creating tribal sword improv

The Tribal Odyssey Sword Dance Combinations have been “on hold” for a while…

Originally the task of developing the Sword Combos for our group improv format was Miramar’s (of Winchester VA). My energy was going into creating the Skirt and Veil Combos, and since Miramar is adept at Sword dancing, it seemed a good way to divide our time and talents.

But in 2011 when the Sword Combos were still just a goal, Miramar decided to dissolve our partnership; so the Sword Combinations went on the back burner for me. I kept the idea in mind while my performing group rehearsed for one show after another…  Our own Sword Dancer, Pixie Fae, would remind me from time to time “are you still going to do those Sword Combinations?” meaning, let’s get those Tribal Sword Combos done! But it wasn’t until a few months ago I could begin seriously formulating ideas on how we could incorporate the sword.

So here we are in early 2013 – after our New Year’s Eve show I found myself with some extra time before our next gig’s rehearsals (of course a few snow days didn’t hurt either). It’s finally time!

Anyone who’s developed “group improv” combinations knows there are certain considerations you have to keep in mind:

  • you need clear sight-lines so the dancers can see the Leader;
  • the “cues” ALL have to be unique enough to be quickly recognizable;
  • the combinations should flow into each other with smooth transitions;
  • AND last but not least, the technique level of the performers needs to be considered.

I feel safe in putting the Sword Dance combinations in Level Four, as by the time dancers get to this level they will have developed adequate skills or at least, they’ll be able to develop sword balancing skills fairly quickly.

Now, you just can’t be certain the moves will work until you try the combinations on real bodies! So during our recent Rehearsal Club meetings in the studio, we’ve been refining the Sword Combos. It’s wonderful to have my PRISM Rehearsal Club serve as guinea pigs, going through all the proposed Sword Combinations to help figure out what works and what needs to change.

It’s a unique, collaborative, creative process, just how I polished the original Tribal Odyssey combinations years ago with my old troupe Pearls of Rhythm. This project’s gone much faster than I anticipated, and we’ll actually debut our Sword Combos at a show later this month! We’re concentrating on a “short list” of about a dozen combinations, divided equally into “Sword Play” and “Sword Balancing”… I can’t wait!

bellydance practise

rehearsing in the studio

(End of Post)



1 Comment »

  1. Akila said

    Excellent article. Tribal sword is exciting and fun!

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