Monday, November 19, 2012

Be Easy To Work With

Speaking as a presenter and producer it is important for you as a performer and teacher to be easy to work with.  

If you have reached the point in your belly dance career that you are now being hired for teaching and/or performing it's extremely important to act like a professional and one of the hallmarks of a pro is to be easy to work with. What does that mean?

No drama
Be prepared
Don't constantly call the employer and bug them
Don't be demanding
Roll with the punches
Offer to help
Send a thank you note
Be nice and friendly to everyone at the event
Don't bug the employer/presenter at the event about little things. 
(I really hate this! Belly dancers who bug me about small stuff when I'm already under stress at an event and dealing with staff and 50 dancers and last minute stuff and then they start pulling on me about how they can't find their shoe or something stupid like that... sorry, got carried away.)

If you do the above you will likely be hired back again.  
If you don't do the above you will likely not hired again.  And the presenter may tell others you were hard to work with.  You don't want that. 

This applies to stars and those that want to be stars. We as presenters of events have long memories. And trust me, we remember the easy people and the difficult people.

Be easy!  (to work with that is...)

Suzy Evans

Here's a photo of Sadie.  Sadie is easy to work with.
Be like Sadie!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Developing Great Stage Presence

Developing great stage presence mostly comes with years of experience performing in front of an audience. 

As I will say here and a million more times practice is what will give you confidence and confidence leads to a great stage persona. 

One of the best things you can do to develop stage presence is to watch and study belly dancers that exude stage presence. Here are some to watch: Delilah, Dalia Carella, Amaya, Katia and Alexandra King.  

You'll notice that they can make the most simple moves so amazingly interesting!  You'll also notice it is their personality shining through their performance.  

And this is one exercise you can work on... get your personality to show up in your performance. 

Practice "moods" for performances.  Dynamic, shy, silly, seductive, aloof, charming, outrageous,,, you get the idea.  Be sure to practice in front of a mirror or tape yourself.  Often times you can practice a mood and find out it's not translating to what you thing it is. You don't want your audience to misinterpret your mood. 

Be careful about that sexy or seductive look, often it just looks like you are pissed off.  Practice that look in a mirror. 

In all performances - smile!  Unless of course you're doing a specific theater piece where it would break character.  You can't beat your million dollar smile!

I would highly recommend Star Power with Amaya DVD to help with your stage presence.  Click Here to check it out. 

I'll write more about stage presence, as it is one of main factors to becoming a star in belly dance. 
Delilah defines great stage presence
Photo from the 2nd Awards of Belly Dance

Monday, July 9, 2012

Top 3 Tips for Belly Dancers

This month's top 3 tips for belly dancers:
1.  Practice free style dance for 15 minutes 3 times a week.  Dance alone and dance purely to the music.    You want to get the music into your head and into your body. 
2. Try a different hair style this month.  It doesn't have to be dramatically different, just take some time and play with your hair.  Add extensions, put a little curl, use a hair decoration, highlights,, you get the idea. 
3. Your feet:  Are your feet noticeable in your dance?  Your feet are what grounds you in the dance but they should not draw attention. Practice this a few times this month: Think about how your movements are drawn up from the ground into your feet and then travel up threw your body.  
Suzy Evans
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Beautiful Photo of Mia
by Michael Baxter

Monday, July 2, 2012

Ultimate Belly Dancer Combination DVDs

Ultimate Belly Dance Combinations is a 5 DVD series - almost like a mini-series! 
During a conversation with a friend,  this unique concept and came to me. I had previously produced a couple of combination videos with Ansuya and Ava Fleming. Seeing how popular they were, why not have multiple instructors teach combinations on a single DVD?  And why not make it a series? This would give students of belly dance a good variety of styles of combinations from different teachers.  Some of these teachers had not previously taught on video before, so many students would be exposed to new teachers; an instructor they may have not been familiar with and would not normally would get a chance to take a class from. I called them Ultimate Combinations because... they were!   The first 2 volumes were shot and edited.  The teachers included Sadie, Ava Fleming, Aziza, Amaya, Fahtiem, Artemis, Celeste, Anaheed and Amara. These 2 videos were quickly best sellers.  About 2 years later I added three more volumes with a new mix of dancers: Paulina, Zahra Zuhair, Katia, Aradia, Dondi, Ava Fleming, Celete, and Jamileh. These 3 new DVDs included new styles including some Turkish and some of that classic old-timey 1970s belly dance. Will there be more Ultimate Combinations?  Maybe... we'll see.  In the meantime, if you don't have these DVDs, please consider adding them to your collection.  Here's some links to the DVDs:

Monday, June 18, 2012

You Are the Ambassadors of Belly Dance

No matter what level of dance you are currently at; from taking your first lessons to a professional who has been belly dancing for many years: It is you that are the representatives; the ambassadors of belly dance.  It is you that is representing this beautiful dance form to the general public.
So how can you be an ambassador to belly dance? One of the best ways is to look to one of the top belly dancers, a dancer you admire. Some great examples: Jillina, Sadie, Ava, Kaya, Aziza, Ansuya, Zahra Zuhair, Sahra, Angelika, Leyla Jouvana, or anyone you personally admire. 

