Slavenka sent me a link to a canine freestyle act in Britain's Got Talent - Tina, with her dog Chandi.
It's a lovely routine, and what I find fascinating is that most of the dog's moves are relatively straightforward.
Having just attended the seminar with Richard Curtis last weekend, I'm more 'tuned in' than usual to what's going on.
Here's my viewing of the first minute and a half of the video, in terms of what I remember from the seminar:
She chose music that fits the dog's natural movements, music with changes of pace. Many of the dog's movements, like the side-step and the lifted paw, mimicked ballet positions, which fitted the music.
She gave the dog a treat before they started the routine, giving the reward from above so Chandi was looking up. (Richard made a big point of correct positioning of treats.) By treating before starting, Tina got Chandi really focusing on her amidst the distractions of being on stage.
Another point Richard had emphasised to us was to have smooth transitions between the dog's series of moves. It wasn't easy to see this in the video clip, because the camera so often cut to the judges' expressions, but I guess Tina would have put in a lot of work on that aspect.
At our seminar we were told to practise frequently with canes, because stick-like objects can represent so many things. In my group, which worked on the theme of a Native American song, we thought canes could be replaced by a lance,or even a rifle, for instance.
Tina, in this sequence, does a lot with the broom. And I was excited to see Chandi doing 'paw around the broom' more than once, yet giving a different impression each time. I can see I'd better get back to working on this one, as we did last Sunday. Here's a picture of us starting to learn it.
Richard Curtis suggested we analyse potential moves in terms of whether they are static or moving (human or dog, or both) and whether they are 'crowd pleasers'. I thought Tina was clever in this respect. She started with a static move where Chandi had her paws crossed, seemingly waiting. The crowd went 'ooh!' - and of course the judges would be influenced by this at some level.
There were other spots the audience loved, and I'm going to look carefully to see what they are. Out of interest, I might add, not in any spirit of trying to do what she did - I can't imagine anything more nightmarish than getting up on stage in front of an audience. The last time I did that I was playing the recorder and I still remember how hard it was to tone down the shakes enough to get my mouth on the end piece, let alone find the holes.
Of course, it's the dog the audience looks at, but it doesn't hurt if the human is graceful, musical and has a wonderful sense of timing. It's a beautiful routine.