Week 3 – Random Acts of Bellydance

The new year is well under way! Hope everyone’s transition from ‘holiday’ to ‘work’ has been a smooth one! Here are this weeks ‘random acts’ – enjoy!

Random Acts of Bellydance Week 3 2017

1 . Practice all the circles you can think of.

Flat hip circles, tilting hip circles (omis, hawaiian, afro, etc), little hip circles, big hip circles, high and low hip circles. Not to mention rib circles (on all the planes), Single hip circles (on all the planes), wrist circles, arm circles, upper body circles … what about foot circles, knee circles and finger circles?? Remember circular floor patterns (& formations, if you’re working on a group choreography)!!

2 . Find a Middle Eastern Rhythm you’d like to learn to play or dance to.

Find the notation for the rhythm pattern. This will help you see, as well as hear, the rhythm. Learning to play a rhythm can help you learn to dance to it, and vice-versa. So much of bellydance comes from an authentic response to the music, so the more you learn about the rhythms that sit behind the melodies (or feature all by themselves), the better a dancer you will become. Check out the In Search for Rhythm Guides post for some links to help you.

3 . Get out of your comfort zone and try something new.

Pick up a new DVD, sign up for a class, workshop or event (Check out Shimmy Mob!), check out a different style or try out a new move. This doesn’t have to become your new favourite thing, or even lead you away from what you’re currently loving – but it will do good things for you.

4 . Practice layering shimmies over circles.

Now that you discovered all those circles, practice adding some shimmies over the top of them. If you get stuck, break the circles down into isolated points and get your shimmie going there first!

5 . Correct your posture every time you sit down.

It’s easy to let our good posture slip when we’ve been sitting for a while. Be conscious of your tailbone & spine every time you sit down this week – make sure you’re taking little walks or standing breaks – you know that sitting for long periods of time is not great for you!

–o–

Wishing you all a wonderful week of bellydancing!

– Sam.

Week 2 – Random Acts of Bellydance

Week Two of the New Year already!! Hope it’s looking like a good one!

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1 : Practice Upper Body Isolations.

Get those upper body isolations under control. Practice while you’re sitting down, standing up or walking around the house.

2 : Make plans for your next costume.

I’m sure you’ve got a few costuming ideas floating around in your head. Make a pinterest board, or a physical vision board. Start collecting images that inspire. Think about colour, shape and style! Do check out Sparkly Belly if you’re planning to make stuff yourself. Dawn Devine also has some fantastic books on offer.

3 : Sign up for 2017 classes.

Get ready for another great year of bellydancing! Sign up for classes with your favourite bellydance teachers!

4 : Practice Undulations.

Undulations! So much fun and so much you can do with them! Practice layering pelvic undulations with shimmies, travelling, level changes, upper body isolations and different floor patterns. You can also practice full torso undulations, arm undulations (snake arms), hand undulations (palm waves), side undulations – as many as you can think of!

5 : Play zills to a not-so-favourite rhythm.

You know that tricky rhythm that you try your best to avoid? Check out some rhythm guides or search your music collection for a simple example of the rhythm and play along. (Ask your teacher if you can’t find one). Start with the skeleton and add fills/variations as you get more comfortable. Remember to walk around while you’re playing so you can eventually dance to it!

โ€“oโ€“

Wishing you all a fun week of bellydance!

โ€“ Sam.

Summer Workshops

I’m pretty excited about our Summer Workshops this year – they’re getting a lot closer to the original vision I had of creating a workshop program that acknowledges the expertise of local dance teachers, and encourages students to step outside of their usual class and learn something new and different. My end goal for our Summer Workshops is that we will be in a position to hire all the teachers in Canberra for one workshop each over our two week program. Giving every student, performer and teacher, the opportunity to expand their repertoire, pick up some teaching tips, and learn something new.

summer-workshops-insta

We are very lucky in Canberra, considering our comparatively small population, that we have so many great teachers specialising in so many different styles. From ‘Traditional’ to ATS, Cosmopolitan to Cabaret, and Folkloric to Fusion. We are extraordinarily fortunate that our dance community has opportunities to get together for performances, workshops and at open Haflas run by different dance schools. It’s an amazing place to be a bellydancer and we have a community I am delighted to be a part of.

This year we have three!! teachers outside of our school teaching workshops! (previously we’ve only managed one or two). Hadeeqa (from Ghawazee Moon Bellydance) is teaching Slow Fusion Technique and a beautiful dark fusion style choreography, Kirsty (from Bedazzled Bellydance) is teaching a workshop on Styling, Rachel (who teaches at CDT) is teaching a Fan Veils workshop, and Richard (from Rahbani) is teaching an open level drumming workshop. I’ll be teaching a Back to Basics Workshop and another on Partnered Improvisation. They will all be amazing workshops and I’m looking forward to participating in them.

