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  1. #21
    V.I.P. adiemus's Avatar
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    As someone who has danced ballet, and played a couple of musical instruments, I think there is certainly a place for 'drills', whatever you call them!
    If a pianist can't execute a series of notes without stumbling over them, it doesn't matter how much musicality he or she has, the melody won't 'sing'. Likewise with dancing, you do need to execute the movements with a certain degree of automatic muscle memory so that you can then focus on shaping the *way* you move - or in your words, the musicality or 'essence' of the dance.
    In terms of how we learn, there are some brain mechanisms that are brought in to play when movements are repeated so that less conscious thought is needed to perform those movements - this frees up more brain space to be able to do any other aspect of the performance at that time. So it's essential not to have to 'think' too hard about how to do movements in order to put other parts of yourself into the dance.

    I agree however that practice needs to be perfect practice - practice makes perfect, but only perfect practice makes perfect movements! If you're practicing poor technique, you're learning poor technique! But that's why regular feedback is so important (from a 'live' teacher) - a week of poor practice is correctable, while months of poor practice is incredibly difficult to do.

    Dancing isn't just about the movements, it's also about the other elements of spirit and joy and emotion - these things also need to be 'practiced', so soul-less 'drilling' alone won't give you a dancer, just a driller! so you need to combine them both to get the best of both worlds. IMHO of course...

  2. #22
    Senior Member Eshta's Avatar
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    I've tried both methods & have formed my own kind of 'hybrid'. "Dry drilling", disconnected to the music, has some benefit when you are trying to master a move but I'm afraid that ultimately it's meaningless unless you are moving it to the music.

    So to get around it, I have a playlist of songs that I use to practice certain things. For example, if I want to work on my arms' fluidity, I have a 9 minute nay solo that I use. Similarly, I have an accordion solo I use to work on hips (mostly using figure 8s but not exclusively as it has to work to interpret the music!) I have an upbeat qanun based song I use for my "shimmy drill" (although I'm not "drilling", as my shimmy changes with the music - hopefully!) You get the idea.

    As an 'ex-driller' the problem is that you start to view a move in isolation, rather than using it in a musical phrase. Often the transition between 'moves' lets a newbie dancer down, and I think this is because of the 'drill mentality', where the dancer is thinking of that move in isolation, rather than training her brain to think a little ahead & interpret the music. Hard to explain without writing an essay on the topic, but it's an interesting topic!

  3. #23
    V.I.P. jenc's Avatar
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    that's why I have now moved on to drilling combos either of real dance moves or of different weight changes, as I find it difficult to move between moves that someone else has choreographed

  4. #24
    Premium Member Aniseteph's Avatar
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    As an 'ex-driller' the problem is that you start to view a move in isolation, rather than using it in a musical phrase. Often the transition between 'moves' lets a newbie dancer down, and I think this is because of the 'drill mentality', where the dancer is thinking of that move in isolation, rather than training her brain to think a little ahead & interpret the music. Hard to explain without writing an essay on the topic, but it's an interesting topic!
    In class we practise new moves to music - our teacher finds something with the right tempo and feel - and then when we've thrashed it out a bit the new stuff is quickly incorporated into practise choreography (and sometimes follow the teacher's improv ). Which does make it into a phrase and keep it in context with the music and other moves... I never really thought of it that way, woohoo! I have a very clever teacher, he he he

  5. #25
    Member Bellydance Oz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by adiemus View Post
    As someone who has danced ballet, and played a couple of musical instruments, I think there is certainly a place for 'drills', whatever you call them!
    If a pianist can't execute a series of notes without stumbling over them, it doesn't matter how much musicality he or she has, the melody won't 'sing'. Likewise with dancing, you do need to execute the movements with a certain degree of automatic muscle memory so that you can then focus on shaping the *way* you move - or in your words, the musicality or 'essence' of the dance.
    In terms of how we learn, there are some brain mechanisms that are brought in to play when movements are repeated so that less conscious thought is needed to perform those movements - this frees up more brain space to be able to do any other aspect of the performance at that time. So it's essential not to have to 'think' too hard about how to do movements in order to put other parts of yourself into the dance.
    ..
    I'm finding it interesting that some respondents are rejecting drilling outright - that may explain why I see so little of it in classes here.

    The trouble is, if a teacher does no drilling, students never get a chance to get a movement right. If you explain a hip drop then only do it once, then do a whole lot of other moves before you come back to it, the beginner has forgotten the move already!

    In ballet, "drilling" would mean repeating the move to the count of 16 or 32, no more - and always in time to music, not without. That gives the student time to get used to the new move (or for more experienced students, to check they have the feel of the move right). You then move on to combining the movements into routines. In music, you would do the same - repeating scales then combining the notes into a melody. It's a tried and tested method that works very well.

