Loading...

Follow Belly Dance Geek | More Than Steps on Feedspot

Continue with Google
Continue with Facebook
or

Valid
Belly Dance Geek | More Than Steps by Nadira, More Than Steps Podcast - B.. - 5d ago

How to get over the improv hump

I created The Improvisation Toolkit because there were no training wheels for improvisation. Most dancers learned to improvise when our teachers put on some music and said, “okay, now dance!”

(That actually works, but it’s so terrifying that many students give up.)

So I decided to reverse-engineer what dancers are actually doing when we improvise, break that down into a set of manageable skills, and then teach those skills step-by-step. That has been the heart of the work we’ve done here at Belly Dance Geek®.
But eventually you have to take the training wheels off…

Listen now:


Or Read the Transcript...

Do you remember when you learned to ride a bike? I do. I had a pink and grey Huffy with a banana seat and tassels, and it was so cool. I started with training wheels while I learned how to pedal and steer, and I could ride to the corner store. But I couldn’t keep up with my older sister. She could ride all the way to the park BY HERSELF, because she didn’t have training wheels. Eventually, I had to face that moment when the training wheels came off and I had to balance on my own. I remember how exhilarating that moment was. It was terrifying, but I felt like I was flying.

But what I don’t think about very often was what happened next. When I tried to stop the bike, I stumbled, and almost fell off entirely. That scared me so much that I didn’t want to get back on. But I also didn’t want my sister to leave me behind. So I tried it over and over again. I wobbled a lot. I fell off several more times. But eventually, I got steadier. Riding that bike stopped being so scary and started to feel natural. And we put away the training wheels for good.

When I started Belly Dance Geek® 10 years ago, there were no training wheels for improvisation. Most dancers learned to improvise when our teachers put on some music and said, “okay, now dance!” That actually works, but it’s so terrifying that many students give up. So I decided to reverse-engineer what dancers are actually doing when we improvise, break that down into a set of manageable skills, and then teach those skills step-by-step. That has been the heart of the work we’ve done here at Belly Dance Geek®.

And just like learning to pedal with training wheels, breaking down improv makes learning it much easier and less scary. But eventually, you still have to face that moment when the training wheels come off. And just like me and my bike, you have to face it over and over again. In short, you have to practice.

But the fastest way to get those training wheels off for good is with tiny, frequent practice.

We tend to think of practice as something you do for an hour or even two hours a time, but shorter sessions, even tiny ones, can also be very effective. And when it comes to improv, they can be MORE effective.

Think of it like studying in school. Cramming for a test doesn’t work as well as studying in smaller doses over time. And complex skills like improv “stick” better if you practice them in many shorter sessions.

This is partly because short sessions are more sustainable. In the long-term, you rack up a lot more practice time doing smaller sessions consistently than you do in longer sessions that you are more likely to skip.

Shorter practice sessions also work better because of simple fatigue. When you practice improv, what you’re really practicing is decision-making. You have to analyze what’s happening in the music, decide how to respond, and execute it. That is a lot more tiring for your brain than working on technique (which is primarily about muscle memory) or choreography (which is primarily about memorization). The longer your practice session is, the more likely you are to wear out your brain, stop making fresh decisions, and fall back on the same patterns. But frequent practice also has another benefit: you sleep in between sessions. Sleep is when your brain cements new information that you’ve learned, and physical skills that you are working on. So when you encounter a challenge during a practice session, you literally improve by “sleeping on it” before you tackle it again the next day. So you can make more break-throughs in several tiny practice sessions than in one large one.

So how do you get tiny practice?

Here’s what I recommend: Show up every day (or even just every weekday) and improvise to one song. That’s it.

If you’re having fun (and you have time), you can do more, but there’s no extra credit for that. If you improvise to one song, you have succeeded for the day. (51 of us practiced for just one song per day earlier this month as part of the Daylight Saving Practice Challenge. Not everyone was practicing improv, but we all made progress.)

I do recommend that you do this at the same time every day, and the morning is the most reliable time for most people. Even if you’re not a morning person (and I am SO NOT A MORNING PERSON), you are much more likely to show up than after work or in the evening when you’re depleted from your workday, and more likely to be interrupted. Since it’s only one song (3-5 minutes), it’s easy to squeeze in after your morning coffee or after you brush your teeth. But any time of day is fine, as long as you’re likely to show up reliably.

