The details are updated.  It’ll be held in MIT Kresge Auditorium on October 10, 2010, 12 noon.

Kuchipudi, Bharatanatyam, and Odissi will be performed. I’ve never been or performed in this particular show, but I hear very positive things. I’m going to be in it with my class.

Dance stuff that’s going on around the area in the upcoming months.

  • Ranya workshop. I am attending this event in RI on the 27th of February. To tell you the truth, I know very little about Ranya, except my friends have raved about her. She has a very well-reputed Beledi DVD and is supposed to be fantastic as both a dancer and instructor.
  • Hafli for Haiti. I’m dancing in this. It is a fundraiser for Haiti relief. It’s being held on 28 February at the VFW (371 Summer Street, Somerville, MA). Suggested donation is $15. For further information, please contact Badriya  (badriya at rcn.com).
  • “Ardhanareshwar Shiva Shakti”. Triveni Dance school is putting on a concert on April 18th. The information is here. Although I don’t have specific details, I believe the concert will consist of Odissi, Bharatanatyam, and Kuchipudi.

Are there any other ethnic dance events in the Boston-area that I’m missing that you’d like to share?

I’ve started taking Bharatanatyam again, a classical Indian dance. I’ve had on and off experience with Bharatanatyam starting in 2005. I switched to Odissi after a summer of Bhartanatyam. I studied Odissi for 2 years. Once I went to Chicago, I couldn’t find an Odissi teacher, which was remarkable to me; Chicago has a huge Indian population and even has a neighborhood/street filled with Indian businesses. I took the occasional Bharatanatyam lesson from Danielle, but I eventually stopped that (she didn’t think we had the room to really go where we should with dancing). Now that I’m more settled, I came back into Indian dance.

Why did I go to Bharatanatyam? Time suitability. I love Odissi and will probably end up studying it again someday, but for now, I’m happy learning Bharatanatyam. They are both beautiful dance forms. I’m lucky that muscle memory still exists and that the constant drilling of my past instructors has stuck with me. I’m not perfect, but it’s nice to see that I was trained well. I know people fear that switching teachers. There is the whole being in a new environment and just wondering if you are really in the right class. With Middle Eastern dance, there were quite a few holes in my education from not sticking with one teacher, since there are different standards of what constitutes an “intermediate” or who is really “professional-level.”One of the things I always liked about Indian dance is that it has been codified. Things are named. There are different schools/gurus that vary, but I had assumed there were things that were quite standard across the board.

On Friday, I learned that isn’t so much the case. I went back to a very beginner class of Bharatanatyam, because I thought I should learn from the ground up and regain the strength, etc. We go over the mudras (hand gestures) every week; the teacher gives us about 5 new ones to memorize. For the past two weeks, I have been perplexed, because the mudras are  named slightly differently than the names I was given from my other teachers; I always assumed mudra names were fairly standard, since I had heard the same set of names/been given the same charts from three others who do not know each other and from two different classical Indian dance styles. For instance, I memorized 2 forms of “kartarimukha” and pronounce it as “kar-tar-ee-mook-a.” My current class has only one form and we pronounce it “kar-tar-ee-mook.” It isn’t a different mudra, since it’s one of the 2 I know. I finally asked on Friday about this; I didn’t want to be “that student” who thinks s/he knows more than the teacher or assumes one of the teachers is wrong. I was curious, if it was a regional difference of pronunciation. It turns out that the texts are very vague about things and that while there are commonalities, it isn’t so cut and dry as I had originally assumed. I wasn’t taught incorrectly, just differently.

Unfortunately, all that great memorization of mudras that I retained will have to change in accordance to my current teacher. As I’ve said in the past, unlearning something is harder than learning it the first time.

I began ballet recently, as I mentioned. I’ve been pleasantly surprised. I believe that I’ve mentioned in the past that ballet is incorporated in Middle Eastern dance in some sense; a lot of dancers are trained in ballet from their childhood or some similar time, so they often use balletic terms (releve`, for instance) to describe what we’re doing. Ballet has also been recommended as a way to increase gracefulness and carriage.

I’m not a huge ballet fance, truth be told. However, I am game for trying new things and improving my dance on a whole. That’s why I’m taking ballet. I found ballet isn’t completely foreign. Some of the exercises we’ve done (plies in difference positions) remind me of strength exercises I’ve done in Bharatanatyam and Odissi. The armwork is similar to that of the Middle Eastern classes.

I enjoyed my ballet class; as of today, this isn’t something that I’m passionate about. Since I immediately clicked with other dance forms, I don’t expect to have that happen with ballet. However, I’m going to continue. While ballet may not be a love of mine, I did like it and I can see how it’s going to be useful. My ankles are weaker than they had been, and the exercises we did will definitely strengthen them. I like that the exercises are simple enough (at least now) I can refine my arms and hands. The exercises were also relaxing but challenging, if only because I lack the strength.

