Grand Entrances

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:

Dancer Philosophy

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, point is, it's not just a booga-booga role, and it's not a shallow one, accomplished only by beads and makeup.

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 starting!

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 memorable, obviously."


"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:


"My favorite 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...

Andrea D.

"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.

Robert Keeney

"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 introduction.

"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 lighting computer.]"


"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
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