A question about performance.

Kashmir

New member
Off topic - but how do you know you are ready to perform without an experienced dancer available to give feedback not only on your technique (the easy one) but musical interpretation and stage presence? Once you find that person, ask them where you should start.
 

Solstyce

New member
Off topic - but how do you know you are ready to perform without an experienced dancer available to give feedback not only on your technique (the easy one) but musical interpretation and stage presence? Once you find that person, ask them where you should start.
That's another excellent question. I wonder about that also. I have no instructors within a distance that I can afford the gas to drive to and I was thinking about online classes but it kind of seems like it might not have much of a future. I was just wondering if anyone else had actually gone down that road with any success.
 

Roshanna

New member
That's another excellent question. I wonder about that also. I have no instructors within a distance that I can afford the gas to drive to and I was thinking about online classes but it kind of seems like it might not have much of a future. I was just wondering if anyone else had actually gone down that road with any success.
If you haven't started learning yet, take things one step at a time. Most dancers take regular classes for several years before starting to think about performing! You can cross that bridge when you come to it.

Even if you can't afford to travel to a real teacher every week, you might be able to arrange to have occasional private lessons, either in person or on Skype, with a good teacher. You might also want to consider saving up to travel sometimes to workshops, residential courses or conventions, even if it's just once a year or something. The big dance events usually include performance opportunities of some sort.
 

Darshiva

Moderator
I've been living in rural areas for 15ish years (except for a brief 6 month stint in a capital city earlier this year) and to answer your question, I travel to perform for the most part. Locally, I try to be involved in variety shows and local markets & stuff, but there isn't a lot of paid work in performing in rural Australia. Most of my income comes from teaching online classes, would you believe it?

Anyway, my advice to you is to network with your local performing arts groups and once you're ready to perform (your teacher will let you know when you're ready) approach them about being involved in a show.
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
First learn to dance for the sheer pleasure of it. When your ability equals your pleasure, then start thinking about whether or not you want to perform. ;)
 

XanaDance

New member
I did some online learning and a few minor performances as part of a private party and my theatre group - so it was all friends and family and no-one paid any entry fee. This helped me gain in confidence and get feedback on what was good/what people found boring/what was terrible.

I certainly wouldn't say I'm ready to perform where people are actually paying to watch! But that said - my teacher wanted me to join in her show after only being in the class for two weeks, so maybe she's over-optimistic, or her standards aren't as high as mine
 

Kashmir

New member
I did some online learning and a few minor performances as part of a private party and my theatre group - so it was all friends and family and no-one paid any entry fee. This helped me gain in confidence and get feedback on what was good/what people found boring/what was terrible.

I certainly wouldn't say I'm ready to perform where people are actually paying to watch! But that said - my teacher wanted me to join in her show after only being in the class for two weeks, so maybe she's over-optimistic, or her standards aren't as high as mine
Dance teacher or theatre teacher? If it was you dance teacher, I'm appalled. No-one is ready to belly dance in public after a few lessons - unless it acting as background scenery. If it was your drama teacher then the issue is she really has no idea what is involved in belly dance. No surprise there. However, by agreeing to go on stage as a belly dancer you are not doing yourself or the genre any favours. People will assume they saw real belly dance and conclude there isn't much to it.

As far as feedback goes, the General Public is not the answer. You need feedback from an experience belly dancer. How do you expect the GP to know what belly dance actually is? Whether your technique was correct? Whether you interpreted the music correctly? All they can tell you is whether you project and communicate well (important but not the whole of the dance) and if they liked your costume (which they are unlikely to know if it is appropriate).
 

Bellydance Oz

New member
For people who take online courses because they have no teachers in their area where do you perform?
If someone is learning from online sources, then I would be surprised if they ever get good enough to perform!

To get to a performance standard in dancing, you really need feedback and correction from a real live teacher. Perhaps you could look for some summer schools or belly dance holidays where you could get some personal tuition, as well as honest feedback on your standard.
 

Darshiva

Moderator
If someone is learning from online sources, then I would be surprised if they ever get good enough to perform!

