Monday, December 17, 2007
A "plague party" is one in which the guests treat me like I have the plague - I spend half of my time trying to pull people up to dance with me, and rather than being willing participants in the show, the guests shriek and recoil in horror and will not budge. That would be bad enough on its own, but another common characteristic of a plague party is the "point at your friend" game that the guests inevitably play. As I make my way around the room, every table will have at least one person pointing at someone else at their table and mouthing "pick him, pick him." So, I will go over to the unsuspecting guest and attempt to dance with them, which will always end with yet another shriek and recoil, at which point I move to the next table and start the process all over.
Plague parties really stink, because I can never get into the groove of the performance. I spend most of the set just traveling around to the guests trying to get them involved, and by the time I realize that absolutely no one wants to get up and dance (despite the fact that half of the guests are still furiously pointing at their friends and trying to get my attention so that I will dance with their friends, and their friends are now hiding under the table to avoid me), it's almost time for me to make my exit. Plague parties can be very trying and boring, and it's so hard to keep your energy up during your performance when the audience gives nothing back.
A "rockstar party", on the other hand, is the complete opposite of a plague party. Rockstar parties are just like they sound - I am a rockstar. Everyone wants to get up and dance with me because, well, who wouldn't want to dance with the rockstar? The audience is so into the show, cheering and clapping and encouraging. No one points at their friend in an attempt to embarrass them because (1) no one thinks it's embarrassing to dance with the bellydancer and (2) everyone wants to dance with me themselves!
Although it may not be noticeable to the guests at either of these parties, I feel like my performance is so much better at a rockstar party, because I feed off the energy of the audience and I am truly enjoying myself while I'm out there. I love rockstar parties - I wish they were all like that!
Monday, December 3, 2007
Why was there such a small crowd there? Surely there are enough bellydancers in the NY area to at least make a decent showing when such a big event comes to town, right? (to their defense, there was a show two days prior in Manhattan, which I did not attend and therefore I don't know how many people were there).
Here's what I think.....
If you've seen the show once, you've seen it enough times to last a lifetime. That is, as long as they keep doing the same old thing. What do I mean by this? I've been to BDSS three times (the only time they came to NY and I didn't go, they were here performing a repeat of Raqs Carnivale) and each time it's the same exact format. Aside from last year's "girls on stilts" fiasco, and other little "tricks" thrown in here and there, the show is always the same. You know when you go to see a BDSS show, you are going to see:
- Sonia and Isaam performing a drum solo;
- Isaam doing his "clap to the beat while I spice it up and try to trick you" schtick (it was cute the first time around, but come on now! He even does it in the Folies Bergere dvd, so even if you haven't seen the show live, you know what I mean);
- Jillina performing a drum solo while Isaam and Rachel Brice drum for her, and the Desert Roses will always come out at the end wearing galabeyas, they will all do some crazy zar movements and Jillina will always end on the floor;
- Petite Jemila performing a double or quadruple veil routine which consists mainly of a lot of spinning (you know you have seen something too many times when spinning that much with four veils no longer impresses you) and (for the past two years) two of the Desert Roses will come out and do a whirling dervish thing behind her;
- A not-quite-Polynesian number with Sonia in the lead (at least now they've taken to calling it "bellynesian".....??);
- A dance that just leaves you going "Huh?" (ie: Adore's gymnastics, Dondi's "Marilyn", a new blonde dancer this year doing ballet, etc);
- The group drum solo when one dancer attempts to "battle" Isaam with her finger cymbals (sorry, but no one can hold a candle to Ansuya and really shouldn't even try) and then she and three other dancers each take turns performing solo;
- for the past two years, a reggaeton choreography, obviously choreographed by Jillina, who obviously knows very few "hip hop" steps because it was basically the same dance two years in a row.
It's just, well....boring. It's not that the dancers aren't great dancers - for the most part, they are. And it's not that I don't appreciate the lack of stilts and other in-your-face gimmicks, because I do. I guess I'm just over it?
Everyone I talk to about the show says their first time seeing the BDSS was their favorite. Whether it was last year, two years ago, or this time around. Maybe that's because after the first time, it's all the same?
What do you all think?
