Tuesday, October 30, 2007

How to Prepare for Bellydance Class

Wear comfortable clothes that you would wear to the gym. Consider cropped tops, Cami shirts, light t-shirts, sports bra, leggings, long skirts and anything breathe-able! Don't wear lingerie or just a simple bra. Keep your bra under your blouse.

Bare foot is highly recommended. Although you can wear ballet slippers, or dance shoes. ABSOLUTELY NO SNEAKERS! Socks can be an option but they tend to be slippery so be aware of this.

Hip Accessory:
I always recommend wearing some kind of hip accessory. It can be anything from a hip scarf to a coin belt, to shawl, to a fancy fringe belt...etc. This is very important to use when you are first learning bellydance technique. Having something tied around your hips that shakes or makes noise helps reinforce learning. The best type of hip accessory I would recommend will have to be the standard coin hip-scarf. It looks great on everyone, makes a cute noise and its alot of fun to wear. I love my students wearing them because it helps them stay motivated and having fun.

If you decide to buy merchandise please do so before you use it: This counts for veils, zills, and hip scarves.

Class Payment:
Be sure to pay for class before it begins.
For late comers: If you arrive late don't walk up to the instructor and hand her cash. Sign your name on the attendance sheet and wait to after class to give your payment.

New York City Bellydance Class by Elektra of Shimmyheart.com

Monday, September 24, 2007


I'm so glad my articles have become a teaching tool. I remember a time when I was afraid to combine my writing skills and passion for dance together, but I'm so happy I overcame my fear and allowed my two worlds to merge together. I found a way to make a difference, it may be small but it's still enough to make a small difference at a time. There is an endless supply of people out there that no little to nothing about the art of bellydancing and continue to taint it's reputation further encourage the sterotypes. I believe it's up the members of the bellydance community to constantly educated and re-educate the public about the dance we love and practice daily. Our biggest challenge of what we face is what ever image the media decides to portray of the dance. The media has the large impact upon what the general public believes. We have to fight the dragon som But if we don't take it upon ourselves to educate though around us who will. Should we leave it to Akon, Mandy Mor, R Kelly and Shakira to teach the public about bellydancing? Oh heavens no.

Friday, September 07, 2007

One Voice at a time

I take it upon myself everyday to be responsible everyday by educate though around me about what bellydaning is exactly. I do because I want people to understand the beauty of the art. I want people to understand its history, it's culture, it's spirituality and it's community. Bellydancing is far more than the sexy stereotype the general public would assume it is. I've mentioned much of this in countless blogs and articles. There are bits a pieces of my wisdom and so much more all over my published material. And I do this everyday. One person at a time, one voice at a time trying over throw the stereotypes. Believing in such a thing seems completely unreasonable. Outrages at that... but I beg to differ. Sometimes it only takes one person and one voice.

Here's a Story to remember (and inspires me to continue my quest)

One day I received an email from my very best friend Marquita about how she accidentally ended up talking about bellydancing to a complete stranger. What compelled me was not the fact she got into a discussion about bellydancing (although that was a surprise itself) but that what came out of her mouth about the topic was beyond what I imagine.
Now before I tell you what she said let me tell you a bit about my best friend who I call Quita. Quita is a navy girl at heart. She joined the service shorty after high school and traveled a bit while on duty. She relocated to Virginia and then moved to Georgia. She has a house, a car and started a family of her own when she had her son Alijah. A working mom and career women who works with computers. She enjoys most spending time with her son and watching TV among many other things.
Because we live so far apart we hardly see each other. We occasionally talk on the phone when our schedules link together. And when we speak, we speak for hours. I think we could go on days if possible... LOL =)
Anyhow Quita get into this discussion about bellydancing with this woman because the woman wanted to take pole dancing and bellydancing believing somehow that they were linked. Quita stopped the woman in her tracks and began to teach the woman about what bellydancing was really about. She told the woman about how the dance was used as a form of healing, empowerment, community, sisterhood and expression. She even taught the woman that bellydancing was linked to childbirth and cultural traditions. Most importantly Quita told the woman that bellydancing isn't about sexuality it's about art.
My heart was overwhelmed with joy and pride. I was so taken away, it felt as if I was blessed. I couldn't believe my best friend learned so much about bellydancing and she's not even into bellydancing. She told me that she learned it from my articles and blogs. Wow, that's truly beautiful to hear.

