Africa.

You have turned out a whole lot of young people from SPAN so far. How do they cope with competition out there?
It is very interesting to know that because our students are properly trained and highly skilled, they actually stand out where ever they go. So if they go for auditions for jobs, they get picked and I have many credible names I can give. When you watch a dance and see something unique, you know that such a dancer or a group of dances were trained at SPAN. So we have been able to train a lot of dancers who have also formed their own dancing organizations now. Dancers trained at SPAN are usually picked at any audition they attend and most often they win any competition they enter because they have been able to understand what it is to go on stage. And we are planning to work on a system that will make SPAN a proper university but it will take some time and efforts.

You seem to have so much at hand at the moment. How do you cope?
It is the grace of God. Really I am a walkie-talkie battery, an energizer kind of battery. I think I cope because I have a compartment in my brain that guides me to go through the process. When I delivered my baby, I breastfed for nine months without a nanny around and I was still running SPAN I was taking my baby to every classes. I believe that when you are driven by passion, you are able to organise things no matter how hard.  I am very forgetful. A Personal Assistant (PA) would be helpful but it has to be one who really loves me to be able to follow me everywhere.

I have not seen yet a PA that would be able to work at my pace. I work 24 hours a day. My husband will tell me that I work more than he does because I do so many things that are different at the same time. In fact, I would say that my driver, Solomon, is my PA for now. It is very interesting because he has become part of my world because he drives me everywhere.  A typical day in my life, it like yesterday, for example: I wake up at 6:30am, dressed up and call my driver and he puts my breakfast in the car. I do my devotion in the car and then we went all the way from Ikoyi to Festac to meet with a lady that runs an outreach programme for premature babies that I want to support with a concert where she can raise money to take care of the babies.

And then I went for my private dance classes in Victoria Island, then went for a four hours dance classes at deferent schools and studio in Victoria Island where I teach ballet dance classes and in between that I met with the architect for the new La Pointe Delicatessen Store that we are opening.  I finished at 7:00pm and went home to spend time with my little son and also make plans for an older son who was graduating and also my daughter who was doing her final exams after which I collapsed in the bed and woke the next morning and then start over again. I live a crazy day. It is not only that I oversee La Pointe Delicatessen Store, but also I am also a ballet teacher and the chairperson of SPAN and a happy mother of three. I am 44 years old right now.

How does your husband take this?
He looks at me and says, ‘she will never stop”, but I manage to watch a particular TV series with my husband most often.  My biggest fan is my husband, Dr. Massad Fares Boulos. He has supported me all the way with finance. We have been married for 27 years and he has supported me from the beginning of SPAN, for better or for worst. He is a definition of what a spouse has to be for such a lady like me.

Tags: Life and StyleLifeSPAN

culled fromthisday

Improve Your Singing Voice

Not satisfied with how you sound when you sing?

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Singers are always trying to discover new ways to increase volume to their voice, eliminate that ANNOYING nasal sound , or be more on key.

Whether you are a professional singer for a band or someone who simply loves singing along to the radio while driving, there’s always a good reason to learn how to improve your singing voice.  Let’s face it, it’s a win-win situation for everyone.  You will sound better, which in turn will make the music sound more enjoyable.  Plus, everyone listening to you will have a better experience.

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Perfecting these tips won’t guarantee you a spot on project fame or even Nigerian Idol, but it will definitely guide you in the right direction of becoming a better singer.  It may take a while for your mind and body to get accustomed to the changes you’ll be making, but with a lot of practice and hard work, you should hear a dramatic change in your voice.

  1. Posture – Are you one of those people who naturally have bad posture? If your answer is yes, this tip is especially for you.

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Your breath travels from your lungs directly through your mouth.  Any blockage of that passage can greatly affect your singing.  Make sure you are standing with your legs at shoulder width apart, chest lifted up to give your lungs plenty of room, and shoulders stretched back and relaxed.  You should notice a big difference in the amount of air flow you can produce when you are singing with the correct posture.

