Monday, November 19, 2012

The San Joaquin Valley Bellydance Coalition: It Begins!

So I would have wrote about this last night, but I was too tired to really discuss the exciting changes that are going on in the Central Valley. An invite had been sent out by a few key people here in the Central Valley for a meeting to take place within the local bellydance community. Several members (from beginning to professional) came to the meeting. Now this is actually a good start as this meeting was of a special kind. It was the first meeting of the San Joaquin Valley Bellydance Coalition aka The Coalition. The board committee of this group was being led by nationally known dancer Andalee. Essentially this meeting was to gather as many of the local dancers as possible to discuss ways to bring our community closer together, to promote each others performances, workshops and seminars, as well as brain storm how to educate the public a little more about each style of dance our community has. At the meeting people had agreed that it was time to pull ourselves together and work to bring a better awareness of the bellydance art and it's culture to people as there is still a misunderstanding of what bellydance is. Many people still believe this art to be adult entertainment due to how movies and other media has played a role in demonizing, so to speak, the art. So as our first meeting got underway, it was pretty clear everyone was on the same page to educate the Central Valley on what bellydancing is and to help our local cities embrace the history of the art in their neck of the woods.

In order to discuss the ideas we all had at this meeting, we broke up into groups and discussed amongst ourselves what we wanted more of. It was surprising that the top 3 priorities listed from each group was community outreach programs, social gatherings and better opportunities to attend workshops that are not readily available. The outreach programs was always listed as number one in each group. So it was very nice to see how all of us were on the same page and it shows that many dancers in the area have discussed at one point or another how our community needs to be in a more positive and educational role in order for our art to survive.

So I am pleased to share that over the next few years, there will be a new change taking place in the Central Valley to offer the public opportunities to learn the culture, dance, and positive role bellydancing has to offer in hopes to keep the art going and break down the walls of any misconceptions people have about this dance. It will be very exciting to see!

As more information develops, I will be sharing it here so those who are local or those in other cities/towns/states who wish to participate in the change can do so to help promote the art and culture in their own communities.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Wrist/Hand Exercises and Movements

I thought it would be a good idea to post some videos on some wrist and hand exercises you can work on at home, at work, waiting at an appointment or just about anywhere you can think on. Doing these exercises at work would not only help train yourself to have graceful wrists for bellydancing, but it would also help easing stress, especially carpal tunnel, in the wrists if you are doing a desk job that requires you to sit at a computer all day.

I felt it would be a good idea to present some videos for you to try out as wrist and hand exercises are not fully covered a lot of the time by several bellydance instructors. There may be some instruction on hand movement, but sometimes you may come across instructors that would expect it to come naturally or would expect you to learn on your own. I have an instructor who demonstrates wrist and hand movements as we work on combos, so I am lucky in that aspect. So for those who may have an instructor who doesn't cover exercises for your wrists and hands, please enjoy the videos below.

*NOTE: One of the videos found were disabled for embedding so please follow the link*

Hand Exercises for Belly Dancers <--- Click here to see video!

I hope these videos help you with your hand movements and remember to be patient! Like all movements it may take time to build the flexibility and grace, so do not be discouraged as you work on each of the exercises and movements presented above. Be sure that as you practice some of these movements that you do keep proper arm positions. Some of these do not require you to have your arms out away from the body, such as the hand undulations, but others may require you to have your arms out at certain positions to achieve the effect each video covers. Always be sure to keep your arms out in a bent and relaxed position, whether your arms are out at about the shoulder level for American Tribal Style and Cabaret/Oriental (which arms will be a little lower than shoulder level), or more down around your ribcage level if you are in the tribal fusion style in order to keep your body framed properly. If you allow your arms to drop where your wrists are down at your waist or hips while you are dancing, your dance presence drops and it looks like you have weak arms. That is not something that you want as bellydancing is about having a strong presence to capture your audience's attention.

Until next time!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Sewing, ITS Dancing, and that Irish Feeling

What a busy week this has been for dancing. Purchased navy blue linen last weekend to make a ghawazee blouse to dance in for this weekend's renaissance faire. I couldn't find a pattern to use for the blouse and I didn't have enough time to order one online since the blouse needed to be completed within the week. So I took one of the ghawazee coat patterns and altered it slightly to make a blouse. I was able to succeed and now have a blouse to wear that is renaissance period appropriate. As I continue to make my costumes, the better I get with altering things to my needs.

My dance class also spent this week's lesson in learning how to improv dance (ITS - Improv Tribal Style) in a group for this weekend. We learned how to watch for queues off each other as we took turns leading the group before transitioning to the next person. It was pretty fun and it has me a little more prepared for what is in store this weekend. The last time I joined this group was for a weekend during another renaissance faire but only participated in providing live drums and improv solo dancing. This time around, since I am now a member of the group, I was given a quick run down on what we would be doing to entertain ourselves and those who came to be entertained. Considering that we are expecting intermittent showers tomorrow and it will be cold, my instructor has come up with a plan to keep us busy so we stay warm. Taking shifts to dance improve-style, teaching anyone interested how to dance, drum, games, etc. Should be a fun weekend!

In other news, in about 2 months an informal student recital will be taking place to showcase the Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 students with solos from the Level 3 students and instructor. I'm getting excited for this as well as nervous because it's not just showcasing dances, but there are other smaller activities planned as well that is also....dun dun dun.....improv dancing. If I'm alone and in front of several people, I choke a little. My mind goes blank with improv dancing alone in front of several people and a lot of it is due to not being use to being in a situation like that. I've done it only twice before in the previous group I was with but it was in a different style. So I will set aside time between now and January to do some improv dancing in the privacy of my home to kind of prepare myself a little.

Lastly, about 4 weeks ago I went to pick up a yoga DVD to help with flexibility and strength. I am a little frustrated though because I still have yet to break out the DVD and start learning from it. The only reason I am not guilty with myself just yet for not starting a routine is due to getting sick the day after I purchased the DVD and then I exhausted myself with a temporary job that left me voiceless and tired. So I'm still recovering from the job and being sick. Once I am close to 100%, I'll start learning yoga, but until then I gotta work on getting over being ill and recover from the stress injuries of the temporary job I had.

Now off to get some rest. Gotta get up early and start the whole dressing process and be on faire site by 9am. Here is a video for your enjoyment!