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Thread: Not able to stick to a choreography for solo shows. Skill issue?




  1. #1
    Advanced BHUZzer Aesera's Avatar
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    Not able to stick to a choreography for solo shows. Skill issue?

    I can only stick to it and have no problem doing a choreography with my troupe. But for my restaurant work, haflas and solo shows in general, I always improvise so when I try creating a choreography for a hafla for example, I never, ever, carry the choreography through the end. I drop it in an early stage of the song or midway if anything. I just feel that it takes away from my feeling of freedom of expression and how I feel at the moment. It also doesn't allow me to interact with the audience the same way. But I have seen dancers perform strict choreography and the majority of dancers at some haflas choreograph and it looks lovely. I feel as if I am missing the skill to follow a choreography but I have never had an issue with a choreography in a troupe setting. I will always prefer to improvise and that is my style, but I also wish I could stick to a choreography for a solo show if I decided to. At most, I have skeleton choreographies and those are my favorite. But I have seen dancers win competitions with strict choreographies so it must be a skill important enough to have.

    How important is choreography in your opinion (aside from troupe/duet/trio settting)?
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    Ultimate BHUZzer ssipes's Avatar
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    Re: Not able to stick to a choreography for solo shows. Skill issue?

    When you study videos of yourself improvising, do you like what you see?
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    Mega BHUZzer anyadance's Avatar
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    Re: Not able to stick to a choreography for solo shows. Skill issue?

    You and Hala Jamal have A LOT to talk about ;) She finds herself in the same position on a regular basis and we've discussed it quite a bit. It's not a skill thing - our brains work in different ways and obviously if you're dropping it right away it's not working for you in the moment.

    I'm lucky that I can follow a choreography very closely BUT I never choreograph for myself. I find that in the moment whatever comes out of my body will be so much more inspired than if I had mapped something out. I like to work with the music before hand and find places of note or feeling but other than that it's a wild card. I don't always like what I see but it's been the best learning and exploration tool.


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    Ultimate BHUZzer dunyah's Avatar
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    Re: Not able to stick to a choreography for solo shows. Skill issue?

    I'm an improvisational dancer at heart. I do like to do what I call "structured improv." I will block out the entrance and ending and certain parts of the music and improvise the rest.

    Like you, I also admire other people's choreographies but it's just not the way my dance works for me.
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    Mega BHUZzer Lesedi's Avatar
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    Re: Not able to stick to a choreography for solo shows. Skill issue?

    I have the same issue! No problems doing choreo w/ a group but I always drop it when going solo.

    I know what you're taking about. There are some times when I wish I could just stick to a solo choreography, because I do enjoy some of the really well laid out ones... where dancers hit every accent with some beautiful combo. It seems to flow so well for the ones who can do it. But that just doesn't work for me. I do try to stick with a choreography just for the first 30 seconds or so of a song to get me into it and then I can be present and emotional w/ the song. It's always improv.

    I actually don't think that choreography is horribly important if you are good at improvising. I'm often surprised at what I see when I watch a video of myself afterwards. It looks like a well put together routine (other times I completely flop, but you have those days). Instead of working on choreo memory, we are using our brains to remember the song and be completely in the moment. The song is just driving us. I think that's quite a skill in and of itself. It takes an incredible amount of freedom and confidence to be able to improvise on the spot like that. So I wouldn't feel bad about your and our inability to solo choreograph.
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    Advanced BHUZzer Aesera's Avatar
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    Re: Not able to stick to a choreography for solo shows. Skill issue?

    Quote Originally Posted by ssipes View Post
    When you study videos of yourself improvising, do you like what you see?
    Actually, when I did one of my first solos at a hafla and dropped the choreography 45 seconds into the song, I didn't even want to look at the video my friend took because I thought it was a total failure. But I was surprised, since I looked comfortable and it looked nice. I went with the music and had confidence so I realized that perhaps strict choreography wasn't for me. My friend and family said it was great and had no clue I messed up. And nobody would be able to know unless I lost my confidence.
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  7. #7
    Advanced BHUZzer Aesera's Avatar
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    Re: Not able to stick to a choreography for solo shows. Skill issue?

