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[ July 20, 2022 by Annie Libera 0 Comments ]

Dance Headshots

Welcome! In this blog, we will be discussing everything you need to know about headshots.  As I mentioned in my last post, dancers will turn in a headshot and resume (stapled back to back) to casting directors at auditions.  We will cover the different types of looks, formats, and how to get the most out of your headshots.  Let’s get started!

Different Looks

In general, there are three different types of headshots a dancer should have: commercial, urban/edgy, and body conscious.  However, this is not the be-all-end-all checklist.  It really depends on what kind of jobs you want to audition for.  In general, though, these are the most common type of photos L.A. dancers use.  Dancers ages 17 and under do not need a body conscious shot. 

1. Commercial Photos

For commercial headshots, think Disney! Bright and bubbly! Every dancer at every age needs a commercial photo. For this photo, you should wear a bright fitted t-shirt.  A white or bright, solid-colored background usually works well for this type of photo. There should be minimal distractions in this type of photo, so that means no jewelry.  Makeup should look natural so that we can focus on your beauty. And this is where a full smile is needed.  For this type of photo, close-ups and half-body shots are best. Below you will find two examples.  The first photo (yellow t-shirt) was taken with a simple point-and-shoot camera.  You can clearly see the quality difference in headshots, however, the quality of the first photo is perfectly fine if you are just starting out or don’t have the funds to get professional photos taken.  

Photography on the left: Galen Hooks (part of the Galen Hooks Immersion intensive, more details to come about this in the future!) @GalenHooks @thegalenhooksmethod

Photography on the right: Lindsay Rosenberg @lnzyrosephoto

Dancer: Carly Johnson @Carlyjanejohnson12

Agency: Go 2 Talent Agency

2. Urban/Edgy Photos

For your edgy photos, think about how you would dress for a Rihanna audition! I personally feel that this type of photo is where you can show your style the most. Get creative and think out of the box. These photos can be done inside or outside. Make sure a range of photos are taken from full-body to half-body so you have options. For your makeup, feel free to add some subtle glitter eye shadows or a smoky eye. Heels are ideal for these photos, as they make you look taller and don’t cut off your line.  

Photographer: Gunner James @gjx.pix

Dancer: Addison Paige @theaddisonpaige

Agency: Movement Talent Agency

3.  Body Conscious (Sexy)

For this type of photo, you want to think beach! Note, however, that it’s not about how much skin you show. There are a lot of dancers in this industry who are in great physical shape and still decide not to show everything. A word of warning: beach does NOT necessarily mean swimsuit. On camera, swimsuits don’t usually look to be of good quality. I suggest taking some test shots (on the phone) before your photo session.  If your swimsuit looks like a swimsuit, then it’s time to find a new outfit. Photos of a dancer in a swimsuit, in heels, or in a photo studio tend to look rather awkward.  It usually doesn’t work together. Instead, consider wearing a strappy bralette with shorts and cut-off fishnets or a cool body suit that shows off your figure.  

For these photos, no matter what body type you are, focus on your lines! Don’t stand with your legs directly under you and with your hands at your sides—this pose doesn’t show the power in your body. You want your body to take up as much space as possible (this applies to your urban photos as well).  

Photographer: Lindsay Rosenberg @lnzyrosephoto

Dancer: Stacey Zielinski @stacey.zielinski

Agency: Go 2 Talent Agency

17 and Younger Headshots

Just to reiterate, dancers 17 years of age and younger do not need a body-conscious photo.  To be completely honest, they don’t need an urban/edgy photo either.  Those are usually for adults, but some kids do have headshots in this style.  However, dancers 17 and younger do need two different types of looks (outfits).  Make sure the outfits look different from each other!  Instead, you might want to add a girl/boy-next-door type of photo.  Wear something simple, like a flannel. Consider the type of outfit you would wear to school. Still, remember to show off your personality. If you’re quirky, then take a quirky photo! Just demonstrate who you are.

Formatting

Once you have selected your final photos, you will need to format them. Start by adding a white border to all four sides of each photo. Along the bottom border, add your first and last name only. You can align the text however you wish. It doesn’t matter if your name appears on the left, center, or right side of the page—as long as it’s at the bottom, the rest is up to you.  Talk to your photographer or printer to see if they can help you with your border and text.  They usually can!

