Modern media kills the organic process?

by Saturday, May 30, 2009

I recently had a discussion with Read My Hips' director Stephanie Barto about the effect of the internet and on-demand media on the natural organic progression of art. I think performance art struggles in particular in the new millenium, victim of the "glazed over eyes after 60 seconds" and "that was so 5 minutes ago" attitudes, in a way that visual art does not.


Here is a snippet of what she shared (which is in part a discussion she was having with another dancer), and my thoughts in return:

Dancer A: "The internet has so much influence over the spread of tribal belly dance. i wonder if the internet just kills everything because it doesn't let it grow naturally."

SB: "It's also interesting how tribal bellydance in the days before social
networking and YouTube was a much smaller world, and did tend to evolve in a more organic ways. (My troupe) is an example ... I started with Carolena's foundation, and the ways I changed it were all about making it more "me" and/or being inspired by the skills of the people I was working with. What I arrived at felt honest, even if it wasn't anything shockingly innovative or spectacular in the big scheme of things."


My response to these observations after the jump.

A sculpture or a painting--even a piece of music or a video--is not expected to change, and is appreciated for its unchanging beauty. It is it's solidity that is part of its appeal, in a way. We see the same piece over time, and instead of expecting it to change or adapt to us, our perspective adapts and changes. We see it (hear it, experience it) from different angles, in different lights, in a different environment, our attitudes change, our perceptions change; and we find that our appreciation deepens and becomes richer and more multi-faceted as we take the time to consider the piece from all these perspectives. The work to appreciate that art day-to-day is in our hands as the viewer.

Our art as performers exists in a finite amount of time, and is never the same twice--no matter how we might strive for consistency, we are not carved of stone or molded metal. As a moving, living, breathing conduit of our art, we are always changing so our art is always changing. Unlike visual art--where once the piece is complete and the artist has put their stamp on it, most would agree it is up to the viewer to interpret and decide what the piece provides them in the way of entertainment or food for thought--with performance art, and even more starkly in recent years in tribal bellydance, the expectation to impress/entertain seems to fall squarely on the performers, with the audience taking little to no responsibility for their part in the equation. Audiences expect us to deliver an emotional response to them like so much cheesy pizza, while they sit back and wait for it to fall in their laps. And if we don't hand it to them as "promised", they find fault with us as performers. Add to that, when we take our art from one venue to another, somehow the expectation is that it should have changed and evolved significantly in the time between, however short. If they see "the same thing", instead of feeling a responsibility within themselves to try to see it in a new light/from a new perspective/with a richer understanding/with fresh eyes, they chalk it up to the performer failing them for not bringing them something "new and cutting edge".

To be honest, this is part of why I love tribal group improv. Because not only does it demand a level of consistency--foundation, if you will--to be able to be strong and cohesive, it also embraces and is bolstered by organic change from show to show-- group improvisation is something different every time, which keeps it fresh for both the dancers and their audiences. And watching it, the nuances of the performance, including the different dancers from show-to-show, their chemistry and how they interact, how they use their space, how they interpret the music (even if it's the same music, it's interpreted differently each time). But now you hear comments from audiences like "They're using the same moves as last time...where are the new moves?" or "They always dance to this music. Boring..." Rather than looking to see what is new, what new levels there are to appreciate, they are expecting fast food delivery of all-new material, or else they withdraw their interest.

At home they change the channel, where there options are to watch a television show, which they recognize as unchanging once it is secured on video, like sculpture; or a reality show, which is constantly changing because of the human element, and is all of-the-moment shock-and-awe. But at a performance venue, they check out, and sometimes dismiss the performance/performers wholesale. I have seen this phenomenon increase exponentially each year I have been going to Tribal Fest--people won't even show up to watch if they don't think they are going to see something brand new. That is, with a few notable exceptions, with pioneers like FatChance and Hahbi Ru, who keep rocking their "classics", much like fans show up in droves for Kiss concerts even though they are wearing the same costumes and doing the same music as they did 30 years ago. These artists were the first, and they are authentic to who they are and what they have created, and that in itself is remarkable in its timelessness. And people respond to that in the long-term, not just the flash-in-the-pan fad following that schtick-users garners. But I digress...