  1. Breathe correctly – Our vocals are mainly dependent on how well we are breathing. breathe while singingAnd in order to breath correctly, we need to train our muscles.  As babies, we breathe properly by using only our stomachs to move while inhaling and exhaling.  When we get older, other factors start to interfere with our natural breathing patterns.  Just like playing a musical instrument, we have to practice singing and breathing often to get better.
  2. Drink lots of water girl-drinking-water– Everyone knows that drinking water is important for your health, but did you know it can affect your singing ability as well? Singing is correlated with your mucous membranes, and they function the best when your body is well hydrated.  Without enough water, your voice might sound nasal and it may be difficult to hit certain notes.  Drink at least eight glasses of water daily.
  3. Relax relaxA tense singer usually has weak tone and resonance in their voice. Your throat and muscles tighten up, which means less air is able to pass through to your mouth.  If you tend to get nervous singing in front of people, try your best not to think about everyone watching you.  Practice singing in front of a mirror or in front of your friends to help you overcome your nerves.
  4. Warm-up 670px-Warm-up-Your-VoiceSimilarly to stretching before playing a sport, you need to warm-up your voice before you start singing. The best way to warm up is to gradually increase the intensity of your volume and range.  Afterwards, sing one of your songs that you consider less challenging, giving yourself more preparation to stretch and get in your zone before you start singing more demanding material.
  5. Record yourselfrecord-yourselfIf you don’t like listening to yourself sing, start getting used to it. Every singer needs to listen and critique themselves, whether they want to or not.  Record your performances or just while practicing to determine where you need improvement.  It will also be a good way to track your progress and see how far you have come.
  6. Don’t strainstrain – Your body should never be in any pain while singing. If it does, then you’re either singing out of your range or doing something wrong.  Any pain from singing too loudly is usually because you aren’t supporting your voice well enough with your breath, meaning your vocal cords are doing all the work.  If you feel pain when trying to hit very high or low notes, you should probably sing something more in your range.  No matter how good your breath control is, you may still not be able to hit certain notes.
  7. Tongue position – The tongue plays a bigger role than you probably expect when it FotorCreated positioncomes to vocal tone. Bring your tongue forward and make sure the tip of it is touching the bottom of your teeth.  This allows more airspace and should help you produce a more vibrant, resonating sound to your singing.  By pulling your tongue down towards your throat, you will create a deep, darker classical voice.
  8. Larynx position – While singing, the larynx constantly moves up and down. When having a conversation with someone, the larynx tends to be relaxed and is stable.  The goal is to experiment and be conscious of where you want it be positioned.  Ideally you want your larynx stable when you are first starting out, but a more experienced singer will be able to control it the way he or she wants to.  Lowering the larynx will produce a darker tone while raising it will brighten the sound noticeably.
  9. Sing often – It’s important that you constantly work your vocal chords to help produce a stronger voice. Sing in the shower,duetin the car, or whenever you have a chance to.  Just like your muscles, your vocal chords grow stronger as you use them more often.  Just make sure you are still practicing proper technique and form so you don’t form a bad habit.
  10. Study other professionals – There’s nothing wrong from learning from the best. Mimic their performances and imitate their voices if you want to.  Watch their posture, breathing, and movement and take notes.  The odds are they probably did the same when they were still learning how to improve their singing voice.

Take A Course!

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While all the tips listed above can help improve your singing voice, the best course of action is hire a coach or take a class.

This is where we come in.

SPAN

The Society for the Performing Arts in Nigeria – Academy of Jazz and Contemporary Music

Is the right fit for you

Visit us today and start the first day of the rest of your life

13 Davis Street, Marina, Lagos

Ballroom dancing; tips and tricks

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Ballroom dancing is quite an amazing feat; it enables two perfect strangers to move around a crowded dance floor, in very close proximity, in perfect time with the music, and execute intricate patterns, without bumping into other dancers or into each other and they accomplish all this while looking comfortable and graceful.

Dance students are often frustrated and find learning difficult. It is, and it should be.

Don’t be embarrassed or annoyed if you make an error. Laugh it off and try again. After all, it’s supposed to be fun.

The three most important rules in learning to dance are: PRACTICE, PRACTICE and PRACTICE.

