How to Develop Stage Presence (or any kind of Presence) in 20 minutes a day

Courage for Stage Presence

Last week, we talked about practicing presence. Here is a little more on that.

When we talk about performance we talk about “stage presence.” 

What is it that makes one dancer mesmerizing, even when they are a beginner or don’t do very much, and another, of equal or better technical skill, kind of… meh? Is it their ability to interact with the guests? 

No. Some dancers’ style may involve interacting with their guests. Others may be more aloof. But either one can have magnificent presence—or none at all. It’s not so much what you do, but the the way that you do it. Except for shrinking back or looking down. That tends to mess up everyone ; ).

Some of us choose to perform; others dance at home, or with friends at a party. And, as someone who often dances with eyes closed and head down, trust me, even home and party dancing involves presence. And it is practice that makes presence happen. So we don’t need a stage at all–we can just connect–with ourselves, our surrounding, our friends and family!

We do in performance what we do in practice. And performance is basically real life. Presence is useful for all of us.

So how do we develop stage presence?

Because it is a skill, something we can learn. Or rather it is a combination of skills that mix together into something the whole of which is greater then the sum of its parts. So let’s unpack presence and see what we see. 

When we are present, we are fully engaged in the moment—the music, the movement, the guests, everything. Since engagement is a big interest of our practice, we can include the main skills of presence during our 20 minutes. 

We’ll look today at Confidence. Your questions and observation are welcome, as always.

Confidence 

This is one of our most important skills. It’s funny to think of confidence as a skill. It seems like an innate thing—either we have it or we don’t. But confidence comes from experience and success. So how do we cultivate confidence? 

Act As If.

Think about this—in studies, folks who held a pencil in their mouths, which made them hold the mouth in a smile, cheered up. People given grainy photocopies to read had to frown to do it—and retained more information than those given clean copies. So it follows that adopting the shape of confidence can help bring us into its reality.  This is not the same thing as faking.

We are talking about using our practice to develop skills. Practicing the attitudes and methods of confidence leads to skill. Remember, behavior creates emotion. When we hold ourselves as if we are confident, we feel confident.

Opening.

Opening means allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, and nobody likes that. It’s scary. Closing generally means our posture is compressed, often in the upper chest, around the collar bones. It tends to sink in. The usual prescription is to lift the chest. This is tricky. When we are closed and we force an opening in one area, we often close harder around the area. So we need a better solution.

Certainly some of us have lovely posture, and we’ve gotten it through good luck or a lot of work. I’ve had terrible posture, and the work never really seemed to help. But I noticed when I left the acupuncturist’s that I was effortlessly upright. So I think the work is more about feeling better than doing pushups, though upper body strength is good, too.  

One of the things that made a difference for me was something Amar Garcia said in a workshop: “Your confidence is in your throat.” I was so struck by this that I spent most of the rest of the workshop experimenting with relaxing and opening my throat. This is something I invite you to try. 

Caution

Above I noted the challenge of opening in one area only to close in another, and that’s something to beware of here, too. The first thought is to lift the chin, but when the head is thrust forward, as it often is, lifting the chin just compounds the problem.  So try this.

Gently pull the back of the neck back. Then focus on the front of the neck—the throat. Let the whole area from the mouth to the collarbones soften. Allow yourself to feel the sensuality of the throat. The mouth may want to open. Let it. Let the softness spread. Just feel the feelings of that openness. 

Exposing the throat and letting it soften can feel sensual, even sexual, and this may be scary. But this is your practice time, so it is okay. You are safe in your practice space.  It wasn’t until I started doing this softening practice that I noticed how I tucked my chin, protecting my throat. Old habits and feelings of unhappiness can be stubborn, so hold yourself kindly in your heart. 

Integration

As you get the hang of the softening the throat, bring it into your movement. Allow yourself to move with the throat softened, open and exposed. Allow the head and neck to float upward. Extend the arms, wrists up, and notice the vulnerability in that move, too, the longing to be kissed. Bring that tenderness into your dance. 

Allow other areas to open—the spine, the stomach, the low back, the inner thighs, the legs. 

If you’d like to get a head start on confidence, as you dance, for some of the time, look at and include all your beloved guests as you move in self-loving, ways with your open, relaxed throat. 

If you have a mirror, dance with yourself. We usually look at ourselves critically while we dance. Instead, enjoy dancing with yourself in the mirror. Even in a bathroom mirror we can smile and flirt with ourselves.  

It’s fun ; )

For music, Beata and Horacio Cifuentes, Enchanted Gardens full show. Check out that presence! 

