May 2010

Barefoot has been my pick for dancing since I began. I like the feeling of the ground beneath my feet while I dance.

However, the many turns/spins in the choreographies I’ve been learning have been rough on my feet. While I’ve experienced no pain, I have come home to discover the skin is ripped off or sagging  off the ball of my feet from the spins. I figure that it isn’t good, even if there is no pain. I’ve bit the bullet and decided to wear ballet slippers. I considered other options, like FootUndeez, but I figure that I’d rather have my entire foot protected.

I’ve been slowly adjusting to wearing shoes. I don’t love it, but the well-being of my foot is the more important than the minor weirdness of wearing ballet slippers. Spins are easier, which is nice but will be an adjustment.

The shoes are likely not to be a permanent fixture in my life (I don’t wear them for my other Middle Eastern dance class and I can’t wear them for Bharatanatyam), but they’ll probably make their appearance every now and then.

Meiver is having her show on August 18th at 8:00 PM in the Cambridge Multicultural Center. The show will benefit an organization called Matahari that works against the exploitation of people.

Triveni Dance school is holding their student concert on October 10th. It’ll feature Kuchipudi, Bharatanatyam, and Odissi. Details TBA

I’ll be in both 🙂

I mentioned before that I’ve been looking for ways to supplement my summer income. I’ve been looking at tutoring, but some of the rates are abysmal. One in particular compelled me to write about this. The person wanted to charge $10/hr and wanted a highly experienced person to prepare material for each session where s/he learned.

While I live in the Boston-area, where there are likely more tutors than tutees, rates like those are just not acceptable. Preparing material would probably take about 1 hour per week for a 2 hour session (possibly longer). The tutor is being paid roughly $6.67/hr. That isn’t including that jobs typically pay more for experience/education.

With the economy as it is, I understand that money is often tight. However, I don’t believe people should expect/ask for quality work for such low wages. You don’t go into Neiman Marcus and ask for jeans at Wal-Mart prices. Although I assume that people aren’t aware of the other aspects of their queries, I find wages like those insulting. I believe I’m worth much more than that. Unfortunately, I’m going to guess that someone will be happy to make so little. I don’t know who is to “blame” in these situations. All I ask is that if you’re looking for a private tutor or really, any kind of service, you consider the other aspects of these extra items before you decide to ask for such a low cost.

So I’ve been working my summer job, working for a summer class aimed at teachers, for the past 2 weeks, give or take. The job doesn’t appear to be difficult (administrative work). I was told the only difficult part is getting people to turn in the forms. I don’t have to work hard necessarily, but the hours are strange. I feel like I’m on-call. I’ll receive emails at any given hour, though they don’t come in that frequently. For instance, I’ll receive an email at 6 AM but won’t receive another until 9 PM at night.

As to be expected, people are people, even teachers. The emails are sometimes imperative though very last minute, which really is why I feel like I’m on-call. They range from late cancellation (late being day of) to confusion about where to go. Because there is a wait list for the program, I feel that it’s necessary to take care of things ASAP. Thank goodness for cell phones with email!

Despite the on-call feeling, I’m also stuck with a massive amount of time. I’m still job searching for a second part-time job not only to earn extra cash but to also to stave off boredom. I find that I’m most productive when I’m a little busier than when I have oodles of time on my hand. Finding summer work is very difficult; because of my current job, I have to be somewhat fussy about what I choose, since there are a handful of mandatory days for me to attend. Going back to grad school means I won’t take a job knowing that I’m going to quit in a few short months. The temp agencies that I called yesterday are optimistic, so hopefully they’ll come up with something.

It’s a shame that we can’t mix these excessively free periods with the crazy busy ones :).

I’m proud of my students; most of them actually appear to have taken to heart my advice on studying. Most students passed their finals with Bs or As. Not bad at all, considering some of them were not A or B students in this class. It was a pleasant surprise to say the least and a great way to end the school year. I don’t think I can emphasize enough how much I dislike giving a student a failing grade, even when that is what s/he earned.

Even though I’m iffy about teaching next year, I’m already thinking about what to do. Thinking about the advice another professor at the school gave me (don’t do more work than the students do), I’m considering not assigning homework formally. As most people know, the odd numbered problems have some kind of answer. My students typically don’t do homework (this is par for the course), and when they realize it’s a part of their grades, they do a rush job that is more about credit than understanding. I’m not anti-grades, but I’m more pro-learning than anything. My reasoning for considering this is that the students who want to learn and grasp the material will, they can check answers without consulting with me, the homework thing won’t hurt those who are super busy and may turn it in late, and it creates less work for me to grade something poorly done. I’ll still give quizzes, so they won’t totally be devoid of feedback. However, I am strongly learning towards this model.

