Ugly is Beautiful!
“I’m a Barbie Girl, in a Plastic World …”
If that is how you feel when you dance, or how you feel about performers in a Tribal Fusion, or a Belly Dance show, then you’re in the right place! I recognize that feeling, and I am going to talk about how to change it with radical self-acceptance.
The Era of the plastic faces on the stage is over. It’s time to say “No More!” to fake expressions and to welcome real emotions instead. The emotions who make us Beautiful, even in our Ugliness, by showing the real and relatable imperfect nature of life. Why not?
The Ugly in the Art is a concept that all can respect. Art asserts the value of the Grotesque which has its own extreme beauty, because of the untamed intensity and interesting shapes and expressions it typically has.
In today’s world, however, we have lost the plot a bit and we don’t teach each other the artistic value of the concept of Ugly. A narrow aesthetic result in an end in itself, dictated by the Photoshop parameters or an Instagram filter.
I have had more than enough of this sense of constraint that we (women especially) must look exactly Beautiful in some exact way, on stage or not. So how can we destroy these paralyzing limits that are we see on stage all the time? How can we convince our facial muscles to relax or contract as we feel, rather than in reaction to the spasms of anxiety and terror of performing?
Do you also feel the same too often, this ephemeral beauty that you have feigned leaves you with a sense of emptiness after the show? What do you think about it? What would you like to see and what have you seen so far?
Once, a colleague of mine came back to the backstage with a cramp in their jaw … It wasn’t because of any love affair, I swear, unless you mean the love affair with Dancing on the stage. Despite years of experience, from time to time we can all be victims of tension and performance anxiety that flows into this indomitable Plastic Face.
With a glance you can…
In this episode, let’s consider some simple exercises to regain power.
Divide and Conquer? It does not have to be that way. We can create teamwork between the emotional and the physical sphere.
I think one thing and I do another, as it often happens, but it does not have to happen now.
If I think I want to stay on a diet and a package of cookies evaporates in my mouth, it does not have to happen now.
If I think I want to express Love, and I think of my ex with my best friend, there will be nothing but a mime’s reaction to a double homicide on my face. Do you understand why it is so important to be focused and try to think about the right thing, to proactively express what you want rather than reactively expressing what happens to you?
Governing the mind is often a long and tempestuous process studded with meditation and consequent crisis of anxiety, alternating peace and stress, useless pseudo-control strategies and acts of courage in letting go to create new spaces in which to cram other things, often just as useless … No, I did not say Shoes. Who says shoes are useless? Preposterous!
So we start with 7 simple exercises, to unlock the gaze, because you know, the eyes are the mirror of the soul.
7. LOOK AT YOUR FINGER
This is an exercise I learned by studying Balinese Dance, while my beloved Guru was pleasantly beating me with a fan to encourage me to keep my arms up … For a moment I saw about 100 years of history of teaching techniques pass me in front of … But this is another story.
Ready? Arms outstretched and let’s place a hand in front of the face and one towards the front diagonal – both hands with the index pointing upwards.
Now, keeping your head still, shift your eyes from the index finger of one hand to the other. Keep your eyes open and your forehead relaxed. Don’t forget to breathe … And keep your arms stretched forward, thinking of me being beaten with the fan under my arms, where the skin is more sensitive …
6. ADD A HEAD SLIDE
Repeat the same thing but add a Head Slide. So we bring the head to the side, keeping the vertical axis. Be careful not to bring your ear down to your shoulder or your head to the front diagonal, because that is another exercise. The head moves only to the side, as if we wanted to listen to someone behind a door and we are going to press our ear to it.
We accompany this lateral slide of the head with the gaze, as in the previous exercise. This is a movement that we find in Balinese and Indian dance.
To be honest, many of the movements of the head that I later studied between Balinese and Indian Dances, I learned first from Totò, the Prince De Curtis, a very famous Italian actor from the past. Dig into the Italian cultural heritage and you will find movements and affirmations still in vogue all over the world … Totò Docet!
5. PLAY WITH FACIAL EXPRESSIONS
We continue with our eyes but now without using our hands. This time, we associate facial expressions that are contrary to each other. For example a smile to express Serenity, alternating with a frown to express Suspicion or Fear. You choose, keeping a quick change between one and the other. Don’t think about it too much, they must be natural with a quick changes.
4. STRETCH AND CONTRACTS
You may have seen it in the Indaco’s episode by our fantastic Drama Teacher, and we will never tire of remembering it: stretching and contracting the facial muscles is an excellent strategy to feel the muscles in a deeply conscious way. The facial muscles are many and are not parked on the face at random… They give rise to that set of expressions that are painted on the face when we see something we don’t understand, that surprises or disgusts us.
Think if we could control them on stage … What WOW effect could we get?
3. DRAW THE INFINITY WITH YOUR CHIN
The symbol of the Infinite, we find this sort of figure eight everywhere. Maya and Taxeem are just two of many examples. Belly Dance is imbued with Figures Eight and therefore with Infinity Symbols.
In this exercise, we draw an eight with our chin, on the transverse plane. So we keep the head aligned with the Spine, to start at the best, looking at a fixed point in front of us, at eye level.
We then draw the Infinity Symbol while maintaining the supposed Third Eye in line with the Sternum.
The intersection of the lines of the infinite will be in line with the Sternum, in Neutral.
Think about having your chin resting on a table and drawing the symbol on it.
Go ahead and try; it is easier to do this than to read about how to do it.
2. ADD A NEW GAZE
From the previous exercise, we add a variation of the gaze reference point. Every time we bring the chin to the side, when we are drawing one of our circles that make up our eight, we look at a point on the same side on the front diagonal and upwards.
1. HAVE FUN!