Monday, December 06, 2010

Dear Internet... case you haven't noticed, I moved.  Not too far away, just a point, click and page load from here.  Life in the new home is lovely, I've been writing more frequently and have plans for all sorts of good stories in the new year.  So, come join me...I'll make it worth your time.


Saturday, June 12, 2010

I'm moving!

I'm officially making the move to take this blog to a different site. Yeah, it kind of sucks to have to change the site after keeping this one for several years. However, in good conscience I could not continue maintaining a blog that had the name of my old troupe in it. Nothing against the troupe, but really...what started off as a blog that would showcase a variety of dance voices, really only ended up being my thoughts and opinions.

And, when I decided to leave the troupe last year I thought about the name behind the blog and decided it still worked for me. I really do consider myself to be more than just a member of Mirage and more than what that institution of dance represents in Austin. Unfortunately, when I started this I didn't have the forethought to begin with a web address matching the title. So, it is time for me to move on, update the blog and hopefully they'll update their site as well!

For now, I'll be doing a little cross-posting on my new blog, as well as importing all my old posts into the site as well. If you're a subscriber to this one, jump on over to the new site! If you've got this listed in your reader or other RSS feed, update the information and I promise not to move again. And, I've got lots of goodies in store and much juiciness to blog about this year.

Happy Shimmies,

Monday, May 03, 2010

The Artists Way for Dancers

So, if you've read any of my previous posts, you'll notice several references to The Artist's Way. Written by Julia Cameron, the book provides a 12 week (or 12 step) program to help you either heal your creative child, or move towards more clarity and direction in your artistic life. As someone who really appreciates a well-written and organized system of thinking, this book is artfully crafted and really does take you down the path to re-thinking what you are doing creatively.

I completed the book with a group last fall, and I'm in the process of finishing it again this next month. The second time around, I had not planned to dive back in but I did! By default, I ended up in charge of a Meet-up group with about 150 members, all focused around this book and artistic philosophy. And, at the urging of the group, I officially started facilitating a study group on the topic.

Facilitation is not a new technique for me. I used to do this in a previous job/life and really enjoyed helping groups move forward. So, although it seems like the members of the group are getting the benefit of my experience, I really am the one who is blessed by their stories, their presence and their ideas and thoughts.

Call me crazy but I want to do this all again but this time with a smaller group of belly dancers. For me, this book came at a crucial time in my dance life and provided me with an outlet to grieve one former dance life and at the same time embrace another one. It has also really helped me look at other areas of my life, my job, my finances, my time and my relationships.

So, I'm looking for people who want to start this process. Yes, it is a commitment (14 weeks total), yes it takes time on a daily basis and will require some soul searching along the way. But, if you commit to the process you will see changes in your life and in your dance. My goal is to start in June, and the day of the week is flexible. I'm thinking Thursday nights...for two hours. We can meet a library, coffee shop or a home depending upon who is interested in attending. If you're interested and willing, drop me a note and we'll chat more!

I am going to charge for this series ($75) to cover the cost of materials, handouts I've prepared and to cover my facilitation fees. I also believe that if people invest money in a class or event they are far more likely to follow through with attendance. That being said, if you are interested but short on cash...just let me know. We can do a payment plan or work something else out!

P.S. If you want to buy the book I've included links on the bottom of the blog so you can see which one I'm referencing. You'll need the book, the workbook and journal are optional and you don't have to do Amazon, most book stores have it, even Half Price Books!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Can you dance without moving?

I’ve always been the show-and-tell type of instructor. I spend time breaking down movement and illustrating what I am doing on my own body before I have students complete the movement on their own. I carefully explain what their structure (bones and joints) are doing versus what muscles are engaged or relaxed. I can explain most moves 2-3 different ways and can help people understand adjustments to allow their body to successfully complete the movement.

I have never tried however to teach movement without the use of my own body as the illustration or model. That is, until this week. Starting this week, I will have to re-think my entire teaching paradigm for a few weeks. It’s a bit daunting, but at the same time exciting to see how this exercise could change my teaching style.

I was diagnosed with skin cancer a week ago, and yesterday they removed a sizable chunk of skin from my upper chest. If this had happened on another part of my body, or on someone with a smaller chest, I would not have to make accommodations. Unfortunately the location and size of my breasts require me to limit all physical activity that would move, stretch, bounce, jiggle or otherwise affect the incision site while it heals.

Now the scar will heal and life will settle into a new normal for me, but I secretly hope this will help me teach belly dance more effectively. It means that for both my beginner and intermediate classes I will need someone to ‘model’ the movement while I explain it. For my more experienced students this won’t be so hard, but for my beginners…my baby dancers…this could be difficult. So, I’ve recruited an experienced student who is very clean technically to assist in class. My hope is that this will help her in her training as well as serve as a nice illustration for the new dancers.

In my intermediate class, this turn of events allows me to experiment with teaching movement in a different way. I may have one person demonstrate and the others check and review the movement, or use multiple models to illustrate each movement. The fun part will be the work with zils since my students have varying degrees of proficiency in this area and the ‘follow-along’ method has always served me well. It will certainly be a challenging few weeks for me, so wish me luck!