April 28, 2010

Can you dance without moving?

I’ve always been the show-and-tell type of instructor. I spend time breaking down movement and illustrating what I am doing on my own body before I have students complete the movement on their own. I carefully explain what their structure (bones and joints) are doing versus what muscles are engaged or relaxed. I can explain most moves 2-3 different ways and can help people understand adjustments to allow their body to successfully complete the movement.

I have never tried however to teach movement without the use of my own body as the illustration or model. That is, until this week. Starting this week, I will have to re-think my entire teaching paradigm for a few weeks. It’s a bit daunting, but at the same time exciting to see how this exercise could change my teaching style.

I was diagnosed with skin cancer a week ago, and yesterday they removed a sizable chunk of skin from my upper chest. If this had happened on another part of my body, or on someone with a smaller chest, I would not have to make accommodations. Unfortunately the location and size of my breasts require me to limit all physical activity that would move, stretch, bounce, jiggle or otherwise affect the incision site while it heals.

Now the scar will heal and life will settle into a new normal for me, but I secretly hope this will help me teach belly dance more effectively. It means that for both my beginner and intermediate classes I will need someone to ‘model’ the movement while I explain it. For my more experienced students this won’t be so hard, but for my beginners…my baby dancers…this could be difficult. So, I’ve recruited an experienced student who is very clean technically to assist in class. My hope is that this will help her in her training as well as serve as a nice illustration for the new dancers.

In my intermediate class, this turn of events allows me to experiment with teaching movement in a different way. I may have one person demonstrate and the others check and review the movement, or use multiple models to illustrate each movement. The fun part will be the work with zils since my students have varying degrees of proficiency in this area and the ‘follow-along’ method has always served me well. It will certainly be a challenging few weeks for me, so wish me luck!

April 21, 2010

May Classes!

This year is flying by, but I'm having so much fun in the process. I've got just a few slots left in my beginner and intermediate classes so if you are interested you'll need to put that shimmy in high gear.

Beginner Belly Dance:

This month we'll start working on circles, figure 8's and other patterns with our hip, ribs, and arms. Classes include a 30 minute drill/warm-up, a 15 minute stretch and 45 minutes of technique, combinations or choreography (depending upon the topic).

  • Classes are held at on Sunday nights from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Please wear comfortable clothing (yoga pants and a top work well), and bring water. Hip scarves are available to borrow in class.
  • Dates for the May classes include May 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30.
  • Students must be 18 years or age or older, and please - ladies only.
Intermediate Belly Dance:

In May, we'll be doing a review (and crash course) on zilling, as well as lots of great drills and combinations. We'll also start exploring some of the more common Middle Eastern rhythms that are used in dancing. In addition, we will start on a new choreography for the fall. So, lot's of good stuff!
  • Classes are held on Sunday nights from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.
  • Please bring zils to class. I also have extras you can borrow or purchase.
  • Advance approval from the instructor is required to take the intermediate series.
Payment and registration:
  • Registration is available online at http://najla-may2010.eventbrite.com/
  • New students must register for the entire month. This allows you to gain the full benefit of the beginner series. Tickets are not transferable or refundable.
  • Established students may purchase class cards that can be used throughout the year. (minimum of two classes at at time)
  • Advance registration (for new and established students) is required, however payment can be made via cash or check at the door.
Classes are held in central Austin at Tarrytown Dance, which is conveniently located at Windsor and Exposition. (2414 Exposition Blvd., Suite B-110 Austin, Texas 78703).

April 7, 2010

In which she stops to take a breath...

I feel like this year has been a whirlwind of activities, and now we're four months in and finally I'm feeling more grounded, rested and able to catch up on life. It seems like I stepped onto an escalator...and found myself in a different spot. I have lots of pictures to post, videos, links and other inspirations but haven't had the time to sit and work through all of that. So, we'll go with a quick summary in my belly dance life.
  • I started the Artist's Way book once again. Well, I started to help facilitate a group who wanted to do the book and got sucked back in. I have to say that the second round has given me much more clarity, inspiration and joy.
  • We just finished our second Hip Circle Hafla the last weekend in March, and it was a wonderful success. I am so proud of all my students that I could just burst at any given moment, and I am so happy to have this experience to share with all the wonderful dancers in Austin. Really, I could hug every one of them right now!
  • I wished for my classes to fill up and sell out...and as of today, I am almost at that point. I really do think I've hit my stride and built up enough momentum to really move forward with my teaching.
  • Including this week's gig at Mirage, I've been booked three times as the head liner for local shows. Two at new venues (one I did last week), and this week at Mirage...my old stomping ground. (or is that shimmy ground...) Seems fitting that I can finally close the show at the venue where I performed my first solo. It's exciting but a little sad since the venue may be going away this summer :-(
  • Next weekend I'm teaching my first ever Mother-Daughter belly dance workshop. I was approached with the idea last fall, but got caught up in the 'how'. Then, the lovely Casey stepped in to organize and help promote it. Now, all I have to do is show up!
  • This June I will be performing with a live Middle Eastern Band at the Austin Belly Dance Convention (Yeah!!!!!). I've danced to live music before, but more of the drum-circle or fusion style shows. Not classic BD music or traditional formats, and I get a 10 minute set. I'm praying for Alf Leyla as my song choice because I love that song so much. Then, I'm praying that I get through the drum solo successfully.
  • I'm working on a whole new belly dance site, that I hope will be as fabulous on line as I have it drawn out to be. I've really been thinking long and hard of what I need now, and what I want the site to grow into.
  • I am signed up to take Sahra Saeeda's Journey Through Egypt certification course, starting this month. I love Sahra...love her dancing and when I first saw her I was so new to this dance I could not fully appreciate all the information she had to share. But I'm ready...for a 20 hour workshop at the end of this month to absorb it all.
  • I have a birthday this week, and although growing older is a little hard to take at times...I could not feel more blessed in my life as I do now. This feeling, this excitement, this joy...I owe entirely to belly dance, the community that comes with it, and the creative outlet it gives me. And no, this is not just some random, drunken rambling where I declare my love of everything and everyone...it's very heartfelt. So, go hug a belly dancer right now!
And...a little warning...some time in the new future I need to change the web address of this site. Since I'm no longer a part of Troupe Mirage, in all good consciousness I can't keep using that in the web address. I will still use "More than a Mirage" as the blog name, since it seems quite apropos for my situation. I'll keep you posted on that move (and of course invite you to the new site!).

So, that's what I've been up to in a nut shell. I promise to post on each and every one of these things soon :-)