Three Ways to Nurture our Souls in Challenging Times

Once upon a time, I said something cutting about someone who had never done anything cruel to me or that I knew of. She was only awkward and a little odd (which could easily describe myself). To my horror, she then emerged from a bathroom stall. Our eyes met.

She had recently been praised. I suppose I was jealous. I was old enough to know better. I did know better. I could do better. I vividly recall that moment, decades ago. So I applied myself to doing better. I became more thoughtful in what I said.

But over time, I discovered I had a much bigger problem: the persistent twist of shame, of self-loathing that berated me endlessly not just for one thoughtless comment (fueled by the same self-loathing), but for everything.

From the way I looked to whatever I said or did, those inner voices found fault with me. They inspired a morbid fear of making mistakes, of being found out, of admitting to mistakes, of pretty much everything. Everything was a threat, and I was helpless, frozen with fear.

It wasn’t until I had some respite from those voices (thank you, acupuncture), that I realized they were lies–a symptom of imbalance.

Over time, I found things that helped me feel more grounded, more confident, and more self-loving. The more compassionate I become with myself, the more resilience I have, and the more I am able to cope with challenging times.

And wow, do we have some challenging times!

A plague, systemic racism, the fascism in our government, economic uncertainty, alllll our buttons are getting pushed every day–and all these things are so hard to pin down. We feel helpless in the face of half a dozen inescapable and existential threats. Our bodies become unsettled, anxious, edgy, frozen, exhausted, and many other unhappy things. Our souls become sad, burdened, lost.

So here are three ways to feel more solid, more grounded, more real–and how our dance can help.

1. Improvisation

The basis of improvisation is following our physical impulses. In response to threats, our bodies want to move, to fight or run–but where can we go? What can we hit? Those self-defensive impulses get stuck in our joints. When we improvise, we let our bodies move as they wish, we can let strange physical impulses express themselves. When we use Slow Movement and Rhythmic Breath, even angry impulses can be safely expressed.

2. Self Compassion

When we improvise, sometimes those self-negative thoughts follow us and yell at us about what we are doing as we improvise. The Rhythmic Breath helps to still them, but we can also practice Self Compassion. This means being kind to ourselves, treating ourselves like someone we actually like, someone we care about. Here is a Self-Compassion Quiz. It’s worth taking. It’s worth just being nicer and more gentle with ourselves, as artists and as human beings. The world will go on turning. We will not suddenly turn into malignant narcissists. Our work will get better in the long run. We might become happier, but oh well. I think we can all live with that ; )

3. Somatic (Body) Awareness

This is the big one. It goes along with, and is a conduit to the above two options. Too often as dancers we ignore our bodies and tell them what to do. Making space to listen, acknowledge, and honor our bodies’ sensations is a real game-changer.

It was through such methods that my old old patterns finally began to shift–to change. And stay that way. Last time we talked about Sitting with Discomfort–this is part of that. As we learn to observe, to be curious about the physical sensations that arise in our bodies in response to challenge, to follow them as they morph, shift, and finally resolve, we–our bodies–become more grounded, settled, and clear. It’s a remarkable, simple, gentle practice.

“Few skills are more essential than the ability to settle your body.
If you can settle your body, you are more likely to be calm, alert and fully present, no matter what is going on around you.
A settled body enables you to harmonize and connect with other bodies around you, while encouraging those bodies to settle as well.
A calm, settled body is the foundation for health, for healing, for helping others and for changing the world…”

— Resmaa Menakem, My Grandmother’s Hands (this is one of the most loving and lovely books I’ve read on undoing systemic racism)

The world may not suddenly change around us. But our inner world will change. And that will change the way we interact with the outer world, and our ability to survive challenge with our our souls intact.

I still regret what I said about that girl so long ago. But now I offer her waves of love and compassion, which benefits us both (instead of hating myself, which does no good for anyone).

And I offer the opportunity to learn the strategies that I learned, to have the help that I had.

Tuning In–Medicine for Modern Times
Five Weeks, August 7 – September 4.  Fridays, 4-4:30 PM ET
This half-hour class comes from a Somatic Experiencing® (SE) perspective. It’s is a half-hour chillout session focused on nervous system regulation. It is designed to ease anxiety and restore wellbeing. We 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. 

I look forward to dancing with you!
All my love,
Alia

PS remember, we have a coronavirus summer special on all Teachable courses.
Coupon code: SUMMERCORONACARE
Click the course you want. Click “Enroll in Course,”
Add coupon on the next screen.