Warming up first is always a good idea, but if you’re worried about squeezing in the time, you can often skip it or just do the minimum. (Obviously, if you have injuries or other physical concerns, or you’re going to include more demanding elements like backbends or floorwork, definitely warm up.)

How much can you actually achieve in one song?

A lot. Let’s look at the numbers.

Let’s say you improvise for one 5-minute song per day. In fact, let’s say you practice every weekday. (I only practice on weekdays.) And to be realistic, let’s say that you only practice for 48 weeks per year. That’s skipping four whole weeks for vacations, holidays, sick days, and slip-ups.

5 minutes a day, 5 days per week, for 48 weeks is 20 hours of practice by the end of the year. That is a lot. If that doesn’t sound like a lot to you, think of it this way: a full nightclub routine lasts around half an hour. So one song per day is the equivalent of doing 40 nightclub sets.

And that, my friends, is how you earn your chops.

Just be sure to choose your songs wisely.

Do pick a song you love, but not one that you have previously used for choreography. (After working so hard to memorize a choreography, it’s very hard to shut off your muscle memory.)

You should also avoid songs that are not a good fit for your skill level. If the pace, rhythm, or style is a stretch for you, you’ll blow your attention budget trying to keep up and improvise at the same time.

And don’t repeat the same song too frequently. It’s okay to come back to songs you love, but if you use them too many times in a row, you can settle into the same ideas, instead of thinking on your feet. (We call this “defacto choreography”)

All that said, once you get more comfortable with improv, the opposite is true. Challenging yourself to make fresh choices to songs you’ve choreographed or repeated a lot, or improvising to tough music will really stretch your creativity. But save that for later.

Let’s summarize what we’ve discussed.

Here at BDG, we’ve made lots of resources to serve as training wheels to help you learn improv without the terror. But eventually, you have to face riding the improv bike on your own. That is terrifying, and you will fall off, probably several times. The best way to get past it is with tiny, frequent practice. It’s more sustainable than marathon sessions, less likely to BLAH fatigue, and “sleeping on” your challenges between sessions can help you overcome them faster. So try improvising for just one song every day (or every week day). Pick a song that you love, that you’re not too familiar with, and that’s a good fit for your skill level.

Just like riding a bike, it may feel wobbly at first. But you’ll be amazed at how much easier it gets, even after a few weeks.

The biggest roadblock for most people is making time to practice, even when it comes to tiny one-song sessions. If that’s a challenge for you, join us for How to Build a Sustainable Practice Habit. In this 9-week online course, Heather Wayman and I will help you make practice a consistent part of your daily routine. The course starts January 14th, 2019, so check it out now at:

How to Build a Sustainable Practice Habit

We also have a DIY version that’s available year-round at http://bellydancegeek.com/store), but you don’t want to miss out on the group support and personal help from Heather and me.

Your Turn

Have you ever tried tiny daily improv practice?

What other strategies have you tried to get over the improvisation hump?

Got a question or topic that you’d like us to talk about on the show?

We would love to hear from you.

Leave a comment below, or better yet, leave us a short voice message. Maybe we’ll even play it on the air!

Want More?

The hardest part of practicing is just showing up. So join Heather and me for How to Build a Sustainable Practice Habit. In this 9-week group online course, you’ll make practice a consistent part of your daily routine. The course starts January 19th 2019, so check it out now:

Check It Out

The post Taking Off The Training Wheels appeared first on Belly Dance Geek.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Belly Dance Geek | More Than Steps by Heather, More Than Steps Podcast - .. - 2w ago

There are so many reasons to be thankful…

This episode is brought to you by the newest member of the Belly Dance Geek Team, Heather Wayman, Director.

In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, sometimes it’s tough to find time to remember all of the things that make our dance life so wonderful.  So…during this season of thanks, instead of our usual geekery, Nadira and I thought it would be nice to share a quick podcast about some of the things that we are most thankful for in our dance life.

We came up with a few…

Listen now:


Or Read the Transcript...

Greetings from Belly Dance Geek!  It’s Heather here. Instead of our usual geekery, we thought it would be nice to share a quick podcast about some of the things that we are most thankful for in our dance life.  So with that, I’m going to ask Nadira to come on…

Hi it’s Nadira.  Here are a couple of things that I’m grateful that I’ve had in my dance life.

