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.