January 2011


My blog and all of its content have finally made it onto my server. Please update your bookmarks and links to http://www.laislique.com/blog if you would like to continue reading my blog. Same content, just with a new address and shiny layout.

-Aleksie

This break I’ve taken the opportunity to finally get my apartment organized. Really organized, not the quick, sort of but really organized thing I usually do. I have plenty of reasons for doing this, but namely, I’m tired of not being able to find things or even better, not finding things, purchasing them, and then discovering that the item was buried underneath other items. Also, because of not having an office at school and my late night writing tendencies, I generally work from home, so I prefer having some physical organization amidst the mental chaos of doing schoolwork. Although I am not the kind of person who does these huge cleaning projects frequently, I do find it somewhat relaxing to get rid of things, organize better, etc.

One would think with the amount of moving that I have done in the past 8 or so years that I would’ve really cleared out all the excessive, but I have not. Well, each move has involved getting rid of items, but there were still plenty of things that were just here without any purpose. I had gotten into the habit of archiving old schoolwork, thinking “What if I need to remember these things?” Occasionally, they have been very handy but now that I’m on a different career path, I’m questioning whether I need a lot of what I have. I did some major discarding as a result.

I feel like it’s much more pleasant to work in my space now that there isn’t so much clutter. The massive cleaning/organization project isn’t complete; I’m in the midst of hunting for nice but affordable drawer organizing accessories. But even with what I’ve done so far, working at home has gone better than before.

At the very beginning of last semester, I was scheduled to take a class that was canceled about 2 hours prior to class time. No one had told me that the class was canceled, there were no notices online, etc. I had assumed that I would be withdrawn from the class, because the school had canceled the class, due to low enrollment.

It turns out that they not only did not withdraw me from the class, but also because I ended registering for another class, they billed me for being over the standard number of credits. The bill is not trivial, about $2500.

Hopefully, this matter is taken care of in a straight-forward way; luckily, the professor who is in charge of my independent study was supposed to teach the canceled class, and well- it is the school’s fault. I have already sent a polite email to my college, explaining the situation. Perhaps I should have checked a little more closely that I had been withdrawn from the class, but- well, it just made sense to me that I would’ve been automatically withdrawn and the class would disappear from the course catalog that semester, since people register for classes a week or two into the semester.

Lesson: It always pays to read your bills, sometimes literally.

Next week will be my last lesson with Najmat for about 4 months, save maybe spring break. My school schedule does not permit me to continue on with her classes; a required course is held basically at the same time, and there is no way to get around that. Believe me, I’ve looked and talked to people. School is ultimately my priority and my “job”, so that will have to take priority.

At first, I was sad by not continuing one with Najmat’s class, at least for the time being. I’ve gotten to know some of the ladies in that class pretty well, and I will miss the community. However, I decided to use this time to try new teachers, explore new topics through private lessons. I picked private lessons again because of the time factor; I have class Monday through Thursday during the hours where people teach and the few who don’t, well, a girl’s gotta eat sometime in the day.

Private lessons are not only ideal because of the time flexibility but also because they’re really tailored to the student. The Boston-area is rich with quality dance instructors; I plan on taking classes from Shadia and maybe some others to learn some specialized skills. I already have enough ideas of what needs improvement and plan on working through those topics, so the focus will be more on specialized skills over technique although I’m sure technique will come into play.

To defray costs and to keep up with the community feeling, I’ve asked some friends if they’re interested in making the private lessons semi-private. The topics that I’ve brought up are zills, Lebanese-style cane, tray, melaya leff, and shamadan/zeffa. I’ve also asked for their suggestions, because I may have forgotten something. However, I’m looking for even more topics to learn; I figure it would be better to have too many than too few, since I’ll be in the area for at least another 1-3 years. If you were taking private lessons in Middle Eastern dance, what topics would you chose to learn?

Firstly, happy New Year! 2011 has already had a great start for me, in the form of watching Project Belly Dance.

Project Belly Dance is a small reality TV show/competition for the many flavors of Middle Eastern dancers; the winner gets to star in her own Cheeky Girls DVD. The reaction of the Middle Eastern dance world was mixed. I personally have been excited. Partially because I don’t have cable and welcome any kind of free TV entertain, partially because the people (Michelle Joyce and Lotus Niraja) behind the show have time and again shown a commitment to producing high quality, respectable resources for the Middle Eastern dance community.

The first episode was released today at the Project Belly Dance website. Although competitions are not my thing and I’m not a reality TV show follower, I immensely enjoyed the first episode. The show had a bit of cheesiness, but it is a reality show, after all. The competition was serious, and the contestants behaved professionally; these women competing are actual professionals in the Middle Eastern dance world. The drama wasn’t over-the-top (or really present, for the most part), and I felt like the judges were fair and weren’t excessive in their criticism or adulation. I look forward to seeing the rest of the episodes.