The Case for MOAR Dance

10-14 January 2019
Welcome back fearless readers, I’m going to skip the fringe update for the Hulk, I’m honestly hand-to-my-heart-swear-to-Cthulhu- almost done, I’d rather wrap up that Thursday than do a half ass post for today about fringe.

I have been attending the Koresh School of Dance, and I go for modern jazz and ballet but occasionally stumble into the hip hop classes, all of which fill my soul and make me feel like a new student again and an honest to god dancer. I get back on the train to head home late at night and my heart is full and my feet barely touch the ground: it’s all the reason why I dance.

Sunday I had the pleasure of attending Koresh’s quarterly artistic showcase. I wound up going alone and had a beautiful stroll through the Rittenhouse Square, which is beautiful in general but with the recent snow fall and the holiday lights up- it’s just breathtaking. I feel so at peace going to a place where there is dance through a place of beauty.

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I sat next to some awesome people and happy to say I made some new amazing friends that were there to support their artist friend performing. Honestly- I’m looking forward to seeing again, and even dancing with when I can get my fine booty back down there.

The show was excellent- it was 45 min long, no MCing, no introductions, no shenanigans, just 45 min of art and expression and sharing. I confess I felt guilty about being slightly relieved at the length, Sunday at 6 PM with a long week ahead of me, I was not sure I was prepared emotionally or with enough snacks for a 2 hour show. But we whipped through 9 amazing performances and sure enough, I was sad when it was over but my heart was brimming with joy.

This brings me to: A Case for More Dance

We, as dancers, should be watching more dance, across the board. Not just belly dance, tap, jazz, modern, flamenco- all of it. This particular show was very modern (very awesome), but it sampled from several genres, tap, street/hip hop and closed with a great high energy West African piece. It is deeply moving to see other peoples are that you have no investment in other than to be a part of the moment and the community. And to take their art as they wish to share with you, a member of the audience. There is something incredibly beautiful about that. I think we as belly dancers spend a lot of time judging other dancers, for good or bad, and we miss the fact that dancers are sharing their art – we aren’t open to it- and we miss it.

Going to see more dance helps you fill your artistic cup, get inspired and supports other artists. It gives you a better eye for watching dance, and watching dance is a skill. Seeing more dance and different dances helps with this, and it helps stretch your brain on interpreting dances and seeing other shapes and movements, what to do with more bodies and less, different concepts explored and extracted.

Watching more dance helps your dance and the only way to get better- is to watch more dance.

And speaking for yourself if you are a fusion artist- do you know what’s going on in the world of your other dance that you fuse? Going to more dance shows gives you a better sense of whats available and out there and what is going on currently. We we as fusion artist know what modern jazz looks like in a performance setting? how do we fuse if we don’t know what’s going on.

This leads me to my next thought

We should be taking more dance classes. More dance classes outside our preferred flavor of dance. Being a well educated dancer doesn’t stop at being a good belly dancer. This extends into cross training with all styles. Almost all dancers I’ve seen in “traditional” schools- take all classes they can get into.

But Jo, it’s not belly dance!
Gentle reader, the answer in short to that is “yes… and?”

The long answer is, the more dancing you do, the better you become, and the more community awareness you have. You can’t help but reach new heights if you are cross training. You can’t help but become more aware of our the art community as a whole. You hear other music, you see how other people interpret music differently, hear it differently, or pick up on different accents or body parts to accent and see how other people tap into emotional perspectives. It helps break you from the “improve dance” moment- where the first thing you do is stand and do snake arms.

It gives you options. A lot of them.

As a creative person your technique and skill will increase the more you move your body and the more you expose yourself to other forms of dance. This doesn’t mean that you have to turn into a fusion robot or do the newest latest greatest novelty trend; going to other dance classes just gives you perspective and more tools in your tool kit to help you express your own flavor with that much more skill and finesse.

All this to say, you don’t have to kill your body or your bank account. Few of us have unlimited funds time or energy to make it happen, and I get it, the priority is almost always for our belly dance education. But even making it a point to go to ANY outside dance class 2 or 3 times a year is completely worth the effort. Your first class is frequentlydiscounted and studios often offer deals on class cards, and/or classes around the holidays. It’s just something to get you into a new space, new movement and new thought. Get your brain working in different ways.

Till next time fearless readers!

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