Raqs Sharqi is not just about movement, it is about communicating emotion from the music, through you, to the audience. Raqia Hassan (famous Egyptian choreographer and instructor) would often say “Stop fighting!” when movements were too big and hard. Arab audience members may say “Stop moving and dance!” when a dancer’s choreography is too busy – the dance is not about tricks but expression - how the music affects her and her audience. Less can be more.
When you listen to music, ask yourself:
- How does it make you feel?
- Where in your body do you feel it?
- Watch other dancers, especially native dancers (live or video) to see how they express different emotions or characters in their performances.
- Listen to lots of Arabic music
- Listen before you read the translation of the lyrics.
- How does each instrument make you feel?
- How does a phrase make you feel?
- Dance to the pieces that speak to you! Improvise, and dance your heart out!
BTW, don’t be surprised if certain songs speak to you one day/month/year and not the next. Your life experiences, your highs and lows, how your body feels - all play a part in how music affects you and how you react to it.