Posted by: D.A.S. Chicago | May 5, 2011

Interview with Paul Abella

I sat down with Paul in his office at WDCB 90.9FM, a jazz radio station where he works as the Music Director. I met him there a few years ago while working as a student aid. Paul is a very busy guy with a lot going on in his life. Aside from working at WDCB Paul is a husband and father, writer and musician. He’s a percussionist and the head of his own jazz group, The Paul Abella Trio. During our discussion I talked to Paul about the many commitments he has, his history as a musician, and how being a percussionist benefits his life.

John Leonard: I understand you have a lot of commitments on a week to week basis. What are some of those commitments?
Paul Abella: Well obviously, working here at WDCB. Being the music director here means that, not only do I have to schedule music for everybody, but also right now we’re in the middle of something that you didn’t have to deal with when you were a student aid: internet streaming logs. We have to document everything that we play for an entire week, eight weeks out of the year, to ensure that we’re keeping legal with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. On the plus side it does pay royalties to artists that get played, so hopefully they’ll see some money out of this one day. I’m a father of two, a boy and a girl, and a husband. I lead my own band, The Paul Abella Trio, and I play with whoever else will have me. So that requires practice everyday, of course. I’m also a writer for Chicago Jazz Magazine. I’m a pretty busy guy.

J: What originally drew you to playing percussion instruments?
P: When I was 12 I got the bug; I wanted to play something. My parents gave me a guitar, and I just wasn’t having the guitar for whatever reason. I don’t know, I couldn’t hang. It didn’t make sense. So then they got me a keyboard and I was doing okay with that but it was, you know, just not what I wanted to do. So we found a set of Congas somewhere super cheap and I started playing them. It started making a lot of sense. Growing up where I grew up, in a very Hispanic neighborhood, a lot of the stuff was around anyway. You heard some Salsa music, you heard Lambada, you heard a lot of these sounds and it made sense. It fit. But then when I was older a lot of friends started picking up instruments, when I was like 16, 17. The time when most kids start playing. The problem there is nobody wanted to play with a percussionist. They all wanted to play with a drummer. So I ended up getting a drum-set and was playing with some bands and doing some fun stuff. Then right about when I got married I thought, ‘I still practice on all the latin percussion stuff everyday, it’s still what I feel most comfortable with.’ I decided this is what I was going to do; go back and focus on this.

J: Could you tell me more about the various percussion instruments you’ve used through the years?
P: I started on Congas and swept through all the Latin stuff, so Congas, Bongos, all the small percussion. I picked up the Djembe at some point, which is cool. It’s a drum from West Africa. The one that I use most often these days is a drum called the Cajon, which is from Peru. I discovered that one about three years ago and just took to it like a fish to water. Not only is it cool from the standpoint of being used in the Afro-caribbean movement and a lot of Flamenco music too, but the drum acts like a great mimic. It can sound like a drum-set, or you can make it sound like all sorts of different things. It definitely gives my band a very unique flavor. I also still do play some drum-set. If you ever need someone to sound like John Bonham playing jazz, I’m your guy.

J: Tell me about some of your past bands. Are there any that standout in your memory?
P: The only band that anybody would have heard of that I was in, other then The Paul Abella Trio, was a band called The Three Blind Mice. A fellow co-worker of ours at one point, Jack Zahora, at one of our shows once screamed out, ‘Hey, Medeski just called, he wants his bands sound back’. That gives you a good idea of where we were coming from. Other then that I was in a couple different Grateful Dead cover bands. As you well know, I’m a huge Dead Head.

J: How could I forget. It’s been a while since I’ve seen The Paul Abella Trio. How’s the band going these days?
P: We’re doing alright. This is our 5th year of being together. We’ve picked up another member, so now we’re the Paul Abella Trio + 1 or something. Now we have a Vibraphonest. He’s definitely beefed up the sound a little bit, he’s kind of like the Yngwie of the Vibes. So between him and me, and I know you’ve seen Bob on bass as well, it is kind of like a wall of sixteenth notes and Mitch, which is fun. There’s a lot of people that dig it but also a lot a lot of people who haven’t heard it.

J: So with all these commitments going on in your life, and your work as a percussionist, would you say that being a performer helps you deal with stress and helps you live a well balanced life?
P: Well, I certainly feel better after playing, whether it be practice or playing a gig, then I do beforehand on many a day. I’ve never thought of it in the kind of, quasi-new age-y terms that you’re talking about, or somebody like Mickey Hart talks about it, or Carlos Santana talks about it that way too. You know, like ‘music can be a healing force’. Never really thought of it that way but it certainly does have that effect.