In addition to dance & music, we’ll also be having a Crafternoon for those who want to get some sewing and crafting done AND a mini Hafla-Market for those who want to have a social dance, play some music, offload some pre-loved costuming and do a little shopping!

It’s going to be a fantastic couple of weeks of bellydance and I can’t wait. If you’d like to come along, you can register for workshops and find out more about the Crafternoon & Hafla on our website. Looking forward to dancing with you!!

-Sam.

 

Week 1 – Random Acts of Bellydance

We’re starting again – Week One! New Year – New Random Acts!

random acts of bellydance

1 : Do a Costume Cull.

We’ve all got costumes (& props) that we don’t wear or no longer fit. Do a costume cull. Work out what you can give away, sell or upcycle into a new costume! Make some space for yourself and your precious costumes!

2 : Work off that Holiday Feasting!

I don’t even want to think about how much sugar I’ve had in the last week! Get moving with some walking, jogging, yoga … put on some music and dance around the house. Reserve the meeting room and have a dance during your lunch break. Do something!!

3 : Practice your scissor/slinky walk up and down the hallway.

There are lots of names for this walk – scissor walk, slinky walk, cat walk … any others? Take an extra 10 seconds to move down the hallway and get that walk happening!

4 : Listen to music and mark some that inspire for future dance projects.

Go through that music you’ve been collecting and make a list of songs you like to improvise to, choreograph (a solo or group piece) or just use during your at-home practice for warm up, cool down or drilling. Make some playlists and start the new year with some super-organised music!

5 : Dance some old dances – just for fun.

You’ll probably come across some old choreography music when looking for inspiring new tracks – let them play, dance along to them – improvise through the parts you can’t remember! ๐Ÿ™‚

โ€“oโ€“

Wishing you all a fun week of bellydance!

โ€“ Sam.

Week 6 – Random Acts of Bellydance

Week Six! The end of an old year, and the beginning of a new one – it’s a time for reflection. One of the random acts this week is to reflect on your bellydance journey so far. Celebrate your successes, learn from your challenges and get excited about your future in bellydance!

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1 : Practice every variation of Hip Drop you can think of.

On a toe, on flat feet, with a kick, turning, with a layered twist, in a horizontal/ vertical/ sagittal circle, forward & back, high & low, descending to the floor, and more!

2 : Take a browse through Shira.net

Shira’s site is pretty massive, so you’ll want to set aside a bit more than 5 minutes for this, or set a timer! From Bellydance, Then & Now through to Middle Eastern Music Articles, Reviews & Translations, Shira’s website is an absolute treasure trove of information. You can also check out a great clip of her dancing back in 1987!

3 : Watch a dance video in a style you’re not familiar with.

What sort of Middle-Eastern or Middle-Eastern Inspired dance do you do? We tend to look up, purchase and watch videos in the style that we are studying. Branch out a bit and see what other people are up to! Fusion, Dark-Fusion, American Tribal Style, Modern Gypsy, Egyptian, Iranian, Persian, Moroccan, Turkish, Folk, Folkloric, Raqs Sharqi, Cabaret, American Vintage, Retro, Golden Age … the list goes on and on. Drop some keywords into google, YouTube or Vimeo and start exploring!

4 : Take a moment to think about how far you’ve come in your bellydance journey.

When did you start bellydancing? Can you recall your first hesitant steps? Did you bound into your first class full of enthusiasm, ready to learn, or were you dragged along by a friend? Take a look back and see how much you have learned. How has bellydance changed the way you interact with the world? How has bellydance changed the way you think about yourself?

There’s always more to learn. But, it’s good to take a step back from time to time, and honour the hard work you’ve put in to get where you are now.

5 : Add some Arabic Pop to your New Year’s Eve playlist.

Maybe the people you’re celebrating with aren’t familiar with Arabic music – share some music with them that you love, and help them expand their horizons – it doesn’t have to be pop! ๐Ÿ˜‰

… this isn’t Arabic, but it’s ‘new year-ish’ ๐Ÿ™‚

 

โ€“oโ€“

Wishing you all a 2017 filled with love & laughter, health & happiness, and – of course – lots & lots of dancing!

โ€“ Sam.

Week 5 – Random Acts of Bellydance

Week Five already! This week – in the middle of pre-holiday craziness – use your random acts of bellydance to slow down, take some time for you, and relax.

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1 : Practice snake arms while boiling the kettle.

