Friday, March 20, 2009

Zafira Workshops

Hipnosis is hosting a series of workshops with Pittsburgh-based Zafira Dance Company the weekend of April 18th and 19th. Four workshops (two on Saturday and two on Sunday) will be held at the Elkins Estate in Elkins Park, PA.

I was not familiar with Zafira prior to seeing the flyer posted at the dance studio, but after seeing some of their clips on YouTube it seems like a great investment to learn from them. I like the fact that they achieve a vintage, circus feel without being Indigo clones. Their partner and troupe interactions are also interesting — not the typical ATS arrangements. Take a look: You can read descriptions of the workshops and register online at this location.

Zils & Lilies - ACEO

A sister drawing to the previously-posted Gold & Paisley image, this delightful little piece of original art depicts a tribal style bellydancer with lily-adorned hair zilling away to a Middle Eastern rhythm. A sweet shade of sunset pink highlights the dancer and some details in her costume, and a border of purple frames the image.

Both this ACEO and Gold & Paisley utilize the same techniques and are similar in style; they were created almost as a pair within days of each other. I'm not thrilled with this piece (the hands, although intended to be highly stylized turned out really wonky) but it was fun to make.

media • pen and ink; markers; watercolor; acrylic
size • 2.5 x 3.5 inches

Monday, March 16, 2009

Gold & Paisley - ACEO

Tribal bellydance is often described as being very earthy and grounded, and I feel this little piece of art expresses those aspects of the dance well. Warm colors and organic patterns inspired by paisley designs lend themselves to that theme.

The essential line work forming the dancer was drawn with a large bamboo pen dipped in dark blue ink which was then shaded with markers in hues of brown and terra cotta. The image was then accented with acrylic paint in a sunny shade of goldenrod.

This drawing is in a slightly different style than my previous bellydance-themed ACEOs. It is not as tight and precise. The bamboo pen lends a very loose, fluid quality to the drawing which I really enjoy.

media • pen and ink; markers; acrylic
size • 2.5 x 3.5 inches

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Step, Wiggle, Step, Wiggle, Step....

...that's one way to think of doing a three-quarter shimmy. Probably not the most eloquent or technical definition, but in a pinch it works.

I began my Tribal level II class last Wednesday and one of our drills for this level is a series of exercises featuring three-quarter shimmies at progressively greater speeds. I'm glad that I've been trying to work on this move on my own for a while, otherwise it might have just looked like I was doing part of the chicken dance while walking. The introduction my teacher gave was surprisingly brief but almost everyone seemed to get it right off the bat, at least at a slower pace. I can do a passable three-quarter shimmy at moderate speed on flat feet, but to my great chagrin, once I'm on my toes it dribbles off into nothingness. Likewise I have difficulty incorporating it into other steps like Turkish (thankfully I've been told that's level III material) and even doing a complete 360 degree turn is difficult while maintaining that desirable wiggle. I love the three-quarter shimmy, it just hasn't fully "clicked" for me yet.

What proved to be most challenging for me in that first session was a fairly basic variation of a move already in our repertoire: the Ghawazee Box. I'm not sure what the Ghawazee is called in other forms of Tribal bellydance but essentially it is two hip bumps on one side, followed by two hip bumps on the other side. It can be done in place or while traveling foreword or backward. The hip performing the bumps is twisted slightly toward the front (it's almost like the training wheels you use before progressing to the three-quarter shimmy).

In the Ghawazee Box, the move is performed in a tight turn and the feet alternate in touching the four corners of the imaginary "dance box" which surrounds you. In this case, the turn is not on one static, central pivot point, and the pattern of the footwork for some reason just befuddles me. It was embarrassing being as I seemed the only one who didn't consistently get it. There were times when I did do it correctly a few times in a row, but it never lasted. Drawing up a little diagram and practicing the footwork using the grid work of the linoleum in my kitchen hasn't even fully solved the issue for me. My main puzzlement now is if the move should be bringing me back to my original starting position (a full 360 degrees) and if so how does that fit into the 8-counts the move is (I believe) supposed to take? I feel like I'm missing something obvious and essential, and I'm sure that I am.

Perhaps I need to watch others perform it and see it from an outside perspective. It was only demonstrated to me that way once or twice before we actually began attempting it ourselves, and it's a lot harder for me to watch what the instructor is doing if both she and I are constantly turning. We'll see!

Update: Evidently the Ghawazee Box does not bring you back to your initial starting position on the 8th beat; on the next 1 count you either shift slightly to return to regular Ghawazee position (facing front) or you angle once again towards the upper right corner of your dance box to continue turning for the next 8 counts.