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My Reflections on the Aubre Hill Week of Workshops

I wanted to post my thoughts on the week I spent learning from Aubre Hill in Taiwan. Here are some of my overall impressions.

1. Aubre has control: I am referring to muscle control. Aubre Hill can use her muscles like a piano player uses keys (may not be an ideal metaphor). If she wants she can use one muscle, two or five. She can layer in a way the truly isolates and separates that way the muscles work. The other great thing is that she teaching this method (I still need a lot of practice).

2. She is a Master: I don’t mean that just to complement, I mean it because she displays the traits that a Master in the field would have. She is a very talented dancer, but above all she very well-informed about the style of dance. Aubre is well versed in the music, culture and performance aspects of this belly  dance, which takes her above actually being a talented dancer. She is also an educated teacher, which I admire. Throughout the workshop, I was constantly surprised by the information she would share. Up until this point I always knew I have more to learn, but now I have an understand of just how much more.

3. Music knowledge: Aubre has a strong understanding of musicality.The dance is about the music. She stresses they idea that it is important to use the body as an instrument. This understanding of music helps with choreography as much as it helps with technique.  I find this to be one of the aspects of the dance that is most overlooked. My favorite lesson was on layering. Aubre mentioned that layering is not about being impressive (though it can be), it is about expressing multiple parts of the music using different parts of the body. A dancer may be able to layer five different moves, but if they are not following the music, than they are not dancing. Enlightening!

Overall, I found the workshop series to be extremely informative. I highly suggest that you take her workshops/classes if given the chance. Now I know I have so much more I can improve. The only problem is finding the time to do it.

-Nara

Special thanks to Kelli Li for setting this up and of course Aubre for all of her hard work.

Have you ever studied with Aubre or another Master of dance? Any suggestions? Please Comment!

The Flutter of the Belly

This is a move that I have been working on for ages and every time I don’t feel that I am making  much progress. Here is some information to help.

The key with the belly flutter is to get relaxed and practice. It is a contraction of the muscles that control breathing and not actually the abdominal muscles. Usually these muscles are referred to as the diaphragm. Strictly speaking the diaphragm is actually a set of involuntary muscles (meaning you can not control them) and the muscles you are using are called the intercostal muscles. These muscles, just like any other group of muscles, needs to be stretched and exercised to be effectively used.

This is a simple E how article on how to do the basic belly flutter. Below that are two videos. The first is a short explanation on flutters and the second goes in a bit more depth.

E How: How to Perform a Belly Dance Flutter

If you are practicing the belly flutter I suggest you start laying down or sitting. Doing this will help you relax you abdominal muscles since you do not need to focus on posture or layering. Also laying down forces your intercostal muscles to work more effectively which can help in isolating and practicing this move. The most important thing about this step is to practice, which I plan on doing as much as possible.

Note: How to stretch you breathing muscles

I learn this one in Drum Corps years back. Stand up straight with you hands clasped over your head. Take a deep breath in and hold it. Take two to three more little sips of air. At this point you should feel full to the brim with air. Now hold the air in and slowly do a side bend stretch. You can do this to each side and if you have enough air, you will be able to stretch the muscles that are used for breathing. I find this is good to do beforehand after practicing the belly flutter. (Warning some times taking in that much air can make you dizzy. Its normal. Just resume breathing regularly and it should pass.)

Good luck.
-Nara

Tribal Makeup Tips

I have a few performances coming up and that has me thinking about stage makeup.

Some of my favorite makeup tips:

1. Always use a base or moisturizer before putting on your make-up. Make sure to put it on your eyes (carefully) before applying shadow or base. You will be amazed on how much better your makeup stays when you give it something to hold on to.

2.Have fun with eye liner. This is really for the tribal dancers. Invest in a good black eyeliner that you can use well and use often. I am not one to preach about kinds of eyeliner because ever dancer has their own favorate. If you haven’t found yours then go and experiment. I like to test a good eyeliner out on my hand first. If I can make a nice line on the back of my hand, I have a better chance at making one on my eyelid. This also gives you a chance to see how easy it is to remove the liner.

For some basics and ideas this article is great for eye liner.

3.Use great color. I like to invest in strong colors. A good mix of bright and deep colors is usually good for a smokey and exotic eye. You can use a little water on your eyelid first before you apply the shadow to make you color richer.

Check out some of these videos for some great ideas for eye makeup. I was inspired.

4. Take your time. The biggest mistake I see dancers make is when they rush their makeup. Doing makeup correctly is like painting a picture. It takes time! Do not rush it and always give yourself more time then you think you will need.

Have fun.

-Nara