The Difference Between Hope and Prayer

The third incarnation of Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche died in a car crash in 1992. He was only 38. I was fortunate enough to hear him speak, during his lifetime. This was in the 70s. Rinpoche was a vigorous, warm speaker, young but clear and precise. During the question time after the lecture, someone asked him to talk about the difference between Hope and Prayer. 

Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche spoke of hope and prayer

His Eminence Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche the Third, Karma Lodrö Chökyi Senge (Click here for some of his teaching). 

Prayer, he said, is strong, filled with intention and energy. 

Hope, however, is a weak passive thing. There is no action in hope—it is a wish without substance. But Prayer—prayer gets things done. 

Rinpoche did not mean personal goods or recognition. He meant to benefit all sentient beings. 

 

This is the only thing I remember from that lecture so long ago. It drove home to me the power of intention, of directed energy. I am not particularly religious, but prayer, to me, has great power. I do associate it with protective entities, in that I visualize their intercession and assistance as part of the package. 

For example, when my kids were out late and I worried about them, imagining all sorts of terrible things, I chose instead to put out protective energy, to envision them safe and sound, in the embrace of protectors, in a glow of love. It gives me a sense of purpose, of action. Any time I find myself worrying about someone, or something, I do this. 

I view this dance practice much like prayer. 

Not in a religious way, but as filled with intention and energy. It gets things done. Not physical things like a million dollars or a nice big house (nam myoho renge kyo, anyone?). More like things that are not things—healing, connection, and joy. 

 

I have a mission. 

Awaken people to their own beauty and power

Enable them to express their unique individuality through art

Bring honor and appreciation to belly dance

Enjoy a life of creativity, adventure, mystery, abundance, and ease

Cultivate a radiant oasis of warmth and delight

 

Everything I do has this intention. It’s not just for me, but it is partly for me, so that I can do the other things. A leader is not a boss. A boss tells people what to do. A leader goes first, so that others see what can be done. A leader gives permission through their own actions. 

 

Welcome to the radiant oasis ; )

 

What is your intention? 


Love,
Alia

How to transition between worlds: The Music of the Spheres

Once upon a time, I got invited to an acquaintance’s birthday party. I liked her very much, so I went, though she lived almost two hours away. She had sent a rather long list of things one would need for a ritual she planned to do as part of the celebration. It made me tired even to read it. On the way, I picked up all the things on the list. It took a while. Finally I got to the party.

I had never been to her house before, so I pulled up across the street to scope it out. It was a chilly, gray day. There were lots of people, outside. The party was outside. Everyone looked drab, in brown and denim. I sat there a while. It began to drizzle. I didn’t know any of these people. I am an introvert. I am not a big ritual person. I gave up. I turned my car around and drove away. 

There was no easy transition from my world to that one. The difference was too great. This happens with our practice, too. If the transition is too difficult, we are likely to avoid it. Jihad Racy told me to always have my instrument out, to have m music out, to have everything ready so all I needed to do was pick up the nay. It helps to have our dance space and music ready, too—a streamlined workflow, so it is easy to push play and walk onto the mat. But them what? 

How do we get from the everyday into the flow? 
One way is Spherical Movement. Elena Lentini, elenalentini.com, one of our greatest living dancers, uses this exercise in her warm up. It’s soothing, and healing, and low stakes, just what a warmup should be.

You are on a sphere (imaginary ; ), pressing against it from head to foot, arms upraised, like you are embracing a ball bigger than you are; your whole body describes the arc of the sphere. You could also do this sitting (the ball would be smaller), or lying down, or body part by body part, or even visualize the movement.

As your body moves, you morph around the sphere, from front to back, breathing as you go, exhaling as you arc forward, inhaling as you arc back, as if the ball is now behind you. Go slowly. Take your time—after all, you are now a heavenly body :). Discover each moment individually as you ooze around the sphere.


The perfect music: https://www.dropbox.com/s/lopoy0rpkv186li/Elena_Music_05.mp3?dl=0(This music is nice in a big space if you have one–you will get it when you hear it. Don’t listen in advance—listen the first time when you use it. I don’t know who the artists are—if anyone does, please tell me.)

Sweet, sweet, softness and exaltation.

Please let me know how it goes. 

Love,
Alia

News and happenings

March into the Spotlight: Bring Basic Belly Dance Back Challenge
Mar 24 – Mar 30
https://www.facebook.com/events/285570978801836/

Alia’s Upcoming Classes and Workshops


Fun Classes. I’m teaching live weekly-ish online dance classes! Each class is streamed live on Thursdays at 7pm EST and a recording is posted until the next class replaces it. Registration coming soon! Email me if interested.


