Let’s Duet

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movie-trailer-screenshot-gentleman-prefer-blondersAs a newbie duet member I decided I would go check out one of the most well marketed most popular local dance troupes perform in my area this week.  It was the first time I really studied the technical movements of other dancers instead of watching just for the pure entertainment value of it.

People were scattered sporadically around but when the belly dancers emerge to perform, the crowds cluster in closely almost magnetically.  I could hear Leyla Najma’s voice in my head, “When you’re out there performing you will be watched and critiqued by other dancers.” as I was taking mental notes.  There were a few lessons Leyla had been very adamant about that I became very aware of during the performance.

First, the duet is very difficult to choreograph for because it is hard to get 2 people who compliment each other and if they don’t it just looks wrong.  Second, if someone was trained in another style of dance previous to belly dancing it shows.  Third, layering is key and if you do too many of the same moves it becomes very boring.  And forth, chicken arms are the devil!

The performance I watched consisted of a young troupe of American Tribal Style dancers, and then a duet of the strongest dancer from the troupe and her teacher.  Over all, I enjoyed watching the troupe dance, the music was an interesting mix of traditional belly dance music with some electronic break beats and the girls added thier own little flavor to the dance which was refreshing.  While watching the duet I noticed that the teacher and her student looked extremely dissimilar although they were doing the same moves.  They both had technical skill and had a good rhythm that matched the music but they just seemed off because they didn’t look similar, they didn’t dance similar, and simply didn’t complimenteach other.

With the younger girl, it was obvious she must have had previous training in jazz or modern dance and you could tell when she executed her moves she had the grace of a ballerina but some of the moves seemed forced at times.  I watched them do 2 entire choreography’s and they seemed to last sooo long when they kept repeating the same hip combinations.  There was minimal use of layering and none of it was down on the floor, which I know is not acceptable in all belly dance, however it felt like I was watching a lot of the same thing for 5 minutes straight.  There were a couple accents of the hip that really went to the music and looked really great.

All in all the performance was okay, I liked that the girls were wearing fedora hats with their lacy 2 piece costumes, but the costumes themselves didn’t seem very high quality.  However, the thing that really stuck out in my mind was the chicken arms.  Leyla drilled me about my arms in the beginning and even had me hold pens in my fingers to keep them in position and to keep me aware of my arms.  I didn’t realize the significance of how much it can distract from a performance when your arms are not straight and graceful, but bent like chicken wings.  I found my self unable to focus on the movements at times because I was distracted by the dancers chicken arms, which is also part of the reason the duet looked so off.

So I must say “THANK YOU” to Leyla for not allowing me to have chicken arms! Aside from distracting from the choreography it just looks silly. So now as a dancer I am more aware that I will be watched and critiqued by other dancers and hopefully someone will tell me if I look silly so I can correct it and become a better dancer myself.  I am glad that so many women and young girls are learning the art of belly dance as a way for self-empowerment and self-expression and hope that they only become better, stronger dancers as a result of constructive criticism.

Joolz

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About Leyla Najma
Lifelong professional Belly Dancer dedicated to providing "Belly Dance Instruction That Is Easy To Understand And Learn That Connects The Dots"

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