Be kind. Be accountable. Be present.

Be kind.  Be accountable. Be present.

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These are my three hopes, dreams and aspirations for the New Year. 2018 was amazing…so much incredible design work that I took part in at my office, Studio for Spatial Practice, and so many memorable dance experiences…

  • New students in our Art in Motion family, teaching dynamic children and adults both at the studio and at Point Park.
  • Dance performances throughout the year including beautiful weddings, enriching cultural festivals, and both the Silk Screen and PSO galas.
  • Dancing with my studio partner and friend Luciana on more than one occasion!
  • Dancing with my talented Troupe Taraatha ❤️ and my great friend Jemeena!
  • Dancing with my daughter and seeing her unbridled love for dance!

With all of these wonderful experiences, I think I left myself a bit ungrounded and unable to be fully present in the moment..unfair to myself and others.

In 2019, I want to try my best to speak with compassion, to teach with patience and love, and to work fully grounded in the moment!

What are your hopes and dreams for the new year? Whatever they may be, I wish you peace, love and light in 2019!

Dancing again…

I am the luckiest bellydancing mama…at least I feel that way most of the time! It has been a struggle to regain the confidence I lost post-delivery in my body’s capabilities and image even though I went back to teaching within 6 weeks. I feel as though today, I can finally say I am back and I am ready! I also have a wee little dance partner to share in the fun! I love my IMP!

I hope all the other amazing bellydancing new mamas out there can share in the joy. Hang in there! It will get easier! If you are in town, come on over and dance with me at our new studio, Art in Motion Pittsburgh.

A weekend in the studio!

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Future dancer, my Isabella 🙂

This past weekend was exciting at Art in Motion Pittsburgh! Our Saturday classes are fun, refreshing and actually invigorating…even if you have to wake up early on a Saturday morning. I teach an incredible group of ladies who I love dearly. My Isabella, about to turn 1, is at our classes and with her serious critical face on, we call her our artistic director.

Sunday was filled with an incredible photoshoot with our bellydancers and samba team! Isabella joined us as well and managed to stay awake and smiling and laughing for all 3 hours. I have to send out so much gratitude and love to my studio partner, Luciana, who continues to be an incredible inspiration to me! Thank you Lucy for always helping me and being such a great friend!  I also want to thank Natalia for working so hard with all of our students to take our photos!

I guess I also want to send out a warm wish to the universe and thank it for my life so far. It has not been an easy journey…but it has been rich, rewarding and full of life and love. Dance has instilled so much confidence in me that has carrie dover to my professional life. I hope that everyone can experience the joy and energy that dance can instill into someone, regardless of their age.

Postcard time!

You know it is getting real and we at Team Belly-Off are getting excited for this year’s festival when the postcard order is sent out! Wait till you see our star instructor line-up and our new competition!

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Moving on…

It’s been awhile since I posted as just myself. I am in the midst of clearing out my desk at my job of 13 years and am preparing to move on to a new stage of my life, working with friends of mine who happen to be exceptional designers. I am excited to begin, feeling nostalgic of my time here, and full of joy for what lies ahead.

1377003_10151637707782105_1950850622_nI am trying to create a new mindset for this new beginning and ran across these 10 rules of advice from painter Richard Diebenkorn. I love everyone of them and think they are appropriate to everyone, not just designers or dancers!

Notes to myself on beginning a painting

  1. attempt what is not certain. Certainty may or may not come later. It may then be a valuable delusion.
  2. The pretty, initial position which falls short of completeness is not to be valued — except as a stimulus for further moves.
  3. Do search. But in order to find other than what is searched for.
  4. Use and respond to the initial fresh qualities but consider them absolutely expendable.
  5. Dont “discover” a subject — of any kind.
  6. Somehow don’t be bored — but if you must, use it in action. Use its destructive potential.
  7. Mistakes can’t be erased but they move you from your present position.
  8. Keep thinking about Polyanna.
  9. Tolerate chaos.
  10. Be careful only in a perverse way.

Minding the Daily Details

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Today I am reblogging Ballet Beautiful‘s post entitled “Minding the Daily Details” as it is a topic near and dear to me. In this post, Eliza talks about Mindfulness which is often a recurring topic for my posts. Enjoy a little story by reading it here…

ARM-ed and Dangerous!

