on Mon, 27 Feb, 2017
Part of dancing with a sword that makes it impressive is balancing it well enough that it doesn’t drop off your head. It also is far more impressive if that sword doesn’t fall on your foot while you are performing. I’ve balanced my sword on the top of my head, on my chin, chest and hip depending on what moves I am doing. Below are some basic tips before you even start dancing to keep the sword from sliding around.
If you are purchasing in person it is something you can check but if you are ordering from the internet it is important you read the details carefully and you know what you are getting. I’ve written about my belly dance woes in a previous post: 5 Important Details You Need to Know for Selecting a Belly Dance Sword.
Some people find the center of the sword and notch it. There are two reasons for this: the dancer is marking the balance point so it is easier to find and balance and the notch keeps it from sliding around. I really don’t like the idea of marring my beautiful sword.
I used a Sharpie to make a dot on the edge of the sword that I would balance on my head. Every so often I have to remark it. Since the balanced has changed over the years, that works for me. Marking the sword solves the problem with finding the balance but it will still slide around on a sweaty head or chin.
Beeswax is a little tacky and it will keep the sword from sliding around on slick hair. I have a beeswax candle I use for waxing my sword. That sounds like some kind of euphemism, but it isn’t. The disadvantage I have noticed about wax, though, is that if I use it, I don’t want to put it on my face during a performance because the beeswax always picks up some dirt, grime, tarnish and makes my chin black.
If you are a tribal or tribal fusion belly dancer, a headband, head wrap or turban comes with the territory. This creates a barrier between a sweaty head and smooth metal. If the fabric is rough, studded, beaded or has a valley of fabric for it to be nestled in, it is less likely to shift or slide. I also like that it cushions my head and keep my scalp from hurting.
Hair products like dry shampoo can serve in the same way as beeswax to make your hair sticky so it isn’t as slick. Just remember to wipe down the sword later so the chemicals don’t damage or corrode the metal.
This is a last resort. I don’t do this except in practice because I don’t want to clean the oils from my hands that have gotten on the sword every single time. The nice thing about both my sheaths is the rough fabric that keeps the sword on place on my head. On the other hand, if you rely on the sheath while practicing and don’t practice with the sword on your head, you haven’t really practiced balancing a sword.
I really like to come out, dance with the sword, and then put it on my head when my arms are tired. However, I am sweatier by that point, especially if my first song is an upbeat entrance song which is the traditional trend in music.
If you aren’t very good at balancing yet, avoid turns, jumps, level changes, quick shifts, and moves that make balancing difficult. It is usually easy to balance at home when all the conditions are right but during a performance there are so many variables that might throw one off.
Keeping that balance requires keeping the upper body separated and isolated from the lower half which is doing much of the movement. The better you are at isolating, the easier these moves will be.
If you enjoyed these step by step guides, you might also enjoy my posts on swords, veils and belly dance fashion.