21 December 2013

Nesting on My Laurels

2013 has been a year of transition for me. I have spent the year in reflection about where I have been and planning the journey yet to come.  I have shared some of these changes with you through the year.  Many of you know that this year I married the love of my life, Loretta.  Being married certainly changes my perspective on life and makes me want to stay home more!

I am traveling less and taking better physical care of myself.  I am spending my time at the studio, teaching students in San Francisco and from afar through the wonders of Skype and PowHow.  I am still traveling some, about once a month, but my focus is shifting to how I can operate out of San Francisco.  FatChanceBellyDance® instructors have graciously agreed to take on more travel so that you can still bring American Tribal Style® to your community.

I am moving into a phase that I like to think of as “nesting on my laurels.”  Without the constant distraction of travel, I am bursting with new ideas.  I am thinking strategically about how I can better meet the needs of the Sister Studios.  The Sister Studio survey is one way to collect information from you about what you need and want from me and FCBD®.  If you haven’t completed it yet, please do so.  I will be taking your feedback and suggestions seriously and will let you know how I will be implementing those suggestions.

I am developing new products (e.g. FCBD® Studio Manager), trainings (e.g., Advanced Teacher Training) and classes (e.g., Dancing in Flow with Carolena).

There are so many exciting things yet to come this year.

I am prioritizing my relationship with you- the students and Sister Studios.  I want to talk to you about your struggles through the Tribal Council program.  I want to teach you through our new on-line classes and private Skype and PowHow lessons.  I want to create ways to bring you to San Francisco through a new “Destination Carolena” program that will be unveiled this year.

Most importantly, in order to “nest on my laurels,” I want to invite you to come and visit me.  I have created the first “all ATS®, all weekend” workshop sponsored by FCBD® for January of 2015.  ATS® Homecoming: Return to the Mothership will be a tribal village where you can interact with other ATS® dancers, learn from the best in our art, shop and be in community with other dancers.  I will have guided tours to FCBD® for those of you new to San Francisco and many other special touches to make this a one-of-a-kind conference. In essence, I am creating an experience for you.  I want you to be able to come to the birthplace of American Tribal Style® dance and understand it for yourself.  I want you to join me, in my home community, to feel the heart of ATS®.

I am also going to start hosting General Skills, Teacher Training and The Business of ATS® in San Francisco once a year. The first GS/TT will be held before and after ATS® Homecoming: Return to the Mothership.  Pre-registration for those planning on attending General Skills and Teacher Training in addition to ATS® Homecoming  will open on February 1, 2014.  ATS® Homecoming registration will open on February 17, 2014.

I hope to see you all soon.  Happy Holidays.

25 November 2013

visitors from France!

Look who dropped into the FatChanceBellyDance® Studio last month!
The Golden Trail dancers from France, thank you Djeynee and Mat for hosting this wonderful event.

23 November 2013

[fireside chat] ATS® Movement Dialect

I've been trying to think up a lengthy and thought-provoking way of presenting this topic, but it's really short and sweet. We have a new category: ATS® Movement Dialect.

Last year at Tribal Fest I settled down to watch a few FCBD® Sister Studios and I have to admit I was shocked, I had no idea what they were doing! At first I was upset. This is supposed to be a language that we can all understand. How could my own Sister Studios be presenting combinations and formations that I didn't recognize? But then I thought about it and realized that's the nature of growth. Even some of the steps that we (collectively: FCBD®, Devyani, Tamarind and Ghawazi Caravan) put on Tribal Basics Vol. 9 Anatomy of a Step are more short choreography or combo than steps. As much as I'd like us to remain in Classic ATS® for the rest of our lives, I have to open things up for the dance to continue to grow. We now have Classic ATS®, Modern ATS® and ATS® Movement Dialect. Sheesh!

