March 20, 2011

Stare deeply into my eyes...

For many of my students, the leap to a first (or maybe second solo...) is always a tough one.  It is rare to find a dancer who runs head first into the challenges without any hesitation. One of my students, Krysta, is getting ready to make that jump on April 9, coincidentally on my birthday at the next Cafe Shimmy.  She's popped up in this blog more than once as a guest writer (see here and here), and this week she had sent me the following post, although I just sat down to read it tonight...after class had ended. Call it serendipity, but the fates seemed to align to not only have a chance to work solo with her tonight, but to talk about the very essence of her post...before I even knew it was her post! 

I have all sorts of improvisation drills that I run my students through from time to time, and this evening I had Krysta  perform her solo just for me, and look into my eyes the entire time.  Normally this drill sends dancers into a bit of a tailspin, but in Krysta's case her movements were more fluid, her dancing became less erratic and more focused, determined and soulful than when she just danced without making that same eye contact.  When I asked how the exercise was, I was surprised when she told me it made the dancing easier.  We both had a light bulb moment as she explained that while dancing with my undivided attention, she no longer worried about being boring, and was able to trust that she was interesting, captivating and deserved the attention the audience.  It was a really wonderful moment to share with her.  

I then came home and opened up her email, with her suggestion for a blog entry.  Warm fuzzy feelings for me, beautiful words for all of you...and serendipity strikes once again, so sit back and enjoy!

Boring.  That is the last thing I want to be as a dancer – or as a performer in any regard.  I know I’m not alone in the fear of being uninteresting.  I doubt that anyone at any point consciously wishes to be bored or boring, especially when engaging in something for which they care deeply. 
A common roadblock when tasked with choreographing or improvising is the crippling fear that what you create will be painfully uninteresting.  On a personal front, this is the rationale behind my gross procrastination.  My college years of movement and physical acting often involved frantically throwing something together around midnight before the next class day.  A friend who was doing some reading on the psychology of procrastination years later told me that procrastinators are often perfectionists.  [Guilty as charged…and counterproductive, if I might add.]  So procrastination is the handy dandy tool we use to excuse poor work.  “It was not as good as it could’ve been because I did not have very much time to work on it.” 
Four weeks from the day I’ve written this entry, I must perform my first solo as a belly dancer.  My shimmies are still a bit tense, my undulations still contain pauses in those hard-to-capture areas of my belly, and hip drops and sways are clearly lopsided.  My zil skills are nil.  [Yes, I had an amazing time writing that sentence.]  And my veil is still on a mission to attack my face at any opportunity.  So it’ll just me – and a super shiny costume – and a super shiny song for 3 minutes. 
Recently in Najla’s technique class, we were asked to improvise using fluid movement while the rest of the class followed.  There was hesitation among us all in the first round – yours truly included.  Najla then instructed us to allow breath to inform our movement and not worry about the complexity of the movement, rather than try to generate movement on our own.  After this instruction, the movement became compelling; lines were not cut off, inhibition had taken a backseat, and we were interesting to watch, even with the slow, slinky movement.  And we were easier to watch…because we were breathing…not fighting for control.  It was simply ours.

No comments:

Post a Comment