Thursday, 22 December 2011

My New Years Resolution - To Smile!

  Have you ever watched a show where the performer looked miserable? What about one where you can read their lips - counting the steps? It's never a pretty picture. A frown has the potential to turn a beautiful performance into an awkward, bored and stale show. Thankfully we have the frown's much stronger nemesis at our disposal, free to employ at will: the smile.

  Smiling really shouldn't be an issue. If we love to dance, why wouldn't we be smiling? However nerves, anxiety and self-consciousness can easily result in pursed lips and even a frown and furrowed brow from concentrating. The most beautiful costume, the msot incredible make-up - it all amounts to nothing without a smile.

 So what do we do? We train ourselves from the very beginning, using muscle memory. We build a smile into the basics of each move. When considering an Arabic for instance, we can think about the count, the movement of the chest lifting, the movement of the lower abs contracting, the movement of the lips smiling, the movement of the feet, etc. Notice how the smile wasn't an afterthought? It is just as important as any of the other muscle motions, and can be trained into our memory just as well.

  The reason I bring this up is not because I'm a perfect smiler and everyone else is horrible. Oh goodness - far from it. It's because I struggle with it so much - and finally pictures have been taken that show my worried face! I love dancing. I do! However I am naturally quite shy and self-conscious - and this comes out very easily in my face! Here is my proof:

  These pictures aren't the greatest quality, but you can still see exactly what I'm talking about: no smile! In the picture on the left it actually looks like I am biting my lip! *Palm to forehead.* Strange to see, because I was having such a great time! These weren't from a performance either, this is just dancing for fun at the Hafla!

  *Sigh* now you have seen my smile-shame. Look at pictures and videos of yourself dancing, I hope you're not as bad as me but you might be just as surprised! There is almost always room for improvement. If anyone has any tips please post them in the comments section below as well!

  One more thing - we should have a big smile on our face for dancing fast, of course. If we dance slow with that same smile though, we might look a little crazy. My dance teacher suggests a soft, close -mouthed smile. She says to think of a smell that you love, and imagine smelling it and smiling. It works very well when you remember to think about it! Popular ones in my class are vanilla, chocolate, coconut, bread baking, and flowers.

  Hope that helps any of you that struggle as I do! Let's resolve to SMILE! :)

*Note: There may be some dance forms or performances that require a different look. What I have written above applies to general ATS performing.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Christmas Hafla 2011

  Wednesday my dance group had our annual Christmas Hafla! It was so much fun.  For two hours, I got to eat great food, listen to great music and dance with the coolest ladies I know. We did SO much dancing. It was tiring but such a joy! The Level 3 ladies, including myself, and my teacher with us at one point, danced for the other girls! It was nerve racking but so wonderfully empowering. We got some great feedback too though that the others really enjoyed watching us. So much love in our little dance group.

  Here is a picture of me and a friend at the hafla (sorry about the poor quality):

  So you can see I kept it very simple this time, my gypsy rose skirt from Flying Skirts, Red choli, coin bra, bindi from Kuhl Jewels and necklace and mirror belt that were gifts from my mom. My hair was up in a bun surrounded with red and black roses, to match the red/black gypsy theme! You can see my baby bump too!

My friend here is wearing a gorgeous peacock feather skirt with orange underneath, several fringe/sparkle belts layered, a purple sweetheart choli and coin bra she made herself as well! Beautiful! Of course she has a bindi from Kuhl Jewels as well! (No outfit is complete without one, am I right?!)

I hope your Christmas parties are full of just as much joy :)

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Style Inspiration: Peacocks

This beautiful bird has always been admired. Its vibrant colours and impressive plumage have ushered the peafowl into various religions and cultures.  In Hinduism they are associated with the god Saraswati, standing for patience, compassion, knowledge. In Asian spirituality they represent Kwan-Yin as an emblem of love and good-will, and in Christianity they represent eternal life. They have a long history including a part in Greek mythology as well.

Regardless of their lore, the peacock is an awe inspiring creature whose dress we can borrow from to colour and influence our own styles in life and dance. 