Basically, no wonder performers these days are so hungrily seeking the next new fad to lead the pack with. The message being sent by tribal bellydance audiences is that if it isn't the newest, nuttiest, oddest, strangest, sexiest, most different thing on that stage, then it won't be worth trying to focus their narrow field of attention.

But what will last? Being true to ourselves. And frankly, I have found the best way to achieve that is to not create my art specifically for other bellydancers--this is where the whole inbred tribal copy-of-a-copy starts and ends. If all I am thinking about is how to impress the audiences at the next Big Festival, I am not looking inward for my inspiration, but outward. And if we're all looking to the same people and places for that inspiration and validation, what we create will all look and feel very much the same. I saw myself going down this road a few years ago, and made a conscious choice to remove myself from that endless loop for a while, and I have been much happier, and what we have been creating has never felt more right. Keeping my focus on audiences who have maybe never seen bellydance before; or on dancers who approach performance art the same way they approach visual art, taking responsibility for viewing the art from all angles and seeing the nuance and detail that goes into a strong performance--people who will be uplifted and empowered by our joyful energies--has kept my motivation strong and my creative focus clear. And keeping my mind and heart on my troupe sisters and what we want to say with our collective voice, is a surefire way to keep my own creative well overflowing for a long time. It ensures that what we create together will be authentic to us.

We slowed down a lot, re-focused our energies; and maybe we aren't creating new material as quickly as we were, or anything incredibly cutting-edge or monumental, but we are doing it all more thoughtfully and hopefully nurturing our own repertoire such that it will last us into the future. The pioneers I mentioned before, like Carolena and John, and many others who have followed since, gained their success through simply doing what they do. There weren't a lot of bellydance-specific festivals, online discussion groups, YouTube and the like, so they weren't creating their art in a fish bowl. They worked small, locally, intimately, slowly. They weren't afraid to experiment because the world wasn't watching and putting on the pressure to succeed at every turn. Dancers could take more risks, and if it didn't work out, live to dance another day. :) This is what I aspire to have the courage to do, even under the microscope of today's social media...


Enthusiasm=youth

by Thursday, May 28, 2009
"None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm."
Henry David Thoreau

Gabi Rojas on SYTYCD

by Wednesday, May 27, 2009
I can't wait to see what else she brings to this show this season!!



I love that she got a standing ovation from the entire group, and that Nigel who "doesn't want to say anything more at this point" goes on and on and on about her. Her storytelling was incredible, her choreography was amazing...I give it a big Mary "WAAHHAHHHHAAAAAA!"

Being a good lead/follow

by Monday, May 25, 2009
"A good lead/follow is like a good conversation - you don't have to yell, you only need to talk. As you get better, all you really need to do is whisper. "

SYTYCD Rubbernecking

by Friday, May 22, 2009
Rubbernecking is so common, last night's So You Think You Can Dance garnered the same reactions from reviewers. Today I got tons of forwards and mentions of the "crazy girl doing the Star Wars dance," but no mentions of the INCREDIBLE first dancer and her completely amazing and unique choreography, nor the last two dancers who made the judges cry they were so powerful.

OH MY GAWD! My friends, did you see the 2 hour premier? I can't wait to see what this season has in store!

Edit: Thanks to Makeda for reminding me her name is Gabi Rojas!!

Bellydance rubbernecking...

by Thursday, May 21, 2009
I wasn't even at Tribal Fest this year, but its reach is far...

My first reports came from close friends who had attended. And I noted something key in all their reports. They very offhandedly reported "Oh you know...Our Favorite Troupe So-and-So was great, Super Famous So-and-So was great, just like we expect. But you should have seen Troupe Blah Blah (detailed description of bad dancing and distracting illogical fusion). Oh man, and then The Blah Blah Dance Group tooootally (detailed description of more bad dancing and overused schtick)!"

The real stories were the poor dancers/bad fusions/sloppy prop'ers, while the really great dancers...well...they were great. What else is there to say, right?

