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  1. #1
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    Default confused...doubting myself a bit

    I've been studying for almost a year now, and the one piece of consistent feedback/commentary that I get is that my mannerisms/style/stage presence are "cute". Sometimes this is said as a compliment ("that was adorable"); other times it's followed by "you should work on that" or "belly dance is supposed to be sensual" or "this is tribal; we're supposed to look a bit more imposing", things like that.

    *shrug* my personality does tend toward cute, silly, lighthearted, etc. and I don't want to change that or try to prevent it from coming through when I dance. Trying to 'make it more sensual' feels really fake and stupid. (Of course it looks awesome when coming from other dancers who naturally have that vibe. but I don't, and so it feels and looks like I'm trying really hard to be something I'm not.)

    Is it really a problem? Should I try harder to change, or just embrace it? Are there any dancers you know of (on YouTube, perhaps?) whose style also tends more toward cute than anything else? (Some inspiration in the form of seeing other dancers with a similar style to mine would be awesome...)

  2. #2
    Super Moderator Mosaic's Avatar
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    Personally I say stick with what is comfortable and who you are, as long as it is fitting into the troupe/group style, go with it it. But having said that If you are a tribal girl, maybe they are looking for a more 'earthy' attitude, and "cute" may not feel/look right to the tribal ladies. I would still go with who you are but maybe try to bring some of the strong earthiness into your dance.

    Not being tribal I can't think of anyone to recommend to you. Do you have any videos of you dancing on youtube maybe if we could see you dance we can advise you a little easier.
    ~Mosaic
    Dance is like glitter, it not only colours your life, it makes you sparkle, you find it everywhere and in everything and it's near impossible to get rid of. (unknown)


  3. #3
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    I don't have anything on YouTube, but there is a hafla coming up next month and I want to try to see if I can get someone to film our performance. (Thanks for reminding me about that, btw!)

    Sometimes I wonder if it's just that the studio where I'm training isn't the right fit for me. Before I moved cities/states, I was taking classes at a wonderful tribal-fusion-oriented studio and I felt like I fit right in with their style, etc. it was very fun and upbeat and quirky, and being more toward adorable than sensual was never a problem.

    In this studio, their style is very slow and anchored and serious (no smiling while you dance!). And the teachers are very much into new age stuff, and I am very much NOT. I just want to dance; when I hear about goddesses and 'the sacred pelvis' and whatnot, it makes me feel like this:

    bleh. Writing this makes me realize how much I miss my old teacher. Maybe this out-of-place feeling of "I'm all wrong" just means that I would fit in better at a different studio?
    Last edited by Caelyn; 09-18-2011 at 02:14 AM.

  4. #4
    V.I.P. Kashmir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caelyn View Post
    In this studio, their style is very slow and anchored and serious (no smiling while you dance!). And the teachers are very much into new age stuff, and I am very much NOT. I just want to dance; when I hear about goddesses or 'the sacred pelvis' or dancing through the elements of the earth, it makes me feel like this:

    bleh. Writing this makes me realize how much I miss my old teacher. Maybe this out-of-place feeling of "I'm all wrong" just means that I would fit in better at a different studio?
    Yes - sounds like you want to do some belly dance! Have a look around - surely there is something available.

  5. #5
    Super Moderator Mosaic's Avatar
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    I agree with Kashmir, I think where you are now is probably not the right place for you. Hope you can find somewhere else more suitable, if not, just pick their brains so to speak for all you want to know, grab a couple of good DVDs and practice at home until something more suited to you comes along.

    I'd be feeling very Bleh! as well if I was being fed sacred pelvis etc
    ~Mosaic
    Dance is like glitter, it not only colours your life, it makes you sparkle, you find it everywhere and in everything and it's near impossible to get rid of. (unknown)


  6. #6
    Member LilithNoor's Avatar
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    In this studio, their style is very slow and anchored and serious (no smiling while you dance!).
    that makes me sad. I can't imagine being told not to let my joy at dancing show in my face, especially by someone who is at the same time exhorting me to get in touch with my inner goddess woman.

    For what it's worth, everyone in the ATS troupe I'm learning with smiles, even the Goths!

  7. #7
    Senior Member walladah's Avatar
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    Default Never trust absolutely anyone who tells you

    a) not to dance
    b) not to smile

    The story you tell us is under the b case. I think this has been the oldfashioned tribal fusion style of let's say mid 1990s-mid 2000. However, i know that even the teachers who are really into "goddess" philosophy they never use this in the lesson, not only because this might be a waste of time during class, but because you can learn (tribal) bellydance and any bellydance type without adopting the philosophy of the teacher.

    So, maybe you are in a classroom that you are not very confortable with and you might seek another tribal teacher or bellydance teacher. By the way, smiling is not obligatory but is not prohibited either...

  8. #8
    Premium Member Aniseteph's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LilithNoor View Post
    I can't imagine being told not to let my joy at dancing show in my face, especially by someone who is at the same time exhorting me to get in touch with my inner goddess woman.
    Quite... don't tell me what my inner goddess is like

    I don't know much about tribal, but the times I've wanted to dabble have been when I've seen groups who are a bunch of individuals dancing together and sparking off each others personalities. It looks like fun to do and it's fun to watch. Massed po-faced earth mother goddessery - not so much.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anisteph
    I don't know much about tribal, but the times I've wanted to dabble have been when I've seen groups who are a bunch of individuals dancing together and sparking off each others personalities.
    exactly! that's just what got me hooked and wanting to try dancing in the first place. I was playing guitar and singing with a band that played for a dance troupe. It was one of those where everyone was feeding off each other's energy, fantastic stage presence, you just wanted to jump up and dance with them all the time despite not knowing how because it looked like so much fun.

    I think I'm going to stay at the current studio till the end of the year; might as well. I can still learn a lot of technique from the teachers here (and just selectively ignore the sacred-pelvis stuff, and smile on the inside). I am going to Chicago at the beginning of next year (I do contract work for my day job so lots of moving, though hopefully I can stay there for longer than usual) and am over the moon about getting to take classes there with a troupe that I have admired for a long time.

    Thanks for listening and for the feedback; sometimes it helps just to write it all out and be able to have a new realization. It might sound like a "duh" thing, but I had totally not thought about the fact that every studio and every student troupe has its own style and vibe, and it's at least partially about finding which one(s) you fit in with.
    Last edited by Caelyn; 09-19-2011 at 02:58 AM.

  10. #10
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    I don't think it's right for someone to tell you not to smile. Even with tribal, belly dance is an expression of joy and happiness, not of sensuality and sexiness (in my opinion, although I have no problem with sensuality in belly dance). To me, belly dance is meant to be used to express yourself through dancing. If you were expressing sorrow, it'd be understandable not to smile. I'd try to find somewhere else to learn. I would feel so miserable not being able to smile when I'm enjoying my dancing. I may feel like a hippo sometimes when I work out, but belly dance is where I truly feel at home. It's hard not to smile when I'm doing what I love! I assume it's the same with everyone else, too.

    I'm sure you're a great dancer, and I bet your dancing brings joy to people who watch you, especially if you smile and let your personality shine through. It's hard to be doing something you love, but having to fake a different personality to make other people feel better.

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