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.

A birthday party

I recently had the honor of performing at my friend, Lucy, daughter’s birthday party. With the fairy princess theme, the room was filled with incredibly colorful wings and dresses, sweets,  games, and music. Lucy and I performed and taught a few moves to our joyous guests. We were fortunate to be able to offer our new studio, Art in Motion Pittsburgh as the location.

I love our new studio! With its full kitchen and bath, front and open main room, the party potential is endless! Below, enjoy some of the highlights!

Interesting in renting our space for your own party? Contact me at jengal55@gmail.com!

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!

2015 PBFC Workshop Series!

Source: 2015 PBFC Workshop Series!

Still time to register for this weekend’s Pittsburgh Bellydance Festival festivities! You can buy your workshops a la carte or splurge and attend it all with a VIP pass 🙂 November 7th-8th at the Pittsburgh Dance Center​!

Saturday’s PBFC15 Workshop Festival Line-up

Saturday’s festival line-up packs in the punches with an incredible offering of regional talent! We have workshops, a lunch lecture, vendors, competitions, and a gala show! Here is a quick guide to what is available! Sign up now and don’t miss out!

Source: Saturday’s PBFC15 Workshop Festival Line-up

Registration

Source: Registration

The PGH Bellydance Festival Competition registration is closed but you can still sign up for our workshops, lectures and gala shows! Save money with a VIP pass and do it all or register a la carte or any of our events! There is something for everyone here!

Why I dance? A guest blog post by Noreen…

Pittsburgh Bellydance AcademyWhy I dance? A guest blog post by Noreen…

Hi. My name’s Noreen and probably the last person you would think who would be studying bellydance. I’ve never taken other dance classes, never played any competitive sports, and I’m not at all outgoing. Small talk makes me uncomfortable, eye contact can be too intense for me and having to meet with anyone to talk about myself (whether that be a performance review, a job interview or even a date) can be downright horrifying.

So how did I end up at Pittsburgh Bellydance Academy?

A little over a year ago I was struggling with gaining weight despite being more active and watching what I ate. I was eventually diagnosed with a thyroid problem, but I was really beating myself up in addition to just not feeling comfortable in my own skin. I had studied bellydance for a few years in the mid-1990s and enjoyed it, so I decided to look around for classes. I thought going for the physical benefits—particularly increasing strength and flexibility—would make it worth a try.

I decided to drop in to a Saturday morning Hip Curve class and finding bellydance again was like reuniting with a long-lost love.

Is it scary? Of course! It took awhile for me to feel like I could stop thinking that I looked silly, or that other people were judging me. (They weren’t!) What happens, though, I think, is that my brain requires every bit of its capacity to make my rib cage move just a little to the left or to the right, or to do any of a variety of bellydance movements. There is literally no room left in my brain for self-criticism. The learning curve is still very much there a year, even after a year of usually twice-weekly classes. I’m still very much a beginner, but everyone in class knows how difficult it is, so it is very much a supportive environment—our instructors and fellow students are great people!

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I just really can’t say enough about how great a community it is. There’s a lot of collaboration, and humor, and most especially, support. My life outside of class has been filled with perhaps more than my usual share of hardships in the past year and it has been such a wonderful thing to find Pittsburgh Bellydance Academy when I did.

In addition to the dance itself, and the people, I love the music. And the costuming. The music is so intricate, and dramatic, and the rhythms are fascinating. Plus most of the music that does have vocals are in another language, so my brain is often caught up in trying to memorize music it can’t “sing along” to…I think it tends to keep the creative side of my brain working very hard while I’m doing monotonous tasks or just zoning out on the bus rides to and from work.

There are different styles of bellydance and that’s easiest to see, I think, in the costuming, although the dance styles differ as well. I really like cabaret because I like glittery things. There is something very transformational about trying on a cabaret costume for the first time. For me it was very empowering!

And then there are the opportunities to rehearse and perform with our student troupe, Troupe Faraatha. Talk about a terrifying thought! I didn’t think I was ready to try it out last March, or that I could learn the choreography for 4 whole minutes of music. Mind you, it’s instrumental and so my brain had to try to memorize all of that music plus all of the choreography that went with it. I felt a little like Cinderella…especially when it came to all of the costuming help I needed. (Thanks, Shanna!) My performance wasn’t perfect, or even close to it, but it was such an adrenaline rush, and so much fun, that I’ve managed to keep doing it. I’ve rehearsed a lot of different choreographies with the troupe and rehearsing is where a lot of the fun is for me. Performing is the nerve-wracking icing on the cake—but each time I do it, I feel so much stronger and more confident.

Lately when I have been in intense one-on-one meetings, people have been saying things to me like, “this doesn’t make you nervous?” or “this doesn’t intimidate you?” They have no idea how far I’ve come in the past year. I’m sure part of it is body language—good, strong posture is essential in bellydance—but I think another part is literally a changed brain. I can focus so much better now, and can tune out all of those distracting, self-doubting thoughts. And my physical strength and flexibility is better too. There’s just so much to love about bellydance! Here’s hoping you can stop by Pittsburgh Bellydance Academy sometime soon and give it a try.

Thank you for sharing your experience Noreen! Join us any time for one of our fun and uplifting classes at the Pittsburgh Bellydance Academy!