How does this dancer conduct herself? 
They act like a professional would: friendly, helpful, humble, kind and living the golden rule. They behave and conduct themselves as if they were a public figure. Their performances lift up the art of belly dance, they do not drag it down. Their performances are either choreographed or if impromptu they are well thought out and rehearsed. When on stage or at a restaurant or nightclub they assume that there are people in the audience that are seeing belly dance for the first time and therefore give a performance that is classy and graceful, not a performance that would downgrade the publics perception of belly dance and belly dancers. 
It's not just a responsibility; it is also your duty to conduct yourself this way. All of us in this art form are depending on you to come through for all of us!  For those of us that have been in the dance for many years, we can tell you how hard we fought ugly stereotypes in the early years. We don't need belly dance synonymous with stripping or pole dancing.  Is ballet or modern dance ever compared to stripping?  Don't we in belly dance deserve the same respect other forms of dance receive?   -  Suzy Evans
Leyla is a wonderful Ambassador to Belly Dance.  Are you?
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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Sadie the Belly Dancer

Sadie is a true star of belly dance, as a matter of fact she is currently considered the most popular belly dancer in the world.  Besides belly dancing she also performs various forms of world dance, and theatrical theme shows. She draws upon an innate understanding of movement from her background in gymnastics and swimming. Her dance and music education spans more than 15 years. Her love for movement, music and culture has prompted her to explore and study various forms of world dance such as Belly Dance, Brazilian Samba, Salsa, Hip-Hop, Tahitian and Flamenco, with a dedication to foundation training in Ballet and Jazz. This background has given Sadie a style that is uniquely her own.

And in case you missed it; Sadie and Kaya recently competed in "America's Got Talent" 

She stars in numerous instructional and performance DVDs from IAMED /  
Click on the links below to view and purchase her DVDs. 

How to Belly Dance / Instructional Videos
Performance Videos

Sadie in Belly Dance-O-Rama

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Keep it Short

"Always keep them wanting more."  
Far too often belly dancers performances are too long.  I can count on 1 hand the numbers of dancers that I can avidly watch for more than 10 minutes. Most belly dancers should keep their routines to no more than 7 minutes.  Even if you have been given a 10 or 15 minute spot on a program, that does not mean you should fill it. 

Some years ago I was offered a 15 minute performance spot.  I felt obligated to fill the entire 15 minutes.   That was a mistake.  Not only did the audience get bored during the performance, but I did too.  

Be sure to add variety, layers and changes of pace in the routine.  If you are newer to the dance, there is nothing wrong with doing a 4 or 5 minute piece.  You want to be comfortable in your routine.  

If you keep your dance short, your audience will want to see more, but don't give it to them, it may be stepping just over the line. Learn how to gauge the length of your performance. Better to dance 1 minute shorter than 1 minute too long and start losing the interest of your audience.    

Tamra Henna in Belly Dance Sensations
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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Sword Face

You must avoid sword face at costs!!  Sword face is that look on your face you get when you are balancing a sword on your head and you're overly afraid it's going to fall off.  
There's only 1 cure for sword face. Before you even think about performing sword work in a performance, you must practice with your sword enough so that you are confident enough that it will not fall off.  Remember - Practice makes perfect....
This will also put your audience at ease and they will enjoy your performance, rather than worrying with you that the sword will go a flying off!
Suzy Evans
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This is Zahirah.  She never has sword face.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Sharing is a Good Thing

If you're like me, you are on many belly dancer's email lists.  And most of us are on FaceBook, Twitter as well as other social sites.  
In this "its all about me" dance, I'd like you to think of others and share your dance sister's information with your friends on FaceBook and elsewhere.  When you get a newsletter you like in your email box, why not share it?  If everyone did this, then you too would reach many more people as your information would also be shared. What comes around goes around. I have been sharing newsletters for some time now on my own FaceBook account. And I can tell you it is appreciated. 
If you as a dancer send out your own newsletter, remember to turn on the "sharing" function, as I often get emails without it and therefore cannot share your newsletter. 
"Sharing" costs you no money but gives you tons of goodwill dividends. 
Just think of all that good Karma coming back to you! sharing back in the good ol' days
Suzy Evans   
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Monday, April 9, 2012

Eadweard J. Muybridge and the first motion pictures

Today Google is honoring Eadweard J. Muybridge on his birthday.  He invited motion photographs.  I thought I too would honor him. He is most famous for his "running horse".  Thanks to him, who in a way is responsible for anything caught on film and video.  Thank you Eadweard J. Muybridge!   Here's more about him. 

