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Ever since I’ve started my most recent academic studies, I’ve had a drastically reduced amount of time available for my various non-study related things (work, dance, socialising, etc). As part of that I gave up bellydance teaching, I have seen my friends a lot less and have not really had the time to keep the Edinburgh Bellydance Calendar up to date. Given that it’s a bit of a ghost site, I’ve removed the link for it from my blog and website now, as the more sharp-eyed of you may have noticed.

Proving that nature abhors a vacuum, the wonderfully enthusiastic (and generally wonderful) Pheonyx Dance created a facebook group and now a new website, Bellydancing Buddies, and a new online google calendar, as a repository for information about what bellydance classes and events are on throughout Scotland. I fully encourage you to get your classes and events listed there.

Well done Pheonyx, and thank you!

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!)

 

 

As I mentioned earlier I was the Samantha Emanuel workshops and hafla this weekend. I was very impressed by her clear, encouraging and challenging teaching, and really pleasantly surprised that she took the time in the workshops to go around and check people’s posture and movements offering suggestions and personal tips. In classes of 24+ with a lot to cover in a short space of time, I think that’s very impressive.

Another lovely touch was that Sam taught us a choreography that she then later performed. There were two points in it where, when practising, we’d all shouted "Woo!". When Sam performed it at the hafla those of us in the crowd who’d been at that workshop shouted out at the right times.

Why do I think this a "lovely touch"? Well, for a start it was a really tough choreo! Watching her perform a routine I’d been trying to learn a few hours previously gave me a much greater appreciation for the nuance, subtlety and beauty in it. But more than that it felt a bit like hearing a band play a favourite song you can sing along with – there’s a kind of connection between the performer and audience when both know the song/routine, a sort of comforting familiarity. Being part of the ‘in crowd’ that knew what was coming and when to shout "Woo" felt really nice.

This experience of seeing a performer repeat a favourite routine is not that common in my experience of watching bellydance performances. I feel there’s pressure for performers to do a different routine every time, particularly now YouTube means that performances can be spread to a huge audience who can watch last month’s performance prior to seeing you dance in the flesh tonight. In fact the beautiful and talented Tasmin Leona Bex was talking about this very thing this weekend, the pressure, because of YouTube, to always create something new when performing. I, for one, have been really happy when I’ve seen a performer/performers repeat a dance of theirs that I particularly liked the first time I saw it. And I admit that I write that as much a reminder to myself as for anyone else who’s felt that pressure to come up with something new.

For those that are interested, the choreography Sam taught us in the ‘Honky Tonk’ workshop can be seen in this video – the song starts around 3:40, our part of the choreo starts at 4:04.

And in the below video you can find the choreography from the Octopus Hypothesis (that bit starts around 1:48):

I’m pretty excited about the up and coming workshops and hafla with Samantha Emanuel (was Hasthorpe), the only British member of the Bellydance SuperStars.  AND I just learned that one slot has opened up for the masterclass that she’s teaching – so if you’re interested you’d better be quick off the mark – http://www.bordersarabicdance.org/

Here’s Sam in action – enjoy!

As some of you might have noticed I was in the paper this weekend, this time in the Scotsman Magazine on Saturday. I only found out about it when a friend told me! I had been asked for a picture a while ago by the lovely people at Out of the Blue for something that might appear in the Scotsman, but that was the last I’d heard about it. I gave them one of the fantastic pictures Kaleidoscope Studios took of me and it ended up being used in an article about interesting fitness classes at the newly renovated Out of the Blue. The ironic thing about this is, of course, that I’ve now taken a break from teaching at that venue!

That said, even though the info isn’t quite right, I am at least still teaching some bellydance classes. The current term at the Yoga Room finishes on June 9th (next Wed) and the next term (and my last term teaching for a while!) begins June 30th, preceded by a beginner’s workshop on Sunday June 20th. Online booking is open! (I’ve just realised my new term starts the day before the Musselburgh Hafla – which I’ll be dancing at! See the Facebook event page for more information on this charity hafla.)

This happens to be the second time I’ve been in a paper doing bellydance stuff. This time, although I wasn’t attributed, I like the picture much better 🙂

What an experience!

I’ve never helped organise or run a hafla before so this was really new and exciting (and nerve wracking!). But it all came together, the three of us (Caroline Rose, Elspeth and myself) worked beforehand and on the night, each doing our different bits and pieces which wove into something that, I think, worked rather well.

The performers were varied yet all lovely, talented with no “diva-ness” in sight. The audience were plentiful and noisy. And special mention needs to go to the lovely Elysse and Laurie of the Edinburgh Uni African and Arabic Dance Society, who worked on the door. They were complete stars!

Below are some gorgeous pictures of Lorna and us (the organisers) that Vi Anne took on the night. They really capture a lot of the atmosphere.

