Archive for bellydance

Dance fun for everyone

At our Spring Hafla in Fredericksburg I gave a mini-lesson in the fan veil combinations. There wasn’t a lot of room but we all enjoyed a bit of follow-the-leader fun together. It’s a plus that the combos are so easy to pick up – that is, they’re easy to do if you’re big enough to actually use them! Are children’s fan veils a thing? Because kids sure do love playing with floating fabric.

mini-lesson-fan-veils

Big and little dancers playing follow-the-leader with me

We’re enjoying the Fan Veil “game” a lot – more to come in the next shows as well!

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Skirt Flare-kick step breakdown

Step Right, step Left, repeat.

Here’s a quick video clip on the “Flare-kick” skirt combination from the Tribal Skirt online course. The full tutorial goes into more detail but this should be enough to get the gist of the 16-count sequence.

Teaching this particular skirt combo is always an adventure. With only two steps in 8 counts, that leaves 6 whole counts where students are going, “huh?!” Of course, ANY combination that includes facing away from the instructor is a challenge in class because students continuously try to “check in” while dancing – which is why I often sit down and watch. At some point you have to cut the cord and see what happens!

So here it is for you to try on your own – can you get it?

Have you ever noticed that sometimes the simplest combos are the trickiest?

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spending summer dancing

We’ve been dancing all summer, what could be better!

In mid-summer we enjoyed participating with many beautiful guest dancers in a show all about VEIL DANCING, called “Reflections on the Veil“. It was amazing to witness each dancer’s gift of vision. Of course we offered our own group veil improv as well.

group improv with veils

Tribal Veil trio onstage at Reflections

I’ve also been incorporating Tribal Veil into class and the results are good – even for beginning dancers. It gives new dancers something to hold on to, and they love watching themselves in the mirror, swooping these large pieces of fabric through the air. Who doesn’t love veil dancing? Veils are iconic for bellydancers, and they’re a great workout too.

At Pennsic this year my student Siyala and I danced with Rajni and Jackie from Georgia, our dance sisters whom we see so rarely. We all were more than thrilled to have live drumming for our spot at the Middle Eastern Dance Expo; a sweet percussion band made up of our wonderful Orluk mates and guests. They were able to give us a dynamic range of tempos for our group improv set. Hooray Orluk!

dancers in garb at pennsic

backstage at the Expo!

Immediately after getting back from Pennsic, we were excited to dance at Tribal Cafe in Richmond, sponsored by the Bandit Queens. We did another tempo-dynamic set that was extra fun for me because the song begins with karkabas! I’m talking about “Sahara Caravan” by the Desert Knights. Very cool! Tribal Cafe was a lot of fun for so early in the morning! I hope to do it again sometime, we met great folks.

dancers onstage

Nandana, Lisa from NC, Shari Apple, and us after the show; lovely photo courtesy of Providence & Sterling

Then we were absolutely thrilled to be invited to “Tummy Tuesday”, a monthly hafla in Richmond. I LOVE Richmond dancers, they’re so friendly! The space was challenging but my dancers did amazingly well, I’m very pleased with their aplomb! We had a great time doing veil again, and of course finger cymbals. Good times!

dancers in beledi dresses

yes, we’re beledi tribal!

We have a few things coming up right here in town that should be fun too; what a great way to spend a summer – dancing!

Tribal on, dancers!
by Anthea (Kawakib)

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hips in action again

Some of my PRISM Dancers and I did a bit of TOBD in our show at the local multicultural fair yesterday. We used Sirocco’s “Intro” track because it fit in so well with the rural Egyptian music we used for our folkloric choreographies. And of course playing the finger cymbals fits right in too.
I was happy to see my hip moves coming back, I’ve been working on getting them big and clear enough; so I was happy to see this little video, courtesy of Siyala’s family.
We’re all in beledi dresses: no costume changes because it was a short 30-minute show. This also demonstrates how well Tribal Odyssey synchronized improv fits into a show that includes other styles of belly dancing. We began with this TOBD number, then went right into Ghawazee, Raks Assaya; American Oriental; slow TOBD and Tribal Sword; American Belly Dance again; then Interpretive (a fun basket dance). The dresses are a compromise between glitzy and folky – we all stayed onstage through the entire show. So convenient!

by Anthea (Kawakib)

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return to the World of DANCE!

I’m back!

Last month I began bellydancing again after my second hip replacement! Not “full steam ahead”, of course, but more and more each week.

Now after a month of dancing, I’m extremely happy to be both dancing, and able to KEEP UP with my students! The skills came back really fast, though my left leg muscles do get tired quickly. It’s getting better though.

Side-steps are the hardest – who knew what a good exercise the “grapevines” were!? My dancers have learned to make their steps a little smaller when I’m dancing with them so I don’t get overwhelmed during the TOBD Circle grapevines. Previously, they’d be absolutely FLYING around the circle – and I couldn’t keep up! I don’t think they realize how very energizing it is to dance in a circle!

