Shimmies and Sidewinders

bellydance_spirit_by_bellyci0usI would like to add my pennyworth to Kathryn Evan’s belly-dancing post here. Dance as a form of creativity has been a love of mine since at least infant school – and it’s the only way you’ll get me doing much in the way of indoor exercise!

I had the good fortune to go to another of Hannah Mi’s dance workshops recently. This time the choreography fused aspects of American Tribal Style (ATS) belly-dance with some elements of traditional Indian dance. ( I think – put me right if you know better)

One of the first remarks she made intrigued me – and made me think about writing too. She said that the different energies of various dance aesthetics either clash or fuse. Thus ATS and Indian blend, and Romani can be in harmony with Flamenco – but not all mix ‘n’ match succeed.

lovely film of a Roma family dancing

I thought of mash-ups . One example is how elements of the Gothic combined with a detective novel work so well for Frances Hardinge’s ‘The Lie Tree’. It’s the underlying pulse of the two forms that complement each other. Not everything¬† is so quite successful – maybe the heartbeat is wrong?

Listen to this quodlibet of I believe and Ave Maria – two songs, one emotion.

During the workshop we practised a move sometimes referred to as the Sidewinder (after the snake). This remark stuck with me:

focus on following the heart and the rest will follow

She went on to assert that focusing on the outside appearance leads to a ‘hollow movement’ without power or soul. Haven’t we all read books or seen films where there’s lots of technical excellence – but the experience fails to move us?

Charlie-and-the-Chocolate-Factory-johnny-depp-13857599-960-540Her emphasis on clarity of intention felt right for writing as well as dance.

better to execute a small move well than just make it look right

I think that’s what happens with good editing. You move from a scene or a sentence sort-of looking right – to something precise and definite – which may well be shorter.

Skills are secondary – however needful. They are there to express.

I suppose it comes back to ars est celare artem = true art conceals art. You work really hard to make something pure and lucid – a delicate shoulder shimmy or tender love scene – and hope that the people you’re sharing it with don’t actually notice the effort.

Hannah-mi-anisI loved how she underlined the pleasure of sharing. That you gain the audience’s interest and trust through your own attention. It’s not about ego, the big ‘I am’ or showing off. Nor is it giving your self away.

You give from yourself but keep the centre still and focused.

Every outward move needs bringing back to centre. You share your gift with the reader – but the core of it is who you are. No two dancers move the same, and no two writers have the same voice.

A different Indian fusion from Hannah Mi

If you’re interested, my Dances with Words posts are here and here, and there’s a little more in The Heart of Lightness.

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