To start your learning experience, join some dance classes. SPAN is obviously the first and best choice you should make. www.spanigeria.org  here,you get to meet other aspiring dancers and top notch instructors.

Tips & Tricks

Bearing

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Stay erect, don’t slouch, arch your back. Keep your head up at all times and DON’T look at your feet.

Relax, try smiling, even if you’re concentrating.

Remember, your partner can help you, either with good leading or good following. However, your partner can’t do anything to make you look good if your bearing is wrong.

Turns and Swivels

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Turns and spins are fun to do, however, they do require some specific skills.

there are only two directions in which you can rotate; outside of your standing foot and the inside of the same foot. From both directions, you can execute five different types of turns…

1. Inside swivels

2.Outside swivels

3. Pivot turns

4. Spin turns

5. Spiral turns

What does all of this mean and how can we execute them? I can hear you say

SPAN is waiting for you… (tee hee!)

Body Contact   

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In smooth dances, whenever possible, maintain a light pelvic contact with your partner. An arched back helps to achieve this while maintaining a comfortable distance between upper bodies. Try it in closed position, angled position and promenade position. If you want to feel the difference between dancing, and dancing together, this will be an eye opener.

Men, when doing a parallel step, or a promenade, try keeping your shoulders facing your partner rather than facing the direction of your feet. It’s a bit like downhill skiing, where the feet point across the slope while the upper body faces straight down the slope.

Many ladies pull away from their partner without being aware of it. Others feel they may give the wrong impression by being close to their partner. Once you try it, however, you will be elated by the feeling of really moving in unison.

Don’t confuse this with the international or standard style of dancing which requires that body contact be maintained at all times and where underarm turns, parallel or side-by-side positions are prohibited.

Leading

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Leading has to be done in the spirit of wanting to help your partner do the pattern you wish to execute. You don’t push or shove her around. Be gentle at all times. See what works best. Concentrate on your partner. Make an effort to become a good leader.

The most important part of leading is probably body language. If your partner is attuned to you, if she listens to your body language, she can detect very slight changes in motion and direction and can react in ample time. You can consciously emphasize your body language when needed, such as when you lift your shoulder before you prepare to sway.

Leading is not something you turn on and off. When you drive a car on a straight road, you still keep your hands on the steering wheel and make small corrections when required. The same applies to the control the leader has to assume when dancing. It is always present but only used when needed.

A strong lead does not mean applying a lot of force. It is a matter of firm, continuous and steady control.

There are many ways to signal your partner what to do next. It all depends on the dance variation you’re trying to execute. The following are just a few examples.

Your right hand gently turns your partner into a promenade position. Turning your head and body toward your left gives further emphasis to the move (see the second picture above). To execute a chasse, push a little harder as if to say “we have to hustle a bit here”, and at the same time pretend to lift your partner unto her toes (gently does it).

A right hand pull also guides your partner forward into an angled position on your right or left side (such as a tango fan). This gentle pull, combined with a slight rotation of your shoulders should be enough to indicate your intention.

A firm and slightly downward pull will accomplish a tango corte, particularly if combined with a slight bending of the left knee.

If you want your partner to angle backward, use a slight shoulder movement. Push forward firmly with you right shoulder to make her angle backward to your left, and vice versa. Waltz twinkles are a good example of this technique.

Start thinking about which foot your partner’s weight is on. Trying to lead her into a move when her weight is on the wrong foot will result in some awkward stumbling.

If you’re a student, ask your teacher about these maneuvers, he can show you some very effective moves.

If you’re hopelessly out-of-step with your partner, or off the beat, stop and start again. It’s much better than to stumble along.

Following

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In close position, always look over you partners right shoulder. Your right pelvic bone should be inside your partner’s right pelvic bone. This lines up your shoulders parallel to your partner’s, the best position for moving backward and forward. Many ladies have a tendency to keep their right shoulder farther away than their left shoulder. Similarly, men have a tendency to push their partner away with their left hand or pull them too close with their right, with a similar effect. This makes it much harder to move and to lead .

Keep your left arm firm, don’t let it flex. This provides you with a tactile feedback of your partner’s movements. Whether he moves forward or backward, you’ll always keep the same distance from him (see body movement above).

