Vintage-Style Oriental Dance: Veil Dancing and Floorwork

Alay’nya – Veil Dance and Floorwork – YouTube Link

Alay'nya performing improvisational veil dance with floorwork
Alay’nya performing improvisational veil dance with floorwork, Tiraz Dance Network 7th Annual Belly Dance Convention, Herndon, VA, May 11, 2013.

Improvisational Oriental dance – vintage-style: veil work, moving across the floor, floorwork: Alay’nya in veil dance.

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

Very best wishes as you use experiment with your own improvisational dance!

Yours in dance –

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

"Geek to Gorgeous" in 60 Seconds – Two Opportunities in September, 2012

Learn Alay’nya’s Sixty-Second Geek-to-Gorgeous Body Transformation Secrets in September, 2012 – on Channel 10 Cable TV and in Alay’nya Studio Open House

Do you feel (let’s be honest here) just the slightest bit frumpy? As in, stressed, harried, hunched down, worn out? Do you feel that – no matter what you put on in the morning – you’re still wearing last year’s clothes?

And do you sometimes feel that no matter what treatments that you get at the spa, and no matter how hard you “hit it” at the gym, and no matter how many supplements you take, or affirmations that you say, that there is a vital something missing in your life?

If so, you’re probably right. You probably ARE missing something. And there really is a “secret something.”

The reason that most of us don’t know about it is that it can’t be packaged as a pill, or provided as a “treatment.” There’s no advertising money to be made with this “secret.” No doctors will get you to come back for repeated injections or laser “therapies.” And the major cosmetics houses are not able to sell this to you.

There is, however, a “secret” that has been known for thousands of years. It’s not something you can buy, and you can’t pay someone else to “provide” this to you. However, you can learn this. And with sufficient determination, you can master this skill and transform your life.

But let me “come clean” – at least a little bit. There’s really not just “one secret.” Rather, there are layers. There is a whole art and science to this. While you can learn it, this is not an “all-at-once” process. It involves learning some new things, unlearning others, and practicing a whole lot.

And sometimes you – like I – have more time to practice than at others.

But you know what? I’m just like you. I’ve spent much of my lifetime studying these “secrets,” and have achieved some fair proficiency. In fact, I’ve devoted a whole chapter of my recent book, Unveiling: The Inner Journey, to some “frank talk” on this subject.

But despite all my knowledge, and years of practical experience, I’ve had (probably just like you), the occasional down-dip in my personal energy. That’s when I’ve really had to go “back to the basics.” I’ve had to practice what I’ve preached.

For several years, writing Unveiling consumed my life. My body and energy practice was still there, but it was at “maintenance level.” And I stopped teaching while putting attention onto finishing the book. It was a lot like having a new baby.

But now the “baby” is a year old. In fact, it’s actually “weaned” a bit. It doesn’t require my around-the-clock care in terms of getting the reviews, building the readership base, and all those other things that brand-new authors must do.

You’ve probably heard that old adage, “We teach that which we need to learn.”

Well, I’m excited about teaching again. I’m excited about the Open House that we’ll be having on the Sunday after Labor Day weekend; Sunday, September 9th, from 12 – 2PM. And I’m excited about sharing some of my favorite “secrets” with you.

In particular, we’re devoting this Open House (the first in several years) to one of my favorite topics, the “Sixty-Second Geek-to-Gorgeous Body Transformation.”

Imagine it. In one short session, you’ll learn my seven-step “transformation checklist” that will let you totally revise how you “are” in your body – how you “organize” your body from the inside out.

The results?

Immediate transformation. Once you’ve mastered the “seven point checklist,” you can apply it within 60 seconds (or less). And you will immediately:

  • Go from frumpy to fabulous,
  • Develop a compelling personal presence, and (perhaps most important)
  • Establish a “baseline” so that you can start learning – and applying – the “secrets” of increased vitality, energy, and the ability to command life to conform to your desires and wishes.

Are you ready for this?

Are you ready to become a Master of the Universe?

Join me at the Open House – the Sunday after Labor Day this September.