Once you are signed, your agency will pick the photos that you will print and use at auditions.  These are called “selects.” Your agency will also decide how the border and text should appear on your photos. They might even add their logo. 

Getting the Most Out of Your Photos

Headshots can be expensive! So it’s best if you are fully prepared when you have them done. To make your photos last as long as possible, avoid trends that might date your shots. Remember a while back when people used to put feathers in their hair? It’s not so common now, is it? That’s the sort of thing that you want to avoid.  

Though headshots are pricey, investing in your photos means investing in yourself.  The better quality photos you have on casting websites, the more likely you are to book work and/or get auditions.  

There are plenty of great photographers in L.A. Do your research and ask friends in the dance community who they have used.  Also, use Instagram! You can find great photographers who lack name recognition but can do high-quality work for way cheaper.  There is a photographer out there for every budget. 

Tips and Tricks 

  • Most importantly, make sure your photos look like you! That might sound obvious, but it’s too important to overlook! If you have bangs in your photos but have since grown them out, it’s time for new headshots!
  • Wear clothing that is comfortable and that reflects who you are! If you are not comfortable in your clothing on camera, it will show!
  • Thicker materials tend to show up better on camera (i.e., denim and cargo, but not sweaters).
  • Be sure to wear fitted clothing.  Casting directors need to clearly see your body and lines. 
  • Go shopping beforehand and bring multiple options to the photo shoot. The photographer might have an eye for an outfit that you never would have thought of.  Leave the tags on and return the clothes you don’t use. 
  • Avoid wearing logos in your photos.  You don’t to have a headshot with an Adidas logo on your shirt when you’re walking into a Nike audition.  Whoops!
  • Avoid wearing thigh-high boots/heels—they cut off the line of your leg.  
  • Play some music during the photo shoot to loosen up.  Confidence is key!
  • See if the photographer has a makeup artist that they work with. If they do, I suggest using them.  They are experts, and they can help you look glamorous! REMEMBER: stage makeup and photo shoot make-up are two different things.
  • Again… BE CONFIDENT!

For more examples of headshots, head over to the agencies’ websites (Bloc, MTA, MSA, GTA, Clear) and look at their clients’ photos.  Alternatively, look up different photographers on Instagram to see their work and what their clients wore. 

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[ April 23, 2022 by Annie Libera 0 Comments ]

A New Normal for Auditions: How COVID-19 Changed The Dance Industry

It’s no secret that the pandemic has drastically changed the way people exist in the world and operate in their jobs. Dancers are no exception. For example, when production companies initially attempted to reopen operations around May/June 2020, they ran into two major issues: covid tests and auditions. Since most studios and soundstages were still closed due to lockdown, many production companies couldn’t find space to hold in-person auditions. And even if they could find audition space, organizing and paying for everyone auditioning to get covid tests was another hurdle. Since in-person auditions became a logistical nightmare, what was the next best option for production companies? Self-tapes and footage submissions! As of spring 2022, this type of remote audition is still being relied upon. So, to set you up for success here’s what you need to know. 

Before we dive in, please note that there is a difference between self-tapes and footage submissions. Self-tapes are recordings of yourself doing specific choreography, freestyling to a particular artist, or doing whatever else is asked of you for the role for which you are auditioning. After recording this new and specific footage, you would upload your materials to either YouTube or Vimeo so that you can send the footage links to your agent and/or casting directors. On the other hand, for footage submissions, you or your agent would pull footage of you that already lives on your social media accounts. You aren’t required to record anything new or specific. What all of this means is that, more than ever, your social media accounts should be on point and you should have a great self-tape set-up. 

