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Thread: How long?

  1. #1
    Junior Member ~Faerie~'s Avatar
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    Default How long?

    I have been BD for about 6 months now and I am getting frustrated with the fact I can't seem to lose the stiffness in my dancing and obvious look of concentration on my face as I attempt to remember everything needed to do a move correctly.

    When does it just become natural? A fluent movement that your body just knows instinctively?

    Or am I just uncoordinated?

    Any tips that may help me?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Marya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ~Faerie~ View Post
    I have been BD for about 6 months now and I am getting frustrated with the fact I can't seem to lose the stiffness in my dancing and obvious look of concentration on my face as I attempt to remember everything needed to do a move correctly.

    When does it just become natural? A fluent movement that your body just knows instinctively?

    Or am I just uncoordinated?

    Any tips that may help me?
    Everybody is different, It took me three years to start looking natural and I battle stiffness all the time, (being older that is just a fact of life). Just keep at it. try some cross training like yoga or other flexibility work.

    6 months is really a rather short time period.

    Marya

  3. #3
    Member Elfie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ~Faerie~ View Post
    I have been BD for about 6 months now and I am getting frustrated with the fact I can't seem to lose the stiffness in my dancing and obvious look of concentration on my face as I attempt to remember everything needed to do a move correctly.

    When does it just become natural? A fluent movement that your body just knows instinctively?

    Or am I just uncoordinated?

    Any tips that may help me?
    Hi!

    This may be thrown under the bus by some of the other members here - those who have been dancing longer than I have, which includes you - but may I suggest that you try dancing to music that really gets you going? I know so many people think that you have to dance to ME or similar music before you do anything else.

    I have never danced to Middle Eastern music. I dance to acoustic instrumental heavy metal! However, I have recently found a couple of West African songs that I can dance to. I think working your moves to music you enjoy and really gets you pumping for the first few months is actually more helpful than dancing to ME music from the very start. It helped me look more natural when I belly dance, and even I know that I look natural at it. I can see it when I chance a look in the mirror. Do I look like a pro? No, but I don't labor to do the movements and my transitions are far more natural looking (not great, but I don't look like I'm thinking about it which translates so much into the dance).

    I have no idea if you are in classes or self-studying. If you are in classes, and you're drilling drilling drilling moves - how often do you just dance to enjoy it? I dance everyday. Every day. Do I work out everyday? No. (I belly dance for fitness atm) The difference is, I'll put on some music and just take off for a single song at least once a day. I drill moves and dance to multiple songs three times a week. You have to allow your body to get used to just going, and even if you dance to "California Gurlz" by Katie Perry, when you are having fun and just letting go, something happens. It's a way to train your mind to stop thinking so much, which allows your body to just go where the music takes it. If you are dancing at the club, you aren't thinking about which move would look good here and there or on that beat. With BD, we drill so much and are told so much to match our movements to the music that we forget to let go. We focus too much and that inhibits the natural feel of the dance - at least for me it did.

    This might not be how everyone works. It's helped me tremendously. I have been learning from ehow and for the first month I looked terrible. I would count during the songs, freeze for a second and think about what should come next. My body was stiff and I looked like I'd been watching videos on ehow. If I may be so bold, now - almost 5 months later, I don't look that way.

    I will just repeat the comments made about working on your flexibility. Yoga is great. And it's never too early to work on your thigh strength (without getting the body builder look - just plain old squats do wonders). You'll need it for floor work and for smooth back-bends. Right now my back-bends look like half a McDonald's arch (LOL though someone told me I should even be attempting those yet, I do anyway because I'm flexible enough - cheerleading and yoga are awesome for that)! I can't get my torso to stay horizontal yet. Once your thighs and flexibility are up, you'll look more natural and have an easier time. Just remember to let go when you dance. You cannot look natural if you are thinking about it - it becomes jerky and robotic. Your body should know at least a few basic moves by now. Find a song that makes you want to dance and just dance to it. Dance to music as much as you drill - and make sure you want to dance instead of just dancing to practice belly dance.

    It might not work for you. It does for me - at least I think it does.

  4. #4
    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    When does it just become natural? A fluent movement that your body just knows instinctively?
    When you've practiced enough to earn body memory. Don't despair. The first six months is just a small blip in the life of a dancer.

    Elfie, honey, I wouldn't dream of throwing you under a bus, but middle eastern dance is done to middle eastern music. The more you learn about middle eastern music, the better you will like and respond to it appropriately. Avoiding it in favor of heavy metal will not work in your favor in the long run. Find yourself some middle eastern CDs and learn to let go with the rhythms that are the heart of belly dance.
    "Well, now that we have seen each other," said the unicorn " if you'll believe in me, I'll believe in you."

