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[personal profile] parasitegirl

So, what’s going on with crazy-pants, my beloved teacher?

 

Let me preface this by informing you that perhaps I am not spiritually or emotionally ready for some things right now…or at least this is what my teacher believes and it suits my purpose to not argue that point just yet.

 

What follows is a rant and long explanation of what has most recently annoyed me. Truth be told, it is a minor thing, but it comes after more than 6 months of rough patches with my teacher where I keep hoping things will get better, but things seems to just get fucked up in different ways.

 

Tuesday morning my teacher sent me an email saying she wanted me to dance at the next monthly event (08/6). Over the last year the monthly event has remained relatively unchanged: four dancers do two songs each (one song should be near the realm of ”traditional belly dance music”) there is a DJ, teacher dances as well and the drummers performs. The order fluctuates, but that’s pretty much the drill. This has changed in the last few months to accommodate the addition of one dancer doing a full 25 minute set. This was sooner than I expected to dance after my month of filling in for her, but there are a few songs I am aching to dance to and I welcomed the chance to do something slightly different from the style I have been working with lately.  The idea of being able to stray from my traditional music and traditional bling-bling and work on something from scratch invigorated me. I said I could probably do it, but only if I could wear a cover-up and watch the full set first. [livejournal.com profile] opua  will be performing and it is more important to me that I support her emotionally ( and be there for the feedback she’ll want afterwards) than that I perform. I also knew that my teacher was looking for a different act to perform because the drummers would be away next month. We've performed without them but she had been looking to hire this cool flamenco player to help balance things out. I guess the flamenco guy fell through.

 

 

My teacher didn’t reply to my email. This worried me because she is usually very quick with email replies. I replied moments after recieveing the email. I now have a strange feeling that I know why she didn’t reply. I think she had a clue that I wouldn’t be 100% agreeable to what she really wanted from me. I don’t want to think this…but I do. I also now realize that she asked “if it would be possible for you to dance” on that day and not “you want to dance” which are two different questions in retrospect and perhaps lend to my feeling of entrapment.

 

I went to class that night. I warmed up my legs as much as possible before class started. As is the norm when she returns for a trip, she’s been weirdly making us jump and bounce a lot during warm-ups and I wasn’t looking forward to another pulled calve-muscle. I learned my lesson after India. But, she didn’t make us jump. She forgot stretches and warm-ups altogether. About 35 minutes into class, while doing drills, I did a head-slide that pulled a muscle connecting my neck to my back and right shoulder. I was in no mood for what came next.

 

We lined up to practice a drum-solo dance she’s been teaching us. I did what I could with-out moving my neck. Then she explained that at least 6 members of the troupe would performing this drum-solo in our foofy-gold costumes at the next monthly event, and then each member would be able to do one dance each…in that costume and those fucking deadly skirts. She mentioned that I had already agreed, right? Opua could of course do it because she would be there (let’s ignore the fact that Opua will have just danced 26 minutes, no break). And then she turned to one of the Gaijin dancers and explained how she could do it because she could just get a replacement for her regular dance job at a local restaurant.

 

Okay. That’s what I agreed to? I had no clue. I’m being asked/told that I have agreed to this in-front of my peers and newer students? I felt ambushed. In combination with the physical pain I am pretty sure I went dead white.

 

Now. In the past our troupe has talked to our teacher about, you know, giving us room to say NO! I’ve suggested that she not demand answers on the spot, perhaps using email to inform of things ahead of time. And, in the past, we’ve hemmed and hawed when asked, point blank, about performing as a troupe in troupe costume (and then performing solos in the same costume) at the monthly event…and with great discomfort we have said no, but I think she has chosen to forget that. We did say that it was primarily due to us not wanting to perform the old choreography ad nausium, I think some of us had qualms about being trotted out like her dressed-up show ponys or that what we would wear as a troupe isn’t exactly what each of us would ever chose for our individual performances. In the past she had stressed that the troupe does things by consensus, but right now it seems that we are to do what she tells us to do.

 

And the drum-solo choreography is pretty lame. I’m being generous.

 

We were going learn a more complex choreography, one she had lifted and modified from a famous choreographer’s troupe (Jillina) performance. I had talked to her about the fact that to do so she really needed, at the least, to public acknowledge where the choreography came from. I’ve got this thing about artistic copy-write and respect. Instead of finding a way to announce “The next dance is x troupe performing a Jillina choreography!” she decided to scrap it all. She did make sure to announce to the class that it was because of me that we would be scrapping it, without really discussing why. That was over a month ago and made me feel like the Grinch that Stole the Good Choreography! And, well, since then I’ve learned that I disagree with my teacher on a few more points of artistic respect and copy-write rules, but that is another rant.