    Dunyah and Lesedi- I also admire some choreographies done by other people. I have seen competitions (never been in one) and often the winner has a very nice choreography where everything is perfectly calculated and it looks beautiful. I wish I could do that sometimes but I only can when in a troupe. I think the main reason is that when I do a solo I have a stage all for myself and I have to make sure I cover everywhere. At the restaurants I dance at there is a lot of room for dancing but it is more of a "round" structure. My focus is on entertaining and trying to remember a choreography takes some of my attention away from my audience. But I have seen dancers do it both so I'm jealous of that It takes me so much time to create and remember a choreography and then there is the factor of not all stages working for that choreography. Oh, and then I don't feel as comfortable with having to remember instead of letting the music lead me. With a troupe we just practice the same thing over and over and over so that is another thing that helps there.

    I am glad I am not alone :)
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  8. #8
    Advanced BHUZzer Aesera's Avatar
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    Re: Not able to stick to a choreography for solo shows. Skill issue?

    Quote Originally Posted by anyadance View Post
    You and Hala Jamal have A LOT to talk about ;) She finds herself in the same position on a regular basis and we've discussed it quite a bit. It's not a skill thing - our brains work in different ways and obviously if you're dropping it right away it's not working for you in the moment.

    I'm lucky that I can follow a choreography very closely BUT I never choreograph for myself. I find that in the moment whatever comes out of my body will be so much more inspired than if I had mapped something out. I like to work with the music before hand and find places of note or feeling but other than that it's a wild card. I don't always like what I see but it's been the best learning and exploration tool.
    I can follow to the "t" with my troupe. Just not on my solos


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    Established BHUZzer taji-dancer's Avatar
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    Re: Not able to stick to a choreography for solo shows. Skill issue?

    Quote Originally Posted by dunyah View Post
    I'm an improvisational dancer at heart. I do like to do what I call "structured improv." I will block out the entrance and ending and certain parts of the music and improvise the rest.

    Like you, I also admire other people's choreographies but it's just not the way my dance works for me.
    This is what i do for my shows---i want to hit this music accent---i want to cover the stage here. the bits you plan may end up in other areas of the song that you planned----but you have worked extensively w/ the song and have some combos that work.
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    Established BHUZzer taji-dancer's Avatar
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    Re: Not able to stick to a choreography for solo shows. Skill issue?

    And for restaurants----you can plan things ---but then the waiter is there---and someone wants to dance w/ you---a large crowd is entering the restaurant ---and then the working in the round.So it's the same ---plan things---have a general idea of the music--and work w/ the music at home extensively. This is how i did the competitions also-----a little more choreography---but not a strict choreo so you don't end up looking like " I am now doing choreography" .

    You sound like you are doing fine.
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  11. #11
    Ultimate BHUZzer Tourbeau's Avatar
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    Re: Not able to stick to a choreography for solo shows. Skill issue?

    If you can successfully do group choreographies, it is not a skill issue. You're either capable of memorizing and implementing a sequence of movements or you aren't. You might worry that failing to stick to your choreography as a soloist indicates some lack of personal fortitude, that you're so in the moment with the music or so engaged with your audience that you weren't able to apply yourself properly to your plan, but that's not a choreography issue, and it's not even necessarily wrong. If you can do choreography in a group, you could train your mind (or body) not to wander off in other directions when you're performing alone if you wanted to.

    If your solo work is good, and you're not letting the audience see you freak out when you realize you're off schedule, I wouldn't worry about it. Lots of students would love to have the problem that they're so relaxed and able to think on their feet that they can't do choreography--because they're so terrified of dancing without every movement nailed down that they can't do anything BUT choreography.


  12. #12
    Advanced BHUZzer Hala Jamal's Avatar
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    Re: Not able to stick to a choreography for solo shows. Skill issue?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aesera View Post
    I can follow to the "t" with my troupe. Just not on my solos
    Me too! Anya is right: We DO have lots in common and lots of talk about! ;-)

    I have finally embraced the way my performance brain works this past year and I've been really pleased with the results. Now, to prep for a solo, I listen to my music a lot and just dance to it at home. I think of it as getting to know the nuances of the music and seeing how I tend to respond to it in dance. I'm so much more relaxed about this whole issue now that I've identifies what I used to think was a flaw as a real asset. There are many who can't improvise at all.
    p.s. I gave up choreographing for restaurant shows with the first few months. Now, 9 years later, My restaurant shows are 100% improvised, all the time. I think my audience has a better time b/c I can be spontaneous and connect better with them.
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    Mega BHUZzer Lesedi's Avatar
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    Re: Not able to stick to a choreography for solo shows. Skill issue?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hala Jamal View Post
    Me too! Anya is right: We DO have lots in common and lots of talk about! ;-)

