Seeking Soloing Advice

Kartane

New member
Hello lovely dancers!

I have always performed in a troupe with only an occasional a foray into the land of solo dancing. My teacher, who is brilliant and certain to see this post, feels it is time for me to poke my head out of my troupe shell and start working on solos. :shok:(Yikes!) While I know she will help me with all the tools I need and get me out there, I am curious how everyone else started soloing (Or did you always) and what advice you might have in this transition.

Any and all comments, advice, speculation and tales of adventure are appreciated!
 

Mao

New member
I started soloing with a push from my teacher as well :) And I'm glad she did. She suggested that I pick a song, choreograph my own piece, prepare a costume... basically everything that I had relied on her to do before. My first solo performance was at her student performance night, which was held at a nice, large stage with great lighting and sound people, and although it was intimidating, I felt SO good after the performance! I performed with troupes after that and I still do, but now I see the satisfaction I get from solo pieces - like sharing your own piece with the world that only YOU can perform - and I love it.

Thanks for letting me talk about my first experience. It feels good! Good luck!
 

Amulya

Moderator
I got into it by accident: I was hired for a gig out of the blue (a place where I wanted to teach had me on file and they thought to ask me for a birthday celebration), luckily my old teacher was able to advice me about how much to charge and give tips. I already had done a solo for a wedding anniversary though. But otherwise everything else were group things, or duets.
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
My teacher took me along to one of her gigs at a mountain lodge on the Wyoming/Montana border. We drove up in a howling blizzard. We intended to split the fee that night, which I think was remarkably generous of Jackie. The woman who owned the lodge insisted on paying me after I smacked her drunk husband for following me around the floor trying to shove a dollar in my bra. The audience thought it was hilarious and she, bless her heart, told me later that she'd "never seen anybody handle that man that slick" and invited me back.

I think I'd been dancing somewhere between six months and a year. I was a quick study; belly dance came as easily to me as breathing and I had a good teacher who bounced me up to the next class after the first few lessons.

Even so, I don't think I could do it now. Standards are different: costumes, music, and performances are more sophisticated, expectations are higher. Sophistication is not something anyone ever accused me of. :lol:

Oh, yeah, advice.

1. Practice until your body knows what it is doing without being directed by your head.
2. Make sure your costume is thoroughly vetted, pinned, and practiced in.
3. Turn your brain off to everything but the joy of moving to the music.
4. Should you stumble, lose an eyelash, or the equivalent, just laugh and keep going- the audience will love you for it.
5. Smile and curtsy gracefully when you are done.
6. Pull up the forum and share your adventure with us.
 
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Kartane

New member
Heehee! Great stories and advice. I would love to hear more about everyone's adventures. I hope to have my own to add eventually! LOL. Choosing the music seems the hardest part so far. I want something classical but not TOO ambitious...in no way am I ready for Oum!!! Thought I had it chosen them I wavered. Oh the humanity!
 

Darshiva

Moderator
3-5 minutes max song length. Otherwise, the audience tends to waver a bit.

If you're going to do the audience interaction thing, that's a lot easier in some ways because you can walk up to a group, dance to something in the music that speaks to you, and move on to a different group when you start feeling a bit tired. It comes with built-in rest breaks. On the other hand, it can be a bit intimidating even for a peer audience, because people will get a bit cheeky with you. And for this style of set, some Oum is perfectly okay regardless of your skill because you really can pick & choose what to play with in the music.

For a stage-style performance (ie: dancing in a designated area) you want to pick something upbeat with a lot of energy for your first couple of performances. It'll help you get a feel for the kind of energy you need to bring to a performance and it will help you get there. Once you've got a bit of performance experience under your belt, you can mix it up with the different styles and energy types. But it really does help if you can get an idea of what you need to invest in the performance solidly into your physical memory before you start pulling out the super dramatic pieces. Sure, it can be done first off, but it does really help to have that little boost from the music for your first couple of performances.
 

Amulya

Moderator
I agree with Darshiva regarding music, upbeat music is much easier to handle for a beginner than slow music and audiences just love it. Over the years I have done some research amongst non belly dancers to see what they prefer in music and they nearly all prefer upbeat fast music, they don't like slow music as much (but it is great for an entrance sometimes)

Shan, I think that's true that it has become harder over time, dance has evolved so much* and costumes are different (although there were amazing costumes when I started) I think it all depends on where someone lives, I noticed that the standards of the restaurant near me aren't very high when it comes to the dancer, sadly there are still audiences that would like anyone in a glitzy costume prancing around.

*just when I look at modern Egyptian dancers and the ones from the 50s, so many more dance movements have been added, and much more precisely executed now, the movements were softer then, costumes completely different. It would nearly be like looking at two different dance styles! I do love classic style too though, but it's completely different.
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
It is two completely different styles and that is why I call my classes old-style or classic AmCab/Am Oriental.
 
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