And this is from friends who are NOT gossip-hounds who were just waiting to dish. This truly is a sign of a phenomenon that has been growing more and more in the tribal bellydance community in particular. For the purposes of this metaphor, I will call it Bellydance Rubbernecking.


So you know when you're driving down the freeway, and there is a car accident along the side. Everyone slows down to take a look. You don't even want to see it necessarily, but human nature being what it is, you can't help but step on the brake and turn your head to see the details, which if dramatic enough, you will later report to the next person you see. And when you and everyone were stepping on the brake to "rubberneck" to watch the wreck, everyone was slowing down the entire flow of traffic, not seeing maybe the beautiful view of the flowering spring trees off the other side of the road, or the classic 65 Mustang gliding past like liquid love, and certainly not paying attention to our own driving. We get hours of backup, because we couldn't keep our eyes on the road. Nobody gets to their intended destination...

I don't blame us for this tendency, really. It is human. But when it comes to dance, we are definitely becoming guilty of giving our time and attention to the wrong side of the coin. While the strong, consistent dancers continue to give us 100% of what we say we come to these events for, the squeaky wheels are getting all the grease. The raucous, raunchy, drunken, shock-jock, skin-peddling, comedy/theater-to-hide-poor-technique, never-seen-before-props-which-don't-make-sense-or-uplift-the-dance, anything BUT bellydance with a few undulations thrown in... these are the acts that are getting all the attention, while the dancers doing the real work of elevating the dance form, through hard work and dedication to the roots and branches of the Bellydance Family Tree, are being overshadowed by all the sound and fury which signifies nothing. Broken-robot dolls, hip hop, modern/interpretive, ruffle-skirt vaudeville jazz, straight up burlesque... Watching so many of the videos, I was left wondering "where was the bellydance?" I would rather see a less skilled dancer dancing their heart out than any level skilled dancer performing bad acting and adding some illogical prop/fusion to try and hit on the "next big thing" everyone wants to copycat for the next few years.

Frankly, as audiences, we have our own role in this phenomenon. We have become awfully jaded, and often dismiss anything we have "seen before", no matter how skilled and meticulously executed...no wonder dancers feel they need to work so hard to create something, ANYTHING, that will get the attention of people who are used to 24 hour news cycles, 30 second commercials (which we can skip with our Tivo's, or watch on demand on our computers!), and instant gratification...but this is a topic of another post, methinks...

Sadly, I find that the culture tribal bellydance has been fostering lately is so reminiscent of high school, where everyone is vying for Most Popular. I have long felt that tribal bellydance has become synonymous with shock-and-awe. Many outsiders look into our world and, thanks in part to our own Bellydance Rubbernecking, look to the schtickiest and least authentic examples of what our dance is capable of presenting. This vortex of misguided energies fosters not only inauthentic living/dancing, but creates an atmosphere of cliquishness and even subtle competition within our own "sisterhood".

I suppose for the dancers guilty of poor performances/choices, any press is good press, right? But that's exactly why this cycle continues with a vengeance. For people who are driven by attention, even negative attention is attention. By giving them the "press" if you will, they continue to stay in the limelight, and will encourage them to continue along the path they are on, and it will encourage others to follow that path, in order to try and keep all eyes on them. And our students and other new dancers who would be guided by our gaze--they will look where we look. Where do we want them to be directing their attention?

In essence, like the car wreck rubberneckers, Bellydance Rubbernecking slows down the whole flow of tribal bellydance; which I think most of us agree we would to to see flowing to something greater and more respected internally within the greater bellydance community, and externally to the general public at large.

I already sound like a broken record, and I haven't had this dance-specific blog too long, but Asharah is setting a great example by focusing on what she felt was good, strong, and inspiring at the festival. You can see her blog post here with her brief reviews. And then she posts a fantastic follow up which addresses the overuse of schtick in bellydance today, which is timely in its posting as I was writing this very blog post over here.

