Please welcome Jonobie to the spotlight! A voracious student of dance and a courageously creative spirit, Jonobie has been dancing up a storm in 2012 and now on into 2013. Let’s see what she has to say about her dance journey so far.
Name: Jonobie Ford
Profession: Senior Program Manager at Microsoft. Program Managers design features for Microsoft products and lead teams of developers and testers to create those features.
Hobbies: Bellydance, obviously. Crafts in general; my obsession of the moment is brewing beer. I also love to travel.
How long have you been studying bellydance: Three years of lessons, with two of those years of lessons about 15 years ago.
When did you first see bellydance? What were your first impressions?
I think the first time I saw it, I didn’t realize it was bellydance. I grew up watching the original Star Trek series and it had a couple of bellydancers in different episodes. (Anyone remember the green lady?)
The time I really discovered it was going to a Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) event — I had been doing Italian Renaissance dance and on a whim went to a Middle Eastern class at a dance event. I was so captivated by how the teacher’s hips seemed totally disconnected from the rest of her body! It was so amazing, fabulous, and different than the ballet and tap I’d done before. I was so used to dance being entirely arms and legs with a straight middle. I was just in awe of what she could do with her middle section.
What motivated you to finally take your first bellydance class?
Pretty immediately after that SCA event, I found a dancer in Columbus (Shakira) to take lessons from. I’m so lucky because she was pretty much the only game in town at the time, but is a fantastic teacher and dancer.
What was your first class like?
I remember being surprised it was in someone’s house (I’d only ever taken dance in studios before) and taught by someone who was older than 20 and heavier than 105 lbs. Having grown up thinking that Balanchine’s dancers were the model of “real dancers”, it was so amazing and eye opening to learn from someone who was a professional dancer that didn’t fit that mold. The hard part was my body didn’t easily do hip and rib movements because I’d spent so much time dancing and holding that section rigid while moving my arms and legs. It took a while to break out of that.
In what ways do you think you have changed or benefited as a result of taking bellydance classes?
I’m not far off from the “ballet body type”, but am enough off to have always noticed the ways I don’t measure up to a Balanchine dancer. (People are sometimes surprised that as a thin girl, I have body image issues. Trust me, we all do.) I love that it is a total nonissue what my shape is for bellydance. I love that I use muscles I don’t use elsewhere, and that when I do bellydance, I feel incredibly grounded. Given how much of my work is in my head, I love doing something that’s so body-focused during my time off. There’s something about the moves that feel really good when I get it right.
What is your favorite move or concept you have learned so far and why?
I really like Arabic and body wave — they just feel fun to do. I’m sure, though, that once I nail the 3/4 shimmy that will be my favorite move. I really want to get that one because it looks like absolute magic when someone does it.
Any advice for other students who are just starting out?
Two things: One, remember it takes 10,000 hours to attain mastery of something. That’s MORE than a year if you did it every hour of every day! But it doesn’t take mastery to feel like you’re making progress — if you really want to learn a move, just spend 5 minutes a day every day practicing it. You’ll notice you shoot ahead in class.
Also, if you love the dance and want to get better, consider taking classes from multiple teachers. Preferably with different styles. It’s amazing to me how many options are available out here on the West coast. Sometimes you’ll learn one thing really well from one person, and another thing from someone else. I still have the voices of different teachers in my head for different moves.
Any other thoughts to share?
I recently read The Little Book of Talent by Daniel Coyle. There are a lot of suggestions there that are suited perfectly to dance. If you’re interested in getting better, I highly recommend it.