Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Jim Boz Experience.

Back in March I was all excited about attending the Jim Boz workshop in Nanaimo. Here is the sequel to that blog:

I decided to make a weekend of the whole event, which we now fondly call "The Jim Boz Experience" and invited Sarah, John and their little little toddler, Zoe, to join us at Tigh-na-mara for the weekend. It worked out well for everyone. The men kept themselves busy with the cat, the toddler and the 13-year-old (aka. Morgan) and we ladies went out to shake our hips and learn some new moves.

We were a merry little bunch at Nanoose Hall on Saturday, as we met up with Pamela, Lee and Bobbie. While cinching up our jingly coin scarves, and slipping our dance shoes, we waited in anticipation to see what Jim Boz was all about.

I could not help but size him up, as he appeared on the scene wearing a an understated jeans-and-polo-T combo. Conclusion: Mr. Boz is just as tall and broad as he looks in his photos. As he got ready to teach, his relaxed stance radiated the demure confidence of a man that excels at his art. He has an authoritative grace that makes you take notice: look out! Here is a man who can move!

The shaved head and well-groomed goatee, far from being scary and biker-looking, serve to accentuate his expressive features. His voice has the deep, warm and resonant ring of a trained classical singer, which in fact he is. This guy can PROJECT when he needs to and did not use a mic for the workshop, despite it being in a large gymnasium-type space.

I immediately got the sense that he could entertain just as well as he could instruct. And in true form, he kept us giggling as we learned - his humour ranges from dry, to playful, to slightly gross ("The line of snot" helping us to remember our alignment for a particular move). Coming from a lady, some of his descriptions and observations would have seemed weird - but that's the joy of learning from a man: you get the straight goods!

As I found out after our workshop, Jim was far from serious when he started dancing. He is a very well-rounded guy with a hand in physics and electronic music composition among many other things. It seems he started dancing as a joke and, as it often does, the music and the movement snuck up and grabbed him and claimed him for its own. Now, like the rest of us that love and live for Middle Eastern dance, he's hooked and has made it his life. (O.K. I can only WISH it was my life...)

It was refreshing to see that he loves and excels at what he does, without taking himself too seriously all the time - a characteristic I really admired about Aziza as well. Jim is very personable and during the course of the day, often took the time to come around to give us individual feedback on our movements, even though there were nearly 30 dancers in the room.

His movement is very Egyptian: interior, focussed and expressive. He is precise and fluid in his technique and spent a great deal of time breaking down simple movements into their more complex variations, which he encouraged us to use in order to explore and express the shades and nuances of music. He also had really funny and descriptive names for moves, which made them even more memorable - "bleh" "eee" "tick-tock" - now imprinted in my memory!

What I found most impressive was that he put a huge importance on listening to and interpreting the music, which we've all been encouraged to do by Pamela. Even the choreography he taught us reflected this philosophy. Rather than capitalizing on every single beat, I found that his combinations gave me the freedom and space to feel the music push and pull me through the movements. It FELT good in my body, even with my increasingly awkward bump!

At the performance later on that evening, it became clear that Jim knows how to please a crowd. He's got a strong stage presence - I mean come on, even without the shiny liquid-black bodysuit and turban, he's pretty hard to ignore! It is quite the juxtaposition - hmmm..."beefy grace" I will call it. But his size and stature aside, I found him a pleasure to watch because he enjoys playing with the music using the very same principles and techniques he taught us to add texture and personality to his fluid moves.

He also enjoys playing with the crowd, which makes for a great audience experience. At times, my brain could not process what I was watching - It seems so strange that a man of his shape and size is able to move the way he does. I'm just not used to seeing it - and yet there it was, and I was transfixed every minute!

Oh... and for those of you who are wondering... he does indeed ride a motorcycle! Now there's a well-rounded individual for you!
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