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  1. #1
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    Sad sensuality v. sexuality!

    Hello all! I teach 10 students ranging from beginner to advanced dance..and recently, they have had difficulty expressing sensuality. Many of them say: "Miss Samar, aren't sensuality and sexuality the same thing?"..Honestly, I really don't know how to teach that. I started out teaching bellydance to sensual music (ie Bjork...Sigur-Ros.....Portishead...Sparks) and then matriculated to arabic music....(like "Aahat" by Wael Kfouri.) and, I handed out translations to the songs that we use, and they are still having trouble. Many of them say: "I thought bellydance was SUPPOSED to be sexy.." haha.

    Instead of sensual or filrtatious, they often look frightened, or like they are having a "private moment".

    Oh help help helpppp!

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    V.I.P. Yasmine Bint Al Nubia's Avatar
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    One of the roadblocks to teaching is having to rely on your own personal experiences to make the examples have meaning. You mentioned that you are 17 yrs old, so the difference of sensuality vs. sexuality seems to be based on your limited experience with it. Also it doesn't help that media images are all about in-your-face sex that many people have a hard time understanding the difference
    One way to look at it is:Senuallity is about using all of the five senses of sight,touch, taste smell and hearing. So that means getting in touch with your body on a primal level.
    Movement of the body in a purposeful way such as dance, is a kinetic experience that invokes visual images and emotional responses. Ask your students how do they feel when they dance? No doubt the grimaces on their faces shows they feel uncomfortable with getting in touch with their bodies.
    Finally, demonstrate inappropriate moves w/ sexual overtones such as repeated pelvic thrusts or shaking the breats in a vigorus manner etc. Many times students have to visualize the difference in order to understand it.
    Good Luck.
    Yasmine

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    Super Moderator gisela's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tarasamar View Post
    Instead of sensual or filrtatious, they often look frightened, or like they are having a "private moment".
    fear is also an expressive emotion, however not so much used in bellydance perfomances, wonder why

    no seriously, maybe you could let them practice on expressing all kinds of emotions (maybe you already do that) to make them widen their register and control the signals they send out. Like shyness, bluntness, clumsiness, diva-feeling, scorned love, spring-love, general happiness, etc, whatever you find useful. And then have them think about how it felt or watch each other and comment.

    For the sensuality: maybe create an image in their minds or hmm i don't know.
    They sound very young asking a question like that.

    Last year my teacher had us dance (three at a time) a short oum kalthoum-thing four times with different instructions on feeling and expression each time. She took notes and gave us individual critique and it was very useful I think.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Gia al Qamar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yasmine Bint Al Nubia View Post
    One of the roadblocks to teaching is having to rely on your own personal experiences to make the examples have meaning. You mentioned that you are 17 yrs old, so the difference of sensuality vs. sexuality seems to be based on your limited experience with it. Also it doesn't help that media images are all about in-your-face sex that many people have a hard time understanding the difference
    One way to look at it is:Senuallity is about using all of the five senses of sight,touch, taste smell and hearing. So that means getting in touch with your body on a primal level.
    Movement of the body in a purposeful way such as dance, is a kinetic experience that invokes visual images and emotional responses. Ask your students how do they feel when they dance? No doubt the grimaces on their faces shows they feel uncomfortable with getting in touch with their bodies.
    Finally, demonstrate inappropriate moves w/ sexual overtones such as repeated pelvic thrusts or shaking the breats in a vigorus manner etc. Many times students have to visualize the difference in order to understand it.
    Good Luck.
    Yasmine
    Absolutely an IDEAL answer to the question Yasmine!!! Brava!
    I would like to add my personal answer to my students when the subject of dancing in a sensual vs. sexual manner arises.
    To dance in a sensual manner is to enjoy the music, as Yasmine said, with all your senses and express it as such.
    To dance in a sexual manner is to purposely try to evoke a sexual response from your audience.
    Strippers gyrate and thrust with the intent of arousal. Belly Dancers are enjoying their own movement fully and their audiences are enjoying the sensual pleasure of her enjoyment.

