2016 WORKSHOP DESCRIPTIONS BY TEACHER
- TANGIBLE ELASTICS OF ENERGY AND CONNECTION
Powerful tools for physicalizing the connection between performer and audience, and between performers in a company. Using Ranya’s favorite bellydance training prop, velvet stretchy bands, in partner and group exercises, you’ll learn how to — literally — pull in your audience using your own muscular work, with intention and connection. Imagine a web of energy lines connecting you to all the other people in the space. The stretchy bands enable you to feel this energy in the most visceral way… so that you’ll never go back to plain old dancing again! Remembering the feeling of the elastics, you can take it into all your solo and group performances. We’ll apply Breathwork for Performance and eye contact in conjunction with contraction and stretch, to go deeper and connect across distances.
- MOVIE TRAILER TECHNIQUE
How do you build a storyline or narrative arc for your piece, to keep the audience (and yourself) interested and engaged? Invest in the sensory experiences you can derive from each moment of your music, by applying imagery to anchor your story. Like a movie trailer made of short snippets of scenes and images, what you imagine around and in front of you as you dance can create excitement and anticipation for the audience, even if they don’t see the little movie clips playing in your head. This technique works well for linear and non-linear, literal and abstract narrative dance-telling, and choreographed as well as improvised dance work. Ranya had been unconsciously using this technique throughout her career as a performer and recently started breaking it down to teach it, so that other dancers can learn how to use powerful mental imagery as snippets of inspiration to drive their outward expression. We’ll use your personal memories as well as small objects, photo and magazine images to draw on for inspiration.
- TURNING TRAGEDY INTO COMEDY
Finding ways to turn unhappy events, life struggles, or onstage mistakes into humor creates empathic responses in your audience and puts them at ease. Whether you are already plenty funny, or want to learn how to be funny, this workshop is for you! In becoming honest with our “real life” and onstage problems that can come up, and learning to reframe them from a third-person perspective, separating our onstage persona from our personal investment in them, we can transform them into amusement for ourselves and for the audience. We’ll work with moments when tragedy or mishaps can turn comic, dissecting the elements that flip them to funny. Two kinds of exercises will be included here: 1) dealing with in-the-moment onstage mishaps, and 2) using inspiration from personal hardships, obstacles, or difficult life events. Ranya has been involved with comedy and comedic theater since childhood, and brings this experience to her work in dance, in dealing with the unexpected onstage as well as spoofing all that needs spoofing in the bellydance world. NOTE ON THE TOPIC: While this class may feel therapeutic or cathartic in a fun or even empowering way, it is not intended as therapy. So in considering a personal life issue or event to work with, you can prepare by choosing something difficult you have gone through in the past, that you are now on the other side of; it’s better to not use something acute that you are dealing with now, unless you truly feel ready to address it in this lighter way. Come ready to get a little crazy, and turn the tragic on its head!
- MORNING LECTURE:
RANYA’S NERD CLINIC: COGNITIVE SCIENCE IN PERFORMANCE
Since the last NYTBC, Ranya has earned her master’s degree in psychology, and she is pleased to bring back some fruits of her investigations to share with conference nerds. In this presentation, Ranya will review recent empirical evidence and related theory in cognitive neuroscience and social-cognitive psychology, and implications for understanding the cognitive processes of artists and their audiences during a performance. How brains work, at the neural level, naturally affects how people receive our art, and this is worth our consideration in the process of creation and improvisation. Ranya will go over the idea of “top-down” vs. “bottom-up” influences on sensory perception and the thinking/evaluating process, and how we might consider these in the realm of performance, using examples from recent studies. We’ll address “feedback loops” that can shape the evaluative process, including differences between using a mirror and a camera as tools for self-evaluation, and look at how preconceptions have the power to shape people’s in-the-moment perception of events. You’ll leave with a better understanding how you may be seen by your audiences, a “cognitive checklist” to apply to your creative work, and references for further study.
