There's a recent trend emerging in the international belly dance community that's come to my attention. It's the obsession with creating your own style. Over the past year, I've had several workshop attendees ask me how to do this, and how I created mine. This is an important question, but also a bit misguided...at least as it pertains to me. I didn't create my own style. It created itself. I didn't sit down with myself one day and say hey, I've been dancing professionally now for x amount of years, it's time to create my own set of moves and combinations. I mean it's OK to have that conversation with yourself, but it's neither necessary nor guaranteed to result in your own signature moves. Rather, as I suspect happens with many dancers known for being different, we stumble upon new moves as we advance in our careers. Not while taking classes, but on the stage and while practicing in the studio. I've noticed that the more we perform and choreograph, the more our bodies reveal different ways of moving to us.
This is why the idea that a teacher can teach you how to create a unique style is false. At most, a good teacher can give you basic guidelines (which I'll do below) and can explain the reasons for their own artistic choices. But they can't pull the art out of you. Nor is there a magic formula into which you can pop ordinary technique and out of which comes a compelling and snazzy personal belly dance style. We all wish it were that easy, but that is unfortunately not the case. You are, however, more likely to develop your own style if you perform and practice on a regular basis. And by regular I mean near daily. In fact it's almost inevitable for the few of us who perform every night for years. It's probably because the body becomes so comfortable with certain movements (or bored) that it winds up coming up with new ways of doing them--surprising itself with new variations and combinations just to keep itself entertained. This has happened to me in the context of performances and also when I'm choreographing, but only when I'm thoroughly enjoying the moment-- when the music, the mood, and the audience, if it's a show, are all perfect, and I can just be one with everything. That's when all the weirdness starts to happen... when the body takes over and you need to watch a video of yourself to know what you did. :)