Thursday, July 17, 2008

Unmata Workshops & Belly Jam

Amy Sigil of Unmata kicked my ass this past weekend. I knew this was going to be the case, and I knew that as a "baby dancer" (I hope at this point I'm more like a toddler dancer and less like an infant one!) I was probably in way over my head taking two Unmata workshops, but the opportunity doesn't present itself every day so I figured I would take the workshops despite my shortcomings. If I could learn something from the workshops, then it would be worth it to me. Seeing Unmata perform live at the Hipnosis Belly Jam the day prior really heightened my own apprehensions though. They have some amazing endurance to keep up such fast-paced, intense dancing for so many songs on end.

I got to the first workshop on Sunday about 10 minutes late due to traffic. I felt really bad about it, not only because I was missing the class, but because I did not want to seem disrespectful to the instructor or other dancers. I tried to slip in as quietly as possbile so not to disturb anyone. Unfortunately, the music was so loud that I could barely hear Amy over it; most of the time it was just watching and imitating her movements as best as I could. When the music was not playing, I could hear her just fine, so it wasn't an issue with her volume or my position in the room. I was exhausted after the first session, practically decimated after the second, and it was not helpful that the studio where the workshops were taking place had large windows which overlooked a tranquil indoor pool below. Even with the profuse sweating and post-workshop aches though, it was very enjoyable and it provided a unique perspective on fusion bellydance. I don't plan on trying to utilize the exact combinations we were taught (not that I can remember them in their entirety) but I will definitely be trying to apply some of the principles from Unmata's combination construction to my own experiments.

The evening before was a BellyJam hosted by Hipnosis at the same location as the workshops, the B&R Fitness Club in Feasterville. I was not expecting it to be such a large, highly-organized gathering - it was like a mini-Rakkasah! I was really impressed and enjoyed all of the performances. Hipnosis and their student troupes Daughters of the Hip and Tribal Spirit performed, of course, but there were also solos by out-of-state dancers like Tempest and Belladonna and other great troupes like Fringe Benefit (bad website, great dancers) of New Jersey who danced to "These Boots Are Made for Walking". The final act was Unmata, and as I mentioned previously, it was an extremely high-energy, charismatic performance. I am really looking foreword to the next one!