Ataraxia and You

Back at the end of February, I had the pleasure of a tarot reading by my friend, Catti. We’ve done several of these over the last few years, and they are always inspiring and rich, helping me to understand what is going on in my life. This time, I was curious about where to focus my attention in the coming months. I’ve had some shifts that point towards finding new pathways, so I asked Catti’s cards, basically, which way I should go. 

They said, welp, major things are happening (three major arcana cards in a row, including the Tower), but you don’t know which way to go because—it’s just not clear yet. You’ll have to step carefully and have faith. 

On the one hand, I was like, well huh. On the other, it’s always good to know that it’s not just me—the way really is cloudy. 

As it happens, this was just before Coronavirus smashed into our daily life.

Which brings me to Ataraxia

It’s a Greek word that means “to be content knowing that you don’t know everything.” This is what my Literature prof told me in college. I fell in love with the word right then and there.  Because I am content knowing that I don’t know everything. I have a healthy respect for mystery. I am content to wait for things to unfold. Time is a real thing, and sometimes things aren’t ready yet. So you have to wait. 

Evening Green

Now, it is also true I have spent an inordinate amount of my life waiting. I have spent entire years unable to plan what I would do in five days, as I waited for some kind of sign. And I have planned entire years in five minutes flat.  

At the time of this reading, I feel impatient, yet mystified. Like I am in the middle of a transformation, that place where the caterpillar has dissolved into goo, before the butterfly starts to form. Hence my tarot question. And having it thrown right back to me—”Sorry, your question can’t be answered at this time. Be of good cheer,” was, well frustrating. 

So, Ataraxia. 

Recently, I found another definition of ataraxia—in Andrea Deagon’s wonderful novel, The Dancer from Tyre. It was, “freedom from care—the conscious setting aside of things that wear down the soul.” 

This definition made me love the word even more. And it’s something for us to think about in these (or any) troubled times. 

It is unhealthy and unwise to stew in despair, fear, or anger. The world news is enough to give us all panic attacks every day. And what good does that do? None. 

This is where we practice ataraxia, that “conscious setting aside of things that wear down the soul.”

For our 20 minute improv dance session, we let all that go. And maybe we can take time through the day to return to our flow state, to be more present in the moment, and less subject to the vortex of pain and misery that is always pulling at us. 

We also can be content to wait and see what happens. We don’t know everything. We are all in a state of transformation that is part of this practice. Things are happening. We don’t/can’t know what they are, but they’re happening. So let’s have faith, and be of good cheer. 

Here’s some music for that—also from Catti. Gaye Su Akyol

PS Improv is a place where we never know what will happen! Where we set aside our cares to be in the moment. In this vein, I’m delighted to be offering a series on improvising to Drum Solo and one on simply relaxing and feeling better.


​Starts Tuesday July 28! DreamBeat–Fun Drum Solo Improvisation
​Five Weeks, July 28 – Aug 25. Tuesdays at 4-5 PM ET.
A five-week adventure into drum solo interpretation and intuitive movement. Drum solo structure, technique, and exploration of various rhythms. We will use Middle Eastern drum solos as well as fusion and surprises! Registration is now open.

​Starts Friday, August 7 Tuning In–Medicine for Modern Times
Five Weeks, August 7 – September 4. Fridays, 4-4:30 PM ET
This half-hour class comes from a Somatic Experiencing® (SE) perspective. It’s is a half-hour chillout session focused on nervous system regulation. It is designed to ease anxiety and restore wellbeing. We 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.

I look forward to dancing with you!
All my love,
Alia

How to Sit with Discomfort (and why your dance might thank you)

Discomfort. Yuck, right? Who needs it? It’s pretty normal to avoid pain or awkwardness or discomfort as much as possible. Or just ignore it. Pretend it isn’t there.

But sit with it? Look at it? Ewww, no.

I’ve had chronic pain for decades I just ignored as much as I could. It was always there and it hurt, so I just blocked it out and went on with my life. Of course, I also tended to avoid anything that aggravated it…. Which did kinda limit my connection to my body…

And then there’s emotional pain and discomfort.

Yeah, everyone’s favorite.

Even learning new skills causes discomfort.

So what is this about sitting with discomfort?

WHY WOULD WE?

Because often, allowing ourselves to experience our own discomfort–in a gentle, curious, open way, without judging or pushing it away–helps it to resolve.

