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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Jemileh and Why Full-Length Mirrors are Not

Happy St. Patty’s Day!  I didn’t realize it was St. P’s Day until my laptop conveniently filled in the date for me.  I appreciate that little feature, as most of the time I have no idea what the date is.  Not that it matters.  We don’t have plans to go drink green beer tonight. 
Last night was the rehearsal for Jemileh.  I regret now that I missed last week’s class.  Now we are in a section that involves doing four or five things at once, plus a bewildering sequence of turns that you really have to pay attention to.  Otherwise, you could wind up facing a different direction from everyone else.  This would be painfully obvious onstage.
At first, the dance sequence seemed simple.  You do a hip circle while taking two steps to the right, arms in the “L” position, hips going in opposite direction as travel.  OK, so far so good.  Then you add the hand twirls, like the flamenco “floreo,” where you twist your wrists in a delicate, flowery-like gesture.  Then, at the end of your two steps to the right you make a right half turn and end up facing the back wall.  At that point, your arms switch sides, and you repeat the sequence to the left, with arms and hips in opposition.  On the last step you turn again, this time a quarter turn to the left.  This goes on for four half-turns to the right alternating with four quarter turns to the left.  If you haven’t screwed up, you wind up facing front again. 
There were collisions, people saying “Sorry,” turns in all directions.  Hey, I thought this dance was for beginners!  Only one classmate got it right every time without a hitch.  “How did you do it?” we clamored.  She said she practiced it at home, over and over and over.  And over.  Which is the key to mastering anything, I suppose.  I know what I’ll be doing this afternoon. 
Unfortunately, I don’t have the ideal setup to practice at home.  For one thing, it’s hard to dance on carpeting, especially barefoot.  We have rooms with tile floors, but they won't work unless I plan to move furniture every time I practice.  To make matters worse, the "full length" mirror I have to work with is full-length only if you are 11-and-a-half inches wide and 4 feet tall.  I get around that by leaning it against the wall at an angle so I can at least see myself up to my neck.  But as soon as I step to the left or right I’m out of range.  I am in the process of researching the issue of a bigger mirror. 
Stay tuned for belly dance moves you can practice while driving. 

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