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Don’t forget about costuming and beauty maintenance.
Not all of us have long flowing hair, shapely slender bodies, or creamy skin. But there are things to keep in mind that will keep an audience’s mind on your dance and not on your body issues.
First of all, I would like to point out this is a dance of celebration of the mind, body, and spirit. There is no social status or race that is excluded. This includes body type. Everyone has personal issues with his or her own body type, (yes, even the “skinny” ones). And I want to encourage you to feel safe in your own skin when dancing whether or not you ever perform in public or not. I also would like to say to any dancer that has ever said that someone is too "fill-in-the-blank" to Bellydance is a disgrace to the dance community and should be ashamed…you know who you are.
Now, moving along. Many dancers are concerned with the amount of skin they want to show or not show. There are many innovations in tummy covers, full dresses, and body suits available. I would like to point out to women who want to cover any particular area to steer clear of sack-like or baggy dresses or any costume that hides your contours. No, you do not have to wear a skin tight costume, but keep in mind all of the hard work you have put into your dance. Don’t cover up your movements by being afraid of your body shape. Remember, YOU choose who you dance for and why. Make it count!
Paint and trim your nails before every performance. You don’t have to paint them any color. A clear coat will make you nails look clear and healthy. This INCLUDES your toe nails! Most dancers perform bare foot or in open toed sandals. Your toe nails will get noticed! This is one of the easiest ways to polish off your look regardless of dance style or costuming.
Hair…hum, you will have to decide about your own style but a pretty barrette or headband always help to complete your costume. More importantly, if you have long hair, do something to keep it out of your face. I have been told personally that my dance was great but my hair kept falling in front of my face during my performance. The audience can’t see your face and it will distract you and your hands while you dance.
Try something new.
Try a new or different dance style at least once. You may never pursue that specific style or technique, but you will most likely come away with new ideas to help you improve and refine your own style. For instance, I am currently taking my very first Tribal style class with a local teacher. (Author's note: This was about 4 years ago now, lol.) Even though Tribal has never been my main focus of education I have already learned a new way to approach my dance posture and group dynamics after only one class. I can now practice and incorporate this into my own style of dance making me a more well-rounded and educated dancer. Yea Me! (Don’t forget non-bellydance styles).
Be careful with your criticisms.
This is another problem we all struggle with. We have all sat through a performance and seen or heard something we don’t like, be it a costume choice, bad technique, or music that hurts our ears. Take care not to bash another dancer’s performance in public based on your own tastes. Not only is it distasteful but the situation could always be reversed. How would you feel if you were being talked about? Try to keep an open mind. This is an interpretive dance after all.
Naima’s #1 tip to instantly improve your dance…
ARMS! ARMS! ARMS! I have done it myself…uncontrolled wrist circles, chicken arms, weak arms, etc. No matter you ability to execute a movement the audience will only see the uneven lines of your lazy arms and wrists. You don’t have to have cheerleader straight arms while you dance, but being conscious of your arm and hand placement will instantly polish off your profile. When most dancers learning the basics arms are left to the wayside while muscle control and technique is being refined. In the end your arms and hands suffer unless you have an excellent teacher to help you work on this area. Keep your chest proud, shoulders relaxed with arms and wrists supported. So even if you flub the movement or forget the choreography at least you look good doing it!