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The FCBD-ATS-GSI Wrap-up

Dinner with friendsWe joined our gals for dinner again that night, this time at a bistro tucked into a 102 year old farmhouse about 15 minutes away. It was lovely, with the courtyard and porch lit by oil torches, and stark white tables in a whitewashed “living room”. The food was fabulous (Renee and I split a to-die-for baked goat cheese appetizer, then I moved on to She Crab Bisque and finally Atlantic Salmon), we shared a bottle of wine, lots of laughter, and dance philosophy and dreams. We were so lucky to get to meet up with such wonderful women. Mindy with her strong desire (and blossoming ability) to foster community through the dance, and using it as a tool for battered women. Laraine quietly soaking up the experiences of the other women to take back to her “just broke away from our teacher” troupe, interjecting with occasional questions and contributions. Connie with her desire to bring more codification to her troupe, and some pointed questions to Renee and I about our experiences. Margaret with her classes teaching little girls how to dance, drum, and play zills, and the neat exercises and traditions she has developed to help these girls grow up strong, confident, and nurtured by their little circle.

We had our first day of music theory, which was well laid out. I think I would have taught it a little different from a rhythm study standpoint, but it was neat to get to hear Carolena talk a bit about her relationship with live musicians, and the experience of creating an understandable communication system between the dancers and the musicians when it comes to rhythms and developing music for performance. Or more to the point, the way Carolena and Mark Bell talk about rhythms, and the pitfalls of working with musicians who are “always right”. We only ever played triples and military, however, during the workshop.

Renee Taking NotesWhen we last left our fearless adventurers, they were settling in for the night after their first full day of the FCBD GSI.

Day two was probably the most challenging day for me personally. The reason being that the moves were still fairly basic and universal…but with subtle tweaks from what we usually do with them. So the movements individually were not hard at all, but the details and the variations and turning combinations were *just* different enough from what we do to bend the brain a bit. As promised, the talking went down and the dancing went up. We and the gals we had hooked up with the first day had agreed to show up early to stake out a better vantage point in the class (center, not faaar left!–the worst position for ATS, dude!), and stay close so when it came time to group up and dance, we would have some partners with some experience. This plan worked flawlessly and Renee and I partnered with Margaret (who incidentally happens to be in a troupe with LuSynda! Like, from Oasis Dance Camp all that time back! WOAH! Tiny world!).

I think one of my few “I wish” from the weekend would be I wish we had had a little more partner dancing time–more drill time in general, without having to try and follow Meg or Carolena. Just getting to internalize the moves a little bit and put feet to floor to music. But as was evidenced, the goal of this intensive is not to really gain any muscle memory or skill in the moves, but to just be *exposed* to the individual moves, and a chance to ask some questions about the moves and format. This we definitely accomplished.

I got to ask a lot more questions throughout this day, as well as at the Q&A directly after the workshop. I was hyper-conscious of not trying to overwhelm the day with my “agenda” of questions, or to appear too overeager. I was worried about speaking too much, and taking up too much time with my detailed explorations and Carolena’s and Megha’s gracious answers. However, many women throughout the weekend specifically commented on what great questions I had and how they were enjoying my inquiries and the insight they revealed, so by the end I felt confident I wasn’t wasting anyone’s time. *whew*

We head back to the hotel and retired to our own rooms. We were all very tired, had to be up early, check out, have a full day of workshop, and then fly/travel home. So no latenight EEMED watching. But Renee and I ended up drinking some wine, eating some junk, composing some mails to the troupe, and pillow-talking until wee hours. We were exhausted, but couldn’t sleep! Finally we fell into an exhaustion and dropped off.

Chicks in ElevatorsThe last day had more new information, but was less mentally challenging for me personally. Largely because the moves were so different from what we do that they were kind of using a different part of my brain power than the day before, and because I had most recently been viewing and working with Volume 7 so the mechanics of the moves were very fresh in my mind and were easily called upon. But unfortunately, my back was killing me. It was already a bit fatigued from the previous days, but when we loaded the suitcases into the car, despite me being very very careful, something went wrong. And my back was in severe pain all day long. So it meant I had to spend more time sitting out that I would have liked. But realistically, this was the best day for me to have been down and out. I danced when it was time to break things down and put feet to floor on a concept, but sat out when it was just doodling around a bit or drilling. I simply economized my dance time to the most important moments in the workshop, and it was alright. I did have to go lie down off to the side a couple of times, and I used up all my Advil earlier than I would have liked. I honestly felt like an idiot sitting out, and feared appearing weak or disrespectful or both! But I knew going into this that I had to do what was best for my physical health, so I just sucked it up and sat out as needed.

We did the latter half of the music theory on this day (not much new info there, but from a teaching perspective, good to observe how another teacher approaches it), as well as belly rolls and flutters (too much time spent on this IMO, but what can ya do). We finished with some partner concepts (Arabic Shimmy w/ arms and fade, Arabic Orbit, etc), and then Carolena and Megha presented us our certificates for those of us who had to dash out before the end of the workshop day (we couldn’t stay for the Q&A hour, basically).

For me, it felt too short. I think even one more day would have allowed the workshop a little more fleshed-out exploration and drill time. But I do honestly feel I got a lot out of it–in fact, most of what I went into it for, and then some. I got to ask questions that specifically spoke to the philosophy behind the construction of a move, and gained much insight from observing the connective tissue, details, and aesthetic qualities of FC movement that appeal to me. Renee and I got some inspiration for derivative and new moves and concepts for the troupe, and had good talks with each other and the other women about dance philosophy.
My View of General Skills
Carolena did confirm that she is definitely developing a second-level training program, between this and the “you can only do ATS” teacher training, which will be a teacher training for those who want to learn more FC movement and teaching skills but not teach only ATS. I am definitely interested in that training, and hope it will work into my 2008 schedule, and that I will be accepted to participate (you have to audition).

Gotta go eat lunch!

Shay Moore Certified ATSTo sum up: the workshop was everything I hoped for and more. Carolena was kind, engaging, super informative, and felt like an open book to me; which to be honest was not was I was expecting, but was grateful to find. She was respectful of people’s limits and motivations, spoke clearly and concisely, and managed to put together in only 15 hours a truly informative practical overview of all the moves in the FC vocabulary. Megha was an unexpected treat–a great addition, and she and Carolena taught well together, kind of tag-teaming. Megha’s warmth and smile added to the room, as did the presence of her sweet troupe members who were all in attendance, and demonstrated some of the more complex group concepts for us to see in detail and take notes.

It was more than worth the money (and back pain ;)!

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Shay Moore is the director and primary instructor at Deep Roots Dance in Seattle, WA. She loves writing, movies, costuming, knitting, cooking, and bellydance to the moon and back again; and loves her amazing husband and doggies even more than that.

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