December 2008

Overall, I’d say I was successful. Mind you, I didn’t complete everything, but I’m still alive and healthy. There is always next year.

So that I can end positively, my biggest failures this year involved really not choreographing and virtually no progress on my thesis. I did some choreographing, but the music I have didn’t really speak to me. I simply wasn’t inspired. I’m starting to feel more inspired, though, which is good. My thesis will have to be completed this year coming. I look forward to it, and I’m glad that I didn’t stick with a project that I didn’t enjoy.

I wish that I would’ve practiced more, but life (school) and illness seemed to get in my way a lot.

For positives, I’d say that I did a decent job overall with everything else. I feel my dancing is much stronger. I still am terribly disappointed I haven’t found an Odissi or Bhratanatyam teacher that is accessible, but- you can’t have it all. I’ve learned a lot of tribal dance and gotten excellent ideas on fusion. I survived 3 workshops :).

As far as school, I was happy with my grades this past quarter and even happier that I did well with programming. I am not a programmer, so this is indeed a pleasant surprise.

I also am not broke for the next year. Yay! I’m squirreling money away for a vacation. We’ll see how that goes, but hopefully sometime soon I can take a proper 1-2 week vacation. I’m thinking I want to go to Europe or some place warm. Hmmm.

Have a good New Year’s Eve/New Year!


I updated the Q&A. I welcome most questions and enjoy hearing, so please write!

Even though you’d definitely push deadlines, if you’re planning on being in higher education (either earning a bachelor’s or graduate degree), you may want look at scholarships/fellowships.

I forget if I mentioned it, but I was lucky enough to go to school for free. I received scholarship through Bill Gates foundation that covered my undergraduate and now graduate studies. Receiving help for my undergraduate degree was imperative, because no one saved money for me to go to college and no one would/could cosign a loan for me. At age 16, you have no credit and I believe every legitimate place will require another person to sign with you. Even as a grad student, this scholarship has been extremely helpful. I receive a small stipend as a grad student, but because of having scholarship money, I can live much more comfortably.

The scholarship that I received was a Gates Millennium Scholarship which is for minorities in the US who qualify for a Pell Grant. You have to do some paperwork and write some essays obviously and get recs, but if you qualify, I’d apply. The app is due 12 January. Like I said, you are close to the deadline, but I was too when I applied. I wouldn’t make a habit of doing things last minute (it’s rude and just bad form in general), but people are more willing to help than you realize.

If you don’t qualify for that scholarship, I encourage you to look at other scholarships. Local organizations run scholarships as well as national organizations. Stop by a career center at your college or high school or ask other people (teachers or professors) to find out. A simple internet search should also point you in the right direction, but also use your better judgment when it comes to anything on the internet (seen a lot of shady dance contests).

I can’t guarantee that you’ll receive anything. I wasn’t convinced that I’d receive anything myself when I was 16 and applying. I did very well in high school, but I wasn’t valedictorian or salutatorian. I don’t know how they select people for scholarships anywhere. However, I do totally  believe that you should try, even for one time deals. Some people I knew at my high school walked away with $1000 for scholarships ran by the high school. It may not seem like a lot, but every dollar when you’re broke counts.

Good luck!

Although I admitted to not be a fan of DVDs for practice earlier, I am slowly changing my mind. After taking the veil class with Sonya, I found myself looking at Sonya’s notes and thinking “What on earth is that?” The veil move names aren’t always descriptive, I didn’t take notes (which I should have), and Sonya and I think and describe differently.

Enter Veil with Aziza. I chose this DVD, because I know that not only is Aziza amazing with veil but also Sonya favors Aziza’s stylying and uses her terminology.

This DVD is very easy to follow. Aziza is very thorough in covering veil, discussing materials and of course, moves. She has a tranquil way of talking and instructing; I found that different from the workshop I had taken. She had more energy. Perhaps she choose to be calmer because of the veil work? Her demeanor was pleasant, but it was different from what I had experienced.

Aziza demonstrated everything slowly, so if you have little familiarity with veil, you can definitely follow. She does speed it up a little, which is nice if you have done some veil work before. Another strong feature of this DVD is that she does veil combos. Dance to me always looks best when there is a flowing stream of moves. With veil, it’s imperative to have one move flow into another. By showing combos, Aziza demonstrates how to use good transition and have beautiful veil work. She also emphasizes that you dance with the veil; you just don’t stand there swishing it about. If you’ve ever seen Aziza, you’ll see that the veil is very much, as she puts it, an extension of her body.

Beyond what she does, the production quality is excellent. Everything is clear and shot so you can see what she’s doing.

I recommend Veil with Aziza if you are interested in veil. Even though I’ve done veil a few times, having a video reference is always good.  Below is a little segment of her DVD.

I begin school again on January 5th. The reality hit me when I realized that I needed to order my textbook last night to ensure I receive it in time for class. I have to admit, I wouldn’t mind a little more break. It has been relaxing, even though I have been working on many things.

I am getting like everyone else and looking at everything around me. What I’ve done, what I need to do, and what the future has in store this year/quarter. Because I’m feeling a little short-sighted, I’vew been thinking about this break and how good it was to do so little. I originally wanted to choreograph, make costumes, etc., but I needed a break more than anything. I’m glad that I did that.

In terms of the present, I really must have my applications completed by the time school begins. Although I probably can complete them during the school year- why chance it? I’ve been steadily re-editing my personal statement, and that will be completed by today, at least the bulk of it. Although I enjoy writing, personal statements are not my forte. I’m so glad I began early with mine. I knew I would keep editing until the bitter end.

Another task at hand that I must complete is reading all 48 papers for my research/thesis. The ones from earlier times (1920s or so) were very tedious to read. Stylistically- I can’t figure out what, but they were difficult to read because of that. As the decades progress, the papers are much easier to read (and also more enjoyable). I have completed 12 of them so far and I would like to have completed all 48 by the time school begins. When I have had the time and motivation to read, I have read 4 papers or so in a sitting, so I’m optimistic that this will happen.

My TA schedule- I have to admit, I’m not looking forward to it. I suspect it will be easy (intro labs only this time), but I also prefer something new. Intro labs are a challenge, since many students are not interested in physics, but I feel like I have done a pretty decent job in motivating them to be vaguely interested. I like the labs this quarter, though, since they involve optics. I’m a sucker for light and color, and I think most people are, too.

What I look forward to most is beginning my research. I love doing research, and I am pretty excited about playing with equipment. Table top experiments are exciting, since you can actually see (on some level; you might need a microscope) what’s going on. They always seem more hands-on to me. I also have not worked on a table top experiment, except for labs (and I don’t regard those as experiments), so this is going to be a very new and exciting experience.

I hope the weather behaves itself from now on, though. It’s hard to be excited or motivated by much when it’s so cold out.

Happy Christmas, everyone!!

Reading over my personal statement yet again (I am somewhat of a perfectionist), I realize that I see another connection to my physics interests and my dance interests. This is more of the academic side, though.

I’m reading discussions on how some very fundamental things about Middle Eastern dance are not decided upon, like what to call the glitzier, non-tribal dancers (cabaret? Oriental?). It’s mindblowingly basic, honestly, yet there is no solid answer. This really, seemingly simple, stuff is what I’m interested in with physics. Particles are seemingly basic things, no? They are fundamental building blocks, yet there are so many questions that go unanswered about them.

Perhaps I’m trying to find too many connections and making ones that simply do not exist (and being too self-analytical), but I think that I’m getting a new perspective on myself and what really interests me.

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