And if you can’t be with me on that date – or even if you just want quick reviews – I’ll be demonstrating the “Sixty-Second Geek-to-Gorgeous” body transformation on John Monsul’s Communicating Today, which will air three times that week.

Related Posts:

Anahid Sofian Labor Day Weekend Workshop – Beautiful "Patterns in Space"

Anahid Sofian, Master Teacher of Oriental Dance, Hosts Four-Day Intensive Starting Thursday, August 30, in New York City

If you’ve read Unveiling: The Inner Journey, you’ve read about Anahid Sofian. She’s responsible for several of my most significant breakthroughs in Oriental dance – both in the technique and the “psychology” of the dance.

Here’s just a sample:

“… What she had just shown me was not something new. I had not only known it: I had taught it to my students. And here I was, taking my new creation in to my master teacher, and realizing that I’d forgotten the basic lessons.

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

“Simply, it was the power of holding something back.” (Unveiling: The Inner Journey, Chapter 26: “Unveiling: Selective Revelation,” p. 359)

This week, from Thursday, August 30 through Sunday, Sept. 2nd, Anahid will be holding an Intensive Workshop in her studio in NYC. This will be a magical time!

One of the things that Anahid teaches, and which I’ve learned from very few others, is the mystical, elusive art of creating beautiful, flowing patterns in space as you move with your veil. Most veil work that we see today is stationary. Anahid excels at the earlier version of veil art – the kind that is mesmerizing, captivating, and infinately memorable.


Alay’nya showing veil techniques that she learned from master dancer teacher Anahid Sofian

Anahid will be teaching her special veil movements this coming Sunday, Sept. 2nd. There’s possibly still room for one or two more to join her class.

On Saturday, Eva Cernik, Anahid’s protege and a master teacher in her own righ, will be teaching, and this is another stellar opportunity. I’ve adored every single thing I’ve learned from Eva, and have watched her videos time and again. (Showing an Eva video, and then trying to capture her “essence,” is a staple part of my class curriculum.)

If you live in the Greater DC Metro Area, or in Baltimore or anyplace up the I-95 corridor, you can get to Anahid’s studio easily using Amtrak. It’s a bit of a long day, but very doable. And totally worth the doing!



How to Prepare for Your First Class in Belly Dance

Advance Preparation Makes All the Difference in Learning Oriental Dance (Belly Dance)

Darlings – I have a confession to make.

If you’re tracking this blog at all, you’ll know that we’re having our first Open House in over two years. For all practical purposes, I had closed the Alay’nya Studio while doing the final rewrites, edits, proofs, and publication of my most recent book, Unveiling: The Inner Journey. And then, a first year of guiding it through public introduction. Think of it has having a baby, where the last three months of “gestation time” that we need for a human child transferred into 2-3 years to bring Unveiling from raw draft to finished product.

Now, of course, it is not only available (in both trade paper and Kindle download form), Unveiling is actually the first required reading for people who want to study with me.

Obviously, though, this is a dance class. And I’m having to get my “dance groove” back on, just as you will when you join me. (Mark your calendar NOW for our Open House on Sunday, Sept. 9th, and contact me for directions and details.)

So I’m practicing. And in addition to the yoga, core, and conditioning basics, I’m back to practicing dance (and developing lesson plans, reworking choreographies and practice pieces, and all sorts of things necessary to launch a great season).

One of my favorite training DVDs is Kathryn Ferguson’s Mid-Eastern Dance: An Introduction to the Art of Belly Dance.

Years ago, this was my most significant instructional tape; then available only in VHS form. During a summer when my dance teachers took a break, I had just refinished my living room. This empty room beckoned as a new “dance studio.” The big challenge was: could I get myself to practice all on my own, without the structure and security of a dance class to guide me?

My next big question was: could I ever look like Kathryn?

I was entranced and inspired by her tape. What was most mesmerizing about her presentation was that after each (well-explained and well-demonstrated) technique section, she’d have a little vignette in which she used those techniques in an improvisational dance.

I wanted desperately to look like her, to dance like her. Even after finding my “master teachers” (Anahid Sofian and Elena Lentini; read about them in Unveiling), Kathryn remained an icon. And her VHS tape was always my reference standard for introductory teaching.

