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  1. #1
    Member Recnadocir's Avatar
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    Default Ballet and jazz dancers CAN belly dance

    There seems to be a myth that ballet dancers just can't pick up correct belly dance movement. Don't understand it, and I've seen with my own eyes that it's not true.

    Thursday I had 7 or 8 women in belly dance class, and then closer to 20 in my Latin class, right after. Well, the advanced ballet dancers were taking turns looking in the window, giggling at us belly dancing while waiting for the Latin class. But, I think the little bit of hip movement I throw into my Latin class choreography intrigued a couple of them enough that they came to my belly dance class tonight. And one of them in particular was really good! She is a very sweet girl, a senior in high school and is what I guess I'd call a "natural mover," for lack of a better term. She can really switch gears from one style to the next without much apparent effort, and it proved to me again that jazz and ballet dancers can pick up belly dance, and pick it up correctly, without excessive turnout, a "held" rib cage, etc. I think that good dancers really can cross train in different styles, and as long as they understand all the differences, should have little problem doing so.

  2. #2
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    I completely agree with you. I'm a former ballet dancer.. I'm doing more contempory and modern dance/jazz now and I found no problems picking up belly dancing moves as we use similar moves in modern and contempory.

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    V.I.P. Moon's Avatar
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    Sure, I think everyone can learn. But because all people are different I think some might have a few more problems with it, but that's ok. I don't think doing another dance style at the same time would harm bellydance, neither do I think that bellydancers should do another dance style too to become better bellydancers.

    (I just started doing ballroomdance too and so far I see no problems, except for... the teachers uses the same term as my bellydance teacher, but for a completely different step. Confusing! )

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    I gotta agree with Moon, here. Yes, there are plenty of dancers in other genres who adapt quite easily and naturally to the vocabulary of bellydance. I've also seen it with my own eyes. Sometimes, it is waaaaay easier for them to learn than for somebody who has no dance experience (hehe, like me!). That being said, there are still others who will have trouble adjusting to certain aspects of the dance, like posture or some hipwork, just because it isn't really relative to ballet (as an example). It all depends on the individual person in question.
    Last edited by Michelle; 09-27-2006 at 02:38 PM. Reason: retahded...

  5. #5
    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    He's back! He's Baaa-aack! Oh, be still my heart.

    Of course dancers from other disciplines can learn to belly dance. I have noticed that when they start, they sometimes have some habits to overcome- I had a student that I despaired of ever teaching the difference between jazz stances and belly dance positions. She had a great time, but she was the jazziest belly dancer you ever saw.
    "Well, now that we have seen each other," said the unicorn " if you'll believe in me, I'll believe in you."

  6. #6
    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    The only thing I've noticed with seriously trained ballet students and Egyptian style Sharki is that they don't seem to fully comprehend the posture and weight placement of Sharki and don't seem to be able to activate the pelvic muscles quite in the Egyptian way. (This is from observing students from Atlanta and Louisville ballet feeder schools, NOT our own students.)

    Regular old Am Cab, and folkloric styles seem to offer fewer postural and weight issues, although I do have one beautiful girl who dances with the local ballet company and wants to do folkloric and I just CAN'T get her to put her weight in her hips and pelvis and realize movement through her upper torso. (I blame this on the old company director who was all about UP UP UP!!!) She's trying, though, and her style is quite beautiful in its own right.

  7. #7
    V.I.P. Yasmine Bint Al Nubia's Avatar
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    Of course they can! It's my understanding that Samia Gamal, Taheya Carioca et al, were required to take ballet when they danced for Badia Masnabi. Even contemporary Middle Eastern dancers have cross trained in other dance forms.
    Yasmine

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    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    Heya Yasmine,
    The people I hear say this are trying to teach professional (or pre-professional) ballet dancers. I think there's a difference between the 15-year-old student in ballet classes, and the 15-year-old pre-pro. But from conversations I've had with other teachers, most, if not ALL of the difficulties they encounter are related to posture and weight carriage. The steps are there, but the signature "look" is missing.

    I'd never heard that the Casino Opera dancers were required to take ballet, but it was certainly the rage at that time. Both Reda and Mohammed Khalil have mentioned that they pretty much HAD to cloak their choregraphies in a heavy ballet curtain in order to capture the attention of the audience.

    And it makes sense for them to have borrowed the stage dynamics of ballet, since they had stages!

    Beyond a certain point, I'm not sure how much good cross-training actually accomplishes for the hobbyist dancer. Maybe we should have a thread on that? Do you cross-train, Yasmine?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yasmine Bint Al Nubia View Post
    Of course they can! It's my understanding that Samia Gamal, Taheya Carioca et al, were required to take ballet when they danced for Badia Masnabi. Even contemporary Middle Eastern dancers have cross trained in other dance forms.
    Yasmine

  9. #9
    V.I.P. Yasmine Bint Al Nubia's Avatar
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    Hi Aziyade, No I've never cross-trained in other formal dances. Just a homegirl who grew up dancing socially at parties etc.Watching people and copying the moves much like its done in the Middle East I suppose.
    But I agree that the posture and weight requirements are different in ballet, flamenco and Oriental dance etc. I would venture to say as well that even the teaching/learning style of ballet et al is different than learning Oriental dance with it's emphasis on emotional response to the music and use of more muscularly driven movement. At least dancers with formal training, can change an existing posture, where as ordinary, non-dancers have to develop Oriental dance posture after a lifetime of poor postural habits, old injuries etc.
    I read an article on Hossam Ramzy's website that when Badia employed Samia, Taheya, she introduced the concept of choreography for the stage, learning ballet to help the dancers with their carriage and even encouraging Samia to use a veil (during entrance) so she could do"something" with her arms. Check it out and BTW I like your avatar it's good to place a face on your intelligent posts.
    Yasmine

  10. #10
    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    Yasmine, you're sweet I'm using the pic of me and my hubby, 'cause in 2008 we're going to be celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary and I'm just too dang proud.

    Got anything brewing in Ohio, as far as workshops? I'm planning my 2007 road trips already :0

    I wonder about dancers cross-training (or rather, serious dance students cross-training) because I did it for a while, but basically had to give it up because of the schedule. I came from ballet, so going back to it was interesting, and refreshing, but I couldn't make the director understand I didn't want an allegro section with so much jumping! I need my knees! I moved into yoga and am really enjoying the effects of that -- feeling every little bitty muscle and what it connects with. Yum!

    Shareen el Safy said she would probably have been a better dancer if she'd had a ballet background. I'm not sure I agree with her, but she's very humble like that.

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