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.

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.

After Basic Emotional Healing – What Next?

The Next Stage in Personal Evolution

Maybe We’re ALL Autistic – to Some Extent

Albert Einstein.
Albert Einstein reportedly quipped, ‘Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.’

In last week’s post, I asked you (my readers) the question: Are you autistic?

I’d assumed (erroneously) that most of you would say something like: Me? Of course not!

I was wrong.

I got an email back from one of my readers, Yes, I am autistic, and dance helps my symptoms.

What Is It Like to Use Belly Dance for Personal Healing?

I know the woman who wrote back to me; she’s actually very well integrated – she has a strong role in society, is a valuable member of several groups, and is overall an absolute dear and delight.

I was surprised that she labeled herself autistic, although that I knew she used belly dance strongly as a healing modality.

I also knew, though, that she attended strongly to the beat of a “different drum” – she listened more to her inner self than to the external world.

Belly dance has been important for her as a means of tapping into her body’s secret storehouse of knowledge. For her, as for many of us, belly dance (Oriental dance), truly is an integration pathway.

As I reflected on what she wrote, I thought: I’ve used belly dance for healing myself, just as she has. And many, many of my students have said the same.

In fact, probably most of the women who come to me (and yes, like attracts like), have come less because they want to put on the glitzy costume and perform on stage. They come because they want to tap into who they are in a deeper way.

That, and do some serious healing and integration.

And for some of us, of course, performances and other stage opportunities do ensue. (This in fact may be part of the healing process.)

We Heal Ourselves from Being Emotionally and Energetically Fractured

In that sense, maybe we’re all dealing – to at least some extent – with the challenge of having various aspects of who-we-are fractured, and our conscious awareness sometimes not fully tied into either our surroundings or our bodies.

A couple of months ago, I wrote about How Belly Dance Healed My Life.

From the stories that I hear; I suspect that I’m just one among many.

We may not all use the term autistic to describe ourselves, but many of us – due to a range of factors – may feel that it is difficult to be present in this world. Co-opting the title of one of Robert Heinlein’s most famous science fiction novels, many of us feel that we are a Stranger in a Strange Land.


Robert Heinlein’s “Stranger in a Strange Land”

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Meaning from Movement Applies to Our Dance

One of the things that I love most about Oriental dance is that it allows us to both access and express the full range of who we are.

This is important, because most of us – in our day-to-day lives – find that we access only a limited part of our emotional range.

Through movement, we express ourselves through a much more complex emotional vocabulary.

In that sense, the phrase coined by autism researcher Dr. Geoffrey Waldon, Meaning [comes] from movement, is useful for all of us.

What’s the Next Step after Basic Emotional Healing?

Our emotional healing progresses throughout our entire lives. Most of us – unless we are a very advanced soul – will not finish in this lifetime.

However, we do move on to progressively deeper – and more refined – aspects of inner healing.

Specifically, we start to work more with our full energetic being.

Carolyn Myss, in her book Why People Don’t Heal and How They Can, writes (in Section One on “Your ‘Cellular Bank Account'”):

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 Spirit, and secularists might call vitality or simply life-force. [p. 16]

Although 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 into 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 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 energy debt we can no longer afford to carry. Forgiveness is one sure way out of debt. 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 feelings you have about that event and the person or persons involved.[p. 18]


Dr. Carolyn Myss, “Why People Don’t Heal and How They Can”

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What Caroline Myss teaches gives us an important and valuable connection:

To use belly dance as a sacred pathway for body/mind/psyche/energy healing and integration, we also have to do some spiritual work. Most especially, we have to learn forgiveness.

First, we start forgiving ourselves. Then, we also forgive others.

The Course in Miracles also teaches forgiveness as a basic principle.

We’re going to be working with this – and with other spiritual principles (gratitude, giving love, and taking responsibility for our thoughts) over the next months.

For today, it may be sufficient to simply start being gentle with yourself.

First step: Ease up on the judging.

We are much harsher with ourselves than we are with anyone else.

Cultivate – to the best extent that you can, just for today – the art of gentleness. (You do this, and I’ll try to do this also.)

How Being Gentle with Ourselves Is the Key to Our Next Stage of Personal Growth

Belly dance gives us the means to be with our bodies, and our feelings. It helps us access our inner feminine core, and express the feminine aspects of ourselves.

