Susan's Blog

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Bite of the Sharq

Last Wednesday I had my first bellydance class of the year, with a new teacher (of course!). I am like a bellydance sharq, I have to keep moving forward, devouring whatever I can find. This puts me at a bit of a disadvantage in my classes, because when you start with a new teacher, you go back to being a beginner. It is hard for me to do anything without comparing myself (usually unfavorably) to others, and so of course I was noticing how the rest of them really looked great and knew what to do.

I have to keep my eye on what matters, and in this case, that is especially true, because this teacher is very into turning. To execute a proper turn, you have to know how to spot, i.e., you pick out a spot in the distance and you don’t tear your eyes away from it until your turn forces you to at last turn your head. It is a very beautiful and graceful action, and I learned it in ballet but in bellydance you are doing this while counting beats and ending with an accent move like a hip drop.

It didn’t matter that I knew about turning; I got very dizzy and discouraged anyway. I suddenly did not understand what was meant by a 3-point turn vs. a 4-point. Then, when we were finally finished with going across the studio turning and turning, she told us to get out our veils.

We learned a pivot turn, or a paddle turn, done while raising your arms in a V, holding the veil. This makes a rose-petal like shape with your head in the center, as you pivot in one spot. Watching the more experienced women do it was just heart-stopping, especially this one woman with dark black hair and a dark green veil.

I just finished practicing it all tonight and I now understand the different turns. I did many and did not get dizzy too often. The pivot turn-with-veil came out lovely. In the end, I was doing it pretty fast, which whips the veil up high and tight. I was all in pale pink and silver. I had a few new songs by the Egyptian pop star Hakim, stuff I’d heard at the Middle East, so I felt happy and very up for the whole 40 minute workout.

I love the way each teacher emphasizes different parts of the dance. And yet, keep going from teacher to teacher, and you still will never learn it all. Katia loves turns and veils. Amira Jamal loves hips and feet with zills. Melinda loves isolations and combinations. Shadia loves details in arms, hands, and middle. Lolisha loves veil and hands. Deanna loves choreography. Sabrina loves zills and combinations and floorwork. Najmat loves cane and drilling traveling steps and hips (but I only took one class with her so far).

I feast on bellydance. I hope I will never be full.


I’m glad that the Katia class went well. I would love to get back into a classroom with her. I took a cane workshop with her last year and it made me fall in love with cane.

In fact, I did my first cane performance yesterday at Shimmies for Heroes in Roslindale.

— added by Shannon Brooke Davis on Sunday, September 30, 2007 at 4:13 pm

Sounds like fun. There is drama brewing in my local dance community, but when the dust settles, I will hopefully have another class available to me. I love learning new and different things from different teachers.

— added by Natalia on Tuesday, October 2, 2007 at 12:58 am

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