Thursday, November 8, 2007
So, I have high hopes for this year's production - that they keep it to what they know how to do, and what they know the audience will enjoy. I'll be sure to post some reviews when it's done!
Friday, October 26, 2007
- Go to more workshops. I was on my honeymoon during Rakkasah East, so I missed out on some great opportunities there (not that I'm complaining, because I was on my honeymoon...). I'd like to aim for one workshop a month, but I know budget and time restraints will be an issue, so I'd be happy with one every two months.
- Put together a sword workshop. This is something that many of my students have expressed interest in - I'd like to do a two-day sword workshop, spread over two weeks' time. I think that this will be great for all students who have a good handle on the basic isolations, and want to add a prop to their performance repertoire
- Buy a new costume!! Ok, this might not seem like a legitimate goal to some, but I have not bought a new costume in months - I didn't want to spend the money so close to the wedding! But now I'm due!! So, I'm on the hunt for a new sparkly.....
- Choreograph show dances. It's that time of year again. Time to start getting ready for the annual student showcase. Planning on my end begins way before the actual show - before anyone can start learning their dances, I need to choreograph them!
- Blog more. I know, I know. I always say I'm going to do this. But now that the wedding is over, I really mean it this time!
So...what are your bellydance goals?
Sunday, September 16, 2007
- Don't plan a workshop for the end of August. People go away during August. Especially the end of it. No matter how many people want to come to your workshop, most of them won't even be around.
- Make sure you have at least 10 people (or some reasonable minimum you deem reasonable) who swear on their lives that they will be at the workshop. Before agreeing to host Adriana, I asked around amongst my students and dance friends to find out who would come to the workshop if I decided to host it. Lots and lots of people said yes - some were, I'm sure, just saying yes because that's what they thought I wanted to hear. Some said yes without thinking about the logistics of the workshop - could they afford it, would they be able to get there, would they be available? Whatever their reasons, almost everyone who said they were interested did not sign up, and we were left scrambling at the last minute to find enough students to make the workshop worth it. So, get signatures in blood if you have to, but don't agree to host a workshop unless you are absolutely positive you will get a minimum number of students attending.
- Have video clips of your instructor performing and teaching. This is especially important if you instructor is not a "big name." People want to see what you are asking them to fork over cash for.
- Ask your instructor to bring his or her music with them as a carry-on on the plane. Or at least a few "emergency cd's". Adriana had a horrible flight experience - a diversion, a weather delay and a missed plane in Atlanta - and one of her bags was missing for the entire weekend. Unfortunately, it was the bag with her cd's for the workshop. (and all her clothes!! But she had her costumes, and really, that's all that matters, isn't it??). We had to do some creative song substitutions to make the classes work. They worked, but Adriana had plans for each class that she wasn't able to execute because of the missing music.
- Advertise heavily. Everywhere. On the internet. In your classes. In dance studios. Everywhere. People may really want to come to your workshop, but due to the procrastinating nature of human society, they will not sign up when they hear about it, and then forget to do so until it's too late. If someone told me they wanted to come to the workshop, I emailed them and emailed them until I got a registration. Yes, I was probably annoying. But they registered.
- Don't park your car in a bus stop in Manhattan. Um, well, that piece of advice is not really limited to workshop organzers - it's good advice for everyone. Don't park your car in a bus stop, or you will have to spend hours in the NYC Tow Pound and pay $185 to get your car back. Yeah, it happened to us after Day 1 of the workshop....
So, those are the little bits of wisdom I learned from hosting this workshop. Anyone out there have some experience in this field? Please share what you've learned!
Monday, August 27, 2007
Friday, July 27, 2007
Thursday, July 5, 2007
Anyway, back to the blog topic that triggered visions of bald men doing their little turn on the catwalk - what do you think about the relationship of being sexy and being a bellydancer? There was a thread on Bhuz the other day talking about how the general public (let's just call them the gp to make things easier, yes?) correlates bellydance directly with sex, when it really has nothing to do with sex. Well, my response to that is....oh really?
I do agree that folkloric style middle eastern dance is NOT about sex. Definitely not. But, is that really what we do? Or is our dance so far removed from it's "roots" that it really bears no resemblence to its folkloric beginnings, and as become an American invention all its own?
