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Read through my latest blog posts and feel free to comment on them if you like!

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Refreshed and motivated!

Posted on 3rd June, 2019

After another successful hafla and a week off in Devon for some family time, I am back and ready to crack on with class choreo's and work on my own dancing too!

 

I always feel better after a little break away from everything - a chance to unwind and not have the daily stresses that life can bring!  I have my new Tuesday class starting this week which seems popular judging from the amount of messages I have had - some of my Monday ladies wanting to swap to the Tuesday as the later time suits them better, and a few dancers wanting to do both, so I am expecting a good turn out Tuesday - fingers crossed!

 

I have chosen the music for both class choreographies for this term - both very different which is always refreshing for me, and both brand new routines that I need to get on with.  I feel inspired and raring to go - I just need to find the time in the day to get in my dance room and play around with some ideas!

 

I am also looking forward to teaching a workshop in a few weeks time on how to create a choreography - I love helping dancers on their journey and any tips and advice that I can offer I will happily share.  

 

Off to work on class drills and combos now!

Challenges & trying to overcome them

Posted on 25th April, 2019

Everyone loves a challlenge, right?! I think it depends...Some dancers really enjoy being challenged and pushed to achieve harder choreography, more precise technique, better posture etc, whereas others feel overwelmed and a sense of failure if they don't "get it" after a few classes.  Therefore it is so hard for me as a dance teacher to find that balance - how much can I push my dancers but still keep it fun without adding unnecessary stress?

 

This term both my classes have tackled difficult choreography, and while I have seen some dancers flourish and really enjoy the challenge, others seem a bit dispondent and slightly stressed out by the technique or footwork or the prop that doesn't want to play ball!  

 

I would never intentionally want to stress out or discourage any of my dancers, but it's important for me to occasionaly throw a routine into the mix where it does take some added effort or technique, as I need to make sure I cater for all abilities of dancer - this is the problem sometimes with mixed ability classes.  What I would say to those who are struggling with parts of the dance here and there is the following:

 

1. Practise, practise, practise!  If you want to crack it, then the best thing you can do is practise at home.  I know how hard it can be to grab time for 'you' when juggling work, children, running a house etc, but try and find even 5 or 10 minutes to give to your dance - this might be just watching the video clip I send out, or listening to the music on the way to work in the car, or grabbing your prop and practising that certain move or combination over and over for 10 times in a row!! It doesn't always have to mean dancing the dance from start to finish.  Focus on the bit you are struggling with.

 

2.  Don't let it stress you.  This is meant to be fun, and the last thing I want is for you to be worrying or stressing about a dance to the point where you lose the enjoyment.  I love the fact that you want to get it right, and from a self confessed perfectionist, I know how we can beat ourselves up if we make mistakes, but this dance should be about a group of dancers coming together to do what they enjoy, have fun and show what they have been working on the past few months.  You are not selling yourselves as professional belly dancers so don't think your performance has to be perfect.  Just do the best you can do and enjoy it!

 

3.  Consider booking a private lesson.  I am not saying this because I want to be quids in (!) but I have had several of my dancers book in with me lately, all to work on different elements of the dance, and I can't tell you how beneficial this is to them.  That quality time is ideal for me to be able to scrutinise their technique (In a good way!) and offer tweaks or tips on how to overcome problems.  They all leave feeling more positive, with things to practise and implement into their dance.

 

So to all dancers - take that challenge and work with it, aim high and do your best.  But never lose the enjoyment you get from your dancing!

Another Christmas comes round!

Posted on 30th December, 2018

Oops... a whole year since my last "blog" post!  I think social media is a lot to blame for that - I use Facebook and Instragram daily whereas it is more effort to get my laptop out and edit my website!

 

Christmas is always a time for relfection and I have had an up & down year dance-wise!  a knee injury meant that for the first time in my dance history I couldn't perform at my own hafla in May which left me feeling frustrated and sad!  I am at my happiest when i am performing, and it has taken months of rest, physio and pain relief to get it to about 80% where is needs to be.  I know it is still weak, but I am just happy that it is going in the right direction and that hopefully will continue to get stronger.

