How does LUSCIOUS feel?

how does luscious feel?

I did my first ever Instagram Live yesterday. I had to look up how to do it ; ). The day went kinda south, so I girded myself with the improviser’s axiom, “Don’t Prepare; Just Show Up.” I had this idea of lusciousness, and that’s it.

So here is that IG Live. Skip in about 35 seconds to the actual start (lol, learning curves ; ).

Alia’s First IG Live!

LOTS of tips on feeling/moving Luscious!


Which brings me to…

Luscious

Hub the cat kind of needs a fez. He reminds me here of all those dear guys in Egyptian movies, caught up in the music, gazing affectionately at the dancer.

This is what I’m feeling, anyway. I’m liking where we’ve been going, and I kind of want to stay with that for a while. The last one was BOLD and we did soak on the bold side of things (Sekhmet, anyone?). I like how it was a little bit challenging, gender-bending, pushing our comfort zones a bit. Gave us a taste of a different way to be. 

I’d like Luscious to be transgressive in a different way.

I’ve had a lot of shame around sexuality to unpack on my journey. It took time and patience. We steep in the mixed messages of our social programming. Must not be sexy! NO! Must be sexy–for the other. Must not like sex! Ew, dirty! Must like sex or at least pretend to–for the other. Must not look sexy! Will get in trouble. BAD. Must look sexy! For the other…

And for us as dancers, it’s even more complicated–our costumes, the public side-eye, the even more mixed messages from the countries of origin. It’s tough to pick apart our own feelings, wants, and desires from the layers of shame and blame. 

Folk of the culture maintain that this is a woman’s dance. Everyone dances this dance, yet it’s a woman’s dance. Interesting. Gender binaries aside, to me, this means egg energy as opposed to sperm energy. The sperm goes out. It rushes. It has a goal. Swift, like an arrow! Get out there! Make those calls! Go get ’em! Rah!

The egg…. attracts. It’s magnetic. It’s engaged within and of itself. It doesn’t have to go anywhere, do anything. It doesn’t even have to put on eyeliner. It’s that juicy and… luscious. 

What if we don’t have a female body, or don’t identify as female?

Who cares? 
Sperm energy is generally valorized in Western culture–we’re allll expected to run around like little do-bees, busy busy productive extraverts. All the genders are expected to act like sperm, so why shouldn’t we all act like eggs, too? It might be a bit outside of our comfort zone–true learning is uncomfortable. And learning new skills increases our capacity for learning skills. So that pays off. And we could all benefit from seeing ourselves as luscious–self-love, affection, cherishing, magnetic, fragrant, mmmm…. 

And we could all use an hour on the sofa with with a nice little dish of bonbons. Right? And getting to enjoy those bonbons, as a choice, nibbling them slowly, for the creamy pleasure of it …

Lusciousness, Dala3, playful sensual/sexual confidence, ​is a core component of the cultural dance. It is NOT about the other. It IS about ourselves and our own self-love, affection, cherishing. Soooo…

Announcing!
Alia’s Inspiring FUN Class,

Luscious

What we’ll do
  • Explore and embody lusciousness
  • Translate simple combinations into lusciousness
  • Bring our luscious movement quality to a range of musical styles, tempos, and genres
  • Make space for self-love, affection, cherishing
  • Practice grounded, present, agency

Luscious runs Tuesday at 4pm EDT from August 9 through Sept 13 (no class Sept 6). Each class is recorded (instructor view only). Each recording is available during the session.

Will you please join us? It’s going to be… luscious ; )
Register here https://aliathabit.com/shop/#live/

Love,
Alia



Two Videos (and more!)

Delighted to present this interview on belly dance and trauma resolution, recorded at Neskaya in New Hampshire for the UK website, DanceWise!


In addition, here is a tiny, tiny dance video from class this week..

This was the final week of BOLD, which was a roaring success–dancers expressed specific attributes and found that they were more relaxed about what to do when they had someone to be.

Our next FUN class starts August 2. What would you love to do? What outcome would you like to have? Let me know. I’m planning now ; ).


If you haven’t yet read Midnight at the Crossroads: has belly dance sold its soul? you might enjoy the first chapter. It is an overview of the book as a whole. Sign up here (use the email this newsletter came to to avoid being signed up twice), and get a free download of the chapter.


I’ve also set up the free Mix and Match demo as an ongoing free class. If you missed it, it came out pretty nicely, and the first half includes a taste of the work we did in BOLD, and will do more deeply in Create Your Glorious Self. Access is for a week, and you can always re-enroll. Register here (again, use your newsletter email)


Finally, Joe Williams’ ongoing Delsarte workshops are back! The next one will be Expression of Arms and Hands. There is no recording–this is a live-only class. I treasure these classes. If you can swing the time, it will be worth your while. Sunday, July 24Th, From 10:00 am – 12:30 pm (Central Time) Register here.

