This Week & Dance Resources Index

Upcoming Events:
full calendar:  https://harleyquinadventure.com/2017/03/31/calendar/

Sat Nov 18th – 10 am SLT
Spot On Smooth Dancer – Focus on Sequences

Sat Nov 18th – 12 pm SLT
Choreography Designer – Creating Routes and synchronizing with times sequences

Sun Nov 19th – Winds of the Sahara Cabaret DJ
show starts at 5 pm slt


An easy reference to dance resource pages

As a seasoned and passionate dancer in SL, I freely share and support others in their own dance journeys.  My beliefs:  question everything, learn from everything, take from it what you will and do it your own way.  Have many teachers, no one is a master, no one knows “THE WAY”.  I teach based on what I know – my own foundation, what I have learned, my own ways – but they are not the only ways.  Enjoy the ride, speak from the soul and create art with your dance.  We are all always learning, always growing.  Release the music from within.  Your way.  ~ Eva  

Audacity – Music Player and Editing Program
Blogging Ideas – Using a Private Blog for Keeping Creative Ideas and Inspiration
Camera and Video Tips & Tricks
Editing Music – Audacity Video Tutorial
Lighting Tutorial
Moving Objects with Choreography Design System
Particle Power to the People
Performance Director – Starting People Backstage
Smooth Dancer Tip for Choreography
Tools Tips & Tricks
Harleyquin Workshops
Harleyquin Workshop Descriptions
Tips and Tricks – Stage Manager

New Dancer Resource:

Sirens Call to Dance – a beginning
The Official Book of Dance Rules
Don’t Rush into Using All the Tools! Build a Strong Foundation
Definition Time!
The Story of a Dance HUD, and starting with animations
The Magical World of Animations and Choreography – NEW!
Choosing Music
Freestyle!  Learn your animations & have fun – NEW!
Creating Your First Dance

Creating a Dance:

Dance Knowledge – a Sharing
Creating Choreography – My Flow
New Dancers Resource

Favorites Stores and Tools:

Animation Stores
Particles Stores
Boom Animation Organizer
Camera View Save/Setup HUD – 0L

Reblogged:

TROFF – a music tool for choreography, reblogged from SLNightMagic

Misc. Tips:

Sticky note holder and notes in sequences

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See Me, Feel Me: Move, mixed group

See Me, Feel Me.  A dance performance, generally RL, that touched me in some way, but I won’t go into detail how.  That’s for you to feel, to see, to listen for yourself.  I watch dance performances in SL, and in RL through videos.  I sink deep into them, how do I feel, how do I react to it, can I feel the movement, does it inspire me, or do I dislike it.  In turn, I believe it expands my own mind and creativity.

This video captured me in the interactions of the dancers, the formations.  For me, this inspires me to break out of the cookie cutter mode I see myself fall into…the lines and formations that I seem to always go to, how I almost always use an odd number of female dancers.  From almost every dance performance you can find a little piece that inspires you to expand and try something new, to push out of your comfort zone.  To see things in a new light.

What do you see?

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That’s what art is all about…

In less than a minute, the magic of our world, the magic of dance is conveyed so eloquently, so beautifully.

In a world with relatively few limits, special effects, unimaginable avatars…

What can YOU do?

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Food for thought…time…and pizza

It’s astounding
Time is fleeting
Madness takes its toll
But listen closely..
I’ve got to keep control…

I read, a lot.  Sometimes it’s simple fiction – supernatural/ghosts are my happy place.  Sometimes it’s “self-help” books (that’s such a rotten classification I think).  Right now, I’m reading:

Pomodoro Technique Illustrated: The Easy Way to Do More in Less Time


It’s actually kind of simple.  You break down what you need to do, prioritize it, then you work in a block of time – like 25 minutes.  You focus on no interruptions, nothing else but the task at hand for those 25 minutes.  Then you take a break and stop, or continue on for another 25 minute block.

It makes it much more bite sized, easier to get over that overwhelmed feeling when you just think “I’ll work on it for 25 minutes and do what I do.”  Sometimes that’s enough to get started.

BUT.  Actually that’s not the main part of this post.  It was a sentence I read it the book that really hit me.  I’m a big planner, I love making lists, tracking ideas in my own private blog.  When I work on something I work better with an outline first, then I know what I’m going to work on next and I’m not stressing about it.  I thought that was just me, until I read this:

“First prioritizing and then focusing on the most important activity will make you feel safe and sound.”

It continues:  “Otherwise, your focus will constantly be disturbed by questions like “Am I really doing the most important thing right now?”   and “I replace ‘this project is so big and important’ with ‘I can take one small step’.”

OK, I can hear you thinking now…

No…I’m not the author 🙂
No…no commissions either
No…not really promoting the book either

Why do I write then?  Because that sentence really clicked with me.  That because I have a plan of what I need to do, I feel safer.  That is so very true and I never thought of that before.  I like the feeling of knowing what needs to be done, in what order, and it helps prevent me from overthinking, it helps me focus, and to chase away the doubts that creep into my head.  I have at least two different head spaces I’m in when it comes to creating a dance: the thinking/planning mindset, and the creating mindset.  They are very different.

The other thing?  I often procrastinate getting started, or once started I get carried away.  I can become compulsive about sorting my inventory.  It bothers me no end when it’s disorganized and I know I have amazing things I could use for my dances, but don’t even know what I have.  Not only do I need a little push to get things started, I need something to get me to stop.  I have fun with my pizza timer for that.

 

It’s actually a hud that looks like a pizza.  You set the time and an alarm goes off when it’s done.  Simple.

https://marketplace.secondlife.com/p/PIZZA-TIMER-HUD-Never-forget-RL-things-again/344101

 

 

 

Reading through this book, the pizza timer, and other things I’m working on in my life have led me to start questioning why I do things, why I respond the way I do.  What motivates me, what discourages me, what de-motivates me (those are two different things).  I’ve started really evaluating what I do.  If something in SL feels like a chore, why would I continue to do it?  Whatever I do, I strive to be prepared for, to make the best of it, and have fun.  Sometimes I need a little nudge to get started and to pace myself.

It would totally suck to have the most organized inventory and not finish a single dance…

It’s Monday, I can feel a couple dance deadlines coming up before long and another just banging away in my head.  I’m going to plan, breathe, get started, and leave a little room for playtime too.  All I can do is my best.

What I hope you take away from this:

Think about why YOU create, what motivates YOU, what discourages YOU, and what you enjoy.  THEN FIND WHATEVER METHODS AND TOOLS WORK FOR YOU, and make you happy.  Isn’t that the point of this world, both of them?

This world is whatever you make it.  You choose your own destiny, even if it’s not what you expected.

~ Eva

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Turn it up!

confined walls


“You never know what you have the ability to do
 until you dig. And don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.”

Look, the wrestling circus doesn’t need to come to your town before you get an invitation to be the real you — the bigger, more stunning version of yourself. It doesn’t even necessarily come from our parents. Turning yourself up means looking inward toward our true selves and harnessing the voice that says, “Maybe, just maybe, I am more than I thought I was.”

 

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Perceptions, perfection, and Mary Poppins

Perceptions…perfection…and Mary Poppins…

Lessons can come at most unexpected times, but I think that’s the way of the universe too.  I was excited and nervous and had worked through in my head everything I needed to do for my 2 hour DJ block for the Men in Motion Movember event.  Sure, I’d streamed for countless shows and practices before, had grown quite comfortable talking on air, taking requests and having a good time – but this was 2 whole hours.  I knew I could do it though, had the bull by the horns and it was going to be awesome!

Well.  The universe had other plans.

I’d had an issue with the layout of my streaming software interface. Support said “delete these two files” so I said “ok”….then I did it and lo and behold the interface was fixed!  Awesome!  Then came an omfg moment as I realized I needed to put back in some of the settings so i could easily talk on air with a key press, can’t forget that!  Mic and headset re-enabled…check.  I was good to go.  I’d done this plenty of times before.  I tossed out some lights, tried to put out bull riding but he took up too much room so I wedged him back into the closet.  Had my awesome DJ booth out and had the tunes rolling.  Seb flipped the switch and…

<dead air>

Frantically I worked to figure out the issue, then realized that I needed to put my stream information back in.  Ok done, now I was broadcasting through my streaming provider.  Awesome!  and….