Lorna in her first outfit of the night.

Read the rest of this entry »

Yesterday I taught a taster workshop which included a short performance at the end for a local community women’s group. They are a really lovely bunch of ladies who made me laugh so much. Time just flew when I was with them, they were a delight to be with – funny, extremely complimentary towards me and willing to give the dance a try in spite of stiff joints. I stayed chatting with them afterwards, having a giggle before I realised the time and had to shoot off.

One of the nicest things about it was that it was repeat business. They had asked me to come and do the same thing around about the same time last year. For me, that is one of the best compliments as an instructor and performer; to have clients that want you to come back.

It’s got me thinking about how repeat business works, or doesn’t, in the bellydance performance and/or workshop ‘market’. Many of the events I’ve been asked to perform, or do workshops at are special events – significant wedding anniversaries, hen nights, and wedding receptions, for example. With these sorts of events you’re unlikely to have a direct repetition of the event. The best you can hope for, perhaps, is a guest at the event who decides they’d like something similar if/when they are in the same position. So it seems to me, then, that repeat business is an unusual occurrence, and it’s something that I am taking the time to treasure.

Have a good day, and I’ll hopefully see some of you at the hafla this Thursday! I’ll be performing to a piece of music that I love, but think is a little bit unconventional for a bellydance performance. Wish me luck!

I taught five hours of workshops on Saturday as part of the Middle Eastern Spirituality and Peace festival. I held them in the McDonald Road Library, a venue I’d never used before, but it was pretty nice. The floor was carpeted which wouldn’t be ideal for everything, but for what we were doing it was fine – a Mums & Daughter’s bellydance taster lesson and two Zaar workshops that I entitled “Wellness and Energy Through Ancient Rhythm and Movements!”

I had a really good time! The last time I did a big workshop day I was completely exhausted afterwards, so I was a little concerned that I’d be feeling the same way after this, which wasn’t ideal as I’d planned to go out for a family dinner afterwards… but I wasn’t! As I left the library after packing up from the last workshop I was buzzing, full of energy and positivity. The time went so quickly – the Mums & Daughter’s one especially – it was like I blinked and half the lesson had gone by.

One of my intermediate students explained to me that our perception of time is linked to our serotonin levels, hence explaining that time really does seem to speed up when we’re having fun!

I’ve led a Zaar workshop before, and I used feedback both from the myself and the participants to help me develop the format. I’m much happier and more confident about how I run it now. One of the changes I made was to allow for more input from the participants, which opened up a wealth of knowledge and experience in both sessions on Saturday. It was fascinating for me to hear from the others there and (I hope) interesting and possibly enlightening for the other ‘students’ to hear from one another.

Another change I made for this workshop day was to leave out a journal for people to leave any written comments they felt moved to share. Verbal feedback is wonderful and something I really appreciate, but my memory isn’t perfect and over time much of what’s said to me fades. Having things written down is so helpful in combating that issue for me. Happily the feedback left written for me was all positive, which apart from making me feel validated in the changes I made also motivates me to organise more workshops. So… watch this space!

Given the responses I received to the idea I floated of putting together an online calendar of events for the bellydance community in Edinburgh, I’ve gone ahead with it. You’ll see a shiny new link at the top of this blog called “Edinburgh Bellydance Calendar“. If you click on it the link takes you to the calendar, which is hosted on my own website.

I currently have classes, workshops, etc run by myselfHabiba Dance, Edinburgh University, Hilary Thacker and Caroline Evans.  If you would like your event(s) included please send me the details.

Also, if you want to embed this calendar on your site as well please let me know and I’ll send you the little bit of html you need to do so.  As it’s a Google calendar I’m using you don’t need to do any maintenance on this, it’ll all be maintained by me updating the Google calendar.

When I started looking for bellydance classes in Edinburgh years ago I found it difficult to get accurate, up-to-date information about what classes where on, when & where they were and how much they cost. I remember that I found it quite frustrating trying to “break in”. Several years later I’m now on mailing lists, connected to bellydance friends on facebook and, in general, know the scene a bit better – so now I find out things a bit more easily. That said there have still been things going on I haven’t heard about until either right before the event or sometimes afterwards.

So to this end I’ve been playing around with creating an online calendar to list ALL the bellydance events, workshops, classes, hafla’s etc that are going on and planned for in and around Edinburgh. I’m thinking of embedding it here, on my website and anywhere else that would be willing to have it.

It’s a resource I would have been very grateful for when I was first starting out, and so I believe that it would add value to the bellydance community locally – both the current community and those thinking of, or trying to, join it.

But… I don’t want to tread on any toes. So I’m wondering… is this a cunning plan? I’d really appreciate hearing your thoughts on this.

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