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  1. #1
    Senior Member Sirčne's Avatar
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    Default something's gotta give - what's more important?

    While working out today, I noticed a small problem. Try as I might to follow the instructor, when working from a dvd there inevitably comes a time where I either fall behind or just completely fall off the horse. I don't mind - I'm a beginner, it's expected. What's driving me nuts is why I'm falling off the horse.

    Today it was chest circles. Ok simple enough. Hit the four points on the first pass, smooth it out, and then eventually level changes and steps forward and back. Sounds easy enough, but as I'm dancing I realize my arms are starting to float downward. Can't have that, back up they go! Then I notice I have "monster" hands. Nope, nope, fix that, soft hands and fingers! Then the back starts to arch. Protect the spine, tuck the tail bone! Etc, etc, you get the picture.

    So what should be a simple chest circle becomes a litany of mental commands that make Russian ballet instructors look gentle by comparison.

    At some point it becomes impossible to do it all, and I'm left wondering what's the best course of action. Do I stop focusing on anything other than the "move" being worked on and follow along best as I can? Or do I give every detail complete attention even if it means I'm doing the move once for every eight-twelve times the instructor on the dvd does it?

    I don't think I'm trying to do something too advanced. It's a dvd targeted and marked as suitable for complete beginners.

  2. #2
    V.I.P. Yame's Avatar
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    When you are first trying to get the move down, you should try your best to maintain proper posture and to not "let go" of the graceful arms and hands, however, you can cut yourself some slack and accept that the best you can do for now is not as graceful as it'll need to be eventually.

    So, focus on the move, and as long as you don't start doing anything weird and dangerous with your posture, that might be enough for now. Keep practicing and eventually you will master the move and be able to give everything else more attention. Just keep at it, challenge yourself, but don't be cruel with yourself if you can't do something the way you want to just yet.

  3. #3
    Moderator Darshiva's Avatar
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    Okay, I had a student like that once, and a lovely lady she was too. What I want you to do is to add some wrist circles to the chest circle, and if you're still worrying about what you're doing, I want you to walk around in a circle, pausing at each of the four cardinal points to pose and do a chest circle. You need to be doing the chest circle at all times.

    Let me know if this helped or not. Sometimes we complicate things terribly, so piling on more & more stuff can ironically make it so that we've got too much going on at once to worry about the small things.

  4. #4
    V.I.P. Yame's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sirčne View Post
    I don't think I'm trying to do something too advanced. It's a dvd targeted and marked as suitable for complete beginners.
    As for this quote, a lot of DVDs tagged as beginner DVDs and marketed to beginners are actually a bit too advanced for most beginners.

    If you're a baby beginner, maybe you shouldn't try traveling with brand new moves... just do them in place until you have them drilled into your muscle memory before you worry about traveling. Once you can do the move by itself, then start traveling with it. Don't worry about following the DVD precisely... just because it says it's for beginners doesn't mean it's necessarily right for all beginners and for you as an individual.

    Follow it at your own pace, if all the layering is too much for you then keep doing it in place even though they are starting to do level changes and traveling steps, and once you are capable of handling all those things at once, then go back to it and follow it more precisely.

    Good luck!

  5. #5
    Member LuLu's Avatar
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    To this day I have issues with my hands dropping and sometimes my posture shifts but when I first started my instructor told me just worry about the movement and practice it dont worry about your hand once you get the chest circles down then add hands. One step at a time. Well thats what helps me.

  6. #6
    Senior Member walladah's Avatar
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    Default Sirčne, everything is important!

    So what should be a simple chest circle becomes a litany of mental commands that make Russian ballet instructors look gentle by comparison
    That's it! No-one ever said that oriental dance is easy, much less that it is easier than ballet. Quite the opposite...

    However, i think that the advice above is very helpful not only to you but to any dancer who studies alone: once you take care of safety issues and body posture, it is alright to try again and again to do a movement...

    by the way, there is no simple chest circle! no simple hip drop, no simple wrist roll! I also like your idea about litany of mental commands, this holds, you know, just like you describe it!

    However, what makes this... "torture" easier is the following, esp. when you are alone at home and you do not feel obliged to follow the pace of the other students a group class woud involve: you find the right, confortable, safe posture and you practice the posture with simpler moves, f.ex. a wrist roll of one hand (see that i say "simpler" and not "simple"). Maybe you can practice the posture by focusing on hands for a while and keeping the right posture at the same time.

    This is needed so that the entire body learns to take its position that will enable you to do the chest circle without losing posture. It might seem that you need more time than you anticipated, but please, do not misunderstand the fact that a DVD has a limited time-space volume and the teacher on it, needs to give all advice at once in one hour or so. That does not mean you are supposed to do all at once, but that you are supposed that after some months of practicing, you are able to attend the DVD lesson without need to pause it again and again. A beginner instructional DVD is usually a lesson for more than 6 months (otherwise, the DVD is not good!).

