Why Dance, Why Not – A Book Review on Dancing

Over the years, I’ve been very impressed with what Sir Ken Robinson has to say about creativity in our schools. He explains the problem with rote memorization, and seems to speak with the aversion that most Americans have with the No Child Left Behind legislation (NCLB). Some of my friends have called the NCLB Legislation; the No Child Allowed to Advance directive. I guess in some regards I do agree with that observation. In one of Sir Ken Robinson’s most famous TED Talk, he suggests that we ought to be teaching dance in our schools, yes dance.

Why you ask? Well, it is a creative exercise and it helps your brain develop and think. He’s right and now neurologists know why. The nerve endings are attached to nerves which run up the spinal column and right into the brain, it’s an extension of that system. In fact, if you’d like to learn more about all this, maybe I can save you some trouble in your personal research as I had recently asked myself some of these questions, trying very hard to confirm what many teachers and educators have speculated for decades. If this topic also intrigues you there are some very good books I’d like to recommend that you read;

1. “The Artful Mind: Cognitive Science and the Riddle of Human Creativity,” edited by Mark Turner, Oxford University Press, New York, NY, 2006, 314 pages, ISBN: 978–0-19-530636-1.

This book is a compilation of academically peer reviewed articles and essays on the topic, much of which has taken all the old works of white dead men famous psychologists and merged it with modern day neuroscience. Some of which proves what we inherently already know and have readily observed in case studies, other essays challenge the status quo and knowledge we thought we believed turning everything on its head. A very important set of reads for sure, for anyone researching this topic.

2. “Dance/Movement Therapists in Action: A Working Guide to Research Options,” edited by Robyn Flaum Cruz, Cynthia Florence Berrol, Charles Thomas Publishers, Springfield, IL, 233 pages, ISBN: 978-0-39-80750-40.

Edited in a similar format, but the essays focus on what to do with all this new information and how to best utilize it for therapy. Not only does it do tremendous physical good, but it can be used creatively in therapy and learning to do wonders for cognitive ability, helping the student to overcome challenges and increase their ability to think. It all starts with a little dance. I hope when you get a change, you will choose to dance. Please consider all this and think on it.

What is Ribbon Dancing And How Do I Ribbon Dance?

Ribbon dancing is a style of dance done while holding a long, thick satin ribbon on a stick. It has many gymnastic elements, and can be fun for participants of all ages. To ribbon dance, all you need is some music and a ribbon, which you move to the beat of the song. Though it is based on ancient Chinese choreography, people from all over the world do ribbon dancing now in many styles.

In competition, ribbon dancing is a rhythmic gymnastics event. There are standards for the stick material and length and width of the ribbon. As with any gymnastic event, there is a list of required movements that must be made at some point during your routine. They include circles, spirals and snakes, flicks, and throws.

One part of ribbon dancing that is especially difficult for newcomers to the sport is keeping the ribbon from getting twisted around their bodies or knotted in itself when performing circles or spirals.

When making your own, be aware of your own height in relation to the ribbon. If you are 5 feet tall, using a 15 foot ribbon would be incredibly difficult. Try starting with a ribbon the length of your arm span. Now you can start ribbon dancing!

The easiest move to begin with is the wave. To make a wave in your ribbon all you have to do is make a wave in your arm! (Think of the ribbon as an extension of yourself.) Begin with your hand straight out in front of you or to your side. Flicking your wrist and moving your whole arm up and down in a wave, watch your ribbon begin to follow the same path. Moving your arm further up and down or faster will affect the speed and size of your ribbons waves. When you are comfortable with this, try moving on to other ribbon dances by bringing your arm overhead, waving it side to side, or walking, dancing or running while waving your ribbon.

Belly Dance Burnout

Much thought has gone into this article regarding belly dance burn out. For most dancers who are just starting out working in restaurants and nightclubs, it is hard to fathom ever getting to a point where you find yourself sitting on the side of the bed trying to talk yourself into getting ready for another show, but in reality it happens and the amazing thing about it is that it isn’t like a virus that just hits you and you can get over it. It is gradual and towards the end of this emotional rollercoaster, you feel like you just can’t get it together to go out and perform for even the most appreciative audience.

Dancers, who experience belly dance burn out, feel like they are unappreciative of their position in their dance community and guilt complex sets in. So let’s talk about this and look at some warning signs before hand so that no dancer has to experience “Belly Dance Burnout”.

Most dancers who are motivated to perform within the 4 to 6 year career spectrum are ready to conquer the world. These are my favorite dancers because nothing gets them down. Most dancers at this level are motivated from an inner core of self confidence. But after awhile life takes a toll on this inner core and self doubt sinks in slowly but surely. Why this happens is a very important question.