    I have finally embraced the way my performance brain works this past year and I've been really pleased with the results. Now, to prep for a solo, I listen to my music a lot and just dance to it at home. I think of it as getting to know the nuances of the music and seeing how I tend to respond to it in dance. I'm so much more relaxed about this whole issue now that I've identifies what I used to think was a flaw as a real asset. There are many who can't improvise at all.
    p.s. I gave up choreographing for restaurant shows with the first few months. Now, 9 years later, My restaurant shows are 100% improvised, all the time. I think my audience has a better time b/c I can be spontaneous and connect better with them.
    This is exactly what I do! Just put my music on at home and dance and dance and dance to it. No choreo, no thinking, just music and body.
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  14. #14
    Advanced BHUZzer Aesera's Avatar
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    Re: Not able to stick to a choreography for solo shows. Skill issue?

    Quote Originally Posted by taji-dancer View Post
    And for restaurants----you can plan things ---but then the waiter is there---and someone wants to dance w/ you---a large crowd is entering the restaurant ---and then the working in the round." .

    You sound like you are doing fine.
    Thanks :) And the so many factors involved are one of the reasons why I don't use choreographies in restaurants. I was hoping to use a choreography in haflas and such but even there I find that once I want to interact with different people in the audience and cover different angles, all the hours put into a choreography go down the drain. But I guess not completely, since I then have a skeleton choreography for that song.


  15. #15
    Advanced BHUZzer Aesera's Avatar
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    Re: Not able to stick to a choreography for solo shows. Skill issue?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hala Jamal View Post
    p.s. I gave up choreographing for restaurant shows with the first few months. Now, 9 years later, My restaurant shows are 100% improvised, all the time. I think my audience has a better time b/c I can be spontaneous and connect better with them.
    I also just dance over and over at home and listen to the song many times to catch all accents. I gave up choreographing for restaurants too since I would end up so dissapointed that I forgot the choreography and I didn't want that showing on my face or affecting my confidence. So I dropped choreographies for restaurants but still try to choreograph for other type of shows. But after all the wonderful advice here, I may just fully embrace my improvisational style like you did. Although I love watching choreographed pieces, I guess it just isn't for me and I love the feeling of freedom with improvisation. And I have never felt nervous when dancing improv. Well, maybe when I first started :)


  16. #16
    Just Starting! Dilnaz's Avatar
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    Re: Not able to stick to a choreography for solo shows. Skill issue?

    I'd say "yes", it is a skill issue: if you can do it in a group and you can't during your solo means only one thing: more practice. This fact that you forget the choreo in some particular places might show that you don't remember the music at this point (try to sing during your practice at home) or this particular movement feels akward to your body(then change it). In general, people varie in a meaning in ability of choreo memorizing. Some people are very good, some people can't do it at all. Improvizing skills are different and require knoledge of many movement and combos(that's why dancers, who dance only impros, usually repeats themselves over and over again).If your choreos are too difficult for you, ask yourself: maybe you have to drop the level and to dance something much more easier and only after , when you feel yourself more comfortable on the stage, you will improve your level of dance (I mean technical and footwork and directional changes). For some reasons, I think that you just don't feel comfortable, that what it is.
    Choreo skills are essential for dancing for competitions (I mean serios comp-s)), because it helps to a dancer to show her abilities in the best way. But on the top of this base a performer has to put a lot of personality and skills of working with audience and experience.... then it will not look like she is doing her choreo mechanically....Good luck!


  17. #17
    Ultimate BHUZzer Tourbeau's Avatar
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    Re: Not able to stick to a choreography for solo shows. Skill issue?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dilnaz View Post
    I'd say "yes", it is a skill issue: if you can do it in a group and you can't during your solo means only one thing: more practice.
    Not necessarily. It depends on why you are not doing your choreography. If you're performing at a party and a little girl comes up to you and you decide to shimmy so she can admire your fringe or do snake arms so she'll copy you, that's not the classic definition of "forgetting your choreography." That's more like "forgetting why you wanted to perform a choreographed piece." A dancer may stop doing practiced material for reasons other than failing to remember what comes next or losing their place in the music. Having the mental discipline to stick to choreography is a skill that is worth practicing (especially if you want to do strictly choreographed work for competitions or dance in BDSS or some other situation where it's not to your advantage to take off freestyling on your own mid-show), but when talking about disconnecting from what you rehearsed onstage, there's a distinction between being inadequately prepared or having some sort of anxiety issue that interferes with your memory, versus a discontinuity of determination to do what you planned to perform once you got out there, because for whatever reason, it stopped feeling comfortable/practical/entertaining. Assuming we're dealing with the latter situation, I'm not sure you can practice not letting yourself get caught up in the reality of performing without being in a performing situation, short of mindfulness exercises to increase your general mental ability to hold focus.


