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Best Dance Advice you have gotten?

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On a local discussion group, the topic of “Best Advice and Lessons” came up–people started sharing some of the key lessons they have learned from their teachers over the years.

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?

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Shay Moore is the director and primary instructor at Deep Roots Dance in Seattle, WA. She loves writing, movies, costuming, knitting, cooking, and bellydance to the moon and back again; and loves her amazing husband and doggies even more than that.

3 Responses

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    ahhhh Sharon its so interesting you raise this….I was watching Tribal Travels on the weekend, Paulette’s documentary, its always such an old friend and I always get something out of a revisit. Two things that were said resonated with me….the first – that its important to study with many teachers, to try many different styles but its important to have your one to return to. Its kind of how I urge my girls to go do workshops, especially at the festivals with a bit of everything on offer – its less about “saving” this or that move to use, but to just enjoy the ride, to take a holiday from our everyday kind of thing.

    The second, was where Miss P was talking about how Caravan changed over the years, as inevitably every group changes – gets you thinking of your own dancers, who shares your space now, who was there in the past, who will come….and something along the lines of its not so much to reflect on the people who’ve gone, who’ve found their own path, which in turn opens the way for new energy to come in, but its about having created that space for them to come. I love that, it just makes me feel so at ease, as we all lose our hearts a thousand times when we say goodbye, sometimes we dont even get to say goodbye, dancers leave us and our dreams go with them….but that part of recognising the space you create in itself…is just so special and really makes me so proud to offer my little classes as I do.

    these are the snippets Im pondering this week 🙂 just thought I’d share

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    Shay Moore
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    I love both of those sentiments!
    And I watched my Tribal Travels maybe 3 times before it got lost. It is probably sitting in another DVD box with a different title someplace, and I miss it!! Have you seen the 20 year retrospective from FCBD? That one also has many gems!

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    paulette rees-denis
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    Lovely thoughts, dancing friends. It makes my heart so happy to read your words. Always remember that teachers are also students, friends, mentors, peers, and mostly human! I have learned so much over the zillions of years, teaching, dancing, and sharing bits of this dance with all of you, what a rich world we live in!
    Thanks for sharing too.

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