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This Edition: Music that gets you up and dancing...

 Music

“The songs and rhythms make my body move before I know what is going on.” - Colette

The Process -

Q: What music is inspiring you to dance right now?


Tamalyn:
 The latest CD by Ilahun, a young band from Salta, Argentina is gorgeous! Unfortunately, they aren't on itunes, Spotify, etc. Instead, they sell the CDs at their shows around South America, as does one of the band members sister, Lujan. Somehow, this CD is making the rounds in China, copy by copy and many people don't know where it is from nor who created it. The Lakhdar Hanou Ensemble has an amazing Andalusian- Arabic music CD with a Chinese instrumentalist. Really great. It's called "Ne Fut-ce Qu'en Chine".


Colette:
 I have found myself returning to the music I was introduced to when I began belly dancing. Specifically, Aisha Ali's field recording of The Music of the Fellahin, and the Music of the Oulid Nail. The Music of the Fellahin has songs I routinely use in class and this album gave me some of my first tastes of Middle Eastern instruments (argul, mizmar, and doumbec) and rhythms. One song that always mesmerized me when I watched FatChanceBellyDance perform to it was Saidi Dance. I have also been listening to Music of the Oulid Nail for inspiration. The songs and rhythms make my body move before I know what is going on. After taking Journey Through Egypt, I was able to place the music to a specific location, and being able to visualize who was creating the music has re...

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6 Comments | Posted in News Practice Tips The Process By Datura Online Staff

The Process: Book Worms Part 1

Feb 22, 2017 7:05:00 AM

Insights from Our Teachers about Dance and Dance Making

Something we really love about our D.O. instructors is their endless quest for knowledge. Reading provides endless inspiration and helps balance active bodies with active minds! Here are a few recent "favorite reads" from some of our teachers.

The Process: Book Worms Part 1 -

Q: What is the most influental book you've read recently?

Rachel Brice: "The Talent Code" and "The Little Book Of Talent" by Daniel Coyle. The Little Book Of Talent has revolutionized the way that I not only approach practice for myself, but has completely changed the way I teach. I have never gotten so much positive feedback about teaching in my life as I have since I have been using the techniques in the Little Book Of Talent.

Colette Todorov: The book "The Talent Code" by Daniel Coyle has been at my side since I purchased it last spring. It has influenced me as a dancer and also as a dance instructor, expanding my knowledge of how the brain and our bodies work to increase skill level and optimize performance. We all have busy lives and the time in the studio needs to be productive and not a place to spin your wheels or go through the motions – it needs to be productive and show results. Specifically, Daniel Coyle's idea of “deep practice”, or working in the “uncomfortable terrain located just beyond our current abilities, where our reach exceeds our grasp” hit home for me. After reading this book I made significant, and valuable, changes to my persona...

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4 Comments | Posted in News Practice Tips The Process By Datura Online Staff

The Process: Studying The Arts

Dec 28, 2016 11:00:00 AM

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This Edition: How expanding our studies to other forms of art can help us as belly dancers...

 

“Once you understand passion is a part of all great art, you will start to unlock your unique voice and bring it to your dance.” -Henna

The Process -

Q: What other art forms (besides dance) do you think would be helpful to study to enhance one's belly dance technique?


Henna:
 Whatever appeals to you. If it interests you and you are thoughtful about it, it will serve your dance - and vice versa. My background is in literature, so I often find parallels to dance and music in poetry. Technique, for me, is not only the movement itself, but it is also the emotional connection and expression of life. All art is a combination of technique and having something to say. Once you understand passion is a part of all great art, you will start to unlock your unique voice and bring it to your dance. So, my advice is not to study one kind of art over another, but rather to study any and all art, and especially the masters in those fields.

ColetteI think ANY art form can help enhance one's belly dance technique, primarily in the approach to practice and the process of creativity. There are similarities in learning anything new. Being open to letting yourself struggle in order to develop a skill, whether it's writing, painting, or dancing, is an important concept that I think other art forms help develop. While being able to knit a sweater perfectly may not directly make your...

