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Next week the wonderfully talented Bobby Beakbane will be co-hosting a Zar workshop at Summerhall Arts Complex.  There’s full information on the Zar into the winter: Dance for expression, healing and fun! Facebook event page, extract below:


Date & Time: Thursday, 15 November 2012, 19:00 until 21:00

Venue: Summerhall Arts complex

Cost: £14 / £10 concession (nibbles and wine included).

To book: email robertadmp @ gmail dot com or message Roberta on Facebook.

“Kick start the gloomy days with a Zar ritual dance accompanies by live musicians.These experiential workshops explore the cultural roots, context and the ritual of the Zar ceremony. This workshop will use led and free dance and be accompanied by musicians, it is open to women of all ages, ethnicities, orientations and dancing backgrounds.

“Facilitated by Roberta Beakbane and Ali Giles. Roberta is a dance movement therapist and tribal fusion belly dance performer and teacher currently based in Edinburgh. She has spent the last three years living in Korea and traveling extensively to learn about the cultural roots and expression of various dance forms.
“Ali is a holistic therapist and healthcare professional with a long standing interest in the connection between body and mind and its relationship with health, wellbeing and the disease process.

“A little about Zar.

“Rather than being a dance style, Zar is a trance ritual that predates Islam and is still performed in many Middle Eastern and North African countries with the sole purpose of healing.
“The zar used a distinct rhythm and movement involves hair tossing and swaying and is often described as providing a means to release emotion. Now Zar is often used for performance and incorporated into Arabic dance.”


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Edinburgh has a great many Egyptian or Egyptian-esque bellydance teachers; next weekend we will be treated to something a bit different, a bit special… Artemis Mourat, a world expert on Turkish bellydance, is coming to town.  She’ll be teaching three workshops, and there’ll be a hafla – see the flier below for more details, and also see the events on Facebook.

You may have read Tamsyn’s blog post (that had a lot of input from Artemis) about  Turkish and Egyptian dance – if not I recommend it.  I also recommend having a look at the clips below – they’re both of Artemis dancing, the first is from her DVD, the 2nd is a recent performance from Tribal Fest (and watch right to the end – she finishes with something very impressive!)



Hello lovely readers,

I have now done a big update of the Edinburgh Bellydance Calendar with all of the Autumn belly dance classes that I know about!  If you know of any classes that I’ve missed please let me know – – and I’ll see about getting them added.

Broken down by style we have:

EDIT:  I’ve since been told about Egyptian style bellydance classes being held at the St Bride’s Community Centre on Monday evenings taught by Lara Yadgarian, though I’m not sure what type of Egyptian that is (modern or classic).  More info here.

EDIT: I’ve since been told about bellydance classes offered by Constantina at Leith Academy on Thursday evenings.  I’m not sure how she classifies her style so have not added it to the above list.  More info here.


Oh, and if you want to join me in hosting the calendar do get in touch.  It’s a straightforward bit of code I can give you to cut and paste into your website.

PS – I almost called this the “Fall”  Term – being here in America makes their expressions very infectious!

As many of you know I have now stopped my regular classes to allow me to concentrate on my on Counselling training.  The wonderful Tamsyn (pictured above) is taking over my Wednesday evening classes at The Yoga Room.  The new 8-week term starts on September 15th and you can book your places here.  Have fun!

A wee while ago I asked a friend of mine, Zoë, if she would write a blog post for me and together with a mutual friend, Jane, she has. Enjoy!

Edinburgh’s best-kept bellydance secret

Tell anyone you go to Lorne McCall’s classes and even if they are one of the few who know who she is, many think she is “just” a Raqs Sharqi teacher. Well they don’t know what they’re missing. Lorne brings the depth of her Raqs Sharqi training to an open-minded love of dance. To quote a leading tribal teacher, Lorne is “the most elegant dancer in Edinburgh”.

Lorne rarely performs these days, but if you’ve been to a recent hafla, you’ve seen her students. At the November 2009 Hafla at Revolution, around half the performances were by Lorne’s current or recent students. The group veil dance with its joyful mini-duets and sophisticated choreography was by Lorne’s advanced class.

A trained dance teacher with many years’ experience, Lorne is very inclusive; everyone is welcome, encouraged and gets individual attention. Excellent on technique (people come to her classes for her expertise on hands alone) she’s also a mistress of mood: how a slight change of head angle creates a subtly different effect; how to maintain power; how to use pace and stillness. Lorne’s lovely sense of humour means that though classes are work they’re also fun, full of strange little rhymes to help with remembering movements and imaginary visits from Johnny Depp.

Lorne McCall teaches on Wednesdays at Dance For All in Stockbridge, Edinburgh and classes start back on August 25th!