- BEING HERE, BEING LONG
Widen and lengthen yourself to the infinite, on the vertical and horizontal axis, going consciously beyond the limits of your body in order to develop further fluidity, effective projection towards the outer world. Elongating the spine, opening our back, anchoring our lower back and strengthening our center are keys to the assertion of a performer on stage. As we lengthen the breath with breathing techniques, we lengthening the core through the exploration of concepts: thread vs. elastic, resistance, contraction, expansion, creating contrast and dynamics in the expressions of our dance. Being present, in the now, organic, from posture to stage presence, from center to outer, from our intention and organic selves to the power of our message.
- DUETS (ANASMA & SANDRALIS GINES)
A duet doesn’t have to be just two soloists dancing next to each other! Learn tools to make your duets dynamic, and take your message and onstage relationship farther, so that the whole will be greater than the sum of its parts. Anasma and Sandralis will share exercises to help dancers create enticing staging for two. We will start by tuning in with each other’s energy, setting common intention, and then creating dialogue through the body, using weight & counterweight, mirroring, call-and-response techniques… We will also define complementarity of roles: turning two bodies into one, and introduce working with lifts. All elements will enable composition with spacing, level changes, and creative partnership. Come with your regular dance partner or just work with others in the class!
- CONQUER NEW LANDS: TAME THE FLOOR
Let’s dare to conquer new lands! Using Yoga and Contemporary and Modern Dance techniques and bellydance, this workshop develops a new relationship with the floor. We will explore weight shifts and their qualities, changing levels, adapting our dance to various levels in order to create dynamic staging. Grounding our roots to Raise strong, we will work with opposing directions, the vertical and the horizontal. Dancers will be inspired by the Earth’s energy by exploring an array of images and sensations: avoiding the floor, embracing it, pushing it away, being stuck like glue, floating over it… Being a cement building, bamboo, algae… We will transform different sensations of the floor into Character walks.
- THE POLITICS OF INSPIRATION: LIVE COMPOSITION FOR GROUP
Discover trips and tips to compose and stage for groups, taking inspiration from George Orwell’s powerful novel 1984, on which Anasma based a recent full-length show. As we build a few scenes in small groups: We will discuss and experience the roles of the choreographer and the dancers and the relationship. Led by Anasma, dancers will learn how to be staged as they keep the focus on the global message. The universal themes of 1984 resonate strongly today: Power, Struggle, Rebellion, Loneliness, Forbidden Love, relationships between the few and the many, the big and the small… Choosing different themes, we will quickly brainstorm as a group and set the staging in motion.
- MIRROR MIRROR – A.K.A. HOW TO GET OVER THE “I CAN’T WATCH MYSELF ON VIDEO” SYNDROME
Aaliyah Jenny will share what she looks for in her own daily practice videos honed from daily improv throughout her breast cancer treatment, surgery & recovery. Improve your performance through personal critique methods used by Aaliyah Jenny. Learn to identify your strengths & areas needing attention. Become your own best coach! This workshop will be an analysis of your movement, intention & performance. PLEASE BRING: a form of video recording device, pen & paper and a willingness to explore your growth as a performer!
- DUO Workshop (AALIYAH JENNY + MADAME ONÇA)
JeniViva Memorial Workshop – co-taught by the 2014 and 2016 JenViva Memorial honorees
JeniViva of NYC was one of our beloved NYTBC performers and instructors before her untimely passing in 2013. We honor her past work, especially her community orientation, with this special workshop to close the main conference programming, and to set the stage for our new coaching and teacher-training track on Monday.
- BUILDING COMMUNITY: IN THE CLASSROOM AND BEYOND
This energetic class combines movement, journaling and lecture to create a mighty springboard for you to establish your role in cultivating community. Clarify your intentions and strengths in teaching, dancing and organizational work in this session. Come away with written notes, new ideas and exercises you can immediately apply in the studio to shape both your personal brand and the community in which you work. Aaliyah Jenny is known for her masterful expressivity onstage and supportive role in our dance field nationwide. Madame Onça brings years of teaching, producing and narrative dance work to the classroom. Join us for a dynamic and inspiring workshop—part discussion, part practical planning exercises, and part movement– designed to get you focused on making your dance and your community a place you want to be. We’ll cover ethics, shortcuts and models for making community events work, surviving drama, creating a niche in the community and building your brand, and sharing your message. Movement exercises will be introduced that encourage safety and fun in the class, performance and hafla.
