Showing posts with label bdbd. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bdbd. Show all posts

Thursday, October 17, 2013

street fairs

One thing that I like about dancing in the US is that we get to do street fairs. In Indonesia (well, I don't know about Bali), bellydancers are typically not that well-regarded. And people who go to street fairs here are generally laid back. Blue Diamonds Belly Dance, student troupe of FatChanceBellyDance® has been doing lots of street fair gigs lately, and I danced in two of them in my 'hood (Rockridge and Berkeley).

Here are some tips.

Sometimes you'll be dancing on asphalt. So wear appropriate footwear. I was tempted to wear my Asics running shoes, but the soles are too grabby, and since I don't wear skirts, my footwear shows (especially when I'm spinning), so in my opinion, sneakers kind of ruin the aesthetics.  I used to have a pair of gold gladiator sandals, but they were so cheap and not made for dancing that they broke apart after six performances. Then I bought another pair of gladiator sandals, but they made my ankles bleed. And one time, one of them came off mid-performance, and it was really stupid.

Then I found these awesome knee-high boots on eBay. These are vegan boots by Breckelles. At first I thought they were so slippery, and I don't like the way they clack clack clack when I'm walking, but turns out, the soles are not grabby, and they're perfect for dancing on pavements and asphalts.

Then there's also the issue of dancing in sunlight. Our performance time for both fairs was at 1 PM. So yeah: the sun is relatively right above you, which is kind of good since you don't have to turn and spin and bam! the sun is right in front and blinding. But that also means that you'll get tired more easily (what with the headwraps / turban / head gear, and squinting is really exhausting), so don't wear too much jewelry like I did at Berkeley Sunday Streets. Seriously, I almost could not keep my elbows up in the final song of the first set (we danced to two sets). I got home and out of curiosity, I weighed my bracelets that I wore to the Berkeley gig, and I realized I was wearing 2.7 pounds of jewelry on my arms. Yikes. But it's a good work-out for your shoulders, back, and delts. 

Now about squinting, and this is probably just the shape of my eyes, I really don't like the way my eyes sort of disappear in action shots. So you may want to consider eye make-up that makes your eyes look big even as you squint (is that even possible?). And no, I'm not talking about this: 

Finally, cover-ups. With a shining sun and a typical Bay Area breeze, I'd recommend wearing assuit / tulle-bi-telli. The cool metal keeps your body temperature low. But if it's too cold, then use something else. 

Oh, ignore her. That's just Kate Moss.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

so long, dear friend

I first saw you in Anita's Dance Conditioning class in early 2011. You had white pants with red and yellow fire and a black shirt with wings. You were always so cool and charming and you danced with a smile.

My first gig at Tannourine, in October 2011, and you danced with us. You were the one who gathered us to do Puja.

Blue Diamonds Belly Dance (Tannourine Restaurant, October 2011)

I will never forget the gig at Club OMG. It was Halloween 2012. We had fun, didn't we? The gig came from you and you said you thought about me when you talked to the owner about us for Halloween. Well, it is a gay club, so that made sense. That evening, someone committed suicide on the tracks at Embarcadero BART station and my train stopped at MacArthur for at least an hour. But it was one of the best gigs ever. Two Indian-flavored sets. You chose the songs. You sent me a text message asking if I got home safely that night. I still have the drink coupon that the club owner gave us.

Then Devotion Kickstarter party came. That morning, you had a performance at Rakkasah. It was a back-to-back thing, and you came late as we were discussing our set. I told a friend that I thought you were being unprofessional, but we were all high-strung. I didn't say it to your face, though. Yeah, I stab people from behind. 

You were late, I am not Mr. Goody Two-Shoes, and they can only mean one thing: we're humans. A life-form. And death is inevitable for all life-forms. Only yours was too quick. Unexpectedly so. 

Stasi, you were there at Tribal Fest 13. This was Saturday, May 18, 2013. I saw you in the left wing. I greeted you. We hugged. Then you moved to the center seats with Laura, Sandi, and me. You sat with us. You laughed with us. You applauded our dance sisters, the Blue Diamonds Belly Dance, as they performed on stage, their devotion and hard work shone through their smiles and confidence. You zaghareeted with us. 

And then you were gone.

The Blue Diamonds ladies said you were there in the green room, wishing everyone good luck. As e-mails after e-mails poured in, everyone agreed: you were charming, you were bitingly funny, you had that sarcasm that I greatly enjoyed, you could let things slide off your back with ease, but you were also human. 

Now you are more than that. Now you are boundless, limitless, and I shall carry your energy, your strength, your smile, your courage, and your presence in my Puja, in my posture, in my dance. 