In mid-October I performed a little bit of our tribal improv at a camping event in North Carolina, with several other dancers who were there. That was my first time dancing in public since my surgery, and it was such a blessing. It was an amazing experience. I posted about it here: Camping at War of the Wings.

This past weekend, I danced my little butt off at our Warm Hearts Hafla (a food drive for the local food bank). My students and I did a tribal set of several songs, in a low-key party mode. It was so much fun! Then we had open dancing to funky Arabic pop music, and I just danced myself silly and had a great time.

photo of dancers at a hafla

Anthea surrounded by dancers

Tribal Odyssey has been a godsend for me as I come back to bellydance. The moves and steps are challenging but I can manage if I’m careful, and I know it will only get better. It gives me a pathway to dance, and to dance with my friends, where I don’t have to worry about doing the same repetitive routine over and over. The variety we have really works for me because I’m able to do the steps that suit me best at the moment. I’m just loving this dance journey right now!

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whose side are we on, anyway?

who brought up religion?

Me.

I know people look for markers, patterns, SIGNS – something recognizable to help them make sense of things, and I’m aware of specifically religious end-time symbolism because my first husband was a religious scholar and we both enjoyed discussing theology, theories, and beliefs. I’m also well aware of how some devout Christians strive to distance themselves from any kind of devilry or worship of what they would consider “false gods”.

That being said, I want to set the record straight on my use of the “Eye of Horus” symbolism in our dance format; as well as clarify any references I personally might make concerning the “Goddess”.

The Eye of Horus

image of eye of horus

ancient Egyptian symbol and cool eye makeup

  1. First of all, the “Eye of Horus” is Egyptian, and this dance format is specifically inspired by Egyptian dancing. The shape of the Eye of Horus as used in our format specifically refers to the shape of our dance group in a certain situation when more than 4 of us dance together. This symbolism was first suggested by my co-creator Miramar as a way to help students remember this shape when dancing with a group. It refers to the shape of the group when the Lead Dancer is on the short side of the group. This Improv Tribal Style format is not choreographed but must be created on the spot by the dancers themselves, so any memory tricks are welcome.
  2. Secondly, use of this ancient Egyptian symbol does not signify that I promote, condone, or even permit any behaviour or rituals dedicated to Paganism, let alone Satanism, in my dance activities. In fact I actually became an ordained minister in 2002. Don’t get me wrong, I think paganism can be a positive force (at least it’s better than nothing); but it’s not what I’m about, nor is my dance art about that. When I personally lead a pre-performance circle before a show I quite clearly invoke, by name, the Creative Spirit, a Divine personality. How old-school, to be sure!
  3. Third: in the end what counts is MOTIVATION – that is, what is really in someone’s heart when they wear or use a symbol. People may be fooled by appearances, but the Spirit is not. For instance, if I don’t know any better than to worship a God who has human emotions like anger, that’s fine. But if I know better than that and I still pretend to believe in it – that’s not okay. My religion is of God, but don’t expect me to put my new wine in any of your old wineskins.

And now, enter the GODDESS.

I use imagery that speaks to me – and the attributes of nurturing care and planning that females bring to the table are best personified to me on a universal level by the concept of the Goddess, our Mother Spirit, a complement to the seed of our Universal Father, God. Just two aspects of the trinity deity we come from, move in, and can return to.

Since our finite minds are far from being able to understand, let alone explain these concepts of infinity, the familiar concept of the Goddess stands in as a sort of mental shorthand that gives us dancers an image of inspiring feminine spirituality.

Ant that is why, in my personal work, and for my student dance group that performs all styles of belly dance, I use this image:

Goddess dancer image

my dance logo, created by my daughter

It’s as far from a false god as you can get.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that often what other people see is a mirror of what they have in their minds, and is not really about me at all. But in any case, now this is as clear as I can make it.

If you don’t understand this or have any questions, please feel free to ask me.

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investing time in dance drills

Small drills pay off big later

but how do you find the time?

In a recent show my advanced dancers and I were in the middle of a Tribal Odyssey set when somebody cued the Flare-Kick combo while we were in a circle. My be-here-now focus must’ve been off by a beat or two because I missed the cue and never did catch up. Naturally this particular combination is an extra-long 16 counts, and involves turns and eye-catching arm moves – plenty of time for the audience to notice any irregularities! Oh well.

Wouldn’t you think that several years after creating the combination and plenty of time spent teaching and dancing it, I’d be bullet-proof in terms of boo-boos? Not so much.

So I featured this long but simple combo in drills of the smallest bite-size chunks in class this week, and will continue to do so. My dancers actually love drills, and they’re quick to point out we have so many combos now that getting them all into drills on a consistent basis is hard with such limited class and rehearsal time.

How do you handle drills for a large repertoire of “group choreography” combinations? Do you have any pointers? Is is just that we need another hour or two a week? That solution seems unlikely.

I previously wrote about our Skirt Moves here: we got skirts and we know how to use them a title that seems ironic now! I think we’ll know how to use them better if we continue our Skill Drills!

two dancers

that’s me behind Galiyah, trying to keep up!

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