Earth Dancer Feather Necklace - Custom Made -FREE SHIPPING- US, Canada and Australia

SALE Purple Peacock Nomad Feather Earrings by Bird Crap Featherwear

Tribal Fusion ATS Cowry Hair Falls,  Pisces

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

The Tribal Way: Reboot

Miss me? I know it's been a while! We are all moved into our new house now, and baby is being much nicer to me too. My energy has (mostly) returned and nausea is at a minimum. Again if anyone is interested, my pregnancy/personal blog is here:

So I'm going to try and give The Tribal Way a reboot with more regular posts, which I hope will be much to your delight! Today I'll just give you an update on how Level Three has been going, but I have a post ready for tomorrow with lots of gorgeous style inspiration pictures!

So I only have one week left of Level Three. In the last several week we have covered the Doubleback Half Turn, the Arabic Orbit, Barrel and Sahra Turns, Sunanda, and Turkish Shimmy with arms and a turn and circling.  My favourite out of those? Doubleback Half Turn without a doubt, and the Sahra turn for slow. Sunanda is fun too, just a bit more simple. The Turkish Shimmy move is fun too, with the different arms and the turn -  but the circling part throws me off still! I have a problem with getting dizzy and short of breath very quickly, which I hope is just pregnancy related. It's still fun though.

I'm excited for the first session of Level Three to be over. That may sound strange, but the first session of each new level is so very challenging and stressful for me! The second session is always a million times better. Instead of just learning a new move and barely keeping my head above water, there is already a basic understanding of the move that I can build on. That's when it starts to get fun - when you can do the move, but now you get to work on it and fine-tune it until you can do gracefully and with correct posture, angles etc. This process of course lasts forever, but each time it is relearned a move becomes more engrained in my muscle and heart and more of a joy to do.

The Sahra Turn we learned last night is just beautiful. When our teacher first showed us what it was, I thought she must be doing 3 moves, not one, as there are so many parts to it! However after we practiced more, I saw it become a graceful combination of moves we already know. The forms of each action within the move are elegant and poised. I can't wait to work on this one until it comes naturally!

Alright my lovelies, wishing you shakin' shimmies!

Til tomorrow...


Tuesday, 15 November 2011

What Does it Take to Perform?

Wendy Allen, Fat Chance Belly Dancer and leader of the student troupe, shares her thoughts in a poignant blog post found here:

She sums it up very well:

So. If you want to perform with an ATS group, here's what you do. Show up consistently to class. Have a good attitude, don't be a diva. Focus, do your best to fit in with the culture of the classes. And no matter how experienced you become, always go back to Level 1 and Level 2, because in spite of what you may think, you have never learned everything there is to learn about any one move.  If you think you know everything, you're sorely mistaken.

Diligence in practice, integrity of character and patience will be your strongest assets. No one wants to dance with a know-it-all, do they?! Humility really is key. Key to opening yourself up to more learning, more experiences, and the key to not annoying your fellow dancers! No one is the teacher but the teacher, and unless she specifically asks, she does not need anyone to help her do her job. Just my two cents ;)

Keep dancing!

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Level 3.4, 5, 6 Catch-Up!

It has been a busy busy month. I think for the first time since I've started dancing, it has taken a backseat to other things going on in my mind. 18 weeks pregnant, looking for a house to buy, and dozens of other little things taking up my thoughts and energy. Feel free to check out my baby blog for more pregnancy talk!

Level three. In the past 3 weeks, we've learned Chico 4 Corners and the partner pass, the Water Pot, Wet Dog, Reverse Shimmy, and ASWAT Fade and Circle. It has been challenging to say the least! My favourite out of these moves is probably the Water Pot. Least favourite is the ASWAT Circle - not because it isn't beautiful. I just find it so confusing! That one will definitely need some practice.

Reverse Shimmy is a funny one because I can't do it. Period. Haha. I'll keep trying though I promise. Right now I'm trying to do a Reverse Taxeem and add that shimmy-wiggle to it. If anyone has any other tricks for learning it please let me know! Surprisingly it has a very different feel from the normal ATS Shimmy. You'd think turning up-down-up into down-up-down wouldn't look any different, but when my dance teacher first showed us she reminded me of a flittering fairy! It's very light and bouncy, whereas the regular Shimmy seems more earthy and solid - in my opinion at least.