There is one more step that we can take, though.

If you’ve been following me on the Unveiling blog, you’ll know that we’ve been working towards the goal of core archetype integration. This is often typified by the seventh card in the Tarot’s Major Arcana; the Chariot. (For those of you familiar with the Tarot, this sounds like a masculine archetype, right? Read Unveiling’s Chapter 7: “A Real Woman’s Path (Really Does Exist!),” to learn the original meaning for this card. It started off as a feminine archetype: the Winged Goddess.)

Beyond the Chariot or Winged Goddess stage, where we literally force our archetypal polar opposites to work together, we open up a brand new stage of learning.

We introduce this with the notion of Strength, Major Arcana Card VIII.

The Tarot card <em>Strength</em> (Major Arcana Card VIII) shows us that after we have strong and firm control over our inner selves, we can begin gentling and taming our inner beast.
The Tarot card Strength (Major Arcana Card VIII) shows us that after we have strong and firm control over our inner selves, we can begin gentling and taming our inner beast.

Have a look at the figure to the left.

It shows us the Tarot card Strength (Major Arcana Card VIII). This is the first card in the second series of major life journeys.

Notice how the woman is easing her “inner beast” to the ground; she’s subduing it not with force, but with gentleness.

In most of my Unveiling blog, and in my book, Unveiling: The Inner Journey, I focus on the first major life journey: getting to access, understand, and integrate our eight core power archetypes.

I briefly mention the second and third journeys adult life journeys. The second journey deals with accessing our inner Fountain of Youth – our intrinsic personal energy.

Martial arts masters – especially of the internal martial arts (T’ai Ch’i Chuan being a premier example) use their internal energy, or ch’i, as part of their practice.

In our second adult life journey, we learn to do the same. (Read Unveiling’s Chapter 29, Pragmatic Esoterics, for a start on this.)

Forgiveness Leads to Gentleness; Gentleness Leads to Tension Release, Tension Release Leads to Better Dance

For a practical start, as you do your belly dance exercises this week, focus on softening your body. Use the force of gravity to help you align, not muscular tension. See how much you can release tension throughout your body.

Saint Francis de Sales, practical and wise (1567-1622)
Saint Francis de Sales, practical and wise (1567-1622)

We’re beginning to learn effectiveness while staying soft, relaxed, and gentle.

As Saint Frances de Sales is credited with saying:

Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength.

Let’s try putting this into action together, shall we?

And we’ll check in with each other next week.

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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Oriental Dancer Nimeera on Unveiling: The Inner Journey

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

NImeera Nazmine performing with a shamadan (candle headdress); photo courtesy Washington Post.
NImeera Nazmine performing with a shamadan (candle headdress); photo courtesy Washington Post.

This is a wonderful book! Unlike so much of the fluff out there, this one is by no means an “casual read” to read in the little stolen moments of the day. Rather, it is something with many layers of depth to be explored in meditation and contemplation, with a cup of tea, away from the demands of children and husbands. And then not to read all at once, but section by section with time for reflection between readings… It has resonated with me and given me validation for the things I feel and do that don’t always fit with society’s expectations for me, and given me ideas for how to further mold my life path to my greatest satisfaction.

Nimeera Nazmine performs in North Virginia (Fairfax and Woodbridge), as well as in Washington D.C. She also teaches classes in both belly dance and Bollywood-style Indian dance.

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Alay’nya, Unveiling: The Inner Journey

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

Related Posts: Using Belly Dance for Emotional Healing and Personal Healing

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.

 

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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]

 

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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

Using Belly Dance to Heal Deepest Emotional Wounds – Part 1

Using Belly Dance to Heal Our Deepest “Emotional Core” Wounds – Part 1

This post is not for everyone.

Really.

This is for “mature audiences only” – reader discretion advised.

(The following post shares personal experiences, and is not medical advice. If you are at all in doubt before you begin – should you choose to do something similar to what I’ve done – consider asking for guidance from a licensed medical or therapeutic professional. And perhaps have a trained counselor with you as you do this particular form of “inner journey.”)

What Is a “Core Wound”?

