The first face-to-face class of 2021 was the Occold Over 50’s class this April- the wonderful ladies put up with cold and rain and helped make our first class of the year a real pleasure. More classes to be held outside until indoor ones resume on May 20th onwards – yipee!
I have been writing choreography and performing for over 15 years. It definitely gets easier with practice. The best bit of writing a solo is the sense of freedom and being able to express your personality. Duets are lovely when you are attuned and well-matched, and group dances are the best for that feeling of team work and sisterhood.
Here are a few ideas to help you get started on writing that solo, duet or group dance.
- Try choosing something that you love and have to dance to as soon as you hear it – ideas should then flow naturally.
- Find a piece which your audience can enjoy listening to as well – nothing too obscure or repetitive. Powerful pieces that raise goose pimples or catchy pop tunes which are upbeat are always good choices.
- For your first piece, it might be a good idea to choose a shorter track to get started on: no more than 3 or 4 minutes. Also a pop tune is much easier to write for than a complex percussion number.
- Before you start writing anything down, listen to the entire track and both visualise moves and experiment in a lighthearted way – certain bits will stand out, that you instinctively create moves for, and mess around with trickier bits. It will really help get it started.
- As you start nailing bits of choreography, write a note of the time code ( ie, 1’15 Chorus) so that you don’t have to constantly go back to the beginning.
- If you can, set time aside when you will have no interruptions (including notifications from your phone!) as once the creative flow begins it can be really frustrating to have your thought process broken.
- Try not to get worried or frustrated that you just cant seem to choreograph. Ignore the tricky bits and just write for the sections that come more easily. Its amazing how often things slot into place when you next work on it.
5. There is nothing wrong about copying great ideas from other dancers. If you are stuck for ideas, browse free material like youtube for inspiration. Once you start dancing it, you make it your own.
6. Watching yourself. I personally like to rough through the choreography first, dancing through instinct, then when I feel I’ve got some moves down its nice to polish them by looking in a mirror or watching back a recording. Im surprised how often a ‘boring’ move looks actually quite impressive, or how unimaginative my arm positions are.
7. Its good to ‘perform’ to the mirror or recording device so that you are accustomed to smiling naturally at the same time as dancing the routine. So often people think they are smiling when actually their faces are serious with concentration.
8. Don’t think you have to include a massive variety of moves in your routine. If the moves go well with the music and you are able to perform them well, then that will make a much more enjoyable performance for you and your audience, than if it is difficult and contrived.
9. Try to include plenty of travelling moves. The audience like a good look at you, it makes the dance more dynamic and can be adapted to the performing space. If you have a limited space, then use travelling moves with tiny steps and travel round on the spot more. If you have a larger space then go for it! Include some showy turns if you can.
10. I personally like to use the ‘travelling’ bits as a bit of improvisation, so that you can easily adapt according to the venue space available. It also looks more natural. Its nice to really smile and make eye contact with your audience when you travel. I call it the ‘meet and greet’.
Writing with others
Quite a tricky one! Firstly its hard to find the opportunity to work on it all together and secondly there is often a conflict of ideas. What I recommend:
For duets. When the music has been chosen, divide it into sections. Perhaps open the dance together then take turns to peform certain sections as solos, giving each other the opportunity to use their own style and taste, and unite for other sections. Duets are also a great opportunity to experiment with mirror moves or contrasts.
For group dances. Best to nominate one or two people with the most experience and skill to co ordinate and finalize moves, but with a democratic imput from others; its important that the moves are accesible to all participants so that everyone can perform well, rather than a few look good. Again its nice to divide the music into sections and have different people work on their own little solos/duets. Groups can also experiment with formations or have different choreographies being performed simulataneously before reuniting in a group choreography.
Bellycise is delighted to announce the start of ‘Sofa Workouts for Everyone’ . All these workouts are based on sitting or lying on a sofa or bed, in order to bring fitness to those whose medical conditions prevent them from participating in standard fitness classes. These cover a variety of techniques: Yoga, Qigong, Belly Dance and Bollywood. Belly dance and yoga techniques bring strength and tone to core muscles, qi gong brings relaxation and stretching, and the dance brings cardio and laughter!