Chico 4 Corners is fun and energetic. When we learned the partner pass and danced in pairs for about 3 songs straight I don't think I've ever smiled so much at dance! It was such fun. You know that fun moment when you're dancing in a group and the leader turns around and surprises you? There's that second of cheeky giddiness and then you smile and circle into the next position. That's what dancing in pairs is like - but it goes on the whole time! It's interesting too how the chemistry changes a bit depending on you dance with.

Well, Level Three is officially halfway over! I can't wait to start again in January and have more people in the class. After having an overview of all the moves it will be great to really develop them and get them into my head, and more importantly, muscle memory. Hopefully my growing belly doesn't make me too clumsy or unstable!

Question - what's your favourite and least favourite move in level three?

Have a great day everyone :)

Wednesday, 5 October 2011


Our world is fast paced. Things to do, people to see, places to go. People boast to each other about how busy they are, how many important things they have to do in a day. Does anyone ever just sit in quiet? I think some people forget what that even sounds like. Between radio, computers, TV, cell-phones, there is a constant bombardment of marketing and entertainment vying for our attention. You have to consider that perhaps this self-perpetuated soundtrack to our lives may not be entirely beneficial.

My life has been overwhelming lately. Having my first baby, having to move - maybe even buy our first home. Level three, though it is a joy, does add to the stress. There's work, friends, family, appointments and obligations. Then of course there a million other things each day that demand our attention. Sometimes, we know we just need some rest.

The thing we need to know, is that it's okay. We don't have to feel guilty. We're allowed to rest.

Maybe you work a stressful job, or you're a busy mother, or you're just going through a hectic time where life seems to be moving so fast that you can't keep up. Whatever it may be, sometimes the most valuable time you spend can be a time in quiet, in rest. This may be a weekend away, an evening to yourself, or even just a few minutes in the shower where you can take a moment to breathe. Obviously how long you take depends on your obligations, but even the shortest break can do wonders for your spirit - and therefore for those around you as well.

Here are some ideas for your mini get-away:
  • Turn off the car radio and just drive in silence for a while.
  • Go into another room, even the bathroom, and take a few minutes to just breathe.
  • Wake up before everyone else in your home and take some time to read, meditate, or write.
  • Look at your schedule, at obligations you said yes to when you wanted to say no. Clear some of them out - and don't let yourself feel guilty.
  • Tell Daddy he's in charge for a while, lock yourself in the bathroom and enjoy a long steamy bath and glass of wine.
  • Stop at a park on your way home, and if you have time, take a walk around.
  • If you have the babysitters/time/money book yourself a hotel for a night. Enjoy a full 24 hours alone with your thoughts and whatever you enjoy most.

Though I don't do it as often as I'd like, I'm a huge advocate for meditation. Regardless of your beliefs, it can be a great tool to lead a less stressful life and be a more peaceful person. Here is a link to a website I like that provides guided meditations. Some are short, some are longer, depending on how much time you have and what you'd like to focus on. Click here to go to The Meditation Room.

Enjoy whatever rest you give yourself, and return to your life and the ones you love with a refreshed spirit! :)

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Level 3.3 Arabic Hip Twist Flourish and Wrap-Around Turn

  Well let's be honest, yesterday was a rough day. The cliche's of pregnancy stuck me one after another with everything from nausea to exhaustion to crazy mood swings to heartburn. Needless to say, I wanted to go home and sleep after work. (Which, to make matters worse, ended at 7 in the evening). I had no energy to practice any Doubleback on my lunch, and I wondered if I'd be able to do it at all in class. Of course, I still had to go. I'd have to be close to dying before I'd miss a class. Ha!

Everybody is always so happy and positive in class, I felt a bit better immediately. We went into warm-up and I messed up a simple step-touch excercise. Uh oh... I really hoped that wasn't a sign of things to come. Puja was calming as always, and then we began dancing. The great thing about it is you can't think anymore. You just have to dance. Before I knew it my teacher had cued the Doubleback. My feet started going right away and though my arms were a sloppy for a few beats they remembered by the time she changed the move again. That's pretty much how it was the rest of the night, maybe a little sloppy, but my feet and hips moved before I even knew what was happening! Way better than I thought it would be. Egyptian Full Turn has been going well, and Reshamka is fun. Fading is still very intimidating for me but I'm sure it'll get better as we practice more.