A core wound is the psychological impact from an experience (or set of experiences) that we have when we are young, or are otherwise exceptionally vulnerable. This (these) experience(s) occur when we are still shaping our basic worldview; our concept of whether or not the world is a “friendly place.”

Core wounds most commonly come from experiences with our immediate family. In particular, they come about with those whom we identify as essential to our survival.

To the best of my knowledge, all of us carry with us some sorts of core wound. We often have them no matter how much we do psychotherapy, seek “spiritual enlightenment,” or just plain “work on our stuff.”

How Can We Determine What – In Ourselves – Is Our Own Core Wound?

Mother Henna writes about her experience of seeing her "pain body" as separate from her "light body."
Mother Henna writes about her experience of seeing her “pain body” as separate from her “light body.”

Core wounds feel like psychological “hurt.” In fact, they “hurt” a lot. So as a result, we try to bundle them up and isolate them away from our conscious awareness.

Core wounds never really go away on their own. They stay inside us, with tremendous power – mostly because we try to contain and control them.

How Do We Detect Our Core Wounds, and Know What They Are?

Often, our core wound show up as “blurts.” These can be phrases that we say to ourselves. Sometimes, they even slip into our conversations! Or, we show ourselves (and others around us) a core wound by voicing strong opinions about how a person (or certain group of persons) always does something that is “bad.”

Core wounds feel intensely private. We rarely – if ever – discuss them with others. Often, if we do psychotherapy or have a life coach or a spiritual counselor, we may work for months before we tentatively allow our core wound area to be broached. This is because, of all the parts of our inner world, our core wound feels most sensitive, most vulnerable, most “ouchie”!

And yet, if we do allow a core wound area to “come into the open,” we may be surprised to learn that our coach, counselor, or therapist really knew about it all along. (And so, for that matter, did our relationship partners, and possibly our boss, co-workers, family, and friends.) This is because our core wounds affect us so much that we “give them away” all the time!

Who Else Talks About Core Wounds?

Eckhart Tolle writes about core wounds in The Power of Now. He calls them our pain-body.

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Core wounds never really go away on their own. They stay inside us, with tremendous power – mostly because we try to contain and control them.

Often, our core wound show up as “blurts.” These can be phrases that we say to ourselves. Sometimes, they even slip into our conversations! Or, we show ourselves (and others around us) our core wound by voicing strong opinions about how a person (or certain group of persons) always does something that is “bad.”

Using Oriental Dance (Belly Dance) to Heal

We can have breakthroughs, and often do. But still, these are the “core.” They go right down to how we believe that the world works – in our favor, or not. Dangerous, or safe and friendly.

When we dance, we sidestep the cognitive side of who we are. When we let our bodies simply move, and express how we feel, we can access – and begin to heal – our core wounds.

I’m not talking here about technique practice, or learning a tight little choreography. There is nothing wrong with either technique or choreography. But at some point, we need to go beyond – to what dance really is, and what it can do for us – if we start releasing ourselves to the flow of energy and feeling that we can experience as we dance.

Z Helene Christopher – in her excellent paper on Middle Eastern Dance: The Emergence of the New Sacred Temple Priestess – provides four key points that will help all of us (including myself) use Oriental dance (belly dance) to heal our core wounds. According to Z Helene:

There are four main points in which we, as new temple priestesses, reclaim and reconnect with the ancient Goddess.

  1. We must understand our dance as embodying nature, especially its fertility aspects… Our dance exudes fertility. We move our pelvises and roll our bellies, honoring the sexual act and the resulting procreation…
  2. We reclaim and reconnect with the ancients by understanding our dance as manifesting ecstasy… Our movement invokes the ecstatic kundalini…
  3. We reclaim and reconnect with the ancients by understanding our dance as an experience of Divine Union…
  4. We reclaim and reconnect with the Goddess by understanding ourselves as dispensers of karuna; early motherly love … transformed … to embrace all forms of love: touching, tenderness, compassion, mercy, sensual enjoyment and eroticism.

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

Very best wishes as you tap into who you really are using dance!

