Improvising on stage

moonoverwater

New member
I know this might sound a bit weird but I was wondering if it is possible to perform on stage with a piece of music you know but improvising the dance as you go along? Has anyone done this?
 

Kashmir

New member
I know this might sound a bit weird but I was wondering if it is possible to perform on stage with a piece of music you know but improvising the dance as you go along? Has anyone done this?
Yes - why not? I prefer to improvise and this would be my preferred option. It is especialy easy if you know the music. I have seen many dancers not only improvise on stage - but do it to an unknown band playing something the dancer may or may not know. (Or worse a diiferent version of something they do know)
 

Daimona

Moderator
I know this might sound a bit weird but I was wondering if it is possible to perform on stage with a piece of music you know but improvising the dance as you go along? Has anyone done this?
It is probably a lot more common than you think it is.
Every step between a fully choreographed dance to complete improvising is both possible and common in belly dance performances.
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
I know this might sound a bit weird but I was wondering if it is possible to perform on stage with a piece of music you know but improvising the dance as you go along? Has anyone done this?
Yes, certainly. Its how many, many dancers perform - including me. Now show me a dancer who improvises to a song s/he's never heard before - THAT is real skill! No, I can't do that! :lol:
 

nany rodriguez

New member
I know this might sound a bit weird but I was wondering if it is possible to perform on stage with a piece of music you know but improvising the dance as you go along? Has anyone done this?
Hi, I used to choreographed every song I was supposed to dance, but sometimes I dont have enough time and now I am starting to improvise more and more, and find it very interesting, pleaseant and enjoy every minute of the dance while performing....but I do listen to the music many times before.
 

Jane

New member
I'll be doing improv in my next stage show out of necessity. The musicians never play my piece the same way structurally twice, and they are playing improv for the taxeem and drum solo sections of the song. They primarily play for ATS dancers, so their music isn't traditional belly dance music. They do have Ah Ya Zein and a Rai piece in their repertoire, but that's about it for Arabic music. It's very difficult to match Egyptian style dancing to what they play for me. It's impossible to anticipate any phrases and accents. I end up using more of my American Oriental background when I dance with them. It's not ideal, but I can make it work. Sometimes it is what it is.
 

Kashmir

New member
... however, to make a good job of it, you have to really know belly dance ie you need to know the movement vocab reasonably well - so it is clean and automatic. You also need to know how to interpret Arabic music with your body in a belly dance manner. You need to practice improvising for performance. After all, improvising in itself is just dancing to music. When you are doing it on stage you need to be able to also consider how the piece looks to the audience; how have you used the stage? have you varied your texture? have you got a balance between repetition and novelty?

If it takes 6-24 months for anew dancer to perform a choreography in front of friends and family - it takes several times that time to improvise a good performance. Basically, it takes experience.
 
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Salome

Administrator
Does it mean I am starting to get old when I say stuff like 'back when I was student...' ? I am always a continuing student of course... but back when I was a student attending regular weekly classes; my teacher made us improvise. It wasn't a choice and it was a central part of class. As a beginning performer all through my dancing life to a professional level... I have always improvised. I have been in situations where, for one reason or another, the band played what they played and sometimes I did not know the music. And that was OK because my teacher made sure I could dance spontaneously and be comfortable doing it. It feels like there is so much focus on combinations and choreography, combinations and choreography these days... It has its place, straight up I am not dissing it. But it shouldn't be optional. To the OP, develop this skill, it will serve you so well and some of THE best dancing comes out when you are in the moment, in the music and spontaneously responding. Viva la improvisation!
 

Yame

New member
I know this might sound a bit weird but I was wondering if it is possible to perform on stage with a piece of music you know but improvising the dance as you go along? Has anyone done this?
This question made me chuckle. Have we really strayed so far from the improvisational roots of this dance that there are now people asking if it's "possible" to improvise as if it was some novel idea? :lol:

Of course it's possible. This is how most of us perform! LOL
 

moonoverwater

New member
Thanks for the replies guys. Totally did not know what to expect from the responses. I certainly feel more comfortable with the idea of improvising on stage. Previous experience has shown this to be true also. Sorry if this sounds obvious to some but I wasn't sure how other people work as many belly dance classes I have taken focus mainly on learning a choreography or a routine set out by the teacher whereas I like to learn the moves and then take them home and play around with them.Indeed I tend to find this not just in dance but in yoga and pilates too where I like to do the moves I feel like doing on the day as opposed to what is set out for the day by a teacher or textbook.

... however, to make a good job of it, you have to really know belly dance ie you need to know the movement vocab reasonably well - so it is clean and automatic. You also need to know how to interpret Arabic music with your body in a belly dance manner. You need to practice improvising for performance. After all, improvising in itself is just dancing to music. When you are doing it on stage you need to be able to also consider how the piece looks to the audience; how have you used the stage? have you varied your texture? have you got a balance between repetition and novelty?
Thanks for these tips Kashmir. Will def start being more conscious about these things when I am dancing. Are there any books, dvd's, articles etc. you or anyone could recommend on the above mentioned aspects of improvised dance/ choreographing your own belly dance or is it purely accumulated knowledge from experience of dancing?