- DANCING FEET
With so much concentration on the intricate isolations involved in our dance form, the use of the feet is often overlooked. In addition, today’s oriental dancers use a wide variety of music, from the traditional to world fusion, which has expanded our expressive range. More than just teaching travel steps, Anahid will focus on how the feet are placed, the weight shift involved, the use of gravity, and how the body posture is affected traveling through space, all of which varies according to the dictates of the music and the style of the dance. Anahid will utilize a wide range of music in the workshop from traditional: Moroccan, Turkish, Arabic, and Armenian to balletic and contemporary fusion. This is strictly a barefoot class – no shoes please!
One thinks of “floorwork’ as being physically difficult and athletic. However, it is a beautiful segment of our dance and just changing level and doing a few simple moves on the floor can add another dimension to your performance. This workshop will explore a range of expressive movements suitable for dancers at all physical levels and everyone will work at their own pace. Anahid will teach numerous ways to the floor, from the lyrical to the dramatic to the most spectacular descent known as the “Turkish Drop.” In addition, she will teach a combination of stationary moves that can be done on the floor with ease before rising. Anahid gives careful attention to proper technique, not only how to execute the movements correctly but also to prevent injury. The class will begin with a 15-minute warmup, but please be warmed up before attending. PLEASE BRING: knee pads, socks with the toes cut out, and a bath towel. In addition, please wear pants or leggings in the workshop, not a skirt.
- TOUCHING HEAVEN AND EARTH
A true artist does not imitate dance moves, but becomes them and embodies the music. By touching Heaven and Earth, we are suspended between the two where the mind, body, and spirit dance freely. Aszmara leads us on our own internal dance journey as we go deeply within ourselves to feel every fiber of your being moved within the music. Find the balance between doubt and security by working with emotion, delving into music and be present in the moment without judgment. Using guided dance meditation, breathing techniques and choreographic patterns we discover our sense of self, surrendering to the music by letting go and letting in.
- VEIL POETRY: RUMI’S WORDS IN MOTION
Dance to wordless music the poetry of your heart. The Persian poet Rumi has been inspiring generations with the beauty and wisdom of his connection with earth and the divine. Delight in the development of a dance with the poetic images created by Rumi’s words in motion. There have been nights that I have dreamed the dance and upon waking, immediately work to find the technique needed to match the dreamed dance. And the words haunt me. They color the fabric of my movement.
- LUNCH MINI-TOPIC:
PERSPECTIVES AND DESIGN FOR ONE OR MORE BODIES
When we are performing, the audiences’ perspective is an important consideration as to how we create and emote our performance. Viewing levels from above, same or raised, the stage’s shape, whether it is framed or open all affect the construction, possibilities and expression for your dance piece.
Types of stages, strong and weak stage areas, physical projections and sense of distance will be covered. With choreographic phrases the use of groups in opposition, succession, mirrored, laddered, canons, staggered, and simultaneous will be explored and viewed from the audience’s perspectives as we paint our dance creations on the stage’s canvas.
- POWER THE STAGE
Magnetize your audience using the most powerful communication tool to master the stage, your dance and your audience. Dynamic basics of the body, stage and your presentation will create a strong emotionally connection with your audience. Learn the basics of how to bring the theater to your dance, creating an emotionally available, connected message the audience that they will take home with them and remember the power of you for their lifetime.
- CORE TECHNIQUE: WRAP YOUR AUDIENCE IN YOUR WORLD
Wrap your movement around your body. Move through your core transmitting power with subtle power that makes the audience want to unravel your mystery. Learn to use your power-house core in a manner that signals subtle strength and softness, in addition to keeping your back safe. Hip lifts become more powerful, figure 8’s have a new meaning. Give your dance a new language that moves through your body, instead of on it.
