Although I like to multitask, I feel that I can do better if I work on one thing first (the one on the top of the priority list and work myself down - well, most of the time) and dedicate my time to it. And this blog entry has been waiting quite a while.
The thing is, whenever I'm back in Jakarta for end of semester vacation, I don't really have anyone to perform ATS® with, so I have to do a solo. At the end of every solo performance, though, I've always become sad because well, American Tribal Style® is never meant as a solo piece. No one told me this, but I used to believe the only person allowed to do ATS® solo is Ms. Carolena Nericcio. But then from time to time, I saw videos of FatChanceBellyDance® troupe members soloing when there're just two or three of them dancing together for a set.
That's why I'll always remember one recent Saturday when she said in class that even when we were dancing solo, we weren't dancing alone. We have the chance to engage the audience, to dance with them, to invite them in, to include them in our dance. And this can be done through our face and body angle. Always smile and not only with the lips, but also the eyes. Don't squint but slightly open your eyes and let your eyes smile too.
This was a great light bulb moment for me. And I hope this makes sense to you too.
I mean, yeah, I've heard of the concept of engaging the audience when dancing in a group - always maintain eye contact and smile and such, but this kind of falls into the wayside whenever I'm soloing. I didn't think of "dancing" with the audience. I always thought about dancing for the audience.
Speaking about engaging the audience, Sensei Kae also stressed how important it was to always engage the audience whenever we're dancing, even in a Dueling Duet formation when it's easy to be too engrossed in whoever's leading. We can do this by making eye contact whenever we pivot or do a Move or Step that faces the audience.
There's another important note. I've always thought the Arm Undulation (whether layered with Taxeem or not) and Body Wave were beautiful movements, but away from the stage, they could be really subtle, too subtle for a dramatic impact. Ms. Nericcio pointed this out yesterday. Dramatic slow songs (Stamena, Aicha, Arawan) instantly beg for level drops, turns, and laybacks, but that doesn't mean we can't do many of these when dancing to other types of slow songs. Use Arm Undulation (with or without Taxeem) and Body Wave for fillers, for transitions, for moments for the audience to breathe and clean the audience's palate, so to speak. And when you're doing these subtle movements, our body needs to be really articulate, and this means two things: clean technique and the knowledge of all the mechanics of the movements.
Then I remembered that one time I saw a video of my performance and thought how boring my Arm Undulation was, no matter how much I enjoyed performing it and thinking how good it must've looked. Haha.
I'm just going to close this blog entry with this awesome video (I think I put it on the blog one time, but it's just so good).