This month is about Improvisation. This is a key skill for any professional or semi-professional belly dancer. Improvisation is used in all forms of belly dance and I have listed a few.
Improvisation in dance – Dancing to music with out a set choreography. The dancer will create the movement as he/she feels the music.
1. American Tribal Style Improvisation – This style of improv is done in a group and uses a leader/follow system. The leader is the creator and the followers are led by cues from the leader. All of the dancers have a set dance vocabulary which they have learned and follow. ATS (American Tribal Style) follows the dance vocabulary that was created by Carolena Nericcio for her company Fat Chance Belly Dance.
2. Tribal Group Improvisation- This style of improvisation follows the same basic lead and follow pattern as ATS, but has evolved to use different movement vocabulary depending on the troupe/company. Good examples of this style are Gypsy Caravan, Unmata and Hipnosis.
3. Oriental solo Improvisation- This style is performed by a solo dancer. It is an important quality of a trained dancer to be able to improvise. This is especially useful for long performances like restaurants gigs when a dancer is expected to have 30-45min of dance prepared. It is not always possible to have all 45 min choreographed (not enough time in the day). It is common for a dancer to go from choreographed elements to improv elements and back during a show. The skill involves making this transition seamless.
4. Taqseem Improvisation- A Taqseem in Oriental/Caberet music is a part of the music with very little or no set beat/rhythm. This is usually a musical solo performed by a particular instrument. In Oriental/Caberet dance the Taqseem is expected to be improvisational. It is a strong emotional point in the music that is about expression.
A good example of a Taqseem-
Which styles of belly dance improvisation have you tried? Are there any more styles you can think of?
1. Aubre has control: I am referring to muscle control. Aubre Hill can use her muscles like a piano player uses keys (may not be an ideal metaphor). If she wants she can use one muscle, two or five. She can layer in a way the truly isolates and separates that way the muscles work. The other great thing is that she teaching this method (I still need a lot of practice).
2. She is a Master: I don’t mean that just to complement, I mean it because she displays the traits that a Master in the field would have. She is a very talented dancer, but above all she very well-informed about the style of dance. Aubre is well versed in the music, culture and performance aspects of this belly dance, which takes her above actually being a talented dancer. She is also an educated teacher, which I admire. Throughout the workshop, I was constantly surprised by the information she would share. Up until this point I always knew I have more to learn, but now I have an understand of just how much more.
3. Music knowledge: Aubre has a strong understanding of musicality.The dance is about the music. She stresses they idea that it is important to use the body as an instrument. This understanding of music helps with choreography as much as it helps with technique. I find this to be one of the aspects of the dance that is most overlooked. My favorite lesson was on layering. Aubre mentioned that layering is not about being impressive (though it can be), it is about expressing multiple parts of the music using different parts of the body. A dancer may be able to layer five different moves, but if they are not following the music, than they are not dancing. Enlightening!
Overall, I found the workshop series to be extremely informative. I highly suggest that you take her workshops/classes if given the chance. Now I know I have so much more I can improve. The only problem is finding the time to do it.
Special thanks to Kelli Li for setting this up and of course Aubre for all of her hard work.
Have you ever studied with Aubre or another Master of dance? Any suggestions? Please Comment!
This week I have been using what I have learned from drum solos this month and applying it. My goal is to pick a very difficult drum solo and learn it. I will then use elements of that drum solo to choreograph my own piece. Learn by imitation!
The drum solo I am working on right now is the Kami Liddle drum solo that she performed at Tribal Fest. I wanted something with a tribal twist.
Wish me luck.