Everyone loves a good belly dance choreography… once, of course, it’s grown up into a well-mannered and polished routine. In its growing stages, choreography can be an unruly, demanding brat- a brat that sometimes makes us want to cry or tear our hair extensions out. It’s easy to get intimidated when you first begin. Suddenly it’s as if you can’t remember any of the moves or combinations you know. You think that everything you try looks stupid, or it’s just not good enough (anyone else besides me a perfectionist?). These kinds of thoughts aren’t helpful. In fact, they can shut down your creativity. So when we choreograph, we have to give ourselves space to experiment. We have to be willing to have some failures, and to acknowledge that this is part of the process. We have to trust ourselves.
Choreography… for some dancers it’s a very long four-letter word. Even for those who love choreography, the process of learning a new routine can be exhausting, confusing, and defeating. As if preparing for a performance wasn’t intimidating enough! Whether the idea of choreography makes you skip or shudder, it’s pretty much a given that you’ll have to learn one at some point in your studies (And if you plan to perform regularly with a class or troupe you may as well learn to love it!). That’s why you need a strategy for learning choreography. It can make the process go a lot easier and it can help you remember a routine when it most matters… on stage!
When in class one evening one of my students asks “But… I don’t understand. Belly dance is sexy, isn’t it? Why do we have to try so hard not to be sexy?” I began thinking about a puzzling issue, one that has shadowed our art ever since it was brought to the Western world. Where does sexy belong in belly dance? And what are we to do with it?
We live in an era where nearly everyone has a social online identity and it’s difficult to separate one’s personal from professional life. It used to be easy to step out on stage under whatever name you pleased only to leave behind the oriental fantasy at the end of the night. Now there will always be Facebook photos and YouTube videos to connect her to you; the digital world is an unmasker of secret identities. So how does a dancer identify herself in the digital age?
You’ve worked really hard to make sure every detail is perfect for this performance. The costuming and make-up, your song selection, the choreography… each took hours of careful planning, hard-earned sweat, and maybe even a few tears. Don’t let all your work go to waste, take the time to write a good stage introduction!
It’s spring, which means it’s hafla season. If you’re into performing you probably have at least one upcoming show in the next few weeks. And even if you’re not performing I bet you’ll be attending one soon. So I thought it would be a good time to review the P’s and Q’s of performance etiquette.
It all starts with music. It’s the foundation of your dance. You can have great technique and stage charisma, but if you’re not connecting to the music then you’re not connecting to the audience. The best performances are the ones that blend all elements together seamlessly- the music complements the choice of movements, the costuming, the venue, and the dancer’s expression. Here are six tips for selecting and interpreting your next musical piece: