The question arose about how to make Grand Entrances when starting a dance routine, and about when does the dance start. The specific question stated that the dancer had to enter by walking through the audience. People responded about a number of different relevant aspects:
I'd like to add something from another perspective, for the dancer.
There is a transformation that happens when we become dancers, from the
everyday to the fantastic, from the physical to the spiritual if you will,
from the ordinary to the extraordinary. It's part of being a performer.
It's part of being an artist, too. This is not just dazzle; the best
performers transform all through themselves, inside, outside, energy,
presence, bearing, feeling. When you dance you are representing something
magic. If that's a vehicle by which you take people back to their homeland,
it's still magic: you, an american (for most of us) dancer, become the
dancers people saw as children, or at home, or....my point is, it's not just
a booga-booga role, and it's not a shallow one, accomplished only by beads
Anyone who's read andrea deagon's article on Inanna a couple of Habibis [a dance magazine] ago
knows what i mean. And some of the comments about the individuality of this
dance, and dancing as yourself--whoever that is at the time--and the
irreplaceability, the one-unique-moment-in-time-ness of the way a dancer
dances a piece at one point in time, and really fits the music and vice
versa--people who write or think about that "get it" too.
So ask yourself: when do you start to feel like a dancer? When do you
start to transform? Change into it, turn into it. It's YOUR music that's
To paraphrase my friend russ: "Say it, mean it, dream it, be it."
Oh, and about those lights recommended [in another reply]...if you don't have access to follow-spots and so forth:
Have them in your head. Put them there in your imagination. Dance as if
you had them.
Believe it and you are it....
We create our "stage area," even in a bellygram...there always is one, and
we create it.
;-) By the way, i too am fond of entering all wrapped in a veil, like a
mysterious priestess...what's inside, the youth or the crone? The face of
aphrodite, or medusa? Definitely a bad hair night, on the latter....;-) ;-) ;-)
*You* know who you are, but *they* don't...use it!
When are you "on stage"/start the performance?
The performance starts whenever your music starts or the audience sees you, whichever comes first.
"Check out the performances of most any Egyptian dancer. Having music for several moments, even 45 seconds, before you physically appear is not just a knee-jerk nod to tradition--it's great drama; basic theater." --JJ
Dance Steps/Movements To Use
"Since you are using a slow, dramatic piece as an entrance and taking slow
steps, my suggestion would be to do *that* on the way through the audience
up to the stage. (Granted, some of this will be lost to different portions
of the audience for some of your "trip".) If you have entrance music left
over after you've arrived at the stage, all the better! Continue to use it
to intensify the image (that you are projecting)."
"Grab their attention and respect immediately, it's harder to do later.
If I have to do a long 'entrance', I wear a long head scarf and veil, and
say NOTHING to anyone while I enter and wait for the music to begin.
This way mystery is preserved."
"A dancer in our group had the same problem a while back. She
completely draped herself in a veil and came through the audience.
She didn't unveil until on stage and well into the piece. I just
remembered this has been probably 6 or more years ago. Cherrie was
"If possible, figure out ahead of time if the length of your music is
compatible with the distance from that first sight to the stage. It
may be fine to use your music and walk just as you have planned
them, to cover that distance. It can be really neat to hear stately
music without seeing anyone at the stage, and then catch the ripple
of awareness more and more of the audience notices you coming through
them from some back corner.
"If you think you'll run out of music before you get to the stage, you
could either make a grand procession in silence (attitude is
everything!) or change your slow steps a bit. For examples:
- If you keep it very smooth, you can take more steps (that is,
walk faster, both on and between the beats) without changing the
overall look and feeling of your procession too much.
- You can also try something like two or three quick (but still
smooth and grand) steps, followed by a posing pause or a very slow
- Consider mixing walking steps with _stately_ spins; a three-step
spin can cover a lot of ground."
way to start a show is to have the music start before I appear. Your
music sounds perfect for this. I like to enter with a loose veil
(separate from the one I plan on dancing with later if I am going to do
so) which I discard just as the fast music starts, or I will take a bit
of the veil I'm wearing and hold it over my head (make sense?
Essentially, I use a drape where you fold the veil in half and hang it on
your outstretced right arm, secure it under a strap, and then drape the
veil front and back and tuck the top corners in my left hip. SO, you take
the loose veil that is hanging down your right arm and hold it up and
behind your head to frame it. You can do lots of stuff with this). If I
have a separate entrance veil, I'll hold it behind me and then wrap it
around in front of me (like you're wrapping yourself in a blanket) in one
of two ways: with my left arm brought in first at chest height and my
right arm with the veil held up higher than my head to hide my face
(sheer veil!), or with my arms crossed at the wrist and my elbows up high
to make a V--you can raise or lower your wrists to just show your eyes or
flash someone a smile...
"So, the music starts...everyone looks for the dancer...there she is, but
who is she, swathed mysteriously in chiffon?...she glides among the
tables, looking at us knowingly behind her veil--who is she?!...she opens
one arm, a flash of beads, a smile, then hidden again...finally to the
stage--and I can't wait for the dance to begin!
"Post script: having your veil wraped around you instead of trailing it
behind--also nice--protects your veil and costume from getting snagged or
caught on things (or people!). Also, it sort of protects you from people
in such close proximity. And it adds mystery and drama--you aren't just a
person walking to the stage, then a dancer, then a person again."
--Elisa, who likes to get her audince just impatient enough...
"If you have a long way to go and feel that slow walking would take you too
long to get to the stage, you can walk somewhat more quickly -- double-time
rather than with the slow beat -- but *only* if you create an impression of
gravity and sensuality. Move fast but look like you're the opposite of
rushing. Easy to say, hard to do! But you are on stage from the first moment, so it's gotta be dramatic, whatever you do.
"I have seen Helwa in SF begin a dance in a rather large, scattered moroccan
restaurant by practically running through it, with her veil and zills -- a
wonderful butterfly-like flitting from place to place, very exciting and not at all rushed or frenzied-looking. You could make a very fast, dramatic entrance
--if you're instantly able to center and establish your presence when you
get to the stage. (Hard to tell what would work with your music.)"
Theatrics: Lighting, etc.
"Ideally, have a follow spot slowly pan to your entrance area. Depending upon
size of audience, when music comes on, count to about 3 or 5 (sense the
audience's curiosity and attention. You need good coordination between
orchestra and lighting person. Also, if the stage area goes dark, the single
(or 2 follow spots aimed at where you will enter, heighten the dramatic
effect. Perhaps some quiet dumbek here with no music until you appear, as an
"As an artist, you will sense the correct moment to appear and pose for about
3 seconds. If done right, you might even draw applause.
"Then continue, and deliver the goods. Remember, what you do offstage and
technically will enhance the audience's appreciation of the middle eastern
mystique which flows through you, the orchestra and the tech personnel. [You
should see how the lighting personnel in a club just outside Thessaloniki
keep the lights in tune with the rhythm with placement, color, on/off. We
know they are running it by hand and most is NOT programmed into the
"In the situation you describe, using a slow piece to start, I suggest that
the room should be all-but completely dark, with just a single spot on a
corner of the stage illuminating initially the small place in which you
will eventually arrive. Lights then come up with your music. What happens
next in your music?"
Last Modified: 15 Jun 1997