Whether you do it for one day, or for the whole week, you may as well do something bellydance related while you wait for that hot cup of tea, coffee, milo, chocolate or whatever else you’re using that hot water for!

Practice them big, practice them small, practice them while visualising the movement winding its way out from your spine. Relax and flow.

2 : Sit back with YouTube and watch your favourite Golden Age dancer.

Here’s one of my (many) favourites, Tahia Carioca in ‘Shore of Love’. There are so many amazing dancers to watch. If you’re not sure where to start, check out ArabClassicFilms. You might want to set yourself a limit of 1 or 2 videos if you want to avoid falling into a YouTube hole of beautiful dancing!

3 : Take a moment to write a Gratitude List.

Amongst all the frantic preparations for celebrations, it can be easy to lose sight of what’s important. Remind yourself what is important to you, and what you have in your life that brings you comfort and joy. It doesn’t have to be long, or take a long time.

4 : Start a bellydance practice journal, or add a ‘Practice’ page to your regular diary or bullet journal.

Often it’s challenging to see how far you’ve come unless you can somehow track it. Follow your progress over the next few months and see how much you’ve improved!

practice-log

5 : Lose yourself in a 5 minute melodic taqsim.

Let everything go, connect to the music and dance.

-o-

Wishing everyone who celebrates, a Happy Summer Solstice / Merry Christmas / Happy Yule / Happy Beginning of Hannukah … I’m sure there are a lot of mid-summer/mid-winter celebrations i’m missing – let me know!

– Sam.

Week 4 – Random Acts of Bellydance

Heading into our fourth week of random bellydancing and here are 5 more little things you can do to add some bellydancing into your week.

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1 : Check out a bellydancer’s blog.

There are so many amazing bellydancers out there willing to share their stories, their experiences and their hints & tips!

Mahin from She’s Got Hips
The Bellydance Blog
Lorna’s Blog: Bellylorna
Also check out HipMix.net’s list of The Best Bellydance Blogs

2 : Practice any 3/4 Shimmy Step

There are so many different ways to do a 3/4 shimmy step, and so many different names to describe them. This step has movement on 3 out of 4 counts creating a sustained accent on one part of the movement.

Whether you do it as an up-up-up, down-out-up, out-up-down, down-down-down, or some other combination, practice it up and down your hallway at home, at work (if you can!), or every time you travel a particular path in your home (eg: from the kitchen to the living room). You’ll be 3/4 shimmying like a pro in no time!

3 : Check through coin scarves for ones that need repairing. If they’re beyond repair, can you re-purpose them?

If there’s one thing we all know about coin scarves, it’s that eventually constant movement combined with the sharp edge of a stamped hole in a coin will eventually result in the thread holding it, breaking. If you’ve collected the dropped coins, you can re-thread them using a needle and similar coloured thread – or if you crochet, you can probably pull out a section and re-work it with new coins.

If it’s not a loved hip scarf, can you pull all the coins off and use it on a new costume, or bra? Can you use them to repair a well-loved scarf that is missing coins? Can you alter it for use as a head scarf? Use it to embellish a costume, decorate your dance bag or make a pouch for your zills?

4 : Spend a day picking up things with graceful arms and hands.

Take your graceful arm and hand movements into your every day for some extra practice and giving your body the opportunity to use those movements in positions and directions you don’t use in dance class.

Start with a single action, say making a cup of tea or coffee – think about the deliberate actions of a Japanese Tea Ceremony – and move your arms and hands โ€œlike a dancerโ€ through that action, every time you do that action. Gradually extend that movement to other actions and activities until you find yourself moving in that way all the time.

5 : Play Zills to your favourite holiday tune.

Do you love Christmas songs, or is “Jingle Bells” getting on your nerves? Why not make the best of it and practice your zills? Playing patterns to songs you’re familiar with can help break through that “what if I’m out of time? what if I play the wrong thing?” mentality. Add some fancy accents, or just play along with the melody. Have some fun and experiment – no rules finger cymbals!

EDIT: Big thanks to the fabulous Rachel Reid for this link – just in case you’re having trouble finding the perfect piece of holiday music to play along to!

โ€“oโ€“

Wishing you all a joyful week in bellydance. Let me know how you get along with the random acts! Again, if you have some suggestions for future random acts, comment below โ€“ iโ€™d love to include them!!

โ€“ Sam.

Week 3 – Random Acts of Bellydance

How are you going with your random acts of bellydance? My dance bag is sooo tidy right now! As we’re heading into the silly season, there are a few less random acts this week. Most of them are quick ones, but you might need to set aside a bit of time for the musical challenge!

