Reflections on Cues & Tattoos 2016

I started writing this post just after my trip, but April turned to May and so here it is now. Enjoy!

      12963432_10156866330490455_8208340315636543991_n

The first leg of my west coast adventure has come and gone in a beautiful whirlwind. The troupe arrived in Portland and hit some vintage shops, Powell’s bookstore, vegan sundae’s at Maple Parlour, and jewelry-ogling at Robot Piercing. We took a private session with one of our dance mom’s Paulette of Gypsy Caravan, to refine some of the combos we had been working with and learn some new orbits for formation changes. We had a show at the middle eastern restaurant Huda’s, where we danced to live music by a band called Arabesque. An intimate two level venue was packed with people and we barely had room to spin in front of the band. But the music was great and we were well received within the lineup of local dancers.

 

Cues & Tattoos had an excellent lineup of teachers, as  they do every year. I took two workshops with Mardi Love, one zylls-based, a12928118_10156866415065455_3589473420074058839_nnd the other on super slow sinewy movement. This was the second chance I’ve had to take classes with her –the first being a few years back in Montreal. I saw her perform live in San Francisco maybe 7 years ago and I was mes.mer.ized. More so than the usual trance inducing qualities of bellydance, Ms. Love was a dance muse like nothing I’d ever seen. She is a great teacher and a beautiful sunny person to learn from!

 

 

 

 

The other instructor I was really looking forward to and who delivered the goods was Elizabeth Strong –also a performer I saw live in San Fran that same show (she performed in a duet with Mira Betz). Her knowledge, skill, technique, presence is a lot of what I work toward in my dance and I had waited a long time to learn something directly from her. I did her Upper Egypt Survey workshop, and we learned a short choreography that 12998525_10156866414995455_2926868386425572998_ncombined moves from various regional dances and technique from her teacher Katarina Burda (who Zoe Jakes also learned from and acknowledged in her workshop). Using finger cymbals as the percussive instruments they are in this choreography was so much fun. As I later told my troupe mates, that workshop was one of two over the weekend that made me sweat through to my underwear –something I of course welcome in a workshop. I mean I came to work hard, right?

The other sweat session happened during the last workshop of the weekend. After drilling, performing, walking all the places for days, I attended Zoe Jakes ‘Balkan Party.’ And that it was! Three hours of learning and running a short Balkan choreography on carpet and without mirrors. The upbeat energy of the music and choreo kept us moving and we ended with a nice cool down and a talk on knowing your dance lineage.

13000340_10156876285045455_7818299947493343240_n
Happily tired & sweaty, some troupe mates and I with Zoe Jakes

 

 

 

 

13087441_698200490320361_7420967041428080974_n

After our performance at the Serpents Muse, see VIDEO section for footage.

The whole troupe went to the Luciterra workshop where we learned some of their unique signature combos. I had previously taken a workshop in Toronto with Laura Jane of Luciterra and was super into it and excited to learn more. Their energy, creativity and synergy onstage (at the performer showcase), really took the festival by storm and as I headed to Vancouver from Seattle I was hoping to squeeze in another class. In the end I wasn’t able to, but have some really interesting material to work with!

There are many more stories from this trip, but the last one that has nothing to do with the festival, but  must be told is this: I wanted a photo with the Monorail Man at the entrance of the monorail in Seattle Centre where the festival was held. So I asked Elana to get a photo, like the robot was looming over me, the damsel in distress…So as I’m posing and directing how I want the photo, the robot lets out this super loud terrifying buzz. In flight mode, I leap over the red velvet ropes away from the robot predator. And thanks to Elana’s quick photographic reflexes,  its all  captured. Later I found out the robot buzzes like that –loud –when the next monorail is approaching. No comfort in that knowledge.

12985529_10156866332580455_1102773796556077396_n
Posed (minus the Faygo spill — must have been juggalos on the loose)

 

IMG_1302
Getting the hell outta dodge.

