Best Dance Advice you have gotten?

by Sunday, November 29, 2009
On a local discussion group, the topic of "Best Advice and Lesssons" came up--people started sharing some of the key lessons they have learned from their teachers over the years.

There are so many pieces of advice that I have received over the years, but I think the most important lessons weren't put into words, but put into practice and learned by example.

Like how on the technique side, some of my teachers and fellow dancers really taught me the value of "white space" in dance--that not everything needs to be go-go-go-go! That by having stillness offset the movement, we make the movement more dynamic. "Pregnant pauses" can be just as powerful as your biggest move. Aziza of Montreal is one great example of this to me (then again, she could just stand there and probably mesmerize an audience for about 15 minutes straight :)

On a personal side of things, some teachers taught me the value of connection and communication in the classroom. Some taught me the value of this by NOT having it--the lack of it really driving home how much I feel the need for it. But I know that Paulette Rees-Denis of Gypsy Caravan was my biggest inspiration in building community because of her ability to draw people together and inspire cooperation and mutual support in the dance.

I also have loved the lesson of dance as a sort of "moving pictures". For me, one important aspect of bellydance is the question "is it beautiful?" No, it doesn't always have to be, but I think it is a primary component in successful bellydance. Some teachers drove home the idea of creating beautiful lines, playing with open and closed spaces, elegant and strong shapes--the idea that if a photographer snapped a photo at any given time, it would make a powerful image. Of course, we all know there are tons of times in our dance when we are mid-undulation or something (which they always manage to catch! ;), but that moving from one strong shape or "picture" to the next makes for beautiful dance. Carolena Nericcio of FatChanceBellydance is a big influence for me in this philosophy--as a designer and visual artist, she has an innate sense of line and shape, tension and release, and how it creates lovely pictures in the dance...

So some things we learn by being told or seeing it positively demonstrated so often it gets into us. But still other things we learn by seeing what we *don't* like, or don't want, or don't appreciate being demonstrated. So while I know some people don't like going to a "negative" place by analyzing things we do not prefer, I think there is as much to be learned about what is important to us by looking at the good things as well as what we would categorize as unsuccessful in our opinion. Pay attention to your instincts--what are they trying to tell you?

Teaching vs. Simon Says

by Friday, November 27, 2009
One of my newer students, the lovely Kelly, gave me some wonderful food-for-thought today via her blog. From her very first class, I could see Kelly was a thoughtful student--she asked excellent questions, and gave good feedback verbally and physically when spoken to. So it didn't surprise me when she later told me she was herself a teacher; she teaches yoga. While I have heard nightmare stories from other teacher's experiences, I have found that some of my best students are teachers. They know what it takes to teach, and what is expected in a student. They are respectful and attentive, and my favorites: punctual and ask perceptive questions!

I have been reading some of her older entries this morning, particularly her older entries talking about her time as an officer in the Air Force. I came across her post about the first time she taught yoga, and I thought you might enjoy her insightful reflections on what it means to be a teacher. Enjoy!

I remember the first time I taught yoga. I was deployed to Prince Sultan Air Base, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It was December of 2002 and I'd been there for a couple of weeks. I'd finally plucked up the courage to take my yoga mat and my copy of David Swenson's Ashtanga Yoga: The Practice Manual to the gym so that I could practice. I had informally practiced Ashtanga for a little while (using this book, a couple of classes, and a DVD), and brought the book along so that I could practice the Primary Series whilst deployed. At the time I wasn't sure if the book would get confiscated upon entering the Kingdom, due to the near-nakedness of Mr. Swenson in the photos (he wears the traditional "Iyengar undies" - sorry I can't find a link, but they basically look like a cotton diaper cover, with elastic legs and waist). So I snuck the book in. :-p

Anyway, I'd been spotted practicing in the gym and was asked if I would teach a class. Apparently there had been a lot of interest shown in having a yoga class, but there was no one to teach. I hadn't had any teacher training, so when asked if I would be the teacher I promptly and decisively said "No." I was reluctantly swayed, however, after we reached an agreement that participants in the class would be told that I was "leading them through a practice, not teaching them yoga." I felt very strongly about that, because while I knew that I could play Yoga Simon Says with whomever showed up, I knew that I lacked the skills to safely and appropriately teach to each individual's ability and needs. That concept is one of my guiding principals, and I'm thankful that even back then I recognized the important difference between going through some yoga moves with a yoga-bot at the front of the class and being taught the art and science of yoga by a trained, professional teacher.

