Smiling During Dance.

LunaXJJ

New member
Is it always appropriate to smile when dancing. I know most dances, and most dance critics make sure there's a smile. However what if it's a solemn tune, a sad song, etc should you still smile? I saw a lyrical dance to a very sad song, but she kept smiling through, and I think it's due to training rather than expressing the emotions of the song.

Opinions?
 

Jane

New member
Your facial expression should match the emotion in the song. Hopefully, it's a natural reaction. :D
 

Kashmir

New member
Not for belly dance. You will often smile - but some times the music (or your own mood) won't call for it. In fact nothing I hate worse than a plastic stick on smile. Your face, however, should express emotion rather than be blank. Happiness, introspection, fury, sadness, sexiness - whatever - just not a slack 1-2-3-4 face.
 

shiradotnet

New member
I have an article on my web site that talks about facial expression in performance: Dear Shira: Bringing Expression and Sensuality into Dance

Also, remember there are different types of smiles. Smiles can be mysterious, come-hither, playful, mischievous, wistful, relief, defiant, victorious, etc. Some smiles are appropriate for sad songs (such as reflecting on the good times you had with a lost love before it all went sour). Some are appropriate for breaking-up-with-a-jerk songs ("Glad I'm rid of you!" or the satisfied smile you get when you tell your best friend about how you told him to go jump in a lake). Often, if you think creatively about a song, you can find some sort of smile that would be appropriate for it - but it often won't be a joyful/flirty smile.
 
Is it always appropriate to smile when dancing. I know most dances, and most dance critics make sure there's a smile. However what if it's a solemn tune, a sad song, etc should you still smile? I saw a lyrical dance to a very sad song, but she kept smiling through, and I think it's due to training rather than expressing the emotions of the song.
This is a timely post, because I went to a (fabulous) show recently presented by Jrisi Jusakos. Melusina was dancing. I've seen her dance several times but always with a Tribal influence. This time, she did a more classical solo - and although she danced it beautifully, she spoiled it with her smile!

She also danced with her troupe in a Tribal number (with a serious face) and it made me realize that I've always seen her in melancholy or mysterious mode - which she conveys with great intensity, to the point where the audience is mesmerized. But in the Egyptian number, it seemed to me that she smiled because she was "supposed" to smile - so instead of a smile that included her eyes, we got a bared-teeth expression.

Personally, I would have enjoyed the dance much more if Melusina had just used her natural expression instead of trying to fit the norm. The music was upbeat, but if it didn't make her want to smile, she shouldn't have forced it. It's a lesson I'm going to apply to my own dancing!
 

khanjar

New member
The ability to show emotion in dance comes with confidence in one's abilities and familiarity with the music. Most I do is an inane grin at the moment.
 

Jane

New member
My natural smile looks like Fozzie Bear. I call it my muppet grin. Must. Work. On. That.

 

Jane

New member
Ha ha ha Farasha. That picture is hilarious, just promise me to never wear your hair like that for a performance :lol:
 

Zumarrad

Member
Smiling and not-smiling have a lot to do with you as a performer, the way you interpret the music and the context in which you are dancing IMO. I don't look very nice when I don't smile. So who wants to see a whole song of that? And I've also noticed famous Egyptian dancers dancing to songs we might think of as sad or melancholy or otherwise not-happy with big grins on, but that also reflects the bit they are dancing to. It's useful to know the lyrical bits of a song that happen to be sad or angry or whatever, so that you can show that on your face. But in the instrumental bits, or the bits where the lyrics are not achingly miserable, it's entirely appropriate to smile.

An oriental dancer IMO is traditionally an entertainer before she is an Interpretive Artiste and it is traditionally her job to help the audience have a good time. This doesn't mean being all hoopla and all cheese, all the time - there are spaces where she can take the audience on a journey into all manner of emotions - but it does mean being pleasant to look at. You can of course go into the realm of Interpretive Artiste Activity and be as angry or hearbroken as you want all the time, but that is a new layer IMO that takes you a bit further away from the interactivity of traditional bellydance and a bit closer to the theatre.

I think not having a fixed expression of any kind is what we want to aim for. Fortunately so much classic music used for bellydance has such a variety of moods in it, it's impossible IMO to cheese out for the whole piece!
 

