Do certain instruments encourage the same belly dance moves in all dancers?

As a scientist and a belly dancer I am always interested in the latest dance related studies and surveys.

Have you ever wondered if certain sounds illicit the same motivations to move for all dancers? I am sure you have noticed that big, deep drum beats tend to get big, juicy, earthy moves from most people. I guess Keti Sharif was wondering this too as she recently added a pdf on her survey on this very topic. She had the aim

 “to observe any recurring patterns of natural movement response to each instrument, to establish predominant music-movement relationships and characteristics of movement value”.

To read the complete findings, you can easily obtain a copy through the lovely Keti Sharif’s website.does the music effect the dance?

But here is a little taste of what was discovered from the 836 participants:-

Ney elicited an overwhelming preference for upper body movement and arms at shoulder level or above head.

Oud tended to elicit lower body responses  with rolling and vibrating movements interspersed, and the arms were moving between chest and hip level – possibly as a response to scale.

“The survey demonstrates that in many cases, the area of the body and movement of the musician to hold instrument and create sound (eg: strumming, stroking, wavering or plucking types of movement), is often reflected intuitively through dance, in the same, or at least a close or nearby area of the dancer’s body.”

This is a very cool bit of insight into human nature and sound. I thank all participants and the Keti for putting this together. It is worth a look for all sorts of reasons but could be particularly valuable to teachers, those interested in dancing to live music or those that have trouble with improvisation.

Do you know of any other studies on dance or belly dance that you have found useful? Please share the links below.

Breast implants – will they augment your dance career?

Chances are that when you think of belly dance you think of busty women in sparkly costumes. While any women, of any shape or size, can become a bellydancer, having an ample bosom can be a desirable quantity in booking gigs.

On the flip side, I know of some very successful dancers that are not slim, young or particularly busty. When making the decision to get implants for your career you must think realistically if it is simply a matter of breasts that is stopping your progression or fame. Maybe it is simply a matter of marketing or targeting the wrong geographical area.

You may be considering implants anyway and any possibly flow on benefits to your dance are just a bonus. This article is to outline some potential benefits, but mostly covers the very real risks that are rarely talked about and are particularly pertinent for dancers.

Busty belly dancer

This magnificent cleavage is all natural and not mine!

Take a good look at where you are wanting to perform and think about if implants are what is needed. Sometimes padding can be enough and their are many tricks that can increase the illusion of bustiness.

Ok, that being said, big breasts are a commodity in Middle Eastern shows. From my own travels, it seems a super slim, young physique with unnaturally large breasts seems to be popular in Turkey. Egypt seems to have more variety in body shapes of dancers but they all are busty. An excellent blog about body expectations of dancers throughout the middle east by dancers that live and work there can be found at kisses from kairo.

If teaching is likely to be your main income you may even find that if you surgically alter yourself you may get less students. 

Particularly for beginner classes.

I have noticed a trend that more ordinary looking teachers often pull more dance students than the glamorous and more accomplished ones (unless they are famous).

Why? On interviewing several students from different schools about this, they have said that the teacher made them feel like it was possible for them to become a dancer too. It was their imperfection that was the attraction because it made potential students feel that the dance was achievable and not solely in the domain of slim, young and gorgeous.

(I should also note here, that sometimes slim, young and gorgeous potential students have no idea that they are any of those things due poor self esteem).

 

 However for some jobs being busty can certainly help and if you are hoping for a professional career touring and dancing in the middle east, this asset can make a difference.

 

Make sure that it is the boobs you need though.

Book into an experienced dancer that has done the job you are aiming for and make sure that your dance technique is truly top notch. There is no point getting yourself cut up and paying the cash, only to find no one will hire you because your dancing stinks.

Also be realistic about your health, motivation and stamina. There are a lot of gorgeous, talented dancers out there that don’t make a liveable wage out of dancing.

Consider the finances

Add these together:

Loss of income through time off dancing: According to plastic surgeon Jed horowitz, Implants will take at least 3 weeks away from your practice and performing if you heal fast. It takes 6 weeks for 80% of the muscle to heal. However another plastic surgeon, Jason Wendel mentions pain and muscle spasms can last 6 months to a year.

3 (or 6) weeks pay ……………..

Costumes: replacement or alteration of your costumes. ………………

Cost of surgery and follow ups. ………………..

TOTAL ………………..

Now try and guess how much extra money you expect to earn in the next 10 years from having the surgery and minus the costs off that figure.

