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  1. Music is a Language – Dance is a Conversation

    January 22, 2018 by Oren Pardes

    Music is a language – and so is dance. A song is musical communication (from musicians and singers) TO those who hear it – and musical conversation WITH those who dance to it. A dance is a physically moving expression of the music, lyrics, and dancers’ eMotions. Like languages, different music, songs, and dances all have their own distinct structure, grammatical rules, appropriate and acceptable usage, and traditional meanings that may not exist in others.

    Many people reading this are able to speak more than one language – and to dance more than one style to more than one song in more than one genre of music – without mixing them up. Notice what you are reading is written mainly in one language rather than trying to impress you or amuse myself by mixing all the ones I know. Languages (and dances) evolve and change over time – and speakers of different ones can and often do influence others – as do people, cultures, and traditions, but what is appropriate, acceptable, and understood in one is often not in another. Language is not simply words that can be substituted nor is dance simply steps or styling or (choreographed) movement patterns that can be freely taken from one dance and inserted into another (just because elements of aspects could be or because someone wants to).

    When someone speaks to you in one language, they expect and probably only understand a reply in the same language rather than either another one or one with words from another especially if in a different order. There are other ways to say something (that you might prefer in another language) but resist the urge to confuse people by blending words and phrases and sound meanings of some different language they are not expecting and may not understand or appreciate. Different genres/styles of music and dance evolved to fit together in specific ways without need to introduce or fuse something else unrelated – for no particular reason except that it is possible (or gives the illusion of being distinct). Just because someone can speak many different languages or dance many different ways is not a good reason to mix them all up – just for fun or some sincere but misguided belief about the benefits and desirability of “diversity”.

    Too many cooks (or ingredients) ruin the “broth”.

    In Portuguese, “broth” is “caldo“. It can refer not only to soup to eat, but also to a dance party – soup for the soul. Also meaning party/dance/music are Zouk in French and Bachata in Spanish. A “party” is usually much more about food, music, and dancing than anyone drinking alcohol – especially to excess. Salsa is the Spanish word for “sauce” – to give food extra “flavor” (sabor).

    But a “party” doesn’t need (or benefit) from adding “sauce”. It doesn’t make it “better”. Often it makes it “worse” – by covering up it’s already existing “flavor”. The inherent “sabor” of most food (and dance) is more than sufficient to enjoy “as is” – and does not need to be “salsafied”. Yet many people outside of the Dominican Republic now seem to dance bacahta like it is salsa.

    “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate”

    It is possible to dance most choreographed step and turn patterns “on” any “count” of the music but if your dance partner is used to dancing on a particular “timing”, and you notice concern, confusion, or conflict, use the timing and techniques they know rather than insisting they instantly learn a new different language. It can be very difficult for someone who may know no other way to adapt and enjoy dancing together if you do things even just one “count” differently.

    More different in usage than counting music is the word “mambo” – from the Kongo language, spoken by Congolese people in several Central African countries. In modern Swahili language, the word “mambo” is sometimes used to correspond to the English phrase “Hey, what’s up?

    Mambo” is not really a specific type of music or dance or rhythm or section of a song; it is a “conversation with the gods” – in which musicians, singers, dancers, and listeners can lose themselves and find themselves by connecting with “more” than themselves. Partner dancing is a “shared conversation” – not only with the song (and whoever is playing it) and with oneself but also with another person (doing the same). Stage performance dancing adds an audience to the conversation. “Social dancing” is not nor should be “social performing”. The former is like a personal intimate “private conversation” and the latter more like a formal “public” presentation.

    A song with lyrics is more than simply spoken word poetry accompanied by some rhythmic instrumental sounds. Like a story, in any form, songs have a beginning, middle, and end. Most songs have parts that repeat – both in rhythmic pattern and in the lyrics. How you dance and move together and what you do should do the same – matching the music of the moment rather than ignoring or trying to compete with it by trying to “bust a move” or force fit some pattern.

    Argentine, International, and American tango styles are more than merely dialects of the same dance language but are now different enough than dancers can have difficulty (enjoying) dancing together. And none are interchangeable with Semba or Kizomba – or Urban Kiz – all of which are different from Zouk. The same is so regarding what is now being called Traditional and Urban Bachata. What some people think of and enjoy as a “party” is often very different from what others think and enjoy. Don’t mix them up! Some people like to dance in place, others like to travel; some move in circles, others in angles, and still others in straight lines (often back and forth). Some rise up from the ground with each step, others sink down into it – and it does not usually feel good to either if/when the other insists upon doing the opposite.

