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  1. #1
    Member Munniko's Avatar
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    Default Getting over mirror dislike

    I think this goes here, but sorry if it doesn't.

    So I've noticed this more and more the longer I have dance lessons. I am extremely reluctant to look at myself in the mirror, I will look at my body and see how I'm doing in technique, but I wont look at my face. When I do end up looking at my face in the mirror while dancing it is a very blank stare. Now don't get me wrong I am fine looking myself in the mirror, how on earth would I do my make-up otherwise but when dancing I just can't do it.

    It isn't like I have an issue with a performance face, I do it quite easily and can pick up eye contact with audience members, but during practice it just seems wrong to look myself in the face in the mirror. I mainly focus on looking at my teacher and what she is doing.

    How do you get yourself to look at yourself in the mirror? Is it hurting me that I'm not doing this?

  2. #2
    Moderator Darshiva's Avatar
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    Only your teacher can answer your last question - I haven't seen you in a classroom setting nor in a performance setting so I can't tell you whether or not your mirror aversion is having an impact on your dancing.

    What I can tell you is that there are an abundance of students who learn without mirrors and this does not hamper their ability (provided they have a good teacher). What you need to remember is that a mirror is a tool. It's up to you to choose which of the tools available to you you use.

    A final thought. If mirrors are essential to the learning of bellydance, does this mean blind people can never learn to bellydance?

  3. #3
    Senior Member walladah's Avatar
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    Default Mirrors are not essential in bellydance learning!!!

    Fortunately, the dance is constructed in that way that it can be learned without mirrors!

    Second, mirror dislike is normal, particularly if you are not a dancer already before you start bellydance lessons. You will learn little by little to use the mirror, but i remember it took me some years to get over it, although i was already dancing, i had had ballet lessons, etc before bellydance.

    It is very difficult because bellydance "speaks" very directly with our inner self, probably more than other dance types. Particularly for women, it is difficult to release our bodies, especially our torsos, and it is harsh to watch our release process at the mirror.

    Finally, you will realise after you get along with the mirror, that it will be your strictest judge, even if all people around, teachers and master teachers consider you a very good dancer. The mirror will never be completely happy! At that stage, you will need to stop asking for its approval all the time, just when needed, f.ex. when experimenting, when learning a new thing etc.

    THen, enjoy yourself and do not look at the mirror if you do not like to.

    PS/I really do not know much about blind people and bellydance. Your question Darshiva is crucial, i would love to have other dance sisters and brothers comment on that...

  4. #4
    Member Pleasant dancer's Avatar
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    When I teach at the front of a class in a studio with mirrors I have found a similar problem. I'm happy to check my technique, and reasonably happy with my body (I just ignore the tummy fat! ) but I seldom look at my face - unless I'm in performance mode and then I'm usually smiling so it's ok. I think some of my students have a similar problem. There's something about checking out your face that's rather off putting. Perhaps it's because when we are in class we are usually concentrating very hard (even the teacher!) and our faces are not naturally relaxed and it shows.

    I usually tell my students who don't like mirrors to try to just look at the shape and movements their body is making without fixing on the fact that is is their body. I'm not sure how much this helps. But I don't think you have to use mirrors to learn to belly dance and sometimes you really need not to look at yourself and just feel how the movements are.

  5. #5
    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    The mirror is a tool. That's all.

    While I agree you can probably learn to dance without mirrors why would you choose to reject such a helpful tool?

    Your face is part of your body; facial movements and expressions deserve the same objective viewing as the rest of your body.

    If you are getting hung up about your appearance beyond its involvement in practice, you are indulging in vanity and not effective dance practice.

    Learning to use a mirror effectively is no different from learning to use any other tool effectively. It takes practice. When you find yourself weirding out about looking at yourself, look away, take a deep breath, then look back and concentrate on what you are practicing instead of on your vanity.

    Example thought "Oh, my gosh, my face looks like the Great Stone Expression. Oh, it's awful, oh I'm freaked, oh I can't look!"

    Look away. Deep breath. Thought, "Quit being silly. That face is your audience right now. Let it see how you feel about the music and it will reflect that expression back at you."

    You'll get used to it. Really.

  6. #6
    V.I.P. Ariadne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shanazel View Post
    ...That face is your audience right now. Let it see how you feel about the music and it will reflect that expression back at you."
    This, this, this! I had the worst time with mirrors until I starting thinking of it as my audience. After that it seeing my face became a reminder to project instead of an embarrassment.

  7. #7
    Member AndreaSTL's Avatar
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    When I was in regular classes I had access to mirrors but rarely used them. I spent my time watching the teacher and would only occasionally look at myself to see if I needed to correct form, check for excessive bounce, etc. I had to know how a move felt to know how it looked. One thing I am good at is self correction/awareness - if the instructor says check your posture or pelvis should be neutral or whatever I can figure out if I'm doing it without a mirror. I realize not everyone can do this. Shoot, I've had students who can't self correct with a mirror!

    Even when I did use the mirror I didn't much look at my face. At the time I wasn't working on my face I was working on my body. Smiling at myself in the mirror makes me feel like a grinning idiot. It feels goofy and fake. I know some people feel that as you practice so will you perform, but being able to smile and make contact with an audience isn't much of a problem for me. Putting on artificial smile and staring at myself seems pointless. I can't fool myself on that front, now can I?

    Everyone learns differently, so if this bothers you then you need to work on it. If it doesn't skip it. To me it's no different than breaking down a move in more than one way. You end up with the same result, but sometimes thinking of the mechanics in a different way will just "click". My mom is a perfect example - she is math phobic. If you ask her to calculate an inventory reorder point she can do it. Give her the same formula with an "x" and call it algebra and she freaks.

  8. #8
    V.I.P. khanjar's Avatar
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    Perhaps because you are concentrating on how your movement looks in the mirror your face is blank, whereas without concentrating on how you look your expression is different.

    Mirrors took me long time to get used to due to low self esteem issues at the time and I found I got distracted by seeing myself until I learned to defocus my eyes so all I saw was movement not detail. Not seeing the detail enabled me to be more relaxed and my facial expression changed.

    Now I get the same in my second class which has mirrors and others new to the mirrors have said the same about the mirrors so I tell them to defocus and feel how one becomes more relaxed as defocused the movement appears as if it were seen from a distance.

    I got one of those minds that gets locked on detail and when that happens I lose interest in the bigger picture and this method I use for dancing also transfers into other areas now as it works for me.

  9. #9
    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    Facial expression for performance can be practiced too.

    One of the things I try to make note of is keeping at least a PLEASANT expression on my face when I'm drilling, especially if I'm drilling to music I'm not overly thrilled about.

    Another exercise someone suggested was just sitting in front of the mirror, and listening to the music -- and WATCHING your facial expressions change as the music plays. It helps you realize where you drift. I think the same thing could be accomplished by videotaping yourself too -- then you could study the recording.

    It is REALLY hard for me to look at my face/eyes when I'm dancing. What I do -- and I don't know if this is a good thing or not -- is to slightly unfocus my eyes, so I can still see my face but it's blurry. Then I don't get distracted by criticizing my appearance in the mirror - lol.

    Shadow dancing is also amazingly helpful for me. Put the light behind you and just watch your shadow on the wall. I actually found this incredibly MORE helpful than a mirror.

  10. #10
    Member Munniko's Avatar
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    I'm definitely going to try thinking of myself as the audience in the mirror because I was practicing in a home mirror a little bit ago and I realized I was uncomfortable because I was feeling the music.....and I think my face was a little to flirty to be looking at myself. So if I kind of detach myself from being myself and being the audience during performance practice it should be easier.

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