Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Busy May Day for Belly Dancers!

There's a lot going on this Sunday in the world of Atlanta belly dance!

Shimmy Mob
Around noon in the Central Park area at Atlantic Station (take the 17th Street exit off 75/85 in Midtown) 
Come and see over 40 Atlanta-area dancers in a "spontaneous" flash mob-style performance!  These folks have been working hard to learn a pretty complex choreography that includes nods to several different belly dance styles.  Be there about 11:30 and you'll be sure to catch the action.  If you can't make it to Atlantic Station, I will be taking photos!  Click here to learn more about Shimmy Mob.

May Day Bellydance Celebration
Elm Street Cultural Arts Village, Woodstock, $10
Join Inara (Victoria Logan) and her troupes -- Sandtrance, Lum’a as-Sahra, and Hip Chics -- as they showcase amazing choreography perfect for an afternoon celebrating the beauty of spring.  A portion of the ticket sales will raise money for Cystic Fibrosis.  Click here for tickets.

Bellydance by Samora Anniversary Show
Nicola's Restaurant, $18 in advance
I will be at Nicola's Sunday night to help Samora celebrate three years of great performances, instruction, and community leadership.  Performances by Amoraat Dance Ensemble, Bahiraat Dance Troupe, Samora's students, and special guests.  Tickets are $18.00 and of course include dinner!  Click here to get yours.

Poetry Wednesday!

Where Does the Dance Begin, Where Does It End?
By Mary Oliver

Don't call this world adorable, or useful, that's not it.
It's frisky, and a theater for more than fair winds.
The eyelash of lightning is neither good nor evil.
The struck tree burns like a pillar of gold.
But the blue rain sinks, straight to the white
feet of the trees
whose mouths open.
Doesn't the wind, turning in circles, invent the dance?
Haven't the flowers moved, slowly, across Asia, then Europe,
until at last, now, they shine
in your own yard?
Don't call this world an explanation, or even an education.
When the Sufi poet whirled, was he looking
outward, to the mountains so solidly there
in a white-capped ring, or was he looking
to the center of everything: the seed, the egg, the idea
that was also there,
beautiful as a thumb
curved and touching the finger, tenderly,
little love-ring,
as he whirled,
oh jug of breath,
in the garden of dust?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Relearning How to Walk with Awalim

On Saturday, April 30th, Awalim will be conducting the first in a series of three workshops at Atlanta Fusion Belly Dance.  From 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., you can learn how to walk.

But wait, you might say... I learned how to walk when I was still in diapers!

And you probably spent your very first belly dance class just walking around the room, so you know how to walk as a belly dancer, too -- right?  But how many movements can you do with one foot completely off the floor?  Not so easy, right?

Well, I don't want to toot the horns of my own teachers too much on my blog, but hey --  it's my blog.  One of the most valuable things I've learned through my studies with Awalim is how to walk -- or, more specifically, how to travel in a way that gives freedom to your feet, legs, and hips.  I was surprised to learn how "chained" I was -- relying on the floor to drive a lot of my movement.  But if you're not chained to the floor, it's so much easier to use the rest of your body to layer other movements on top of your traveling steps.  Simple concept, but you have to learn it and drill it with someone who knows how to do it right (and it takes a lot of work).  That's where Awalim and this workshop come in.  You should sign up.  Here's how they describe it:

Students will be challenged with new concepts of posture and body mechanics to execute belly dance movements with more ease while traveling. You’d be surprised as to what you couldn’t do before after examining these concepts:
  • The mechanics of your feet and walking
  • Chained and unchained movement
  • Weighted and unweighted movement
  • Detaching hip movement from legs
  • Differences in body types
  • Which muscle groups create what movement
P.S.  As you may have guessed by now, the secret to this has a lot to do with your thigh muscles.  Expect your quads to be sore on May Day!

      Wednesday, April 20, 2011

      Poetry Wednesday!

      Call of the Drums 
      By Lacy Perry

      In the clear indigo sky
      tiny thrumming suns burn,
      the living celestial guides
      of bedouins long dead.

