Thursday, July 12, 2012

DANCERS BACKSTAGE RITUALS PART TWELVE: NADIRA JAMAL



Nadira Jamal is a Massachussetts-based dancer whose not just a hot performer and a nurturing teacher, but also the CEO of her own mini-empire. She’s got considerable nuts’n’bolts know-how on everything from structuring improvisation on stage to building a dance career. She shares this knowledge brilliantly through her belly dance podcast Taktaba, her numerous articles, and her instructional DVDs, “The Improvisation Toolkit: Volumes 1 and 2”. She teaches group classes in Somerville, Mass., travels to teach workshops, does online classes and also offers individualized video critiques for dancers from all over the world.

Though I’d admired her from a far online for quite a while, in October 2011, I got to meet her in person- and spend some quality time with her- at MECDA’s Professional Dance Conference And Retreat.

I was struck by her dynamic American cabaret performance, great zills, and easy command of the stage as well as her intelligent and articulate thoughts on dancing…and the business of being an artist! We also spent a lot of time bonding in the hot tub, along with the other instructors and students; suffice it to say that those late night soaks in the Jacuzzi were kind of like an executive summit on the art of belly dancing- just some of the other hot tub hotties included Zahra Zuhair, Amara of Texas, and Julie Eason, founder of the Belly Dance Business Academy.

Soft-spoken when she’s not performing, Nadira’s a real firecracker when she glides onstage…so here, in her own words, is the way she preps for her shows:

“I don't really get stage fright, but I can get pretty insecure! So I do everything I can to step out of my everyday self and into Nadira. I even have a separate perfume for performing. As soon as I smell "Nadira's perfume", I start to feel more confident. (I even get a little lift the next day when I smell it on my coat.)

As I'm getting ready for a show, I listen to my "psych-up mix" of songs that put me in the right mindset. I start with Katy Perry's "Firework", and then put Jimmy Lunceford's "Tain't What You Do (It's the Way That You Do It)" on repeat. After a few times through it, I stop worrying, and trust that I know what I'm doing.

And just before I go out, I jump up and down, make funny faces and blow bubbles! It looks really strange, but it helps release pent-up tension and relaxes your face. When your face is relaxed, your mind takes it as a cue to relax as well…I include the funny faces and bubbles in my classroom warm-up for that reason. “

Nadira’s Taktaba poscast-“Rock the Routine” :

http://www.taktaba.com/rock-the-routine/

Nadira’s instructional DVD series:

http://www.nadirajamal.com/improvtoolkit.html

Nadira will be teaching again at the second annual MECDA Professional Dance Conference And Retreat in October 3-8, 2012 in Newport Beach, CA. Register here http://pdcr12.eventbrite.com/

Photos: Nadira looking pretty in pink

Nadira in action at MECDA's PDCR-photo by Lee Corkett

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