Fleet Feet Demo

April 15, 2009 § Leave a comment

Me and some troupe mates did a demo at Fleet Feet tonight at their annual Diva Night. It was much more crowded than I expected. I thought it would be a dozen women in a shoe store doing Diva-esque, female-bonding type things. Turns out, it was actually around 80 or 90 women, lots of demos and shopping and food…

Our demo started late due to a malfunctioning cd player. The microphone was also not working, so I think only about 5 people heard what we were telling them about the style of belly dance we were performing. We danced a Turkish Rom piece to Rompi Rompi.

Seeing the reactions to some things when an audience is not accustomed to belly dancing can be interesting.  At one point in the choreography, we do a couple toxims (hip figure eights) and claps our hands together and trace the same movement with our hands. From some of the ladies reactions you would’ve thought we’d just done pelvic thrusts across the floor toward them a la male stripper style. They seemed to enjoy the demo, it’s just funny when there’s an unanticipated reaction.

I did have one of the worst costume malfunctions I’ve had in awhile. My ring hooked on my belt fringe and would not release. I ended up just sliding my ring off and left it hanging from the fringe. Aside from a couple of audience members who were staring at it dangling there for the rest of the demo, it was a good quick fix. In fact, by the end of the song, I forgot it was there.

After performing we did a mini demo class. Only about 5 women actually tried dancing. There might’ve been more if the mic had worked so more of them knew what was going on, but what can you do? We passed out a lot of fliers, and we were all in all well-received so hopefully we’ll get some new students or even some future gigs.

TribalCon V, 2009

March 19, 2009 § Leave a comment

My TribalCon experience this year was absolutely amazing! This was my second year attending, and I think this year’s was even better than last year’s.

The venue was the same: Holiday Inn in downtown Decatur, Georgia. Decatur is a darling little town with beautiful old buildings and funky little shops and cafes. However, it’s also a bit confusing. Both years I’ve gone, me and my carpool buddies have gotten lost as soon as we get to Decatur. This year we were lost for about an hour and a half. It was both hilarious and frustrating! At least I was in the car with a couple of very fun girls. It turned out we were very near the hotel several times but somehow kept passing it in large circles.  I really have no idea how this happened.  We had directions from multiple sources and still got lost.

Once we (finally) arrived, we got ready for the hafla, which is great fun. The musicians attending the event for the music workshops play and the dancers dance. This year, the music had a much more Balkan, gypsy feel. Last year, I believe it was more folkloric.  One big difference I noticed was while last year, the dancing was mostly dominated by American Tribal Style Dance and some Tribal Fusion, this year there was a Balkan line dance, lots of poi and even some hooping. I want to say it was actually less crowded, but it could also be that this time I knew what to expect and felt less overwhelmed, so I just perceived it as less crowded.

The workshops were of course amazing! Ariellah’s yoga workshop was energizing and challenging. She’s a lovely teacher and dancer and recommends taking yoga on a regular basis to open up the muscles we use in belly dance thus allowing for more movement.

Donna Mejia is an amazing woman! I didn’t know who she was before the workshops, but I certainly do now! She’s one of the most inspiring women I’ve ever met. She’s strong, yet feminine. If I’ve ever met a woman who embodies the poem Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou, it’s definitely this woman. She taught interesting combos and a lot of useful info on posture.  My favorite quote from TribalCon was something she said in her class. We were doing dance combos across the floor in lines and she responded to many dancers looking timid. She told us, “Now is not the time to hold back, ladies. When you’re looking back on your life, you’re not going to say ‘gee, I’m so glad I held back at that TribalCon workshop on Feb. 21, 2009.  I really benefitted from that…” Good point.

Asharah taught a workshop about ticking (the repetitive momentary stalling of a movement often seen in Tribal Fusion usually in response to really quick beats in music or mechanical sounds in electronic music). She broke down the theory and muscular aspects of the movements and gave us exercises to practice to master the movement. These types of moves are difficult for me. I have limited experience with that style of Fusion so I really appreciated the practice techniques I learned in her class.

Mira’s class is always challenging and provokes thought about doing the unexpected. She is well-known for her very impressive and difficult layering. She also takes typical belly dance combos and changes something to make them more interesting. For example, if a combo traditionally involves grapevines and hip lifts, she’ll make you do grapevines and hip drops instead. Her class is fun and will make you sore!

