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

Dear Shira


Dear Shira:

Good vs Great?



The Question

Dear Shira:

What does it mean to you "to be a good dancer" and "to be a great dancer"?

— Thoughtful


PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Pixie Vision Productions, Glendale, California.




Shira Responds

Dear Thoughtful:

I assume you were referring to belly dancing, especially a solo artist. I might give a different answer for some other dance forms that I enjoy such as ballet.

Here's how I see it...

Good dancers have polished technique, stay on beat of the music, and maintain pleasant facial expressions while dancing. If they use props (which I feel are optional), they do so skillfully. They choose music and costume that are appropriate to the situation. They might do some flashy "party tricks" such as deep backbends or hair tosses, but those are also optional — a dancer can be good without them.

Great dancers can do everything I said above in my description of a good dancer. In addition, they display authentic emotion, connect with the audience, make the audience feel their love for the dance, and let the music carry them away. In the moment, while dancing, they don't over-analyze, don't worry about perfection, and don't think about what steps to do next. They do not give you the feeling they're mentally reciting, "1, 2, hip drop, 3, 4, toss the hair." 

After a good dancer performs, I'll probably remember something about the music used, maybe a couple of signature steps or athletic "party tricks" (such as a Turkish drop), maybe something about the costume if it stood out in some way, etc.

After a great dancer performs, I really don't remember much except that the dancer pulled me in, and allowed me to catch a glimpse of her or his soul.

— Shira


PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Pixie Vision Productions, Glendale, California.




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About this Column

Shira has received many questions from readers over the years related to various aspects of the dance. In this column, she picks some of the more interesting ones to answer publicly. Details contained in the questions are sometimes removed or disguised to protect the anonymity of the person who asked the question.



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