Stuck, what should I do now?

Imeera

New member
Okay so I have got most of the moves. I can do most of them well but I am struggling to put them together and...well...dance! I know it must sound odd but because I learnt from DvDs where the moves are taught in isolation when faced with a piece of music I just can't string them together very well in an improvisation, its not transisioning thats the problem as I can transission from one move to another, its just putting all the moves into a dance. I was thinking of taking a piece of music and trying to come up with my own choreography?

What do you guys think? =]
 

gisela

Super Moderator
You could start with impovising with limitations. Like, choose two moves, f ex a circle and a hip figure 8. Then put on music and interchange those moves in a way you think fits the music. Then add another move or some arms.
In the beginning impovisation can be overwhelming because you think too much and try to choose logically what to do. If you put a limit on moves, you don't have to think so much, and can focus more on feeling the music.
 

Darshiva

Moderator
Imeera, I teach this very topic as a private lesson, a workshop and a class. Farasha is one of my students and she studies with me via skype. We covered this very topic yesterday. So whilst I am very qualified to give an answer (improvisation being one of my areas of expertise) I am reluctant to do so outside of a classroom setting (virtual or otherwise).

If you're willing to discuss taking a class to improve your skills in this area, please pm me. Another option I have found excellent which will fit in with your current method of learning is Nadira Jamal's series of dvds and teleconferences. She also specialises in improvisation.

Finally, this is one of the limitations in learning from dvd - if your brain doesn't already default to "improv is fun" then you won't really learn it from dvds. I learned a lot of what I do from dvds so I am the last person to try to dissuade you from doing that, but you do need to supplement it with private lessons, workshops and master classes on a fairly regular basis just to make sure that you are on the right track. Without that, you're not learning to dance but to move your body in a certain way.
 

Kashmir

New member
Okay so I have got most of the moves. I can do most of them well but I am struggling to put them together and...well...dance! I know it must sound odd but because I learnt from DvDs where the moves are taught in isolation when faced with a piece of music I just can't string them together very well in an improvisation
You have learnt a great truth, Grasshopper, belly dance is not a bunch of moves.

You have also highlighted a major limitation of DVDs (and lousy teachers) - drilling "moves" (and, actually, I'd surprised if you have learnt "most" of them - probably just most of what is on your DVDs - decades on and I'm still finding new ones! Let alone foot patterns)

Next, dance training can be thought of as made up of two parts - which for the sake of simplicity you can label left and right brain. The left brain practice is all about generating perfect movement - or replicating steps in a choreography. The right brain practice is about actually dancing - by drawing on the skills you developed earlier.

Left brain can be easily broken down and packaged as DVDs - although people have varying ability to be self aware. (I have stood in front of a mirror with a student and pointed out the difference in her movement and mine and she has insisted she was doing EXACTLY what I was doing) Right brain is harder to package - a live teacher is really recommended. I guess you are getting sort of free live teaching here - but one in the flesh is much better.

My advice? Try the dancing to two moves idea above. Take a track and dance only with (say) a hip rock and a horizontal eight. Express the music with these two moves. Follow the texture, the phrasing, etc. Next repeat with more awareness - here a teacher is helpful because they can observe and feedback. Not only does this mean you are not needing to switch modes but (hopefully) their experience in a wide range of movement can give you fresh ideas. For instance, on a repeat you might repeat with a different arm postion (arms are not belly dance so don't count as moves) or a direction or level change.

Also, watch lots of good belly dancers. Watch the same performance over and over. Dance with it. (And buy your own DVDs - don't use YouTube)
 

Selene

New member
This is very good advice! I wasnt the one that asked but its not easy for me at this point to put the moves together, but Im getting there ^_^ thank you all!
 

Amulya

Moderator
When you listen to belly dance music, try to visualise a dancer, listen to the changes in the music, the rythm, the instruments and try to imagine what kind of movements would suit that particular part of the music. For example is there is a part with a flute, maybe it sounds like figure eights, or maybe a particular beat sounds like a shimmy or hip drops. The suggestion to limit to a few movements only is a good one to start with. And just practise, practise and practise, daily! For inspiration watch a lot of performance DVDs or YouTube clips, see how other dancers interpret music is very inspiring :)
 

Anetta

New member
I am posting on this thread because I am facing a similar issue and I would appreciate your help.
I am a beginner in BD, mostly self taught using DVDs video-blogs etc. So far, I have learnt some basic moves. In order to give you an idea on what my level is, I tried to evaluate and divide them to 3 groups below:
Level A (I can do these moves easy and accurate-even while holding a book on my head, and I enjoy them a lot, which is a good sign!)
hip kicks, double hip kicks, walking with hip kicks
piston drops
hip drops
small hip circles
intermediate h.c.
Vertical figure 8s (both directions)
Chest slides side to side, front and back
Chest & Shoulder shimmy
Camel walk
Shoulder rolls, snake arms, soft finger moves
Level B (I can do these moves but I have to put some more effort, try not to bounce, try to be accurate, so I don’t enjoy them that much)
hip drops with foot lifts
hip drops walking (egyptian walk)
omi hip circles, large hip circles, sidehip circles
Horizontal fig. 8s (both directions)
Chest lifts, chest circles and any sharp moves
Upper body undulation
Basic shimmy (fast hip kicks) static or walking
Egyptian shimmy (knee move) static or one leg
Twisting shimmy static or walking
Level C (I have to put a lot of effort, sometimes I manage to do them correctly, sometimes I fail)
Side hips figure 8
Chest figure 8
Egyptian drops&kicks
Reverse up.body undulation
Full body undulation
Belly roll
3/4 shimmy
Hangala walk​

Given the fact that I will start taking classes with a prof. teacher this September, I don’t want to learn additional moves alone anymore; I think it is better to improve myself in what I learnt so far and wait for my teacher to instruct me further.
My everyday practice is: warm up, do all above moves while listening to music, follow a video workout/drills, do simple abs & back exercises (like abs crunches) and finally stretching. I am doing this for the last 2 years, gradually adding moves that I discover in DVDs/internet.

