Wednesday, September 8, 2010


So after a grueling day of teaching, I made my first trip into town to check out a belly dance class at Souldancing. I had mixed hopes. On one hand, I'd seen a Chinese dancer at Shanghai's 1001 Nights (the first time I saw a restaurant dancer was also in China, at the Beijing branch of the same restaurant), and she had pretty good technique, even if her musical selection was somewhat uninspired. Also, one of our teachers took classes there last year and said they were good. I had reason to believe she was right - Souldancing actually equipped one of their studios with poles just so they could teach pole dancing, and you don't have the kind of capital to invest in that sort of venture if you're amateur hour. But on the other hand...well, let's just say that learning from Azhaar for most of the time I was in Korea has spoiled me. I know there are better teachers than her, or more experienced, blah blah blah, but she has a sense of humor and is caring (how often did our lessons stretch on long past two hours as we bitched about our own problems to each other?!), not to mention has a vast knowledge of the dance, technical skill, and makes up the most beautiful, evocative choreographies...even if she can't remember them.

So yes, mixed hopes...but as I said in my last post, I am disturbingly out of shape, and I still love this art form, so I pinned my heart on my sleeve and slogged into the heart of the Emerald City, to West Nanjing Rd, and down a side street crowded with shops selling everything from clothing to Tibetan artifacts and everything in between, in my yoga pants (still splattered with Saturday night's strawberry shake, dropped as I was unlocking my bike) and Gap tee. Sweating and bloody hot, I went in and paid my money, filled out the form, got rid of my shoes, and started stretching. Luckily I had plenty of time to do this, because when QiQi came in she laid into us almost immediately. She drilled us in shimmies, hip lifts, shimmies, chest drops, choo-choo shimmies, 3/4 shimmies, and arms. To be fair, she warmed us up a little, but she transitioned fairly quickly into kicking our asses. Also to be fair, this was an advanced class, "Performance," which hopefully (thanks to my years with Azhaar) I didn't embarrass myself too badly in, out of shape or not. After brutalizing us for half an hour, QiQi moved into a choreography. I don't know how to describe the music - it was slow and sensual and had an unmetered feel to it, but was neither modern/fusion nor classical (unless I'm mistaken). And the combinations she put together for it were absolutely suited to the feel of the piece, and not simple ones, either.

In short, I was impressed. I can't wait to see what the other teachers have to offer.

Afterwards I walked back up to the metro, and the lights on Yan'an road were lit, painting me blue, and the trees on Nanjing Rd were lit, giving the place a festive quality...I wanted to go for a wander, but I was slaughtered, so I just stopped long enough to eat at subway and then headed for home. Today I noticed body aches in all sorts of places, and it brought back all the happy feelings of the night before.

Wow. That sounds dodgy. I mean that in a strictly belly dance sorta way.

Today I learned something about my school. Apparently we are a great experiment. We are a Chinese international school. By that, I mean that we are a Chinese school that offers international curriculum to Chinese students. Most international schools here have strict laws laid onto them about who can attend...essentially foreign passport holders (there are similar laws in Korea; I don't know about the Chinese, but if my Dark Lord's word can be trusted for anything, most Korean parents wouldn't want their kid going to an international school in Korea because it's not hardcore enough). This came up this weekend during the trip to Anting, when I said our majority was Chinese, and I was told they were probably Taiwanese instead. No, Virginia, they are, in fact, Chinese students. There's some sort of loophole. And we are, definitely, a Chinese school...remind me later and I'll tell you about the flag raising ceremony.

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