 

Did our teacher use any of the troupe members who are skilled in choreography for ideas? No. Our teacher who hates (and often disparages) creating choreography made us this drum-solo thingy.

 

A few minutes later it became obvious I was in no condition to continue dancing that night. I changed and waited for Opua to finish class. Opua was on a similar page as to how she felt about doing the choreography because at one point she hissed something to the effect of the fact that I better not make her suffer this alone.

 

On the train Opua, the Gaijin #4 and I dished a bit. I still felt crushed. We also discussed some things our teacher has been doing that make us feel a bit queasy ethically and emotionally.

 

I got home, and despite Opua telling me not to abandon her) I wrote the following email to my teacher. I think it is pretty restrainted in comparison to what I could have written. If you think otherwise, by all means, tell me.

 

I don`t quite know how to say this, so I’ll just spit it out. If I had known the conditions of dancing next month at xxx night when you asked me, I would have politely found a way to say no. I would have reminded you of the fact that we all talked about expanding the troupe because there would be times when members, for one reason or another (financial, emotional, spiritual) feel the need to not perform and to be able to say no without feeling pressured into it. As it was when you asked me about next month I was concerned about if I would be able to see Opua’s set and support her in the way that she has always supported me and I emailed you about that as soon as you asked me. I was surprised to find out, in the middle of class, in front of people, what I had said yes to and there was no way I could say anything without causing a scene. And my neck and shoulder really are killing me so I’m sure my tone would have been all off.

 

I love working with the troupe. This year during Golden Week I cut my first trip back to America for over a year and a half down from 7 days to 5 days to avoid backing out of Convention/Seminar. I try to be a supportive troupe member , and classmate, outside of troupe events, that’s part of why I’m trying to take good performance shots of folks, so that they can see how beautiful they are. I help with any alterations on costumes that I can. I try to make sure people see a smiling audience member who is really happy to watch them.

 

And I have loved the challenge and direction of working on and performing solo Oriental sets. I have worked as hard as I could since you asked me way back in February to start putting together a set and building up my endurance. Since then I have performed three different long sets. I have tried my best to push myself to be worth the chance, to represent you well when you are away, and to bring my dance level up a notch, both technically and emotionally.

 

I said yes because I thought it would be my first chance in a while to emotionally and creatively explore assembling a costume, and music, that would fall within the acceptable parameters of xxx night, but would allow me a different creative freedom than the traditional music and bedlah I have been focusing on lately.I would like to something more like the solo I did in class. I’ve been looking forward to that opportunity and have known that I need to be patient, and thus I was surprised that it seemed to come so soon, and just as I had spent a half a day thinking of what songs I could use, what I could make or combine costume wise, and getting really  excited.

 

I’ve loved the restaurant, the last minute birthday party, the full Oriental set, the work with the troupe for xxx and the seminar/convention but I’m a little afraid of reaching a burnout point. I don’t think I am in the right mental place right now to do a troupe piece, and I think that will pass really quickly, but I think right now I feel pressured into it and I don’t really know what to do. I fear that saying no will make you angry, or hurt you, or affect how you view me as a troupe member.

 

You're not an easy person to say no to, and really not easy when you ask "yes or no" in front of a whole class of my peers/your students.”

 

She replied with:

 

Yes... I agree with you. It not a good idea for you to dance in August at xxx night. I know you are ready physically but I am certain you are not ready mentally or spritally Kayt, don`t be too hard on yourself. You do not always have to be ready to dance mentally. Just go with your gut feeling, it really will give you all the answers you need. I saw your gut feeling in class and knew right then that you were not ready to dance at xxxx night in August.

 

And you know, if my only goal was to not dance with the troupe in August, I could call this a “win” and a night. But part of what I was going for was a little understanding of where I am coming from and I am pretty sure that’s not there. I get the feeling that she has decided that I am full of negative energy (I’m using her type of terms, not mine) and thus shouldn’t be part of things. But I suspect that she is not making any connection between what role her behavior might be playing in the creation of my bad vibes.

 

She has no problem, despite my occasional bad vibes, in calling me last minute (sometimes a night before) to fill in for her when she has double booked jobs. When I dance well, like in my last in-class solo, she has no problems taking full credit for it (even going to far as telling new students that I couldn’t dance at all when I started taking lessons with her) but when I am problematic it is due to my unique negative energy and has nothing to do with her. The fact is that much of the improvement is coming from busting my ass with new DVD’s, going to any workshop I can get, taking classes with another teacher on the side AND the fact that my teacher is giving me plenty of opportunities to dance (but not a lot of guidance, like booking me for a party and not telling me it was a birthday party…which changes things.)

(sigh)
Just annoyed.
At least I'll get to do a Brice Workshop next weekend.



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