Now, I’m using her material again. This time, she’s (so thankfully!) released it as a two-volume DVD. You’ll have to contact her to get a copy; it’s not available through Amazon, and not even as a “store item” from her website. But contact her directly. (I may place a bulk order for the class, once everyone has registered for the first quarter.) The extra effort is worth it. This still remains, by far, one of the most fascinating, beautiful, and useful introductory DVDs to this beautiful and gracious art.

But my confession? Right now, I’m looking nowhere near the way that Kathryn does in her teaching DVD. Full circle. I’m back to being a student before I can be a teacher again.

Karen McLane’s “Crowning of the Woodland Queen” – Beautifully Danced, with Grace and Power

Karen McLane’s The Crowning of the Woodland Queen – A Suitable Repertoire Work for Any Dance Company

The Crowning of the Woodland Queen, choreographed and produced by Karen McLane, Founder of the Ancient Rhythms Dance Troupe, introduces a powerful, versatile, and beautifully effective full-length work that can be used, adapted, and performed by a wide range of dance schools and troupes throughout the world. A lovely Youtube Teaser effectively captures the spirit of this performance.

In structure, style, and format, this work is similar in many ways to the much-loved Tchaikovsky Nutcracker:

  • Seasonally-themed, centered on spring instead of winter. (This alone makes it a useful construct for many dance companies who present a dance recital or major work each spring, highlighting their dancer’s talents.)
  • A few main powerful characters, supported by a dance troupe with diverse performance abilities. The all-female cast relieves many dance directors of the need to scout for male dance talent. (If such were available, a “role” could easily be created and inserted into the work without greatly altering its structure or theme.) Three strong dancers are needed to carry the named roles.
  • Adaptable vignettes showcase individual, duo, and small group performances, fitting well into the storyline of the woodland spirits, nymphs, and sylphs dancing before the Woodland Queen. Essentially, within a dance theater group, all dancers worthy of performing can be cast into at least one role, satisfying the Dance Director’s need to provide performance venue for all of her troupe members and senior students.

In short, this work is a Dance Director’s dream; a cohesive and magnetic storyline, adaptable enough to be worked within almost any substantial troupe’s size, stage, and budget. The opening dance vignettes can be altered nearly at will to accommodate available talent and to showcase their strengths. (Or to hide their weaknesses, as necessary.) To a reasonable extent (and as evidenced in Ms. McLane’s choreography and production), a diverse range of dance styles can also be incorporated. (We again can thank Tchaikovsky for inspiration along these lines.)

To be effective, this work does require at least three very strong female leads. In this performance, these lead roles were capably and beautifully carried out by dancers strong enough to give their characters power, meaning, and depth.

  • The Shadow Queen, danced by Charise Hoge,
  • The Moon, danced by Troupe Director and Producer Karen McLane, and
  • The Woodland Queen, danced by Giulia Prati.
Ancient Rhythms Troupe Soloist Charise Hoge
Ancient Rhythms Troupe Soloist Charise Hoge, who danced the role of ‘Queen of Shadows'”

The most challenging and exciting role is actually not that of the Woodland Queen, bur rather that of the Queen of Shadows. It is always more difficult (and interesting) to portray a villain! Charise Hoge’s interpretation drew on her core strengths; she infused her role with powerful elements reminiscent of warrior-movements from kung fu and T’ai Chi forms. Deep plies, low-to-the-ground weight shifts, and a strong whole-body connection all gave Ms. Hoge’s character the requisite feeling of “dark power.” Her background in yoga, modern dance, and jazz was readily apparent – all these were necessary to carry out a role that would have been diffused if the dancer had only classical Oriental dance training on which to call. Ms. Hoge’s compelling portrayal brought the Queen of Shadows to a real and menacing life.

Giulia Prati, formerly with Columbia University, graciously and gracefully danced the role of the Woodland Queen. Ms. Prati’s background includes Jazz Dance, Modern Dance, and African Dance. While the majority of her moves were lyrical, in the last-to-final Transformation dance with the Queen of Shadows (Charise Hoge), she proved an able match for the Shadow Queen, in both the deep work and the more flowing movements that ensued as the Shadow Queen was brought into alliance and integration.