Summer hugs and love!
Alia

How to Reprogram Your Self Talk (and why it’s worth the effort)

Behavior Creates Emotion

Yep, I’m reading another book. What to Say When You Talk to Yourself, by Shad Helmststter, PhD is alll about the power of self talk, both positive and negative. I’m not sure what I think of it, yet (I’m a little more than halfway through). But it has made me think, and you might also find this interesting.

As dancers, what we say to ourselves can make allll the difference between our shows feeling great vs feeling like a hideous disaster.

Background–I used to be very, very unkind to myself. I said things to myself that I would never say to another person. I hated myself and told myself so at every opportunity. (It wasn’t until I found Somatic Experiencing® (SE) that those cruel voices resolved, and stayed that way.) And I am not alone in this!

Perfectionist fault-finding and vicious self-talk is wayyyy common. Something like 50% of folks report feeling like imposters. So, of course I had to read this book (plus self talk is a piece of the puzzle I’m putting together for Create Your Glorious Self…) Anyway…

Create Your Glorious Self

The advice is to first listen to your own self talk.

What are you saying? Is it self-compassionate? “There there honey, we’re doing okay. We’ll get through this!” Or self-empowering? “Wow, you did it! that’s awesome! Woo-hoo!” Or even, “Oops! Hmm. Okay, let’s try that differently next time.

Or is it more along the lines of, you stupid cow, what were you thinking?! Or, I suck at this! Or, this is the worst day of my life!

The toxic rain of negative voices can be so constant we don’t even notice it anymore. But that’s what trips us up when we want to shine. That litany of, I suck, I can’t do this, they are looking at me, they hate me, that’ll never work, who am I to ____, I don’t know what I’m doing… is self-programming, and it is also self-fulfilling. When we think this way, we feel powerless, so we act powerless., so we feel powerless, and on and on, in a miserable feedback loop.

(Side note–I’ve had some serious dental infections in the last few years, and one thing I noticed was a rise of anxious, weepy self talk along the lines of “I don’t know what I’m doing…” So sometimes there are other roots (haha), to the problem.)

Anyway…

Listen.

What are you saying? How often do you say it? What happened just before the cascade of negative? Sometimes there is a trigger. Sometimes it’s just an all day party ; ). How do you see yourself? When you look in the mirror, what do you say to yourself? Do you have your own back? Or are you busy stabbing it?

Maybe you are lucky and you feel good about yourself! WOO!!! You can sit back right now and have a bonbon! Well done.

If not, take action.

How to Reprogram Your Self Talk

Helmstetter advises us to reverse the things we say to ourselves, in the moment that we hear them. I suck at this, becomes, “I am competent and I can do this!” They hate me, becomes “They don’t know me yet, so here I am!” Today is disaster, I just don’t have it in me, becomes “Today is a great day! I have plenty of energy, today especially!”

I have been playing with this, and sometimes I have to laugh at the ludicrous irony of these upbeat re-framings. So I have also been engaging in “interrogative” self talk, which means questioning my own inner statements. “Is this really the worst day ever?!” Um, well, no. “Do you really not know what you’re doing?” Well, actually, I am pretty competent. That’s been pretty interesting, too. If the affirming piece is tough for you, the interrogative option might be a nice bridge.

On the other hand, I recognize the value of the process, and I do find a lift follows the shift. Saying things out load makes a difference too, as does writing them down and reading them, and reading them aloud. However we get these new things into our heads, they get into our heads.

Next Steps

We can move on from reversal to general good news about ourselves on a regular basis, saying kind words to ourselves, out loud–and saying kind words about ourselves to others! Speaking of the mirror, I love the bathroom mirror to check in with myself, to smile and cheerfully greet myself and say some nice things. I’m in there several times a day, so that’s several times a day I can check in and smile at myself.

Behavior Creates Emotion
Plus there are practical applications….

Say you want to quit something–smoking (or playing solitaire on your phone, or whatever). Helmstetter advises saying something along the lines of, “I never smoke.” or “I no longer enjoy smoking, and I have quit” He suggests we say these things to ourselves, and out loud, and to others–even as we light up and inhale.

Just continue to say the words, as we continue to smoke. We became conditioned to smoking, and we will become conditioned to the idea that we do not smoke. It will take some time, maybe a few weeks or so. One day we will be lighting up, and our now-reprogrammed subconscious mind will say, then what are you doing with that ciggie?! Yuck!

The trick is remembering to do that. Helmstetter explains how much more valuable it is to generate positive self talk ourselves–but he has built an empire on pre-recorded self talk for every conceivable issue. Which is funny, but everyone’s got to make a living, I guess.

