Tuesday, April 26, 2011

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.


  1. It is also worthy to remember that Ms. Nericcio wrote in the teacher's handout for Teacher Training 1, that we must not contradict other teachers.

    I'm looking forward to reading your other posts on this subject!

  2. And I would agree among those who are teaching ATS in the FCBD format.

  3. I should further that....those who have studied FCBD format exclusively and teach it to form and are able to perform it with ease and confidence and with visual appeal. In their case I would agree.

  4. Yuska, what would you do, though, if you KNEW without a DOUBT that a teacher was not teaching properly? that even the TEACHER couldn't execute the movements properly? Do you bite your tongue or do you say something? Do you let them diminish the artform by teaching and performing it not just poorly, but improperly?

    I understand that the cream rises, but the rest of the milk souring can also make the cream sour. Know what I mean?

  5. Well, in a public setting, I'd definitely not approach the teacher, and instead, do what the teacher says. It would be impolite for my part to publicly say, "That's not how I was taught."

    But I'd definitely try to get to know the teacher by asking him/her questions such as where he/she learned ATS, how long has he/she learned it, etc. All this would be done without the others present.

    Tasha, I've had "Tribal fusion teachers" (notice the quotation marks) told people behind my back that my Tribal style was wrong. I know I wasn't certified back then and what I taught was Tribal fusion using 80% of ATS moves (no cues, however). I know how painful that feels, and I just don't think I want to flick that kind of pain on others.

    I believe that if a student came to me and said (about ATS), "That's not how I was taught," then I'd reply, "Well, this is what I was taught and what I teach you." But I'd have to have the vastness of knowledge, confidence, as well as experience to blurt those words out without sounding like a snob.

    Ms. Nericcio has changed my mind about creating conflict with other teachers and other "teachers". I know I have to constantly remind myself to not criticize others.

    However, I clearly see your point about some "teachers" branding themselves "ATS" when they aren't doing what ATS means to you and me. And in a way, people will think that these "teachers'" version of ATS is the right one. I guess if and when that happens, we'll have the advantage of pointing at our nicely framed Teacher certificates from FCBD.

  6. Yuska, for the record I would never call out someone in their own class or in public like that, but I have no problem confronting them. There is a woman locally, the one who is NOT teaching or dancing ATS but says she is, who I confronted after this weekend. She was at one of the venues we performed at and after we were introduced as "premier" (Which we are) She and her table mate got snitty and started trash talking my troupe right there...IN HEARING RANGE OF ME! So I have since confronted her but with no response.

    Thank you for bringing up the point of certification. While I am getting mine, I do not think certification necessarily lends to one's ability. I could point you a few directions where that is very clear, but that would be rude of me.

    I am doing an article in Fuse that will go into the Fall issue regarding the differences in the certification courses in the ATS/group improv sphere and also on Rachel Brice and Suhaila's certification process. So I'll save the issue of that for the magazine. It is something that is curious to me though, and I won't necessarily be taking the TT course to make me a better dancer, because I get that from workshops and from personal critique by Master Instructors. That's why I said I would seek out a Master Instructors opinion and I would never consider the opinion of a TT dancer who couldn't apply her knowledge. Just because a person is TT doesn't mean jack in my book...knowledge and applicability are two VERY different things.