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1- Treat your prop as a dance partner. When we dance with props whether it be a cane, Sword,Fan veils or a silk veil always remember to treat it as a dance partner. Anyone can pick up a prop and throw it around but a trained dancer with flow gracefully with it. The prop is not supposed to take centre stage.
2- Treat a prop as an extension of your body. Imagine it is a limb that is attached to you working together in unison complimenting the rest of your body.
3- When working with a silk or chiffon veil Imagine you are wearing a metal suit of armour. When flipping the veil around the body this technique reminds us to use our arms to their full potential and it also helps us avoid the dreaded costume snag....no matter how hard a dancer tries its hard to get out of the veil on costume snag gracefully. Instead why not incorporate this tip in order to have a more polished dance.
4-The Sword, Cane, Pot or tray of candles always seem to have minds of their own. This is because of gravity as well as the fact that we are working with natural material shaped into a heavy and a little uneven symetrical object. Even though these props balance they will never be a perfect shape weight or balance therefore we must work with them not against them. So your at the restaurant busting some moves whilst balancing that amazing sword or candle lit tray on your head. Looking all spectacular as customers admire your art you start to feel the prop of choice begin to slip. What do you do? Here are some tips for each balancing prop.
Always come out of a balancing technique as Graceful as possible. For a slipping sword start to move with it in the direction it wants to go in. Correct your posture if you need to. Don't work against it or away from the direction in which it is heading in because it will only fall off. If you are unsure or you have a feeling it is about to fall, Quickly lift it off and above your head gracefully then add some turns. It's best not to chance carrying on dancing with a tray with live fire balanced on your head. Instead lift it off and above your head as soon as you feel the slip and add some figure of eights or some side traveling camel rolls. A cane is different again because it is rounded so it will roll, and once it starts rolling chances are it won't stop. If this happens either lift it off and above your head and turn or travel. If it rolls off a drops try to catch it, Catch it and make it look like its a trick that was meant to be part of your routine.
5-When twirling a cane its very easy for it to slip out of our hand and end up over the opposite side of the room or heaven forbid on someone's plate. To avoid unessessary embarressment damage or injury of audience members, fellow students or yourself try tying an elastic band around the end of the cane. This add a good way to add grip and avoid mortal combat mishaps.
6- some times no matter what the self proclaimed experts say. No matter how great your technique is, how correct your posure is, How well you trained your prop. Balancing objects such as metal trays a brass swords need texture and grip especially if you have very fine , Oily, Flyaway. frizzy, Curly , thin soft hair or if you wear a lot of product in your hair. Hairspray is a great idea, So spray a little on your hair. But if your a curly girl like me prone to frizz hairspray won't do. Instead opt for adding texture to the prop. For example you can add texture to metal trays by spreading a thin layer of PVA glue on the underside of the tray ( the part that touches your head) LET IT DRY. Once it drys you will feel added texture allowing it to grip onto your hair better. This is not a cheat because we let the glue dry first ( for those without a sense of humour....Joke!) The great thing about this tip is you can peel the glue off and practice without it when you want. You can always reapply if you feel the need. If you go onto perform in public or as a professional you should really master this art first.
Swords may need texture to add grip depending on your hair and skin type. Girls with curly, fly sway, oily, Soft, thin, fine hair will benefit ftom this tip.
This is a technique I personally use. I am mixed race with fine curly textured hair and oily skin. I need texture to stop the sword from slipping off. I tend to score some fine lines at each end of the balancing point on the underside part of the sword that I place on my head. I use a very sharp knife and score small lines. Dont worry these lines are very fine, You can hardly if not see them at all but you can feel a slightly rougher texture. Your audience will not see the slight scores. Far away, close up or holding the sword. * Do not indent the sword perminantly. You can also rub a candle at the same points. The wax adds a clingy texture good for some hair types but not all. If like me you are confident in your dancing, that your technique, Posture and balance is correct you shouldn't worry that you are cheating, because you are not! Lets face it no amount of fine scored lines , Candle wax , pva glue, silly hats or anything else will help anyone balance a sword whilst belly dancing.
Beware of advice given by one size fits all biased and opinionated article writers who don't mention hair or skin types where sword Dancing is concerned. Steer clear from following advice from those self proclaimed experts who don't seem to have any evidence of their own public dance performance published anywhere for anyone to see, Yet they criticise everyone elses work. Listen to the professionals who have experience , Evidence of their dance and hold public liability insurance.
7-Look after your props. This is very important. There's nothing worse than a over creased silk veil or a dance cane the dog has chewed the end of. Or to find your sword is bent and out of balance or your tray has been used as an ash tray. Props are expensive and some such as swords are hard to come by especially with all of the high security at airports. Most won't allow strange shaped parcels through customs. So if you have props look after them as if you would your costumes and shoes. I hang my sword on a couple of hooks in my wardrobe, My Canes hung on the clothing pole next to my costumes, My trays on a shelf in my wardrobe and my veils and Isis Wings in a vacume pack at the bottom of my wardrobe. In fact this wardrobe is dedicated to my belly dance gear. It cost me £30 brand new from ikea, Its nothing special to look at but when you open it and look inside, Its better than narnia. So there you have it. Respect and look after your props and you will find your props will look after you.