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More Improvisation Tips for Belly Dancers

"For Beginners" (ZAGHAREET! (Sept/Oct 2007)
by Anthea Kawakib Poole

More Improv Tips...

...because we can’t always achieve “empty mind” onstage!

Last issue we went over venue and context (“formal” and “informal” improvisation); stepping on the beat; and structural forms like “Pattern/Change” and “Theme and Variation”.  Get your notes out and we’ll dig a little deeper.

Maybe this seems like a lot to think about, but when you get used to thinking about dance this way, you’ll understand movements better; you’ll start to notice these concepts when you watch other dancers; and you’ll also be able to learn better and more quickly!

When you use those structural forms above, you automatically begin exploring what’s called “Motif and Development” which opens up an almost infinite world of movement that’s only limited by venue, context, music, and your physical abilities.*

Motif and Development

Examples of how movements and steps can change:

Theme and Variation

If you plan a Theme and Variation, you might be using an outline that’s very detailed, or very vague, or a combination of both, for instance:

Theme and Variation A:
    1. Travel Step
    2. Turn
    3. Figure-8 (of any body part)
    4. Figure-8 hips with staging change each time.
(To recap this concept, the order (1,2,3,4) stays constant, but the moves or steps themselves can be changed in any of the ways above (Motif and Development)

Theme and Variation B:
    1. Whole body
    2. Isolation
    3. Rhythmic accents of move, travel step, or turn

Theme and Variation C:
    1. Travel Step
    2. Sharp hip move (drop, lift, thrust, shimmy, etc.)
    3. Turn
    4. Smooth (circular or wavelike) movement

Theme and Variation D:
    1. Open pose
    2. Closed pose
    3. Fast movements
    4. Slow movements

Theme and Variation E:
    1. Arm movements
    2. Hip movements
    3. Travel steps

Suggestions for movements used in Theme and Variations above:

If you’re onstage you may not remember everything exactly, but at least you’ll have a huge repertoire of ideas available to you because you tried this at home, just for fun.  Always stretch your mind as well as your body - you’ll be glad you did

Enjoy the increased flow of creativity in your own practise, but also try this out with a friend too - you’ll amaze each other with new ideas.  AND, call it a “game” and it makes a great ice-breaker at a hafla (party) too.

*Like these ideas? Get your copy of Kawakib's Dance Tips

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