One of those is live music.  Here in the Boston area, we have a long tradition of venues with live bands and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to dance with live music.  I’m also especially lucky in that we also have a tradition of live music venues with student nights.  So I was able to learn how to dance to live music when I was still “coming up”.

I’m also really grateful to my first teacher, Amira Jamal for her encouragement to learn from a variety of sources.  A long time ago, I heard the advice that you should run from any teacher who forbids you to study with other people.

Well not only did Amira not forbid me, she actively encouraged me to go and seek out other teachers, workshops, other sources of information.  And…while I definitely learned my most important lessons from her, that played a big role in my development as a dancer and as an artist.

And last, I’m really grateful to have grown up in an artistically diverse community.  I was really lucky in that I was exposed really early on to different styles both cabaret and tribal.  As well as a lot of the different ethic styles of belly dance.  I’m also lucky that I knew dancers from different eras.  I’ve studied with dancers who danced in the 60s and I’ve known dancers who ended up in the Bellydance Superstars group.

And so, I was exposed to not just different flavors of belly dance but also to how much they can change over time.  And that gave me a much broader sense of what the dance is and really drove home the idea that there are lots of different right ways to dance, not just one way.

————————

Thank you Nadira!  And continuing on…

I admire and am thankful for the energy and tenacity of traveling dance instructors.  They spend weeks and months away from home, family and friends and give so much of themselves to share this dance with their students.  I am grateful that even the biggest stars of the dance community are approachable, gracious and down to earth.

I hadn’t even thought of taking a belly dance class when I happened upon my very first teachers, Dianna Olsen in 2007 and Annwyn Amar in 2008 on a military base in Okinawa, Japan.  I am forever thankful that what I learned from them planted the seeds that helped me continue to where I am today in my dance career.

I am thankful for Arabic music and that it is so different from western music.  The feelings generated from this music are so deep and intense.

I am thankful for the new friends I meet at every, single workshop and show that I participate in.  It’s so nice to know that I have friends in every corner of the world as a result of this fabulous dance journey.

It’s not always possible to attend live workshops and not everyone has regular access to live classes.  I am thankful for the enormous amount of quality, online learning resources that are available to dancers today.  Studying online can never (and shouldn’t) fully replace a live teacher. But these resources are an excellent supplement to our dance learning.

No matter how crappy or sad a day has been, when I step into the studio (or get online) and take or teach a class, something changes.  I forget all the junk that was weighing me down.  And if I’m sad, I am thankful for the catharsis that dancing provides.  I am thankful for the magic of belly dance.

Now it’s your turn.  Tell us what you are thankful for in your dance life.

And since Nadira and I are so grateful that you’ve listened all the way to the end, you’re getting early access to our GIANT Black Friday sale!  From now through Monday, 11/26/18, enjoy 25% off all Belly Dance Geek programs.  Just enter coupon code FRIDAY at BellyDanceGeek.com/store.

Your Turn

What are the things that you are most thankful for in your dance life?

What would you miss most about your dance life if it was over tomorrow??

Got a question or topic that you’d like us to talk about on the show?

We would love to hear from you.

Leave a comment below, or better yet, leave us a short voice message. Maybe we’ll even play it on the air!

Want More?

Online learning resources were mentioned in this podcast as one of the things I’m thankful for in my dance life.  Belly Dance Geek is having a bodacious Black Friday SALE and because you’re here, YOU get early access!  Simply enter coupon code FRIDAY at checkout and enjoy 25% off  any Belly Dance Geek programs through November 26, 2018.

Shop Belly Dance Geek

The post Why Dance Makes Our Heart Smile appeared first on Belly Dance Geek.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Belly Dance Geek | More Than Steps by Nadira, More Than Steps Podcast - B.. - 1M ago

3 tips from Heather Wayman

When Belly Dance Geek® first offered Rock the Routine back in 2012, online belly dance courses were almost unheard of.

These days, finding online courses is easy. But getting the most out of them is still tricky.
 
That’s where Heather comes in…

The newest member of the Belly Dance Geek® team, Heather Wayman, has a lot of experience in that area!

As someone who has taken a lot of online courses (from Belly Dance Geek® and elsewhere), but is also an experienced teacher, she can share her perspective from both sides of the learning experience.
 
