DWELE WOWED THE LONDON JAZZ CAFE!
Dwele at the Jazz Café was a memorable night of good solid musicianship. I caught up with Dwele after the second night of his London gig. He was ecstatic with the audience’s response and loved the chance to gel with the London based supporting band. ‘’I love London accents, the fashion, Adele and this great crowd’’.
Looking forward to this year’s summer festivals including the Essence Festival where Dwele will be performing his new album, Greater Than One, he smiled ‘‘this album has more Detroit artists on it, J Tate, L’Renee, Monica Blaire, and more. I’m a product of old skool Motown, I’ve got to keep the music alive, and I’m coming back to the UK on 10th May for Southport Weekender so look for me there!’’
Girl bands. They come. They go. They usually don’t stand the test of time. Alas, once many achieve group fame and success they can’t go the solo road alone.
But it’s a new day. Women keep their fingers in many pies. Their cups are not half empty or half full, as generally, they have a numerous cups. Multi tasking is the name of the female game.
Not long ago, Pussycat Dolls went from a Hollywood burlesque troupe to dominating the pop charts. For a short while. But then music bigwig Jimmy Iovine, decided to scoop the lead member up and catapult her to solo stardom and we assumed the rest would scatter by the wayside never to be heard from again.
But no- PCD’S Ashley Roberts joined the reality TV show path with her appearance in ‘’I’m a celeb get me out of here and Carmit-the fiery red head with attitude and a saucy smirk, kept on keeping on with juggling all her cups.
Thus far she is a relatively new mother, with a 2- year old toddler and hosting a dance tour all over the globe. This week that dance tour hit London.
Don’t get it twisted though this wasn’t just any dance convention. This is the elite of dance conventions.
Imagine if you will in the music world, record label heads like Russell Simmons, Clive Davis, Jimmy Iovine, Tommy Motola and Kevin Liles travelling the world sharing their knowledge with the musicians of the next decade. Or celebrity chefs Delia Smith, Marco Pierre White, Madhur Jaffrey, Gordon Ramsey and Jamie Oliver travelling altogether on a cooking roadshow. Well this is the one the younger generation wants right now-the Pulse Tour!
Dance has never been bigger. As a child, like many other kids, I rocked up to my part time ballet, tap and jazz classes, but back then it was considered elite and niche. Now with a million global TV show competitions, hip hop dancers teaching class at gym chains and more-dance is cool! Refreshingly as many males as females want to dance. Look at Flawless and Diversity!
This weekend the biggest buzz for London’s youth and young adults is for the Pulse Tour at Olympia in West London. Tickets are selling like hot cakes for the classes, which are led by the crème de la crème of the dance world. Every dancer has heard of these very strong dance personalities.
Cris Judd came to light after dating the infamous J Lo, but is a very established choreographer in his own right. Next we have reality TV star and choreographer to all the stars- Ms LaurieAnn Gibson. X Factor straight talking dance guru Brian Friedman and last but not least an incredible dancer- former fiery redhead pussycat doll Carmit Bachar! I caught up with Carmit a few days before the tour kicks off to discuss both of our first loves-the world of dance!
After congratulating Carmit on motherhood and her incredible journey back to showbiz, I confided in her that I was extremely jealous that as a young dancer years back I didn’t have anything as amazing as the PULSE TOUR in London.
She laughed ‘’All of us on the tour say we wish this was around when WE were younger, this has been going nine years in the states but this is our first year in London. Our faculty has around 12 of us and we have our own strong niche in the industry, it’s the premier dance convention that exists right now. If you’re aspiring to be a professional dancer then this is the tour to come and take part in’’.