Anyway, I’m planning to play with this in the coming week <cough solitaire cough>. I invite you to join me at whatever level. Listening, reversing, questioning, or straight up affirming your wonderfulness.

Know that you are wonderful! You are beautiful and loving, and worthy of love.
I invite you to say so to yourself, every day ❤️

And here’s some music (a sound bath, anyway ; ) for self loving self talk.

Love,
Alia

PS Create Your Glorious Self is coming together beautifully! I’ll be doing some cool events leading up to it, so please stay tuned! (Registration opens at noon EDT on August 7, 2022. There are only 15 seats…)

What’s the Most Important Thing?

The most important thing is art

A feng shui practitioner was advising me on my house (like, 20 years ago). Trying to get me to prioritize, he asked, “If you had a fire and lost everything, what is the first thing you would need to replace?”

I thought hard about this. “I guess I’d need to get new costumes. And a stereo. And music.”

He stared at me. “A BED!” he gasped. “You’d need to get a bed!”

“Oh!” I said. “I just assumed I’d be sleeping on a friend’s sofa.”

The Most Important Thing is Art.

Sure, there are LOTS of enormously important things–our children, families, lovers, livelihoods. Our beds and blankets. Our four walls, roof, food and water. These are vital. They are precious.

And so is art. For artists such as ourselves, our creative work is our most important work. Yet…

We do allll the other crap on the list. From our paid work on down to staring off into space, anything is a great candidate for putting off art. Somehow those other things expand to fill up all the available space. We drop into bed exhausted, sure that tomorrow will be different. But it isn’t. It’s like the White Queen’s jam, always yesterday or tomorrow. Never jam today.

Why do we tend to put art last?

Lots of reasons. We want to make a big space of time, so we have to get everything else out of the way first. We don’t feel like it right now, but later maybe we will. We have to do things to make money, care for our fam, etc. Things are too crazy right now, I don’t have time, focus, energy. Art is frivolous, who am I, I’m not a professional artist, I don’t even count…

I get all the things. I have spent a LOT of time NOT doing my creative work. I have spent years feeling numb and uninspired. Taken up with other obligations. You are not alone, however it is that you are coping. I am with you, and on your side. I started teaching dance because I couldn’t make myself practice.

But time and again, I have come back to this fundamental truth: The most important thing is art. And found ways to goad or inspire myself to do some.

This is how the 90 Day Dance Party was born

I was frustrated and fractious, and then I remembered–the most important thing is art. So I committed publicly to a 90-day free-improv practice of 20 minutes a day, and invited people to do it with me. 400 people signed up. That was in the fall of 2012. This year is the 10th anniversary of that momentous decision. More about that in the next few months ; )

What’s ironic is that doing our creative work often takes a lot less time than any of the other pieces, especially if we make a habit of it and give it a time block, like the 20 minutes of the 90 days. When we do our creative work first, we have plenty of time to curse and struggle with the other stuff. Plus we get to feel good all day long! So…

Here is your permission to make art first

Feel free to add your name with the graphics program of your choice. Or write to me and I’ll send you a personalized copy.

Whatever the creative work you choose to do, just pick a block of time, and make a habit to do it.

I usually pick ONE Thing to focus on the night before, so when I get started, I already know what I want to do. For today, it was this newsletter.

Currently my creative time blocks are 90 minutes long. Even without a clock, I can tell when 90 minutes is up, because my mind starts wandering and I have an urge to check my email or look at my phone. (I do not look at my phone in the morning. I have it on Do Not Disturb all night and morning. My kids and my sweetie can ring through Everyone else can wait.)

After 90 minutes, I dance for three songs on my playlist, and maybe have a snack, for my willpower. And I celebrate! By then my brain comes back online. I give this combo most of the morning, as I am making a (very modest) living from art, which is both terrifying and astonishing. This is not something I ever planned to do–previously, dance paid for dance. I made money from dance so I could take classes and travel to events. But over the parent care years, my previous income stream drifted, and now here I am. It’s been a very long, circuitous road for me.

My creative work now tends to be writing, like this newsletter

Making courses, like the upcoming Create Your Glorious Self. I count doing Somatic Experiencing® (SE™) as creative work. Dance, drawing pictures. One of these days, I’ll get to marketing being creative work and then I’ll be all set ; ).

It’s taken a lot of experience for me to do this, and a lot of paring back. I would have had a very hard time of it when I was younger, when my kids were small. Last week, we talked about willpower, being a parent, doing what needs to be done whether we feel like it or not. I love my kids, and my mom. I am grateful I was able to be there for them. I did what I felt was was right as much as I could. It was hard, and I wish I could have done it better, but we are all who we are in the moment and we do the best we can. So…

Feel free to start very small…

Make a 10-minute time block. Do a little drawing, or a freewrite, or dance to a few songs on your playlist. Make it into a habit. Over time, it will become easier. Over time, it can expand. But for the rest of they day, you have that secret spark of knowing you did some art today. And celebrate it!

