A Grateful Dancer- San Francisco Trip Part 1

21 Oct

Well, it’s certainly been a while, not for lack of commitment…just for lack of having time between adventures to write anything down ūüôā So, this past summer I was given an amazing gift from my dear friend, Kersten Collins. She gave me the gift of an enormous travel voucher to go to San Francisco to study¬†dance and to experience the city that is the Mecca of bellydance in this country. She didn’t just give me a plane ticket, she gave me the blessing of¬†“exposure”-to different directions in bellydance training, to¬†my goals for my dance career, and to other dancers who are doing things and changing ideas. I am forever grateful to her.

I am also endlessly¬†grateful to Megan and Freddie Cabral who opened up their home, their lives, and gave their friendship to me while I was out there. Thank you Megan for all your sage advice and for your commitment to your own dance journey. You have inspired me to continue finding my roots, to honor them, to believe in myself and all the possibilities this dance can offer me and our community. You are a truly powerful¬†being, my dance sister. I am so thankful to have met you and to call you a friend ūüôā

Thanks are also due to my endlessly supportive husband, Marc, who has always made sure that I have been able to follow my path and is always there for a big kiss¬†when I return. I can’t wait to be able to give him all the opportunities he has given me in our future together. I am so proud of him for pursuing the career he is so passionate about…you’re almost done babe!! Thanks to everyone who has supported me in my dance journey either as a teacher, moral supporter, or financial backer…I feel so grateful at this point in my life and I want to make sure you all know it!

LOVE YOU ALL

Stay Tuned for pictures and musings from my trip in Part 2 and 3 !!

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Bellydance Posture Mantra…a perspective

29 Aug

http://miriambellydance.wordpress.com/

An interesting article from Miriam Gjerstad on aspects of posture and alignment in bellydance (passed along from Sushila Battagione ūüôā Thanks for posting!) An interesting read with some good points, would like to hear her rationale about certain points of the article, but an interesting viewpoint nonetheless.

Shems Dance Student Resources Page!

18 Aug

A great page with extremely useful information about just about everything oriental dance related…including decorum and lots of music links and info!!!

http://www.shemsdance.com/category/student-resources/feed/

Rooted Dance

5 Aug

 

 

Wow! What a whirlwind this journey has been so far! I have been reading and exploring, getting feedback, finding resources, watching videos and just taking it all in. Thus it has taken me quite a long time to write again. I was sort of waiting for it to sink in and for something to want to come out naturally.

There has always been an underlying current for me in my dance and my journey into dance history and theory, but I couldn’t quite grasp it until now. It is what I strive to attain in my performance, what attracts me to other dancers, what really holds my eye and my attention. I think it is something few dancers really embody, and is maybe why I like the dancers I do. It is “rootedness.”¬† In the dictionary it is described as, :“The quality or state of having roots, especially of being firmly established, settled.”¬† From the moment a dancer steps onto a stage, or steps into a circle of musicians or even friends, if she is a dancer who is rooted in her body, settled in perfect balance with herself you know it like THAT!

I am reading “Grandmother’s Secrets” by Rosina-Fawzia Al-Rawi¬†¬†at present and it has really re-informed me of this rootedness we must all embrace. Being present in your body, being internally aware of your surroundings, using all your senses to embrace your performance, to inform it, to elevate it. Really it all stems from our willingness to embrace our bodies in a way Western society has deemed unnecessary and irrelevant. To sit with yourself, to breath in and out, to close your eyes and move your body in whatever way feels natural, to be completely involved in your innerflow without judgement or self-conscious thought.

She gives great exercises for practicing this state…for re-informing your body of itself. Please check out this book!!!!!!!!!

Here’s a great excerpt about learning to trust your body;

“Whenever I went down the stairs in our house I looked down to avoid falling. One day my grandmother was watching me. ‘Let your feet see for you,’ she told me. ‘They’ll keep you from falling much better than your eyes! Feel with your toes until you find the next edge and let your heels slide down the stair until you find the next one. Put yourself in your center, in the place below your navel, and keep your head high!’

That was fun, and I spent days going up and down the stairs like a queen. This is how I realized, with time, that my feet were ‘seeing’ better and better. I felt my soles become more aware, my feet more sensitive and sensual. I came to trust them more and more, and my balance eventually settled into the lower part of my body.”