New move number one - Arabic Hip Twist Flourish. This one is very straightforward! Cue with a gaze on 1, complete the hip twist to 4, then do a spin for 4 counts with arms raised. Needs a bit of practice to be smoother, but just like the Egyptian half-turn it has a very clear cue and very simply addition to a move I already know. (Much appreciated after the Doubleback brain-splosion of last week!)

The second new move is one I think I'm falling in love with. A slow move called the Wrap-Around Turn. In my opinion it is a very plain, understated, even misleading name for such a beautiful move. Regardless, this slow turn is Flamenco influenced and very elegant. It has 'feelings' - which is a new concept my dance teacher is introducing as a popular one in Level 3.

This gorgeous painting of a Flamenco dancer is by Fabian Perez.  I love how he conveys the strength in her arms - the same tension we should have in 'Part 2' of the Wrap-Around Turn.

The Wrap-Around Turn begins with the feeling of 'gathering'. The left arm sits behind the back as the right arm slides in front, dramatically pulling the audience in towards yourself. The second feeling is 'tension'. The move turns around and weight sinks coyly into the right hip. Hands do a reverse floreo to the sides and then rise - with said 'tension'. The head is turned slightly to the left, giving the audience a mysterious bit of profile to admire. Then lastly, the feeling is 'release' as the dancer completes a Corkscrew Turn spin all the way back to the front. The Wrap-Around Turn is mysterious, dramatic and magnetic. Beautiful. I can't wait to improve at this one and perform it with confidence!

Tribal Talk-the voice of FatChanceBellyDance - Click Image to Close

* By the way, my dance teacher was recently in Oregon for training from Carolena and she purchased the book 'Tribal Talk'. She's been meaning to get it for a long time and now that she has it she wondered why she waited so long! Fat Chance Belly Dance used to have a newsletter and 'Tribal Talk' is full of the best (and still relevant) articles. Here is a link if you want to take a peek: Tribal Talk

Monday, 26 September 2011

Your Only Impulse Should Be to Dance!

   A few weeks ago I found an interesting video on Ted Talks. Benjamin Zander is a conductor, speaker, and leading interpreter of Beethoven and Mahler. In this talk he speaks about the love of his life, classical music. He explains how a student of piano progresses from novice to intermediate, and how it comes through in the music.
   The video is just over 20 minutes long, so if you don't have time, the part i'm referring to is 1:00 until about 3:30 - if you can, the entire Ted Talk is worth the watch.

You can watch it from YouTube in the player above, or click >Here< to go to the original Ted Talk page.
   Zander notes how the learning of a skill progresses. The novice puts an impulse, an emphasis or concentration if you will, on every key. They have to think about each note as a separate entity. As their skill increases, they don't have to think so much about each note - their fingers know where to go and the emphasis is on fewer notes. Finally they become so proficient that they place even emphasis on an entire phrase of notes - one impulse for an entire stretch of music. This is where the magic happens! The notes are smooth, beautifully running into one another with no hesitation.

   This idea of impulses can be applied to dance as well. A beginner concentrates on each facet of each move, and you can see it in their bodies - the concentration as they move between each motion. There's nothing wrong of course, this is just the start and I'm sure we all looked a little jerky and robotic in the very beginning. However, when you look at a professional dancer - Carolena Nericcio, Rachel Brice, etc - you will see no impulse, no jerky hesitant movements. Their motions run gracefully together in a stream of dance.

   You can see this easily when you watch videos of Fat Chance Belly Dance, and other extremely skilled troupes as well. Why do they seem so graceful? So in sync and smooth?  Other troupes may do the exact same movements, but you cannot deny the certain 'je ne sais quoi' that FCBD possesses. Well, now you do know what - they have so few impulses. Their skill has grown so great that they are playing their instrument with only one impulse.

   Let me give you another example. The Reverse Turn in ATS. It is a slow move, and there are 5 basic motions within the move. 1 - Floreos above the head. 2 - The right hand moves down and both hands floreo. Gaze cues the turn. 3 - Both hands do a floreo as the body turns. 4 - Hands floreo to each side of the body. 5 - Right hand moves up as hands floreo once more.