Love,
Alia

PS Create Your Glorious Self is the most exciting thing I’ve done in a while. The page is getting close to done!

What draws you? What turns you off? What questions do you have?

Your thoughts are welcome. Just reply to this email. Thank you!

Five Ways to Increase Willpower

Five Ways to Increase Willpower

I’ve been reading up on willpower for Create Your Glorious Self. The way to change behavior is to actually do it ; ). And that takes a certain amount of effort. New things are hard to remember and easy to blow off. So we have to design habits that are so easy we can do them even when we have zero energy. It’s all in the design.

As I read and thought about this, I took the VIA Character Strengths Survey (it’s free). There are 24 strengths.

My will power came in at #23.

Um.

I thought back to the questions. Many were along the lines of, “I always finish what I start.” Always? No. “I always do what I say I will.” Always? Nope. So, okay, if those are the criteria, I flunk. But something still rankled.

I’m enmeshed in the excellent Optimize Coaching program right now, and they are big on Self-Mastery, aka willpower. They ask, grandly, like this is the big reveal, “Who would you be, if you always did what needed to be done, whether you felt like it or not?”

Finally, it clicked.
A PARENT. That’s who.

I am a parent. I’ve spent decades doing what needed to be done whether I felt like it or not. I got a couple of glorious years off from that, and then I was caring for my own parent. I still have family stuff that requires me to do what needs to be done whether I feel like it or not. And I do not feel like it, at all. But I do it.

The other day, my acupuncturist (without whom I would not be writing this newsletter), said, “Everything you’ve done, you’ve done on will alone.” All my available focus goes to things that need to be done.

And there are consequences.

There’s not so much left over for the things I want to do. Or that aren’t active fires (I now do my creative work first. Everything else can wait. More on this next week).

One of the things about willpower is that using it takes a lot of energy. Studies show that folks who use up a lot of it on one task will often come up empty for the next one. In one study, folks had to do a Hard Thing, and then were offered a snack–ranging from healthy to cake.

Guess what they chose? Cake all the way. Nothing left to say No to cake.

Maybe you’re in a similar situation.
You don’t have enough juice to make yourself do all the stuff. But maybe you’re already doing a lot of Hard Things. And that drains your willpower…

Willpower is like a battery

It needs recharging. Hence cake–quick calories. So….

Five Ways to Increase Willpower

1. Plan in snacks!
When we do Hard Things, we can include snacks to help us along (preferably lower on the glycemic index) for more sustained energy. AND there are things we can do to leverage our available willpower (so we can do some of those things we don’t feel like doing ; ).

2. Leverage willpower with Habits
Last week, we talked about how to create new habits. The idea is to use willpower only to run the habit–the tiny, 30-second behavior that opens the way to the thing you want to get done. You build a routine that eases you from thing to thing, and you only have to push yourself a little bit, because the habit is designed to be ridiculously easy.

Of course some things (like finances, for me), are Hard. Not just to get started, but all the way through. When I hit a snag (there are lots of them) I veer right off into space-out mode, and that’s the end of that. So I have to ask myself, what causes me to “go away,” and how do I get back? And how do I make that a habit?

I’ve been paying a lot of attention to when I “space out” (aka dissociate). I’ve noticed that it happens when I feel overwhelmed. Dissociation is about escaping the present (uncomfortable) moment. You may do this, too. So how do we come back?

Three more options to increase willpower (and “come back” from dissociation)

3. Consciously drop in to the present moment, through orientation to the space and physical sensations.

4. Make a fist, or contract your muscles. Both have been shown to strengthen resolve.

5. Slow your breathing down to 4-6 breaths per minute. That’s 10-15 seconds per breath. Make the exhale twice as long as the inhale, while you’re at it.

Which one sounds best to you? How might that become a habit?
“After I space out, I _____. Then, I celebrate!”

So that’s my practice for this week. I invite you to join me!

With love,
Alia
PS Hopefully next week we can get a peek at the CYGS webpage. I’m still fine tuning ; ). In the meantime, you might like some music to increase your willpower. Try it with Power Pose Flows.

Celebrate Everything!

Celebrate!

I’ve been reading up on Behavioral Design (for Create Your Glorious Self). When crafting new behaviors, we want to automate their implementation. I’m a fan of BJ Fogg, Stanford researcher in behavioral design, and creator of the brilliant tinyhabits.com.

In the Tiny Habits model, there are three parts to new behaviors–the Anchor (something you already do that acts a springboard for the New Thing); the Behavior (the New Thing you want to start doing), and the Celebration! (in which you celebrate having done the New Thing).

Celebrate?
What’s that?

How many of us celebrate our successes?
How many of us celebrate anything?

