Art Biz with Liz: The Masked Dancer

Today, I found myself spiraling down a YouTube binge. One video turned into another until two hours had passed in the blink of an eye. Instead of the usual vine compilations, however, I watched clips from Fox’s new show, The Masked Dancer.

While I only stumbled across The Masked Dancer this morning, I’ve previously watched a few episodes of The Masked Singer, a singing competition television series based on the Masked Singer franchise that originated in South Korea. In the show, celebrity contestants sing songs in elaborate, head-to-toe costumes that conceal their identities. Clues are provided throughout the season, and panelists attempt to guess the celebrities’ identities. The panelists and audience members vote for their favorite singer, and the celebrity with the lowest number of votes is voted out and unmasked.

The Masked Dancer is fairly similar to its predecessor, though celebrities dance instead of sing. Dance genres include tap, salsa, and more, which is interesting given the differences in dance backgrounds among celebrities (some have extensive training whereas others have none). Like The Masked Singer, the over-the-top costumes worn represent a range of characters, including Tulip, Moth, and Ice Cube in the show’s first season. Ken Jeong acts as a returning panelist from The Masked Singer, with Brian Austin Green, Ashley Tisdale, and Paula Abdul appearing as new panelists.

Luckily for me, I discovered The Masked Dancer mere days after the show’s first-ever finale, which meant that I didn’t have to endure an excruciating wait to discover the identities of my favorite characters (spoiler alert if you click on the hyperlink). Of course, the hidden identities are part of the fun. There’s one moment in the show where the contestants’ voices are unmodulated for a segment called “Word Up,” and even then it’s just one word. It’s enjoyable to make guesses based on the celebrities’ dance moves and clues sprinkled in throughout the show.

Image result for the masked dancer
“The Masked Dancer” Promo, Courtesy of Fox

The dancing, humor, and mystery element all contribute to the show’s entertainment factor. Of course, the show wouldn’t exist without the arts and outside influences, either. The costumes in the show are intricate and zany, showcasing a variety of colors and textures. Ingenuity and imagination are necessary to create the artwork and actual pieces for the costumes within limited time frames. The dance performances, true to the show’s name, reflect dance as a form of art. The mechanical side of the performing arts form is important, as are the sense of rhythm and expression of emotion. The show is also associated with music, important to both The Masked Singer and The Masked Dancer. Overall, The Masked Dancer seems like an engaging show that I’d be interested in binge-watching again.

An Ode to Dance

Sex and the City's Carrie Bradshaw dances in her closet.

This semester, my last semester, I decided to take all of the classes I always wanted to take before graduating. Therefore, every Monday and Wednesday I wake up, put my hair in a bun, and head to dance class. At first, I thought dance would just be a fun way to exercise and move around twice a week, but after my first class I knew it would be much more than that.

My instructor starts off every class with all of us sitting in a circle. Then, he has us introduce ourselves to someone new. We don’t go around and say our names with a fruit that starts with the same letter or anything like that, but we smile and wave and awkwardly shake hands. It might sound strange, but it feels kind of nice to be explicitly told to interact with the people you’ll be seeing the rest of the semester. I’ve had far too many classes where that just doesn’t happen and it’s kind of sad to go through life interacting with people whose names you don’t even know.

Then, my instructor has us stand up and feel the weight in our feet, center ourselves, and wake up our bodies. He doesn’t stop there, though. While we stand, eyes shut tight so no one feels like they’re being judged; he helps us discover different things about ourselves. Yesterday, he asked us to think about something that is stressing us out, and then he walked us through a scenario where we let go of that stress and fill ourselves up with a positive green light. It’s a great way to start the morning and it really did make me feel a little better about what was stressing me out.

After that, we warm up. That means there’s a lot of movement and a lot of finding your way through a mess of sweaty students. My instructor always makes sure to add some improv to the routine because it makes people feel strange and uncomfortable and free and expressive. And here’s the best part: you can’t really be bad at improv! As long as you try and you go through the steps confidently, you’re doing it right. Sure, you might not know what you’re doing as you move one foot in front of the next and you might be nervous you’ll bump into someone or look silly, but guess what? That’s what life is like—one big improvisational dance move!

This class has helped me realize that there’s something so intrinsic about dance. We’re born with the need to move. When you put on music, even little babies start to tap their feet and sway their hips. It’s what we do when we win a game or get a good grade. It’s how we celebrate marriages and birthdays. Dance is what we do when we think no one is watching, or sometimes, when we think someone is. It’s beautiful and fun and exciting and expressive. So, while I took dance as a fun way to get moving, I’m starting to think it’ll be one of the most important classes I take before graduating. It will teach me to be confident, even when I don’t know what I’m doing. And, it’ll teach me to have fun. Because who wants to kick-ball-change with a frown on their face? “Not I,” said the duck!

7/11? More like 911

Beyonce has done it again. I am sorry to bring another fangirl post to the blogosphere about, in my opinion, one of the most inspiring and unattainable talents of R&B music, but it has to be done.

The singer released two new bonus records to her latest album Beyonce, entitled “7/11” and “Ring Off.” The songs were meant to be released at a later date, but somehow they got out before their planned release. Thank the heavens they did.

“Ring Off” is a song that seems to be about the singer’s mother and the drama experienced between her father. It’s empowering. She sings to her mother in a loving voice telling her to finally put her “love on top” (a reference to a track from her studio album “4”). The theme coincides with her album’s mission of women empowerment. Going through the ups and downs of her marriage, the singer is consoling her mother and letting her know that it is finally time for her to be happy with this “ring off” of her finger. She can finally be herself and learn from the mistakes that happened in her past. Great song, check it out here!

“7/11” is just what the doctor ordered. The beat follows suit to some of the hits from the current album like “Partition” and “Drunk in Love”. There’s a place to dance, a place to sing, and a place to…rap? Yes, the singer seems to have fallen into her own genre with the Beyonce album in general. Mixing her vocal abilities of singing with the crispness of her speaking voice, she stands in her own lane with this upbeat hit.

The possibly biggest fangirl part of this record is the D.I.Y video she did for it. Check it out below, and then we’ll talk.

Yes, she’s in her underwear 98% of the video. Yes, she’s still amazing. The video showcases her dancing around with, what seems to be her real backup dancers, having fun with the some of the moves they’ve been working on for the track. There’s butt-shaking, there’s a pyramid of bodies, and there’s Blue Ivy for .2 seconds on a bed. I mean, can it get any better than that?

The release of these two records and the music video reminded me of how exciting it can be hearing a great song for the first time or seeing a great video for the first time. Music, especially the mainstream kind, can get old really fast, and it’s always great to have that “wow” moment when something first enters your ears and takes you over. Whatever music you enjoy, I encourage you to try and absorb the moment when you first hear a favorite track or view a favorite video. It’s great for memories because we all know how overexposure is the theme of this generation.