   When I learned this move, I did each part as if it was a separate move. I was doing the move, yes, but robotically. Now that I've improved, most of the move has smoothed out. I'd honestly guess I have maybe 2 or 3 impulses on the move now - the first floreos flow easily together, the turn I still have to focus on, and then the last two floreos flow together. My dance teacher, on the other hand, has one impulse on the entire move. Each motion flows into the next without the need for concentration. We do the same move, but because her practice and skill has so minimized her impulses, she looks a hundred times more graceful than I.

   Here is a video of Carolena dancing slow. Notice how she moves without any pause or hesitation. She is dancing on one impulse, as we should all aspire to. There is a Reverse Turn at 0:40. Enjoy the video :)


Friday, 23 September 2011

This Belly Dancer Has Big Belly News!!!

Hey everyone! So it's finally time to share my little secret...

I'm having a baby!

So my belly dancing is going to turn into big baby belly dancing!! :) The little one is due on March 27, which makes me just over 3 months along. My man and I are very excited. This is our first child and the first grandchild on both sides as well! :)

I hope this may shed some light on my lack of posts and tutorials over the month of August - I was exhausted! Literally aside from work, sleep, eating and dance class I was a lump on the couch. I was lucky and didn't have any 'morning sickness' persay but all day nausea was just about as bad!! Luckily that is gone now and I'm feeling much better.

Now obviously this is a dance blog, so I'm only going to be talking about my pregnancy as it impacts my dancing. However if you are interested in following my progress, you're welcome to follow or check up on my pregnancy blog - Baby Adventures. I'll put a link at the top of the sidebar as well.

Thank-you for all your support. If you have any dancing-through-pregnancy advice I'm all ears - or questions too, maybe I'll be able to answer them eventually! Have a wonderful day!


Chella & Baby

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Tutorial: Hair Flower

Flowers are beautiful to wear in your hair for dance, and for everyday as well. You can buy them in stores, but I find they're either really cheap (and really scruffy looking) or beautiful - and really pricey. Here is an easy way to make them yourself! Even better, it gives you a very sturdy hair flower, so it won't fall off after the first wear! ;)

You will need:
  • Flowers
  • Fabric
  • Large bobby pins
  • Glue gun and glue
  • Scissors
  • Sparkles and white glue (optional)

Step One:

Cut fabric to be a backing. The flowers I used had three main petals, so a triangle shape worked well. Depending on the shape of your flower you can use a square pattern instead. The brown piece of fabric (you can see the white reverse of it) is stronger, so it'll be the main backing. The pink will overlap in the back, so it has to have enough to fold over.

Here are some patterns to give you an idea - the red line shows you where to cut to be able to fold the fabric over the bobby pin.

Step Two:

As above, you will fix the backing onto the bobby pin. In picture one the pink is slid into place. In picture two you can see I've used the hot glue gun to keep it sturdy. In picture 3 I've glued the brown to the bobby pin and pink fabric. In picture 4 and 5 you can see I spread glue on the top and folded over the pink. Picture 6 shows the final base - secure and tidy looking.

Step Three:

Glue the flower on! You can wear it already, but I wanted to add a little extra sparkle to my flowers.

I used plain white glue and 'Crystal Snow' sparkles, both from Michaels. Put a line of glue wherever you want the flower to glisten. I just did the edges and very middle of each flower. Sprinkle the sparklies over your flower and shake the excess off. (Make sure to do this over paper so you can collect the extra and use them for the next flower!) Then just let them dry - and voila!

Below you can see how the flower looks before and after the glue dries. I love the extra shimmer!

Hope you've enjoyed this tutorial! If you have any requests let me know! :)

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Level 3.2 Arabic 1-2-3 and Double Back

Yesterday leading up to dance was not fun. Long long day at work, on the late shift, and I ended up staying even later as I was still dealing with a client! (I work at a travel agency). Anyways by the time I got to class I was tired, hungry, and in a bit of a foul mood! Luckily warm-up and puja helped calm me a bit, at least enough to focus on the tasks at hand.

