Monday, December 12, 2011

real time performances (this is improv, man!)

During the two times I had the privilege to dance at Tannourine, I witnessed the FCBD ladies discussing their set right in the backstage. Clearly they knew the songs well, they'd been dancing with each other for a long time, and they didn't rehearse. The BlueDiamonds, on the other hand, had planned the sets earlier (like two weeks earlier) and had at least rehearsed the set once.

Being in Level 4 means either the present teacher or us gets to decide the songs for a set, then do a run through once to orient ourselves with the set. The second run through is the rehearsal, and the third (and last) is the show. After the first run through and before the rehearsal, we decide who dances with whom in what song to what (Floorworks? Levels? Spins?). We do this in the comfort of the studio, with great sound system, good lighting, and relatively reliable flooring.

Then came Friday, 9 December 2011.

Kelsey, one of our dance sisters was going to be proposed by his fiance. His fiance asked Laura's (another dance sister) husband if she could ask the members of BlueDiamonds to perform. It was a surprise proposal. He was going to propose at Palace of Fine Arts and they'd go to a restaurant in downtown San Francisco for an afterparty. She didn't know that we would go there and surprise her with a dance.

Then we'd ask her to join us dance. This meant we couldn't plan the set ahead of time.

None of us had seen the place. This meant we had to decide the formation and how many people would be the featured dancers and where the chorus would stand, on the very spot right before we danced.

One of the more experienced dancer, Shelly, advised to do it Cafe Style (diagonal, closer proximity among the dancers, and no spins). When I was putting on my make-up at Jennifer's place, there were three of us and she put herself in Cafe Style, as if knowing that it would be in close quarters.

In the end, we managed to pull it off and everyone agreed that it was so fun.

Me, I still can't believe we did it like that, without rehearsal, without practice. I still can't believe we did it on the spot and it turned out fine.

Moral of the story #1: ATS is about improvising and adapting to the situation and the condition of the stage (or lack, thereof).

Moral of the story #2: Having a responsible point person with attention to details is important (we were so glad that Laura took this job)

Moral of the story #3: Zills can really improve the presence and excitement.

Moral of the story #4: Bust your energy out. When I danced to Anathema, I did an Egyptian Half Turn and saw Shelly's hips moving with energy. I wasn't feeling like being totally out, but when I saw her and her hips, I told myself, "F*ck, I need to get my act together." and tapped into her energy.

Such a lovely night. Such a lovely couple. Such lovely energy. Such lovely dancers.

And such a lovely dance.


Photo by Maya Vella
(L-R) Jennifer, Shelly, Yours Truly, Laura


The Raqasa said...

YAY! You guys look great.

But did she say yes?!

famousfeline said...

We had the same question when we were putting on our make-up and costume. Then when the seven of us met in front of the restaurant, we still didn't hear anything, so we assumed she said yes.

And we assumed correctly!

Thank God.

L said...

Yay, it was super fun! I learned a huge lesson about our dance form that night, too, similar to yours. It was the revelation that our improv training works--in any situation, in any amount of time, we can pull off a cohesive performance. It wasn't perfect, of course, but nonetheless I'm still rather amazed it all truly works! Now if only I hadn't been stepping on my pantaloons the entire time...(other lesson: hem the damn pantaloons!) ;)

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