If you want to find out more about Paul or when The Paul Abella Trio is playing next you can check out there website HERE

Posted by: D.A.S. Chicago | May 5, 2011

Interview With Songstress:Saunceray Lindae

Interview With Saunceray Lindae

April 25th, 2011

by: Jennifer

Meet Saunceray Lindae: A-26-year old songstress who was born to entertain. The mix of her soulful R&B voice and eclectic, yet energetic, personality led to a dynamic groundbreaking performance leaves audiences wanting more. This Chicago native uses music as a means to address past experiences and personal growth, which is evident in every lyric that she writes. Striving to break stereotypical expectations set by current artists on the radio, Saunceray works hard to be a triple threat entertainer excelling in acting, modeling, & dance. Naturally talented, this artist has been singing since before she could formulate words always willing to perform    perform for family, friends, and even strangers. Her first single, “Shattered Heart (I Don’t Deserve This),” scheduled to be released mid-May, is a tune to bring light to the art of songwriting and vocal ability. As artist to look out for, Saunceray is a breath of fresh air from the Top 40, popular, over-played music currently spinning on our radio waves. In her words, “people are dying for change, let me be their life support.”

Jennifer Fallen: Saunceray, you seem to have quite a life to handle being a fresh new artist, What kinds of obligations do you deal with every day?
Saunceray Lindae: I am very passionate about my music. It embodies my entire essence. I am still employed outside of my music, so my obligation starts there first. Then I typically leave work and go to the studio, or I am home practicing. During my free time, I balance what I need to do as an artist and what I am obligated to do to maintain my stability. As passionate as I am about music I do understand that I must have stability in order to be successful.

JF: So how long have you been singing?
SL:  My mother told me that I would hum even as an infant and couldn’t speak. I started when I was a young girl. I remember singing in a pageant when I was in day care, I made my whole family sell a bunch of tickets to help me win. When I lost, I had my very first diva moment (laughs).

JF: How did you get involved in singing?
SL: I got involved singing in church. I always sang in the choir, and it spilled over to grammar school. I would do ANYTHING to sing. I would sing the National Anthem every morning over the intercom, Sing in talent shows,plays, the Museum of Science and Industry, anytime they said sing, I would belt.

JF: You’re definitely a theatrical  singer! What is it about singing that makes you want to do it all the time?
SL: There’s something about connecting with the audience that is just thrilling. It’s rewarding to know that they listened to your lyrics, can relate to them, and that you have a talent that can be used to completely change some-one’s mood.”When I perform that’s my time to say how I feel and pour my heart out. That is my time to become the person i envision inside of me and really express myself.

JF: But you can pursue a singing passion in other areas besides the studio. Are there any other places you like sing? I read on your face book page that you like to karaoke?
SL: .You most definitely can pursue singing outside the studio. The studio is therapeutic; it’s the medium to release all of your emotions. Performing connects the emotions to the audience. You know, makes it real. I love karaoke, because it’s the place where ANYONE can have a good time!”. I will sing anywhere the mood hits me, even when I’m shopping…(laughs).

JF: In what ways does karaoke benefit you? Socially, individually, artistically?
SL: Karaoke is a really free environment where you can just enjoy music with your friends, even if you can’t sing a lick. I use it as a means to practice as an artist. I practice on being honest to the lyrics and true to the spirit of the song. Not to mention, there are a number of connections you can make there. You never know who will show up to do karaoke. It is a great place to get over my stage fright and introduce myself to my future fans.

JF: As we’re talking here, I notice how you’re sort of singing as you speak! (laughs)
SL: Dang, you caught me! I do that from time to time without even knowing I am. I will turn anything into a song. I study artists who talk to their audience and they will break out singing but STILL be talking to them (Sings). It helps me to practice on singing to my audience outside of a track; it’s that connection.   

JF: Well with all of your work and studio commitments, would you still say karaoke helps take your mind off of your hectic life to give you a well-balanced lifestyle?
SL: It most definitely does. It is a form of relaxation for me. It also helps to keep me humble. You can learn a lot about performance from doing karaoke. Do you know how many people can’t sing but can give an awesome show? They captivate you with their presence and energy; I love that!!! Seeing all the smiles as people sing songs that are outright outlandish warms my heart.

JF: Sounds like singing does nothing but good for you! Would you recommend karaoke to others who may have too hectic of a lifestyle?
SL: I recommend it to anyone who’s wants to have a good time with friends and just let their hair down. But it can also be a financial gain as well. Right now I am doing a karaoke competition in Kenosha, Wisconsin and it has a cash prize. When i win, I am going to use the money to fund some studio projects. YES, I said WHEN I win, I am a strong believer in claiming what you want and it will manifest itself.