We all can agree that ATS (American Tribal Style) is an American invention. But we still classify what cabaret bellydancers do in terms of Middle Eastern style - Egyptian, Turkish, Lebanese, etc. Is it really?
I wanted to be a "bellydancer" since I was little. I saw the dancers in the Morocco pavilion at Epcot Center in Walt Disney World and thought they were the coolest thing since My Little Pony. I never once thought of it as an "authentic" anything - never thought about it's origination and the fact that it might mean something more than just being a sexy dancer. Like the gp, I've always correlated bellydance and sexy in my head - I mean, lets face it - we dance with our bellies exposed and create hipnotic shimmies and undulations with our bodies. What's not sexy about that???
As a beginner bellydancer, I continued on with this train of thought. At first, I was not exposed to the history and the culture of Middle Eastern Dance. I did not see myself as a conduit of Middle Eastern Culture in America. I saw my self as a sexy, sensual creature who all of a sudden had this superpower over men that I could excerise just by saying "I'm a bellydancer."
To me, that is what the American Cabaret bellydancer is all about - sensuality, sexuality, mystery, power, and grace. I don't think our sexuality as dancers is something we should be ashamed about, or be mad at someone over pointing it out. I think it's a great thing. But I am also to careful to draw the line between sexuality and trashiness - the key to the power we posses is in the "less is more" attitude we must have. We must keep up our mystique, and be careful not to cross the line.
Also, I am not saying that as bellydancers we do not have a duty to learn as much as we can about the "roots" of our dance. I am just saying that I think our dance has evolved so much from these roots that it is ok for us now to say that maybe, just maybe, it has become more of a way to celebrate a woman's sexuality and sensuality, than to accurately portray the cultural dances of the Middle East.
Ever since Little Egypt did her hoochie koochie dance at the Chicago World's Fair, since Barbara Eden crossed her arms and blinked her eyes and lived in a magic lamp, America has been enthralled with the exotic mystery of the bellydancer. And through this obsession with the "exotic", the American Cabaret bellydancer was born.
So...what do you think?
Monday, July 2, 2007
Well, when I thought it would be easy to hold down a full time job as an attorney, teach bellydance classes 5 days a week, dance at multiples parties every weekend (and sometimes during the week), plan my upcoming October wedding AND keep up my blog, I must not have been thinking clearly....
Anyway, I'm back! I have lots of interesting topics that I'd like to blog about, but I don't have the time right this minute. I will save those ideas for when I have time to do them justice.
In the meantime, I'd like to hear from you. What have you been up to lately? Take any good workshops? See any good dancers at your favorite restaurant? Find a new favorite dancer on youtube? Start a new class with a new teacher? Master that dance move that's been bugging you for years? Tell me about it!
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Most recently, I attended a workshop by Fahtiem, and one by Suhaila. Although the workshops were held on the same day, that was about the only thing that was similar about them!
The Suhaila workshop was intense. Suhaila is amazing, and I do love her dance style. However, I think her style is one that is better learned over time, and not in a three hour workshop. The class I took was on drum solos, and Suhaila uses a lot of layering in her drum solo work. I consider myself good at layering, but I felt like an uncoordinated goofball during this class. The movements that Suhaila incorporated into this dance were outrageous - I felt that only the most seasoned Suhaila student would walk away from that class feeling like they knew what they were doing.
The Fahtiem workshop was definitely more my speed. Fahtiem is a like a butterfly - her moves are effortless and she floats, rather than dances. I also found her to use a lot of jazz and lyrical type moves (not a shimmy in sight, actually), which were very easy for me to pick up, considering my dance background.
I left Fahtiem's workshop feeling like I had accomplished something. I had a choreography I could remember, and use, and I was enjoying myself during the class. I think all of these things are key to making a workshop successful for the individual dancer. It was definitely worth it for me.
So, what workshops have you taken? Who was your favorite? Why? Are there some things that make or break a workshop for you?
Thursday, May 24, 2007
As I hunched over the toilet at the Day Care center dry heaving, I laughed to myself. I thought of this post, by Lucy on Bhuz, and how appropriate it was especially at that moment. So, with Lucy's permission, I am posting her extremely on-point monologue here for you to read. Enjoy.
