Fresh from the UK tour of Aladdin, here are my top 5 tips for belly dancers and fusion artists working in belly dance theatre shows.
- Don't take yourself seriously - Depending on how much creative control you have, spend the time developing your character and don't be afraid to make a fool of yourself or take your self too seriously. I was lucky, I had full control over deciding who I wanted my character to be and I really thought about what my character would add to the show. For me, I wanted to add the comedy element so I had to think about how I could incorporate that with belly dance.
- Rest - When you're training hard, you need to rest in between rehearsals, shows and other commitments that you have. I was dancing 7 days a week teaching classes or performing, which caused fatigue and foot stress resulting in poor technique and pain. You need at least 1 day off in the week to recover and at least 8 hours of sleep per night.
- Be open minded - Even if you don't learn a new style of dance in a theatre production, you will always learn something new, even if it's learning what you don't like, you will learn something. A great example is that 5 of the muses in the Aladdin show were tribal dancers and they had to learn shabbi and oriental routines.
- Eat well - Long rehearsals mean long hours and rushing from 1 place to the next. Some days I even had chicken masala for breakfast to give me the energy that I needed to last the day. It's good to be organised and have protein bars, nuts, water (and chocolate) on you just in case you get caught out.
- Warm up and cool down - it's important not to be lazy when it comes to warming up properly and cooling down. When you're in rehearsals, a lot of time is spent sitting around even after you've warmed up properly, which is the easiest way to get an injury. Keep the body warm with leg warmers, scarf and layers.
If you've been in a show or are currently rehearsing for one, please leave your comments below as I'd love to hear your experience and any tips or advice that you may have.