Monday, 21 January 2013

Thought For The Week

Well here I am again - two weeks on the trot! Woo hoo!

Today's thought was inspired by a fabulous video I saw a couple of days ago ..... which I'll share with you later!

I'm sure this is true of pretty much all dance, but as an improvised tribal devotee it just speaks, shouts, screams VOLUMES to me about the nature of improv.
Over the past few weeks I've been looking at a huge variety of videos of tribal improv (just for a change, do I hear you say?!), and I have actually been pondering the whole isue of 'feeling' in tribal, so the video and quote were actually very timely! When I say 'all sorts' I do mean all sorts - lots of different formats, experience levels, duets/ trios/quartets/big groups, with and without chorus lines, haflas/shows/outdoor events, joyful faces, smiley faces - even poker faces!
And yes, I have enjoyed watching them all. I do much prefer watching improv to choreo; I find there is ALWAYS something to make you think, reflect and learn. And I just love looking out for those little nuances - glances, smiles, flick of a shoulder or wrist - that epitomise the unspoken connection between the dancers. Sometimes they're easy to spot (and feel!), sometimes they're less overt, occasionally they don't appear to be there ....
Don't appear to be there? A bit harsh you may think ..... but it's not intended in a nasty way. It's just an observation of a different 'aspect' or 'level' of improv. I shall elaborate ..... (Gosh - I'm being very dotty and dashy today! Just call me Morse!)
If you strip improv right back to the physical - take away emotional connection completely - then what you have is a vocabulary of shared moves, with a group of dancers communicating with one another physically - watching for cues and following the lead accordingly, if that makes sense. Dependent upon how skilled the dancers are and how clear their cues are this can appear pretty slick and 'together'. However, it is solely a mechanical exercise. Sometimes, particularly when groups are starting out, you get those 'concentration faces' - they're really watching and thinking ahead - pre-guessing moves, planning their own .... as they get more confident and used to dancing together they start to relax, to smile at one another a bit more as they turn into a circle, sometimes to laugh together. Improv is fun - and they'll often come off that dance floor buzzing!
And often that's where it stays. And there's nothing wrong with that at all. I enjoy watching it, they enjoy dancing together ..... And yet, there's a whole further level to improv.
Quite simply, it's tribal connection.
 Once you've really truly FELT it you just KNOW. You feel it whilst you yourself are dancing it. Sometimes you feel it oozing out of dancers you are watching. They have moved beyond THINKING about their improv and have sunk right down into it - responding to the music, to one another, to their audience completely naturally and in the moment. It's hard to put into words, but it's connection at every level. It's very special, and it's why I choose to dance improv. it's magic!
This week I saw and felt some of that magic , and I'd like to share it with you. Here are Gypsy Caravan dancing at the Blue Monk in Portland, Oregon, earlier this week :
This performance just epitomises that tribal connection for me; that dancing with true feeling. It's relaxed and playful, there is wonderful interaction between the dancers (and musicians - love that bit with Paulette and Jeff!) and the smiles and joy are so genuine. These ladies are dancing together so naturally. Their improvisation has moved way beyond being something mechanical into something that flows organically. This is dance as celebration - of life, of music, of one another. This is true improv! ♥
Dance first, think later. It's the natural order!
Until next time, happy dancing!

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Thought for the Week

Hello there - and Happy New Year!!!

New year, new start - and I'm whipping myself into shape on the blogging front with a new weekly feature (yes Cayte, you WILL write!). Now before I begin, this WAS originally intended to be a Sunday thing. Start of the week, no work commitments and all that mallarkey. Then it got delayed and was going to be the Thursday Thought. Unfortunately however it has taken until today for me to actually decide between a million and one things to write about. So here we are. And it'sback to being a Sunday thing.

Thought for the Week.

Not half as high falluting as it sounds (you weren't expecting that from me, were you?!), I'm going to take my inspiration each week from a quote that really 'speaks to me'. Those of you who know me well will now understand why it's taken me nearly a fortnight to get going; quite simply, I love quotes. I collect them avidly on my laptop, phone, Pinterest and anywhere else that's handy. It's really quite sad but who cares? They'll all come in handy now so there!

The quotes I use might not be specifically dance based, but they WILL - for me, anyway - relate in some way to dance. Because of course this is a dance blog!

So here goes. Warning : today's thought could involve a fair bit of reminiscing and probable rambling (just for a change). But I WILL try to control myself (don't I always?).

Yup, not a dance quote - but a thought from the indefatigable Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice. Now I haven't seen the film or TV series (I had to read the book at school for 'O' level English Lit which sort of killed it for me) but I do love this quote.

And to me it DOES relate to dance - one hundred per cent!

When I first started to dance I had no concept of what a huge part of my life it would become. True, I had first had my interest piqued by an article in Cosmopolitan in the late seventies, but then had no idea how to find a class - if indeed there WERE any near to me - so it ended up being forgotten about until it popped up on the timetable at our local Adult Education centre. Even then, nothing was definite until the forms were signed - it was a toss-up as to whether Sarah and I would end up in salsa class instead. But fate lent a helping hand, and the shimmies drew us in ....
We loved bellydance from the outset - but we never really understood at first what we were a part of! We never thought about performing until we went to our first hafla. We never knew there was such a thing as a bellydance souk until we stepped into the magical otherworld of that ginormous souk at Raqs B in Blackpool. We never realised how many other like-minded souls there were .... it was a gradual awakening....
And soon it was too late to escape. Bellydance had its hooks well and firmly in us ...
Now here is where I could well ramble. But I'm not going to. I'm just going to say that if we thought we were hooked then ....... well, we hadn't discovered tribal. Our first tribal workshop with Deirdre MacDonald at JoY ..... travelling over 40 miles each way for an hour's weekly class with Chris Ogden .... discovering improv with Medha ....... and then of course, Gypsy Caravan! Our first workshops in sunny Glasgow with Paulette Rees-Denis ..... a Tribal Pilgrimage to Portland, Oregon to find out more about this amazingly beautiful format ..... more training with Deirdre and Steffi Colbert and Cinzia of Les Soeurs Tribales ..... falling deeper into Gypsy Caravan style with my Sakura sisters ...
I can hardly remember life before tribal. I don't want to imagine my life without it. To me it is connection, community, strength, power, joy, light .....  I have met so many fabulous like minded people through this dance. Made so many wonderful, precious friends. Quite simply in all it's many aspects it has captivated me.
Yes, tribal bellydance has bewitched me - body and soul!
Touche, Mr Darcy!!!!
Until next time - happy dancing!