Monday, 16 January 2017

...Gone Dancing :)

As my students will now be aware, I am presently no longer holding regular classes and will, for the foreseeable future, be taking a break from weekly teaching.
I will, however, still be performing and be an active member of the SRDC (Serena Ramzy Dance Company), performing with the troupe at some exciting up and coming events. I will also hopefully be able to offer the occasional workshop or cover for fellow teachers, so my teaching days are not completely at an end.
It remains to say, much gratitude, love and respect for the students who have loyally and without fail attended class, growing and developing into the most sparkling stars right before my eyes! This is not the end but the beginning of the next adventure!

Keeping Your Cool With Choreographies!

Although I have officially, at least for the foreseeable future, stopped teaching, I hope that my students will continue to learn and dance, taking the chance to perform and be part of many a future show or hafla.
With that in mind, I thought it might be useful to share some tips that have proved to help me better learn and retain choreographies and may hopefully help my students and others in their pursuit of dance harmony :)  Trying to memorise a long and sometimes complex string of moves and sequences whilst attempting to perform them, as if they flow naturally and effortlessly, can often prove the most challenging (and frustrating!) part of any dance form: learning a choreography can seem daunting, but here are some (hopefully) helpful  pointers:

Give yourself a chance!
Be realistic from the outset - learning something new takes time and although you may have the technique perfected, putting moves together in a brand new sequence to music you may not be familiar with will take time and practise, even for the most seasoned performers so allow yourself to make mistakes and be challenged - that's half the fun!

Know the music
If you're lucky, you may already be familiar with the track or song you are dancing to and this will make learning any choreography so much easier. Either way, have the music to hand and just listen to it noting the tempo, rhythm, instruments, solos, orchestra, accents and mood of the piece. This will greatly improve not only the learning of the choreography by allowing you link moves to sections of music, (see the next tip) but will increase your enjoyment and appreciation of a piece - familiar and well loved songs are always more enjoyable and seem easier to dance to.

Footwork first
 Start simply by getting footwork established, layering and adding movements and flourishes in time. As with the foundations of a strong structure, footwork will allow you to set timing (without counting!) and build moves around it. Building confident footwork will also help tackle tricky turns and, even if you forget the accompanying movement, you will be able to step in time and be in the correct position for the next sequence or movement.

Make links
Counting is an important tool for initially learning moves and sequences within a choreography, but in the long term should not be relied upon to help retain the choreography overall; relying on counting can not only lead to a cold and literally calculating dance, but a performer can become so overly focused on counting that they may, ironically, lose their place in the dance because the music is forced to take a secondary role to the count. Instead, link short sequences, moves, accents and flourishes to a particular section or sound within the song. For example, learn the chorus as a whole and separate section to verses and bridges of a track. In addition, solos can be isolated and learnt apart from an orchestral section. Equally, individual instruments and/or drum solos/voices can also be practiced apart. This helps to break down a choreography into more manageable parts as well as training the muscles and mind to respond to certain sounds and rhythms within the music. Furthermore, within each section try to isolate specific sounds and accents and link to particular movements. For example, a long sound may relate to a long, sweeping movement or a fast section to a spin. Perhaps a short, sharp note will relate to a hit of the hip or no sound to a stop/ freeze frame and so on.

Use notes, videos and other resources
Feel free to make your own notes when learning a routine; for some people, just the act of writing helps to reinforce an action or sequence. In addition, as long as the teacher is agreeable, take a video of the choreography as an aid to practise at home. It might be most useful to film from the back so that the routine can be followed as you would in class, but filming also from the front will capture many of the performance aspects of the choreography that are equally important to learn and practise. Even if you simply watch the choreographer dance the routine, this will help to reinforce movement memory and strengthen links between brain and muscle. It doesn't have to be the entire routine but perhaps sections that you are finding particularly difficult. Equally, don't be afraid to ask the teacher to repeat / breakdown tricky sequences and moves.

Practise, practise and practise some more!
Nothing can replace good old repetition and practise in order to retain a choreography and dance it with confidence! It takes time for muscle memory and the mind to imprint a routine until it becomes second nature. This includes practise in your own time and not just during class - you will find it extremely difficult to pick up any choreography from class practise alone. Make sure you focus on elements of the dance that you find particularly difficult to retain but once mastered, ensure you practise as a whole routine to ensure transitions and links between all the sections run smoothly. Again, be realistic - it can sometimes take a while for a routine to sink in so, when you think you've done enough practise, do it again!

 Tricky bits!!
There always seems to be a part in any choreography that a dancer may find particularly tricky or that refuses to stick in our brains! It could be that an important transition was missed or misunderstood, that a movement is beyond our expertise, that the music or rhythm is tricky and unfamiliar or that you simply missed the lesson when that bit got taught! But avoid carrying on regardless - if you can identify (and be honest!) the reason behind why you find a particular part tricky, this will in no small way help to resolve the issue more quickly. Therefore, most definitely ask questions, clarify steps and transitions, strip back movements to footwork or basics, drill tricky and unfamiliar moves and as above practise, practise, practise until they stick! I understand this is a bit of a repeat and summary of the last 2 tips but it's worth reinforcing that these are the areas that will need particular effort and attention.

...unless this is your profession (and even then!) this is supposed to be fun so, returning to my first point, try not be hard on yourself. If you don't get everything in the performance spot on (and very few if any do!) it's not a disaster. Your enjoyment is what brings any performance to life and what makes it worth watching :)

Monday, 15 August 2016

Sunday, 13 March 2016

From the first Hafla of the year...

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Monday, 24 August 2015

Autumn 2015

Sunday, 26 July 2015

And finally...

And finally....a great way to round off another fantastic year of dance is a charity gig with some of my gorgeous students, demonstrating in a mini showcase the delights of belly dance!!! (That's why I look so damn satisfied!!)

Full details of the new class schedule will be posted shortly but in the meantime, here are the start dates and venues for September:

Uckfield, Belmont Centre
Wednesday 16th Sept,  8 - 9pm

 Albourne Village Hall, Albourne
Thursday 17th Sept, 7 - 8pm

If you have any further queries or questions, feel free to email me:

All that remains is to say a huge THANK YOU to my fantastic students who once again, have worked hard and presented amazing performances despite the nerves they might feel - well done and here's to more exciting performance opportunities to come!