I often forget to blog about things which inspire me at the time, think too much about it, forget to take photos, get distracted onto other topics, then I self-edit and revise the post almost to the point of non-existence.
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I sometimes, very rarely, choose a workshop that turns out to be a bit ... meh (boring, indifferent, badly taught ...). Most of the time, even if it's a subject or style that I know about, or aimed at beginners, there is some juicy nugget of information, the interest of hearing a different teacher give alternative approaches and explanations, and the joy of getting together with other dancers, which makes the workshop worthwhile.
The workshops I chose at JWAAD (Josephine Wise Academy of Arabic Dance) Fantasia 2012 in December were all wonderful. At 1.5 hours, they are relatively short workshops, but intensive and with a high standard of teaching! You can choose up to 4 on the Saturday and 3 on Sunday, and because they are individually priced (at £15 - cheap!) it is great value for money. Okay, so it's in London, which isn't the cheapest place to stay, but unless the workshops are in your town, you are going to have to travel and perhaps stay over, wherever they are. There is only half an hour between workshops, so it can be difficult to find time to eat, shop at the souk, catch up with friends and acquaintances or sit and watch the dance competitions which are also held that weekend. The Arts Educational School in Chiswick is a good venue, although on Sunday some of us were wishing that there was a lift instead of stairs to get to the third floor dance studios!
I always take a notebook to try to jot down learning points during or after workshops. One teacher asked if I ever read my notes; I do, particularly when I am thinking about a new choreography or wanting to refresh my sieve-like memory. Good classes and workshops always seem to contain a lot of information; not all of it contained in the handout (if one has been prepared!). But I always maintain that if you take away just one or two ideas, it was worthwhile. From the workshops I attended, I corrected a problem I was having using fan veils (it's all in the flick!), did some baladi to a fun song, refreshed my spatial awareness, learnt an interesting balance challenge exercise, survived a brutal but effective hand and arm conditioning exercise for playing zills and had my coordination challenged doing Zambra flamenco combinations.
Last weekend, we had the wonderful Kay Taylor from Farida Dance (also a JWAAD teacher and assessor) here, giving a couple of workshops on technique and use of arms, to help us put some sparkle in our dance. I picked up a couple of useful step combinations and clarification of oriental vs baladi and folkloric arm framing. I also had an assessment, which highlighted where my own dance technique needs serious work and some holes - I've forgotten how to do a break circle! What was I saying about use it or lose it? Looks like I need to concentrate on some belly dance rehab!
Of course, many local workshops are also followed by a dance party (hafla) in the evening, and ours was no exception.