Hear her three tips for getting the most out of an online course…
 

Listen Now:

Or watch us live:

More Than Steps Episode 44: How to Get the Most Out of an Online Course - YouTube

Or Read the Transcript...

This was professionally transcribed, but it probably still has some errors. If you catch any, drop me a line at nadira@nadirajamal.com. I’d love to hear from you!

Nadira: Hello everybody, I am Nadira Jamal from Belly Dance Geek and today I am joined by my guest, Heather Wayman. So heather is a second generation professional dancer who classically trained in Western dance and then discovered classic Egyptian, Oriental and folkloric dance in 2007. She’s trained with dance masters from Egypt, to Russia, and the United States and placed and also won multiple competitions including professional live music improvisation categories. Most recently, she won the first runner up in the Belly Dance Off at Seattle’s fame, Teatro ZinZanni theater dancing to live music chosen on the spot. If you know anything about me, you know I’m all about improv, so I was super proud of her. Nadira: She’s captivated audiences from Okinawa, Japan to Dallas, Texas, and now runs her own dedicated home studio in Selah, Washington, where she trains intermediate students as well as teaching beginners in local commercial studios. You can find more information about her at bellybyheather.com and on YouTube where she’s known as Oki Belly, O-K-I B-E-L-L-Y. Welcome, Heather.

Heather: Hi.

Nadira: All right. Now, the reason I’m inviting Heather today is that we have something interesting to announce and that is that Heather is going to be joining us at Belly Dance Geek. So how we’re going to begin by having her assistant teach in our summer program, Rock the Routine and she’s also going be doing some guest posting and helping us out with some of our other content like our podcasts and articles. So I am so excited to have Heather here, in no small part because she’s awesome but also because Heather and I go way back. So if we go back to, what was it, like 2011.

Heather: I can’t believe it’s been that long.

Nadira: It must have been 2011. She was my Guinea pig in a three-month improvisation intensive coaching program. So she was working a good 90 minutes every day for three months and made the most tremendous progress improvisational dancing and has been dancing with live music ever since. So I love this lady. I love the way she thinks about the dance and about improv. She also, like me, even though we have slightly different dance styles, I feel like we both understand the value of improv, of live music and in understanding how the dance works, not just copying and pasting what your teacher teaches you. So I’m so thrilled to have you here, Heather.

Heather: Thank you for having me.

Nadira: All right. And the reason I invited Heather to stick around rather than just making a little announcement is that we wanted to jump right in and allow you to start benefiting from what she has to share. So as I mentioned, Heather is going to be assistant teaching during Rock the Routine this summer and so she’s agreed to help us out before we get started with some tips for how to get the most out of an online class. Heather, you’ve taken almost everything I’ve offered which includes several online classes and I know you’ve studied with a lot of other folks, not just in person but also online. So I can give you tips on taking online classes as the teacher, but it means a lot more from somebody with a lot of experience both on the student end and on the teaching end. So Heather, what’s your first tip for us?

Heather: The first tip would be to … What I did was look at all of the assignments that came in at the beginning of the week so that I could plan whether or not I was going to be able to do one every day that it was scheduled for or if I had something, I was going to be out of the house on Thursday that week, I would double up on one of the days or something like that. I think that it also really helped me to kind of start digesting the subject matter at the beginning. I wasn’t necessarily working with it at the beginning like that, but I had a chance to kind of meditate on it and be a little organic in there. So, that helped too.

Nadira: Excellent. One of the things that I love about this tip is that there are so many angles that it touches on, right? One is the be prepared part. All right. Be honest about what’s in your schedule, plan ahead for things that are not going to go according to the official schedule of the course. It also has an element of be flexible in it, right? So just because you’re getting homework everyday doesn’t mean you necessarily have to do it everyday and then certainly in my courses we do have a lot of flexibility around that. But also, those two things together, being prepared and being flexible, we don’t associate them with each other, but I think together they really play into your success in learning.

Heather: True.

Nadira: All right, now, what was your next step?

Heather: Try not to overthink every little thing.

Nadira: Easier said than done.