Hmmm… I thought so.

We trudge through our daily lists, grimly demolishing task after task (or having another bonbon, because who can even look all those tasks in the eye? Not to mention the world crises). We’re running on willpower, maybe taking time to cross one task off the list before trudging up to the next.

Do we even remember what we did at the end of the day? I don’t. I wonder where the time went, and why I haven’t accomplished a damn thing, AGAIN. I do a lot, most days; I just don’t stop to appreciate that I’ve done them.

Fogg says that Celebration element of habit creation is the most vital. That Celebration will someday be understtod to be as powerful for wellbeing as mindfulness or gratitude practices!

Um… WOW. That’s pretty huge.

The celebration releases a hit of dopamine, which is a factor in addiction–dopamine wants MORE. So that celebratory moment (12 seconds is the optimal time, I have been told), helps make the habit completion desirable to the body, because completion gives that sweet little rush. Hence, we are more likely to run the habit to get the treat.

Huh. What else would I like to do more of? Will a celebratory dopamine hit help me get that done, too?

Apparently, yes. And those things can also be turned into habits. Here’s the Tiny Habits algorithm:

After I <anchor>, I <new behavior>. Then, I celebrate!

Tiny Habits is based on the principle that the new habit needs to be stupid easy, so doing it takes minimal effort. Thirty seconds, max.

So the new habit is NOT, for example, After I eat breakfast, I practice for an hour and a half. That’s a high bar. The habit might be, After I eat breakfast, I turn on dance music. That’s pretty easy. Push a button on your phone. Boom.

And for things you’d rather not do, habits you’d like to overdraw with better habits, the more difficult and annoying you can make it to do them, the easier it is to let them go.

So my plan for the coming weeks is to celebrate. A LOT.

After I complete each phase of my day, each task on my list, I celebrate!

It will take practice. I will forget a lot of the time. But I will remember some of the time, too. And over time, I will remember more often. I know how this works. That’s how habits are built. One iteration at a time. So I can be kind to myself as I develop my new skill.

I invite you to join me in this.

And make it REAL!
No half hearted eye roll and a sardonic woo-hoo.

Give 10-15 whole seconds to this.
Chair dance! Or celebrate in the mirror. Make up a little song about it!
I did it!
I did it!
I folded up the handkerchiefs!
I did it!
I did it!
I did it, did it, WOO!!!!

Let’s let that feeling of BOOYAH!!! suffuse us, such that when we move on to the next thing, we still have a smile on our face and a song in our heart.

Let’s see what happens. We’ll check in next week.
Or post below and tell me how it’s going.

Oh! One thing I am celebrating is publication in Fanoos Magazine‘s June 2022 issue!
Check out my “How to Improvise on Finger Cymbals,” and other great articles!

Love,
Alia
PS BOLD started Tuesday. Here’s what folks said after the first class:

Bold felt good and solid!!

CH

Boldness on the inside made me feel stronger for doing more gentle moves on the outside too.

SM

Being present to the music and playing with attitudes brought out a lot spontaneous nuances and qualities in my dance that would be hard to do deliberately. I wasn’t trying to “dance”, the dance just happened as a by-product.

CL

BOLD registration is open through Tuesday, June 21. It is thrilling! The recording of the first class is up now. I would love for you to join us. Learn more and register here: BOLD

How to dip your pinkie toe…

BOLD

We’re all spinning a lot of plates right now. It takes all our energy just to keep our lives, our loved ones’ lives, together. Like the Red Queen, we have to run as fast as we can just to stay in the same place. Pandemics of virus, violence, injustice, poverty, natural disaster. Many of us (most?) are on our last nerve. Stuck maintaining our status quo. The stakes may feel too high to mess with what’s working. The idea of taking a risk feels a little… risky.

This is why we have dance. Dance classes (ideally), create a safe social space for playful exploration. Zoom classes may not be as social, but they do increase the safety factor. We are in our own homes. We can shut the door. We can turn off our camera. We can even turn off the lights.

And we can play.
With the group–or privately, where no one else can see us.

BOLD is alll about play.

It is a space to play dress-up–with our identities.

Combining cutting-edge behavioral design with innovative movement cues, BOLD provides a weekly interlude with a sparkly-new chest of dress-up opportunities.

Maybe we can’t throw ourselves into a new life. But maybe one tiny little part of us–maybe just the tip of our pinkie toe–might like to dip into something a little more… Exciting. Fun. Even… BOLD.

In our own home, in the privacy of our own space, we can let our hair down. Try on a new style. For our soul. We can enjoy feeling luxurious, strong, fluid, sensuous… happy.

When we act As If, we feel it.

Behavior creates emotion.

It’s easy to try this at home. Smile at yourself in the mirror. As if you were someone you love ; ).