    Moreover, even if you do not care about posture or graceful hands, your spine and your mirror will complain about that shortly, so i do not worry you will end up to do chest circles without the right posture . But the best thing is not to wait for your spine to complain (the mirror will complain all the time, anyway, for the rest of your dancing life!).

    I hope this helps. Welcome to the oriental dance planet!
    Last edited by walladah; 05-13-2011 at 12:35 PM.

  7. #7
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    Okay, if you were my student, I would give you a simpler acceptable arm position to practice in, and have you do it in place. With graceful arms and hands, place your hands at your hips, maybe even slightly touching your hips. They stay there, looking graceful (make them do it). Maintain your posture and execute the circles. Start slowly and don't try to keep up at first. Get the move down first. Once the circle is accomplished, change the level of the arms. Once you learn that, increase your speed. What does this do? It allows you to take the time to form your circles well and add in the details so that you don't push yourself too fast and become sloppy, or dangerous with your posture. Don't forget to keep your smiles and your expressive features in the mix. If you still have "monster hands", practice with zills on your fingers, even if you are not playing. If you are not playing, hold them together. This will teach you to hold your hands in a nice position, but ultimately, you need to learn to have your hands be expressive also (baby steps!) Your mirror is your best friend.

  8. #8
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    As a fellow student (intermediate) I understand what you are dealing with right now because I, at times, come across the same issue.

    Just focus on the move you are learning at first and don't worry about anything else. Just drill, drill, drill the move. Eventually, you will be able to do the move without even having to really think about it- it will just become something you do while dancing. So then, when you have to focus on keeping elegant hands/arms, you won't need to even think about, you will just do the move while focusing on something else you need practice with.

    If you get sick of drilling a particular move, just go on to something else and bring it back up again when you feel like it or when you want to practice by dancing around. You will be surprised at how well your body remembers the movement

  9. #9
    V.I.P. Greek Bonfire's Avatar
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    When I come across something that is not working right with me (and after all these years I still do), I will at every opportunity in the day, just do that one particular move, until everything falls into place and works on me. Then I will next fit it into the combo so I can make the transition as well. It doesn't always matter that it's a beginner DVD as most beginners can accomplish mayas as beginners but it took me FOUR years!

  10. #10
    Senior Member Sirčne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yame
    Just keep at it, challenge yourself, but don't be cruel with yourself if you can't do something the way you want to just yet.
    This is definitely key. I sometimes get very impatient with myself.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darshiva
    add some wrist circles to the chest circle, and if you're still worrying about what you're doing, I want you to walk around in a circle, pausing at each of the four cardinal points to pose and do a chest circle. You need to be doing the chest circle at all times.
    I'll give this a try next practice.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yame
    a lot of DVDs tagged as beginner DVDs and marketed to beginners are actually a bit too advanced for most beginners.

    If you're a baby beginner, maybe you shouldn't try traveling with brand new moves...
    I went on a bit of a dvd binge before I found my wonderful class (thanks to you ). Some "beginner" ones are more like "intermediate" but I think the one I'm working with is very beginner friendly. That said, I tend to stay stationary when she travels, thus adding to my frustration that I'm still having trouble. Like you said though, I need to be less cruel to myself.

    Quote Originally Posted by walladah
    That's it! No-one ever said that oriental dance is easy, much less that it is easier than ballet. Quite the opposite...
    I agree. Oriental dance has made me move muscles that I forgot I had. Easy it's not.

    Quote Originally Posted by walladah
    by the way, there is no simple chest circle! no simple hip drop, no simple wrist roll!
    Simple was a bad word choice on my part. "Foundation move" might be better. I was trying to communicate that it's one of the moves a dancer is taught early on.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shara
    If you still have "monster hands", practice with zills on your fingers, even if you are not playing. If you are not playing, hold them together. This will teach you to hold your hands in a nice position, but ultimately, you need to learn to have your hands be expressive also (baby steps!) Your mirror is your best friend.
    Ooo, interesting idea (and a great excuse to buy zills! ) Wish I could also buy a mirror. The tv room doesn't have one, so I either usually rely on my reflection in the widescreen (the video is 4:3, so I have black bars on the sides) or I'll momentarily run into a nearby bathroom (which has a gigantic mirror which I'd tear off the wall and put in the tv room if I thought it wouldn't crack in the process). I'm considering getting something like this floor mirror, I just wonder if it's large enough to be useful.

    Quote Originally Posted by Belly Love
    Just drill, drill, drill the move.
    Puts a new spin on drill, baby drill! Point taken. I like the dvds because of the variety, however if I want to be able to follow them all the way through it looks like I need to spend some time doing the moves individually, over and over.

    Quote Originally Posted by Greek Bonfire
    I will at every opportunity in the day, just do that one particular move, until everything falls into place and works on me.
    How long would you drill the move each time? Five minutes? Ten? Thirty?


    Thank you everyone for your replies. You all are a tremendous help, as always.
    Last edited by Sirčne; 05-14-2011 at 01:05 PM. Reason: spelling, learned how to have the quotes reflect the authors

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