Belly Dance Behind the Scenes: Choreography


Sometimes a choreography is just a choreography--sometimes it's a creation inspired by something beyond the music and the dance.


This weekend, eleven of us are dancing in a memorial art show for a friend who died from cancer in 2020.


Allison was the first woman I taught when I moved to SC to escape an abusive marriage and felt lost and terrified with a new baby and a lot of hurt.


Her consistent kindness encouraged me to continue teaching through the divorce, job loss, and financial uncertainty.


Eventually I moved again and she danced at another studio, but we kept in touch. She also taught middle school, did hula hoop, created beautiful art, and touched everyone with her kindness.


Allison's dance instructor in 2020 organized this memorial event, and I planned a simple choreography for our group to dance.


Then, one of my dancers who is also a close friend of Allison's asked to create a choreography in memory of Allison. This dancer is also a cancer survivor, and wanted to do a dance to "Fight Song." This is how we collaborated:


1. Decided on the style

"Fight Song" isn't a belly dance song which is fine, but the rhythm doesn't necessarily lend itself to belly dance moves. We decided on lyrical as the main genre with belly dance nods.


2. Decided on the look

To celebrate Allison's life of color and joy, we chose to use 25 yard skirts with lots of color and movement and expression.


3. Decided on the moves

Because lyrical has a focus on the lyrics and because "Fight Song" is so popular, we worked on what Nancy was visualizing in her mind and put certain moves in that are her favorite. We did this through a series of private lessons, and then I worked on putting the whole choreo together.


When we presented the idea to the dance group, everyone wanted to learn the "Fight Song" choreo and perform it!


The emotional intention is to express power, determination, and fierce joy. This process has helped make sure all three are fully present in the dance.

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