To get to a performance standard in dancing, you really need feedback and correction from a real live teacher. Perhaps you could look for some summer schools or belly dance holidays where you could get some personal tuition, as well as honest feedback on your standard.
I learned *mostly* from videos, but I do agree that having in-the-moment feedback is invaluable, which is why I supplement my learning with private lessons, workshops and skype classes as they become available. Sticking to one delivery method isn't healthy, be it live classes or videos. It's essential as a well-rounded dancer to get instruction and feedback from a variety of sources.
 

XanaDance

New member
Dance teacher or theatre teacher? If it was you dance teacher, I'm appalled. No-one is ready to belly dance in public after a few lessons - unless it acting as background scenery. If it was your drama teacher then the issue is she really has no idea what is involved in belly dance. No surprise there. However, by agreeing to go on stage as a belly dancer you are not doing yourself or the genre any favours. People will assume they saw real belly dance and conclude there isn't much to it.

As far as feedback goes, the General Public is not the answer. You need feedback from an experience belly dancer. How do you expect the GP to know what belly dance actually is? Whether your technique was correct? Whether you interpreted the music correctly? All they can tell you is whether you project and communicate well (important but not the whole of the dance) and if they liked your costume (which they are unlikely to know if it is appropriate).

I just wrote a massive reply which got eaten by the internet and now my baby is crying. I will come back to this. This is just a reminder
 
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XanaDance

New member
Ok here goes -
It was my dance teacher who suggested I was in her show, alongside herself and others dancers. Some of us had been dancing a couple of weeks, some about 8 years. I said NO, because like you I felt that there's no way I'd be worth watching!

I don't have a drama teacher, I used to run a youth theatre, and again you are right - I would never presume to know enough about a dance form to put it in a show.

The feedback was from friends and family in the theatre group because they have a party at New Year where people are invited to sing or dance or do a "turn" - poetry etc. It's all for fun. They wanted to see what I'd been learning so I threw together a basic choreography to music I enjoy. It was mainly to get my confidence back on a stage and do something I love - I'm struggling to come back from postnatal depression.

So while you are right - I probably was a disgrace to bellydance and obviously the General Public won't give as valuable feedback as a dance teacher - sometimes you just need to get back up and have some fun, supported by people who love you.

I think my original point was that the dance teacher can't be all that good if she thinks that after a month of teaching I'd be equal to herself and others who have been dancing for years.
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
"sometimes you just need to get back up and have some fun, supported by people who love you."

Absolutely. Sometimes we make too much of who dances in public how soon. Professional troupes have different requirements than amateur ensembles which have different requirements than community rec center recital performances. There is a place for every level of performance.

Belly dance is not a god to be served with perfect performances and rules about who has studied long enough to represent the art form. Belly dance came easily and quickly to me. My first public performance came within my first year of lessons and it was quite a credible performance. I'm not unique in this by any means. Other people struggle with the vocabulary and their own bodies: they may take lessons all their lives and never be up to even skilled amateur levels. So what? They can still get up and have some fun, supported by people who are happy to watch them.

Give your teacher the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she is a kind woman who wants all her students to feel included and invited you to perform so you could get a taste for what is ahead.

None of my current students are going to be professionals though one or two have done some private gigs. I make sure there is at least one dance that everyone is capable of following and if a newbie student wants to take a swing at it, she or he is welcome. Most new students prefer to be in the audience but they are also welcome backstage to help out with costumes and props if they aren't dancing. They are part of the class and are entitled to be involved.

A few times as a teacher, I've been faced with saying, "If you don't catch up with the others, you can't dance in the show. It isn't fair for others to work hard and then have the performance pulled down by someone who hasn't bothered to practice on her own." I hate doing it but it is important for that student's education to understand what is required. Once I had a student who was on the border of dance or don't dance. The other well-rehearsed and dear students said unanimously, "We want her to dance with us- succeed or fail, she's one of us." Upon hearing this, the laggard got herself in gear, practiced diligently, and by show time was step perfect.

Sometimes all it takes is a little push to turn a so-so dancer into a good one.

