Monday, July 27, 2015

DANCERS BACKSTAGE RITUALS: ROSA NOREEN

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Rosa Noreen in Giza, Egypt 2015

Rosa Noreen is a shining beacon in the belly dance community. Hailing from Portland, Maine, she lights up the stage like the famous lighthouses that illuminate the New England coastline. An up-and-comer in the world of Oriental dance, Rosa is the proprietress of Bright Star  World Dance, a beautiful, airy studio on the top floor of an arts center in downtown Portland.  She teaches several classes a week there as well as bringing in dancers from other states for workshops, and she produces several dance events per year.  This past April I had the pleasure of teaching at her studio and performing in one of these events, which wasn’t “just” a hafla.  “Springtime Spectacular” was held at a beautiful small theater called One Longfellow, and featured local musicians, singers and belly dancers as well as many performers from New York, Vermont and Massachusetts.
Rosa  looking gorgeous in a Hallah Moustapha costume

  Rosa made her first pilgrimage to Egypt recently, and loved it so much she’s already booked another trip for December, 2015. Her ballet background and ethereal stage presence  plus the two instructional DVDs she’s produced and starred in (  Delicious Pauses: Negative Space In Movement  and the brand new Rhythm And Pause, a 2-disc set including an Arabic rhythm CD by  the talented Jonatan Gomes Derbaq) have made her a popular workshop instructor.

   The first time I ever saw her perform was onstage at The Las Vegas Belly Dance Intensive a few years back, and I was blown away by her sheer elegance. However, as  refined and polished as she appears in performance and authoritative in class, she is not always that way in real life.  When she’s off duty, she’s fun and extremely silly,  is a doting kitty mom, and has what some would call eclectic taste in entertainment. We liked each other a lot   the first time we met, but  something happened while we were getting ready for the One Longfellow show that really bonded us.  I heard horrible screams coming from  the room where Rosa was getting ready…. and  somehow, it sounded strangely familiar. I walked in and  asked,

“Hey, are you watching some murder show ?”

 She looked at me, blinking  her huge, doe-like brown eyes and replied sheepishly,

“Um… yeah, I…uh….”

Bonded by belly dance...and trash television!
It was apparent she was grappling for any excuse that would make her pre-show  routine seem legit and hoping I wouldn’t think she was completely crazy.

 “I adore crime shows!”  I declared, “What one are you watching?”

I immediately informed her that I too have a penchant for watching “murder shows” while I get ready. She looked at me almost suspiciously before  saying, “You do?”

  I assured  her that my “happy place” while getting ready  to dance  is watching Cold Case Files  or Lockdown  and  she  heaved a sigh of relief  before we both started giggling.

“Want me to turn it up?” she asked, like a gracious hostess.

 Here, in her own words, is what Rosa  does ( in addition to her penchant for crime shows!) to prepare for her shows:

“For me, the most effect way to prepare for a performance is to work hard in advance, and not work on it at all the day of the show itself. That helps to ensure that the performance itself is fresh and not over-rehearsed. 

While I'm putting on my make-up, I like to watch murder mysteries. CSI Miami, Midsomer Murders, and Criminal Minds… they take my mind off the upcoming performance and they generally make me giggle at the preposterous nature of the scenario (or the writing) at one point or another!  Is that terribly grim?

Before my entrance, I like to do a warm-up that is centering and familiar. I lead my students in this warm-up at the beginning of each class, before we begin belly dance movements, and before any group performances. This reminds me to breath consciously, which is an important aspect of performance. Without conscious breath my dancing will be stilted or hurried or both; with breath I'll be in the moment, I'll remember to enjoy the movements, my face will be more relaxed--and everyone will have a fun time!

The more warmed-up, the better, so I also like to dance to everyone else's music while backstage if I'm at a multi-dancer show. If it's a bellygram or similar, I'll at least spend a good chunk of time shimmying and playing my zills (silently) in my changing area. 

If I'm nervous--which, thankfully, happens only rarely nowadays--I'll do ballet barre exercises, interspersed with belly dance movements. Ballet technique is all consuming, and it feels like coming home. But in ballet your center of gravity is much higher, and you're specifically trying NOT to move your hips. So putting some belly dancing movements between the barre exercises reminds me to ground myself, to be ooey and gooey, while ballet comforts and gives extra confidence. 

If I'm performing in a show with a backstage and an intermission, I believe in staying backstage for the duration of the act I'm in. This is my theater and ballet background showing… in theater there is very specific rules that everyone needs to follow in order to ensure that the production goes smoothly. Sometimes that means boredom (though who can be bored when there is dance?). Sometimes that means you don't get to see all of the other performers… Those are some of the sacrifices we make in order to experience the glory of sharing your dance with an audience! 

Having some set rituals is grounding. It is comforting. It helps me know where the boundaries are… and then, once everything is as it should be… I can break them! “

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Purchase  Rosa’s fantastic instructional  DVDs – ON SALE until July 31, 2015, here:


Rosa teaches "A Dancer's Hands And Arms" at The Las Vegas Belly Dance Intensive September, 2015:

Rosa will be at the Pittsburgh Belly Dance Festival, November  2015:  http://pghbellydancefestival.com/

 Rosa will be at Art of the Belly, March 2016  http://www.artofthebelly.com/

2 comments:

  1. i see your lots of DVD's you have great work out in this DVD's.
    where we can get this DVD's you have any idea about it .
    for more any one can see this link thanks



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