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1 : Make a positive comment on that YouTube video you keep watching.

If you’re anything like me, you probably watch a lot of bellydance on YouTube, and you probably have a few favourite routines you like watching again and again. If you haven’t let that dancer (or those dancers) know that you think they’re amazing, now’s the time to do it.

2 : Drill Figure 8s

Hip figure 8s, upwards, downwards, inwards, outwards, mayas, taksims, rib figure 8s, sidewinders … whatever you call them, they’re used a lot in bellydance! Maybe there’s a figure 8 you’re not super-comfortable with yet, or maybe you just want to practice some variations. Play with the shape – what does a figure 8 look like in your arms, your hands, your whole upper body, your leg, your feet, as a traveling pattern, using props! They’re everywhere!!!

3 : Read an article on faridafahmy.com

In the short period I have spent teaching, I have come across misinformation and misunderstanding about what is indigenous and what is, in fact, Mahmoud Reda’s artistic creativity. I realize that many dedicated and intellectually inclined dancers are trying to understand more about the various dance genres found in Egypt. The sources of correct information are sparse and far between. This has led to much confusion and misunderstanding amongst dancers everywhere.

The articles that write include my earlier experiences in the Reda Troupe and the impact this troupe had on Egypt both from the artistic and social points of view. I also feel that there is a need to explain the difference between the traditional dances of Egypt and the theatrical presentations of the Reda Troupe. Articles will range from my first-hand experiences during the years of the Reda Troupe to ideas and concepts pertaining to dance in Egypt in general that, hopefully, will inspire others.

– Farida Fahmy

Farida Fahmy, has a growing collection of articles that are well worth your time to read.

4 : Practice walking with grace.

Taking your dance posture and movements into your every day life not only gives you more opportunities to practice, but it also helps to make that posture, and those gestures an ingrained and unthinking part of your natural movement.

Start with a pathway, say from your bedroom to your kitchen, and move “like a dancer” through that space, every time you walk that path. Gradually extend that ‘graceful space’ outwards until you find yourself moving in that way all the time.

5 : Dancing to the layers in the music.

Find some music with lots of layers. Can you hear a drum, some melodic instruments, other percussive instruments? Listen all the way through, immersing yourself in the music as a whole. On the second listen, focus on one instrument and move just with that instrument. Be still when it is not playing. Listen and dance through as many times as you can, dancing with a different instrument each time. If you have time, do a final listen & dance through and create your own path through the music, following the instruments that speak to you the loudest.

–o–

Wishing you all a joyful week in bellydance. Let me know how you get along with the random acts! Again, if you have some suggestions for future random acts, comment below โ€“ iโ€™d love to include them!!

โ€“ Sam.

Week 2 – Random Acts of Bellydance

How was your first week of Randomness? I didn’t realise how much tea i was drinking until I had to shimmy through that kettle boiling – every single time! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

Another week of randomness ahead. Good luck & let us know how you get on.

2-28nov-4dec

1 : Practice that tricky move you’ve been avoiding.

You know the one, you fake it through when you can or just avoid it altogether. Break it down and build it back up again. If you need help, ask your teacher for some advice in your next class.

Maybe it’s a combination in a new choreography that you stumble over, or feel like you miss the timing on every single time. Drill it separately, then drill it with the combo that comes before it and the one that comes after it. You can get some great phone apps that will slow music down so you can practice it with the music at a slower pace, and work your way back up to full speed.

 

2 : Sort out your Dance Bag.

Our Dance Bags can get filled up with all sorts of stuff we don’t need, or we keep forgetting to put stuff we do need into it. If you’ve got a lot of bits of paper in there, put it in a folder (& some sort of order) so you don’t lose them! You likely want to have a notebook, pen, finger cymbals, a veil, a bottle of water, and maybe a practice skirt in there.

 

3 : Watch a Dance Video and be Inspired!

Head over to YouTube and watch some old dances, or check out new and innovative works from contemporary dancers. Maybe you’ve got a DVD at home you love watching. Be inspired by others to improve your own dance practice, or see if you can work some of their moves into your own repertoire.

 

4 : Practice Smiling and Sharing Joy

As entertainers, smiling & helping others feel good is a big part of the job. Some dancers find it really easy to let the joy they’re feeling just explode out of their faces. Other dancers find it a bit more challenging. If you want to master that natural smile, practice smiling at people today – or all week. Note how you’re feeling while you do it, what is the intention behind that smile? Work on it until you’re feeling “Hey! I feel happy and I’d like you/the whole world to know that” or something similar. This is a pretty stressful time of year for a lot of people – maybe your smile will make their day a little easier. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

5 : Revisit and old, but loved, choreography.

