Soul Pursuits

Official Blog of Visionary Author Lianne Downey

Posts from the “Dance” Category

Ballroom Tales: Dancing Our Love Story

Posted on April 1, 2017

You could say that Joseph and I fell in love over a video cable. This lifetime, anyway. That was back in the 80s, when video cameras still needed cables and had to be pushed around on heavy tripods. Sometimes we were so busy chatting away behind those big cameras, we didn’t hear what shots the director was ordering. Oops.

We haven’t done much video work since then, but now we’ve plunged ahead on a Ballroom Tales project that’s very close to our hearts. We’re producing a short dance film, our own love story, many lifetimes long, told through music and movement. If all goes well, this may become a trailer for my new book, Past Life Lovers, Friends, and Enemies (coming soon).

Foxtrot, Anyone?

Okay, maybe we’re fictionalizing our story a little here and exaggerating a little there. Like the real-life stories in my book, ours is a tale of many lifetimes. To tell it through dance and fulfill our vision means that first, we have to conquer the ballroom moves required!!! That’s, um, only six dance styles (so far).

So we’ve hired actor/choreographer John Selby, who helped choreograph a routine for Lance Bass when the former *NSYNC member appeared on Dancing with the Stars. John has also won many impressive awards as a professional dance competitor. He’s a terrific teacher.

For fun, Joseph and I started our dance habit in 2000 with some old-school salsa classes. We moved on through other Latin dances, Argentine tango, and then ballroom. Typically, we learned a lot of bad habits, had a lot of fights, and suffered too many injuries from poor technique. John has been sorting us out and we’re excited to be working with him!

And What About That Concrete?

Neither are we sure how to solve all the production dilemmas yet, considering that it’s going to happen outdoors in a public setting. We might have to pillage the local community college to find some talented crew who’ll volunteer for the fun and experience.

Still, we’re having way more fun than going the usual competition route (which is what most ballroom students do). We are creating a moving painting. We are making Art with our movement, locations, costumes, music, and story. No words, simply dancing! Quite frankly, I think we’ve watched too many Bollywood movies, but we’re committed now.

Here’s a clip of John at work. Every great adventure begins with the first steps, right? Follow me on Instagram for more behind-the-glamour posts in the coming weeks.

Book Review: Life in Motion by Misty Copeland

Posted on September 6, 2014

Life in Motion: An Unlikely BallerinaLife in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina by Misty Copeland

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wish she’d been able to write in her own words, but thankfully Misty kept a journal so the ghostwriter was able to capture some pivotal moments in her life. I sped through this book so quickly, captivated, that I had to give it 4 stars. It should inspire many young people!

I had no idea that Misty’s breakthrough as a black ballerina was so late in coming to our society. Until I saw her as a judge on So You Think You Can Dance in 2014, I didn’t even know of her existence, living as I do on the West Coast. But in 2004, when I needed an inspired ballet-teacher character in my novel Cosmic Dancer: An Interdimensional Fantasy, one who taught in the anti-gravity classroom in the celestial worlds my character visits between lifetimes, the character came to my mind in beautiful chocolate skin, dressed in a firey red costume very like Misty’s Firebird! But I never knew about or saw her in that role until I read this biography.

It never occurred to me, a white writer, that my own dark-skinned ballerina–the epitome of dancing in my novel–was anything unusual. (Well, except that she can levitate as high as she wishes and spin midair.) While reading Misty Copeland’s biography, I couldn’t help but wonder if SHE is the one who visited me in my imagination and inspired that character from her own celestial studies, prior to her present incarnation. Don’t laugh! Ms. Copeland’s rapid acceleration in the ballet world is, to me, further proof of reincarnation. She already knew, and merely had to train her new body’s muscle systems. (Okay, “merely” might be inappropriate for the amount of effort that required.) Prodigy? That’s how I spelled reincarnation.

This is a quick-to-read, inspiring book. I can’t wait to see the movie version now in the works. And my heartfelt applause to this wonderful dancer! I hope to see her dance in person one day.

View all my reviews

2013 Cosmic Dancer Dance-in-Film Awards

Posted on April 16, 2014

If it weren’t for a certain television series, we American dance and movie fans would have dried up and blown away in 2013! This is why our announcement comes so long after film-award season. We’d been looking for dance movies in all the wrong places.