Want to see more of Saunceray? she’ll be performing at the Rush street lounge May 6 at the Best Western in Kenosha, Wisconsin this Friday at 10pm! She will also be at many events/shows here in Chicago in the upcoming months.To find out performance schedules, or other inquiries, contact her at

Posted by: D.A.S. Chicago | May 3, 2011

How to Become a Rock Star

I think most of us, at one point or another in our lives, have sung into the handle of a hair brush or played air guitar when no one was looking. Come on, admit it. The allure of the rock star lifestyle is pretty awesome. So why haven’t you followed your dreams? Sure, it can be tough at times. Take it from me, somebody who has had to carry a 150 pound bass cabinet up three flights of stairs more times than I want to admit to my aching back. Still, being up on stage while performing in front of hundreds of screaming fans is well worth it. Getting started can be the hardest part, so I’m going to tell you right now what it takes to begin the journey toward rock stardom.
The first thing that should be done on a journey towards becoming a rock star is to listen to music. Lots and lots of music. This is almost like doing homework for a musician, but it shouldn’t be thought of as work. Listen to what you enjoy. Listen to artists who are inspiring, who bring out your emotions, and who take your breath away. This will get you in the right creative and inspirational frame of mind from the start.Next, decide which instrument you want to play. In rock music, the three essential instruments are guitar, bass, and drums. Some bands include keyboards, saxophone, harmonica, and even an accordion. While you can pick any instrument, it’s a lot easier to find a place in the musical world if you start with one of the first three. These are the in demand positions. If you’re not sure which you want to pick up, then go into a local music store and try them all. Be sure to ask a sales associate for help first if you don’t know what you’re doing.

That leads into the next step, buying an instrument. No matter where you go for this, it is important to do research online before buying anything. One great site to do research on instruments is Harmony Central. They have a huge review section and lots of information under their musician forums. I would advise that you stay away from chain stores like Sam Ash or Guitar Center. I’ve noticed that the sales people at these type of stores are not always knowledgeable about the products they sell, and their main focus is to get commission on the sale. I was in one of these stores looking at high end bass guitars and was approached by a salesman. I told him that I eventually wanted to buy a nice bass when I had more money and he immediately went into a sales pitch for one of their budget basses. I told him I wasn’t interested but he wouldn’t let up. I had to leave the store just to get away from him. If you go into a small, mom and pop type independent music store you will always get great service. One place I like to go is Players Guitars in the southern suburb of Worth. Everybody who works there is a professional. They’ll help you in any way if you need it, but don’t pester you if you don’t. Another good place to look for instruments is on Craigslist. If you have a friend who’s a musician, then bring them with. Having an experienced companion with you can be valuable so you don’t buy a piece of junk or get ripped off. Getting a good quality instrument will build your confidence and make it so that you have one less thing to worry about while performing.

So you’ve got an instrument. Now what? It’s time to start practicing. The Internet is filled with information and lessons. Search on Google and you can find tabs on any song you could ever want to play. Or you can search on YouTube and find thousands of video lessons. Another option would be to stop by one of those local music stores again and find out if they offer private lessons. Once you get going, don’t stop. Don’t keep playing the same basic chords. Learning music is all about getting out of your comfort zone. Whatever you do, keep practicing and don’t ever stop.

Now that you have your instrument and have a good idea of how to play, it’s time to find a band to jam with. Ask around and see if anyone you know of is a musician. If so, ask if they want to jam sometime. Most musicians jump at the chance to play with someone new. Playing with others is a relaxing, social experience and will make you think about musicfrom different perspectives. If you can’t find anyone you know then go on the musicians section of Craigslist. Here you’ll find a ton of musicians, ranging from those just starting out to seasoned veterans. My band found both of our guitarists this way. Respond to some adds, or put up one of your own.

This is where I leave you. If you’ve made it this far, fantastic! You’ll find that playing in a band, as well as on your own, has many benefits. You’ll find that life is much more enjoyable! Eventually, once you start playing gigs, you’ll learn that performing live in front of people is one of the most exciting things you can do in life.

Photo by Jose Calvo

By John Leonard – DASChicago

Posted by: D.A.S. Chicago | May 2, 2011

Mermaids: Are They Real?

Mermaids: Are They Real

D.A.S. Chicago is all about giving readers alternative ways to use performance arts to maintain a well-balanced lifestyle. The great thing about performance art is that there are so many activities that fit into the genre. Heard of dancing, singing, and acting right? When these basic performance arts activities meet water, what forms is a thing in the swim world called a Water show!

Water ballet, also known as synchronized swimming, is a hybrid form of swimming, dance and gymnastics, consisting of swimmers (either solos, duets, trios, or teams) performing a synchronized routine of elaborate moves in the water, accompanied by music. Water ballet allows one so many benefits that helps to maintain a well-balanced lifestyle. While combining some favorite things to do from dancing to exercise, water-ballet allows for increased water skills that build the upper respiratory system, providing physical longevity and endurance to acquire great strength, flexibility, grace, artistry, and precise timing!

In October 2010 while in Las Vegas, I got to see a water ballet routine like I’d never experienced before. Zummanity by Cirque du Soleil was an example of their mixture of circus and fantasy in water. A performance video, which I found on the Internet, is called ‘Two Lillies of the Pond,’ which features female acrobats in bedazzled bikinis doing weird body contortions and stunts, looking like water lillies.

