Every time I perform in a show which requires the music ahead of time, I wrestle with choosing the right song(s). The music has to match my feelings and mood and that can be hard to predict in advance. That’s what makes an authentic performance for me. (Hmm, did I just admit to being moody)? Since it is not always possible to select songs an hour before I leave for the show, I have to consider other things:
What is the “theme” of the show?
Is it a Halloween party where some non-traditional fun may be appropriate? Or more dramatic costuming? Perhaps it’s a gala to honor a highly acclaimed Egyptian dancer. All of these things go into choosing music that helps me pair my style of dance within the greater context of a show.
Who is the audience?
If the audience is made up of my peers, friends and students, I can dance in a way that highlights the nuance of this art. I don’t need to “wow” them with flashy props since they will (hopefully) have enough understanding/appreciation to enjoy the subtlety.
Where is the show?
A theater performance where the audience is not all around me, drinking and eating a meal would call for music that allows me to tell some kind of story with my performance. Not necessarily on the level of a Spanish novela but something that can “develop” as the song progresses. A show where the audience will be all around me and part of the experience will bring out a different side of the dancer’s personality.
In a typical show which generally runs 20-25 minutes, a dancer gets to be mysterious, joyful, show technique, restraint, humor, etc. In a shorter set with one to two songs, we can’t possibly fit all of that in without looking a little nuts. Well, maybe some dancers can and I have some work to do. In any case, this is why I hate choosing music and struggle with my choice; often changing my mind when it’s too late. I am in the process of choosing a song for a holiday party with my students and friends when I decided a blog post would be more productive than venting aloud to my dog.
Photo from 2012 Holiday bellydance party with Tava and her students performing a funk fusion piece in Norwalk, CT.
If you are in Fairfield County and enjoy bellydance, join us at our holiday party Sunday December 8th. Tickets available online at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/512508