Thursday, May 28, 2009

Orientalia Festival at Hong Kong

I realized that I haven't written about one of the most important dance experiences I've had thus far. I need to share this, for the sake of dancers who want to go professional, and for those who are too afraid/embarrassed/shy to start taking up formal dance lessons.

I've spent most of my life onstage -- starting with annual piano recitals (for 13 years), then moving onto theater (6 years), then finally dance (13 years and counting). I stuck with dance, because this is the medium where I can express myself most.

Don't get me wrong -- I loved playing music (I even experimented with the violin for a year) and I loved acting. But to dance! To dance is a combination of all this: of music, of acting, of being yourself.

I've had my share of inspiring (and scary) dance mentors. Discipline-wise, I think I learned a lot from Powerdance, where the mantra was "bawal magmukhang tanga" and where some teachers resort to mild physical and verbal abuse just for you to get it right. I didn't mind, because learning the technique was well worth the pain and the injury. :) If you want to go pro, Powerdance is one of the best dance companies in Manila to train with. But if you want to have fun dance lessons without the stress, this isn't probably the place for you.

But the most inspiring teacher to note was Tamalyn Dallal. Her humility and ability to inspire astound me. Learning from her changed a lot about my perspective of myself as a much that it altered my dance style and technique.

Ok warning, cliche coming up. I've been guilty of throwing around the term "dancing from the heart", thinking that I fully understood what this meant. Yes, I feel the music pulsating when I dance. And my body reacts, moving along with the rhythm. I probably understood it on a somewhat superficial level. Tamalyn opened my eyes, and not only made me understand, but actually made me feel what it was like to dance from the heart. I cannot fully explain how this happened, but I guess her love for dance just overflows and is so sincere that it rubs off on the dancers she mentors.

On my way back to Manila, there was just one thing going on in my mind: What the heck am I doing?

My favorite thing about traveling is that it shatters you, both in a good and bad way. You thought you knew things, huh. Try meeting with 20+ dancers from different countries and you'll realize that YOU DON'T EFFING KNOW A THING.

Traveling has a way of shattering your perceptions and validates that you know nothing about the world. In this case, it validated that I don't know jack about dance. Years of learning, and I suddenly realize that well... I know nothing. Being exposed to people who have actually lived with the people, intensively studied the culture, interacted and danced with real people from the middle east, is an eye opener. Tamalyn Dallal is a true artist at heart. It is humbling to meet someone who is a superstar in my eyes, but is kind, warm and says that she herself is still learning about the craft. 30+ years of dancing, and she is still discovering new things.

I have a long way to go.

Here's hoping that all dancers, even once on their lives, meet someone like her.


Off the Beaten Mommy Track said...

Kaaat! thanks for stopping by my blog...which lead me to finding yours!!! this is awesome, and I'm so thrilled with this commitment of yours to dancing! I miss doing theatre...especially with you! it was fun wasn't it? Good times... Keep writing and I will keep following your adventures. Love ya!

the boy who shimmies said...

I had the opportunity of studying with Ms. Tamalyn Dallal last year when Bellydance Jakarta organized a two-day workshop with her.

She came back to Jakarta in November 2009 but I had other things to take care of (like my budget for instance. *sigh*).

And yes, she is, truly, inspirational. Maybe it's just me, but I've never seen anyone shimmies (or undulates for that matter) like Ms. Dallal. It's just so... clear!

Oh well, I guess that's what's over 30 (?) years of experience can do to you.

Kat said...

I know what you mean - Tamalyn changed my way of thinking. That's how influential she is. Makes you want to be a better dancer (and overall better person)!