Love,
Alia
PS look for the next FUN Class: Presence! A Deep Dive into openness and connection in Oriental Dance.

3 Ways to Thrive (and create your Glorious Self)

Mind the Gap

Recently, I’ve written about improving self-talk, celebrating tiny moments of success, resolving trauma, strengthening willpower, and many more. I’ve talked about how Behavior Creates Emotion, and devoted the FUN Class series to exploring behavior as a way to bring emotional resonance into our dance. And now 3 more ways to thrive.

These are just some of the methods we will use in Create Your Glorious Self to develop our personae and activate our agency. I love them because they are based in science–each of them has been studied many many times and found to be practical, repeatable methods–and because they work. Try them and see! These are methods you can start using right now. You can change how you react to challenges–and become more chill, relaxed, and present.

As you change yourself, your circumstances change as well. We are all engaged in patterns of behavior. Some of which are very old and may no longer serve us–but they are so ingrained as to be automatic. The good news is that patterns are a sort of fractal–when you change one element, the whole pattern gets interrupted, and there is a sudden opening for change and growth. So…

3 Ways to Thrive

1. Choose Your Own Adventure

It’s a pattern. My kid snipes at me. Annoyed, I snipe back. Huh. Not so helpful. What would serve me better than this conditioned response of joining the snipe-fest? And how would I put that into play?

The same goes for all of us. What is the pattern, the behavior loop in which we are trapped? What happens first? What next? Where is the gap into which we can insert an exit? Once the pattern is interrupted, there is an opportunity for everyone’s behavior to change. First, we choose how we want to be, who we want to be in any specific interaction. It could be dance, home, work, play–anywhere something is happening that we want to change. Where is one such place for you? How would you prefer to respond?

2. Mind the Gap

Between a “stimulus” (eg, our kid breaks a plate, or we see the audience all staring at us, or our boss ignores us again, or whatever), and our “response” (eg, scream at the kid, start panicking, shrink into a hurt-ball or whatever), there is a tiny little gap. A space. A breath. Literally. This is the place to pause, breathe, and choose. It’s small, so it usually flits past before we even notice. But it’s there. We can often find it in retrospect. Track back from the moment everything fell apart–there will have been a stimulus and a response. And that tiny little gap.

The first step is to become aware of it. To notice it. Once we see it coming it, we can use it. However we have decided to be different, this tiny gap is the place where our new tire has a chance to meet a new road. Where we offramp out of the old, and into the new.

Rather than speeding forward, however, the trick is to s l o w t h i n g s d o w n . . .

3. Take the Red Pill

Once we are in the gap, we can move way more slowly than everything around us. We can breathe. Observe. Make a choice about how to respond.

Slowing down our breath is a prime strategy here. Not only does it increase willpower (which we need right now), it also increases our presence and our options. It pays to practice in less dire circumstances, too.

So here is the Red Pill: Inhale slowly for 5-6 seconds. Exhale slowly for 5-6 seconds. Let the breath be so gentle it forms a circle, with no real beginning or end. Do this five times. Do it often throughout the day so it becomes second nature. If you want to get fancy, you can gently hold the breath at the end of each inhale and exhale for another couple of seconds. Celebrate after each breath session. Woohoo! This is a win!

Then, when you hit the gap in your challenging situations, breathe. Honestly, just pausing will break the pattern. Shifting into a present, ready state will break the pattern. So we are already ahead of the game just by doing this one thing.

I invite you to try the breath now. Take note of how you feel before you start, and after you finish. What is different afterwards? Please let me know! Comment here on the blog or email me.

Change Takes Effort

If you want change, you have to do things differently. That’s just how it is. Me, personally, I am an efficient person. I love wasting time for my own ends, but I like my workflow to be smooooth. Everything I’ve been sharing about habit formation, willpower enhancement and so on, all these things help. I’ve integrated all of it into Create Your Glorious Self, built it all in, designed the support and accountability that I’ve found over the years to e the most useful and satisfying for so many dancers. I’ve been teaching online classes for a long time, and teaching professionally for decades. I know what I’m doing.

CYGS will help you. What you get out of it will reflect what you put into it. It will also reflect what I’ve put into it–and that’s a LOT ; ). The tools I’ve been collecting for Create Your Glorious Self thrill me beyond measure. I so look forward to sharing the whole process with you! CYGS is all about designing your Glorious Self and having the support and accountability to bring them into your life.