      My feet beat their path,
      a road winding like silk ribbon.
      Behind me, a trail of travelers’ gifts
      to goddesses long dead.

      The stars seem to wink,
      reminding me to divine truth
      by hearing without ears, the sighs
      of passions long dead.

      Beats buzz along my flesh,
      like warm fingers fluttering
      across the tight-strung skin
      of animals long dead.

      Drums hold sway over the night,
      vibrating the crisp air,
      living out the rhythms
      of drummers long dead.

      They pound in my heart,
      my soul. My hips, my limbs
      flow in a serpentine dance
      of priestesses long dead.

      I am a vessel, possessed
      by music taking physical form.
      Weaving through its timeless world,
      I am unmistakably alive.

      Painting:  "The Belly Dancer," Paul Joanowitch, (born 1859)

      Tuesday, April 19, 2011

      "Mad Hatters Hafla" May 14 at Dune Lounge

      Courtesy of the RaqsAtlanta Yahoo! group (which I highly recommend you join)... second Saturdays are now "Open Stage Night" at Dune Lounge in Marietta!  This will be like open mic night... but for dancers.  It's brought to you by Kira -- see her web site for more info.

      The first event will be the "Mad Hatters Hafla," Saturday, May 14 at 7:00 p.m.  Entry fee is only $5.00.  There will be a sign-up sheet at the door for those who want to take the stage.  In addition to the "open stage" performances, there will be drumming and dancing throughout the night, including a drum circle starting at 10:00.
      • BYOB with refreshments available for purchase
      • CFF/Shimmy-a-thon raffle
      • Starving Artist Auctions
      • $5 DVD & YouTube of your performance (to cover cost)
      Dune Lounge
      2030 Powers Ferry Rd SE, Suite 440
      Marietta, GA  30067

      Sunday, April 17, 2011

      Workshops & Show with Mavi: Recap & Photo Link

      What a great Saturday!  I had my first experience with a sword, in the most capable hands out there -- those of Mavi, the blue-haired Maven of Mayhem.  Really, she's not scary at all -- but she's great at teaching you how to thrill an audience with a dangerous-looking prop.  We learned quite a few basic moves for wielding a sword and using it to accent movements and frame your body -- but not balancing it on your head!  Mavi's advice:  wait at least 45 seconds before you go there, lest you shoot your wad too early.  So to speak.  I had a great time working with my new scimitar (and with a big honkin' Moorish scimitar that I borrowed for a while).

      After the workshop, I sped home to get ready to perform in the Tribal Carnivale show at the Red Light Cafe, presented by Awalim.  I've seen so many great shows there -- it was so exciting to finally be on that stage with Banat Almeh!  The women I've been performing with are just uniformly awesome -- rehearsals have been so much fun.  Our performance went really well (and I didn't fall off the tiny stage, yay).  I've done a lot of troupe performances, and I don't think I've ever heard the word "tight" used so many times to describe a number I was in -- oh, and I got a double thumbs-up from Mavi!  I'm looking forward to seeing the video.  My fabulous husband Charlie overcame the lighting challenges and got hundreds of great photos -- I've spent most of today editing and tweaking them.  Please check out the album on Facebook!

      With the awesomely casual atmosphere created by Ziah and Awalim, I was able to watch all of the other performances, which is always great.  I was really thrilled by a Bollywood-style dance performed by two of my troupemates from Athens... very folkloric, in an Indian way -- just the kind of thing I'm a sucker for.  Anything that looks like village maidens dancing around thinking about the boys they're crushing on just makes me incredibly happy.  Teejei did a really moving fusion solo that seemed to me to tell a wonderful little story with equal parts pain and hope.  And I was really excited to be sharing the stage with Melanie, who also performs with Blast-Off Burlesque (I am a total Blast-Off geek fangirl).  There were lots of great performances, including a new live music project and lots of lively stuff from Awalim.  And then, of course, there was Mavi, who was just fabulous.  In classic "workshop show" style, she did all the moves we learned with her sword, including an amusing little reminder to wait before putting it on your head!  Really inspiring.  What a fun night!

