Tuesday, September 9, 2008

You are your own style.

Following up to "You got Style" - I was thinking about dancers who feel pulled in multiple directions and who have many influences... and we feel pressured to choose one particular style or integrate all our style influences in a way that might be forced or artificial. There is no reason why you and your personal style of movement can't evolve or change as you grow and learn.

I thought that I wanted to be an Ultra Gypsy/Rachel Brice-inspired tribal fusion dancer back in 2004 when I first really started to explore the new tribal-style belly dance that was finally hitting the East Coast. I tried on those styles, and much of it didn't work well with my body or personality. Rachel's early dancing (2004 - 2005) was very liquidy, smooth, gooey, and long... my body is fiery, sharp, and, well, short! So, I took what I liked from the UG/RB stylization, and started playing around with adding my own elements from other dance styles that I appreciate and enjoy.

I studied Turkish oryantal and Romany for a while with Artemis Mourat. The fiesty, fiery Turkish-style dances worked well with my personality and my body type, but I quickly became bored with the lack of music selection and the limited dance vocabulary... so I added some of that fire and punch into my fusion performances.

I love the elegance and grace of classical Egyptian oriental dance, but the 10-minute long orchestrated pieces weren't moving my soul... but I try to put some of that languid ease and extension into my own dance.

The posture and dignity of American Tribal Style has always attracted me, but I would rather dance as a soloist than in an ATS troupe... So I integrate a lot of ATS movements into my own performances as an homage to the style that has influenced myself and so many other tribally-inspired dancers.

There is no reason to pigeon-hole yourself into a style. It took me a long time to be comfortable with performing a dark, gritty fusion piece one day, and an elegant qanun taqsim the next. Many people label me as a gothic-style dancer, but then I turn around and perform to "YYZ" by Rush (which is so far from goth!). Some people label me as a "tribal" style dancer, but I performed an oriental piece at a recent show here in DC.

Whatever you do, and whatever you dance to, as long as you stay true to your inspirations and your own heart, then that is the style you are meant to do. Trusting your instinct in this regard is probably one of the most difficult things you can do as a dancer. When you dance as yourself, you are out on your own, you are a pioneer. It's scary to take a chance and perform in a way that hasn't been done before... but it's so rewarding.

You are your own style.


Indotari said...

Totally agree with you.

If dancing means something about feelings, Why not dancing the style I feel today?

Amber said...

I definitely want to dance to what moves me. My first solo will be to a song by the Police, most songs I have earmarked for dancing to aren't a particular style or genre, but they are what moves me, and that's what's important!

Amy said...

Amber - I've considered using "Tea in the Sahara", is that your pick?

I wanted to add, I think there is no problem with people trying on styles while they work on what works for them. I think it's natural if people look at a growing dancer and can see what she's working on, it's just if you clone yourself after another dancer that it gets weird.

the ineffable b said...


I want to see you dance to Tea In The Sahara one day! I will totally hold you to that. That is one of my favorite Police songs :)


I really enjoyed this post, because I think it brought up the positive side of individuality in dance. I feel like it's easy to get pidgeon-holed into a particular style, especially the longer we dance. I know a lot of people who see my soloing and can't believe how hip-hop inspired it is or how sometimes I love doing cabaret pieces, since I dance Improv Tribal with the Kallisti girls. And it kind of makes me feel like, "Do you think I can only be one thing?"

I love the fact that you are who you are and pull out surprises on people. You are a talented and multi-faceted person, as we all are, and it's so great that you are true to yourself. I SO wish I had seen your cabaret piece!

Elaine said...

I've taken classes and participated in many different styles of dance all to determine what my "style" is. Turns out, I've got my own style which incorporates anything from ATS, Turkish, Romany, mechanical, and burlesque. I have fun and enjoy the dance!

Elisabet Roselló said...

Whatever a lot of people say, each person have an own style, but if a person -like you- realize and recognize this detail like a good think, is a big "step" -is well said -OMEnglish XD- and a step very important to the dance/art evolution and personal evolution :)

Anonymous said...

Communication is the foundation for all human interaction. The way we express our feelings is a communication on a higher level. Words express feelings on a lower plain where as music, art, and dancing are enhanced links, communicating the intrinsic nature of our souls.