If you would like to show up differently–more open, more assertive, more confident, smarter, kinder, better–as a dancer, creator, worker, parent, lover, or human being in general, have a look at this program. It’s outstanding.

Love,
Alia

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



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…)

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

Show and Tell

Joe Williams at the Gates

with Joe Williams
Delsarte Technique for Oriental Dance

Joe Williams, guest artist for Wonderland!

Please join Joe Williams, internationally acclaimed Delsarte expert, in this 2-hour live online workshop geared especially to Oriental dance.

Oriental dance is an expressive impressionist genre. As dancers, we show our guests what we feel from the music. Delsarte technique gives us subtle yet powerful tools to enhance expression. Highlighting specific body parts suggests meaning in subliminal ways. When we understand this physical language, there is a delicious feedback loop of knowing what we suggest, validating our expression through movement, and giving ourselves and our bodies permission to feel, to speak, and to exist with agency and joy.

  • In the first hour, we learn how to Show what we feel and highlight character through physical expression.
  • In the second hour, we Tell our stories as we compose short dance sequences based upon emotional expression using the Delsarte system.
  • Joe live coaches participants as we find our way in this unique mode of expression.

Please note, this workshop was recorded for the Wonderland class and for Joe’s archive. It is ONLY available to stream through April 1. Joe seldom allows recording of his classes. This is a rare, unique opportunity to learn from one of the only teachers of Delsarte as a physical system of expression.

Two-hour recording of LIVE Zoom workshop. Special price: $30.

Please note, this workshop is ONLY available for purchase through April 1.

YES! Purchase via

Note Gumroad policy: Upon purchase, you will have a 30-day window in which to watch the video. Please note that once you click “play,” you have 72 hours to watch before access expires.

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How to Map Your Music (so you can always find your way)

It’s important for us to understand the meaning of lyrics in songs we dance on. It’s important to understand the cultural relevance of things like improvisation ad micromovement. Knowing these things makes our dance better, more nuanced, more authentic.

It’s also important to understand the structure of our music–so we don’t get lost, so we know when to change, so we know what’s coming down the pick even with an unfamiliar song. Lots of music is pretty simple–there’s a verse, a chorus, maybe a taqsim.

And then some of it is more complex. A LOT more complex. And then there’s all that music that sounds the same all the way through. How on earth do you keep track of all that?

Whether we are learning choreographies to such songs, or want to make our own dance, or just have fun improvising. It’s all a lot easier when we can sense into the structure of the song.

From the rhythm up through the melody and taqasim, we dance better when we feel confident. Knowledge is power! Understanding musical structure is power.

Want some of your own?

Announcing

How to Map Your Music
(a 4-step system for musical confidence)

And what are those 4 steps?

Observe, Explore, Inspect, Expand.

Observe

This is allll about listening. Listening to the music, listening for changes, listening for each instrument–listening to the images, ideas, and visions that float through my head. When I plan to make a dance, I listen without dancing, so I have the time and space to really hear the song, without the distraction of movement. I have walked around all day for days with a single song on repeat. And been rewarded with just the right images and concepts to make the dance come alive. Once I have a sense of the song, next comes…

Explore

Now I will dance, draw the music, play with characters, costumes, and so forth. I’m not making anything yet, just feeling into the song, for what it wants and what it says to my body, looking for the right mix of elements to spark my imagination and motivate me to go further. Then, I’m ready to…

Inspect

This is where it gets very nitty-gritty. I use a spreadsheet. Yep. I’m kinda geeky. I track the changes in the music, even down to the measures if I have to. It takes me a couple of passes to find all the changes. I do a rough sort and then fill in as I go along. When that’s all good, I get to…

Expand

This is where I make notes on what instruments are soloing, the melodic themes, the flavor of any particular sections that takes my fancy. I’ll even write down narrative, imagery, and movement that comes to me over the process. What do I do with all this?

Compose!

It all comes together in a new composition. I’ve filled my creative well with a deep dive intot he music,. Now I compose all of the elements that I’ve chosen to incorporate. I throw things in and out, mix and match, and hey, presto! A dance!

Here’s one The RakSultana Dancers made for the BellyDance Blossom Festival, using this system, adapted for groups.

https://youtu.be/E8RjKQir9Bo

Could I do this all right at the beginning?
Heck no!

I learned by trial and error.

And now I have a system that works–not just for me but for the many students who have used this same system in How to Create Dance Art, a three-month odyssey into the creative process.

Song mapping = WONDERFUL! That made a massive difference to me and it helped me visualize the song.