I wanted to close with one more anecdote and related thought. An enthusiastic student of mine had never been to TF before, and was excited to go. She went alone, and signed up for tons of workshops, and was eager to see what the world of tribal bellydance beyond our local scene had to offer. She went to the Friday night show, and was so frustrated to have paid to see tribal bellydance, and instead was served up burlesque, random schtick, and non-bellydance performance art--and thinking the entire rest of the festival would be more of the same--she didn't go back to watch any more performances all weekend long, and doesn't plan to return to the festival again. She was grateful for the tribal workshops she had signed up for, but felt the show and theme of the event overall was not as advertised in the name "Tribal Fest".

What was once "Tribal Fest" has really grown into something else entirely. And I hate to say it, but no one else has the courage to say it, so I will. Now that the promoters have opted in recent years to direct the festival in a different direction than they originally intended, and personally call it "for freaky people", with "anything goes" verbiage on their own website; I strongly feel that retaining the name "Tribal Fest" causes a lot of confusion which is misrepresenting tribal bellydance the world over, and is a disservice to the community to keep the name with this new festival focus. If the promoters want an "anything goes" Burningman-type event, then by all means, please press on with that! And name it appropriately. Sure, lots of tribal bellydancers overlap with the other genres and aesthetics that Burningman events encourage; but in name this event claims to represent Tribal Bellydance as an art form, and as it has less and less actual tribal bellydance, or bellydance at all, it doesn't make sense to call it by the same name any more. I would like to see either the festival return more to its bellydance roots (unlikely), or encourage the promoters to find a new name for this new festival focus.

I am aware that my opinions and attitudes I have begun to express this year may get me black-balled from the festival, and I am regretful of that. I still think this festival has great value, and is a lot of fun! I would enjoy teaching and performing there again. I applaud all the hard work that goes into producing it, and all the hard work, love, and joy that goes into many of the performances presented on the stage. I simply think it's time to shift gears one way or another, and in its current incarnation shows a great deal of disrespect to the art of tribal bellydance to present every sort of dance, theater, and fantasy role-playing in its name.

That was a lot of thoughts to dump out, but it's something I have wanted to express for a long time, and what is this blog for if not to share these kinds of thoughts.

In the interest of trying to keep my Bellydance Rubbernecking to a minimum, I will continue to try to keep this blog uplifting and encouraging, and focused on the positive and inspirational, for both myself and for all you who might come by to share in it. From time-to-time I will pull out my soap-box like this, but ultimately, my goal as a dancer is to find joy and channel it to my students, audiences, and friends. And this blog will continue to be such a conduit.

Peace, y'all.

Hulu has some dance...

by Tuesday, May 19, 2009

If you like dance like I like dance, you are always drawn to movies and television which features dance and movement. C'mon, you loved Bring It On, Centerstage, Save The Last Dance, Step It Up, Stomp the Yard, and even Showgirls. You call them your "guilty pleasure", but what's to be guilty about? We love to watch dance!

Well Hulu has some dance videos on demand. Not much, but some. Here are some highlights I just dug up:

A snippet of the Roxanne Tango from Moulin Rouge. Click here and find other 2 minute clips from throughout Moulin Rouge (one of my fave movies).
http://www.hulu.com/watch/14222/moulin-rouge-a-dance

Nigel Lithgow giving his own angle on the performers from Superstars of Dance. Unfortunately, I thought the show somewhat lame, but Nigel's insights into the different groups and dance styles, as well as some of the clips from the show--sans the insultingly biased country-by-country voting and insipid meanderings of The Lord of the Dance-turned-MC, Michale Flatley--are fun to watch online!
http://www.hulu.com/watch/50985/superstars-of-dance-gumboot-roots

Don't miss Team South Africa, Tam India's Rajasthani dance, and the Australian modern dance group (can you say boundless energy?!)
http://www.hulu.com/superstars-of-dance

Step It Up and Dance, which I am surprised to learn is a show I had never heard of before (maybe it wasn't all that good?), is hosted by Elizabeth Berkely and is a competition dance show. There are some fun clips among them..and there are a looooot of clips. Pages and pages.
http://www.hulu.com/step-it-up-and-dance

There is also an...interesting...series on LiveMojo on bellydance.
http://www.hulu.com/watch/23591/livemojo-guide-to-belly-dancing---dance-1
Just search for "belly dance" in the search box to see them all.

