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How To Begin Creating Your Own Choreography

(reprinted from ZAGHAREET! "For Beginners", Nov/Dec. 2001)
by Anthea Kawakib Poole

Finding Your Creative Self

YOU have an inner urge to create. You've found an outlet for it in belly dance. You've got a reason, an excuse (an upcoming show?) to devote time and energy to it. Feel guilty for spending so much time and energy on it? Don't worry - creating good and beautiful things is never inappropriate - Art's highest aim is to uplift the human spirit. Plus, it's good exercise!

When we step in front of an audience, they're looking to us for a positive experience. You can deliver it every time (well, almost - we're only human!) if you fully believe in yourself. Read on to see how to THINK yourself to SUCCESS. 

Say you have a show coming up in a couple of months and you've decided to use a new piece of music that you just adore. You've listened to your piece over and over, broken it down in your Dance Notebook measure by measure, and discovered what makes it unique - what's next?

Create Your Intention

First, write yourself a note: "I'm going to create a beautiful dance" or "I'm going to choreograph a dance for _________ (upcoming show)." If that feels funny, just add it to your "To Do" list, like:

  1. fill bird feeders
  2. choreograph dance

(If you don't know already, you'll find out as you get older - if you want something done, write yourself a note!)
Or you may find it helpful to keep a "Things To Do" list in your Dance Notebook, like:

The important thing is to define your goal in so many words. As you're reading this, have you already imagined yourself making a note? Did you see yourself writing it down? Good - that's what we want, a visual image. You may even "see" yourself in your studio or practice room creating your dance - that's even better. Your mind thrives on these powerful images. Give your inner Creative Self a picture goal: of yourself - in costume, dancing to your music, onstage. The details may be murky right now, but will become clearer over time, especially if you have ever seen a dancer in a theater, nightclub, or restaurant. Just put yourself in that dancer's place. It doesn't have to make sense now, it will later!

You've planted the seed, now relax and give it time to grow. Your subconscious has a goal (create a dance) and will start to work "behind the scenes" to make it happen. It may take a few days, a week or two, before you feel ready to move on. Stressing over it will hinder the process. Don't worry, it's happening - you're just not aware of it - that's why it's called the SUB-conscious.

Conscious Listening

When you feel like working on it, listen to your music again - NOT while you're driving a car, doing laundry, talking on the phone etc., but actually laying down and listening to your music with NO distractions. Maybe before you go to sleep, or some other time when you have peace and privacy. If you can see yourself dancing, so much the better. Maybe you'll think of steps you want to include for certain parts, etc. - write them down if you wish. This is all still in the realm of "preparation" so you don't have to get all academic with it. That's coming next...

By the way, this method of mental preparation works just as well when you are going to perform someone else's choreography, solo or in a group. Picture yourself dancing, IMAGINE it, and it will happen!

Next: "Getting all academic" with it: the technique behind the art of choreography.

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