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Thread: Where to Start?

  1. #1
    Member MizzNaaa's Avatar
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    Default Where to Start?

    So, I find myself wondering where to start exactly now that I'm trying to get back into serious learning and bellydancing.

    I know that the first step is to seek a teacher out to help, but due to financial hardships at the moment, I find myself in a very tough positions as I don't have the money to spare for teacher. I'll most likely sign up for classes the moment I can spare the funds but until then, where do you guys think I should begin. Especially that I have not been dancing for a while so I really need to work on my endurance, flexibility and beat my body back into shape.

    I think after being here for a while I started to realize that I need to learn better as most of my bellydance experience comes from it being...well, how we dance here. That's most definitely not enough though; it probably makes things a bit easier for me but bellydance means more to me than just a hobby so I need to take it seriously. I truly do hope at some point to be able to do it on a professional level especially with the lack of Egyptian dancers out there.

    I managed to get my hands on Ranya Renee's baladi DVDs but I'm yet to start them up, so any suggestions on what I should do at least until I can start seeking out a teacher would be pretty awesome.
    Last edited by MizzNaaa; 06-22-2013 at 03:36 PM.

  2. #2
    Administrator Salome's Avatar
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    Assuming you have your technique or the bones of movement vocabulary... You could take one song and dance it through, a million times, focusing on the rhythms. Down/in on the bass, up/out on the treble... Working out the rhythm(s) on different areas of the body, the feeling/essence of the rhythm, moving between upper and lower, angling and different sides, levels and so forth. Once you are really expressing that aspect fully and fluently - then go through the song again and this time pick one lyrical instrument. Let's say oud, and do the same formula. Express that oud physically, wherever it goes. no extra movement! If it is not doing anything, you are not doing anything... When you are manifesting that instrument then put it together... Practice simultaneously expressing the rhythm and the lyrical expression of the oud (or violin or accordion... whatever you pick). Do one, then the other, then both. When you get to a point where you are able to do that well, you can then spend time on 'controlling the flow'. Its moving the energy (and I'm not trying to be esoteric) the feeling, the movement in a way that builds and flows - that is not disjointed and hacked apart. Its moving the flow of movement in an unbroken "line", more or less.
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    V.I.P. Jane's Avatar
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    Dance along with the great Egyptian masters you want to look like. Watch, watch, watch, again and again and analyze how they move. Pay close attention to how they make movement happen, how they hear the music with their bodies, and their stage presence and use of the stage area. If they use choreography, try to see how they use it and why. Also, why they chose the specific music they use for dancing. Is there any way you can trade work with a big name dancer to mentor you or watch her shows? Being Egyptian, you have a huge head start and advantage on all of us foreign dancers! I feel like I'm teaching my grandmother to suck eggs.*

    *"Teaching your grandmother to suck eggs" is an American-English expression. It means that I am offering advice on doing something to a person who already knows how.

  4. #4
    Member Munniko's Avatar
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    For getting your body back into "shape" for belly dancing I think that is the cheapest thing you can work on. You can find a lot of fitness exercises for free on youtube and slowly work your way through things and just make little changes so that things are easier for you to do. That is what I'm working on now while improving my technique, doing yoga and Pilates to try and get a better idea how to engage all of my muscle groups and get them stronger so they don't have to pull as much for exterior groups to do movements.

    If you want I can link spam you with ideas, but I find that it really works better to find your own ideas on what you want to do for conditioning or else it will be a chore and not fun. If you are going to work with DVDs I think slowly working your way through them is a good idea. Like I'm doing with the Racheal Brice one I have, slowly working on getting further in the DVD instead of getting frustrated when I can't do a bit.

  5. #5
    Moderator Darshiva's Avatar
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    I really wouldn't stress about your physical shape. In terms of this dance, it's really not that important unless you intend on performing for the general public and then it's 1) a lot less important than you think, and 2) something that serious dance practice will generally take care of anyway.

    So my advice to you is to watch the Ranya Renee dvds. Sit down with a cuppa & a note pad and take notes. Take it very slowly, there's a lot of information in there and it's very densely packed. Those dvds alone will probably be enough to hold you over for a few months, which is hopefully enough time for you to save up for your classes. I've spent several months on her baladi dvds already, I still haven't completed it. I need to do it a few weeks on, a few months off to give myself time to learn and process everything.

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    V.I.P. Yame's Avatar
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    Girl, you're in CAIRO! So many of us would give anything to be where you are so we could have access to the masters!

