June 2009


Needing to fill my need of veil work, I picked up Fabulous Four Yard Veils with Shoshanna – Belly Dance. Shoshanna is of Arcata, CA; she is involved heavily with L.Rose Designs, since her mother is in charge of that. When I saw her last year for the Aida Nour show, she was very captivating. She and her veil are really partners; it isn’t just some prop to look cool. One of the issues with props of any kind is if the dance becomes a bunch of prop tricks vs. dancing. Shoshanna is one of the best examples of someone who dances with veil, not shows off a bunch of tricks while standing there.

Onto the DVD. You don’t need a 4 yard veil for this DVD, although some of the moves would look better with one and the claim is that if you can do something with a 4 yard veil, 3 yards should be a snap. The DVD is moderately long, which is nice, and the price is very reasonable at $20. I’m not sure how easy this DVD is without veil training; I have a quite a bit at this point. I found the DVD easy to follow. Shoshanna has good technique and works through a move fairly quickly, but I don’t think it’s impossible to get the gist. Veil moves are often best practiced in combos, since they have to transition really well. Shoshanna does go over some combos at the end.

There are a good number of moves. The best thing about this DVD is Shoshanna really does give you more bang for your buck. She goes over numerous moves, both skinny edge and long edge. Even though I have a fair amount of veil experience, I learned some new moves on this one, too.

Shoshanna has two people behind her, doing the same move that she does. The only difference is that they use different types of veil (for instance, one may use a half-circle) which is interesting to see; different veils move differently.

I’ve heard some criticisms that she speaks very quickly at times on this DVD. I myself am considered a fast speaker by some (I think it’s the difference between growing up on the East coast and now residing in the MidWest), so I didn’t have a problem. I liked that her speech speed was a little uneven. Shoshanna came off very natural.

During the DVD, Shoshanna goes over one of the more useful ideas: covering up mistakes and going beyond them. From what I understand about veil, veils have mood swings during performances. Since many people do end performing at some level (amateur to pro), I think it’s valuable to discuss what to do when something bad happens.

One of the things I’d change about it were the veil discussion (which veil works well with what) was a little brief, and I thought it was odd to follow the warm up with that. If you’re warmed up, you should continue on with exercise, not break. There are a few parts in the beginning where she is bent over and speaks too closely into the microphone; the sound difference was jarring to me.

This is a good choice to learn some veil moves or to hone in on your practice. I have some new ideas of moves to practice that I hadn’t done in class. I would definitely purchase another DVD by Shoshanna.

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I went back to dance class. It felt good, even though it was pretty empty. I realized how weak I’ve gotten from just sitting and working at the lab for the past month. I will need to train a little get back in the shape I was before quitting. Even though I physically can’t see it (still thin), I don’t think I’m as strong as I was; it makes sense to me, since one of my friends was pianist and her fingers would be weaker if she didn’t practice for a week. I guess you lose it if you don’t use it.

The reasons I’m fan of classes are I like the social aspect and having a real instructor. Unlike a DVD, a good instructor can immediately correct you, preventing injury or point out where you’re going wrong (hands doing something odd, line not looking nice, etc.). Going to class forces me out of my comfort zone a little. Since I don’t control the class, sometimes we end up working on things I wouldn’t normally work on but should. We have occasionally learned things I don’t know much about. I also like going to a dance class, because I feel compelled to improve. I feel like I’m being disappointing if I don’t show signs of improvement.

Despite how hectic I anticipate the upcoming weeks to be, I think I am going to make more time for myself and my dancing.

I’ve been running around like crazy, trying to do be a great grad student (attending thesis defenses, scrambling to complete my own research), working, and job searching.

My dance and physical activity has been put aside, unfortunately. When I do think about going to dance class, it’s hard for me to motivate myself to take a 45 min bus ride one way and go. Besides being tired, there is just so much to do here that I can’t convince myself that 2.5 hours of my time (in principle that the busses are timely) is worth it, despite me not knowing where I’ll be in a few months. I’m planning on going to it on Saturday. To myself back into it, I’ve invested in some instructional DVD. I figure that they’ll be an excellent way to practice, which I sorely need.