No matter how you look at belly dancing, this is an entertainment that effects the life of the dancer which includes, family, friends, coworkers, and even the dog or cat. When you are in this type of dance many things in your life change. The first thing that most women notice is the effect it has on their body image. Belly dancing will show you what is right about your body and it directs you to a path of enlightenment.

ATTITUDE CHANGE.

When we change our attitude, there seems to be one thing that we forget to change with it and that is our perception of the world around us. Perception is very important because it helps you see the difference between the shallow aspects of our dance to the deep and profound experiences. Many dancers forget that attitude can be momentary and fluctuate between having a great show to having an off performance. If your perception and knowledge of your dance are kept equal than your attitude will follow in their footsteps.

EGO CRISIS

Another problem that can create havoc in a dancers world is a crisis of ego. And there seems to be different types. Type number 1 is usually created when a performer doesn’t understand that she must work her way up to performing in different venues. If any position is handed down to her, she won’t have any respect for the venue or herself. Any performer who leaves this situation stressed has to understand that anything handed to them must be acknowledged as a gift and treated with respect. Through trial and error can a true performer understand her place in her community. TYPE 2: happens when performers get accolades early on in their career and forget their humility. We all want to be told we are amazing and incredible dancers but the fact is there are a lot of amazing and incredible dancers out there.

Remember that compliments are a dime a dozen. The point is to dance from humility. Compliments aren’t guaranteed and they won’t always come your way. There will be moments when a dancer performs and finds the audience isn’t watching or interested. Eventually the feeling of “what’s the use” creeps up and there you have the beginning symptom of belly dance burn out. Remember why you started dancing in the first place. Go back to those first moments of enthusiasm that you felt when you first started learning how to dance. In those beginning moments all that mattered was that you were doing what you loved and wanted to do. Center yourself on always being appreciative that you have the chance to perform. Remember you are continually shining your diamond of the dancer with in you. Peoples compliments are just icing on the cake.

TYPE 3: is the dancer who feels she can perform and compete with the best of them even if she has only been dancing a fraction of the time of her contemporaries. Time will usually teach this dancer a lesson by shocking her with an experience she is unprepared for. This experience alone can knock her off her feet. It will make her think twice and hopefully get her back on the path of humility. These types of “Ego Crisis” when experienced for long periods of time can strain the enthusiasm of any performer. Make sure you replace the ego with self confidence.

CHOREOGRAPHY BRAIN FREEZE

This can create repetitive, boring moves. This is one area that all dancers who have been performing for many years experience one time or another. Remember that this is a dance of how you live your life. You bring in your experiences into your dance and that in itself will keep choreography fresh. Self criticism or comparing oneself to another dancer is not healthy and it creates stagnation in the creative process. Remember that there is only one of you in the Universe and what a true blessing you are. Your creativity is already unique because “You” exist. Also remember that you must dance from your own creativity. Becoming someone else’s carbon copy or imitating another dancer may seem like a compliment but it takes away your own creative process. Dancers need to perform from their own place and image. All performers have their own treasure trove of moves. Just look inside yourself.

THE PROFESSIONAL “NO TIME” PROBLEM

Time management is something that effects the professional dancer. First is the fact that many performers dance so much that they forget to practice or don’t make time. Moves get sloppy and repetitive and the dancer’s enthusiasm goes down the drain. As a performer we must honor ourselves and our audience by dancing the best show possible. Training and practicing enhances techniques and they keep all of us in shape not only physically but mentally. Another factor is not having time with family or friends. The dance can to take over the life of the dancer. So the dancer has to make decisions based on what kind of family life she wants to preserve. Performing can also become addictive so make sure that the gigs that you agree to are worth it in time and money. Remember, you can always say “no” to a gig.

THE DEAD AUDIENCE

This definitely does not help in the confidence area. Most people if they are not educated regarding our type of dance, don’t understand what they are watching. And if a performer doesn’t know how to perform in front of different types of audiences, this can be devastating. One way to know what to expect in advance is to find out what kind of venue you may be performing at. It seems simple and rather basic but when dancers perform a lot, certain questions can easily be forgotten. And there are those performances that you know in advance might be questionable. Either way just know that you have to end the performance with confidence knowing you did your best. There are venues where a dancer was incredible and still will get a luke warm response from the audience. Don’t judge yourself by the audiences response. Judge yourself by how you felt inside. Your gut will always tell you the truth.

Remember that second guessing yourself just adds fuel to the fire of self doubt. So here’s a little secret I would like to share with you:All performers have an advantage before they ever get in front of people. This one advantage is the fact that the story they will tell will be one of a kind. This in itself is a miracle. And to remember oneself is a reminder of the miracle that you are and dancing is a way of telling the world about miracles. So when you are feeling the “belly dance burn out” just remember the miracle that you are and the miracles that you need to share.

Many Blessings,