Arabic 1-2-3 is fairly straightforward. Cue an arabic, bring arms to the sides and take two steps forward, then level down with three chest drops.  My brain fully comprehends this. My body however needs to learn to do the chest drops purposely and sharply. In ATS I have been used to chest lifts - and really the drop should come naturally after that - but this will definetly take some slow-mo practice! I'm excited to learn to isolate my chest better though. It always amazes me in tribal fusion how they can isolate their muscles so well and then layer the different isolations.

Then came the Double Back. My dance teacher was very kind and built up the move slowly, feet first. Then hips, and the two came together more easily than I expected. Once she brought in the arms, my brain was getting overwhelmed. Then she let us know that this is the other move where we perform military pattern on the zills! I love military pattern, any more intricate zill pattern gets me all excited - but all the components together seemed like insanity!

As long as I could watch my teacher I was fine. I've realised I'm an extremely visual learner and if I just watch her, I can almost imagine that I am her and her motions become my motions - I think this takes away from the logical thinking that I'm so bad at and lets my body learn more naturally. I knew though, that as soon as the pace quickened or we had to start on our own, things were going to get very tricky. We all attempted it in the group, and even though my mind was saying "heeeell no" I did give it a go. I got it maybe a couple times during the entire song haha. 

This one is going to take A LOT of practice. Of course, like any of the really difficult ATS moves - it is beautiful. I can't wait for the moment it finally 'clicks'!

I do have good news too though! After practicing, Reshamka and the Egyptian Full-Turn came a lot easier in class this week. Can't wait to feel the same way about this weeks moves! :)

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Headwrap Tutorial

  One of the key elements of an American Tribal Style belly dance costume used to be the Headwrap. Now it is not used quite as much anymore, but the skill of creating a beautiful headwrap should still be in any ATS dancer's arsenal. If you had a look at my Headwrap Inspiration post you will have a good idea of how they're supposed to look. In this post I will tell you the basics of how to actually create it! Enjoy :)

You will need:
  • Black broadcloth fabric - 3 yards (I think it would help to have a little bit of stretch, but either way)
  • Other accent scarfs of varying colours, styles, etc
  • Accessories - any jewelry, flowers, feathers, clips, adornments etc
  • You may want safety pins or sewing pins to fix some accessories to the headwrap

Now lets get started!

Step One:
Put your hair into a high bun as in picture a). If you have short hair, you will need clips and bobby pins to get your hair off your neck and forehead.

Step Two:
Take your broadcloth and fold it in half lengthwise. The folded edge will cover your forehead as in picture b). Make sure the rest of the length is even on each side.

Step Three:
Twist the fabric outwards. Make sure the twist begins at your hairline and is evenly taut on each side. (c).

Step Four:
Cross the lengths of fabric in the back and bring them out on either side in the front. (d).

Step Five:
Cross the fabric over your forehead as in picture e) and twist each piece around the other. It will look sort of like a knot, but really each length of fabric is just looped around the other.

Step Six:
Tuck the ends into the back of the headwrap, wherever it looks even and won't fall out.

Step Seven:
Choose another scarf or two, even hip scarves work, and wrap them around your head. Tuck the ends so it will not come apart.

Step Eight.
Fix any adornments you have such as flowers, feather or jewelry onto your head wrap. Done!

These last two steps are what really make the headwrap your own. You can match the colours to coordinate with the rest of your outfit, or choose a certain style to go for. Bright scarves will be very fun, flowers and feathers are eye-catching, and dark or monochrome colour schemes with more regal jewelry can look very elegant.

I hope this tutorial gives you a basic idea of how to put together your very own ATS Headwrap!

Beautiful silk fabric flowers provided by Sareen Dream - follow her on Twitter now too! @Sareen_Dream

Also, a big thanks to my beautiful littler sister for being my model :) She'll be helping me with more hair and make-up tutorials in the future!