- MAXIMIZE YOUR RETURN
Do less and get more. On and off stage, people won’t know what is different about you. They will wonder if it is your clothes, hair, make-up, or something else. They will never know it is simple tweaks in your posture, carriage, how you walk, stand and hold yourself. These basics will change the way the world interacts with you on and off stage. Walk like the powerhouse you are and embrace the full ability of your confidence.
- CLAIM YOUR DIVINE BRILLIANCE ON THE STAGE – DANCE THEORY, MOVEMENT, AND EMOTIONAL PATTERNING
Many dancers study and study to acquire dance technique and build a movement vocabulary. What is missing in many dance performances is the true confidence needed to create a dynamic solo performance for stage and nightclub that will dazzle an audience. Different techniques will be used for dancers on both a physical and emotional level to create a stronger mental attitude about themselves as a performer and form a new approach to performing. Techniques used during this class will be “working from the inside out” where we will delve deeply into some of the biggest hurdles that hold students/dancers back from feeling totally confident on stage. Self-sabotage is a big issue with dancers before they go on stage to perform; verbal affirmations and breathing techniques will be taught to help the dancers create a confident entrance onto the stage!
- THE ART OF IMPROVISATION IN ANCIENT MIDDLE EASTERN CONTEMPORARY DANCES
Becoming one with the Music- Music is the foundation of any dance form. In this workshop, an exploration between how to improv and interpret a Middle Eastern wind instrument using theatrical concepts while dancing live. Line and Space design will be examined during the workshop to create an exploration of ancient and contemporary ritualistic Middle Eastern dance movements creating a stunning movement symphony. Souren Baronian, master musician of Middle Eastern and Middle Eastern Jazz Contemporary Music will be accompanying me during the class playing the kavul, doudek and/clarinet. Each instrument has its own personality and the student will be taught through improvisation how to create dances with these types of instrumentation.
- SWELLING TO THE SURFACE: BREATH AND BODY
Our community loves fantastical theatricality and great dance production. Alternately, we have a profound respect for the inherent intelligence of the body when it is freed from the bounds of showmanship and gender coding. This workshop steps away from the focus on performance and skill acquisition to engage the domain of bodily truth. Deliberate breath work will serve as the barometer for integration and the touchstone of expanding the senses. I offer my pledge of a thoughtful, conscientious and carefully guided passage… an invitation to let dance move through you and bring you to a broader sense of self. This will not be a workshop about any dogma about identity constructs. Rather, it will serve as an intentional laboratory for one aspect of dance celebrated by over half of the world’s cultures… dance as a technology for expanded consciousness. Comfortable clothing will be very important for your best experience. All experience levels, body types and gender expressions will be welcomed.
AN INTRODUCTION TO ORIENTALISM, POST-COLONIAL STUDIES AND CRITICAL RACE THEORY
Professor Edward Said rocked the world of academia in 1978 by revealing the West’s distorted perceptions of the East in his book Orientalism. Facing vigorous resistance, his elegant writing ignited incredible discourse and instigated the creation of entire new fields of study. In this lecture and discussion seminar, we take the beautiful theories he asserted out of academia and into an examination of our current dance practices and perceptions. After almost 30 years of theoretical development, Said’s ideas continue to be pivotal and relevant. This is your invitation to get acquainted with his work, and learn more about how these crucial concepts can inform your participation in a frequently misconstrued art form.
