I had always been a little reticent to dance by myself – either in class or on stage. I loved dancing in a group, but the idea of a solo and expressing myself in that manner frankly sort of frightened me. When I had to, I sucked it up and did the thing, but I always wished that I didn’t have to, that someone else could do it, and then that I saw the things that I could have done better immediately afterwards. It was kind of funny to me, as I have a theater degree, and had been in so many plays and musicals that being on stage should just have been nothing, just an afterthought – but dancing before people – putting myself out there in that way – made me shake in my boots.
So, in 2011, I saw that Tempest was offering a new intensive weekend called “Museum Quality”. The description read, “Museum Quality is a unique kind of workshop intensive experience that combines visual/fine arts concepts, processes, and techniques with bellydance; training dancers to focus their development beyond just the physical, incorporating mental, visual, and emotional elements as well, and working to elevate the dance personally and professionally. This intensive is accessible to all styles of bellydance and is especially geared towards dancers who wish to advance the artistic quality of their dancing.
A common debate in the bellydance community is the dance entertainment or art? No matter which side you may lean towards or what style of bellydance you do, the dance itself can benefit from a fine arts-minded approach. This intensive will aid you in developing a critical eye and constructive mind, help deepen creativity, and give you the tools to construct and combine movement, sound, emotion, and aesthetic more effectively.
Part of the goal of this intensive is for the attendees to consider their performances as they were constructing works of art, focusing on creating art in motion that is the best quality you can produce at your ability and experience. Museums don't only house the best examples of an artist's work - they also collect their early and middle pieces, sketches, illustrations - and modern museums and galleries showcase what's being produced NOW and how it relates to society. So it's not all about the end result at the end of the line, but the journey of the artist - the same is true with dance.”
Awesome, right? I loved the concept - and I thought maybe this would be the thing that could help me take that step to being more confident in my dance. So I signed up – what the heck, right?
In July 2011, I traveled to Indianapolis, and with a group of equally minded women, I decided that come what may, I would do my best and stretch myself further than I ever had before. There were lots of improv exercises, critical thinking, dance play, but one of the most important parts of the weekend was the Self Portrait. Of course, a solo. I remember being kind of terrified, even though I knew I was in a completely safe environment. But I did it – I made it through – and when I went home from this extraordinary weekend with the wealth of knowledge that Tempest had imparted on us, I started making changes to my dance. The way I approached it. The way I thought about planning and executing not only solos, but also the way I also worked in my group at the time. I had tools at my disposal that I’d never had before and I found my confidence increased every single time I danced.
I can seriously point at that 2011 Museum Quality weekend and say that it was a major game changer in my dance. I since have attended 3 other MQ weekends and learn something new about me, something new about my dance every single time. I no longer dread dancing solo, I am able to think critically about my dance in a positive way, and take more joy from the overall experience.
I’d highly recommend the MQ experience to any belly dancer – in any style of our dance. It is not specific to ATS or fusion or Raks Sharki, any dancer will take invaluable knowledge to apply to their own form. Tempest will be back here in my hometown of St. Louis in July offering MQ again, and I will happily be studying with her again, because there’s always something more we can learn about ourselves and our ongoing growth as we dance.
Love, light and shimmies…
Fore more info on the MQ weekend in St. Louis, see Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/events/969319636472677/https://www.facebook.com/events/969319636472677/