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Level 3.1 Egyptian Full Turn, Reshamka and Fading

The first lesson of Level Three is now over! I was sooo excited to begin - and as soon as it did that old familiar feeling came back. The feeling that I can just barely keep my head above water! We learned the Egyptian Full Turn, Reshamka and Fading. I did them to the best of my ability, but my brain was close to exploding! We had a blast learning and dancing together :)

The Egyptian Full Turn wasn't bad. Easy, clear cue that I'm used to and makes perfect sense. The thing I'll have to work on is turning quickly, with balance, and transitioning smoothly into the next move. The turn happens so fast you have to know exactly what you're going to change to at the front if you're leading. As a follower, you have to watch very carefully to see what the leader will do to match as quickly as possible - which isn't unlike any other move in ATS, it just happens a little faster! Ideally it'll turn into a beautiful, quick, smooth spin... eventually! ;)

I was excited to learn Reshamka, it looked simple but sassy and fun when I saw it in videos online. In class, it is indeed relatively simple, fun and sassy - but the hand movement is trickier than it looks! It's like wringing a cloth, which is easy and comes naturally if that's all you're doing. Add in the zills and raising arms from the hips to above your head and somehow the cloth wringing turns to dog patting or pyschotic waving! I think some slow-mo Reshamka is in the works for my practices! I also kept starting my "1" too high, so that beats 1-4 were way too close together by where the "4" should go, so I'll have to pace myself and really start from the hips. I think that move will be a lot of fun though!

Fading. Enter, the ATS Mindmeld. Honestly, I think it's amazing, but I'm not the *biggest* fan. I like clear, straightforward cues. Tell me exactly what to do and I will do it. This formation depends on watching for a possible cue and then not knowing exactly what will happen. If you are in the 2nd position spot you may decide to follow and move forward to fade, or you may zone out completely and wonder why your leader is moving so far back and getting an increasingly preturbed look on her face - not that I would know anything about that! ;) If you are in the 4th position you have to watch the 2nd to see what they decide to do. The transition of fading is really beautiful, and I'm sure not all that complicated, but last night it was a bit overwhelming! It will require lots of practice in class and lots of forgiveness between the students!

Overall, the night went well. I kept my head above water and didn't lose concentration. We are learning so much so fast, and I think we all had fun. This class going to take a lot more practice and diligence than I've committed to previously, but hey thats what I signed up for! I just really hope I can keep up and make my dance teacher proud! Til next time ;)

*Head Wrap Tutorial is still on it's way I promise!! ;)

Saturday, 10 September 2011

ATS Headwrap Inspiration

  A headwrap used to be a staple in ATS costume. They have since been mostly outdone by hair gardens and more simple updos, but a head wrap will always be classic ATS. In fact, the ability to make one is a skill that each American Tribal Style Belly Dancer should possess. You can count on a tutorial soon!

For today, however, let's admire some beautiful dancers who have employed the regality and exotic feature of a head wrap in their own costume. Take note of the black undercloth, the many styles and colours of scarves overtop, as well as the flowers and jewelry used to adorn the headwrap. Enjoy! :)


Thursday, 8 September 2011

Starting Level 3 - & Questions for YOU!

Hey guys! First off I just want to say:


to those who read my blog on a daily/weekly basis. I hope you enjoy it, and if there is a certain type of post you'd like to see more of or any tutorial you're looking for, please email me at and I'll do my best for you!

I just wanted to share my excitement with you guys - next week I start Level Three in my ATS bellydance class! I started dancing a year ago on September 21, and I've been in level Two since January. My dance teacher chose a very small group of her students to begin level Three, so I am completely humbled and shocked but SO SO SO excited to be a part of it.

I really have no idea what to expect, but I know just like beginning any new level that there will be some things that come naturally, and some parts I will struggle with. I know my coordination has improved throughout the year, and my confidence has definitely increased, so I'm feeling positive and ready to be 'nice to myself' when it gets difficult.

So I may do updates from time to time on how Level Three is going. You guys know I'm no professional, nor am I a dance teacher - nothing like that, just a student. Just learning as best I can - and sharing with you anything I think you might enjoy! Please let me know if there are any questions you have about my life or my dancing.

Also, two new features on the sidebar -

my STORE (products used/mentioned in this blog)  & my FAVOURITE QUOTES - enjoy!! :)

Have a wonderful day, keep smiling, and keep dancing!


Tuesday, 6 September 2011

The Magic of Lemon Water

Some people may see lemon as nothing more than a garnish, others might be experienced cooks and use it to give flavour to their dishes.

