|Chorus Girls, 192-; New South Wales Collection|
Ever think you're one of those people who just can't be creative? Do you listen to a song and think you could come up with the best moves to do with it, but when you try dancing to it, you can't remember any of it? Do you see other dancers' beautifully handmade costumes and wonder if you could ever make those costumes yourself? Or have you ever seen a really great stage show and thought to yourself "Where did they learn to do that? I could never be that creative!"
While just getting on a stage and dancing in public is difficult enough, really getting good at putting on a show might seem like an impossible skill. And it is hard: there's the music you have to pick, the costumes you have to put together, the choreography to come up with, your makeup and hair to do. Doesn't it ever feel like some of this stuff just comes naturally to other dancers? Don't you ever wonder if there's a secret to being creative?
Well, there is, and it's very simple: Practice.
Just do it!
The secret to getting better at being creative is to practice at being creative. You've going to have to work at it. Dance every chance you get, perform every chance you get. Put on music and try to make up something to go with it, even if it's just a 24-count section. If you're worried about someone seeing your attempts, lock yourself in your room or studio. You might feel uncoordinated or silly, but do it anyway.
If it's costuming you're having trouble with, just start pulling all your bellydance costuming out of the closet. Or, pick another dancer's costume and try to put together something similar using just the items in your closet. Just because you're not going to wear it on stage doesn't mean it's wasted time. You can even put the costume on and parade around the house in it, maybe film yourself dancing it a few times.
But I've tried to and I'm just not any good!
Have you really, though? Have you tried making up choreography or improv to a song? Have you done more than one performance? Have you tried dancing for your friends to see what they think? Have you gone out in public in that costume? You're better than you realize, but when you look at yourself through your own eyes, it's hard to see yourself as a great dancer.
Another thing that will help is to practice with friends. Put together a choreography workshop where you and your friends can work on individual pieces. It really helps to get feedback on your work sometimes, and you'll find that you're not as bad as you think you are. With your costume, get your friends together and do a costume swap. Throw everyone's things in the middle and start pulling pieces out and put costumes together.
Keep it simple
If you're still having trouble coming up with choreography or costumes, just narrow it down. Find a piece of music you like, and challenge yourself to use the same three moves. See what you can do with it. Record yourself if you can, and see what you can come up with during that time. Or, if you already know a choreography from class, just do the same choreo to the same music, and change the emotion. Do it sad, or romantic, or angry, and watch how the emotion completely changes the pieces.
With a costume, put together a 'dance uniform' and just add one or two things to it to make it different each time. Start with a basic skirt and bra, then change up the jewelry or belt, or do something different with your hair. Play around with your accessories.
Record, record, record
While you're playing around with choreography and costuming, make sure you keep a record of all the things you do. Pick up a cheap video camera, or record yourself on your phone. Take pictures of your costumes, either while you're wearing them or laid out somewhere. Keep them somewhere on your computer, and date them, so you can go back and watch yourself progress.
Before you know it, you'll have become much better at being a creative dancer, and you'll wonder how on earth you ever thought you couldn't do it!