But still this is a bunch of moves. I don’t feel like being able to dance!

Should I start trying a simple choreography or is it too soon? Should I just improvise while listening to music? Or should I keep working on my technique, until all my basic moves are "level A" and wait for the real classes before to proceed with dancing?
What do you think? :think:

**Ooops, sorry for the long post!
 

Kashmir

New member
Okay - excuse me for a long reply. You have lots of moves - if anything way too many! you can do great belly dance with 2 or 3 moves. Stop collecting and start dancing!

Yet, when i look at your A, B, C I see some odd stuff. You put vertical hip 8's in group A but horizontal (which are easier and far common) in group B. Assuming it is due to difficulty in isolation I guess (without ever seeing your dance) you are driving the movements with your legs. Use your obliques. A lot of chest work in there - I assume you are doing AmCab? All that chest work is wasted on Egyptian.

Personally, the term "drop and kick" rises my hackles - because people who say that tend to do that. It's a hip release - not a kick.

Crunches - why? and how? belly dance does not need over-worked abdominis rectus. It does need controlled obliques. Further, most people don't even use their abdominis rectus for crunches but their hip flexors. Drop that bit and do some improvisation. Yes, spend time dancing. And don't use all those moves. Pick no more than three and EXPRESS a short Arabic track (beledi is easiest).

Transitions and weight transfer- how much have you done? Ditto creating your own combos to a simple drum rhythm? What about simple arm patterns?

Stop collecting movs. Turn off the lights and dance.
 

Anetta

New member
Kashmir, thank you so much for the quick responce! I will follow your suggestion and start dancing combining 2-3 moves at a time!
And you are right, my difiiculties on "B moves" are mostly isolations, balance, and "how to put my feet"-issues. I try to solve this by drilling every day, seeking for instructions, and exercising. That's also why I do crunches and fitness exercises: I thouhgt that if I had more strength an flexibility I would do better isolations. But to be honest I already doubd on how effective they are in BD:confused:. What kind of cross-training exercises would you suggest?
Chest moves - I just love them! It is too soon to select a dancing style, for sure I adore Egyptian but at this moment I try to stick on basics and work with my upper body as much as I work with my hips and legs.

I have to apologise about my terminology: By "hip drops" I mean this
"hip drops and lifts" is this
and hip kicks is this
Please feel free to correct me! I get so confused sometimes, every "online teacher" uses different terms and I don't know what is right and what is wrong :confused:

Transitions and weight transfer- I try to layer my moves with arms, to exchange hip moves with chest moves while listening to music, and I try some combos from this website I also do some travelling steps like step-pivor turn-step-arabesque pose or travelling side to side while lifting the opposite hip, or doing undulations or shimmies..
But I feel like a robot, I cannot connect the next move smoothly, it is not how feel when "social dancing". Is this a sign that I should do more dancing than practicing?
 
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Shanazel

Super Moderator
I don't know what is right and what is wrong
I'm right and everyone else is wrong. :lol:

Such good advice from everyone. My two cents worth:

Like the lady said, just turn off the lights and dance. Dancing IS practicing. You've collected a vocabulary of movement; perhaps right now your brain needs to turn off for a few minutes and let your body respond to the music without worrying about the commas and periods that make up transitions.

In the long run, improvisation for a solo dancer is a real saving grace. Sooner or later, the music to which you have so carefully choreographed your movements is a) going to get left at home; b) get lost somewhere behind stage; c) get stolen; or d) eaten by your dog.

Actually, the dog was innocent; my toddler daughter used my favorite tape for teething. ;)

Anyway, if you can improvise, all you have to do is pick another reasonably familiar song and swirl your lovely self onto the stage.
 

Darshiva

Moderator
Anyway, if you can improvise, all you have to do is pick another reasonably familiar song and swirl your lovely self onto the stage.
And if you're spending a lot of time with it, you can improv to your audience clapping out a beat for you. Improv is a dancer's best friend. My advice is definitely dance dance dance for yourself. The moves are nothing if you don't do anything with them!
 

Anetta

New member
Thank you all for your advices! I already started "dancing" to a song every day after my daily workout, combining 2-3 moves each time. Not only is it fun and keeps me motivated, but also helps me feel these moves more natural, to feel them as "my moves", if this can make sense. On the other hand it is a good tool to find out where do I need more work, or realize the importance of other parameters such as balance, face expression, feeling the rythm, grace. There are moves I can do very well when practicing them separately in a simple rythm, but combining them and dancing with music... is a totally different story! :rolleyes:
 
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