The Secret of Dance Style is Your Self-Image, the Magical Essence of Style

and the Ma*Shuqa Method of Oriental Dance Instruction

by Ma*Shuqa Mira Murjan

What is the magical essence of style?  Dance style is hard to define but easy to spot.  When you see someone with the magical essence of style, you want to keep looking, taking in the beautiful image, energy, and personal passion.  Everything about the dancer seems to suggest more than meets the eye as you fall under the spell of the dancer's style.  A dancer with style will later call up an image from your memory of a powerful performance that personified the magical essence of style.

What is style?  Is it innate or can it be learned?  Style is more powerful than beauty, intelligence, or artistic talent.  Style is more than the sum of perfect dance technique, an attractive body, and a beautiful costume.  Best of all, is learning that style is something you don't have to be born with, it can be developed.

How do you develop your signature style?  Every dance teacher, just as every fashion designer would like you to think she has the answer to that question.  Unfortunately, for the fashion conscious, fashion, dance, and true style are mutually exclusive.  Fashion in dress and in dance is premised on the notion of what's in and what's out--what the dance or fashion world approves of.  Style, on the other hand, is based solely on an internal value system based on answers to questions like:  Who am I?  What do I like?  What matters most to me?  What makes me comfortable?  What feels good?  What energizes me?  What makes me happy?

How do you command style?  Ironically, style is least likely to be evident in those who try hardest to impress others.  Their all-too-apparent desire to win approval wins compliments to their face and scorn behind their backs.  Many dance instructors limit their teaching and positive coaching comments to students because they fear creating dancers with talent and style, who will surpass their own performance ability and gain recognition for their own style.  By definition, a fashionable--or trend-conscious person is imitative of the guidelines set by fashion trends.  Therefore, a dancer who is without style coaching and feedback to help develop her potential can only imitate the dance fashion provided by the instructor's rules and guidelines.  As a dancer imitates, they concede their own lack of confidence and limit their ability to develop their own dance identity and style.  On the other hand, a person with a powerful style displays utter indifference to judgments of others.  She's free from the need for social approval--a state to which, in our hearts, we all aspire.  In fact, a person like that doesn't think about her style at all, but rather she thinks about the image that her name inspires as she dances.  In this dance world, we are fortunate to have the opportunity to select our own name, and in naming ourselves we create our own personae and style that is true to whom we are when we dance.

Sharing your passion, joy and self-image is the Magical Esssence of Style.  You are the only one who can be true to your self-image and feel the personal joy that comes from this dance when you perform.  This feeling is magnified when you are able to share this joy and passion with your audience.  When you think about it, it's silly to give others the controlling power to judge us when all they know of us are the most superficial details that they can observe.  You're the only one who'll ever know what you've overcome, your physical limitations, the kinds of dancing you've done, the weaknesses you indulge, or the strengths you have perfected.  One of life's big truths is not letting others' judge you by their limited rules and perceptions.  Make it a part of your revisionist thinking and remind yourself of it at every weak moment that results from assessing ourselves only from others' limited perspectives.  Dance for the joy that comes from sharing your passion, self-image, and personal style.

How does personal style meld with Oriental Dance?   The only way to achieve authenticity of self-image is by developing an internal value system strong enough to override the external one that judges us by a standard not our own.  We can begin to possess style only after we've rejected the controlling power of other people to pass judgment on how we perform; and we perform within the confines of moral decency, cultural roots and heritage of the dance, and artistic license for creativity and integrity of performance.

How do you create your signature style?  Creating and adopting your own style is a process of self-acceptance and acknowledging the beauty of creativity that exists within you.  I believe that dance coaching is a process that brings out the best in each dancer.  Style coaching is transformational when you perform the dance according to your physical stature, personality, and personae.  You will know the secret of dance style as you begin to develop your own style.  When you share your happiness with the audience that matches the joy and passion that you feel when you dance, you will know that you have achieved your own unique performance styling--and no one can deny you the joy that you feel from the magical essence of your personal dance style.

Ma*Shuqa's method of teaching Oriental Dance blends instruction in technique and performance and utilizes a self-discovery format combined with structured scaffolded instruction.  Scaffolded instruction provides a framework for learning. During instruction Ma*Shuqa brings to light elements of movement that each dancer can reflect upon to understand and develop her own dance style.  The Ma*Shuqa Method includes instruction and awareness of:  body posture, dance stance and weight shifting, foot fall style, dance movement preferences for torso, arms and hands, movement tempo preference, and the 80:20 body undulation that determines individual dance style.  Another focus in classes is understanding Middle Eastern music structure, musical styling and phrasing, and musical embellishments to develop expertise to dance improvisationally. Come take a class or workshop with Ma*Shuqa and experience "the professional difference, elegance of style".