I'm so glad my articles have become a teaching tool. There is an endless supply of people out there that no little to nothing about the art of bellydancing and continue to taint it's reputation further encourage the stereotypes. I believe it's up the members of the bellydance community to constantly educated and re-educate the public about the dance we love and practice daily.

These are thoughts that will continue to lurk my thoughts. I must write an article about this some day!!!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Bellydance Duet

The Duet world
Yes, me and Sahjaza have been working on launching our duet website. We are very excited about the project and about all the new shows have together lined up. This website should be coming up sometime this month (hopefully maybe next week or so). But this really has been or focus this summer.

The only thing keeping the website down right now is the fact we need to take a couple of updated professional photos together. All the other mechanics of the site are done, this baby is ready to go anytime.

For now we focus on the photos and plan to figure out how we want to announce our new duet site to the world. The minute the website takes off I'll write about it here. I can't wait to show the world what we came up with!!!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Blog distance

I'm still working on creating a duet website but I also noted...

This funny cartoon made me remember that I've been neglecting my blogs lately. I've been so focused on web-design and relaxing a bit during the summer air that I haven't posted many entries in a while. But now that summer has ended yet again, it's back to work and back to business!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Picture Editing finally!

So my boyfriend finally bought me a photo editing program for my PC. I bought a new computer this spring and lost my old photo editing software along with it.
Well it would have not worked anyway because I have the new stupid "Vista" thing. Whoppie... what's the point? (I don't get the hype)

I was asking him for the longest time to get me a copy of photoshop but instead he bought me a program called photo explosion plus. The program is a lot of fun and not too hard to learn which is why I like it.
I've been staying up for hours playing with photos. Sometimes I can be the biggest computer nerd... Lol
Look out world I'm making new picture stuff!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Addressing the 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8

We all learn in different ways. Some of us are visual learner, some of us are auditory learners, some of learn by just doing...etc. Seems like common sense doesn't it?

Well when it comes to dancing, belive it or not but some of us find it extremely hard (if not impossible) to count steps while dancing. I know for a very long time that was the situation for me. I waited to see if anyone would discuss that issue but since I haven't seen anyone voice their opinion on the matter, I decided to step up to the plate and address the issue myself.

For people who were brought up in homes where their families played cultural music and were taught how to dance traditional forms of dance know exactly why this "count dancing" seems impossible.

Let me give you an example:
For Hispanic women this is a reoccurring issue. Latin dancing like salsa and meringue are not the kind of dances where Hispanic children count 1-2-3-4 to learn the dance technique of their parents. Latin families teach their dance to children by example and by physically encouraging to just dance. They encourage children at a very young age to listen and feel the music because the music will tell you how to move. Everything from the beat of the rhythm to lyrics of the song become embedded in the children. The movements become like second nature and no counting was ever necessary. This is the way many people were taught to dance, this is the way I was taught to dance.

Not to long ago I encountered a wonderful article on orientaldancer.net about a woman who took dance classes with the legendary Dina. The writer named Yonisha mentioned that Dina kept stating, "in between her explanations of the movements and kept repeating over and over to everybody NO COUNTING! LISTEN TO THE MUSIC, DANCE TO THE MUSIC, NO 1, 2, 3..." and then laughed out loud. She was trying to make everyone understand that the music needs to be felt."

I can't tell you how relieved I was to read those words!
You can find the full article here by the way Amazing weekend of bellydancing

I'm not a fan of counting and dancing as you probably figured out by know. I don't like it because it pulls my emotions from the song. It's distracting and I also feel like I'm doing some kind of math problem... Lol

So what is with the tendency to count anyway? I find that counting is most important when you dancing with a group. Seriously, I can't find a single reason why a soloist should ever count when dancing alone. Yuck, then you could notice that the dancer is concentrating and that is just plain tacky.

