Blog

Belly Dance Moving Across the Floor (I)- Technique, Playlists, and YouTube Links

Classic New York-Style Belly Dance with Veil (I): Class Notes, Playlists, and YouTube Links

Step-Touch (Linear Walk), Step-Ball-Ball, and Rocking Rhumba

First step is opening up and getting our connection flowing again.

Music

Warm-Ups (In-Place)

  • Simple drop-down-and-reach-up, with veil (use music Diaspora from Spain, see link above),
  • Simple in-place gyrations – emphasize whole-body movement – with veil (same music as above).

Techniques

YouTube Vids for Reference

A more complex walk, the “Turkish Walk,” to do later: Learn to belly dance: the Turkish walk .

Related Blog Posts

Master Class Study

Preps for Turns and Spins


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Very best wishes as you use Oriental dance (belly dance) for personal growth and healing!

Yours in dance –

Alay'nya - author of <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Unveiling-The-Inner-Journey-Alaynya/dp/0982901305/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1368123419&sr=8-1&keywords=unveiling+the+inner+journey">Unveiling: The Inner Journey</a>
Alay’nya – author of Unveiling: The Inner Journey

Alay’nya
Author of Unveiling: The Inner Journey
You are the Jewel in the Heart of the Lotus. Become the Jewel!

Founder and Artistic Director, The Alay’nya Studio
Bellydance a courtesan would envy!

Check out Alay’nya’s YouTube Channel
Connect with Alay’nya on Facebook
Follow Unveiling: The Inner Journey on Facebook

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Alay’nya, Unveiling: The Inner Journey

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Copyright, 2016 (c). All rights reserved.

Winter Quarter Studies, 2017

Dear All – We had a great kick-off class on Saturday, Dec. 3rd!

Here are some links to help you start your at-home practice, as an adjunct to what we will be doing this Winter Quarter:

Winter is the Season of Pentacles; it deals with the element of Earth. So, during Winter, we do grounding and anchoring types of things. We work with solid, percussive rhythms that help us connect with our Earth-Mother. We work with zills and complex rhythms. We do drum solos.

Here are some posts-from-the-past on these topics:

And since this site is getting a total overhaul and update, why not begin at the beginning? The very first blog post – from 2003:

Belly Dance for Sex Energy Transmutation

Check out this Youtube clip on the gnostic teachings regarding sexual alchemy:
Gnostic Sexual Alchemy

I’ll fill in more about this soon.

In the meantime, a couple of good YouTube vids:

Healing and Resolving – Helps You Have Beautiful Dance Arms

What Makes Your Arms Look Gorgeous? (And What Makes Them Look NOT – In Your Dance and In Your Life)

It Takes Courage to Claim Our Space

Learn to take up space - it takes courage, but makes a statement! Photo courtesy funnygrins.com.
Learn to take up space – it takes courage, but makes a statement! Photo courtesy funnygrins.com.

A woman who retired as full colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps recalled counseling a woman junior officer. The younger woman was presenting herself too timidly in the presence of her male peers.

The result of the young officer’s nice girl posture was that her ideas and work was not being taken as seriously.

My friend’s advice?

Take up more space.

She suggested that the young officer sprawl more when she sat in a chair – stretch out her arms and legs, rather than sitting in a tight, closed, demure little posture.

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Chicken Wings – How NOT to Look Graceful on Stage

Chicken wings - not an ideal visualization for beautiful arms and hands.
Chicken wings – not an ideal visualization for beautiful arms and hands.

Can we just cut to the chase here?

There are wonderful imageries that help us create beautiful flowing technique and lines in our dance.

Chicken wings is not one of those images.

How do we get them?

More important – if we have them, how do we get over them?

Practice counts, surely.

But what if there was a way to make near-instantaneous change – in our dance and in our life.

Interested?

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How Not to Have Chicken Wings in the Middle of Our Dance

Chicken wings in dance - when our arms and hands don't give us the beautiful line that we'd like.
Chicken wings in dance – when our arms and hands don’t give us the beautiful line that we’d like.

I recently observed a dance performance, and a highly respected dance teacher was sitting next to me.

The choreographies were good, and the dancers had their moves down right. But something was off.

Instead of having a long, beautiful line, various dancers were pulling in their arms.

The respected dance teacher summed it up in one pithy comment:

Chicken wings.

Chicken wings are not just a matter of poor posture, poor training, or inattention to detail.

What is really going on is that the dancer is constricted in her energy field. She’s afraid to open up and really claim her space.

