December 6, 2010

Student to Student: Dance on Thru to the Other Side

(Najla's note:  Our guest post for the day is written by one of my lovely students, Krysta.  She's talented, witty, charming, uber-cute and quite enraptured by dance of all shapes and sizes...perfect for belly dance, right?  She wrote the lovely post below, and I picked the picture below...hee...hee)

Step.  Ball-Change.  Sache Right.  Oh hell.  Step.  Ball-change.  Shimmy, Drop.  No.  Step.  Ball-change.  I. Give. Up.  I.  Need. A. Drink.

Whether you’re a beginner or a veteran dancer, you have probably had a similar thought process while trying to master difficult choreography – or choreography that doesn’t necessarily come naturally to you.  Fear not my frustrated comrade, you are not the first or the last to feel the hopelessness of a blank memory when trying desperately to coax your arms and legs into the right formation in the right rhythm while the rest of your company kicks and smacks you while perfectly executing every turn, leap and shimmy across the studio floor.

Below are several helpful things to keep in mind while negotiating your way to the end of this agonizing class or rehearsal. 

Look and Listen
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen dancers try to dance a new choreography WITH the teacher while s/he is teaching it for the first time. I realize that people learn differently, but there is a lot to be said about watching and observing the moves you are about to spend an hour and a half (or three) working on. Take the physical break while you can get it, sister! It also helps to listen to your instructor, as they often mention small details and nuances of the choreography as they dance the routine (and sometimes even beforehand). If you’re already in the middle of actually learning the routine, it is completely acceptable to stop, step to the side, and watch the movement so that you can process it before jumping back in.

Do not give up, dismiss yourself or berate yourself.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Whether you think can, or you think you can’t, you’re probably right.” You are not Suzie-Q Dance-a-Roo next to, in front of, or behind you. She has a different past, present and future. Do not concern yourself with comparisons or self-deprecation. Those sorts of negative thoughts clutter the mind, and do not allow space for the choreography you should be learning right now. Get out of your own way. (And the way of your neighboring dancer).

I, like many others, forget to breathe – as a dancer and as a human. When you make sure to remember to integrate your breath into your movement, your body can associate the movement with the sequence of the breath. Breathing also increases the quality of your movement.

You are not alone.
Suzie-Q Dance-a-Roo may be dancing circles around you and the teacher, but have you considered the 10 other dancers who are either working through the same section as you are…or perhaps a section you’ve mastered?

Tomorrow is another day.
We all have off-days. Now, off-days are not an excuse for poor work-ethic, but they do happen, and it’s important to be forgiving of yourself if you’re having one. Keep working through it, stop when you need to, and jump in when you’re ready. (This is not a way to allow yourself to give up either, by the way.)

As with most things, at the heart of it all, if you just continue to do your work with positivity and optimism, you’ll surprise yourself one day with the perfect execution of your routine. And, I’m sure you’ve heard this a thousand times before in performance and rehearsal….but don’t forget to smile!

1 comment:

  1. Great article! I always forget to breathe because I'm such a perfectionist. I'll definitely have to try these out soon.