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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Veil Dancing – A Beautiful Instructional YouTube Clip

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

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

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

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

Veil dancing gives us mystery and depth.

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

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

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

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


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

From Unveiling: The Inner Journey:

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

Simply, it was the power of holding something back.

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

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


Where Can We Learn Good Veil Techniques on YouTube?

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

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

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

Basic Veil Openings and Movements

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some special points to note:

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

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

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

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

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

Yours in dance –


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

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

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

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



 

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Related Posts: Veil Dancing

Related Posts: Autumn – Esoteric Energy Dance for the Season of Cups (Metaphysical Element of Water)

Does Your Walk Give Away Your Age?

The "Dior Lady" by <a href="http://overgaard.dk/the-story-behind-that-picture-0070_gb.html">Thorsten Overgaard</a>; Image No 5 from "The Salzburg Collection," available from The Leica Gallerie Salzberg
The “Dior Lady” by Thorsten Overgaard; Image No 5 from “The Salzburg Collection,” available from The Leica Gallerie Salzberg

Since then, I’ve noticed that all my Master Dance Teachers have this quality of “eternal youth” to their gait; to their walk. This comes from their “dance walk.”

This isn’t as easy as it sounds.

One Master Teacher, Anahid Sofian, produced Passage Through Light and Shadow (a major dance dramatic story) a few years ago. One of the dance segments had women walking in a somber, dignified pattern; each holding a (battery-operated) votive candle.

Anahid says that she spent weeks teaching her dancers “how to walk.”

The reason that this is so difficult?

Most people just use their legs when they walk.

A Graceful Walk Makes You Look Ageless and Beautiful

A woman's walk moved  George Gordon (Lord Byron) to pen the opening lines of  his famous poem, 'She Walks in Beauty.'
A woman’s walk moved George Gordon (Lord Byron) to pen the opening lines of his famous poem, ‘She Walks in Beauty.’

She Walks in Beauty Like the Night
(“She Walks in Beauty,” by Lord Byron (George Gordon)

Dancers – especially Oriental dancers – use their abdominal muscles to generate their walk.

This isn’t overt; it’s based on very subtly incorporating a lower body undulation.

Your first step to claiming this ageless, supple walk?

Learn the basic undulation walk.

The next step?

Apply what you’ve learned not only to your dance, but to your life.

Panther-Like Grace and Power

Using your abs and releasing back tension helps you move with panther-like grace and power. Northern Chinese Leopard - photo courtesy Michael Rank on Danwei.com
Using your abs and releasing back tension helps you move with panther-like grace and power. Northern Chinese Leopard – photo courtesy Michael Rank on Danwei.com
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Can transforming your walk transform your life?

You bet it can!

A smooth, effortless, graceful walk is a power statement.

The reason?

Most people let go of their abdominal muscles; their inner core. And most people have very tight lower backs.

So if you gain control of your abdominal muscles, and use them – so subtly that it seems imperceptible – you’ll transform the way you present yourself.

If you release tension in your lower back, and get your abs to pull you forward – you’ll move with the panther-like grace, confidence, and power.

Your walk will communicate that you are totally present and aware of what’s going on, and that you are in charge of your life.

People defer to those who have confidence.

You’ll find that without changing anything else in your life, people will be eager to give you what you want.

When you have a beautiful, powerful, graceful walk, people will respond to you positively. They will feel better knowing that they’ve served you well.

What Happens If You Don’t Transform Your Walk?

May I say it bluntly?

Women who have not mastered the secret of a beautiful walk look graceless and awkward. No matter how much they spend on cosmetic surgery, or how much time they spend at the gym – if all they do is “work their muscles,” then – they look clunky and old.

As Shakespeare put it:

Youth is nimble, Age is lame …

No amount of cosmetic surgery, dieting, or exercise will give you the same supple, youthful appearance as well as a beautiful walk.

From Unveiling: The Inner Journey:

[On some talk-show makeovers or reality programming:] … stories of full-body transformations of different women… At the end, each woman was, in her own right, as gorgeous as she could possibly be – until she started to walk!
Typically, these women didn’t learn how to move in a beautiful and graceful manner. As a result, although each woman became more beautiful in a simply physical sense … there was still an element of awkwardness. [p. 305]

How To Create a Beautiful Walk

Here’s the secret:

Your walk will be luminous, sensual, and magnetically attractive when you:

  • Release tension,
  • Use your core, and
  • Generate your movement from your center.

