Monday, September 19, 2011

class notes (spins, shimmies, smiles)

Yes, I know. I didn't post anything for more than two weeks and I know I have my notes with me, beginning from a Thursday night class two weeks ago until the Saturday two days ago.

I'm really glad to be able to generate hits from help people who are looking for specific moves and steps, like the Chico Four Corners pass, for example. I hope I did help you, whoever you are! Probably next time you can leave some comments?

Okay, now on to the notes from Thursday night class with Ms. Stefanie Kelly:
  1. Spins: When doing them, always make sure that you open your feet as wide as your shoulders. This might not be automatic at first, but it comes with practice. Ms. Kelly gave a cool analogy: the Nutcracker doll! Feet planted firmly shoulder-width apart, arms and elbows are gracefully up, not droopy. Hmm... So I took one minute to look for a picture of the doll and wasted ten minutes to drool over ballet guys in tights. Here. You're welcome. Here's uh... Some more... If you're into that sort of thing.
  2. Spins: Remember the Phone Booth / Pizza Box (PB) concept? Well, Spins is one of those things that will greatly improve with the help of PB. The head faces the right corner of the PB to spot. This way, the whole body opens up and not closes up, therefore providing an excellent Kodak moment.
  3. Spins: Another thing to remember (and to help angling the body) is to make sure the outer side of your right foot faces the right corner (see the picture I made. Haha, sorry for the quirky-looking toes and footprints, but you get the idea. The red square is the PB outline).
  4. Spins: in addition to not setting your feet too wide apart, watching the body alignment will also help balancing your spins. Make sure you have a straight angle from the top of your head to your feet.
  5. Performance Drills: Ms. Kelly reminded us about checking in by turning whenever we assume the lead position (this works for both one-side and multiside gigs, although assuming the leadership can be trickier during multisided performances). However, if you happen to screw-up, keep smiling! Don't change your facial expression, don't mouth or drop the F-bomb, keep your cool and do a smooth transition. It happens, and if it does, then let it slide off. There's no disappointment with yourself or other dance members.
  6. Shimmies: make sure to bend your knees to create larger shimmies and more upper-body stability (therefore, your upper body won't jiggle along with the hip shimmy). Ms. Kelly showed us a really neat thing: she did the Turkish Shimmy with Arms and Turns WITH the Turkish Shimmy, meaning she didn't lose the shimmy even while turning. That's my goal. I mean, seriously? Sometimes I just get too caught up in the turn itself that I lose my shimmy.
The following Thursday, we had a class with Ms. Elliott and I was late. Of course. I missed the bus and I ended up missing the BART ride, and so I came to the studio about ten minutes later. The disadvantages about coming late to a dance class are not getting a good spot (I can be very nit-picky about positioning myself on the back right of the teacher, because it's the follower position) and not being able to mingle and chat with the other dancers before class.

In the class, she also taught us the regular Oriental Shimmy (not the Tribal Shimmy where it's actually the Three Quarter Oriental Shimmy). She likened it to the unhinging of the hips, so the hips go up and down and up and down in a rhythmical way. I find that by bending the knees lower, I can get bigger up and down range of motion.

She also drilled us on milking the movements. She said that it was impossible for a Slow Move to be too slow, but it was possible for a Slow Move to be too fast. Then she reminded us about the Arm Undulation while circling. Sometimes we get too carried away with trying to get from Point A to Point B that our feet star to move fast and our Arm Undulation automatically follows. We need to remember to isolate our arm movements from our feet.

Last Saturday's classes were taught by Ms. Wendy Allen and we did a very mind-blowing exercise for multigig performances!

We grouped up in trios and here was the plan:
  1. Shimmy to expand and move into position (leader, followers)
  2. Arabic and Turn
  3. Arabic and shrink (the dancers bunch up together, sort of like a modified Arabic Orbit)
  4. Arabic and do a quarter turn
  5. Back to Shimmy to expand and another dancer take the lead
It sounded pretty simple. It was level 1. Then we moved on to level 2: use corners, instead of the walls, for the audience. Then we moved on to level 3: use whatever object in the studio as the audience.

Honestly, I found that the level 2 was the hardest. I believe this has to do with my needing more PB exercise. I also found that this exercise helped me in three things: be aware of my body alignment / performance angle, give a clear-cut cue, and take the lead with conviction.

8 comments:

Foodycat said...

Milking slow moves is something I have been working on. It can be so tempting to go *bam* Sahra *bam* wraparound *bam* barrel turn, that I lose the gorgeous poise of just holding a floreo or exquisitely extending a taxeem for an extra couple of breaths.

famousfeline said...

Ms. Elliott really milked it when she was leading the Torso Twist that it caught me off guard. We were practically hovering for at least 10 seconds.

She said that there was nothing wrong with showing fast and fancy turns with continuous bams (like you just said), but there needed to be some milking in between the combos of those fancy turns.

It does make sense when I think about it: it gives the dancer and the audience time to breathe and cleanse their palate, so to speak.

Kelsey said...

Thanks for these notes Yuska! It's great to see what has been taught in class during some of the ones that I've missed recently because I've been out of town.

I definitely need to drill spinning more! One of the things I've learned in Anita's Dance Conditioning class about spinning is to keep my chest lifted as much as possible. It definitely helps keep me spinning smoothly on my center axis instead of looking like a wobbly top (like I did during last week's Tannourine performance...yikes!)

famousfeline said...

Kelsey: that makes sense! Because for me, when I lift my chest, I will automatically engage my abs and align my spine! Thanks for the tip!

During the time when we all just danced around and Michiyo threw an Egyptian coordinate spin, I wobbled and almost fell over. But I blamed the carpet!

Diana Lee said...

Thank You for all your feedback. I was already missing your posts. It helps a lot. :-) Looking forward to the next one.

famousfeline said...

Diana: you're very welcome! I'm glad that my posts help someone!

Alice said...

I would be very careful on using knees (deeper bend) to get a bigger looking shimmy. :/
it strains them so practice them with your toes going up - that way you practice the correct balance and weight distribution and I would advise you by all means to get the bigger shimmy by training (drilling) hard and having a slow progress (it needs time to develop those muscles) instead of taking the seemingly easy way. :/

famousfeline said...

Alice: Thank you for your input. I'm sorry, I guess I wasn't being clear when I wrote about bending my knees deeper.

When I bend my knees deeper (deep enough not to look as if I were squatting, just bending them a little bit deeper - I'm not being clear again, aren't I?). I find that bending the knees deeper can really make hips' range of movements bigger.

I also rely on my glutes to make the shimmies really work. So, whenever I do the Tribal Shimmy, I really contract and relax my glutes so as to protect my knees. I've been doing the Tribal Shimmy for about a year and a half now and thank goodness my knees are still okay. Although my buns do get harder! (Ahahaha... Possible TMI there)

I know there is the Egyptian Shimmy that is knee-driven. Although I use it in between whenever my hip shimmy fails away, I don't recommend the Egyptian Shimmy. My knees always feels bad after doing it and I get tired easily and way quicker than when I'm doing the hip-glute-driven shimmy.

One thing I do is to make sure I don't straighten my knees, so even when I'm unbending my knees, I still keep them soft.

Whoa, that's a long explanation! Tell me what you think!

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