Heather: I am a huge over thinker. I think that oftentimes the pressure, the self-imposed pressure that we put on ourselves to get it right, it can be paralyzing. I think it happens to a lot of people. So, just don’t overthink everything, for goodness sakes. Just look at what you’ve got to do and if it doesn’t … Most of the time the first thing that comes to you is going to be what you need to run with anyway and then you can expand out from that and it’s amazing when you just take that first little thing that comes to you, you feel successful, and then you’re like, “Okay, yeah, let me see what else I can come up with.” Then things do start to flow. It’s really easy to have a block if you’re overthinking it, but if you try not to let that happen to you, your thoughts can start to flow a little more easily, a lot more easily actually. When the thoughts flow, the movement begins to flow too, so.

Nadira: Excellent. I know for me, I’m also an over thinker and when I … For me, getting started is the hardest part, right? So I can stress about something and worry about something and just go in circles. But if I actually get up and try it, sometimes my body has information or unlock something that doesn’t happen when I’m sitting in a chair mulling over it or thinking about at 3 in the morning. If you actually just get up and start, sometimes you just fix your own problems and even if you don’t, then you can get more information about where your uncertainty is and that puts you in a place where you can ask questions that are going to be productive when you go to say, Heather or me in the forum on Rock the Routine, you’ll have a better question to ask if you actually give it a try first and then you can be more specific about your challenges.

Heather: Right. So true.

Nadira: Excellent. Your third tip, why don’t you tell us about that one?

Heather: The third tip that I have is to be kind to yourself in your learning. There’s a lot of little things that you could associate with that. If you get behind to start again where you left off is, it’s not rocket science. It’s not brain surgery. No one’s going to die if you miss a day or whatever, or even a week, just start. Because if you don’t start then you quit and that’s not … Then you’re not growing that way. If you get stuck, take a break and start again. Kind of feeds off of the first tip, the first sub-tip there. Noodle, goodness sakes, noodle, don’t hate the noodling.

Nadira: So I don’t think most people listening to this know what noodling is, unless they’ve seen the improvisation toolkit DVD. Can you tell us about that exercise?

Heather: The noodling was something that, and I still struggle with it, it was something that I absolutely hated. Basically, it’s when you just put on music and you just start moving in all sorts of directions and shapes and levels and just … It’s stupid but it’s so useful because things will come out when you’re doing that crazy stuff that would not have come out and then you can use those things in your dance. It’s another way of helping to break the block that you might find yourself in. So yeah, don’t hate the noodling.

Nadira: Excellent. Since you brought that up, why don’t I actually include a link in the episode notes for this video? I’ll include a link to where folks can get just the noodling exercise for free on my website.

Heather: Oh, nice.

Nadira: Excellent.

Heather: [inaudible 00:08:29].

Nadira: All right. Well thank you for these tips, Heather. These are really good ones. I think especially, everything is good, but I think the being kind to yourself part is the most important. I think that there are a lot of dancers like us who are really conscientious, right? We’re in this dance because we love it, not just because we like to be pretty onstage and we feel really strongly that it’s important to be respectful of the dance and dance in integrity and sometimes that turns into really destructive perfectionism, right? Where we beat ourselves up over everything that’s not perfect instead of valuing everything that’s worthwhile. Everybody always has room to improve. That’s always true. Even the top dancers in the world have things that they can improve but that doesn’t mean that what you have to offer isn’t good and so it’s much easier to get to that better place if you’re nice to yourself along the way.

Heather: Yeah, and if I could just add one more thing to that.

Nadira: Please.

Heather: About perfection. There is no such thing as perfect. Trying to be perfect also creates paralysis. What you need to do, and I learned this from you and I’ll paraphrase, just be good enough right now today because tomorrow’s another day. You’re your own best competition.

Nadira: Absolutely. So thank you so much, Heather.

Heather: Thanks for having me.

Nadira: So it has been great to introduce you to all my folks and we are looking forward to hearing more from you. So as I mentioned, Heather will be sharing some more content on the Belly Dance Geek blog as part of our team. She’ll also be assistant teaching us on Rock the Routine. That is starting on Sunday, July 8th. But really you don’t have to do anything until Monday, July 9th. Sunday is just getting ready exercise. But we are closing registration on Sunday night at 8:00 Eastern Time.