When we have pain, even emotional pain, we tend to cringe away from from it. Over time, that cringe, the tension around the hurt, the physical walling off of sensation, becomes habitual.

Softening our response to the pain helps it dissipate.

Even that chronic pain I mentioned above, allowing myself to feel it, to relax around it, helped it to ease. It came back, until the root causes were addressed, but it could be eased through practices such as Slow Movement. This was huge.

So many things agree!

As I got involved with Somatic Experiencing® (SE), I learned that sitting with the often uncomfortable physical sensations that arise as we approach a challenging memory, following them as they shift and travel–can dissolve the triggering that accosts us in the present. Permanently.

Learning Science shows that when people learn new skills–when we are really learning, not just amassing information–it feels immensely frustrating and uncomfortable. People often give up, believing that they are not smart enough to learn, all because they don’t know that frustration and difficulty are hallmarks of learning. As in, no frustration, no learning.

Our perfectionist culture expects us to be good at what we do and leaves little room for the messiness and pain of learning. Of life. The more we accept these things the better off we are.

Because with all that messiness comes the joy and beauty of life as well. Perfectionism drown that out, focused as it is on “improvement,” and its focus on what is wrong. Tension and avoidance drown that out too.

What important is what’s good, right, and joyful in our lives

In order to feel the joys of life, we also must sit with the downs. We focus on the good so we can traverse the challenges.

Dancemeditation taught me about Contraction, is the discomfort that precedes change and growth. It also taught me about Expansion, that joy of being in the new place. We need contraction (think of birth contractions), to get to Expansion–the new life, the new understanding, the expanded container that allows us to experience the world from a more grounded, stable perspective.

This is how I design my classes

Space to sit with discomfort

I make classes that explore essential elements of the dance that can be challenging–like improvisation. Attempting these dance elements can feel uncomfortable and frustrating–because there is so much learning available, so much opportunity for growth. It’s important to honor this challenge with compassion.

I bring a myriad of strategies to the table from a wide range of influences–because I’ve been a teacher for decades, I am curious, and I love learning, even though it hurts sometimes. So I make my classes effective and empowering, because I want us all to dance with feeling, variety, and joy.

Space for joy

Joy is vital. And times are hard, especially now. So wherever we can bring some joy into our lives let’s do that.

We have some really lovely classes coming up, opportunities to allow discomfort to pass through, and come to Joy. I invite you to have a look.

How to Dance (or Speak) for the Camera
July 13-Aug 28. Anyone feel anxious about dancing or speaking to the camera? This is for you. I am really looking forward to this class. It will be empowering and powerful. No days or time to post as our Small Group meeting times will be planned with the group. Bi-weekly one-hour small group meetings and two half-hour personal sessions. Registration closes July 12.

DreamBeat–Fun Drum Solo Improvisation
Five Weeks, July 28 – Aug 25. Tuesdays at 4-5 PM ET.
A five-week adventure into drum solo interpretation and intuitive movement. Drum solo structure, technique, and exploration of various rhythms. We will use Middle Eastern drum solos as well as fusion and surprises! Registration is now open.

Tuning In–Medicine for Modern Times
Five Weeks, August 7 – September 4.  Fridays, 4-4:30 PM ET
This half-hour class comes from a Somatic Experiencing® (SE) perspective. It’s is a half-hour chillout session focused on nervous system regulation. It is designed to ease anxiety and restore wellbeing. We 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. 

I look forward to dancing with you!
All my love,
Alia

PS remember, we have a coronavirus summer special on all Teachable courses.
Coupon code: SUMMERCORONACARE
Click the course you want. Click “Enroll in Course,”
Add coupon on the next screen.

Dancing for the Camera

Living in Vermont has turned out to be lucky in several ways–the most recent being that there aren’t so many people here, so the whole covid safety thing has been much easier than it might have been. The scarcity of people has also turned out to be lucky for dance in the time of covid. Because there is such a small pool of local folks interested in dance, I have had to go far afield–and the simplest way to do that has been online courses–and yes, dancing for the camera.

I am fortunate there, too, having become an early adopter of online courses at the college level, so I already knew how to design classes and effectively present material online. Thanks to Occupy Wall Street, I took an early interest in livestreaming as well, and have been livestreaming dance since 2012.

Here are a few things I’ve learned.