Not glam: An inch of black crust on your feet from dancing in dirty restaurants. Detangling your sweaty, hairsprayed hair when you get home. Ass sweat. Crotch sweat. Belly button sweat. Sweat in places you didn’t even know you COULD sweat. The hard, rough calluses you get on the balls of your feet. Deflecting patrons who want to tip you in inappropriate places. Trying to keep your spirits up when you’re dancing for people who aren’t even paying attention to you, or worse, giving you dirty looks. Arguing with a club owner over money. Trying to dance with your eyelids stuck together thanks to an overzealous application of eyelash glue. Standing in a filthy kitchen, waiting to dance, and trying to keep the hem of your $800 costume off the floor. Changing in a cockroach-ridden storage closet. Trying to dab the sweat dripping down off the tip of your nose without the patrons noticing. Attempting to pee while still in costume without letting any part of your designer duds touch the toilet seat. Restaurant owners who think you can do a show, no problem, in the 6″ between tables and without any open space at all. Taking your wig off in the car and throwing it in the back seat, and then realizing that the people in the next car over are watching you. The smell of your head after you’ve sweated in a wig for three shows. Getting your veil back after a show and realizing that someone accidentally dipped it in hummus. Waking up the morning after a show with weird dance-related injuries - a rhinestone-shaped bruise on your knee, pinch marks from your bangles, scratches on your underarms from where you brushed against a jutting prong on your costume bra. Keeping your stage face on while a drunk asshole shouts, “Hey, loooookammmmme - I’m a bellydancer TOO!” and starts pelvic-thrusting his way across the floor (although you get your revenge when you swat him harder than is really necessary during your “playful” cane song). Waking up the next morning and realizing that you forgot to unpack your costume bag after the show last night, opening it up and being hit with the smell of damp sweat, shisha and cigarette smoke. Running into the back room after a show and having to bend over, heaving, to get enough air into your lungs.
Glam, or just plain fun: Making a little girl’s face light up. Getting a little Persian grandmother up to dance and having her family stuff your costume with twenties in appreciation. Buying out CVS’s entire stock of false eyelashes. New costumes. New music. Hitting the beat JUST right and doing something amazing that you’d never done before, never dreamed of doing before. Dancing to your favorite song at an Arabic nightclub and hearing the crowd sing the lyrics for you. Navigating your way across a stage that is so covered in dollar bills that you are afraid of slipping. Seeing yourself make money, REAL money, not a paycheck - dollar bill after dollar bill, until afterward, you cannot even close your wallet for all the money. Having someone want to show their appreciation for you so much that they write you a check as a tip. Dancing for people who appreciate all the work and research and sweat time you’ve put into becoming a great dancer. Being on stage, being beautiful, creating art with your body and your spirit, becoming music embodied, watching your skin shimmer and shimmy under the lights.
Lucy's website is http://www.lucy-dances.com/ and her blog is www.sparklepirate.wordpress.com
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
For me, it was almost an accident. A friend and I were going into major dance withdrawal after graduating from college and being finished with the dance team. We were taking various hip hop classes at Broadway Dance Center in Manhattan. One of our favorites was the class on Monday nights, which we never missed. The beginner bellydance class with Amira Mor was immediately after this hip hop class, and we decided to try it out for fun one day. I had always had "fantasies" about being a bellydancer, and had put learning how to bellydance on my "things to do before I die list," so I figured the opportunity was there, and I should take it.
We HATED it! The group was working on a veil choreography, which we later learned was one of the more "advanced" choreographies in Amira's repertoire. We had neither a veil, nor the ability to move our bodies the way some of the students in the class could (don't get me wrong, we weren't the only clueless people in the bunch, but there were certainly girls in the front who appeared to really know what they were doing).
We decided we were done with bellydance. Been there, done that, hated it! That was in October of 2002. We avoided that class at all costs until January, when a friend of my friend decided she wanted to take bellydance. We reluctantly agreed to go with her, so we ended up once again back in Amira's class.