<dead air>

Then after another 10 minutes or so I figured out it was my audio settings, I need a headset, mic, and main audio output for it to stream, so I can hear, and also talk.

Yay!  I was in business.  People actually came (yes I was worried about that).  I was rushing a bit trying to get caught up, wasn’t able to focus on chat.  At an hour in…complete system freeze.  I had no choice but to reboot, and wait, and wait, and wait all the while trying to remain calm while beating myself up about it.  All the settings were wiped out, so put them back in…then my viewer didn’t have sound (but at least everyone else did), so tp’ed to another sim and that was resolved.  Talk about a marathon…through the Himalayas…in 10 feet of snow!

Finally I was back up and running.  I won’t lie, there were moments I just wanted to throw in the towel, when I thought the issues were insurmountable, and that I had failed everyone.  I stuck it out, relaxed, and finally found my groove in that last hour.  Who knew there’s a Dolly Parton 9 to 5 remix?  That was a blast.  Listening in and joining in on the chatter was a blast.  People’s thank yous, and Seb’s heartfelt thank you for participating in the event meant more to me than they all know.  I’m still smiling.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Why I share this experience.

Because perhaps this may strike a nerve with someone out there.  Perhaps someone else may learn, be inspired by my own realization.  Perhaps so that someone out there doesn’t feel alone if they react this same way too.  So that I can continue processing this, and find acceptance, progress, and peace.

Over the years, I’ve become better at accepting my own mistakes.  When I perform on stage, when I teach, I do my best.  Not everything always goes ok, but I’m ok with that, and I learn from it.  Sometimes it’s out of my control because of lag, sometimes it’s because I forgot to update a notecard, etc.  I recognize the issue, and also identify how I can prevent it from happening again.

When it is for someone else, as last night was, I leave myself no room for error.  A bit too slow opening a curtain, having a technical difficulty of my own making, not having my costume right.  In my head these become errors of epic proportions, and I dwell on it.  I apologize over and over again, it clouds the experience so much that I can’t enjoy, can’t relax.  I let them down, and I will beat myself up again and again, unable to let go.

Why?  Fear.  Fear that I will be judged, fear that I let them down, fear that they will never want me to dance or stream again for them.  I have learned to allow myself to make mistakes in my own dances, but I demand perfection of myself when it comes to doing something for others and this is completely unreasonable.  Hanging onto that feeling of failure paints the rest of the picture with negative energy, anxiety, nervousness, and that is easily felt – especially on my 5th apology or in my voice over the stream.

The truth is, we are not Mary Poppins.  None of us are “practically perfect in every way”.  Things will happen, some in our control, some not.  The most important thing to do in my opinion?  Own that something went wrong, do our best to resolve it, put all of our energy in doing a great job instead of spending it on regret and beating ourselves up.  And here’s the kicker…

Give yourself permission to be imperfect.

We are all imperfect.  All we can do is our best.  Sometimes the true reflection of a person is not how they handle themselves when the water is calm, but how they handle themselves in the storms, the roller coasters, and the train wrecks.

Is this permission to be slack and unprepared?  Not at all.  It is giving permission to resolve it, get through it, forgive yourself as best you can and move on.  Yes, I should have tested my stream in world before.  The computer freeze?  Not something as easily preventable.  I will learn from these experiences, and do my best not to let it happen again.

It is not weakness to admit we are not perfect, but strength.  I could hide behind a veneer of “I’m awesome” or excuses.  In this case, it was not SL, not the sim, it was my own issues.  Any excuses would have just been pretty words in avoidance of taking responsibility, owning it, and Moving On.

You may or my not agree with this, and that’s ok.  Some people may judge me because I’m not perfect, and that’s ok too.  What’s important is that I’m not judging myself for being imperfect, I’m not letting it mar the experience, not letting self-doubt creep in, not burying someone under 100 apologies and affecting their mental and emotional state too.  I can only do my best, and if someone can’t accept that, then it’s best I remove myself from that situation.

Years ago, while manually running a dance there were sim issues, and it went horribly wrong after I’d spent countless hours working on it.  I was in tears, uncontrollable tears because I’d felt I’d failed.  Never again will I tear myself down or beat myself up over something like that.  I will own it, accept it, grow from it, and move on.