  18. #18
    Advanced BHUZzer Karnak's Avatar
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    Re: Not able to stick to a choreography for solo shows. Skill issue?

    Can you do the group choreography by yourself? There are dancers who perform with a troupe but they're watching the other dancers. They don't know the choreography well enough to do it on their own.

    Part of it might be the amount of practice. Do you rehearse troupe choreography and solo choreography with the same intensity?


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    Just Starting! Dilnaz's Avatar
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    Re: Not able to stick to a choreography for solo shows. Skill issue?

    to Tourbeo
    But we aren't talking aboutcases when performes have to change their choreo because of the customers interracting with them, correct? Performers dance duo/group in haflas at the restaurants too, not only on the stage and it is common to be stopped by a customer (I was stopped buy one little boy, who wanted to dance with me and my parther had to finish our routine solo). You won't kick the little girl , but you will return to your original choreo after you stop interracting with her. We are talking about different thing: a performer can't do choreo because of difficultingof different type


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    Ultimate BHUZzer Tourbeau's Avatar
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    Re: Not able to stick to a choreography for solo shows. Skill issue?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dilnaz View Post
    But we aren't talking aboutcases when performes have to change their choreo because of the customers interracting with them, correct? Performers dance duo/group in haflas at the restaurants too, not only on the stage and it is common to be stopped by a customer (I was stopped buy one little boy, who wanted to dance with me and my parther had to finish our routine solo). You won't kick the little girl , but you will return to your original choreo after you stop interracting with her. We are talking about different thing: a performer can't do choreo because of difficultingof different type
    I suppose it's possible that the topic has drifted into general problems of forgetting choreography, or that there are now multiple ideas being discussed simultaneously here, but Aesera appears to be consistently describing a situation of choosing to abandon choreography in pursuit of audience interaction (posts #1, #7, and #14). The way I'm understanding her remarks, she plans choreographies, throws them aside once she gets onstage, and is asking if that's okay. In other words, she's trying to reconcile the idea that the dance community tends to reward performers who can do rigidly choreographed work with the idea that this style doesn't seem to be a good fit for her personality as a soloist, so she's trying to decide if she should correct or embrace her natural tendencies as a performer. Maybe she can clarify what direction she was hoping the thread would take?
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  21. #21
    Advanced BHUZzer yameyameyame's Avatar
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    Re: Not able to stick to a choreography for solo shows. Skill issue?

    If you have no problem remembering the choreography, you're just tossing it aside because you feel more freedom improvising, I don't see what the problem is.

    Perhaps it could be good for you to be able to feel free and connect with your audience whether you are doing choreo or improvising, but I'm not sure it's all that necessary. Most of the time, we don't know the conditions under which we will be performing until right before our performance anyway, so it's important to be able to adapt and improvise.

    If you can do choreography in a group and have no trouble remembering it, it probably isn't a skill issue... you already know you are capable of performing choreography.
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  22. #22
    Just Starting! Dilnaz's Avatar
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    Re: Not able to stick to a choreography for solo shows. Skill issue?

    Changing a choreo willingly isn't a problem(we always have to be ready to do it, because performance space varies from venue to a venue. The same about a crowd), a problem is when a performer can't stick with a choreo, even she wants it. Just my opinion, that here we have more psychological problem (unless she always performs half-ready choreo and takes a look on her partnerwhen she forgets). In this case I'd recommend to perform more and at different stage and vebues: perform as many, as you can and for very different crowd. That will give you the priceless thing" experience. After you ll make your self mre cofortable with a stage in general, you will improve:)
    Just for information: Korean traditional palace dancers had to give a book with a choreo to their noble clientel before their performances. So, their crowd knew what she had to do at the next moment:) Forgetting the choreo was a reason for punishing.


  23. #23
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    Re: Not able to stick to a choreography for solo shows. Skill issue?

    Choreography is so necessary and very reassuring if you are on a stage with lights in your face or in a competition. The rest of the time a skeleton choreography is best- it sounds lke you're discovering all this on your own.

    If I have a stage show and no audience proximity the only way to make it through and not look silly is to rehearse rehearse rehearse my work in a space that I mentally set up to approximate the stage situation and rehearse being expressive with no audience contact and the lights and " pushing out" all that energy to the void where the audience will be. Being in a dance studio with my back to the mirror helps with this. That has really freed me up with choreography. The more you do it the easier it gets.