There are a lot of links to ABC's Dancing With The Stars online lessons and "dance tips", but I have never been a big fan of the show. You can see them on ABC.com if you are a fan!

Oh and here are some clips from Bring It On!
http://www.hulu.com/bring-it-on

Do you have a favorite online source for video outside of the usual YouTube and Google videos?

Random chuckle

by Sunday, May 17, 2009

Growth is a spiral

by Friday, May 15, 2009
A favorite comment from a Bhuz discussion a couple years back. It's a great reminder that the way forward is not always straight ahead...

"Growth is Spirallic, Not Linear"

The most common pattern found in nature and all phenomena is the spiral. We see it in every day patterns. Autumn leaves headed toward the ground in a spirallic freefall; the helical form of DNA and RNA; the rings of a seashell; exhaust smoke coming out of a car; sound waves etc. Within the movement of a spiral, there is always a return near the place of origin, but in a more evolved direction.

Our personal growth parallels this movement; we get better, we get worse, we get better, we get worse. Growth is rarely linear. No one just "gets better." Often, it's getting worse that becomes our best teacher and enables us to recover. This gives us a point of measurability toward seeing a larger picture."


Speaking of growth...

Last night in class, a student approached me and shared feelings of frustration at being "stuck". She was expressing frustration that she has been at the same level for years now, and hasn't seemed to be able to break through her limitations.

I pointed out that some time away for life and work, and some physical issues she has had to deal with, claiming "years" at a given level isn't really accurate. The more consistent we are in our practice, the more forward progress we are able to make, and every lengthy break can reset some of our progress, demanding more time to build back to where we once were. And then Celise, my student assistant that night, jumped in to offer her advice, which is really appropos of the spiralic nature of our ability to advance...

She said that when she was most frustrated with where she was (feeling "stuck"), in retrospect, she realized it was at that moment of tension and despair that the universe was preparing her for the next step. She said it wasn't long after she started feeling really indignant about her being "stuck" that everything began to unfold and she was ready to move forward. I loved that sentiment!

And in thinking about it, it's so true. It's when we start to truly identify our current limitations, when we are finally fully aware and present in our current state of being, is only then when we are best prepared to take the next steps. After all, if we aren't really able to see where we want to go, how could we possibly be ready to move in that direction? It's when all of our current barriers come into sharp focus that we are empowered to know how to break through them!

Isn't that an inspiring thought?

MAY 2009 CLASS NEWSLETTER

by Thursday, May 14, 2009
Lots of news to share, so let's get to it!

~ Thursday Time Chance and New Class Added
~ inFusion Tribal Performances Coming Up
~ Next Session Registration Open Now
~ Bring a Friend, Get a Discount
~ Shay's New Dance Blog and Twitter Feed




THURSDAY TIME CHANGE AND NEW CLASS ADDED

Thursday Level 1 will be moving to 7:30-8:30 beginning the June session, to make some time for our next new class "Skills n' Drills!":

Thursdays 8:30-9:30pm - Phinney Neighborhood Center beginning in June

By popular request, we will be jamming on Thursday nights!
This class will be a combination of general bellydance skill drills, ATS/Tribal Group Improv concepts, zills and rhythms, combos and choreography, and more. Some nights we may watch inspirational videos, and discuss dance styles, ethics, philosophy, and creativity. Some nights will be group concepts and open jam time. Some nights we may be able to bring in guest teachers in different styles and approaches. The goal of this class is to play as we learn, to share and be inspired.

Bring your requests and ideas, and we will mold this class each week as we like!

Please note: Students must have completed at least THREE sessions of tribal bellydance classes with Sharon Moore at any level. Students will gain the most from this class with some Level 2 experience, or taking Level 2 concurrently.





INFUSION TRIBAL PERFORMANCES

U-District Street Faire
Stage at 50th & University
Sunday, May 17th 2009 7pm
2pm
FREE!

A last-minute chance to play in the University District--come join us! inFusion Tribal, joined by their sisters in Nomaditude, will share the stage with Adderstone, Meleka, and Troupe Hipnotica. It all starts at 2pm with inFusion kickin' it off, so be there. The weather is supposed to be perfect *knock wood*

If you have never been, this faire is a blast, with lots of food, local artists, live music and performing artists, and the spirit of Seattle coming out to play in the sunshine!