But that’s not what we want, is it?

When we dance, we’re not just doing entertainment.

When we dance, we are a priestess, taking our people into a transcendent space.

We can’t do that if we’re fearful and constricted.

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Tight Shoulders – The Other Extreme

Belly dance with tight shoulders is not attractive, either.
Belly dance with tight shoulders is not attractive, either.

Sometimes, we express our tension differently – we get our shoulders up to our ears.

This isn’t pretty or graceful either. (Nor is it inspiring or transcendent.)

These are two sides of the same coin.

In both cases, it’s like having a kink in our energy hose. Our energy isn’t flowing freely, and so of course we don’t look as good as we might.

 

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Reaching Through Our Energy Field – Inspiring, Enthralling, and Transcendent

Belly dance arms - excellent line - transcendent moment.
Belly dance arms – excellent line – transcendent moment. Photo by Stanislav Honzik.

When we’re not afraid to extend our reach, we create transcendent moments – in dance, in life.

Recently, I talked with my dear friend Patty Haley – a beautiful dancer (and who has also served as an officer in the U.S.M.C.). Patty teaches women to take up more space when they dance. (See a great video clip of Patty explaining her Peaceful Warrior Girl approach.)

But sometimes, we need to make this change from the inside out.

 

 

 

 

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When We Claim Our Space, We Claim Our Lives

<a href=
Julie Marie Rahm, the Resultant. width=”147″ height=”220″ class=”size-full wp-image-1953″ /> Julie Marie Rahm, aka the Resultant.

Earlier this week, I asked my friend Julie Marie Rahm, the Resultant, to help me with a challenge.

I’ve done a lot of healing lately, and a lot of integration – but I still had some big areas of “stuckness.”

Recently, I’d felt very unsupported during a challenge that affected my entire Household. It’s not so important what the details were; it’s that I had some old tape playing in my mind.

Because the outer always reflects the inner, I created outcomes that had me feeling unsupported. These outcomes reflected a belief that I had – actually an energy pattern that I’d created.

This energy pattern impacted everything. Finances. Relationships. Stability of business ventures; whether on my own or with partners. Ability to get support and implementation of my creative areas.

More and more, I was seeing this as a pattern – not as a series of isolated events.

And more than anything, I wanted a deep pattern shift.

Julie worked with me for about 25 minutes, using YUEN Mastery, the New Science of Achieving Immediate Results. She did this at a distance; we were on the phone with each other, but once she knew what the problem was, she didn’t even need to have me on the line with her.

She advised me, when we were done, to take it easy for the rest of the day.

She was right – I felt just fine during the session itself, but later in the day, was a bit loopy and spacey – definitely not a day for operating power tools or making corporate budget decisions.

Felt fabulous the next day, and wrote my planned blogpost introducing Julie and the Yuen Method; see Has Your High Priestess Been Shortchanged This Year (How to Fix).

The day after that (yesterday), I really needed to take some time off for pure integration – lots of stuff going on both physically and emotionally.

Today is the fourth day since my Yuen session with Julie.

In next week’s blog, I’ll report how this method seems to be impacting my life overall.

I could feel the shift, as we worked. But it will take time for the real pattern-shifts to manifest on the physical plane.

One thing I can tell you, right now. Some of the blurts that I’d been wrestling with – for the past several years – have eased up substantially. (See Using Belly Dance to Heal Deepest Emotional Wounds, from February 2, 2013. And if you had joined me on the Twelve Lessons of Solstice (which will re-open again at Winter Solstice of this next year), you heard a lot about blurts, and how they reflect our core wounds and impact our lives.)

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Can the YUEN Method Resolve Issues with Our Core Power Archetypes?

Chinese Emperor Kangxi was known as wise and benevolent.
Chinese Emperor Kangxi was known as wise and benevolent.

I’m looking for shifts in all areas of my life – personal, professional, and dance.

In dance, I’d like more strength, structure, firmness of expression. These are Emperor characteristics.

We may also want our Emperor to show up in our lives by having better boundaries in our relations with others (as well as keeping more of our vital energy for ourselves), having clearer communications with others (as well as greater internal connection), and increased financial well-being (along with personal energy).

Our Emperor achetype works to our advantage, both in creating a positive experience in the external world, and in shaping our internal energy selves. These really become the same.

Our Emperor is one of our core power archetypes. Our Emperor serves to define and protect our boundaries, increase communications and energy flow throughout our whole being, and bring in good energy and resources. In short, his job is to protect and provide.

