Thursday, March 10, 2011
When I was an intermediate student, my teacher included performance critiques in class. My friend Lilya is a firecracker, and her piece was really exciting. Her technique and musicality were excellent, and she connected with each of us as she danced. And yet, something wasn’t as good as it could be, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.
When it was Heather’s turn to give feedback, she asked Lilya what was going on in her head. Lilya responded “I think of myself as a Labrador puppy, running around excitedly to greet everyone”. And Heather said “I definitely see the puppy, and I like the puppy. But your dancing needs more kitty.”
Belly Dance Training Tends to Put More Focus on the Puppy
When we first start working on performance skills, we’re usually trying to come out of our shells. Some of the most common advice we get is to look up, make eye contact, smile, and visit with the audience. And those are incredibly important skills. But we need more than just puppy energy. We need some kitty.
Why Do I Need Some Kitty in My Dancing?
The friendly, high energy Labrador puppy is a wonderful quality to have in your dance. But when we overdo it, we tire the audience out, or worse, give the impression that we’re begging for attention. That makes the audience uncomfortable. Bringing some kitty into your dance balances that friendliness with confidence.
So How Do I Get More Kitty in My Dance?
There are a few different ways to bring some kitty into your dance. If you observe a cat, you’ll notice two important things they do:
Play Hard to Get
If you can, observe a cat: they don’t jump up and slobber on everyone. They walk around the edge of the room, checking you out, and they take their sweet time about it. And when they do decide to pay attention to you, you feel SPECIAL.
To bring this into your dancing, try breaking eye contact for a time. Turn your back on the audience, or look away briefly. Then catch someone looking at you. Approve of their attention, and bask in it, like a cat basks in sunshine. Think at them “Yes, I know I’m awesome. I’m so proud of you for realizing it. You may worship me now.” Another good one is “I have a secret, and you don’t know what it is.”
Make Everything Precious
Cats do everything with intention. Every step they take, every lick of the paw is done as if it were the most important thing in the world. Focus on the sensation of each movement, and milk it for as much enjoyment as you can get out of it.
But Don’t Fake It!
This is not the time to put on your sultry face or your haughty face. The kitty energy is about confidence, not hauteur, and sensuality, not sultriness. Besides, cats don’t put on faces. Why would they need to? They are awesome and they know it.
But I Want to Be Friendly and Interactive!
The kitty is interactive; it just draws you in, instead of jumping up and licking your face. And don’t worry, there is plenty of room for the Labrador puppy too. Our goal is to get you comfortable with the kitty energy so you can mix it up, not to banish the puppy.
High-energy, interactive dancing is wonderful, but overdoing it makes the audience uncomfortable. Bringing some kitty to your dance balances it by giving it confidence and focus. Try playing hard to get with your audience, and moving with intention, but avoid hauteur - that’s not kitty. When you’re comfortable with the kitty energy, you can mix kitty and puppy, to find your ideal energy.
Put on a song you like, and dance to it like a Labrador puppy. Then dance to it like a kitty. Then try to find a balance between the two. Are some points in the music better for the puppy or the kitty?
Already have plenty of kitty?
Stay tuned for my next article, where we’ll talk about how to cultivate puppy energy.