Whichever end of the scale you're at, you deserve to know the benefits of the simplest, inexpensive, most beneficial recipe ever:

lemon + water

This easy to make drink can have a big impact on your health. Here's why:

  • Lemons are a rich source of vitamin C
  • They also contain vitamin B, riboflavin, calcium, magnesium, proteins, carbohydrates and other vitamins and minerals
  • Lemon water can relieve indigestion such as: heartburn, bloating, belching, gas, nausea and constipation
  • When you have a cold, lemon water cuts down phlegm and acts as an antibacterial in your throat
  • Consumed daily, lemon water is great for your skin - anti-aging and reduces acne!
  • Helps protect against bad breath
  • Aids weight loss
  • Strengthens the liver
  • Prevents and helps to cure urinary tract infections
  • Purifies the blood with antioxidants
  • Helps the body process sugar
  • Cleans out the intestines and gets things 'moving along'
  • Tooth aches, gingivitis and other mouth/gum problems can be relieved by lemon water - the antiseptic properties will aid healing, and any bleeding, swelling and pain is said to be alleviated as well
  • Can help break a fever
  • Reduces high cholesterol
  • Very alkalizing for the body

I could keep going, but I'll let you discover some of the benefits for yourself.  I know if I've eaten too much chocolate or sugar and along with regret I've gotten a 'sugar' induced headache - a glass of lemon water is the cure. I've also used lemon water to alleviate heartburn, bloating, sore throat and other problems - so I can attest to its power!

So how much is enough?

The average person can have one to two glasses of lemon water a day. Use the juice of half a lemon for each glass. People over 155 lbs can use a whole lemon per glass.

  • If it's just too tart for you, add some honey. Honey may be sweet, but its benefits are endless as well.
  • Start small. Use a slice of lemon first and build up until you can handle the juice of half a lemon.
  • Use a straw! The citric acid in lemons might have an small adverse effect on teeth enamel after prolonged use.

For more info click >Here< and >Here<. Now go buy some lemons! :)

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Eeeeeeeeee Elbows!

American Tribal Style is a dance form which prides itself on excellent posture. We create elegant lines with our bodies that show strength and grace. From the soft but strong curve of our arms, slightly bent knees, to keeping our pelvis tilted and lower abs engaged so we're never sticking our tushies out - ATS posture conveys stability and confidence.

A crucial element to remember when keeping correct ATS form is our elbows. How many videos have you seen on youtube where you see the dance but you don't feel the strength? If you look at their arms you might have your answer. All too often elbows are let dangle and droop where they are not meant to.

Granted, there are a few exceptions - Ghawazee Shimmy, Shoulder Shimmy Hip-Drop, etc. but generally these principles apply. Let's have a look at how elbows should be - engaged and elegant. EEE!

The first thing to remember about elbows is (except for a few select moves) they should be perpendicular to your body - never drooping. here are some examples:

You can see these dancers emanate strength and poise - and their elbows never fall below the yellow line - the arms are held up so they are perpendicular or even higher.

The other way we display strength through our elbows is by keeping them engaged. This is slightly different when we have them up (as in the Egyptian) or down (right arm in Reverse Turn).

If the arms are up as in an Egyptian, Arabic, etc. the elbows should be gently pulling backwards - away from the audience. In this way we show the soft curve in the arm - rather than showing the elbow pointing directly ahead and the arm looking straight or falling forward.

If the arms are down, we want to pull the elbow forward, toward the audience. Again, to elegantly show the full side and soft curve of the arm.

This is a little bit harder to explain, but here are some examples I hope will clarify:

In the first picture, especially in the dancers left arm you can see how she has a soft curve in her arm and the elbow is pointing out, almost back - not to the front. The lovely ladies to the right all show how the arms curve and elbows flex slightly backwards as well. Beautiful engaged, elegant elbows. EEE!

At first it takes great awareness of your body to remember to hold your elbows in this way. It may take time to drill into your head but eventually it will become automatic.

Chorus is an important time to remember your EEE as well, especially during slow songs. When performing taxeem or ribcage rotations our arms are in a soft curve, but down by our sides. We can show strength even then by pulling the elbows forward.

Hope this helps you look strong and elegant while dancing!! Just remember: EEEEEE!

I am NOT a dance teacher nor professional. I do not claim to be a perfect dancer or perfect advisor in dance technique. This is just me passing on what I have learned in my classes in hopes it will help you!