Sometimes, we have some damage in our Emperor connection. Then, our Emperor has a hard time expressing in a useful and sustained way.

As I wrote recently in The Unveiling Journey (the blog series associated with Unveiling: The Inner Journey), our Emperor is on our side. Check out Healing Our Inner Emperor – What a Breakthrough Feels Like.

If you’ve experienced the Yuen Method, please share your experiences in the comments section.

If this is new to you, check back next week, when I report in. Also, look into Julie’s webpage, Problems-Resolved. Read some of her blogs to get a sense of how this method works in practice.

I’m working on healing (or as Julie would say, resolving) issues with my Emperor. You may want to focus on a different archetype or life-area. Either way, I’m interested in your results.

Please share. I’ll read and respond to your comments, and ask Julie to chime in also.

And oh yes. Let me know if strengthening your inner Emperor – or any other resolving done with the Yuen method – helps you claim more space. Personally, professionally, or in dance. Or in all areas at once.

Very best wishes as you use Oriental dance (belly dance) for personal growth and healing!

Yours in dance –


Alay'nya - author of "Unveiling: The Inner Journey"
Alay’nya – author of Unveiling: The Inner Journey

Alay’nya
Author of Unveiling: The Inner Journey
You are the Jewel in the Heart of the Lotus. Become the Jewel!

Founder and Artistic Director, The Alay’nya Studio
Bellydance a courtesan would envy!

Check out Alay’nya’s YouTube Channel
Connect with Alay’nya on Facebook
Follow Unveiling: The Inner Journey on Facebook

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Oriental Dancer Ronnette Ramirez on Unveiling: The Inner Journey

What does Oriental dancer Ronnette Ramirez have to say about Unveiling: The Inner Journey?

Alay’nya’s Unveiling: The Inner Journey

Ronnette Ramirez, dancer and Edtior, Bellydancing Site at BellaOnline: The Voice of Women.
Ronnette Ramirez, dancer and Edtior, Bellydancing Site at BellaOnline: The Voice of Women.

This is a must read for all women. Most of what is written, relates to oriental dance and the lives of dancers, instructors, and those who dream of becoming a dancer. A woman’s journey is of importance and Unveiling: The Inner Journey, is a terrific guide.

Alay’nya has a HERstory that is familiar to us. However, what she created is a wonderful text of rich knowledge and research for women to use in their pathway. In Unveiling, Alay’nya takes you on a journey to discover what is a woman’s pathway.

… On a personal note, there is a section in the book called “Receiving”. This is my challenge, for I do feel less in control if I receive from others. I will go back to that section and work this issue. Alay’nya’s words hit close to home.

Read Ronnette’s whole review here at Ronnette Ramirez on Unveiling in the Belly Dance Editorial at BellaOnline.


Check Out Ronnette Ramirez’s Belly Dance Editorials at BellaOnline

BellaOnline - a website for women, with a good belly dance site edited by Ronnette Ramirez.
BellaOnline – a website for women, with a good belly dance site edited by Ronnette Ramirez.

BellaOnline is a website for women, covering many areas of women’s lives.

BellaOnline includes a Bellydancing Site, edited by dancer Ronnette Ramirez.

Recent posts by Ronnette include:

And just as a side note – Ronnette is fascinated by the character Scheherezade (such drama! such psychological richness! such courage!), and has several posts on her – interesting coincidence that I write about Scheherezade also in Unveiling‘s Chapter 8: The Essence of Stillness.


 

Alay’nya, Unveiling: The Inner Journey

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Copyright (c) 2014, Alay’nya. All rights reserved.

Related Posts: Emotional Release for Beautiful Arm Movements

Too Cold to Get Out of Bed?

Belly Dance When It’s Just TOO COLD!

Sometimes, it's too cold to get out of bed.
Sometimes, it’s too cold to get out of bed.

Sometimes, it’s just too damn cold.

A self-respecting cat will just stay under the covers.

But with the cold – and for many of us, the snow-shoveling – our lower backs get tight.

More than not fun, this actually gets a little dangerous.

Risk of pulled muscles, all that.

So what’s a cat to do?

Stay under the covers and stretch!

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Yes, Sometimes We’re Amazon Warriors

Robert Fusaro Sensei, 8th-Dan, Shotokan Karate, <a href="www.midwestkarate.org/">Midwest Karate Association</a>.
Robert Fusaro Sensei, 8th-Dan, Shotokan Karate, Midwest Karate Association. (Photo from www.karatevid.com.)