July 14. I’ll be at Cairo Cabaret in Chicopee MA, dancing and teaching workshops in Improv and Group Dance composition. https://www.facebook.com/events/2223293227683591/


Aug 12-Mid Sept. I’ll be covering for Amity’s Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced classes in WRJ.


Any time. Zitastic and Embodiment are now available on Teachable! 
https://alia.teachable.com

The BellyDance Bundle is Back!

Dear friends,

27 contributors. $1000 worth of belly dance madness. Over 80% off!

This innovative package of wonderful dance classes, tutorials, and so forth, got a lot of attention last year with good reason. It is well-designed and a great value.

This year Bundle purchases will be giving back directly to the dance community and will also be supporting the SEEDS program run by Myra Krien with each sale! At least $5 of every sale will go to helping dancers in need, and to help support young women through the ATS dance community.

I love the Bundle because Tiffany does such a great job. I’m happy to be part of it. It helps me reach new folks and helps me make some money while I do it.

How does the Bundle work?

We contributors donate our courses to the Bundle. Each of us is also a partner is the program. We provide the Bundle to you, and we get a commission on each sale we make. This is the way we get paid.

You’ll probably get Bundle offers from several dancers you know and love. We apologize for the repeats, but it will only be for a short time. And you can choose whose link you use.

My contribution to the Bundle

This year, I’m making a whole new course for the Bundle. Here’s a sneak peek:

Belly dance is all about expressing the music–but how do you do that when it doesn’t even make sense? Wouldn’t you love to feel confident and sure of yourself—and your dance?

You can!

Announcing

Embodiment: Musicality for Oriental Dance

A six-week self-paced course by Alia Thabit

In this course, students will learn musical structure; explore rhythm, melody, and phrasing; and practice improvisational templates so they can bask in joyous expression.

Week 1: Demystifying the Music

Week 2. Understanding Rhythmic Structure

Week 3. Dancing on the Melody

Week 4. Interpretation and Texture

Week 5. Using Combo Templates

Week 6. How to Float–and Land

Each week includes conceptual breakdowns, musical assignments and a dance études, along with video examples, handouts, and song suggestions.
Value: $95

Included FREE with the Belly Dance Bundle!

Pretty cool, huh?

Links go live September 1. That’s when the site gets updated.

Here are my links for the NEW Bundle offers and some nice free gifts!

The Belly Dance Bundle:
Check out all the cool stuff in this year’s Bundle:
https://aliathabit.com/bundle

Prezzies!
These well-designed Guides do ask for your email address.
Free Guide: Figuring Out What To Practice (updated)
https://aliathabit.com/Bundle-Practice-Guide

Free Guide: 21 Day Practice: 
https://aliathabit.com/Bundle-21Day-Guide
I invite you to visit and share these links.

With love,
Alia

Why belly dance is like hummus ( and how to make it right)

It’s a funny thing about food, especially ethnic food. However your grandmother made something, that’s the way it’s supposed to taste. Unless you never met your grandmother, or she couldn’t cook worth a damn, of course. That happens, and I’m sorry. But for most of us, she’s the heaven to which we aspire, the yardstick by which we measure all other things.

My kids never got to taste my grandmother’s hummus, but I did, and they got to taste mine. Ironically, I learned how to make hummus from my non-Arabic mom, but she learned from my grandmother. So it’s not a matter of ethnicity, but understanding and valuing.

So the kids know what it’s supposed to taste like, and what’s supposed to be in it (and so will you, shortly). And oh my god, you should hear my daughter’s disdain for what she calls “hippie hummus.”

You’ve eaten it, I’m sure.

Bland, grainy, tainted by sun-dried veggies or roasted garlic, or even made with other legumes entirely! Like non-basil pesto with no pine nuts, such foods may be fine inventions on their own, but they are not hummus, which has a specific ingredient list and texture.

Hummus bi-tahini means chickpeas with tahini. So there are two essential ingredients right there. The others are massive quantities of fresh garlic and lemon juice, and some olive oil. In addition, a smooth, creamy texture is essential. Everything else is frippery.

I realize this is a bit draconic. But this is the way I learned. I’m Levantine (Syria, Lebanon, Paelestine). So if you’re fam is from somewhere else and the ratios are different, that’s fine. But I have been to a ton of old school restaurants and they all make the same hummus, so I’m not just being nostalgic. It’s a real thing.

