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

Sunday, December 04, 2011

breaking the brick wall

Yes, this is still about the brick wall.

Princess Farhana wrote an excellent article about choosing the music to dance to. I only have a few things to say about it.

The first one is: I agree with everything she wrote.

Whenever I see people who work hard to do what they do and do it so beautifully, I can't help but feel envious. I can never sing as good as Sarah Brightman or do melisma as precise as (the recorded) Beyonce. I was feeling nostalgic and watched Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (RIP Mary Wickes) and I realized that, just like in the first movie, those people could sing well, and it broke my heart that when I tried to sing along, I marred the song.

The same thing also happened in writing. I'm not talking about the big, published names. I'm talking about my classmates. There were times when I just closed my eyes when they read their piece and then heard great lines and thought, "Crap! That was an awesome line! Why didn't I think of that?"

Then there's the dance.

There are dancers with clear and precise pops and locks (Kami Liddle, Ela Rogers, April Rose, Samantha Emanuel). There are the dancers with spins and turns to die for (Zoe Jakes, Petite Jamila). There are dancers with incredible gymnastic skills and flexibility (Rachel Brice, Frank Farinaro). There are dancers with killer shimmies (Amar Gamal, Alexey Paraschuk, Bozenka, Dondi Dahlin). There are dancers who are amazing choreographers (Jillina, Sabah Saeed). There are dancers with effortless grace (Colleena Shakti, Devi Mamak, Sonia Ochoa, Mihrimah Ghaziya, Maria Aya). There are dancers with such posture that command the room (FatChanceBellyDance, Tamalyn Dallal).

But most all, these dancers (and more whom I didn't mention) can move the way I want to move. Every time I see the pops and locks and every time I listen to songs that move me and inspire me to do the pops and locks and ticks, I get frustrated and hit the brick wall. Why? Because I can't do them.

Every time I listen to Bollywood songs and then get to my feet and want to move, I get frustrated and hit the brick wall. Why? Because I know nothing of Hindi moves and mudras and what have you.

There's a little Tribal get-together that Tribal Babes Indonesia hosts right the next day after The Dance Within 3D: One World. Cinzia di Cioccio of Les Soeurs Tribales is going to have a workshop and then she's going to dance in the get-together. I was asked to dance two numbers and there are already a million songs to choose from.

Finally, I chose two songs and just sent them to Desi, the organizer from Tribal Babes Indonesia. I told her that I was sending the songs to her so I could stop making it harder for me to choose the songs I wanted to dance to. By sending the songs, I could concentrate on practicing with the two songs. I'll be dancing an ATS solo for the first one and Tribal Fusion for the second one.

I'm taking Princess Farhana's advice. No matter how hard I want to do pops and locks and ticks, I'm going to do what I can do with my body, at least for now.
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