Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Dance Changes

I've been feeling a bit guilty about not going to my dance classes as much as I used to since July. (Does that sentence even make sense?) I decided that I would go to the one class that I have neglected since the instructors headed off on tours/expanding/self serchings. Dance movements, here I come! I was expecting Kit to be the instructor for this, but I was mistaken. It was someone who is a very experienced dancer, but not someone I recognized. The class size was pretty small; maybe 10 compared to the 20 that I had previously been used to.
The new instructor is most likely classically trained, which can be a good thing and a bad thing. More specifically, for others it may be a good thing, but for me, at age 24 with this being the first time I am trying to do any sort of jazz/ballet, it is most definitely a bad thing. The whole format of the class has changed. Where I am used to using this class to build my strength and balance, it has turned into a full on jazz and ballet class. Where I used to be able to do about 1/2 of the things with confidence and maybe 1/4 with the idea that I'm almost good enough, now I could only fumble through half of it. I flopped around in this class the way I did when I first started "the other" one, however now I have no desire to continue. I don't feel like I am getting enough time in my stretches, and that it doesn't tie in well with my goals. I don't want to learn a jazz choreography at the end of class, and I feel like the whole class is geared towards getting the students ready for the choreography. I want to build strength and balance, and if I am too busy trying to figure out what the hell the instructor just did, it's never going to happen. The classes are too expensive for me to fumble and be frustrated the whole time.
So now I get to decide what I want as my second class of the week. I can take 2 of the same bellydance classes a week, a fusion/cymbals class, or Kit's own gypsy dance class. Maybe I'll just sit in and watch some of those classes to see which I most like. I know I've been meaning to take the fusion/cymbals class for about a year. Maybe this is my change to get up and do so.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Little Bit of Self Reflection

I've been doing a lot of finding out who I am lately. In my knitting, my dancing, and my general creativeness.

It's interesting, how I still feel like the same person creativity-wise as I was in highschool, however I feel like I was more whole as a 16 year old than I am now, as a 24 year old. Since then, I have gone to college and earned a bachelor's degree in two fields. I like them both, but that is more or less a different story. All the reader needs to know from this is that I am a "scientist". My job is to do research on complicated biology stuff than most people find "impressive", "interersting" or "challenging". People find out what I do for a living, and sudenly, that is what defines me. To them, above everything else, I am a nerdy scientist who wears goggles, a lab coat, and hides in a creepy place with my ethanol, DNA preps, cells, mice, and bunson burner. Second to this total geeked out image am I an artist to them. I am told "you think like a scientist", "you're analyzing", or "you think about things differently than artists do". Every time I hear these words, a part of me is beated down.
I view myself completely different. The exact opposite. To me above everything else, I am a sketch artist and painter who knits, and is trying to get a hang of this dancing thing. I am this creative person who is trying to support what I love doing by having a "real job" out in the big world. I still see myself as myself and my classmates saw me at 16; the weird, pierced theatre chick with big pants who was always drawing in the sketch pad in the middle of class.

Getting back in touch with old friends has somewhat woken me up. Every time I tell them what I am doing they seem stunned and shocked saying "Are you serious?! I never would have guessed you'd go into biology. I thought you were going to be an artist!" They find it hard to imagine me with a normal job, obeying a boss, and being restricted to "work" which does not lend itself well to creativity... unless you count goofing off at lunch coming up with experiments to see who can tell the difference between sugar-water and splenda-water "creative".

Earlier this week I brought my old sketch books into work to show a coworker. I hadn't looked through them since I was 19, but somehow managed to remember to cart them around with me where ever I moved to after college. It was strange. I remember exactly where I was when each picture was being drawn, when I drew it, and what I was thinking. They were all from 9 years ago. My coworker was impressed and didn't realize I had this side. It baffled me for a minute, thinking "But *everyone* KNOWS I can draw". But everyone doesn't. Nobody realizes I have these abilities, because I left everyone behind. I sold out on myself. I decided I didn't need to go to college for art because the one time I actually took an art class, I hated the instructor looking over my shoulder telling me that my picture needed more of this or that. (It's a story for another time, but my bratty teenaged self used my creativity and pictures to tell her to STFU.. which she did. and she never commented on my pictures after that) After taking that class, I decided that art instructors were stifling and limiting, killing my creativity, and dammit, I didn't need that; I was going to go to school to become a biologist.

