There have been all kinds of articles , how to’s and blogs about the art of performing belly dance. Read them! They are important! Someone may expose you to an idea that you may never have even thought of, or inspire you in a direction in your dance you may never have considered.
Fueled by your love of the dance you are learning and motivated by the dancers you have seen share their art, you want to too!
More than likely your first experiences will be dancing at community or dancer generated events. You know what I mean, haflas, recitals and festivals. You’ll be dancing for other dancers, among a long line up of other dancers.
You’ve worked really hard, taking regular classes and workshops.
You can step hip in a dozen different ways, snap your hips like no one’s business, undulate and figure 8 in a variety of ways. Your costume is well put together; skirts not to sheer, too long, too short, your belt stays in place and doesn’t limit your movements, your bra keeps your breast contained and stays on. You’ve got the grooming thing happening, hair, makeup, nails.
The Art of Middle Eastern, or Belly or Raks Sharqi is intrinsically tied to the music. Ahh…dancer girl, this is the fuel for your magic carpet ride and one of the most important elements to your show being successful..You’ve been listening and studying the music, the classic composers, dance music, pop, tarab, shaabi. You can identify regional compositions and know your fusion from Oriental. You listen to it with your eyes closed, with headphones on, with the volume up loud and your windows rolled up while you are driving and you dance to it for your dance practice.
You know your music so well, you hear what it tells you to do and you have enough technique to instantly choose from a repertoire of appropriate movement.
“Oh, I’m going to do the choreography that I’ve been working on in class, it’ll be perfect”, you say. OK, you read that thing about the music, and enough technique? Good because you will need to remember that. Even in the best of conditions, enough space, music loud enough, appreciative audience, knowing your dance inside and out there are many variables that can and will happen eventually if you perform long enough.
You get to the event and realize it’s the size of a postage stamp with people all around you, or it’s in a bar, long and skinny or worse yet, no stage, just around tables. Yikes! The choreography your teacher made you is made for a big stage, has long sweeping phrases and staged for frontal viewing.
Think Fast! Adapt your dance to your conditions. This is when you have to use a different set of skills. You have to be that dancer who brings to life that music using your body as the canvas; like a painter who paints a picture.
Improvise! Remember all the technique and musical study you’ve been working on…this is how you apply it!
So that choreography, that you worked so hard on, will be a distant memory as it undergoes a metamorphosis as you dodge waiters, patrons going to the bathroom, or the wandering, enthusiastic, infant of the event hostess! That’s OK, because you know the music and before you know it you have made your own made in the moment dance!
The Art of Belly Dance unlike other dance forms and particularly in this setting (small) is interactive.
It’s going to be three-way between you, your music (even if it is canned) and the audience. “Oh, that’s OK, I’m dancing just for myself”. Well, if you are dancing for yourself, it’s easier to stay at home and do that! Acknowledge your audience! They are sharing this special occasion with you and granting you their attention. This doesn’t mean you have to go around and shake people’s hands (although I have) as you enter, but a smile and eye contact goes a long way in connecting you with your audience.
Don’t forget when that magic carpet ride is over and you are disembarking, to thank your passengers (your audience)! So that they may remember the ride fondly!
You are ready for take off on a magic carpet ride!
Next up….refueling with unleaded, leaded or diesel, refreshments, side trips, checking your passenger manifest and decorating on that magic carpet ride!