"Follow the bouncing butt!" That's just one of the cute quips I heard Willow Chang say this weekend while she was here in the Valley to teach 3 belly dance workshops past weekend. There were more; they were coming at us like tennis balls, but that's the one that stuck in my mind.
Not only is Willow full of vivacious, chatty, goofy, energy, she's full of belly dance knowledge. I personally would like to see all that wonderful knowledge in a book, or a documentary, or something! Belly dance history, past & present, who's who and what's what needs to be preserved for posterity.
Oops! I'm digressing.
The workshops, each of which were 2 hours long, were a delightful combination of dancing, lecture, trivia, & history. During the lunch break some of us hung out in the lobby and snacked on fruit & Snickerdoodles while we talked about the belly dance scene in Arizona, the various types of belly dance, the healing power of yoga, Reiki..... We covered oh so many topics!
One of the things that Willow talked about was the importance of growth as a dancer by taking workshops, studying performance & instructional DVDs, going to as many live performances or haflas as possible, and mining the belly dance gold in your own communities. Coming from Hawaii, which was at one time a veritable belly dance wasteland she appreciates the amount of talent that is available here in Arizona. Amen, sister! To name just a few we have Helena Vlahos, Ava Fleming, Carrie Konyha, Kathryn Ferguson, Danah Stedman, Jazmine, Mahin, Dahlena, Melissa, Myryka, Amanda Rose, Yasmina, Katayna, Neena Nour, & Cari of Plaza De Anaya. I've been lucky enough to either take classes or workshops from the first 9 ladies and hope to be able to study from the final 6.
Going back to what she said about studying performance and instructional DVD's; she advised watching dancers, troupes, or styles that aren't necessarily your favorites. Spend a bit of time asking yourself what it is that you don't like. The costume? The music or how it is interpreted? The quality of the dance (ie. technique or facial expressions)? But, she stressed, don't watch what you don't like too much, lest it worm it's way into your brain and subconsciously & negatively influence the way you dance.
So....tonight is class with Ava. We are done with "Sultry Sharqi" and are moving on to "Traveling Combos With Arms and Zils." That means I need to get my bouncing little butt in gear and fix the loose elastic on one of my zils.