Check out guest blogger Julie Thurlow's interviews with two of this year's instructors (both new to TribalCon). In addition to being a freelance writer, Julie is one of my troupemates in Banat Almeh, and we'll be performing together in the live music show at TribalCon!
TribalCon 9 is only a week away! Do you want a sneak peek at some of this year’s internationally acclaimed teachers? We interviewed April Rose of Belly Dance Super Stars and the improv group UNMATA and master doumbek instructor and composer for prime time TV, Carmine Guida. Here’s what they had to say.
Touring with BDSS, I have acquired an amazing new group of women as friends and colleagues. Coming from UNMATA and my own community of dancers in Los Angeles I thrive on talking and dancing with packs of strong, expressive, and eccentric women. The stage element of BDSS also taught me the importance of aesthetics like costuming and makeup – aspects of performance I used to hold as unimportant.
In what ways is the Hot Pot Improvisational Tribal Style of UNMATA different from ATS?
Similarly to ATS, the experience of dancing Hot Pot ITS allows an opportunity for dancers to become acquainted with their own ability to lead and follow a group, to find their role in a given situation and confidently manipulate that role for the betterment of the group’s performance. I believe that the experience of dancing any group improv like ATS builds a confident sense of self and a strong, functioning community dynamic. In general, Hot Pot ITS tends to be fast, there are many variations on each combination, the dance holds the potential for setting up and repeating certain patterns of combinations and has very complex spatial formations in which multiple leaders interact. ATS on steroids.
What is your favorite form of tribal improv to do (and why)?
I love dancing group improv with new people in informal situations like after parties and at a festival. I love to jump into a jam session in which multiple styles of improv dancers are converging. In that situation, we throw out the intricate rules of our particular forms – leaders hold the primary goal of making their movements easy to follow while followers never let their attention off the changing leaders. I feel everyone’s collective rush of excitement and that feeling is irreplaceable.
In what ways has attaining a masters degree in Culture and Performance from UCLA affected your bellydancing?
My graduate education in a cultural studies/performance studies program at UCLA has affected my bellydancing and my life in every way. Getting a masters degree is a truly transformative, perspective-altering experience that I can never undo. Through extensive research I now understand the history of bellydance in America and its accompanying cultural and political implications for those of us who practice. I have added many lecture-based courses to my workshop curriculum in which we discuss periods in bellydance history and various issues of representation within the dance. I incorporate my knowledge of this dance in everything I do with it.
What or who enabled you to study dance, yoga and Hindi for extended periods of time in North India?
The US federal government awarded me a fully funded grant to study Hindi in Jaipur, Rajasthan for three months in 2008 and again in 2009. I attended a rigorous language school everyday in a very large city but I was able to take several trips to the countryside to pursue yoga studies and a few dance classes.
My training in classical Indian dance came from master instructors at UCLA who I studied with as a part of my undergraduate degree in Dance. I have studied yoga since I was a kid with my mother who is a yoga teacher and yoga studio owner in California. Fun fact: I met my husband in India – a Texan who was also studying Hindi on scholarship in Jaipur.
Click here to learn more about April Rose.
What is your favorite thing about teaching the doumbek?
Most of the time, when people are taking one of my beginner classes, it's the first time in their life they have tried to play a musical instrument. My favorite thing about teaching is taking someone who has never played an instrument before and then an hour later they can play a handful of rhythms and join in on the fun.
What was it that originally got you into Middle Eastern music and the bellydance world?
I've always played lots of instruments. I had some friends that I knew from my local renaissance faire who were bellydancers. They suggested I learn some Middle Eastern instruments so I could play for them. I took my first lesson over a decade ago and I was hooked immediately.
When did you first realize that you were a musician? Can you describe that moment?
Wow! Hmm, I'm not exactly sure of that exact moment, but I'll tell you something amazing that happened recently. I was doing a show every night... but after about the fourth night we had a just for fun jam with everyone. I was feeling in such great spirits, and I started doing what was probably the greatest solo of my life (this is on the instrument called the Oud). What was amazing is that I felt as though I was watching my own hands play. I guess you would call it a somewhat out-of-body experience. They say amazing things happen when you get out of the way of your own hands.
How did you get the opportunity to record music for TV shows like “Medium,” “Ed” and “Anthony Bourdain, No Reservations?”
The music for those shows was music that I had already recorded that was licensed. We had some music recently on some ABC TV specials, and as much as I'd like to have great advice for other musician...we got those by luck. One of our band members was playing in the subway and the people in charge of music licensing happen to be on their way to a meeting about the music for the show while passing her in the subway. For the Anthony Bourdain show, a friend of a friend who works for the Travel Channel (and also handles music licensing) came to our CD release party. If I was going to suggest something to musicians, I'd say to always have CDs, business cards, etc. on you. You never know when you are going to run into the right person.
Click here to learn more about Carmine Guida.