Two Thursdays ago, I had my first BlueDiamondBellyDance rehearsal at the FCBD studio. BDBD is FCBD's student troupe, so it was a really humbling experience and also a huge booster for my ego (what can I say, I'm just so honest).
The rehearsals start at 6 PM, and that is also another excellent point because I don't have to waste my time going back to my apartment from school. I can just go directly to the studio. Although that means I'll have to pack my pantaloons and zils and scarves as well as some food so I won't get too hungry.
However, there was a power outage at several BART stations in downtown SF, so I arrived late and hungry (I couldn't eat at the bus, I couldn't eat at the BART station nor on BART). So I just plopped myself on the chair near the books, ate my sandwich, and changed. By the time I entered the studio, the ladies had been dancing half the first song of our chosen set. I decided to just get into the chorus and wear my hip scarves after the set ended.
It was a big thing also because Ms. Sandi Ball, who was responsible for BDBD, was accompanied by none other than Ms. Nericcio. Ha. I just ran into that. I was tired, hungry, unprepared, and I just had to be observed by the Big Mama during my first ever student troupe rehearsal.
Many moons ago, I had the chance to interview Ms. Nericcio for this blog and in one of the series, I asked her what made someone a good FCBD student, and she said: Show up on time, leave your baggage at the door, be open minded, be in a good mood, allow your mood to be transformed, follow directions, and be polite to the teacher and be helpful to other students, but don't micromanage others.
I was late, my mood was almost down there, so my dancing that night was off. Here are a few pointers from Ms. Nericcio:
- Remember the body and performange angle
- Work on the formation placement and blocking
- Communicate with your fellow dancers (this also means giving clear cues)
- Be much better than what we are now. Push our own envelope. Work harder at just dancing (without thinking what moves comes next, because that should come naturally).
- If you want to lead, grab the moment and move forward to the lead position with conviction and attitude.
- Show your personality while dancing.
- Match the music with the movement. Articulate with the arms, hit the beat on the right time, know the song, familiarize yourself with the music, improve your musicality. Find which moves or steps go well with the music.
- A Turn is a big and powerful thing, never forget to end it beautifully with a powerful follow-through so you can seamlessly blend the Turn into another move.
- Think of the audience! The audience have obviously come to see you dance and have sacrificed other things, so entertain them!
Ms. Ball added these comments:
- Do what you know! Don't pull out a fancy Step or Move without really knowing how to execute them.
- Simplify your movements and never forget the follow through for completion.
- Drill, drill, drill! Go back to Levels 1 & 2 if you have to.
- Less can be more.
Then Ms. Anita Lalwani took over and we worked on truly milking the moves using Samai rhythm. Man, that was so grueling, just like yoga, but it's really true that you can never be slow enough for Slow Moves. We also worked on the Extended Prayer / Puja that was created by Ms. Megha Gavin of Devyani Dance Company. Ms. Lalwani let me take photos of the Extended Prayer notes and I'll share them with you on the next entry (I'm so, so tired, and I still haven't write my assignment for school, so I hope a picture of the lovely Ganesh will make you forgive me).
On Saturday, it was with Ms. Wendy Allen. We did Level 1 Floorwork. Here are a few pointers:
- Always talk about this with your fellow dancers before doing it. Floorwork is not for everyone.
- The Propeller Turn is used for Level 1 Floorwork because the turning section makes the skirt (if you wear it) blossom and out of the way so it won't mess with your legs and knees.
- When doing Level 1 Floorwork, there's no need to go extremely sideways like in Level 3 or Level 4 when you're doing the Zipper (because you don't want to show your crotch to the audience, plus it just looks more dramatic and nicer if the audience can see your descent from sideways). Just be in your dance angle.
- You can do a Floorwork Fake-Out. Here's how: Do Propeller Turn and just as you descend, just barely touch the left knee on the floor and then go up again. Do some few Moves, and then lift both arms, drop the right arm (this is the last section of the Propeller Turn before the actual turn), then turn, and descend on the floor for the actual floor work. So the second time before the actual floorwork, you don't have to do the whole Propeller Turn. Again, you have to discuss this with your fellow dancers prior to dancing.
- When doing Levels, place your right foot in front of the left, slowly raise yourself up onto the balls of your feet, then descend down gracefully and slowly. Or, you can pick up the right boom in the music, and instead of descending slowly, place your arms on table top just for an instant, and then drop all the way down on the boom. Squeeze your thighs together and engage your core for more stability. Keep the back straight the whole time (unless you're doing Torso Twist).
- Neither Levels nor Drops can be used to go to Floorworks position.