Years ago, I studied Shotokan karate with world-renowned Robert Fusaro Sensei. (He’s now Eighth-Dan; that is – 8th-degree black belt – first and only Caucasian to reach that rank, I believe.) He still teaches in Minneapolis, MN, where it is even colder than it is here in the Mid-Atlantic this week.

Fusaro Sensei has brought many of his students to a high level, including several women who have reached 4th and 5th-Dan (4th and 5th-degree black belts).

Fusaro Sensei has always shown great respect for the dance art, and has particularly complimented Cassandra, who teaches Oriental dance in Minneapolis. (At one point, Fusaro Sensei and Cassandra shared studio space. Not the same classes, mind you!)

Here’s an Unveiling excerpt about studying with Fusaro Sensei:

One winter morning, with the temperature about 15 degrees below zero (Fahrenheit), I showed up with other students for the 6:30 AM class. The furnace had gone out over night, and they were awaiting repairs. The top floor dojo was icy cold. Harsh, northwest winds buffeted the exterior walls, stripping away the meager warmth provided by kerosene heaters. Our feet cringed against the frigid floor as we donned our karate gi’s. Leading us slowly and carefully through warm-up stretches, Fusaro Sensei gazed at us firmly. “This is Bushido [“way of the warrior”] training,” he said. Fusaro Sensei taught us to take all of our life experiences as part of our training and overall development – including an early-morning cold dojo!

From Unveiling: The Inner Journey, Chapter 23: “In Praise of a Few Good Men,” p. 324.

Bushido training appeals to us when we’re in our Amazon Warrior mode.

But sometimes, we want to be in Hathor mode; accessing our inner goddess of sensuality and pleasure.

So what do we do when our backs are tight, and when there’s still more snow to shovel?

We do The Most Luscious, Nurturing, Feel-Good Thing You Can Do. Yes, this is my post from this time, last year. And if you’re going to read just one post from me – read this one. (Hint – it’s about figure-eights – and their connection with our vital energy> – and you can practice in bed!)

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Raising Our Internal Energy (When We Don’t Feel Like Moving)

carol2

Sometimes, before we even change into dance clothes, or do warm-ups, we need to get our energy going first. Then we can get the physical body into action.

Check out this lovely Energy-Raising YouTube with energy healer Carol Tuttle. The clip itself is only about six minutes, and once you’ve learned the energy-raising techniques, you can do them in about a minute. You can do this while waiting for coffee to brew, while microwaving a quick breakfast, or even to take a break at your desk. (Not that obtrusive, and you don’t need special clothes.) Check it out – I just did, this is fun!

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Very best wishes as you use Oriental dance (belly dance) for expressing those aspects of yourself that come out only when you dance!

Yours in dance –


Alay'nya - author of "Unveiling: The Inner Journey"
Alay’nya – author of Unveiling: The Inner Journey

Alay’nya
Author of Unveiling: The Inner Journey
You are the Jewel in the Heart of the Lotus. Become the Jewel!

Founder and Artistic Director, The Alay’nya Studio
Bellydance a courtesan would envy!

Check out Alay’nya’s YouTube Channel
Connect with Alay’nya on Facebook
Follow Unveiling: The Inner Journey on Facebook

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Copyright (c) 2014, Alay’nya. All rights reserved.

Related Posts: Winter Dancing

Related Posts: Winter – Esoteric Energy Dance for the Season of Pentacles (Metaphysical Element of Earth)

Using Belly Dance to Heal Deepest Emotional Wounds – Part 2

Part 1, Chapter One: Woundology and the Healing Fire

Section on “Your ‘Cellular Bank Account’,” which continues from the previous post:
After Basic Emotional Healing: What Next?

“Each of us has hundreds of circuits of energy connecting to us, energy that different cultures have named in different ways as the Divine breath of life that animates each of us. What the Indians call prana and the Chinese call ch’i, Christians refer to as grace or the Holy S;pirit, and secularists might call vitality or simply life-force. ” (p. 16)

“Althought the life-force is equally available to all of us and flows into us whether or not we are aware of it … it’s possible to maximize our intake and use of it. In fact, consciousness means awareness of the flow of life-force inot us and the ability to direct it into certain areas of the body, without unknowingly releasing it from other areas of the body.”