Each teacher is not just famous, but has their own very unique style of teaching too. Carmit summed it up thus ‘’ with Brian-you never know what you’re gonna get, he’s very detail orientated, fast, always technical but fun! Criss Judd is very stylised, you almost have to wear a fedora whilst doing his moves, you can’t teach it but practice until it sits in your body. Laurie Ann- you never know with her either as she comes from an Alvin Aliey very technique oriented base but she also has her base in the hip hop world , as well as that she works with Lady Gaga and is very jazzy –she’s about the feeling. Me? I’m more on the sassy side like my former PCD style, a mix of street and sexy stuff, I call it sexy street sprinkled with technique-I like lines and flow!’’.
JASMINE WITH CRISS JUDD.
This powerhouse of dance influencers and names came together out of mutual respect ‘’ We’re like the dance power movement globally, we’re friends, family, we’ve grown up together, and have mutual respect, We still take each others classes and we feel honoured to pass down our experience to the next generation of dancers now and you never know what could come of attending this tour. For example, Brian often teaches and if he spots new talent that he likes he hires them for X Factor in the USA!’’.
Back in the USA Carmit has been multi tasking wildly; hosting Pulse Tour conventions, her latest music project- a female duo that she’s a part of called Lady Station and being a ‘‘mommy’ ‘Being a Mother to a 2-year-old baby daughter has been totally worth it. I had a baby! I’m in heaven! It took me out of the game for a minute but was so unbelievable. It’s difficult to juggle, and yes, it would probably be easier for me to have been a housewife, but I’m fortunate to have an incredible partner, we’ve been together 14 years. He’s also in the industry and we share the responsibility, she’s with daddy right now, I’ll be home in a week, this is the longest we’ve been apart.
Looking at Carmit its clear her body has muscle memory and that post baby her body must’ve irritatingly snapped straight back into dancing goddess mode. She point blank denies that ‘’I only recently came back into my body after having my baby, aside from my physical form I still have out of wack hormones, I’ve always been an active and physical person but I had a 24 hour labour and emergency C section. Now I’m still healing and nursing and am very stringent with the choices I make with my food’’.
So she’s not a typical post baby Hollywood nip and tuck mum then? ‘’I did yoga for ages but my weight wasn’t dropping, it was so frustrating, and it was only after a year the weight started going. I did an active regime, with advice from Brian (Freidman), he got me onto Herbalife shakes and a healthy dinner routine. Now I’m back in a healthy zone and conscious about the stuff I put in my body. I look at my blood type to see which foods agree with me. Now I’m older and as a woman I feel the importance of the balance between mind and body. Power yoga is prominent in my life now’’.
I recall my numerous interviews with PCD in the nineties when they first came out recalling that Carmit was the very reason that powerful Jimmy Iovine at Interscope Records even spotted and signed the band. When the group was still doing their burlesque thing in nightclubs, Carmit knew No Doubt band lead Gwen Stefani, who had come to see the PCD girls perform. Gwen bought Jimmy along and the rest was history. Carmit recalls ‘’The way things fall into place there’s never rivalry, I was happy to link the group to Interscope, I met Jimmy through Gwen, Jimmy said what do you do?, I said ‘I’m a Pussycat Doll, he said ‘’what the f*** is that? Next thing, he came to see us with Gwen’’. So without Carmit, music and motoring power couple Nicole and Lewis, may never have been!
Carmit left the group in 2008. Reading between the lines its clear there were fallouts amongst band members. But I didn’t need to scrabble much for information, Carmit was pretty honest about the way history played out ’’We were all fortunate, I choose to remember the amazing times of performing onstage.Its unfortunate that girl groups have this stigma of bitchy rivalry. Unfortunately we fell victim to the same stereotype, but we will always share these amazing experiences. Now everyone’’s spread their wings. I’m happy that Ashley is doing so well here in the UK. In ‘’I’m a celebrity-get me out of here’’ she really surprised me, in the days of the band we used to scream if there was a spider in the vicinity-I cant believe she managed to do so much, I’m so proud of her!’’.