Check it out

This water ballet routine was definitely meant to bring out the sensual side of viewers, with two female performers sliding in and all-around the glass bowl to soft music, displaying their acrobatic skills and muscle definition. They definitely accomplished their mission! Normally in family-oriented shows, performers are fully clothed but now in Vegas, they manage to make themselves look naked with their nude-colored string bikinis!

While, water ballet is used in theatrical productions like Circus du Soleil Zummanity, it’s not just limited to performance art; Water ballet sounds cool huh? But what is it really?  It started off and still is a sport today! Synchronized swimmers are not only artistic in nature but also pure athletes. They have great lung capacity from having to hold there breathe during practice and performances and water skills include: sculls (hand movements used to propel the body), which are the most essential part to synchronized swimming. Eggbeater kick, a common movement found in water polo- is a form of treading water that allows for stability and height above the water while leaving the hands free to perform strokes.

Check out this clip of the USA synchronized Olympic swim team! Notice the high lifts and throws of the flyer provided by the tremendous strength of team members’ skulls and eggbeater skills.

Water ballet is also used in other performance art productions that may take place at local aquariums, or park districts! As a child, I remember being on the Stanton Park swim team at just six years old performing in my first water ballet show! I remember it like yesterday we did a routine to the Lion King sound track, The Circle of Life! I was really excited to be doing two of my favorite things at the same time. Dancing and swimming to one of my favorite Disney classics, It was like a 3-dimensional play in water. Audience members, which were the participants’ friends and families, being so impressed with the production, said things like “I never knew they did stuff like this in water”.

Today there are all sorts of water ballet shows and classes going on all over the world.
Check out this video of swimmers in Korea doing a water ballet routine to Michael Jackson!

Water Ballet is an activity that allows relaxation and enjoyment whether you are watching a performance or doing it yourself! Tell us about your water ballet experience at www.das/

Posted by: D.A.S. Chicago | April 26, 2011

Mondays Are a Drag:The Rest of the Week Too!

Mondays Are a Drag: The Rest of the Week Too!

Rupaul’s Drag Race is a Tv show on the Logo network. In the show a bunch of drag queens compete for the title of “America’s Next Drag Superstar”. Drag shows are amazing. Drag shows generally feature queens created for the purpose of performing, whether singing, or lip-syncing, dancing, participating in events such as gay pride parades, drag pageants, or at venues such as cabarets and discotheques.

In the United Kingdom, and U.S alongside traditional drag work such as shows and performances, many drag queens engage in ‘mix-and-mingle’ or hosting work at night clubs or at private parties/events. The term drag queen usually refers to people who dress in a female gender role, often exaggerating certain characteristics (such as make-up and eyelashes) for comic, dramatic or satirical effect. Drag queens also vary by class and culture and can vary even within the same city. Basically, a drag show is like a concert, comedy show, dance party and fashion contest all in one!

Jen from D.A.S on the left!

 Recently, Jen from D.A.S Chicago attended a drag show, the Eat It All Dance Extravaganza! Eat It All was the name of this “year’s” drag show performance sponsored by UIC’s own pride group at the Illinois Room at Student Center East. This “year’s” show was awesome! Each drag queen had a unique fierce performance.  From their wardrobe to their performances, these queens’ fierceness illuminated under the spotlight. Drag queens are known for their elaborate performances. Drag queens are always competing to outshine each other, so every following performance gets crazier.

There has been much hype over UIC’s drag show for the past couple of years. People have come from all around Chicago to attend this year’s event! People from other Chicago colleges, like DePaul, Roosevelt, and Columbia university, as well as Boys Town’s own party goers, have come to attend this year’s event!” With free food, soft drinks, free admission, great music, and amazing live performances by professional drag queens, people, including myself, just couldn’t resist the opportunity to attend this alternative performance art event!

These drag queens were bold, flamboyant and totally in your face, especially Ms. Teri Yaki, taking some of the most popular songs from the past, and putting her own spin on them with added obscene lyrics that had audience members laughing so hysterically that they were crying! Her performance was just as bold as her look, because it was all about sex!  Ms.Yaki was one of the queens that displayed her own ideas of aesthetics with her entire performance, where as some of the queens drew their inspiration directly from pop culture trends. Ms. Yaki rocked a large, picked Afro with a long, bohemian style dress, and, of course, exaggerated make-up–Geisha style with rosy cheeks! If sex isn’t a topic strong enough to distract you from everyday stressors, I don’t know what is!

Check out this clip from this years drag show:

As shown from the clip, Ms. Yaki is so unique and popular that her fan base from North side night clubs like, Hydrate and Spin, even followed her all the way to UIC to see her performance. When Ms. Yaki was asked why she does drag, her response was “ I like to give people a good time, and I really like to make them come…(laughs) I mean, come back to see me over and over again and with drag, I can do that anyway I want. Now excuse me nobodies (in a playful tone of voice) my fan base awaits me! Just kidding, but seriously, come see me after the show at Spin in Boys Town, you guys are an awesome crowd!”