So if you haven’t already and you want to join us, please go ahead and do that. You can find that at bellydancegeek.com/rocktheroutine. Besides teaching you how to improvise to the classic six-part routine, we are also going to be available to you in our Facebook group. So if you need Heather or me to tell you, stop beating yourself up and here’s how to be nicer to yourself, that’s one of the things we can help you out with. So I hope you’ll join us the summer. In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled for some more great content from both of us. Happy dancing.


  Resources mentioned

Noodling exercise from Improvisation Toolkit Vol. 1

Rock the Routine online course

Your Turn

Have you taken online courses before?

What tips do you have to share?

Got a question or topic that you’d like me to talk about on the show?
 

I would love to hear from you.

Leave a comment below, or better yet, leave me a short voice message. Maybe I’ll even play it on the air!

Want More?

If you’d like to dig deeper into the routine, geek out with me this summer with Rock the Routine.
We’ll do a deep dive into how to dance a traditional 6-part routine step-by-step.

And this is the last time that Nadira will be leading a live offering of this course, so don’t miss out!

Learn more 

The post Get The Most From Online Courses appeared first on Belly Dance Geek.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Belly Dance Geek | More Than Steps by Nadira, More Than Steps Podcast - B.. - 1M ago
Why (and how) to play zils with veil

In my dance lineage, we don’t remove our zils when we dance with a veil.
You keep them on, and ideally you play them!
 
 
The secret is in the grip…
 

Listen Now:
Or Read the Transcript...
Would you do me a favor?

If you’re reading this transcript, please shoot me a quick email to let me know. Getting these podcast episodes transcribed costs me almost $500/year, but I don’t know how many people actually use them.

This was professionally transcribed, but it probably still has some errors. If you catch any, drop me a line at nadira@nadirajamal.com. I’d love to hear from you!

You’re listening to More Than Steps, the podcast where we geek out on how belly dance works one coffee run at a time. I’m your hostess, Nadira Jamal. One of my favorite gigs of my entire career was a birthday party for a developmentally disabled man. What his mom told me going into the show was treat him like he was a seven-year-old boy. That’s exactly how it felt. He was so open, and sweet, and so excited to have his party and have a dancer like he had 20 years before at a previous birthday party. One thing that became our thing during this show is every once in a while he would reach out his hands and move his fingers like he was playing the zils. Whenever that happened I would reach out my hands and actually play my zils back at him. The thing is he would do this just at random times throughout the piece including during my veil section. It was this wonderful interactive moment that I never wanted to skip it even if it was a moment where I normally wouldn’t have played finger cymbals.

As I’ve taught dancers in different parts of the country where areas have different traditions and different expectations, I learned that most people don’t play finger cymbals when they do the veil. Now these days taking your zils off for veil or not playing them at all is pretty common. Back in the day and particularly in my dance lineage we were not allowed to take our zils off at all. If you were doing a half hour set, your zils stayed on no matter what. By the time we were out there performing for the general public, my teacher expected us to at a minimum keep our zils on and more likely to actually play. I will admit it, if I’m in a show where I get a one song slot, and I’m only doing veil, typically, I’m not going to put my zils on. When I do veil as part of a longer set I keep them on, and I do play for the majority of that veil song. Sometimes I might pause for whole sections, but I’m going to play for a chunk of the whole veil piece.

Now I’d like to talk about why learning to play zils while holding your veil is worthwhile. For one thing, it means that you don’t have to interrupt your show to take your zils off and then to put them back on. That was my teacher’s main objection to taking them off. Just like any other part of the show, during a veil piece zils add an extra layer to the music. They had extra interest. They let you interact in a more musical way. Just like at that birthday party, zils are often an interactive element. The audience connects with them and understands them as an action, not just another sound in the orchestra. Plus, playing zils while you work with your veil is kind of bad ass.

I want to make it clear that I do not believe that something is better just because it’s hard or even that the hard thing is usually better than the easy thing. Hard for the sake of hard is contrary to the core values of this dance. That said, I think it is worth cultivating things that are hard when they have an artistic value, and also that every dancer should have at least one thing that they can whip out when they need a little impressive tada moment.

How do you play zils while you work with your veil? The secret is all in the grip. Remember that we play our finger cymbals with our middle finger and our thumb. That means that the veil cannot fall between the middle finger and thumb finger zils and that your middle finger and your thumb both need to be completely free to move. Any veil grip that we use can’t interfere with those two things, and our standard grip does. Typically, when we hold the veil we pinch it between our pointer and our thumb like we’re writing with a pencil. This veil is on both counts. Your veil is up against your thumb zil, so that’s going to muffle it. Also, the pointer finger blocks your middle finger from striking your thumb zil, so that’s right out.