Rest in peace, my dear friend. 

Anastasia Martin (8 October 19XX - 20 May 2013)

Second photo by Shelly Swanegan Hamalian. 

Addendum: Some of the FatChanceBellyDance® students built a little shrine for Stasi, with flowers that flank her photo. Until we meet again, Stasi.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

i am sorry... but here's a treat...

Okay, so I apologize. My last post was 128 years ago. But I have reasons. Well... Had. The Spring 2012 semester was a bomb. The hours weren't fun at all. But, I'm alive. And in two weeks, I'm heading home. I'm so excited. My boss, Mifta, has lots of plans for me: hafla, performances, out of town workshops, so I can't complain.

Dance wise, this semester has also been very, very fruitful. I went to Rakkasah in Richmond, then to Tribal Fest 12 (my second!), but each of them will have its own entry. Or at least one entry for both where I'll compare them.

But this entry won't talk about Rakkasah or Tribal Fest. This entry will talk about the annual National Dance Week showcase at the FatChanceBellyDance® studio on Saturday, April 14, 2012 (which was 72 years ago). And I happened to dance there, as Blue Diamonds Belly Dance, student troupe of FCBD®.

Here's the snippet of the performance in the first set, to Caravan by Raquy & the Cavemen. Guess which one is me.

Well, I guess this post breaks the lazy spell.

Come to think of it, this entry won't have anything much, because, I'm too lazy letting the video do the talking.

Last year, I went to the National Dance Week / Observe the Creative Process at the studio. I was... blown away by the performances. I was blown away by the students were so graceful and powerful at the same time and those were students except for Ms. Kristine Adams & Ms. Anita Lalwani who perfected the icing on the cake by dancing to the crazy fast song called Drum Solo 2:31 by the adorable Tobias Roberson (cue le sigh here). Some of the ladies have become my friends, and I have to tell you that I am blessed to have them as my dance sisters. When I got back after the show, I told myself that I needed to work my ass harder to have at least half their skills.

Then this year, National Dance Week happened again, and the studio once more opened its doors for observers, and the students put on a show.

Needless to say, I was happy. I still am happy as I'm writing about it 2 months later. And I'm glad that I shared a session with Yuka, whose husband Ben took the video, though mostly because Yuka's there, but that's not the point. The point is: I was there and I danced there and even though it was hot and I had to ride the bus back home with my make-up on, an old lady told me that I looked beautiful, I was happy.

Cue le sigh again.

Saturday, December 31, 2011


I would be remissed if I didn't write any review of the year 2011. However, I've done it on my other blog, the Pink in California. So you might want to head there if you're really, really, REEEEALLLY curious to know more about my life (you're such a stalker! But I like being stalked. So, HA.)

2011 marked the first time I've been away from my home (and my country) for a long period. True, I had a blast with EF at San Francisco and finally doing what I had been dreaming of doing since 2008: learning American Tribal Style® at FatChanceBellyDance®, and not only that, but I also had the opportunity to perform live with BlueDiamondsBellyDance, student troupe of FatChanceBellyDance®. Twice, actually. The second one with live music by none other than Helm (gasp!).

In the other blog, I wrote that I wanted to focus more on dancing and writing for 2012. I guess I need to be more specific.

What I really want is to further improve my American Tribal Style® skills and really making myself ready to teach it on my own, of course using the FatChanceBellyDance® format. As much as I love being in California (Californians are so friendly! NOT. Well, some are), I miss being at home, being in Jakarta, speaking Indonesian, and dancing with my troupe mates.

Well, here's to the good things and the bad things that occurred in 2011. And here's to hoping for a stronger, more beautiful self in 2012.

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

Monday, November 21, 2011

areas that need improvement

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:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

class notes (new steps, laybacks, more floorworks)

The past two (or three?) weeks have been some kind of a whirlwind, what with Sensei Kae taught us a new way to spin (I'll write it up in another blog entry, I promise. Oh, and that blog entry will also include the Extended Prayer. I just need to doodle and scan it to better illustrate the full gorgeousness of the whole Puja), me recovering (I'm 98% healthy! Yay!), and another Tannourine show coming up (Friday, November 18), this time with live music by Helm. I know, right? This is going to be my first performance with live music and it's the great Helm of all bands. Oy, the pressure.