Najwah, Founder and Artistic Director
Najwah, Founder and Artistic Director of Ancient Rhythms Dance Troupe

Finally, Karen McLane’s performance (under her dance name, Najwah) lent a delicate surreal nature as she portrayed the Moon. She was lyrical and graceful, shimmering in flowing gold sequins as the Moon come down to earth to bless the now-integrated (and thus more powerful and knowing) Woodland Queen, who had just healed the Queen of Shadows and brought her into her “Woodland” retinue.

Numerous other dancers, from both the Ancient Rhythms Dance Company and troupes both local and farther afield, enriched the Crowning with lively and beautiful performances.

Tiraz Dance Network Hosted Superb Belly Dance Convention, Saturday, May 20, 2012

Tiraz Dance Network Hosted Excellent Belly Dance Event with Most-Ever Dancers and Vendors in May, 2012

The Tiraz Dance Network held its sixth annual Belly Dance Convention yesterday, Saturday, May 20, 2012 at the Frying Pan Park in Herndon, VA. Congratulations to the Tiraz Dance Network’s Board of Directors and convention organizers for bringing together the biggest and best event that they have hosted to date, with the most dancers (about two dozen performers) and an increased number of vendors.

"Passage Through LIght and Shadow"

Children of Ararat

Produced and directed by

Anahid Sofian

I got back late last night from a trip to New York City exclusively to see Anahid Sofian’s latest production, “Passage Through Light and Shadow: Children of Ararat”.

This extraordinary tour de force, the culmination of over fifteen years of research, is a masterpiece effort and should be seen by all serious students of Oriental dance who wish to broaden their horizons of dance as a production art.

Without losing any of the intimacy inherent in the dance form (The Theatre at St. Clement’s, in NYC, is a perfect venue for such a work), Mdm. Sofian’s latest work is inspiring and informative to all of us who explore new directions for our dance.

In my Unveiling blog, I review the work as an artistic accomplishment: both a show and as a cultural landmark for the Armenian people. In this blogpost, I’ll discuss how this current work is the capstone (to date) of Mdm. Sofian’s continual evolution as a dance artist, a choreographer, and as a producer of every more complex, richly layered, evocative, and inspirational works.

This evolution is, in face, precisely what Mdm. Sofian has been doing in the last several years. Those of us who have been privileged to watch her unfolding into the full glory of her creative genius can take her path as an inspiration, and as a call to similar growth within our own endeavors.

Fabulous Show last night – WAMEDA Members Showcase!

June, 2010 WAMEDA Members Showcase – Great Performances!

We had such a great time at the WAMEDA (Washington Area Mid-Eastern Dance Association) Annual Member’s Showcase last night! First, congrats to Verna and Jerry Thompson of Dancer: The Unusual Store, for hosting such a fine event. Verna did a beautiful job of creating an excellent stage; lovely backdrop and plenty of room – also room in front for dancers who wanted to get close to the audience or take more space for a larger-format dance. There was a cash bar, and WAMEDA provided us with an array of light refreshments.

Verna, I love that you organized a great combination of skilled sound techs and video crew – the two factors most important in making a show go smoothly, and helping it be memorable later! I’m SO looking forward to seeing the DVD!

As usual, Gerson Kuhr (the Fitness Pharaoh) was once again our gracious and impressive host – and a walking testament to his physical conditioning regime. You looked gorgeous, Gerson! And put many of us dancers to shame – we should all be getting coaching from you, or at least working out regularly with your DVD, Core Training for Belly Dancers!

Cleopatra’s Closet was our vendor, and provided a lovely and intriguing array of scarves, hip belts, and jewelry, along with CDs and DVDs. Thank you, Carmen, for giving us such luscious shopping options! And it’s good to know that we can shop online with you as well.

Dancers included Amustela, Jaka, and others from the WAMEDA community.

I had a chance to close the show with a Candle Dance, which is part of my summer curriculum.