Filler
Photo of Shira

 

 

PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

Belly Dance Tips for Tall Dancers

 

 

By Saqra

 

 

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Stage Position

Very tall dancers do better staying a little back from the very front of a stage or from a seated audience. Tall women can intimidate with proximity, and this is especially true if the dancer is a bit larger boned as well.

Props

Do not pull in the reach on those beautiful long arms! But do check the amount of space above your head before you wave around veils, wings or especially.... swords! Always be ready with alternate prop moves that don't involve you lifting the prop completely overhead. Use what works for the room instead of using everything you know by reflex.

If there is a choice, select a properly proportioned prop. Longer canes, slightly longer veils, slightly larger trays. If you have a question about a prop you are considering, have a friend take a full length photograph of you with the prop and assess whether it looks proportionate to your size, in your opinion. Of course, you can make the final decision on what works well for you, but be aware that the ratio of prop size to dancer can change the impact.

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Michael Baxter, Santa Clara, California.

Costumes

Regular types of skirts can be lengthened from the waistband by adding an extra casing. However, it can be hard to find many styles of costumes long enough. (You knew that, already, didn't you?)

Asymmetric hemlines can avoid the question of correct length completely.

However, if the skirt has a horizontal hemline, you can often visually lengthen it without adding a ruffle. A very soft trumpet style of skirt made of light chiffon can be worn under many pre-made costumes to carry the dominant color down to a final visually-correct length, and can be slit to match the original costume. If you are lengthening a costume this way and it has numerous cut-outs that don't allow a waistband, then:

  • Make the skirt
  • Pin it in place under/to the original costume
  • Turn it inside out
  • Baste it in place by stitching behind the edge of the existing embellishments on the outside
  • Trim the top edge of the underskirt fairly close to the stitching. Iif this is chiffon, you will need to use a little Dritz Fray-Check or a similar product on the edge to keep the edge from raveling. It isn't worth actually finishing the seam IMO).

[If you have trouble understanding the above, please contact me directly.]

Saqra

Posture

Posture is very important for every dancer, but tall women often are conditioned to roll their shoulders forward and cave their chests, push their chin out forward to drop their heads a few inches, and/or to pull in their arms instead of fully extending them. Lift your rib cage by pressing forward from that back bra strap line while keeping shoulders relaxed, get those ears back over your shoulders, and reach those beautiful arms / wings to the fullest! Trust me, if you feel your arms are gangly, it is a practice / imagination issue and not a structure-caused issue.

Network with Other Tall Dancers

Last, pay attention to dancers you meet who are tall. Collect business cards and other contact info so you can stay in the loop as they buy and sell costumes. Consider creating a social media group that focuses on tall dancers: costuming for sale, costuming sources, etc. (There may already be one/two/a million, but I'm 5'3", which is 160 cm, so they wouldn't let me join their club. I'd be in the short chicks with severe cleavage group.)

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Michael Baxter, Santa Clara, California.

Closing Thought

Your mileage may vary as usual, but my performance troupe ranges from 4'11" to 6' so I've spent a lot of time figuring out costume modifications.

Saqra

 

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About the Author

Saqra (Seattle, Washington, USA) is a powerful dance artist and a master instructor. Her fluidity, grace, and technical skill is highlighted by her friendly demeanor and clear joy of the dance. She did not inherit the diva gene.

Saqra won titles in Belly Dance USA (Oregon), Belly Dancer of the Year (California), Belly Dancer of the Universe (California), Wiggles of the West (Nevada), and many other competitions. She was voted "Best Kept Secret of 2005" and "Instructor of the Year 2008" by readers of Zaghareet Magazine.

Saqra's journey in this dance form began in 1977 and has led her to study with many of the best dancers in the world, including in America, Canada, Turkey and Egypt. Saqra continues to travel and study both in the USA and abroad and prides herself on proper research for anything she teaches. Folklore, fakelore, and stage creativity: all three are valuable, and Saqra clearly presents for each what they actually are. Saqra is constantly expanding her expertise in the traditional ethnic forms of the dance, the modern stage variants, and the continuing evolving fusion techniques, all these areas combined keep her material fresh and current.

Saqra is widely known as an event promoter, musician, music and instructional video producer, and a registered hypnotherapist in the state of Washington. That is enough stuff to start explaining what she has been doing in belly dance since 1977. Visit her at www.saqra.net

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Michael Baxter, Santa Clara, California. In the photo, Saqra is holding her Teacher of the Year 2008 Award from Zaghareet Magazine.

Saqra with Award

 

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