These notes are from Sensei Kae's class:

Egyptian Sevillana
  1. Start with Basic Egyptian (first until fourth counts), then angle the body on the fifth count so your chest faces the left wall of your phone booth and you almost show your back to the audience in front of you.
  2. When angling the body, drop the two arms, just like in the first part of Sahra Turn (actually, the body angle at this moment should also match the first part of Sahra Turn).
  3. On the sixth count, move your right arm just like when you do the first turn of the Sahra Turn (like holding a tray above your head). Also like a Sahra Turn, to your right on the sixth count.
  4. Keep your left hand near your left hip and bring it up only on the seventh count (while you're turning), but slowly so it floats up and ends its float on the eighth count.
  5. The eighth count (or half of the eighth count) of Egyptian Sevillana is spent by doing the pose with arms raised and waiting for another down beat to start a new count.
  6. You have to pay attention to your leader when he/she is doing Basic Egyptian and cuing to Egyptian Sevillana. You might not be able to execute the first move (arms sweeping down like Sahra Turn) properly if you don't concentrate and therefore have to rush the sweeping down and the turn.
Triangle Step
  1. This is a very beautiful eight-count step indeed. I will ask the assistance from the big-ass footprints once again.
  2. Imagine there's an inverted triangle (dotted orange) inside your pizza box (red). On the first count, place your right foot on the upper left point of the triangle. Make sure that your toes point to the front, therefore stopping the lower body from twisting too much but still get the upper body to twist just enough so that you feel like showing the audience your back (but not much). Your arms should be framing your body as if you're doing a Wrap Around Turn, however, your right arm should be lower (the right arm in Wrap Around Turn is table-top height, the right arm in the first section of Triangle Step is about 45 degrees). There is one soft floreo on each wrist when bringing the arms to frame the body. Chest lifted at all times. The corresponding number in the diagram is number 1. On the first count, the weight of your body goes to your right foot.
  3. Stay until the second count.On the second count, the weight of your body switches to the left foot.
  4. On the third count, move your right foot back near your left foot, but keeping the arm frame and body angle the same. Body weight distributed evenly on both feet.
  5. On the fourth count (not the fifth!), move your left foot to the upper right point of the triangle. This is the mirror image of what you just did on pointer #2, including the floreo. The corresponding number in the diagram is number 2. Body weight is on left foot.
  6. On the fifth count, switch the body weight to the right foot. Arms stay.
  7. On the sixth count, move your left foot near the to the right, but as you step in, the toes of the left foot should point to 10 o'clock (or somewhere like this). This will give you the momentum to do a T-step turn on seventh and eighth counts. Starting on the sixth count, move the arms up with a soft floreo, just like when doing the turn in Arabic Twist with Turn.

These notes are from Ms. Kristine Adam's class (featuring a photography also by Ms. Kristine Adams. This photo is a series of a very fun project involving Ms. Nericcio and Rachel Brice switching their costumes and make-up!). Also, when I realized that it was going to be Ms. Adams teaching for that Saturday, I really wanted to work on laybacks and floorworks, knowing that she's one of FCBD troupe members who did that Layback Song (as featured in Volume 7). So it was really nice that Theresa, one of my classmates, requested to do a layback.
  1. Laybacks, like Diagonal Trio, Dueling Duets, and Floorworks, have to be discussed prior to dancing.
  2. Do not initiate (that means cue) a Layback if you don't feel comfortable doing it, or if you haven't done enough warm-up for your back.
  3. The cue for a Layback is what makes it different than a Deep Bodywave. When doing a Deep Bodywave, your head stays level while your upper body (below the neck) undulates. Imagine having a sword or a basket or something balanced on your head. You want to keep the head level and stable. On the other hand, when doing a Layback, you sort of fuse your head to your neck, and they should be one line. Think of this as having an apple wedged under your chin. You don't want to squeeze the apple, but you also don't want to drop it.
  4. The initial arm placement is Split Arm #2 (right arm up, left arm table top).
  5. To do a Layback, lift your ribcage up, so you have the slight tilt on your upper back, and when you can't lift your ribcage up anymore, start to bend your upper body backwards. DO NOT FORGET TO BREATHE. DO NOT BEND YOUR KNEES TOO DEEP. DO NOT THRUST YOUR HIPS FORWARD.
  6. When you have achieved the degree of bending that's comfortable to you, sweep the left arm down your body and to your left to go all the way up above your head (not above your forehead!) while sweeping the right arm to your right and ending with your right hand next to your right hip. Then (without stopping, actually), sweep the left arm down along the left side of your body and the right arm up along the right side of your body, the left hand should end next to your left hip. Then as you go up, with your left hand, trace an imaginary half circle on your left, so both arms will end above your head. I hope this makes sens.
  7. Remember to always breathe. Not breathing will make you see stars when you come up.
  8. Bending the knees too deep will make the hips thrust forward and will put more strain on the lower back.
  9. To keep the hips from bending forward, you may want to create the sense that your lower body (hip downward) is anchoring itself to the ground by squeezing your thighs together and or engaging your core muscles. This also helps with Torso Twist. I actually tried squeezing my hips together and engaging my abs and my hips stopped swinging when doing Torso Twist!

