As a belly dance instructor, Feng Shui Practitioner, and a human being (of sorts), I am something of an expert in change. In Feng Shui change is called “Change”. In Dance change is called a “Transition” and, in life more often than not, a bitch! So, I want to give a couple of tips on how I teach transitions.
Like life, in dance we need a certain amount of change for a composition to be interesting. And, like life, in dance, everyone’s ability to handle change is different. Usually, the more change you experience, the easier it gets to handle it.
The essence of good art (and a good life) is contrast. In dance - like life - too much can create random chaos. Too little can create a predictable, boring (composition). The challenge with transitions is how to make them smooth and seamless while maintaining a cohesive blend of movements which are both exciting and relaxing. And not allow the changes to throw you off!
For students learning dance, especially for the first time, their skill handling transitions is directly linked to their memory and grasp of the basic single movements they have learned. The more they drill/practice the foundation moves and steps they learned, the easier the transitions are. Here are some of my rules on teaching transitions in dance:
Combinations: Do 2-3-4 movements at first slowly; then increase speed and numbers.
Teach students to count and use the “ands” for transitions.
Teach students to recognize center and use it as a place to come from and move to. The center creates balance and allows change with confidence.
Teach students to hear the phrasing and musical composition in its parts, and as a whole.
Teach students to be present and focused while moving. Dance is a meditation. The slightest distraction can cause you to lose your train of thought and therefore the sequence of movement.
Use conscious intention to move and anticipate the next movement.
Drill the transitions themselves as primary movements.
Know vocabulary so you can talk yourself through a combination.
Remind them where they’ve come from as they progress; point out where they are going by showing them advanced combinations – give them perspective.
Breathe the fear away!
I use these concepts in life as well – and in teaching Feng Shui. Change is a good thing – if you know how to experience it well!