Wednesday, March 4, 2009

My SITA Chapter 3: Secrets of performing SITA or What to do once you’re out there

While attending a festival organized by the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of MECDA (Middle Eastern Culture and Dance Association) in Palo Alto, I came across a series of instructional DVDs created specifically for bellydancers looking to develop their performance skills. Each volume contains video clips of a number of professional dancers who each narrates her personal take on the subject at hand. Secrets of the Stage: Volume 3 (Cheeky Girls Productions) features “Dancing to Live Music” and “Inspiration and Creativity.” The collective wisdom of these dancers and musicians regarding Technique and Dynamism in performance has aided my practice enormously.

Letting go of technique on stage is persistent theme among these artists. Sandra advises that when improvising, you should “lower your technical standards” and expectations. Nanna councils that your dance is not all about your technical skill: most audiences will respond to your personality. Be prepared for your mind to go blank from time to time. Musician Doug Adamz recommends that if you feel and respond to the music, your dance will come thru. If you have “fed the well,” says Luna, then your resources have become internalized: “Trust that the muse will come.”

“Don’t just do something, Stand there!”
I believe this quote originated with 20th century modern dancer Doris Humphrey (if anyone out there knows for sure please provide a reference). Several bellydance performers on this DVD alluded to this principle as well. Nanna warns not to “blow out” all your energy at the beginning. Sandra suggests we take our time and relax into the moment. Several artists remind us that we don’t need to move on every, single beat. This is harder than it sounds. I know intellectually that changes from stillness to motion add dynamism, but I find it difficult to control my adrenaline even when I should be doing a quiet taxeem.

Shoshonna’s advice was simple: get out there and try it and keep trying it. Sign up for student nights, dance during open floor sets, accept invitations to perform and embrace the process.

I find all of this advice encouraging and inspiring. Now lets see if I can put it to good use. I will keep you posted.

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