Upcoming Costuming Workshops at Gothla UK

On July 22nd, I will be teaching two costuming workshops at Gothla. Tickets are on sale now, you can find more details at https://gothla.uk/workshops/ and book your space at https://gothla.uk/tickets/

Grouped under an “Appetite for Construction” theme, these are not the typical “how to decorate your outfit” workshops. We’ll focus instead of how to create costume pieces that have the structural integrity to withstand years of use and plenty of decoration. We will work on tailoring the fit to your own body and not some generic shape, and which tools to use to make things easier. Finally, we’ll cover types of decorations, how to handle the most common decorations, out of the ordinary details, and other extras that can make life easier for you as a dancer.
You don’t need to have previous sewing experience, but it would be advantageous.

Strap it up! Belts 101 Sunday July 22nd 10am-12pm
A sturdy, well designed, well fitted belt can cover up a multitude of sins. Skirt too big? Belt will hold it in place. Waistband too small giving you muffin top? Belt will smooth it out. Boring pants? A nice belt will make up for it.
In this workshop we’ll make patterns for our own belt bases, adapted to our individual bodies, then create the bases from scratch, sturdy enough to support the weight of our choice of decoration.
As we progress, we can have a Q&A about working with difficult fabrics like brocade or assiut; and decoration and beading basics, both from a design and a craft point of view.

Boobie Trapping 101 Sunday July 22nd 12:30-am-2:30pm
Bras are one of the focal points for our dancing costumes, and need to be supportive and sturdy while leaving us room to move comfortably.
In this workshop we’ll focus on creating a bra (almost) from scratch, reinforcing it to take the heavy decorations we use in Tribal Fusion and ATS. We will discuss how to give more coverage to the cups if necessary, how to create sturdy straps that won’t sag or stretch, and how to replace bra bands.
As we progress, we can have a Q&A about working with fabrics like assiut or brocades; and decoration and beading basics, both from a design and a craft point of view.

ATS® General Skills

I wanted to write about ATS® General Skills intensive not just to record my experience, but because I’ve been asked a few times afterwards what to expect and what it covers. But I also wanted to leave some time in between finishing it, and writing, to let the effects settle and see whether/how it had influenced my dancing and practice.

What it says in the box: this is a 4-day intensive course where you cover all the steps from FCBD® ATS® DVDs vols 1, 4 and 7. You also cover vol 3 (zills), history of the styles, and formations. Basically, after finishing, in theory, you should be familiar with all the steps from ATS® Classic and Modern. No vol 9 moves, dialect, or advanced formations like duelling duets are covered. General Skills is a pre-requisite for ATS® Teacher Training

I said “in theory”, because truly, there isn’t much time to cover each step in extreme detail, not the way you would in a regular class where you can devote weeks to work with one step and its variations, not with all the nuances. So to get the best out of it, I’d *strongly* recommend that you arrive with a good foundation, in a physical state were you are capable of dancing five hours a day, and aware of your limitations and pitfalls. If, for instance, you’re still struggling to understand what the arms positions for fast vocabulary are, or you have trouble with the zilling, it might not be the right time for you to do General Skills yet.

How it works: Prior to arrival, you will get a list of the moves to cover for Classic and Modern ATS®. You don’t need to memorise the list, but it helps to be aware of it. You will be expected to do a short warm-up on your own before starting. You should be mindful of proper warm-up and stretching techniques, and of your own body. I know for instance that I need a slow deepening movement practice and not a big cardio to begin with, so every morning, I arrived early and did a short section off one of Datura’s yoga practices to start moving the body and articulating my spine. After roll call, you will have a quick song or two for cardio warm-up led by one of the teachers, using the moves you will cover that day, and from day 2 onwards, any you might have covered in previous days. You will get an explanation of a couple of moves from different families. You will then get a guided drill, and after that, you will go in groups of four people and start the exercises. There will be a tiny bit of time after each exercise for a post-mortem (quick talk of what went on) and then there will be another two movements. Lather, rinse, repeat.

The first day felt like the longest for me because there was a lot of foundation work for taxeems, shimmies and formations, and a lot of walking in a circle and stationary drilling. The following three days were much more dynamic.