    I agree that soulless repetition of any move without musical accompaniment isn't a good idea.

  6. #26
    Senior Member AngelaJP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eshta View Post
    I've tried both methods & have formed my own kind of 'hybrid'. "Dry drilling", disconnected to the music, has some benefit when you are trying to master a move but I'm afraid that ultimately it's meaningless unless you are moving it to the music.
    This is what I have just started doing at home since yesterday, I think. Drills without the music but muuuuch less than 50 times per move which Rachel Brice does in her daily practice. After the drills, I play the music and try to dance to the music. The music inspires... I wish an expert can watch me do the impromptu dance and scrutinize. I wish I can find shimmy music, figure 8s music, arms music, etc. so I can do repetitions of a certain move with music.

    In the classes I attend, a move is broken down then combined for fluidity then there are always drills (with music) of the moves used for the choreography before the choreography proper.

    By Adiemus: In terms of how we learn, there are some brain mechanisms that are brought in to play when movements are repeated so that less conscious thought is needed to perform those movements - this frees up more brain space to be able to do any other aspect of the performance at that time. So it's essential not to have to 'think' too hard about how to do movements in order to put other parts of yourself into the dance.
    Very well said, Adiemus, like the expert psychologist that you are .
    Last edited by AngelaJP; 08-28-2008 at 01:26 PM.

  7. #27
    Member meddevi's Avatar
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    My issue with "drilling" is when it's approached more like aerobics or sports - ok, I have to do 50 hip drops, 200 hip circles, 75 chest drops, etc. While it may get the one movement down, it doesn't necessarily teach the student how to DANCE, and incorporate it with other kinds of movement. Instead, I believe in *practice* - meaningful repetitive without being redundant exercises that help the student not only learn the move, but where it belongs in the music, and what else they can do with it.

    For example, in my classes this week, we've been focusing on moving from chest to hips, hips to chest - with accents and changes without undulations - the key is to help them learn to isolate the different parts of their body when they need to and how to switch gears, plus understand the accents of the music. So we worked with several different saidi-based songs, and did a repeating choreography that we built upon, such as:
    -two strutting chest drops with arms to the right, and then to left (with an arm switch - basically, connecting moving forward and to the side with the chest drops and the arm switch)
    -followed by two hip bumps to the right (in motion) and to the left, with arms
    -which goes into two hip circles, two chest circles...and then we're back into the moving chest drops.

    And this is for beginner/mixed level (under a year) classes. And the result is that they're progressing much faster then a typical beginning BD class set-up. They're getting the movement fundamentals, while understanding balance and the music at the same time. And as I mentioned earlier, I do send them home with homework - what they should work on, and challenge them to just put on the radio and try to even top 40 music if they don't have BD music at home. Or in the car, at the copy machine, etc. If they work small parts into daily practice, it becomes more natural and connected, it's amazing!

  8. #28
    Member missanime's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AngelaJP View Post
    Hi!

    For a beginner and also intermediate bd student, do you have any suggestions for a program of daily belly dancing practice drills to improve my bd? I'd like to practice at home when I'm not having my belly dance lessons. Have to look for music for it!

    I have read in another thread about Rachel Brice doing 50 counts of different bd moves. Maybe 50 is too many for me, I don't know.
    hi

    i just saw some clips on youtube of this rachel brice doing her drills - and IMO i think she's great! i too would love to find a teacher who *also* emphasizes (spl) technique as *well* as the dance aspect of bellydancing. personally i wish this rachel brice had a dvd on nothing BUT drills (singles, combos, etc)....i think they'd be some fantastic dancers if this were out there

  9. #29
    Member missanime's Avatar
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    i also agree w/Bellydanceoz. doing repetitive basic movements (like in ballet, tap, ballroom, etc) is essential as it teaches the student how to do something *correctly* as well as for learning the new material, and being able to move forward to more advance movements. Without having this solid foundation leads to poor form and execution of the dance!


  10. #30
    V.I.P. adiemus's Avatar
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    I meant to add that in ballet you always 'drill' to music - and there is a certain part of ballet training where you do a series of steps called 'enchanements' (I think that's the spelling!) which are like a series of movements with transitions between them - and this is what I think BD could be helped by...
    I drill to music (selected pieces that offer a variety of speeds and rhythms and moods) and have at the moment about five different movements I'm drilling separately, and a couple I'm putting together so I can link them.
    then what's fun is to do the BD bingo - the cards that someone (can't remember who - sorry!!) put out with the names of different movements on it, you pick two or three, and have to put them together with transitions so you can move smoothly - this brings in elements of improv with drilling so that you learn how to link movements while doing them technically well.
    No it's not 'dancing' per se, but it is a part of dance training. That's not the same thing - and it enhances dancing when you do it.

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