A few days ago I wrote about my fear of choreography. I realised that part of what I needed to do was to slow down. I may not be one of those people who can watch someone at the front of the classroom do a series of complicated steps and repeat them immediately (and I have, to my horror, been in rooms of dancers who can), but I can learn if I take my time. The ability to learn fast is different from the ability to learn at all. What came out of this were some good discussions on Bhuz and OrientalDancer.net, in which I got to hear about other dancers’ experiences learning to perform, being afraid of advancing in the dance, and learning how to learn choreography.
A few days ago I took advantage of Christmastime leisure and returned to Instructional Bellydance With Jillina – Level 1. My first time around, I had worked with the movement instruction section and arduously learned the first three combinations. Before beginning the second session, I ran through the first three combos from memory, to see how much I could recall on my own. (All of it!) I then repeated the sections for those three combinations, which gave me a really wonderful feeling — the transitions that had felt unnatural earlier now came easily and organically, and I barely had to think anymore.
The real surprise, though, was the fact that I sped through the next four combos. (There are only seven total.) For some reason, even though I was really tired when doing this practice, my body could just pick up the combinations this time around. I did have a little trouble with footwork, and I probably wouldn’t recollect as much of them now, but I was able to get up to full speed much, much faster than in the first practice session. This still involved a few repetitions of each combination’s instruction and practice segment, but I did not have to stop these quite as often. This was completely unexpected!
Again, Jillina’s video is nothing fancy — she uses just a few basic movements in combinations that are simple but lovely. But to me mastering them still felt like an achievement. By the end, the many spins had made me dizzy (I am pretty pregnant, after all!), but I did a run-through of all the combinations again and did some cool-down stretches on my own. I then reviewed the final section of the video, in which Jillina adapts the combinations into a choreography to “Alf La Waila Waila.” For the next practice, I’m planning to review all the combinations again as a warm-up, and then tackle the choreo to the song. I’m not sure how I’ll deal with having the patterns changed, but at least the music will now be a help. This whole choreography thing is starting to seem… doable.