No matter how interactive the video is, nothing beats the real life human contact in a classroom. Especially when you're trying to decode American Tribal Style (ATS), an improvisational-based dance form that works in a group (hence the word "Tribal"). Everything is seamless and works as if it were choreographed, but it's not.
The term "ATS" is now exclusively only for those in the FatChanceBellyDance (FCBD) format. Others, such as BlackSheepBellyDance and the oh-so-cool Unmata, are classified as Improvisational Tribal Style (ITS). But the concept is the same: the leader gives cues on which combos (combinations / series of movements) to use.
I'm very lucky that while I'm in San Francisco, I'm able to join the series of certification programs of General Skills, Teacher Training 1 and Teacher Training 2 at FCBD. After all, this is one of two reasons why I came to SF in the first place.
Ms. Nericcio has given me permission to review the General Skills (GS) Training, so I'll do just that, hopefully on daily basis.
Eep. I might have to crash that hope. HAHA... It's already the SECOND day and I didn't post anything for the FIRST day, so I'm going to combine Day One and Day Two and the little tidbits.
Day One: Carolena Nericcio with Kae Montgomery
- Slow movements: Taxeem, Reverse Taxeem, Hand Floreo, Arm Undulations, Bodywave
- Fast steps: Egyptian Step, Arabic Step, Pivot Bump & Choo Choo (with Arm 1 & Arm 2), Shimmy
- Group formations
- Working in a chorus
We started off with a lengthy yet fascinating lecture called Basic Anatomy for ATS. There are sixteen pointers that Ms. Nericcio explained to us. Mesmerizing, strong stuff. We hear words like propriaceptors, closed chain, open chain, and all about muscle work. During this segment, we learned why certain ATS (or bellydance) movements look ooey-gooey and just defies gravity (there's the closed chain & open chain movement right there) or why turns are designed to keep the arms close to the body (to maintain balance).
In the picture above, you can see a little black and white booklet. That's the booklet that was given to us, it's like a mini ATS Bible.
After being given the movements and drilled with Ms. Nericcio and Ms. Montgomery leading alternately, we were told to form a trio. So I bundled up with two nice ladies (I'm the only guy in the room, sigh) and off we went. There were five groups of threes (fifteen participants). I'm so glad I'm with my group. They're just amazing. I couldn't stop smiling when I was dancing with them. I didn't even have to force a smile or fake it: it came naturally.
Finally, we were put in a group setting where the Chorus ("back-up dancers") forms a crescent-shaped line in the back and the "featured dancers" dance in front. Each group did their little number. It felt really good.
Kae Montgomery has a magnificent stage presence. I learn a lot about posture just by looking at her.
Day Two: Carolena Nericcio with Wendy Allen
- Slow moves: Torso Twist, Circle Step, Walking Taxeem, Walking Bodywave, Reverse Turn, Propeller Turn, Corkscrew Turn
- Fast steps: Turkish Shimmy (with Quarter Turn & Half Turn, with Arm 1 & Arm 2), Turkish Shimmy (with Arms & Turn, with Arms & Circle), Reach and Sit, Arc Arms, Up2 Down3, Double Bump (and with Pivot), Single Bump (with Gradual Turn & Half Turn)
- Flock of Birds
- Extended Puja
The day followed the same routine: each movement is broken down; questions are asked and answered; drills with the whole gang; drills with trios; chorus.
Today, I got to lead the Chorus. It felt reaaaallly good. In Day One, both Ms. Nericcio & Ms. Montgomery emphasized the importance of staying awake & alert when doing Chorus. Since you're in the back and doing less fancy stuff (more stationary movements that compliment the "featured dancers"), you might get transfixed at looking at the "featured dancers" doing their thing (I know I did), and ended up not following the leader of the Chorus.
When you're the leader of the Chorus, you have to make sure you're not doing something that's the same or too similar to the movements currently being done by the "featured dancers". Ms. Nericcio suggests that when the "featured dancers" are doing movements with both arms up (such as Egyptian Step), Chorus dancers can bring the arms down and do Turkish Shimmy. Therefore, the audience knows that there are two distinct groups working at the same time. The audience can also see the depth and dimension of the groups. Whereas if both the "featured dancers" group and the Chorus do the same thing, the differences will not be visible.
And so it was my group's turn and I (think I) did a good job in going into the "featured dancers" spot - Carolena invoked Valentino's (the fashion designer) mantra when he ushered his models on to the stage, "Long, elegant steps!" and so we did long elegant steps.
Everything was fine until our leader did a cue for a fade. So I went to the front and took the lead. Since we were drilling on Double Bump, I did a Double Bump TO FADE BACK. Bwahahahahaha... I knew Ms. Allen was trying so hard not to laugh.
So when the drill ended, Ms. Nericcio said, "Everything looked good except for one thing," and I interjected her, "The Double Bump, right? It is illegal to fade back with the Double Bump, right?" I guess the term "illegal" made everyone in the room laughed. Including myself. Well, I got a pat on the back. When I was doing the fade with the Double Bump, I realized, "Hey wait a minute... This is like the Pivot Bump / Choo Choo: WE ONLY TRAVEL FORWARD, NOT BACKWARD!" But, too late.
And that was the highlight of the day.
Wendy Allen is just so graceful. Her floreos are just so graceful. And I think she also (almost) solved my problem with the Torso Twist: FINISH YOUR RIGHT ARM UNDULATION! Although, I still need to practise that move.
Well, I'm pooped. I'll blog more later!