On a somewhat related note, on Dance Conditioning last week, Ms. Lalwani showed us a really cool trick for a Backbend when doing Floorwork.

If you don't have anyone to spot you and you happen to have one of those exercise bands, use it like a rower. Secure the band, grab each end of the band, and get on your Floorwork position and try the Backbend. As you come up, if you feel tired, the exercise band will help pull you up. The goal is to rely on the band less and less as you work on the Backbend. Work on your Quads, Glutes, and Abs for the effortless look of a Floorworks.

Well, that's it! Quite a long post, eh? If nothing of this makes sense, I'm really sorry, but I hope these notes will help you. And remember, always do a proper warm-up before doing Layback and Floorworks.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

from pink coin belt to pink turban

Well, on Friday, October 21, 2011, I just had my first experience of dancing in the USA and as a member of BlueDiamondBellyDance, student troupe of FatChanceBellyDance. There is a little story behind this.

I was supposed to be in the Chorus only (first performance), but on Wednesday night two days before the show, at 11 PM, I got a message from Miriam, the dancer in charge for the evening's performance, that one girl got a nasty fever. Miriam asked if I felt like replacing her (which meant dancing not only in chorus). I wasn't sure about this until Miriam forwarded me her e-mail exchange with one of FCBD teachers about my being more than a Chorus and the teacher responded positively.

So that was how my first experience came to be.

Of course, I just had to have my mozuna and scarf that I used as my turban accessories fell off. Well, not really fell off, but the dangling parts of the mozuna and the scarf wrapped around my neck. Thankfully it was on the last song that we danced to, although I did have to be careful during the Calibrated Spin for the tip song.

From that moment on, I shall now be remembered as the boy whose bits of the turban fell off.

Oh, and this entry will not be complete without mentioning the awesomeness of one Tasha Hudick and her Mini Cooper (and her co-pilot for that evening, Ms. Kristine Adams) who got me on time and safely to 16th Street & Mission BART Station to catch the last train home.

Another funny thing was that the FCBD members who performed that evening: Ms. Anita Lalwani, Ms. Kae Montgomery, and Ms. Adams, were the ones with whom I had my initial contacts with FCBD (aside from Ms. Nericcio, obviously). Ms. Nericcio referred me to Ms. Adams about taking private lessons, then Ms. Lalwani became my first private instructor, then Ms. Montgomery became my second private instructor. I don't know. I just felt that that night at Tannourine was when everything became sort of a full circle.

I'm officially ill now. I was sneezing at Tannourine, and then last night after the classes at FCBD. Finally, I simply couldn't get up for this morning's Dance Conditioning session with Ms. Lalwani. I felt really bad because they're doing chest opening work-out and I had suggested that and they endured the torture without me.

Whee. I'm off to make dinner and chow down some drugs. I still owe you the Extended Prayer sequence and some more Class Notes.


Group shot by Ms. Kristine Adams (courtesy of Miriam Fiorenza Landini). Action shots by Yuka Sakata.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

class notes (attitude, levels, floorworks)

What started as a mere procrastination has eventually become a justification: I'm going to post class notes every two weeks. I'm really sorry, but I'm inundated with so much work from school that I sometimes woke up not having a clean bowl to eat my breakfast cereal.

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:
  1. Remember the body and performange angle
  2. Work on the formation placement and blocking
  3. Communicate with your fellow dancers (this also means giving clear cues)
  4. 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).
  5. If you want to lead, grab the moment and move forward to the lead position with conviction and attitude.
  6. Show your personality while dancing.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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:
  1. Do what you know! Don't pull out a fancy Step or Move without really knowing how to execute them.
  2. Simplify your movements and never forget the follow through for completion.
  3. Drill, drill, drill! Go back to Levels 1 & 2 if you have to.
  4. 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:
  1. Always talk about this with your fellow dancers before doing it. Floorwork is not for everyone.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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).
  6. Neither Levels nor Drops can be used to go to Floorworks position.

Friday, August 26, 2011

the birds at tannourine

Last week (yes, last week. I did one heck of a procrastinating job), I finally went to Tannourine, the Middle-Eastern eatery at San Mateo. The restaurant is small, intimate, and quaintly located on a rather ordinary street, in that you wouldn't know Oriental and Tribal decadence regularly takes place inside it.