Has anyone ever done a quiz/exam/attendance only for grades? I’m torn, but I also come from a world where homework saved my behind and I genuinely worked hard on it. The student population I work with is different (homework ended up hurting everyone’s grade, even those who did well on exams), so I have to figure out something that works for them.

Meiver’s intensive class involves fan veils, so I found myself in need of a pair. My last time purchasing fan veils was not good, if you remember; they simply wouldn’t open, even for my teacher, I didn’t care for the unfinished edges, the sparkle flowers fell off, etc. Besides the entire “you get what you pay for”, Sonya always said that the right “tools” (props) make dancing with them easy and enjoyable. In retrospect, I think not having a good set of fan veils kept me away from playing with them, much like how I didn’t enjoy playing zills because mine didn’t have a nice sound.

I decided this time to not cheap out and get well-reputed ones. Meiver thankfully worked out a deal with Fairy Cove Silks. They are significantly more than other fan veils ($110/pair, whereas others are about $60/pair). However, they have a huge selection of silk colorings and are recommended.

When I ordered my pair, I chose “Moss and Roses” silk, because I assumed an already dyed pair would ship faster. It turns out that Meag, the owner, dyes silk constantly, so I could’ve picked another color combination. They shipped lighting fast; I ordered on Tuesday morning, they were in the mail sometime that day, and I believe I received them by Thursday. Not too shabby, considering they shipped from Oregon to Boston. By the way, the customer service at Fairy Cove is outstanding; I received relies to my emails very quickly, within hours of me sending them. Impressive, considering some emails were sent at night.

The fan veils themselves are simply gorgeous. Although I may have picked a different color combination had I known they would’ve shipped as quickly, I’m still pleased with these colors. I took some photos outside by myself, but the photos don’t really do the veils justice. The silk is dyed beautifully; it isn’t just blocks of color but gradients. I’m not sure how much of a difference gradients will make when one is turning, but they’re nice for me to view :). The fans are “handed” which means there is one that opens for the right hand and one that opens for the left. I haven’t worked with fans enough to have a preference. I believe you can order two right hand fans, though, but you would have to request them.

The edges of the silk are overlocked, so they will not unravel. With my brief playing with them, the little bit of weight from the thread doesn’t appear to make a  difference in the motion. They flow like a regular veil. They also open with ease. I can’t think of anything I really dislike about them at this moment. The price isn’t cheap, but I believe it’s a fair price for the craftmanship. They are insanely nice.

I’m not sure if fan veils are going to a prop I use frequently, but having a good pair will definitely encourage me to experiment and practice with them more.

Yesterday, I took the plunge and committed myself to Meiver of Boston’s intensive repertory class. She has been advertising it for a bit, but I had let time slip and then thought I wouldn’t have the time or money. Thanks to Facebook and friends’ participation (gotta love indirect peer pressure), as well as admiring Meiver’s dancing, I contacted her, got the info, and decided to go for it.

If you are not participating, this class is going to cover a lot of material. Khaleegi, Saidi, fan veil, and an Oriental piece. This is a lot of material as is, but she’s also running this only for 3 weeks in May. Students are expected to show up to 6/8 classes or 2 classes/week. Everything is very reasonably priced (she wants people to be able to participate).

Last night was my first night there. Meiver is a great instructor; I plan on taking more classes from her in the future. She’s very warm and friendly, which is vital to any good instructor, especially if you’re dancing in the heat and humidity. I immensely respect that although this is dance intensive and we’re primarily there to learn these choreographies, that she makes a point of sharing the background information on each of the regional dances and throwing in tidbits.

Her choreographies are creative and beautiful, too. I love Saidi, so there was no worry that would enjoy that. I love the playfulness and am in general, a big folkloric fan. Although my head/neck are feeling it this morning, I had fun doing Khaleegi, which surprised me. I am not a fan of Khaleegi in general; I’m not big on hair tosses and didn’t favor what I learned or have seen of it. Granted, it hasn’t been much, but I’ve seen a fair handful. We didn’t get to the fan veil stuff but the Oriental choreography is very pretty, albeit fast.

What I like most about her choreographies is that they utilize the group. The hallmark of a good group choreography is that it isn’t a bunch of people doing the same thing together all the time. That looks good at times, but I rally appreciate when one group does something to the left while another group does something to the right or they play off of each other. From working with others on choreography and then learning the choreography, creating a dynamic choreography that uses the group isn’t easy but is visually worthwhile.

I look forward to the rest of the classes and seeing the end product. This is going to take a lot of time, but I think I’m going to immensely grow as a dancer.

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