June with Pauline for Hilal Dance

by Pauline Blackwood25th may 2017

Brockley Max at St Hildas and at The Place all with Tassos and Shakeel on live percussion

Wow! What energy and and power Tassos Papadopolous and Shakeel Esoof brought to the June 3rd Taster Session at Brockley Max. We explored very little recorded music because the drumming was so fantastic. Our exploration of movement took us through rise, fall and spiral of body. We even had a tailor made rhythm to the beat of our feet. I'm Inspired now to plan for the next dance date.June 17th at The Place. Don't miss the drummers they'll be back.

Book future workshops here.

May 2017 with Suraya Hilal

by Pauline Blackwood25th may 2017

Inner Rhythms with Suraya Hilal at The Place

Our workshop and follow up lesson took very different themes and as such writing this from my notes many months ago has made me appreciate more the work we did. 

Mahmoud Fadl’s rolling beats have a sense of continuity where the last beat pushes you into the next bar. The beauty of Suraya’s teaching style is that each dancer finds their own step within that frame work. All in time but different.

Hilal Dance has a eternal quality, adapting into the music we select. A simple vocabulary that is versatile and at the same time n. However, how can we interpret this beat without having to bear a historic witness with something traditional. Our bodywork comes into play, we can follow with our walk, with how our feet strike the ground, we decide our intension. We decide our timing and how we push into the next step. We can play with the rhythm and improvise around it so that our footsteps  create surprises in time and space.

The following Saturday we worked on the music of Ludivico Einaudi. {Modern Popular classical music} A totally different feel. Modern, fresh, sparse, subtly repetitious. Suraya worked with simple ideas that encouraged us to to use space boldly. We danced rhythmic feet with sweeping rotation of the arms in parallel, punctuated with a feeling of momentum and suspension, turning with an  upward energy which creates a momentum to push us on. 

Book future workshops here.

May 2017 with Suraya Hilal

by Pauline Blackwood25th may 2017

Inner Rhythms with Suraya Hilal at The Place

Our workshop and follow up lesson took very different themes and as such writing this from my notes many months ago has made me appreciate more the work we did. 

Mahmoud Fadl’s rolling beats have a sense of continuity where the last beat pushes you into the next bar. The beauty of Suraya’s teaching style is that each dancer finds their own step within that frame work. All in time but different.

Hilal Dance has a eternal quality, adapting into the music we select. A simple vocabulary that is versatile and at the same time n. However, how can we interpret this beat without having to bear a historic witness with something traditional. Our bodywork comes into play, we can follow with our walk, with how our feet strike the ground, we decide our intension. We decide our timing and how we push into the next step. We can play with the rhythm and improvise around it so that our footsteps  create surprises in time and space.

The following Saturday we worked on the music of Ludivico Einaudi. {Modern Popular classical music} A totally different feel. Modern, fresh, sparse, subtly repetitious. Suraya worked with simple ideas that encouraged us to to use space boldly. We danced rhythmic feet with sweeping rotation of the arms in parallel, punctuated with a feeling of momentum and suspension, turning with an  upward energy which creates a momentum to push us on. 

Book future workshops here.

30 April with Susie Carlino

by Pauline Blackwood19 April 2017

Hilal Dance with Susie Carlino

Susie Carlino led a fantastic workshop on her return from Hilal Dance professionals training. This event is yearly and gives Hilal Dance Teachers and Associates an opportunity to work on their dance and deepen their dance practice.

Putting the passion in your dance was the major theme of this April workshop at The Place. Susie explored the building blocks that make up the language of Hilal Dance. Working on what gives this dance its power. We used our bodies to express our emotion with ease and grace.

What Susie's teaching reminded me was how important it is to explain the basics. Susie very much cares how students progress with a focused and thoughtful approach.

Takeaway from this workshop: Percussion CD Ibrahim Minyawi Daqat and Daqat 2. Go back to the basics because getting them right enhances your dance.

Book future workshops here.

25 March with Pauline

by Pauline Blackwood19 April 2017

Me at The Place again

After a bit of chat about the nature of workshops I actually didn’t plan any choreography this month. I normally use a piece of music and find a way of delivering a piece which in itself is a great challenge but also creates a lead and follow situation. This is sometimes good. Today due to time constraints I went back to basics and really enjoyed delivering the workshop for different reasons.

We practiced the basics. Great because today attendees included a couple of beginners who benefited from going over the foundation movement of Hilal Dance.

Music was Sabr al Alam from the CD Aswan Music and Dance Ensemble. The title refers to patience I believe. Anyone good at researching or translation please get back to me on this tune.

Takeaway for today’s workshop. Give us a well chosen piece of music with a structured chorus and verse on repeat. Even a beginner can grasp and expand into self expression with the pendulum, scissor and spiral in Hilal Dance.

Book future workshops here.

25-26 Feb with Suraya

by Pauline Blackwood7 march 2017

Harmony in Space The Place.