One of my very favorite classes was with Onca and August of the Mezmer Society. It was The. Most. Hilarious! workshop I’ve ever taken. It was about narrative belly dance, which is essentially belly dancing and dramatic, theatrical acting. We were making faces at eachother, interacting with eachother and dramatically dancing our way through emotions and characters such as drunken wench, passion, etherealness, and innocence. At one point, we were put in two lines facing each other and were each assigned contradicting emotions. We were to dance toward each other, interact and cross to the other side/other emotion. It was hysterical. Such a great workshop.

There were also a couple lecture styles classes this year that taught us about the anatomy of our bodies and how to dance in a safe and healthy way.

The All-Star Show was beautiful as always. My troupe’s performance went very well. We did a World Tribal Fusion piece, and at the end the dancers and musicians traded places. We played for them and they did a spoon dance.

The show’s after party was possibly the most fun thing that weekend. It was like the hafla, only catered, and everyone was ready to really let loose and dance the night away with lots o’ wine, good-spirited wildness and old-fashioned debauchery. I got to play with my poi in a large open space for the first time in a very, very long time, but unfortunately got carried away (which I realized when I showed up to the workshops the next day and it hurt to lift my arms! Oops!)

Overall, it was an incredibly inspiring, educational and fun weekend! I can’t wait until next year!

What Was My Worst Performance Experience?

December 3, 2008 § 2 Comments

Most of my performance experiences have been positive, but I think we’ve all had that embarrassing on-stage mishap, such as a runny nose (a huge fear of mine! Seriously, there are no good options!), costume malfunctions or having your show rudely interrupted by some cheek-sucking greyhound talking on her cell phone in the front row.

I don’t really get stage fright anymore.  Not much at all.  I used to really bad, so bad smiling was actually painful.  I’ve gotten over it through the years though.  Performing forces you to grow a thick skin at some point.  There’s really no other choice.

The worst performance experience I’ve had was with my first dance troupe.  We were invited to entertain at an auction for some good feminine cause like breast cancer awareness or something like that.  It was held in an absolutely gorgeous auditorium in a Masonic Temple with beautiful stain glass creations lining the walls, a feigned starry sky for a ceiling and an antique, multi-layered, forest-themed backdrop behind the stage.  All the seats were filled.

The auction was being held in the form of a fashion show with many wearable pieces donated by local artists.  We waited for over an hour in the dressing room watching the models prepare and come and go as the show went on.  The audience was loud with excitement. We were in for a good show.  Audience energy can give a huge boost.

Finally, the bidding stopped and we were going on to dance, which I believe was to be followed by some refreshments. We were introduced and our music started.  As we glided onto the stage, the crowd was rowdy.  We began dancing, they began walking around and in huge droves, exiting the theater!  There must have been at least a hundred and fifty women there, all leaving!  After a few minutes the only sound in the theater was our music.  There was only four audience members left.  If there’s ever a good time to run off stage and cry into your tassel belt, this was it.

We stayed of course.  We had agreed to do a twenty-minute set, and the four people who were watching actually did seem to enjoy themselves.

Looking back, I’m sure all the bidding just got the ladies riled up and they were ready to get their merchandise and have a drink.  But it feels pretty awful to have a whole theater walk out on you like that.

Spontaneous Pictures

May 7, 2008 § Leave a comment

The nice thing about performing at spontaneous events like festivals is they’re fun! The bad thing, sometimes people have cameras and get pictures of you being, well, spontaneous.  But this can also be amusing. Take these belated Alabama Renaissance Fair photos of my dance troupe:

That’s me in the green skirt. What am I….looking…at?  I couldn’t tell you. No idea.

And what are we doing here?  That’s Liz in the red skirt and Danielle in the yellow.  At first glance you might think we’re dancing….but I don’t think so…Is Liz telling me to do something? And I’m trying to follow directions and am, um, unsure? amused? Am I just trying something? Danielle seems to think it’s funny.  So, uh, what were we doing? At least we look like we’re having fun.

And this is my favorite.  Clearly, Lisa is introducing us, but look at the face I’m making.  “Huh?  WTF?”  Even better, Joe, the drummer behind me in the red hat is…punching his fist in his hand? What the hell? Were we about to dance or kick some ass?

But sometimes the random photos can be good; the kind of photos you hope are taken when you’re performing.

We can just pretend I always look about like this when I’m on stage.  At all times.  I like that.

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