The Amazing Mirvana

Travels, and makes stuff.

Archive for the tag “dance notebook”

Dance Notebook: FCBD Levels 1 & 2

It was so very worth the effort to go to the FCBD classes last night. They were challenging and I learned some new things. The teaching style and class format was very different than what I’m used to, but not so different that I was totally lost. I was barely able to keep up, though.

In both the Beginner Level 1 and Intermediate Level 2 classes, we used zills while doing the fast moves in a basic RLR-RLR- pattern.

In Beginner Level 1, the teacher said it was week 5 (in an 8 week progression).

Slow moves:
We did a brief warmup with stretching and then went into taksims as our first slow move, then circle step as a our second move. This one was foreign to me. It’s like a flat Turkish hip circle but the way she taught it was different. Starting in the back and going around on the left, it doesn’t follow through the front, but breaks, and then the circle continues on the right. So, you sort of “skip” the front. The move was done only in the one direction, with left hand up in front and right hand on hip. The left hand turns in a flamenco style with the move.

Fast moves:
Then we put the zills on and did some fast moves. The moves themselves weren’t that unfamiliar or challenging for me, but with zills, I struggled to keep up. Most of the moves were only done on the right or in one direction.

  • Hip bumps on the right, moving forward and in pivot turns with one arm up and one arm in front, changing arms and switching directions, sometimes doing a fast pivot turn.  They called hip bumps moving forward or in one direction “choo-choo.”
  • Hip bumps moving forward, and “Egyptian” moving back.
  • The Egyptian move is what we call “the FCBD move” back home. When I told the teacher, she was amused. The move is simply alternating hip ups with arms up, and we moved forward and back with it. You move the arms out slightly, one towards the front and one towards the back, then close them on each hip up.
  • Lift and sit – this combination was a right hip up with arms held in the motion of lifting a cane up and to the right. The weight is all on the left while the right foot goes out from under you on the down. Hold the arms at shoulder level in front like you are holding a cane parallel to the floor, then lift the arms up and to the right like you are tossing the cane away on the hip up. We also pivot turned with this.

The Intermediate Level 2 class was similar in format. We did not do a warm up. Most of the students in this class had also been there for level 1. We did mostly the same moves as level 1, but added more moves and combinations. We jumped right into following the teacher with slow moves, and then for the next song, put zills on and followed with some fast moves. Then, the teacher stopped to review some of the moves and break them down, afterwhich we broke into small groups of 2-3 to practice group improv. We also did a staggered formation with the whole class. Tip: the leader is the one who can’t see anyone else. That’s the person you follow until you rotate. It was not that difficult to learn the cues and signals for the moves, but add zills and the unfamiliar combinations and I really did look like the newb. But everyone was pretty friendly and welcoming. I didn’t cause any train wrecks or slow the class down.

Slow moves:

  • We added body waves – undulations. We moved with these, pivot turned, and threw in level changes as well. 
  • We also did a combo with the circle step, which I still wasn’t quite getting. The combo was:  circle step, taksim, circle step with 1/3 pivot turn right, taksim, until facing front again.
  • We worked on lead and follow with arms, mostly snake arms and variations. I found it really challenging to follow with the arms. I need to remember to keep my shoulders down.
  • Accent moves – there were a few “accent” moves that they sprinkled in. One of which was like a “disco pose.” With left arm up and right arm down, switch arms while extending left leg out straight and bending right knee. They also threw in single pivot turn to the back and pivot turn all the way around with an arm switch.
  • We also did chest circles.

Fast moves:

  • We added double hip ups with arm switching, and pivot turned with this. It’s a double hip bump with foot forward, then double with foot back. With foot forward, the right arm is up and left arm is in front, then switch with foot back.
  • Single hip ups – is a single hip bump foot forward, then single bump foot back. The arms are shoulder level and curved forward. We did half turns with this – a fast pivot to the back, then fast pivot to the front.
  • We also did shimmies with level change.

The FCBD studio includes a store where you can buy all their merchandise: t-shirts, the choli pattern, their signature zills, etc. and they also had lots of tribal jewelry and clothing for sale. The walls are decorated with tribal textiles from Carolena’s personal collection, which are not for sale, but interesting to look at. I bought a t-shirt, knee pads, and signature zills for myself, and the top that Steffi wanted. Their signature zills are large and they sounded so sweet that I had to have them. I got the brass ones because I thought they sounded deeper and more mellow. The silver ones are louder and higher pitched.

I highly recommend the FCBD classes if you ever have an opportunity to take them!!!


Dance Notebook

And I wanted to describe a new move I learned in Waim’s class at the YWCA this week. Remember the “big shimmies” that I talked about last time? Well, keeping that in mind, up on toes and without bending the knees, lower one heel to floor, and on opposite hip side, do sort of a roll or undulation. Alternate sides. Strange, huh?

Dance Notebook: Waim at the Y

I was not familiar with some of the moves that Waim did in the dance class today (Tuesdays, 12:30 pm, YWCA downtown Pgh.), so I want to get some of them down here. I wonder if these moves are typical of where she is from (Jordan). I did not have time to ask after class today.