********************
Northwest Folklife Festival
Tribal and Fusion Bellydance Showcase
Saturday, May 23rd 2009 7pm
International Dance Stage
Exhibition Hall on Mercer
Seattle Center
FREE!

See some of the best tribal and fusion bellydance from the Northwest and beyond. Including a unique inFusion Tribal Bellydance and Gypsy Fire Bellydance collaboration, Gypsy Caravan from Portland, and a finale with The Indigo from San Francisco!

***********************
Tribal Revolution Festival
Chicago, IL

Sharon and Genevieve will be teaching and performing in Chicago, IL at the Tribal Revolution Festival June 19-21st, 2009. More details at http://www.tribalrevolution.com

**********************

Mediterranean Fantasy Festival
aka Med Fest
July 18th and 19th
Hiawatha Community Center in West Seattle
10am-9pm daily

Schedule not up yet. But mark your calendars for dancing, shopping, eating, and schmoozing. As well as our annual summer class party at my house Saturday night!




NEXT SESSION REGISTRATION


The next session of classes begins the first week of June. We have NO CLASS the week of the Memorial Day Holiday.

Registration is open now at http://www.mandalatribal.com/classes/register

Wanna save some money this summer? Just bring some enthusiastic friends along with you to class and get a discount! Bring enough friends, and you're dancing for FREE my friend!




BRING A FRIEND, GET A DISCOUNT


Summer is coming, and it's time to crawl out of our dank, dreary little caves and get moving. Seattle is in bloom, and it's time to get out there! Do you have some friends who you know could use a nudge to get their booties shaking this summer? You know it's always more fun with a partner in crime, anyway. You hoist 'em off the couch and get them to register for a session, and you get a discount for your efforts!

Bring one friend, get 25% off of a single session pre-registration
(Save $15! Only $45 for the session)
Bring two friends, get 50% off.
(Save $30! Only $30 for the session)
Bring three or more friends, and I'll give you the session for FREE!!
(That's $60 off, my friend!)

Have your friends register on the website or mail a check. Then you e-mail me their names once they have registered, and your Paypal e-mail address (if applicable), and I will send you the total for your discounted session rate. Easy!

This offer is not transferrable.
Friends must all register for the same session you are attending, but not necessarily the same class level/day.
Friends must be first-time new students to Sharon's classes (sample class not included).
This offer valid for summer sessions beginning June-September.




SHAY'S NEW DANCE BLOG & TWITTER


I recently started a new dance-related blog over on Blogger, which I think you guys will really enjoy. Not only will I be posting class and local event related info there, but I will be blogging about my performance experiences, dance musings, costume and make-up tips, inspirational video clips, links to favorite web haunts, and offering up ideas for discussion which I would really love for you guys to be a part of. Please drop by and check it out from time-to-time (or you can get it fed via RSS or Atom to your favorite reader, like Google Friend Connect).
http://thetribaldancer.blogspot.com/

If you are on Livejournal, I have a syndicated feed set up there which you can easily add to your f-list! Go to the link below and at the top click on "+ Add to Friends List"
http://syndicated.livejournal.com/thetribaldancer/

I will also be giving shout outs on Twitter when a new blog post goes up, and will be using Twitter as an additional way to keep up on class and workshop happenings and random dance musings and tidbits. I am @TheTribalDancer if you want to Follow Me!

See you in class, lovelies!!
-Shay
http://www.mandalatribal.com

GET OFF YOUR BUTT!

by Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Just wanted to share a really great article from ZenHabits.net about how to get motivated! I know the winter can be a real time of low energy and feeling-stuck-ness. Now that spring is here, it's time to shake off the winter blues and move forward with joy and anticipation of great new things!

Sure this can apply to your dance life (insert "dance practice" for "exercise", for instance)!

On The Importance Of Dancing With Beginners

by Sunday, May 10, 2009
On doing some dance reading around the 'net, I came across this brief article randomly and really loved it. It is about ballroom dancing/partner dancing, but was so absolutely true for Tribal Group Improv/ATS I bookmarked it for later reference. Thought I would share it with you here!