      Wednesday, April 13, 2011

      Workshops with Mavi & TribalCarnivale 4/16/11

      So I will finally be learning to dance with a sword on my head on Saturday, April 16 at Pera Dance.  Awalim is sponsoring the very wonderful Mavi of Washington, DC for two workshops, including one on dancing to dubstep and the aforementioned sword session.  I'm pretty stoked!

      As soon as the workshops are over, we'll be heading to the Red Light Cafe for an incredible show!  Doors open at 8:00 and the show starts at 9:00.  You don't want to miss this one... lots of talent from around the Southeast, in addition to Mavi herself!

      Learn more and get your Red Light tickets in advance here.

      UPDATE:  Here's the lineup for the show... now you know you don't want to miss it!
      • Mavi~ the Blue Maven of the Sword!
      • Melanie~ you may have seen her performing with Blast-Off Burlesque -- she is joining us for the first time!
      • Kangari of Athens~ Ariana and Natakiya
      • Monet~ of Banat Almeh and beyond
      • Anwaar~ The dark side of Troupe Rafiah
      • Banat Almeh, the daughters of Awalim~ Hillary, Sharon, Barbara, Xandra and Ariana
      • Sevillanas Gitanas~ A new Flamenco duet from TeeJei and Susan
      • Faarida and Leena of Rafiah in Bollywood Splendor
      • Awalim~ Majda, Aziza, Teejei and Ziah
      • Charolastra Tarantella de Gargano Music Group~ A new venture by Cristobalman Damiano, Doug Smith, James Whitney and Christy Smith.
      • A special treat of the evening will be members of Awalim, Banat Almeh and Rafiah performing American Tribal Style Belly Dance (ATS) together to live music by Charolastra! A true Southern Fusion event!!!!

      Great Poem from a New Friend

      This awesome poem was shared by Gainesville's Alchemy Drumming & Dance (the newest addition to my list of local studios!) on their Facebook page.  I love it and wanted to share it!

      homage to my hips

      By Lucille Clifton
      these hips are big hips
      they need space to
      move around in.
      they don't fit into little
      petty places. these hips
      are free hips.
      they don't like to be held back.
      these hips have never been enslaved,   
      they go where they want to go
      they do what they want to do.
      these hips are mighty hips.
      these hips are magic hips.
      i have known them
      to put a spell on a man and
      spin him like a top!

      Lucille Clifton, “homage to my hips” from Good Woman. Copyright © 1987

      Tuesday, April 12, 2011

      Awalim at Cafe Istanbul This Sunday 4/17

      In case you can't make the Red Light show Saturday night -- or if you just can't get enough of them (and really, who can?) -- Awalim will be performing at Cafe Istanbul this Sunday night!

      Come out and see some fabulous folkloric fusion in the absolute perfect setting.  Enjoy the beautiful decor, comfy pillows, hookahs, tasty food (the bread is to die for) -- and great entertainment!

      Friday, April 8, 2011

      News & Events Around the Southeast from Beledi Boutique

      I try to keep up with all the nitty-gritty of belly dance in metro Atlanta, by Lacy Perry of Beledi Boutique is on top of the scene throughout the Southeast and beyond.

      Check out Beledi Bouque's e-newsletter, "The Hip Circle," for lots of great info (including the northside Shimmy Mob choreography classes).  Be sure and sign up for the mailing list!

      Thursday, April 7, 2011

      Awalim 3-Part Workshop at Atlanta Fusion Belly Dance

      Awalim Dance Company presents Foundation Revelations: Dance Technique Building Series at the beautiful Atlanta Fusions Belly Dance studios.  This unique series of three workshops is designed to foster your intellectual, artistic and professional growth and prepare you to study a wide variety of styles and levels.  

      Session 1:  "Relearning How to Walk," April 30 2:00 - 4:00 p.m.
      Session 2:  "Endurance Techniques," Saturday June 25, 2:00 - 4:00 p.m.
      Session 3:  "How to Simplify What Seems Complex," Saturday July 23, 2:00 - 4:00 p.m.

