Wednesday, April 27, 2011

We Interrupt This Blog To Bring You The Following...

My troupe, Kamala Chaand Dance Company, had two performances this past weekend...Here is the video of the first:

Also that night, ATS came in the form of Isis Moon Tribal (Noelle and Amber were formerly in my first troupe, MysticCaravan.) Their performance followed ours:

Enjoy the shows!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

On Dedication Part 2

Most of this is taken from a thread on my personal Facebook page. There was a lively discussion but I have only taken my bits of it. There is much to be said regarding the integrity of performing. I feel even stronger about it after a few incidents this past weekend involving performers and not only their integrity in dance, but also their professionalism regarding their dance. The initial thread was in response a very clear appropriation of an "African Drum Dance" by a local Tribal Fusion troupe.

I am bothered by the integrity of performers right now. If you had taken *A* class in a certain field of dance, would you then turn around and not only teach it, but also perform said dance form? I know I wouldn't and I really question the ability and integrity of those performers who do.

I see it happening in a few places and it not only gives an audience the wrong impression, (that you are a professional when you are not,) but it also etches away your integrity as a performer and I wonder why people are OK with that.

There is no integrity in the above. If I had taken one class long ago and then performed and taught it that would have been just as bad. I don't think there is integrity in appropriation, nor do I think there is integrity in performing a dance of that type after one dancer (of a troupe) taking a class.

There are a few performances I have seen lately that if I were there, I'd have left. I don't like to watch performers who lack integrity. I don't like to watch performers who clearly shouldn't be performing yet, either. As a friend said in the thread, I don't want to be charged to be a charity audience.

Haflas are for dancers to gain their performance readiness...not bookings and showcases.

I totally get the being leary to say anything, but I'm past the point of really caring if someone doesn't like me for my opinion. There is a group locally who get billed as performing ATS. If you have ever seen them its VERY clear they are not ATS, not even in the expanded definition of ATS are they ATS, yet they are teaching and performing as such. I'm very vocal about it because I don't want people associating the dance I do to what they are doing. There are people - them included- in our area who shouldn't be performing or teaching but they do and to top it off, these same people hugely inflate their bios. They don't understand what a disservice they do the rest of the dance community, not to mention their audience. There is NO integrity.

If it makes me a bitch to uphold integrity, then that's a title I'll gladly wear.

Its not so much the teachers jumping the gun in allowing students to perform, though that is also a problem (admittedly one I have been guilty of in the past, but worked to rectify,) The problem is in instant experts. It's those who really want the attention of performing and being an artist without actually doing the work to get there. 

On Dedication Part 1

This is how you Arabic. That is NOT how you Arabic. 
That Torso Rotation, yeah that's just not a Torso Rotation. 
This is a Barrel Turn. That is NOT a Barrel Turn. 
This, my favorite, is a Reverse Turn. That is not a Reverse Turn. 

Not in theory, not in technique, not in technical skill, not in execution. Sorry to inform you. You may feel as though you are doing it correctly, but you are not if not following what is taught AND DANCED by Master Instructors, then you just aren't doing it correctly. Moreover, if there is no joy emanating when you dance, and the entire thing feels stagnant; You are not doing it correctly.

Might sound snitty, but dedication is about not just passion, but also experience, technique, technical skill and application-ALL OF WHICH are different things. When you don't have all of those, you just don't have it, no matter the training or lack thereof. 

Dedication means drilling. Dedication means knowing the verbiage. Dedication means applying the posture in non-dance moments. Dedication means calloused feet and knowing exactly what Carolena says when she talks about each movement in the DVDs. Dedication is feeling like a total fangirl when you get to talk to Carolena on the telephone, or when she replies to something you post on Facebook because she felt it meant something too. Dedication is seeking the opinion of the aforementioned Master Instructors because it's almost as if they are an extention of Carolena herself and you are far to concerned that she will hate your dancing if you ask her...further, asking those who don't have the above mentioned skillset would never cross your mind. Dedication is the hurt when it's ripped away, and the joy when it's returned. Dedication is never wavering in your dance. Never stopping, never quitting.

Dedication is also knowing when you don't have the skill and knowing when you need to just be quiet about how others are dancing. Dedication is ALSO knowing when you have the room and ability to speak up.

it's important to my dedication to the purity of ATS that it's taught FCBD format and danced how the best of the dancers dance it . Dancers who claim dedication to this dance, but don't show that dedication in any way, are bothering me. They could be so much more, but they choose to stay in the cliquey-ness of being an ATS dancer instead of just working at being an outstanding dancer. They work at one-upping and competing instead of mastering this dance for what it is. They pervert it and make it something it is not.