Thanks so much :)
 

Farasha Hanem

New member
There's one DVD I have that addresses improvisation. It's called "Secrets of the Stars, Volume 3" (wish I had the other two volumes :( ). I just watched it last night, and it's chock full of great info! :D
 

Dunyah

New member
Traditional belly dance is described by scholars as "solo, improvisational, torso-articulated" dance, or s.i.t.a. Improvisation is the very foundation of the dance, choreography came much later. Improvisation, known as taxim or taqasim, is also important in Arabic and Turkish music,
 

Kashmir

New member
many belly dance classes I have taken focus mainly on learning a choreography or a routine set out by the teacher whereas I like to learn the moves and then take them home and play around with them.
A choreography can be a good way to teach a belly dance style of interpretation - because the moves by themselves do not create belly dance. Also many students prefer that and it can be less stressful forthem and the teacher.

Much of my own learning was by following dancers improvising to music - that will also teach interpretation. It can be really helpful doing multiple versions to the same music to get the feel of the boundaries. If you don't have suitable people to try this with, you could buy good performance DVDs and follow along. Until you know what rules you can break I suggest you start with dancers from the Middle East. Fifi Abdou would be my favourite.
 

nany rodriguez

New member
Does it mean I am starting to get old when I say stuff like 'back when I was student...' ? I am always a continuing student of course... but back when I was a student attending regular weekly classes; my teacher made us improvise. It wasn't a choice and it was a central part of class. As a beginning performer all through my dancing life to a professional level... I have always improvised. I have been in situations where, for one reason or another, the band played what they played and sometimes I did not know the music. And that was OK because my teacher made sure I could dance spontaneously and be comfortable doing it. It feels like there is so much focus on combinations and choreography, combinations and choreography these days... It has its place, straight up I am not dissing it. But it shouldn't be optional. To the OP, develop this skill, it will serve you so well and some of THE best dancing comes out when you are in the moment, in the music and spontaneously responding. Viva la improvisation!
There is no maybe, I am getting old and have been teaching belly dance for more than 15 years, and have always encouraged my students to improvise. I live in Spain but once a year I have to go back to Peru for 3 or 4 months and my students have to prepare a choreography while I am out there. Most of the time I choose the music that I think matches better their skills, but this year I will ask them too choose the music they like, so far they are doing a very good job. So I really encourage belly dancers to improvise and learn to feel and express the song. If it has lyrics PLEASE be sure you know the general idea of the song, I have seen some girls dancing patriotic palestine songs:naghty:, you must avoid that mistake.Good luck girls
 

moonoverwater

New member
There's one DVD I have that addresses improvisation. It's called "Secrets of the Stars, Volume 3" (wish I had the other two volumes ). I just watched it last night, and it's chock full of great info!
Thanks for that Farasha will check it out :D

A choreography can be a good way to teach a belly dance style of interpretation - because the moves by themselves do not create belly dance. Also many students prefer that and it can be less stressful forthem and the teacher.
This is very true and I still enjoy lessons with choreography and find them inspiring but I would also like to develop my improvisational practice as well. Will check out Fifi Abdou. Any other Middle Eastern Bellydancer's you can think would be particularly good?

Also am not sure what is meant by "the rules". Could you explain a little more?
 
Hi Moonoverwater. As the other wise folk have stated that yes improvising on stage is more than fine... It is for so many reasons, music glitches, costume melodramas, waiters and waitress, stage dimensions and of course brain freeze about choreo. Oooooooo I can use the 'back in the day' when my knees were young. I learned the most in classes when they had the improv days. Learning how different dancers interpeted the music, combined moves, how your own body works. Seeing mistakes in yourself and others, this would be invaluble as sometimes you would have the same habit but while aware of it couldn't see how it looked. Also it made you feel if you weren't comfortable with someone elses choreo it didn't make you a hapless klutz or inept. You became aware of the beauty of the dance, and how somethings work better on other body types. Creaks
 

Kashmir

New member
Also am not sure what is meant by "the rules". Could you explain a little more?
It is actually belly dancing - rather than doing jazz or creative expression or salsa. Often I see new belly dance students going on stage on their own and either drilling or doing an Isadora Duncan - neither are belly dance - and their teacher should have said something.

With a really good teacher it can be explicitly taught - although it is best to learn from several teachers and integrate it. It is a combination of movement vocab, timing, attitude, appropriate response to specific music (eg khaleegi or sa`iidi), musicality etc.

You get a lot from watching good belly dancers. Just plain old experience. Then there are the single point "don'ts" that a teacher might hit you with (such as "in this style of music do not lift your heel", "in this, shoulders only not breasts", "don't hold your upper body so still" etc)
 

Jane

New member
Traditional belly dance is described by scholars as "solo, improvisational, torso-articulated" dance, or s.i.t.a. Improvisation is the very foundation of the dance, choreography came much later. Improvisation, known as taxim or taqasim, is also important in Arabic and Turkish music,
Just for clarity- Taqsim is a musical term.

Taqsim- (Division) a solo instrumental improvisation within a specific maqam.
Hurra (Free) with no expressed beat
Ala el Wahda (On the beat) Taqsim played over an iqa
Taqsim vocal improvisations-
Layali (nights) “ya leili” (Oh my nights) or “ya ayni” (oh my eye)
Mawwal pl. mawawil- colloquial lyrics

A dancer can dance improvisation during a taqsim. Not all improvisational belly dance is a taqsim.

I wish the ATS dancers would change the name of the movement they call taqsim. I think it creates confusion.
 

kaza26

New member
almost all my performance are improvised, I have trouble to remember the choreography, but the main reason that its always looks much more impressive!
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
I wish the ATS dancers would change the name of the movement they call taqsim. I think it creates confusion.
As a Cabaret dancer who is also learning ATS - I agree! Drives me nuts. I learned this movement as a "gooshie"...:lol:
 
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