Friday, August 31, 2007

Jim Boz Workshop Review

Jim Boz Workshop hosted by Judy Cunningham, July 21st, 2007 Sedalia, MO.
by Naima of Springfield, MO. (as submitted to Shimmycast)

I must start off by saying that this was my second Jim Boz workshop and that I love him! Also, my very first workshop was hosted by Judy Cunningham in Sedalia, MO. and I have been going to her workshops for over seven years now. So, I admit that I am a bit biased. However, I will do my best to give the facts and a basic overview of a workshop with Jim Boz.

Price – The workshop cost $50 before July 13th and $55 at the door. A very reasonable price for 4 ½ hours of instruction from Jim Boz including a sandwich and salad buffet provided by the Best Western restaurant. Teachers who registered five or more students by the pre-registration date got in free. The hafla cost $5 for anyone not dancing in the show, with proceeds going to the Humane Society. Video of the show cost $25 for VHS or DVD for $30.

Facility – The workshop was held at an older Best Western Hotel in Sedalia, MO. Price on rooms ranges from $64 and up depending on size of room and whether they face into the courtyard or out to the parking lot. The rooms are clean but slightly small particularly when packed full of bellydancers trying to get ready for the evening hafla. This Best Western includes a country style restaurant and very small bar located on the premises. The workshop space was a large rectangular carpeted conference room on the upper level with both stair and elevator access and a bathroom nearby. There was a small stair-stepped stage on one end with a dance floor space in front of it. A massage table and massage therapist were set up on the stage during the workshop hours for workshop patrons to get cheap massages during the day. In the middle of the room against the wall was a small set of risers set up for Jim to teach from. Along the opposite end from the stage, Judy’s Creative Costuming tables were set up along the walls for vending including a water dispenser and cups for workshop attendants. And as usual, there was also a table supplied for the workshop attendants to lay out their own flyers and other promotional information. Jim had a table set up with a variety of T-shirts, buttons and CDs for sale. His CD, Belly Dance with Jim Boz, contains 11 tracks by various artists of which he uses during his workshop tour. Jim Boz T-shirts and CDs cost $20 each.

It has been a long running joke amongst my fellow dancers and me that the carpet in the conference room is in horrible shape. The adjective I most recently used to describe it is “moist”. And unfortunately, that is exactly what it is. Sticky and moist from years of use and mistreatment. I always wear shoes at these workshops. Dancers who do not wear shoes always come away with pitch black dirty feet. A fellow dancer, unaware of the dance space, experienced the infamous carpet for the first time at this workshop. She chose to wear her flip flops throughout the day in order to protect her feet.
I have heard many complaints over the years at the quality of the facility, floor, sound, swimming pool and hot tub, food, etc. to varying degrees, but despite some things being a bit sub-par, I have experienced workshops in hotels with very poor facilities that cost much more money.

Vending – With the exception of Jim Boz’s personal vending table, vending was limited to products being sold by Judy’s Creative Costuming, the workshop sponsor. Judy’s Creative Costuming supplies all of the bellydance basics including beaded bedlah, full costumes, coin belts, jewelry, hip scarves, CD’s, VHS and DVD’s, veils, and so on. Prices on some items are high considering the online market value. However, buyers get the added bonus of trying on the costume items before purchasing. While selection was wide there was also little variety within each item category and no other competing vendor to help lower over all price. The vending space is also in the same room where the class is held. This can sometimes lead to distractions during class time while others are still shopping. However, I stood near the risers Jim taught from and was not distracted by the vender tables on the other side of the room.

Jim Boz – Jim Boz is a Middle Eastern Dancer and choreographer from San Diego, CA. He has been studying Middle Eastern Dance since 1994.

Jim began the morning with a basic warm – up, stretches and some basic drills, such as chest locks and hip drops. He reviewed some of his signature technique by describing movements by muscle isolation, analogies, and even a few funny names. After reviewing each individual move he combined them into short combinations. He did not teach with much emphasis on the timing or count of the music but instead taught the move of each combination by saying, “one of these, two of those,” etc, He would then dance them along with the group to the music.
He used one track of music that he had recorded at 3 different speeds in order for the group to try the movements slowly and then work up to the full speed of the song. This was a helpful since it allowed the dancers to become familiar with the way each combination fit into the music without being overwhelmed by hearing a new song for the first time. Jim also spent time on the floor walking through the room helping individual dancers understand the form and posture for each combination. This included everything from foot placement, hip and muscle articulation, to hand and arm posture.

After lunch, everyone sat around the risers as Jim discussed music and instrument textures common to oriental taqseem. Taqseem usually refers to a section of music in which the musician plays free form, similar to a jazz solo. Jim played taqseem samples from a variety of instruments including oud, kanoon, flute, and accordion. He asked the group what kind of movements, emotions, and feelings they thought of for each type of instrument and how they varied from one another. He then had the dancers dance to these samples using only two movements and one body part. This was to help the dancers focus directly on the movements and feelings they had discussed earlier. He then encouraged the dancers to mix and match those movements as the music became more complex. Finally, he suggested a sequence of movements and played a section of taqseem allowing the dancers to use this sequence at their own speed and repetition according to each dancer's interpretation of the music.

Impressions – I personally enjoyed the Jim Boz workshop. Although this workshop was less intense than his previous one in Sedalia, and focused more on dance interpretation instead of choreography, I appreciate Jim's open and encouraging teaching style. Jim uses both analogies and specific instructions for body movement and muscle isolation. This works very well in a setting with dancers from various backgrounds, skill levels, and even genders. He is approachable and it is easy to ask him questions. He also never discourages a dancer but instead gives him or her options and advice according to his or her own personal dance style and goals. Jim is passionate about bellydance and does a wonderful job in relating his love for bellydance to his students in the classroom and when he performs. I give him an A+ !

For more information about Jim Boz, his tour, events, and pictures check out his web site at


Natalia said...

Thanks for writing this! Your review is very thorough and useful! I have thought about driving out for some of her workshops, and it's nice to know what to expect.

Daniela said...

Icky, Icky carpet! Next time I'll bring tennis shoes. It was hard to move in flip flops.
Great review, by the way! :)