  5. #5
    V.I.P. Aisha Azar's Avatar
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    Default Sensuality/Sexuality

    Dear Tarasamar,
    I have no issues with either sensuality or sexuality. I have issues with crassness, sleaziness, and lewdness. There is not a thing wrong with healthy sexuality on stage or anywhere else. There is truth asnd beauty in sexy. Shaking one's breasts in someone's face is not sensual or sexual; it is lewd. I like dancers who are sensuous and dancers who are sexy, but I don't like lewd ones. Some very sexy dancers are Mouna Said, Randa, Sema Yildiz, Burghul Berey, Nabila of Lebanon.
    I could name some sleazy dancers, but why bother??
    Regards,
    A'isha

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yasmine Bint Al Nubia View Post
    Finally, demonstrate inappropriate moves w/ sexual overtones such as repeated pelvic thrusts or shaking the breats in a vigorus manner etc. Many times students have to visualize the difference in order to understand it.
    Good Luck.
    Yasmine
    sometimes when I notice students are not quite getting "it", I will demonstrate a camel (top to bottom undulation, in case you call it something else!) the proper way, then with my knees spread wide... (sort of looks like "where's the pole"!!)... THEN they most always start to understand.... it is also the difference between classy & trashy... or the fine line between "healthy" sexuality, & sleazy sexuality.......
    also ALOT is not so much how they move, but the attitude & intent of the dancer.... if one carries herself with integrity, that shines through in her dance... where the same moves on another dancer may look questionable... I have seen this many times with teachers who come across as powerful SENSUAL women.. but some of their students.. hmmmmmm..... sort of questionable on the "SEX" factor.... sometimes this sorts itself out as skill levels & attitudes improve..... but I think the difference needs to be taught, or at least discussed from the beginning!

  7. #7
    Senior Member Venefica's Avatar
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    I think many pepole, especialy us women that though centuries have been told our sensuality is evil, have a problem whit being sensual, and also seperating it from sexuality. I dont know alot abboute bellydance, but Iam a woman. I look at it this way, sensuality is like a sweet fruit, one dress, and act so some show that one is a woman or for that matter for men, that they are male. It is a way to say I am a sexual being, whitout ever being trashy. Sexuality is just that, it is sex and all that have to do whit sex, and one can be sensual and not be sexy. i mean somone one would never imagine as a sex partner can be sensual. In a way, sensual is the more classy version of sexy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by belly_dancer View Post
    sometimes when I notice students are not quite getting "it", I will demonstrate a camel (top to bottom undulation, in case you call it something else!) the proper way, then with my knees spread wide... (sort of looks like "where's the pole"!!)... THEN they most always start to understand.... it is also the difference between classy & trashy... or the fine line between "healthy" sexuality, & sleazy sexuality.......
    also ALOT is not so much how they move, but the attitude & intent of the dancer.... if one carries herself with integrity, that shines through in her dance... where the same moves on another dancer may look questionable... I have seen this many times with teachers who come across as powerful SENSUAL women.. but some of their students.. hmmmmmm..... sort of questionable on the "SEX" factor.... sometimes this sorts itself out as skill levels & attitudes improve..... but I think the difference needs to be taught, or at least discussed from the beginning!
    Alright...Could someone please explain to me what undulation means? I have been watching Delilah's dvd's and she does an undulation, however, I have seen and read about it in many different ways. Thankyou!

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    V.I.P. janaki's Avatar
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    I agree with Yasmine, Gia and A'isha. I have seen Randa perfrom and I also studied with her. Oh my god!! she is both powerful, sensual and sexy!!! Being sexy is different from being sexual. I don't have problem being sexy as long as I present my dance in a dignified manner. Feeling your own sexuality is very differnt from being sleazy and lewd.


    Cheers
    Janaki

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    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    If my teacher asked me to look "sexy" or "sensual" I couldn't do it. I've tried. My friends told me I looked like Minnie Mouse on qualudes.

    The only time I've come close to "sensual" is dancing to one particular song about unrequited love which made me think back on my youth, and it's really kind of sad, but my performance came across as more "senusual" than Chip and Dale cute, which is my usual stage persona.

    A lot of students have trouble expressing emotion to music they're not familiar with or to foreign-language lyrics. I'm experimenting now with giving students English-language songs and seeing if they dance differently. I think they do. They can relate to John Bilzikian (however you spell his name) singing about Samara's dark and sultry ways and her bracelets jangling.

    It's a little Orientalist-stereotypical, but it's a start.

    Maybe you can try getting them to explore joy and celebration -- those kind of emotions first.

    Aziza Said gave great advice once. She said to picture yourself as a character, in a movie or something. Imagine what the scenery is. Imagine what the wind feels like on your face, what smells are in the air, what colors you see. Where you're going and where you've been. Then BE that character when you dance.

    I was given the same advice, basically, by an Egyptian when I asked about accordion baladi, and baladi style in general. I think it helps to develop a more emotional connection to the whole musical "environment" -- if that makes any sense at all.

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