“Imagine this flow of energy as a financial allowance … positive investments will earn you positive returns… Negative investments, on the other hand, will create debt.” (p. 16)

“The other source of additional energetic cash is the energetic resources held in your own cell tissue. … Keeping your physical body energized consequently feeds your creativity, your relationships, and your vital need for optimism. But when too much energetic cash is drawn out of your cell bank account, you become debt-ridden. The greater the debt becomes, the weaker your cell tissue grows. If you do not reverse this pattern by paying off our debt with your daily allowance, then you will become vulnerable to the development of disease.” (p. 17, earlier)

“Holding on to the negative events of our histories is expensive – prohibitively so. It is like trying to keep the dead alive, and it takes an enormous amount of energy. When we experience a trauma, Nature supplies us with extra financing, so to speak, to protect us during the draining period of crisis, but that loan’ has a time limit on it. … the signal that thet loan is coming due is that we begin to sense that time has come to a standstill and our lives are not moving forward.” (p. 17)

“The only way to release the pattern into which we have locked ourselves is to release the weight of the past – to get out of the enegy debt we can no longer afford to carry. Forgiveness is one sure way out of deb. Forgiving does not mean saying that what happened to you doesn’t matter, or that it is all right for someone to have violated you. It simply means releasing the negative feeligns you have about that event and the person or persons involved.” (p. 18)

“The process of retrieving this energy from the past begins by making a shift in awareness and vocabulary; simply put, you have to outrun your past. Learn to become conscious, as often as possible, of what you are thinking about and where your energy is.” (p. 26)

“Refusing to let go of past event, whether postibe or negative, means throwing away some part of your daily energy budget. If you start losing energy and don’t do anything aout it, you will invetiably develop a weakness in your physical body. … If you continue to lose energy without taking action, those minor upsets can develop into major illnesses. … An ‘accident-prone’ person is actually energetically in debt.” (p. 19)

Audio Collection:

http://alaynyastudio.com/2010/06/18/its-about-healing/


Alay'nya - author of "Unveiling: The Inner Journey"
Alay’nya – author of Unveiling: The Inner Journey

Very best wishes as you use Oriental dance (belly dance) to bring youthful vitality, movement, and expressiveness into your life!

Yours in dance –

Alay’nya
Author of Unveiling: The Inner Journey
You are the Jewel in the Heart of the Lotus. Become the Jewel!

Founder and Artistic Director, The Alay’nya Studio
Bellydance a courtesan would envy!

Check out Alay’nya’s YouTube Channel
Connect with Alay’nya on Facebook
Follow Unveiling: The Inner Journey on Facebook


P.S. Learning the sexiest walk in the world involves lengthening our lower back, strengthening and using our abdominal core, and generating your movement from within.

As a side benefit from doing this, you will automatically begin to strengthen your pelvic floor.

There are additional health benefits from doing this. Dr. Christiane Northrup, New York Times best-selling author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom and The Wisdom of Menopause, tells us that developing a strong pelvic floor is necessary for our overall health – including mitigating urinary incontinence.

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Dr. Christiane Northrup on Unveiling: The Inner Journey

What Does Dr. Christiane Northrup, New York Times best-selling author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom and The Wisdom of Menopause, have to say about Unveiling: The Inner Journey?

Dr. Northrup notes:
“Alay’nya brings divine sensuality to women in the ancient forum of dance. This book is delightful.” Read this and more reviews of Unveiling: The Inner Journey.

 

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Copyright (c) 2013, Alay’nya. All rights reserved.

Related Posts: Creating a Youthful Presence Through Belly Dance

Dancer’s Archives: Classic Drum Solos (DVD & YouTube)

Dancer’s Archives: Classic Drum Solos (DVD & YouTube)

Morocco in Bahlam Beek & Drum Solo – the drum solo starts at minute 7; a solid 3 1/2 minutes.

One of the most fascinating things about watching the really great dancers is their sense of humor – something missing from some of the younger ones.

Morocco accompanies the drummer throughout on this piece with expertly-played zills (at a tempo and with patterns that few dancers today can match). Generally, playing zills during the drum solo is a “no-no.” The idea is that the only musician playing during a musical “solo” is – indeed – the solo musician. Zills are a musical instrument, hence, the dancer should not compete (musically) with the drummer.

However, great dancers can break all the rules.

This one is worth watching.

Dalie Carella opens an improvisation with a drum solo.

