Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Chapter 2; Learning from The Fringe. A bellydancer's take on learning from other performers.

Welcome back to Part 2 of my Edinburgh Fringe Review where I have reinterpretted what I saw in each show into Bellydance terms!

Triple entendre- Female Trio performing original songs and sketches. 

When I saw these these three young women walk onto stage I have to admit, I had initial doubts about the quality of the show to come. No offense intended, but they just looked like students. Young, pretty, but nothing like the bling or stage 'costumes' that a bellydancer is used to seeing. 
By the end of the first song, their massive personalities, material and amazing talent swiped all that superficial stuff from my mind rapidly. They were totally amazing, funny, captivating and are up there in my top 3 shows of the fringe (which I drunkenly admitted to them one night when I spotted them in a chippie, and had to go over, fan girl style, and tell them that they were fffabuloush!). 

This transformation from expectation to realism got me thinking; so much of our Bellydance performance is linked to how we initially present ourselves. If the costumes and 'look' isn't going to grab people interest from the get go, then the skills MUST! Making sure the 'look' is as professional as you can makes it a bit easier to get your audience on side and is an 'easy win' for a beginner bellydancer. Looking the part will carry you somewhat, but never completely! The opposite is also true,  I certainly know that when I look at dancers and their skirt if slipping, or the bra doesn't fit right, or they don't have enough make up on etc, then I am distracted by these things and not ready to appreciate the dance itself in quite the same way no matter how good the dance is. That said , accidents happen to us all, so if you do have a costume malfunction mid show, make it part of your act! So the costume isn't everything.... But it helps. 

Also- the other key word here from this wonderful show is 'original'. They weren't trying to copy anyone, they had written their own songs and jokes. With the beautiful voices they had they could have played it safe and done a string of 'standards' and they would have had a good show. By pushing their own ideas forward however, they produced a great show. One that is still memorable while I write this two months on. This is a good message for us as dancers. We often feel there is a right and wrong way of doing certain things, a 'way to dance baladi', a costume style that only fits to shaabi etc. I took from Triple that I need to be more adventurous in what I do, and not apologize for it. Be strong and confident and stand out. A powerful message indeed. 

Well done ladies... You wowed and inspired me! Go see them if you ever get the chance! 

On the flip side ( in case you thought all my reviews were going to be glowing recommendations)....

Elsie diamond- Cabaret and variety show. 

I was excited by the concept of this show. She is a dresser to opera singers in real life and this show was inspired by that. After years in Cairo having my own dresser there and hearing the stories she would tell me, never mind dancing back stage with her, I was very interested to see this one. I was disappointed sadly. 
She just attempted to do way too much. This performer could sing, tell jokes, dance burlesque and tell a story. The problem is that she was trying so hard to fit everything in, with lots of costumes changes, that any power in the performance and story, was lost. I was especially hit by the irony that the one thing that would have drastically improved the entire show was her having a dresser to assist with all those changes! It felt like, "I know all these tricks, so I must show the audience everything I can do", rather than focusing on one or two elements and really doing them well. 
When we perform Bellydance there is a temptation to do the same. To try to fit in all of our skills into one performances. Especially when that is just one song at a hafla! I felt if Elsie had done a lot less, it would have been so much more of a show. This is worth keeping in mind on stage, in particular when we don't feel so confident and try too hard to impress our audience. Less IS more. 
This woman had the bling, but didn't keep it on for long enough! (Also something we aim to avoid doing mid Bellydance performance!!!!) 

That's all for today's, more fringe show reviews and thoughts tomorrow....
remember and leave a comment to let me know your thoughts on any of my blog posts.... I 'vet' all comments just so inappropriate ones don't end up there... But they do post, eventually! 

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