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)

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

 

 

What’s your wall?

Sometimes we hit a wall. 

SoHigh2

So high, can’t get over it. So low, can’t go under it. So wide, can’t get around it…

Where is your dance wall?
What stops you, gets in your way, or keeps you from dancing what you feel in the moment? What walls do your students or dancer friends face?

Here are a few things I, and other folks, have struggled with. 

Confidence
Never feeling good enough, creative enough, or anything enough.

Presence 
Getting stuck in one’s head, losing energy, falling out of the zone.

Introversion
Feeling constrained in performance or navigating social scenes.

Improvisation
The feeling in the moment ; )

Not Performing
Why is this such a crime?

Technique
How the heck do I… ?

Age/Looks
We don’t fit the mold, but have so much to express.

Personal Style
How do you find it? Does it take forever?

Finding Spirit in Dance
Is it really all hoodoo?

 

What’s your biggest wall?
How does it affect you?
What would help?

 

Write to me. Or post on the blog. I’ll write back.

Love,

Alia

PS I am once again endeavoring to create a little something new, this time in two weeks. This week is for figuring out what to make. Next week is for making it. It shall be done and ready to roll on May 1. I want it to be something that solves a problem for my dance friends–that’s you. Hence my question. More on Thursday!

How to Party like an Introvert

–all night long!

Party like an Introvert

I went to a party this weekend. It was my friend Nathalie’s 40th birthday–a truly badass woman. I drove 7 hours to get there (and 7 hours back–in the rain). The guest list was small. Everyone there would be a rockstar. There was only one problem.

I’m an introvert.

I am the gal at any party sitting in the corner reading the bookshelves. I like being alone. I’m quiet, shy, and reserved. How was this to work?

The din was unbelievable; upwards of 50 people gabbed and laughed in happy groups at top volume. Gah! But the space was beautiful; a high end salon converted into a cosy nest of sparkling lights and sparkling drinks. I found a comfy seat, settled in, and checked out the scene. I saw some great clothes and a lot of interesting-looking people.

But I wasn’t talking to anyone. Plus I was exhausted, because 7 hour drive. This was not working for me. Hmm.  I thought about leaving, but the drive home was too daunting. And I was so looking forward to this. I loved Nathalie. I was honored to be among the invitees. I wasn’t going to back down. Then I remembered my #1 party rule for introverts. 

The #1 Party Rule for Introverts: Wait it out.
The riff-raff will all leave after 2 or 3 hours. The cool people stay. You stay, too. Your real people will be there late.

So, okay, I would stay.  I would find a way around this. I looked around more closely, and noticed several people sitting alone, like me, watching the room and/or checking their phones. More introverts. Clearly we were all in the same boat, lost and uncomfortable, yearning to be part of it all. Maybe we introverts can’t do much for ourselves, but we can do things to help other people. A strategy revealed itself…

Party Rule #2: Befriend Other Introverts.
I turned to the nearest phone-studying woman and introduced myself. Hi, I’m Alia. Hi, I’m Nina. And then the magic question of the evening, How do you know Nathalie? I introduced myself and Nina to the gal on my other side, then pulled in the one next to her. Pretty soon our small group were all chatting. Score!

Rule 2 has a postscript: Change Your Location.
Get up, walk around, and hold up the wall in a different corner. There will be other introverts over there, and you can then chat them up, too.

I know, you don’t chat up people strangers. But the truth is that you do. All the time. When you are comfortable doing it, you don’t notice. Gaining any new skill, however, requires a level of discomfort. It’s scary. Learning is, by nature, going outside of one’s comfort zone.  But then you have a new skill, so hey. The first time you do this, maybe even the second or third, it may feel very uncomfortable. But think of being able to enjoy a party and make new friends. Win!

I did one other thing that was important. At this party, the decree had been no physical presents. But stories, poems, and performances were welcome. We had all been asked in advance to present something live or write a love-letter to our birthday girl. There was even a sign-up sheet at the door. I signed up to dance. Which brings me to….

Party Rule #3: Take one risk.
When my name came up, I jumped up, raised my arms in a victory Power Pose, handed off my cued-up phone, and put on my zils and hipscarf. And then I danced, in a small room, with 50 people who were far more badass than you can imagine (the past president of Planned Parenthood, a gal who saved Roe v Wade–twice, the ceo of the fastest-growing woman-owned business in the usa, artists, movers, shakers, one and all–and me).

Nathalie40
I got Nathalie, her best friend, and her party co-hosts up to dance.

Yeah, I got up and danced for them. I chose one song, both upbeat and trad (Fatme Serhan’s Tahtil Shebak, if you want to know). I made a point of connecting with individual people. I got Nathalie, her best friend, and her party co-hosts up to dance.