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4 Comments | Posted in News Practice Tips The Process By Datura Online Staff

The Process: Detours and Taking Breaks

Nov 9, 2016 11:13:00 AM

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This Edition: Diversions and side roads, rest stops and refueling...

 

"All of it is applicable to your dance, whether or not you are dancing.” - Henna

The Process -

Q:  Do you feel there is value in taking breaks or detours from one's chosen dance path? Have you ever taken a break from belly dance? Why, how did you feel, and how did you know it was "time to come back”?


Henna:
  There are no detours. All of it is applicable to your dance, whether or not you are dancing. I took a break from dancing after I had my son, but only for a few months. I missed it terribly, and the studio became my sanctuary in a way that it hadn't been before. Dancing with a slightly different body was hard at first, but I felt like my dance was much more meaningful after that break. I suppose you just know if and when it's time to come back - and in what capacity.

Colette There is tremendous value in taking breaks or detours in your dance path! Stepping back to gain perspective on your situation and re-evaluate your goals and desires is completely worthwhile. Things change, people change, interests change and there is SO much good stuff out there to study or be involved with. I've been consistently involved with belly dance for 18 years but the amount of time and effort has fluctuated over the years. When something, or someone, sparks a fire in me, I know it's time to ramp things up and get back in the studio.

Ashley:  For every dancer, of course, this is going to be personal...

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6 Comments | Posted in News Practice Tips The Process By Datura Online Staff

The Process: Well Rounded Dancers

Oct 12, 2016 11:26:00 AM

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This Edition: Notes on versatility and a wholistic approach to dance...

 

“A well rounded dancer would have great body awareness, to self correct technique and self monitor for health and injury.” -Colette Todorov

The Process -

Q: In your opinion, what are some of the ideal characteristics of a well rounded dancer?


Henna:
 Unique voice / style. Technique and physical stamina and strength. Musical understanding. Cultural understanding (for bellydance).

ColetteA well rounded dancer would have great body awareness, to self correct technique and self monitor for health and injury. They would understand musicality to know a song's structure, rhythm, and emotion in order to add movement that strengthens and supports the music. This dancer would be knowledgeable about costuming and makeup, and have a clear understanding of the time and effort required for quality costuming. They would know the strengths and weaknesses of the stage and be able to modify and adjust their performance to suit the performance space at hand.

Ashley: Solid technique - a plethora of movements that have been mastered along with good posture. Physical fitness - of course their body needs to meet the demands of the dance. Stage presence - we are not just our technique. An eye for aesthetics - bellydancing is so much about the costume! Charisma - the ability to command an audience, to electrify the room. Kindness - because we should be well-rounded humans too.

Rachel: I'm not sure about we...

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1 Comments | Posted in News Practice Tips The Process By Datura Online Staff

The Process: Community Building

Sep 28, 2016 9:45:00 AM

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This Edition: Building and maintaining community...

 

"Cultivate happiness for others’ successes.” - Rachel

The Process - 

Q: 3-5 tips for creating/fostering a healthy belly dance community...


Henna:
  1) Be in the community. Go to shows, watch the dancers and be supportive of their place in their journey. 2) Tell you students and friends about great workshops or programs coming to town. 3) If you’re teaching, identify your student’s interests and encourage your students to follow their own path. Recommend other teachers for them to study with. 4) Be the type of student you want to see in your class.

Colette Go to other's performances and events: This is number one for me, as a community requires participation and interaction to thrive. Most everyone is busy, busy, busy, but when you're able, get out and watch a show - the producer and other performers will love to see you in the audience. Get to know other dancers/instructors: Find out what special training or experience another instructor has and get to know what other dancers do. This creates the links and strengthens the connectedness of the community while allowing you to accurately represent what the community has to offer. Cultivate respect for others: In students, cultivate an environment of respect and esteem for other dancers, instructors and styles. With your troupe-mates or dance partners: foster positive interactions and honest, open communication.

Ashley:  1) Be social. Get to know your st...

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1 Comments | Posted in News Practice Tips The Process By Datura Online Staff

The Process: Challenges of Teaching

Aug 24, 2016 9:52:00 AM

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This Edition: Giving guidance... 

