Tips to improve your dance skills

 Wouldn’t life be pretty boring if we already knew everything there was to know? If we could insert a chip into our brain, Matrix style and gain all the knowledge to perfect anything in 10 seconds. Granted, sometimes that would be handy but how much of the journey would we miss out on?

 When we start out learning to dance it’s for fun, friendship and exercise but somewhere along the way the Belly Dance bug bites and we become hooked. Slowly but surely milestones are conquered, we find that elusive shimmy, our steps become more confident, our arms start to look graceful and we buy or make our first costume.  Eventually there will come a point where you will reach a learning plateau and the moves that once seemed so difficult will become easier and seemingly require less effort. Now it is easy to just cruise along in your practice without continuing to develop.

 The old saying ‘practice makes perfect’ is true, not that we necessarily want to become ‘perfect’ but practice allows you to refine your skills and build the movements into your muscle memory so they do become effortless. This then allows you to shift your focus on to learning new ways of moving, new ways of expression and creativity. If those individual movements and isolations are being refined the next step is to build them into combinations that can then be built into choreography.

 If finding the time for practice is eluding you then take the less obvious opportunities that are available. If you have a long hallway practice your arm exercises as you walk from one end of the house to the other, practice your shimmy while you do the dishes, practice your gluteus muscle squeezes in the car while you are stopped in traffic. You will be surprised how all these little snippets of practice will meld together to refine your dance technique.

 Step outside your comfort zone and try classes and workshops that will challenge you. If your passion is Classical Egyptian Belly Dance then it is important to continue learning and refining the movements that are particular to this style but you might consider taking an adult ballet class even as a one off to completely step outside your Belly Dance zone. You may never want to be a ballerina but that one off ballet class might inform your Belly Dance training in new ways, it may give you that little piece of the puzzle you had been looking for to improve your arm extension. Yoga practice will give you greater flexibility and range of motion as well as build your core strength and balance all of which go hand in hand with your dance practice.

 When I attend Belly Dance Festivals I will always do workshops in styles that I enjoy, but I will also pick workshops that will put me out of my comfort zone, like theatre sports or something in a style that is totally new to me or using a prop I have never worked with. This is how you improve, this is how you grow in ways you never new possible.

 Like anything in life there will be success and there will be learning curves, things that resonate and things that don’t but think of it all as part of the journey. Don’t be in a rush to be perfect or know all there is to know, just enjoy the experience of learning and creating, experimenting and challenging yourself and enjoy being an eternal student.

Regan Rania Gardner

America Trip May 2010 Fat Chance Belly Dance