I’m pretty excited about our Summer Workshops this year – they’re getting a lot closer to the original vision I had of creating a workshop program that acknowledges the expertise of local dance teachers, and encourages students to step outside of their usual class and learn something new and different. My end goal for our Summer Workshops is that we will be in a position to hire all the teachers in Canberra for one workshop each over our two week program. Giving every student, performer and teacher, the opportunity to expand their repertoire, pick up some teaching tips, and learn something new.
We are very lucky in Canberra, considering our comparatively small population, that we have so many great teachers specialising in so many different styles. From ‘Traditional’ to ATS, Cosmopolitan to Cabaret, and Folkloric to Fusion. We are extraordinarily fortunate that our dance community has opportunities to get together for performances, workshops and at open Haflas run by different dance schools. It’s an amazing place to be a bellydancer and we have a community I am delighted to be a part of.
This year we have three!! teachers outside of our school teaching workshops! (previously we’ve only managed one or two). Hadeeqa (from Ghawazee Moon Bellydance) is teaching Slow Fusion Technique and a beautiful dark fusion style choreography, Kirsty (from Bedazzled Bellydance) is teaching a workshop on Styling, Rachel (who teaches at CDT) is teaching a Fan Veils workshop, and Richard (from Rahbani) is teaching an open level drumming workshop. I’ll be teaching a Back to Basics Workshop and another on Partnered Improvisation. They will all be amazing workshops and I’m looking forward to participating in them.
In addition to dance & music, we’ll also be having a Crafternoon for those who want to get some sewing and crafting done AND a mini Hafla-Market for those who want to have a social dance, play some music, offload some pre-loved costuming and do a little shopping!
It’s going to be a fantastic couple of weeks of bellydance and I can’t wait. If you’d like to come along, you can register for workshops and find out more about the Crafternoon & Hafla on our website. Looking forward to dancing with you!!
What a great start to our summer workshops! I was so impressed with the improvisation students. Improvisation can be a real panic-starter for some dancers, especially when we are feeling self-concious about ‘getting it wrong’ or ‘forgetting all the moves’. All of you who participated should feel really proud – you faced your fears and did it anyway!
Just in case you’ve lost your ‘Practice Hints and Tips’, here they are:
Listen with your body, not just your ears:
When you listen with your ears, your brain must interpret what it hears, consider movements that might match, make a decision about which movement to use, and send signals to the body to execute the movement. Whilst the brain can do this fairly quickly, we want to aim for a body that can feel the music and respond immediately, bypassing the brain, which can either give to too many choices, not enough choices, or has already made your usual choices without telling you about it.
Hear both the lyrical and the rhythmical in the music:
It’s ok to change from one to the other. Let your body decide what it wants to follow. Let go and be IN the music.
Less is More:
Don’t feel the need to add tricks or “extra” movements just because you can, or because you feel it is expected. Get in tune with the music, let it lead your movements. If simplicity is what the music is saying to you, complexity will look contrived. An audience will enjoy watching a dancer who is moving within the music more than a dancer moving over the top of the music.
Expand your repertoire of known movements:
- Go to classes.
- Watch performances with an eye to picking up new movements.
- Practice variations of known movements – not just the ones you ‘like’.
- Experiment connecting different movements, transition in and out of them.
Get out of your comfort zone:
- Dance slowly – it will give your brain more time to suggest new moves.
- Change your usual hand positions and posture – sometimes the background of movements can influence your choice of what comes next.
- Dance new movements to music you know, or non-bellydance music, for a different interpretation of the music and the movement.
Give yourself some Structure:
- Improvise around a floor pattern. You can experiment outside of the usual circles, triangles, zigzags … perhaps trace the path you take when you get out of bed until you eat breakfast?
- Decide on a movement type, eg: vertical, sagittal, circles, etc. and only improvise with those movements.
- Allow yourself to feel a full range of emotions when listening to music.
- Get a CD of Arabic Rhythms. Listen and get to know them.
- Be aware of how different movements make you feel.
- Watch performances where dancers are emoting – what sorts of things do they do?
- Be real – feel it. You have to believe it if you want the audience to come with you.
Just Do It!
- Go to Halfas that have open floor sections and just dance.
- Dance in your kitchen, in your lounge room, in the supermarket.
- Move like a dancer in your everyday life – make dance a part of your whole being so that when you come to improvise, dancing is as natural as breathing.
Simone from Blessed Bowen Natural Therapies contacted me late last year to discuss the posibility of bringing some bellydance out to Gundagai in the form of monthly workshops. I was, of course, very interested in seeing what we could do to ‘share the joy’.
Within three days the class was full and we booked the first workshop for early January with 16 unsure, but enthusiastic, women and girls ready to start their bellydance adventure!
We talked history, perceptions and misconceptions and then we got stuck into the core movements of bellydance! With a great deal of positive feedback, I’ll be back on the road to Gundagai next month to consolidate our learning and begin putting steps together.
I’m looking forward to sharing my love of bellydance with this great group of women and girls on an ongoing basis and helping them build a community that will support and encourage them in their dancing and daily lives.
See you all in February!