Sunday, July 17, 2011

Dance musings: No longer a Gothla virgin...

This weekend was my first trip to Gothla, the UK’s largest gothic bellydance festival. The deciding factor for me was the opportunity to take some workshops with Sera Solstice, a truly excellent dancer and the founder of East Coast Tribal in New York. The workshops certainly didn’t disappoint.

Sera has divided her dance into two distinctive styles – Solar and Lunar - and she taught a workshop on each. Solar is energetic, powerful and reaches outward, whereas Lunar is more fluid and isolated, focusing on internal energies. The first workshop “Solar” was challenging to say the least – lots of strong combos involving lunges, travelling moves and strong arm movements. I think everyone must have had a fantastic workout, aided by the heat in the studio! Sera also guided us through a meditation, which I had never really connected with on her DVDs, but it made much more sense in a group. It was a nice way to share space with fellow dancers and build energy for the class ahead. One of my favourite parts of the workshop focused on travelling moves and how changes in speed can really alter the feel of really quite simple movements.

Yesterday’s “Lunar” workshop focused much more on isolations, undulations and fluid arm movements. For the most part, I found this much more manageable than the solar moves, although it was still a challenge. There was a whole section where I felt a bit lost as I couldn’t see much of what was going on at the front of the class, but I did manage to pick up some bits up from watching people in front of me. I also realised that I need to work on my sidewinder/torso figures of eights as they aren’t strong at all. They’re movements I don’t really use in ATS and I never seem to practise them. However, I love the way they look, especially with nice arm undulations.

As well as the two workshops, I also attended the Friday night showcase, which included performances by the invited teachers as well as some guest performers. The wonderful Jesse (my ATS teacher) and equally lovely Marisa (from our student troupe, Apsara) were dancing the only pure ATS piece, which I was really pleased to see. Personal highlights from the rest of the show were finally seeing the UK’s Bex Priest dance (she’s a truly excellent Gothic fusion dancer), discovering the bellydance version of Bjork (Elin Kaavin – the arctic fairy), as well as getting to see performances by Sera Solstice and Sashi (another excellent US teacher). It didn’t end there though, the last piece was a fantastic performance by Morgana and the Excalibur Dance Company, which was inspired by The Matrix. This had to be seen to be believed as words can’t do it justice! I’m praying for the video to appear on YouTube soon!

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