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Finding Safety Moves That Fit

Finding Safety Moves That Fit


A Listener Question!

A few weeks ago, I shared an episode on why it’s important to embrace your safety moves.
(Those are the moves that occur to you easily in the moment.)
But Tonya in Grand Junction, Colorado asked a really good question: what if the moves that come easily to you don’t work well when you improvise?

How do you find the right set of safety moves?

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Or Read the Transcript

This was professionally transcribed, but it probably still has some errors. If you catch any, drop me a line at I’d love to hear from you!

A few weeks ago, I shared an episode on why it’s important to embrace your safety moves. The moves that occur to you easily when you improvise. But Tonya in Grand Junction, Colorado asked a really good question. How do you find the right set of safety moves?

Well, most people find their safety moves through trial and error. They improvise and they improvise, and they find themselves using the same moves over and over again. I also have a systematic process for this on my DVD, The Improvisation Toolkit Volume One, which uses some creativity exercises called noodling to help you get there.

Once you find your safety moves, sometimes they don’t really work when you put them into practice. If you find that the safety moves that you’ve identified, the ones that occur to you easily, just aren’t helping you dance comfortably, then you may need to try out some other options.

To do that, it doesn’t really matter where you start. You can literally pick some movements out of a hat and see how it goes. If you’d prefer to do that in a more systematic way, start by asking yourself, what you like? What movements do you enjoy? What feel comfortable on your body? Which movements can you do without thinking too hard about them? Then try them out and see how they fit. Put on some music, play around with just those movements, and see how it goes.

The two things you want to look for in a good safety move are repeatability and versatility. A movement is repeatable if you can do it over and over again without wearing yourself out. For example, your choo-choo shimmy is going to wipe you out immediately, so it’s not a good candidate. Versatility means that you can create lots of variations using that movement. Just about any movement in your vocabulary is versatile, but depending on your tastes and your skill level, some are easier to vary than others. That’s what you want to watch out for.

At a minimum, I suggest that you pick movements that you can travel and turn with or that you can mix and match into traveling and turning combinations pretty easily. Otherwise you’re going to find yourself stuck on the spot. There are also all kinds of other variations, like speed and timing patterns, using your space, adding arm poses, level changes, all kinds of other stuff. Play with those things and see how it goes.

It may take lots of tries to find the right fit. This is okay. If you think about this like being the new girl at school, you don’t walk into cafeteria and expect the first three people that you tap on the shoulder to become your best friends. That happens in the movies, but not in real life. The good news is, as you try on more movements, whether it’s a handful or even dozens, your going to be practicing the same skills that will make your safety moves an integral part of your dance. All this work that you do now to just sort through your vocabulary and find the right ones, will make it easier for you to use the safety moves that you eventually choose in performance. That process of integrating your safety moves will go a whole lot faster.

As I said, like the new girl at school, you can’t find your best friends until you meet a bunch of people. So don’t wait, just get started.


Your Turn

Do you know your safety moves? What are they?

What gives you trouble with your safety moves?

What questions do you have about improv? About other areas of the dance?

I would love to hear from you.

Leave a comment below, or better yet, leave me a short voice message. Maybe I’ll even play it on the air!


Want More?

You can get the Noodling exercise I mentioned when you sign up for Belly Dance Geek News. That’s the first step in my instructional video, The Improvisation Toolkit Volume 1: Movement Recall, and you can have it for free!

If you don’t know your safety moves yet, noodling can help you discover them. And if you do know them, the same process can help you open up and start saying “yes” to your ideas.

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