Friday, January 28, 2011

26 Jan 11 - The Millennium Experience

Hey, blogspot readers, do have the drive to challenge yourself and dance abilities? Do you have what it takes to win a spot in Chorus Line? If so, SouthSide highly suggests testing your dance capabilities and dreams when Millennium Dance Complex brings a mini version of what it can offer to a major city near you. This world reknown dance studio, where many celebrities, choreographers and dancers train to achieve their very best in the craft, is about to launch its premiere national tour called The Millennium Experience. Touring coast to coast which includes stops in Chicago, Miami and Salt Lake City, the Experience will give dancers and choreographers an opportunity to meet and work alongside with celebrity choreographers such as Marty Kudelka, Donyelle Jones and Jesselee Santos. Besides the intensive choreographed dance sessions, this weekend experience also includes lessons on how to complete a successful dance audition and techniques, meets and greets with agents and dance agencies as well as performing in a dance show on a the final day. This looks to be one action-packed weekend, blogspot readers, only if you're ready to challenge yourself to the extreme.

To get more in depth information about The Millennium Experience tour and what else participants can expect during their intense weekend sessions, SouthSide was granted an opportunity to interview dancer/choreographer - Jesselee Santos. Blogspot readers might have seen him recently dancing with Queen Latifah during the People's Choice Awards or remember him performing on the Grammy Music Awards with Madonna (in 2001) and Alicia Keys (in 2002). He has also starred in Honey (with Jessica Alba) and Malibu's Most Wanted (with Jamie Kennedy) as well as music videos like Will Smith's Wild Wild West. However, believe it or not, blogspot readers, according to Jesselee dancing wasn't truly his passion was a way to lose weight when discovering it at the age of 19. Though not having met him in person yet, SouthSide could distinctly hear the excitement in his voice as he passionately spoke while answering her questions.

SouthSide first asked Jesselee if prior dance experience and/or background is required to attend The Millennium Experience. He suggests those planning to attend this intense weekend event should have at least three (3) years of dance experience (ballet, tap, modern, etc) which also should include a working knowledge and familiarity of routines, combinations and etiquette. Dancers will be classified into two sections - those with three years of experience will be placed in the intermediate or "up-n-comer" level meanwhile those with three to five years of experience will be placed in the advance or "elite" level. Then she asked him what would it take for Millennium participants to have a successful weekend. Jesselee advises participants to be open-minded and ready to challenge themselves and their craft go beyond their "normal" element. This will involve (for some) stepping away from the mirror ...for others, it might be working with a different set of people from all walks of life and backgrounds or pushing themselves beyone one style of teaching. He also hopes each participant walks away not feeling comfortable but challenged once their weekend Experience is over. According to Jesse, participants will also discover who they truly are as a dancer whether or not they're fitted within the entertainment industry as a chosen career. Yet, this doesn't solely mean being a dancer, blogspot readers. One might "discover" he or she want to create the hottest dance routine/combination or direct choreography for the next hottest music video. Jesselee also mentions there will plenty of knowledge and helpful hints given to help all attendees have successful dance careers such as what agencies to see. "...survival skills..." is what he calls the knowledge given from the Q & A sessions in which participants will be able to apply beyond their weekend Millennium Experience.

This reviewer, having recently experienced her first Rock-n-Roll Fantasy Camp (weekend session), asked Jesselee if it was fair to compare that to The Millennium Experience. Though not quite the same experience or level as Rock-n-Roll Fantasy Camp, she did learn The Millennium Experience is still within similiar parameters as Fantasy Camp. Participants will get the opportunity to work with artists like him or Donyelle Jones and meet with dance companies/agencies. However the Experience will be intense - attendees will feel that pressure of learning a new routine/combination within a set time limit, experience that anxiety of getting it perfected and much more. Jesselee says the experience not only will be nerve-wrecking but will feel similiar to what professional dancers/choreographers face on a daily basis in this industry. "...the ups and downs in dancing..." according to Jesselee also stating the time constraint will heighten the attendees' dance experience. Then SouthSide asked whether or not each city might feature a different lineup during The Millennium Experience national tour. For example, the Los Angeles session (happening the weekend of February of 19 and 20) will feature Jojo Wright (KIIS 102.7 Fm's Jojo On The Radio) as MS with special guest performance by Grammy-nominated singer Colby O'Donis (featured performer on Lady Gaga's Just Dance). Colby, by the way, blogspot readers, is a currently studying at The Millennium Dance Complex. The choreographer lineup and what will be taught during Chicago's Millennium Experience weekend will differ from New York's and Orange County's depending on the style that is prevalent amongst the participants who sign up. And like Rock-n-Roll Fantasy Camp, attendees to The Millennium Experience will have the opportunity (if they want) to be a part of the premiere dance show slongwith their choreographers on the final day of the weekend Experience.

The interview concluded, blogspot readers, with more random questions for Jesselee especially one asked for SouthSide's eight year old daughter. She wanted to know if he has ever worked with Lady Gaga. Despite not having the chance to work with this popular pop rock artist, Jesse said he would love to work with her (and Beyonce as well) but with caution and some stipulations because he's also a role model and mentor to the kids he trains. He states she (Lady Gaga) is a phenominal artist ...very ecelectic and out there with her own style and music. And plus she puts on an amazing (Monster Ball) show. Besides hoping the chance to work with Lady Gaga and Beyonce, he first and foremost would like to work with Patti LaBelle. SouthSide asked if there was any particular music or dance style he prefers the most to which he excitedly replied, "EVERYTHING!" Jesselee enjoys all kinds of music and dance especially that involves culture (i.e. Bollywood - which both Jesselee and SouthSide share a love for). According to Jesselee, "...artists cannot be picky..." and advises dancers not to limit themselves to one single style of music and/or dance genre. And lastly, SouthSide asked how does it feel touring with the other celebrity choreographers. Jesselee really doesn't like to be known as a "celebrity dancer/choreographer" rather instead to be known as an artist. "...take away the words 'celebrity' and 'choreographer' ...we're all [merely] artists..." And being an artist doesn't mean singer either, blogspot readers. If you're creating and/or perfecting a craft that appeals to other people, then according to Jesselee, you're an artist. He did also state that he has worked with the other Millennium Experience choreographers scheduled to appear during the tour ...and is very excited to be directing their creativity and vision.

Wow, what a fun interview that was for SouthSide. She would like to thank Jesselee Santos for taking time out of his busy schedule answering her questions. The reviewer alongwith her 17 year old daughter will get an opportunity in March to observe him instructing a Master class when he comes to Chicago ...perhaps she'll learn a new dance routine in the process, blogspot readers. In the meantime, SouthSide highly suggests checking out for more details and ticket information to attend The Millennium Experience tour coming to a major city near you!

Until next time, support your local scene,

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