Mel B's Performance Guide

by Melvis at the Disco!, 18 October 00

GENERAL: The best way to look good in freestyling is to -relax-, first and foremost. There's nothing worse than a stiff dancer, because it doesn't look natural nor smooth. Playing with your hands in your pockets (a la SVGL) looks goofy. The best dancers use full body motion (i.e. Yoshi) -- some advanced dancers might use only half their bodies, which isn't bad either. ZTT is the best example of someone who looks great, concentrating mainly on upper body movement, while a great example of lower body movement would be either Koshiru or J Dogg. Either way, don't be afraid to shake your thang and hey, even flailing your arms can look cool to the casual observer (right Hamster? *s*) Just do it in rhythm. Overall, basic rhythm eventually makes for a better dancer, not back flips, splits, other wacky stunts necessarily.

WHERE TO LEARN HOW TO DANCE: Most people are citing BSB, N-SYNC videos and studying their choreography for inspiration for DDR moves. Personally, I couldn't bring myself to watching an entire video without gagging. My fave source for learning steps is from MTV: The Grind. It was a series back in the early 90's or so, where people would do hip-hop aerobics (aka cardio-funk), and it's helpful because the steps are very DDR-like and it helps you learn upper body moves a lot. You can find this on video, or rent it from a public library when in San Jose. I also have a modest collection of breakdancing/b-boy'ing competitions. Those help with people who like to pop-lock (upper body). But there are many ways to go about it. You could bring in old-school pop-locking, 90's New Jack Swing, candy raver, whatever and incorporate into DDR. Hell, line dancing would work too. But would you REALLY want to admit you know how to line dance?

DOUBLE KNEE DROP -- Now, I know a lot of people have paid heavy prices for performing this stunt. Bruised knees, scrapes, compound fractures, etc. Hopefully this explanation will minimalize the number of injuries resulting from this. The most common time this trick can be used is in Butterfly Single Another, when the arrows to be pressed are at :up::right:. You start with your feet on the :left::down: arrows, and then begin with a crouching or half-crouch position. The trick to not hurting yourself is to not put all your weight forward and bury your knees into the mat. Rather, rock on your toes forward and "bounce" your knees onto the pad. Then rock backwards (your calves are the main muscle in this trick) to an upright position. Some people use knee pads to absorb the shock. If you use them... well, first you're a cheater. But seriously, use pads that are soft/gel-based, not ones with a hard outside shell (like the ones used for rollerblading and such) -- the shock from hard pads could hurt your knees worse. As you can tell, I'm the best knee dropper in the biz. *heh*

DOUBLE SLIDE -- this one I learned from a few of the Milpitas regulars. Take Boom Boom Dollar Single Another for example. In one sequence, the arrows go :right::down::left:. Start with your right foot on the :right: panel. Without picking up your right foot, slide it to the :down: panel. And keeping your right foot still on the ground, slide to the :left: panel. This is a really cool maneuver, although it takes some practice. Only on this time, would I recommend using the bar to keep your balance, for beginners. J Dogg utilizes this the best.

FINISHING TOUCHES: Once you have your techniques down, the last part to an effective freestyle is to move the crowd. Look to the crowd as much as possible, pump 'em up with your arms, always give them that sign asking, "Yo, can you dig it, sucka?" Humour is always a good tool to get a crowd reaction. Nakano's Afronova is definitely the best example of that. Some say, "Dance like no one is watching." I say, "Dance like you're trying to earn $100 in tips!" But that's just me... It's all about the crowds!