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Modern 1A Journals: Bryttni Pugh

September 23, 2014

A video called Suits was shown in class today. New to this style of dance, I have never

really seen a dance with the Umfundalai technique. It was interesting to me because it had a story

and energy; I was easily drawn into it. The energy was high, so it made me want to dance and be

happy. After the video, we discussed our prior dance experiences. This was good to hear because

I was curious to know what background everyone else was from. I did not have a lot of dance

experience, and I do not have much self-confidence when I dance. I know that some people had

years of experience because their skills are quite visible when they move; however, I did not

know what they went through to get as far as they are today. It varied from this dance class being

their first dance class to some people auditioning for popular dance schools. With only two years

of true dance lessons - I do not count my childhood years I never felt confident enough to

audition for famous schools or anything to that extent. I know others are much more skilled than

I am, so I look up to them and hope that I can improve and not be embarrassed.

September 25, 2014

Quite a few new movements that I learned today felt awkward. Some felt awkward

because they were difficult for me to do. For example, the chaine turns feel impossible for me to

execute correctly. I am not made for turning, so I know I have a lot to work on. They feel

awkward because I know I am doing them wrong and not spotting well enough. Also, other girls

that have chaine turns embedded into their bodies make me feel like I cannot get to their level.

The crab walk we learned today was a different feeling to me because I felt like I was imitating a

crab definitely not the most attractive movement a dancer can perform. Other weird
movements to me are the bum drops and the left side. I am too much of an introvert to be moving

my bum in a comfortable manner, especially with people I hardly know. However, I get over it

because it is the choreography and everyone is doing it, too. Generally, the left side is not the

most comfortable because it is tricky to mirror everything. I have the feeling that I will mess it

up, and my lack of self-confidence does not help.

September 30, 2014

The performance element, or the group movement study, impacts me both positively and

negatively. This is the first time I have ever had to choreograph, so it was stressful to me. I

usually just perform choreography, not create it. Also, we had to ask the drummer for a certain

rhythm and match our dance to that. I am used to recorded music where I can listen to it over and

over again. Luckily I was able to work in a group, but I am dreading the individual study. It is

fun to piece movements together and get practice with choreographing. I need the experience,

and I need to see what choreographers go through in order to create the piece they desire. I find it

more challenging in this dance class because of my lack of familiarity with the movements; it

might be easier to complete this kind of assignment for ballet, since I know some ways ballet

movements can connect. I feel awkward and wrong whenever I bring up an idea for the dance we

have to make; a couple of my classmates in my group already have experience with this. I do not

feel like I have the right mind to create a dance on my own.

October 2, 2014

I am slowly beginning to recognize movements by their names. The names in the

Umfundalai technique are much different than ballets terms; and, it is not just because they
originate in different areas. I remember ballet terms because they sound like the movement; and,

I find them easier to associate with their movements. The Umfundalai terms may sound like what

they do (i.e. you shuffle your feet in the Zulu shuffle), but others are simply African terms (i.e.

the Sankofa). Due to the fact that they are not words I am familiar with and can memorize easily,

it will take me a little longer to recognize them. We started the group movement study today

which asks us to incorporate certain movements in our dance. Even though there were only five

terms, I still needed the extra time to associate the terms with their movements. The Umfundalai

technique terminology list also has plenty of terms that we have not covered and terms that seem

like a simple description of a movement. Unlike ballet, not every move has a specific word or set

of words. For instance, the roll down with contractions is exactly what it seems like; there is

not a specific word for this.

October 9, 2014

When my body can execute movements correctly to the point where I do not have to put

much thought into it, my heart and spirit feel happy and loose. I feel a sense of relief and joy

because I can actually perform the steps right. Some of the movements allow me to release any

muscle tension I have, causing me to feel loose and free. The step where you release all the way

to the floor and swoop your arms is an example of this. The Hongwe and the ring shout are other

examples; for some reason, my body loves these moves. I can really feel the power of the drums

when doing them, making it more enjoyable. I suppose in my heart it feels nice because it is fun

to do, but I have honestly not thought of my spirit in a sense other than my emotions. In that

case, it brings some happiness and relaxation. If I had more experience with Umfundalai, then I
am sure that I will feel much more passionate; if I had some kind of African cultural background,

then I am sure that I would feel more of a personal connection.

October 14, 2014

Today, we performed our group movement studies. I was nervous and, of course, I

messed up on a part that I had no idea I was going to mess up on. I wish I could see what my

groups dance looked like to other people. After seeing the other groups, I hoped my groups was

on their level. I really liked one groups dance in particular because the movements were put

together so nicely, and it had a clear beginning, middle, and end. I do not know how they made

their choreography so professional-like. It makes me more nervous for this individual study. I do

not feel like I did my absolute best because I was concentrating on the movements more than

how I would express them. However, this is my first time with this kind of dance, so I will

always be able to improve. Also, I am more familiar with the certain dance rhythms like the

lamban and kuku. When I first heard them, it was hard to fit the choreography in because I am

used to counting; but, now, I have a feel for them and know to not count like I tried to before.

October 16, 2014

Freddie taught us an abundance of information during our percussion workshop. He

discussed the different kinds of instruments, time, the significance of certain rhythms, and the

difference between modern dance and African traditional dance. The instruments include the

jimbe, conga, bala, xylophone, kick bass drum, tom tom drum, and the say say. The jimbe has a

trunk, bowl, head, rope, and skin. Being a vegan, I do not like the skin on the instrument, but I

understand that it is a part of the culture. It also helped the sound of the drum; the hotter it was
outside, the tighter the skin was and was able to make a different sound. Freddie said that time is

universal, time describes emotion, and the downbeat for the music he played was on one. He also

described the lamban, kuku, basic 6/8, and manjani; there was a lot of information provided, but

the main point was that they were ceremonial or meaningful dances on life. Lastly, the

knowledge of rhythms, feeling, identities, and purity are much stronger in African traditions.

October 21, 2014

There were some new movements or expansion on old material learned in todays class.

The womens dance was highly enjoyable because of the way it was constructed. In two groups,

we switched places and then came back as one. It almost seemed like a competition between the

groups at first. The dance was sassy and even incorporated some moves that we have not done in

class for a little while like the masai jumps. It was a dance that was everywhere because of the

different levels and special patterns. The only trouble I had was the attitude turn because I have

not ever practiced it before. I know my attitude in general is not great, and adding a turn to it

made it worse. I admire Laura for her turns because they are so clean, and she can do multiple.

My dance skills are nothing compared to hers. I hope to be able to dance like her at some point in

my future; I am so surprised she is not in a famous dance school.

October 23, 2014

The pumpkin dance we learned today felt particularly good. I enjoyed the way the arms

and legs were coordinated, and they were more graceful than what we usually learn. I was able to

associate it with a carving of a pumpkin; in a sense, I could tell a story with the dance. I liked the

way that my arms could sway and reach around me. Odd to say, but it was like I could mimic a
tree in the wind. I thought that adding the tendus would be more challenging for my body.

Instead, it felt like it was meant to be coordinated in that manner, and my body went along with

it fairly well. I had a similar feeling when I danced to Bob Marley. His songs make everyone

smile and feel free. Our dance to Dont Worry, Be Happy had a natural feel. We had a bird-

like movement that did not feel like it could be executed right or wrong, so it made me feel more

confident. It gave the class a different feel because of the recorded and more familiar music. I

could tell who was more of a ballet dancer when they were trying to be super graceful during a

relaxing combination.