7 Tips to Make Your Veil Your Friend

Seven Tips to Making Friends with Your Veil – and Getting It to Do What You Want!

Belly dancing with a veil helps make our dance much more interesting and exciting. Veil dancing is one of the most important aspects of learning belly dance (Oriental dance). Your “dance of veils” – if done right – can enrapture your audience. Veils help make your belly dance costumes more beautiful, complete, and satisfying.

Alay'nya with veil
Veil dancing: Alay’nya shows how a belly dancing veil can frame us and give greater expressiveness.

Not all belly dance lessons include veil technique. This blog post introduces tips to improve your veil dance, and give you links to some good belly dance DVD and YouTube resources. It will help you learn belly dance online with useful free resources. With some practice, you can do a “veil belly dance” that will add to your repertoire and let you be more artistically creative and emotionally expressive.

Nothing – absolutely nothing – increases our “glamour-factor” more than dancing with a good veil. It’s not just that our veils immediately give us more “presence” on stage. They also frame us (naturally, in the best color possible). They also extend our “reach” – allowing even the most petite of dancers to command the stage more readily.

Swirling, “big-scale” veil dynamics provide an exciting counterpoint to the often more delicate, understated, or precise vocabulary of undulations and pelvic techniques. For this alone, they are a valuable part of a dancer’s “expressive vocabulary.”

Veils give us an opportunity to build up the dramatic tension – the excitement, the anticipation – as we slowly unveil ourselves during certain dances. Also, they give us the most dramatic options for entrances and finales, especially when we are “circling the stage.”

In short, nothing enhances our expressiveness, our excitement, and our emotional range more than a good veil.

Some of us, though, feel that our veil is more of an enemy than a friend.

How do we “tame” our veil? How can we make it an extension of ourselves, so that we seem to naturally, gracefully, and effortlessly control the stage, command the veil, and compel our audience’s rapt attention?

This blog will present: Seven Tips to Make Your Veil Your Friend

Briefly, these are:

  1. Make Sure Your Veil is the Right Length and Color for You
  2. Make Sure Your Veil is the Right Material and Weight for Yourself
  3. Three-Point Control
  4. Learn How to “Frame Yourself” with Your Veil
  5. Put Enough “Oomph” Into Your Veil Moves
  6. Move Your Body When You Move Your Veil
  7. The Power of Nuance – It’s All in the Wrist!

Tip #1: Your Veil is an Important Part of Your Belly Dance Costume: Make Sure It is the Right Color and Length for You

While 2 1/2 yards was the “standard” length for years, many of us now use at least 3 yards. Over the years, I’ve moved away from shorter to progressively longer veils.

The most important length factor relates how long the veil is – when you are holding it – to how much length there is from the tips of your fingers to the floor.

My favorite veil – the one with the best length, color, weight, and “lift” – is 3 yards long. When I hold it in “basic veil” position – across my neck and shoulders, and down at each side, the each side of the veil is just 6 inches off the floor. This is a very good and workable length. I have about 18 1/2 inches of veil “trailing” from each of my fingertips. This is enough to be dramatic on stage.

Less veil (2 1/2 yards), and I lose stage drama. Too much veil, and it gets unwieldy; it’s harder to put enough “oomph” into it to keep the edges from getting fouled, and there’s increased risk of stepping on the veil.

To sum the length suggestion: About 6 inches from veil edge to floor, while you hold the veil centered on the back of your neck, is about right. For me at 5 feet, 4 inches, this means a 3-yard veil. If you are much taller – say 5′ 10″ or more – you could seriously think about a longer veil; up to 3 1/2 yards.

I’ve worked with long veils – 4 yards and more. They require more proficiency, and also more stamina. Longer veils mean more effort to keep them “floating,” so it helps to be in good shape and to have good technique before progressing to a really long veil.

Color is also important. If you haven’t had a professional color analysis done, use online resources to help you figure out your best colors. Your veil will reflect onto your face and body, so you want a color that will make you look your best.

For more on how to select your veil, you may wish to read Chapter 4: “Playtime for Grown-Up Girls,” in Unveiling: The Inner Journey.