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 Z Helene’s Amazon review of “Unveiling: The Inner Journey”: “Unveiling is about becoming more intimate with ourselves. It is about peeling away the outer layers that keep us from knowing, naming, and attaining our deep wants and desires. By embarking upon a transforming inner spiritual journey, we are encouraged to get connected to ourselves in a way that allows us to genuinely feel our bodies and emotions– all of them, even the undesirable ones. By integrating and loving our “shadow” sides, and by doing daily practices such as stillness, softening, releasing, shifting state, and breathing, we increase our vital energy (prana, ch’i) which makes us more attractive and, yes, more erotic as well. For true attractiveness, according to Alay’nya, is the ability of women to lessen their adopted masculine roles of control and being in charge (Amazon archetype), and instead to surrender to pure energy, motion, and love. This is what makes us beautiful!”


Z Helene Christopher
Z Helene Christopher – Dancer and Herstorian, High Priestess and Teacher. Photo courtesy Rick Fink.

P.S. – Have you read Z Helene’s article on Middle Eastern Dance: The Emergence of the New Sacred Temple Priestess? I recommend it to all my dancers!

Z Helene also has a 4-volume basic Middle Eastern dance (belly dance) instructional DVD set, and another DVD on zills, available through her website. Check them out!


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

Related Posts: Energy Healing and Emotional Healing through Dance

The Most Luscious, Nurturing, Feel-Good Thing You Can Do

The Most Luscious, Nurturing, Feel-Good Thing You Can Do in Bed, On Your Own

And I’m not even talking sex. (Well maybe. Just a little bit. Later.)

What is the one thing that you can do on your own, in bed, that sends a totally relaxing and soothing feeling up your spine?

It’s the same thing that I wrote about a few days ago, leaving you with a bit of a “cliff-hanger.”

Because, as I asserted in my last post, many of you already know this!

The real surprise is, many of you already know this – and you might even be new to Oriental dance!

Believe me, I am more than surprised. I am amazed. I am totally blown away.

When I learned this “little secret” – many years ago, as I was writing Unveiling: The Inner Journey – it was news to me.

Our belly dance "Figure 8" ("Figure Eight")  movement mirrors the infinity sign, and also traces a subtle internal movement at the base of our spine.
Our belly dance “Figure 8” (“Figure Eight”) movement mirrors the infinity sign. Infinity sign coded by Charles Petzold

The really important thing about what she shared?

It’s that the insight didn’t come from a member of the Oriental dance community. It came from someone who was skilled in the mind/body healing arts. (Diane now does something called HeartMath.) My students who already knew about this movement were practitioners of Reiki, yoga, deep tissue massage, and related areas.

So what is this one thing?

It’s the movement that we dancers call the “Figure 8,” done with our hips.

Our “Figure 8” (“Figure Eight”) movement in Oriental dance (belly dance) mirrors the infinity sign, and also traces a subtle internal movement at the base of our spine. The person who “clued me in” on this movement was Diane Richardson, whom I mentioned several times in Chapters 14 – 16.

I’ve looked at a number of YouTube vids purporting to teach the (vertical) Figure 8, and have only found one so far that is trustworthy – click here to see a Figure 8 tutorial. Just watching this dancer, you’ll see how the Figure 8 activates – actually massages – the sacral area. Beautiful!

(Be careful if you’re looking at various online clips; some focus on a horizontal Figure 8; that’s nice, but not what we’re discussing here. Others show a Figure 8 that starts “top to bottom”; this is sometimes called a Maya. And surprisingly, just changing the direction of how the movement is initiated makes a huge difference. For best energetic benefits, do the “classic Figure 8” – start going down-and-out, then up. And no matter what anyone tells you, try to keep your feet on the floor!)

Enough of the technical hints. The real question is: Why is this movement so important? Why is it more than just one of the many basic “belly dance techniques”?

The answer – as I shared in Unveiling: The Inner Journey – is:

She [Diane] pointed out that Oriental dance is built on a natural undulating and flowing movement that connects our entire spine, from our cranial vertebrae down to our sacrum. In addition, she helped me to sense a very subtle and naturally-embedded “figure eight” motion at the base of my spine. … All that we are doing, as we dance, is to tap into these innate, natural rhythms, and magnify them into a dance. (pp. 410-411)

So, the Figure 8 movement in Oriental dance:

  • Taps into a subtle, naturally-occuring rhythm in our sacral area,
  • Activates the physical and energetic components, and
  • Induces a sort of “energy wave” that travels up our spines towards our heads; essentially initiating a form of cranio-sacral massage.

