||[Feb. 8th, 2008|01:13 pm]
My JoY registration confirmation just arrived in the post! I got all of my first choice workshops, so I'll be doing Tunisian with jacqueline Jamal, Baladi with Caroline Afifi, Khaliegi Tabla with Khaled and 2-7 veils with Leyla Jouvana. There's a note on my form saying 'Bring lots of veils'!!! They tried to deliver the veils that I ordered a couple of days ago, but we were at work. Kelly has asked for them to be re-directed to his work, so hopefully I'll have those next week!
On Sunday morning I found myself stranded on the wrong side of Sheffield and in a state of exhaustion and very achey. This was due to a late night party, followed by spending the night on a friends floor because I'd missed the last tram home! Because of this I missed my usual morning classes, which I wasn't very happy about, but to be honest I really wasn't in any fit state to be dancing at that point anyway.
By Sunday afternoon I'd made it back home, had a quick shower and a bite to eat, so I felt a bit better and I did make it to the class in the afternoon. Candi was teaching us how to dance a Magency, which is a fairly traditional Egyptian opening number. A Magency is usually written for a particular dancer and is really a means for her to introduce herself to the audience and demonstrate that she is familiar with a few different styles of music and how to dance to them. Typically it will start with a little bit of instrumental music, them will move into a flowing main theme, it will then change several times to different styles of music, perhaps a minute of Khaleegi, a minute of taqsim, a minute of drum solo and a minute of Saeedi, before returning to the main theme again and then finishing.
There is an established pattern for dancing to a Magency, and that is to first of all totally ignore the instrumental bit. Stay back-stage and let the music get the audience's attention for you. When the main theme starts, don't rush straight onto the stage, wait a moment, let the audience anticipate your entrance, just don't wait so long that they get bored! There's often a little drum ripple in the music after the main melody has played for a few bars, and this little ripple can act as your cue to step onto the stage. Now you're on stage, you don't want to go mad, you need to 'mark your territory'. This is the second time I've heard a teacher describe your entering moves in this way, so I figure it's a good one! Usually you will enter with a veil, but remember this is an Egyptian dance, not an American one. You're not twirling your veil and spinning like a top, you're walking elegantly and magestically and using the veil to accent your moves. You're not even really dancing, just walking around the stage with a few arabesques or turns here and there. As the start of the next musical section approaches you need to discard your veil - elegantly if at all possible, although some Egyptian dancers will simply ball it up and throw it in a corner! - then you need to position yourself centre-stage in time for the real dancing to begin. This is what I call the 'hip-drop moment'. I'm sure you've all noticed that with traditional Egyptian dance pieces there comes a point where the music changes from soft and floaty to bright and bouncy, and at that point the dancer nearly always hits the first round of drum beats with a flurry of hip-drops - Dum-Dum, Dum-Dum-da-da-Dum! Now you don't have to hit those accents with hip-drops, although that is certainly the most common way, but you really do have to hit them, and with a sharp isolated move too, this shows that you were ready for the change in the music, and that you can actually dance, not just waft about with a veil.
You can move from centre-stage if you wish, but given that you're actually trying to demonstrate your dancing talent here, you really don't need to. A truely talented bellydancer can dance on a single floor-tile and still keep the audience captivated. The important thing is to be ready for the music changes, and to know what to do each time. This isn't to say that you need to go into full-on Khaleegi just because that's the rhythm that's playing, for a start it's be a bit awkward trying to change into the dress on the stage! But you need to be able to recognise that the rhythm is Kahaleegi and to know a few Khaleegi moves that will prove to your audience that you understand what you're dancing to. The same goes for the other styles that may crop up during a magency.
If you do move about the stage, it's best to return to the centre before the final section of the music when the main theme starts up again and you get to do a tour of the stage effectively saying good-bye to your audience. However, unless your final bit of music is very long, you don't want to take too long doing this, as you really be want to be right back in the middle of the stage and all ready for a dramatic final pose when the music finishes!
Candi gave us some handy hints for retaining showmanship even after the dance is finished; hold your final pose for a little while and accept your applause, then gracefully drop your arms, smile and acknowledge your applause, modestly of course! You will almost certainly need to retrieve your veil before you leave the stage, unless you are such a diva that you ahve a hired lackey to go around picking up afer you. You need to retain your grace and dignity as you do this, so it's nice to have the main theme from your music play again for a few seconds as you curtsey down to pick up the veil - under no circumstances must you bend at the waist and present your audience with your bottom! - You'll never manage to get your veil back into the proper position without getting it tangled or looking like you're about to make up a bed, so don't bother. Pick it up, drape it like a stole, wave gracefully to your audience, then leave the stage and sort out the tangles and the dust back-stage where nobody can see you!
I really enjoyed this class, even though I was still feeling pretty worn out and I know that I performed really badly. I think if ever I am invited to perform a traditioal solo piece, this is probably the sort of dance that I'll go for.
There didn't seem to be all that many of us there for class last night, and those of us who were had all been dancing for a good few months, so Cis was giving us trickier moves and combinations to master, and being very particular about posture while she was at it. We covered grape-vines, which is a move I've always found easy, but I've never tried to layer anything over it before! It's a lot harder than it looks! I managed to layer snake-arms and shoulder shimmies over this move without too much difficulty, but I was really having a bad shimmy day and couldn't for the life of me manage to layer a hip-shimmy over it!
Next we did hagella, and I'm pleased to say that I'm now pretty confident doing this slow and sharp or fast and wobbly, I can do it forwards, backwards and side-ways and with a twist. I think I have the BADA performance pieve from last year to thank for that. So instead I was mostly concentrating on finding something to do with my arms while I did the hagella walk. We covered hip-twists next, and how to move with them. Cis also introduced us to a sort of hip-twist shimmy, and I'm either going to have to practise a lot in order to get this, or my bad shimmy day was also affecting my ability to pick up this move too. Cis did compliment me on managing to maintain a still and calm upper body while doing a fast hip-twist shuffle to the side, so I guess I wasn't doing all that badly!
Lastly we went over camels, including the full body camel, or the little lower belly camel, moving with camels and reverse camels. By the end of the class we'd covered quite a lot, and I was feeling rather tired out, but also energised in that way that a good dance sesion can make you feel all motivated and happy.
We went on to the Boomshanka choreography practise afterwards, but all the Boomshanka girls were nursing minor injuries or feeling poorly, so we didn't actually practise, we went over the Ruth's and had a drink and a chat instead.
Tonight I'm heading up to Newcastle because my sister got married last Friday, and she's throwing a second party up in Newcastle for all the friends and family who couldn't make it down to Sheffield for the wedding. At this party there will be music, and I will dance. I now find it almost impossible to dance without at the very least throwing in a few bellydance moves. Most of my family and their friends haven't seen me since before I took up bellydancing, so I'm a little worried about what they're going to think about my new dancing style!