 

Paper

Kindle

 

Tip #2: Make Sure Your Belly Dance Veil is the Right Material and Weight for Yourself

Silk is infinitely preferable to any man-made fiber. Silk “floats” better, drapes better, and is more responsive. Katia teaches some wonderful moves for dancing with a silk veil in this Katia Silk Veil Dancing YouTube clip, based on her longer instructional DVD (see below). While sometimes silk chiffon can float beautifully, I prefer a heavier weight china silk – heavier than that used for linings. However, silk crepe is too heavy, and won’t give you the right “loft” in your moves.

Some dancers use rayon veils or polyester chiffon veils with lurex-stripes (mostly popular with beginning dancers). Aziza dances with a silk veil in Aziza’s veil dance YouTube clip. In this same clip, though, she also discusses rayon veils, as well as the issue of “trim” on your veil.

Some dancers prefer polyester – Petite Jamila (of Bellydance Superstars fame) works with two rather large and heavy half-circle polyester veils. But these are SO not for beginners! The simple weight of these makes for an upper-body and arms workout that would exhaust many weight-lifters.

See the link to Katia’s and Aziza’s instructional veil belly dance DVDs below; between these two, you can’t go wrong for good instructional basics, with some advanced techniques thrown in.

Two Good Veil Belly Dance DVDs

Katia and Aziza both have excellent introductory belly dance veil instructional DVDs.

 

DVD

DVD

 

Tip #3: Three-Point Control to Improve Your Veil Dance

When you take up your veil, and hold it behind you, you should “connect” with your veil at three points: in each hand (one point for each), and the back of your neck. That “back of the neck” connection is what gives you control. (This tip is courtesy of Anahid Sofian, who is one of the “great masters” of veil dancing.)

Tip #4: Learn How to “Frame Yourself” During Your Veil Dancing

Anahid Sofian, Master Teacher of Oriental Dance
Anahid Sofian, Master Teacher of Oriental Dance with impeccable veil technique and interesting veil choreographies

In the previous blog, I gave links to Two YouTube Veil Dance Resources featuring Anahid Sofian and her protégé Eva Cernik, who is now a master dance teacher and performer in her own right.

These two teachers, along with those given in this post, will give you a great sense of how to frame yourself when you hold your veil. For more hints, you can (again) read Chapter 4: “Every Woman Needs a Veil,” from Unveiling: The Inner Journey.

Tip #5: Put Enough “Oomph” Into Your “Dance of Veils”

Evalina Papazova - veil dance
Evalina Papazova in an exciting and dynamic veil dance

Veil dancing can be – and should behighly dynamic.

Evalina Papazova does some beautiful – and very dynamic and demanding – veil dancing in this YouTube clip.

Evalina’s dance is particularly interesting – she commands a large stage in a solo dance with a combination of veil spins and turns, coupled with good movement patterns across the floor. Her dance shows very well, even on a large stage – this is difficult even for experienced dancers!

Alay'nya with veil. Photo courtesy Crystal Barnes.
Alay’nya with veil. Photo courtesy Crystal Barnes.

Even if you’re new to veil belly dance, you can learn not only from online belly dance lessons and belly dance DVDs, but also from your own body.

From Unveiling: The Inner Journey, Chapter 4: “Playtime for Grown-Up Girls”:

“Now that you have your veil, play with it! First, find a “safe” time and a “safe” place. A safe time is when no one else is around. This time is for you … You need to get your feedback directly from yourself; from how your body feels, and what emotions you are feeling.” [p. 47, Unveiling: The Inner Journey]

Tip #6: Move Your Body When You Move Your Veil

Not many teachers include veil technique in their belly dance lessons. Even fewer teach students to use their whole bodies when they move their veils. All too often, dancers wind up using their arms alone.

Sira - dancer from New York
Sira, a belly dancer from NYC, demonstrates beautiful veil work.

Sira was featured in Anahid Sofian’s 2011 Atelier, showcasing some of NYC’s finest dancers. In this veil belly dance YouTube clip Sira’s beautiful vintage-style dance shows excellent and fluid veil work, including lots of spins and turns.

In this “vintage style” dance, I particularly like the hypnotic quality of Sira’s sustained spins; she demonstrates the important reminder that we need to stay with a technique long enough to give the audience the full impact of what we are doing – something that might seem “too long” for us will be just incredibly right for our audience!

Sira’s dance also included an equally hypnotic floorwork (taqsim) section, with exceptional hands and arms. It concluded with an exotic and exciting Za’ar (trance dance) finale; probably the best Za’ar that I’ve ever seen!