What makes a great self-tape set-up? I’m glad you asked. First and foremost, you must have room to dance! If possible, create a recording space in your home (e.g., your living room). There are a few reasons why having a private recording setup is beneficial. First, a private space eliminates disruptive outside factors, such as other people walking into your frame, random background noise, etc. Secondly, recording indoors gives you more control over the lighting. Don’t get me wrong, I have lived that LA hustle lifestyle where, for a year and a half, someone was living in my living room. Small and crowded spaces are often a fact of life. So no, you don’t have to record in your living room if it’s not feasible for you. It’s okay to go outside or to use a parking garage (carefully!). Or if you have access to a dance studio, that’s even better! The important thing is that you find enough space to dance because you don’t want to look cramped while you are in frame. Let’s go back to lighting for a moment. If you don’t have one, please buy a ring light or something that is similar. Good lighting is crucial. 

Another important step in setting up your recording space is making sure your recording device is level. Leaning your phone against a book on top of a bunch of stacked boxes is a great way to create poor-quality footage and cause an expensive accident. Invest in a tripod and a tripod adapter that holds your phone (or whatever device you’re using). 

As you know, we recently passed the 2-year anniversary of the initial COVID-19-driven “shelter in place” orders. Despite the country seeming to trend, presently, toward a fuller reopening, we’re not quite living pre-pandemic lifestyles. And we probably never will wholly return to pre-pandemic practices. All of this is to say that in-person auditions still exist. In fact, maybe one day, the in-person format will return to the forefront of auditions. But if I had to guess, I would say that remote auditions are here to stay, even in the post-pandemic years to come. Previously, many dancers would sometimes spend hours at an initial audition and then possibly a call-back, and possibly a second call-back. Now, self-tapes and footage submissions can be used to directly book dancers and/or to replace that initial in-person audition. This means that, despite being 2 years into the pandemic, it’s still worth your time and energy to set up a good recording space for yourself. 

Since remote auditions are here to stay, then let’s get excited about them and consider all the benefits! What’s so great about self-tapes? First, you can record yourself repeatedly until you nail whatever it is that you’re required to submit to the casting directors. Second, you don’t have to readily live in LA all the time now! Since you don’t have to immediately attend an in-person audition, you can live/work elsewhere and return to LA as needed. Keep in mind, should you book the job or get an in-person call-back, you will be responsible for your own transportation to and accommodations in LA. 

The only disclaimer I have about self-tapes is that sometimes the job sets a very short deadline for turning in your video submission. The shortest turnaround time I have ever seen is six hours. Six hours may seem like a long time.  But if you aren’t at home when you get the email or the phone call from your agent, you could miss out on the opportunity if you aren’t available. That said, this is no different than pre-pandemic auditions—if you weren’t available for a last-minute in-person audition in 2019, then you missed out on that opportunity as well.  Since turnaround times can be short, you don’t want to wait until the last minute. If your agent needs to send your submission package to a casting director by 5:30 pm, then try to send your video links to your agent no later than 5:15 pm. 

Finally, as a reminder, while remote auditions are a cool new tool for finding work in the dance industry, the old rules from in-person auditions still apply. You should still be dressing the part, from hair to make-up to your outfit. Your social media accounts should always be professional and showcase all the styles you are trained in (i.e., your accounts should always be ready for choreographers’ and casting directors’ eyes). And as previously mentioned, don’t be late—your self-tapes and footage submissions must always be sent in by the deadline. Remote auditions are part of our “new normal.” So set yourself up for success. 

Ballet dancers dancing at studio
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[ April 14, 2022 by Annie Libera 0 Comments ]

3 Things I Wish I Could Tell Every Aspiring Professional Dancer

As someone who is still chasing their “big dreams” years after moving to LA, please allow me to share 3 things I have learned and experienced that I want every aspiring professional dancer to know before committing to this industry.

 

It’s Not Enough Just To Be In The Room

Once I had a serious conversation about wanting to pursue dance professionally, my mother helped me in every way she could. She got me a personal trainer, I had private Pilates and ballet classes once a week (on top of my scheduled training), and she took me to extra dance intensives and conventions outside of my studio requirements. A lot of the “extras” I did, carried over with me when I was in college. While I wasn’t having personal training sessions or private lessons anymore, I was taking yoga and additional dance classes outside of my college dance program. Additionally, while in school, I continued to attend conventions on the weekends whenever I could, as well as participate in summer dance programs. All of these extracurriculars to better my dance training and body were great. But in order to “make it” in the industry, it’s not enough just to partake in these extracurriculars, hoping they will pay off. It’s not enough just to be in the room. What do I mean by that? Let me break it down.