Preparation

This is aaallll the groundwork that makes a presentation successful. Having a suitable camera, learning the software, preparing your space to be filmed, lighting, sound, workflow, decent internet, etc. This all has a steeper learning curve than I ever expected, and I am still finding out new things, adapting to Zoom’s recent upgrades, and always improving the quality of my work. It is simpler to make things look good when they are pre-recorded; live work is a whole other ball game (the class Zoom Secrets covers all this in-depth).

Top Takeaway? Light yourself nicely. It’s not that hard–a few daylight bulbs, white cloth/cardboard, and clamp lamps will do it.

Presenting

This was hard. It is for many of us. We worry–who is out there looking at us? and that No-one is out there at all! As an introvert, the camera felt judgmental (and I wasn’t wild about myself on the recording, either–more on that later). But I learned.

Top Takeaway? Treat the camera like a friend (a specific friend you love!). Use your monitor to treat yourself like a friend, too. Laugh, flirt, joke, smile. Create a warmth and welcome for yourself.

This helped me survive being stuck in a small town far away from any dance classes.

And now thanks to covid, we are all pretty much stuck. And there is no end in sight. So even though we may live in an area with plenty of people to come to our classes or presentations, we need to develop our online abilities.

So I’ve been bringing my skills to the table to help us all out. Might as well make lemonade, right? And some things you can read about, but these camera skills benefit from live practice with warm, appreciative friends. Sooo, Announcing ….

How to Dance (or speak!) for the Camera.

July 13-Aug 28. Small Group meeting times will be planned with the group.
Five live biweekly small-group practice sessions plus two individual private conferences. This course helps dancers, teachers, entrepreneurs (and others) communicate through the camera.

Learn to feel relaxed and natural, to find your voice, and to create a vibrant on-camera experience.

Registration is open now.

With lots of love,
Alia

PS remember, we have a coronavirus summer special on all Teachable courses.
Coupon code: SUMMERCORONACARE
Click the course you want. Click “Enroll in Course,”
Add coupon on the next screen.

Belly Dance: Powerful Medicine for Modern Times

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)

Sacred Dance Summit (+ Fun Things to D)

pretty pic and nice zoom background
I’m so pleased many folks have enjoyed my interview for Sacred Dance Summit! The Summit been a wonderful opportunity for me to share my experiences with others.
 
My interview, and those of our other four speakers, will be available free through May 8–register here to get access.
 
Leslie Zehr author of “The Alchemy of Dance: Sacred Dance as a Path to the Universal Dancer” is your host for this free online Sacred Dance Summit. She has brought together five women well know in the world of bellydance to speak about their journeys with the spiritual and mystical dimensions of bellydance.
 
The summit runs May 4th-8th. Each day at 12am PDT (3am EDT, 7am GMT/UTC, 9am EET, 3pm AWST) a new interview will be released. The interview will be available for viewing for free until the end of the summit!
 
Sacred Dance Summit May 2020 Speakers line-up:
Day 1: Awakened Bellydance ~ All Movement is Divine when the Heart is Danced Awake with Katie Holland
Day 2: Belly Dance: a Healing Jewel that Connects us to the Divine with Alia Thabit
Day 3: Spiritual Empowerment through Bellydance with Carrie Konyha
Day 4: Somatic Approaches for Dance – How to Enhance Sensory Awareness with Keti Sharif
Day 5:Embodied Bellydance – Ancient wisdom meets contemporary somatic intelligence with Maria Sangiorgi
 
In addition to the interviews each of our speakers has a wonderful free gift for you on the interview page.
For my gift to Summit registrants, I’ve included the full chapter on Practice from Midnight at the Crossroads: has belly dance sold its soul?
 
Be sure to check it out and take advantage of it. It is an excellent way to get to know our speakers better, as well as a way to expand your awareness of the healing and sacred side of bellydance.
 
Hope you will join us to hear what all these wonderful ladies have to say as we glimpse behind the veils of the ancient art of bellydance. And please share with your friends!
 
Registration is easy and the summit is free!
For those who’d like to keep the interviews past tomorrow, the All Access Pass is a great deal.
 
I hope you will join us to hear what all these thoughtful  women have to say as we “peek behind the veils” of the ancient art of bellydance. And please share with your friends. Thank you!
 

pretty pic and nice zoom background

Fun Things to Do

I’ve got some great new things coming up, Including How to Dance for the Camera, Focus on the Felling–A Dancer Empowerment Project, and  Tuning In–Group Chillout Session. More on these shortly. 