Classes went well - twice a week - until the war got under way and my work schedule made it impossible for me to teach. That experience underscored for me the importance of having adequate teacher training - not just having experience practicing yoga - before truly becoming a teacher. Also, I may be the only yoga teacher who can honestly say that her first classes were taught while she was at war, and mean it figuratively as well as literally.

Daily Thanks

by Thursday, November 26, 2009

Daily Thanks

by Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Today I am thankful for sisterhood. I am often reminded what a rare and precious gift I have in my dance family. Each is truly a unique and amazing woman, with enviable beauty and strength, inside and out. I love to dance with them, but I also love to simply be among them, talk, and laugh. They are a blessing to my heart and I love them each so dearly.

Daily Thanks

by Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Today I am thankful for computers. My computer is not only a tool for communication and creativity, it is a conduit to information and greater understanding of the world outside my front door, and far beyond my front door, via the internet. I love learning new things I can do with it, especially when it involves Photoshop, Illustrator, iMovie/Final Cut, or HTML/CSS/PHP; with which any small project can keep me entertained literally for days with just the sheer volume of amazing and exciting new things to absorb and experiment with.

(Hey, did you see my Programs for Dancers post earlier this year? If you are thankful for your computer, too, maybe you'd be interested in seeing some of my highlights! :)

A group improv lover's dilemma:

by Monday, November 23, 2009

An online friend, dear Leslie-Jean (Miss Boo, to those on tribe) remarked the other day on her Facebook status that she was exhausted by debates and discussions about ATS/tribal. And frankly, it is genuinely tiresome, and not for the faint of heart to leap into these topics of discussion in any medium. My latest was a discussion on one board about Tribal Fusion, and some misunderstanding that Rachel Brice does ATS. *le sigh*

When I pointed out that she doesn't in fact perform ATS, and has more cabaret background than anything else, and in fact calls herself dark cabaret now, I was directed to a video of RB and another dancer doing a very simple lead-follow at some party, using a few moves which one would identify as ATS. When I pointed out that it was not RB performing ATS, but an example of casually playing around with a fellow dancer improvisationally, the arguments came back that RB had taken private lessons with Carolena, and that those were "definitely ATS moves". This is one of those times I realized I really had to sit back and let it go. Because while that person was right--Rachel has done some studying with Carolena (after she had already been dancing the style she is known for because, as she said, she wanted to be able to back up the "tribal" in the "tribal fusion" label she had been stuck with), and those moves are used in ATS vocabulary, it wasn't an example of Rachel "performing ATS". And if I tried to go into any depth explaining why, I might just frustrate and anger the person who made the misinformed assertion in the first place. And in the end, I would come out being attacked for my attempt to educate, be stuck with some of the usual "you're just trying to shut other people out" bull, when all I was trying to do was help disseminate some facts about what is and is not ATS/group improvisational bellydance. But here is what I would have written:

So do you have some friends who have taken some bellydance classes for a while? And do you think that if you kept it pretty simple and didn't go too fast or make it too complicated, that your friend could follow along with stuff you did? Frankly, ANYBODY can do that. And if you shared some of the same classes and teachers and stylizations, you could probably do it even better. But you wouldn't really be "dancing together", would you? It would be mimicry. Copying as best you could, but it would not likely be very precise, energetic, or necessarily interesting or entertaining for anyone but the two of you playing around together. A lot of people who have never done ATS or its descendants (and even some students when they start out in tribal group improvisation) think that is all group improvisation is: following along.

But it is SO MUCH more than that. It is more precise, and more nuanced, and more interactive than that. It is a conversation between the dancers which is based on a common understanding of not only the vocabulary, but the agreements (or rules, if you prefer) surrounding the interaction, allowing a powerful and playful give and take between leaders and followers, which keeps it dynamic and exciting for the performers, and multi-faceted and entertaining for the audience. That exchange of energy and ideas is palpable! That is the power of group improv!