    Recognize and respect the preferences, capabilities, and dance language of your partner!

    Also respect the song playing, the culture from which it comes, and the traditions of the dance that fit it best. When “conversing with the gods”, with the music playing, with a dance partner, or with an audience, try to speak in the language spoken to. If you are the one “initiating” the “conversation”, choose a single language most likely to be understood rather than attempt to create a new language of your own from random bits and pieces of any others. IF you really want to “pick and choose” some “mix and match” combination, at least do so as a sequential “medley” clearing using one at a time rather than mixing them and making it hard(er) for your partner or audience to understand, follow, and/or enjoy. Before trying to invent “new” forms of anything make sure you really know what already exists and works and be respectful of the language and culture and traditions of the music you hear and the existing styles of dance that evolved with it.

  2. Orgasm

    July 26, 2016 by Oren Pardes

    Cultivating Sexual Energy

    Masters and Johnson defined orgasm in the clinical context as the sudden discharge of accumulated sexual tension during the sexual response cycle, resulting in rhythmic muscular contractions in the pelvic region characterized by an intense sensation of pleasure.

    Explosive orgasm and implosive orgasm

    The explosive orgasm (more commonly experienced) builds sexual tension and then releases it quickly and uncontrollably in a moment of peak pleasure. Sound familiar?

    The implosive orgasm is a more controlled experience. Energy is built and then utilized rather than released, resulting in a more powerful and enduring orgasm, and creating sensation and pleasure throughout the body.

    The key to controlling an explosive orgasm is holding onto the energy by contracting the muscles of the yoni (Sanskrit for “vagina”).

    A stronger muscle contraction means more intense pleasure.

    Vaginal exercises range from Kegel muscle contractions to jade egg weightlifting. The stronger the vaginal muscles get, the greater pleasure a woman can generate during a sexual experience.

  3. Basics of Social Partner Dancing

    July 25, 2016 by Oren Pardes

    The “BASICS” of social partner dancing is NOT any standard stepping pattern, but how partners connect and move – with the music and each other. Far WORSE than lacking any instruction is having been taught – badly. Ignorance is always preferred to ingrained bad habits and beliefs.

    In order to learn more, people often first have to “unlearn” what they think they already know.

    Most group dances classes seem to start by teaching steps rather than FIRST explaining WHAT (sound, rhythm, and/or instrument) movement MATCHES – HOW, WHEN and WHY.

    Dance is MOVEMENT (matching music in the moment). While dancing MAY include steps, “dancing” is NOT merely walking nor is it ANY (predetermined pattern or choreographed combination of steps). Steps allow for TRAVELING (forward, back, or to the side) but are NOT needed to simply change weight or move or dance (with or without a partner) to music.

    BASIC to any dance is the CHARACTER(ISTICS) of movement throughout the dance and NOT any particular “figure” that someone made up. More important than ANY steps is weight change, timing, and the characteristic(s) of that particular (kind of) dance (music and movements). It is often possible to STEP in ANY direction with EITHER FOOT and still MATCH the music, move together with a partner, and retain the CHARACTER(ISTICS) of a dance.

    Instead of teaching what are claimed to be any “basic step” of a dance, classes should first teach the BASICS of posture, foot position, weight distribution, foot placement, creating and maintaining connection, that elbows in front of the body are the key to ANY frame, and how important it is to keep hands available, to NOT reach, NOT grab, NOT hang on, and NOT let go, how partner positioning helps allow the other to see and be seen and step and move without the other in the way, that the majority of leading is really moving oneself rather than trying to make the follower do anything at all, that following requires waiting and not anticipating or initiating, and the importance of floor craft, safety, social etiquette and courtesy regarding others. Instead, there seems to be mainly interest and emphasis on STEP patterns, choreographed routines, and STYLING (usually imitated from and only appropriate for stage performances rather than crowded social dance floors).

    IF people were really taught the BASICS of partner dancing, most people could MUCH better match movement with music and MUCH more easily lead and follow almost anyone – no matter what movement was done. It is very common for many dances to have similar patterns of steps – so HOW could any of them be the BASIC step that clearly and unquestionably differentiated one dance from another?