Let's define ATS® Improv vs ATS® Movement Dialect; Improv uses universal ATS® steps that are recognized by all dancers. The steps can be combined in a never ending variety of ways, using cues to move into and out of duets, trios and quartets, which are supported by the chorus. It appears magical to the on-looker but to us it's a highly sophisticated language that is easy to understand once you learn the alphabet and words (steps and variations), grammar (formations) and parts of speech (cues, musicality, etc.)

Here's the boundary: if you can create a variation on an ATS® step that I can follow without you having to explain it, it's still ATS® Improv. If you have to take me aside and teach me the step, combo or choreo, it's ATS® Movement Dialect. Movement Dialect describes the unique combinations and creations of a particular troupe or group. This Movement Dialect naturally evolves through the creative process of personal and group collaboration.

Although American Tribal Style® Belly Dance is largely improvisational, we have always used choreographies when the situation merited. Sometimes you have a show that wants a full spectrum in just a few minutes, or a piece of music that really needs a combo to land in just the right spot. This is a great time to employ a Movement Dialect. It's also a great way to get comfortable with a challenging piece of music, or introduce new dancers to the possibilities of Improv. We do that with our Tribal Combinations L2 class at the FatChanceBellyDance® Studio in San Francisco.

If you have something that you’ve been developing I invite you to share it with me. Here are some guidelines for submission.

  •  Film your ATS® Movement Dialect; this can be as formal as iMovie, or as informal as a YouTube clip. You many include up to five new moves, limit each demonstration to one minute.
  •  Include a brief explanation; you can add it as a voiceover, or present it in person when you film it.
  •  Demonstrate your ATS® Movement Dialect in the context of a brief performance, using approximately 3/4 ATS® Movement Dialect and 1/4 Classic ATS®, so I can see it in context. Limit the performance to 5 minutes.
  •  Compile this into one video; this may include navigation (preferred) or be presented as one long clip.
  • There’s no charge for me to view your ATS® Movement Dialect, as I always enjoy being included in your creative process. However, if you’d like a personalized review and comments, we will set up a 30 minute phone call to provide feedback as we view the video together. The fee for this is $60.
Stay tuned for a tutorial of this process on www.fcbd.com.

22 November 2013

When Kennedy Died

In 1962, the year President Kennedy was shot, I was two years old, almost three because I was born in December.
My life was pretty simple back then. Hanging out with my Mom and Dad, watching TV and eating my special treat of carrot sticks and apple juice.
When the President was shot, all the TV programs changed. I had no idea why, so I asked my Mom.
She wanted to explain the severity of the situation in a way that wouldn't scare me.

I asked, "Why is the TV different?"
She replied, "Because someone did a very bad thing."
I pursued, "What did they do?"
She hesitated and said,"Something so bad that they won't be getting carrots and apple juice for a really long time."
My response, "Whoa."

Me and my Dad, Carl Nericcio.

11 November 2013

On-line Class Intro

The filming of our On-line Classes is going really well. We hope to have them up and viewable really soon!
In the meantime, here's a bit of the introduction for Week One of Level One Dance Fundamentals:

"American Tribal Style® is a style of Belly Dance; it is both elegant and earthy. It is a system of steps and formations that you can learn and use improvisationally with a group of dancers.
I like to see ATS® as a pyramid shape, like an A-frame house, with the music is a bridge that leads to the garden where the audience is sitting.
At the very top of the house is gratitude (we are grateful that we have this time to dance, I am happy to be able to be your teacher, you can insert your personal thoughts here.) Next level is the structure-your personal posture and the group formations of duet, trio and quartet. Next comes all of the steps-and there are about 100 of them! Today we’ll just be learning a few. Finally at the bottom of the pyramid is the fantastic costume and jewelry. The music is the bridge that connects the dancer to the audience.
The audience sees the house in reverse. Through the bridge of the music they first see the costume and jewelry, then the steps and formations. They probably don’t see the posture  and gratitude but they infer it via the attitude of the dancer’s body.
I’m mentioning this because so often dancers see the pyramid in the reverse-they often only see the costume and the steps, they hear the music but forget to use it to connect with the viewer. The formations and posture, instead of being logical pathways become mental exercises."