Well, this time we actually enjoyed it. The choreography was more our speed, and we felt a little more comfortable following along. We learned that the group was preparing for a student showcase, and Amira asked us to join. During rehearsals for the showcase, Amira asked us to be in her company, and the rest is history.
So, that's my story, that's how all this craziness began. What's yours?
(By the way, if you have yet to sign up for bhuz.com and participate in the message boards, I highly suggest that you do so. You will be amazed at the wealth of information available from dancers all over the country. Be sure to say hi when you sign up - my handle is (what else??) danielabellydance.)
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
Sometimes, I feel like my bellydance performance is more of a freak show than a dance show. I feel like, if I actually went out there and just DANCED for 20 minutes, the audience would get bored. So I have to distract them, with fun and exiciting props. Oooohh, look at the pretty wings! Ooooohh, watch me balance this sharp and dangerous sword on various body parts! (I haven't yet entered the realm of flaming candelabra on my head, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time...).
It's not that I don't enjoy using props. I do, really. They are fun, and sometimes challenging, and I do like working withthem. My current, standard show consists of wings, veil, sword and finger cymbals.
It's just that I sometimes wonder if I'd be able to hold the audiences attention without them? We live in a world where live action movies like Spiderman can show real, human actors swinging from building to building from spiderwebs coming out of their wrists. Are audiences jaded because of it? Does it take a lot more to "entertain" now that hollywood and technology have set the bar so high?
Can a simple dance awe the audience? Or do today's audiences need more?
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
I urge you all to donate in Reema's name.
As some of you know, we lost a sister in dance at the Virginia Tech Massacre - Reema Samaha.
A memorial fund has been set up in her name.THE REEMA JOSEPH SAMAHA MIDDLE EASTERN DANCE MEMORIAL FUND will be used to assist the student-members of the Middle Eastern Dance Association of Virginia Tech. Depending on the amount donated, the fund may be used for a one time gift in Reema’s name or for an annual award, perhaps a small scholarship.
Her Bio from VT Hill and Veil MED Troupe Webpage - Reema has been dancing since she was 2 years old. She has been classically trained in ballet, jazz, modern, hip hop and has had experience in many other styles. Her love for belly dance came from her Lebanese heritage and she has been exposed to it from a young age. She has taken classes, attended workshops and has performed for her Church's Middle Eastern Food Festival and in front of her high school. She won best individual performance in her school's talent show her senior year. She is very excited to be part of Hill and Veil and looks forward to learning and choreographing with her fellow members.
Online donations for the Reema Memorial Fund can be made at:
In the "Gift Designation" area of the form go to the box "Other Designation" and type in Reema Joseph Samaha Middle Eastern Dance Memorial Fund. There is a general scholarship fund set up to honor Reema. However this particular Middle Eastern Dance Memorial Fund will go for a scholarship for a member of the university's student troupe.
Here is how to make a donation by check:
Make check payable (in any amount) to Virginia Tech Foundation, Inc. Mail to:
902 Prices Fork Road
Blacksburg, VA 24061
Be sure to either write on the check or in a cover note that the donation is for the REEMA JOSEPH SAMAHA MIDDLE EASTERN DANCE MEMORIAL FUND.
If you would like to send a hard copy of a card, you can send it to Hill and Veil's address and they will send them on to her family.
The address is:
Hill and Veil
703 Montgomery St Apt 1
Blacksburg, VA 24060
Here are the some clips of Reema on youtube. She was an incredible, wonderful, and passionate young woman who deeply loved dance. Reema is the one in green, dancing in the middle of the debke line. The debke performance is from the weekend prior to her passing.
Souzan, a member of Bhuz, has been instrumental in organizing the scholarship and working with Liz from VT Hill and Veil MED Troupe to make this happen. Many thanks to both women for their hardword in keeping the legacy and memory of Reema alive, along with all the other Bhuz members that supported them in their efforts.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Saturday, April 21, 2007
Friday, April 20, 2007
It is to foster a greater discussion about the dance that we all love, and to create a community that goes beyond the classroom.