"On The Importance Of Dancing With Beginners
While there is no question that dancing with a better partner will make you *look* good, and that with such a partner you can concentrate more on styling details and so on because the lead and follow doesn't need so much attention, it is not the best way to practice lead/follow skills. If learning leaders only dance with accomplished followers and vice-versa, they won't develop great leading/following skills, because they won't *need* to. Now let's suppose that YOU are a great leader or follower. What happens if you dance only with other great dancers? Your lead and follow skills will gradually *deteriorate* -- because you're not working them very hard. After some months without exposure to beginners, you may be surprised to find that you can't dance with them very well, even though they seem to do okay with other beginners.

More after the jump...


You learn how to dance better by dancing with more experienced partners. But you learn how to lead/follow better by dancing with less experienced partners. Your skills are put much more to the test dancing with a beginner than with an experienced dancer. It is easy to lead/follow a great dancer. All your weaknesses as a leader/follower show up with beginners. Dance with them and ask yourself why each incorrectly led/followed figure didn't work and when you figure it out, work on incorporating the fixes into all your dancing!

You cannot become a good dancer by dancing _only_ with the same person. Dancing only with each other, you will become good at dancing with each other with all the mistakes and bad habits that become "correct" for you.

There is a certain type of character (leader) that one encounters again and again if one has been dancing for any length of time: the guy who only wants to dance with the best followers because he believes they are the only partners who can match his high skill level. Often what is REALLY going on is that only the best followers can compensate for his mistakes or idiosyncrasies. They make him look good. But the guy continues to think he's the tops because he insulates himself from feedback. *Dancing with poor to average followers is a good reality check.* If none but the best can follow your leads, I respectfully suggest your leads could use some work.Also, that kind of thinking ultimately harms their dancing. I've seen guys overestimate their ability and abandon the study of technique FAR too soon. Consequently it will take them a lot longer to reach the next level of skill.

(This file is part of the lead/follow FAQ list. These are articles compiled from the newsgroup rec.arts.dance by Mark Balzer.)

(You may link to this page and make copies for private use in any form, but reproduction in any means, including book or CDROM, is not allowed without permission from the copyright holders.)
"

Dancing that makes me cry... (repost with new video links)

by Friday, May 08, 2009
In a good way!

Mia Michaels Moves Me...Mmmm

Hide and Seek (just watched again and *tears* every time)
Sorry for the low quality. The original ones were removed for copyright issues, and only a few remain that have been left and they are poorer versions. *Cry* Don't take these away from us!!




And SYTYCD is again coming soon! I am sooooo excited! One of the few series I anticipate with such excitement!

All I have to do is see the shadow of that bench scene and the first strains of the song, and I cry!



And while we're at it, a little love for Wade Robson in another of my fave SYTYCD moments!


So You Think You Can Dance Ramalama Bang Bang - The best bloopers are here

Man these were HARD to dig up! Dick Clark has been on a rampage taking them all down for copyright infringement, so it is getting harder to find them.

This show is a true gem--a reason alone to watch television in my estimation. None of the contrived drama of other reality shows, and such heart... These dancers break their backs dancing their souls on that stage. They have a WEEK to learn these routines, and they give it their all. Really inspirational.

Don't forget to watch! T- a week and counting!

Ego vs. Pride

by Thursday, May 07, 2009

I really dig this article on Wisegeek examining the sometimes subtle, but important, difference between ego and pride. In my estimation, ego can get in the way of progressing in our dance, while pride can be motivating and bolstering in our attempts. What do you think? Read on...

Since ego and pride are rather linked, and their definitions are so similar, it can be difficult to figure out exactly how they are different. However, a simple way to consider ego and pride is this: ego is rather selfish and often has no basis in fact while pride tends to be less selfish and is typically based on the facts of a person's achievements and qualities. Some people think of ego as self-respect. While it can lead to a sense of self-respect, it too often leads to arrogance instead.


