Saturday, March 14, 2009

Some really good fun

Just came back from Congolese drum and dance camp, http://congolesecamp.org

Wow - it was awesome. It is so much fun, and also an excellent physical and mental workout, and also - people are so nice. All teachers are Natives from Congo and they give the camp a certain flavor of an African village, and it feels good, that living the Native way.

Music and dance are so kinky funky that it is a phenomenal martial arts and awareness practice. Playing it and dancing it requires paying attention and yet being relaxed, at the same time; knowing your part and yet synchronizing with the rest. It unites body, mind and spirit. One has to be in the groove and just fly with the music. It is an excellent excellent workout. It is also an exercise in community and communication. For example, each drummer plays a different beat and they all have to match. All dancers have to dance the same thing and also move together in lines. Drummers and dancers have to work together. There is singing while drumming and dancing. It is a moving, evolving, tenacious energy. Very powerful and also very gentle.

There is also kalimba playing, which sounds angelic (bush doctor plays this) and so on.

And storytelling - interactive storytelling! audience has to participate - such fun and deep stories. The storyteller dances the story and signs too.

And people listen to each other and have conversations. There is caretaking of each other. Also, it is very healing to be acknowledged and respected like that.

There is not much on Congolese drum/dance, so this is a gem. Here are some links to Congolese:

http://congolesecamp.org there is a promotional video with a dance clip - the guy is 42 yrs old! the lady even more - dancing/drumming this stuff keeps body young for a long time. Every year there is camp in Hawaii in March, and one in July in N. California, 10 days each, you can come for any amount of time and not even take classes. Some teachers live in Paris, some live in Oakland and teach weekly classes, some teach congolese drumming at universities.
Search for Chrysogone Diangouaya and Hyacinte Massamba

http://www.compagnie-awama.com/spectacle.php - phenomenal drumming clip
http://festivalafricain.free.fr/percu_2007.htm

If you want to order a CD with drumming and singing, then you will have to contact hyacintekara@wanadoo.fr and arrange to carry his CD. He and his group drum and sing, it is an awesome CD.


THere is West African too - it is a little better known by now, because they got instructional DVDs and CDs. It is very powerful too.
http://westafricandance.com with Yousuff Koumbassa - check out his dance dvd in "bio"

http://www.lebagatae.com/ Moustapha Bangoura and Le Bagatae - check out dance clips
http://www.afrikandjeli.net/bangoura

Labels: , , , , , , ,


Saturday, February 23, 2008

Belly dance as aerobic and stretching exercise

Because my parents were here and I needed to escape somewhere to do something for ME, I ended up going to the belly dancing class by Tito Seif. Tito is very famous belly dancer from Kairo, Egypt, and stopped here only for 2 days because he came to grab one of the local dancers and take her to Las Vegas to dance with him in the shows. What a chance! We seldom get big names, UNLESS they want to come to vacation in Hawaii. Plus, I never read the newspapers and by chance I saw the article on his class just a few days before the class.

So, wow. That was an amazing class, and I noticed a definite improvement in all my dancing, including the West African dance I regularly go to. Tito was an incredible inspiration because he is so creative and has so much fun while he dances. He just smiles and dances and makes up all kinds of funky moves. It is always different.
*****A GOOD TEACHER MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE.****** Somehow something of his schine rubbed on me.

Also, it must be that belly dance is in my blood, my genes are from there and the dance is definitely familiar. What else can I say! I can listen to that music and it all makes sense and sounds cool. It is helping me transition to listening to pure West African music, which is definitely more ... jazzy.

West African music is pure drums and to me it is harder to just listen to it if I am not dancing or drumming. Somehow it requires more participation than just listening. It is ACTIVE music. Also, it sounds more like jazz, the syncopations and the pauses are definitely less predictable. That is what makes traditional African music so cool and so healing. It turns off the logical mind and turns on the higher mind. It requires total relaxation yet alertness. Also, there is absolutely NOTHING sad in African music. It is ALL just happiness and joy. That is definitely a gift to the world. Coming from the chronically melancholic, sad, self pitiful, whiney Eastern Europe, I SUPER highly appreciate the happy, grounded, centered tone of African music. It heals! It connects to the Earth and to one's body and Self.

I concluded that listening to music and being able to SING ALONG is a prerequisite for dancing. That's why Middle Eastern is helping me with African, because African has nothing but drums, and I needed to learn to sing along just drums. It's a learning process, definitely, for a totally white westerner like me. I grew up listening to very linear melodies (that I always found boring). Luckily, we had some middle eastern influence and there was drum music in all kinds of funky beats, like 7/9, and I always adored listening and dancing to that.

So, all this curvey, circular, wiggly, zigzag music is a fabulous exercise. It requires moving the whole body. Check out the articles on dance therapy.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]