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.

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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.

 

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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! šŸ˜®

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

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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. šŸ™‚

 

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 ā€“ iā€™d love to include them!!

ā€“ 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! šŸ™‚Ā  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! šŸ˜‰ You can do this for just one day – or maybe every day this week!Ā  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! šŸ™‚

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.

On the road to Gundagai

Regional Bellydance with Ghawazee Moon BellydanceSimone from Blessed Bowen Natural Therapies contacted me late last year to discuss the posibility of bringing some bellydance out to Gundagai in the form of monthly workshops. I was, of course, very interested in seeing what we could do to ‘share the joy’.

Within three days the class was full and we booked the first workshop for early January with 16 unsure, but enthusiastic, women and girls ready to start their bellydance adventure!

We talked history, perceptions and misconceptions and then we got stuck into the core movements of bellydance! With a great deal of positive feedback, I’ll be back on the road to Gundagai next month to consolidate our learning and begin putting steps together.

I’m looking forward to sharing my love of bellydance with this great group of women and girls on an ongoing basis and helping them build a community that will support and encourage them in their dancing and daily lives.

See you all in February!