It was a special night, since not only FCBD performed, but also many of my friends from L3 and L4 - known as the BlueDiamondBellyDance (BDBD) - including three special ladies with whom I was particularly close to (we had a couple of private sessions with Sensei Kae and all of us seem to have a rather unhealthy fondness of cats). Needless to say, I simply had to watch them perform. Julia, one of the three girls, picked me up, her mother (an engaging conversationalist and excellent backseat driver), and Theresa (another friend who was performing).

The show opened with FCBD troupe. As usual, I chose not to take pictures and just see the performances. The numbers were energetic, although at times, due to Tannourine's seating arrangement, I couldn't see when the dancers were doing floorworks.

Up next were the BDBD gals: Michiyo, Theresa, Jennifer, Shelley, Kelsey, Yuka, Laura, and Julia. I'm telling you, when they performed, you wouldn't know that they were students. Even Sensei Kae said, when watching the performance video, that the smiles and the hip works were really the kind of smiles and hip works that she would like to see every single time we were practicing in class.

Another highlight of the show was Colleena Shakti. I just... I have so many mixed emotions whenever I see her dance, and that night was no exception. She was so amazing, so graceful, so effortless, her hand gestures and fingers were so beautiful, I mean, Colleena Shakti is definitely one of those people who couldn't do anything wrong. After being stricken by such grace and beauty, I became envious, and then motivated... and then I went home, saw the bed, and forgot everything. Ha!

The last picture shows the three girls (Yuka-Julia-Laura) I talked about, and we just christened our "troupe" name (there's another girl - Maya). The idea of the name is not that we are going to accept gigs or dance in public on our own anytime soon, but so we know how to call ourselves. I told the girls that I could only stay in the USA for two years and I really hoped to be able to dance with them before leaving. It is truly an honor to perform with people you grow up with, in ATS that is.

I'm getting so melancholic thinking about this.

I proposed "Four Gals and a Dude", but Julia came up with a better one: "Rara Avis". The literal meaning is "rare birds", but the expression really means a miraculous being that exceeds all expectations.

DEEP. And it's Latin! You can't beat that.

Well, my expectation is to dance with Rara Avis before I leave this country for good. I hope I can exceed it. For now, here's to the birth of the Rare Birds.


Second photo by Mr. CheekyMonkey. Third photo by Luke Terheyden.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

a very important notice: the tribal code

I received the ATS Tribal Code in an e-mail from Ms. Sandi Ball a while ago, but what with all the hoopla of moving to my new apartment (yay!) and packing to go home for a much-deserved two-month vacation (DOUBLE YAY!!), I wasn't able to squeeze in the time to write. I mean, you should've seen my room in the hostel. It was a total wreck when I started to pack. Well, it still is now, but it's more organized now. Somehow.

The Tribal Code is included in the BlueDiamondsBellyDance (BDBD - FCBD's student troupe) Guide Book. There are nine points in the Code that all FCBD dancers and students must adhere to, yet I feel they are also beneficial for other troupes in general.

I'm definitely going to print and put this on my wall so I can be reminded of The Code at all times. When I have my own studio, I'm going to make a big poster out of it too. I mean, I believe that it is the exact same code that resulted in the totally fascinating and intimate performance between Ms. Kristine Adams and Ms. Anita Lalwani during the Observe the Creative Process event at FCBD's studio on Saturday, 23 April, 2011. Just look at the photo. There's that moment of genuine warmth and tenderness shared between the two. And that, my Dear Reader, is the perfect example of great troupe camaraderie.


Commitment: Be there for your dance sisters. Whether it’s making sure your cues are strong or getting to a gig on time, we all need to depend on one another.

Communication: Ask questions and learn from the more experienced dancers and teachers. Also, don’t let things fester. Express yourself in a constructive, respectful way.

Awareness: Be aware of how your words or actions can affect others. What makes sense to you may be understood differently by someone else. Take considerations to think before you speak or act.

Teflon: Don’t take things personally! There are too many unique individuals in this group to avoid minor misunderstandings. Let things slide off your ego – don’t let things stick!

Humility: We all can benefit from going to Level 1 and Level 2 classes and working on technique. We can also benefit from allowing room for all our personalities to exist.

Trust: This dance form is founded on trust, on and off the dance floor. Earn people’s trust and give yours as well.

Respect: Treat your fellow dancers (and human beings) with compassionate respect and be mindful of others’ talents and limitations. Respect the dance form for what it is rather than how you would change it.

Support: Come to the shows of FatChanceBellyDance and of your fellow dancers. Not only does it support the dancers, it is a great way to learn about performance!

Joy: Dance for the love of it! Enjoy yourself and the company of others.
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