I run into a lot of people who point out dancers bopping along together, "making it up" as they go, and say that is just like tribal group improv. "They're using ATS moves" is one of the most common arguments (sound familiar? :). They just don't know any better, and it is nearly impossible to explain to those who don't delve into it to any depth. I imagine it's the same for dancers of any style--I am sure Egyptian dancers debating dances from Egypt in the 50's and 60's in the clubs, versus what made it onto film, versus what is being performed over there today, versus what is being performed in the West--all of these interpretations of Egyptian dance have a lot of nuances that a studied Egyptian dancer can see and understand which I could not unless I really devoted time and energy to studying. Those same dancers can probably also understand the frustration one feels when the term "tribal" and ATS get lumped in with many things which completely are not of those genres, especially when it is labeled with a dismissive tone: because we invest so much of ourselves in the understanding of these art forms, and have such a passion for it, it's hard to be patient with rampant ignorance; and there is no way to succinctly explain it all to someone who doesn't know what they don't know without sounding insulting of their demonstrated lack of experience and understanding. And when one tries, one gets accused of being "elitist" or "exclusionary" or worse.

This is the dilemma:
Keep plugging away, helping to educate a population who doesn't understand what makes ATS/tribal group improv so amazing and why it is important to make a distinction in our communications with one another, and risk being snubbed or dismissed or called names? OR
Let it go, let the ignorance continue (but live to educate another day)?

Sadly, until women stop taking simple disagreements personally, and stop attacking each other instead of listening and talking through a valid topic of debate, seeing the merit even in those times (or as I believe, especially in those times) when we don't see eye to eye with one another, sometimes it has to be the latter...

Daily Thanks

by Monday, November 23, 2009
Today I am thankful for my students. They have no idea how proud I am of them every second (I can say it every day, but they can't know how deeply in my heart I mean it!), and how honored I am to help guide them on their dance journey. I know "dance journey" sounds like a lot of hippie-hooey to those who aren't into dance, but I can tell you, it is a very accurate visual for what it means to be moving through this world with dance as one of your vehicles of motion. Thanks to all of you who have put your trust in me as your teacher and mentor, be it in weekly classes, in workshops, or even in reading this blog. It means the world to me to share in this with you all every day.

A student's epiphany...

by Sunday, November 22, 2009
I have students who drive quite a distance to study with me--a fact I find speaks more to their dedication to the dance than any special skill I have in my teaching bag of tricks. A handful drive as much as an hour and a half to come to class every week, and I just want to squeeze the bejeezus out of them for their commitment and enthusiasm! Kat is one such student, and is even more remarkable than most. Not only does she drive so far (often alone now that some of her friends she used to commute with have conflicts and can't come to class each week any longer); but she has overcome some incredible struggles with her health as well, culminating in a kidney transplant about a year ago, from which she is recovering beautifully and is healthier and stronger than ever, I am pleased to report! Combined with many dance and life commitments in her own town, I don't get to see her as often as I used to, which is our loss. Kat has an incredible energy that everyone in the room can feel--to meet Kat is to love her, truly--always with a smile, a positive word, a hug, a laugh.

This fall she has been making an effort to come to class again with more regularity, which continues to be a struggle, and which is completely understandable. This last week she came after a few weeks away, and a couple days later I received this message from her. I was moved to tears by her words, which is the kind of epiphany all we teachers wish our students could arrive at. I thought some fellow dancers and teachers might appreciate the astute observations Kat made about her class experience this past week, about the importance of intention and being fully present in your practice. I asked her permission to share this with you, and she enthusiastically agreed. So here is the letter that completely made my day...really made my teaching year! I would enjoy hearing your thoughts on this as well, so please feel free to write or comment.

Your class this Monday was meditation to me. I left there with a whole new appreciation and perspective about classes. I realize how precious it is to be there. I saw more than ever all that I lose when I can't make it...

It's more than just being there, it's what comes with me when I leave. I've always known that class was important, I just didn't realize till now HOW. Moves I've known like the Circle Step (that I've done more times than I can count) took on a whole new life to me. You broke it down and made it rich. It wasn't just a move, it demanded thought. My mind and my body fused~and I realized that every time I've done a move/combo without my brain involved, the movement lost it's purpose. Dance is a language and if the movement has no intention, no purpose, then it's like saying stuff without saying anything at all.