I wasn’t even at my best. I was bloated, tired, and stiff. None of that mattered. I brought the joy. That’s my job as a dancer, and I did it. And for the rest of the evening, people came up to me and complimented me on my performance. And I went up to other people and complimented them on theirs. More friends.

We introverts dread parties, small talk, and meeting people in general. Inundated with extrovert business advice, like give your card to 10 people at every meeting, we’d rather stay home. So we need other ways of going about our business. The above 3 models all work wonders. Because, for introverts, here’s the most important thing of all.

You won’t meet everyone, but you will meet the right people. Most people, frankly, are not worth your time. They are superficial, petty, and insincere. They are exhausting. Why bother with them? Introverts have magical strength and powers. Slide under the radar. Be choosy.

Meet the right people. 

Like you ; )

Love,
Alia

PS Coming this fall: Dark Star: How Introvert Artist

Dance Magic Webinar

Hola, beautiful!

Ready for a free LIVE webinar?

Box of rocks_0(3)
Sometimes making dances is like sorting a box of rocks.

How about one on making dances? Lots of holiday haflas coming up! How do you quickly make a dance so you feel confident–without having to remember all those steps?

Ta-daa! Presenting

Dance Magic

Quick, easy ways to make a dance without setting a single step. 
In fact, we will make a dance right on the webinar!

This will be on Thursday, Dec 17 at 3PM EST (see that in your time zone: https://goo.gl/tJs7UB).
Yes, there will be a recording!

Sign me up!

(We will only use your addy for the webinar (unless you also choose to get Alia’s fabbo newsletter). Pinky swear!)

Save the date! It’s gonna be a hot one!

Love,
Alia

Here’s that link again…

Dance Magic me!

Why we dance—the secret surprise (and how to find it)

Those little voices....
Those little voices….

You know those little voices that always rag on us to just quit and be done with it?  That we will never amount to anything? What does that even mean? Like we will not be world-class famous dancers with tons of money and fame? Why is that the benchmark of success in our dance?

Few of us dance solely for adulation or money. It’s awesome that dance gives us those things, but the dance is deeper than this. It’s the connection to the music we crave—the sense of oneness that we value. Yet all the emphasis is on the pretty girl on stage in a costume.

Most people who do this dance do not teach or perform. They dance with friends at home or at parties. Why would they do that? Dance around the house and play music, women of all ages. A dance of joy. What does that really mean?

This dance has power. We know this. And not all of it in the venue of performance. That in some ways is the smallest of it attributes. Because it is a dance of joy, that is why its performances have power—they bring joy, both to viewers and dancers. That is also why it is so popular offstage as well. Doing or viewing this dance lifts one’s mood. Joy is there for all of us.

I sometimes hear disdain for the “hobbyists.” You know, the ones who take classes, fill workshops, and pay the bills The ones with relatively normal lives who just want to dance and have fun. Because we all should be serious dancers who work hard.

Well, surprise. Maybe the hobbyists have the right idea. I’m all for performance. I am a performer. I love it. Many of us do. I love teaching. I’m good at it. So I get it. I’m not suggesting anyone stop. People feel called to open studios, develop professional companies, dance at birthday parties; I say YES to all of it. But this dance is a folk dance, done by folks, in their homes. And that is a legitimate, honorable relationship with the dance.

What if we stop beating ourselves up for notgoing anywhere” with our dance? Think of all the people who do yoga, or tai chi. They don’t look to be performers. Few even look to be teachers. Most of them just go to class, a workshop, a retreat. The activity is part of their life. It gives them physical and emotional benefits. Maybe a community. And they enjoy it.

The same with dance

The physical interaction with the music is pleasurable in and of itself. And the more in sync we get the better and more beautiful and delicious it feels. Think how lovely our 20 minutes could be if we focused on the sensuality of the moves and their relationship with the music. Right there is a good reason for pursuing mastery. For the pleasure of the activity all by itself. On our own or with friends.

That sounds radical, doesn’t it? Most of us don’t move for the enjoyment of it. We practice to get better. We work. What if we enjoyed ourselves instead?

Something to think about…

Love,

Alia

PS With the encouragement of my friend Mackay Rippey, of Lyme Ninja Radio, I’ll teach a free 4-week web series this fall called Belly Dance Foundation Flow–an exploration of belly dance movement for healing and joy. It will be a lovely, rich experience.

Update: Mackay and I recorded an interview for his podcast;; the web series followed. It is all archived–you can get the recordings here. This is a totally free series. All are welcome.

Music: Fun African mix: https://soundcloud.com/snyk-dk/ud-og-samle-svampe-i-afrika