Monday, April 30, 2007

Something I wish for

OK, so I actually have a dance teacher, a very good one. She has developed her own method for teaching and performing belly dance, a way which focuses on technical precision and doing little harm to the body. I really admire that cerebral aspect of her style and method, though sometimes it's execution can leave me a little . . . uninspired.

Beyond that, though, I have no teacher in the style I dance. I like to refer to Baltimore as the "Tribal Hinterlands". There is interest here. There have been classes, though three teachers have moved/stopped teaching, one's style has changed, and two other teachers admit that they are teaching a highly fused style that is moving away from belly dance. One of my troupe mates is teaching a beginner improv tribal class, for non-baby beginner belly dancers who want to try out the tribal waters. It's a small class so far, but I bet it will generate a lot of interest (go Lyra!).

So for those of us who are past the beginning stages of ATS or ATS based tribal there is really nothing. There are the options of workshops, traveling to teachers, and video study - we're lucky DC and it's strong tribal scene is so close! When there were teachers tribally focused teachers in Baltimore I found I took beginner classes over and over because of the interruptions in classes or having to switch my teacher when the previous one stopped teaching. Though I think my basic grounding in the style is stronger because of this repetition, it's also frustrating to know that my tribal education was held back because my dance classes did not progress in a constructive linear fashion.

There are some days I feel like I would kill for a teacher in the style I love. I have my troupe, which is fantastic, but sometimes I don't want to be self directed! I want someone to tell me How It Is and How To Do It, to make decisions and inspire me. I want someone else to tell me when we're performing, what we're wearing and what music we're using. I want someone to kick my butt when I'm tired and pat me on the back when I'm doing a good job. I want someone to look up to.

While having a tough time in class a few weeks ago, hour 2.25 out of 2.5 hours, I almost started crying right in the middle of the class. As much as I can admire my teacher 's style it is not what I love, and it doesn't feel natural to my body. I was so frustrated; I want to be learning and working hard at what I love, not at something that doesn't really move me. All of a sudden my chest got tight and my eyes started to tear up, and I was grateful for the beginning of our cool down and the moment to collect myself.

I keep going back to class because one (me) cannot live on video instruction and self motivation along. I need the kick in the butt provided by an actual class, the feedback provided by a real live teacher. But sometimes I get really sad thinking of the lucky students who get to study the dance style they really love and I wish it was me.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A Thing of Interest in Baltimore

On May 24th, local troupe Indra Lazul will start hostessing a weekly event at Latin Palace in Fell's Point. The event is 1001 Nights. My teacher Piper will be dancing the opening night.

There is another weekly ME night, Shanta at Red Maple. I'm not too keen on it (not my kind of bar/club, not crazy about their current policies regarding their dancers). Perhaps 1001 Nights will fullfill my desire to get out to dance for fun!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

My dance lineage

Head over to the Gilded Serpent and check out the vintage pictures of Masha Archer and her San Francisco Classic Dance Troupe. Masha would be my something-great-dance-grandmother. I love looking at these photos; the troupe blends what I love about the presentation style of both 1970s American belly dance and ATS.

Also, I am coveting the jewelry. Coveting!

Sunday, April 08, 2007


I've discovered an annoying habit I have picked up. When I need to be working on a dance craft project, I want to knit. When I should be making progress on one of my *cough* six *cough* current knitting projects, I want to play with the accumulated bits and bobbles I've picked up to put towards future costumes.

Today I allowed myself some time to listen to an archived episode of Cast-On, then swore I'd work on the belt I need to have finished by Friday. Then I poked around on line a little more. Finally I loaded up Episode #4 of the Craft Sanity podcast and pulled out the belt.

I'm working on two piece belt, made from the top of a mirrored skirt that's been cut in half and has ties on the sides; a common style. I decided to try this style as my current belt ties in the front and always ends up shifting up in the back when I dance. I know I don't want to do the uber amounts of yarn fringe or anything like that (*note to self* when feeling like a rant, go off about novelty yarn).

So I made a bunch of tassels, put on the belt, held the tassels up to it in various places. No. Unpinned two long beaded tassels I had on my old belt, held them up. Better. Grabbed a length of chain-with-dangles I bought last year from ShimmyBliss. Dipped on the sides? No. Across the front below the belt? Hmm, better. Picked up the tassels again. Still not right.

Then I thought, why be complicated? Go for the belt with a piece of fabric or a plain scarf underneath to add some contrast and cover the top of my skirt. Add the long beaded tassels and the chain swag. Get to that point, maybe add some beads to the bottom of the belt ties, see how it goes. It doesn't have to be noisy, fluffy, tangly or weigh a ton.

So the belt-and-options are sitting on my craft table for when I get home tomorrow. Now it is too late to dig back into the two knitting projects sitting on my desk: simple 3x1 ribbed socks in a flecked sage green, and clog socks with a cable and lace pattern down the back knit in a raspberry/pink/purple/dark blue hand-painted yarn. They may end up sitting there until the end of the weekend, after Saturday's trip to Philly, after opening the store on Sunday morning and going to a family party in the afternoon, after everything when I can finally sit down and relax. And then I start working on my costumes for the Fairie Festival.