    It is possible to step or slide or tap forward or back or to the side, or make a box, or any other counted “pattern” in almost any dance. What makes it look and feel like it is one dance and not another is NOT WHAT but HOW it is done.

    In most versions of what is now called Kizomba, people are often taught to think of any version of stepping in place (like Haitian Kompa) as “Basic 1”, and stepping side to side (like Semba) as “Basic 2” , and that a “3-step” walk as “Basic (3)”. What about a 5- or 7- or 9-step walk? Does the number of steps really matter – or HOW one WALKS? Isn’t a “Saida” really just walking “outside partner” rather than a (counted) “pattern”?

    The Cal/Colombian-Style Salsa “Basic” step differs from what people elsewhere think of as (THE) “basic”. And so does the “Basic” (and “base”) step (pattern) of Cumbia as danced in many different places. What is the “Basic” step of Tango (in Argentina or in American or International style Ballroom dancing)?

    What is/(are) the “basic” step(s) of West Coast Swing? Throw Out? Sugar Push? (Some kind of) Pass? (Some kind of) Whip? What is more Basic (and/or “correct”): an Anchor Step (in place), or a (Traveling/Split) Coaster Step?

    Is a BOX the “Basic” step of Waltz? If I never did a Box would I NOT be dancing Waltz? Can’t I do EVERY Waltz pattern in Foxtrot – or American Rhumba or Ballroom Samba – without it being Waltz? More and more I think we should NOT refer to dances by names but only to the music they are danced to – and also NOT believe that any particular step pattern is even required let alone really THE “Basic” (pattern) that all else depends upon.

    I can (clearly and recognizably) dance to Bachata music without EVER stepping side-together-side-tap; this now popular step pattern is NOT BASIC to NOR required for the dance. I can also dance to different instruments and/or rhythms (or “on” any “count”) and NOT be “wrong” – nor hard to follow (unless my partner is on autopilot just mindlessly moving in whatever manner she was taught was supposed to be “basic” and required step patterns).

    I can also dance to Salsa music (including in a slot) “on” any “count” without needing to “break”/change direction to emphasize anything in the music – and can also step with either foot in any direction – without needing to EVER step forward on my left and/or back on my right to change my direction of travel. I can dance an entire song without any underarm turns (or free spins) or even cross-body leads.

    What is BASIC to any and all social partner dancing is NOT step or turn patterns of ANY kind – but HOW partners connect to each other and move (both together and on their own) to match the music (moment by moment with their movement) – in a recognizable characteristic way.

  4. Music Venues and Dance Fusions

    July 25, 2016 by Oren Pardes

    WHERE a song is played or INTENDED to be HEARD – and possibly DANCED to – tends to affect its structural composition – catering to the expected acoustics as much as the audience.

    There are often recognizable difference in songs MEANT to be heard (and danced to) outside in a grass meadow, or in an open plaza, or on a city street, or in a sports stadium, and those inside a concert hall, or in a crowded tavern, or in an elevator, or on a car radio, or on an iPod. I’m not a musician or song writer so can’t really explain what specially changes how but do know that different music is INTENDED for and better FITS different types of venues and (listening and dancing) environments or conditions.

    It is not just tempo or differences in rhythm and instrumentation or what lyrics, if any, focus on, that tends to make each dance style better “fit” some music better than others. A dance that is bouncy needs music that is bouncy and a song that is smooth needs music that is smooth. And there is a reason that some dances travel (either around the room or back and forth) while others stay basically in the same place or circle one way more than the other.

    There is music and there is dance and the names and definitions people use for them are not only just made up but also not really needed – at all. People can and often do dance differently to the same music. There is NO “correct” way to do so – other than that whatever is done has some consistent connection to what is heard (and with one’s partner if dancing together).

    While music and movements CAN be numbered, dancers should be moving to SOUNDS heard rather than simply numbers. TIMING can depend upon which instrument or rhythm is listened to and matched. It is possible to dance (which is MUCH more than just stepping) on/to almost ANY “count” – as long as it is consistent – and there should be NO “count” that is NOT danced (in some way) – even when it is a “rest” when instruments and singers are “quiet”/”silent”.

