A Belly Dancer friend of mine had a lady tell her, “If I had a better figure I could wave a veil or fire sticks around and I could Belly Dance too, no offense.” While you can’t fault this woman for her gravity-defying self confidence I have to say there’s so much more to it than that. If Belly Dancing looks easy to you then that means the dancer you’re watching is either very bad and what she’s doing really is only the basics or she’s very good! It takes a true professional to make strong arms, proper posture and muscle control, isolations and musical interpretation look graceful, elegant and like it takes no effort at all.
Dancers are the hardest judges on each other as we know the weak spots and critique technique more than most, but your general audience can be surprisingly critical as well. You can’t assume they know nothing about Belly Dance so won’t notice if you wave fire sticks or other props around to distract them from your lack of belly dance training or practice, it shows and the audience will walk away either thinking less of belly dancing (which is why this grieves professional dancers) or the more discerning will just think less of you.
I’m a big fan of props for it’s theatrical effect, the variety it gives the audience and the skills it shows, not only do you have wonderful muscle control or grace of movement but you can prove it by balancing something on your head while gliding across the floor with a choo choo shimmy. That’s some mad skills and I love watching it done right.
A Belly Dancer performing with Fire Fingers
Fire sticks are also a great way to get audience attention and can highlight different parts of your movements and has a stunning effect on a gorgeous belly dance costume, however, dancing with fire sticks or Isis Wings and doing random back bends and some figure eights in a costume does not make you a belly dancer.
It’s fine to do these things for fun but it belittles the quality of the dance when you pass yourself off as a professional of something you have no real passion for or want to scrape by on minimum or no training.
It’s worth taking time to study it properly, do it right and you can be truly proud of the art you perform. Then you’ll know you’re doing a culture justice and that your audience will get their money’s worth and see what an incredible, complex and intricate art form Belly Dancing is. Cheers to all of you doing it right. 🙂