Tuesday, February 28, 2012

On Inspiration

I was sitting at my desk at work yesterday listening to all sorts of music, as the ladies I am dancing with at the Pura hafla and I are working out our music. A song came on…not saying which…and I was moved to tears by the words and what they mean for me personally. I decided right there that in addition to performing ATS® with the ladies, that I would also be dancing solo and moving how Spirit leads.

I don’t solo. It’s one of the reasons my original belly dance training didn’t hold me for too awful long. I don’t like dancing alone. What’s different?

I am.

The journey I have had in this dance has been long, and in the past couple of years, quite a struggle. Going to Bloomington means so incredibly much for me and to me that it feels like a genesis. To celebrate that I will be performing solo as a means to my rebirth in this dance that I cherish so much.
We still are not decided on music, but I know that whatever we end up dancing to will be fabulous. I am inspired by the women I am dancing with, who I have never met. I am inspired by the open arms of so many who I have only met on Facebook. I am excited to meet and study with these women and men.
“Vous m’avez reconnue. Je susis la meme et pourant autre.”
You recognize me. I am the same, but different.
I am looking forward to that very much.

Monday, February 27, 2012

On Liking (or, go on Facebook and check out the KCDC page)

Kamala Chaand Dance Company on Facebook!

Yes, I have a page and yes, you should like it!!

That's all...

countdown continues tomorrow...I was inspired today.

On Excitement

T-Minus 10 days.


Ok. I got that out of my system. I am pretty sure these next few days are going to go so slowly…I think they would go slower if nothing else was going on in this wait time. I am so excited. This weekend, despite being super sick, (Head cold. No fun.) Fella and my daughter Grace helped me lug up all of my costuming and accessories from the basement as well as suitcases. We measured. 60” achieved and the suitcases are huge! I will be able to pack everything I need plus some…and have room for goodies to come home with me (insert another squee of joy here. I loves me my dance pretties… Magical Fashions and Red Camel here I come!!) Plus a carry on and a bag. I’m set.

So I started the practice packing. I packed up everything I know I will want for classes and for performing in, as well as most of my makeup and hair accessories. I just have to do some Laundry on Thursday night for all of the comfy cotton street clothes I am planning to bring with…which isn’t a lot and they roll nicely. That’s the key to traveling with ATS® garb…roll-ability. I hear you can’t roll a scimitar though. Hence the reason I am not traveling with mine.
I have started creating marketing materials for after I am back and after I have achieved Sister Studio status. I had a grand idea this weekend about where I can market classes, and maybe even hold classes in addition to those I already teach….word on that later. It’s still a secret ;-)
Also this weekend some loverly items arrived via post!! These loverly items can be yours, too!!
I’ve got t-shirts!

The cutie patootie is Grace, my dancing daughter.

And here is one of the belly in the shirt :-D I have cut mine, of course...I like them that way.
I’ve got bumper stickers!

I’ve got business cards!

Shirts are $22 plus shipping, (ladies sizes m,l, xl, mens size m,l, xl and are $25) bumper stickers are $5 (I’ll cover postage) and the business cards…well you can have one of those too with your shirt or sticker order :-D Or run into me and I’ll be happy to give you one!! I love them, though I wish I waited until after GS and TT…but that’s OK…everything else will show the achievement and I can always mention it too when giving my card to someone. These will go quickly though. I only ordered 250 of them… With the kind of marketing I do, that doesn’t last long…so more will be ordered soon-ish I am sure.
Lastly, I want to say a special hello to a new Facebook friend who made my day today. Manila Tribal, you are awesome and I am so excited for what you are doing! Keep up your hard work. It will pay off!! *hugs*
I am touched at really how widely this blog is being read. If you read regularly and haven’t subscribed, please do.
With that, I bid you adieu until tomorrow….the countdown continues!!! YIIIIIP!!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

On Anticipation

Two weeks. In TWO WEEKS I fly solo to Bloomington, Indiana to attend my first Pura, followed by General Skills, followed by Teacher Training. I. AM. ELATED. This is many years (and much heartache) in the making. I plan to blog each night about my experiences. No, I will not be divulging the classes, just giving my thoughts on them as a participant.
My mantra of late has been “What is for you will not pass you by.” This is for me. This has always been for me and my journey in this dance has been lovely, and hard, and I have hated dancing sometimes because of things I have gone through, but it ever pulls me back and holds me and moves me and tells me I belong.  What is for you will not pass you by.
Review is one of the focuses I plan to take on this blog. In April I will be getting certified as a Dance For Birth instructor here in the Twin Cities. I will blog that experience as well. I am getting this certification not only to further my dance training, but also to further my doula and midwifery training. Of course I know about body mechanics in dance and how that can and does aide a pregnant or laboring woman, but having the specific focus and the subsequent credential is a good thing for my birth practice…when I am practicing again.
I am also in the midst of writing a pretty big post, what I was going to write for Fuse magazine before life got ahold of me in a very fierce way. The topic is the different certification courses in the belly dance world. This is going to be a big post and will not be opinion or thought or rant or anything except for the facts behind each course offered. It’s pretty interesting so far and I am excited to post it for you. That will be after I get back from Indiana though.
Coming up March 6th I am dancing in a little show in Wisconsin for an ethnic fest at a school. My former troupe mates, Domyno and Velvet will be dancing with me and a drum ensemble. I am not necessarily anticipating it, but it should be good. I haven’t been performing, so it will be a fun little thing to do before I jump into the adventure of Indiana that weekend. I will try to post pictures and maybe a video of that event. I think my Fella will be there drumming too, so you may get to see him in action ;-)
At Pura, there will be a hafla where I will be performing with my room share ladies...ladies I have never met, save for the lovely Heidi Capps-Hayden who is not sharing a room with us, but will be at Pura. Heidi is a FCBD(r) Sister Studio and owns Blue Rose Studio in Kentucky. She is so lovely. We will be performing as Sevanti Tribal Collective! Yip! ATS(r) in purity...strangers dancing a common language. I am really excited!
Lots of anticipation right now. My greatest anticipation doesn’t happen until September though. Some of you know already, but Fella and I are expecting a wee one sometime in the beginning of September. I will be 12 weeks this Saturday. I have started feeling this baby dancing already and it is just as wonderful as I remember it being with my other three. We planned this baby and are completely over joyed at this expectation. I am thrilled to dance through another pregnancy and give my baby the gift of dance and music before he or she even comes to breathing life. Ah the sacred in dance…
What is for you will not pass you by.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