What can we use instead? I recommend what I call the scissor grip. If you have trouble picturing what I’m about to describe, don’t worry. There’s a short video on the episode page. What I’d like you to do is to imagine that your pointer finger and your middle finger make up a pair of scissors. Go ahead and make a snipping motion. Then go ahead and lay your veil flat on a surface like a table and use your fingers to snip that fabric with your middle finger underneath and your pointer finger on top of the fabric. This should leave the fabric pinched between those two fingers. Now if you rotate your hand, so that your palms are pointing downward, and then slide your pointer finger on top of your middle finger, this leaves the fabric resting on the back of your hands and secured between your pointer and middle fingers. It leaves your thumb and your middle fingers unobstructed.

Another way to imagine this is crossing your fingers for good luck with your middle finger on top of your pointer finger and then reversing the order, so the pointer is on top of the middle instead. You leave the veil pinched between those two fingers. Now this feels weird, very weird. There’s a good chance that you’re going to get hand cramps at least starting out. This is partly because you may not have the strength in the small muscles that articulate that action, but more likely because you’re holding it too tightly. As you get used to this grip, you can put in less effort, and you’ll get stronger. It’s going to become a lot more comfortable.

Like any other confounding factor, this is going to impact your veil skills until you get used to this new grip. You may have a harder time manipulating your veil. You might drop it more frequently. That is all normal, and it will pass. Using the right grip as the secret, but the real key is repetition. The only way for this grip to become reliable and to become comfortable is to practice a lot. Try practicing gripping and regripping, playing the zils while you just hold the veil without moving it, moving the veil while you hold your zils but without playing them, and then eventually playing your zils and moving your veil at the same time. Above all, just try out. Just play, make mistakes, and keep trying. With time and practice, you’ll be able to bust out zils whenever the moment calls for it. Hopefully, you’ll get some magic moments like I did.

And if you like what you’re hearing please leave us a review on iTunes. It helps me out a lot and it makes it more likely that other people will find the show.


 

And here’s a quick video showing you the technique:
(If it goes by too quickly, you can watch it in slow-mo: click on the gear icon, and choose “speed”)

Micro-tutorial: How to hold your veil so you can play zils - YouTube

Your Turn

Have you ever tried to play zils with veil?

What challenges or tricks would you like to share?

Got a question or topic that you’d like me to talk about on the show?
 

I would love to hear from you.

Leave a comment below, or better yet, leave me a short voice message. Maybe I’ll even play it on the air!

Want More?

If you want to get more creative with your zils but are feeling intimidated, check out Lace: How to make your zils interesting, not overwhelming.

 

I offered this as a live online course back in 2016, and it’s now available as a home study with brand new, reshot videos.

Get It Now

 
 
 

The post The Scissors Secret appeared first on Belly Dance Geek.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Belly Dance Geek | More Than Steps by Nadira, More Than Steps Podcast - B.. - 1M ago

Out of all the dimensions, energy is the hardest to pin down.

This is Part 5 of a multi-part series on using dimension to add depth to your dancing. This episode can stand alone, or you can start with the overview episode, Dimension.
 
 

My favorite definition is from the Elements of Dance project at ElementsOfDance.org:

“Energy is about how the movement happens. Choices about energy include variations in movement flow and the use of force, tension, and weight.”

Or as Jimmy Lunceford said:

“It T’aint What You Do, It’s the Way That You Do It”
 

Listen Now:
Or Read the Transcript...
This was professionally transcribed, but it probably still has some errors. If you catch any, drop me a line at nadira@nadirajamal.com. I’d love to hear from you!

TRANSCRIPT COMING SOON

Your Turn

What is your favorite way to use energy?

Do you have any tips to share with other listeners?

Got a question or topic that you’d like me to talk about on the show?

I would love to hear from you.

Leave a comment below, or better yet, leave me a short voice message. Maybe I’ll even play it on the air!

Want More?

The resources I mentioned during this episode can all be found in The Dimension Library, a FREE collection of articles, audio, and videos to help you use dimension to enrich your own dancing.

