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

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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!

Autumn - my favourite season!

Posted on 13th September, 2016

Ooh I love that Autumn feel that is in the air right now - the changing colours of the leaves, the conkers, acorns, dew on the car and the grass-  sometimes we are so busy rushing about to notice nature in its simplest form.  I know this has nothing to do with belly dance, but sometimes you just need to step outside, embrace the beauty around you and feel happy to be a part of it.  We all have housework to do, clothes to iron, shopping to put away or kids to feed and so sometimes there doesn't seem enough hours in the day to do it all and we lose sight of what makes us happy.  For me, it is finding the right balance - crazy as it may sound I like to go out to work - it gives me a sense of purpose and independence.  But I also like to grab those few hours here & there just for me, either to lose myself in my dancing, sit and play with my boys, go picking blackberries in the Autumn sun, or simply to sit and enjoy a few minutes peace and quiet with a newspaper.  (It doesn't happen often with 2 rowdy kids!)

 

I love the fact that for many of my dancers, their 1 hour dance lesson is their bit of 'me' time, to laugh, learn and relax with others in a lovely informal setting.  therefore I try hard to keep classes fresh and varied and a mixtrue of learning but with some fun and giggles thrown in too - life's too short to be serious all day!  

 

Sunday class has been a bit quiet of late, and it does make me feel a bit dispondent as I ask myself why have women drifted off - do they not like the current routine?  Is it something as simple as it being summer hols and therefore family days out and holidays take place, or is it another reason?  Who knows, but lets hope I can tempt some of them back as I would hate to lose one of my longest running classes, I adore my Sunday morning shimmies, it sets me up for the day ahead and there's such a lovely bond between so many of the women.

Swings & roundabouts!

Posted on 2nd August, 2016

What a strange title for my blog post.... but it's that odd expression it's "swings and roundabouts" that sums up how I feel about my belly dancing at the moment!  My Sunday class has gone very quiet, and its odd as it always used to be my most constant class with my most regular, dedicated dancers, but lately there has been a real shift and now suddenly my Monday evening is usually busy and Sundays seem a little thin on the ground!  I often wonder if it is because some dancers aren't as keen on the 'style' of belly dance we are doing for our routine - this term Sunday are doing tribal style which I know isn't for everyone, whereas Monday ladies are tackling a drum solo choreography!  

 

I also feel frustrated on a persnal level with my dance journey - I am STILL having problems with my shoulder and neck - not to the extent that it bothered me this time last year where it was in spasm, but still to the point where I struggle to get through a 2 hour workshop, which I would never have struggled with prior to this 'injury' or whatever the problem is.  I am going for an MRI scan tomorrow so I'm hoping it may shed some light, even if it's just to learn as to wehether it's something I need to accept will flare up and learn to live with it, or can I do something to help the problem and ease the discomfort...  Bearing this in mind I am having to be careful what I take on - I saw a fab sword workshop advertised a few weeks ago but the write up mentioned the content would work heavily on upper body and arms, neck & shoulder work, which obviously is crucial to sword dancing.  I knew that I would not be able to cope and so therefore had to let this opportunity pass...  little things like this frustrate me, but I will just listen to my body for now and work with my limitations.  I'd much rather dance a bit less than not at all!

 

Having said this I had a great opportunity on the weekend just gone to perform in the Sahra festival in Birmingham, organised by Lisa McKain and Janet Rose, and I performed along side some fantastic dancers from the UK and beyond.  I love to watch dancers of this 'level' as you can learn so much, by their confidence, their enthusiam, their personality and their delivery as a whole of their performance.  It gives me something to aim for!

 

Hafla preperations are coming along - I am so happy to be hosting Ozgen again after almost 5 years of not seeing him, and already his 2 workshops are sold out (in fact, it only took 48 hours!) It will be a great hafla, and I can't wait to the build up, and it will be here before we know it!  For now, happy dancing and I will try to 'blog' more often... kids and work seem to dominate my time at the moment!

Countdown to the hafla!

Posted on 3rd May, 2016

A quick blog post before I shoot off to work and do the nursery run!  What a wash out of a Bank Holiday, it's always the same isn't it!  I'm glad I had my dancing to keep me smiling!  Eastern Promise danced in a cow field of all places, at a 'Puddle Party' in aid of Primrose Hospice.  Admittedly the weather could have been kinder, and the ground was very uneven but we all said how much we enjoyed it, and having to do the best you can in situations like that make you relax and think 'what will be will be!' and it always ends up being alright!

 

Two weeks to go to the hafla - unfortunately our line up has changed, a few dancers have pulled out, but it still looks to be a great evening of dancing!  This is where I get a tad stressed trying to pull together all the bits of info from the performers to plan the line up and the play list, which involves converting music, down loading software in order to convert the music, uploading to several ipods as back up.... !  I will report back after the event how much we manage to raise on the night, I'm looking forward to it, especially as it will be the first hafla my boys have attended!

Happy Easter!

Posted on 28th March, 2016

Happy Easter!

I have eaten far too much chocolate and have a slightly bigger belly that needs some serious shimmy action to shake it off!  However, Easter and Christmas are the only times I actually cancel classes for a break other than if I go on holiday, so it's been nice to chill out for a weekend.  I was still dancing though - I had a private class myself (with me as student!) and I can totally appreciate how my dancers feel in class sometimes when I ask a lot of them or push them outside of their comfort zones.  I enjoy constructive criticism and advice, it's the only way to better yourself and move onwards and upwards but it's still HARD!  It does focus you though on what needs work and maybe helps with the self doubt that you sometimes feel about your own dancing when you have positive comments too, so its all swings & roundabouts!  There are a few of my own dancers who I would love to see progress to the 'next level' but people choose to belly dnace for numerous reasons, and so for some if it gets too serious and too challenging then it takes the fun out of it and loses its appeal.  For me, I want to absorb as much as I can from those who inspire me and teach me, and so I listen carefully to what they've got to tell me and then I do my homework in the hope of progressing with my own development.

 

Anyway, enough of the 'heavy stuff'!   I am thrilled as we have sold out of hafla tickets already! We have an amazing line up of dancers, diverse and of a really high standard - I can't wait!  Added to that I am hosting Katie Holland this weekend for a dance workshop which I'm excited about, she's teaching a bollywood/bhangra choreography!