I finished out a great DJ set last night, I had fun and others seemed to also.  I embraced the moment, have an awesome Movember shirt and event a cool mustache!  (I’m sexy and I know it!)  I wasn’t perfect, but I pulled through and made a contribution, participating in the amazing MiM Movember event.  That’s success, and to me, THAT is perfect.

Just me, warts and all.  Accept me as I am or move to the side, because I’m on a path to
greatness.
~ Eva

permission-to-make-mistakes-quotes

 

“For everything in this journey of life we are on, there is a right wing and a left wing:
            for the wing of love there is anger;
                    for the wing of destiny there is fear;
                             for the wing of pain there is healing;
for the wing of hurt there is forgiveness;
for the wing of pride there is humility;
for the wing of giving there is taking;
for the wing of tears there is joy;
for the wing of rejection there is acceptance;
                               for the wing of judgment there is grace;
for the wing of honor there is shame;
for the wing of letting go there is the wing of keeping.

We can only fly with two wings and two wings can only stay in the air if there is a balance. Two beautiful wings is perfection. There is a generation of people who idealize perfection as the existence of only one of these wings every time. But I see that a bird with one wing is imperfect. An angel with one wing is imperfect. A butterfly with one wing is dead. So this generation of people strive to always cut off the other wing in the hopes of embodying their ideal of perfection, and in doing so, have created a crippled race.”   ~ C. JoyBell C.

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The Magical World of Animations and Choreography

So, you want to dance, to create, perform in this magical medium we have in this world.  For some of us, perhaps we danced in RL.  Some perhaps want to recapture these moments, or to still experience the highs, and the beauty, the creative opportunities.  For others, we just feel it from deep within, and SL gives us the forum to express ourselves in this way.

Ok, ok.  Yes.  I dance in the shower (while simultaneously wondering what I’d do if I slipped and broke my leg).  Yes, I dance while cleaning (and sing too, but that’s a whole other story).  I sometimes even torture my family with my dancing while working in the kitchen (and pray that doesn’t end up on youtube).  Would I dance in public like that?

/me faints

No.  Not unless it was some kind of goofy fun thing and everyone was doing it too – although at weddings, all bets are off.  Yep, I was the one who jumped up, joined a little girl on the dance floor as we danced the “Hot Dog Dance”.  Didn’t even know the song but I went for it!  I blame the SL dance world for that actually….

 

So, now that that’s all established, in the SL dance world we can’t just jump out on the dance floor and do whatever quirky move we want to.  Generally we need to use the animations that are available, and to create a dance we choreograph them together to create something that is unique, expressive, and our own.  I’ll be getting into some info about animations, but first.

Choreography

There are few absolutes in this world, and even some of those absolutes I even periodically question myself on.  There is one that I won’t.

Choreography is *not* buying a pack of animations, such as Abranimations disco, using only these animations, changing up the order and calling it choreography.  You are simply playing animations that the *creator* has put together, choreographed.  This isn’t your own, and it really isn’t unique either.  Just mixing something up doesn’t make it yours.

Yeah, I’m pretty firm on that personally.  Can a performance still be beautiful doing that?  Sure.  Will people notice?  Maybe, maybe not.  But that leads to the question – was it unique?  did you challenge yourself?  did it truly reflect the passion you feel?  I would guess not.

So what is choreography in SL?  My definition:

Stringing a variety of animations together to create a cohesive experience, a unique and personal expression of a piece of music.

The best choreography is when you can “see” the dancers breathe, when you can feel the emotion, understand the dance and the movement no matter what type of expression it is – from serious to uproarious laughter to drool.  When you can feel a piece of the choreographer in the dance.

Personally, my favorite dances of my own are the ones where I give a piece of myself into the creation of it.  To me, creating a dance is like a passionate love affair.  I give a piece of myself over to the creation.  For a while I completely lose myself within it as I weave my thoughts, my emotions within the music, within the beat of it until at some points while I work there is no telling where I start and where the music ends.  I pour my imagination and my effort into the dance as the music and the movement touch me in some way.  When I create a dance, it is almost always because I love the music, I feel it, and I need to create it, and I’m never left exactly the same when I’m done.