This year three professional queens, including Ms. Yaki opened the show with individual performances, displaying their taste in music, fashion, and comedic style. Each queen performed a five to ten minute set lip-syncing to their favorite emotionally-stirred songs while hyping up the crowd. When they were finished, they introduced the next queen to the crowd, while lightly critiquing the upcoming performers’ sense of style, or performance to increase friendly competition, as well as  ensure the audience a good time! Following the individual sets was a vibrant vogue battle that took place across the entire stage including the run way! The battle consisted of classic vogue moves incorporated with body isolation’s, flips and splits, leaving audience members in awe. I was definitely shocked to see these competitors move in such ways without injuring themselves.

Ending the UIC drag show, the first three performers came back to give the audience a second set and made their faces memorable by inviting audience members on stage to express themselves while joining the fun. Knowing this event was being filmed I was too chicken to go on stage, but enjoyed watching other people let loose! The event ended in an all-out dance party with mini dance battles sparking up between audience members and a runway photo frenzy in which I definitely took part in!

Although many drag queens are presumed to be gay men or transgender people, there are drag artists of all genders and sexualities who do drag for various reasons. Drag queens can be hired as special performers at parties, or events. Guest don’t have to be gay to enjoy this alternative performance art style, but they can expect to be entertained! Any party with a drag queen as its host is guaranteed to be a hot discussion topic!

Posted by: D.A.S. Chicago | April 25, 2011

Interview With Chris Marosi

April 19, 2011

by:  Maria

Meet Christopher Marosi:  full-time student, dance extraordinaire, and choreographer. What more can be asked from this talented, goal-oriented, and energetic man? At age 20, Chris is graduating from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) this May with a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Psychology, as well as a minor in Communication, and already is beginning his Graduate student career at Illinois State University (ISU) in the Fall to obtain his Master’s Degree in Developmental Psychology. Think that’s enough to keep a man busy? Think again! Consider his other passion:  dance. And we don’t mean take-a-class-for-an-hour-once-a-week-dance. We’re talking half-of-my-life-revolves-around-dance-dance. As a professional dancer, instructor, choreographer, AND full-time student, Chris somehow manages to keep himself happy, healthy, and calm. Maria from D.A.S. took some time to chat with Chris and find out how.

Maria Thiakos:  Chris, you seem to have quite a life to handle! What kinds of obligations do you deal with every day?
Christopher Marosi:  Well, school, generally. I’m planning for Graduate school in the Fall where I’ll be attending ISU to get my Master’s Degree. It’s also that time where finals come around, so there are lots of projects, papers, and presentations that need to be done. Also, with dance, I have to make sure I attend all of my rehearsals and prepare for performances. Aside from all of that, it’s important for me to take care of myself at home and keep sane with all that I have going on!

MT:  So how long have you been dancing for?
CM:  I started dancing when I was eight years old at the Academy of Dance Arts in my hometown, Downers Grove. I started out with hip-hop, but then I grew into liking tap and jazz and started competing after that. And I’m still dancing! I have been for twelve years now.

MT:  How did you get involved in dance?
CM:  I got involved with dancing by chance. My family’s not a cool, artistic family; we’re very sports-oriented. So growing up I was in hockey and baseball and blah blah blah. But my parents noticed that every time music came on I was spazzing out, dancing and jumping around. (laughs) So they figured it would be a good idea to get me into a hip-hop class because I was really interested in that. They probably just wanted to get me to calm down and thought the best way to do it was to put me in dance for an hour a week, but it eventually turned into something more.

MT:  They definitely did the right thing there! Who do you dance for?
CM:  I’m a professional hip-hop dancer with BoomCRACK! Dance Company, which is directed by Trae Turner and Corale Lamont, and we dance at Lou Conte Dance Studio right here in Chicago! I also teach tap, jazz, contemporary, and hip-hop at the Academy of Dance Arts where I first started dancing.

MT:  You’re definitely a well-rounded dancer! What is it about dancing that makes you want to do it all the time?
CM:  For me, dance is wonderful because it’s an outlet for artistic expression. It’s very therapeutic, especially modern, jazz, or contemporary. With these styles, there’s a different kind of connection to the music than there is with hip-hop. Hip-hop tends to be very literal in telling a story, but you can tell a story by expanding and contracting your body in different ways with jazz, contemporary, or modern. It’s an awesome way for me to forget about all the other s*** going on in my life, and I can focus on just myself.

Chris, back in his competitive days

MT:  But you can pursue a dance passion in other areas besides the studio. Are there any other places you like to dance at?
CM:  Well, there are things like dancing at the clubs and bars, but that’s a different style because people are just bumpin’ and grindin’. I actually think that’s like dancing for weirdos… I hate that. But I take classes still at Lou Conte, as well as Visceral on the North Side [of Chicago]. Actually, for the past two semesters, I’ve had some friends who are dance majors at Columbia, and they’ve invited me to be in their dance pieces that are presented for critiques and grades. This semester I’m in two pieces for two of my friends, and we’ve been rehearsing for four hours for each dance per week. That’s all aside from all of my other rehearsals, mind you. But I love it because it gives me different artistic flavors and perspectives.