Arm-ed and Dangerous!

Arms. Yes, this post is about ARMS! And not just anyone’s arms, but dancer’s arms; and not just any dancer’s arms, but a dancer with elegant arms and carriage.

Bellydance, at its core (there is a pun there, do you see it?) tends to focus on the abdominal and hips. The upper body plays an important part as well, but mainly in the torso region with its accents. Arms are usually the leftovers…the forgotten, last-minute addition to the dinner table…let’s just squeeze them in at the corner of the table between Batty Aunt Mathilda and Crazy Cousin James.

When I find myself captivated by a dancer, I often try to analyze what it is exactly that has me mesmerised by him or her. Sometimes it is the wowee zowee killer moves, but more often than not, it is the arm patterns, extensions, and positions. The arms move naturally and gracefully accent the body line and position. The arms seem to enhance and draw your eye right at the exact moment to right where you should be looking!imagesCA2E6G4W

ARMS! ARMS! ARMS!

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And yes, I am often amazed to meet some of my idols in person to find that they are shorter than me but seem to be 10′ tall on stage! Why? Because these dancers extend through their arms all the way out their fingertips thus giving them the illusion of height!

Needless to say, arms are something I have been practicing of late. I videotape my practices these days. I also rewatch videos of past performances. I can always tell when I was most nervous or tired or unenthusiastic by the position of my arms. They slowly creep in towards my body into the dreaded chicken wing formation. I am now more aware of my tendency and with training and patience and attention to detail, arm mastery is my next task! I work on this in my classes right now. Want to join me this Saturday from 10-11am? We can all be ARM-ed and dangerous!

Here are a few of my favorite dancers who possess that al-ARM-ingly elegant dancing:

I always love watching Sandra’s elegant dancing. Her carriage is lovely and her arms are fantastic!

The stunning Bozenka and her graceful, yet powerful flamenco inspired arms!

So whose ARMS are you hanging on? 😉

Continuing your dance education

While I already follow a bellydance practice schedule for myself in addition to teaching my own classes, I have always thought that adding other dance or fitness classes helps to polish and refine my dance. I also find them to be stimulating, creativity-generating, and just plain fun.

But how do you decide what classes to take? Classes can begin to add up especially once you add in your expenses to train with master teachers in workshops and private lessons. I came across this article today taken from The Ballerina Project blog.

If you havent visited the site yes, be ready for breathtakingly gorgeous photos of dancers in the urban realm. You can also find some rather good advice for dancers in general. I particularly enjoyed this article and her tips on navigating the wealth of classes available!

In a quick summation, she states,

1.Know your background. You should know what style of training you’ve had thus far. If you are not sure, talk to your previous coaches, read their biographies; that should at least give you a sense. This has to do with my first suggestion of going to instructors who teach something different from what you’re used to. The nature of experiencing a different approach, phrasing, or philosophy every teacher has is akin to working with a new ballet master or choreographer, and one of the best things you can do when preparing yourself for dancing various types of ballets.

2.In ballet, we always improve. So when you go to a new class, do so with an open mind and embrace everything you can learn and add to the arsenal of your dance vocabulary. Don’t just follow the order of movements, pay attention to details: the musicality of a combination, the amount of attack a teacher might expect in a step, the corrections they give mid-way…

3.Don’t forget what you already know. Just because this teacher does not stress the use of port de bras as much as your old one used to doesn’t mean you should forget it. Keep all that, anything it might be, and add the new layers. Try to identify points of similarities and points of differences. If a movement is taught differently you cannot disregard. Only directors can afford such attitude. You can’t. Master it both ways.

4.Another thing I find very beneficial is going a level up, if there is one, or a level down, of your own (those going down – less often). For younger people the increased challenge, excitement of performing the fancier elements, and often, being in the presence of an admired dancer are but priceless in the development into a professional. For pros and older students going a level down provides an excellent space for re-checking those basics, taking more time with execution, or taking it easy after an injury or a break.

5.Don’t forget to attend your rarer, but all-important class of jazz, hip-hop or whatever. Not only is cross training good for your muscles, it’s good for your coordination, can do no harm to your ballet form (if there is one) and can open up room for movement previously unexplored with the ingrained repetition of ballet.

Enjoy!!!!