Friday, June 21, 2019

Rhythm & Drum: An Introduction to Belly Dance Rhythms & Drumming for Dancers!

Date/Time:      Part 1: Sunday, July 14 – 4:00 – 5:30PM
                        Part 2: Sunday, July 28 – 4:00 – 5:30PM

Location:         Bright Star World Dance
                         108 High Street, 3rd Floor, Portland, Maine
                         (This venue is not mobility accessible)

Cost:                Part I: $25 (workshop only)/$65 (workshop & drum)
                         Part I & II:  $50 (workshops only)/$90 (workshops & drum)

Advanced signups are closed as are drum preorders .  If you wish to drop into the workshop please use the contact form to let us know you plan to attend.  

We do have drums that can be borrowed for the workshop.
Are you a belly dancer seeking deeper understanding of the music you dance to? Do you want to become more comfortable with dancing with a live drummer?  Would you like to be able to accompany the rhythm on the zills as you dance?

One of first steps in understanding the music you dance to is to learn about the rhythms behind it. Co-taught by dancer Joie Grandbois and percussionist Stephen Carpenter, this unique (and fun!) two-part drum & rhythm workshop series will introduce you to common rhythms used in belly dance by combining instruction on the drum with dance application.

Designed specifically for dancers, each workshop includes instruction on the drum (a drum is required for class), dance instruction, and a chance to play for your fellow dancers! 

Our goal is to increase your comfort level with the music. 

Note:  A drum is required for this class.  While we strongly suggest learning on the doumbec/tabla students may bring other drums with prior approval of the instructors. We have arranged to purchase drums at a discounted price from The Drum Shop. 

You may purchase drums with your workshop registration and will receive your drum on the day of the workshop. 

Part I: Basics (July 14)

This workshop will give you a basic introduction to the doumbec/tabla.  You will learn how to play a few of the more common rhythms you hear in Middle Eastern music, instruction on dancing to the rhythm, and a chance to play for your fellow students!

Each student who attends Part I will also receive a rhythm sheet and information on resources for deeper learning.

Part II: Advanced (July 28)

Note:  You must have taken Part I to take Part II

This workshop is an introduction to more advanced rhythms such as the kars lama and samai.  Building on lessons from Part I you will learn how to play these delicious and moving rhythms on the drum as well as have the opportunity to dance and play for your fellow dancers.

Students who attend Part II will also receive information on resources for deeper learning.

This workshop is open to any person 18 years of age or older.

Joie Grandbois

Dancer, choreographer, musician, writer, storyteller. Whether they are using the medium of dance, rhythm or words Joie seeks to bring to life the character present in a creative work. A lifelong dancer Joie entered the world of belly dance through the side door of raqs gothique after falling in love with its dramatic storytelling nature. Their dance explorations have also led to a study of cabaret and Turkish styles of the dance expanding their love of the art form. For the past 9 years joie has studied and played Middle Eastern percussion,and has a love of playing the zills.

Joie is the founder and director of the street vaudeville performance troupe Dark Follies which formed in 2008 and performs as a solo artist around New England. They teach belly dance, contemplative dance, and theatrical dance in Portland and Biddeford, Maine

Stephen Carpenter

Stephen Carpenter, has been studying hand percussion for most of the current century with a particular focus on the rhythms of the middle east. Stephen has played with variety of performers in Maine and around New England in both stage and classroom settings. Through the voice of the drum and ney he seeks to create a conversation between the music, dancer and audience.Since 2010 he has been the musical director for the Portland, Maine based street vaudeville troupe Dark Follies. Stephen is also a professional woodworker who crafts many of the instruments he plays upon

Friday, June 7, 2019

An anxious confession...

The following was surprisingly difficult for me to write about.  I still struggle with letting go of the belief that the face I present to the world has to be a perfect one, and that I must appear strong, solid, together, etc., even when I'm not feeling that way.  But I am working very hard on being honest about where I am and what I am here goes. 

