Bellydance and Developing Personal Style

One of the things I love most about the Invoketress troupe is our diversity.

Somehow, through all our different dance and life backgrounds, we can come together and cohesively dance as a single, powerful energy.

But that’s not to say we don’t have our individual styles, quirks, weaknesses and strengths.

Before entering university, I was taught to believe that with all forms of art, your technical skill must be mastered before you can express and develop a personal style. But now, in dance and other artistic endeavours such as painting, I’ve been appreciating the well of possibilities that comes from exploring your own personality and uniqueness while learning your art.

Recently, for example, I’ve been trying to pay more attention to facial expression in Bellydance, as it’s an aspect that can complete a performance and elevate it to another level of sophistication. Of course, there are times when concentration is key (especially for beginners like myself) and finding a “look” can be difficult and just isn’t on your mind.

Then again, there are also times when raw emotion can’t help but make its way into your expression. I’m learning that it’s okay to let this happen and show the audience glimpses of your pure joy, sorrow, excitement, solemnness, etc.

I think it’s important to let these moments happen, because they are unique to your own experience while dancing. Different moments in the music and choreography (and of course, improvisation) will stand out to different dancers. This is the beauty of Bellydance as well as one of the keys to developing personal style.

To be clear, I don’t believe personal style is about pre-planning exactly every expression or feeling during a dance – that’s an impossible feat. However, I think that (especially while still learning the basics) personal style should be at the forefront of your mind as you learn, not an end goal.

Take the time to pay attention to what your face and body does naturally during a dance. How can you showcase this to an audience, or pull it back when needed? What kind of feeling or expression are you presenting to an audience who hasn’t seen you dance before? How can your personal tendencies help or hinder a performance? What ARE your personal tendencies? Is there something you see in others that you would like to explore in your own style?

These are just some of the questions I have asked myself about Bellydance.

Simply paying attention to and recognizing the natural development of your personal style as you continue to learn and discover dance, I believe, is an important feature that allows for improvement and a deeper connection to this beautiful art form.

~ Alaina, Invoketress dancer

Some great examples of expression in our troupe:

Ishra, our inspirational leader. Photo by Shannon Dore.
Ishra, our inspirational leader. Photo by Shannon Dore.
Ishra's Sapphire class at Belly Blush 2014. Photo by Shannon Dore.
Invoketress at Belly Blush 2014. Photo by Shannon Dore.
Invoketress Bollywood at MOSAIC - "Time in Motion" 2014. Photo by Dennis Novosad.
Invoketress Bollywood at MOSAIC – “Time in Motion” 2014. Photo by Dennis Novosad.

 

Happy New Year!

As we wind down 2014, we want to take a moment and mention some highlights for us as we reflect on the past year:

  • inducting 5 amazing apprentice dancers as full-fledged members of the Invoketress Dance troupe;
  • Ishra placing 2nd runner-up in the Fusion category in the Star Bellydancer Canada Competition;
  • Invoketress road trip to Montreal as special guest performers at the Nocta Bellydance Student Spectacle;
  • our 10th Anniversary MOSAIC Bellydance Fusion show which was a huge success and received rave reviews;
  • some amazing gigs, such as at Hope and the City – Wellington County, Guelph & District Multicultural Festival, Relay For Life Cambridge, Grand Valley Construction Association Awards Gala, Brantford International Villages, TD Sunfest Canada, Chris Lane Memorial Fundraiser, Autumn Spice, Take Back the Night rally, and at one of our own troupe dancer’s weddings;
  • having the pleasure of collaborating with other great performers in our dance and music community such as Ancient Moves Dance Company, Shades of Araby, Rinceoirí Celtica, BellyFlow Fitness, Nuwayrah, Rhaehana, Andrea Fryett, The Light of East Ensemble, Cuneyt Yetkiner, BellyUp BellyDance Studio, Tribe MayaFire, Wild Orchid Bellydance Studio, Nico, and Andrew MacPherson.

We are so fortunate to dance in such a vibrant and artistic community with so many talented and supportive colleagues. Excited for what 2015 will bring.

Happy New Year!

~ M.W.

Ishra and Mary heading out to perform at two different New Year's Eve parties!
Ishra and Mary heading out to perform at two different New Year’s Eve parties!

Recent Community Events

We recently had the pleasure of performing at Bracelet of Hope’s “Go Red for Mothers” family fun day on May 11th in lovely downtown Guelph. They are a grassroots organization that engages Canadian communities to fight against HIV and AIDS in Africa. It was a chilly day but the atmosphere was warm with some Zumba, face painting, playing with clay, and live music all for a great cause.  Check out some video clips of our performance!

Keeping cozy! Nicole and Minerva cuddle up!
Keeping cozy! Nicole and Minerva cuddle up!

 

941957_599671773384179_489650680_n

Photo courtesy of DJ Charlie Clean.

Some of the ladies will also be performing at Cambridge’s Relay for Life for the Canadian Cancer Society. This year’s theme is “Fighting Cancer Around the World.”

Also coming up is our annual performance at the Guelph District Multicultural Festival. Invoketress is honoured to be the show-closing performers on the evening of Saturday, June 8th at 8:30pm.  Hopefully the sun will just be starting to set as we have some pieces to help illuminate the sky! We will be presenting a variety of solos, duets, and group pieces in a number of styles so be sure to check us out as we always aim to entertain!

Ishra on the GDMF poster for 2012!
Ishra on the GDMF poster for 2012!