Give a flirty little wink. Interact with yourself with enjoyment. Keep it up for a minute or so. Then see how you feel. Map that feeling in your body so you can come back to it whenever you want. Come back often!

Dip your pinkie toe…

BOLD is the appetizer buffet for Create Your Glorious Self (CYGS). In CYGS, we get to design our Glorious self and bring it into being–for dance, work, or any other Venue in which we may wish to behave differently.

In BOLD, we explore trying on attitudes and archetypal qualities within the context of dance. We play with varied qualities and movement cues each week, so we get to sample a lot of options. And each new way of being increases not just our available toolbox, but also our capacity for change, and our level of personal power.

Oriental dance music is alll about these wisps of feeling, emotional timbres, sometimes only for a breath, as a quarter tone brings in some subtle shift. As we increase our capacity to express subtle states with our bodies, our dance becomes more grounded, intentional, and–mesmerizing.

BOLD

BOLD starts Tuesday June 14. All sessions are recorded (instructor view only), and available for the duration of the course. Registration and more information is here: AliaThabit.com/Fun-Class

Come dip your pinkie toe in BOLD!
Let’s dance and have fun.

Love,
Alia

How to be BOLD (or any other way you want)

Oooh, a picture is here!

I’ve been doing some arts work in Headstarts, schools, and now daycares for my local arts org (yay, Catamount!). The model for this upcoming mini-residency is that I will come do my thing (I have a slate of pre-school activities), while the daycare teachers observe. The following visit, we will do the thing together, and the next one, the daycare teachers will do the the thing themselves while I observe.

This is a great model, except that I’ve been doing my thing for decades, and the teachers can’t do what I do after watching once (usually while herding cats—er, kids, the whole time). So I use my stuff as a template for theirs. They can’t do belly dance, but they can have movement that uses upbeat, rhythmic, then smooth and flowing music. I have a regular cool down they can do, and they can tell a story of their own.

That’s how templates work.

There is a palette or sequence of categories into which you can slot different yet similar options. Like the classic wedding template: Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. Anything in each category will do.

However, in my template, there is ONE thing I want to keep the same: My cool down. So I give that specific element to the teachers. Why this cool down? All the anti-trauma, nervous system regulation I’m building into it.

I’ve noticed over the course of this work that even pre-school kids are pretty freaked out these days. Freaked out kids often grow up into freaked out teens, adults and so forth. Nervous systems do ideally regulate themselves, but our modern lives of constant, chronic stress can screw up that feature. So it’s no wonder even 4-year-old kids are barely able to keep it together and others have simply given up.

I can’t fix their lives. But I can give them some respite. And, ideally, I can teach the daycare teachers how to build that respite into their daily routine, so kids can get that little daily taste of settling. Over time, maybe they will internalize this series of actions to use on their own. Each drop in the pool ripples outward.

Reducing stress, resolving trauma, these things bring the potential for joy back into our lives. Joy is one of the (many!) reasons I love belly dance.

Belly dance is anti-trauma

Everything about the cultural dance soothes and nurtures the nervous system. Every time we dance, it’s like a lovely shower for the soul. Sure, we have managed to shove a bunch of anxiety, rigidity, and perfectionism onto it, but…!

At its heart is joy.

All my work is to bring joy back into our hearts. It has become my central mission.

All of the fear, rage, and self-loathing we have accumulated gets in the way of our joy. Focusing on nit-picky details doesn’t help. Yelling at ourselves, blaming ourselves, rigidly controlling our bodies, doesn’t help.

If beating yourself up worked, you'd be rich, thin, and happy
The lovely Amity Alize!
“If beating yourself up worked, you’d be rich, thin, and happy”

Letting ourselves relax, move in self-loving ways, letting our bodies express what they have been holding on to in a gentle, titrated way, these things help us return to joy.

Hence the upcoming classes.

Coming in July:

Create Your Glorious Self!

Here’s a sneak peek at the page. More in the next few weeks ; )

Aka CYGS. I love the acronym, as baby swans are called cygnets. We may have felt like the ugly duckling for a while, but..!

In our hearts are glorious, confident creatures, bursting to unveil themselves, to stride out into the light of day, to come alive!

Doesn’t that feel grand? I’m so excited!

The course is built upon cutting-edge behavioral design strategies, along with intensive nervous system regulation, monthly check in meetings and practice sessions, PLUS daily accountability and progress reports–which we have made sooo quick and easy, they are–dare I say it? Kinda fun! The daily effort for this course is less than 20 minutes, maybe even less than 10.

It’s AMAZING!


AND while we await CYGS, here is…

BOLD!

Archetypes and Attitudes for Oriental Dance
BOLD!

BOLD dips its toes in the CYGS material, continuing our Fun Class focus on templates–in this case, templates of attitude and personality (along with movement options).