LR

I am so stoked! I cannot wait to use what I’ve learned for my next choreography. I’m more confident and even would go as far as saying “more genuine” in my dance. I’m not afraid to make mistakes or fully put myself out there anymore….

TB

I appreciated that Alia didn’t tell us “the way to do things,” but rather gave us exercises that helped us each develop our own way.

LW

Midway through the course, I realized movements came out of my body if I just let it happen.  I started listening to the music and how it made me feel instead of listening to the music and thinking of what I should be doing.  It was fun. 

KG

I’ve been teaching CDA since 2013. Students asked me to break it into modules. The first of these was Embodiment. Map Your Music follows on from there.

How to Map Your Music (MYM) is now a standalone course!

I’m pulling it out and making it available on demand to dancers everywhere. It’s simple and IT WORKS. But it’s not available quite yet…

MYM is my contribution to The Belly Dance Bundle for 2021.

I love the Bundle, and I love Tiffany, who puts it together. This year is bigger than ever with some really great names taking part. Fifty-five contributors, including many dancers of origin and of color–Esraa Warda, Ebony Qualls, and Lebanese Simon, just to name a few.

Our big giveaway this year is a beautifully-designed Practice Tracker. The Tracker helps dancers choose a focus area in their practice, plan their practice, and then track that as they proceed through their month. (it works great for the #21daysofbellydance Instagram challenge!). There’s a zil giveaway coming up, too. Plus a party, mini lessons, and…

Well, it’s a lot.

And I can’t wait! I am especially looking forward to the #21daysofbellydance on Instagram. And the Podcast! Squee!

So there you have it!

A breakdown of the four steps to map your music–and a quick overview of this year’s Belly Dance Bundle.

Phew!

Lots and lots of love and hugs,
Alia

The Great Creativity Toolkit

I was going to share with you today the video I made for Eric Maisel’s

Great Creativity Toolkit!

This pretty amazing offering is made up of more than 50 video lessons from creativity coaches worldwide.

Then I realized that my video was selected as one of the preview videos–so you can see the whole thing right at the link!


Creativity coaches work with creative and performing artists every day of the week. They provide guidance and support and help creatives set goals, stay organized, and stay motivated. They are “in it” with their creative clients.

The Great Creativity Toolkit
caption for image


Now you can meet more than 40 creativity coaches from around the world and learn from them. See them, hear them, and get to know them. The Great Creativity Toolkit is a brand-new program that will really help you live your best creative life possible–plus get free and low-cost coaching!

I am so pleased to be part of the Toolkit. I’ve been meeting with Eric and these coaches for the last several months. I am very impressed with our group!


Come take a look at my video–and at the Great Creativity Toolkit.
With love,
Alia

How to Stay Grounded with Improvisation (and why we need to)

The world is not a pretty picture right now. Bullying and oppression are on the rise.
Playing by the rules, following orders, this is not going to save us. So what will help us survive?

Improvisation.

It’s time to think on our feet, to be ready to change course at a moment’s notice. We need to be grounded, self-aware, able to step back from the vortex of activating events, and develop our capacity to stay connected to the present moment. This is what improvisation does for us.

Today’s Improvisation

We know improvisational dancing makes you smarter.
It enhances creativity and well-being.
Improv can even improve your business savvy.

Oriental dance improv brings a bunch of other benefits to the table, including grounding, relaxation, and physical ease.
Here’s a search of the blog with a gazillion articles.

I’ve spent most of my life cross-training improvisation in multiple genres. It has served me well. It can serve you well, too.

Now is the time. If you’ve been mostly a choreographed dancer, if the idea of improv makes you anxious or feels too monolithic, I invite you to change your life for the better. If you’ve been too freaked out or flat out to even dance, I invite you come home to your soul.

Art feeds us. Let’s do art.

I will be bringing several improvisation skill-building courses over the next few weeks, including Effortless Improv and an interoceptive DanceMeditation-based Fun Class series.

For right now, the new Tuning In series starts Friday, Sept 17 (tomorrow!).

I was somehow skeptical of how simple things can have a great impact, but here they are. They do have a huge impact and it is quite immediate in terms of time and effectiveness.

IS

With all my love,
Alia

Belly Dance: Powerful Medicine for Modern Times

The Camera is Watching

The news is intense, and change is coming. If you’ve been out of the loop for the last few months, check out my FB timeline to get updates and shareable resources, and this post for my stand on these issues.

The upshot is that many of us are feeling a teensy bit challenged lately. Thank goodness we are belly dancers!

Why?

