A FRESH LOOK AT VEIL TECHNIQUE
Dancing with a veil has become an essential element of oriental dance, whether as a short and spectacular burst of colour and movement during the entrance of the dancer or as the main player in a double veil fantasy piece.
But maybe its time to look again at how we use the veil and why, in order to create a dance far removed from cliché, a dance that is really DANCE, not just one that relies on the 'wow moments' of veil tricks and effects.
In this series of blogs we will try to answer the question, Why dance with a veil at all? Is it to cover or to reveal, to fill space, create impact, add colour, lightness or drama? By focusing on techniques to achieve a more profound use of the veil we will also include a few exercises for you to expand on your creativity.
Photo: Roland Soldi
After a general warm-up, concentrate on your arms and shoulders, really working to open up the chest, circling shoulders and arms in both directions. Twist your upper body from side to side, letting arms flap loosely, activate your spine and loosen your neck. Add some strengthening exercises, either with light weights, terra band or your own body weight to strengthen your arms. Don't forget that working with a veil requires a lot of strength and explosive energy to create great effects or to turn with the veil gracefully and with ease.
EXERCISE 1. WITH VEIL
This exercise is great for opening up the shoulders, for veil control and coordination.
- Walk 8 steps forward, and 8 steps back (always facing the front!)
- Walking forwards hold the veil behind you (arms should be lower than shoulders, around midriff level)
- On the count of 7 throw the veil up in the air and over your head in front of your body (don't let go of the veil!)
- Walking backwards hold the veil in front of you (arms should be lower than shoulders, around midriff level)
- On the count of 6 bring the back of your hands together and on 7 throw the veil up in the air and over your head behind your body (don't let go of the veil!)
- Repeat, repeat, repeat!
POINTS TO REMEMBER!
- Stay vertical, don't bend forwards (or backwards!), otherwise the veil will surely land on your head!
- Use energy to throw the veil up in the air, let it float down on its own.
- Engage your abdominal muscles at all times.
- Do the exercise with your friends in a group to work together on timing and coordination.
COMING NEXT TIME...
Experimental exercises, such as the veil as a 2nd skin or extension of the body, to foster creativity with the veil and escape the clichés! Plus travelling steps with veil work.
Banner photo: 'Return to Odalisque', Oriental Divas, 2014. Photo: Urs Ackermann