The Fun Class continues with Pandemic Pricing through May! Come dance and relax and feel good with us!


What I want to highlight today is today is the free classes Tamalyn has been giving on Facebook. The links below can be viewed without having a facebook account!

Thanks for being here!
Love, 
Alia

 

From Tamalyn Dallal

“Here is a recap of the eleven mini classes I taught online last month. The first seven classes are basics for everybody regardless of how long you’ve been dancing, and they are also suitable for complete beginners.
The “Yo Yo Ma Silk Road Series” which has four classes, is intermediate level. It is good to take all of the classes in order. That’s why I am posting the links in order. I have several classes that are professionally produced and you can rent them on www.daturaonline.com. My documentaries are also available on www.Daturaonline.com.
I will be collaborating with other dance teachers in teaching three online Zoom workshops during the month of May: Saturday, May 16, 10am-11:20 with Joana Saahira, Friday, May 22, 10am – 11:20 with Joana Saahirah, and Saturday, Time TBA with Tatiana of Ukraine.”

Basics for everyone series (7 mini classes)

Circles
https://www.facebook.com/tamalyn.dallal.1/videos/3145393168828185/UzpfSTEwMDAwMDcyNTk4NTgzMTozMDYwNjExMjk0OTk0MTQ6MTA6MTU3Nzg2NTYwMDoxNjA5NDg3OTk5Oi04MDg4Njk0Nzk0NzI0NTkzNTI5/

Shimmies
https://www.facebook.com/tamalyn.dallal.1/videos/3147780465256122/

Figure eights
https://www.facebook.com/tamalyn.dallal.1/videos/3150124208355081/UzpfSTEwMDAwMDcyNTk4NTgzMTozMDYwNjExMjk0OTk0MTQ6MTA6MTU3Nzg2NTYwMDoxNjA5NDg3OTk5Oi00ODI2MTI5NzI5NzI2OTYxMTM/

Basic traveling combo
https://www.facebook.com/tamalyn.dallal.1/videos/3152586584775510/

Undulations
https://www.facebook.com/tamalyn.dallal.1/videos/3154941277873374/

Veils:
https://www.facebook.com/tamalyn.dallal.1/videos/3157322410968594/

Slow movement review
https://www.facebook.com/tamalyn.dallal.1/videos/3159809647386537/UzpfSTEwMDAwMDcyNTk4NTgzMTozMTU5ODM4ODI3MzgzNjE5/
__________________________________________________________
Dancing to Yo Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project Series (4 mini classes)

Upper body basics
https://www.facebook.com/tamalyn.dallal.1/videos/3182515968449238/

Shimmies
https://www.facebook.com/tamalyn.dallal.1/videos/3185030778197757/

Finger Cymbals
https://www.facebook.com/tamalyn.dallal.1/videos/3187616087939226/UzpfSTEwMDAwMDcyNTk4NTgzMTozMDYwNjExMjk0OTk0MTQ6MTA6MDoxNTkwOTk0Nzk5OjkyMDI4MDYzNjI0NTAwMDQzOQ/

Veils
https://www.facebook.com/tamalyn.dallal.1/videos/3190148881019280/UzpfSTEwMDAwMDcyNTk4NTgzMTozMDYwNjExMjk0OTk0MTQ6MTA6MDoxNTkwOTk0Nzk5OjgzMTAwOTc5NjE3NjA3MTMyMjc/



 

Is our Dance Sacred?

The word sacred or spiritual or anything like that sets some of our teeth on edge. I generally avoid these words, but  my practice is certainly spiritually nurturing for me as well as healing (plus good exercise, a mind-body practice, and generally an amazing package of benefits! My teaching is geared to helping others feel more deeply and develop their intuitive movement, and I see my performances as blessings. 

So…

I am very excited to be part of the Sacred Dance Summit this May 4-8!

Leslie Zehr, author of The Alchemy of Dance: Sacred Dance as a Path to the Universal Dancer, is the host for this free online Sacred Dance Summit. Twice a year she brings together five fascinating women to speak about their experiences with Dance as a Spiritual Practice.

The speakers span halfway across the globe from Arizona to Australia. Guests, besides myself, include Carrie Konyha, Katie Holland, Keti Sharif and Maria Sangiorgi, all of whom are belly dancers.