MT:  As we’re talking here, I notice how you’re sort of dancing as you speak! (laughs)
CM:  Yeah, that’s just kind of how I roll. I’m very fluid, and I more or less choreograph my life. The smallest things inspire me and make me move. I’m also Italian, so I talk a lot with my hands. Sometimes instead of talking with my hands, I’m just talking with my whole body (as he flails his arms in the air).

MT:  Besides dancing, do you have any singing or acting experience?
CM:  When I was younger, I used to play piano, which I sucked at. But my piano teacher also gave me singing lessons for about a year. I mean, that was a nice A for effort, but I can really only sing in the shower; I’m really bad at that. As far as acting, I’m very emotive in my face, so acting has never been a strength of mine. Though I can memorize things very well, if I were to make a small error, you could totally see it in my face. So, yeah, I’m a one-trick pony.

(more laughs)

On stage doing a hip-hop performance

MT:  Well with all of your school and dance commitments, would you still say dance helps take your mind off of your hectic life to give you a well-balanced lifestyle?
CM:  I would entirely! In this very fast-paced society, you don’t always have time to get into the gym, or go take a run and take time for yourself. And I don’t mean in terms of burning calories, or losing weight, but just to work on your soul. I’m lucky because dance is actually scheduled into my daily plans and I’m committed to it. I’m forced to go, but I don’t mind that because dancing let’s me focus on myself, express myself, and let out all of my negative emotions that I may have built up. It’s very powerful for me.

MT:  Sounds like dance does nothing but good for you! Would you recommend dancing to others who may have too hectic of a lifestyle?
CM:  I definitely would! While applying to graduate schools, one of my choices was Columbia for their Dance Therapy program, which I thought would be a great idea because both of my passions, psychology and dance, would be combined into one program. I actually chose not to go. But dance has tons of therapeutic properties. If you’re stressed, movement, and physical activity in general, helps raise your endorphin levels and puts you in a more pleasant mood. No matter what you do — whether it be dancing, singing, or acting — you’re using your body’s energy to create something. It’s taking your mind off things, and you’re learning about yourself in different ways. No matter what your mental state is, it’s very powerful for everyone.

Want to see more of Chris? He’ll be performing at the Prelude Midwest Urban Dance Competition at the Olympic Theater in Cicero April 30th! He will also be at many of the hip-hop shows here in Chicago in the upcoming months. Chris teaches at the Academy of Dance Arts, as well as other Chicago studios. For choreography scheduling or other inquiries, contact him at

Chris hopes to be picked to join his dance company, BoomCRACK!, in the Hip-Hop World Championship at Las Vegas in July! Wish him the best of luck!

Chris and a former dance partner

Posted by: D.A.S. Chicago | April 14, 2011

Global Getaway

Great Time To Get Away.. Try A Global Getaway

Tucked away in the middle of a block located in the rejuvenated Bucktown neighborhood, stands a place many people know little about but the one’s that do know, make it their hangout spot. Global Coffee and Cargo is a quaint little place with eccentric decor. Global Coffee has something that many coffee shops(Caribou and Starbucks) don’t have, an exclusive coffee and a wonderful family feeling. Everyone who has been to this place has been treated like family, (remembering names and having customers able to confide to the employees as if they have known each other for years.) and treated with open arms. That is what stands Global Coffee apart from the regular “Starbucks” and Caribou Coffee atmosphere. Also, Global Coffee has social events. On every other Friday Global Coffee holds an open mic night where anybody who thinks they have a talent, whether it be comedy, karaoke, recite poetry, or play an instrument, you can do it. Plus, it is free!  If someone feels like they need to have some fun, get away from the craziness of school or work. Global Coffee is where its at.

Walking into Global Coffee, the first thing you notice is the different styles of ethnic decorations. When I look at all the different styles, I feel at peace. Some of the regular customers at Global Coffee feel the same way looking at these wonderful works of art.The other thing that is great about Global Coffee is the outdoor patio and garden that any patron can come and sit and enjoy their food or beverages. For the people that have pets, the garden is animal friendly so they can run around and have fun while you enjoy a great Intelligencia Coffee or Rishi tea that has been rated as High as five stars on Yelp ( The people that work there are captivating. The manager, Derek Zugic, is a three-time gold glove winner and actor The head cook, Eric Harlston, is a distinguished sous chef that has been in the circle of the most re known restaurants in Chicago. The baristas,  DeShaun, and Jack, are local favorites with there charm and wit. Collectively, this place is a treasure that everyone should know about. Eventhough, this place has been open for almost two years it has the potential to be a long standing pillar in the Bucktown neighborhood for years to come.