I spent all day yesterday going through all the moves/combos I know and did them one by one with awareness~and I saw that with each move I did, I didn't have as good of a relationship with them as I thought. My body is sore from it, and my mind is much more excited and awake.

You teach much more than just moves~ you're teaching energy, awareness, and connection. Thank you for peeling my eyelids up so I can really look at myself...I needed & wanted to see this truth about myself and my dance.


Daily Thanks

by Sunday, November 22, 2009
Today I am thankful for the rain. Yes, rain, even you I am thankful for. They grey days can sometimes get me down, but at the same time, I am grateful for the water that makes things so beautifully green in my city. And I adore the sights, sounds, and smells of the rain! Oh yes, especially that crisp, clean smell. I love the sound of heavy rain pelting its rugged pitter-pat on the roof; and a storm...! Don't even get me started, when the thunder and lightning arrive. It's rare enough around here that I become a giddy kid, lighting candles and sitting by the window watching in fascination. Yes, rain, we have a love/hate. Today, I express my thanks for you.

Daily Thanks

by Saturday, November 21, 2009
Today I am thankful for my mind. Another thing we take for granted: our ability to process information, to parse data, to analyze details, to visualize, to question, to imagine. I feel like I got lucky, and got the best of both my parents: my mother's powerfully creative and artistic right brain, and my father's extraordinary logical and analytical left brain. I am not as strong as either of them in these areas, but instead have a respectable balance between them, which I am proud of, and feel blessed to be a combination of their strengths.

Daily Thanks

by Friday, November 20, 2009
Today I am thankful for friends who make me laugh on a grumpy day. Friends who listen, and who tell great stories. Who care about what's going on in your life, and are open about their own experiences. Friends who make you go home with a smile and say "Today was a good day!" when you were pretty sure a distinctly opposite report would have been delivered without their presence.

Alternative drill music

by Friday, November 20, 2009
What are your favorite alternative tunes for class drills? Let's exchange some ideas for fun music which gets you moving and breaks you out of the usual!

Right now, I am loving:

Fast drills: "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" by Daft Punk, "Tickle It" and "Shake Ya Boogie" by Mocean Worker, and "Blues for Brother George Jackson" from the Verve Remixed album (which has some great slow breaks in it to play with).

Slow: "Feels Just Like It Should" by Jamiroquai and "Call it Stormy Monday" by BB King feat. Albert Collins.

Daily Thanks

by Thursday, November 19, 2009

Today I am thankful for variety. I live in a city (and in a country) that has such variety available to us--in art, in cuisine, in fashion, in entertainment, you name it! There truly is something for everyone. I am so grateful for the simple pleasure of choice.

CLASS NEWSLETTER: Thanksgiving, Winterfest performance, and more!

by Thursday, November 19, 2009
Hello all! Here is the November Newsletter:

That goes for Monday and Thursday. Have a great Turkey Day!

Note to all Level 2 and 3 dancers who might be interested: Winterfest is coming! Are you interested in performing at Winterfest this year? Get in touch with me right away! We need to work out a rehearsal time for everyone to put the show together. (Right now, it will likely be the Wednesday before the performance, December 2nd, likely from 7pm-9pm. Does that jive?)

Winterfest is an annual tradition for Nomaditude, our student troupe dancers. This year they have invited experienced students who would like to be a part of the fun! No performance experience necessary, but you must be level 2 or 3 to take part. If you are interested, e-mail me right away to get on the planning mailing list for more information.

I am re-compiling the student resource center,and would like your input!

Not only will the new improved student resource center include class level details, finger cymbal practice resources, and music resources as before, I would also like to include a Student Business Directory! We have a great community of women who own their own businesses, and I would like to feature your business or services in the resource center! Stay tuned for more information on how to advertise your business and reach a large community of women from all walks of life who might be seeking your services!

What else would you like to see in the resource center? Write me with your ideas!

I am participating in a daily thanks practice between now and Thanksgiving. You can see what is on my mind, and participate yourself, over on my blog at Stop by, read, share!