Tension release is your most important first step. Pay attention to your:

  1. Lumber area and your sacro-iliac joint,
  2. Hip flexors, and
  3. Psoas muscles.
Alay'nya at the Tiraz Belly Dance Convention, 2013. Photo by Melissa Brooker.
Alay’nya at the Tiraz Belly Dance Convention, 2013. Photo by Melissa Brooker.

Then, engage your core muscles – particularly your internal and external obliques.

Finally, generate your walk using your abs, not just moving your legs. You will use both your tension release and your ability to work with your abdominal muscles as you do this.

This actually is the crucial mechanism underlying your undulation walk; essential to sensual belly dance.

What happens then?

Your walk becomes effortless and compelling.

What happens next?

  • Standard repertoire “walks” – such as the beautiful “touch-step” – become natural.
  • Your beautiful, sensual, and graceful walk emerges – without your “efforting” at it.
  • Without stress, without any sense of “trying” on your part, people feel compelled to watch you.

To help you transform, I’ve put together an Online Guide. It’s my carefully-selected, “best of the best” YouTube resources that will help you develop a walk that will give you turning heads – and admiring glances – wherever you go.

Whenever someone sees you walking – onto the stage, down a grocery aisle, to walking or onto the red carpet – these techniques will empower you to draw attention, and communicate a subtle message that you are “someone important.”


Join me using the form on the right.

When you do, I’ll send you an email with a link to my Online Guide, She Walks in Beauty.

You’ll get my personally-selected, “best of the best” YouTube links for creating a sensual, compelling, ageless walk:

  • Three great YouTube performances – with notes about what to look for (and when) – so you get examples of the best “walks” in action,
  • Five of the best YouTube belly dance instructional clips on the all-important undulation walk, and
  • Special Bonus: My top selected Red Carpet training YouTube links – the “best of the best”: how walk in high heels, how to sashay down the runway, how to take charge of any room and any situation – just with your walk!

Special Bonus:

Once you get access to this special Online Guide, She Walks in Beauty, look for the link to my touch-step walk as I introduce a candle dance. Compare my approach with that of Horatio Cifuentes, a master dancer from Berlin, Germany. How are we similar? How are we different?






Get “She Walks in Beauty” – Your Guide to a Graceful, Sensual, Powerful Walk!

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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

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

Yours in dance –

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

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

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


P.S. Would you like to use a sensual, graceful walk to open one of your specialty dances? Learn how Alay’nya opens a candle dance with this beautiful “touch-step” belly dance walk!


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

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

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

Dr. Christiane Northrup, The Wisdom of Menopause

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Dr. Christiane Northrup on Unveiling: The Inner Journey

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

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

 

Alay’nya, Unveiling: The Inner Journey

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Related Posts: Creating a Youthful Presence Through Belly Dance

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
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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)!






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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!

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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

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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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.

Lineage – in Martial Arts, Yoga, Zen – and Belly Dance!

Our “Master Teachers” in Oriental Dance

Recently, I took a workshop with Anahid Sofian, where the day’s classes were taught by her protege, the internationally-renowned Eva Cernik. Among the attendees was Nourhan Sharif, and others who were remarkable for their intelligence (one had her Ph.D. in biochemistry), devotion to the art (most were long-standing students), and overall high level of knowledge about dance, art, and life.

I overheard Nourhan and another dancer, where the question that one of them posed was: Which other leading dancers do you like – and respect – the most? (The context was with historical figures – the luminaries of films, etc.)

Somehow, the conversation swung around to how we – as students, practitioners, and often teachers – show how we respect our own teachers. And someone (here I’m airbrushing just a bit) commented on one dancer who left a well-known teacher to form her own studio. She had been a teacher in the master dance teacher’s studio, and took the students – who were in class with her – when she left to set up her own “establishment.”

This wasn’t just a burst of ego. It was a show of disrespect, and – in simple business terms – an undercutting.

I had the same thing happen to me, and write about it in Unveiling: The Inner Journey. (see the opening for Chapter 15, “Softening: Beginning to Break Through,” beginning page 199.

I recall a conversation with another leading dancer, one with whom I’ve studied and whom I respect a great deal. I asked her how I could honor her in my work. She said, “Simply recognize me in your bio. Say that you’ve studied with me.”

That seems easy enough. Surprisingly, though, there are dancers – those who want to “establish” themselves – who think that the best way to do this is to disregard (and even disrespect) their connections with their teachers and – when they find them – their “master teachers.”