 

It is a delicate art to know how to push people to their edge, but not over it, and how to nurture through every stage and stand firm.” -Colleena

The Process -

Q: What do you think are the most challenging aspects of teaching?


April:
  Teaching dance is my favorite activity in the whole world! In my opinion teaching advanced material to advanced students is simple: teaching beginners is much more challenging. Teaching touring workshops is straight-forward: new student faces, new material for them, short bursts of dedication required. Teaching students in a home-based studio is much more complex! As a home-based studio teacher I have dealt with many challenges, but I think thoughtfully dealing with those challenges is what makes someone a good teacher. These are the questions I am constantly asking myself and crafting new strategies for: -How can I present the history and cultural significance of bellydance to students in a digestible way that doesn’t take too much time from the physical practice? -How can I make each student feel cared for and encouraged? -How can I craft classes where students are at a similar skill level to one another? -How do I encourage self-awareness in students who want to take classes beyond their current skill level? -How can I offer a balance of positive and constructive feedback? -How do I increase the technical proficiency of students overall and simultaneously be working on a choreograph...

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5 Comments | Posted in News Practice Tips The Process By Datura Online Staff

The Process: Dance Prep Rituals

Jul 13, 2016 9:52:00 AM

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This Edition: Getting in the zone...

 

"…the act of getting into costume is a ritual for me, and is a sacred time.” - Rachel

The Process - November 2015

Q: Do you have any "pre-game" rituals to prepare yourself for stage and/or studio?


Henna:
  While warming up and stretching, I remind myself why I dance. Right before I go onstage I take a moment to reflect on the fact that I am doing what I love and sharing it with a receptive audience. I use some essential oils that bring me to a calm, grounded place, too.

Colette My preparations for stage happen in a very specific order, one that flows for me and allows me to stay organized and grounded: eat something, put on makeup (eyes, then face, then lips), select and pack jewelry and costuming, hair, eyelashes. In the studio, I always go in with a plan and a time limit. My plan might be a move to practice or develop, a song to learn or play with, or an intention (for example, drill the basics, or strengthening, or zils). The plan always includes a little cardio and stretching.

Ashley:  For stage- I try to prepare early, if it’s at all possible. I make sure to feed myself, try to get a good night’s sleep. I carry water with me everywhere now (that’s a somewhat new development), and - if I can - I do a little mindfulness and breath-work right before going on.

Rachel:  For stage, the act of getting into costume is a ritual for me, and is a sacred time. It’s best if I can be alone to transform, get quiet, and warm ...

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2 Comments | Posted in News Practice Tips The Process By Danielle Elizabeth

The Process: Why We Belly Dance

Apr 21, 2016 10:51:00 AM

This Edition: The real reasons we're all here...  

The Process - April 2016

Q: Why do you belly dance?

April:  This is a big question with a big answer and here is my attempt to simplify my feelings as much as possible: The work of a dance student is to discipline the ego and the body. Without quieting the ego she cannot receive teachings to improve her skill level. Without disciplining the body she can never become a finely tuned instrument for the divine presence that flows through all great dancers. The career of the professional dancer can be scary & uncertain: this work comes with no pension and no insurance that dance will earn an income at any point in the future beyond this moment. To be a professional dancer one must embrace that accompanying fear. The duty of an artist is to keep her heart open and to keep expressing her ideas even when she is afraid of being hurt, misunderstood, or rejected. This world needs more people who are connected to their bodies and willing to face their egos, who refuse to give in to fear, and who keep their hearts open. I want to be one of those people and that’s why I stay on this bellydance path.

Tamalyn It is my life and what I've always done. Being part of a world wide community of people that all love the same dance is really special. Belly dance makes me feel good, physically, spiritually and mentally. It is an enjoyable form of exercise, and truly self expressive. My original motivation was the music. I do love the music a lot.

Colle...