    Most songs have more than just one single continuous rhythm that never changes – and within any named style there are also many songs that sound quite different from each other. SO, there is NOT just ONE way of dancing even to a single song all the way through, let alone to different songs of the same “genre”. And it is VERY common for different people even from the same place as where the music “originated” to dance differently to it.

    IF you are dancing ALONE, you can do whatever you want.

    If you are the FOLLOWER, it is the LEADER who chooses HOW to dance to the music playing – and what direction you two go and what patterns you do when (within limits of each of your abilities, and the interpretation of what is heard – and the space available).

    People do NOT all dance the same – even when they are from the same place – so there is NO reason that you could NOT dance however you prefer EXCEPT if that means no one else is able to dance with you OR you get in the way of others dancing differently.

    MOST of what people call different kinds of music and how people dance to it is NOT really whatever it is called – AND the names also usually refer to more than one thing.

    The CHARACTER(ISTICS) of any style of music and dance style are what make it distinct and recognizable. One of the main reasons for controversy regarding fusions is that it is often NOT distinct or recognizable – from other (similar) fusions.

    The most common fusion for “urban” dance styles seems to be considered Modern R&B – code for “urban contemporary” rather than authentic Rhythm & Blues – and so how people dance tends to be more and more the same no matter what style of dance they claim to be doing.

    Many of the currently popular URBAN (nightclub) dance styles are danced to slower music than the music that preceded it. Kizomba is usually danced to slower or more fusion-type songs than Semba; Salsa danced in a slot (especially “On2”) is usually danced to slower or more fusion-type songs than Casino or Son; Bachata danced outside of the Dominican Republic is usually dance to slower and more fusion-type songs than what is usually regarded as Traditional; West Coast Swing is usually danced to slower and more fusion-type songs than Jitterbug or Jive or Lindy or most other styles of “Swing”. There are many other examples.

    Music often adapts to who it is meant for and dance also adapts for the music heard – which then becomes written and played for that type of dancing (style and venue).

  5. Following

    July 25, 2016 by Oren Pardes

    FOLLOWING a partner requires doing what the LEADER does – EVEN when it is NOT what the follower expects, desires, or is used to – and MUCH of the problem many people have dancing together is really the fault of the FOLLOWER (who often really does NOT know how to follow – especially anyone trying to lead what they have not done before). At most social dance events there are usually only a very small percentage of followers able to follow almost anyone doing almost anything and thus make every dance look and feel good for both partners.

    Even the very best leaders cannot lead without the help of the follower. WORSE than people who have NEVER taken any dance instruction/training are those who have been taught – badly.

    What the follower can or should do during social dancing – both when together and when apart – often does not (need to) match what the leader does – and there is no need to watch or copy the leader’s feet. Most leads are felt and naturally result in the follower’s steps and movements.

    The “BASICS” of any partner dance is NOT any stepping pattern but how the partners connect – with the music and with each other. Keeping elbows in front of the body is the key to ANY frame – and it is important for followers to NOT reach, or grab, or hang on, or let go, and to allow their partner to be able to see (and be seen) and step and move without getting in the way.

    Leading is mostly moving oneself rather than trying to make the follower do anything at all. Following requires waiting to be LED; responding without anticipating, initiating, or resisting. Following does NOT require knowing what will be led – but does require doing one’s own part. The follower is not a puppet. Following is an equal yet often more challenging role than leading.

    IF followers focus on the BASICS of social partner dancing, they will MUCH more easily follow almost anyone (dancing any style to any music) – no matter what movement patterns are led.

  6. Relationship Priorities: Who comes FIRST?

    July 21, 2016 by Oren Pardes

    WHO cones FIRST? The chicken or the egg? The male or the female? Women and children? Customers? God, Country, Corps? Partner or parent? Spouse or offspring? Self or others?

    Who comes FIRST seems to be controversial question regarding relationship priorities – but it should not be. Airline passengers are always told that in the event of loss of cabin pressure they should put on their own oxygen mask FIRST – before attempting to assist anyone else (for the simple reason that anyone needing assistance is also unlikely to be able to provide assistance).

    So, should oneself be the highest priority? Not necessarily! Who comes FIRST – be it in an (aircraft) emergency, at work, in dating, during sex, within a family, and/or on a society level – should always be who is most and best able to protect and provide for and pleasure the other(s).