As always, I find myself feeling so thankful for all of you, my beautiful, strong, amazing students. You are dearer to me than you may ever know. Much love to you all.

Merce Cunningham quote

by Thursday, November 19, 2009
"You have to love dancing to stick to it. It gives you nothing back, no manuscripts to store away, no paintings to show on walls and maybe hang in museums, no poems to be printed and sold, nothing but that single fleeting moment when you feel alive. It is not for unsteady souls."
~ Merce Cunningham

Q&A: I'm not progressing like I thought I would...

by Thursday, November 19, 2009
"I took ATS from another local teacher for 6 months, and have been taking cabaret for about 2.5 years from Teacher X and Teacher Y, and also had workshops with Zoe, Rachel Brice, Ariellah, Suhaila Salimpour, and Caroleena (sic) in San Francisco. Though you would not believe it from watching me. I took a hiatus since feeling that I wasn't where I should be after 3 years. But I love bellydance, so I have turned to you because I have always been wowed by your troupes performances and thought it would be so great to be a part of that."

A. With regard to your frustrations with where you think you should be at any given time in your dance, we all hit plateaus in our dance life, and maybe you have been stuck at one for a time. Shaking things up can help push us through those barriers. If I may offer some perspective from my experiences? Truthfully, focusing on one style that really resonates with you can be a big help in seeing marked improvement over time. I love Teacher X, and hear great things about Teacher Y, and you are blessed to be taking from them surely! But their styles are very very different approaches to movement and musical interpretation than you get with group improvisation. It can be difficult to expect our bodies to build the muscle memory necessary to push things to the next level when we are constantly switching gears back and forth between different skill-sets. (I address this in my FAQ Here ) I know my students who split their studies between multiple styles are often the ones who get stuck the most often and for the longest time, unable to really ramp up their skills in group improvisation as they should or could if they were 100% focused on one style.

Now I am not saying that dancers should isolate themselves and limit their studies to only one single style for all time, forever and ever amen. But I do run across the "Jack of all trades, master of none" syndrome quite a lot in the bellydance world, particularly in fusion and tribal circles. Where we are just taking in too much at once, hopping from style to style, concept to concept, and we never really let our minds and our muscle memory latch onto and develop a solid set of cohesive skills over time. Imagine if you were studying history, for instance. And you had chapters on each decade of even just American history. And you were constantly skipping around, reading a paragraph about the 1930's, then reading a paragraph about the 90's, then jumped back to the 20's, then into the 60's, and so on. How well do you think you would really retain useful information and a true understanding of any given period of history, and how much of it would just end up being trivial facts useful only for the 200-level Jeopardy questions?

Something to think about as you move forward: What style really resonates with you? What do you see yourself performing in the years ahead, if performing is your goal? Think not only of costuming and music, but of what movement really gets your creative juices flowing and gets you excited about coming to class every week (or multiple times a week!). One of my favorite all-time dance quotes is the following:

"The most essential thing in dance discipline is devotion, the steadfast and willing devotion to the labor that makes the classwork not a gymnastic hour and a half, or at the lowest level, a daily drudgery, but a devotion that allows the classroom discipline to become moments of dancing too..." *Merce Cunningham*

To what dance, what style, what teacher, what classroom, what discipline can you really see yourself devoted to? Chew on that for a little bit and see what solution percolates to the top.

Daily Thanks

by Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Today I am thankful for a career that allows me so much freedom and opportunity to be creative in my life. Sometimes I feel I squander the time I am given, but I am always humbly grateful for the charmed life I have been given through dance, and and of course my loving husband who supports me in my endeavors.

Daily Thanks

by Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Today I am thankful for sunshine! The way I bounce out of bed on a sunny day, ready to take on the doubt I am solar powered! And today it makes the fall leaves just sparkle. Soooo beautiful!

Daily Thanks

by Monday, November 16, 2009

Today I am thankful for music. I have music playing most of the time in my world, whether I am home working on computer tasks, or at work (class or performing) dancing to it. I am grateful I have two ears to hear it with, and a mind and heart which appreciates it on so many levels. It can pick me up and drive me forward, help me relax, set the mood for a party with friends, or be the reason for the party (Rock Band!).

