Sunday, February 1, 2009

Stage Presence Workshop

Odessa took a workshop from Jamilla and decided that Desert Gypsy Dance Company could really benefit from her. She organized a workshop. This past Saturday, Jamilla of Desert Veils, came up from Moab to teach us about stage presence. She was amazing!

Jamilla asked what we felt our weaknesses were and what we wanted to gain from the workshop. Our list: everything! The short list: posture, arms, spacial relationship, eye contact, and smiling.

Jamilla taught us that "if we breath together, we dance together". She took us through some breathing exercises to help open us to our surroundings at to each other.

She taught us the dancer's prayer, new ways to stretch our feet and ankles and hips and glutes and lower backs, the tribal pow-wow step, the importance of putting your angel wings in your pockets, and how to keep spacial relationships during transitions. Her glute crunch is supposed to really build buns of steel. I need to practice them more! She also said that we will have more stamina and strength if we rest our heads for about 10 seconds on each hand first thing in the morning.

She explained the proper placement of arms as a staircase with shoulders, elbows, wrists and fingers at the top of the flight. She said that we need to be sure to alow the energy of the dance to flow from our fingers. Pinkies up, classic "c" hands--never balled fists. Dance is a matter of expression, creativity, and sharing. Don't let your arms hang in purgatory--with your elbows down low.

I really enjoyed the vowel workout. Jamilla divided the dancers into 5 groups of 5 and assigned each group a vowel. We each took turns dancing and had to say our vowel as we danced. I was in "i". She asked us to dance sad and happy and as if Johnny Depp had just entered the room and we wanted him to know that we were dancing just for him.

Next, she had each group dance across the room with their vowel. We were supposed to practice making eye contact with our audience (the other dancers along the wall), smiling, and using facial expressions. I thought it was very effective.

Our homework assignment is to practice dancing in front of a mirror with a-e-i-o-u to help us work on facial expression and eye contact. Another homework assignment is to dance with our shadow so we can see our lines. Shadow dancing blocks out the details and condences the dance into simple shadow and line.

In a section where we traveled across the dance floor in spaced pairs, she told be I had beautify arms! Way cool. At the end of the workshop, we each took a turn dancing across the room's diagonal (gasp! - solo).

The environment was very relaxing and open. Jamilla was a nearly 60 year old hippie. She looked so effortless in her movements and definitely expressed her love for the dance. I loved the piece we danced to and am now on a quest for it.

She taught us how to strengthen our wrists with wrist rolls on a barre or solid surface. No floppy or irresponsible wrist rolling here! She taught us to reach back into our ballet days for balance and form. My feet still feel wonderful and light from the stretches we did.

1 comment:

Melinda said...

Ooo...I'll need a lesson on the toning exercises post baby! Are you willing to share?