They will discuss modalities ranging from Awakened Bellydance, Embodied Bellydance, Dancemeditation and Spiritual Belly Dance; to how to bring somatics, esoteric wisdom and energy healing arts into bellydance. You can read more about each of these women on the Universal Dancer website

The summit runs May 4th-8th. Each day at 12am PDT (3am EDT, 7am GMT/UTC, 9am EET, 3pm AWST) a new interview will be released. The interview will be available for viewing for free for until the end of the summit.

In addition to the interviews each of the speakers has a wonderful free gift for you on the interview page. I invite you to check it out and take advantage of it. It is an excellent way to get to know the speakers better, as well as a way to expand your awareness of the healing and sacred side of bellydance.

I hope you will join us to hear what all these wonderful ladies have to say as we “peek behind the veils” of the ancient art of bellydance. And please share with your friends!

Registration is easy and the summit is free!

Free Sacred Dance Summit


If you’d like to own the interviews and get some cool bonuses, there is a huge deal on the all-access package…

 

 

With much love, 
Alia

PS the Fun Class runs through May with Pandemic Pricing. Come dance and have fun with us!

Dance to the Rescue!

When I was caring for my Mom, one of the hardest things for me to do was also one of the most self-nurturing–dancing. I managed it for a while, but as the care ground on, and my exhaustion reached dangerous levels, I could not make myself dance, no matter how much I knew it would help. 

Part of it was lethargy. But part of it was spaciness. 

dance to the rescue

I didn’t have the energy to choose music. I couldn’t do it on my own.

I needed rescue. 


So today, here are some really great music choices, to rescue you, to make your musical life easier. 

And there is more.

The more you give yourself permission to let your body thrash around to the music, however it wants to, the more you let go of pretty, perfect movement, the more relief this will give.

If you feel anxious that your energy is too angry/freaked out/overwrought for this, move in very slow motion, channeling all the crazy crackling energy; the movement can help that energy dissipate safely. 

So here are some YouTube playlists.

Most of this is western music as it has a lower bar for many of us. 

I’ve included the full links, since embedded playlist links sometimes don’t work. Please copy and paste the links if they give you trouble.

Even listening to music helps the body feel better, so if you don’t feel up to dance, just put on music and listen.

Funky upbeat party music
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEaWvqXcz8GdQ18v2FlZbe_F93-04sOUW

Taqsim playlist
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEaWvqXcz8GfDPn6RYIkkMC1mAmnheKQr

Rhythm-Heavy Belly Dance/Debke music
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEaWvqXcz8GeqUadJH_AtjtHJlOk33ubk

Wild Dramatic Classical Music 
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEaWvqXcz8Gcmfiv7rn4WiIceWHiZ0Avb

Sun Ra The Nubians of Plutonia (trust me)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wLMV7BHrogw&list=PLGX_iebp2Prk18FG7qp_rw2gTBmNWAKSB

BUDDY GUY & JUNIOR WELLS -Drinkin’ Tnt ‘N’ Smokin’ Dynamite
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdbcKTkQk7E

Sam Cooke 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZB4jcPmFGo&list=PL7IYX2pTFu7a5XHFMplBz3h4QM4Una0uH

Talking Heads-Stop Making Sense
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gUsGYtozko&list=PLVSlPiUUcHnDAesZb1ES7nyb07eVLdMzM

And if you have the energy to dance, there are lots of classes available right now. I highly recommend
Dunya’s new live online offerings by donation

And a whole list of things in this Facebook group DANCE AWAY – List & Find {LIVE} Online Belly Dance Classes .

And my own FUN Classes!

With lots and lots of love, 

Alia

How to be Social, Safely

Times have been pretty tough the last 4 years. Threats have abounded, to life on this planet, along with liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We’ve all been in a state of anxiety. Not that we ever even recovered from the economic crash in 2008, amirite? And now we have a worldwide plague, another crash, AND we all have to lock ourselves away. Yikes.

Most folks I know are frightened, tired, angry, or overwhelmed (if not all four at once).

We need a way to be social, safely.

A way to enjoy ourselves with others while keeping ourselves and others safe. A way to have fun and laugh, to step away from stress. 

Humans are not meant to live in a state of constant watchfulness and threat. Our evolutionary pattern is is to activate–and then deactivate. But we live in situations where we feel obliged to be constantly on guard. When this happens, our nervous system forgets how how to shut off the alarms. We get stuck “on,” constantly flooded with stress hormones. It’s destructive and dangerous–and we may live like this for decades, as our health and well-being become more and more fragile. 