Daily Thanks

by Sunday, November 15, 2009

Today I am thankful for quiet mornings, drinking tea and reading, with warm puppies underfoot.

On being an artist: Your Artist Workout

by Saturday, November 14, 2009

Advice to artists from a personal trainer, taking skills from workout training and applying them to being an artist:

* Find a sanctuary where you can comfortably work.
* Dedicate at least two hours a day to your art.
* Have more than enough equipment and supplies.
* Set short- and long-term goals and keep track of progress.
* Think of your work as exercise, not championship play.
* Explore series development and exhaust personal themes.
* Work alone with the benefit of books and perhaps tapes.
* Replace passive consumption with creative production.
* Use your own intuition and master your technology.
* Feel the joy of personal, self-generated sweat.
* Fall in love with your own working processes.
* Be forever on the lookout for the advent of style.
* Try to be your own person and claim your rights.
* Don't bother setting yourself up for rejection.
* Don't swing too wildly and damage the well-being of others.
* Don't jump into the ring until you're feeling fit.

Daily Thanks

by Saturday, November 14, 2009
Today I am grateful for things we largely take for granted, like running water, electricity, food and warm shelter. It is ridiculously easy to forget what a large population of our world does not enjoy these luxuries, and I am grateful to live as I do with my most basic needs met.

Daily Thanks

by Friday, November 13, 2009

Today I am thankful for the smell of incense and candles in my house. I feel restful when those sights and smells intermingle. Even better when I come home from teaching, and Chris has pre-lit both in the living room to welcome me home, and cracked the front door a little so I can smell it when I come up the walk.

Daily Thanks

by Thursday, November 12, 2009

Today I am thankful for my physical therapists, who care about me, encourage me, and leave me sore in all the right places on my road to improving my body's health and awareness.

A month of thankfulness

by Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Okay, late on the stick by 10 days, but a Facebook meme is going around that I really like, and would like to do here on my blog. Would you like to join me? Then blog, Tweet, Facebook, LiveJournal, or however!

"Every day this month until Thanksgiving, think of one thing that you are thankful for and post it as your status. "Today I am thankful for..." The longer you do it, the harder it gets! Now if you think you can do it then repost this message as your status to invite others to take the challenge, then post what YOU are thankful for today.

Kicking it off:
Today I am grateful for my husband. I love our relationship of communication, trust, and laughter. I have never felt so safe, and so positively motivated to be a better person in my life. He's worthy.

The importance of chorus

by Tuesday, November 10, 2009
I was perusing some very old tribe topics of discussion (and enjoying it immensely I might add--tribe is like an archive of the evolution of tribal bellydance in so many ways), and came across a thread about chorus. Specifically about students who don't "get" the idea of chorus, and feel "left out" if they are "stuck" in chorus a lot and aren't in the "spotlight".

Molly had this astute observation to share:
I think it's pretty hard for a lot of dancers to let go of the idea that if you aren't the soloist or feature, you aren't important. Our culture really seems to value the individual genius over the group a lot of the time, but the truth is that chorus members can make or break any performance - just look at opera. If the chorus isn't on and supporting the lead vocalists, the whole thing falls flat. Same with ATS. When the chorus is energetic and their movements and attitudes support the featured dancers without distracting from them, it's so much fun for the audience to watch. And it's great when you are in a duet/trio/solo to see the smiling faces of your fellow dancers every time you go into a turning move. It keeps up the energy of the group as a whole when everyone is tuned in and supporting one another in turn. Even with the most unresponsive audiences, you know you have someone behind you who's into your dancing and appreciates it. Encourage them to look at the chorus as a unique time to appreciate what their fellow dancers are presenting - I mean, in how many other styles do you get to stay involved onstage and watch what's going on? It's a nice little mental and physical break to re-center without breaking your connection to the group. At least that's how I see it.

