This is the question I posted to each person who signed up for my 2019 Bellydance Bundle class, Intro to Effortless Improvisation. I’ve gotten over two dozen responses so far. And most of them mention some kind of freeze response.
Their vocabulary goes out the window. Only the most basic moves show up. No moves show up! At its heart, this is the fear of being judged and found wanting–and this fear causes us to have nothing at all to say.
It is true that improv is riskier than choreography. It’s messier. We don’t know what will happen. We have way less control over the dance. It won’t be as polished. It won’t be as fancy.
We might make <gasp!> mistakes.
But there are also benefits to improvisation
Improvisation gives us more time to feel the music
When we improvise, we can take our time, enjoy the physical sensation of moving. As we enjoy our own dance, we make a space for others to enjoy it as well. The belly dance scene has way too much squinty focus on technique. Ours is a dance of joy. Let’s all enjoy ourselves and our dance a little more.
Improvisation allows for increased presence
When we enjoy our own dance, we can be more present with our guests. We are not bound by a preset movement agenda. We can relax, enjoy the people, visit with them, chat and blow kisses. When we are present, there is more connection. Our dance becomes a collaboration between ourselves and everyone else in the room. Our response to our guests’ energy brings them into our dance. They feel our love for them. We enter a healing state that nourishes everyone in the room.
Improvisation helps us share joy
Ours is a dance of joy. Is the dancer enjoying themself? Do they share their joy with their guests? Are they one with the music? These are marks of mastery in Oriental dance. As we learn to trust our bodies, the music, the moment–this is when, and how, the magic happens.
Choreography is generally designed to be the same every time. Our dance, and its music, are designed to be different every time. Improvisation.
We don’t need lots of moves
We have micromovement, We can dance with only circles and make every one of them different, through dynamics such as force, speed, size, and decoration. We can relax, slow down, and take the time to enjoy each flex of the body. Make each movement have meaning, weight, resonance.
This is the beauty of improvisation
It’s not about showing off and pushing yourself out. It’s about showing up and pulling your guests in. It’s about sharing joy.
Your dance is a gift of joy that you bring to your guests. This is what it is all about.
PS The next three FUN Classes are still available! Improv-based, follow-me classes, different every time. Each class is recorded, and the recording is available for a week.
Check them out: aliathabit.com/shop/#live
I’d love to see you there!