This was the 16th Brisbane Winter Warm Up and the first with Momo Kadous. I admit I signed up a little unsure of whether I was making a mistake in times when every dollar needed to be carefully placed. I knew nothing about him other than he was Egyptian and recommended by Dr Mo Geddawi as a replacement when he, himself, was unable to take his planned workshops and teacher training. And it looked like too much Orientale and not enough folklore.
But I am so glad I went! His dance style was interesting, his approach to the dance on my wave length, he added a session on shaabi flavoured dance – and I was reminded a lot about teaching from watching him teach. I intend to make more of an effort to incorporate some of these aspects:
His philosophy that a dancer should dance for herself – but present for the audience. So, we were being continually being pulled up on the awareness of where the audience was; what they could see. Right from the first hour when we were just learning some new combinations; head, torso, arms, hands.
Humour – Momo was happy to use humour to release tension in the class (who wants a tense belly dancer!) – even when he could be seen as the butt of his own humour. Sometimes belly dancers get just too precious about themselves and their art. Laugh!
Repetition – we learnt it at Teachers’ College – the “broken record” technique – and I thought I was doing it. But I’m a rank amateur. More repetition needed. There were some points he made every few hours over the four days. Not because we were particularly slow, but, he stressed, he wanted to make sure his changes had become habits that would be hard to break.
He also demonstrated using different learning methods. For instance during the drum solo. We’d sing the rhythm then tap it out and only then use our hips and feet.
Mixing individual and class correction (yes, this was a workshop teacher who would come down and ask if you’d “left your left hip at home? Why not bring it to class?”). And yes, I do correct – but I find I self censor – “she won’t want me to say that again”, “they just want to get to the end of the choreography” – yet, as the student, I found those interruptions valuable.
He closely targeted some corrections, staying on the target until she had made a reasonable attempt to change what she was doing. Or he just did the eye and the gesture which would get half the class checking their hips, or their footwork or their flapping hands. Or he would stop what he was doing completely to go over a particular point: varying from a makeshift creation of a barre to practice lifting our legs like dancers not like footballers to repeating a short sequence over and over to a drum track.
All obvious. All stuff I know. But it was good to see someone using it in such an effective way. And the content of the workshops? Also excellent. We had classes in technique, drum solo, Khaleegi, shaabi and Orientale. In each class, in addition to the dancing, Momo explained the music, the lyrics if there were any, and any relevant cultural and staging information.
Momo Kadous is well worth keeping an eye out for.