07 November 2013

Costume Workshop: Banjara Choli

I'm excited to present this Costume Workshop on Friday 8 Nov at the FatChanceBellyDance® Studio.
If you can't make it in person, I'll try to document it to share here on my Blog.

Let's get started!

Banjara Choli
We'll be looking at a mysterious little choli and recreating it in your size.
I have several for us to examine and one that we can take apart to understand the construction and ultimately make the patterns.

Here's what you will need to bring:

The equivalent of 1 1/2 yards of fabric: 80% should be a woven cotton for the body of the choli. We'll be cutting the body cloth into squares and rectangles so it's OK if you have multiple pieces, as long as they are approx. 8x10". 20% can be decorative bits for trim, these can be any sort of fabric. It's important that the body of the choli be a woven cotton because the unique fit of this garment is due in large part to the drape of the fabric over the shoulders. A stiff, tightly woven fabric or synthetic fabric won't yield the same results. A stretch cotton will lose it's shape. We'll be talking more about this during the class. Iron everything ahead of time if you can.

If you have one of these cholis please bring it for us to look at. Also bring any other banjara choli, belt or pieces that you might want to use for parts or trim.

A needle and several colors of cotton thread for hand sewing.

A notebook and pencil if you want to take notes or sketches.

Scissors, make sure they are sharp. Fabric scissors should only be used for cutting cloth.

Straight pins for pinning fabric. Best pins have glass heads so you can iron over them (plastic heads can melt.) Pins with flat heads are OK, but can get lost in the fabric and are hard to pick out.

Seam ripper and tape measure.

That's all for now, I'll let you know if I think of anything else. If you can only bring one thing, bring the fabric. I'll have plenty of supplies. I have pattern paper and paper scissors and an iron.

21 October 2013

Tribal Combinations, pre {fireside chATS}

 I'm working up a {fireside chATS} dealing with the inevitability of adding mini-choreographies and combos into the ATS® lexicon. It should only be a few days before I publish the post here on the Director's Cut Blog, bu in the meantime I shaved off this description of our Level Two class, Tribal Combinations:

For the Tribal Combinations class, we select 4 or 5 steps from the repertoire and put them into a combo decided by popular opinion; say we have Shimmy, Arabic Hip Twist, Egyptian+1/2 Turn, Reach and Sit. We look at the attributes of each step-do they present in place, turn to face in, or can you travel with them. The chart would look like this:

Shimmy-presents in place, turns around and travels forward, back and in a circle
Arabic Hip Twist-presents in place, 1/2 turns and travels forward, back and in a circle
Egyptian+1/2 Turn-presents in place and 1/2 turns and the Basic E travels forward, back and in a circle
Reach and Sit-presents in place and turns around

Then we decide how to combine them, based on whether they are vertical or horizontal in nature.

Arabic Hip Twist-horizontal
Reach and Sit-horizontal

Based on this collection of attributes we decide on a combo that looks like this:

Shimmy around in a circle, pull into the lead with Egyptian and add the 1/2 Turn, end the 1/2 Turn with Arabic Hip Twist (w/o turning it) and switch into Reach and Sit. Pivot with Reach and Sit to meet your partners in the circle and travel in a Shimmy. Lather, rinse, repeat.

The number of times you do each step depends on the phrasing of the music, so that's a "wild card" but the combo just gets repeated until the song is over. It's lots of fun and teaches you how to choose complimentary steps on the fly. The logic gets into your muscle memory and soon you can Improv successfully without having to think...Flow has begun.

Stay tuned for ATS® Mini-choreographies!

Week Two L1L2 and on-going L3

07 October 2013

just wanted to pass this along

 I receive updates each week from the Prayer Circle for Animals. I always take a moment to read them and meditate for a moment on the plight of animals. Sometimes they can be hard to read.

This one, however, is a joy and I wanted to share it with you. The part that I will take away today is this: We must remind ourselves that every single act and thought of love is never lost.  It becomes a permanent part of the blossoming world of peace we are creating.