- DONNA MEJIA’S ALTERNATIVE PRACTICE SESSION AND “PRIVATE STASH” BODYWORK
Injury, discomfort, chronic illness and physical compromise do not have to “bench” dancers from practicing. We will have a surprisingly vigorous, whole body practice from a chair, learning to identify safe ranges of motion and support bodily regions that may not have full capacity. The idea is not to grieve what is impacted, but to ignite curiosity for what we can feel, because there are inevitable gifts to be harvested from any kind of movement without waiting for the “ideal” body to arrive. Let’s get to work with what we have going for us right now. REQUIRED: A sense of adventure complimented in equal parts by a sense of humor. This workshop is inspired by Donna’s personal studies in Gyrokinesis ®, Body Mind Centering ®, breath study, yoga, and her volunteer work with dancers managing moderate to severe levels physical, neurological, sensory, chemical, or cognitive impact. Although much of the workshop will be seated, please note that this practice session still offers a robust, energetic and exceptionally challenging workout. This class is highly recommended for participants dealing with injuries. Chairs will be provided. PLEASE BRING your own yoga mat, a tennis ball, a towel, a notebook, and a water bottle.
- GET YOUR FREAK ON WITH LOADED SOUL AND TWISTED FUNK – A.K.A. “I EAT BEATS FOR BREAKFAST”
Some would define power as the ability to produce large and dramatic movements of virtuosic prowess. I define power as the ability to channel tremendous force but not be removed from one’s center; the strength to metaphorically “swallow the hurricane.” This requires steadiness in one’s core, nuance, a grounded way of moving through space, and, above all, courage to face forces stronger than one’s self. Moving these experiments into the land of performance requires a whole new range of considerations:
*How do we present unconventional themes without relying on shock value and visual gimmicks?
*What is the more role of shame in affirming social norms and conventions?
*How do we begin subverting conventionality to build allies, expand understanding, and free ourselves from intellectual or creative restrictions?
After discussing these ideas as a community, we are going to take the thickest, hardest and crunchiest beats and translate them into our dancing bodies. Please note that this workshop will utilize music with adult lyrics and themes. (This is the “R” rated version of Donna Mejia; those under 18 will not be admitted). Come ready to play hard.
- INTERGALACTIC DANCE MISSION
A journey to creative exploration of dance inspired by the enigmatic qualities of outer space. We’ll delve into the glitchy yet ethereal dance aesthetics seen in Ebony’s fusion style and investigate exactly how to create these qualities in a performance. We’ll play with gravity within and around the body, creating the illusion and feeling of temporary weightlessness, stopping and rewinding time, and examine which muscles in the body we utilize to achieve these effects.
- BEING AND DOING: TRANSCENDING TECHNIQUE…a Creative Act – “Dance with a Fan”
Structured improvisational patterns, motifs and geometry of stage design. Developing inner energy/stage presence exercises to ensure a vibrant inner life, physical ease and readiness…revealing the dance and the dancer. Deep, focused, yet magically free…
***Please bring an open and close fan and veil to this workshop.
- MUSICALITY AT THE EDGE OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE
Luna’s eclectic background in synchronized swimming, street dance, and bellydance has influenced her approach to using her body in response to the music, and in this session, she’ll share some of her favorite training techniques. You’ll travel in body and mind to the edge of your comfort zone, so that you can emerge as different, revealing movements and feelings that were deeply hidden. Through class exercises, including blindfolded work that deepens the senses of touch and hearing, your body will experience new ways to flow, and you’ll learn certain tricks to connect with the music. We’ll experiment with all kinds of movements, not only dance movements, to help us to learn our physical capacities and also the variety of applications and uses that can be deployed in a performance. Music is critical in engaging an interpretation; the performer’s intention also plays a part. In order to achieve that engagement, you will be exploring outside of your usual box, into the interesting territory of the unknown, so you can find your own “music voice.”
- GENDER SHORTHAND FOR COMEDY AND CONNECTION
A thrilling challenge in our dance is that of presenting ourselves authentically while taking the audience through our message, be it play-acting a role or baring our soul. We have so little time onstage to make ourselves or our characters known that a basic body language short- hand inspired by commedia del arte can be a great tool. Whether exploring a gender binary or transcending it in your performance, the ancient languages of swagger, coyness, possessive sensuality and more can lend iconic power to your stage persona. This workshop is approximately half Bellydance, half hilarity…
- GRAB THE ATTENTION OF YOUR AUDIENCE
Taking cues from the world of vaudeville, Madame Onça will bring you tried-and-true techniques to command the attention of your audience, from conscious gazing to crowd control. Demand and hold their focus, and make them love you for it. We will explore dynamic intros/outros, manipulating unusual performance spaces to your advantage, and making and breaking the expectations of the crowd in accordance with the golden guidelines of ritual and entertainment.