We in the Oriental dance world seek to claim legitimacy for our art form. We want respect. We demand, and the rigor and beauty of our art form demands, a high level of respect.

But to get respect, we have to give it.

Look at the great traditions in the world; the ones where personal teaching is necessary. Martial artists, the world over, acknowledge their teachers. Lineage is exceptionally important.

Lineage is important in ballet, modern dance, and other dance forms. It is important in all branches of yoga.

In Zen meditation, one of the practices is that the disciples recite the names of their master teachers, going up through their entire lineage, and thanking and acknowledging them.

We have a profoundly beautiful, moving, and exquisite art form. We also have lineage. It’s time for us to respect our “master teachers.”

In Unveiling: The Inner Journey, I identify my “master teachers” – in dance, in martial arts, and in body/mind/psyche/energy integration. If I’ve studied with them, and if there is enough of a relationship so that they can pick me out of a lineup, they’re mentioned. I tell stories about them – the kind of “student/teacher” stories that highlight their role as teachers.

Right now, more and more of us are writing. (Morocco’s book is coming out soon, Nourhan Sharif has one underway.) We put together websites. We have videos. In addition to teaching classes and performing, we have numerous venues available to us – through the web, digital media, and print – in which we can honor our “master teachers.”

We want respect? Let’s start by giving it.

"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.

Great exercise to help with knee strength

Dear Ones —

This Sunday’s (Oct. 19th, 2008) Parade magazine had a Special Report about Women’s Health by Claudia Wallis. She opens with:

“When I ripped a ligament in my knee on a ski-slope last winter, I had no idea that I was joining a limping sisterhood. A torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) ranks among the most common sports-related knee injuries. But women are five to sevn times as likely as men to sustain this kind of athletic damage.”

Ms. Wallis continues with an interview with Dr. Laura Tosi, director of the bone-health program at Children’s Natioanl Medical Cneter in Washington, DC. Dr. Tosi, and studies that Ms. Wallis has read, point out that “girls tend to run, jump, and turn with straighter legs and less bending at the knees and hips than boys.” This, and other factors, make us more susceptible to knee and other joint injuries.

Ms. Wallis is not alone in her experience of knee problems — I have them myself, and so do some of my students. (The older we get, the more likely we are to have this as a problem area.)

In fact, one of my favorite dance teachers, Anahid Sofian in New York City, started learning belly dance on the recommendation of her physical therapist. In doing modern dance, she had overworked her knees, and was in pain. She sought help from her doctors, who then prescribed physical therapy. Her therapist recommended belly dance as a therapeutic exercise. She tried it, became entranced by the art form, and from there went on to become one of the world’s leading choreographers and teachers in this area.

Fortunately for us, we can ALL use belly dance as a therapeutic exercise. The key ingredient that makes this work? We dance in a “bent-knee” posture. ALL of our movements involve keeping our knees just slightly bent. This means that:
1) We strengthen our thighs AND our abs (we need strong abs to make this work),
2) We lengthen our lower back, getting our pelvis to align straight with the floor — this helps a LOT to release lower back tension!, and
3) We strengthen the muscles around our knees.

Belly dance is an ancient, beautiful, and sensual women’s art form. It is very likely the oldest dance form on this planet, although other “native/folk” dances (e.g., Polynesian, African) could have started around the same time. Because belly dance is such an old art form, it is very aligned with how our bodies are naturally designed to move. (In contrast, more recent dance forms, such as ballet, are much more “artificial,” and can actually produce joint damage.)

Our bodies were naturally designed to have – and work best when – we are in a posture where our pelvis is aligned with the floor, our knees are slightly bent (this helps with pelvic alignment), and our spine and neck are “lengthened” so that the top of our heads reaches towards the sky. This is the posture that we practise and use in belly dance.

We think of this as having “soft knees” – knees are very slightly bend; not locked in place. This not only reduces pressure on the knee joint, but helps to mobilize our pelvis.

This pelvic-aligned, soft-knee, spine-lengthened posture helps us be more naturally graceful and beautiful. (Not to mention, it gives the immediate impression of losing ten pounds!) With this as a framework, we create elegant and sensual movements — all while being non-impact!

For those that would like to add a fun way to strengthen their bodies, and feel and look much better, belly dance would be a great exercise alternative!

Copyright (c) 2008, Alay’nya. All rights reserved.

Related Posts: Creating a Youthful Presence Through Belly Dance