Mid-East Darbouka Drum Rhythms

Five drum rhythms: baladi, ayube, masmoudi, malfouf, & karsilama

Malfuf rhythm

Top ten drum rhythms: Maqsoum, Baladi, Ayub, Malfuf, Saidi, Masmoudi, Chiftetelli, Fellahi, Khaleegy, Wahda

Four Ways to Play the Maqsoum, posted Dec. 10, 2016, 7PM.

Preparing for Winter Dance Classes – Percussives, Zills, and Drum Solos

Winter Dance Classes (the Season of Earth) – Grounding Energies – Percussives, Zills, and Drum Solos

Even though it’s mid-autumn now, this is a great time to start preparing for winter drum solo choreographies.

Each season, we select a different featured instructional DVD to be part of our class curriculum.

This winter, we’re using Tribal Drum Solo Choreography by Zoe Jakes> and Issam Houshan.

Three Good Reasons (Start Conditioning and Doing Technique Practice Now for Your Winter Drum Solo)

There are three good reasons to work with this DVD – even in preparation for winter! These hold whether or not you do tribal-style belly dance.

  1. Excellent and sufficiently-long warm-up sequence – the warm-ups and basic technique practice here is a bit over 20 minutes. That’s just right for getting the body stretched out before heading out for work on a winter’s morning.
  2. Really good focus on hand and wrist release and stretching – we all tend to be a bit stiffer in the joints come winter, and our fingers and wrists may be a bit more susceptible to stress. We also need to stretch our shoulders, neck, and back a bit more, since we’re often more sedentary during winter months. I particularly love the time that Zoe puts on these areas during her warm-ups and technique section. .
  3. Different and fun technique combinations – since I’m not a tribal dancer, Zoe’s combinations are new and different for me – a little mental and physical stimulation to keep both mind and body energized for winter!

Recommended DVD for Winter Dance Classes – Tribal Drum Solo Choreography

Tribal Drum Solo Choreography by Zoe Jakes and Issam Houshan.

You can get a peek at Zoe’s technique style by watching Zoe Jakes’ Belly Dance Flow Drills on Datura Online.

For a nice, long (nearly 8-minute) drum solo with Issam, listen to Bellydance Music: Issam Houshan-Drum Solo.

DVD

Choreography


Do You Need an Energy Makeover?

An Energy Makeover – Something That We ALL Need!

Do you need an energy makeover? Add energy-clearing and circulation practices to your dance!
Do you need an energy makeover? Add energy-clearing and circulation practices to your dance!

Two days ago, a dear, wise, and trusted counselor told me that I needed to clear out my attachment to needing my father’s approval. As a gifted intuitive, she could see the “energy cord” linking me to – not so much him, per se (he died Thanksgiving weekend of last year) – but to my still-ongoing desire for his approval. For his affection. For his attention.

Yup, I thought to myself. She’s right.

Moreover, she was telling me that once I did this – cleared out this energy-attachment once and for all – I’d be free to experience the abundance and prosperity that I desired.

What more of a motivation does a girl want?

This sure triggered an avalanche of response in me.

Clearing Out Psychic Baggage While Doing Housework

I spent all day yesterday burning off physical energy by cleaning the front porch and bringing in the big potted plants, so they could winter over safely. I found all sorts of ways to discharge physical energy while I opened up my mind to clearing out the attachment energy.

Forgiveness, as we all know, is the only way to do this.

I’ve been working on this for a year now. In fact, spiritual housecleaning has been the one thing that pulled me through grief after Daddy died last year. But having dealt with the most immediate shock, and nearly having completed a year of mourning (surprise, it really has taken a year), it’s time to work at a deeper level.

So, I’ve started a new practice.

I resumed meditation practice, on the advice of both this counselor and another one, about a month ago.

Now, I’m tacking on one more thing.

After basic meditation, I bring to mind three things where I still feel some pain (loss, heartbreak, sorry, and even just plain pissed-off-ness) about my father. Do the forgiveness schtick. As best I can (and sometimes it’s a bit ungainly).

I try keeping the list to just three items per pass; no use dredging things up much more – I know this will take some time.

Then, I bring to mind as many things as I can for which I’m thankful, appreciative, have good memories. (Thankfully, there really are a lot of those!). About six to ten does the trick.

Sometimes (a whole lot more often than not), I have to do a similar process with yet another man who’s played a role in my life. (While there have been some absolutely lovely men; men whose valour, nobility, and kindness I’ve absolutely loved, there have also been – shall I say this kindly? And with no disrespect for the bird that will grace many of our tables in just a few weeks? – some real turkeys.)

So What’s A Girl to Do?