To the best of my knowledge, doing a physically-correct Figure 8 movement is entirely safe, given that a person has no physical or neurological conditions that would make this movement difficult. (If the reader has any doubt or questions, he or she is advised to consult a medical professional first.) Also, to the best of my knowledge, while well-done Figure 8’s gently encourage both cranio-sacral release and (somehow) produce a “feel-good” effect, I don’t believe that this movement alone will cause release of kundalini energy. As a reference, in yogic teachings, the kundalini energy is stored as a “coiled serpent” at the base of our spine. When we do the Figure 8, we are gently activating life-force energy, but I don’t believe we’ll have any danger of arousing kundalini.

The Figure 8 does, at least in my experience, seem to relate to an overall group of intrinsic motions from the cranium down to the sacral area. Healing professionals are learning to sense and work with these rhythms in a healing modality called cranio-sacral therapy. I have personally experienced cranio-sacral therapy treatments, and found them safe, gentle, peaceful, and healing.

I like to do Figure 8’s in bed, because then gravity is not working on my sacral area. It is freer to move. And because this movement is gentle and relaxing, it will sometimes help me sleep easier and more restfully. And the relation to sex? Well, if we release our sacro-iliac area, and in fact mobilize our entire pelvic region (and Oriental dance movements help us with just that), then we are much more likely to have pleasure, right?

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!

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Classic Cassandra – Review of "Cassandra Live" DVD, Vol. 1

“Classic Cassandra” in “Cassandra Live!” DVD – Elegant, Intelligent, Witty!

Let me just come out and say this right away: I just love Cassandra! I’ve been to her Oasis workshops a couple of times, and have treasured the videos (yes, it was video technology back then). I’ve studied them time and again, shown them to my students time and again, and am very much in danger of wearing them out.

So it’s been a healthy and refreshing step to finally get copies of her two performance vids, remastered into DVD format, Cassandra Live!.

Three things characterize Cassandra’s work: Her ebullient, effervescent joie de vivre, her magical sense of humor and whimsy, and her natural grace combined with flowing and connected movements. Taken together, it’s no wonder that she’s widely regarded as one of the world’s greatest exemplars of classic Oriental dance.

This collection of seven dances presents the full gamut of early Cassandra dance styles, ranging from a well-crafted opening Danse Oriental to a deeply moving and dramatic Zar (folkloric dance depicting an exorcism ritual). For a tongue-in-cheek approach, there’s the witty take on the early (mid-1980’s) rock videos, “A Atala Khadra.”

My absolute favorite, though, for showing Cassandra at her warmest, wittiest, and most tongue-in-cheek best, is her second “Danse Orientale” piece (Cut #6), shot in an outdoor location (possibly an early Minneapolis Renaissance Fair). Her “zill duel” with the drummer is both funny and technically inspiring. Her dance, done with live musicians in the relaxed and comfortable setting of a summer festival, is both lively and relaxed, technically flawless and yet supremely comfortable and endearing.

This is why I watch Cassandra – performing as Cassandra Live – time and again.

Her DVD is available through her company website, Jawaahir.com, although not yet on Amazon. On her website, she offers a 1 1/2 minute “sample clip” – from her “Drum Solo” (Cut #2). Lively and upbeat, this “Drum Solo” gives a great sense of how to improvise with the music, show a full range of emotional expression, and create an exciting moment with the audience. Careful study will reveal many little technical details and subtleties that will enrich the practice of any dancer.

P.S. Cassandra has had hip surgery, and is requesting support from the dance community until she is “back on her feet” once again. Honor Cassandra, and yourself, by supporting her – visit the Cassandra page on the Jawaahir website, and contribute generously today!

Morocco’s "You Asked Aunt Rocky" – Fascinating Read, Significant Contribution!

Morocco’s You Asked Aunt Rocky – A Major Contribution to Dance Ethnography!

Morocco’s You Asked Aunt Rocky – the culmination of years of study, travel, practice, ad writing – has just been released via Lulu. I’ve just submitted a review article to The Belly Dance Chronicles, for their April/May/June issue, and also published a five-star review on Lulu.com, where it already has three other five-star reviews.

Currently, you can order You Asked Aunt Rocky directly from Lulu.com, and it will be available from Amazon.com by March.