Yesterday’s workshop at the Nile Group festival was Zeina. She is a Swedish dancer who used to work here in Cairo and I love the way she teaches.
Most teachers when giving a choreography workshop will start with the 1st steps of the routine. Fair enough. What Zeina did though was to start with technique, although she didn’t explain why (which was the best bit for me!). She had us drilling moves and then building those moves up into little 2 and 3 step combinations. She drilled each combination many many times, so that we were doing the moves without thinking before she moved on.. Then she taught us the 1st few steps of the routine and put the music on to try it.
That is when we got our surprise. We danced those initial steps.... but then the music kept playing and she kept dancing and we were all following easily because all those little combinations, even from within the warm up, were put together to form the choreography! We had learned at least a minute of it without knowing we were!! I loved that!
Those of you who know me well know I hate choreography. I never ever dance it, always choosing to improvise instead. I seldom teach it. I seldom choose to take workshops if they are choreographies. I do however encourage students to learn them since I do see the benefit of them for learning how other people combine steps and also how they hear the music. This workshop for me though was perfect. I loved the technique being so thoroughly rehearsed that by the time we added the music all the mental energy could be involved in enjoying the music fully. I actually felt I was actually dancing a lot of this class... rather than just parroting someone else’s steps.
Thank you Zeina. You may have converted me to choreography workshops. If only they were all taught in the way you did!!
If you have the chance to attend the Nile group festival (or the dance festival she puts on in Sweden) then I really recommend her class. She may not be Egyptian, but she really can help a dancer understand Egyptian style perhaps more effectively than many local dancers could!