 
Jewel in the Heart of the Lotus
You are the Jewel in the Heart of the Lotus.
Become the Jewel!

You study and perform belly dance (Oriental dance) because it brings forth a special aspect of who you are – the full range of your emotional expressiveness; both the sensual and sacred aspects of your being.

Join me – get the latest on how to become the jewel (a fully expressive you) in the heart of the lotus (your life, and all that surrounds you)!






Be the first to know about upcoming events, valuable online tips and training guides, and all that will help you create yourself as the jewel in the heart of the lotus!

We respect your email privacy

Powered by AWeber Email Marketing Services



Aziza
Aziza – showing beautiful veil dance technique!

Aziza is another dancer who has excellent veil techniques.

Aziza has a lovely veil DVD. However, you can learn good veil belly dance techniques online simply by studying Aziza’s veil dance YouTube clip.

The DVDs given earlier in this post provide good starting belly dance veil instruction. In future posts, I’ll provide my own YouTube links so that you can learn belly dance online, especially belly dance with veil.

Tip #7: The Power of Nuance – It’s All in the Wrist!

Kaeshi teaches belly dance veil technique online
Kaeshi helps you learn belly dance veil technique online in this YouTube clip

Study Kaeshi (of Bellydance Superstars fame). In this Online Veil Belly Dance Instruction YouTube with Kaeshi, you’ll see her demonstrate some very expressive and powerful veil techniques. Although it’s difficult to see her wrist action in this YouTube clip, you’ll find that you really need to work your wrists (and your whole body) to get the same effect when you practice veil dancing at home.

Kaeshi also has a performance YouTube clip, featuring beautiful veil dancing.

For “extra credit”: Study the vintage clip of Elena Lentini. Can you see how Elena has influenced Kaeshi’s style? One of fascinating study in learning belly dance online is to trace the influence of major dancers on some of today’s most well-known and rising stars! Kaeshi has been with Bellydance Superstars, and has a strong following in her own right. However, I’ve seen her for years in New York belly dance workshops with Elena Lentini and others, and have observed how she’s integrated important aspects of their styles and made them her own.


Many belly dance veil techniques require good wrist action – rotating your wrist and moving it in a “figure-eight” pattern – in order to control the far edge of your veil and to give it a good “swirl” in the air as it moves.

See Petite Jamilla’s DVD for good examples; her basic veil techniques often require good wrist work to be effective, so this is a good training DVD.

Paper


Belly Dancing with Veil: Summary

Veil belly dancing requires more strength, stamina, fine-tuned coordination, and movement than does “regular” belly dance. However, as you develop your veil repertoire, you’ll gain confidence and exceptional stage presence, along with a much more expressive “artistic vocabulary” for your dance. This is a challenging study, but so worth the effort!


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

Very best wishes as you make your dances more dramatic, interesting, and exciting by including a veil!

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


From Morocco’s Amazon review of “Unveiling: The Inner Journey”: “Unveiling – the Inner Journey” by Alay’nya (Alianna J. Maren, PhD.) is an important book that I wish had been written much sooner. It’s not just for dancers, but a book that mothers and aunts should give to the young women in their families before they go forth to forge their own lives and one I recommend others read to determine how close they are to “getting it.”


P.S. – Have you read Morocco’s book, You Asked Aunt Rocky: Answers & Advice About Raqs Sharqi and Raqs Shaabi? Should be on every serious dancer’s bookshelf!

Paper


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

Related Posts: Veil Dancing

Dancing with Your Veil – YouTube Resources

Veil Dances: YouTube Resources Featuring Acclaimed Dancers

As part of the Study Resources for the Spring: The Season of Air (Veils and Swords), this Post introduces some good YouTube clips that form great study resources for veil dancing, especially for “moving across the floor” and “creating veil patterns in space,” two of our Spring Season themes.

Anahid Sofian – Master of Veil Patterns, Spins, & Turns

Anahid Sofian, Master Teacher of Oriental Dance
Anahid Sofian, Master Teacher of Oriental Dance

Anahid Sofian -One of the world’s most renowned Master Teachers of Oriental dance. I reference her substantially in Unveiling: The Inner Journey. See her in:
Anahid Sofian – excerpts of veil movements.