Forgiveness is the foundation. It’s the one single spiritual practice where – if we make even a half-a**ed attempt (and I mean a diligent half-a**ed attempt; not a fluffy one) – when we complete this lifetime, we get a passing grade. Everything else is bonus points.

There really are four disciplines, and we factor them into our practice throughout the year:

  • Autumn (Season of Cups/Water)giving love – “filling our cups,”
  • Winter (Season of Pentacles/Earth)gratitude – “getting grounded” through appreciating what we have,
  • Spring (Season of Air)gforgivenesse – the foundation practice,
  • Summer (Season of Fire)focusing our thoughts – reality co-creation through focused intention.

My personal experience – and that of my teachers (those who do energy work) – is that these are essential to releasing our personal baggage; the stuff that holds us back.

Energy Practices Complement both the Spiritual and the Physical

We have to do our spiritual homework. That’s obvious. If we fail to do this work, our lives (not to mention health, abundance, relationships, and everything else) will get stuck.

We also need correct basic physical practices – everything from good diet to stretching, taking walks, checking in our posture for good alignment, and all these related things.

In addition – and something which is an essential component of our school – we also do energy practices. Yogis practice these as part of their more advanced work. Internal martial artists use energy as part of their art. We also include energy practices; we make them part of our etudes (study pieces), our choreographies, and even our improvisations.

A Specific Discipline – Energy-Washing

I’m re-igniting my own study of energy work, using books and sources that I’ve collected for nearly forty years. As I factor these materials into curriculum, I’ll post reference pages. (These will become new Resources pages. Will announce in this blog when they’re up.)

There is a specific method – I’ll call it “energy washing” – that we can use to bring greater life-force energy into our etheric bodies, or personal energy fields. The methods for this are very similar to those of Chi Kung. I’ll be teaching these in class over the next several sessions.

I’m re-engaging these energy practices and putting them into dance form. Not much to say in words yet; will show you specific examples if you’re going to be in class with me.

Very, Very Odd

Physical things – just as with people and experiences – come into and out of our lives as needed.

Odd things are happening – will share more in class on Sunday.

Until then, I’m heading down to the Diva Den for morning practice.

See you soon!

yours in dance – Alay’nya

Veil Dancing – A Beautiful Instructional YouTube Clip

Belly Dance Veil Instructional YouTube Vid by Imei Hsu Shows Softness, Sensitivity, Technique

Too many of us in Oriental dance have performances that are heavy on the glitz and glamour – all brightly-colored, sequined and beaded costumes, big smiles – and not enough sensitivity and depth of emotional feeling.

One of the best ways to enrich our emotional repertoire is by dancing with a veil.

Anahid Sofian, Master Teacher of Oriental dance.
Anahid Sofian, Master Teacher of Oriental dance.

Veil dancing gives us mystery and depth.

I learned this from two of my master teachers in Oriental dance, Anahid Sofian and Elena Lentini.

Both of these teachers were renowned for their flowing and expressive veil movements.

In Chapter 4 of Unveiling: The Inner Journey, I describe one of Anahid’s favorite veil drapes, the “Turkish turtleneck.”

In Unveiling’s Chapter 26: Selective Revelation, I share a powerful lesson that Anahid taught me.


Unveiling: The Inner Journey currently has twenty 5-star reviews. It includes many vignettes of studies with leading teachers of Oriental dance.
Unveiling: The Inner Journey currently has twenty 5-star reviews. It includes many vignettes of studies with leading teachers of Oriental dance.

From Unveiling: The Inner Journey:

What was it that Anahid had, and that I had totally forgotten?

Simply, it was the power of holding something back.

In my dance, I had started the way that many dancers start these days; holding my veil behind me, and using it to frame myself as I moved across the floor. There is nothing wrong with this. In fact, if the music is very active and dynamic, theis can be a great dance opening! However (and this is important), this approach lacks the power of mystery and suggestion.

In the dance that Anahid showed me, she started by staying in one place, with the veil wrapped around herself. She held the veil edges in such a way that her hands were covered. She held her hands high enough so that, with the veil wrapped around her from behind, it covered her face as well. [pp. 359-360]


Where Can We Learn Good Veil Techniques on YouTube?

Imei Hsu does Veil Bellydance for Emotional Performance as a YouTube video clip.
Imei Hsu does Veil Bellydance for Emotional Performance as a YouTube video clip.