 

However, there have still been some great dance events I have attended - both dancing solo and with my performance troupe Eastern promise.  I really enjoyed choreographing some new routines in very different styles of dance - "Chaiyya Chaiyya" will probably be one of my all time favourite Bollywood routines as I love the music and the meaning behind the lyrics.

 

As we go into 2019 I am looking forward to dedicating more time on my solo dancing - it means giving myself a kick up the bum to practise as i am lazy when it comes to my own dance development, but i am already booked into a few workshops to look forward to!  I am also working on a duet with the lovely Lynne Chapman which will hopefully be ready to perform by May.  

 

Wishing all my dancers a happy & healthy new year for 2019 and here's to lots more shimmies and smiles along the way!

 

 

 

Merry Christmas!

Posted on 24th December, 2017

Another Christmas is upon us!  I do love having a bit of time out oover Christmas but because of the snow we had this year which disrupted class, it feels like I haven't danced properly in ages!

 

My dance room is currently full of Christmas presents and general junk that has been dumped there in an attempt to keep the rest of the house tidy, so I will be itching to blitz it and crack on with some dance practise in the new year!

 

It has been a lovely year dance-wise, lots of fun & laughter in class, some great choreographies thought up & learnt by you all, plus I have enjoyed some lovely performances, with my highlight being dancing a drum solo to Lynne Chapman drumming for me, a first for both of us!

 

This year has also seen classes being a bit quieter in numbers, which is always a shame, but I can only hope that come the new year, some old faces may return to shimmy with us again along with some newbies too!

 

Merry Christmas to you all x

Time to practise!

Posted on 8th October, 2017

Why is it that as a dance teacher, your own dancing always falls to the back of the queue when you have class choreographies to work on, private lessons to teach and events to plan!  It takes a lot of motivation to make yourself "just dance" as there always seems something else that needs doing - shopping, housework, or the school run!

 

I have tried to find time this month to snatch bits of time for some dance practise even if it is just a short drill but I have to admit I feel like I have failed!  My intention was to dance to at least 1 track a day, and I think I have only managed about 4 days this month of my own dance practise.

 

I have 2 routines to come up with for the hafla, as well as my performance troupe new choreography that I am half way through... I hate feeling the pressure to dance rather than being able to dance out of enjoyment!  But needs must so I need to crack down and do some dance in the evenings too. 

 

I have written this so that others know it is a struggle for us all, we all have good intentions whether its for more dance practise, to eat more healthily, exercise more or some other aspect of our life that needs more time and effort applied to it, but its ok to admit that sometimes things get in the way. Try and pair up with a "dance buddy" so that practise sessions are planned in the siary and you're more likely to stick to them, and feel great afterwards!

The benefits of a private lesson

Posted on 18th May, 2017

After teaching another successful 1 to 1 private lesson today, it made me think about the benefits of these sessions, for both the dancer and teacher.

 

As a busy Mom of twins and working 2 jobs I prefer to use my limited spare time (and any spare money!) on a 1 to 1 session with a teacher who I feel I will gain something from - maybe it's their style that I want to learn more from, or I feel they can help me brush up my technique, or even if it's with a certain prop I know they have extensive experience of using.

 

As a student taking a private lesson it's ideal because I can say what I need/would like to work on, and it doesn't matter if I want to go over that same thing 20 times, because that session is focused around my needs and progression as a dancer.

 

I have taught a lot of 1 to 1 sessions now, and I have really seen the value of them in my dancers.  Some come for help with ongoing class choreographies, others come for help with thier own solo choreo's, and others want critiquing and possibly for me to give them the confidence to feel they are doing moves correctly etc.

 

In class it is quite easy to overlook if a student is using the wrong leg/foot for their weight placement, or not executing a move correctly, especially if that dancer tends to place themself at the back of the room or in amongst the group!  I love being able to scrutinise (in a good way!) the dancer stood before me, and to be able to offer advice and tips on how to improve posture and technique, often by just making subtle changes.

 

I also love working with a dancer 1 to 1 to help with their own choreogrpahies.  Each dancer has their unique style, and I love the variety I see.  I am also encouraged that possibly because I don't stick to teaching just 1 style of belly dance, my dancers interests seem to really vary - from folkloric, to modern fusion, to ATS tribal, to gypsy.  I think it makes for a really rounded dancer if you can experiment with what style works for you, and the same goes for music preferences too.

