Tuesday, July 30, 2013

My First Class of Students

What a joyful night! These students have been amazing friends and supporters.
SCA friends at the Barony of Altavia have been bellydancing for years at fighter practice. They allowed me to be a "guest lecturer" and present an 8-week ATS Level 1 Fundamentals class. On the last day of class, we dressed pretty for pictures.

From the first round of photos

From our second round of photos

From our third round of photos
Then they surprised me with gifts and a thank you card.

Pile of gifts, so overwhelming

A Henna kit, some bellydance bling,
and a Thank You card from all of them

My lovely teenage student decorated this pot
to be a "bellydance plant" for me <3

The "bellydancer orchid" on display at work
 My heart is overflowing with thankfulness.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Lyrics to Zill By

I was taking a class from my friend Melanie and she mentioned that for zill drills (finger cymbals) she likes to say the phrases, "I can walk, I can play, I can walk, I can dance" (or something similar). The words line up to the "And-A-One, And-A-Two, And-A-Three, And-A-Four" that the zills strike on, and the feet move on 1 (right), 2 (left), 3 (right), and 4 (left).

I shared the lyrics with my student D'vorah, and as I was driving home from our lesson, I started to expand the phrases.

  I can breathe
  I can move
  I can dance
  I can zill

Verse One
  Have a drink?
  Yes, I shall!
  Thank you, much!
  Say no more!

To which D'vorah added Verse Two
  Double, please!
  Here you go!
  Oh thank G*D!
  That's my girl.

Feel free to make up any lyrics you like. One nice trick about four-line verses or choruses, you can practice moving your arms "on the 4" to cue the next move when you get to the fourth line of lyrics.

For example:
  I can breathe [step R]
  I can move [step L]
  I can dance [step R]
  I can CUE! [arms move to new cue as you step L]

I hope you like this trick. As we move beyond the arms and feet and posture and smile layers of our Fundamentals in Level 1, we add the Zills as our next layer. In each progression in ATS, we're bringing new layers to our combinations, like a delicious Baklava, lovingly prepared with layers of thin dough and delicious honey and butter. NOMZ. Delicious! <3

Friday, July 12, 2013

Practicing Every Day

One of my students shared the following website and video with me recently.

Image from http://danceinayear.com/
Video at: http://youtu.be/daC2EPUh22w

I love the sentiment in this gal's website and video. She wanted it so she worked for it.

One of the things I was able to observe in her time-lapse video: You can see that she has more energy in her moves near the end, as well as a carriage that says, "I'm confident in this movement." When you practice more, you gain confidence. That confidence infuses your overall energy. Having energy and confidence in your movements makes the movement look more polished and amazing. It's Dance Magic.

We're already bringing our audience into a place of magic when we perform, whether it is the magic of our technique (How did she DO that?!) or our precision (How did they do that TOGETHER?!).

There's also a place of magic that is just for you. You are the recipient of the magic. You're the one who can get excited when you see the results of what practicing can do for you. It might be a small thing, like the first time you no longer feel like an awkward duck trying to waddle across the stage. Or it might be an accumulation of things, like when you realize you have more endurance, you can dance to faster songs, you can layer more moves, you can smile while dancing, etc. Or it might be those moments when you remember what it was like the first time you took a course compared to taking it again a year later.

How do you get those incremental improvements? Find a way to practice.

I like an idea I picked up from a book by Julie Morgenstern called "Organizing from the Inside Out." She suggests that you find something you already do well in your life to be a model for the strengths in your life that you can apply to something you want to improve. Basically, find what works in one area of life and do that in the other areas.

I like to find triggers for remembering to do a new thing. For example, I shower every morning. I put conditioner on my hair every morning. I decided when I first started dancing to "study one dance move" every time I put on the conditioner. For most of the first year, I examined how my arms should be angled in a dance move that was difficult for me (to be specific, the Egyptian Basic in ATS). I held my arms in the starting position, moved them slowly to the right, back to center, moved them slowly to the left, back to center, and done. Rinse my hair, go on with my day, repeat the next morning. Later, when that had fully entered my muscle memory, I did other slow stretches or muscle movements. Sometimes, I just stretched my shoulders in the warm water. Other times I rose on my toes slowly and back to flat-foot, just to get my ankles stronger every day.

The key here was DAILY. The trigger was my own choosing. And because I picked something I do every day as the reminder for a new habit I wanted to build every day, it worked.

Lately, I've been trying to remember to go for walks to get away from my computer desk job. One trigger I like is, "Walk around the building once every time you get up for the restroom." I don't always do it, but I often do. I've noticed I'm able to work out the kinks of sitting for hours by something simple. And because it is simple and daily and attached to a memory trigger, it works.

What new small habits do you want to build? What new daily memory triggers might you try using?

Monday, July 8, 2013

Taking the First Step

There's a discussion forum (both on a separate website and on Facebook) in which many folks post about finding motivation and overcoming various obstacles in their lives, whether physical or mental, chronic or habitual, lonely or common. In one discussion, one of the ladies on the list said something in passing that struck me at the heart.

"In my exercise classes, the only required choreography is the get out of the car and walk in the door of the class step. Everything after that is optional."  -- Jeanette Depatie (author of thefatchick.com)

I took her quote and made a visually appealing graphic, uploaded it to the group, my students' forum, pinterest, and my general facebook timeline.

I'm glad that Jeanette liked it. She's an inspiration to many people, and I could not help spreading more of her inspiration to other people.