Belly Dance Talk Live, August 31st – Choreography Known and Unknown

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rozanne-al-jinan-leyla-najma-cane-choreographyUnknown choreography seems to be the missing puzzle piece that stump many dancers. It did me but as I matured in this dance form I realized that sometimes it’s up to me to fill in the missing links. I think in many ways choreography is about creating on another level of thought. It can mathematical in many ways but also the unknown choreography is the equation that only we can figure out. Known choreography in many respects can be like wearing a dress that feels good all over and fits like a dream. We create what fits our bodies but if we forget this, the missing pieces can seem like gigantic holes or an unsolvable equation.

We don’t see counting on stage yet we know that most dancers will create according to a rhythm that follows a 4 or 8 count. Most belly dance music is repetitive so it’s plausible that a repeated phrase in music will allow us variety in our moves. We can try out any groups of combinations knowing we can interchange down the line. Following music then becomes more then counting; it becomes a self interpretation of how our equations add up. How we hear music comes to the forefront of our unknown choreography because it becomes known and completed once it is performed in front of an audience. I think the missing link for most choreographers is the last remaining part of their equation because the one missing link is how an audience will respond. I have changed choreographies through out the years with the help of different audiences. They can be an amazing mirror if we learn how to take their response and incorporate the positive and even negatives with change.

Known choreography can be in the box or out of the box based on self interpretation and the dancers preference. But sometimes I think that dancers can get stuck performing dances that are structured to the point of a rigid habitual movement. We have all seen wonderful dancer’s perform the same choreography over and over again. Why would accomplished dancers  stick with the same choreography when the world is full of new, endless  ideas and inspirations? I think the same can be said for troupes but of course troupe dancing is entirely different but occasional change would be good. It would be like freshening up a room with new curtains. It doesn’t take much to add new spice to something that can get stale.

I have a wonderful dance friend, Rozana al Jinan who is the troupe director of Zahara al Jinan in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The one thing I love about Rozana is the fact she will change up or add something new to her choreographies so the audience is always left with anticipation each time her troupe performs. Rozana does something different that most choreographers don’t think of, she takes the known choreography and turns it into an unknown choreography. Surprise is always the best spice to add to any choreography and Rozana does this well!

Following through with a themed idea is always a challenge but it really does test the skills of a choreographer. Belly dance shows are full of predictable performances but I think that if troupes or individual dancers had a bit of drama (theater) in their structure from the get go, the end results would be show stopping performances. In the box or out of the box choreographies can be either predictable or startling surprises that leave audiences indifferent or breathless. Let’s be realistic here if you want to stand out from the crowd it takes a commitment beyond the accepted norm to excel in choreography. People love stories and if you leave them with a happy ending they will not only remember how amazing your choreography was but how amazing you made them feel. The two together are powerful.

So let’s talk choreography this Wednesday 10:00-11:00am and 7:30-8:30pm and chat about what makes a powerful statement with in the box or out of the box choreography. To me unknown choreography is a voyage through jungles, oceans or deserts uncharted. Known choreography is a resort town that has all the comforts of home plus great margaritas!




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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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