Archive for teaching

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.


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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Have a seat, and dance!

So I’m injured at the moment, but dance class is tonight and I’m excited! It’s the new year, first class, and I can’t wait to get back after two weeks off.

Since I can’t dance until my knee is fully healed, I plan on teaching a bit of a sit-down class tonight – yes, my student are going to be sitting in chairs for part of the class! Not for them to study and take notes, but to go over upper body movements, arm and hand cues, etc.

If you need ideas on how to teach dance while injured, or maybe just a new idea for class material, check out my plan:


Warm up and stretch torso 

  • Shoulder lifts, thrusts, shimmies
  • Arm undulations
  • Rib isolations

1. Cymbal Rhythm Game: 4-count follow me (I play a random cymbal pattern for four counts, then students imitate.)

2. TOBD combos*:

  • Rib Circle
  • Head Slides/Circle
  • Slow Arms
  • Temple Arms

 *while facing front, then in circle, then duets.

3. Eye Contact in pairs (for 30 – 60 seconds. This is a great exercise to make Duet pairs more engaged when dancing together.)

Since I also teach Oriental Raks Sharki, we’ll go over upper body combinations from our current choreographies as well.

So that’s my plan to keep things ticking while I have to sit this out! If you have other questions or ideas on teaching while injured leave me a message in the comments.

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I like this game!

Games that help students learn

Last night in Basics class we focused on Duets because we’ll be dancing at our Tribal Hafla Food Drive tomorrow, with other dancers who have a wide range of skill levels. So of course, Chorus Line and Center Dancers is the way to go. This way dancers can stick with others who have the same repertoire, and feel more comfortable when they’re out onstage.

And at this particular performance it’ll be even easier for dancers to know who to dance with because the Advanced dancers will be wearing a particular costume; the Basics students will be wearing whatever they like. That also provides better photo opportunities!

So anyway, last night I was staying in the Chorus Line to let the students keep rotating in and out as Center Dancers, and we used all the songs we’ll be playing at the Hafla. They all did really well: they kept switching leaders, changing the staging, using different moves, and were really fun to watch.

In class I often like to take a few minutes after each song, drill, or set to have the students talk about anything that happened during the dancing. These little discussions are really helpful to clear up issues they may have when following other dancer’s cues, fix timing mistakes, sight lines, or get clarification on timing, moves, etc.

There’s a pair of sisters in the class who get together to practice quite a bit. I heard one of them say to the other, “I knew you were going to play ‘Throw the Leader'” and my ears pricked up! It turns out they have a game they play to see how quickly they can throw or change the lead, which I think is hilarious. And I love it! So that’s why their Duets went so well – they were active, interesting, and engaging to watch. I think we’ll be playing this game a lot!

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planning tribal classes at Pennsic 2013

I’m looking forward to later this summer when I’ll be camping again for a short week at Orluk Oasis in Pennsic; and I’m scheduled to teach ONE Tribal Odyssey Bellydance class on the second Wednesday. I’ll be sharing some of the fast (advanced) lead-and-follow combinations, including several combos with finger cymbals (of course, cymbals are optional for new students). I hope to have a live drummer again this year.

Rajni, also of Orluk, is teaching the slow combos, and her classes repeat over several days. We both scheduled our classes for early in the morning (in the Middle Eastern teaching tent) so get up early and beat the heat!

Rajni in red

Rajni of Orluk Oasis

Rajni’s classes run in the second week, at 9am on:
7/28, 7/29, 7/31, and 8/1 (Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday). Contact Rajni through her website, Qamar Tribal Odyssey Bellydance

My classtime is 10:30am on Wednesday July 31, just after Rajni’s earlier class. Here’s the event on Facebook: Tribal O combos at Pennsic

Students taking any of our classes can get a DISCOUNT Access Pass to the TOBD Playlists on my YouTube channel (for example, the Slow Combos and Staging series). Be sure to ask about the Discount in class!

I can’t wait to see my Orluk family and the wonderful community of Pennsic bellydancers! It’s always the highlight of my year.

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are streaming videos better than DVDs?

