Thursday, March 24, 2011


I just wrapped up an interview with Ms. Carolena Nericcio. Some juicy details that I'm going to share include: how a movement got selected to be in the ATS repertoire, Carolena Nericcio's favorite ATS move, how to get kicked out and banned from FCBD studio, what not to do when teaching ATS, being vegan, knitting, and the real meaning behind the pinky tattoo of FatChanceBellyDance troupe members.

So stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

monster jewelry

During the FatChanceBellyDance Teacher Training 2, I asked Ms. Nericcio about jewelry. She told me that if it looks good on stage, then use it. As many of you know, Ms. Nericcio wears wicked spike cuffs every single time she performs. Click here for the photo.

Now, this is the little snippet from my other blog, Pink in San Francisco:

When my Acer laptop was still working, I made use of my lazy days going online, browsing for cute items. And I found this: a Pamela Love's Tribal Spike cuff (bronze, USD 645). And you know, many "fashion forward" bloggers reviewed it as completely original.

Umm... The same "Tribal Spike Cuff" has been owned by Carolena Nericcio of FatChanceBellyDance since ages ago and the magnificent design and work belong to the Kohistani tribe whose women wear the spike cuff as protection against stupid people. The spike cuff is also called Gokhru cuff, since it is designed after the Gokhru seeds and leaves. Here is the original and antique Gokhru cuff from (antique silver, USD 600).

Now, my .02 is that as far as I know, the Kohistani tribesmen still manufacture such cuffs and embellishments. And then there's some "fashion jewelry maker" who makes the almost exact replica but using bronze instead of antique silver, and selling the cuff for USD 45 more! Talk about rip off.

However, if you happen to be an exec at a cheap knock-off fashion manufacturer like Forever 21 and TopShop, you might want to sell this for USD 40. And so I ordered a pair of "Warrior Spike Cuff" along with two wicked costumey necklaces from TopShop.

So, I'm wearing the cheaper imitation cuffs. And I love them.

my celebrity status

I quit Twitter about a month after using it. It was just filled with crap and people Tweeting and Retweeting unimportant things. And back then, I didn't think it was possible to mute a Tweet (or a user) without unfollowing the user. I mean, even the cultweets made me sick (and the consequential retweeting of such cultweets resulted in my Twitter feeder filled with the same junk), and then there were the sh*tweets. So I drew the line and joined Plurk.

My boyfriend and many of my friends from college were already at Plurk. College was the time I made many nice friends, so it practically felt like home. No pretentiousness, no one trying to impress one another or gain a "fanbase" so to speak. I am just so happy Plurking.

About two days ago, I plurked about my broken Acer notebook (damn you, Acer - I just bought that piece of junk like last December) and then my friend from college, in an out of topic but so sweet mode, said that she saw a video of me dancing. She immediately shouted, "That's my senior!" (that made me so proud - Thank you, Rismania). So that's the good news.

The bad news is that the video was for a wedding organizer's promotional video. It was professionally made and shown in a wedding exhibition.

I was filled with so many emotions when I found out about that. I mean, yeah it's good publicity. And I think that's one of the first signs of being a celebrity: your photos and videos are published without your consent (even from the age of 12, I found out that people know about me and I don't know anything about them).

However, first of all, it was not that wedding organizer who hired me to dance in that particular wedding. The mother of the bride was my former employee and she was the one who personally asked me to dance.

And then when my friend shouted that it was me, the staff of the wedding organizer said,with enthusiasm, that they could provide bellydancers for her wedding.


A bellydancer. A male bellydancer. Dancing with a sword.

So, Mr. Budi Prayitno (the wedding organizer who showed the video of me dancing, to the general public, in a wedding exhibition, to make people think that I am a bellydancer hired by your service agency), this is not a cease and desist blog post.


I'm just going to say SCREW YOU and I'm looking forward to working with you.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

i'm not gonna brag about this, but... - teacher training 2

Ya know, I'm not much of a bragger (HA!) and I'll bet you all understand that I'm an underachiever (for my age, at least - and I actually wrote that once in my on-line CV... I took it down, though). So, yeah... I'm taking this whole certification thing as a big deal, because it really is a big deal!

I've blogged once about how some people consider "Tribal Fusion" to have sprung from an anonymous hole from the face of the Earth. I feel that having this certification really sets me apart from the rest of the Tribal Fusion dancers. I love doing Tribal Fusion, but if I have a serious troupe who really wants to do it ATS style, I might want to withdraw from both Oriental (either folkloric or modern) and Tribal Fusion, and just do it ATS style. And by ATS, I mean FatChanceBellyDance format.

Teacher Training 2: Carolena Nericcio & Sandi Ball

It's just amazing that both of these women were actually knitting when listening to us and giving complete feedbacks. KNITTING! And they didn't lose a beat in answering. Ms. Nericcio confessed that her brain works like a shark: if it doesn't move, it sinks down and dies. So, she knits. If she doesn't do anything, she'll just go blank.

From 11 AM to 5 PM, we sat there, fourteen of us (two teachers, eleven participants, and one translator), talking about starting up dance schools, avoiding confrontational competition with other teachers and "teachers" of ATS in proximity, burning bridges, motivating students, overcoming problem students (this one was the longest discussion and generated the most ideas).

