July 8, 2018 § Leave a comment
I took a hiatus from performing for a couple of years. My life was extremely busy and troupe life and it’s responsibilities were becoming more of a distress than a eustress. It was a very hard decision for me to leave the Desert Darlings. I put it off until my work/school/internship schedule made it impossible for me to attend rehearsals any longer. Then, I finally told them I needed some time off. It was tough, but it was the right decision.
My crazy schedule accounted for a year off from performance and formal dance classes. Then, after graduating with my bachelor’s degree, I took several more months off. I had been so busy for so long, I needed some time for myself and had no interest in adding responsibilities that were not absolutely crucial.
Then, little by little, I started missing dance classes. About a year and a half after taking my hiatus, I went to a formal dance class. I went to an advanced cabaret class, which may not have been the best choice, but it certainly threw me back into it. The warm-up included a rotating solo improv section in a circle. Talk about being put on the spot! Anyway, dancing felt awkward at first since it had been awhile since I had done any formal dance practice.
I was very self-conscious. I was taking classes at the home studio of the Desert Darlings, my former troupe, and I was convinced everyone knew it and expected me to be better. As I walked into the studio, I could hear the imaginary whispering. “Pssst…she was in the Darlings!” “Did you know she used to be a Darling?” “She was in the Desert Darlings?!” After a few classes, I started to focus less on how my dance skills appeared and just focused on class content. Within a few weeks, everything felt pretty natural again.
It didn’t take very long for me to feel like my old dance self again. And you know what? I quickly realized that most people in the classes didn’t know I used to be in the professional troupe. They had no expectations of me. Nor did the ones who did know. I was just projecting my own expectations of myself. Once I got over that, I started having a lot of fun again. There were some things I still felt I should be better at, but then I realized those were things I was never that great at. It’s important to maintain perspective.
I am very happy to be back in the world of dance! I’ve known a lot of dancers who have taken time off. Sometimes other things in life have to take precedence. We all seem to find time for it again eventually. What that looks like changes as our lives change, but we always seem to make our way back. And the dance community always seems to be ready to welcome us. Once a dancer, always a dancer.
December 30, 2014 § Leave a comment
2014 was a productive year!
At the beginning of December, I graduated with two associate’s degrees: one in nutrition and one in pre-health science: pre-exercise science. I have to complete a lot more schooling in order to reach my ultimate career goal of working in physical rehabilitation, but it is definitely nice to reach a milestone.
As for dancing, things have really taken off for my dance troupe! This year, Desert Darlings Belly Dance performed at many events and venues and secured two regular performance slots: every Saturday night at Anatolia in downtown Albuquerque and every Sunday night at Kaktus Brewery in Bernalillo. We put on two full-length dance shows and were invited to re-show our most recent production, Nightmare Before Christmas: A Belly Dance Adventure, in Santa Fe in early February. I also got a new toy: podpoi with capsule handles! These poi are the coolest, most versatile glow poi I own. They have a ton of lighting patterns and color options. Now, when I am developing a new poi performance piece, I am not only a choreographer, I am a lightning designer! It’s so much fun! It has been a great year for dancing!
In 2015, I will begin working toward two bachelor’s degrees and hope to perform twice as often as I did last year. I am going to choreograph my first group veil piece for Desert Darlings and plan to attend at least two workshops and maybe a dance festival. I would also like to practice more with both my poi and hula hoop. I think it will be a good year!
Happy New Year, everyone!
December 31, 2012 § 3 Comments
I have heard many different theories and many different preferences on where to look when performing. When first learning to perform, I think it’s hard for most people to look at the audience. Dealing with stage fright can be a process. Most people have it at some point, and looking an audience member in the eye does not tend to help the nerves. My first teacher taught me to look over the heads of the audience members if this was the case. I know some dancers who have been dancing for years and still prefer this method.
Personally, I like to look at the audience. I feel more of a connection. However, I don’t tend to focus on one person for too long (unless their body language and facial expressions invite more interaction) because this can be too intense and make them feel uncomfortable. Some audience members like to feel more included, but I think a lot of people just want to be spectators. I like to look at the audience not only because it makes me feel more connected to them, but I also feed off of their energy and feel like my facial expressions are more genuine when I have people to respond to.
Sometimes I still look over the heads of the audience. I do this if looking at them is too intense, such as when I feel like they are being unresponsive. Also, it’s nice to alternate between looking over them and at them, especially if some audience members are sitting very close. Sometimes looking over the audience can be used for effect as well. This can be used to create an ethereal or dreamy quality, like you are seeing something in your mind. In the case of bright stage lights, I can’t see the audience members anyway, so this is more like looking over the heads of the audience. Even though I may or may not be since I can’t actually see them.
The big no-no for where to look when performing is down! Sometimes looking down for effect is appropriate. It can help to express something in the music, intensify a movement or help direct the audience’s focus. However, it should only be used for effect! It is not fun to watch a dancer who stares at the floor the whole time. Personally, as a spectator, it makes me feel uncomfortable. I feel like the performer is nervous and therefore I am nervous. Looking up and out is inviting and shouts confidence. Even when a performer is experiencing stage fright, looking up is the best camouflage. This will help the audience relax and enjoy the show.
What do you think? Where do you like to focus when you perform?
December 29, 2011 § 3 Comments
I am slowly working my way through playpoi.com‘s poi lessons. In the past, I have just randomly clicked through user-uploaded, how-to videos on homeofpoi.com (which are also awesome), but playpoi’s videos have continuity and progression. I have decided to start working my way through their series as I have time and poi urges. I am at the very beginning, just a few videos into Poi-fu, which covers poi fundamentals. It has already given me a lot to think about and some good exercises to work on. Some videos could even apply to other dance forms, or life in general. For example, one I watched recently not only teaches great arm pathways to add poi to later, it is great for general coordination. Give it a try! It’s fun!