You should keep in mind that, aside from the long time spent on the foundations (undulations, taxeems, shimmies), the pace is BRISK. There is time for question and answers, but at the same time you are taking notes, everybody else is also asking questions, so if you are trying to take note of everything said, it is likely that you will miss something. This isn’t a bad thing, not in my book. GS should be, at least to me, to learn directly from the source; to gain polish, refine some areas, or figure out something that has eluded you, or to understand the underlying aesthetic driving the style. Learning the steps requires practice, repetition and study; you might have some repetition and practice during the work, but not enough to “nail” each step; that requires hours and hours that you are expected to work on at home: there’s a reason the “ideal” is to take GS and only a year or two afterwards, do Teacher Training.

How has it affected my practice? When learning ATS, it’s very tempted to chase after the latest step or dialect, in an attempt to keep the vocabulary fresh. For me, doing GS gave me a new found love for “classics”, and helped me realise things I needed to work on and why; getting the information directly from the horse’s mouth allow me to develop a better idea of the general of the underlying principles behind the aesthetic as opposed to just learning steps and combos. It deepened my understanding of the format, and gave me lots of tiny nuances to work on.

Would I do it again? Absolutely, although probably in a few years.

How was it? I personally found the experience exhilarating. I’d already been attending ATS classes for nearly 5 years before doing it, but I don’t often get the chance to dance with new people. As I worked with the same group for the whole of the intensive, I could see how we went from having trouble reading each other’s body language, to pretty much be able to read the smallest movements before even the actual cues to drive the movement, and you could see over the daily videos how we were getting more and more in sync with each other. I personally think that this connection you forge with your fellow dancers is the greatest strength in holding GS in the way it’s held: as the days progress and you figure out where you are (and often, how much you need to work on x, y or z), you also develop very strong bonds with those with whom you are dancing. Which is, ultimately, what dancing ATS should be about.

2018 Calendar

January is almost over, we’ve all shaken off the last of the Christmas drowsiness, and if you’re anything like me, you are itching to get back to dancing. This year promises to have a lot of interesting events in the UK and Europe. Some events might be already sold out, but it’s always worth registering interest with the organisers, as quite often people drop off last minute.

  • February 16th to 18th: Kalash Tribal is sponsoring a twelve-hour intensive with Sandi & Wendy, from FCBD, in Devon. It’s sold out but might still have a place opening last minute.
  • April 6th-8th: Gabriele Keiner is hosting SuperBeth for a Tamarind Tribal Transformations Weekend, exclusively to learn Tamarind dialect. Details can be found in the facebook event. It might already be sold out but again, if you’re interested, contact the organiser.
  • April 21st-22nd: Nairiam Tribal Dance is hosting Kelley Beeston in Osnabrück, for a weekend ellegible for your Sister Studio Continuing Education Program. Also organised via Facebook event.
  • May 25th-28th: Tribal Remix, organised by Hilde Canoodt, bringing Jill Parker, Tjarda Van Straten, Lamia Barbara, Alexis Southall, and a few others. Individual workshops go on sale on January 31st
  • June 8th-21st: Integrated Dance levels 1 and 2 hosted by Alexis Southall; for any style of dancing, particularly if you are already or considering teaching
  • July 20th-22nd: Gothla UK, this year hosting Sharon Kihara with a Butoh intensive, and yours truly giving two costuming workshops on the Sunday; Sharon Kihara’s intensive can be booked now, individual workshops will go on sale in February
  • August31st-September2nd: Hilde Canoodt is hosting Michelle Sorensen in Brighton, workshops and show; bookings are already open
  • October 12th-15th: Kelley Beeston in Warsaw, hosted by Szkoła Tańca Orientmania; three days of ATS, also elegible for the SSCE Program. More details in the Facebook event page.
  • October 26th-28th: Infusion Emporium 8, in Wolverhampton; teachers include Amy Sigil, Aziza, and Olga Meos; registration hasn’t opened yet, but you can find more details in the Facebook event page

Achievement Unlocked: Teacher Training

With Mama Carolena

With Mama Carolena

Just a little post to note that at the end of August, 2017, I did both my ATS® General Skills and Teacher Training, and therefore I am a qualified ATS® teacher, although I won’t be teaching for a while yet, and I want to get more experience on other areas before I do so.

I want to write about both GS and TT in more detail, but for the time being, this should be enough as a reminder of the hard work and the five years that went into achieving this.

TeacherTraining Rochford Class of 2017

TeacherTraining Rochford Class of 2017

Inspiration: Michelle Sorensen at The Massive Spectacular 2017

I saw this earlier and I just had to share. It is *so fricking good*. The musicality is just spot on, the stage presence, the whole thing is just amazing.

Enjoy!

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