Even with the holiday Monday, I feel ever so slightly behind on life. Photos and adjustments to my costume haven’t happened yet, because school, MassRaqs, and Bharatanatyam are taking up time.

Yesterday, I had 6 hours back to back of lecture, which was a bit hard to sit through. Not impossible, but I was definitely feeling antsy. I’m glad that I brought a snack along, because I was starving after the first class.

The schoolwork, thus far, doesn’t seem bad. A fair amount of reading, but besides one class where we have a presentation every week for awhile, nothing too crazy. One of the things I’m struggling with in school isn’t the work but knowing how to gauge things. A physics or math class is fairly predictable, and I’ve done it numerous times. I have a firm grasp on the time and effort it takes me to do physics, plus there is typically a definitive end point. With humanities, not only have I not taken a humanities class in about 5 years, but also I don’t know how much time a grad humanities should take me. Physics grad school was kind of similar to physics undergrad for me, only more difficult material and in-class exams.

MassRaqs is slowly culminating. I work on the program, so it’s sort of rush rush time to get things in and then for me to make it happen.

As for Bharatanatyam, I’ve been going to practice twice a week, as well as trying to practice on my own. I think it is coming along, although we have not had a consistent group of dancers to rehearse. The choreography has place changes and parts where only certain people dance, so the vision is a little lost when only a handful of people are there.

The other big project, my new website, unfortunately has been put to the side. I’m hoping to have completed it by the end of this month, though. Like most things in life, making my website has taken a little more work than I had anticipated. Things have changed a lot from when I made websites, and making a site with a CMS wasn’t as easy as I had thought it would be.

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I realized yesterday that we have roughly a month until the performance for Meiver’s recital. While I have enjoyed the training and think it was good to be taken out of my comfort zone, learning 4 choreographies for her and 2 for Bharatanatyam has left little time for my own personal things. I’ll still need to work on the two choreographies, but going from 6 to 2 is going to be a huge break. When I have my “down time”, I plan on working on the followings:

  • Zills. Zills are far from my comfort zone, but I’d like to get better at them.
  • Working with DVDs. I have stack of DVDs I have not gotten the full use out of.
  • Ballet. I’ve been meaning to attend ballet again, but with attending dance class and/or practicing 4-5 times a week, it doesn’t allow for me to attend ballet. I feel that it will be so helpful with footwork. I’m not sure why Middle Eastern dance footwork trips me up but not Bharatanatyam; I suspect it has something to do with not having an emphasis on footwork in most of my earlier classes.

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.

Najmat is hosting Diana Tarkan, an Egyptian dancer, in at Green St. Dance Studio in Cambridge. This event is happening on April 3, from 3-6:30 PM. Cost is $65.

I don’t know much about Diana Tarkan, but I hear that she is an amazing instructor.

The holiday season messed with my time management to practice and really partake in the 90 Days of Dance Dedication Challenge. I began officially (at least in my brain) on Tuesday, starting back up with Middle Eastern dance. I went to ballet yesterday. What did I learn, so far, about the challenge?

  • Going to classes is easier than structuring your own practice. It’s nice to be told what to do sometimes, even though what you’re told to do makes your brain shut down.
  • Once you get started dancing, it’s hard to stop. After both dance classes, I went home to practice more. An hour and a half wasn’t enough. Strange.
  • Putting the practice on your calendar makes it harder to skip. I’m religious about keeping a calendar (mine is on my computer). I typically get everything done on my calendar, when it’s written there. I write anything on it- when I work, when I go to dance class, blog post ideas for specific dates. Strangely enough, scheduling in practice hadn’t occurred to me.

Anyone else doing a dance challenge or other kind of practice challenge? I’d love to hear how that’s working out.

I’ve decided over my school break that I’m going to make a website. All I have to do is figure out a URL.

Why am I going to create a website? Because I want to. Nothing special. I used to make websites back when people first could (I taught myself how to type by making websites). This was during the days of Geocities with the neighborhoods and many people used MIDI files and animated GIFs. I quit sometime in 1999/2000. I think I could do a decent job with designing and coding my website. I figure that it’ll be a good skill to have under my belt and maybe it’ll even further kick my butt into doing more performances, collaborating, etc. Goals I always have but time or money (or both) have gotten in the way.

What will be on this future website? I’m still working that out. On Bhuz, there is ample advice on websites and business marketing. I don’t want multiple websites, but some people think it’s a good idea to separate your more “personal” stuff from your dance stuff if you’re marketing your dancing. I’m not 100% convinced, but still, decisions are being made.

Carrara Nour decided yesterday that we (or at least she)  begins her 90-day practice challenge. She started it off with a doozy- 4 hour practice. Not to be expected to be completed at once. I decided to see if I could fit in two 2-hour practices today.

First practice, consisting of drills and zills, is finished. Tiring but finished (and left me with a huge appetite). Probably the hardest thing was to think of how to fill 2 hours of practice.

Tonight’s should be easier: Combination Nation. I’ve watched it once while I was sick but now I’ll attempt it.

Anyone else partaking in this challenge?