Want to be BOLD?
Act as if you are bold.

Wait, what does that even mean?!

Well, what does BOLD look like? How does someone who is bold act? How do they hold themselves, walk, talk? What expression is on their face?

If you were bold, how would you look? How would you hold yourself? What expression would you have on your face? Start there. Look in the mirror. Look at yourself–boldly! Look right into your own eyes, with a bold smile on your face and a glint in your eye. Let the feeling arise from the action. Take a minute or so to just feel that in your body, on your face. What changes?

Behavior creates emotion.

How would you walk? Shuffle along? Or would you STRIDE? Stride around boldly, hands on hips in the classic Wonder Woman Power Pose. Toss your head, boldly! Laugh boldly! Speak boldly! DANCE boldly!

Here’s some music for a bold dance! (or any way of being you would like to explore)

Bold not your jam? What is? Try that one on and see how you feel. We’ll explore LOTS of options in the class.

Here’s more about the BOLD Fun Class: https://aliathabit.com/shop/#live

And remember to CELEBRATE your test drives! Heck, celebrate everything ; )
Love,
Alia

How Creative Expression Lifts the Soul

Behavior Creates Emotion

In times of trouble, dismay, and despair, it becomes ever more important for us to regulate our nervous systems so we are not at the mercy of the news, which is grimmer and more tragic every day.

Creative expression helps.

My life is not all unrelenting joy–I’m guessing yours isn’t either. And the world situation is harrowing. Though it seems disloyal not to suffer alongside the grieving, keening world, and we don’t want to make champagne toasts over the wreckage, unrelenting high levels of stress are harmful to our bodies and minds.

We aren’t doing anyone (including ourselves) any favors by being overwhelmed by suffering. Remembering what is good is vitally important. Taking time to feel good, grounded, safe, is vitally important. Letting ourselves settle into the present moment. Noticing what is around us. Feeling gratitude for even the smallest goodness helps.

So please consider the following a little vacation, and the tools within some things that might help.

Crisis resources can be found here: https://traumahealing.org/scope/


Some of the videos I posted last week did not come through on the email. My apologies!

See the RakSultana dancers’ Alf Leila and Rachel Bond’s Emperor videos here.

Each of these dancers had to discover what they they felt from the music, what they wanted to say about that, and then how to say it with their bodies. This goes way beyond steps–way beyond pantomime. Modern science has demonstrated that Behavior Creates Emotion. So when we behave as if we feel a certain way, we create that feeling in ourselves.

Think about it.

We move and hold our bodies and faces in very specific ways when we are in our various emotional states. When we celebrate a victory, our movement and affect is entirely different from when we feel defeated. It seems like it’s the context (experiencing victory or defeat), that creates the state, but it also works it the other way around. When we act as if we are victorious, we create the feeling of victory within ourselves (and vice versa).

The first time I tried this out, I was walking out of the grocery store, feeling grumpy, sore, tired–you know, #@^&%$#! So I thought, well, what if you act as if you are cheerful? My pace picked up, my head came up, a bounce appeared in my step, and I was humming a tune by the time I got to my car.

Whoa!

I started playing with these ideas in the FUN Classes

And people responded!

That was fun!
I felt so relaxed!
It really is powerful to just work with qualities, taking my time, owning the space, and not having to actually “dance.”I feel more confident about performing
It reinforced the the value of trusting myself
Feeling my individual dancing spirit free to shine through!💗
Going more into your own pleasure and then bringing it out/sharing it with audience.

We will explore these models deeply in the next FUN Class, BOLD: Archetypes and Attitudes for Oriental Dance, and in our upcoming, brand-new 10-week coaching immersion, Create Your Glorious Self. More information about these in the next week or so (I am SO excited!).

You can start right now!

How do you want to feel? ACT THAT WAY. Not pretend. For real. Immerse yourself in how that feels in your body, how your body and face show that state.

See what happens.

Alternatively, you can take how you feel now and show that in movement. Consider moving very slowly while breathing in time to the music. Slow movement gives stuck nervous systems an opportunity to reset.

Either way, let me know how it goes!

I feel so strongly about the power of this approach that I added it to Make a Dance in Five Days. The Templates and these somatic energy states fit so perfectly in with Day 4 that I updated all the information to reflect that. It felt really good. It feels really good to bring these simple tools to help us improvise more effortlessly–AND to improve our everyday lives! (Sneak Peek: Day 5 will soon expand into a complete month-long class all by itself!)

Speaking of which…

MD5 enrollment is open through Sunday, May 29.

Live coaching is available through June 5, so there is plenty of time to make your dance, with plenty of support–plus powerful new content!

Plus it’s fun to do creative things in good company ; )

Why not try it? If you decide it isn’t for you, ask for a refund. Easy peasy. 