        

 

 

 

 

 

Day 5 and still we dance at Cues & Tattoos. Til next time, Seattle!

image

Although I intended to post each day from Cues & Tattoos, the days were super full, not so much downtime at all. And now its my last night here, and I left the air bnb we stayed in and moved along to City Hostel in Belltown. Laura and I went to the Highline Pub, as tradition dictates, and ate vegan pubfare (luckily there was a very special night called VHS Uber Alles and we watched terrible 1980’s infomercials and a budget horror movie). Laura left for the airport and as I stay another night, ruminating on all the new movements and combos. I’m sure a few new neural pathways were forged in the past five days.

This (!) was my schedule from Wed to Sun

Zoe Jakes Tribal Fusion Intensive – Framework for a Beautiful Spine (Wed & Thurs)

Zoe Jakes – Fleet Foxes: Strange Layers and Sleek Extension

Sam Riggs – Portico Style Bollywood Fusion

Rachel Brice – Datura Vocabulary (Stellar Alchemy, intermediate)

Carouselle – Juice Joint Improv

Rachel Brice – How to be a Zillionaire

Carolena Nericcio-Bohlman of Fat Chance Bellydance – Trick to Turns and Spins. (Here’s some video)

Between the workshops, the Serpents Muse stage, the instructors showcase, the afterparty, the vending area and sleep, the days flew by. I meant to take more pics but here’s what I’ve got so far between what I took and what I’ve found on the festival facebook page.

image
Zoe Jakes intensive
image
Space needle through the trees at sunset? Or giant sky bunny staring down sky mushroom? You decide.

image

image
Zoe Jakes workshop
image
My new septum jewellery from Aprils Blissed –maker of beautiful things. I’m in love with the geometric pieces!
image
I’m happier than I look in this photo, to be around flowers in full bloom.

I have left the festival with a lot of new material to explore, its always such a whirlwind of information and tonight I will spend some time organizing the material so I can go over it on the trip home. I’m already looking forward to next year and Serpentina North plans to apply to perform at the Serpents Muse stage –it was nice to be remembered from our performance last year! So bellydancer friends, who’s in for the Toronto contingent next year?

Blogging from Cues & Tattoos 2015

image

Here we are in sunny Seattle for Cues and Tattoos 2015. That’s right, I said sunny. It was a balmy 19 degrees here today and Laura and I practically skipped along the hilly streets, giddy at the sight of every  piece of greenery. Its our 4th year at Cues and Tattoos, and this year we came a couple days earlier for the Zoe Jakes intensive, which we just finished today.

Two half day sessions of ‘Framework for a Beautiful Spine’, gave us an intro to Zoe Jakes format, the foundation of what imagemakes her style of movement distinct and unique. I had only every taken a workshop with Zoe once, in San Francisco in 2009 or 10. At that time I did not have enough tribal fusion repertoire to really get into it, but spent most of my time contorting my body into new positions and stumbling over my own feet…but had a blast in the process. Fast forward to this intensive: I enjoyed the challenges, understood the language and was able to move through it with a degree of confidence and engagement that  I left with an understanding both that my body can do cool things and I need to focus on strengthening other areas of my body for new patterning.

image
Vitamin D party up in here.

Before class today we sat outside in the Seattle Centre, around this big metallic water fountain that plays downtempo beats and funk. Why don’t we have something like this in Toronto? There were people and dogs everywhere, sun beaming down as we savoured the feel of the grass beneath us.

We did some pretty intense arm work, layering hip shimmies and omis over diagnonal walking patterns, cross turns and pivoting turns. We did hand and arm conditioning, psoas stretches, cobra arms and Balinese hands. By the end of today we all learned the combo and drilled the hell out of it. My takehome from this: I need to practice omi’s my ‘wrong’ (left) way…once I start moving with them on my weaker side, it all goes to shit. Also to continue to explore that little place between my shoulders that needs to strengthen, have more shoulder mobility and arm fluidity. And last but not least, travelling quickly with a hip shimmy without defaulting to thigh shimmy of 3/4 shimmy.

Tomorrow I have another workshop with Zoe in the morning and some bollywood fusion with Sam Riggs of Portico in the afternoon. Its an early start so its an early night here at our airbnb home-for-now. Wish the rest of Serpentina North Ensemble was here with us!