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    Advanced BHUZzer Aesera's Avatar
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    Re: Not able to stick to a choreography for solo shows. Skill issue?

    Quote Originally Posted by Karnak View Post
    Can you do the group choreography by yourself? There are dancers who perform with a troupe but they're watching the other dancers. They don't know the choreography well enough to do it on their own.

    Part of it might be the amount of practice. Do you rehearse troupe choreography and solo choreography with the same intensity?
    Yes, I can dance our Troupe's choreography in my sleep. I don't watch the other dancers. I believe it is because we practice a million times and the choreography is strict. When I come up with choreographies for my solos, I use skeleton choreographies because sometimes I feel like changing something. So I never have strict choreographies. I just know what moves can go in certain places in the music and choose one on the spot everytime.


  25. #25
    Advanced BHUZzer Aesera's Avatar
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    Re: Not able to stick to a choreography for solo shows. Skill issue?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tourbeau View Post
    I suppose it's possible that the topic has drifted into general problems of forgetting choreography, or that there are now multiple ideas being discussed simultaneously here, but Aesera appears to be consistently describing a situation of choosing to abandon choreography in pursuit of audience interaction (posts #1, #7, and #14). The way I'm understanding her remarks, she plans choreographies, throws them aside once she gets onstage, and is asking if that's okay. In other words, she's trying to reconcile the idea that the dance community tends to reward performers who can do rigidly choreographed work with the idea that this style doesn't seem to be a good fit for her personality as a soloist, so she's trying to decide if she should correct or embrace her natural tendencies as a performer. Maybe she can clarify what direction she was hoping the thread would take?
    You nailed it :)

    I do plan them but once I get there I just get too into the music and the interaction with the audience that my brain stops thinking of the choreography and I just let the music guide me. This doesn't happen in a troupe because I know I don't have that choice. And I know my troupe choreographies very very well. Those choreographies are set. No other way around it. Mine are loose and I change things here and there for every performance. I know the music and have some sets that I know go well with it but nothing strict. When I have tried doing strict chorepography I find myself changing something again because I felt like it. Maybe the key is to choreograph something strictly and practice to that one million times. Maybe I'm not doing that.


  26. #26
    Advanced BHUZzer Aesera's Avatar
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    Re: Not able to stick to a choreography for solo shows. Skill issue?

    And strict choreography is not what I want to do for every performance.I prefer to improvise for the most part. But it would be nice to be able to follow a choreography through for certain events that require that (competitions for example which I have never entered before).


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    Re: Not able to stick to a choreography for solo shows. Skill issue?

    I guess for me the "strict" following of a choreography, even my own, means more thinking and less feeling the moment and the music. I prefer the feeling/spontaneous approach, with some thought to structure ahead of time. But if you want to do an exact rendition of a choreography, I think you would have to rehearse it so many times that you no longer had to think about it, or at least give the appearance that you're not thinking.

    I have a somewhat similar problem when I am teaching my classes - if I start dancing and not thinking I get into trouble because I start changing things. Since I don't particularly like to think while dancing, or to watch someone who looks like they are thinking, I rarely follow an exact choreography in performance, unless I am dancing in a troupe. But there are situations where an exact choreography would be a good idea, like shows on a theatrical stage, or at a competition, as susiboston mentioned.

    I personally think that it is a good thing that you get lost in the moment and in the music, those are the performances I like best to watch, usually. And that is something that many student/newbie dancers CAN'T do, because they are too self-conscious. So it may actually be one of your strengths as a performer. Performances rarely go off exactly as planned.
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  28. #28
    Advanced BHUZzer Aesera's Avatar
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    Re: Not able to stick to a choreography for solo shows. Skill issue?

    [QUOTE=I personally think that it is a good thing that you get lost in the moment and in the music, those are the performances I like best to watch, usually. And that is something that many student/newbie dancers CAN'T do, because they are too self-conscious. So it may actually be one of your strengths as a performer. Performances rarely go off exactly as planned.[/QUOTE]

    Thanks for the encouraging words :)
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  29. #29
    Advanced BHUZzer Khalilah Samah's Avatar
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    Re: Not able to stick to a choreography for solo shows. Skill issue?

    Choreographed or not, the most important thing is to dance the music. I can do choreography but I only do it under duress (in a class, workshop, or performing in front of an audience with others). Be PROUD that you are an improvisational dancer who can also do choreography when needed - it's a great skill and a lot of people struggle to attain it.
    dunyah and Aesera like this.


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