Get It Now 

You may also want to check out the DVD I mentioned, Rosa Noreen’s Delicious Pauses.
(That’s an Amazon affiliate link, BTW, so I’ll get a small kick-back if you use it to make a purchase.)

 
 

The post Energy appeared first on Belly Dance Geek.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Belly Dance Geek | More Than Steps by Nadira, More Than Steps Podcast - B.. - 1M ago

How to add depth to flat dancing.

Do you sometimes feel uninspired, but when you try to make your dance more interesting, you end up throwing in everything but the kitchen sink?

 
 

A better option is to do more with what you’re ALREADY doing
 

Listen Now:
Or Read the Transcript...
This was professionally transcribed, but it probably still has some errors. If you catch any, drop me a line at nadira@nadirajamal.com. I’d love to hear from you!

Do you ever feel uninspired, but when you try to make your dance more interesting you just end up throwing in everything but the kitchen sink, so it ends up being confusing rather than rich and interesting? Well, a better option is to do more with the moves that you’re already using.

One way to do that is by adding dimension. This is a concept that I learned from my teacher, Amira Jamal. Dimension is all of the different ways that we have to vary a move and take it from being flat to being three-dimensional. So how do we do that? Well, there are a lot of options, but I like to organize them into five categories, space, shape, time, energy and embellishment.

In short, what we’re doing is instead of asking what should I do we’re asking how can I do this move? This might make more sense if we do an example. The question what can I do, you might answer that with a hip drop. A hip drop is fine, but there are lots of different ways that you can use it, so how can I do a hip drop?

One way to play with space is to add a level change onto your drops. To vary it with shape, you might alternate doing straight up and down hip drops that creates a straight line versus arching, to drop to the front and back, which creates a curved line. To create time variations, you might do it in even tempo, drop, drop, drop, drop, or mix in some timing patterns like slow, quick, quick, drop, drop, drop. For energy, you might try doing it loose and bouncy versus strict and locked. For embellishment, there is the simple drop, or you can add on that traditional kick.

You’ll notice there are some things that you can vary that I didn’t include, things like intention, expression, musicality, gesture or cultural references. Those things absolutely matter too, but I think of those as the why, not the how, so we’ll talk about those another time.

Why is dimension worthwhile? Dimension makes your dance interesting without adding more stuff. Too much stuff makes your dancing confusing, not captivating. Dimension is a way to add texture and nuance to your dancing. It’s the difference between trying to paint with just red, yellow and blue versus having a whole palate from pale pink to maroon to crimson, lemon yellow, gold, rich ocher, sky blue, electric blue and rich navy.

Also dimension can make your dancing more traditional. A very common theme in Middle Eastern arts is to repeat the same motif over and over again with different variations. You’ll see this in the Golden Area dancers. If you look closely, you’ll notice that they don’t use a lot of moves. They pick just a few and really milk them for all they’re worth.

You’ll also here this in the music. If you ever listen to a full-length version of one of Oum Kalthoum’s songs, those ones that go on for 45 minutes or an hour, and you check those against the lyrics, you’ll realize that she’s repeating one line over and over again with different intonations and different stress, different melodic embellishments. It’s like she has to explore every facet of that one line of the text before moving on. Even if you’re not a traditionalist, that’s a great tool to have in your toolkit.

How can you start using dimension in your dance? Over the next several episodes I’m going to dig deeply into those five categories one by one, but for now just play around. Explore whatever aspects of space, shape, time, energy and embellishment that you can think of. If those don’t mean a lot to you for now, don’t stress about it. Just play with whatever does occur to you.

You can put on some music and explore freely, or if you want more structure try choosing a move or a combo that you’re already comfortable with and try to come up with as many dimension variations that you can based on just that one thing. You can do that while moving, or you can sit down with a pencil and paper and brainstorm.

Your Turn

What is your favorite way to use dimension?

Do you have any tips to share with other listeners?

Got a question or topic that you’d like me to talk about on the show?

I would love to hear from you.

Leave a comment below, or better yet, leave me a short voice message. Maybe I’ll even play it on the air!

Want More?

Check out The Dimension Library, a FREE collection of articles, audio, and videos to help you use dimension to enrich your own dancing.

Get It Now 

 
 

The post Dimension appeared first on Belly Dance Geek.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.
Start your free month
Free Preview