And I really love the following perspective from Amy:
As a perspecive (sic) on the chorus vs. featured dancer thing, the way I figure it is, everyone will put in at least 80% of their performance time in the chorus...that's part of what being a tribal dancer is about. So it's better to be supportive and really work to feature the dancers in the spotlight- because that will be you in a song or two, and if you've been great support as a chorus member, you fellow dancers will be psyched about making you look good when you're out there doing your thing. It's more of a give-and-take situation than a superior/inferior situation. If there are dancers who feel dancing is only worth their time when they are in the spotlight, they might eventually migrate to a solo-oriented style of dance, which is me, tribal is about being comfortable supporting other people when they're rocking it, and letting them support you in turn, doing your best to rock it for them when you're up there. That's why super diva attitude doesn't really work! I love it when I see my fellow dancers kickin ass as I'm following the chorus leader, getting ready for my turn to carry the torch- that's why I'm all about ATS.

Class Newsletter: New session tonight!

by Thursday, November 05, 2009
The next new session of Tribal Bellydance with Sharon Moore begins tonight at 7:30pm.

First it's Level 1 Foundations!
Get your groove on learning the movements which comprise the basis of tribal bellydance. Feel stronger, more flexible, and have FUN! If you haven't registered yet, never fear, there is room! Or register online right now at

Then at 8:30pm it's Level 2b - Skills n' Drills!
This session topic is open to *all levels*, but it is recommended that you have taken at least a few sessions of Level 1 and/or are familiar with basic bellydance concepts.

~ This session's Skills n' Drills special topic is Creative Combos with Finger Cymbals!
Inspired by my recent intensive study with Jamila Salimpour - one of the Mothers of American Bellydance as we know it - I will be sharing with you various combinations of movement paired with finger cymbals patterns. We'll start with some deep muscle isolation drills to get our hearts pumping, then each class we will dig into a couple different finger cymbal patterns, a couple movements and variations, and then pair them together into a combination we can dance together. Each week will build in complexity as we increase our confidence with finger cymbals while dancing. Bring your finger cymbals and be ready for a fun, challenging workout.

~ Don't worry if you don't have a lot of finger cymbal experience!
We will be breaking the skills down piece by piece, and each dancer can work at their own comfort level. I definitely recommend this class for dancers of all skill levels and styles to add some new movement and rhythm skills to their repertoire.

Quick and Easy Baby Hat (Now in the Round!)

by Monday, November 02, 2009

Here is a simple baby hat pattern I adapted from Emma Waller's Quick & Easy Baby Hat. Hers is done flat and then seamed up the side, and I wanted to do mine in the round. So I adapted her pattern for circular knitting.

I love the spiral decreases at the top, and think it comes out a bit more polished done in the round than with a stitched seam up one side. For my knitting friends, enjoy! I hope to adapt this pattern for an adult this winter!

Quick & Easy Baby Hat


YARN: I used Cascade Yarns 220 Superwash, a washable wool blend that is very soft and comes in a bazillion colors. Great for kid knits.

* C1 = "Create 1": insert left needle front to back under horizontal bar between stitches of the row below, picking it up, and then knit this to create a new stitch

When pattern says to "slip one stitch knitwise (rows 4, 9, & 13), it is to create a more jogless connection for the textured rows, so they create a more continuous stripe

Cast on 73 stitches
Row 1: K
Row 2: P
Row 3: K2TOG, YO, until 3 stitches remain, K2TOG, K1 (72 stitches)
Row 4: slip first stitch knitwise, then K to end
Row 5,6: K
Row 7: K2TOG (36 stitches)
Row 8: P1, C1* (71 stitches)
Row 9: slip first stitch knitwise, then K to end
10: K
Row 11: K2TOG until last stitch
Row 12: P1, C1* (71 stitches))
Row 13: slip first stitch knitwise, then K to end
Rows 14-28: K
Row 29: *K10, K2TOG* repeat until end
Row 30: *K9, K2TOG* repeat until end
Row 31: *K8, K2TOG* repeat...
Row 32 *K7, K2TOG* repeat...
Row 33: *K6, K2TOG* repeat...
Row 34: *K5, K2TOG* repeat...
Row 35: *K4, K2TOG* repeat...
Row 36: *K3, K2TOG* repeat...
Row 37: *K2, K2TOG* repeat...
Row 38: *K1, K2TOG* repeat...
Row 39: *K2TOG repeat...
Row 40: *K2TOG repeat... (3 stitches)

FINISHING: Cut yarn and thread through remaining stitches. Pull to inside and weave in ends.