I've received some comments which were not very constructive; in fact, they were downright hurtful to the person they were directed towards. That's not what this blog is about. Some of those comments contained criticisms (legitimate ones, too!) about the recent show, but I couldn't publish them because they contained hurtful statements about other dancers. I'm never going to publish a hurtful statement about someone else, so please stop trying.
Constructive criticism is good - it helps us become better dancers. Sometimes it can be hard to hear, because no one likes hearing criticism at all, but it's a necessary evil if we want to grow as performers. But there is a fine line between constructive criticism and nastiness, and we have to be very careful not to cross it.
As a matter of fact, here's some "constructive criticism" for readers of this blog - please try to keep your comments related to the post you are responding to. I understand that lots of you want to talk about the show, but the show discussion belongs in the show thread, not in the thread on hand flicking, etc.
See, that was a criticism, but it was constructive. You'll all be better bloggers because of it. ;-)
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Whew, that was fun! After all the months of hard work and preparation, the show has finally come and gone, and it was GREAT!!
I can't even tell you how many compliments I've gotten from people in the audience. Everyone thought the dances were great, and those who were there last year say that the quality of dancing was even better this year! Audience members noticed the improvement in individual dancers from one year to the next, and thought the group numbers looked more polished and professional than ever before.
I was a nervous wreck for the week leading up to the show - not because I was worried about my students or the dances, but because of all the "behind the scenes" stuff that ultimately fell on my shoulders. I was worried that things wouldn't come together like I'd hoped, and that we wouldn't have a smooth and seamless show that the audience could sit back and enjoy. But, of course, the show could not have gone any more smoothly. Everyone who helped out behind the scenes did a great job with keeping the show moving along like the well-rehearsed production it was.
I am truly happy with the success of the show. I couldn't have asked for a better result, and all the hard work, late nights, and gray hairs (I swear, I've found some, and I blame the stress from this show!!) were worth it.So, my wonderful students, how do you feel? For those of you who were new to the stage, was performing everything it was cracked up to be? For those of you who were in the show last year, how was this show different? Was it better or worse for you, and why?
And finally, the most important question - are you ready for next year????
Saturday, April 7, 2007
When I say flicking wrists, I don't mean the occasional dainty flip that coincides with a coy look and cute shimmy. I mean the constant "I don't even realize my wrist is doing this" rolling that creeps up on even the most seasoned pro.
The problem with the subconsious flick is that, even though you don't want to do it, you can't stop yourself, because you weren't aware you were doing it in the first place.
I first realized I was a flicker after last year's student showcase. I was watching the DVD and could NOT stop looking at my hands. Where did this come from?? Did I always do this?? What the heck was wrong with me?? Make it stop!!
After that, I started noticing the flick in my students as well. This got me worried - did they learn this from watching me, or is it a subconsious habit they picked up all on their own? I've spent this past year trying to help them break the habit, and trying to break it myself - or so I thought.
Last night, I was practicing my solo for the show, and I asked my fiance, Joe, to watch it. After I was done, Joe said "That was really great. But - didn't you say last year that you wanted to stop flicking your wrists?" Of course, I said. "Well, I did notice that you were flicking your wrists a lot just now."
What???? I was??? That can't be!! I abhor wrist flicking! I teach my students not to do it, I point it out when they are and encourage them to fix it! I am the anti-flick! I can't possibly still be flicking!! But, according to Joe, I was....
I just finished practing my solo for tonight (wait, it's 12:50 in the morning...what the heck am I still doing up and dancing?!). I tried doing the solo once through while consciously paying attention to my wrists and not flicking them. It felt like I had sticks strapped to my hands. My arms felt so weird and restrained, but, looking in the mirror, they looked the way I wanted them to look. The non-flicking wrists I had tried so hard to ingrain into my dance felt so foreign to me. Which led me to only one conclusion - I am still a wrist flicker. My subconsious completely takes over when I dance, and I happily flick away.
So - do I continue to fight what is natural to me? Or do I give in to the dreaded wrist flick? I think I have no choice but to keep fighting.
Thursday, April 5, 2007
Of course, we don't need more time. We have been getting ready for this show for months. Some of the choreographies were even started last summer. We are as ready as we will ever be.
