In this series, we look at how dance has turned from a pleasurable fun activity to one of perfectionism and hard work. The series began with the observations of a dance friend, Sarah, who noticed that practicing improvisation was seen as less valuable than drilling or fitting combos into other songs.
Our first strategy was making time for creative work. Read Part I here.
Our second strategy was Opting for the Most Pleasurable. Read Part II here.
Our third strategy is Share Your Joy.
“I feel like I am not fulfilling my duties to the audience if I’m not sharing myself “enough.” But doing that authentically and without trying so hard that it becomes pure performance is a challenge.”
How do you bring confident spontaneity into a performance?
Share your joy.
Dance is a social activity. Even for the millions of us who don’t perform, we may dance at parties and social events. We risk being seen, and with it, being judged—and possibly found wanting. That can feel pretty daunting—especially for an introvert. But sharing joy is a skill. How do we learn to share our pleasure in the dance? Practice, of course. How do we practice sharing? Build it up, and build it in.
Build it up. At first, we may struggle to give ourselves permission to play, to enjoy, to “dance like no one is watching.”
There are techniques to help with this.
- Dance with your eyes closed.
- Avoid the mirror.
- Breathe in time to the music.
- Slow down so far that the shapes of the moves you know so well disappear, and let the body shift and change the pathway as it likes.
- Break the rules.
- Break up your conditioned responses, always going for the what feels most delicious.
- Sometimes you will do things that aren’t pretty. It’s okay.
- Relax. This will take time. Don’t rush. Have fun.
Build it in. Over time, you will feel happier and more comfortable in your own skin. Your body (and you) will express the music as it streams in you and through you. You (and your body), will feel more confident in your choices. You will be having fun! Now you are ready to share.
Dance like someone is watching. Dance as if your whole room is watching—and you love it, and you love them, and they love you. Stoke the fire of your heart with the joy of friends. Wrap yourself in a warm pink aura of love and joy. Welcome every corner of the room. You don’t have to go them. They come to you.
Magnetize yourself. Allow the joy of the room into your gravitational field. Oriental dance is inwardly-directed. It is a dance of sidelong looks, playfulness, and recycled energy. It is a visual sillage, the lingering scent of a lovely perfume. For every out, there is an in. So bring the audience in, too.
Consider the egg. Does it go running after the sperm? Never! The egg, ensconced in its cushy nest, leisurely examines the wriggling sperm. We used to think that the pushiest sperm got the egg, but that is not the case. The egg chooses. Women choose. We, as dancers, choose. We are goddesses.
Dance is a benediction. It is a gift we give, a blessing we enact. We do not need an audience’s approval—or anyone’s. We dance as a gift. It is right and good for the guests to offer us money, adoration and so forth. But we don’t need any of these things.
We are whole, inviolate, replete with resources. Making offerings enriches the guests. We accept their offerings out of graciousness and compassion.
Express the joy. Our guests feel what we feel. Our anxiety or fear gives them anxiety and fear. Our joy in the moment gives the guests joy in the moment. So we call our joy. We allow love to well up inside ourselves. In this way, we love our guests. In your practice, express joy.
Welcome the room. Draw them in with loving, sidelong glances. From your center within yourself, you become the center of the room, the world, the universe. You, as the dancer, are the omphalos, the navel of the world. Everything comes to you. And you reflect back meaning, depth, and joy.
See you next week with Part IV!
Your comments are welcome.
PS Want to inspire, amaze and delight?
Please take a look at How to Create Dance Art (CDA), an online composition intensive for improvisation & choreography, coming this spring.
CDA has a fabulous Premium bonus this year with a series of lectures by Dunya McPherson on Space, Time, and Design.
These come from her Juilliard choreography study back in the 70s, when there was incredible innovation in the field. Most of those pioneers never wrote books and many have passed away.
This rare material comes infused with Dunya’s decades of study with Sufi and Oriental dance and music. It is a special, remarkable opportunity to acquire some valuable, unusual material.
There is a special early deal at the end of November. Please have a look right away as it is very short term. http://CreateDanceArt.com