I love performing.  Whether I'm dancing, sharing a spoken word piece, or playing music, I love the shared experience of live performance. I love the collaborative process of creating a new work. I love that no two performances are the same.  I love how it pushes me outside my comfort zone.  I love the unpredictability of improv.  I love the high after a show that goes well.  Performance has been my boost, my balm, my escape when life proves to be more difficult than I can manage.

Like many performers, I am nearly always anxious and nervous before a show.  I've been known to joke that I spend the last ten minutes before going on stage convincing my body and brain that, despite what I'm feeling, I am not actually about to be eaten by bears.  I also grapple with issues around feeling good enough, and yes, I struggle with comparing myself to other performers, but there has always been a joy I feel on the stage that is stronger than those thoughts.  Generally, once my foot hits the stage, my anxiety has fallen away and I'm all in.

But lately something has changed.

Over the past year, when I take the stage my general pre-show anxiety has gone away but instead of being replaced by the usually focused joy of performing, I'm filled with nearly paralyzing panic.

(That was really hard to write - truly, I sat here, fingers hovering over my keyboard for a good couple of minutes I want to admit this publicly???)

It first happened at a show last spring.  It was one of my troupe's shows.  I was doing a performance I'd done at least a dozen times.  I was feeling anxious, but passed it off as pre-show jitters which I assumed would fade as usual once the performance began.  But the moment I stepped out before the audience my heart started to race, my knees were shaking, and my hands began to sweat.  I felt nauseous.

I heard the music playing behind me but it suddenly seemed to make no sense.  Despite the fact that just a few minutes before I'd been playing percussion with the same band that was now playing music for me, I could not find my space in the rhythm.  It sounded like a scattering of nonsensical noise.  Most of my performances are improvisational but I generally go it with some sort of plan.  This night my mind was an utter blank.  I froze.

I did move eventually, but I don't recall what I did.  I just remember the feeling of wanting it all to be over.  I wanted the music to stop. I wanted to leave the stage and never come back to it again.  When I saw a video of the performance my movements seemed awkward and stiff, my face without expression.

When I had some time to think about it I was still dismissive.  I thought maybe I'd not prepared enough.  Maybe I'd not taken enough time before the show to center myself.  I had a long list of reasons why it happened.  And I convinced myself it was a one time event.

Except it wasn't.  And it got worse.

I practiced more.  Prepared more.  Moved more.  I tried choreographing performances more thinking that having something memorized might help ease the anxiety.  I tried muttering mantras under my breath, deep breathing, keeping myself occupied right up until just before I went on stage.  None of it helped. Each performance brought more anxiety, more fear, and another round of panic.

I started to get anxiety about my anxiety.  The days leading up to a show were torturous because I knew what would happen as soon as I got on stage.  I avoided even talking about the shows to people because it brought up too much fear.   I didn't tell my troupe-mates about it because I'm the troupe director, and I didn't want to appear to be anything other than totally together.  Other than a brief mention at a practice earlier this week, I've still not been very open about it.

I tried to find a reason...

I'm stressed about other things. 
I'm uncomfortable with my body. 
I'm dealing with a depressive episode. 
I'm lonely. 
I'm hungry. 
I didn't get enough sleep.
I'm just naturally anxious.

And a host of others...none of which fit.

I'd like to say that I'm going to finish up this post with some story of how I found a cure  But I haven't.  I have a performance this weekend and I confess, I'm terrified.   My biggest fear right now is that I'll have a moment where I truly do freeze up completely.  Where I go out before the audience and nothing happens...and I will be a horrible disappointment to everyone.

I know that this has to be temporary.  I have hope that eventually I will find a way past this. Naming it, not keeping it to myself (where it just tumbles around in my head telling me I'm a failure as a performer, teacher, artist, etc.) is a step in that process. For now I will  keep performing, try to be patient with myself, and keep reminding myself to practice self compassion.

I'll get there.  I will.

Thank you for reading.  Thank you for your compassion.  Thank you for your support.