Happy 2009! I hope everyone had an awesome New Year’s Eve. I mself had a very quiet one in, which was nice.

Since I’m a goal-oriented person, here are my goals in physics and dance this year. I hope that they will guide me along.

  • Do well in school. Enough said.
  • Practice more and incorporate other things into practice. I basically want to start really incorporating more yoga into my practice. Since my schedule is weird because of school, I’m also looking to start using DVDs as a supplement to my practice. I will write about the change of mentality with that later.
  • Complete my thesis defense by August.
  • Save money to go onto a trip. I haven’t done a long vacation in a while, so this is really an award/treat for me.
  • Practice Odissi on my own. I miss Odissi a lot, and I have the book that my teacher wrote, outlining many steps or arsas. I feel like I understand enough of the posture to at least be able to drill and keep the strength in my legs.
  • Gain proficiency with tribal dance and learn Turkish Oriental. I love Egyptian Oriental, but I am interested in spreading my wings and trying other styles. Tribal I’ve been doing, but I’d love to be better. Turkish is very new to me, but I love the energy in it. Since my overlying goal in dance is to eventually become some flavor of professional, I’d like to increase my knowledge.
  • Expand and refine folkloric and lesser known Middle Eastern dance. I loved what I did with Aradia while I was in Vegas. I want to learn whatever I can this year. Raqs al assaya (cane), melaya leff, anything.
  • Attend as many workshops as possible. Disappointingly, there has not been much word about workshops in Chicago and making it to other workshops outside of Chicago is difficult. However, I hope everyone just got so busy with the holidays that they haven’t posted events yet.
  • Practice zills and veil. I really would like to be better at both. Zills done well are just amazing and veil is so beautiful.

I originally bought this book as a coffee table book. However, Indian Classical Dance: Tradition in Transition offers more than a book for guests to casually browse.

One of the most striking parts of the book are the photographs. They are absolutely crisp and beautiful to see. They are well worth the cost of the book. Beyond the photos, though, is a lot of useful information about classical Indian dance. The text is very detailed and takes you through the origins to contemporary time. If you’re interested in any of the major classical Indian dances, I’d check this book out.

Today marks the end of summer school and my one year anniversary of moving to Chicago. One year ago today, I was at Logan airport or maybe in the sky with my cat. Things have definitely changed for me in many ways.

Grad School– Starting grad school was difficult for me. There’s the sheer idea of strictly studying physics (I always took roughly half my classes in the humanities and arts), the intensity of quarter system (I was quite used to semester system), in class exams (all of my undergraduate exams were take-homes), and being out of a single sex environment (it does feel odd being in a predominantly male environment, though this is closer to a “real” physics environment). I had some personal problems that were unexpected (namely, my father almost died back on the East coast from an undetected heart problem). I knew no one here when I moved, which further complicated  my situation. I am always amazed at how much of an impact one’s personal life can have on the experience. Things felt like they came together spring quarter and I’m happy to say they still do. I look forward to this next year, and I sincerely hope that it will not have so many problems as the last. I feel like I have found a place here, which for me,  is very important.

TAing– As I mentioned in the previous entry, before last year, I had never taught before. All my work during my undergraduate years was either research or misc. spot jobs. Teaching scared me a little. I worried about failing at it and letting others down. My personal life did affect me a little, but again, I feel like have come into my own and am comfortable. This summer was good for me, because I not only further developed my teaching skills, but I also developed some confidence, which was critical for me to be success. I feel good about the work I did this summer. It wasn’t perfect and as anything, could use improvement, but I feel like I can effectively teach. Anything from watching students start off shy and unsure and become confident in their knowledge or apathy disappear feels like a success. Even though I’m not the only TA for this, nor am I the professor, I think I did impact the students positively.

Dance classes– My dance classes have been a mix of good and bad. The worst thing I can honestly say is I’m disappointed I haven’t been able to continue Odissi. I really loved going to Neena Gulati’s every Saturday in Boston for classes. Odissi feels wonderful to me, and I love its graceful, flowing style. Many Middle Eastern fusion dancers study some Indian dance for fusion; I study it for the sake of studying it. I would’ve been fine for Bharatanatyam here, but alas, nothing has worked out. I’m keeping my eyes peeled but I’m not sure. I do think the Javanese will be a nice complement to Middle Eastern dance, as well as being mentally good for me, but I don’t know how passionate I am about it.

The Middle Eastern dance here has been wonderful. My dance teachers have been wonderful for that and on a personal level, I really needed that outlet many times (I recommend most people in grad school have some kind of hobby like that to default to; I think it’s healthy). I’m really lucky to study under the people I do. I feel like my technique is becoming stronger, and I’m getting better ideas of what I need to do to get to where I want to go.

 

Sitting here at the computer, I still am amazed about how much has changed in a year. It really doesn’t seem like that long ago I had arrived here with only a suitcase, my computer, and my cat. Chicago doesn’t really feel like home to me, but it definitely feels much more familiar and comfortable after a year.