November 2008


With dance classes and workshops, I’ve noticed a few things that keep occurring (as well as with normal school stuff). They aren’t gigantic problems, but they are little issues that bother me a bit. Today’s post is simply about behaviors I think are good for classes or workshops.

  • Wear non-noisy gear. Particularly in workshops, where there are dozens of people, noisy gear is distracting and makes hearing the instructor difficult. Even if you don’t mean to move in a coin hipscarf, some people accidentally do. Even if only one person dons it, it’s noisy.
  • Sit down when demos happen. Being a shorty, I find it’s often difficult to see things in workshops when the instructor demonstrates a move or combo. When people in the front rows kneel, I can see what’s going on. It doesn’t matter if you’re small or large, you should position yourself so others can see.
  • Actually switch rows. I’ve noticed that there is a trend for some participants to want to stay in the front with the mirror. While I know the mirror is helpful, not truly switching rows (if there are 5 rows, moving from the front row to the second to the front row isn’t really a switch) is rude and unfair to your fellow participants. Besides, practicing without a mirror is good, because you won’t have one on stage.
  • Not talking when the instructor is talking. Enough said on that one.
  • Awareness of others. This sort of goes back to the second point of sitting if you’re in the front during a demonstration. Just be aware that you aren’t the only person there and notice that you can’t move in huge ways.
  • Ask before filming part of the workshop. Some instructors do not like their workshops filmed, while others do not mind. And if you must film, keep for person use only and don’t upload it onto the internet.

I understand people get caught in the excitement of things, but I really do believe in exercising good manners to make things enjoyable for everyone.

Now that the quarter is over, save for the obsessive grade checking, I find myself with more time to complete those goals I created at the beginning of the quarter and do some others. They are as follows:

  1. Complete grad apps. That’s an imperative and not one of those goals I can just avoid
  2. Go to dance class 2-3 times a week. Sonya is teaching drills and veil at Arabesque and I plan on continuing with Danielle in fusion. I look forward to going to Arabesque, because I haven’t done cabaret in about 3 months. I also have decided to practice way more and really practice, not just my short practices
  3. Organize my permanent dance notebook. I have so many notes and handouts that I decided I need to create a master copy with everything nicely organized.
  4. Work on research. Enough said.
  5. Organize home workspace. I hopefully can complete that today or this week. My old apartment had these nice built-in shelves and a full length mirror where I could do my makeup. I can’t see the bathroom mirror here, so my desk is both my desk and my vanity. It is in desperate need of organization.
  6. Relax! I haven’t tried bogging down my schedule because I do need to relax. To assist in that department, I am going to Vegas with my friend for a mini-vacation.

I hope this vacation is good. Does anyone have any exciting plans for vacation?

As I mentioned before, I had skipped the show to do some studying. Mardi was miraculously the same as the previous day; I myself was a bit tired, and I hadn’t performed in a show the night before.

The workshop began with drills again. Somehow, they were a bit easier. I really liked how Mardi kept emphasizing drilling not only moves but good habits (good posture, good arms) and how she preferred a controlled look rather than gigantic moves.

The focus of “The Sweet and Low Down” was slow moves. This was easier for me, because I often don’t think fast enough to learn fast combos or choreographies immediately. As far as the body, though, it was a bit more taxing. Mardi pointed out that slow is harder than faster; in many ways, she is right. Slow  is harder, simply because you have to be more precise in your movement. Mistakes or sloppiness are easier to spot. Also, I think slow can be perceived as boring, so it’s important to engage the audience.

Mardi went over slow moves, the moods of the move, and then put them into combos. I thought it was really cool she also went over where you should look and that kind of thing; subtle performance tips are really helpful and not necessarily something I would think of.

The workshop ended with layering drills. Those were  difficult! She layered  various chest movements with hip ups. Some of them I simply could not get, like a smooth chest circle over sharp hip locks up. It’s amazing to see someone do that so effortlessly while making sure people were getting it. Things like that are what really made this workshop worthwhile and are going to be added to my practice.

Without a doubt, I recommend both days. I got something out of each one. Bring paper and a writing utensil, since there are no handouts and it can be a bit tricky to remember stuff.

I arrived to the Mardi Love Workshop slightly distressed, because I thought I was late. Luckily, I forgot that Sonya starts her workshops about a half-hour late, so I was on time.

