Improvisation seems like an entirely different skill. But if you’ve taken the Less is More and Improvisation Station courses, you’ll know that it’s not as hard as it looks. It just takes practice!
Practice is the last word you think of when you think about improvising but there’s a lot more practice that goes into it than you think. You’re prepping yourself for the unknown but keeping in mind that the worst is probably not going to happen (because otherwise you’d spend all your time prepping for hypotheticals and not actually dancing).
So how is improv related to choreographing?
Choreography broken down looks more or less like this:
- Listen to the music 1000x
- Create an outline of the entrance, main accents, and finale
- Listen to the music 1000x more times
- Practice what you’ve got so far
- Fill in the blanks
- Practice the full choreography a few 100 more times to see how it feels
- Polish it and make any changes
Improvisation is not much different. All you’re eliminating in improv are the pieces in the middle and getting to polish it up a few 100 times.
Doesn’t seem so scary now, does it?
If you’re improvising with a band, you and the band will have agreed upon a song. You chose said song probably because you know it very well and have probably listened to at least 20 different versions out there. You know it by heart.
You can then think about how you want to enter, what accents you want to hit, and how you want to finish. The only unknowns that you have to take into account are if the tabla player decides to add a few extra accents. But you know your rhythms so you’ve got a handle on that, too.
Now that you’ve prepped, you’re ready to hit the stage! The parts in between you are enjoying filling in however you want, gauging how the audience reacts and how well you connect with the band. You’ve finished dancing and feel exhilarated, live music has a totally different energy than dancing to a CD!
You may not have walked off stage feeling this way if you hadn’t prepared in advance at least somewhat. Note that the key to enjoying improvisation is knowing your stuff. Without some prep work, improvisation becomes a struggle instead of a delight.
This was originally posted in the Advance Your Bellydance Weekly Newsletter. Sign up here for free bellydance tips straight to your inbox.