When I set up my blog I thought I would be writing about dancing. Not about what I physically get up to but how I feel about it and my thoughts and ponderings. Dance being a creative expression for me I wanted to explore some of the ideas and thoughts I have in my head that I share with close dance friends and like-minded souls. It surprised me that I have written so little about dancing and explored other topics but no mojo no words!
But here are some dancing words: I went on a day of dance linked to stories the other week. Hosted by Pauline and Asif Qu the workshops and haflas were linked into the theme of storytelling. The dance styles of the workshop leaders were clearly not my style being the lovely Angela Noble and Bex Priest but I went with an open mind. Also as Pauline and Asif are close dance friends I wanted to support their event.
Blasting out the start of the day with drumming is just the best! I would also like to point out that I will never be the best technician with regards to drumming. However drumming as enabled me to go beyond attempting to learn Arabic rhythms like bus time tables and get into the ebb flow and feel of them. There is also something so completely life affirming about drumming in a group.
Storytelling and dancing. I cannot relive word by word for me the workshops. Both were wonderfully creative and were about the physicality of telling stories. Angela’s explored the notion of physical changes and restrictions in order to create different effects with our bodies to evoke different styles. Bex took a different approach which yes did involve me at one point being a rabid dog! However I suddenly realised that Bex and I shared a commonality – the need to tell stories and our approaches are not so far apart even if the outcomes are worlds apart!
The dance world in recent years has gone teacher and workshop mad. The choice on offer these days is fantastic and has certainly improved dance standards. This has impacted on the amount of dance tuition one can have the opportunities for study. This can naturally be followed through with watching you tube clips of favourite dancers, routines etc. I think this overload has a direct relationship with my losing my mojo and to be honest being bored of belly dancing.
So here is what I am thinking – we have created a realm of beautiful technicians who look great. They have the perfect hip drip, shimmy and hair flick. Whether in the world of tribal improv, cabaret or Oriental style, Egyptian, Turkish whatever I believe there is a wave of copycat dancing. I have been watching stuff and drifting off. Catching myself thinking “she is gorgeous, she has got it all going on I should love her” but being bored. To be honest I thought I was just getting old, jealous and snippy! But here is the point – if you do not tell your story your way then what do you have? I cannot watch tribute bands. I can’t see the point. Therefore I have no need to watch pretend Randas, Dinas or Rachel Brices. They exist already for me to go watch why would I want to go watch a pretend one?
Technical ability is important. This is the language of dance. A range of moves has to be your vocabulary and you need to practice you “accent”. But the story must be written in your words with your own phrases and expression. If a dancer just takes another person’s choreography or range of moves then I would suggest this is just belly dance like painting by numbers- nice colouring in but nothing original.
Dance for me is about an expression of my emotional feelings and exploration of a piece of music or song. If it makes me feel happy that I attempt to find a physical expression that is mine when being happy. Therefore when watching dancing I want to see a dancer give me that honest approach and their own expression. It is about being truthful and honesty. It also perhaps needs to be about risks and indeed colouring over the lines to wake up bored folk like me!
I danced at a WI event this week. Telling some of those little stories that contribute to map of belly dance (missed out the Harem and childbirth though as no one asked! haha!). A receptive and informed bunch of women, two had lived in the Middle East I decided to share with them my new solo. At the end one of the ladies come up to me and explained how much she had enjoyed it and how she felt I was telling a story and expressing emotion and how much she had loved it. I am not the best dancer in the world and have no desire to be told/lied to that I am. But the very fact that one individual got the story I was attempting to convey was just great.
On the drive back I thought about all the lovely dancers I know. Last weekend I danced at a sixties birthday hafla and there were women there dressing up, dancing and have a bloody good time. I sat there clapping, smiling and cheering. The dances were fun, entertaining, at times beautiful and overall enjoyable. I love the way belly dance liberates women to let go, express themselves and dance. Many of us do not have the perfect size, hair flick or cleavage. But we do share the same need to tell a story and share our love of dance what do you think?
To be continued …….