So what do we do? How do we feel safe in this new reality?
We can’t even go dance or hang out with friends.  

Or can we?

Over the next few weeks. I’ll be announcing several new ways for us to be together, to step away from fear and stress, to have some fun and feel good. 

It is okay to have fun and feel good. It is essential. 

Every time we shut off this alarms, we increase our resilience and our capacity for joy. We become more whole–our true self begins to shine. We improve our long-term heath. We get a breath of fresh air. We push back against the madness. 

This is what we need right now. 

Three things we can do right now:

  • Focus on the GOOD. What brings a smile? A sigh of contentment? Joy? Focus on that.
  • Stay in the present moment. Look around your space, where you are right now. Notice any threats? No? Good. Relax. Take some long exhales, twice as long as your inhale. At least 3 of them. Notice the difference? Soak that in. Do this regularly.
  • Escape. Read a fun book. Start a creative project. Call a friend and make jokes together for an hour. Really. Yes. Currently I am enjoying the adorable Sorcerer Royal series by Zen Cho. I got it from the library’s digital collection.

And here is the first offering of social, safely. 

Announcing, 

Alia’s FUN Classes!

(Social, Safely edition)

Tuesdays, March 31-April 28, 7PM EDT
 
These are LIVE classes, streamed online. Each class is recorded, with the recording available until the following week, when it is replaced by the new class. 
 
 
Alia’s classes are designed to help soothe and regulate the nervous system. This is how we survive stress and become more resilient.
 
Dancers feel relaxed, energized, and happy. So will you!

 
Take a peek: Alia’s Fun Classes!
There’s even a full sample class on the page. 

Why Alia? I’ve been teaching and designing online classes at the college level since 2003. Yes, that’s seventeen years. I’ve been teaching dance for decades. I’ve been deeply immersed in trauma resolution and stress reduction models for eight years now. I know how to do this. I’m good at it. I invite you to join me. Alia’s Fun Classes!

Why Now? This worldwide pandemic has us all inside and out of work, so we are pleased to offer our regular fee, PLUS a special Pay What You Will option and a Sliding Scale payment plan, for those of us who are financially impacted by this disaster.

I invite you to join me. However works for you.
Here’s the link:  AliaThabit.com/ Fun-Class

Love, 
Alia

 

 

How to Dance Away Body Shame​

The 90 Days is going well. Already many folks have found it easier to improvise, to dance for 20 minutes, and to enter a zone of presence and calm. Here is on of this year’s Love Notes I thought you might like. 

How to Dance Away Body Shame

Many years ago at Ahlan wa Sahlan, I took a class on dance from Siwa. One of the steps was a cute little skippy side step—with a twist. Not a physical twist, but a mental one.

The step was done facing away from the guests, and the intention was to show off the dancer’s, um, behind. Our intention was to show off our luscious rear end, to put our attention there and to feel and convey how juicy and nice it was.

 

How to Dance Away Body Shame

Frankly, this was the first time in my life I ever did this. And I was not young at the time. My relationship to my rear end (and a few other body parts), was problematic to say the least. But Lo!

It was SO FUN. And naughty and liberating and mischievous!

It was so fun that later on I did some experiments. I chose troublesome body parts (ones I generally hide), and danced as though they were the most beautiful, glorious, delicious body parts in the world.

Mmmmmmm ; )

Imagine a body part you hide—with clothes, costuming, etc—or wish you could.

In your practice, I invite you to let it be the leader, the most beautiful and lush. Display it with gratitude, pride, and delight.

Today was sunny, the snow was melting, and the day was so much longer! Let’s dance renewal and rebirth, too.

With our newly luscious body parts ; )

Love,
Alia

Music: Here’s Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue

And here’s a long version of Summertime

And here’s a great venue in which to flaunt your body parts! ; )
March into the Spotlight: Bring Basic Belly Dance Back Challenge
March 1-14 2020

  • Dance for fun, no costume or fancy setup. 
  • Video yourself. 
  • Post the vid on FB or Insta.
  • Hashtag with #basicbellydancerchalleng
  • Use the hashtag to find other videos.
  • Watch everyone else’s videos and they will watch yours!


It’s free, fun, and fabulous. Plus you can win prizes!
I’ll be doing it–I hope you will too!
I’ll be doing pop-up live streaming of my dances via zoom–if you’d like to be part of that, join here: remind.com/join/raqsalia​

March into the Spotlight: Bring Basic Belly Dance Back Challenge