On the thesis front, things are marching along. My data collection has gone really well, and I should be 100% complete my early (Tuesday) of next week. The only worrisome thing is that my advisor has been summoned to jury duty. He does not know if he’ll be needed, but the way life rolls sometimes- I’m afraid he’ll be put on a jury that’ll last for months. In any case, anything longer than a day would be a problem, since my advisor is leaving sometime late July for a 2 week vacation. Part of my hustle is to send him off (he is willing to do this) with a draft of my thesis. My goal is defend during the beginning of August.

Job searching- well it is what it is. I did write a teaching statement for the job I really want. I found writing the statement challenging but also important. It helped clarify some of my thoughts and beliefs on teaching.

As for my current job, it marches along. The students are not happy campers, but it is summer school after all. I don’t imagine learning a normally 10-week course in the span of 3.5 weeks is fun, either. They seem to be understanding things fairly well, but I think they just had their first exam, so we shall see.

And how is your summer?

My friend, K, was the last of his class to go on as a MS holder. His these was quite good. It was a short presentation (about 30 min), but it was solid.

I feel a little sad, because thesis defenses at this point are what funerals are to a lot of families: the only time we ever see each other anymore. Now that the bulk of them are finished (we have 2-3 three left, including mine), I don’t know when I’m going to see everyone next as a group. I hadn’t seen K in about 2-3 months. He isn’t my BFF, but I do like seeing him and just the old group of grad students and a former professor. There was more of a cohesive group. On a whole, we all liked each other. I could always count on having a good conversation with many of them.

While I look forward to being finished with my thesis, I didn’t look forward to everyone else being done. When I’ll see everyone again? I don’t know.

When I came back from my vacation, I was pleasantly surprised to see DaVid had contacted me and thanked me for my review, as well as informing me of the updates. What a great guy. Seriously, I think it’s cool to take an active stance in your business and not get upset when people don’t think you’re perfect. Another person who thanked me for the review was a person involved with the Global Girlfriend yoga pants. I like seeing people comment, if only because I like knowing someone is reading and not just clicking and closing out of this blog. It’s smart business for the business people; if I like someone and respect their work, I’m more likely to buy something they made.

I thought that I’d throw it out there tonight that I don’t mind and enjoy hearing from the creators of the things I review. Also, if you’ve created something relevant to this blog and would like me to review it, send an email to me (particularly if it involves free things :)).

Despite feeling behind on my thesis (my advisor goes away for 2 weeks in July), I decided to take a small break and enjoy life. It sounds weird, because I just came back from vacation, but the truth is that it was a busy, stressful time. My SO is looking for an apartment in Boston-area, and it’s difficult. I’m just leaving it at that.

Not doing anything but some light shopping felt amazing. I skipped going to dance class (I didn’t want to deal with the bus today) and just lounged. The funny thing is that this evening I became motivated again to work on my thesis. Nothing major, just figuring out how to do bibliography notation in LaTeX and outling my theory section. I’m going to work on some dance projects after I finish writing this entry.

While continuing on with my education without any interuptions would’ve bene nice (if only for financial security), I think I desperately need a break. I feel physically tired quite often and stressed. I don’t think people acknowledge enough how important it is to take the occasional break. I’m not the most spiritual person, but perhaps life decided that I need to regroup, refocus, and most importantly, relax.

One of the requirements for a job I’m interested in requires a teaching statement. I did a thorough search and learned what one is: I have to write a 1 page (I received the page length from them) essay, detailing what values and such I hold in teaching, as well as how I execute them.

A tall order for me. I haven’t been teaching that long, and I’m still refining my technique and beliefs every day. The page length thing is another issue, but really, my mental block has been why I do what I do and writing about it in an eloquent manner. I think the exercise has been worthwhile, if only because the statement is forcing me to really think it over.

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