(Stepping off soapbox NOW.:lol:)
 

Kashmir

New member
"They wanted to see what I'd been learning so I threw together a basic choreography to music I enjoy" - great. I don't think you were necessarily a "disgrace to bellydance". You were sharing what your learnt with your friends - whether or not it was "belly dance" is a completely different issue (I mean if you had a performance from someone who'd done 2 months of ballet classes would you call the resulting performance "ballet"?)
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
I would. It might not be great or complex ballet but it would be ballet as opposed to, say, tarantella. ;)
 

XanaDance

New member
Well yes, if it was recognizable to me as ballet I would. What else could it be called? It might not be of a very high standard, but if she's only been learning two months that's understandable.

"Most new students prefer to be in the audience but they are also welcome backstage to help out with costumes and props if they aren't dancing. They are part of the class and are entitled to be involved.

A few times as a teacher, I've been faced with saying, "If you don't catch up with the others, you can't dance in the show. It isn't fair for others to work hard and then have the performance pulled down by someone who hasn't bothered to practice on her own." I hate doing it but it is important for that student's education to understand what is required"

I suppose you're right I should try and be more forgiving to my teacher. Maybe she was trying to involve me - it just seemed odd.
And yes, I've had to do that in the youth theatre with the lead male who had too much on his plate but was too young to see it or admit it to us. Sad, but we all learned from it.

Definitely going to practice at home and will stick in with the workshops when I can. Maybe I'll ask a LOT more questions on technique when I don't know what we're meant to be doing. Possibly she will then start giving more verbal instructions alongside saying "Just copy me"
 

Bellydance Oz

New member
Maybe I'll ask a LOT more questions on technique when I don't know what we're meant to be doing. Possibly she will then start giving more verbal instructions alongside saying "Just copy me"
In my experience, a LOT of traditional dance styles are taught by the "watch and copy" method, with little or no explanation. I've come across it a lot in belly dance and frequently in flamenco, too.

My theory is that these are dances which are learnt from childhood in their countries of origin - and "watch and copy" works for children. They're not ready to intellectualise what they're doing anyway. Then, when your Middle Eastern teacher comes to the West and starts passing on her knowledge, she teaches it the way SHE was taught as a child.

I once had this conversation with a Turkish teacher, who told me she didn't start explaining about the correct use of the muscles (especially the abdominal muscles) until the students were in their third year. In the first two years she just wanted to get the students familiar with the movements.

That seemed completely back-to-front to me, because I always feel I do a movement better if I know the explanation beforehand. In fact, I found myself having to "unlearn" some steps where I was using my legs to drive hip movements, when it was finally explained!!

I also suspect this is the reason I see so many belly dancers in Australia with taught legs and saggy tummies - they use their legs. I once asked one Sydney belly dance teacher whether she'd ever been taught how to use the abdominal muscles in belly dance, other than for camels and undulations - and she actually said "you don't".
 
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Roshanna

New member
I once had this conversation with a Turkish teacher, who told me she didn't start explaining about the correct use of the muscles (especially the abdominal muscles) until the students were in their third year. In the first two years she just wanted to get the students familiar with the movements.

That seemed completely back-to-front to me, because I always feel I do a movement better if I know the explanation beforehand. In fact, I found myself having to "unlearn" some steps where I was using my legs to drive hip movements, when it was finally explained!!

I also suspect this is the reason I see so many belly dancers in Australia with taught legs and saggy tummies - they use their legs. I once asked one Sydney belly dance teacher whether she'd ever been taught how to use the abdominal muscles in belly dance, other than for camels and undulations - and she actually said "you don't".
This seems illustrative of the importance of general physical awareness/proprioception in learning dance. I think that if someone had trained in *any* movement discipline that encouraged being mindful of muscle engagement and aware of the body (e.g. pilates), they would get a lot further with 'watch and follow' teaching. When I watch a dancer now, I can almost feel what muscles she is using (or isn't) - but this definitely wasn't the case as a beginner. I do find that I now find it easier to pick up non-bellydance dance movement by watching, too, having developed that set of skills.

The problem with 'watch and follow' for beginners in bellydance is that so many of our new dancers are not only adults, but do not have any previous relevant movement background, and so have not developed the motor skills to learn in this way. So as teachers, giving new students that toolkit of body awareness has to be a top priority in order for them to get anywhere.

Sorry to go totally off topic, but this is an interesting digression...
 
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