Saturday, November 20, 2010


Improvisation skills

So what can you do to improve your improvisation?
2. Dance to middle eastern music regularly. Dance to live music when you get a chance.
3. Listen some more. The better you understand the music the easier it is to improvise. Learn the standard set of ME rhythms. Get familiar with classic BD songs such as Alf Layla Wa Layla, Amint Billah, Tamra Henna etc.
4. Drill technique.
5. Drill transitions.
6. Learn combinations. Great for improving transitions, these make great improvisational building blocks.
7. Learn choreography. Great for developing your flow.
8. Watch as many performances as you can.
9. Match moves to instruments. Think about where on the body the instrument is played - this can help you pick which part of the body to move. Dance to the beat. Dance to the melody.
10. Keep the beat in your feet.
11. Use combinations.
12. Variations are your friend. Explore each move fully.
13. Create a loose structure.
14. Have a set of safety moves/combinations.
15. Use the rule of fours.
16. Use the breath. BREATHE!

DVDs that can improve your improvisational skills:
Nadira Jamal - Improvisational Toolkit Volumes 1 and 2

Combinography with Bahaia

Bellydance Egyptian Style Baladi - Ranya Renee

Friday, November 19, 2010

So why improvise?

A student asked me "why learn about music?" and "why bother learn to improvise?" in this day of a thousand and one choreography DVDs.

The very essence of this dance is its connection with the music. Historically a dancer has danced to live music, much of which traditionally has been either wholly improvisational or has an improvised component. If you don't know what your musicians will play how can you choreograph it? If a dancer cannot hear the music and understand it, how can she interpret it? Improvisation is a foundation for much more than just on the spot performance. If a dancer cannot improvise, she can't begin to create music driven choreography for herself, and if she can't do that, then she'll forever be a lesser dancer than one who can.

A colleague once said "To abandon that skill in this dance may as well be it's death knell."

Gaby Alf Leyla wa Layla رقص عربي