 

Some dancers may also lack confidence within class and feel shy about speaking up if they don't "get" a move or if they feel they need to go over a part of a routine, as they don't like to feel they are holding the class back.  Therefore it's lovely to have 1 on 1 time with these dancers to discuss what they feel they need to work on, and I don't care if we spend their whole lesson going over 1 move... it's their time and I am there for them!

 

I would encourage more dancers to review their dance technique, development and growth - it's always good practise to drill moves and go back to basics and especially dancers who may have joined an established class they may have felt they never quite got to grasp the basics before being thrown in the deep end of choreographies and combinations! 

Dancing at its best!

Posted on 17th May, 2017

I am still buzzing after our most recent hafla on the weekend - not only did we raise the maximum amount ever at a hafla, a whopping £1,112, but I felt the calibre of dancers were so diverse and entertaining!

 

It is always lovely to welcome new troupes and old to our haflas, it makes for a lovely treat of tribal fusion, folkloric, modern pop, Egyptian, 1920's Charleston fusion... the list goes on!  We had fan veils, isis wings, butterfly wings, veils and more as props used to entertain during the dances, and the splash of colours from all the lovely costumes made for some really pretty photos!

 

I am always grateful to those who help me out - I couldn't do it without them - from setting up the hall in the morning, to approaching businesses for raffle prizes, to selling cakes and raffle tickets on the night, and then helping me to pack away at the end of the evening.  I don't think some realise I am literally on the go from about 9am and finally get home about 11.30pm!  The planning and organisation happens for weeks beforehand, along with a busier few months running up to it when dancers want to book in 1 to 1 private dance lessons for help with choreo's and practise. 

 

It is a lot of work, and occasionally a tad stressful (!) but I love doing it, and I  love seeing my dancers perform and enjoy their time at the hafla.

 

No sooner is this one out the way then I am starting to think about the next one - the date to secure in the diary to work to, the guest performer, what routines I will be teaching my classes this 'term'... it's never ending but i wouldn't miss it for the world!

What makes the ideal dance student..?

Posted on 25th February, 2017

What makes the ideal dance student...? Initially I started off as a student myself, and even now I attend workshops and private tuition for my own dance development as a student.  I have also been teaching belly dance for over 10 years now!  Many people question what makes a good teacher, but on the flip side what makes the ideal student?!  I've just read something on another dance website that has led to me asking  myself this question!

 

All teachers, and students, are different, and wouldn't it be a dull world if we were all the same!  I know that my teaching style varies greatly to other teachers I have experienced, but I would like to think that I am doing something right if I am still teaching 2 well attended classes a week 10 years on!

 

However, I'm going to explore what I would look for in the "ideal" student!

 

I suppose there are different elements - there is the actual dance side of things - technique, rhythm etc and then there are other aspects such as personality and how a student conducts themselves in class.

 

As some of my dancers already know, a "niggle" of mine is being late - I personally hate getting anywhere late and ideally I like my students to arrive 5-10 mins early, to sign in/pay, remove outer layers of clothing, have a quick catch up with other students and then be ready to start.  I know that sometimes things get in the way of this - busy traffic, dealing with the kids, weather conditions etc which can all put us behind.  It would be nice if all my dancers were there, ready to start on the dot!  I can live in hope...!

 

Another aspect of class is that everyone is respectful and welcoming of others.  I would hate to think that any of my ladies felt uncomfortable in my classes and I like the fact that no matter the age, size, or ability of dancer, all are welcomed as we are all there for the same reason - our love of belly dance!  It is a huge deal for some women to attend an established class as a "newbie" and I am very grateful to my regular dancers that they go over and say a few words, or lend out a hip scarf to a beginner and it breaks the ice and makes them feel welcome and accepted into the group.

 

My classes are quite informal - we have a giggle here and there and I like that - a lot of my women come for the social aspect as much as learning to dance, and so it's important to me that they feel they can have a joke here and there.  However, it does bug me when I am trying to explain technique, or choreography and I will find two dancers having a private conversation between themselves, not always quietly either (!) and I wonder why they have paid to attend a dance class if they just want to stand and chat!