I know for some dancers it does feel like relearning something from Sesame Street all over. It's annoying but you have to learn to do it one way or another. Learn it and change it as I always say.

Todays blog was brought to you by the letter N for no and by the letter C for counting.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Color me

Often many people ask me, "What are you?" of course they are referring to my heritage, but I always love to play the hard-to-get-game with that question. I have three automatic responses for that kind of question: A) I'm a new yorker , B) What do I look like, or C) why do you ask?

I can't help but question the motive behind the person who is asking me that kind of question. I know that sometimes people are just unsure or curious. That probably makes the most sense right? I guess so.

For me often enough people will assume I'm another race because to them I look exotic. Maybe I do, especially when I wear a lot of makeup or when I'm in costume.

Still there are others who ask about what race you are in order for them to size you and judge you differently. I don't like the idea of being labeled and judged based on what I am versus who I am. I like to be judged based on my merits not my ethnicity or anything so ridiculous.

Sometimes when people find out that I'm not the kind of ethnic race they expect me to be they begin to take away my dance creditability. All of a sudden they will view me as a good dancer instead of the great dancer they loved during my performance. Why you ask this may be? Simple they believe only certain races can be true bellydancers-- that just makes no sense of course.

If you want to know what race I am, then pick a color. Color me the shade you please, just don't attach my dance skill to it. That will really push my buttons!

Even in this blog I'm not going to say what I am. It's not because I'm not proud of my race (goodness no I love my people). It's because again this blog is part of my belly dance life. I'm a belly dancer and that's all you really need to know.

P.S: Okay... I confess, I love making people guess what race I am just for fun =)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Sad Blog Imitation

Yesterday I found myself frustrated by discovering a sad imitation of so called Video blog. I have no problem with others creating video blogs as I did, but I am frustrated by the idea of creating a blog with nothing to say This blog was the laziest blog attempt I have ever seen.

Ok, I know anyone can do anything they want on a blog, say anything they please (some what) and post just about anything as well. But as a writer, I personally feel that a blog has to have some kind of written material within it. Anything from quotes, statements, opinions, essays, stories, poems... anything that requires the author to express themselves a little to their readers. A blog doesn't have to say much but for heavens sake it should say something. Now back to the lazy video blog I found...

So I checked out this Bellydancing Video blog and I'll describe to you what I found. It's a well set up video blog filled with a collection of Youtube videos listed under specific dancers names. The videos are of dancers who are well known professionals recognized around the world. The basic concept of this blog that this person created was to have dancers watch other dancers dance. Pretty much like Youtube. The only difference is this author of this blog organized the videos to make them easier to watch. Whoopee... As if it's that difficult to type in the dancers name on the Youtube search bar and find the video myself. I didn't think typing in names could be like rocket science.

So that's pretty much the concept of that whole blog. Congratulations this author create an imitation organized version of Youtube all over again. Seems so unnecessary doesn't it?

The biggest problem with this blog is that there is NOTHING TO READ. The blog has a title, a description of what the whole blog is and a list of links, that's it. No other information is provided. There are no explanations why the particular videos were picked, no description of each of the videos, no written thoughts, no anything. The website looked like a lonely wild western movie. This blog lacked luster a personal touch can provide.

That blog that person created was so easy to make too, it was almost insulting. All this person did was cut and paste videos from YouTube, anyone can literaly do that within two hours or so. I wondered why they even bothered calling it a blog in the first place, they should have just created a website with this video idea as their main focus. I guess the blog world and website madness is somehow merging into one.

I for one manage 3 blogs, I have 2 that are focused on bellydancing and a third which is a little more personal. But for all my blogs I put a great deal of my own effort into each of them. Each blog has central idea and gives readers an insight to what I'm thinking or feeling. The point is to share something on a blog. Don't just throw stuff together, put in a little effort in everything you do!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Forgetful Student Syndrome

The Beginners Forgetful Syndrome

One of the most popular concerns among students who first take dance classes is the fact most of them feel that the minute they step out of the class they completely forget the lesson they just went over. But this is a common part of the learning process. It takes a while for the brain and the body to absorb the movements. It normal to feel as if you can't remember everything by the time you get home. But not to worry, because you are learning the movements you need to just give it some time.

