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Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Bellydance Superstars

Lindy from our Woodbridge group starts this thread after seeing the Bellydance Superstars perform last night at the Birchmere in Alexandria, VA:

BELLYDANCING SUPERSTARS was beyond fantastic, beyond totally incredible, beyond anything creative I've ever seen or imagined. The artistry, choreography, costumes, music, drum solos, dance solos, tribal dances, and a Polynesian number were total perfection, so amazingly captivating, beguiling, beautiful, and sheer delight.

Thank you Aly for your passing the word about this, and sorry you got stuck at the office.
Ani couldn't come, and never did find Brenda and Heather. However, arranged to meet up with Sharon (she was one of you private students), and sat with some Iranian ladies and a very interesting man. Saw Beth (she came with some friends) and the first dancer at the Sunday show, and Linda (she was in black sweater and pants last Sunday). Linda and I stuck around to get autographs from 3 of the dancers on back of their picture cards.....will bring this Sunday. Picked up Volume II of their CD series.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

"Structured Curriculum Support"

Dear Ones -

This dialogue supports Alay'nya Studio members who want to give inputs to one of our major goals for 2005: "Structured Curriculum Support." All of you in the Studio are invited to comment!

This theme got started during a post-workshop coffee-session on Sunday, Nov. 14th (2004) between Dancers Kriste and Linda and Alay'nya. The question was: What would support you (the dancers) most for this coming year? The answer, reduced to essentials, was: More focus, more "completion" (e.g., whole choreographies, start-to-end), and more "curriculum support."

As Dancer Kriste put it, "We have the discipline, we just need the structure."

Very well said, Kriste!

Many of us come to Mid-Eastern dance (belly dance, Danse Orientale, Raks Sharqi ...) to tap into an inner expressive core that we all have - one that lives in an entirely different world than that of our 9-5 (and occasionally 5-9) jobs. In dance, we cultivate our access to our "feeling-sense" mode, rather than our every-day "cognitive-thinking" mode.

Yet Kriste's and Linda's points are very well made. We do need technique mastery in order to excel in this art. For many of us, structured choreography is a "path of confidence" into the "structured improvisation" that underlies true expressive dancing. Being able to do an entire choreography - and building a repertoire of choreographies - is an important part of developing not just skill, but confidence.

Many of our Studio members can only make class once a week, but are very willing to practice at home. The challenge that they find lies in figuring out just what to do when they want to practice at home. (I do remember this stage in my dance development; it very much is part of the path.)

So the idea that I suggested to Kriste and to Linda - and which met with their enthusiastic support - was to select a dance for each quarter that was already choreographed and commercially available on DVD or analog video. We would also need to have the music available for this dance. I would prepare teaching materials for that dance and teach it in class. Studio members could then follow up with at-home practice, using both the instructional DVD/vid and the music. This would give them reinforcement for the dance choreography, plus a structure with which to work for home study.

Additionally, I am going to try to select a technique-oriented instructional DVD/vid for each quarter, and teach the material in class, and correlate the class instruction to the appropriate DVD/vid sections. This will be an alternative at-home practice. Studio members can do either or both at-home studies (choreography &/or technique); I'll do my best to make sources for the quarterly selections of DVD/vid and accompanying music available via my website (

Any thoughts / comments?

Best to all - A.

P.S. - One of the other ideas that we came up with during the coffee-session was that we would get a blog going, and use it to build community and share thoughts on topics like this - so that we could each access the blog at our leisure, and read / comment on whatever interested us at the time. So starts our Studio Blog!

Viva la Diva!

Our next Mid-Eastern Dance: Experimental Atelier (MEDEA III) will be held Sunday, November 20th, 2005, with the theme of "Viva la Diva" (or "Goddesses of the Silver Screen").