More info is here: https://alia.teachable.com/p/make-a-dance-in-five-days.

With all my love!
Alia



Where do you Start when Making Dances?

How to Make a Dance in Five Days

Before we get going, I thought you’d like to know about a really great new venture. Shining Peacekeeper has been living in Egypt for the past several months, with an eye to helping Khairiyya Mazin, last of the famous Banaat Mazin Ghawazi dancers. Well, she has done it with BanatMazin.com.

This website is an online portal to Khairiyya’s classes music and more. Lessons can be arranged, live (virtual) music for events, and many many more things. Khairiyya is thrilled to have both an income and her legacy available to a wider world. Please do check it out, buy some stuff, and share. There is no social security in Egypt, especially not for dancers, especially not for Ghawazi. Thank you, Shining, for doing a great good in the world! BanatMazin.com


We’ve been talking about finishing work, but it can be just as hard to get started. For example, say you want to make a dance. What do you do first? There are so many things!

The music, the costume, the steps, the concepts–! What comes first?

It depends upon the project.

Usually we find a song we like, and we start there, listening to the music and choosing steps to go with it. The RakSultana dancers, for example, chose a song they liked. Their normal routine would have been to put steps and staging to it, but they had been paired with me as a choreographer for the BellyDance Blossom Festival. We explored what they felt from the music, what imagery came to them. A story emerged, and the dancers found characters and substories within the music, The staging suggested it self, as did much of the movement. The result was unique and surprising.


Sometimes it happens differently.

For example, the lovely Australian dancer Rachel Bond is a graduate of CDA (the program that preceded MD5). She was in a project where each participant was given a Major Arcana Tarot Card, and asked to make a dance that expressed that card. In that case, the concept came first.

Rachel got–The Emperor. The hard part was finding music–and a connection to the card. Once she found a song she liked, she went deeply into the music and herself to find the connections between the music and her own journey to authority.


For myself, the music usually comes first–because t moves me in some way, suggests something that I want to express. I make the dance around the content that the music suggests to me. For one pice, though–Medea–I was researching the myth to write a play. At the same time, I was listening to the Hany Mehenna’s epic vintage song Mash’aal on repeat, as I loved it and wanted to do something with it.

One day I was walking along, listening to Mash’aal, and it hit me–the entire myth of Medea fit perfectly into the song! It was like those ads when the peanut butter and chocolate crash into each other. The dance came quickly because the entire piece had meaning. I wish I had a video fo the piece to share, but there is none. Maybe one day I will revive it. But here is the original version of Mash’aal.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKkmMds6dDM

So there are many ways to start making a dance.

But sometimes you want a little help.

One way to get some help is through How to Make a Dance in Five Days (MD5). It starts this Sunday, May 22, and runs for two weeks, so you will have plenty of time and support to get your dance made.


I’ve been getting some questions about MD5, so I thought I would share them here.

Question: How many hours of study is there in How To Make A Dance In 5 Days?
A. It’s not that there is so much study, like hours of video. Each day, there is

  1. A process piece–for example, mapping out your chosen music, with several models for doing that, along with a demo, and
  2. A dance étude to help contextualize and practice the process piece–for the example above, you might dance the map that you create.
  3. Me, checking into the course to answer questions, advise, and troubleshoot.

There is an hour long audio recording for each day discussing that days process piece. There are also extra resources for each day. So there is some time there. These are optional, but helpful. There will also be a couple of open Office Hours each week, where you can hop on Zoom with me and ask questions directly.

The various process pieces take different times for different people, so its hard to quantify. I’d say consider allocating two hours per day (which you might not need), OR plan on using the whole 2 weeks and giving 2 days to each section. We also take a day off during the week, so there is time to get back on track.


Q. This isn’t a standard pre-videoed class? How is the class created?

This course is fully coached over a two week period. This means I am there every day to advise, assist, troubleshoot, and celebrate.  It has daily process pieces with resources, prerecorded conversations about the tasks, and practice elements. 

It’s hard to do all this in a week, plus many elements might be unfamiliar to people. Originally, this was the final piece of a 3-month dance composition course, so it’s pretty in-depth. MD5 goes beyond placing a bunch of steps in a row. Hence the two-week window. Folks can join anytime through the first week, and have specific individual, personalized support through the process. Also you will still have the class after 2 weeks, it will just be self-led at that point.

For anyone who wants to get their dance done, this is a great opportunity.

The system we use is quite robust–dancers who have already been through the program continue to use it, and I make all my dances this way.

If you’d like to make unique dances that suit you, that showcase your passion and joy, that your guests will love, this is the place for you.

Come check it out! There is even a sliding scale price.

https://alia.teachable.com/p/make-a-dance-in-five-days

With all my love,
Alia

Aaand here’s a whole lotta Tito Seif, just for you