Let’s say you attend a convention over a weekend. Are you just taking classes and leaving once the day is over? Or are you engaging with your community and fellow dancers outside of your own studio? We could call it what it is: networking. But since the word “networking” is often anxiety-inducing, let’s think of it in slightly less daunting terms. Are you meeting people?

In my experience, people who go to dance events to “network” are often people who are sucking up to choreographers and creative directors to try to get a leg up in the industry. But going to dance conventions, intensives, or shows to “meet people” is totally different—it’s a different mindset with a different goal. It takes the pressure off of trying to “get something out of the other person” and brings it back to just expanding your circle of people you know. I always encourage “meeting people” at every class or event you attend.

Let’s jump back to the convention setting. Lunch is a perfect time to find another dancer and their parent to have a conversation with while you eat. Not only are dancers meeting each other, but parents, you are meeting other dance parents as well. Maybe you stay in contact over social media, maybe you don’t. But who knows where the conversation could go and what you could learn from each other? We all have interesting experiences and insights to share—you just have to start the conversation. Let’s take the pressure off of “meeting the right people” and just go back to meeting people. While you go to a convention for training with top-tier choreographers, it’s also about getting to know your community because you never know who is in the room with you. My suggestion is to start small. Make a goal to meet one new person at each event you go to.

Now let’s take the above situation and amplify it some more. Say you move to New York or LA to become a professional dancer. It’s not enough to be in the city and take dance classes when you feel like it and attend agency auditions when they happen. You can’t be mad if you haven’t “made it” or booked a single job in four years simply because you made the “big move.” You can take every class and intensive under the sun, but if you aren’t talking to people and getting to know people, you are limiting your opportunities in the future. Don’t just show up. Speak out, make connections, and be part of the community.

Put In The Work

Honestly, it is that simple. Put in the work. Parents who I meet always want to know the “tips and tricks” of the industry. And while tips and tricks are great, they are only great if you have a solid foundation—the solid foundation being dance training and technique. Using “tips and tricks” to help give you that extra edge in social media, in classes, and in auditions is beneficial. Continue to do so, but make sure you are also continuously putting in the work.

What does putting in the work mean? It’s like building a house. You can order the most extravagant windows and doors but they won’t do you any good until you have a solid foundation and some walls up. There are literally thousands upon thousands of talented dancers in the world. Being a dancer is a profession, unlike many others. Compared to commerce, for example, the amount of job opportunities for dancers is a lot less and the gauge for success is very different. You have to put in the work to get the limited jobs and to continue getting those limited jobs. Putting in the work means self-discipline. It means taking dance classes consistently, fueling your body properly, cross-training, going to dance events, networking, looking up auditions, doing your research, and taking care of yourself. These are all things you have done before. But now it is just on a larger scale since this is what you want to do with your life. I’m afraid the hacks, gimmicks, tips, and tricks won’t do it. Success as a dancer—whatever that means to you—takes a monumental effort.

You Won’t Just Be Picked

A month before I moved to LA, I heard this advice and it has always stuck with me. Say you are in a dance class or in a convention class and the choreographer loves the way you are dancing. Say you are asked to demonstrate the combo to the rest of the class. Maybe you get filmed doing the combination and it ends up on the choreographer’s Instagram page. Awesome! Now what? Do you wait for them to call you up for a job? Let me be crystal clear: it doesn’t work like that. You will not be picked out of a sea of sometimes hundreds of dancers in a class to become the next “star” or assistant. Yes, a choreographer could see you in a class and love the way you dance. That exact situation has literally happened to me. What did I do? I went back to their class and continued to train. I kept going back and saying thank you after class until the choreographer remembered my name. And guess what. I still go back and take their class.

So be patient and continue to train with choreographers you love and with whom you have a relationship. Keep going back; keep being visible; keep communicating. When that choreographer has a performance or a job, you will have the leg up in the audition because they know you and your persistence. You still may not be right for the job, but at least you know you won’t be overlooked. So don’t sit around, waiting to be picked.  You will have to make it happen for yourself.