Even professional dancers experience this sometimes. If your body is learning a completly different new way of movement, it's normal to feel temporary forgetful. Think of it as your own mind & bodies way of telling you "Hey, what is this thing your making me do? It's freaking me out and I'm not going to obey" and in response to that notion your body tries to make you forget. But again don't worry, your brain has a backup drive where the information is always been stored-- it's all about retrieving the information.

Here are a few pointers to help you remember the movements and improve your dance skills...

*Focus on the way your body feels in class, pay attention to the muscles and relax.
*Go over the movements again and again in your mind as you head home. If you can take notes in class
*When its time to practice on your own, go over which ever movements you do remember.
*Even if you could only remember one movement, it's ok. Go over it many, many times to master it.
*Make practice a regular part of your every day.
*Try to make practice feel less like practice and more like part of your everyday movements. For example shimmy while washing the dishes. Practice hip circles while talking on the phone... etc.
*Get used to listening to Middle Eastern music, maybe buy the same music your teacher uses in class so your mind can remember the movements easier.
*Last but not least, have fun. Encourage others to wiggle with you for fun and laughs, come on your bellydancing not doing a math equation!

Friday, May 04, 2007

A Healing article

I came across an article that talked about the healing power of belly dance. It was a beautifully written account of one woman's experience moving from hardships and using belly dance as form to filter out the bad and rediscover the good. It was an amazing article. I was completely taken by her words, she literally had me in tears.
Her article reminded me of myself, I began to remember a time when I use dance as form of healing. I can look back and remember one particular time where my world felt upside down. It was a time I when I stopped wanting to be close to anybody.

I remember rehearsing alone and watching myself come back to life with the inner spirit of dance. Even though I was going through such a very difficult time, I remember being able to feel again whenever I danced. This dance truly did wonders for my soul. It healed me.

PS: Wish I could show you the link but it was taken down because the site no longer exists. 

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Photo Concentration

Concentrating on my new focus: Taking brand new professional photos!

It's not easy finding the right photographer. I've been doing my homework and trying to pick the best candidate to take my next bundle of photographs. I got lucky because I was able to nail it down to three of my favorites. I want to work with all three but for now I can only work with one.

I told myself that this time I will have more patience and pick the most artistic photographer. My last bundle of photo's were entirely experimental and fun. Now I'm searching for an creative measure to have my photograph taken. I want these photographs to say more than just "bellydancer" I want them to say more and be able to express emotion.

It was hard to pick one between my favorite three but I had to go with my instinct. I know which photographer I will use now it's just a matter of setting up an appointment to take the photographs.

I been telling myself all winter that I had to take new photo's by the summer, it was a feeling I had. Now I think I might have more than one photo shoot coming up. I'm actually not along taking photos alone, I'm trying to set up another photo session with my dance partner Sahajazha! That's going to be a load of fun--- I just know it. We will also be incorporating another dancer with us who specializes in another form of dance (and isn't bellydance either). She will be our guest feature in the photos. I can barely wait for that photo shoot =)

And so now I wait, think, decide and plan... soon will come action!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Akon does not know bellydancing!

Time and again I find myself driven to steer the public into understanding what belly dancing is and what belly dancing is not. It seems like a never ending battle against fighting the wrongful images that media projects about belly dancing which are almost always completely negative, misinterpreted and stereotyped.

Please understand that just because you see a image on T.V. doesn't make the image real. In fact the truth is far from it. This topic about images leads me to a very popular pop song by Akon entitled "Belly dancer"

I'll be one of the many bellydancers to step up to the plate and explain that this Akon song has nothing to do with bellydancing. The song is not a song about bellydancing, it's a song about wanting to dance "like" a bellydancer. According to Akons lyrics he doesn't know nothing about bellydancing.