    Putting ONESELF first, or who and/or what one may be care about most, is NOT always best.

    Sometimes one’s own needs and desires and preferences puts others at risk – and can REDUCE one’s own (and everyone else’s) chances for health, happiness, prosperity, or success. Immature children should not be allowed to make decisions for their family or society. There are NO rights without responsibilities – including regarding the “welfare” of others – now and in the future.

    Those seeking personal power or profit or pleasure are not “exempt” from impact on anyone else – especially in business or politics. Increases in influence and affluence inherently imply greater responsibility – including and often especially to those with less. Choices usually affect others.

    There is a huge difference between not thinking less of oneself than thinking less about oneself.

    Good leaders tend to make sure that others are taken care of – and often before themselves – NOT because they think of themselves as any less important or even less in need, but because they regard themselves as more able and depended upon to provide for the needs of others – especially those who follow them and for whom them are thus responsible for – as the leader.

    There are many professions in which people routinely risk their lives for others – BUT most are told again and again that there is NO cost-benefit ratio regarding the number sacrificed for the number saved. Rescue personnel are usually instructed to ensure their OWN safety and survival as much as of others they MIGHT save – especially if it is likely to result in losing their own life.

    Lifeguards are taught to “reach, throw, and row”, before they “go” swim to someone drowning.

    In the military, mission accomplishment is considered a higher priority than individual or unit welfare – but people who jump in front of a bullet or a car, or on top of a grenade, or run into a burning building or collapsing structure or raging river may save the lives of others but risking theirs also reduce their own and others ability to assist anyone else – in the present or future.

    During mass-casualty medical emergencies (and also during epidemics), triage (or the “sorting” by priority for treatment) of the ill and injured is based first and most on the chances of survival (with the resources and care available) than by severity and/or extent of what may be needed.

    Nobody is EVER “equal”. Even (Marxist) Socialism acknowledges that EACH of us differs in our needs and abilities – and what we (should be expected to) give and get should not be the same.

    Those with immediate life-threatening conditions who have best chances of survival if they are provided for quickly – with the least extensive, expensive, and ongoing intervention required – come FIRST. Care for most others is delayed. And some, who under different conditions, might very well be saved and recover, are not treated at all – especially those expected to die anyway.

    There is always some kind of hierarchy in emergency medical care – and everything else in life – including political, professional, and personal relationships – at individual, family, community, organization, group, and society level. An open airway is required to breath; without a beating heart, it does not matter if someone is not breathing or is bleeding or has any other problem.

    Within any society, group, organization, community, family, or personal relationship, especially during conflict, in crisis, and/or when resources are scarce, the highest priority should always be to provide for the needs of those everyone else depends upon – for the protection and provision of (individual and group) needs and chances of survival, prosperity, preferences, and pleasures.

    In a society, those who provide food, shelter, physical protection, guidance, and care should be regarded as “more equal” than others. This tends to include farmers and herders and hunters and gatherers and trappers and fishermen and soldiers and police and firefighters and doctors and nurses and designers and builders and maintainers of physical and social infrastructure.

    In a business, it is NOT the customers – nor the owner(s) or any investors or shareholders – who should usually come first, but the employees or whoever actually does the work without which the business could not function and would not exist that matters most and should be taken care of first – so that they can provide products and services and profit for everyone else.

    In a family, the PARENTS (as partners, providers, and protectors), should usually come FIRST before their children – until and unless it is the children who are caring for their parents (and siblings). Parents, especially mothers, who regard their children as their primary priority, tend to end up and remain single – even after their children are grown. The safety and survival of the next generation (and species itself) is obviously important, but not necessarily the proper order.

    Families are usually considered the foundation of society. The parents – as (marriage) partners – are the foundation of the family – NOT the children. The (marriage) partnership relationship should also be the (family’s) primary and most important relationship to maintain and improve.

    Children learn primarily by example. They need to observe and be reassured and understand that they have a place in the a world that existed before their birth (that could and would also continue without them) and that their position and preferences are NOT higher in hierarchy or priority to those who came before them – and not just in a family, birth order, or relationship.

    Children should never be allowed to pit or play one parent (or any other adult) against another.