You may wish to read Chapter 26: “Unveiling: Selective Revelation,” in Unveiling: The Inner Journey, describing how I learned a crucial veil secret from Anahid:

“In my dance, I had started the way 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, this 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.

“Slowly, hypnotically, she moved her hands in an alternating, graceful up and down pattern. She managed this in such a way that I couldn’t get a glimpse of her face, or any part of her body. She was a mystery. Later, as she “unveiled” herself, she had total control over the timing, the pacing, the very selective revelation that she offered.” [Unveiling: The Inner Journey, pp. 359-360]

 

Paper

Kindle

 

Eva Cernik – Veil Patterns: Floats and Spins

Eva Cernik in trademark spinning veil
Eva Cernik in trademark spinning veil

Eva Cernik – Eva, a protégé of the renowned Anahid Sofian, carries on Anahid’s tradition of exquisite veil dancing. See her in:

  • Eva Cernik with veil – in a 2008 performance in 2008 with Rachid Halihal – there is a little veil work at about 3 min, 30 secs, but the most interesting starts at about 5 minutes and continues to the end.

I love Eva’s veil dancing! There are some beautiful improvisational Eva Cernik veil dances in her videos.

Eva is possibly one of the best to study for improvisational work with a veil – even if you have to work with VHS instead of DVD format. She works with single and double veils, and with regular rectangular as well as half-circle veils. Great study!


 
Jewel in the Heart of the Lotus
You are the Jewel in the Heart of the Lotus.
Become the Jewel!

You study and perform belly dance (Oriental dance) because it brings forth a special aspect of who you are – the full range of your emotional expressiveness; both the sensual and sacred aspects of your being.

Join me – get the latest on how to become the jewel (a fully expressive you) in the heart of the lotus (your life, and all that surrounds you)!






Be the first to know about upcoming events, valuable online tips and training guides, and all that will help you create yourself as the jewel in the heart of the lotus!

We respect your email privacy

Powered by AWeber Email Marketing Services



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

Very best wishes as you make your dances more dramatic, interesting, and exciting by including a veil!

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


Nizana el Rassan, reviewing Unveiling: The Inner Journey for iShimmy.com:

“serious and yet fascinating material … a culmination of all disciplines wise and helpful all in one place, with belly dance woven throughout … Unveiling is a fascinating read with so much wisdom and solid advice, and it’s all about improving balance in your life in a well rounded way.” – iShimmy.com.

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

Related Posts: Veil Dancing

Spring – the “Season of Air” (and Veils, Turns, Spins, and Swords)

Spring – the Season of Air (and Veils, Turns, Spins, and Swords)

Metaphysically, the Season of Spring is associated with the “element” of Air.

In fact, the “seasonal correspondences” are:

  • Winter – “Sign” of Pentacles, “Element” of Earth
  • Spring – “Sign” of Swords, “Element” of Air
  • Summer – “Sign” of Rods, “Element” of Fire
  • Autumn – “Sign” of Cups, “Element” of Water

In our Studio, we connect our dance practice (on all levels; physical, emotional, mental, energetic, and spiritual) to the various Seasons. This simply makes it simpler and easier for us to organize our focus.

Thus, during Spring, we turn our attention to topics relating to the “sign” of Swords, and the “element” of Air.

Naturally, this means that Spring is our favored time for veil dances, especially those involving movement across the floor – as if we were propelled by a strong March wind! We do “air-like” movements such as:

  • Movements across the Floor – various steps and movement patterns,
  • Veil Patterns in Space – learn a rich variety of “veil patterns,” particularly those that flow as we move,
  • Spins and Turns – study a wide range of spinning and turning techniques, and learn how to fit them both into “static” (in-place) choreographies as well as how they give structure and interest to “movements across the floor,” and
  • Transitions – how to go from static to moving, and vice versa. Lots of wonderful little insights and skills here!
  • In addition, of course, we also use Spring as the time for studying swords; both the practical movements (and choreographies) involving sword dances, and the psychological components – especially how to create tension and drama.

    Posts during this Season of Air will include:

    • Music Resources – favorites for moving across the floor, with match-ups between music selections (and specific sections within the music) and suggested techniques/movements,
    • Technique Resources -technique notes together with links to the best YouTube links that we can find, illustrating specific kinds of spins, turns, and “movements across the floor”, along with veil and sword techniques, and
    • Dance Resources – both DVDs and YouTube links,

     
    Jewel in the Heart of the Lotus
    You are the Jewel in the Heart of the Lotus.
    Become the Jewel!

