On to the subject at hand --Preparing for Belly Dance Competitions
There are so many different types -- friendly hafla-type competitions, quasi-pro competitions and amazing international competitions.
If you're in a troupe, make sure that all your troupe mates share the same goal .... competitions are a huge commitment for everyone, and you've got to make sure that you all share the same passion. You also need to be prepared to take criticism --- Competition judges score your performance and give you very direct feedback -- not to easy if you have a big ego.
Preparing for competition: Getting into competition mode is not for the faint at heart... Step 1 of our process starts with picking our theme for the year -- a style of dance we haven't done before that we all want to learn --that is the easiest part. Step 2 is to decide on our budget for the year, determine the competitions we'd like to try and make sure that we are clear on the time limits for the competitions. (There is nothing worse than spending countless hours working on a choreography, only to find you need to change it all because of a time limit you didn't realize). Step 3 is about music selection -- OMG ! We go through hundreds of songs, trying to get music that has the right combination of pacing --with moments of drama, jubulent celebration and hand clapping fun. Our mentor, Leea Azziz, always stressed that we are entertainers first, and we've found that the music truly determines everything ! So pick your music carefully.
Step 4 of competition preparation is about costuming -- we sketch out ideas on our costume based on our themes & music, and work with an extraordinary costumer to bring it all to life. Steps 1-4 generally take about 1 1/2 months to sort out.... then comes the creation of choreography.
Step 5 is choreography creation which really needs its own complete blog post, so I'll just say-- urk deluxe ! Plan on months of time in the creation, hand off and perfection of choreography. To all the folks that create lots of choreography -- my hat goes off to all of you extraordinary people....it is soooo tough to do. Step 6: Practice, practice, practice. It's not just about getting the steps, it is making sure that you all look like one unit-- arms, heads exactly in unison--and try to visualize the song so you can dance to it. In one song, we actually all imagine we are aliens landing on hostile soil, and that our armpits are our breathing apparatus... the entire song has a story-line that we know which makes it lots of fun to dance to. Step 1-6 takes about 6 months of time, and lots of time together getting everything unified.
Note to self: we've got to plan to give ourselves more time to get ready. We always end up having to hustle at the 11th hour -- There's always something --a broken fingernail, forgotten costume part, loose bra. Be prepared for DRAMA, and bring lots of humor. You'll also find that your mouth becomes dry as the Sahara...don't know what is with that, so we always bring a supply of sucking candy so our lips don't stick to our teeth when we get on stage.
The moment has arrived --you've just spent months of preparation -- your name is announced and your music starts. Sometimes you can see the judges faces, and sometimes you can't. The crowd cheers you on and for seven remarkable minutes you feel like your flying ! That moment is worth all the trials and tribulations it takes to get there !
Next Post: The in's and out's of some of the big competitions.