Over my years performing improvisational tribal bellydance, I have had many opportunities to watch videos of my performances. It can be fun and humbling to watch these videos, and each time was a chance to learn something new about not only my abilities as an individual dancer, but to strengthen the work that me and my dance sisters were doing together. It is a tool to examine our technique and stagecraft from the outside, and provide us a forum to discuss how we hope to improve and grow as a troupe.
When you get your hands on your video, here is my standard advice:
- Make sure to watch at least 3 times. Do not discuss the performance until you have watched all three ( or more if you prefer) times!
- The first time you can’t help but watch yourself and be more critical than you deserve. Get that one out of the way.
- The second time, watch yourself again, and this time make a point to single out your strengths and successes! You will also begin to see more of the show as a whole you were a part of.
- Finally watch the whole picture, seeing the full show as the audience would have enjoyed it.
Once you have finished watching it at least 3 times, start by talking with your fellow dancers about the highlights of the performance. Get in the habit of trying to find and articulate the positive aspects of your work first and foremost. Do not be shy about expressing things you are proud of, in yourself and in others. Being able to talk about all the things you do well is just as important as identifying areas which need improvement.
Move gently into the realm of critique. Whether offering critique of your own work or that of others, frame your feedback as constructive, non-judgmental suggestions or questions. My absolute IDOL of honest yet constructive feedback is Tim Gunn. Seriously, watch videos of him and learn. He manages to present feedback that is to-the-point yet thoughtful, gently and kindly administered. Don’t be passive-aggressive (or in any way aggressive)–most people would rather hear tactfully delivered frank honesty than anything vague or washy-washy.
Make video watching a fun time for you and your fellow dancers, rather than some kind of dreaded doctor’s check up. Sit down with a bottle of wine and snacks. Plan to watch other inspirational videos as well perhaps, to keep the dialogue and creative juices flowing. Always end on a positive, sharing in your triumphs together and looking forward to the next fantastic performance!