Needless to say, Ms. Nericcio is not only a diplomat but also a savvy businesswoman. I mean, this lady started from scratch and went all the way to the top of the game and accomplished so much, not in a nick of time, but over time, through dedication and hard work.

I can truly see what began as a rough concept and draft of ATS, has actually become a sophisticated format of dance with standardized terminology and codifications that are used around the world by sister studios and those certified to teach ATS. One can only learn so much from her experience.

And this sophisticated art of movement, a contemporary, more modern style of bellydance that actually looks more antique than other genres, brings together people from different parts of the world that don't really speak the same language. We had Americans, Canadians, Taiwanese, Puerto Rican, Italian, and Indonesian in the class.

One thing that really touched my heart was how Ms. Nericcio and the rest of the participants (especially those who also took the General Skills workshop with me) said that I totally knew how to behave in class: a room filled with women, many of whom bared their bellies. It has been hard for me to fit in, let alone have friends, so that compliment just blew me away.

Later, when we were handed out our diplomas, I was informed that I was the second male to earn the three certifications.

And that makes me the first Indonesian to be certified to teach the one and only American Tribal Style (ATS) bellydance by the often imitated never duplicated FatChanceBellyDance (FCBD), the source of all things Tribal.

But I'm just not gonna brag about it...

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

the ats language and no fighting - ats teacher training 1, days 1 & 2

So, General Skills Training was over. We had a two-day break and I used it wisely by skipping Jill Parker's class and going grocery shopping on Saturday. I hope I didn't miss much of the class.

On Sunday, I went to Dance Conditioning class at FCBD studio. The Dance Conditioning class is always amazing and I can't believe it's already on its fifth week! Only three weeks left!

And then, came the day for the Teacher Training (TT) 1. I sort of had a vague idea of what was going to happen. Ms. Lalwani said that Ms. Nericcio would make us do the steps and movements and teach them in front of the class. I was nervous about that. I mean, yeah, I teach bellydance, but it's ORIENTAL (and some Tribal Fusion, which obviously uses lots of movements from ATS). And then there was going to be other teachers (AND THE CREATRIX HERSELF) in the room, so I just felt unsure of myself.

On the first day, Ms. Nericcio went over a several pointers in teaching ATS. All of them are helpful, even for those with teaching experience. But there's one that resonates deeply, and that one is (written in capital letters in the Teaching Manual given to us): NEVER CONTRADICT ANOTHER TEACHER.

Clearly, this is the diplomacy that everyone in the bellydance world has to know. And that one point really slapped me hard in the face. There were instances when I just said, "God, how can that person be teaching?" and there were also times when people would say that my Tribal Fusion is WRONG.

Ms. Nericcio gave us an example. A student walked in to your class, learned a move, and then said, "But that's not how so-and-so taught me. So which one is the correct one? Yours or so-and-so's?" Here's how you reply: "Well, some teachers have different ways of teaching, but everything comes from one source. In my class, I teach it this way."

Now that's diplomacy. In most cases, the teacher was doing the right move, but with different choice of words than what you said, and the student didn't get it.

And telling people that a teacher is doing it wrong, is just classless and tacky and tarty. And so, from that day forth, I shall never, ever say that another teacher is wrong, be it Oriental, Tribal Fusion, ATS, or any kind of fusion. That being said, I still won't delete my old blog posts.

After the lecture, each of us had to pick a card that Ms. Nericcio placed in front of the room. I chose to do Shimmy (with Turn in Place). In case you didn't notice, my alias here is "the boy who shimmies", so it was just so apt that I got to do it. I'm not going to tell you the details, but it went well and I learned so much. After each of us presented the step or movement, Ms. Nericcio would give direct feedback and correct our explanation if it needed correction.

Before we went home, we had to choose three cards that each represent a step or a movement. We were to present the movement on the second day. For the slow movements, I chose Wrap Around Turn and Flutter. For the fast step, I chose Reverse Shimmy (of course!).

On the second day, we had two chances to present the moves. I finally presented Wrap Around Turn and Flutter. I decided that I'm so much in love with the Flutter and I had a hard time learning to do it so it would be good to share the way I learned it, as taught by Ms. Nericcio through her video (Tribal Basics vol. 4) and Ms. Miftahul Jannah of the velvetRAQS (my Oriental teacher for three years and counting). I guess I was doing a good job because one of the participants actually came up to me afterwards and complimented me on teaching Flutter. She had been trying to do it for sometime but never got a satisfying result. When I taught how to do it, she was finally able to flutter, albeit for a short period of time.

Well... I learned from the best teachers, and it took me a year to finally master it.

One last thing. Elizabeth from Italy (she's five month pregnant) made a very true statement. She speaks good English (although she doesn't want to admit it). But when she had to teach in front of the class using English, she sometimes stuttered and just lost her words. So after presenting a step (Spins - I LOVE SPINS!), she asked, "Would you like to drill?" and we all nodded our heads, she answered, "Very good! It's much easier to dance! No language!"

And that just about summed up this whole American Tribal Style thing. It's a language in dancing that transcends the verbal and written languages of the world. I can be dancing ATS with Sherry (a Taiwanese in our TT 1 class who doesn't speak very good English) or with Ilhaam (a Spanish in our GS and TT 1 classes who also doesn't speak very good English) and yet the dance just flows naturally.

And that, my friends, is not magic. That is hard work and dedication.
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