Wednesday, February 09, 2005

catch the bats, release the bats

Haven't talked about bellydance in a while, I know. I've been feeling awkward about my position within the troupe, I haven't been taking enough classes, and I feel like I'm in sort of a trough phase all the way around with it. But Monday night's rehearsal, although I can't talk about it very specifically because it involved creating new choreography, was more fun than I've had with the troupe in a while. So I'm going to shamelessly mine an e-mail I wrote about it.

The new choreo is something a little more in the modern vein. Jill, Rose, and Holly had come up with a list of moods and visual ideas; we watched the dance scenes from a few films and videos and talked about what we were seeing. Then we listened to the music, which is pretty moody, and threw ourselves around accordingly. Giggling like loons when we crashed into each other.

In the past couple of months, we've lost five dancers. Yes, that's a lot, even out of a 23-person company. But two are getting married, two are going back to school (including our token male, sadly enough), and one wanted to pursue other things. So now, not only is the group photo we took in October virtually obsolete, but remember when I said I was either the third or fourth tallest member of the troupe? I am now one of the two tallest members of the troupe. Possibly the tallest, depending on how much goop I have in my hair.

Yes, I find that hard to believe as well, but only Sami and Kristin were taller
than Erica and I, and they're both gone. I'm not the heaviest--I think that would be one of our uber-curvy girls--but I'm close.

Which means that I can take the "post" role. Post is the dancer, acrobat, clown, or gymnast who holds up other dancers, acrobats, clowns, or gymnasts. For example, local clown and Clown Conservatory founder Jeff Raz is post when he performs with Diane Wasnak as "Pino and Razz", because he's huge compared to her.

At 5'6" and about 145, I'm not huge in the real world, but within the troupe I am. I'm also strong, and an aikidoist with Contact Improv training. I'm used to lifting and throwing other people; I'm used to falling. So I was having a good old time Monday night moving around through the group, starting interactions with other dancers to see what happened, and lifting the smaller ones and swinging them around a little. Which I think startled them. I'm pretty quiet in rehearsals and classes, and I don't really know anyone well. So the first time I lifted Terri, who may weigh a good forty or fifty pounds with her hat on, and did it as a one-arm underarm fireman's carry, I think she was, um, taken aback. I guess I should have mentioned what I was going to do before I did it. The second time she was ready, and let me potato sack her around a bit.

But it wasn't just fun because I got to--literally--pick up cute girls. We'd been told to try for something raw and emotional. And child of the 80's New Wave that I am, I've got plenty of "catch the bats, release the bats" in my movement history. Some of you will have an easier time with this than others, Jill said before we began, and for once it was nice to feel like I was on the "easier time" end of the spectrum. Although I think we all surprised her; she was very pleased with how into it everyone got. It will be interesting to see how the dance shapes up.

I admit it; I'm looking forward to manhandling (girlhandling?) some troupemates. If there is something I bring to the company from my life before, we might as well use it, yes?