After reading Bhuz a little today and coming back from the holiday, I realized that learning is learning and students are students, regardless of what they are studying.

Practice the big issue. We talk about it on Bhuz from time to time that the only way to really get better is to practice outside the class. One hour or even 1.5 hours of class per week is not enough to get it down. Same with school/physics. You can’t really expect to learn it, let alone be fairly competant, without practice. There are so many analoguous examples. No one learned to walk in 1.5 hours, and they were not good at it in that short of time.

Along the lines of practice, some students effect major achievement with minimal effort. That’s difficult to do. Most people have to do some work. I can’t judge how much work (as my boss puts it, “Study better not longer”), but some work is needed to achieve. Showing up to class simply isn’t enough to do well.

The final issue I find interesting is the entire of adjusting to the teacher’s style. Unless what s/he is doing is detrimental to your body (dance or anything athletic) or just plain wrong (incorrect math), students have to adjust to their teacher’s style. When I took lessons from Danielle, I used her posture, even though I fully intend to use Sonya’s posture when I dance. Why? Because she was my teacher at that time, and that was what she required. Sure, I struggled because the posture was different from what I normally do in dance or daily life, but at the end of the day, her posture didn’t harm my body.

Language and teaching style are a big issue for adjustment. If you start out with Teacher A, she may use different words than Teacher B to describe the same thing. As a student, you need to learn what she is talking about. In terms of teaching style, everyone has a different one based upon their experiences. I give problems to my students in class that are similar to the homework/examples we do, because it’s more active than taking notes. I can watch my dance teacher or physics professor demonstrate something new, but the chances of me nailing it after one or two viewings is slim to impossible. While you certainly should ask her about things, you shouldn’t assume that she’s wrong or that she should adjust to your style. The teacher has to teach 10-20some people; it would be impossible to adjust to everyone’s style and language. Most people aren’t trying to make your life miserable or humliate you; they really want to help.

Working both sides of things, I understand that being a student can be difficult. However, you have to be pro-active in your learning and approach the classroom, be it dance or academic with an open-mind and humbleness.

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I decided wherever I end up during fall 2009, I’m going to make a very big effort to dance more. I want to do something professional soon (in a few years or so) with dance, and I’ve been thinking about what I need to do this summer.

  • I need to come up with some solid choreography. That will entail picking music, “mapping” it, and then dancing to it.
  • I think I should be able to play zills. I’m getting better just doing walking steps and learning a few new rhythms, but I really want to dance with it. I think it’s important to have a strong grasp of a few typical props. I feel like my veil is pretty decent, my cane is okay, but I know zills is bit lacking with me. This is going to involve learning the rhythms as well.
  • I definitely think my technique is stronger, significantly stronger, but I want to really add floorwork to it. I’m not a huge floorwork fan (I lose a lot of height if I’m kneeling), but again, I think floorwork can be dynamic and beautiful when used appropriately
  • Style is something that I’m always working on. I don’t want to be a cookie-cutter dancer, ie. I don’t want to be a lesser version of someone famous. I want people to see me and feel like they’re seeing someone original, not “Hey, she moves just like ____!” I’m not saying I want to do crazy fusions or be sloppy, but I definitely think you can take several of the top dancers in any style and they will be distinct.

I was regretful my veil class was canceled this summer, but I think the extra 3 hours will be good for me to start really executing things. Does anyone have any experience or advice in how they took themselves to the proverbial next level?

People on Bhuz began reminiscing over their first costumes. Here is my story, which I also posted over there:

My first costume was handmade by me in Auckland, for a student show (my first one!)

I did a ruched halter-style bra in this dusty rose pink metallic fabric. I used pearl beads as an accent around the bottom and bronzy seed beads around the middle part of the bra.

The belt was similar fabric and had the pearl beads outlining the curved front and bottom. The sides were lace up with different colored ribbons. I think I went with blue, rose, and a golden color. I did that so I could allow for weight changes.

My skirt was a full circle slightly muted amethyst satin thing. In photos I later saw (I don’t have any, unfortunately), it made me look extremely hippy. I probably should’ve done a less full skirt.

It was a veil dance. I used a cream chiffon veil that I thought was a good idea to sequin all over. It didn’t look awful, but it would’ve moved better had I not sequined it.

I wish I still had that costume. I don’t think it would fit (the bra cups shrunk a bit during the sewing process), but I think I’d like to take a good chunk of it and remake the bra and belt set.

Last week when I was in a lesson, I noticed that my right wrist has this weird tendency to turn when I do an upward swaying arm move (Danielle calls it a snake arm up, even though it’s basially done with the wrists).

I think that sparked Danielle to quiz me on why certain aspects of her posture are. That went fine (I remembered most of the points, I believe). The important piece of the exercise, though, was when she asked me what I plan on using in my dancing and what I prefer.

I began thinking about that on Sunday, and I’ve been thinking about it since. I, as of today, still don’t have a strong leaning in any direction with dance. Maybe it’s time I start really developing a style. By style, I don’t mean I want to create an ATS or something of the like. I mean, there is a difference between how each dancer dances. I’d like to develop that style more within the vocabulary of dance I’m doing. Something that can simultaneously be identified as me dancing but also be identified as Middle Eastern dance. Does that make sense?

I always believe I don’t dance like a copy of my teachers, because I’ve had too many. But I don’t think I have truly developed a style. Part of me wonders if my dancing is more like the little kid who wears bright tights, shorts, skirts, and 5 shirts in clashing colors. I don’t think it’s as bad as that analogy, but I want to develop something very cohesive. Most of the “greats” have distinct styles and signature moves or stylings, even if they didn’t 100% come up with them themselves.

More thoughts will come on this later, but I think this might be the next good direction to go.