 

I LOVE to see happy, enthusiastic, motivated dancers in class!  I put alot of time into my class planning and into class choreographies and therefore it's rewarding to see them enjoying it and craving more!  And I love nothing more than to have dancers ask questions during class - if they need me to go over a move, or arm placement, or a weight change - that's what I am there to do!  Please, never be afraid to ask questions, every dancer learns differently, some need things explaining verbally, for others it's a visual thing and for some, I need to find an alternative way of explaining it, comparing it to a shape or a feeling or a movement so that they can grasp what the body is meant to be doing.  I love that everyone is different and a move that one dancer may struggle with, another may pick up quickly and vice versa!  Despite how I am feeling in my personal life - be it if I am having a bad day, feel unwell, stressed out or just tired and achy, I try not to let it show.  I feel I owe it to my dancers to be enthusiastic and motivated about what I am teaching so that they can also feel this "vibe"!

 

I love seeing students progress.  I can tell those who go home and practise moves, practise choreographies, and research songs I use, compared to those who just use their 1 hour class each week to work on their belly dancing.  That's not a criticism - for some they aren't as "into" it as others, but it is always refreshing and uplifting to have several students who crave that extra bit more - they ask for the music so they can practise, they are eager to know the next bit of a choreography, or even when they just say " ooh I love that combination" in class - it is always a lovely thing for a teacher to hear.

 

So to sum up what makes the ideal student for me?  Someone who is punctual, committed, respectful, passionate and open minded.  Someone who welcomes all dance styles to explore and try, someone who is happy to have a giggle but also knows when to concentrate a bit more to take in all those little bits of advice I am sharing in class.  Someone who has a love of belly dance and is not scared to show it!

 

Please feel free to comment on this blog post or any other - tell me what you think makes a good student, or even a good teacher!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wanting to hibernate!

Posted on 2nd February, 2017

I must admit I am not a fan of January... after the build up to & hype of Christmas, January always seems very long, dark and dreary.  Thank goodness we have now drifted into February and today for the first time I noticed it was getting darker later, so maybe its a small sign that Spring is on its way!

 

I am always very appreciative to my loyal dancers, but particularly at this time of year when it is so easy to go home from work, snuggle in the warm and not want to go out again!  And yet they come to class full of enthusiasm, ready to learn some new combinations, or get stuck into a new choreography!

 

I am pleased with the start of the 2 class routines, it's always a bit of an anxious time when I have spent a long time putting a dance together to see how it is received by my dancers, but I think so far so good!  Veil is my favourite prop, so I'm happy that my Sunday ladies will be swishing and twirling veils in time to a beaty, modern track.  in comparison, my Monday class are learning a Bollywood dance, and are getting to grips eith all the hand gestures, of which there are many!

 

I am happy that Alison and I will be joining forces again for another duet - she is my true shimmy sister, we know each other so well and our dance style is very similar!  As always my solo has taken a back seat, although I am performing at a hafla in March and so need to get on and work out a dance I am happy with!

 

New Year...new beginnings!

Posted on 4th January, 2017

Happy new year to all! 

 

I haven't updated my website in a few months, where does the time go, one major reason is because I do almost everything off my phone now in terms of the internet - emails, facebook etc, but I can only really update my website from my laptop, so it involves me finding a quiet half hour - difficult with 2 rowdy boys around!

 

My new years resolution is going to be to do a bit less - I tend to take on too much with good intentions, but I get a bit bogged down with the time things take to organise, plan, put into practise etc, and therefore all my spare time gets taken up and then my health starts to suffer...

 

So this year i will try and say 'no' a bit more, so that I can concentrate more on the things I am already committed to, and do them well!  I need to find time to plan my classes, new choreographies, plus work on my own personal development within my dance journey.   

 

I have 2 teachers booked in to teach workshops in Feb & March, plus the next hafla is already booked in the diary for May and planning for it is well under way!

 

I am hoping to see some new faces in class next week - let's see if we can inspire some new ladies to join us on our belly dance journey!