This past weekend Melina, a local dancer whose mother and sister both dance, opened her and husband’s  new circus/Middle Eastern dance studio in Waltham, a suburb of Boston. If you were looking to start dancing and live in the area, I’ve heard excellent things about Melina. I myself about considering lessons from her, since my significant other lives so close by and she is skilled in things I can’t necessarily get from my current class.

I went to her studio warming on Saturday. The performances were good, and they sure know how to cater. Their space is magnificent. High ceiling, sparkling wood floors, large openness, etc. It’s practically the perfect studio.

On Sunday, I went to workshops where Piper, Melina’s sister, taught. Piper is from Baltimore; I thought it was really sweet of her to attend this for her sister. The first workshop of Sunday was a drum choreography. Typically, I am not a fan of choreographic workshops; I went to this one, because I wanted to make a day of it and was interested in the second workshop. Why don’t I like choreographic workshops? I’m never going to use the choreography, and unless they are used to teach special skills, like propwork or a certain flavor like Turkish, I don’t really get much out of it. Piper did an excellent job, changing my opinion of choreography in a workshop or class. She gave us moves to do, little combinations, that I hadn’t seen before and I could use later. I appreciate that she would talk about different aspects of the choreography and tell us why she did what she did, like why she drove certain moves from her leg vs. glutes. I was further impressed that in both workshops, she told us where she learned or was inspired by a move or step; I think it’s very respectable to give credit like that.

The second workshop was not what I thought it was going to be. I thought it was going to be veil and taqsim (the improv, solo instrument part of a song); instead, it was pretty much all veil. If I hadn’t taken so much veil from Sonya and some other teachers, I would’ve gotten more out of it. I’m not in top veil form (I hadn’t used my veils since May), so I at least got a healthy workout. I agree with everything Piper said (veil being the partner, dancing with the veil and adding something small make veils amazing, etc.) and those items are worth repeating, but I’m also aware of them. I learned some new names for moves I knew, which I do think it useful. Piper is good at teaching veil, especially since many people in the room seems novice.

Throughout both workshops, Piper was a true professional. I like that she emphasized safety, did charm us with tales but didn’t make it story hour, and was just overall a warm, caring, knowledgeable instructor. She had us switch rows, too, which is a small but important sign she knows what she’s doing; being in a fairly crowded workshop means that not everyone gets a good view of the instructor or a spot at the mirror, so I am always happy to have a row switching teacher. Melina’s setup allowed for Piper to use a headset microphone so we could all hear her; that may seem trivial, but in crowded areas with noisy dancers, that is a necessity that I haven’t really seen used. I can’t wait until she comes back to the Boston-area.

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