I think some of it is also the need for being with women...they dance just to be with women...which is great, BUT when you are going to dance and perform and TEACH, it comes down to a little more than just being with women, imho. To be dedicated means executing flawless movement and communicating with the women you dance with without saying a word. to not give a rats ass about accumulating all of the latest in costuming trends, but focus on the aesthetic and dynamic of your stage presence with what you have not only ON your body but in your muscle memory.

There are those of us who don't feel like this is a hobby. But it seems like there are some who TALK like they want to achieve this as a profession, but in no way do they seem to dedicate beyond hobby status. THAT is frustrating to watch....especially when they teach.

A second part will be posted shortly, on request. It's a touchy topic, but one I have become determined not to be afraid of.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Tribal Bible

I mentioned in the last post The Tribal Bible. Told you it was religion.

Sacred Dance

A thing I love about ATS, and have heard from a lot of ATS dancers, is that it resonates with my spiritual practice. There is spirit in the dance, in the connection with my bare feet hitting the ground when I dance, (and how I love to dance on the Earth!) There is spirit in the movement and communication with the women I dance with, with the drummers whose music we are blessed with and with those we dance in front of.

EVERY time I dance it's a spiritual experience for me.

This is never more evident to me than when I have an "off" day dancing. When there is turmoil or even a little more stress than I can really handle in a moment, my dance is weak.  When I am dancing with others and I am in a weak place, or they have something stressing for them, I feel that from them and it is detrimental to OUR dance.

There was something that Masha Archer said in an interview in the Tribal Bible, "...and the audience knows that what you're saying by your presence is: "We are great and you are lucky. You have to appreciate us."

I take that one step further into the spiritual. It's important to me that when I perform, an audience is aware, even if not overtly, that this is a spiritual rite they are witnessing. For me, it should never just be that the audience is appreciating the dancers. It should be that they are in awe and reverence of the mere fact that Spirit is showing Itself to them through these dancers. That this is a sacred act, as sacred as The Great Rite, as sacred as a coming of age.

I am honored to be a part of this coming Beltane Rite with the local CoG. My friend, Paul, who is so dear to me though I only met him this past August in another ritual we were in together, asked me to be Earth. Earth in Her splendor, her dancing into being, dancing for her lovers, dancing with her lovers. I am more humbled by this request than anyone can ever understand. I know that doesn't read like humility, coming from a blog, but I assure you...

I came home from our first meeting regarding the Rite so full of joy and excitement to be calling forth the Goddess in my dancing. Knowing that is the responsibility of the role I am to play invigorates me to not just honor Spirit, but to make every time I dance a calling forth of the Goddess.

In service.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Kamala Chaand

People ask, what does "Kamala Chaand" mean?

Kamala: Lotus, born of the Lotus, Beautiful, Perfection
Chaand: Variant of "Chand": The Moon

Being Pagan, this is very significant to me. 

The Lotus, in Buddhism, is significant of purity. In my further understanding, renewal; rising from adversity, from the much and mire, to reveal pure, pristine beauty. 

The Moon....oh yonder blessed Moon who monthly changes in a circled orb. I love the Moon. She is ever present, always flowing, always changing, never stopping, but always constant. 

I did not find this name. One of my troupe mates, and dear friends, Domyno offered the two words among a list. I thought on them, talked them out to myself and troupe, and decided on Kamala Chaand based on everything that led me to form this troupe.

I came out of some stuff that was really not great. It put me in a place of not dancing. I literally had dance ripped out of my heart before I took it back. Kamala Chaand is the healing result. The rising up from the muck and mire to come back to the one constant...Kamala Chaand.

Thank you for those words, Universe, Domyno, Consciousness or whathaveyou. Thank  you.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


I've wanted to start a blog about my relationship with American Tribal Style Belly Dance for a long time. I had some turmoil in my life that erupted about eight months ago, just about the point I had planned to start one. It, like pretty much all self indulgent things, went by the wayside during the turbulence.

Life is back on track and going in a very new, but long dreamed of direction. Seems like the perfect place to start my blog. Thanks for being here.

I'm not going to go into the hows and whys I got into and practice ATS (yes, PRACTICE,) at least not in this post...and not likely for some time. I am on the adventure of opening a studio and starting a bona fide dance company in addition to my second performance troupe, Kamala Chaand ATS. The past six years have been an adventure of their own in getting to this point and are best left to another day.

Time for drills before bed. Third time today. Like prayer. I told you this was religion.