Dancing while pregnant…

The last 28 weeks have been interesting I must say. While I can not wait to meet the little one I am toting around, I have found my pregnancy challenging in so many ways.

I work full time, teach weekly dance classes as well as take them, run the Pittsburgh Bellydance Festival, and had been performing until a couple of weeks ago. Slowing down has never been in my vocabulary. And now? Yes, now I realize, I can not keep up like I used too, and it is incredibly hard, mentally, to accept.

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Dancing at the Silk Screen Gala at 14 weeks

Some of the immediate challenges that I have encountered include compromised balance, unexpected aches, pains and nausea, less trust in my body awareness, and a harder time breathing through my dance. I have had to adapt my teaching style to make sure I am not injuring myself while still making sure my students are getting the most out of classes.

More challenges? Costumes stopped fitting after only a few months even when barely showing. I am no longer able to use an intense workout as a way to relieve built up stress. I find this one actually the most difficult challenge to deal with and have yet to find a remedy that suits me.

Even more challenges?!?! Feeling extremely depressed and alone to have to sit it out on the sidelines even if I feel up to dancing. And perhaps, I think people are a little aghast and afraid to see a pregnant woman dance at times. Who knows…the maybe may pop out on our next hip bump? lol

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22 weeks pregnant, costumes stretching

Now after all of this complaining, one might ask, so what have you learned? Is there anything at all you can reflect positively on during this time? Yes, yes, there is. I decided to study baladi progressions again and am beginning to deeply root and ground myself into the dance. I have been exploring a variety of transitions and arm positions and instilling stillness in my dance, and stillness is a lesson I definitely need to learn.

I hope to be able to continue learning this lesson of patience as well. Truthfully, what is the hurry in life? I will be back in my costumes after a while. I will be able to dance full speed again soon. I will be able to resume my intense workouts to clear my head. I will be able to add back in my arabesques, samba jumps and leaps in no time, however how often do you have the chance to dance for two? How often can you force yourself to truly tackle the type of dance that you typically avoid? When do you take the time to sit in a pose or to work a move slowly, slowly, slowly? Not often! So here I am trying to embrace the remaining weeks and enjoy my latest phase of dance. I hope all of you can do the same!

Dancing, judging and performing

I just returned from an amazing weekend in Delaware at Jewels of the Orient, Jewels of the Orient 2014one of our sister festivals with Pittsburgh Bellydance Festival and Competition. I was honored to be asked to judge the competition categories and to be part of the Sugar and Ice Gala Show.

All of the competitors did an amazing job, especially the ones who entered multiple categories. Jewel of the Orient 2014 winnersThe winner of the professional oriental category will actually be on of our featured teachers this November in the Pittsburgh Festival. Katrina, our winner, is from Washington DC and is even now off to Egypt to study and we hope, fingers crossed, to bring back some juicy new moves for us!

I was extremely fortunate to take a 3 hour intensive with Asmahan, one of my new bellydance heroes. We not only learned an entire demanding chroreography, which yes, to my students, we will be learning, but also had time to go through segment by segment to clean it up.

Later in the weekend, I had the honor to take a class with Yasmina Ramzy of Toronto. I thoroughly enjoyed her eloquence in her instruction. Looking around the room, i realized most dancers were teachers and she really catered to our thirst for knowledge in the minutiae.

I was even happy with my performance! I performed double veil to a George Abdo cifti followed by a small part of our HipCurve inspired drum solo. If you are in the Burgh, you should stop by my classes as we are working our way through the entire drum solo right now, and wow, it is demanding!

My partner in crime was the ever lovely Amartia of Maryland! She performed her very own version of a traditional greek dance with a bit of bellydance surprise added in. She is  also a dear friend and a featured lecturer at this year’ festival!

Anyways, next year, I highly recommend this event! I enjoyed every moment! Thanks to Nefertiti and Lorelei for offering such a quality festival!

Belly-Off 2012: Angela Alam

Part 2 of our Belly-Off in review features Angela Alam, runner up in our Headliner category!

Angela AlamHow long have you been dancing?
I was a late belly-bloomer.  I began taking classes in 2006 at the age of 35 with Amira Nagi in Hurricane, WV.
Maybe I should give you some back story on how I got into this… It might be more interesting than just the static question and answer…or not. ha
I found belly dance sort of by accident.  I had bariatric surgery in 2005 and ended up losing a total of 100lbs.  My Dr was really after me to find a way to be active and maintain my weight loss.  I found belly dance at an art fair in Charleston, WV.  A group called “Rom Neve” performed, and to tell the truth I cant remember if they were part of the scheduled entertainment or just busking, but I was hooked on the music and the beautiful dancer that “moved like smoke” (to quote a band member). I set out on an internet search to see if she offered dance classes locally.  I didnt find that particular dancer, but I found videos of Rachel Brice and “Fat Chance Bellydance” and finally information on a local teacher, Amira Nagi. I was hooked. I took classes for a few years with Amira and danced with in her student troupe. When Amira took a break from teaching, she turned her classes over to Jenna Brooke Swanson.  (fyi, Jenna was the Rom Neve dancer…YAY)
I danced with Jenna’s student troupes in its many evolutions;  Bella Dames and the Nitty Gritty Gypsies, Bal aBlonde (funny story) and Raqs Shakti.  Jenna has since moved to the west coast to further her career and I have sort of been on my own since.  I travel to as many workshops and intensives as financially possible.  I have studied with Moria Chappel, Sherena and Tiffani Ahdia from Project Bellydance.     I began as a fusion dancer and only recently discovered the more traditional forms of bellydance.  Teachers of Oriental dance are scarce here in my little part of the world.  I have made it my goal to learn all that I can so that I can share it with others some day.

Do you prefer dancing to live or recorded music?
Choreography to recorded music is my friend and I love the secure feeling it gives, however nothing compares to the power and energy that comes from live music and improvised dance.  The planned and canned performance is fun, but its a dance recital and it is what it is.  The power of improv and live music fills the room and is something…well, MORE.  (sorry, I cant find better words to describe it)
Why bellydance as opposed to another dance form? And finally, what does bellydance mean to you?
I love that belly dance doesnt care that I’m not 5’9″ and 125. My belly sisters and I have been through lots of personal ups and downs.  Dance lets me get it all out…good and bad.