    You study and perform belly dance (Oriental dance) because it brings forth a special aspect of who you are – the full range of your emotional expressiveness; both the sensual and sacred aspects of your being.

    Join me – get the latest on how to become the jewel (a fully expressive you) in the heart of the lotus (your life, and all that surrounds you)!






    Be the first to know about upcoming events, valuable online tips and training guides, and all that will help you create yourself as the jewel in the heart of the lotus!

    We respect your email privacy

    Powered by AWeber Email Marketing Services



    Do you have a suggestion? Email us. Send us your best recommendations for music, DVDs, and YouTubes to: alaynya (at) alaynya (dot) com. Those whose recommendations are adopted will get back-links to their own websites!


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

    Very best wishes as you make your dances more sensual, interesting, and exciting by including a veil!

    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


    “Alay’nya brings divine sensuality to women in the ancient forum of dance. This book is delightful.” – Dr. Christiane Northrup, New York Times best-selling author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom and The Wisdom of Menopause.

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

    Related Posts: Veil Dancing

Static on the Brain – And What We Can Do About It

“Static on the Brain” – What It Is, What It Does, and What We Can Do About It

“If You Can’t Be a Good Example, Then Be a Horrible Lesson”

There’s a woman in my life who is fundamentally sweet.

She’s intelligent. She has some sense of life-purpose. She has a number of very admirable habits, not the least of which is that when she puts herself together, she’s remarkably polished and attractive.

Yet she has a “habit” – actually a set of habits, all drawing from a single basic thought-pattern – that have (until recently) driven me to distraction. (Not to mention to a bad temper, etc.)

She has what  I call “static on the brain.”

"Static on the Brain"

“Static on the Brain”

“Static on the brain” manifests in many different forms.

For example, when she built a fire in the fireplace this last December, she ignored the word from myself and others that the fire needed to be built slowly. She put together a huge bonfire’s worth of logs, and lit the match. And yes, the flue was open.

But in this case, with a cold winter’s day and a two-story, very cold chimney flue, the fire caught just fine. And billowed smoke into the entire house. I’m still cleaning and repainting the living room (including the ceiling) as a result of her efforts.

If this were a one-shot thing, that would be one situation. But it’s not. This is a woman who can’t learn how to recycle, despite repeated demonstrations. (Throwing out an entire bag of limp spinach, instead of putting the spinach into the compost and the clean bag into the garbage … one of a couple dozen examples.)

Her common response is, “I guess I just wasn’t thinking.”

Right. Thinking. It’s a survival skill.

So What Is “Static on the Brain”?

“Static on the brain” happens when we have so many conflicting, low-grade, randomly-jumbled but non-productive thoughts that what would seem to be “common sense” simply isn’t common any more.

Another Horrifying Example (Especially for Dancers)

Years ago, I had a student. This woman was very intelligent; she held a high-status job. She was pursuing her Ph.D. She had a sense of elegance, flair, and drama. In short, she had a lot going for her.

But when it came to dance – she simply couldn’t “get it right.” When doing any choreography, if she was supposed to turn left, she’d turn right. Or vice versa. Or simply – stand there in the midst of “brain static.”

This wasn’t a matter of being clumsy. It was a matter of having so many little interfering thoughts going on that she couldn’t function well in dance. And if we stripped away the protective cover, it was (sadly) obvious that she wasn’t functioning well in life, either.

How Do We Get “Static on the Brain”?

We get “static on the brain” by having a chronic pattern of not only lots of distracting and undisciplined thoughts, but also a pattern of negative thoughts.

Static electricity on wig, courtesy Alan Hart-Davis, Natural Science

Static electricity on wig, courtesy Alan Hart-Davis (Natural Science)

When this latter woman was in class with me once, she said, “Let me tell you about this horrible thing that happened to me recently.”

“It’s really important that we focus on positive things,” I said.

“Yes, of course,” she replied. “And let me tell you about this horrible thing … ”

Sigh.

This was a woman who just wasn’t going to get it. No amount of coaching, no amount of pointing the direction, was going to make an impact in her life, simply because she didn’t want to make a change.

She didn’t last long in dance.

