Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Who's your favorite?

Who is your favorite bellydancer? She (or he!) doesn't have to be famous or very well known, and can be tribal, cabaret, or anything in between. She just has to be the person who you can't get enough of - whose dancing makes you happy and inspired and encouraged to be a better dancer yourself. Who speaks to you that way?

My favorite is going to sound cliche, I'm sure, but it's Jillina. And no, it's not just because she's a Bellydance Superstar and I've fallen for the hype. It's because I think she is the dancer who I most relate to, style-wise, and who most embodies everything I think a good dancer should be, and everything I strive to be.

A lot of people (Middle Eastern dance purists?) give Jillina flak for being too "jazzy." Personally, I've studied jazz since I was two years old, and I don't see the correlation between Jillina's style and any style of jazz I know. But, I think I do see why they say that. Jillina, like myself, comes from a diverse dance background, and didn't begin bellydancing until later in life. The fact that she was classically trained in ballet is evident when you watch her graceful movements, particularly her arms. I don't think the actual moves she does are "jazzy", rather, her delivery is one of a dancer who has been trained to dance, and to carry herself as a dancer.

Ask any of my students and they will tell you that my ballet background makes me a stickler for things like graceful yet strong arms, good posture, and fluid movements. To me, Jillina embodies these characteristics in a bellydancer, and makes her a joy to watch. Another reason she is a joy to watch is that her facial expressions are priceless - you can truly see how much she loves this dance while she is dancing. To me, she is entertaining in every sense of the word. Not to mention, she has kick-#ss shimmies!!

So, who's your favorite bellydancer? Why?


Robin said...

Does Jilian have a dvd to watch? I don't know if my other comment went through, but besides Shakira I only had the opportunity to watch you. So this is food for thought I need to expand my horizons. So Danielle is my favorite for now.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree w/ Daniela 100%!!!! I think Jillina is my favorite bellydancer besides of course Daniela!!! And to answer Robin's question, Yes, Jillina does have instructional videos. They are kind of difficult esp for beginner. I have Vol I, II, and III at home and have yet to complete atleast one of them. But def check them out, they are worth watching and trying out.

Toya said...

I have to say my favorite bellydancer is my mentor, Lotus Niraja. I am inspired by her ability to learn, perfect and absorb Middle Eastern dance and then infuse it with her own hints of Latin and African American influence.

Aside from her, my favorite dancer is probably Aziza. She is awe-inspiring. My jaw drops every time I watch her dance.

Natalia said...

My favorite is Fifi Abdo, and I could go on and on, but really it comes down to the fact that I love how grounded, earthy, fearless, and inside the music she is.

As for Jillina being jazzy, it's not that she does jazz-like moves... I don't think it's that she moves like a dancer and others don't. I think there are a ton of dancers out there who carry themselves like dancers, and have precise arms, good posture, and fluid movement - some have other dance training, and some don't. But I really think the upper eschalon of dancers all have excellent posture and technique. It's the more intangible things that set dancers of that level apart.

To me it's her dance persona that is jazzy. I always get the feeling from her like, "I'm an entertainer, I'm putting on a show!" Not that that's a bad thing, I think she's great to watch. She shows emotion well, but she really doesn't modulate her connection to the audience in the same way as a lot of other well known dancers. She pulls the audience in, but she doesn't push them away at all. Sometimes a little bit of a push in that way builds mystery, and inspires the audience to "want the dancer back". I love a dancer who makes the audience a little jealous, and plays a little with their emotions.

I don't want you to feel like I'm ripping on your favorite dancer, because I'm not, I promise! I love watching her dance - I just wanted to answer your question about her "jazziness".

kara :) said...

Jillian is an amazing dancer as well as entertainer. She is my favorite caberet dancer (besides Daniela naturally). She really displays her love for dance and understands her relationship with her audiance. Daniela reminds me of her in many ways throught her lover for dance, technique, structure, expressive facial expression, and her "jazzy" and upbeat attitude. Just watching both Jilliana & Daniela perform makes you want to be a better bellydancer. As I am recently exploring tribal for the first time, I found after I took a workshop that Susan Frankovich, from Belly Queen to be well knowledged and makes the tribal style very alluring. Her techiniques and moves are unique.

Daniela said...

Hi Natalia!

I don't think you are ripping on her at all!! Thank you very much for sharing your input. I had never thought about Jillina's "jazziness" that way - I had always thought of it more as in her style of dance, than in her emotions. Great observation!

Anonymous said...

Hey everyone, although I have yet to really get to know alot of the different bellydancers, one that has stood out in my mind and keeps me mesmerized is Rachel Brice. I saw her first perform with the Bellydance Superstars (thanks Daniela for introducing me to them!). She does tribal style bellydance and is absolutely amazing. The way she is able to isolate parts of her body with so much control and grace is incredible. Ansuya is another wonderful dancer that is worthy of checking out.