I spent most of January and the first half of February 2016 throwing all my energy into preparing for a fantastic bellydance competition put on by Suzanna Davis called Belly Dance Off. Performers draw a song out of a hat and then improvise a performance to that song, on the spot, with a live band. There are expert judges that give you live feedback on your performance immediately after, which seems a little scary, but really it’s a rare opportunity to get valuable insight on what you’re doing from three respected and experienced members of the dance/performance art community. Finally, the judges and the audience get to vote on the winner. It’s a great event that, among other things, provides you with lots of incentive to prepare and practice for the big day. For me, the preparation included costuming work, exploring musical interpretation and (of course) lots and lots of dance practice!
I had an awesome scarf (actually a whole bunch of awesome scarves) that I knew I wanted to convert into a skirt (somehow), and this event provided me with the incentive to actually do it. When I wasn’t cutting up scarves and sewing them back together, I was practicing like crazy, getting to know the potential songs (you have a list of songs that you will draw from at the event) and mapping the music (these songs are on the longer side and fairly complex, so it really helps to take the time to break them down), all with the help of two 7-month-old kittens, Gwen and Drizzt.
The final performance was held in Teatro ZinZanni’s beautiful antique spiegeltent. The show was great with each performer dancing beautifully. I didn’t end up being crowned the winner, but I’m so glad I took part in the event. I got a lot of helpful feedback from my performance and picked up a few tips while listening to other’s feedback as well. Plus, I was finally motivated to create my scarf skirt!
7) A short video clip of a practice session. I especially enjoy the helpers in the background lounging on my pink veil.
And here is the final performance!
Video by Ryan K. Johnson.