Do you actually come out in front financially? It is hard to put a price on the adventure and fun of dancing in foreign countries but find out a ball park figure of those doing the same thing you are intending on doing.

If you don’t come out financially ahead then you must become clear that you are not doing this for work but are doing it for your own reasons.  Which is OK too but now you know you are not doing it as a career move.

“If you absolutely must get implants, then according to breast implant expert Dr. Susan Kolb, the safest type is the saline implant that has a smooth surface and does not have a valve. “

If it does look like you will make more money then also consider the …

HIDDEN COSTS  

Cost of ongoing surgery to replace implants and lift. This happens approximately every 10 years to minimise leaking and maintain shape. This is true even of the implants that people are told last a lifetime. If you choose not to continue getting implants you still have to pay to have them removed.

Risks

Not dance impacting

*May also result in decreased sensation in the breast.

*Interference with breastfeeding.

“evidence has begun to accumulate that children born after a woman has had these devices implanted are likely to be in poor health…with lymphocyte sensitization indices about half the maternal levels, indicating an impaired immune system” Dr Susan Kolb (plastic surgeon) . If you intend on being a mummy dancer then having constantly sick kids is really big limitation apart from being heartbreaking.

*capsular contracture

A thick scar that normally forms around the implant, called a capsule, can become very hard and may result in pain and possible altered appearance of the breast. The chances that these problems will occur increase with the age of the implant. (see ‘hidden costs’)

Dance impacting

Short term

*Risks include bleeding, infection, reaction to anesthesia, or unexpected scarring.

*The implant itself can rupture and leak, or become displaced.

Yes, may of the risks are considered rare but they do happen as in the case of a Sydney girl whose lung collapsed last due to surgery or several others that went in cardiac arrest.

Long term

* Death.  That totally wrecks your dance career!

*A.S.I.A   “ Autoimmune / Inflammatory Syndrome induced by Adjuvants”

Auto immune diseases are growing more common among women. Having had such issues myself (from a different cause) I was horrified to discover that plastic surgery can cause immunity problems, especially since I know so many people that have had it done. This only effects a small number of surgery patients however the true numbers are not known as most surgeons don’t even know about this phenomena and the patients may not realise the cause of their suffering, as average onset of symptoms is 4.5yrs after the implants or injections. The truth is auto immune diseases will be a bigger problem for your career than lack of boobage. If you can’t get out of bed in the morning, you just can’t be a professional dancer. I do know of several dancers that maintain modest dance schools while dealing with autoimmune diseases but they are very limited energy wise and must pace themselves.

*Silicon based implants are more likely to cause problems it seems. Research seems inconclusive but there have been scientific papers published showing that those with implants have increased risk of brain and respiratory cancers and suicide. , systemic lupus erythematosus, Sjogren’s syndrome and  scleroderma. A 2015 paper reviewed studies from 1961 to 2014 and confirmed the 2-3 times increased suicide risk that breast implants are associated with. While other cosmetic fillers are also associated with complications such as joint pain and lung problems .

 

By writing this article I am in no way trying to shame anyone that has made the decision to go ahead and get implants. I am merely trying to highlight an element of risk that is rarely, if ever, spoken about when I hear women talking about cosmetic surgery. Some women are happy with their choices and have noticed no side effects at all. I write this because as a female that is regularly online, I am bombarded with ads telling me to have ‘surgery holidays’ or what government rebates I can get on cosmetic surgery. Advertising designed to make me feel bad about myself and offer up their product as a safe fix for all my apparent flaws. I am sure I am not the only one getting this material sent their way and dancers , needing to be aware of their appearance, are more likely to be impacted. Unlike when implants first became mainstream, we rarely get the side-effects and issues talked about in the media any more.

In all things, I believe women need to have the full details so they can make an informed and measured choice.  Whatever you choose dear reader, please take care of yourselves and know I love you all, busty or small, natural or augmented.

❤ Jade

Stay tuned for some future articles on how to look bustier (without surgery).

How to flip videos to make learning dance choreography easier.

As some of my belly dancers may know, I am currently cast to perform in the Perth version of Bellyqueen’s ‘Journey along the silk road’ production. :) I am super excited!

As I live in a regional area, most of my learning of choreographies for the shows comes from watching videos posted on youtube. Some of the clips are in front of mirrors and shot from behind which makes it easier, but some are not. Flipping the video footage of dances shot face on makes it much easier to get left from right as you can just mirror the dancers in the clip.
It is not only big shows that flipping a movie clip is useful, if you are collaborating with anyone online, this simple trick can be useful. I realised from comments on the shows forums that not everyone knows how to this, so I thought I would share the quick method I use. You can also use video editing programs such as iMovie but it is a bit more fiddly – this way is fast and easy.

STEP 1

  • Go to youtube (or whatever platform you are sharing video clips from) and find the clip, copy the URL.
  • Open another tab and load “youtubeinmp4.com” (if you don’t like this one just do a search for ‘youtube to mp4’, there are several websites that do this – beware of ads, etc when using these sites) belly dance video help
  • Paste the URL into the field and hit ‘download mp4’ , in the case of this program it takes you to another page where you can select other formats you  may want it in. I always use mp4.

Now you have a copy of the clip on your own computer.

 

STEP 2

  • Open QuickTime player (this is available for both Mac and PC) and open the clip (if it didn’t automatically open for you on download of above clip).
  • Go to ‘File’ and ‘Duplicate’ if you want to keep the original view as well. OR skip this and go straight to
  • ‘Edit’ and ‘Flip Horizontal’
    belly dance video turning
  • Next save the clip. This was a bit tricky for me as the name field kept being greyed out BUT if you try and close the clip it offers you the chance to save and re-name it.

And that’s it – your clip is now flipped and you can mirror the moves – just be aware that if the dancers turn around at any time in the clip then following can get confusing:) Happy dancing!Belly dance show in Australia

If you are in Western Australia at the end of the month be sure to catch the fantastic show!

 

Do you have another method of flipping videos for dance? Please comment below.

 

 

Ballet is [not] the foundation of dance. 

I have to agree with the author of this article. It has occurred to me many times that there is a very strong bias in dance. It is so common for TV dance and talent shows such as So you think you can dance, to feature a belly dancer and/ or a few ‘ethnic’ dancers in their initially auditions teasers. If the actual audition was shown, it would invariably get a patronising smile and a comment along the lines of ‘very entertaining’ … NEXT! As if to say – ‘There! We endured that spectacle to make the selection process seem diverse, now lets get to the proper dancers.’
Mary Murphy’s guest judging on the Australian SYTYCD a number of years back ,will be forever burned in my mind – “BOLLYWOOD!”‘ she shrieked, “What the hell is Bollywood?” (Ok, I am not sure if that was word perfect but it was something close to that).
I was shocked. Even relatively conservative people in the regional area I live in have heard of Bollywood movies and associate them with dance sequences. For a dance ‘judge’ on a show purportedly about choosing the best all round dancer, I found this admission quite horrifying.
Don’t get me wrong – I loved watching SYTYCD (particularly the Aussie version) and have met and danced with choreographers and finalists on the show. I am glad the show was created. It has raised the profile of dancers and for that I am grateful.
Nor do I have it in for Ballet.
I have taught those with a Ballet background, I found them excellent with lines and turns but that they often struggled with hip and chest isolations. This doesn’t mean Ballet is bad or Belly dance is bad. They offer a different aesthetic and style of movement. I just take the fairly radical view that I don’t believe one is superior to the other.
PS, I don’t like the term ‘ethnic’ to describe non-european dances but used it here to make a point about the culturally perspective that prevails in Australia, Europe and the US. I also enjoyed this scholarly article and argument that Ballet could be considered ‘ethnic’ depending on ones perspective😉 http://thebestofhabibi.com/vol-18-no-3-march-2001/ballet-as-ethnic-dance/
What are your thoughts? Please comment below.

The Adventures of J Lyn

“Ballet is the most important style to train in.”

“Ballet gives you the foundation to do all dance styles.”

“Ballet is the foundation of dance.”

For the past month and a half I have been living in a country where ballet and ballet-based genre classes barely exist. I don’t see pointed feet. Teachers don’t communicate in French terminology. Not in recreational dance classes, not in rehearsals for the National Company, not in the Dance Department’s studies at the University of Ghana. Here taking a technique class means training in Traditional Ghanaian dance. Here claiming to be a dancer means you are skilled at both Adowa and Azonto. Here Traditional Ghanaian dances are the foundation of dance exploration and studies.

Here an Afrocentric approach is enough. Is valid. Is complete.

Yet in the States I can’t escape hearing, “Ballet is the most important style to train in. Ballet gives you the…

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