There are so many pieces of advice that I have received over the years, but I think the most important lessons weren’t put into words, but put into practice and learned by example.
Like how on the technique side, some of my teachers and fellow dancers really taught me the value of “white space” in dance–that not everything needs to be go-go-go-go! That by having stillness offset the movement, we make the movement more dynamic. “Pregnant pauses” can be just as powerful as your biggest move. Aziza of Montreal is one great example of this to me (then again, she could just stand there and probably mesmerize an audience for about 15 minutes straight 🙂
On a personal side of things, some teachers taught me the value of connection and communication in the classroom. Some taught me the value of this by NOT having it–the lack of it really driving home how much I feel the need for it. But I know that Paulette Rees-Denis of Gypsy Caravan was my biggest inspiration in building community because of her ability to draw people together and inspire cooperation and mutual support in the dance.
I also have loved the lesson of dance as a sort of “moving pictures”. For me, one important aspect of bellydance is the question “is it beautiful?” No, it doesn’t always have to be, but I think it is a primary component in successful bellydance. Some teachers drove home the idea of creating beautiful lines, playing with open and closed spaces, elegant and strong shapes–the idea that if a photographer snapped a photo at any given time, it would make a powerful image. Of course, we all know there are tons of times in our dance when we are mid-undulation or something (which they always manage to catch! ;), but that moving from one strong shape or “picture” to the next makes for beautiful dance. Carolena Nericcio of FatChanceBellydance is a big influence for me in this philosophy–as a designer and visual artist, she has an innate sense of line and shape, tension and release, and how it creates lovely pictures in the dance…
So some things we learn by being told or seeing it positively demonstrated so often it gets into us. But still other things we learn by seeing what we *don’t* like, or don’t want, or don’t appreciate being demonstrated. So while I know some people don’t like going to a “negative” place by analyzing things we do not prefer, I think there is as much to be learned about what is important to us by looking at the good things as well as what we would categorize as unsuccessful in our opinion. Pay attention to your instincts–what are they trying to tell you?