And today, she is probably making left turns when she should be making a right, or getting into a situation in which an intelligent response is required, and simply – sputtering in static. Now that is something “horrible.”

How Do We Deal With Static on the Brain

We’ve all got it. To some extent, each of us has “brain static,” and it affects our lives – more or less significantly and profoundly.

If we’re going to dance fluidly, gracefully, and effortlessly, we need to minimize brain static. (Sure, we’d like to eliminate it completely, but let’s focus on goals that can be achieved within this lifetime.)

I’ve had (and undoubtedly still have) “brain static” as much as the next person. A while ago, my life was going “down the tubes.”

After more than a year of teaching myself marketing (post launching my latest book), I’d had a whole lot of discouragement. My self-talk reflected that. There were more stressful situations – a tooth that looked like it would need a root canal. Financial challenges. Housemate challenges. And then – my daddy died.

Shortly after, there was the fire that “smoked us all out.”

One of my students – wise and compassionate beyond her years – pointed out that that the fire was necessary in my life. It was “cleansing.” It was “purifying.” (She is deeply steeped in the Hindu religion, and I was learning a lot from her about what profound wisdom and insights this religion offered.)

I sighed and agreed with her, and tried to keep what she was saying in mind as I scrubbed and repainted yet another wall in the living room.

But she was right. The fire was cleansing and purifying, because something within me had to get burned away. It was my own “static on the brain.”

I knew that I had to make a change; a real significant one.

So (and wow, doesn’t the Universe/Source/Higher Power/God really provide for us?), I was commissioned by a very dear friend and renowned spiritual teacher, Alice (“Alicja”) Jones, to help her get her latest book ready for publication. This book – soon to be available – changed my life. Own Your Power is like an approachable, easy-to-read-and-assimilate version of A Course in Miracles. And the core lesson in both?

Forgiveness.

Yup, hard-core spiritual stuff. Forgiveness. And also gratitude. And giving love.

The lesson from all of this?

The basic, fundamental spiritual lessons (forgiveness, gratitude, giving love, etc.) have a powerful influence on our energetic anatomy.

Specifically, forgiveness can remove “static on the brain.”

It’s like bathing corroded electrical parts in a solution that washes off all the corrosion, leaving them sparkling-clean and highly functional once again.

So an immediate result – from both my daddy’s death, the fire that “smoked us out,” and what I’ve learned through spiritual teachings – is that to be effective dancers (and effective in life), we need to bring spiritual principles into action.

We need to forgive, have gratitude, and give love.

Believe me, I am still learning and re-learning these lessons.

Because of this, I’ll be including them in curriculum and reference materials, on an ongoing basis. After all, “We teach that which we have to learn.”

In the next blogpost, I’ll provide links to and summaries of some of the books that have been most influential and useful during this turn-around time for me. These have held the core lessons that have helped me start washing the “static” out of my “brain.”


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 create an increasingly calm, centered, focused, and totally glorious springtime, with little (if any) “static on your brain”!

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


Spring Quarter – Season of Air – Spins, Turns, Movement Across the Floor

Dear Ones –

I need your help.

Can you recommend good YouTube links and even DVDs for dancers who make good use of space in their dances?

If you would, please send me your suggestions, to alaynya (at) alaynya (dot) com. Also, I’ll post your name (if you’ll allow me to) as the person who recommended a link; and if you have a website, I’ll post that also. So please give me the name that you’d like used when I post the link and reference you, and give me your website, and whatever title you have (“Professional Dancer,” “Artistic Director of Troupe Whatever,” “Dance Teacher,” etc.)

Thank you, and I’m looking forward to getting your inputs!

The starter-webpage for the Spring Quarter is up, please visit at Spring Quarter Studies. Not done yet, but a “working draft.”

I’ve got a starter set of “recommended resources” in terms of music and DVDs, and even books (for the academic part of the study). But I don’t have a good set of YouTube links on the various themes for Spring.

The first theme I’d like to get going is that of “using space” intelligently in our choreographies. Do you have any favorite YouTubes of dancers whose choreographies make good use of the space in which they dance?

By this, I mean: Do they have a good opening sequence in which they define and claim the space? Do they have a variety of movements-in-space, such as big circles, diagonals, etc? Do they intelligently use the depth of the space, so that when they come forward, it has an emotional meaning, and when they withdraw, it also means something?

