I took part in Autumn Ward's "Ballet Technique for Oriental Dance"
workshop yesterday at Salsa International. I have pain in the weirdest
muscles today (my pecs hurt, if you can believe it!) and places in my
hip, and my credit card also hurts because of the Sharifwear sale they
were having.... but all in all, it was great.
You obviously can't learn much ballet in two hours, but that wasn't
the point of the exercise. I thought this class might be something like
an introductory ballet class, but it was nothing of the kind. Instead,
it was much more interesting: Autumn discussed some aspects of ballet
that have been incorporated into oriental dance, and how they might vary
from the ballet forms. This also included some descriptions of ballet
technique -- she made us do some very interesting exercises for getting a
proper pointed foot, for example.
Autumn talked about arm positions in ballet and how we vary them for
oriental dance, and made us do a partner exercise where we had to use
our arms, in position, to resist against our partner. (Hence the
painful pecs and back muscles today, which I take as a good sign!) We
worked on that hipdrop-kick movement that gets used so much in
bellydance, and on getting a graceful leg extension.
And, we spent a lot of time on turns. I'm probably the most
turn-challenged person on the face of the planet, but I loved her
instruction. First of all, she talked about how ballet drives spins and
turns from the legs, while oriental dance drives them with the arms or
the hips. She went over arm technique, and right away I realised how
much I had been missing by not using my arms. And although she mentioned
spotting, she didn't start with it. My trouble is that spotting, if
anything, makes me more dizzy and confused, and makes me forget about
what my body is supposed to do. I found I did alright when I just
focused on my body -- my footwork, and powering the turns with my arms
-- but the moment I tried to introduce spotting I lost it all.
We also covered arabesques, spinning inward and outward, and when
each might be used. All in all, it was a wonderfully useful, tight
class. I'm not a brilliant spinner now, but one can't be after two
hours. Stil, I now have a much better idea of what to do, and strangely
enough, I have this desire to run around a room spinning -- I can see
how it could get addictive!
Labels: Autumn Ward, ballet, bellydance, spins and turns, workshops