~Diana~

AFK Moderator
I like a rang of emotion that matches the dance and music. It weirds me out when a dancer keeps the same smile all teh time or even during parts where it makes it feel like she is a nutszo killer for smiling there.
 

Yame

New member
Smiling and not-smiling have a lot to do with you as a performer, the way you interpret the music and the context in which you are dancing IMO. I don't look very nice when I don't smile. So who wants to see a whole song of that? And I've also noticed famous Egyptian dancers dancing to songs we might think of as sad or melancholy or otherwise not-happy with big grins on, but that also reflects the bit they are dancing to. It's useful to know the lyrical bits of a song that happen to be sad or angry or whatever, so that you can show that on your face. But in the instrumental bits, or the bits where the lyrics are not achingly miserable, it's entirely appropriate to smile.

An oriental dancer IMO is traditionally an entertainer before she is an Interpretive Artiste and it is traditionally her job to help the audience have a good time. This doesn't mean being all hoopla and all cheese, all the time - there are spaces where she can take the audience on a journey into all manner of emotions - but it does mean being pleasant to look at. You can of course go into the realm of Interpretive Artiste Activity and be as angry or hearbroken as you want all the time, but that is a new layer IMO that takes you a bit further away from the interactivity of traditional bellydance and a bit closer to the theatre.

I think not having a fixed expression of any kind is what we want to aim for. Fortunately so much classic music used for bellydance has such a variety of moods in it, it's impossible IMO to cheese out for the whole piece!
THIS, one million times!

I don't even have anything to add. This, plus Shira's post pretty much sums up anything I could say on this topic.

I'm tired of the black and white "we must smile all the time!" or "one must never smile during a sad song" statements. It's so much more complex than that.
 

bomu samba

New member
I recently watched the video of my last halfa performance. It seems that my full range of facial expressions goes from here

to here


All-smiles-all-the-time looks ridiculously fake on me and natural-looking facial expressions are something I have real difficulty with when I dance. I'm going to try the advice in Shira's article and hopefully I'll see an improvement!
 

LunaXJJ

New member
Hahaha, I have the grumpy cat face all the time. Seriously, I've been told I always look sad or mad when I'm not making an expression. I don't like smiling too big, I have prominent cheekbones so it makes me squint too much.
 

BigJim

New member
Interesting topic.... I'm looking at this from the view point of a newbie performer... I have some experience soloing but not the kind of experience that dancing a 100 times plus in front of an audience gives you.

The first couple of times dancing I had a problem with dropping my head... I guess I was looking at my hips to make sure they were moving . The next couple of times I had my head up but was concentrating so hard on what I was doing that I was unconciously making some pretty weird faces... (so the wife says)...

So probably if you are just getting into performing you can see that there are worse things than having a plastered on smile...

Khanjar had a good comment that confidence in your routine and familiarity with the music leads to being able to vary your expression.... which in turn gives the audience a better experience.

It takes time and experience to get to the point where you can relax and share your feelings with the audience with your facial expressions... but that I think is the place we are all trying to get to when we perform...

Hope this makes sense... Jim
 

Indigo Shimmer

New member
This reminded me of something our teacher said in class last week. We're trying to learn diamonds so everyone is struggling with learning a sideways belly roll. My teacher said that she'll never do one in performance unless she can were a veil on her face because she's concentrating so much on doing that move that her mouth does some really strange things!:lol: GAAAAHHH! So forget smiling altogether!

Indigo S.
 

Ahava_Melantha

New member
knowing and reading the lyrics/meaning of the song also help with connecting to the song and "translating" it to the audience.

also - Rosa Noreen's "Delicious Pauses" dvd talks about dancing with a special secret and that can help with the right expressions.

hope that helps.
 

Yame

New member
Khanjar had a good comment that confidence in your routine and familiarity with the music leads to being able to vary your expression.... which in turn gives the audience a better experience.

It takes time and experience to get to the point where you can relax and share your feelings with the audience with your facial expressions... but that I think is the place we are all trying to get to when we perform...

Hope this makes sense... Jim
This is exactly right.

knowing and reading the lyrics/meaning of the song also help with connecting to the song and "translating" it to the audience.
Aaaannd this! I find that I dance a lot better to music that has words that I know very well.
 
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