Your right arm should not pull, push or otherwise exert force on you partner’s left hand. Except in certain circumstances, your left arm is used as a decoration. It is not functional.

After a promenade movement, quickly return to a close position and look over his shoulder again. This lines you up again for the next move.

Stay close to your partner and maintain body contact. You’ll feel the direction of his body movements and will be able to react more easily. Relax, don’t be pro-active, don’t try to anticipate the next lead. Don’t be too brittle or strident in your movements, become more languid, letting the man guide you along (don’t fall asleep, though). Try occasionally closing your eyes and concentrate mentally on your partners body movement and his hand, shoulder and head leads.

The only exception is when your partner is about to collide with another couple while moving backward. Warn him with a tap on the shoulder, or even pull him to a halt. He’ll thank you.

Body motion  

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When you dance, your body should be in continuous motion.

To get a smooth start, imagine the following. You are balancing a long pole upright in your right hand. To move the pole away from you, you have to first let the top tilt away from you. Then, as the pole starts to tilt, your hand has to quickly move in the same direction so the pole is balanced again. Now try the same idea with your body. Your legs and spine represent the pole. Start tilting forward or backward, then quickly move the bottom of the pole, your feet, under your shoulders to restore your balance.

The technique applies to both partners, but the most pronounced benefit is the fact that in this manner, the man telegraphs his intention to the lady who can feel his body movement with her left hand resting on his right upper arm a split second before his feet start moving. If you have a steady partner, try moving in different directions with both of your hands at your sides, and with the lady’s only contact with you being her left hand on your right upper arm.

On cross-body leads (walking around your partner), stay close and finish the step in close position. Many ladies end up a foot or more away from their partner, throwing him off balance..

Ladies, don’t roll your hips in all dances. The Cuban or Latin hip movement is reserved for Latin dances such as the Rumba, Mambo, Cha-Cha, Bolero, Samba and Merengue. The exception is East Coast Swing, West Coast Swing and Shag where top-level competitors all use a pronounced hip movement.

Footwork 

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Many dancers move with their feet apart. This makes them look awkward. Try the following. Imagine walking on a plank of wood, just wide enough to accommodate your feet, side by side. Now move forward and backward without stepping off the plank. You’ll notice that when one foot passes the other,  it brushes against it.

Get used to brushing your feet against each other moving forward and backward, then apply the same technique to moving in different directions. Whenever one foot takes a step, it touches or brushes against the other before you put your weight on it.

Note that, except where a variation demands it, one foot never crosses in front or back of the other. Each foot always stays in its own track.

Ladies, I know moving backward most of the time is difficult. However, try pointing your toe out when stretching the leading leg backward (and I mean stretching). Arching your back helps.

When you spin, either on two beats or on a triple step, stay on one spot by keeping your feet together (unless the step requires you to travel, in which case you stay on the plank). This way you wont wobble, loose your beat, or end up too far away from your partner, forcing him to chase and catch you , or rushing to close the gap.

When you kick, point your toe out and down. Pointing your toe up or inward looks very ungainly and is only suitable for some western moves (where it looks cute).

DISCLAIMER: Pictures are from a SPAN class, not every one dancing is a professional except the instructor of course.

SPAN/IDO dance battle, a part of SPAN@10

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The SPAN/IDO (International Dance Organization) Salsa competition and the 9ja Dance battle which Started in 2010, is an event all dance lovers aspire to be in attendance.

Who can ever forget the gravity defying leaps? The graceful turn of the hand during a salsa styling move or just the simple beauty of dance?

ikem ohia and antonia slim and ginger sly and zara taiwo and nneka

It’s here again, as part of the SPAN@10 celebrations.

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A direct quote from the IDO president

“…come 2016, the winners will be taken out of the country to compete on the worlds stage. they will be entered in the Hiphop and Salsa categories.”

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Do you have a dance crew or you’re a spectacular salsa dancer? you still have a chance to participate…contact the SPAN offices now

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VENUE: Ocean View, Eko Hotel and Suites

TIME: 3pm

23rd of April 2015 is not a day to be told… you NEED to be there!