Weekly Challenge for August 19
I totally dropped the ball last week! I had a lazy Sunday (for the first time in months)…and guess what?! I was lazy! So I didn’t get my blogging done or scheduled. Bad belly dancer, bad! No cookie for me!
Anyway, I was inspired this week by a couple of blogs that got passed around Facebook this past week. I thought I’d put my two cents in and make a challenge out of it! (Thanks, ladies, for the inspiration!)
Not every belly dancer does choreography. But every belly dancer has to, at some point, remember movements that are put together, whether it’s a combo from a workshop or as part of your tribe’s vocabulary, or full choreographies if you are in a troupe or as a soloist. It’s hard to remember choreographies! It’s especially challenging in a group, because if a soloist misses a movement, it can easily be covered up by an experienced dancer and the audience will never know. But if one dancer messes up in a group, it’s easy to spot, and embarrassing!
The blogs above give great tips, but I’m going to add my own, and give it to you as part of your challenge. First off, you should be practicing your choreos every day anyway if you are part of a troupe. You owe the group your time and effort.
Here’s the twist and the challenge: practice your choreos without the music. Try it every day this week, all the choreos or combinations you know (if you have a lot in your repertoire, just do this with the ones you will be using in the near future). But do it without your music.
Why? Well, of course, the choreography is meant to go with a particular piece of music, so it seems silly to practice without it. But, the music sometimes acts as a crutch. Instead of our bodies (or our brains) remembering what comes next, we wait just that split second to see what the next phrase in the music is. It’s easy to remember what we are supposed to be doing at certain points in the music; the music cues us in as to what the movements are. But that teeny split second of hesitation between phrases can cost a troupe their timing. Hands won’t go up at the same time, or someone will be just a tiny bit late starting a weight change. These sorts of things can get noticed by an experienced watcher (say, in a competition) or trip a dancer up just enough to get flustered and make even more mistakes.
By practicing without the music, you are forcing your brain to remember the movements in your body, without the need to listen for the change in the music and then remember what it is you are supposed to be doing. It takes out one step of processing in the brain, and invokes “muscle memory” instead of the active remembering of the movement by your brain at that moment in the choreography. This way, you can focus on listening to the music and expressing yourself rather than, “What comes next?!” Choreographies then look effortless!