First appeared in Misha’s Musings Newsletter, June 2016
These days, we are very blessed with the power of pocket cameras and videos. I carry mine just about everywhere, less because I want to stay connected and more because I’m always looking for inspiration and will snap lots of pictures to save the idea for later. This can translate to dance too and I think often we forget how lucky we are to have the ability to make videos so easily. I love to use my phone to film a variety of experiences, from flowers swaying in the wind to a rushing river, that I refer back to later to inspire my dance and costuming too. How fun to be able to use this resource!
Today I’m also going to share with you one of my secrets for seeing improvement in your bellydance technique fast: the video selfie. Here’s another way we can make use of that great technology! In a world where it’s super easy to film ourselves, it often surprises me that more dancers aren’t taking advantage of this excellent educational tool. Watching ourselves in a mirror while we dance is great, but we won’t always have the looking glass to refer to when we move especially at times like a performance or even if you are just jamming out at a hafla or drum circle.
Now, ok. I will admit it took me a while to be comfy with filming myself. It took a while to be ok with not looking amazing – this isn’t about having great hair, a fancy costume, or gorgeous makeup. Filming yourself while practicing is instead a chance to focus on your personal practice. After a while, you forget the camera is even there. It’s just you, dancing and drilling like normal. The great thing about filming yourself while dancing is that you can refer back to it again and again, learning from it and seeing what to improve as well as celebrating what elements of your dance are great. I often film myself just using my phone and then review it to see if anything is looking a bit sticky.
By taking the time to look at yourself after the practice you truly can gain knowledge – there’s even scientific studies that back up our ability to improve by scrutinizing our practice. Often you can catch little habits you may not see in the mirror, like accenting a movement oddly with your hand, or the placement of the foot that isn’t quite accurate. You can learn how well you are interpreting the music, too, and even discover whether your zil playing is on point.
Keep in mind when you video to approach each viewing with kindness and openness. I like to jot down a few notes about what was great as well as what I would like to improve. Over time, you can refer back to videos from a month, year, or even years ago and really see progress and that’s always great whenever you want a boost for your confidence!