I have tried to get out to a few fringe shows in the Edinburgh fringe festival this past week .I LOVE Edinburgh in August!- mad people everywhere, arts high on everyones adgendas, people dressed up in the streets, more shows than you can ever ever see!!!
Unfortunatly I didn't get to as many dance shows as I would have liked... and there wasn't anything bellydance ish at all... but I feel I have learnt things for my own shows none the less.
Havana Rumba's show last night was high impact power, skilled, fun, sexy, colourful and the best thing... the 'looks' at the end of each move and song. These beautiful sexy girls (and guys) would just stand and give a 'look' into the audience........... it was strong stuff- and inspiring! Did I mention it was sexy?!!! oh to be able to 'look' the way the cubans can.. that utter confidence- which borders on arrogance... oh and the Brazilians were pretty damn good at that too- the Capeoria knights show proved that with gusto! oh to be able to get a fraction of that confidence on stage... I am a seasoned performer, and no one who has seen me (especially live) would say i look shy or nervous on stage- but compared to the Latinos??? no- I can learn a lot, we all can!!!
oh- and the other thing to remember from the Cuban and Brazilian shows... they obviously LOVE what they do.... it oozes from every pore! The passion and fun and emotion is there all the time, even in the final performance in a long run. This is a compliment i get a lot too- 'you obviously love what you do'. I think this is really the key for me in being a good performer. actually- the key to being a good anything in life... even if you are say a waitress, or work a til.... if you enjoy your work, you will get more enjoyment from it- but also improves the lives of everyone who deals with you. The girl working the til at Dirlton Castle yesterday when I went there yesterday with my mum was so happy and cheery and very excited about telling you what a wonderful castle it was, and all the fabulous feactures you could find, even down to the squirrels in the trees!- that I found myself looking at the entire experience in a far more positive light than i might have otherwise!!
I saw a fabulous childrens storytelling performance (by Toto tales) which was very well acted, cleverly written understandable african folk tales, humorous, and original. The 2 girls performing inspired me with regards changing mood on stage (both from the script and the acting of the characters themselves). Far too many bellydancers just spend the entire dance with a huge smile on their face.....which may well be very pretty- and work well in photographs but can often become boring, or feel false...... whereas to be able to change character, and mood, and focus throughout the show adds interest and suspense. When you see an amazing dancer- you often find yourself watching her face more than any other part of her body! For an audience to be able to see how a dancer feels differently within different sections of the music helps them expereince the music more throughly too!
The production of 'the prime of miss jean brodie' was exceptionally done... again there was the confidence and complete commitment to the role. Sometimes, i have seen dancers (and have been guilty of this in the past too) of looking like they are seeking approval on stage. Like they NEED the audience to like them in order to be able to dance well. The 'Egyptian' attitute really is about 'knowing' you are fantastic at what you do and not needing that reassurance from the audience. I am still so British in some ways- to have an arabic audience make eye contact and keep it, for a loooong time can still be uncomfortable.. and this is a bridge I have to cross to become better at what i do.
'The Virginia Monologues' was a performance by a 65 year old woman (Virginia Ironside- was journalist and agony aunt) all about what is good about growing old. She was just herself on stage- no airs and graces... happy to voice her weaknesses as well as put forward her strengths. In the end you just felt a rush of warmth towards her... to be able to inspire that feeling in people watching me dance would be mindblowing. To be able to be that open , honest, giving in dance..... even if the audience don't seem on your side... its a valuable lesson. That and accepting the body as it gets older, not that I am 'old' by any stretch of the imagination, but there is a 'shelf life' in all performing dancers, just like there is for models, sportspeople etc. You have to really feel good about what you have, in order to be able to put yourself forward in that confident manner the Cubans, Brazilians and Egyptians seem to be able to without any effort or embarresment. Maybe this is just a British thing? !!!
..........lessons in performing bellydance from actors, dancers, musicians, shopkeepers and storytellers!
There are lessons to be learned all around - you just have to be open to having teachers from all walks of life I guess!
But then there are also us bellydance teachers too!!! (there are still some places on my Edinburgh workshops this coming saturday- roll up roll up :-) !!!) You can also come and see if I manage to perfect 'the look' during my performance in the Halfa on friday night 8pm the Voodoo rooms Edinburgh! (also Remember money from every hafla ticket sale will go towards the Just because charity- come along and help us help women in Egypt!)