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4 Comments | Posted in News Practice Tips The Process By Danielle Elizabeth

The Process: Dance Names

Mar 14, 2016 11:12:00 AM

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"It can be an opportunity to use a name you wish you had been given, or a name that carries meaning for you, that serves as a buffer between the world at large and your personal life.” - Colette

The Process - March 2016

Q:   What's your opinion on using stage name or real name for your belly dance career?


Henna:
  While it was never my intention to take a stage name, I ultimately did for practical purposes. I have found that it gives me a layer of anonymity that is comforting in this digital age. I strongly recommend it if you are performing regularly.

Colette I use my own name, but know many dancers that have had problems with their privacy boundaries being breeched, so I can understand and support using a stage name or persona. It can be an opportunity to use a name you wish you had been given, or a name that carries meaning for you, that serves as a buffer between the world at large and your personal life.

Ashley:  As a performer, I think there are both psychological and practical benefits to having a stage name. I don’t particularly see any downfalls to it, in fact…unless one decides later that they no longer like or feel their chosen alias fits them. In the spirit of impermanence, however, I think it’s important to recognize that it can always be changed. I recommend having one, and if you don’t like it later, change it.

Sedona:  Hmmmm… I think this is a personal choice and there are a lot of variables. Sedona is not my birth name however I took this name after a spiritua...

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4 Comments | Posted in News Practice Tips The Process By Danielle Elizabeth

The Process: The Art of Being A Student

Feb 11, 2016 11:26:00 AM

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The Process - February 2016

Q: What do you think are important qualities of being a good student?

Henna: Humility, a good work ethic, understanding yourself and how you learn best. At the same time, being able to learn from a lot of different teachers and methods. Taking your learning from the workshop or class outside of the studio - into your practice, your life. Doing the research to understand where the teacher is coming from, and then reconciling it with your own experience and personal interests. Cultivating a healthy detachment from your dance so that you can look at it as objectively as possible.

ColetteI love working with students that are eager to push their boundaries, are OK with the funny feelings we ALL get from trying something new, and - most importantly - are willing to fail. A good attitude and desire to learn always helps when you feel like you're in over your head. Another important quality is discipline. Discipline to show up to class and discipline to practice outside of class.

Ashley: Enthusiasm - provides the motivation for the hard work. Hard Work - because you have no control over talent or luck. Patience - not everything will come easily, but often it’s worth the wait. Humility - let your ego go; it’ll open the floodgates to knowledge. Discernment - know when you’ve found the right teacher and know when it’s time to move on.

Rachel: Most importantly would be understanding and cultivating a growth mindset. Next would be a love of learning for learning's...

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4 Comments | Posted in News Practice Tips The Process By Danielle Elizabeth

The Process - Gig Bag Must Haves

Dec 1, 2015 11:26:00 AM

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This edition: gig-bag must haves...

The Process - December 2015

Q: 5 most important items in your gig bag...

Henna: A small bag of jewelry that will go with anything, mostly gold and rhinestones, and backs for earrings. A little can of hairspray. An extra pair of false eyelashes and glue. Hermes sandals (shoes) in case the floor is not what I expected. Safety pins (sorry, RB).

ColetteIn order of importance - water, back up music, post cards, dance shoes, zils.

Ashley: Bobby pins, sewing kit, water, yoga mat, baby wipes.

Rachel: Just 5? - hair, costume (including jewelry), stage makeup, snacks, motherwort.

Sedona: Well assuming I have my costume, makeup, and music... then safety pins, boob pads, scissors, a travel size bottle of Static Guard, and a mini steamer. I really want to work on always bringing healthy snacks, nuts or bars with me, but in all transparency I often forget this and end up scrounging food or getting really hungry. Learn from my mistakes- Bring something to EAT!!

April: Headphones and a music device for drowning out the dressing room sounds in order to go internal before performing, spiral bobby pins, salve for greasing down hair frizz, a pashmena for staying warm and for costume cover, and toe-pads/dance shoes in case of sticky floors.

TamalynCostume, accessories, safety pins, zils, veil(s).

Colleena: Probably typical items in my gig bag… good make up remover wipes (MAC), headphones to listen to music if there are other people talking in the dressing room, yoga ...