Maybe it’s a choreography you learned as a beginner, or maybe it’s one from just last year. Find the music, and run through it – you might be surprised at what you remember! See if you can fill in the gaps with your memory, or by creating new sequences, or just improvising through those sections. Take a trip down memory lane and enjoy the journey.

 

6 : Check out Workshops and Festivals for 2017.

There are so many great Festivals and Workshops in your local and close-by bellydance communities. Use google if you’re not attached to groups that advertise upcoming events. Maybe check out the websites of Festivals you have heard of and find out when they’re holding the event again. Workshops and Festivals are great for expanding your repertoire, meeting up with fellow dancers and being inspired by new works!

 

7 : Practice zilling patterns to your favourite rhythms.

Grab your zills/sagat and find a piece of music with a rhythm you like, or use a loop from a rhythm-only album. If you don’t know any finger cymbal patterns, try looking some up, ask your teacher or just practice dancing along with a basic 1-2-3 (gallop, longa), and then see if you can follow along to parts or all of what the drum is playing. Have fun with it and experiment with sounds you can make.

–o–

Wishing you all a joyful week in bellydance. Let me know how you get along with the random acts! Also, if you have some suggestions for future random acts, comment below โ€“ iโ€™d love to include them!!

โ€“ Sam.

Week 1 – Random Acts of Bellydance

I’m pretty excited to be throwing some random bellydance into my week – I hope you are too! ๐Ÿ™‚ย  Here are your week 1 challenges!

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1: Practice shimmies every time you boil the kettle – for as long as it takes to boil.

If you’re standing around waiting, you may as well do something productive! ๐Ÿ˜‰ You can do this for just one day – or maybe every day this week!ย  On a related note, i read somewhere that people in the USA don’t use a kettle to boil water, they use a microwave – is this right? If that’s you, shimmy for as long as it takes to boil water in the microwave?

2: Repair a costume or add some sparkle to one that needs it.

Take as much or as little time on this one. Bra hook needs stabilising? Coin scarf about to lose some coins? Beading that needs re-threading? Coin belt that needs a pair of pliers? There’s always something that needs adjusting – see what you can do.

3: Read an article on guildedserpent.com

This is an amazing resource of information that i’m sure most of you know about. I particularly love the archives. There’s always so much to learn about the world of bellydance and it’s not just about the moves! It’s essential for dancers to always be gaining knowledge and deepening their understanding of the history and culture surrounding this artform. Also – and how did i not see this before? – if you love to collect books on bellydance, or just want to support the site, you can now buy The Belly Dance Readers! Anthologies of essays from many leaders in the Middle Eastern music and dance community. Those are going on my wish list!

4: Compliment a classmate.

Let someone in your class, dance troupe or community know they’re awesome. Be specific and tell them something about their dance that you admire. Do they have the most perfect hip circles? Are they super dedicated and work really hard to get the moves right? Are they generous with their smile? Let them know & sprinkle some joy around the place.

5: Drill those horizontal hip slides.

You know you need them for creating super-flat horizontal figure 8s, hip twists and circles – not to mention them being a cool move all by themselves. It’s good to go back to the basics every now and then to make sure you’re really nailing your technique.

6: Make a dance goal for 2017.

Big or small – goals are important. They keep us moving forward, trying our best and pushing us outside our comfort zones. Maybe there’s a move you’re finding difficult and you want to get it right? Maybe you’d like to perform for the first time? Perform a solo for the first time? Teach a workshop? Conquer the world? Whatever your goal is, make sure you spend a couple of extra minutes working out how you can get there. Break that goal down into small achievable tasks and work on them ’till you make it. If you’re not sure how to do that – ask your teacher or troupe director for some help! ๐Ÿ™‚

7: Dance along to your favourite rhythm.

Find a rhythm you enjoy dancing to – there are lots of great rhythm practice CDs out there – or maybe you can accompany yourself on the zills? Experiment with different moves to find new ways of expressing that rhythm in your movements.

The audience’s ears hear the music, and their eyes see you being that music. Dance is the music made visible. You ARE the music! – Morocco

Thanks to Aya of Istanbul for that quote from Morocco.

If you’re just beginning bellydance, focus on finding the dominant sounds in the rhythm. If you’re not sure about that, check out Mas’uds Rhythm Guide, and Arabella’s Introduction to Middle Eastern Music Rhythms on Shira’s website.

Wishing you all a joyful week in bellydance. Let me know how you get along with the challenges! Also, if you have some suggestions for future challenges, comment below – i’d love to include them!!

– Sam.