September 2008

Despite my quarter and my dance stuff, I highly recommend relaxing or vegging out a bit. Why? Because I don’t want to burn out.

Burning out is the worst thing that can happen to anyone with a difficult schedule. I can’t function if I’m burnt out. It’s like walking uphill in the ice. Nearly impossible. Even if I can force myself to do that, I get no pleasure out of the task. Sometimes, I feel that way about physics or Middle Eastern dance. I am fearful of burning out, since there is no guarantee that you’ll ever come back. I used to play violin and was so burnt out from violin that I never played again. Even though I’ve found plenty of ways to occupy my time, I sometimes wish that I hadn’t gotten so tired of violin to the point I never played again. I’ve gone through high and low points with both physics and dance, but I haven’t gotten to the point I never want anything to do with it again. Recently reading about other people’s burnouts with Middle Eastern dance has made me more cautious to prevent one.

In order to stave off a burn out, I took Friday off. While it did set me back a bit on schoolwork, I know that I can easily catch up and that I needed it. I haven’t practiced in a bit, but I will do that tomorrow morning. I just needed a break. My life is so hectic right now that I have to deliberately take time for myself so I don’t lose it.

I don’t recommend this every day, of course, but I think it’s important to not get caught up in life and just enjoy it a bit.


In my previous post, I mentioned using veil. I don’t believe that I’ve mentioned my current weapon of choice, A’Kai veils. I only own a set, but I’d love to buy more. They flow beautifully, come in different shapes (half-circles or rectangular), and are reasonably priced. They are handcrafted and the workmanship really shows.

Here’s a photo of my veils (and a cat sitting on them). Aren’t they gorgeous? One of the best things about this vendor is she sells “oop” veils, which are veils that do not 100% follow the intended design. Believe it or not, my veils pictured here are “oops” veils; I believe one of the colors went a bit too dark. These veils are a great option for those of us who demand quality but aren’t wealthy and aren’t picky about having something exact. I honestly can’t tell you the difference between an “oops” and a veil that was what it was supposed to be.

For those of you who are not interested in dance, she also sells misc. other silk goods.

I’ve been taking a few prop workshops recently. In general, I am not hugely into props for myself. Since I’m still learning, I don’t want to take an impressive but easy way out. I think it’s much harder to capture the audience when it’s simply you than if you have something like swishing fabric about you.

That isn’t to say I don’t enjoy good prop work. I do, and some of it is amazing. Very appropriate for the music/mood/setting.

One of my goals is to develop one choreography this quarter. I think I want to use a prop, like a veil or zills. On one hand, I think it’s good to practice those skills. On the other hand, there’s the innate fear I’m going to not be able to create a seamless dance, ie. the dance will still be good without the prop. There’s also a space issue, but again, I’m still debating about whether I should join the gym, which would eliminate a space issue.

What do you think?

Tomorrow, I get my first set of labs to grade. I’m trying to come up wi th a fair rubric, which is always a challenge. In general, I believe that I am a fair grader. I don’t look at the names until I enter the grades; people who I genuinely liked in lab don’t always get As. I keep a detailed rubric in my lab manual. I give them every opportunity to ask questions; I’m on email a lot, and I am present for my office hour or would answer anything in class. I care more about their written work and acknowledging an error in their data (like realizing gravity doesn’t equal 25 m/s^2) than I do about them getting their numbers completely right.

The only reason I’m concerned is with another class that I graded for, the students were unhappy with the grades. There were several problems with that. One was that we had several people who graded, all with different standards. Some graders felt showing up to class and handing in anything was good enough, others felt like they had to have very exact data, and others (like me) fell somewhere in between.

The another problem is the students in that class had a lot of pressure on them; they were premeds and felt like every fraction of a point counted. The final problem was that people simply like to complain; one quarter the other grader and I had almost identical class averages and identical grades for individuals, so I’m going to guess there wasn’t a huge discrepency between her standards and mine.

The way I’ve solved it is simply talk to the other grader and hope for the best. I think it’s tricky to have two people with presumably different standards grading. Does anyone have any ideas of what to do?

I’ve been pretty busy this past week. One of my classes uses Matlab, and I am not familiar with Matlab, making it a bit more difficult than normal. That has taken more time, as well as me being away from programming for quite awhile. I’m amazed that I do remember C (a programming language); I catch myself using C instead of the Matlab language. I know C can be taken in Matlab, but I don’t know how and I think that the professor prefers Matlab’s language, anyway.

There’s also other schoolwork, grad stuff, apartment hunting, lab setup (we setup a laser yesterday that took about 4-5 hours) and enjoying life. I did manage to fit in a lesson with Danielle this past Saturday, which felt great. I hadn’t been there in awhile, and I did miss attending a class. Finding the time to practice has been a challenge, so what I’ve been doing is mini-practices.

Mini-practices range from shimmying or practing down locks while I wait for something to practice snake hands while I wait on the bus. I also practice belly rolls and flutters while sitting; I have yet to get caught. A long practice would be ideal, but I take what I can get. I’m thinking about joining the college gym just so I can go over there to practice a few hours a week. I’m not sure how that would work. Anyone ever do that?

On a board, this lady posted some excellent questions to structure the development of your own style. I’m not one to want to dance like a carboncopy of my teacher; I like my teachers’ styles a lot, but one of the reasons I take from different people is that what looks good or works for them doesn’t always work for me.

Question 1: You overhear people talking about your performance. What would you like them to say about you?

-She made me feel the emotions of the music. Or you could put it as “connecting” with the music
-She looked relaxed and natural, even when doing complicated things
-She shows a wide range of emotions/moods well

A dance fairy godmother is able to grant three wishes to you. What would they be?

-Always be growing and evolving in dance. I don’t want to be stagnant
-Create seamless dances. Some performers transition exceptionally well that each move flows into the next
-Be as versatile as possible and do it well. I don’t want to be known as only the person who does veil well. I’m not, but that’s just an example. I want to be able to be known for a good overall performance, be it something fun and poppy or sultry or sad

It doesn’t sound like much, does it? However, I know well enough that it’ll get rougher as time goes on.

I really like my TAing classes. The electronics students have good attitudes, which is helpful. Most of them have no interest in this beyond fulfilling a requirement. I’m a little baffled why they would select this over something a little less difficult, but it’s their lives. I guess I see this as difficult for them, since they probably haven’t seen most of this equipment before, let alone played with it. My modern class is tiny (10) and doesn’t seem to be too taxing; I aid the professor in setting up things.

My classes themselves are decent. I really enjoy E&M; I haven’t had electrostatics in 4 years (it seems so long ago!) or an E&M class in general in 2 years (relativistic stuff is all I remember). Computational is. I recognize that understanding computational physics will be valuable to my life, but I’m not a fan of programming. This is also my first time using Matlab, which isn’t hard but I’m not as familiar with its quirks as I am Mathematica or our friend, Excel (yes, legitimate scientists still use Excel). However, I think they are incredibly important skills to develop, so while I may not favor this class, I think it is useful.

I don’t feel overworked. I think last year at this time, due to both a huge change (moving away from the East Coast) and personal issues, I was weighed down. Right now, I don’t feel bad at all.

I hope it remains that way.

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