Weekly Challenge for 6-17-13

Last week we worked on journaling a character for our belly dancing. We talked about the deepest parts of our personalities, those emotions that are our core. For the advanced dancers, we also talked about creating a character for our dance persona to project–a character on top of a character. Let’s expand on that!

Dancing your character

This week’s challenge is going to be a lot like the one we did on expressing emotion back in May (this one). In that challenge, we worked on smiling, or expressing an emotion or two, while we danced, not just with our faces, but with our movements. This will be similar, but different.

Beginner: Find a few of those emotions your journaled about last week. Maybe you brainstormed a move or two that went with that emotion. If not, that’s fine. Try it now.  Many of these emotions aren’t pretty–remember that we tried to dive deep into our core selves.  That’s okay, you can start with the easy emotions, the less-complex parts of yourself, for this exercise.  So, what movement says happy to you? But beyond that, think about if that movement makes you happy. Do you love doing mayas? Can you express that when you dance them? Of course, the emotion doesn’t have to be happy–that just might be easiest because (at least for me) belly dance movements tend to be “happy.” What does this have to do with your character? You are building a repertoire of movements that you can pull out when you are trying to express an emotion, and in order to genuinely emote, you need to know how to access that emotion through your movement, not just your face. Translating emotion into movement is the core of creating your dance character. Don’t worry if your core character isn’t happy. If you dance angry (and there’s definitely room for that, depending on your piece), then go with that. There are no wrong answers. Every day this week, work on those core emotions, and what movements you can do with them. Dance them and see if they work.  Save the deeper, stronger, more difficult emotions for later.  But do keep them in mind.

Intermediate: You are pretty much going to do the same thing this week as the Beginner students. But think outside the box a little more, and think more about personality, not just emotions. Don’t just think shimmy = happy. Think about what your character is thinking and feeling when she shimmies.  Is there a way you can make each movement you do fit your character? Still translate, still think about how you can express your emotions, your character, through your movements, but think about ALL of your movements. How can you make your shimmies angry or sad? This may be a little tough, but give it a try every day this week. Play with it. Journal it.

Advanced: Last week we thought about having your dance character–whether it was you or your mask dancer–actually express, or become, another character. In other words, if your normal dance persona is flirty, cute, bubbly, and playful, how would that other person create a piece that was, say, angry? Can your bubbly dance self dance angrily? Is there a need? Maybe. Think about all the music we dance to. Many of us fall into the trap of not really caring what the lyrics are saying (because there aren’t any, they are in Arabic, or maybe we just aren’t taking them into account). But, especially if the song is in Arabic, there may be parts of the song that do get angry, or sad, or longing. Many of these songs may not be suitable for dance, but many of them are. Do you really want to be smiling, perky, and happy when the singer suddenly starts singing about how happy she’d be if her beau hadn’t left her? Usually the music will clue you in, but not always. Instead of suddenly becoming a whole different person for that section, try having your bubbly self express that sadness or anger. There is a difference! People have more than one emotion, and so dance personas can have more than one as well. Don’t just think of your dance persona as a bag of emotions, where one at a time gets pulled out for each song and then put back when you’re done. A fully realized persona will be more complex than that. So this week, work on that. Journal, choreograph, whatever you need to do, in order to stretch and deepen that dance persona.

Happy dancing!

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About Kamrah

Kamrah is a belly dancer in Chicago, IL. They started belly dance as an exercise routine but it turned into a passion for dance that has not lessened, even after more than a decade. They have a powerful presence on the stage, and is particularly known for their amazing shimmies. Kamrah is also known as a very versatile belly dancer, and audiences have come to expect the unexpected from them. Performances can be anything from traditional Egyptian, to tribal fusion, to fantasy cosplay (costume play) pieces.

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