Don't you love the way a skilled chef presents his food? The way he places each item on the plate in a deliberate plot to make you fall in love... the way he uses the plate—not as a mere container, but as a frame for his creation?
In contrast, think of what would happen if you take what's in that plate and mix it together until it forms a tossed salad. Where did the asparagus' luster go? What happened to that perfectly shaped sea bass? Did the pretty sauce just disappear?
Even worse, imagine mixing it all in the blender!
A similar thing happens when we throw every step we know into a "choreography" in no particular order or configuration and for no reason other than to fill the allotted time. We end up with half a snake arm here, two seconds of shimmy there, an unfinished hip circle in a murky place no one got to see...
Sure, sometimes it's great to mix everything together when you dance. If you are in a social situation, you might even look silly putting on an actual show but, in my experience, this separation of elements is necessary to hold EVERY audience's attention, not just that of your family and peers.
Groups of Movements
Think of a theme and develop it. Stay for a while showing off your hips, making sure your arms don't flop around. Place all the focus on your hips: figure 8s, circles, drops, arcs, accents, no accents, sharp articulations. Use the principles of musicality and dynamics as a guide. Next, for instance, add a section where your turns are featured. Stay with the turns. Don't do the same exact thing over and over, that would be too predictable. Instead, look for variations and ways to grow and develop a move, a step or a turn into a movement section.
Thinking this way will also make it easier for you to compose easy-to-memorize routines. Here are some movement themes:
- Arms and hands
- Dervish turns
Example: Trance Section
When working with Chiftetelli rhythm, take advantage of its hypnotic quality and include in your routine what I call a "mesmerizing section." During such section you will shimmy for quite a long time, not following the accents but focusing on the melody. The tricks to make this engaging and never boring are to keep a strong focus, to display beautiful armwork, to stay poised, and to "grow" it, to develop it and raise the energy.
For instance, start with a simple hip shimmy. Now, add rippling hands to frame it. Next, layer a pelvic circle over the shimmy. Continuing your shimmy, raise your arms slowly and do snake arms at chest level. Once there, add chest circles and chest figure 8s. Gradually raise your arms higher and higher while going up into a running shimmy. Continue doing this as you describe a circular floor pattern. Break the spell to finish this dramatic section by grounding yourself and opening your arms in a strong, sharp pose in time with a musical accent.
Okay, here you have me practicing something along these lines at the studio. I plan to film a better version of this :) but I really wanted you to get the idea :P
Can you point out the different movement groups in the following dance from my Sensual Bellydance DVD?
Remember that grouping elements is more effective than having a homogeneous mishmash. Take one theme and develop it.
Our next and last element of Dance Composition is Space.