|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.
“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!|
“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! “
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/