June 2013: My Philosophy Topic
For the GBDAC recital – and in light of much discussion with musicians over the last few months who feel the same way – I have chosen to rerun one of my favorite philosophy topics:
“Performance Improvisation” vs. “Social Dancing in Costume”We have the good fortune – here in San Antonio, Texas – to have some great musicians of Arab descent just down the road in Houston. I know them all – having worked in the clubs there for 2 decades! So, I bring them to San Antonio on occasion and several of the advanced dancers here get a chance to try their skill with live music. The band continues to play after the dance show, and everyone in the audience – including other dance students – get to jump up and dance with the band.
So what is the difference between “jumping up and dancing with the band” and the “performances” with the band? In some instances, not much!!! Yikes!
Every piece of music has structure, patterns, recognizable nuances, etc. Even a purely improvised taqsim has pauses/breaths, shapes, and structure.
To me, the big difference between the performance and the “just jumping up to dance” is the discernible relationship between the music and the dancer’s movement choices…not just in a given moment, but across a phrase of music, a chorus, a verse, etc. To me, “performance improvisation” does not mean “woo hoo…no plan…just move and have fun”. (If a dancer does that in a full cabaret ensemble, I call that “social dancing in costume”.)
It means recognizing the patterns in the music, having the ability to react to and interpret those patterns – on a physical and emotional level, on a micro and macro level – and maintaining a relationship with the music on many levels. That’s a little more difficult, requires more training and practice and (at least) a fundamental knowledge of the music.
When I watch a dancer perform an improvisation, my eyes and ears beg for this relationship… for completion of phrases, for a hint of repetition when a chorus repeats, etc. Am I the only one who looks for this???
Karen Barbee Adkisson, Karavan Studio owner and professional belly dancer, has been teaching students in the art of belly dance techniques for more than 25 years. Her expertise at the national and international level is technique and professional progression. Karen's systematic approaches are found throughout Karavan's online video lessons, live classes, workshops, and events including the annual June GBDAC Recital weekend held in San Antonio, Texas.
Posted by Karen Barbee Adkisson, Karavan Studio on 4th June, 2013 | Comments | Trackbacks
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