Sara’s blog

Todays class – a bit of a bump !! May 11, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — letsbellydance @ 8:10 pm

I’m very sorry not to have made this mornings class – hopefully the loverly lady at South Street let everyone know and they had a nice chat/practice without me.
As you may have heard I had a very minor accident in the car on my way to Reading. I had to swerve to avoid someone unexpectedly choosing to drive down the middle of the road and hit the curb which ripped my tyre, but did no real harm – except to remind my shoulder of the damage I did last year skiing and poledancing (not at the same time). Unfortunately then the nice man from the AA seems to have broken something while trying to repair the tyre, which has meant a visit to the garage and then Quickfit… and back to the garage. It felt like such a minor thing, but it took til mid afternoon to sort out. But the good news is that the garage is right next to the cake shop, so I had cake for tea 🙂


Teacher training April 23, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — letsbellydance @ 8:25 am

This weekend I took part in a Bellydance teacher training session not far from here. The idea was that a group of Bdance teachers would get together and take part in sessions about different aspects of the job. It was really interesting and worth while – Afra had planned and led the weekend and had come up with a really interesting timetable. I was asked to speak about teaching multiple classes, lesson planning and marketing (during which I discovered I am queen of the handouts) – I also made them play a game aimed at helping them improve their web sites – which actually made me realise that I could do with improving mine !)
One of the most interesting sessions was when Nina produced a spine (model, thankfully) explained how it worked and showed us what happens to it during a back bend. I’ve seen the pictures and read about it before, but as I know I am a visual learner seeing it done without any flesh or muscles was a real eye opener….. I’ve never been a fan, and now realise that its a silly idea for most of us and not necessarily physically possible. She also showed us natural posture and what happens when we put on some weight – all mind boggling stuff !
All in all a very worth while weekend – I’m a happy teacher and fired up for the new terms !!


Back with a Pop April 13, 2007

Filed under: San Francisco — letsbellydance @ 1:25 pm

And that was it – a few hours sleep, a big fat coffee, a trip on the Bart to the airport. We cleared security fairly quickly again, but were still split up. I was sat with a rather large lady who popped gum for 9 hours…. tell me, am I really easily annoyed or do I attract them ?
If you are thinking about a visit and want to do some dancing ? – Id say :
get used to the public transport, its cheep and easy
email ahead of time and don’t be afraid to ask for what you want
triple check where the live dancing is – I think we were really luck, but it sounds like the Sunday night is a regular thing at the mo. Get onto BHUZ, MySpace and Tribe and beg for info.
Ultra Gypsy and Fat Chance studios are in the Mission, and I wouldn’t go there alone – get a cab.
The locals were more worried about going to the East Bay which is where Suhaila and Shabnam taught. I felt fine in both of these areas, but local knowledge is probably better so again maybe go with someone else.
If you are passionate about dance and can freedance well visit Amina – you will love it and learn more in an hour than you ever thought possible.
Suhaila’s class is only for the very fit and more workout than dance.
Fatchance is well worth doing but maybe only the level one class if you arms arn’t strong or you don’t have all the videos.
Shabnams class was the most welcoming – thats were I got a feeling of being part of a larger group and dancing together. We didn’t do her beginners class, but I imagine it would be great fun. Her terminology was the most familiar and I would recommend her to anyone.
If I lived there I can see that I would get addicted to Ultra Gypsy and would recommend those classes to anyone with a resonable level of fitness and an understanding of the basics. Jill was a fantastic teacher, spliting down the moves and having a good understanding of dancers abilities. My top tip would be Roses class midweek as it was small enough to provide lots of one on one attention and she was one of the nicest teachers I have ever done a session with. The classes arn’t really Tribal, their performance style is more sensual, even sexy, but thats not what you get from the classes. Its a work out, but also a very interesting way to look at the moves and put them together.
I know some of you are going in the next few months and I hope that helps you to be brave enough to take a class or two. It has really done me the world of good to see other styles and learn from new teachers – give it a go !!


