Well, after the torment that was belly dance class last week which ended with me feeling like crap about my progress (or lack thereof, as I saw it) things are looking up.
I had spent time listening to the music and watching parts of the instructional DVD the teacher loaned me, but... I still felt a bit stuck in terms of what moves to put to the music.
On Saturday we had an extra practise for the Wings number we will perform in the show and in our breaks we watched Louise practise her tribal fusion number. I think this is where I had a bit of a revelation, seeing someone performing right there rather than the smooth production of a DVD. I picked up a few ideas to toy with. I also got some unexpected encouragement from one of my classmates who, after I told her how bad I felt after last class, said to me "But you looked so confident! You really looked like you knew what you were doing! Oh no, I wished I'd told you that on the night!!"
To be honest I don't know if I'd have believed her if she'd told me that after class, but after a couple of days of introspection and setting myself a few goals it was just what I needed to hear.
I stopped to buy a cheap MP3 player on the way home so that I had no excuse... I would take every opportunity to listen to the music I could.
I got home, loaded it up and started dancing... I tried out a move I'd seen Louise do, it fitted the music nicely so I started adding a few more moves... Over the next day or so I had moves set out for the first 40 seconds or so of the music.... progress at last!! And I was also starting to formulate a few ideas for parts later on in the piece. I started to allow myself to believe I could do this after all!
Wednesday night rolled around fast enough and this week, while I was so excited to have broken through a wall, quite a few of the others had hit their own wall. Some of them seemed to be feeling like I was the previous week. They hadn't had time to work with their music and were starting to feel like they had made the wrong decision over their choices of style/music. Some of them asked outright for help which spawned the next exercise for the class.
We each had to pick someone elses piece of music and improvise to it. We'd spent a lot of time listening to our own music and only heard parts of each others so it was a bit like improvising to a new piece.
I volunteered to go first and chose the veil number. I borrowed a beautiful silk veil and went for it... it was so much fun! Having had the revelation for my own piece that sometimes less is more and that trying to do ever move in the book at once was overkill I was really enjoying myself. Some hip drops here, wave the veil, a shimmy, a turn, some more hip drops... I was doing it! I spontaneously went to perform angel wings, a move that involves flicking the veil up in front and walking into it as you stretch you arms out wide. When perform correctly the veil flicks over each arm creating wings... really pretty! This is where things went a bit awry....
I had never before worked with a silk veil and they behave in a different way to chiffon or other materials. Being lighter and therefore more "floaty" they are beautiful to watch but you have to be aware they are more... er... temperamental... Silk being the diva of veils they are a bit more highly strung than their plainer counterparts and need a bit more pandering to for them to perform well for you.
So there I was, making angel wings... Flick.... the veil flew up in front of me, twist... ready to fall back over my arms... I stepped forward so that the veil would settle at my throat and the move would be complete.... except... I wasn't ready for the veil to punish me, obviously it knew I was a beginner and I wasn't treating it with the respect and adoration due to a star, the queen of veils. So as I stepped forward the veil settled... it floated slowly down... flutter flutter... oh so pretty... but I was too fast, I was rushing it and this diva wasn't going to be dictated to by a novice. It floated down to settle... not at my throat, it settled over my head!! So there I was arms outstretched with the bloody thing blinding me.... maybe trying to suffocate me for treating it like a mere common chiffon veil. I tried to blow it off as if it was a stray hair on my face... I tried again... and again. There were giggles from the class (including myself) and the teacher was telling me to work with it. What a hoot! I'm not sure how I got it off in the finish and soon after that my minute of music ended. As I sat down I resolved to get myself a silk veil to train and tame!
Everyone took their turn and when someone chose my piece of music I found it really interesting that for one part of the music she danced steps with a turn to the back, a pose and then turned back to the front again ... it was almost the same moves I had already decided to use for exactly that part of the music. This was really very encouraging! To think that someone else heard the music and interpreted it in virtually the same way as I had... it was a confirmation that I was on track.
The whole point of the exercise was to help each other see what others spontaneously did to the music and to help build ideas to get started on our choreographies... a bit of a think tank I suppose. When you've gotten so close to the music, listening to it over and over, finding all the accents and learning it by heart, I guess to an extent you get too close to it. You start trying to plan every move to the music rather than simply letting the music move you. With that in mind I'm going to keep working on my music a few seconds at a time... and let it happen!