Are streaming videos better than DVDs? There’s a good case for it! I love settling in to watch my favorite shows on DVD; but for learning bellydance, I think being able to choose which how-to video to watch – without using remotes and scrolling through DVD menus – is quicker and simpler.

For instance, the Playlist I put up recently on Level One material contains these separate videos:

  1. Promo (free)
  2. Intro to TOBD (free)
  3. Formation Drill (free)
  4. 7 combos and cues
  5. “Follow me” Duet Demo (that’s me and Al-‘Anqa dancing together)
  6. Lead-changing techniques for Duets
  7. Lead-changing in ANY formation
  8. My classroom tips for efficient teaching
  9. 2 endings; and how to Exit the performance space.

That’s a lot of info – on the DVD they were arranged in two separate menus. In the Playlist, you can see them all at a glance and choose the one you need. Easier, yes? It’s GREAT for pulling out just what you want to practise (following one of the dancers in the Duet Demo is SUPER when you’re dancing at home!).

tribal bellydance duet

dancing as a synchronized duet, with no choreography

And having the videos right on youtube is SO much easier than having to join a separate site and sign up for monthly access or whatever. I know that’s how I’d want to do it if I were taking online classes.

So I’ll probably change the Promo clip soon as it’s all about the DVD; and other fun how-to ideas are in the works right now – BUT, it’s tax time so…

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online streaming videos now available!

I love how learning bellydance at home gets easier and easier! I’m excited to offer the TOBD Level One material online now as Streaming Video – it’s comparable to the Foundation DVD, and available to watch anytime.

I’ve arranged several pre-recorded videos into a Playlist on youtube: “Tribal Odyssey Level One”; and I’m working on the next levels as well…

This material can take a bellydance troupe onstage to dance together without choreography – all included in Level One. And, these slower combinations are the ones I use when introducing students to finger cymbals  – and THAT video is coming soon too. It’s so much easier to help students learn to play cymbals with TOBD than it was without – for that reason alone I’m glad I developed this format!

Here’s it is: the Level One TOBD Playlist.
An Access Pass is just $24.00; and for a limited time, a full 18-minute Warmup Routine is included free.

Contact me (Kawakib) for details; it’s easy – no monthly fees, no membership required.  If you can watch youtube videos you can watch these Streaming Videos – you just need a youtube account.

belly dancing

dancing together

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exploring Level Four tribal dancing

Tribal Odyssey has always been a WIP, “Work In Progress”. I began with a handful of combinations and a hazy idea of group floor patterns and leader-changing. Lucky for me I had a troupe to use in real time, so we could try the ideas and see how they worked.

As my original partner Miramar and I taught this format to our students, after several years I noticed that students often had confused or hazy ideas of the basic floor patterns, and how they could change. Other students weren’t sure of what combinations they could use in certain group formations, or how the lead-throwing happened. It appeared that students were studying and dancing this format for a couple of years and still being confused – that was a problem.

So I looked at the work in it entirety and pondered how best to break it down into teachable chunks. Teaching random combinations and staging changes here and there wasn’t working. I knew students needed the most basic concepts first, then they could build onto it – so that’s how Levels One, Two, and Three originated. I shared the ideas with Miramar and she began teaching that way too. Now after almost 10 years of following this plan, I know it works. Starting with the slowest combinations (the only ones used in the Chorus Line backing up Center Dancers), students can learn quickly and in a short amount of time they can even dance in a mixed level group, even if they only dance in the Chorus Line. (See my post, What tribal does best.) I love that!

Having the levels organized like this really helps students grasp the overall concepts better and actually DO “group improv” more quickly.

So we’ve been dancing through all the levels for years, and recently have been exploring Level Four. We’ve always had Sword Combos in mind for this level, as well as Solo Improv (in front of the Chorus Line), which we’ve used in certain situations; now it seems we’ve discovered another concept: adapting to performance venues.

I wrote about how we adapted TOBD in our performances at the sidewalk art event in these two previous posts:

I believe this VERSATILITY in synchronized group bellydance was one of the original concepts Carolena had in mind when she began, as she needed her troupe FatChanceBellydance™  to be able to perform in various spaces in restaurants and at events.

It’s interesting to come around full circle in our journey…or perhaps it’s really more of a spiral!

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