Guy Schalom was the guest drummer for the Saturday workshop that covered all the basics but also got us getting our rhythm/footwork focused and in time. With some enthusiastic beginners and of course the more experienced amongst us, we had an exacting opportunity for a highly enjoyable first day.

The key points from this weekend..

Having an expert drummer who can play a melodic rhythmn really helps the dancer to focus on footwork, tempo and musicality.

We Integrated the earthiness of folkloric dance into our baladi dance in day 2 and our dance class the following weekend.

Book future workshops here.

3-4 Dec with Suraya

by Pauline Blackwood2o Dec 2016

The Essence of Musicality at The Place.

Suraya was in London for 2 weekends and we benefited from 8 hours over the first weekend and a 2 hour class on Dec 10th. Each weekend had a different flavour and in attending both I can honestly say, both proved invaluable. As always, the make up of the sessions proved how versatile and thoughtful Suraya’s teaching is.

The key points from this weekend..

The music we would inhabit had delicacy, precision and room to grow in. From the CD called Rouhani (2005).(Not in stock at present).by Joseph Tawadros.

The music we used starts with sparse instrumentation, the sound of Oud. We explored moving with grace, ending each phrase with a flourish of turns and striking an end pose. The musics moves into explosive percussion, greatfor Kathak like, staccato stepping. Although we spent more time on the introduction, structuring something free, yet courtly and self contained. The short time we spent on the 2nd movementof Kathak like Indian percussive was just as rewarding. Pair work with give and take, playing with rhythms, with juxtapositions of starts and stops. Working with a partner on this section was fun and a real contrast to the almost formal Oud music at the start.

Suraya and Alessandro convey through music and movement, a sense of space that exists between each note that plays. I consider it a void space where although there is no sound,the notes echo and still there is  musicality, which can be expressed by the dancer. It’s fleeting. The dancer must grapple with the idea of space, time with room for expansion striving for expansion an exploration.  

The essense of musicality.

Book future workshops here.

26th November 2016 with Pauline

by Pauline Blackwood26 NOV 2016

The Soul of Baladi Workshop at The Place.

It seems that Baladi was a good inaugural workshop for me at The Place and 6 dancers joined me in the Founders' Studio. It was a fun workshop and moreover, it was a sure fire workout of all the basic Hilal dance vocabulary.

We warmed up to the audio of ocean sounds on the rocks. My first aim was for the class to breath and get ready to dance with the body aligning wave. We worked on it gently exploring the breath. Progressing to a comprehensive warm up followed by the wave again. with a fully warmed up body. I now feel that it's essential for each movement to be part of a dialogue; a checking in point or observation on how one is breathing, where the edge or limit is, are you stiff? Do you muscles tremble in certain postures? I now know that any sense of discomfort is a clear message to reverse away from the pain and towards a buffer zone of effort where a safe challenge of stretch can be had.

It seems that Baladi was a good inaugural workshop for me at The Place and 6 dancers joined me in the Founders' Studio. It was a fun workshop and moreover, it wa a sure fire workout of all the basic Hilal dance vocabulary.

I love the level of concentration that we share when we dance. To follow, to lead, to try it alone and to improvise. Today a news student with the support of others, had the opportunity to dance a 2 minute section and presented herself with poise and conviction.

My main objective is for dancers to feel able to hold their space. Self Suffient. I had lots of feedback given to me from the students this workshop. I like to mull them over and use what I can to inform what I do next. Should I find the time I shall include them here.

22-23rd October 2016 Alessandro Bascioni. Integration and Musicality of the Body

by Pauline Blackwood6 NOV 2016

A very welcome return to London for Alessandro and an opportunity for new dancers to Hilal Dance to explore what it is that Alessandro brings to the dance.. The weekend for me revolved around new challenges.

Alessandro revisited the theme of Integration and musicality of the body. He brings a quality of expansion and space to Hilal Dance which works fantastically with contemporary musics. Also with those new to the form but also helps the more experienced dancer focus on using the time in the music to its fullest.

Alessandro spends lots of time on guiding us through the wave and it is essential for Hilal Dance. The whole process of warm up is a checking in process, but the wave covers everything on the inside and the outside. The breath firstly is explored at different rates and it stimulates the lung chamber. When incorporating the legs, the wave becomes a powerhouse, generating energy, warming the whole body and when done with care and attention allows you to work on harmonising muscle groups. You can check how you move, observing the smoothness of your movements. Do you sense trembling or fluidity? These signs you check with compassion and work on them for ease of movement.

I still find the wave challenging and sometimes give it 80% simply because it releases energies that I am not sure I want to deal with during a dance workshop, however over the years I know that what I do has improved. Attending workshops and classes in your local area is a fantastic way of incorporating these skills to your dance. Next time you attend class you should write down what you learnt doing the wave so you can work on it in your own time.