ATS® General Skills Day 1

It’s finally here — the Fat Chance Belly Dance American Tribal Style® General Skills Certification Workshop! (wow, that’s a mouthful, isn’t it?) I signed up months ago because it was HERE in Atlanta, and being taught by Carolena Nericcio herself with Megha Gavin of Devyani Dance Company in Birmingham, AL. With all good intentions, I got the FCBD DVDs to look at and signed up for Lacy’s ATS® Level I class, expecting to get at least through Level II before this.

The best laid plans, and all that — I got through Level I, but Level II didn’t happen thanks to Lacy’s pregnancy. There never seemed to be time to watch the DVDs. So Friday came, and there I was.

Day 1 is the basic eight-week course for ATS®, compressed into five hours of instruction. It covers a lot, starting with the beautiful puja movement to open each day, followed by basic anatomy for dancers. That may seem odd, but it really is essential to understanding how your body moves and how to GET it to move the way you want. Luckily there are a couple of good books out there that I can get to study. Once you have a little understanding of anatomy, it’s on to posture, which makes a whole lot more sense once you know what muscles to engage.

Then into slow moves: taxeem and reverse taxeem, body wave, and accompanying arm undulations and hand floreos. Even though I knew them already, I was able to figure out why taxeem didn’t seem comfortable and correct it. I still have trouble coordinating my arms with it. That just needs practice.

After lunch, it was time for the basic fast moves: basic Egyptian, Arabic, pivot bump, and shimmy, all with turns, cues, and arm variations. I’m so not used to that yet — my initial training was just arms up in a W for the most part, while the rest of the body did its whatever. Not so with ATS®! Each move has its specific arms, and changes of arm position signal most of the transitions from move to move. It takes a lot of practice to start reading those!

We wrapped up the day with formations — duos, trios, and quartets, along with the specific oddities of each. I can see why it’s good to practice with all three types, since each one has things you can do with it that you can’t do with the others. With duos you can do a lot of dance just facing each other, while with trios you have the diagonal formation. Both trios and quartets allow for fades back and forth. Wow.

Yes, it was intense. The scary thing is, it will just get more so as the weekend progresses — I already knew a lot of this, but the next three days are a lot of completely unfamiliar material. Eeeep!!