I must have lost myself on my 18th birthday, because that is where it all changed. I stopped drawing. I stopped creating. I was stuck in books, homework, labs, and exams. And now? I feel lost. I feel like I abandoned myself somewhere between Florida and Pennsylvania, and I'm somewhat upset that it took me until THIS WEEK to realize that I'm lost. Where have I been for the past 6 years? And most importantly, how do I get myself back? How do I prove to everyone that I am more than a pipet and plasmids and really belong to my paper, pencils, and imagination?

That's the million dollar question.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Finding Myself

::looks around at my bare page::

Well, there certainly has been a lack of pictures going on here. And a lack of posting, especially compared to my old track record of almost every other day. As someone put it to me last week, I have a knitting hang over. I burnt myself out by pumping out the Gatsby Girl, Cashmere hat and scarf and 1/2 finished lace scarf, Placed Cables, baby sweater/hat combo (which I never mentioned here), and now another pullover (which I will mention shortly). All those since June. Less than 3 months of non-stop uber knitting. I need a break, and I've been taking it. I have been slowly chugging along on my Rebecca Mustard Parallelo. It also doesn't help much that I ahve to translate the German knitting language into English (American) knitting. Certainly makes it interesting! It's nice to slow down a little bit.

I also have not been dancing much since July. In part because of laziness, and in part because I was feeling overwealmed. It's hard to imagine that just over one year ago I was training my ass off drilling every day, and going to three classes a week so that I could be in shape enough to not collapse on the second day of my Level2 weeklong workshop. It became a kind of addiction. The endorphines were certainly pumping nostop, and kept me going even though I couldn't feel 8 of my toes for 1.5 weeks after the second day. This year's workshop is coming up towards the end of October. There is still a few spots left, I'm sure, but I have been doing the opposite of training. I have been slacking. Actually, I think that I am still at the same level I was when I walked out of the studio that Friday, dispite continuing to practice regularly since then. Maybe I'm not drilling hard enough or putting enough effort into it. Maybe my plataue is lasting longer than I thought; I almost had the interior squares layered on pas de bourres and chasses when the workshop ended. I still dan't do them.

I still feel like I am flailing around in class. While the other girls look like they are effortlessly dancing, I still feel like an awkward duck trying to figure out where the down beat is and which direction am I going again? Oh, and which foot are we on? I am definitely noticing the differences in the teaching styles that I have been exposed to. I have been studying Suhail Salimpour's format for almost exactly 2 years now. The workshop last year and the past 3 months are the only times I have studied dierctly under Suhaila herself, and the rest of the two years I have been taught by Kendra and Tiffany. All three have vastly different styles, and the longer I dance at the studio, the more I notice it. Since Suhaila has come back, I feel as though my Level2 class has turned into a Level2.5.

It's hard. Last week was rough and I came home asking myself what the heck I am doing and why the hell do I think I can be a belly dancer with no prior experience. Tonight's class was painful, but mostly in a good way. I felt like a flailing dancer (instead of a flailing duck), but I still felt like I was really dancing... or drilling and making it look somewhat good. I wasn't sharp; I was a bit wobbly, but it happens when your trying to do double time 3/4 interior hip circles on top of pas de bourres/ chasses/ a combo of both/ gapevines, or my favorite: doubletime singles walking doubletime. Perhaps this is what I need. To be beated down and struggling to keep up in order to actually make progress. If I can do it, it must be too easy and I must not be challenged enough. If I am struggling to make the movements and get it together, I know where I need to be and see the progress I can make; I see the next level that I must achieve.

I still think it will be at least another year before I allow myself to struggle through Level3, though. I can only imagine alternating undulations on top of hip squares ontop of singles ontop of some rediculous foot work. Layering like that comes way later.