Hi there, This time i am back to answer an interesting question posted by Beladi from united states. The question was on facial expressions in bellydance. There is not much of emphasis on facial expressions in bellydance. Ive only heard people telling me to SMILE SMILE SMILE and only SMILE. However there is only one genre of bellydance that involves alot of expressions and that is gothic bellydance.
So…I have to smile?
Smiling is not a MUST. As i mentioned in this video, it really depends on your personality. I am a serious person by nature. To me, smiling may not be appropriate. I only smile in my perfromances when it is necessary. Apart from smiling you can have so many other expressions. You can even have a serious look on your face to make yourself look fascinating the eyes of your audience. Before you decide to smile, there are other factors that you have to consider.
PLACE OF PERFOMANCE
FEELINGS YOU WISH TO INVOKE IN AUDIENCE
Music you dance to is really important. If you have a drum solo, smile. Tease your audience. Play with them. If your music sounds somewhat hypnotic, have a more serious expression on your face. If your music has a sort of sad tune, you can enhance it further with your facial expressions. Like your feeling and melting into the music.
Most songs are in Arabic. How the hell are we to know the lyrics? Thats not really hard. Trust me. There are some useful websites up in the net that has lyrics. Dont embarass yourself or offend cultures by dancing to a music you shouldnt be dancing to. Like i said in the video, someone dance to an arabic verse of the Quran which can be quite offending to people of that religion. Dont embarass yourself. Learn before you dance.
Place of performance
This might be almost impossible to control. If you cant control your surroundings. You can tune yourself to your surroudings. If your music is jovial, and you want your expressions to tease the audience but your “stage” is super dark and sombre, then you might have to rethik your wardobe. Dress in a color that you can be seen by your audience. Wear makeup in such a way, that your expressions can reach out to them.
Feelings in my audience?
You control what you want your audience to feel. You can make your audience think of you as friendly, professional or aproachable. Its all in you. You dont haf to smile all the way. You can use expressions to cue your audience. Like i mentioned in the video, if a backbend is the highlight of your performance, dont smile like a noob and spoil the suspense. Play with your expressions, suddenly look quiet and then perform the backbend. The impact will be much greater.
There are NO strict rules in art. Ive seen people who criticise Rania for her unfriendly look when she dance. Maybe its the nature and her style of dancing. Maybe to her dancing is more onto the serious kind of business. And for Maria Shashkova she makes it a point to tease her audience. Dont force expressions that arent from your heart. It will never reach the audience.
If you cant smile, its alright! Its better than looking constipated forcing a smile.
Trust me, i find it hard to force an emotion. Ive learnt to smile when i need to. Ive seen bellydancers who even overdo expressions. They wink TOO MUCH. Until you wonder if something is wrong with their eye. Never overdo an expression. Plus every bellydancer is a representer of the artform. By doing stupid actions like flirting may add on to the wrong idea that people have over bellydancing!
Its not only facial expressions…its also body language too. Ive seen dancers who act flirty giving a real bad impression of every bellydancer. Always take note of your facial expressions. Sometimes our faces may twitch in concentration. It happens! You are only human. But do keep a check on it.
There is no specific expression. Be comfortable. Dance is an expression. Not a drama. You dont have to put a fake mask on stage. If you love your audience, be honest with them. But dont frown and look unfriendly. It really turns people off.
I am not an expert again….I dont smile. Sometimes i think i look unfriendly. Well i am trying to change that. 🙂
I hope you guys find this info useful. Do keep mailing me. I am reading your questions. And i will try to do videos when i can. Take care and happy bellydancing and belly watching 😀