In 2012, we were blessed with so much wonderful dancing in so many movies, we had to split the annual Cosmic Dancer Dance-in-Film Awards into several categories, including a few “worst” awards. But unless we blinked, Hollywood released only one dance film in 2013 that met our original criteria for “English-language films.” And if a film in another genre featured even a single dance scene, it was so far under the radar that we couldn’t find it. We didn’t even come across terribly bad dance movies. Now that’s rare!

What to do? We broke the rules to find a winner. We went global.

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Cosmic Dancer Dance in Film Awards 2012

Posted on February 20, 2013

In honor of my novel Cosmic Dancer—a metaphysical tale of dance, love, and dancing between lifetimes—I am announcing the winners in the first annual Cosmic Dancer Dance in Film Awards for English-language films released in 2012.
Joseph and I love dancing, and therefore dance movies.
Give us any kind of dancing: West Side Story, Dirty Dancing, Flash Dance, The Turning Point, Boot Men, Dance with Me, Saturday Night Fever, Center Stage, Step Up, Bollywood movies, and on and on. We’ve watched all three films titled Shall We Dance? Not to mention documentaries and television celebrations of dance and dancers, along with a number of movies that we suffered through only for the dancing.
Can’t leave out the old films with Fred, Ginger, Gene, and others hoofing it all over the silver screen: on ships, over furniture, up walls, around hotel rooms, among parades, and in the rain.
More recently, we’ve had to rely on television series to keep our dance mania alive while some real stinkers have shown up at the cineplex.
But in 2012 we noticed filmmakers using dance in exciting new ways, featuring choreographers we’ve come to love. We wanted to honor and applaud those efforts to bring quality dancing into movie theaters.
Hence the Cosmic Dancer Dance in Film Awards, which we hope to make an annual tradition, encouraging more good dancing in excellent films.

If you love dance, dancers, and dancing,  please join us to promote better dancing in the movies by sharing our winners list around the Net via Facebook, Twitter, your own blog, or wherever! And be sure to support the makers of the following films.

Which were your favorites this year? Or for all time? We’d love to hear your opinions in the comments section below! Did we miss any good ones?

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2012 Winners of the Cosmic Dancer

Dance in Film Awards

Best Dramatic Use of Dance: Anna Karenina, directed by Joe Wright.

For a stunningly clever Viennese waltz choreographed by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, and for the director’s overall use of choreographed movement. Apparently, we’re not the only ones who noticed how extraordinary the Wright/Cherkaoui team was:

Best Choreography: Travis Wall, Christopher Scott, Jamal Sims, and Chuck Maldonado, choreographers of Step Up Revolution, directed by Scott Speer

For their wild, daring, passionate, and innovative numbers.

Kathryn McCormick and Ryan Guzman in Step Up Revolution
Best Dancing: The dancers of Step Up Revolution, especially Kathryn McCormick
     For keeping up with those choreographers and pushing the envelope.
Most Therapeutic Use of Dance: Silver Linings Playbook, directed by David O. Russell, choreographed by Mandy Moore

You’ll understand why if you watch the film!

Scene from Silver Linings Playbook

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Now it’s difficult to choose “bests” without coming across a few disappointments, and sometimes the disappointment is so harsh, you just have to mention it in the hope that you can discourage such missteps by future filmmakers. That’s my excuse anyway.


Most Underused Dancer: Julianne Hough in Rock of Ages, directed by Adam Shankman, choreographed by Adam Shankman and Mia Michaels

It’s a fun movie, but she’s a dancer we’d like to see more from. We had to find her edited-out dance scene with Tom Cruise on YouTube, where it seems to be very popular (and R-rated).

Most Ill-Used Dancer: Channing Tatum in Magic Mike, directed by Steven Soderbergh, choreographed by Alison Faulk.
     His talent deserves better than this dark mess.
Fastest Turn-Off:  Battlefield America, directed by Chris Stokes, choreographers’ names withheld to protect the innocent.

Joseph and I used to brag that they’d never make a dance movie we couldn’t enjoy but we were wrong. A trite script is one thing, but too many unlikable characters and odious plot lines and it becomes this year’s reject, winning the dubious “Fastest Turn-Off” award after only 34 minutes! The dancing might have been good, but we wouldn’t know because of the poor camera angles and editing on the little bit we could stand to watch.

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I’m happy to say Julianne Hough must have a great sense of humor and made up for her lack of dancing in Rock of Ages at an after-party for the Golden Globes. Wish we’d been there to see it! Here’s the photo she posted on Instagram:

Happy dancing and movie-going!
We’ve got high hopes for 2013!