For some reason, no matter how much time I have to prepare for a show, there is always a little something inside me wishing I had more time. I guess that's a natural part of pre-performance jitters, right? The logical half of my brain tells me that we are so very prepared for this show, and we are all going to kick *ss. But sometimes my neurotic, not-so-logical side gets the best of me.
For those of you who are in the show, how are you feeling right now? How are you dealing with it? For those of you not in the show, have you ever had pre-performance jitters? For what? How did you deal?
Saturday, March 31, 2007
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
It sort of reminded me of trying to learn Italian in college, after taking four years of Spanish in high school. I had always wanted to learn Italian, and I thought that my background of Spanish would help me, since the two languages are so similar. What I learned, however, was that the similarities actually made it sooooo much harder. The two languages actually merged into one, completely incorrect, language in my head. I lost the ability to put a sentence together in Spanish, without throwing some Italian in there, and I could never have a conversation in Italian without it being part Spanish.
Is this similar to the the tribal and cabaret conundrum? I have to admit I have no experience with tribal, so I'd like to hear your thoughts. Ladies who have crossed over to the "other" side - what do you think? Can you do both?
Monday, March 26, 2007
I've choreographed many dances in my life (bellydance and other) and I've watched many students perform their own choreographies for the first time. Here are some observations I've made, that may guide you as you put your dance together:
1) Listen to the music! Too many times, I see a student choreography that does not interpret the music the student is dancing too. You should keep in mind that you are dancing TO the music, not just dancing with music in the background. Don't just string together eight counts of one step, eight counts of another, eight counts of another, and so on, regardless of what the music is doing. If the music is changing rhythm, or tempo, change your steps to match. If there are accents in the song, hit the accents with your body. The whole point of dance (any type of dance) is to interpret music. Let that come through in your own choreographies.
2) Take up the whole stage! (Or dance studio, or living room...). Don't just stand in one place and do your steps. Especially if you are choreographing a solo! One person on a stage, standing in one place, will get lost. Use traveling steps, take up the whole stage, and make your presence felt!
3) Choose a song that works for you! Don't try to force yourself to choreograph to a classical Egyptian song, if you normally go the pop music route. You need to be inspired to choreograph; chosing a song that doesn't speak to you will make the process even more difficult. An uninspired choreography is no fun to watch!
So, now what? You have your song, you are inspired, you are ready to cover ground and interpret to your music. What do you do now? Well, listen to the music. Put the song on and just dance around your house to it. See what the song makes you want to do. Do this a few times, and try to remember some of the steps you feel most natural doing to this song. Then, listen to the first few counts of 8 (or 6, or whatever your song is). Choreograph that section only, really listening to the music and using it to your advantage. Do the rest of the dance the same way - a small section at a time. If you get stuck, go back to step one - just let the music play and start dancing. You will be inspired again, and can draw from that inspiration to add to your choreography.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
So, why do I do it? That's a question I often ask myself, as my normal 9 to 5 friends come home from their jobs and actually get to relax (as opposed to running out to teach a bellydance class, or changing into costume and running out to a performance). And it's a question I've been asking myself about quite a bit lately, since our Second Annual Student Showcase is coming up in a few weeks, meaning that classes are stretching into their second hours and extra practices are scheduled daily (more about the show another day!).
I've come back to the same answer to this question time and again - without bellydance, I would not be complete. I've been dancing my whole life; since I put my first pair of tap shoes on at the age of two and a half, I've done everything from tap, jazz, lyrical, ballet, modern and hip hop. I've never felt the euphoria with any of those dance styles, that I do with bellydance. A friend asked me a while ago if there was anything in this world I was passionate about, and I told him bellydance. I told him that, when I'm performing bellydance, I don't need to fake a smile. I don't need to pretend I'm enjoying myself for the sake of putting on a good show, for the sake of entertaining the audience. I AM enjoying myself. I am smiling for ME, not for the crowd. Heck, I smile when I'm dancing in my kitchen with no one but my cats to see me. I can't help it - it just comes out. I'm happy when I dance.
So, why do I do it? Why do I put a normal life on hold, in exchange for one with late nights and early mornings, back aches and blisters? Because I LOVE this dance, and without it, my life wouldn't be normal.
What about you? Why do you do it?