Thursday Night Belly Dance Class with Delilah
Lesson on Communication: My Hip is a Circle
Note: This article is from Delilahs Private Web Club 202; a companion to A Retro Choreography and Fire at the Iao on Video and DVD, available on Delilah's Instructional Belly Dancing Video/DVD page.
For years, Thursday night has been the night my intermediate / advanced class meets. Rather than physical step techniques and choreography, we probe deeper to discover what makes this dance ART? I had been searching for ways to prompt my experienced students to make their movements communicate more effectively. The difference between what we recognize as dancing and simply walking to the kitchen is our employment of emotional expression, non-verbal communication and a relationship to rhythm and music. The difference between poetry or singing verses and everyday conversation is in the same vain. While based on words, singing is not dependent on our knowing the language or the structure. Dancing, poetry and singing are right brained-based methods of communicating. They are also personality delivered.
In my Thursday Night Experienced Dance class, students seem to personally enjoy the movements. Still, I wanted to see the relationship between the personality of the dancer, her creation of the motion and her delivery of that movement come closer together. I wanted to see meaningful connection. When dancers are concentrating on a movement, sometimes their eyes blink nervously, or look up, down or anonymously into space. A friend once said, It is as if they were reading shopping lists. Ah yes, a great description!
First of all, one technique I have for teaching transitions is to relate to each pattern; circle, figure 8, triple circle . . . like you would relate to cursive penmanship compared to printing. Dont take the pencil off the paper. Make one pattern flow into the next by keeping the tension on an imaginary pencil point. This is where the smooth and hypnotic weight changes exist. You may draw patterns on an imagined surface parallel to the floor with the front of the right hip, and then move that point through the body to a new location to the back of left hip, for example, and draw on an imagined surface vertically parallel to the front wall or the side wall ( there are many choices) and then flow into drawing a new pattern with another part of the body. The dancers task is to focus intention on the pencil points and lead the observers awareness three dimensionally inside the body to the next pattern of choice. The dancer expresses and interprets these moments in time, in relation to the music, verse and mood.
Dance Move: One Hip Forward Wheel Alternating Sides
The movement is a Wheel formed with one hip parallel to the side wall, repeating over and over until the dancer wants to change sides.Then the transition comes as the downward drop of the forward part of the circle moves under the butt and rises on the other side of the back into the opposite, alternate hip circle. (Dont you love written descriptions. This is why video instruction is so powerful.) The feet are exchanging the weight change for each rotation of the hip. This is done standing in one place.
EXERCISE # 1
Each dancer works with a partner.The performing dancer is instructed to say the movements slowly as she does them. She has to present the movement from the best vantage point to her partner as she speaks them over and over again
EXERCISE # 2
Now the dancer would present her movement, but say nothing. Instead the the partner would echo back,
Ahh haaaaa! Very good class!