A few selected Lyrics to point out (the least insulting ones anyway) :

Hey ladies drop it down / Just want to see you touch the ground / Don't be shy girl go Banaza / Shake ya body like a belly dancer

Drop down where? What is he talking about?
Touch the floor how? What kind of tacky images is he even talking about? I refuse to note the rest of the language he uses in his song because I find it degrading and insulting to the women who dedicate their lives to this art of dance.

And about that video...
And let me not even get started on that video that he produced for that song. There is not a single Belly dancer in that entire video. All the girls in the video are just models and hip-hop dancers bouncing around. To tell you the truth, I don't even know what those video girls are doing but it sure isn't bellydance I'll tell you that much!!! Why don't you see it for yourself...

This Is Not Belly Dancing!

There is nothing in that video that show cases Middle Eastern Bellydance. Every time I see the video I feel a blood rush of frustration filter throughout my body. I sit back and think, "Wow this video is one giant step backward for us belly dancers, now we have to work even harder to re-educate the public about bellydancing yet again--- all thanks to Akon.

Personally I think he is a great artist with a wonderful voice. I just can't stand his song "Belly dancer" and I hate the video even more. I wish they would ban it.

I will conclude this blog with a wonderful real bellydance performance you can check out below. Yes, this clip was once on T.V. but for once is was the real thing! Feel free to compare the fake belly dancers in Akon's video with the real belly dancers you see below. Enjoy =)

This Is Belly Dancing!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Video Samples of Different Bellydance Styles

The Different Bellydance Styles

I decided to use this page of my blog to educate the public about the different styles of bellydance. These are only a few samples I found among many, some of the videos are with me and some are with others. I only posted what was available on Youtube. Be aware that there are many other subdivisions of bellydance which I may have not added. But overall here you can find the main styles that influence the rest.

This list of videos do illustrate the different techniques used in each style. Hope you enjoy!

Egyptian Style
This is elegant, classical style of bellydance. The movements are graceful and strong. This is a wonderful sophisticated style of bellydancing.
Star dancer: Sohalia

Classical Egyptian / Modern
A seductive dance to illustrate the music. This specific number was designed to express the emotions of beauty and romance.
Star Dancer: Elektra

Lebanese Style Bellydance
This is a lively form of dance, it's flirty, classy and fun.
Star Dancer: Rindala

Tribal Fusion Style
This bellydance style is the most grounded and slithery of all the different bellydance styles. The movements are super controlled and majestic.
Star dancer: Rachel Brice

American Cabaret / Modern Egyptian Style
This is a fun festive style with a graceful twist geared to be funny, sexy and upbeat.
Star Dancer: Elektra (Clip from award winning performance)

Turkish / Cabaret Style
The most liveliest, diverse and upbeat style of bellydance. Movements in this particular style are blended from other forms of bellydance.
Star dancer: Ansuya

Tribal Style
A cultural style of bellydance. This dance technique uses many elements of folk and traditional forms of dance.
Star Dancer: Sarah Locke

Gypsy Style
Related style of bellydance which incorporates dance movements from Spain
Star Dancer: Nadira

Bellydancing from the past
This is hollywood glamor age of when Egyptian bellydancing
Star Dancer: Samia Gamal

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The long absent writer

It has been way too long since I've posted anything here on my blog. I come as guilty as they come I know. But I've been up to so much it hard to sit still and dedicate 2 hours to writing. Yes it takes me that long because I write so much. I love to write but I love dancing more, which is why I spend so much more time bellydancing than anything else.

During my blog absence: I graduated from college, got a day full-time job at really big corporation, began teaching new beginner bellydance workshops, bought costumes and designed costumes, joined a new sports club gym and ofcourse performed at venues and private parties.

So it wasn't like I sat around the T.V all day (god no, I can't stand that) I was working on many, many, many things as always. Just like my profile says "I'm the kind a girl that likes to do a whole lot in a day!"

I have lots of fun stuff to write about soon...