Check out for all the details.

I’ve been quite busy this last little while with all the usual stuff (work, teaching, etc) AND getting my final assessments for uni finished AND applying to get onto the next part of the course BUT… I have also been wrapping my head around my first commercial (private) tribal fusion performance, and have ended up with two of them, in two weeks!  Which is totally awesome 🙂

So I thought I’d share something that I’ve been enjoying recently – a duet with Rachel Brice and Mardi Love – with finger cymbals!

My weekly public and private classes started back last week and it felt goooood.  I love being around my students, “my ladies”.  In among the hard work and concentration is always a fair amount of chat and laughter.  This term some of my familiar faces aren’t there, for a variety of reasons – uni & work pressures, moving city, having babies!  You guys are missed!  But we also have new faces (who will soon becoming familiar faces), all bringing their own personality and energy to class.  The diversity is fabulous!

It’s a nice, positive experience of community for me, and (I hope) others – even though it might only be a fleeting community of people brought together for one hour a week.  Hafla’s can offer more opportunity for socialising in a bellydance context outside of class, and I’m hoping to have more of an idea of when the next Edinburgh hafla is after this coming weekend.

Watch this space!

Last month I had the great privilege of being photographed by Kelly Archibald of Kaleidoscope Studios. I would highly recommend this lady – she made the effort to understand the sort of look I was going for, did a lot of prep work prior to the session and played my favourite tunes while we were shooting. She is a goddess behind the lens, producing some fantastic images of me documenting my ‘fusion’ look as it is at the moment. I’ve included some of my favourites below for your viewing pleasure.

This was me, mid dance. I love the ‘film noir’ quality of it.

Floorwork, wearing SteampunkCouture custom-made trousers. I loooove the dramatic shadows in this one.

My beautiful Scottish fusion skirt and self-made top.

This is also mid-dance. I’m thinking of making this the new front-page to my website… Your thoughts on this are very welcome!


Kaleidoscope Studios have made me a very happy bunny :). If facebook is your thing, they also have a page on there.

My next term starts sooooon!  Both levels start back again this coming Wednesday (the 14th) at the Yoga Room with a sold-out beginners workshop on this Saturday to kick things off and get me back into the spirit of things 🙂

If you’re wanting to book the classes you can do so with a cheque (made payable to me, Shelley Skipper, sent to “Shelley Dance, C/O The Yoga Room, 5 Forth Street, Edinburgh, EH1 3JX”) or via paypal on my website ( There are still a few spaces left (and don’t worry – I’ll remove the paypal functionality when I’m full).  You can always fire me a quick email or text if you want to double-check before booking.

I’ve tweaked and, I believe, improved the curriculum for both sets of classes and I’m looking forward to starting a new term with this new-and-improved set of lesson plans!  I’ve tried to take on board the desire I’ve felt coming through, particularly in the Improvers/Intermediate classes, to include more technique that is common to tribal-fusion styles of bellydance, whilst keeping it still interesting to those with more Egyptian leanings.  And as always I’m interested in hearing what my students want out of the classes – we’ll have a chat about this in the first lesson to make sure I take into account the things that my students want to do.

So this Saturday is my ‘workshop day’ – 3 workshops in one day, what was I thinking!?!  Still, I am quite looking forward to it.  I love the sound of the Ayoub, I particularly love being in a room full of people beating the rhythm out together.  It’s magical. Dancing or simply moving all together to that rhythm is very powerful too.

In between those two workshop is a Mothers & Daughter’s bellydance workshop.  I’ve always had a real giggle when I’ve done these in the past, so I’m looking forward to that too but in a totally different way.  There was a bit on an American TV show called The O’Reilly Factor recently where the producer went to a bellydance competition in LA.  You can see it for yourself here. This show is a right-wing, conservative show so they had a fairly negative, stereotyped take on bellydance, with the show’s star commenting afterwards that bellydance should be “sixteen and up for that sort of stuff”.  Seemed to like an excuse to show some female skin and then condemn it to me at least.

I do take issue with the idea that girls shouldn’t learn bellydance – obviously, running the Mum’s & Daughter’s workshop I disagree with that sentiment.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say that bellydance is not sexual or sensual because I believe that it absolutely can be.  I don’t think it always it – for example Zoe Jakes’ performances are not ‘sexual’ to my eyes, though they are powerful, as are all performances that I think of as ‘good’, sexual or not.  It’s this power that I think is of benefit to women and girls to learn to tap into.  It’s this power that I think is threatening to some people.  It’s morally repulsive to imagine a 12 year old girl performing a strip-tease for a male audience, but learning to isolate and control the movements of her hips, ribs, shoulders etc. and showing that off in a performance?  More power to her for learning to work with and appreciate her body.

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