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3 Comments | Posted in News Practice Tips The Process By Danielle Elizabeth

The Process: Love Letters

Oct 27, 2015 10:05:00 AM

Our DO teachers reflect on their chosen style, and what keeps them loving it above all else.

The Process: Love Letters, October, 2015

Q: What makes belly dance stand out for you amongst other dance styles?

Ashey Lopez: It seems to me that belly dance—either simply by its nature or because of where it is in its development as an art form—is in a place where there are certain aspects of it that are “set” and others that are evolving (which may or may not be a good thing, depending on your perspective; to me, it’s a good thing). I like the fact that there are set technical guidelines, and also room to grow stylistically. I like that I can research its rich history and borrow from decades and decades of inspiring dancers, and that I can pull from many aesthetics to create one that I feel fits me personally.

Sedona Soulfire: The enchantment, the mystery, the allure, the power, the subtly, the sensuality, the origin, the community, the connection, the tribe! It makes me feel like ME. It offers a way to experience the depth and profundity of my feminine embodiment like nothing else I have ever experienced. Although many movements may be difficult to execute, belly dance looks and feels very honest and organic to me – how energy naturally would want to flow through the body. I believe belly dance is truly a healing modality and serves us with an impetus to grow and transform in a multitude of ways, physically, mentally, and spiritually. I love that everyone h...

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4 Comments | Posted in News Practice Tips The Process By Danielle Elizabeth

The Process: Going Pro, pt. 1

Sep 22, 2015 3:05:00 AM

Insights from Our Teachers about Dance and Dance Making

Now for a big question that many dancers may eventually face... to go, or not to go pro. Our D.O. teachers offer some excellent "food for thought" related to this idea of when and how to take the step from student into the professional realm.

The Process: Going Pro, pt. 1 September 2015

Q: What are a few words of advice to an advanced dancer wanting to "go pro" - make the transition from student to professional?

Colette Todorov: When considering to “go pro” begin by collecting feedback about all aspects of your performances from a professional dancer. This includes costuming and makeup, not only technique. Once you get feedback, take it to heart and seriously consider the suggestions and critique that were given. Also, educate yourself about pay rates for professional dancers in your area for private events, as well as at restaurants. Undercutting is a huge problem in some places and only hurts dancers of all levels. It is really, really easy for people hiring dancers to offer a low, sometimes laughable, price but if dancers communicate and band together to present the going rate, everyone wins.

Sedona Soulfire: Clarify and connect with you intentions. - Why do you dance? Why do you want to share? Knowing this will help you to feel confident and trust in what you have to offer.

Never compare your dance or your dance path to another’s– we each have a unique gift, a very personal artistic energy imp...

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2 Comments | Posted in News Practice Tips The Process By Danielle Elizabeth

The Process: Going Pro, pt. 2

Aug 4, 2015 10:05:00 AM

Insights from Our Teachers about Dance and Dance Making

We feel this question of when/how to become a professional dancer is so important, we asked our guest teachers for their perpsectives on this transition.

 

The Process - Guest Teachers: Going Pro, pt. 2 August 2015

Q: Any advice for dancers thinking about making the transition from student to professional?

Tamalyn Dallal: Advice for dancers making the transition from student to pro... You are always a student. Once you feel that you are too professional to learn, the fun goes out of your dance. Also, enjoy your time as a student. Every phase of this dance is beautiful. Don't rush. Savor each phase until you really feel it is time to move on. Then, even if you are pro for many years, continue to explore and change. Art is never static, nor do artists stay the same.

April Rose: Find your true will, your dharma, the thing(s) you are called to do that make this world better, and do it. That is our prime directive. Act in accordance with your passion and your conscience. Be disciplined, have integrity, have compassion. Be generous. Be community-oriented. Connect to your muse. Imbue your work with yourself and with love. If you are acting in accordance with your true will, doors will open. Do not be a fool. Educate yourself. Do not pretend you know things that you do not know: rejoice in unanswered questions. Take the trouble to ask yourself, “why am I called to do this?” Does it satisfy my ego, does it ...

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1 Comments | Posted in News Practice Tips The Process By Danielle Elizabeth

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