Hokay. Where in the world should I begin?
I know where my stance is in the belly dance world, or any world for that matter: I am to never stop learning. This is not just for humility sake, but for refining the techniques, skills, and presence needed in order to really grace the stage.
At times I feel the need to constantly realign myself with the dance and its rules, and by dance I mean American Tribal Style (ATS). Sure, there are also rules within Oriental, such as: chest lifted, arms never in chicken wings position, feet close together; but as someone who've been studying Oriental for three years, I feel that these rules are made for aesthetic purposes. I am probably wrong, since I'm only a baby dancer, but the point I'm trying to make is that with ATS, every body angle, every arm sweep, every floreo, every head tilt, is a cue. That's why it is essential to make sure we execute the Moves or Steps correctly.
Laura, one of the fellow dancers who also danced that night at Tannourine last Friday (November 18, 2011) convinced her husband, Luke, to take videos of the sets. She then sent the links to us. I had felt good about the dance, so I watched it. Then I cringed. Here's why:
- Limp wrists. My God my wrists are so limp. I have dainty, limp wrists. I overdid the playfulness of the wrists in some of the Steps. In my daily life, I love my limp wrists. They are somewhat a statement of my masculinity (HA!), but in dance, I want to project strength, although not necessarily masculine strength. I had the same problem with my bouncy neck and head. After dancing with my sword and doing ATS, I think I may have succeeded in overcoming it. I will do the same to my wrists.
- Forearms too close to the chest. Holly hallelujah. I was so sure that my forearm and my chest had enough distance when I was doing Pivot Bumps. My right forearm carriage was okay, but my left forearm was definitely too close to my chest, and that is wrong. Whenever our arms are in Table Top position, or when we're doing Split Arms in ATS, the arm(s) that is/are in Table Top should be extended with the elbows making a soft curve as if there is a big Swiss Ball in your arms.
- Slow Song Face. With my thick lips, if I try to project a thin, mysterious smile, it will end up looking like a frown. During Maleh U Filfil (a slow, mysterious, instrumental, haunting song), I gave my usual thin, mysterious, sly smile. That wasn't captured nicely. It made me look smug. Maryann was giving a genuine smile and that translated so well.
Sensei Kae told us about having the Precision in the dance. I totally understand that. I've seen non-FatChanceBellyDance ATS troupes doing FCBD moves (on YouTube) but they lack the precision, the arm carriage, the lift of the chest and chin that the moves looked so sloppy.
I know this might sound zealous and overbearing and probably a bit scary (like Single White Female scary), but if I want to bring FCBD ATS back to my home country, I have to make sure I have what it takes to present it FCBD style, posture and all.
At least I remembered to engage my abs that night.
Still photo from the video by Luke Terheyden, showing (from left to right: Miriam, Julia, Maryann, and yours truly).