These are currently available as free online videos: click on the following links to have a look:
Woohoo! A new type of class comes to Stowmarket: Belly Bolly Yoga. These are going to run once or twice a month at Hillside Community Centre, Stowmarket on Monday evenings, 7.30 till 9pm. They will include all the elements that Bellycisers love: Belly Dance for toning, Bollywood for cardio and ending in delicious yoga stretches. And probably some elements of Qigong and Cabaret too. Where else can you find a class that gives you all that? A full head-to-toe work out for mind and body combined. Yum. To find out what Mondays the class run, see http://bellycise.com/classes-and-workshops
Bellycise is introducing a class especially for new mums and pregnant mums in their 2nd and 3rd trimester. The class will use gentle belly dance moves for toning and strengthening the abdominals, back, pelvis and thighs. The class will also introduce some yoga stretches and some soothing qi gong movements to calm the mind.
The classes can be booked by groups and organisations, for a cost of £60 per 45 minute session within the Diss to Stowmarket area.
Why is belly dance so good for pregnancy and after birth?
- Strengthening pelvic and deep abdominal muscles and all those muscles specifically used for giving birth, thus facilitating the process of delivering and of recovery.
- Relaxing the body.
- Improving self-esteem.
- Promote good posture.
- Help maintain general fitness.
- Help maintain a good sense of balance.
- Relieve backache.
Read about Steph McGovern and why she swears by the benefits of belly dance during pregnancy:
To read more about the benefits of belly dance in pregnancy, read this blog:
This weekend at Hillside Community Centre, Stowmarket, I shall be holding a relaxed and party-inspired workshop looking at the youth-driven musical movement in Algeria called ‘Rai’. It combines traditional bedouin music with contemporary music trends which can include jazz, pop ad hip hop. The lyrics are normally sung in both french and arabic and can be crude and down to earth. This has lead to issues with Islamic fundamentalists. Our routine will have a basis of some recognisable belly dance fused with a bit of hip hop style to a popular song by a rai master, Cheb Mami ( pictured above). Come and try it out! Saturday 19th October, 10.30 – 12, £10.
So this is a challenging but delicious workshop that requires good core control and some self-expression as the music is very fluid. A great opportunity to focus on technique as many moves are done as slowly as possible so suitable for beginners and experienced alike. This Saturday 5th October at Hillside Community Centre, Stowmarket. 10.30 till 12. £10 Look forward to seeing you there!
Come and enjoy a wonderful evening of Turkish food and drink, combined with talks and taster sessions of belly dance, followed by some Turkish inspired performances.
Alison will be starting a BRAND NEW class at Hillside Community Centre, Stowmarket.
It is ‘BELLYTONE’ for the over 50’s, a gentler style class for the over 50’s using belly dance techniques.
This class is ideal for the more mature lady who wants to tone stomach and back but is daunted by a general fitness class of mixed abilities and age.
Why belly dance?
- Because it is amazing for toning all the body, especially stomach and spine
- It is naturally low impact, so safe for joints
- As an instinctive, feminine dance, belly dance is accessible for all abilities and ages
- It is a friendly and fun way to get fit
This great new class will begin September 11th 2018
10am – 11am
Hillside Community Centre, Stowmarket, IP14 2BD.
And don’t forget, there is also the successful over 50’s class at Occold Village Hall, IP23 7PL
10am – 11am
All newcomers welcome, first class free!
BELLY BOLLY BOOGIE!
A unique night out: A disco that combines belly dancing, bollywood and western pop music. The evening opens with demonstrations and taster sessions, followed by a good old-fashioned style boogie to a fantastic playlist. The event takes place at:
Bacton Village Hall, nr Stowmarket, Suffolk
Friday 5th May
19.30 – 22.30
Bring a plate to share and your own alcohol.
Second hand costumes available for sale.
Non- Bellycisers also welcome.