If you want to,stop in! You can find Global Coffee at 2917 W Armitage.  Global Coffee and Cargo is open Wednesday thru Monday. From 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.Every other Friday is Open Mic Night! Enjoy, and have a wonderful time!

By: Travis McDaniel D.A.S Chicago

Posted by: D.A.S. Chicago | April 9, 2011

Make the Most of This Spring! Summer is Almost Here!

Spring is finally here! And with spring comes spring fever, colds, and final exam preparations. Not fun. Where has the excitement gone? Time seems to go by much slower, and we become less motivated to take care of our daily obligations. While looking forward to the end of a dragging semester, start to make plans for the summer, or even next fall. Plan a vacation! Register for new classes! Better yet, join a new theater production or dance group! Putting a bit of time and energy into something new will help make time seem to go by faster, and motivation will kick in to finish strong! Also, by getting involved with the performance arts, you’ll view things with a fresh perspective and unleash some creative energy as well!
Is it Summer yet?
After spring break and with only three weeks left of this semester, I have felt quite unmotivated myself. Keeping busy with various activities is a great way to stay focused and on top of things. For me, I am a full-time student with a job, and I’m on a dance team. Each activity gives me a break from the others, and when I go back to them, I can work efficiently with a clear focus. During my sophomore year of college, my only responsibility was school. I was not employed, nor was I dancing. I had lots of free time, and I was constantly putting off my school work until after dinner, or after I took a nap, because I had the time. About a month ago, the season for the UIC Dancing Flames (the official dance team at the University of Illinois at Chicago) ended, so all I had to occupy my time with was school and work. (Part of my job is working at the front desk at UIC, and here all I do is greet people, answer visitors’ questions, and do my homework.) This time was often spent on YouTube, Facebook, and Jersey Shore reruns — a.k.a. procrastination — when it should have been spent on homework and studying. With other obligations, like my job and the dance team, I have limited time for studying and homework, and this limit motivates me to finish my work. In other words, a time limit makes it easier for me to set goals and achieve those goals.

The Dancing Flames’ halftime performance 2-16-11

As a member of the UIC Dancing Flames, the season is officially over, and all of my free hours have been put into working out at the gym, which is honestly very boring.  To keep some energy in my life, I recently joined a new dance team for the Kane County Chaos semi-pro football team, based out of the Chicago suburb, Aurora, Illinois. Practices for the Chaos dance team began during the first week of April, and the season will continue until the end of July. The Chaos came at a perfect time:  shortly after I was done with the Dancing Flames, and right as I was beginning to get lazy with school. With the Chaos, I have something to distract myself from school and work with, just as the Dancing Flames did. Now I can get back on track with school and work hard during these last few weeks to get the good grades I know I can get!

Posted by: D.A.S. Chicago | April 7, 2011

An Afternoon with Guitarist Alex Kinsel

John from DAS Chicago sat down with Alex before a musical jam session that took place in the Chicago suburb of Downers Grove. Alex is an architecture major at Iowa State University. He’s also an avid guitar player who specializes in rock and blues. Currently Alex plays in the group The Rock Dogs.

John Leonard: When did you first pick up the guitar and why?

Alex Kinsel: I think I was in Junior High when I started playing. Seventh or eighth grade. I was listening to a lot of different kinds of rock music at the time. I was riding my bike past a little music shop in Woodridge and saw a guitar in the window that caught my eye. I raced home to tell my parents! I never got that guitar but they got me an old beat up used one. It wasn’t pretty but better then nothing.

JL: Did you ever perform in front of other people in those early days?

AK: No [laughs]. I’d basically lock myself in my room and jam to the radio. Nirvana, White Stripes, older Classic Rock, I’d be doing stuff like that. Nothing to hard or complicated.

JL: Has playing guitar influenced your lifestyle?

AK: Big time. Those were some crazy days in Junior High and High School. Playing guitar was something I could do for a while to forget about the outside world. Learning guitar also helped me learn how to focus. Understanding music and how different notes, chords, and scales interact is like strength training for your brain.

JL: What made you want to perform in front of others?

AK: Well, after I had been playing for a year or so I got bored just playing alone with the radio. I wanted to get better faster, so I started taking guitar lessons.

JL: Did the guitar lessons have a big impact on your playing?

AK: For sure! I went from just knowing a couple chords to learning scales and modes. This let me do a lot more then just play to the radio. I also learned how to write my own music and take solos. I learned a lot of blues theory and gained respect for that style. My teacher played a lot of gigs in the area, which made me want to do the same. He was one of those guys that played five nights a week and taught during the day. That seemed like the coolest lifestyle to me!

JL: When did you first perform live?

AK: At the Talent Show, Sophomore year of High School. I played “Texas Flood” by Stevie [Ray Vaughn] in front of the entire school.

JL: How did that go?

AK: Terrible! I was terrified and froze up. My fingers felt like mud. But I got through it and got better.

