I had the great pleasure of being a student again at Zanzibar Studio, Chattanooga.  Lacy Dickerson took the Level 3 class which began with a little bit of pilates and some yoga mainly focused on our core and low belly, before we put the mats away and got our boogie on.  It was so different from the classes I’ve taken in the UK, both because of the yoga/pilates emphasis and also due to the movements that are considered ‘fundamental’ – the four points of the Umi/Omi/Oomi were our starting place, which we smoothed out into the full, tilted hip circle.  To this we added beautiful “floating arms”.  It was something else to see the studio jam-packed with ladies all circling their hips and gracefully moving their arms in unison.

The Umi is a move that I learned in the US years ago, that seems fundamental there, but has not been taught in any of the bellydance classes I’ve taken in the UK.  I think it’s probably due to the deeper permeation of tribal/tribal-fusion moves in the US as compared with the UK.  Though perhaps it was just the classes I happened to attend, I can’t be completely sure. If you’re interested, here’s a ‘how-to’ video on this move:

In addition to layering the Umi with floating arms, we layered these arm movements with chest circles and a move Lacy called the Ghawazee (which is a different move from what I’ve heard called the Ghawazee in the UK; this move is constructed of sharp, alternating, hip drops).  We practised travelling with some of these moves and with the arms layered on top.  At the end we had a bit of a boogie, all of us falling in-line, dancing together.  It was really quite special being a part of that.

Throughout it all Lacy encouraged us to be mindful of our breath and of our bodies in general and it was very nice to not be completely focused on technique.  It has given me food for thought about how and what I teach as well.  Thanks Lacy!

And for those who are interested, here’s a pic of the lovely Lacy (her tattoos are great!):