When a person has a genuine ability in a particular field, this could be a source of pride. Instead, however, the person may begin to feel that he is the best in this field and that no one else is or ever will be worthy of working with him; he may feel this way regardless of whether or not there's actually any truth to his perceptions. Pride, on the other hand, would make this person feel happy about his skills and accomplishments, without having to be the best or only one capable of achievement. Pride leads to confidence instead of the arrogance.

Ego and pride may also differ in terms of strength. Often, the ego is easily bruised while true pride is harder to shake. For example, ego often comes into play in dating situations. A person's ego may be hurt when a love interest suddenly becomes disinterested or criticizes certain physical attributes. If a person feels true pride in the things that make her unique, however, she may feel disappointed, but her confidence won't take a serious hit; ego is so frail because it is often built on exaggeration.

Ego and pride also differ in their effects on relationships. A person's ego may cause him to behave chauvinistically, put down another's attributes, or refuse to date someone whom he feels is beneath him. Often, these behaviors are rooted in hidden insecurities. The ego can mask them but not make them go away. If the person has real attributes to be proud of, however, his insecurities may lessen or at least become less pronounced.

Another difference in ego and pride is that pride may also be focused on others instead of being self-obsessed like ego. For example, a person's ego may cause her to think her children are the most well mannered; after all, how could she have children who are rude or crass? Pride may instead be focused on the things that are special about her children. For example, she might be proud of them for holding doors for other people or volunteering at a soup kitchen. A person can even feel proud of a wide range of other outward things, including her employer, neighborhood, or country.

It's important to note that ego isn't all bad. Your ego is simply how you view yourself. If you give it a firm basis in reality and do not allow it to control your life, it can actually be good for your self-esteem to have both an ego and pride.

FCBD: Who We Are

by Wednesday, May 06, 2009
This is a 1997 video of Carolena talking about what ATS is and isn't, and specifically some of her theories about the evolution of dance, motivation of feminine display and beauty, and more. It's very brief, but enjoyable.

My favorite dance moment is right at the beginning. She is just doing a simple little hip bump, her arms posed so beautifully, and just turning slowly, to show all sides of the simple move. It is done with such grace, control, and confidence, it strikes me at my core. Inspiring. So little can have such impact, it's easy to forget you don't necessarily always need all the bells and whistles. Just your own energy and confidence, and the simplest things are powerful.

Teacher loyalty...

by Tuesday, May 05, 2009
To All Students,
Regarding "Loyalty" to Your Teacher
By Amanda Niehaus

with a few edits by me personally
(originally posted at Shira.net which is a fantastic resource for all things bellydance. Check it out!)

Dear students of this beautiful art form,

I am a teacher. I teach because I am passionate about this dance and I want others to share my passion.

I am not teaching because I require a fan club.
I am not teaching because I require devotees or because I need hero worship.

As your teacher, my job is to teach you; to inspire you to be your best. If I am a really good teacher, then I also will not be your only teacher. I will encourage you to study with other teachers who have skills and experience I lack. Because I am not the end-all, be-all of bellydance knowledge.

You as a student owe me nothing. You may thank me after class, you may credit me on your first performance DVD, you may remember me when you are touring with Jillina, but you do not owe me anything. (You paid for your class. I taught you. We are even.)

I am an emotionally-mature adult. I do not require your "loyalty" or allegiance. You do not have to take my classes just because I offer them, or just because I was your first teacher. You will not be "cheating on me" by taking classes with another instructor.

You should be taking my class because you enjoy it and are learning something. If you are no longer enjoying it or learning from it, then I would be the first to encourage you to find another, or a different, teacher. I want you to love this dance as much as I do.

Your job is to learn and practice, not to worry about my ego. I will not be "mad" at you for moving to a new (style or place in your dance). You need to worry about YOU, and making yourself a better dancer. I will never resent you and I will only respect you for moving on...(if that is your desire)

Do what's right for you. I'll be fine, whether I'm dancing beside you or watching you from the audience. I promise.

Yours truly,
Your dance teacher

You Suck at Photoshop...

by Saturday, May 02, 2009

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On this blog I share my personal posts about cooking and knitting, travel and other musings; while I will blog about dance-specific topics over on the Deep Roots Dance blog:
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