As a former Ballroom and Latin dancer I’m used to taking to the dance floor with a partner, so I guess that’s why I love dancing with props such as finger cymbals, sticks, wings and veils. And at this year’s Fantasia Festival I’ll be teaching my most favourite prop: silk veil.
Read more about you can join me at the London based festival in December here.
A silk veil can be very temperamental to dance with, but its also the most beautiful as it can really breathe elegance, grace as well as drama into your performance. I very much believe in melting into the moment of your performance, in order to create that special ingredient that will make it truly magical for your audience, but also leave you buzzing afterwards. To create this you need technique and performance skills, as well as creative flow and vision, and in my workshop I will therefore touch on all these elements, as well as teach some of my most favourite combinations.
If you can’t make it to this London based workshop let me share three essential tips, so you too can make a sensational and fearless impact with your silk veil next time you take to the stage.
Every veil, even silk veils, are slightly different due to the way they are cut, their seams, size etc. You therefore need to allow yourself time to get use to the veil and find out exactly how much power and flow you need to create your shapes. Use different veils to create different effects for your performances. Semi-circulars are great for limited space and group choreographies, whilst larger rectangular veils are perfect on stage where you can really use it to create drama and impact. Do also handle your veil with care and always fold or even better roll up after each use, so you avoid creases, that again can make the veil move slightly different, and add unnecessary tears.
It’s the air and how it’s allowed to create shapes in your veil, that also brings it to life. Even the most simple of shapes and moves can look stunning if you allow your veil enough time to ‘breathe’. Don’t let the music rush you or your moves when dancing with a veil. Think of it like an extension of your body – just like the movements you make on your hips and hands need time to roll off and create ripples of energy for your audience, so does the movements of your veil. If you think of it as breathing life into your veil as well as your performance, it will also help you keep breathing throughout your dance. Your body as well as veil will be grateful and it will show in front of your audience!
Attending veil workshops is always a great way to get new inspiration and add new shapes and combinations to your repertoire. But it’s also important that you play around with your own flows and find out what works for you. Sometimes it’s as simple as tweaking a few elements to some well-known combinations, other times you may have to reverse or mirror moves to make them work.
Practise in front of a mirror if you can and then make sure you film your efforts before performing, so you can analyse the movements of your veil and your body, and see if it all actually works. Look at the different shapes that you’re creating. Is there enough variety? Are you allowing your veil to breath? Are you also allowing your veil and you to rest? This is just as important as your audience also needs time to digest all your fancy flows and moves. Resting doesn’t mean just draping it on your shoulder or letting it hang dead in space, but it can be achieved by making a very simple shape or frame with the veil for a while, before picking up on bigger or more dramatic movements afterwards.
I hope you found this article useful and that you can utilise it to create some sensational silk veil magic in your next performance. Often its about feeling comfortable with the prop in the moment, and yes it can be hard to relax and enjoy if you know that your odds are stacked against you with an ‘un-ruly’ veil. So don’t plan to use it in a field (I made that mistake once which you can see here) or a tiny venue where you can’t swing your arms. Like dancing with a partner you need to have faith in the veil, as well as your own ability to handle it, and by using some of the elements mentioned above, this will become a lot easier with practise.
If you have anything to add or any tips and secrets that you’d like to share with fellow dancers, please leave a comment below. Happy sensational dancing – with or without veil – always 🙂
Did you miss my last post? Read it here: How to tame your camels