Naima, Hips Noir VI, Photo: Beverly Arnoldus
Here are the workshop notes from the class I taught at the Hips Noir VI Dangerously Classy workshop Oct. 8, 2011 with the lovely Marie Demars. This year's workshop turned out super fun despite my sleep dep and muscle fatigue from the previous week's move to our new house. I am stoked to see who Project Vagabond hosts for next year's event. I did my best to write up most of what we covered in class as we did not completely cover what I had on my handwritten notes.
Poses/Posture Drills – Stand in neutral dance posture with arms down. Move arms directly into one of the below frames, hold for a few counts, and then return to neutral. Repeat each pose multiple times (4, 8, etc.) as you would a hip drill. The goal here is to be able to create a beautiful picture worthy frame every time. Seriously look at yourself in the mirror to make sure your shoulders are down and back, no limp arms or wrists, head high. Add your own favorite poses to the drill.
“V” arms (keep arms slightly forward so you can glance to each side)Straight out (ballet 2nd position)“W” (or low “V,” don’t let arms sag)“L” both sides
Flow: Now flow between and pause at each pose: Arms cross and come up through middle opening into “V”, arms open Straight out (2nd), down into “W”, reverse out and up into “L”, turn in a personal circle keeping good upper body posture throughout, switch “L” and turn other direction, arms open out and down and repeat from beginning.
Accent Drills – Most Arabic music, while counted in 4/4 or 2/4 time, commonly has accents on the odd beats (1, 3, 5, and 7 counts.) An easy way to mimic these accents and to create muscle memory is by drilling a basic movement using counts 1, 2, 3, and holding on 4. Because the last hip articulation is on the 3rd count or accented count, it will appear to have more emphasis and look visually more complex and dynamic without having to think too hard.
Hip Bumps: R, L, R, hold, L, R, L, hold (repeat), the count is 1, 2, 3, hold, 1, 2, 3, hold.Fig. 8 Down (Maya): R, L, R, hold, L, R, L hold (repeat)
Notice that even though you hold on the 4th count you do not restart the movement from the beginning. Continue they movement in the same direction you were heading. Practice this drill with all of your basic moves. Practice at different speeds, half time, full time, double time, etc.
Hip Origami – This hip pattern always flows the same direction. Remember, it is just a hip square with 2 detours. Be mindful of the pelvic tucks and drops. No trusting or duck-butting. Keep the movements small and precise. I have broken the pattern down into 3 parts, direction, count, and movement.
Direction:R-> F-> B-> F-> L-> B-> R-> LCount on the downbeat:1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8Movement:R Bump, pelvic tuck, pelvic drop, pelvic tuck, L Bump, pelvic drop, R Bump, L Bump
Once comfortable with the full 8 count pattern add the Accent Drill (1, 2, 3, hold.) Always continue the pattern in the direction you were headed before the hold, don’t start completely over.
Example: R-> F-> B-> hold-> F-> L-> B-> hold-> R-> L-> R-> hold-> F-> B-> F-> hold->L-> B-> R-> hold-> …etc.
Once you are an expert on Hip Origami reverse the pattern by starting on the Left and then add the Accent Drill.
L-> F-> B-> F-> R-> B-> L-> R
Once you are a Super Expert Genius at Hip Origami start the pattern somewhere in the middle and try both directions. Add the Accent Drill.
F-> L-> B-> R-> L-> R-> F-> B…etc.
Spacing on the Stage
When dancing in a troupe - utilize your peripheral vision making sure you have enough room for uninhibited arms movements. In small spaces take a tiny step forward or back so when you open your arms you won't hit your neighbor. The front row should focus on what is in front of them, (stage edge, audience, etc.) not on what/where the back row is. The back row should focus on staying appropriately spaced behind the front row. If you hit your mark early keep time in place until the next movement begins.
For all dancers - take note of the stage on entering. Where are the stage edges? Is there a drop off any where? Tables, children, or wait staff that you may run into? If you find you've danced yourself into a corner dance yourself back out.
Costume Malfunctions on Stage - If you have a costume malfunction with a removable accessory (gauntlet, jewelry, head piece, etc.) stop and remove it then continue your performance (this includes troupe dances, stop and remove the piece, then join back with the other dancers.) Otherwise, the audience will spend the whole performance staring at a flopping gauntlet or a slipping hip scarf instead of watching you dance. If it is not a removable item, but your body is still appropriately covered, do your best to fix it and then ignore it. If you have the opportunity, you can dance with your back briefly to the audience to fix a malfunction (or wipe your running nose :P ) If your costume malfunctions in a way that inappropriately exposes you (bra straps break, skirt falls off,) stop dancing and leave the stage. Also, wear underwear. Preferably matching underwear.
Above all, remember it is okay to stop dancing. It shows confidence and professionalism to stop dancing and take care of business. A dancer that stops, fixes the problem and then continues dancing cares about her performance and cares about the audience.
How to do The Merengue
Lovely dancers on my right
Lovely dancers on my left
Marie rocking the mustache but I'm just not that classy. I opted for the homely uni-brow instead.
Check out some fantastic pics from the Hips Noir VI show at Chriswerks.
PS I did not proof read these notes.