On Professional Integrity

I have been thinking a lot on this topic lately simply because of the number of dancers who are taking on teaching. Oftentimes these are dancers who have had no dance training to speak of save for the maybe year or so of sporadic belly dance.
I have come up with a check list for those seeking out dance instruction (of any type…not just belly dance or ATS® specifically…) of things to watch and listen for when choosing to take a class that you are paying money for, be they dance or martial arts or yoga or any sort of movement class:
1.) Your instructor’s bio: How long has she been dancing? Where did she receive her training and from whom? Has she had experience in performing? What other dance modalities does she/has she studied? If she can’t answer these questions consistently, or is incredibly vague in her answers, chances are her bio is greatly over inflated. This is cause for concern.
2.) Your instructor’s location: is she teaching in a studio with mirrors and a suitable surface and ample space for students to stretch and dance without running into one another? A proper space is just as important as the quality of the instruction. Now, having been one who taught in the basement of a local Pagan book store, I can say that while this can be an OK place, it’s a place suitable for classes that are for gathering, and not really for teaching. I taught in said bookstore after my move to the Twin Cities. I just wanted to dance and truly didn’t adhere to any sort of format. My “classes” were dubbed as Tribal Belly Dance, NOT ATS ®. I instructed in basic belly dance principle with a tribal flair and mostly, we just danced and played lead and follow with very few cues. Additionally, I never advertised these classes outside of the bookstore.  If you are labeling yourself as a professional dancer and a professional instructor, advertising your classes as the place to be for quality instruction, then a professional space is required.
3.) Your instructor’s “fit” level: Does your instructor often sit out because she is injured? Does she have others teach in her stead when she needs to sit out? This is often a sign of a lack of personal dedication to dance. A dancer who has honed her body and muscle memory and who practices proper posture in and out of dance is far less likely to have this issue.  One does not do this honing and strengthening in one class a week-even two classes, and certainly not an instructor.
4.) Your instructor’s knowledge: Does she confuse her vocabulary often and easily? Does she know the muscle mechanics behind the movements she is teaching you? Does she know how to not only execute the movement properly, but also break it down simply and accurately? Failure to know the vocabulary can be highly detrimental to your learning; additionally, not being able to break it down accurately and instruct proper muscle use can severely impact a student physically. Injury can happen in one false movement if you are being instructed poorly, incorrectly, or not at all with regard to muscle movement.
6.) Does your instructor know the history of this dance form? Can she answer questions about how movements have been formed?  The past is prologue they say. The history of dance overall is wide and deep and beautiful. The history of Middle Eastern dance is so rich and abundant and to not know it’s history, or about the people groups who most influenced this art is a travesty not only to the student, but to the dance itself.  To know where you are going, you must know from where you came.
7.) Is your instructor not able to give constructive critique, ie. insight as to how you can improve your dance-devoid of personal sentiment? If not, chances are she fits into #4 above. An instructor who doesn’t know proper technique and the execution of said technique will absolutely be unable to give you constructive feedback on how to improve your dance. A student-teacher relationship can be friendly, of course, but would you expect in college for your Chemistry Professor to tell you that mixing these volatile chemicals together is OK even though they exploded, simply because no one got hurt? Extreme example sure, but what does it benefit anyone to have warm fuzzies about what they are doing incorrectly?
Overall, what sort of experience are you looking to pay for? You can spend $60-$100 for a simple 6 week series. You can either spend it at a studio, paying a teacher who has studied dance for her whole life, has thorough knowledge of belly dance and very specific knowledge of the genre she teaches, who has dedicated all of her passion and dedication to the dance…or you can go to a basement and pay that same money to a dancer who has had a cumulative of perhaps a year of actual dance training inside two years’ time…even more grievous, you could pay that money, at a studio, to a credentialed teacher who has no real aptitude or skill. She might have knowledge, but knowledge and execution are two different things. Knowledge without the ability to execute is nearly pointless. Equally, passion without dedication is just as pointless. The teacher you should want to spend your money on for precise and quality instruction is the teacher who has passion, dedication, knowledge, experience, the ability to execute and the joy in her heart and the strength of character to uphold the integrity of the dance she loves.
I would love to hear thoughts on this. I do have part three of On Dedication coming, but I have tweaked it after considerable reflection, and changing a lot about the situation…changing what I could, and realizing the rest was so petty that it wasn’t worth my time or integrity.
I start practice packing next week for my trip to Bloomington, IN for Pura, GS and TT. I am elated and excited and a little bit nervous about the flying part, but you know what? When I get back, it will all be worth the time and effort and the steep hill climb I have had to get to this point in my dance…and you know what, I’m just going to keep on climbing.
Dance on sisters and brothers….