I’m interested in a variety, ranging from good artistry and technique, to good conceptualization, to good emotional understanding of how their movement in the space of the stage communicates to the audience.

I’m also interested in posting links to YouTubes that show different sizes of stage environments; from small and intimate to large, and even the open-air types of spaces.

Alay’nya with veil – photo courtesy E.J. O’Reilly

Spring, in our Judeo-Christian heritage, is the Season of Air. (Think, “the March winds.”) It corresponds to the Suite of Swords, where swords represent our intellect and ego. And of course, being the Season of Air, it’s time for us to move forward.

During winter, we practiced grounding. Over these next three weeks, as we transition to spring, we’ll introduce movement patterns that help us “transition” between stationary dance techniques and those that take us across the floor. We’ll also work with our veils; learning veil drapes, framing ourselves, and how to “unveil” ourselves as we move into a light and airy veil dance.

yours in dance – Alay’nya

Did you feel the energy shift at Beltaine?

Dear Ones —

Here it is, Tuesday, May 4th. About a week ago – Thursday, April 29th – a sort of “energy shift” started. Do you remember, for those of us on the East Coast, that we had a relatively dry few days, and that it got very warm from Friday the 30th to Saturday, May 1st?

It wasn’t just the physical warmth though; there was a distinctive “quickening” or “enlivening” that happened. Nothing on a grand cosmological scale; I’m not talking about something millennial (or even centennnial). Rather, the simple, annual cycling of energies. In this case, an intensification of the emerging “spring” energy and a transition into “summer” energy.

Most of us – very naturally – get caught up in the energy patterns themselves, and don’t really notice the energy-feeling as something distinctive. I was caught up, myself! (You’ll note that I haven’t blogged in over a week.) And even when two days of rain followed that lovely Saturday, the energy-feeling continued, and continued further as the beginning of this warm, dry week emerged.

The thing for us to notice – as dancers and as energy workers – is when there is a transition.

One of my household members had a May 1st birthday, and threw a great big party. And – appropriately enough for Beltaine – there was a wonderful “bonfire” in our fire cauldron!

I celebrated Beltaine by being drawn into re-developing a fire dance.

This is the same fire dance that I had done several years prior; using Mosaic (the first cut) on Sandstorm.

This is one of the first works by Farzad Farhangi. So fortunately, I already had a detailed set of notes on the musical structure, and some previously-developed base choreography.

What is different now, is that I’m seeking to work with the fire energy itself, not just to do a dance. And this means – yes – doing more than just a “candle dance,” which is how I interpreted this dance earlier.

In short, it’s not enough to just do an impressive choreography and even to work with candle flames. For energy work, there are two whole extra dimensions.

The first dimension has simply to do with feeling the “energy” of the element with which we’re working. For a fire dance, I want to feel that zingy, enlivening fire energy. (This is Level 3 in our practice.) And Level 4 (the second new dimension) is what we create with the fire energy – how we hold it, shape it, and purpose it – at an energetic level, while we are doing the dance on the physical level.

Kind of like walking and chewing gum at the same time, although a good deal more complex.

And I’ll admit – I’m a beginner at this sort of thing. Doing this is as complex, and as challenging, as it was many years ago, when I tried to do a veil dance with zills for the first time. It is REALLY a new experience to seek to get the physical movements so down-pat (even if they are improv), so that my conscious attention is on the energy-experience, and I’m not focused on the details of technique and choreography.

But this is where the art is becoming brand-new, all over again – and this is enormously exciting.

And back to the energy-shift of Beltaine – the transition. What happened at Beltaine was an introduction of fire energy – very different from the quickening of life-energy that brought us all out to our gardens around Vernal Equinox; this had a qualitatively different feel.

So if you would care to take on an exercise, start to notice (perhaps even record your impressions) of the energy shifts, especially as we come to the cross-quarter days as well as the seasonal quarters. (This means: the Summer and Winter Solstices, the Vernal and Autumnal Equinoxes, and the cross-quarter days of Beltaine, Lammas, Samhaine, and Imholc.) Feel the energy, and observe how your natural instincts respond. Then see how you can transition that into your dance!

Also, Waverly Fitzgerald has a lovely and inspiring website, schooloftheseasons, and an associated blog; livinginseason. I’ve been following her site for years, and reference it within my own web – and am delighted with her sensitive, insightful blog postings!