Intermediate Course: “The River”

Course Overview

“The River” is a four part series for intermediate and advanced dancers, and we’re working with movements inside a theatrical fantasy choreography. The second half of the dance, covered in lessons 3 and 4, uses a veil. Each lesson is about an hour long.

The music is almost all instrumental, but it begins with a short passage of lyrics: “The river is flowing, down to the sea.” Following this cue, the movements of the dance evoke different watery qualities: snaking, tumbling, sheeting, waves. How you want to inhabit these movements is up to you: while the lyrics are excerpted from a chant associated with pagan, wiccan and goddess-based spirituality, the dance may also be approached simply as testament of the sublime.

“The River” is designed as general continuing education, filling the same role as a weekly technique class. You’ll have an opportunity to stay in good form by drilling vocabulary that’s already in your repertoire, and hopefully gain some new vocabulary in terms of transitions, sequencing movements in new ways that maybe you haven’t flowed through before. Lessons 1 and 2 do not use a prop; lessons 3 and 4 work with veil. So, depending on what your interest is, you might want to end early or skip ahead.

We’re going to dance a full choreography, but our goal is to use choreography and combinations as a practical exercise to put vocabulary and transitions into context, into dance. And, by revisiting the same material and building on it, you will have a nice framework to measure and enjoy your progress. But how much you prioritize memorizing the sequence is totally up to you. Each lesson begins with a follow-along technique flow, and that first half can stand on its own if you would just like to end your practice there. Or, if you continue into the second half, we will add a new short choreography sequence to material we danced through in the previous lessons.

Because this program is designed for intermediate levels and up, the prerequisite for this course is all-around proficiency. But because we are working at a slower tempo, the basic framework of the dance should be within the capabilities of dancers who are still improving their vocabulary. You’ll need a good basic grasp of.belly dance isolations, footwork, turns, and veil technique. Or, if you are more fluent, there’s also a great potential here to work on really elite body lines and arms and phrasing.

If you’re interested in the veilwork component of the course, you will need a veil. The timing of the air design is designed for a 3-yard silk veil. If you plan to work with the choreography, you will probably also want some kind of dance shoe.

There is one more thing that you are going to need, and that is to provide your own warmup. We do begin at a gentle pace, but you will still have a more safe and more effective practice if you take a moment first, on your own, to give your body whatever preparation it needs.

One final note: this should be obvious, but the dance you’ll be learning in this course is not traditional or cultural Middle Eastern dance, and it is not appropriate to perform in traditional or cultural contexts or venues, like Middle Eastern restaurants, or nightclubs, or cultural fairs. If you would like to perform the dance, please make sure you represent it as theater and fantasy. That way you can be sure that it will be something your audience is expecting and wants to see.

Choreography Preview

“The River” Lesson 1

“The River” Lesson 2

“The River” Lesson 3

“The River” Lesson 4

Choreography Step-by-Step

Choreography with Music and Voice Prompts

Choreography Practice

An actual river.

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