In Jamila Salimpour’s step vocabulary, Jamila defined full-time steps as the typical “speed” for that particular step. To speed it up you “doubled the timing” and to slow it down you “halved the timing”. But full-time in Jamila’s vocabulary was relative to the move, not the music. One full-time step might be much faster or slower than another full-time step performed to the same music.
For her format, Suhaila wanted a consistent approach. She first defined the shape dynamics required to apply movements to music. She identified:
- movement downbeat: where a movement begins
- movement direction: depending on the movement examples might be clockwise or counterclockwise, left or right, up or down
- movement tempo: the movement speed (or time to finish one complete movement) when applied to music
Western music timing establishes rules for musicians and singers, and it is important for dancers to understand conventional music timing. But regular musical timing isn’t adequate for applying dance movements to music as the body moves differently than instruments play or voices sing. Dancers at the Salimpour School coordinate conventional music timing with Suhaila’s complementary movement timing method for a comprehensive understanding of both the music and their dance movements in relation to that music.
The added advantage of this timing system is the development of a novel language and nomenclature of dance used throughout Salimpour School classes, courses, and documents. Examples include:
Classes: During technique classes, drills and combinations are used for learning. Each part of movement, from the feet to the hips to the artwork and finger cymbals, can be clearly described for the student including how each part fits into the musical phrasing and timing. Teachers have a system to document their drills and combinations that can be read and implemented by another teacher.
Choreography: Like drills and combinations, Salimpour choreography is taught by building each phrase from the feet upwards on the body. Each part is clearly explained and spoken using Salimpour nomenclature, which can also be documented in writing. While written choreography notes aren’t always sufficient to capture nuances and sentiment, they are excellent at capturing the specific movements and phrasing of a choreography.