Change your dance. Change your life!

Everyone needs a mentor. We all need someone to guide us and help us realize what our fullest potential is with the added comfort of knowing that our mentor is sincerely interested in our personal development and success.

For almost a year now, I have been mentoring with Lisa Zahiya, bellydancer extraordinaire from Asheville, NC, and am so glad that I have! Last year, right around this time, I had my own classes, was hosting a myriad of events around town, and was an OK dancer. I was fluent in most props by now but perhaps clung to them a wee bit too desperately. On the outside, I knew that I was respected in my community, but I knew that I was not where I wanted to be in my dance career.

Enter Lisa! I hosted Lisa Zahiya last year for a series of workshops and a gala show. Her teaching style captured my attention and I knew that I wanted to try to create a class atmosphere like hers. Not to bore you with the details, but Lisa created homework for me that made me incredibly accountable to her and myself.

Lisa Zahiya teaches
Lisa Zahiya teaches

What kind of homework do you ask? Well, with my personal dance practice, at first, I had to drill my layers: hip rocks, with a hip movement overlayed with an arm path of my choice. Now take the same drill and use your obliques to initiate the hip rocks. Now add a chest movement in there. And so on, and so on. And I had homework for each of the areas of weakness I had identified. Hard stuff…but amazing. Even as I am typing this, I am looking over some of those first assignments and realizing I need to do them a bit more!

We reviewed videos of my performances and dance practices, we set goals both personal and with my business, and we checked in often to see how it was going. Lately, I have been assigned that very difficult task of dancing without props! Nooooooooo!!!!

Noooooo!!!! I need my props!
Noooooo!!!! I need my props!

But it is a good assignment, one that I need desperately and one that I am already working on and loving!

I can tell you this, the last piece of planning homework, my own personal Bellydance State of the Union, was an eye opener! Not only, I have I met my business goals already for 2013, but I can actually see a change in my dancing. More than myself seeing the change, others have told me the same, that my dancing has evolved. Needless to say, I am so very grateful and so very happy. It has been a lot of hard work, but it has been an enjoyable journey!

Janim dancing at a wedding 2012
Janim dancing at a wedding 2012

The even more amazing repercussion has been the change in myself when in my day job. I am a landscape architect by trade. I love what I do, but over the past year of mentoring, I have gained more confidence and joy in my work than I had before.

Bellydance State of the Union

Last night, I had my mentoring call with the lovely Lisa Zahiya of Asheville, and it was suggested that it is about time for me to undertake a little Bellydancer State of the Union.

Over the last six months, Lisa has been helping me to establish my bellydance business as well as to develop a personal practice for myself. Most of the business goals I had established have been met, the personal practice goals are a wee bit lagging, but there has been improvement. I do tend to struggle with them, but she helps me understand how to break them down into manageable tasks.

Dancing cat
Goal 745: Teach cats bellydance entrance piece with veil. Too ambitious perhaps?

Breaking down goals into realistic and manageable tasks is such a positive motivator. It makes you realize that there is truly a path towards your goal.

OK! Now time to evaluate the event planning, the class teaching, and the performances, and the business development of the past few months. I created this spreadsheet below (looks boring, I know) so that I can track profits/ expenses, time spent, and emotional reactions to each of my activities.

BD SOTU

What we want to see is where is the most emotional benefit derived from as well as the most profit. I have a feeling that this chart, once entered and analyzed will lead me to drop something or other or to consolidate. Because if it isn’t fun and rewarding, then what is the point?

3r15cw

Recap: A March weekend with Lisa Zahiya!

I know this is a month or two late, but I definitely wanted to recap our amazing weekend with Lisa Zahiya of Asheville on her return trip to Pittsburgh!

Lisa was in town to teach 3 incredible workshops that were not only fun and entertaining, but challenging and rewarding. Lisa’s first workshop, Hips of Fire: Technique, redefined hip work as I know it. I always find it fascinating to see how teachers break down movements into bite size pieces for students. Good communication is a gift, and in this area, Lisa is a gifted teacher.

In her second workshop, Hips of Fire: Choreography, Lisa introduced us to a choreography to a Nancy Ajram tune, El Dounya Helwa. The song is sickeningly sweet yet undeniably catchy. The movements and the combinations fit the tune perfectly. We did our best to emote saccharine! All joking aside, the choreography was fun to learn and practice.

Lisa’s final workshop, Pop, Lock, & Undulate helped us to learn how to fuse elements from a different style of dance into bellydance and what a fusion piece really entails. In this instance, we worked with bringing traditional hip hop movements into our bellydance repertoire. The waving exercise towards the end was absolutely mesmerizing!

As a host for the weekend, I was honored to have the line-up of talented dancers who not only participated in the workshops but then performed their hearts out at the Saturday night gala show. We had our local favorites, Mehira, Unsuk, Nawal, Berna, Kari, Hakan, and our very own ISHTAR! From out of town, I was honored to have Athena Nile, Khalisay, Aya of Virginia, and Lisa Zahiya herself performing!