In last week’s Alay’nya Studio blog, I shared one of my favorite recent finds – a YouTube vid veil performance by Imei Hsu: Bellydance Veil for Emotional Performance.

Today – in preparation for this week’s class, and for those of you who are studying with me “virtually” – let me recommend two of Imei’s instructional vids.

Basic Veil Openings and Movements

If you are just beginning your veil work, start with: Imei Hsu’s How-To Veil Basics. Although she starts even beginners with a 3 1/2 yard veil (and recommends 4 yards for taller students), her techniques are very accessible; within a short time, even a beginner can be using these techniques and looking very good.

Soft, Graceful, and Emotionally-Rich Veil Openings and Movements

Melina, of Daughters of Rhea, teaches Greco-Turkish Oriental dance.
Melina, of Daughters of Rhea, teaches Greco-Turkish Oriental dance. Photo by Najmat.

Imei has a second, slightly more advanced tutorial: Imei’s Advanced Belly Dance with Veil YouTube Instructional Vid.

If you have problems loading this clip by clicking on the link above (YouTube is being just a tad bit tetchy today), then open a browser in YouTube, and enter the key words:
Imei Hsu Belly Dance Seattle Classes How To Dance With a Veil – you’re looking for a vid clip that is 8 minutes 14 seconds long. That should get you there.

Once again, here’s the link to Imei’s Advanced Belly Dance with Veil YouTube Instructional Vid.

I like this clip because it breaks down several of the techniques taught to me by Anahid and Elena. Imei credits Melina (of Daughters of Rhea) with some of her techniques.

Here are some special points to note:

  • Longer-than-average veil allows more flexibility with dance opening moves. Imei favors a 3 1/2 yard veil. Most veils today come in 2 1/2 yard and 3 yard sizes. When you go to a 3 1/2 yard veil, it is a bit more difficult (especially for shorter dancers), but the increased vocabulary range makes it worthwhile.
  • Emotionally-compelling dances often begin by keeping yourself fully veiled from view. Imei shows two lovely variations on how to enter covered with your veil, where one of the long ends is tucked into your hip belt. The veil can be draped so it covers your head and torso, either coming up from the front, or swooshed to the back and draping down over your front. Both are lovely and give a subtle sense of mystery and drama to your opening moves.
  • Your longer veil gives you more options for framing and partial draping. Imei shows how you can frame yourself from behind, or throw your veil over one shoulder and arm – while still keeping the tail end tucked in your sash. There’s a lot of choreographic and expressive flexibility with these moves.
  • Lovely way to frame your hips for shimmies. Imei shows a very pretty and useful way to have the veil close-held and yet frame your hips, about 3 min, 40 seconds into this clip.
  • Beautiful “Z” movements – can be combined with turns. This section is very reminiscent of some of Elena Lentini’s movements; about 5 minutes into this clip. A dramatic flip-up, followed by “double-Z’s” is very reminiscent of what I’ve learned from Elena! (About 5 min, 40 seconds in.)
  • Veil work – with back to audience – can be a lovely lead-in to shimmies. See a section about 6 minutes in. Imei shows the same movement she just did previously, with back to you (the audience; the camera), followed by a little in-place shimmy. Delightful!
  • Play with your veil as though it were your dance partner. Imei’s concluding technique demonstrations – starting about 6 1/2 minutes in – show a beautiful veil change-of-pattern embedded into an in-place turn; this was new to me and very worth learning. She follows with a segment on holding the veil (more or less) steady in front while doing a turn – I prefer to hold the veil more taut for this. (Petite Jamilla shows this beautifully on her DVD, Unveiled.) Her concluding techniques are both lovely and dramatic, and well worth mastering.

If you are studying with me – either in-person or virtually – please review both of these YouTube clips before class on Sunday.

Right after Sunday’s class, I’ll post a very quick little “class review notes” blog. It will cover techniques and micro-choreographies that will be our homework for the coming week.

Whether you’re with me in person or at a distance, please do chime in with your comments as we move through Autumn Quarter, devoted to emotionally-expressive movements in Oriental dance!

Very best wishes as you use Oriental dance (belly dance) for expressing those aspects of yourself that come out only when you dance!

Yours in dance –


Alay'nya - author of "Unveiling: The Inner Journey"
Alay’nya – author of Unveiling: The Inner Journey

Alay’nya
Author of Unveiling: The Inner Journey
You are the Jewel in the Heart of the Lotus. Become the Jewel!

Founder and Artistic Director, The Alay’nya Studio
Bellydance a courtesan would envy!

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