Whew…I think I need a fan, or a cuddle now….

Does everyone create like this?  I’m sure not.  Is it “less” that they don’t?  Nope.  Just like an artist painting, dance is the same.  The dancers are our paints, the stage our canvas.  Animations are the colors and the brushes.  How we create, how we paint is our choice and personal.  I can assure you I won’t be cutting off an ear like Van Gogh though (even for a zombie theme dance)

Ok, so I promised this was about animations….

Always buy copy versions of animations!

I had to get that out there.  Sometimes in couples dances you can’t.  Any other time, if it’s not copy I will pass it up in a heartbeat.  It’s not worth the stress or the potential of losing them to buy transfer only versions.

Dance animations – this will generally be your staples, your bread and butter when creating a dance.  There are a number of difference dance animation stores, list of ones I use here:  https://harleyquinadventure.com/2017/03/18/animation-stores-favorites/

I don’t have any real hard and fast rules, but generally I focus on the first few seconds of a dance.  Unless you are using a Spot On Performance Director and layering animations, you will be using the beginning part of the animation or the full animation.

Common questions:

  • Can you start an animation in the middle?  No, unless you are using a Performance Director and layering animations – something you may wish to explore after you have a good foundation in dance and want to expand.  When you play an animation, it is played from the beginning.
  • Can you change the speed of an animation?  No.  While you can change your setting in your viewer to see it slower or faster, everyone else watching will see it at its “normal” speed, because this is what’s stored on the SL asset servers.

The best dance animations are “mocap”, or motion captures.  Animations stores generally work with an animation company who hires RL dancers.  Just like in the movies, the dancers wear sensors to capture their movements on a computer.  These are then converted to animation files.  The ballet animations you just purchased from Abranimations?  That was a RL dancer who performed those.  This is what gives animations the realistic quality, the subtle shifts and smooth movement.  This really hit home when I was talking to a retired professional dancer in SL and she was able to point out some of the weaknesses of the ballerina that performed for a set of ballet animations available in one of the animation stores.  Does that make them bad?  Nope.  Would anyone else notice?  Almost certainly not.  It did give me a whole new appreciation of mocap animations and the dancers behind them though.

You will often find that older non-mocap animations are jerky and may have very unrealistic body movements.  (No, a leg doesn’t generally move like that unless it’s broken…or they’re a contortionist…).  I do sometimes use non-mocap animations though, sometimes they just “work” within a dance.

I generally look for animations with expressive movements, but also mix in others that are softer, more subtle.  When expressing a dance, you usually want to mix in different styles of animations, and like music, lift your audience into a crescendo, a peak, then soften it.  I like spins a lot too…always looking for great spins and jumps within an animation.

If you are new to dance, build up your inventory slowly.  Don’t go crazy buying whatever animation is out there, no matter how tempting it is.  I personally like Abranimations for their quality, cost, and because of how well they link other animations together.  Their animations tend to flow smoothly into other animations and out of other animations.

My recommendation if you’re first starting?  Choose a piece of music, listen to it over and over again.  Go to the animation stores and choose a few animations from each that seem to ‘fit’ with the music.  I would personally recommend choosing a pop/club style piece of music first.  They’re generally easier to choreograph, fun, and the animations you choose would work well freestyling in a club too.

Do I buy packs?  Occasionally.  In a pack you’re generally buying all the animations for that genre at a discount.  You must decide if there are enough unique animations in there to make it worth it and how likely you are to use all the animations.  Occasionally animation stores will have their packs on sale too.  (Reminds me, I should start saving for the Thanksgiving sales – they do happen in SL too).

AO Animations – don’t overlook AO animations!  Walks, turns, stands, spin, hover, fly.  There is such variety with these animations and they can add such interest in your dance.  It is possible to choreograph an entire dance out of AO animations, especially swimming/mermaid dances.

I love Kuso for their AO animations which include fun gestures, flips, spins and all kinds of things.  Don’t look past your own AO either!  If your AO is copy, detach it, rez it to the ground, right click and copy contents to inventory.  You now have a bunch of AO animations to also work with!