I think by doing these types of grounding exercises daily we might start to really trust our bodies in our everyday, but also in our performances. While these little quirky things are easy to do and seemingly nonsensical, I feel like they are in fact the MOST important part of learning to be a “rooted” dancer. You have to meet your body again, say hello and start a conversation with it. Love it and ask it questions, train it, trust it. I’m trying to incorporate some of these little things in my everyday, and it is really helping!

So, I challenge you to share your little exercises for learning your body, for keeping internally and externally aware!

“So dance, little sister, dance…for as long as you dance, this ancient women’s dance will survive and laugh in the face of all attacks. As long as there are women, it will go on beating and living, its proud strength passed on from woman to woman.”

-Rosina-Fawzia Al-Rawi

A Stylistic Description of Tribal Fusion Dance and Costuming

5 Aug

reposting an article by Gina Cabrera describing the stylistic elements of Tribal Fusion as it is currently evolving.

Thanks Renee for passing it on!!

http://ezinearticles.com/?Tribal-Belly-Dance-and-Beyond&id=6455054

Musical Instruments You Should Know..

1 Jul

Hello My Lovelies!

I am¬†in full swing of training myself to hear all the instruments in middle eastern music, learning their names, what they look like, what they sound like, etc. So I’ve put together a list of instruments you should know and some youtube video links to give you an idea of them! Hope you find this helpful!!!

Love

Jenna

Links to music:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bAPUPleVknQ    tabla

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nK5FJZOi9u4   oud

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uF5oK70MRCQ  kanun

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=diPmwvpJzdg&feature=related   zils

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9O_ptg7GaQ  mizmar

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvgUPm15Dqs  ney

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HBN9cpzook&feature=related  darbouka/doumbek

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAshV_fkzK0  riq

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9inE5_d_HJA&feature=related  frame drum

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXBkHyMruJ8  zurna

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xIB7rqnnCho  rababa

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=og_0NwqqLbI&feature=related  tapan

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ND0p7By44I&feature=related  saz

Serpent Of The Nile…some thoughts

27 Jun

Ah…my first real blog post from my adventures in bellydance history! So, I finished reading “Serpent of The Nile: Women and Dance in the Arab World” by Wendy Buonaventura and enjoyed it (I highly recommend it to all dancers). I felt it gave a nice overview of the evolution of the dance from the Ghawazee and up through the early 1930’s..concentrating mostly on the social acceptance and societal effects on the dance through outside influence and orientalism. I felt it gave a good explanation of why the dance evolved the way it did societally both in the western world and in the Middle East.

It did leave me a little at a loss for the perspective of the dance from a modern dancers point of view. Now I realize this book was originally published in 1989, and though “Tribal” dance didn’t exist then, the cabaret scene was flourishing. I felt that she included thoughts from male Orientalist painters and writers of the era, and perspectives of westerners from the turn of the century more than she did from women who are currently or were involved in the evolution of the dance from the 1930’s on. I just once again feel that even when a female author creates a great book like this, the viewpoints and experiences of those who are participating in the dance form are left out.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the book immensely and I feel it gave me a good groundwork for the other things I am studying now. I am currently immersing myself in articles about the evolution of “tribal” bellydance from many different sources (from tribal dancers and cabaret/egyptian style dancers as well). I am trying to balance my perspective of it’s creation and see how varied the accounts are. It’s interesting to hear one article praise Masha Archer for her introduction of the idea of the dance as an elevated artform where women danced in front of an audience, but were dancing with and for each other; and another article said, “Masha is a controversial figure, she tried to distance herself culturally from the roots of bellydance and felt that the people of the Middle East did not deserve to be the keepers of bellydance as they were ashamed of it and that instead American women were more deserving to adopt it.”

In my study, I am encountering more and more of these contrary viewpoints. It only furthers my desire to study all I can but to eventually get the story “straight from the Horses’ mouths”…by interviewing these people and though all is subjective, I feel this will give me the most pure, unadulterated perspective on “tribal history.”

Well, more to come soon! All the articles I am reading are in the links section for you to read for yourself! Thanks for reading!

Jenna