Thread a ribbon through the eyelets if desired (note that both ribbon ends should come out of the same eyelet to make a bow)

Tribal Bellydance in Seattle, classes begin TONIGHT!

by Monday, November 02, 2009

Tribal Belly Dance Classes in Seattle
with Sharon "Shay" Moore!

Monday November 2nd
Thursday November 5th

Phinney Neighborhood Center
6532 Phinney Ave N Room 7

Click on "Schedule" at the left to learn more about times, directions, and more.

See you in class!


Seattle Tribal Bellydance classes are a dynamic blend of ancient dance with modern, funky stylizations. Teacher Shay Moore is the only dancer in the world to have achieved upper level certifications in both FatChanceBellyDance and Gypsy Caravan teaching styles, as well as trained in Jamila Salimpour Level 1 technique; providing her students a uniquely well-rounded dance learning experience. Her attentive and nurturing teaching style makes even the most difficult dance skills accessible for students of all levels, and makes having fun an equal priority to developing strong dance technique. Her joy of teaching was celebrated with her nomination for Teacher of the Year in 2007 in the peoples choice awards in Zaghareet Magazine.

Everyone is welcome, no matter what size, shape, or dance experience. In each class, students will have the opportunity to build their strength and confidence, as well as develop connections with their fellow classmates in an atmosphere of support and trust.

All levels of study include posture, strengthening, flexibility, and tribal technique, and may cover a variety of topics including deep movement refinement, drills, partner work, group improv, combos and short choreography work, and rhythm study. See level descriptions for more information on individual classes by visiting

It's November 1st, so we can talk Christmas...

by Sunday, November 01, 2009
For some reason, this quoted section below made me think of a lot of people I know in the dance community. I seem to run into a lot of what I would term "overly generous" souls in the dance community. That sounds wrong, doesn't it? How can one be overly generous? I define it as when people are not firm about their boundaries and limits, and as such their lives are partially or largely made up of people who use them up emotionally, financially, and spiritually. I think this is a common trait among artists. A big chunk of us are givers and nurturers! We like to communicate and share on so many levels, and to hold back feels counter to our soul's urgings.

So when I was over on Ravelry today perusing some back issues of the staff blogs and columns, and came across this brief article below, I felt it was worth posting for my chickadees over here. It was written with regard to knitters and crocheters specifically who have family and "friends" who make demands on them at the holidays for creating gifts that take much more time and money than the requesters may realize. After a brief paragraph about that phenomenon, and the importance of learning many ways of saying "no", she launches into what she terms her "yearly rant". May it be a reminder to all of us of how holiday gift giving should and should NOT be:

Whatever the reasons for engaging in the exchange of gifts over the winter solstice may have been, they are now long long lost. This is only sadness to me. It’s become a social construct, a tool, a weapon, a threat, a device, a reward. No longer are gifts given freely and without reservation...
On one side we have receivers who request specific items, who argue the validity of their gifts, who compare the values of each gift and rank the givers. On the other side we have the givers that punish the giftees for perceived infractions over the previous year, or who knock themselves out trying to buy the perfect gift for someone who will not appreciate it. People receive gifts that they do not want givers wrap gifts they cannot afford.

And in any given group on any forum on any website you can find gift related arguments and flame wars raging.

This has got to end. Really! This is pure insanity. It starts with you!

Gifts that are given under any duress are not gifts. Gifts that are given with expectations of valued return on investment are not gifts. Gifts given with reservation or hesitation are not gifts. Gifts are by definition not obligations.

Gifts that are opened and judged, weighed, valued or compared are not gifts deserved.

What was once a small tradition meant to bring light and celebration into the darkest part of winter, a way to share meager holdings among the community so that all might benefit has become a race to the bottom.

As the holidays approach I implore each of you, my little chicken butts, to find a way to change your thinking even a little bit on the subject. For each gift you give, make it a give that has meaning and heart behind it. For each gift you receive, be truly grateful, do not compare or judge the gift, only accept and love the gift.


On this blog I share my personal posts about cooking and knitting, travel and other musings; while I will blog about dance-specific topics over on the Deep Roots Dance blog:

I hope you will enjoy both my sites. Thanks for visiting!
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