Saturday night boogie

Filed under: San Francisco — letsbellydance @ 12:49 pm

Just as we were travelling back to the hotel I had a text saying the children had landed and were heading home to my dads. That was it, suddenly I was homesick and my brain was back in UK time. – they would have landed late evening and be getting straight off to bed. Laura wanted some more time at the Museum, but I went back for a bath and then fell asleep. Next thing I knew Laura was waking me up to head out for the evening – I’d had a couple of very deep hours, which was good cos I wasn’t going to get much sleep from then on….
A few weeks ago I had emailed Layla Lanty on the off chance she was performing. I’m not sure how much she performs these days, but she was very high on my list of must see dancers. Leyla is one of those people who are very active on the MED and BHUZ lists and is always happy to share her huge knowledge on this subject. Over the years she has provided me with many snippets of gold. We were in luck as she was at Pasha that saturday night and she kindly said she would book us a table. Now maybe its the different cultures, but I expected a table for the two of us in a corner somewhere – but no, Layla was waiting for us in the entrance, with a group of other dancers, and we were to join them for the evening. It felt like being welcomed home after years away and I was overcome with their hospitality. We sat and shared a meal and chatted about some of the lessons we had taken, and listened to the band. I’m not sure how many there were in the band – maybe 6/7 but the quality was amazing. The owner of the resturant played the quanoon beautifully and Layla joined in on the zills for some numbers. The singer was an inspiration, opening each number with (word – see I’m still tired !) the emotional monologue part of the song, which the arabic section of the audience responded to – and I got all emotional even without understanding more than the occasional word. As the tempo kicked off each time he would grab some of us up to dance. I danced with Rose who I know through Bhuz, who is beautiful and a stunning natural dancer. Oh and rather a lot of men.
I’ve noticed I have a problem with dancing with men – and not just a slight dislike for sweaty, drunk men….. You know I am a big supporter of men who dance – but I have a big problem with anyone who tries to “lead” me. The whole idea that a man you hardly know gets to push and shove you where he wants you just gets my back up, and it always has. I understand the romance of being gently sweeped along to the music, but really has this ever happened ? Not to me. The only time I have ever danced with my husband he held on to me for dear life and muttered “this is horrible” into my ear. It might have looked romantic, but it was so far from it….. Anyway I let myself be shoved around a bit and then did some pushing back.
After a short break Leyla danced – and It was the highlight of the week. She held the stage like a true goddess and with the slightest of moves made the music visable. Nothing was over stated or exaggerated – just her body enhancing the sounds that filled the room. I think I did a goldfish impression. I hope at some point she puts something up on You Tube as I would have liked everyone to be there to share. I see so many dancers who have to put their latest “trick” into a performance, or get 17 laps of the stage into the first minute – whats so wrong with letting the music wash over you and fill you up ?
And then the singer had us all up again dancing and before I knew it the clock said 2am and we had to say our goodbyes. It was an interesting taxi ride back and then we had to face the packing and clearing up, although we were in high spirits so it seemed to be done fairly quickly.
Rose, Laura, Leyla and me
Leylasan-francisco-153.jpgsan-francisco-160.jpgThe bandsan-francisco-155.jpgsan-francisco-150.jpgLeyla dancing


more Ultra Gypsy April 10, 2007

Filed under: San Francisco — letsbellydance @ 9:55 pm

IN San Francsico on a Saturday you can take no end of dance classes, so when we were planning our time we had left Saturday open to see how we would feel. IN the end it was an easy decision to take an extra Ultra Gypsy class with Jill Parker. Rose had been one of my favourite teachers, and it felt like we had really missed out earlier in the week when we had to watch the UG class. Laura took a private lesson with Jill on Friday, and came back very energised and enthusiastic.
Again we did lots of conditioning in the first session followed by some variations on the cha-cha and a fab move/combo called the sprinkler. The ingredients were given to us bit by bit so that by the time we were putting them together they had become second nature. By the second class I felt out of my depth, which was a good thing really. One problem was the names – I kept forgetting which moves we were doing and some of them had different names than those I’m used to so I was starting half a beat behind. – we also did lots of twists to the back, where I am naturally a to the front person. Maybe if I hadn’t been so tired…. or maybe I just need to work on them some more. Again we built up the moves until we had a really cool combo to drill.With Jill Parker
After that we walked up to take a photo of Amina the resturant where the Indigo started out. – Great fun trying to take a photo through the traffic – Laura now has 5 photos of the sides of buses or trucks. And then down again to the studio where I had left my jacket mid week. We arrived just as it was being locked up so our timing was brilliant. – I had my jacket back !!…..