  5. #5
    Member Elfie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shanazel View Post
    Elfie, honey, I wouldn't dream of throwing you under a bus, but middle eastern dance is done to middle eastern music. The more you learn about middle eastern music, the better you will like and respond to it appropriately. Avoiding it in favor of heavy metal will not work in your favor in the long run. Find yourself some middle eastern CDs and learn to let go with the rhythms that are the heart of belly dance.
    I know you wouldn't! LOL! I do plan to dance with ME music soon, and I am looking around to find something that suits my taste. I just thought that at first it may be easier to dance naturally to music I already liked. It did work, though I can see why so many prefer to see dancers dance to ME music. It's just right - and I have noted that dancers I've seen who use ME music seem more at home. I just thought in the first few months, dancing to songs I liked made me more comfortable - not that I would never dance to ME music.. just not at first. I think I may have said this in another thread, but I want to "get to know" ME music first. It still feels very foreign to me at the moment.

    We need more culture in the USA!

  6. #6
    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    The sooner you start listening to ME music the sooner it will be familiar and even beloved to you. Learning a new skill of any kind is not about how comfortable you feel but about what kind of progress you are making.

    C'mon, Elfie, you're just being insecure about trying something new and we both know it. Use true middle eastern music when you are in belly dancer mode and save the metal for when you're cleaning house or something. Give it a month and you'll wonder why you didn't start sooner.
    "Well, now that we have seen each other," said the unicorn " if you'll believe in me, I'll believe in you."

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    V.I.P. Kashmir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elfie View Post
    I know you wouldn't! LOL! I do plan to dance with ME music soon, and I am looking around to find something that suits my taste. I just thought that at first it may be easier to dance naturally to music I already liked.
    Yes, you are dancing - but not belly dancing. If you just like the moves - join a jazz class. When you feel you want to dance to Middle Eastern music - come back to belly dance.

  8. #8
    Member Elfie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shanazel View Post
    The sooner you start listening to ME music the sooner it will be familiar and even beloved to you. Learning a new skill of any kind is not about how comfortable you feel but about what kind of progress you are making.

    C'mon, Elfie, you're just being insecure about trying something new and we both know it. Use true middle eastern music when you are in belly dancer mode and save the metal for when you're cleaning house or something. Give it a month and you'll wonder why you didn't start sooner.
    Emphasis mine - You may be right at that. I'm a hardcore metal head and I won't deny it. I had wonderful parents, but they didn't expose me to other cultures much and yes, it's all very new and unknown and a bit scary (also a bit sad that a grown woman feels like that about music, but them's da breaks).

    I have found some Arabic stuff on youtube I liked and will probably buy (your post made me actually go look for artist names instead of just liking what I hear other dancers performing to). I'll make it a goal to have danced to Middle Eastern music within the next month. If I'm gonna do it, might as well do it the right way.

    @Kashmir: I know. I want to do it right, but I'm a weirdo. I have to take stuff in baby steps. I'm a slow mover on everything and always over analyze. Shanazel has it right on the money. Trying new stuff is hard sometimes - even music.
    Last edited by Elfie; 08-29-2010 at 04:52 AM.

  9. #9
    V.I.P. Kashmir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ~Faerie~ View Post
    I have been BD for about 6 months now and I am getting frustrated with the fact I can't seem to lose the stiffness in my dancing and obvious look of concentration on my face as I attempt to remember everything needed to do a move correctly.

    When does it just become natural? A fluent movement that your body just knows instinctively?
    Six months is a very short time - especially if you don't already have the movement vocabulary (say from having done many years of modern jazz dance) or the cultural feel from listening to years of Middle Eastern music and talking with people from over there to understand what the music is about.

    Key word - "years". I regularly attend workshops with dancers who have been studying for decades - and they are still learning. Don't beat yourself up. Just let it come along as it will.

    To speed things up?
    • Ensure you get tuition from good belly dance teachers (many good dancers are not great teachers)
    • Attend workshops from a range of tutors to get different perspectives
    • Listen to lots of Middle Eastern music
    • Dance along to ME music out of class - while doing the housework, walking to the bus, driving to work


    Have fun!

  10. #10
    Senior Member goddessyasaman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ~Faerie~ View Post
    I have been BD for about 6 months now and I am getting frustrated with the fact I can't seem to lose the stiffness in my dancing and obvious look of concentration on my face as I attempt to remember everything needed to do a move correctly.

    When does it just become natural? A fluent movement that your body just knows instinctively?

    Or am I just uncoordinated?

    Any tips that may help me?
    Everyone is different, in the time for which it may take for the body to move with fluidity...do not give yourself a dead line, I teach belly dance and have been dancing for almost 11 years now, and believe me when I say have fun when dancing, another good tip to help is (oh and I don't know if you have a teacher still or whichever) pratice breathing exercises, Yoga will help with flexibility as well, pratice moving one body part at a time, there are many things to help with this, let go and dance.

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