[Note: This blog post was written on 9 Sept 2018.]
For those of you who may not yet know, I was selected to perform as a bellydancer in Universal Studios Singapore’s Halloween Horror Nights 8 (HHN8) this year. In my brief I was told that in HHN8, I will be doing a solo tribal bellydance as part of a mini show. I thought I would write this blog post to put down my thought process from applying to the job up til the first rehearsal, which was yesterday.
When I was asked to audition, I was very surprised. I have always been bellydancing out of sheer love of the dance. For various reasons I figured I would hardly be called upon for a job because of my bellydancing abilities. But I submitted my application, and was chosen, to my even bigger surprise.
Once I signed the contract, I told myself, I need to do my best. In thinking of how to prepare for the dance, which I had to choreograph as well, I figured the best thing to do was to go and learn tribal bellydance, because I’ve been learning Oriental bellydance and some Saidi all this while. Luckily, I found someone who teaches tribal fusion in Singapore, and took a trial class, though I was unable to take a course because their course was just ending. I also watched a lot of Youtube videos just to understand what tribal bellydance was about. That was unfortunately all I could do to prepare as I didn’t know what the stage directions were going to be during my segment, which I would only find out during the rehearsal.
At the first rehearsal, the stage choreographer showed me where I should move onstage. Then we did an initial run-through of my segment, and I had nothing except freestyle. There was no choreography or particular technique I had in mind, I just moved according to how the music made me feel. At the end, the choreographer and everyone applauded. That was unreal.
We did a couple more run-throughs where I had more choreography worked out, but according to the notes I received afterwards, it turned out the choreography was getting in the way of my performance. That was a significant realization for me, because I had to start thinking about my approach in a different way. I realized I had been focusing too much on the technicalities of dancing, whereas what the production needs, is a damn good performance. With this in mind, I modified my approach to the dance, and tried to respond organically and fluidly to the music, rather than worrying too much about a fixed choreography.
I am very grateful to every theatre and dance production I’ve been a part of in the past, because all of those experiences have helped me keep my mind open and flexible to be able to adapt to the needs of this production. Though I love bellydance and really enjoyed learning a new bellydance style, I cannot lose sight of the overall impact that I need to make in my role in the production. And can I say, I am so proud and happy to be part of a production again – and one that’s extremely well-organized, with amazing performers and behind the scenes people. I’m so looking forward to a month ahead of Halloween Horror Nights 8!