Learning choreography – Part 1

Poster-AIW1When I was notified about being selected to perform with Jillina’s Bellydance Evolution: Alice in Wonderland, I was thrilled. Then I panicked. Well at least after I got the full cast breakdown. In doing shows with my student troupe, I only select four routines at most for them to perform. That usually depends on the amount of rehearsals leading up to the show as most of them have families, jobs and such that can take priority. Usually out of those four routines, one might be a solo and two or three are routines they have performed before. But this Bellydance Evolution show? 11 yes ELEVEN routines. In three weeks or so. Yeah – WTF!

I am so grateful for the amount of time I spent in classes and workshops over the years. I think it is so unfortunate when dancers hailing themselves as ‘professional’ ditch weekly classes or turn their noses up at workshops. Without that training, I would not have been able to achieve what I have in recent years.

When I became a member of Awalim Dance Company in 2009, I was tasked with learning a bunch of choreography in a short amount of time. We had two monthly shows plus Tribal Con facing us immediately after I joined, so I had to get on top of it. I learned about four or five choreographies in that first month, three of them we performed at Tribal Con so by then a lot of rehearsals had happened. I prided myself on learning fast, but Ziah was tough on nuances and my ‘perfectionist’ tendencies made those first few performances tough.  It was a great learning experience – much of what I took away from that has helped me with my most recent undertaking.

Being a part of a troupe and working with other dancers is very rewarding. The camaraderie, knowledge and experience shared is priceless.  Before Awalim, I performed with Atlanta’s top corporate production company at the time – Bacchus Productions. I took part in several performances at big corporate functions including at the fabulous Fox Theatre. Learning from the artistic director, Virginia King, hugely impacted my skills as a performer and a choreographer. She was a prominent performer in restaurants and I took a few workshops with her as a result. Her background in jazz, tap and ballet informed her choreography not to mention nearly all of the dance company were heavily trained in jazz  and ballet. I was definitely the ‘ugly duckling’ and remember falling victim to sneers and frustration from my troupe members when my long legs and arms clumsily came in contact with them. But I did preserver!

What Ginny taught me helped me in Awalim and subsequently in Bellydance Evolution. I have a ways to go yet but without that background and experience I would have surely reconsidered taking on this challenge. Stay tuned for Learning Choreography part 2. In the meantime, here’s a video of me and Andrea Moreira performing as Bacchus Production’s Jewels of the Casbah at the Fox Theatre all those years ago:


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