- BE ADDICTIVE
Have you ever watched a dancer perform… and you could feel the love and enthusiasm rippling off the stage? Even if their performance wasn’t technically “perfect”… even if they made a few mistakes, or even slipped or had a costume malfunction…you felt mesmerized… enthralled… excited… moved… like you couldn’t look away! That’s the kind of emotional experience that you want to create for your audience. And it ONLY happens when you are genuinely EXCITED about what you’re creating and your performance. Create what you want. Feel what you want. Show the fire in your belly. Be vulnerable. Don’t edit out your personality. In this class you will learn what your dance personality is. We will take a simple choreography and make it you. When your performance is born from a place of genuine enthusiasm, it will be totally addictive.
- THE CONNECTION BETWEEN PHYSICALITY AND EMOTION?
The balance of emotion and physical strength are the final pieces of the puzzle when it comes to stage presence and drawing the audience in. The emotional quality of a dance can depend on the psychological freedom and even the physical strength the dancer possesses. So, what’s stopping you from moving bigger, reaching farther and jumping higher? Nervous about how you might look? How you might feel? Or even if you can do it? In this workshop we will explore movement to build strength and obstacles so that you can really get down to the why.
- LUNCH MINI-WORKSHOP PLAN:
MUSIC MAPPING: ANATOMY OF A SONG
Are you inexperienced when it comes to how you hear the music and putting choreography to it? Well, knowing the anatomy of the song can help you choreograph! In this class we will break down a song into bite-sized chunks such as melody, harmony, verse, bridge and climbs, which can make choreographing easier! Leave this class hearing music in a whole new way.
- MUSIC AS THE SOURCE OF INSPIRATION
When you feel you have run out of ideas and are looking for a fresh burst of inspiration as a dancer, you can turn to the music. Many dancers over their careers will experience drops in their motivation, when the movements themselves are not enough to inspire us. Ramzi will introduce music as the element that we can look at for help, to rejuvenate our creative juices.
During this workshop, Ramzi will present two examples of visionary music that would inspire dancers and choreographers alike: one fun baladi-shaabi style with ancient Egyptian references, and one Arabian gulf khaleegy with a clever twist. Dancers will have the opportunity to work with these themes in composition and improvisation, working on your own and in small groups. The goal is to open a door to the garden of the music, and discover the details that will inspire your styling.
- HIPWORK ALCHEMY: DANCE AS DESIGN
Since ancient time, humans have tried to turn lead to gold through a science called Alchemy, the science of the elements. From the elements you can produce gold, the art of your dance. This workshop will shed a light on the difference between the elements (basics: steps) and the design (style or choreography: how you embellish or add to the steps) and how mastering the basics will make the design. Here our elements will be the fundamental hip movements found in Oriental hipwork: the twist, hip drops and lifts, undulations, Arabic walk, etc. We’ll look at how to make the hips sharp and correct with the music, and test the effects of mixing or changing these elements in terms of their order and tempo. Taking lessons from ballet, we’ll work with the angles of the body that make up the style of the dance. Ramzi brings his years of experience with various dance forms—flamenco, tango, ballet, Lebanese traditional folk dance, and oriental dance—to the work of building evocative dances from basic movement elements.
Teachers in the same path coordinate their curricula to build a “container” for discovery over the course of the path day. You can sign up for a path on a particular day or mix-and-match workshops from different paths “a la carte” to create your own program.
Space is limited in workshops (30 max) and we expect sell-outs. We’ll reserve a greater number of full path spaces than “a la carte” spaces to create the unique character of our conference. For full conference or day participants, you must select your workshops at the time of registration, or we’ll assign you.
***After June 20th, changes to workshop selections will incur a $10 administrative fee per change.