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

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Dancing through a Pandemic

Posted on 14th May, 2020

Well... what a strange 8 weeks it has been so far, in "lockdown".  So much has changed in the world, since the arrival of Covid-19, and many lives lost.  However, there has also been positives that have come out of this - communities pulling together, families connecting more whether that be by social media, virtual chats or dropping off essentials to them.  It has allowed families time together and as a Mom as well as a dance teacher, it has meant some tough days as well as some lovely ones!  Trying to home school has its challenges, and it was a steep learning curve on how to teach dance online too! 

 

It was important for both my own mental well being and that of my dancers to get classes up and running.  The feedback I got from my dancers after the first few weeks was so heart warming, and spurred me to carry it on.  It isn't easy teaching online, there's lots to consider such as where you stand, can you be seen clearly, can you be heard ok, and is the music a reasonable volume, not to mention the whole mirror image confusion to contend with!

 

Having said all that, I have enjoyed teaching online far more than I anticipated!  It has allowed us to go back to basics, get stuck into technique and explore new moves that I wouldn't usually add into my usual classes.  It has given me something positive to focus on, and even on the bad days, when there have been tears, I have had to pick myself up and find my "dance mojo" and I think it has helped me to push on through.

 

How long this will go on for... who knows?  There seems signs of things starting to re-open as we move into the next phase but I still think it will be a while yet before groups are able to meet in an ennclosed setting to socialise & exercise.  So for now, we will shimmy on via the power of Zoom!  

 

 

 

New year, same love for dance

Posted on 6th January, 2020

Happy new year 2020!  

Wow.. how the years fly by... I can still remember 2011 like it was yesterday, heavily pregnant and then delivering our boys just before Christmas - how has that been 8 years! Since then life had been chaotic but full of amazing experiences and surrounded by love and support from family and friends.

 

I have really enjoyed a break from dance - I think we all need time out to re-charge our batteries and give time to other things in our lives that sometimes get neglected.  Tonight is my first class back of the year and silly as it sounds I always get a few butterflies in my tummy after a break, to get back into the swing of technique, combinations, creating choreography and hopefully welcoming some new dancers along with all my lovely regular ladies who I have missed!

 

It's a great time to think about our dance goals for the year ahead.  I am not a fan of "New year resolutions" as I feel they soon get forgotten or broken, leading to a sense of failure!  Instead, I like to think about what I can work towards that will help me to grow as a Mom, wife and dancer.  I managed more little snippets of dance practise in 2019 than ever before, and this is something I want to continue.  Whether it be literally improvising to one track whilst I run a bath for the boys, or managing a good 1 hour + session in my dance room - every little helps!  I have worked hard with my arm placement and fluidity too and want to keep this as a focus, along with strengthening my core and working on a good dance posture, as this is an area I sometimes let slip!  I still need to continue to strengthen my knee, and realising my limitations and not pushing my body to the limit.

 

I am excited to start to choreograph a new dance for my class and for a solo that I have in mind... I have a couple of hafla performances booked in so that will be something to focus on, and of course our hafla in May sounds ages away but it soon comes round!

 

Lots to work on, lots of exciting events to attend and lots of fun to be had in class too!

 

 

All I want for Christmas is...

Posted on 9th December, 2019

I am still coming down from the adrenaline filled evening at the hafla on Saturday - what a great night!  I was so pleased to see the room bustling with guests, stalls set up, an amazing array of raffle prizes... and then to top it all we raised £1323!  An amazing total - made up of the hafla money plus £50 from 2 of my dancers who were sponsored by family and friends, plus £133 from another lovely dancer who sold her handmade crafts at the hafla and donated 100% of the money.  What kind and generous dancers I have!  I am thrilled to be able to donate this amount to Redditch Nightstop just in time for Christmas.

 

I just loved ending the night with my all time favourite Christmas song "All I want for Christmas is you" and what started as a solo lead into a "flash mob" with all my ladies joining me on the dance floor. Magical!

 

I feel tired now and know my body needs a break for a few weeks.  My knee is just about holding up with support, so I need to rest over Christmas and try and ease myself back in gently in January.

 

I have lots of plans in the pipe line for 2020 - we already have Alexis booked in to teach a workshop in February, and another fabulous drumming workshop with Fulya in April, plus I am performing in a burlesque show ( a first for me!) and am booked to teach a workshop for Fulya in June on the day of her next hafla.  I need to think about what I want to work on and achieve as a dancer and as a teacher as we enter a new year and a new decade!

 

I want to wish all my dance friends a magical Christmas  - eat, drink, be merry and dance on the tables!!  See you in the new year & thank you for all your support.

Sizzling summer dance vibes!

Posted on 29th July, 2019

I am loving these few weeks of sunshine - long may it continue!  I woke this morning to find the sun streaming in through my dance room windows and it looked so inviting that I actually couldn't wait to settle down on my yoga mat and do my knee exercises whilst listening to some Arabic tunes! 

 

The sunshine makes me happy but so does my dancing and I have really tried to make an effort the past month to fit in tiny slots of dance time even if it is just grabbing 5-10 minutes.  Sometimes these initial 5 minutes have lead to half an hours dance practise and at other times a quick track or two is all I have time for, but I am now taking the stance that any practise is better than no practise!  

 

I am trying to work on my arms and hands more, that's my focus for August, with my goal to have stronger and more fluid arm movements and pretty hand ripples!  It's good to have a focus to work on, along with 2 new choreographies for my hafla in December, so lots to keep me busy!

 

What are your goals as a dancer for August? I'd love to know!  

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!