JL: So let’s skip forward to today. What have you been doing music wise recently?

AK: Well, I’m at school for most of the year, and Iowa doesn’t have a music scene like Chicago’s. I jam with a couple kids in Iowa but not to often. When I’m back here in Chicago I play a lot more with my jam group, The Rock Dogs.

JL: What kind of shows do The Rock Dogs play?

AK: Bar shows, benefit gigs, parties, that kinda stuff. Anywhere that’ll give us free beer.

JL: Do you still get nervous on stage?

AK Not as much as I used to. When I started playing live it was like a pit of impending doom in my gut. Now it’s like an excitement-induced adrenaline rush. Nothing feels better then standing in front of some drunk people and sending ’em into a dancing frenzy with an upbeat tune. We do a lot of popular covers that really get the crowd going. When you can tell an entire room is excited to see and hear you it has an amazing impact on your self-esteem.

JL: Do you have any gigs coming up? Where can people go for more information?

AK: Aside from occasional garage jams, we won’t have anything until the summer. We don’t have a Facebook or Myspace or anything like that, but if someone wants to contact me, they can do so at

JL: Thanks for taking the time to sit down and talk with me.

AK: Thanks for beer.

JL: Anytime.


Posted by: D.A.S. Chicago | April 5, 2011

Eat Strength!

What labels should really say

It is said that “You are what you eat” so it is quite obvious that what we eat can affect our health and well being. Food fuels the body and keeps your body running all day long. Just like different cars take different amount and types of gas, so does the body. If your car runs on silver and you put regular gas in it, it’s not going to take you far. The body is the same way. Carey Arban stated in Holiday Diet, “We are living in an artificial food fantasy world where almost everything we eat has been treated or altered with chemicals and processing. Our fat epidemic is the tip of the iceberg.  Underneath this iceberg lies a huge, dark suggestion of disease. We are not exactly sure how the chemicals we eat might affect the delicate balance and processes within our bodies. Common sense tells us that insecticides, growth hormones, artificial sweeteners, flavors, and chemicals are not “good” for us.  Even if advertising tells us otherwise. The commercial food industry is not interested in our health. They want our money.  Their profit formula is to make food taste good (lots of sugar, oil and salt); give it a long shelf life (chemicals and preservatives); make it quick to fix or eat; do all of the above as cheaply as possible then advertise like crazy”.

Fast food assembly


A healthy diet will help you stay alert, focused and energized. It will keep you sustained through your busy schedule. Performers (actors, singers, dancers) are “products” so throughout their careers they are selling themselves in order to get booked. They work long, irregular hours so therefore they are in good physical condition.  Stamina is crucial in the entertainment industry.
Because stress is part of our daily lives, we can’t really escape it but we can help keep it under control and avoid health related issues.  According to Everyday Health, “In fact, studies performed on mice show that the combination of a poor diet and psychological stress caused test subjects to pack on extra pounds, especially around their midsections. The weight gain caused the mice to develop high blood pressure and a pre-diabetic condition, common problems for people carrying extra belly fat”.
Poor nutrition can lead to lowered immunity which will encourage illness, so to gear yourself towards a healthier lifestyle, become a planner. Plan your meals in advance. Start your breakfast preparations and pack a lunch the night before.  It will save you the hassle in the morning.  “The best energizing foods are those that are rich in complex carborhydrates, proteins, antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, minerals and other health-promoting substances. Put these foods together along with small amounts of healthy fats for a balanced diet that is sure to provide you energy all day long”, Kathleen Zelman, of WebMD Weight Loss Clinic. Also, it is wise to carry around healthy snacks during the day to prevent hunger that leads to binging.

The biggest mistake people make is skipping meals.  I know you can get so wrapped up with work that you can forget to eat, I’m also guilty of that offense, but you should make out a designated time for each meal. “Remember to maintain a fairly regular eating schedule as part of stress management. The more you sip meals, the less concentration you will have during the day, which may lead to a stressful state”, says Everyday Health.

Once you have a regular eating habits and you are eating right, the last and most important tip is the intake of water.  Substitute your carbonated drink for water. Your colon will thank you later. If you noticed performers, serious ones, are always carrying around bottles of water because that is what fuels them throughout the day.  Drinking caffeine can give you a short-term boost or excitement but that’s all, it has nothing else to offer.  It leaves you feeling sluggish and lazy but water will keep your system running all day long.
These steps will lead you to a healthier lifestyle and a functional body.  It will help build stamina and endurance to tackle your day-to-day tasks. Whatever you do try not to become a back-slider, avoid temptations “don’t put yourself in the middle of McDonalds, if your weakness is French fries”, says Carey Arban in The Holiday Diet .
If we are what we eat then eat good health, eat life, eat energy, eat strength!

Visit Woman’s Day online for some healthier choices that will boost your mood.

Remember, your body is one of the factors that determines how far you can go. Do not let your tank run on empty.

A daily cycle

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