Saturday – shopping – of course

Filed under: Uncategorized — letsbellydance @ 3:20 pm

I made a big mistake on Saturday morning by going into Virgin megastore. You know how the music stores have a display unit of World music and somewhere in there is the Arabic ?, and sometimes Tarken and Hossam Ramsey get a divider, but mostly its just mixed in with the flamenco ? Well in this store World music was as big as Virgin in Basingstoke, with Arabic music having a huge display all to itself. I could have doubled my music collection in one shopping trip, and those who have seen my music collection will know thats a big buy. – I have four shoe boxes of CDs in paper cases – its a good job Zaks feet keep growning. I limited myself to four. I had a selection of 2006 arabic hits, cos the 2002 one I have is very valuable and I’m always aware that by the time we get the compilation CDs they are often out of date, so now classes can be trendy again (says she who is 37 and feels it today). I also got Hossam Ramsy’s new Beouin Tribal dance, which has been on my wish list and I felt the US price was probably pretty good – and you know how it is once its in your hand….Evolution is a selection of Tribal Fusion music including some nice Solace. And finally I picked up Woman of Egypt 1924-1931 (Pioneers of stardom and fame) – this is a compilation of the contemporys of Umm Kulthum, stars of theatre and an inspiration to generations of female singers. I do have a thing about really emotional songs sung by women, so while I’m not sure how many of these will get played in class I can see myself settling down with a glass of wine for a good cry now and then. The liner notes are also very detailed – I can see a workshop developing once I have time to really study some of these charactors and try to understand their styles.
While I’m emptying out my shopping bags I should say that I did buy far too much Mac – Gayle highly recommends Mac products, for their strength of colour and lastability and now I’ve tried them I do understand. I bought a liner that is good for 24 hours (which was handy for the long flight home !) and gave me a “made up look” in just a minutes application. I need to do some price checking, but I think I may be a convert. Washed out colours just don’t work for bellydance, and actually you grow confident with your stage make up helping you feel more normal in more glam make up for everyday. – I’m now one of those odd ladies who either wear full glam make up or nothing at all and often can’t remember what I’m wearing, so thats why I turn up at the school gates in bright red lippy.
I also got 3 new DVDs and a book. One thing I noticed in all the classes was the amount of conditioning, and thats had a huge impact on my body. I don’t think I can add 45 minutes of floor stretches to any of the classes, but would like to do some for myself. I am going to have to start Pilates, but I also got the Woman Power workout by FCBD, which I’m hoping will contain some of the great stuff we did in SF – or maybe some adaptations that could be used in class. I got vol 7 of FCBD tribal basics – the other 6 have been great value, so it was on my wish list. Finally I bought Bellydance Underworld a performance video of Gothic and Tribal Fusion. The book was also from FCBD – and I’m afraid I havn’t had time to look at it yet, so will report back in a few days. I have a paragraph of the latest “No.1 ladies dective agency” series to finish first, but I couldn’t focus last night in bed….


Fatchance continued

Filed under: Uncategorized — letsbellydance @ 2:21 pm

– sorry I gave up on the internet cafe. Boy was she annoying. She was trying to fill in a form, while her boyfriend played chess on the other computer and they had a constant banter/row about what the form meant by forenames, if he should have moved his rook and if maybe he could stop playing for a mo and help her…..

Right so, the second class at Fatchance was again week one but of level 2 so some dancers were fairly advanced while others were obviously struggling. This made me feel much better as I was worried about my level in fatchance formula. I know most of the Tribal I have done is more open to other styles while Fatchance teaches a set of rules that are easily built on, but key to dancing in that style. What I mean is that I was worried that I might not understand the first page of rules, and if I didn’t then I couldn’t build on them. As it is I don’t think anything was expected that I hadn’t got from the DVDs. I think the really interesting thing I got from the class was the way they teach and re-enforce the moves. In the first one we only really learnt four, although you could say we did varients as we travelled in lots of different directions, and then we danced them with the changes in groups. For the second class we added the finger cymbols (so glad I had been practicing these), changes of tempo and danced in three or four formations including some backing line. This meant that by the end of the – nearly three hours – we had the few moves very solidly. we could travel and transition confidently, had good arms (even if they hurt) and the zills were working too. I imagine that if you did this for the 12 weeks you could become very strong in the FCBD formula very quickly.
san-francisco-142.jpgOutside the Fatchance studio
We then went back to the pizza place near our hotel. I was really, really hungry and we ordered a pizza each. I figured I was maybe pigging a bit when the waitress came over to say she could bag any extras if we wanted – I had been thinking about eating the whole thing, so left a slice to appear ladylike.