This also includes fighter AO’s, mermaids, and any others you can think of too!  Wait!  Don’t go…I saw you itching to head to marketplace and look up copy AOs…..  smh…

             

Poses – to me, poses can add such impact to a dance.  Consider the opening pose and the message it conveys.  I almost always finish a dance in a pose also, unless continuing to dance is part of the message (like when I left my dancers dancing in the asylum as the fade screen faded back in).  End your dance with something that communicates your message and fits the style of dance.

Poses can be so much fun to shop for.  Nantra is one of my favorites, and they also include mirror poses so that you can have a pose facing left, or the same pose but facing right.

Poses can also be integrated within the dance for impact, at a point of reflection or when you have other dancers and want them to be the focus.

 

I highly recommend exploring different venues around the grid watch a variety of performances, different venues, different choreographers.  Study their dances and how they use animations.  Evaluate for yourself what “feels right”, what added impact, spoke to you.  This is part of learning too, and we are all always learning.

 

I have a feeling I’ll be expanding on this in the future…but for now I think I’m going to do the hot dog dance then relax a bit.

~ Dance as if no one is watching ~

Eva

Posted in Dance Resources | 1 Comment

“I’ll lift you and you lift me, and we’ll both ascend together.”

I’ll rise up
Rise like the day
I’ll rise up
In spite of the ache
I will rise a thousand times again
And we’ll rise up
High like the waves
We’ll rise up
In spite of the ache
We’ll rise up
And we’ll do it a thousand times again

If you’ve been here a while, you know that I sometimes ramble about various things – the thoughts in my head, something I may have read, a video from Ted.. (ha!  I made a rhyme!)

The feeling, the realization that overwhelmed me this morning is how critical we can be in the dance world, how easy it can be to judge others…and I realize I too have judged others.  I have based my opinions on my own definition of what a dance “is”…and “isn’t”, what’s “good” and “not good”.

This is very different than evaluating dances for yourself, how you responded to it, did you connect to it, what you liked about it, what you didn’t like.  An impartial evaluation.   One with no emotional response tied to it, no judgement of the artist who created it, or that they “didn’t do it right”.  One where you are open minded and appreciate the effort when a choreographer puts their heart and soul into a dance, and does their best, following their own vision.

We don’t limit works of art such as painting and sculpture, why do we limit dance?  Perhaps we should seek the message within the dance, however the choreographer chose to communicate it, using whatever tools, whatever knowledge and skill they have to apply to it.  Perhaps we should appreciate and hopefully see the growth of a choreographer over time, as they expand in their skill and find their own voice through dance.  When we have the opportunity, even support them in their growth, in whatever way that may be.

Perhaps we should celebrate the successes along the way, and those that dance simply because they must…because it is a form of expression.

It is a slippery slope, giving positive encouragement while not giving false praise.  I once performed a dance, some time ago thankfully, that was truly horrid.  Due to lack of planning and procrastination on my part I’d slapped something together and performed it…racing to the finish line, just so that I ‘had something’.  I truly didn’t understand the comments “that was wonderful, amazing, beautiful”.  I knew it could be wonderful, but it wasn’t, not nearly, and that was my own doing.  There was no passion or effort put into it, and to me, I could feel that.

One thing that will not change?  To me, dance in SL is art, it is communication.  I believe in the purity of it, in the need to create because we must.  Not for the praise, not for the tips, but because of that innate desire to create and to share.  That is heart and soul, and without that…a performance loses its color for me.

As I put these thoughts down, I process them at the same time, relieved that they are no longer swirling in my head.  What will I take from this?  Personally, it is this:

   To truly focus on experiencing the performances of others, with an open mind, to offer support and encouragement where it is welcomed. 
   To appreciate the true effort choreographers make in their self expression through dance in this world. 
   To remember the difference between evaluating a dance for my own knowledge, compared to judging a dancer or their creation.

I will continue to create, to try, to celebrate my successes and my failures, because it is by overcoming the fear of failure that we can reach new heights.  While looking for a quote, I came across this one, and this one stays:

“I’ll lift you and you lift me, and we’ll both ascend together.”

May you soar freely, and always dance to the music in your head.
~ Eva

lift you

 

 

 

 

Rise Up:

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