Gilded Serpent presents...
A Different Approach to the Student Recital
by John Steele
the student recital. There is nothing like watching fledglings
leaving the nest, discovering their own creative wings and flying
off into the wonderful world of belly dance.
year I wanted to deepen the concept of “student recital” and
help dancers engage in significant cultural and artistic exploration.
So, I created
a class entitled Gitaneria Arabesca (gitaneria means
little “gypsy” enclave or village). The results were truly surprising
were from my Intermediate and Advanced Gypsy classes. Some had
studied Romany –style belly dance with me for two years
– others only recently began specializing in “gypsy” belly dance.
Dancers were expected to create a “gypsy” choreography (fantasy,
fusion, traditional or interpretive) and perform it at the end
of the session at an informal hafla for family and friends.
Additional requirements included research and presentation of
a “cultural” project and maintenance of a journal throughout the
class. The journals were turned in for my review at the end of
the session. The cultural project and individual choreographies
were to be presented at the hafla. In addition, all students
were to participate in an improvisational 9/8 zil circle/dance
and short finger cymbal choreography to close the show.
was inspired by a similar model created by SeSe
(my first belly dance teacher). Her model requires students to
perform on a semi-monthly basis and receive peer-based feedback
as well as teacher-based critique in front of the class.
the session by requiring dancers to choose a piece of music, a
“theme” for their dance and a rough costume sketch. We then spent
a few weeks completing individual and group exercises which explored
different ways to approach choreography. Outside of class, students
were required to create a “dance map” for their piece. The “map”
could be anything from Kamaal’s method (each
rhythmic phrase written out numerically) to a series of drawings
that follow the emotional threads in the music. We then moved
into exercises to help students create a character and explore
different methods of accessing emotional and physical projection
in their dancing. We also completed practical exercises to develop
skills related to use of a stage, exits/entrances and coping strategies
for unexpected technical difficulties in a show. Mid-session students
started to perform their choreographies and receive their critique.
Simultaneously, they worked on individual research/cultural projects
and wrote about their feelings in a dance journal.
The session culminated
in a dress/tech rehearsal and show in mid-August. Family and friends
attended as well as teachers and students in the larger Bellydance
Basics family. The
show/hafla was an amazingly fun time for everyone and as I had hoped the entire experience was deepened
by the addition of the journal and cultural project assignments.
chronicled each students journey and process. They also included
good information about the utility of various exercises we had
completed. The projects were truly amazing. They were incredibly
diverse. One student researched a Romani poet; and read her poetry
at the hafla. Another student created a CD-ROM containing
all Internet resources she could locate regarding the Rom.
There were also quite a few artistic projects: a quilt made up
of images of dancers, a graphic design print using historical
images of Romany people, and “gypsy” tee-shirt design.
All in all,
it was an incredibly satisfying experience for me as teacher.
I loved being able to provide a safe venue for dancers to share
their first expressions of this art form. It also felt wonderful
to be able to teach students the value of learning at least some
small part of the cultural context that we borrow from in this
fabulous world of Middle Eastern dance.
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Luna Gitana 2003
and layout by Susie Poulelis
and Shoshanna Presented by Vashti, A Bellydance Odyssey Production,
Santa Cruz, CA November 15, 2003
Rakkasah West Festival
2005 Photos- Saturday & Sunday Page 2 photos by GS Staff
Belly Dancer of the Year 2005 Page
1 Duos, Trios & Troupes photos by Monica
May 28, 2005, San Ramon, California.
Rakkasah West Festival
2005 Photos- Saturday Page 1 photos by GS Staff and Friends
The Rhythm and Reason Series
2- Special Experiences by
Mary Ellen Donald
The audience of mainly flamenco aficionados gave our
Arabic Suite a clamorous response. This bringing together
of bellydance and flamenco had begun as a flash of imagination
in Cruz’ mind.