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The importance of chorus

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I was perusing some very old tribe topics of discussion (and enjoying it immensely I might add–tribe is like an archive of the evolution of tribal bellydance in so many ways), and came across a thread about chorus. Specifically about students who don’t “get” the idea of chorus, and feel “left out” if they are “stuck” in chorus a lot and aren’t in the “spotlight”.

Molly had this astute observation to share:

I think it’s pretty hard for a lot of dancers to let go of the idea that if you aren’t the soloist or feature, you aren’t important. Our culture really seems to value the individual genius over the group a lot of the time, but the truth is that chorus members can make or break any performance – just look at opera. If the chorus isn’t on and supporting the lead vocalists, the whole thing falls flat. Same with ATS. When the chorus is energetic and their movements and attitudes support the featured dancers without distracting from them, it’s so much fun for the audience to watch. And it’s great when you are in a duet/trio/solo to see the smiling faces of your fellow dancers every time you go into a turning move. It keeps up the energy of the group as a whole when everyone is tuned in and supporting one another in turn. Even with the most unresponsive audiences, you know you have someone behind you who’s into your dancing and appreciates it. Encourage them to look at the chorus as a unique time to appreciate what their fellow dancers are presenting – I mean, in how many other styles do you get to stay involved onstage and watch what’s going on? It’s a nice little mental and physical break to re-center without breaking your connection to the group. At least that’s how I see it.

And I really love the following perspective from Amy:

As a perspecive (sic) on the chorus vs. featured dancer thing, the way I figure it is, everyone will put in at least 80% of their performance time in the chorus…that’s part of what being a tribal dancer is about. So it’s better to be supportive and really work to feature the dancers in the spotlight- because that will be you in a song or two, and if you’ve been great support as a chorus member, you fellow dancers will be psyched about making you look good when you’re out there doing your thing. It’s more of a give-and-take situation than a superior/inferior situation. If there are dancers who feel dancing is only worth their time when they are in the spotlight, they might eventually migrate to a solo-oriented style of dance, which is fine…to me, tribal is about being comfortable supporting other people when they’re rocking it, and letting them support you in turn, doing your best to rock it for them when you’re up there. That’s why super diva attitude doesn’t really work! I love it when I see my fellow dancers kickin ass as I’m following the chorus leader, getting ready for my turn to carry the torch- that’s why I’m all about ATS.

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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.

4 Responses

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    ATS to me is community and support. We fade to the back and sync up, in chorus, so as to be complementary to the folks who take center stage, and we receive the same courtesy in return when it’s our time.

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    Shay Moore
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    Absolutely, Matthew! It’s about bolstering our tribal family, and every part of that is important!

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    Shay darling, I haven’t been following any blog’s the last 8 weeks, like I use to. Nothing personal, I’ve just been slacka lackin’. Boy have I missed a lot!
    This HAS 2 BE one of my all time favorite posts.

    Thank you thank you!

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    I see the chorus as being like the bassline in a piece of music. Sure, you can just play the melody and it’s nice, but it’s a much richer experience when the bassline fills out and supports the music.

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