Just imagine how difficult it would be to learn belly dance from still pictures?
Suzy Evans

Race Horse

Run bison run!
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Friday, February 17, 2012

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

In the Beginning: Belly Dance Posture

What’s the first thing you should learn in a belly dance class?  Posture. Why is posture so important?  It is the very foundation of the dance.  ALL movements emanate from your posture. You cannot be a great belly dancer without it.  As a matter of fact, you cannot even be a competent dancer without it.

Basically, proper belly dance posture is this - starting from the top:
Head and neck directly over your torso, shoulders slightly back, chest/sternum slightly lifted, your legs should be directly under your hips and aligned with your torso, a soft bend in your knees, feet pointing forward.  You should practice this so much that you feel relaxed and comfortable in this position.

Here are some examples of problems that occur when you do not have good belly dance posture.

Neck: I have seen dancer’s with their head thrust out past her body.  This isn’t a problem with the head; it’s the dancer’s neck.  Be sure your neck is alignment with your body. You many have to practice pushing your neck back over your body. 

Lifted Sternum/Shoulders:  A dancer who is not standing with their shoulders back and with a sunken sternum will have no energy in her dance. This is such a small thing that you can fix and will make a huge difference in your stage presence. Keep your shoulders back and your sternum lifted and your audience’s eye will be riveted on you.  It will give you energy and make you more confident.

Legs:  I attended a show some years ago and there was an experienced dancer who we had not seen before; we were told she was supposed to be the bees knees in belly dance.  Within seconds I realized there was something very wrong with her dancing. It was off and awkward and you just felt uncomfortable watching her, like when you see someone wearing improperly fitting clothes.  In less than a minute, I knew what was wrong.  I stood up from my chair just enough to see her feet and legs.  Her legs were too far apart and she was also dancing flat-footed with her feet were turned out.  A friend of mine said you could drive a tricycle through her legs. :)  Dancers who do dance with their legs too far apart have movements that are rough looking and out of control.  You can also physically hurt yourself.

Your legs need to be under you when dancing just as you do when you are walking.  If not you are off balance.  Your torso needs your legs under you. In the above example the belly dancer’s performance looked awkward because basically she was off balance and had little control of her body or dance.  Good posture will give you control and balance over your body.

There are just a few exceptions to this rule, like a wide hip circle, however dancers that do wide hip circles also pull their legs back in when they have finished the movement.

Have you ever seen a skeletal chart at a doctor’s office?  Take a good look at it.
Look at the alignment of the body. Notice that the legs are aligned with the torso.
You must always have a slight bend or what I like to call a “softness” in the knees. Don’t ever lock your knees. Bending your knees will prevent you from injuring your knees.

Feet:  Your feet are your connection to the earth.  In many cases your feet are the beginning point of your dance. 

No matter what level of dance you are currently at, please review your posture. Before you start a lesson, take a minute and put yourself in that good posture.

At IAMED, we feel so strongly about proper belly dance posture, many of our instructional videos start with a review of posture.

Good posture will give your dance the following:
Your dance will be balanced, centered and therefore graceful.
You will be able to build technique and movements.
You will become the belly dancer you always wanted to be!

Suzy Evans
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Now this is good posture!
Please share this blog post with your belly dance friends. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Keith Drosin Belly Dance Photographs

We are looking for photographs taken by Keith Drosin.  Keith was an amazing photographer who specialized in belly dance photography.  Most of his work was in black and white but there are color photographs out there in the belly dance realm.  IAMED will be adding a gallery to the website dedicated to his work which will also serve as a memorial to him. He primarily took photos in the areas he lived in - New Mexico and Los Angeles. Keith was one of my photographers at the Belly Dance Awards shows.  He did a number of shoots for me in L.A. and took photos - which have become famous - of belly dancers such as Jillina  and Ansuya.  His photos graced the front of the flyers for the Belly Dance Awards shows since the first show.

My friend Keith Drosin passed away in August 2000, coincidentally on the same day as the 4th Awards of Belly Dance.

While I have a number of his photos, I want the gallery to be as complete as possible. If you or you know of anyone who had their photo taken by Keith, please have them contact me through the website.  We do not need hard copies, they can be emailed. Please share this post and get the word out.

Thank you,
Suzy Evans

Ansuya by Keith Drosin

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A New Belly Dance Release Coming Soon

In less than 2 weeks we will be releasing a new belly dance performance DVD called The Stars of Belly Dance.
The DVD includes performances by Amanda Rose, Amara, Anaheed, Aubre, Ava Fleming, Celeste, Farasha, Kaya, Marguerite, Sadie, Sherri and Tamra-henna.
Stay tuned....

Suzy Evans