      This workshop series is designed to improve your rhythm, flexibility and endurance and create a foundation for formal belly dance training. It's a great opportunity to tap into Awalim's extensive experience, research, and focus on body awareness.  Dancers at all levels, interested in any style of belly dance, will benefit from this material.  Each workshop is $30, or attend all three for $75.  Click here to purchase tickets!

      Monday, April 4, 2011

      NEW ATS Classes with Teejei at Dance 101!

      Big news!  MY teacher, the amazing Teejei of Awalim, will be teaching a mixed-level class in American Tribal Style belly dance starting Monday, April 4th at 7:00 at Dance 101.  This is the only place to learn ATS from a Fatchance-certified instructor inside the Perimeter!

      I've been studying ATS with Teejei for about a year, and she's a really wonderful teacher.  I've been a huge fan for years, and I'm really honored to be her student (I keep hoping her beautiful hands and arms will rub off on me).

      I'll post more about my experiences with ATS, but suffice it to say that if you want to add it to your dance repertoire, it's a great challenge that can lead to wonderful performance and community experiences.  If you are interested in Tribal fusion, ATS will give you the foundational posture and movements that will make it look and feel authentic.  So come and check out Teejei's new class!

      UPDATE:  Amazing turnout last night -- at least 25 people!  Dance 101 is a fabulous studio (if a little noisy), and Teejei's class was in the big open room.  Lots of coin sashes, which to me means lots of ladies who have been studying belly dance and are interested in learning more about Tribal style!  We worked on posture and several foundational moves... review is always a good thing.  Dance 101 is running an anniversary special -- 10 classes for $101, which is as good as it gets!

      Shimmy Mob Registration Deadline is Tomorrow!

      I'll talk a lot more about Shimmy Mob (May 1st!), but wanted to let everyone know that registration will be closing tomorrow, April 5th!  Registration fees benefit local women's shelters -- so you're shimmying for a good cause!  The choreography is cute and encompasses several styles.

      Over 40 local dancers have already signed up to participate in this belly dance flash mob event -- don't miss your chance to get involved!  Lacy Perry is the local coordinator -- click here for more details and how to sign up. 

      Diane Adams Expanding Teaching Schedule

      Diane "Diana" Adams, one of the shining stars of the Atlanta scene (and my Western NY homegirl), is adding more classes and private lessons to her schedule.

      Monday nights at Pera Dance at 6:00 p.m., Diana be teaching "Combos From the Pros." Spice up your routines with the latest in Modern Egyptian and Jazz combos. And on Tuesdays at noon, Diane's teaching a "Veil Aerobics" class (which sounds very cool) at Pera.

      Thursdays from 7:30-8:30 p.m. at Dance and Arts Showcase, Diane will be teaching material from the recent Jim Boz workshop on funky combos and hands, arms and smooth transitions.  

       Diana is also available for private lessons during the day and on selected evenings.  For info, contact or call Diana at 404-272-0930.  And don't forget to become a fan of Diana on Facebook!

      Sunday, April 3, 2011

      Drumming & Dancing at Piedmont Park

      If you're looking for a place to rock out with live drummers in the spring sunshine, Danny Stern is once again leading a group of drummers every weekend at Piedmont Park.  They'll be out today starting at 3:30 p.m.!

      Directions from Danny:  From 10th street ( between monroe and piedmont ), come up along the side of the park half way between those 2 streets... you will come to a light, street named Charles Allen.  Walk into the park there and you will see a big curved cement wall on your right, where people can sit and overlook a big meadow field.  That's where drummers usually start to gather, from 3:00 'till dark! 

      Welcome to My New Blog!

      It hit me recently that (as far as I know) there is no single, universally accessible place to learn about everything that's happening in the world of belly dance in metro Atlanta (and the Southeast overall).

      After seven years exploring the various facets of this world, I've gotten to know (or at least get acquainted with) just about everyone. It's a wonderful community, I'm proud to be a part of it, and I hope to give back a little by providing a central place for information about shows, classes, workshops, and the many other ways to experience belly dance in this area!