 

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[ October 28, 2019 by Annie Libera 0 Comments ]

Always Be A Student, For The Sake Of Your Dancer

I don’t need to be a parent to know that it’s the hardest job in the world.  Literally. I know this because my mom had to deal with me, and my adolescence was no cakewalk for my dear mother. I’m aware that parents have a million and one things to do on the daily basis. And if you are a full blown dance mom (or dad), then you probably spend too much of your time at the studio when you could be at home with your family or having “you” time. That said, with the precious little time you have on your hands, there are a few basic things you can do to help your child take the next step in the dance industry. Just as students sit down to do homework every night, I am giving you two assignments to continuously work on to help your child succeed in this Instagram world. 

1. Learn How To Use Technology

Every few months, my mom calls me and asks me to explain, yet again, how to upload pictures from her computer to Facebook. At her request, I wrote down the directions for uploading pictures. Yet, I inevitably get the same call asking for the same instructions. This drives me crazy! For all the help my mother has given me, I am happy to return the favor. My primary concern, however, is that we live in an ever-changing world dominated by technology. We all must learn to use that technology, or we will be left behind.

You may be thinking, “So what? What does this have to do with helping my dancer?” Well, do you know the best way to record a video on your smartphone that gives your dancer great quality for a reel or Instagram? After that, could you edit the video into your child’s reel? And could you then upload the video to your child’s social media accounts? Do you know how to tag relevant people (e.g., choreographers and teachers) in the description and on the actual photo or video on Instagram? Wait. Let’s backtrack. Do you know how to use Instagram? 

Some of you probably have dancers who are old enough to manage their own social media accounts. For the rest of you, however, you can and should help your child develop a social media presence. The fact of the matter is, if your child aspires to dance professionally, he/she will need to be on social media. So you should learn the ropes. Wherever you are at with technology, it’s okay. Taking 10 minutes each day to learn and advance your skills will only benefit all of you in the long run. Additionally, try to keep up with social media trends (i.e., which platforms are growing, which existing ones are changing or rebranding, which new ones are launching, and which ones are most applicable to your child’s career). You don’t have to be an expert by tomorrow. 

2. Do Your Research

I know that “doing research” is a very general piece of advice. So what do I mean by that? First, maybe find different dance intensives or programs in your area in which your child could participate. Maybe it’s a summer program. Second, search for nearby, upcoming conventions that your dancer could attend. Third, map out your dancers general plans for the next year. This could mean (1) finding out what kind of headshots your dancer needs for his/her age, (2) learning how to write a dance resume, (3) researching the types of clips that belong in a reel, (4) investigating college dance programs, (5) where to find auditions and so on and so forth. There are plenty of other research topics to dig into, but these few are a good place to start. Understand that these research questions will be different for everyone depending on what they want to do with their dance career.  Once you get comfortable with this sort of research, pass the skill on to your dancer. They will need to be able to do this research on their own in the near future. They will need to make decisions about where to go to school—that is, if they want to attend college—and about what sort of dance career they want to pursue. Once they’ve made those choices, they will have to continue researching classes, events, and auditions to advance their careers. Preparation is key. The best thing your dancers can do for themselves is stay informed. And that is something you can teach them to do. Get them started and set an example. 

While I gave my mom a hard time at the beginning of this blog she did great when it came to doing research for me.  Except, she didn’t use the internet to do research. Not at first at least. She used Dance Spirit magazine!  She didn’t know how to surf the web, to be honest, she still doesn’t!  Every month my magazine would come in the mail and she would use sticky notes to flag conventions, competitions, or summer programs that we would need to look into.  We would then type in the web address and go from there. Yes, type in the web address. She didn’t know how to use Google. When I was older, I did this for myself. But at that younger age she did it for me.  Trust me when I say, if my mom can do it you can do it too! 

You’re here, reading this article right now. That means you are already on the right path! I know you all want the best for your kids, no matter what they choose in life. Saving time is everything. I’m not saying to cut corners. In this industry if you don’t have that solid foundation your house will fall down. I know you want them to be happy and successful. The best way to help them is to get a head start. Make those materials (i.e., headshot, resume, reel, and social media accounts). If your dancer is prepared and ahead of the curve, the rest will come a bit more easily.  If you are completely overwhelmed, I’m sorry to make you feel that way. But please know I already wrote a handful of blogs that cover some topics to get you started. I’m here for you. Hollywood Dance Experience is here for you! I know parents don’t get told this enough, but you are doing great! Keep going and you got this!