    Children need to learn (by example) to consider, respect, accept, appreciate, and include others – especially with greater (or lesser) age, experience, ability, interest, and/or (earned) authority.

    Politicians and others who aspire to inspire, influence, and lead others also need to constantly keep in mind what they (should have) learned as children and be reminded if/when they forget.

    Even when not consciously aware of it, everyone has a hierarchy of who and what comes first.

    Many people prioritize relationships by their locus of control – starting with themselves; their family, friends, and co-workers; people they meet or serve; their local community; organizations they belong to; their nation; humanity; and the world. Others put their religious/spiritual beliefs first – emphasizing a chosen mission or role as a servant to something greater than themselves.

    Some people are more influenced by, affiliated, and identified with a political party or ideology; or social status; ethnicity; ancestry; nation; culture; sexual preference; or gender orientation.

    Who or what is most important and comes first (in relationships) for YOU?

  7. Essential Components in Learning a New Dance

    April 25, 2016 by Oren Pardes

    Interested in learning a new dance or better dancing an old one? What is REALLY required?

    Essential components in learning a new dance (that should be taught/learned/known FIRST):

    1. The rhythm(s) of the music, how to recognize it, what to listen for, and how to hear it.
      The music playing dictates what can – and “should” – be danced (when and how). Sometimes several dances may fit the same song – but each dance also has its own music. The speed/tempo of the music and instruments used often change what movements fit.
    2. Characteristic movements and mannerisms that distinguish the dance from others.
      Every dance has its own “rules”, movements, and/or ways of moving that make it distinct.
      What makes different dances recognizable and unique is less just what is done than how – affecting foot placement, knee and hip motion, arm, hand, head, and leg styling, and if steps or body movements are small, large, smooth, staccato, pulsing, bouncy, flat, or rise and fall.
    3. The physical orientation, relationship, and connection to partners (and others).
      If/when/how to dance individually, as a couple, or in a group – close together or apart – while traveling around the room, staying in one spot, in a circle, or along a a line/in a track. How partners hold each other and what other parts of the body touch where, when, and how. Posture and if/when/how partners lean toward or away from each other or stand straight up, how their weight is distributed, and where their body is in relation to their center of balance.

      • The center of balance is the sternum – NOT the navel. The abdomen is one’s “core”.
      • The hips and core provide power and propulsion – and are also where the lead should come from (NOT from hands, arms or chest) – but the center of balance is the sternum.
      • To lead, follow, and stay (or come back) together, partners should continually orient their sternums/torsos toward each other – and “spot’ (turns) with their nose rather than eyes.

LEAST needed in learning a new SOCIAL dance are choreographed Step and Turn Patterns – even when considered “basic” (or part of some school’s standardized syllabus). A dance should be able to be done in place (in a small space surrounded by others) with just weight changes rather than focus on the feet moving, turning/spinning, or doing any of the “steps” or “styling” many want to learn or teach before understanding what rhythm(s) they are trying to match in their movements and how do so with their partner (regardless of what is done). Steps, even the really “cool” ones, are WAY over-rated – and often not even necessary. Far more important in a SOCIAL dance is learning to connect in the moment with one’s partner and to the song playing.

If a class starts with or focuses on teaching patterns, BEWARE! Unless it is an “advanced” class, it’s possible the teacher may not really know what “matters” in that dance – or how to teach it. What do YOU think?

Category Dancing, Follower-ship, Leader-ship | Tags: , , | No Comments

  • Dance as Yoga

    April 3, 2015 by Oren Pardes

    “Yoga” means “union”. There are many “kinds” of yoga – and many methods, teachings, and techniques to create, achieve, or strengthen “union” – of body and mind and of self and Self (The Divine/Universe) or partner/family/community/relationship, and/or anything “greater” than (one’s own perception/expression/experience of) self. Yoga is often about being “mindful” about ourselves and others even when most “mindless” – seeking “selfless” self-fulfillment. (more…)

  • What Might Dancing Reveal About YOUR Life?

    January 26, 2014 by Oren Pardes

    Is Life (like) a Dance? If so, do people live the “rest” of their lives the way they dance? Do YOU? (more…)

  • Watch Your Ps and Fs

    October 3, 2012 by Oren Pardes

    A woman of virtue and valor is worth more than rubies, emeralds, sapphires, or diamonds. (more…)

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