Prayer Circle for Animals Weekly Update
Please share with friends!!
Our prayers for all animals continue to circle the earth, to
uplift humanity's consciousness, and to bless the animals themselves.
 Thank you for joining people around the world who are praying this
prayer in many different languages but all with the same love:

More evidence that our prayers and actions are working to liberate animals--San Diego, California, elementary schools began serving Meatless Monday meals to all students this fall.  While they had been offering vegetarian options in previous years, they decided to go completely meatless (though not vegan) on every Monday.

On our watch, we continue to see horrific violence against animals.  At the same time, we are witnessing amazing progress.  Part of our work involves caring for ourselves so that we do not burn out and give up in despair.  I have seen this happen to numerous people who cared so much that they could no longer deal with the endless reports of animal suffering.

We must remind ourselves that every single act and thought of love is never lost.  It becomes a permanent part of the blossoming world of peace we are creating.  So let us celebrate this great news of Meatless Mondays in San Diego.  Find some ways this week to celebrate: 1. who you are; 2. the great love you are bringing to this world; and 3. all the beauty and freedom that has come from your actions and prayers and those of the many people who embrace all beings with compassion and love.

Thank you, as always, for your prayers, your vision, and your faithful lovingkindness.  

With Love, peace, and gratitude from Judy; and from Will, Madeleine, and the Circle of Compassion team.

If you haven't already done so, please join us at the Prayer Circle for Animals Facebook page.  Here we can share prayer requests and ideas for general prayers and various actions to take.  https://www.facebook.com/groups/prayercircleforanimals

To support our work and help us expand this ministry, please go to http://circleofcompassion.org/donations.html

May all beings be happy.  May all beings be free.

Please visit the website www.circleofcompassion.org often to see updates and special prayers, and also to join in our "A prayer a day for animals" which features a prayer for a different group of animals each day of the week.  Please forward this widely so that we may continue to add more people to our ever-expanding circle of compassion.

26 September 2013

Thank you 1000 Bridesmaids!

The best wedding greeting EVER! Brought tears to my eyes.
Thanks to everyone who contributed and special thanks to Jan Hanseth for putting it together.
Carolena Wedding Greeting from Janet Hanseth on Vimeo.

23 August 2013

From Megha's perspective

Hello friends, Megha here.  I'm writing from our cute little apartment in Vancouver to let you all know that everything is fine.

There seems to be a lot of concern and confusion over Carolena's latest Fireside Chat where she announced the changes taking place at FCBD®.  Many people have said they are sorry to hear of her health issues and sad that the troupe is being disbanded.  I think her message wasn't received clearly by everyone so I thought I would jump in and try to shed some light on the situation from a different perspective.

First of all, Carolena's health is fine. She is happy and healthy and really excited about her upcoming wedding.  She (both of us really) just meant to say that all of the traveling has been exhausting and she was feeling it's toll on her body.  The smart thing to do is take care of herself to make sure she stays healthy and able to dance and teach for a long time.  The slow down in travel is simply a preventive measure rather than running herself into the ground and creating a situation whereby she would no longer be able to do this amazing thing that she does.

Regarding disbanding the troupe, it's actually an expansion rather than a destruction.  The idea is simply to allow all level 3 students the opportunity to qualify for a gig and make it more of a community based experience rather than a closed group.  This idea encompasses the basic nature of ATS as being all-inclusive.  There's no reason to fear that FCBD® is going anywhere.  The studio is still open and going strong, the company is well intact and the performance opportunities are now available to more dancers.

So, let's all celebrate this step forward for FCBD® and continue to share in the excitement that is ATS®!

With love in dance,


15 August 2013

addendum to {fireside chat} 11 Aug 2013, part one

While things are changing at the Studio,  FatChanceBellyDance® stands strong; the studio is open, the merchandise is available, all workshops will proceed as planned, on-going classes are still on-going, Carolena is here, rested and inspired and waiting to talk with you.
Thanks for your support.