    See if anyone teaches there and if you can somehow save money to take classes from them... I figure it might be expensive because a lot of classes there are privates, but there have got to be group classes somewhere...

    Even if you can just afford a private class once a month or once every few months, it should still be good guidance if you can find the right mentor. You already have the technique so it's not like you need someone to work with you everyday or every week on that.

    Also get out there if you can, and go see the stars at their regular venues! Dina, Randa, Aziza... go out and see a show and be inspired!

  7. #7
    Member MizzNaaa's Avatar
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    Thank you so much you guys, I have my notebook with me and writing all your tips down and I'll start working ASAP.

    @Yame, lol yeah, I will try...it's difficult though and not just for financial reasons. So we'll see. Hopefully I'll get a chance if things settle down after 30th June, when demonstrations country wide will pick up again.

    But thank you everybody!

  8. #8
    Member AndreaSTL's Avatar
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    You have a wonderful resource there in Farida Fahmy. I don't adore all things Reda, but I do respect what he's done for the dance. I love Farida, though! She usually teaches at the Nile Group (ending on the 24th but happening again in November), but I think she also does privates. I have been dancing over 15 years but still take her introductory course at the festival, and darned if I don't learn something each time. Sometimes an offhand comment will give me that Aha! breakthrough, and other times it's the actual movement that gets clarified. When class money becomes available this is where I would spend it.

    In the meantime, I agree that working on stamina, strength, and flexibility is a good idea. If it's not fun you won't want to do it, so choose something you enjoy. Put on some fun music and jump around like a mad woman for a cardio workout. No one can see you so who cares if you look dumb? Running or walking on a treadmill is good for mindless exercise. I don't have to think about what I'm doing, so I let my mind wander to making lists, singing songs, mentally practicing a choreography. Take the stairs to your flat rather than the elevator to build up your legs and lungs. While you're on the Metro contract your abs. Practice contracting and releasing them without connecting the movement to breathing. Keep them contracted for as long as possible. Can you hold them from one stop to the next? When moving around in your flat do it with a lunging walk. Roll your shoulders while you're on the phone. Choose a dance movement and practice it any way you can think of. For example, if you picked the hip drop you can do it small, big, tight, loose, drop to the front, side, or back, drop under the body or out to the side, take eight counts to execute one drop or do one drop per beat.

    If you're looking for something more organized, there's a ton of stuff on YouTube. I'm a fan of yoga, so I'd look for some instruction there. Like everything else, you might have to hunt to find a teacher you like. Watch performance clips of dancers you like, and pay attention to the feet. I can figure out a lot of what's going on in the hip area by watching feet.

    I agree with you that there's a big difference between social dancing and stage performance. However, for you to make that leap don't forget that you have advantages that Western dancers don't: you understand the culture that the dance springs from, you understand the lyrics and any subtext that might be present, you know the movements since you've been doing them since childhood. What you need to work on is cleaning them up and making them work on a stage. I hate that there aren't more Egyptians dancing professionally in Cairo. The girls who are working have talent to be sure, but when I am there I would prefer to see a dancer native to the dance's origin. Social and economic issues aside, I would love for more Egyptian girls to become professional dancers. I realize those are huge hurdles, though.

  9. #9
    Moderator Farasha Hanem's Avatar
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    I hope this doesn't sound silly and unrelated, but if you're feeling like you don't have enough energy, try scrutinizing the kind of foods you eat. I don't know what's available in Egyptian grocery stores, but we over here in America have shelves loaded with food that really are toxic. Growing up in the 60's and 70's, I've always known that the additives in highly processed foods are bad for you, but I'm only learning now at 52 just EXACTLY how bad they are. It's no wonder why most Americans are sick and weak and suffer from so many diseases, and it certainly can affect a dancer's drive and energy. If your grocery stores also carry a lot of highly processed foods, try to wean yourself slowly from them. There's a foundation (and I wish I could remember the name of it---I can look it up later for you if you wish) that has discovered that if a person's diet includes at least 51% (I think that's the correct percentage, it was definitely over 50) raw (and preferably organic) foods, a person's chances of developing certain cancers are cut dramatically.

    I know when I include a lot of raw fruits and veggies in my daily diet, I feel so much better (I suffer from low energy). Getting rid of processed foods will not only give you the energy to be a better dancer, it'll improve the quality of your life overall. <3

  10. #10
    Member MizzNaaa's Avatar
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    @Ferasha, no it doesn't sound silly at all. And yeah, I've been trying to keep an eye on what I eat and drink so I could maintain a healthier diet and lifestyle. Thank you <3

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