Art/ Dance Academy

  Keep the Culture in Arabic Dance. Open Borders for ALL Movement!


Winging It - Improvisation

Posted by [email protected] on October 18, 2019 at 12:40 AM

Winging It - Improvisation

Middle Eastern dance styles are made up of both choreography and improvisation. Theater dance and group are done with choreography. Restaurant and night club dance, commonly called belly dance in America but is really Oriental Dance or Danse Orientale in the rest of the world is done by improvisation. Winging it is actually a misnomer. It is planned! Why improvisation when in this situation? Mainly because you as a performer are working with musicians. This is the ultimate in performing for this style. Today many clubs have closed as owners do not want to pay musicians and dancers. This is a travesty and harming our business. But, if you are lucky enough to live in an area where live music is available or you get the opportunity to work with musicians, take it. It is so worth it.

After being in Los Angeles and seeing a theater performance with live music where 9 out of 10 dancers just did not know what they were doing. All dancers were excellent, not just students. After analyzing and talking with musicians around the country, I realized it is because most dancers do not have the opportunity to dance with live music. Everyone, choreographs and then cannot deviate. This was sad to see. It is a test for individual artistry , a test of decision making skills in a high pressure environment. Improvisation is rooted in spontaneity but needs to be fine tuned to make it ready for the stage.

Most dancers have spent years perfecting their technique and learning how to execute the choreography with exact detail as to the instructors demands. Improvisation, on the other hand encourages free thinking and artistry. It adds a bigger picture of of elements. Dancers have to think how the audience will perceive the art and the dancers have to shape the piece in the moment. The challenge of improv is different for each dancer. Shy people will be timid. Technical dancers will fall back on their generic favorite steps. Outgoing dancers may try to overpower the music.


You really have to check your ego at the door. One needs to feel the people around them while still working with the music. You need to know how to improv in a high in a high pressure environment. You have to put yourself inside your dance. You need to make the audience forget and not realize it is improv.



A huge part of improvisation is connecting with the music From entrance to finale connect with the music. Use movements that are unique to you or are your favorites. Be individual! Do not just string steps together. Be an authentic dancer from inside you. Make sure you include build a movement with intensity or structure. It is no just a free for all. Not every time you dance will be wonderful. Practice performing depends on trial and error.


1. Have a beginning: Plan your entrance. Not choreograph but planning where you are going to be where you need to be to start the dance.

2. Think of what makes a dance successful: Use the whole stage and vary the heights- on the ground to the space above the head. Have texture in your dance.

3. Set goals for the dance: It is always a good idea to come into the dance space for specific tasks. Do not move for movement's sake. Have a purpose. Include slow and rhythmic moves. Have a loose checklist. Cover the ground in all aspects.

4. Less is more: Sometimes you are part of the dance by not moving by just being in the space and standing there. Let the energy guide you.

5. Work with musicians: Ask for music you are familiar with. If you are polite with the leader and the guys, they will help you. Also, know your instrumentation as this will tell you what type of moves to use.

6. Stage your dance: No, you do not choreograph each step but you plan where you are going at different points. First plan your entrance. Plan your drum solo. Then plan your finale. The rest will come to you.Do not let an opportunity pass to not dance this way. It is the ultimate for this type of dance.


Morwenna Assaf- Director of Art/Dance Academy [email protected] of Tales 1001 [email protected]

Walid Assaf – Director of Cedar Productions [email protected]


Morwenna Assaf- Director of Art/Dance Academy [email protected]

Author of Tales 1001 [email protected]

Walid Assaf – Director of Cedar Productions [email protected]



Categories: Dance History, Dance , Ethnic Dance

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