I have no experience with workshops from The Indigo members, so I didn’t know what to expect. To tell you the truth, I stopped paying a lot of attention to The Indigo since I got into grad school, so I didn’t really know what to expect content-wise, either. I knew vaguely that they appeared to emulate the 1920s, but that’s it. I used to be a fan, but (unfairly) I got out of the loop with what they were doing, because it seemed like everyone wanted to be them and tried being them. I like some variety, even though I know that The Indigo is innovative and always interesting to watch, even if I don’t get it or like it.

The workshop began with a lot of drills. Having sat in front of a computer non-stop for about week or so, they were a little intense. Mardi was great at explaining what she was doing and why. She taught us a handful of moves that she later used in combos for the afternoon. The combos seemed simple but were somewhat tricky. She definitely was drawing from a vaudeville look and feel, which was cool. I’m not sure how much a purist may consider this belly dance, but I thought it was interesting to see another take on it. Anyway, the combos were a little on the difficult side. It was a good challenge, and if we didn’t seem to get it, she didn’t mind breaking it down again. I prefer combos myself, because it’s easier for  me to think in combo form than in a full length choreography. Mardi would, after everyone had a handle on the combos, combine them into sort of a dance.

Although I have to get back to my work, I want to add Mardi Love seems like a great person. She seems like the kind of person I’d want to be friends with: fun, happy, funny, patient. She was a very engaging teacher.

Although I should be working on my EM final, I’m too tired from all the computational physics work that took over my life.

This is a short note so that people know I’m alive, still working hard, and survived day 1 of the Mardi Love workshop here in Chicago. It’s been fun and educational. I’ll be sure to write about it more when I’m not so tired. It may seem foolish to spend time on a workshop when I have work that’s due, but I also know I can dedicate at least 12 hours Monday and Tuesday to this exam. That’s about what I did for the midterm, which also coincided with a workshop (AIda Nour). Allegedly, this exam is even easier, but I never put my faith in that.

So finals are officially today. The last bunch of electronics students took their practical final yesterday. It didn’t go so well overall. It was a bit of a downer for me, since I wanted to see them succeed and I also got called mean. The reason is because I docked 40 points out 100 for setting up and explicitly explaining how to do the lab. How is that mean? I gave the kid everything imaginable, short of doing it myself. This was also the kid who has a history of lying with me (on late work), tried stealing my calculator in the beginning of the year, and then tried cheating on the practical with his friend in front of the professor. In 10 short weeks, it’s hard for me to not say it’s him and not me.

Overall, though, I’ll miss those kids. Very kind, very hard working. I’ll miss the kids in modern physics, too, but I’ll probably see them around more, since they are physics majors.

In terms of finals, I’m thisclose to finishing my final computational project. I stayed up pretty late last night working and woke up fairly early to work. Stuff like that is why I could never really be a computer programmer type; from what I understand and know about everyone in that field/major, they all do that frequently.

I’ve been writing my papgraph1er simultaneously with my program, so I hope to have that all done tonight as well as my presentation. The presentation is tomorrow evening, the paper and program are due Friday. I have one little thing to implement into my program, which I haven’t successfully been able to do. However, my program spits out really neat (and accurate!) Brownian motion graphs. The short version is particles take weird, random paths. That’s what you’re seeing in that graph; there are 200 particles and their trajectories in 3D for a few seconds. I think it’s pretty; to me, it looks like a ball of tangled yarn. The other graph is far less interesting (average displacement vs. time), but it appears to be fairly accurate.

I have homework due in computational, too :(, which is a shame. It’s tricky, so it look like from now until Friday, I will have to stay up late working. Oh well. Friday is my housewarming, which is a pretty exciting thing and then it’s Mardi Love workshop for two days, as well as working on my EM final.

I still hope to make the occasional appearance in this blog.

For the last 2 weeks, Danielle has only observed me dancing, rather than dancing with me and observing. The reason being that she cannot catch everything I do wrong while she herself is moving. At first, I felt nervous doing this (with all the attention on me, I generally feel nervous during a private lesson) and didn’t enjoy it, but now I really like it.

Danielle was right that she can give more correction. The other thing is I pay more attention to what I’m doing since I can’t watch her. I think sometimes I get into the syndrome of watching someone and being able to mimic what they’re doing without learning it. This way I feel like I am learning it.

From a performance perspective, learning this way is probably for the best. After all, when you perform, all eyes are on you and unfortunately, not all eyes are going to be as kind or as helpful as your teacher’s.

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