Z says: music, movement, joy and self-expression: the freedom program

Recently watching a YouTube video of Orit—super phenomenal expressive dancer –le sigh- and I realized--I’m not so free. What captivated me was how much of herself she shared with the audience (me). She was able to project her internal experience of the music enough to draw me in with her. 

But I hold back.
The joy and the deep connection I feel to the music is not coming through the way I need it to when I perform. I spend way too much time second guessing my choices, over thinking it, not letting who I am show through all the way. Definitely not letting go of that pesky inner critique that finds so much fault that I can’t relax. I get close but there’s something holding me back from crossing into that tarab state.

I’m not saying every dance moment should be transcendent but it could happen more often, please. But how to be deeply connected, emotionally expressive, and joyful, while still keeping a high level of skilled technique?

I need a way to get me there. I want what I want. And what I want is to really DANCE.

After some thought I came up with…
The freedom program
: the first order of business…turn thee away from the mirror.

It’s great when you’re learning technique, to check your form, your arms, etc. But what does it do for you when it’s time to dance. Hold you back. At the starting point, don’t worry about what you LOOK like, only about what it FEELS like. Allow yourself to melt into the movement. Allow your personality to shine, be spontaneous, be playful. Be witty. Be your story.

So the first step in the freedom program is -- get rid of the mirrors. Okay, so you don’t have to remove them but you can turn your back. What you don’t need is any kind of negative self-talk nibbling away at your confidence. Who cares that a little blip of fat hangs over when you do that move. If you allow them, all those judgmental comments will block you from doing what you need to actually dance. Don’t let you be your own obstacle.

The next step in the program --pick some music to dance to. Now don’t try to be so hard on yourself, don’t pick that piece that you can just never catch the tricky rhythm break or just never quite connect with it or is so overwhelming that you just flail and fail each time. Pick something that you love. Be nice to yourself, be gentle. Give yourself a leg up. You’re not trying to crush your spirit, you’re trying to free it.

And next, do not and I repeat do not watch your favorite dancer dance to this favorite song that you’ve picked because what will you want to do. Be her. And you’re not her. This program is not dancing like Dina, or Randa, or Orit, or Reyhan, it’s dancing like you.

That leads us to the third step in the freedom program—Explore

Explore your space. Allow yourself to be big. (Remember this is not just bopping around – we want to go somewhere with this—not just the living room) We want to get comfortable with ourselves enough to connect the audience to what we feel in the music. We’re working on projecting out to the audience and pulling them in to the music and dance with us; sharing the experience with them. We’re not just dancing for ourselves.

Explore positioning movement in one part of the body and allowing it to lead you to a natural conclusion. Vary your emotional response, change your intensity, where does that lead you…follow. Now this time is not for building combos, making a choreography, planning your next performance. This is a space apart from all that. It is time set aside to just allow yourself the chance to breath, to really engage with the music and your response to it. When it comes time to perform, the hope is that you’ll remember more and more to let the dance take you where you will. To be open.

One more final thought. Remember this not technique practice. If you want to shimmy as effortlessly as Dandesh, well, that’s going to take a lot of practice on that element alone. This program is about freeing yourself to be as unrestricted by self-critique as is possible. It’s about connecting you to you and you to the music, so you can do the same for your audience.


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