Does Your Walk Give Away Your Age?

The "Dior Lady" by <a href="">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
Using your abs and releasing back tension helps you move with panther-like grace and power. Northern Chinese Leopard – photo courtesy Michael Rank on

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="">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 –

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



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




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

Related Posts: Creating a Youthful Presence Through Belly Dance

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]





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!

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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 –

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

“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.” –

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!



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,, 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!

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.