Dancing is a dream job for so many young people- but what are the realities of the job long term? ‘’Its fantastic that dance has been given so much exposure recently; it’s a new era. However when that happens you get a saturated market and now a lot dancers want to do it to be on TV, not to be able to dance. But look at the world now. With dance anything is possible! Dancers get to set trends these days, the market’s changed. If you dance, do it cos u love it. If the commercial world isn’t right for you, just participate in dance classes-this weekend in London has been mind blowing and we will be coming back again to make some of you stars!’’
JASMINE ON THE PULSE TOUR-OLYMPIA-HAMMERSMITH!
The day of the convention was every dancers dream. A whole day surrounded by your peers learning new dance techniques and buzzing off the vibe. It was relaxed but exciting. Like watching Fame. Dancers just letting loose everywhere. Criss Judd was the first teacher of the day and I was mesmerized by his uber calm, very chilled manner. His dance routine was Very Neyo style slow, slick and precise. His teaching method was Inspiring and motivating to the 200 young dancers who were Whooping and cheering this very self confident, zen like man.
JASMINE WITH LAURIE ANN GIBSON!
Next up was one of my favourites. The uber feisty reality tv show star and choreographer to the hip-hop fraternity- Ms LaurieAnn Gibson she stepped up and warned her class that todays routine will be ‘’Rachet’’. Hip-hop was in the house as the jerking, gyrating, pulsing and wilding out began to Nicki Minaj’s hit ‘ Bees in the trap’’
Laurie ann had One tracksuit leg up in typical ja roadman style ,straight up hood. She explained to the class ‘Hip-hop is a feeling, a way of life” her teaching is very musical with her not counting out bars of 8, but half beat boxing with her ‘’”boom ki kat boom!” style phrasing. With demands of ‘’ “Commit to the gangsta”, “I just want you to know you have your rachette degree” and ‘The harder the pressure the bigger the platform coming for you- you’re built for great things”…her class was high by the end!
JASMINE WITH SISCO!
Next up it was the only British choreographer of the day- Sisco who was so reputed for greatness on the dance floor that every other dance teacher present was eager and scared to take his class. His moves were some of the strongest, manliest, fastest I’ve ever witnessed and I could barely keep up. As he demonstrated his routine the class would simply break out into spontaneous applause. The End of siscos class was like a scene out of fame where people were wilding out as if their lives depended on it!!!
I was really looking forwards to host and former pussycat doll Carmits class. As I had guessed she brought a very street sexy style to her routine switching up the days vibe so the girls were hyped to skin out with a few high kicks, pirouettes and floor writhing. Carmit is like the Yardie Pussy Cat Doll with her straight up dancehall moves.
CRISS JUDD WITH BRIAN FRIEDMAN!
Final class of he day was taken by x factor star Brian Freidman who blew everyone away with his personality and got straight into it with absolute intensity and dynamic power. His choreography was more staccato and explosive. He is a straight hip hop dance star and beat boxed his way through teaching the whole routine.
He had us all laughing when he did a particular hop kick step and tipped his hat to Laurie Ann Gibson stating ‘’I watched that video “baby got back” a million times. If I could die and come back as a dance move it would be that! Lol’’ describing his routine he yelled, “Its like you’re going on a journey and your butt is your guide”
At the end of the day all the dancers and teachers sat closely and had a huge group Q&A session where they got to pick the professionals brains.
Dancers asked questions like ‘’How do I stay neat whilst dancing full out?-Brian replied ‘’core work ,planks ,dolphin presses, have a strong inner core and you’ll hit those positions’’
How to stay focused on the road and not get lonely? ‘‘You have to love it. Only love and prayer for it will get you through’’ Laurieann Gibson
How to do face expressions and not feel silly? – Sisco said ‘’like Beyonce-Create an alter ego’’.
Criss Judd added- ‘’dress for the part you want, not the part you have. Do you dance history research on great dancers like Michael peters, Jerome robins, Alvin Ailey., Fred Astaire, the Nicolas brothers. Bob fosse. If you don’t know where we’ve come from you’ll nave know where you’re going!’’
Catch the PULSE TOUR again in a city near you- a mind-blowing day for both dancers and spectators alike!