Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Performance Mastery : Inspiration by Delilah!

Around six months ago, whilst I wasn't exactly disillusioned by performance I was feeling a bit - well - 'meh' about it. I was LOVING teaching (still do!) and dancing informally (still do!) but performing was at the bottom of my love list. Didn't hate it - but it just wasn't that important to me. Since then, however, I have had a revelation!!! Well, quite a few actually .... brought about by all sorts of experiences (some good, some not so good!) and people ... not least our Jan!

However I can quite clearly pinpoint the trigger and underlying influence in this definite metamorphosis ... an enlightening that has not just affected me but has definitely left its fabulous mark on Sakura! Let me tell you more ....

Back in July (oh those long, hot days of summer!) I was privileged, together with Jo of Namaste Tribal, to teach and perform at Katy Carmichael's Belly Camp. When we weren't teaching ourselves we were able to attend other workshops, and a couple on the list leapt out at me .. Performance Mastery, with Delilah. I'd seen her perform at the Friday night show and had been blown away by her joy, her sense of self and her connection with the audience. Delilah is a stunning Oriental style dancer and past Miss Bellydance UK, so being a tribal girl I wasn't too sure what would be in it for me but she was so encouraging that off I trotted - and wow!

Now I am absolutely NOT going to go into all that we did in those workshops - you will have to go and learn from her yourselves (which I strongly recommend!) if that's what you want. However I will tell you that we went through a wide range of exercises, visualisations and discussions (Delilah is skilled and knowledgeable about performing arts in general, not just dance) and that I am soooo glad I went! We laughed and learned ..... and I did come away a changed woman! I had a much clearer sense of identity as a performer, of what I wanted to portray, of how I wanted to present myself to and connect with the audience. I also came away with a copy of her book, 'Performance Mastery' clutched in my hand, inscribed 'To my joyful gerbil'. That may seem strange to you, but if you've been to one of her workshops it will make perfect sense and yes - it represents a big step on my performance journey!

I just couldn't wait to get home and to share my inspiration with Jan ... telling her about the workshops and poring over the book together. It has caused some real in-depth Sakura discussions as we have delved into why we dance, what we love about this style, which dancers speak to us and why, what we as Sakura want to put across in our dance and so on. It's been a book that we have come back to several times over the summer as we have reflected after a variety of different performances to different music and different audiences in very different venues. Through it we have come to realise that for us connection with the audience is a central aspect of performance, whether we are dancers or observers. Yes, dancing tribal improv does mean that that connection with one another and with the music is VITAL but when performing you add in that additional aspect, the audience. We don't want to dance above them, smiling at one another or over their heads, shutting them out. They may be in the chairs, we may be up on the floor but we want to invite them in, to dance WITH them, to feel that joy with them. And Delilah's teaching and book have been a huge platform for us in starting to develop that in our dance.

OK, it's still a work in progress but hopefully we're heading in the right direction! With the help of Delilah we are analysing all sorts of aspects of our performance in much greater depth --- not just the technique and actual physical nature of the dance, but those all-important connections and perceptions. And we do both feel that Sakura has really moved forward as a result. Do we take ourselves seriously? Well, we take the portrayal of this beautiful GC style very seriously indeed but ourselves? If you know us in real life it's doubtful that you would apply the word 'serious' to us and we do now feel that we are more 'ourselves' as dancers than ever before - so you go figure!!!!


If you would like a copy of Delilah's fabulous book, Performance Mastery, then visit her page on Facebook right here. If you get chance to learn from her - do it! And she is also in the process of putting on a show - 'Aladdin' - starring various dancers (with the amazing Darkstar in the title role) which I believe is going to be travelling the country! We can't wait!!!

Delilah is one fabulous lady and Sakura can't thank her enough!

Until next time, happy dancing!


2 comments:

  1. My favorite dancers and performances are always the ones that engage and hold eye contact with the audience - the ones that "draw" you in. When folk look over your head or look down it makes you feel deeply uncomfortable like you are watching somehting "private" that you shouldnt. If as a dancer when performing you dont consider your audience and dance for your self then you might as well dance at home in the front room. Fear of course often makes this all a challenge but if you work out what you are communicating to your audience as starting point and work on expressing this as much as technique then youre well on your way! I look forward to seeing your results x happy dancing

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  2. Thank you - we couldn't agree more! Cayte xxx

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