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[ October 21, 2018 by Adrian 0 Comments ]

DISNEYLAND® RESORT

There’s magic to be found throughout The Happiest Place on Earth! Featuring two amazing Theme Parks—Disneyland® Park and Disney California Adventure® Park—plus three Disneyland® Resort Hotels and the Downtown Disney® District, the world-famous Disneyland® Resort is where Guests of all ages can discover wonder, joy and excitement around every turn.

Disneyland® Park is where it all began. With its mix of new and classic attractions and entertainment, Walt’s original Theme Park is home to timeless fun. Here, you can meet some of your favorite Disney Characters. Set sail with the Pirates of the Caribbean. Plummet down a 5-story waterfall on Splash Mountain. Then end your day with a fireworks spectacular*. And if you’re a Star Wars™ fan, you won’t want to miss experiences like Star Wars Launch Bay and Star Tours—The Adventures Continue. And coming Summer 2019, experience an all-new land from a galaxy far, far away in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Explore the Planet of Batuu and live your Star Wars™ story. The Force is strong in this Park!

For more fun inspired by Disney and Pixar tales, head over to Disney California Adventure® Park. This is where you can join Rocket on a thrilling mission to rescue the Guardians of the Galaxy from high up in The Collector’s fortress on Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!. Go Soarin’ Around the World on a breathtaking journey over natural wonders and world-famous landmarks. Cruise into the town of Radiator Springs for some high-octane fun in Cars Land. And if you’re looking for incredible entertainment, Frozen—Live at the Hyperion theatrical spectacular and the awesome after-dark spectacle World of Color can deliver it on a grand scale. Or, experience the newly reimagined Pixar Pier —where you can enjoy favorite Characters and stories in Pixar-themed neighborhoods! Experience equipoise stapelbaar attractions like the awesome Incredicoaster, the towering Pal-A-Round Ferris wheel and the ever-popular Toy Story  Mania!®. All things Pixar await you at Pixar Pier. Come join us. Adventure is out there!

In all, there are more than 100* can’t-miss attractions, shows and experiences waiting for you to enjoy at the Theme Parks of the Disneyland® Resort. But the memories you’ll make here…well, those are nearly limitless. So gather your family and friends and come to the place where dreams come true!

*All attractions and entertainment may be seasonal and are subject to change without notice. Please check show guide for availability and times.

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[ October 21, 2018 by Adrian 0 Comments ]

TAKE THE STUDIO TOUR – UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOLLYWOOD

Los Angeles is the entertainment capital of the world, and for film fans, the ultimate experience is a behind-the-scenes studio tour. At Universal Studios Hollywood, the Studio Tour is perhaps its most legendary attraction – and its original one, having debuted in 1915, not long after the theme park opened. Narrated by Jimmy Fallon, the Studio Tour offers guests the chance to explore the working backlot of a real Hollywood movie studio. The tour includes Oscar-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson’s heart-pounding King Kong 360 3D, and the world’s largest 3D experience, which make it one of the best things to do in LA.

 

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[ October 21, 2018 by Adrian 0 Comments ]

SANTA MONICA PIER

When one thinks of Santa Monica, the attraction of the Pier inevitably comes to mind. Its red and yellow Ferris wheel is a city icon. The Pier offers Pacific Park, a full service amusement park, combined with plenty of restaurants, bars, and souvenir shops, as well as an entertaining arcade with more than 200 games. Pacific Park’s solar-powered Ferris wheel makes it the only one of its kind in the region. By day, marvel at the historic Looff Hippodrome Carousel, check out the street performers, or snag a stick of puffy cotton candy. The views of Malibu and the South Bay are pretty outstanding and make for the perfect evening when watched with a beer in hand. Stick around past sunset and you might just catch live local music to the sound of the nearby waves. The Pier is a must-visit Santa Monica attraction that really sets Santa Monica apart as an ideal destination for families and visitors of any age.

 

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