Petra’s “Letter from Camp,” pt. 2

Annnnd we’re back! Here’s the finish-up talk about the fabulous General Skills and Teacher Training I just completed.


To say I’ve mastered this couldn’t be further from the truth, but conceptually I get it. This move is a “Modern” one, developed by Megha as a study in contrasts between flowing, constantly moving arms and percussive, eight-count hip work.

I really like what the lower body does in this move, as it’s a break from the alternating R-L-R-L-R-L footwork we normally do. Instead you move thusly: right/ball on 1; left/ball on 2;  right/flat/hip bump on 3; right/flat/hip bump on 4, followed by (surprise!) left/ball on 5; right/ball on 6; left/flat/hip bump on 7; and left/flat/hip bump on 8.

The Hip Bump is executed by pushing the foot into the ground, and we were told that this is the case for all hip bumps: press the foot into the ground to get it. Same goes for making the shimmy happen.

While this is going on below the waist, those arms are smoothly flowing out from near the center of the body. You can see FCBD® dancers doing the move here, beginning at 8:01 and ending at about 8:20.

Also, they’ve rethought the footwork for the Camel Step and How To Do the Taxeem. We’ll go over all of it on our next cycle through those moves.

Teacher Training!

On our day off we all heard about Hurricane Darby. There was a decision made that we would compress the Teacher Training material into a single day so as to give anyone who wanted to leave the ability to get out of the Puna district, since it was forecast to be directly hit by the storm. I love fierce weather, though, and was excited about the rain and wind to come. Yeah, a little scared too, but hey! — what better place to experience something like that, than while in Paradise!?

We covered a presentation and Q&A session about important (if less glamorous) aspects of teaching, like keeping a log of what’s been taught, how to balance the needs of students having challenges versus teaching the whole class, etc. Good stuff!

In the afternoon we were put into “classrooms,” each of which consisted of just a few of us, where we taught a randomly assigned move to the others in our group. I was given Reverse Taxeem — what’s called “Maya” in other forms of belly dance — and I’m afraid I didn’t ace the test… I was nervous about teaching in front of Carolena and Megha! Also, canonical ATS® has different rules and uses for the move than we’ve developed in House of Inanna. In the canonical version you’re pretty much rooted in place when you do the move, and the arm follows the active hip as it arcs down to the side, with the follow arm trailing at about a 90 degree angle from its partner. As an example, imagine the Chico Four Corners arms — but slowed down and made elegant. Yours Truly got torn between teaching what I know and teaching the canonical move. But I got kudos from Megha for using the visualization: “pretend there’s string attaching your wrists,” to ensure that the arms stayed the proper distance from each other.

The good thing about this exercise was just that: all the helpful and interesting ways that people described how to do various moves. One of the women in my group had a great way of making it easy to learn Chico, which included using your box as a point of reference, and turning the head over the left shoulder to lead that flip from forward to back and back to forward.

Wrapping it up

…it was an amazing experience! It was great to be able to directly ask Carolena all the questions I wanted to ask, and to be well-cared for in the class by Megha and DeAnna Freeman, as well as the Kalani staff. I loved all the specific instruction personalized for us by Carolena and Megha. I met a bunch of really fun and dedicated women and made lots of new friends in dance. The toughest part of the event was saying goodbye to everyone as they left. It was so sad to say goodbye! But on the plus side I’ve got more friends that we can stay with and take classes from in Tokyo and Osaka in Japan; Punta Arena, Chile; Prince George, BC; and all over the US! It was intense — really a wonderful experience.

My biggest take-away from the week is that I get to bring all my new learning to YOU in our dance classes!  I’m so much looking forward to this, so I can give you a clearer and more in-tune experience, and help you be more able to dance with any ATS® dancers from anywhere on the globe!

Lastly, regarding the training: I’m looking forward to staying in closer touch with our teachers and dance sisters near and far.

After the classes were concluded my family and I opted for staying put for the night that the outlying storms of Darby came through. It was a pretty sleepless night for Christopher, my Mom, and I, as the winds were strong and there were periodic dumps of rain on the tin roofs under which we slept. It was exciting and beautiful in a wild way. The next morning Christopher had the car packed by 8:00am, ready to leave the lush greenness of Puna for the more arid grounds of Kona, where we stayed for three days enjoying sandy beaches, incredibly fresh seafood, and belly laughs.

What happens now that I’m back?  As we go through our curriculum some things will be taught a little differently so that you can be confident that your dancing can be followed, and that you can follow a leader, wherever you may find yourself dancing ATS®!

July 2016 Petra's ATS Teacher Training Graduation certificate
July 2016 Petra’s ATS Teacher Training Graduation certificate