Belly dance is a premier venue for soothing frazzled nervous systems. 
When we engage with the social, cultural style, rich with improvisation, micromovement, and the feeling in the moment, belly dance brings joy–to dancers and to their guests. So joy is where I am putting my focus for the next few months–because human beings do better when we turn off the alarms, at least for a little while. With all this in mind, I am pleased to offer…

Taqsim Tuesdays 

Taqsim, instrumental improvisation, is all about  the feeling, improvisation, and musical meaning. Taqsim is about enjoyment, relaxation, and openness. It invites dancers to sink into the music, to wait for it, to follow it, to lean into it.

Taqsim is among the deepest, most beautiful elements of Oriental dance–and among the most challenging for Western dancers, especially those trained in choreography. Our class is a five-week deep dive into understanding taqsim structure and conventions, immersion in different instruments and their responses, learning to let go and let the music lead, to trust our bodies to follow, to trust ourselves to feel, and to express what we feel. 

The class includes technique, follow me, and individual exploration. We will explore traditional taqasim plus fusion and world improvisations with a suitable vibe. This class won’t show you what to dance to a taqsim–it will show you how to dance in the moment to improvised music.

In taqsim’s celebration of the present moment, with its invitation to let the body move as it wishes, the nervous system has time to settle, release, re-align. Few classes provide open structures and space for you to be yourself, to feel deeply in a safe space. Now is the time to give yourself this gift. 

Taqsim Tuesdays, 4PM EDT, June 16 – July 14.
Classes are recorded (Instructor view only). Recordings are available for one week.
Register here.

 

Tuning In–Medicine for Modern Times

In these challenging times it is hard to feel grounded or confident–pandemics, fascism, racism–fear, grief, and rage are everywhere. How do we ground ourselves with love?

Tuning In comes from a Somatic Experiencing® (SE) and Dancemeditation perspective. It’s a half-hour Zoom chillout session for soothing and nourishing the body, mind, and spirit. It is designed to ease anxiety and restore wellbeing.

Will it cure the world’s ills? No.
Will it help us withstand them? Yes.

We’ll use gentle movement, breath, and body-based strategies to bring calm in the here and now. These strategies can be used any time to help the body feel more relaxed and grounded.

All are Welcome

Free Open Session Friday, June 12, 4PM EDT
 Live session only (NO recording). Register here. https://alia-thabit.ck.page/tuning-in/

Five Weeks, June 19 – July 31.  Fridays, 4PM ET (no session July 3 or 24)
See this in your time zone Sessions are recorded (instructor only). Recordings are available for one week. Register here.  https://aliathabit.com/shop/#trust/

How to Dance (or speak) for the Camera

Four weeks, June 22-July 17. Meeting times TBD
Our social interaction happens through video these days, and we may be doing it for a while. Through weekly live small-group practice sessions and bi-weekly private conferences, this course helps dancers, teachers, entrepreneurs (and others) communicate through the camera–to feel relaxed and natural, to find their voice, and to create a vibrant on-camera experience. Limited seating.
Register here.

All classes feature pandemic pricing, because times are tough. 

Summer Covid 25% Coupon for all Teachable classes! alia.teachable.com/courses

I apologize that there is an issue with the coupon. Until I get a reply from tech support, please
click the class you want, then paste 
?coupon_code=SUMMERCORONACARE
on to the url. Get your instant 25% off (THEN click enroll)
Example:
https://alia.teachable.com/p/course-name-here?coupon_code=SUMMERCORONACARE

Support Black Artists!

Watch Black films!

Criterion Lifts Paywall to Stream ‘Daughters of the Dust’ and More Black Films for Free.
Curated here: https://www.criterionchannel.com/browse

Read books by Black authors
Some of my favorite Black authors include
Tomi Adeyemi!
Angie Thomas
Nnedi Okorafor
Octavia Butler
Beverly Daniel Tatum (Why are all the black kids sitting together in the cafeteria is a must read)

Attend Black-produced Events

Harlem Hafla 2020 (more events coming)

See Black dancers!

MENATdancegeeks is making A Black Perspective by Ahava available to stream for free for a limited time. It is deeply worth listening and worth donating <3

See a selection of Black dancers: Lady Liquid Presents Afrodisiac The Black Bellydance Show

And listen:

JUN 14 Bellydancers Call to Action, Hosted by Belly Dancers of Color Magic https://www.facebook.com/events/270882567360406/

With lots of love and solidarity, 
Alia
PS 10% of June proceeds go to Black causes (TBA)