  • Shimmies? This move resembled shimmies but it’s nothing like how I was taught. In a wide stance, up on your toes and without bending your knees, alternate hips up and down by lowering your heels.  We just did arm circles over this.
  • Hip ups on one side, with your weight on the non-working hip side. Pivot turn to the other side. I know this is a very common move. We started out slow then worked up to a very fast pace–it was so much fun!
  • Pelvic tilt. I like the way she taught this one. She said to tighten the upper abdominals, then let them out, so you are really working the abs with the pelvic tilt.
  • We followed the pelvic tilt with undulations. She did not break down the move like some teachers do. She demonstrated the move in a very exagerated fashion so that we could imitate. I wonder if this is a better way to teach it to absolute beginners. Some people have a really hard time getting this one at first, but this class seemed to be doing pretty well.
  • Single hip taksim travelling to the side – we started out in a wide stance, tilted the working hip down, then scooping up in a taksim-like move, then stepped to travel towards that side.
  • Hip bump or pop- in a wide stance, swing hips to one side then accent that side with a sharp popping hip up, swing to other side and accent that hip with a sharp hip up.
  • Hip breaks – the same hip swinging move but broken up into 3-4 accenting hip pops along the way.

And then we did combinations of these things and travelling.

Dance Notebook

I knew there was something important that I wanted to get down today…here are some moves that we’ve been working on in Maria’s kickass advanced class the last couple of weeks. I think I’m just starting to get my head around them and here’s my attempt at writing it down. Unfortunately, it’s not like being there.

1) Hip ups with a twist and accents- we started working on this like it was a travelling move, moving backward, but then worked up to doing it in place, which involves switching feet and is a bit harder. It starts out twisting hips and stepping back on the right, R-L-R hip ups, then twist back to left, L-R-L hip ups, and so on. Then we added an accent on 1, which is the hip going down in front- drop it down sharply. So far it’s down-L-R, twist, down-R-L. Now add an extra bump or shimmy on the last hip-up. Down-L-RR, twist, down-R-LL. You had to be there.

2) Pelvic tilt/thrust and chest lift-drop combo. We started out by doing a pelvic tilt in on 1, down on 2, then a chest lift up-down on 3. Then we changed it to pelvic in (1), chest down (2)-up (3). Then we worked on doing this sequence: chest down(1), pelvic down(2)-up(3). Then we worked on this sequence: Chest down(1), pelvic down(2), up(3), chest down(4), up(5). There’s a pause in there somewhere. I imagine that it can be adapted to the beat of the music. You had to be there.

3) This one is called the PP dance w/ ummy-ummy. An ummy-ummy is also called a hip or pelvic grind by some folks and in hip-hop, I think they call it tic-tac-toe. In this case you are only doing half of one, alternating each side. It starts out by arcing your right hip up forward and dropping it down in front of you, while turning your right foot in to accentuate the move, crossing your legs slightly, like you have to pee or something. Then lift that hip up and back to center, repeat on the left. We tried this move with a sharp dropping of the hip in front and also tried doing it smooth and curvy-like. The movement in the hips is like what happens during the ummy-ummy, but you are switching sides in the middle. It’s important to turn in the foot on the side of the working hip to get the right effect. You had to be there.

BTW, did I mention that I got the new Zafira performance video? And it’s very good. I’m impressed with the quality of the production. They filmed it during their full stage production show at the Kelly Strayhorn theater.

Dance Notebook

If I didn’t have 30 CDs worth of stuff to download for work I wouldn’t be here right now…so I was going through a notebook of odds and ends and ran across some notes that I took when Jen Hammer guest-taught one of the dance classes I attend. It’s fun having the occasional substitute teacher because they might teach you some moves you’ve never seen before, Jen RAWKS! So here are some combos that I wrote down from that session:

  • U-chest lift w/ shoulder shimmy. The U-chest lift is a chest lift up and to the right, down, up and to the left, back and forth in a U.
  • Head slide w/ chin accent. The chin accent is a small flick of the chin, and shift of the eyes to possibly make contact or flirt with someone in the audience. It’s a subtle move.
  • Ker-plunk: a hip drop with a level change, going down on the drop.
  • A travelling move: side-facing hip twist back, then hip drop, up-down-up, while side stepping back. This one’s a tough one. You have to see it.

And here are some notes that I took during Olivia’s ( class. These combos are really little bits of choreo that evolved into the choreo that her students performed at the recent SHY dance expo. They put on an excellent show.

  • Right hip up traveling at an angle, right and forward, 4 cts. Left, same thing, 4 cts. Shoulder shimmy stepping back, 8 cts.
  • Right hip arc forward, back, and around in a circle, hip drops to music, turn back over right shoulder to repeat on left.
  • Reverse undulation, flat hip circle clockwise, stepping and turning slightly to the right, stop, reverse undulation, then counter-clockwise hip circle, stepping to the left
  • Hip ups while leaning back, then shoulder shimmy back up.

The class that I really need to take my notebook to is Maria’s (also of Zafira) advanced class. She is back from maternity leave and her class RAWKS!

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