11 August 2013

{fireside chat} 11 Aug 2013, part one

Past, Present, and Future: The Only Constant is Change
A few months ago I was on a plane, bound for a ten-day intensive.  I found myself wrangling with my conflicted thoughts. I picked up a pen and began to write. When I came out of my trance, I read: “I want to disband the troupe and work as a consultant.” I was shocked at my own transmission,  but for the first time in a long while, I felt completely free. And I knew what I had to do.
The Past: I am 52 years old. I have been dancing for 38 years. American Tribal Style® is 25 years old. The FatChanceBellyDance® Studio has been open for 13 years, and I have been traveling around the world to teach and guide ATS dancers for the last six years. When I came home at the end of 2012, I could barely walk. I had arthritis, a torn meniscus, bursitis and menopause. It took a few months to get myself back on my feet, both literally and figuratively. I had been in denial about the need for a change in my agenda. Some members of the troupe have been involved with FCBD® since the 1990s. This group did a lot for FatChanceBellyDance®. They  helped me keep the studio open when I started taking ATS® and Tribal:Pura on the road with Megha Gavin in 2006; they taught almost all the classes, especially Level One and Level Two, the classes from which I most needed a break; they were aces at nailing a concept for a show (small show or big show, no problem) and could set the stage on fire. I would come back into town and they would present me with a concept: the music, the intention, the costumes. We would hit the stage at a festival or theater show. They kicked it, and they propped me up. I was rarely in top form because I had been on the road too long.
Present: I now love going to the studio every day. I am once again delighted to teach all levels of classes. I’m officially hanging out my shingle as Consultant for ATS® troupes, teachers and students via Skype, and in-person if possible. Though I face challenges such as the rent going up and sales going down, I have a great office staff. After traveling the world, I can really see that the dance is a global phenomenon, and I continue to have an unending flow of ideas for getting the dance out into the world.
Future: I am getting married next month. I want to write my book. I will continue to travel in small doses, but am realistic about how much I can do well in one trip. And yes, I want to retire someday, but not yet.
In the balance: What happened to the troupe? I disbanded it as a closed unit and will reform it on an as-needed basis. I see a lot of talent and skill at the studio, but not necessarily all in one person. I am interested in exploring what happens when a varied group of dancers come together to share strengths and weaknesses. I want to work with everyone, not just one troupe.  I will form the troupe one gig at a time with dancers that attend Level Three (L3) classes on a regular basis. The former members of FCBD® will continue to perform and teach at the studio if they desire, they are also free to work on their own.
While things are changing at the Studio,  FatChanceBellyDance® stands strong; the studio is open, the merchandise is available, all workshops will proceed as planned, on-going classes are still on-going, Carolena is here, rested and inspired and waiting to talk with you.
Thanks for your support.

Week Four and Dueling Duets

09 August 2013

On-line classes vs Skype lessons?

Hi All,
Help me to understand the brain of the ATS® consumer!

It seemed like everyone wanted private Skype lessons, so we set that up.
Now people are telling me that they want On-line classes instead of Skype lessons.
On-line classes won't be ready until the end of the year.

What is the difference, in your mind, between the two? Because maybe I don't understand what it is that you want.

In my mind, a private Skype lesson is and On-line Class that is created especially for you, live and in person.
An On-line class is a pre-recorded class that you watch, sort of like a DVD, but streaming and more up-to-date than the Tribal Basics series.

Is it the price? A private Skype lesson is $100/hr with me, $75/hr with the FCBD® teachers and there's a deal on a package of classes. Info is here.

I'm not sure how much the streaming On-line Classes will be, but likely $15 per class (like a drop-in class at the FCBD® Studio)  or $72 for six classes (as if you had bought a class card at $12 per class.)

I'll create whatever you want, I'm just not sure I know what it is!

01 August 2013

Tribal Fusion Belly Dance: A Workshop Companion

Check out Samantha Emanuel's Tribal Fusion Belly Dance: A Workshop Companion.
Sponsored by Yours Truly!

Pre-order it now and take a peek: