Having major frustration and trouble coming up with what to do in your bellydance choreography? We have all been there, so try these 7 tips that work, in getting you out of your creative rut and get that song done!
1. Reference your musical skeleton:
This is one step that is too often skipped. Before you ever begin choreographing know your song super well, in fact, so well that it is plotted down section by section on paper with all rhythms changes, musical lines (base, accent, melody, etc..) and transitional moments.
Without a skeleton, choreographing will be less focused.
2. Walk away and come back:
Sometimes you just want to yell and let the steam wear off before you come back. The same is true for bellydance choreography. When something simply won’t happen, take a small break, and try it again later that day once you feel refreshed or even the following day. Like a fight with a significant other, better to let the anger subside, and come back when you are clear in thought.
3. Change the environment:
This is a biggie. It is amazing how dancing in a different room, or outside vs in, or by the water can completely change your mood and perspective. The same choreography danced by the water will have a different essence than that danced in a small room. When experiencing block, go outside, try a different room (even if it is in a closet lol), and see what silly, or inspired ideas come your way.
4. Watch movies, youtube, play different music, have others improvise to it:
You have probably heard all of these before and they can often give quick, temporary fixes for block. Watching videos is a form of research, You see what has been done before you, and so it may give you hope, but what if you song has not been done before by anyone really good? What if you can’t find videos on what you need? Playing a totally different song you love and just improvising it will be a great way to remind yourself of that happy place you need to be in. Another idea is to have your students, or a friend improvise to this song and all of sudden you become a spectator and see a totally different view/angle on the same piece. Whatever you choose, these can be quick fixes as you are coming out of your funk.
5. If it’s not meant to be, move on:
This is one thing that should be done more often in my opinion. If a song simply does not resonate deep within you, the natural flow of choreography is becoming a sad, grumpy chore (it is a chore but hopefully one you like), then scrap it. There have been plenty a song that I have completely loved but once I began trying to come up with choreography to match either a) noticed there was not enough variation in the music to inspire me the whole way through b) The song would be better suited to listening casually rather than a stage performance c) It was too repetitive so I quickly became bored.
When this happens, why even complete? The music must be one with your unique style and skill level. If it holds you back, walk away, and choose something different. Do not waste your time.
6. Create a story line: You have the perfect song, but have no clue what to do.
Translate the story of the music! Perhaps you have a dramatic beginning that sounds very cold and diva like, and then there are nay sounds as if a bird were singing? Fill in the story! Perhaps there was an evil ice queen who ruled the land, and one day a messenger bird comes to tell her of an army that is on their way…let your imagination run away with this. You will find the well of choreographic ideas opening and more intention in your expressions instantly.
7. Try Najma’s Punishment….when all else fails do this exercise.
I took this from a private lesson with my dear friend Najmah Nour when I went to her for help with my hands. She made my sit down (so I would use my legs or abs which are my go-to for dance movements) and I was only allowed to use my arms, shoulders, and hands to express the entire song. This was sooo painful at first! But the more I did this throughout the next months, the easier it became and the more expressive and creative I became with arm and hand patterns. Try this on your least favorite part (torso, or legs, or arms) and see what develops. You may surprise yourself and absolutely love a movement you did and now place it into your choreography <3