Alia Thabit Traditional and Avant-Garde Belly Dance

How to Make Dance Class Fun II (and a Giveaway!) - Alia Thabit

How to Make Dance Class Fun II (and a Giveaway!)

First the Giveaway!

It’s from the Bellydance Bundle, and it’s big. 
-3 sets of all-brass, scrollwork-engraved zills of various tones and sizes
-2 beautiful rectangle silk veils
-1 gorgeous half circle silk veil

All from Turquoise International, valued at over $350.00 USD! Our grand prize winner will dance away with some of the best zils available today and veils that float for hours!

PLUS all the courses have been posted as well as the price. ALL this from one eenie-beenie link ; )

Here ya go: https://aliathabit.com/bundle-giveaway

Now back to our post ; )

How to Make Dance Class Fun II

When I was a kid, people used to smoke all the time, everywhere. Both of my parents smoked, and we were regularly sent to the store to get more cigarettes. Smoking was seen as fun. No one knew about second-hand smoke; even the effects on the smoker were kept from the public. But over time folks learned the bitter truth. Smoking in public has been drastically reduced, our collective health is improved, and we don’t have to smell like an ashtray after a night out. 

Like smoking, the things we say and do can have unfortunate effects on other people (not to mention ourselves). Dance class is one place where we can create a warm, compassionate environment for our students. This is kind of a serious topic, but making your classroom a safe space makes the class more fun for everyone–including you. 

We’ll look at three ways to create a safe space–Focus on Dance, Model Compassion, and Awaken Somatic Awareness.

Today we’ll look at how to Awaken Somatic Awareness.

What is Somatic Awareness?

Soma refers to the body. Somatic Awareness is body awareness. In this case, awareness of how movement feels in the body.

Most classes focus the students upon how they look. We use mirrors, we squint at them, and we try to make each move look exactly the same as everyone else’s. But belly dance is not about being a carbon copy. Belly dance is all about the feeling. And the feeling is not just emotional.

It’s physical

Just move your arm. Extend it away from your body, and then bring it back. Notice how that movement feels. Notice the muscles sliding against each other. Notice the joints opening and closing. Notice your hand, its many bones. What else do you notice? 

Now slow the movement down. Do it again, and inhale as the arm open, exhale as it closes. Do it even more slowly. Even more slowly. Even more.

Now check in with the rest of your body. What do you notice? Very likely you feel calmer than you did before. Maybe some part of you is uncomfortable. Maybe some part is hard to even feel. Maybe you feel great. All of these things are important. This internal focus is called interoception. And it has a lot of benefits.

When we feel the dance, we dance better

Belly dance is about having your own style, doing the same movement as everyone else yet with your own special sauce that makes the moves completely yours. This is not a trick we learn, it happens when we bring the dance into our own body and allow it to become one with us. 

Our dance is not like most Western dances. It values improvisation, variation, feeling, and joy. Being a carbon copy is very hard–plus it is unnatural. Having our own feeling for the moves and the music is the most natural thing in the world. But most of us have been taught to discount it in favor of stylization and exactitude.

Of course, we must learn technique. But part of belly dance technique is the magic of micromovement, which allows us to tailor a move’s size, texture, speed, force, and so forth to better express our feeling and the music. It is the feeling of the music, allowing our bodies to follow it thinking or judging. Interoception and Somatic Awareness help us do that. 

When we teach our students how to feel the dance, they learn faster and have more confidence. This makes them better dancers. They don’t need the mirror, because they know how the move feels. 

Somatic Awareness fosters healing

In addition to upping our dance game, somatic awareness is a major component of healing. Using Slow Movement and Breath, as we did above, in particular using Rhythmic Breath, where we breath in time with the music while moving with “glacial slowness,” we have the opportunity to release a lot of old stress, fear, and pain. 

When we move so slowly, we can allow the body to move as it wishes. We become observers of our body’s journey, as it releases stored tension. All of this helps us have confidence in our bodies, confidence in our dance. We can move with authority. We can improvise effortlessly. We practice this ourselves, so we can teach it to our students. 

All of this helps us have confidence in our bodies, confidence in our dance. We can move with authority. We can improvise effortlessly. 

How does this make dance class fun?

Students come to belly dance to feel beautiful and express themselves. When we embrace the Eastern values of the dance, feeling, improvisation, and joy, we enjoy dancing more–we feel more expressive, beautiful, and joyous. When we come away from class feeling calm, happy, and content, we want to come back. That’s fun. 

It’s worth the effort of learning

Learning is hard work, especially learning something new. New things can feel scary. But that feeling of frustration is a sign that true learning is going on. Learning new things increases our intelligence and boosts brain health, plus having new skills feels great.

Plus we get to release stress. All the stress, fear and pain to which we have been subjected in our lives has poisoned us as throughly as cigarette smoke. Interoceptive Dance through somatic awareness is how we clear the poisons. And they don’t come back. As with learning, resolving old anxieties, increases our capacity for resilience. 

That’s one heck of a win-win. 

All my love,

Alia

As it happens, today is the last day for the Early bird Price for Effortless Improv. Effortless is designed for students–and for teachers. You might like to check it out. Details are here: aliathabit.com/effortless 

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