This past weekend was filled with one things: Raks Nativity (well, that and a paper due Wednesday). Raks Nativity is Nepenthe’s interesting idea to tell the story of Jesus’ birth through Middle Eastern dance. The experience was interesting, because most of the people acting and dancing are not religious people, and I don’t think any of us ever did a Christmas play.

My role was the “village girl/kind innkeeper.” I enjoyed my bit role, even though I would’ve liked some extra practice with the people I’d share the stage with. Mainly because it is difficult to figure out how to navigate showing off a small marketplace by oneself, but also because I really liked everyone who was in the play. Perhaps this is a me thing, but I don’t feel like we often come together to work on something as community. People will throw haflas or invite others to perform in their shows, but I cannot think of a time a group of dancers who are not in the same class come together to work on a project together. There is something nice about that. I imagine that it is logistically difficult, but it something I’d like to see continue.

The audience was nice collection of non-dancers and dancers; I must say that it was touching to see how many people came out to support the show, because it was quite far from Boston (about an hour or so drive). The play I believe went well; I hope I did well. I didn’t see most of it that night, but at rehearsal, it looked good. The concept seems odd, but when you see it, it really was a solidly good show. I like that the show had a mix of comedy, acting, and dancing; even for someone who loves watching dance, a show can seem long if there is no variety. The show felt like it went by quickly to me; it was inherently a short show, but also I think the pacing was good that left you satisfied but wanting more.

It was a lot of fun, and even though I’m sure Nepenthe and co. are tired, it would be awesome if we could do this again during the summer or spring.

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I’ve been meaning to write this entry since the workshop, but alas, time and forgetfulness got in the way. Oh well.

Meiver taught a fan veil workshop in October. Although I had learned fan veil technique previously from Meiver over the summer and had a brief introduction in Chicago, I learned even more. The workshop was well-designed, with Meiver discussing where to buy fan veils and the difference in quality. It may seem like a minute detail, but the quality of your props makes a HUGE difference, as well as the size. With so many vendors out there and money not being as free flowing for most of us, these discussions are important to help make the best decisions.

Another important aspect in the workshop was Meiver discussing when and how she felt that using fan veils made sense and a brief history of fan veil use. I liked the history bit, because it was interesting. Hearing when and how fan veil use worked well was good, because it helped me envision what I could do with them.

The exercises Meiver had us do were a combination of new and old (well, to people who have experienced the fan veil stuff over the summer) things. One thing I liked that Meiver mentioned at the beginning was that we should try to remember and take away 5 things from the workshop. I’m currently assessing how I want to use workshops in my dance education; this five things method may be the answer I was looking for, because you cannot get everything out of a workshop.

A rather large part of the workshop was doing exercises across the floor or in a circle. This gave Meiver a chance to correct us individually. It also allowed us to travel in the space, something I admittedly don’t do that often (my home space is much too small).

We ended the workshop with a choreography of sorts, to see how the technique we learned fits into a song and becomes a dance.  Although I am not a fan of choreography workshops, I liked having that little bit to really understand how things work together; one of my area of improvement in my dance is to learn how to create really flowing dance and not feel like there are sudden, unintentional stops.

The workshop was packed full of information and remarkably, there is still more. Meiver is considering a Fan Veils Part 2 workshop to build upon what was done. Although I have been a little more reluctant to use fan veil and haven’t been much of a fan (no pun intended), I’m starting to be won over by them.

I *think* way back in September I had written about auditioning for Raks Nativity, the story of Jesus’s birth through Middle Eastern dance. I have a small role (inn keeper and village girl) in the play. I also am designing the program. The play is a creative idea and is a fundraiser for Cradles to Crayons, are organization that helps young children. The show is very thoughtfully put together; the ladies in charge did quite a bit of research. I also like that Raks Nativity includes many people in the community; I sometimes forget how large the dance community in Boston is, and it’s always heart-warming, as cheesy as it sounds, for so many different people to come together not only for the love of dance but also for a charity.

Raks Nativity will be held on Dec 4, 2010 at 7:30 PM, at Chelmsford Center for the Arts, 1A North Road, Chelmsford MA. Buying tickets ahead of time is advised.

Meiver is holding a fan veil workshop at Green Street Studios on October 30th from 2:30-4 PM. Please email her at arabiyya@gmail.com for more info. Reserve your spot today, since the workshop has a 14 person capacity. Over half the spots are taken!

I got them yesterday, after a very look week. I was so excited to get them, because I had wanted a pair for a long time. $60 is a steal.

meloWhen I got home, I tried them on. They fit beautifully except for the upper hip/top of the pant area. I anticipated having to do some playing with the hem (someone online has shown that you can drawstring inside the legs to shorten them a little), but I never expected them to be way too big at the top. I know I’m small, but I didn’t expect them to be that big for a size small, when I don’t think there is anything smaller, like XS.

In short, as much as I love the look, I’m not going to deconstruct and reconstruct them to fit me. I’m currently trying to resell them, since I certainly can’t wear them.

I mentioned that one of the problems with taking a fan veil workshop was my fan veils. Fan veil 1Because I didn’t know much about working with fan veils and didn’t know if they were my thing, I thought I’d go with a cheap option. I think these were about $60 for a pair, including shipping. This style of fan veil is sold a lot of places, I believe: they have multicolored glitter flowers on them and a long tail of silk attached to the fan part.

The most positive thing to mention about them is I think they’re pretty to look at. I really like the dye job on the veil part. They’re not visually ugly, with glue where the silk attaches to the fan. I’ve seen that on some fan veils. While that may not be seen from far away, I still want my props to look fairly nice up close, if only so that I can admire them.

That’s where my compliments for my fan veils end. The blades are not smooth; I think it’d be quite easy to get a splinter with them. Even iIMG_1219f it isn’t, they just don’t feel nice to hold. The blades additionally don’t stay open well. They need to be held open, or the fan folds in on itself. I don’t know if this is common with fans in generally, but I am kind of doubtful that it is. I also found them difficult to crack open with one hand; I don’t know if it’s the nature of fan veils period or my lack of experience, but even Sonya didn’t have the easiest time getting them to open.

My other complaint about them is that I only used these once for about 2 hours, and the adorable little flowers have already started to fall off. I think I lost about 3; some other women had similar fans to mine and I could see their fans shedding the flowers as well. I’m doubtful that they’d hold up well for extended practice.

While I’m glad I was able to try fan veil, I wish these guys were better. Perhaps someone who is more patient with them will get better use, but I’m lazy. I don’t want my prop work to be as effortless as possible.

Melodia Designs is having a red pants sale. All the red pants are on sale for $60, instead of the normal $80. Get ’em while they’re hot! Because of the Dina workshop cancellation, I was able to afford a pair for myself.