Know the rules. Then break them.
In a recent workshop with Lorna of Cairo, she said it is important to learn the rules of belly dance, but then you can break them.
Teaching many beginner students, I have recently been thinking about this concept and the importance to correct technique and cultural knowledge.
As an example, I think of Picasso. I never liked his work. Cubism. It seemed violent and offensive. But when I saw his earlier classical work, understood his mastery of painting technique and his motivations for seeing and portraying in different ways, and I gained a lot more respect for his art.
The same can be said for our dance. In general, I am not a fan of fusion as I feel it let’s both sides of the team down. Tango belly dance fusion, for example, often might just be sub-standard tango with less than refined belly dance. (I am a purist in that sense). It wasn’t until I did a workshop with Nadia Nikishenko (I’ve mentioned her before for her amazing turns and head spins), that I saw fusion belly dance as awesome belly dance technique with thrown in creativity. She even inspired me to do my own creative fusion choreography, which I loved and was a big hit!
The same goes for learning new techniques. It is important to perfect a basic figure 8 before adding a foot lift, or a step, or a shimmy; because those basics are key and it is crucial that we can do them properly before extending into other moves.
If we don’t focus on our basics at the start, it is very hard to later unlearn our bad habits.
What I am trying to say is; we need to have our technique, we need to have our understanding of the cultural aspects of belly dance, we need to learn the basics before we can branch out. Belly dance is an amazing ancient art form, and there is so much we can learn from it. Not only does it teach us about the culture of the dance, but also about ourselves.
What do you think? Do you believe learning technique and cultural aspects at the start is important? Let me know in the comments below.