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  1. #11
    V.I.P. Yame's Avatar
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    To anyone who says belly dance isn't "supposed" to be cute, I have two words:

    Suheir Zaki

  2. #12
    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yame View Post
    To anyone who says belly dance isn't "supposed" to be cute, I have two words:

    Suheir Zaki
    AMEN!!!!!!


    And I'm sorry, but Tribal just don't get much cuter than Awalim Tribal dance company in Atlanta:

    Awalim at the GA RenFest - YouTube

  3. #13
    V.I.P. Yame's Avatar
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    Now, to the OP, I say:

    Different belly dancers have different personalities and, as a result, different stage personas. You can develop your expression on stage and learn how to project better, how to express better, how to allow your personality to show through better, how to connect with the audience better. You can learn those things, you can improve those things, and all of that comes with lots of practice and experience and good guidance.

    You CAN'T fundamentally change your personality, though. Unless you are a wonderfully talented actress, your "stage persona" will merely be an extension of your personality and who you are at your core. And there is nothing wrong with that... don't let anybody tell you otherwise. We absolutely do not have to all look the same.

    So if your personality is cute and goofy, you can play that up on the stage. If your personality is sensual and alluring, you can play that up. Elegant, play it up! Funny, play it up! We all have different elements to our personality and we are all much better off playing up these elements rather than trying to tone them down and attempt to act in a way that isn't natural. If you play up your cuteness and you will be the "cutest" belly dancer many people have ever seen. If you try to tame it and instead just go for "sensual," you will just be another wannabe who's trying too hard, and the ladies who really are naturally sensual will have the upper hand on you, anytime.

    I should also add that, when you are being yourself, and when you are confident in that self, people will enjoy watching you... there is a certain sensuality about that, too.

  4. #14
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    omg, thank you so much for the suggestions--I looked at a bunch of YT clips of Awalim and they are amazing. Suheir Zaki is lovely too.

    Yame, thanks also for the wise words. You are right, of course.

  5. #15
    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    I am going to play devil's advocate for a while.

    If you choose to dance with a troupe or class, you have to be prepared to go along with the stage persona of that group. While the style of this group might not appeal to you or to most of us, it does express an ethos that would not be properly expressed by cuteness or flirty smiles. You are just in the wrong place and everyone will be best served when like water you find your own level. But if you are going to stay with the class until the end of the year, quit fighting and learn what they have to teach you. You never know what is going to be relevant and it doesn't hurt to be able to express more than one emotion in your dance.
    "Well, now that we have seen each other," said the unicorn " if you'll believe in me, I'll believe in you."

  6. #16
    Premium Member Aniseteph's Avatar
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    True. If that's the way the group rolls and you are part of it, then you have to try to blend in for the sake of their artistic vision thingy, even if it's not quite how you'd do it.

    Now I'm thinking of you as a cheeky pink chiffon number in a sea of earthy tribal cotton yardage.

  7. #17
    V.I.P. shiradotnet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caelyn View Post
    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!).
    I think any belly dance teacher who tries to tell you that your stage personality is "wrong" is missing the point of belly dancing. Belly dancing is about emotional expression, and also about imbuing your performance with your own personality. It CAN be sensual, moody, or mysterious. But it can also be playful, mischievous, or cute.

    A dancer with strong acting skills may be able to portray all of these depending on what inspires her on a given day. But for you as a student who has been studying only a year, I think it's best to focus on being authentically YOU when you perform.

    That said, if a person is going to perform with a troupe, it IS necessary to have everyone in the troupe expressing a similar feeling. So yes, I think that particular troupe was the wrong fit for you with your personality.

    Another thought: It IS important for a performer to match her mood to the music she is using. Some songs suit a "cute" or "adorable" stage personality, whereas with other songs "cute" wouldn't fit at all. So, if you feel drawn to being "cute", be sure to pick music and costuming that matches. I wonder if maybe some of the negative feedback you've received in the past is due to the fact that your behavior/expression was "adorable" to serious-sounding music?

    I'm on a roll today! Here's one more thought I'd like you to consider:

    Some people act goofy as a way of masking the fact that they're actually uncomfortable. So, to cover their discomfort, they clown around.

    Could this be something YOU are doing? Ie, are you trying to hide your stage fright by clowning around?

    If so, that's something you should work on changing. Clowning around is fine if it's an artistic choice that matches the music / costume / intended message of the performance. But goofiness is NOT so fine if it's a nervous habit intended to mask your stage fright. It's admittedly better than scowling, but a dancer using silliness to cover her insecurities should try to outgrow her need to do it as she gains more performing experience over time. If this could be true of you, I'm not saying you'd need to stop doing it immediately, but I'd recommend setting a goal to outgrow your need to use this crutch.
    Last edited by Shanazel; 09-20-2011 at 06:19 PM.

  8. #18
    Administrator Salome's Avatar
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    Ditto on what Shira said about manifesting the mood of the music properly...

  9. #19
    V.I.P. Greek Bonfire's Avatar
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    If I was told not to smile, I would quit because I can't help it when I dance!

  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shanazel View Post
    But if you are going to stay with the class until the end of the year, quit fighting and learn what they have to teach you.
    maybe you didn't mean that the way I read it? But that's the whole problem; I've been trying so hard to fit in with their style and I'm failing at that and I feel really awkward and disingenuous and, well, fail-y.

    I'm not 'fighting' anyone or anything; I'm doing my best to absorb and do everything that I'm being taught, and technically I am making progress that both my teachers and I are pleased with. I was just doubting myself because at my old studio I used to hear that I had an adorable stage presence/style and it was said as a compliment, and nowadays I still get that a lot but instead it's a criticism, and I was feeling like...what if you have to have a certain personality for belly dancing and maybe i just don't have it?

    I'm not grinning like a cheshire cat onstage or anything, or being one-note emotionally...it's more like, idk how to explain it quite right. you know how you can ask ten dancers to perform the same move and while technique-wise it will be the same move and they're all doing it correctly...all of them will make it look slightly different, just by virtue of being different people and thus all having a slightly different movement style? That's more what I'm talking about.

    I would never think for a minute that any troupe or studio should change to accomodate me, so I sincerely hope no one took anything I said that way.

    shira, good point about making sure to choose music and costuming that suits you. like I said, I don't actually act goofy onstage, lol. I mean, yeah I look like a beginner (because I am one :p), and I don't glare at the audience, but I definitely am not going out there and hamming it up or anything; watching performances like that kind of makes me cringe actually. (I also do improv comedy, so when I get the urge to be outright silly I save that for the improv stage! )

    I'm very comfortable being onstage; have been doing it for most of my life and there is nothing I love to do more, so no, I'm not compensating for awkward feelings or anything like that. But I do very much appreciate the feedback and advice and I'm grateful to you (and all of you) for giving me things to think about...so again...thank you!
    Last edited by Caelyn; 09-26-2011 at 03:57 AM.

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