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!

The monster within…

The monster within…

I am just back from the 2013 Miami Bellydance Convention. This is my second year participating in this large scale event, and this is the second year that I return home feeling incredibly inspired, completely overwhelmed, amazingly awed, depressed, and basically completely jumbled!

Why the contradicting emotions you ask?

The workshops (with Saida, Jillina, and Zoe) and shows were amazing, and the competition was intense. The entire event was extremely well organized and ran without a noticeable hitch. I learned so much in such a short time. However, with all of these amazing things happening around me, I still let the negative voices run rampant through my head.

Voices: You aren’t good enough to be here. You aren’t the right look. You haven’t practiced enough.

Rational me: Shut up voices.

Voices: No.

and back and forth and back and forth…

So I came across this quote,

Slide2And I am going to choose to live by it for today. I am going to revel in the fact that I can teach what I learned to my amazing students. I am going to revel in the knowledge that this event will make me work harder for next year. I am going to revel in the understanding that with training and dedication, I can and will raise the caliber of my dance while still loving the journey!

What are you going to revel in?

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!