Belly dance is also a real thing.

It has a basic recipe. It varies by region, but like chickpeas and tahini, there are basic ingredients and textures that one changes at one’s peril, and with each variation it becomes further removed from its own truth.

What are the basic ingredients of belly dance?

For me, there are three basic ingredients, though each one expands to encompass several other things. These include the basic movement vocabulary, the music, and three conceptual frameworks: the feeling in the moment, same but different, and bring the joy.

The further you get from these basic ingredients, the further you get from belly dance as a cultural jewel, the closer you get to white bean dip with sun dried tomatoes and soy sauce calling itself hummus. That is to say, it won’t make sense to its own people.

Most of us are familiar with the movement vocabulary, less so with the music, and often not at all with these textural concepts. Let’s take a closer look at them, with the music in context, since the music and the dance go together like chickpeas and tahini.

1. The feeling in the moment

This is the dancer’s feeling from the music, which she shares with her guests, both its emotional timbres and her body’s enjoyment of the movement itself as it follows and interacts with the music. The goal is to embody the music, to be connected to it and to any guests in a visceral, immediate way.

Most of us are trained to judge how we look and ignore the pleasure of the movement. What if we flip that and get back to enjoying how the dance feels?

2. Same but different

Musicians of the culture pride themselves on never making a song the same way twice. The melody and rhythm may stay the same, but the feeling and the ornaments change. In addition, musicians tweak the notes themselves to better express their feeling in the moment.

Dancers who improvise make their dance different every time. Even with choreography this us possible, allowing the body to react from its feeling today differently from yesterday. In addition to this, we have micromovent, with which we tweak the dynamics of our movement, their force, speed shapes and textures.

Why spend all our energy on perfecting choreos? We have all this agency as dancers. What if we take this back, teach this, and give dancers this confidence? Even groups of beginners can do this. And it’s beautiful.

3. Bring the joy.

The arts of the near and middle east tend to have the intention of meditative entrainment. You see it in the music in the concept of tarab, musical ecstacy. We’re talking joy. The dance is always characterized as a dance of joy. It is meant to bring joy, to the dancer, musicians, and any guests.

Yet so much of what I see is dancers working hard or showing off. When our goal is to engage a room in joy, to give joy rather than to get approval, our dance changes. What if we dance to experience and to share our love and joy?

These are important questions, important skills worthy of the time and effort it takes to change our focus. So we might need some food to sustain us…

Here’s my Grandmother’s Hummus Recipe

You’ll need a blender or food processor.

  • 1 can of chickpeas, up to 20 oz.
  • Freshly squeezed juice of five lemons (nice juicy ones).
  • An entire bulb of garlic (nice and fat. Really).
  • Tahini to taste
  • Salt to taste (if any)
  • Olive oil to drizzle on top

If all that garlic scares you, put it with the lemon juice and blend that first. Blend the hell out of it.

Then do the same with the chickpeas. Add them to the liquid and blend until it is liquified, smooth, smooth, smooth.

Add tahini to taste. This is a bit subjective. Too little and the hummus stays watery and gross. Too much and it gets bitter. Just enough and it suddenly becomes creamy and pale and delicious. It usually takes a few tablespoons. (Please note, this is how I cook. It’s a little slap dash, but it works.)

Olive oil drizzled on top, and or mixed in. Tastes vary.

Serve with pocket bread, marouk (super flat mountain bread) or even veggies. I can live with fresh veggies, lol.

So there you have it. Belly dance and hummus. Let me know how it goes.

Love,

Alia

How to practice effectively with the Mini-Snack Method

It’s been raining a lot recently, when it should be all pretty and warm and lovely in a late summer kind of way. Rain often makes me feel frazzled–helpless and overwhelmed. There are just so many drops, all falling on me, all cold, all wet. Ugh!

Sometimes dance practice feels the same way.

There is so much much to remember, so many things to improve. When I tried to do it all at once, I just felt harried and overwhelmed. So I stopped. Because I realized there was  something important that I wasn’t practicing: having fun.

Worse, that not-having-fun was bleeding over into my performances. I was working to hard and it showed. Since then, I have changed the way that I practice. If too many things is too much, then what if I do just one thing at a time?

Welcome to the Mini-Snack Method. It’s light, fun, and it has a lot of benefit!

Wait, what’s a Mini Snack?! It’s little bite-size snacks of assorted practice themes. I graze through my practice like a bee in a snacktastic flower garden, alighting as I notice something I want to refine or  explore, or a technical puzzleI want to solve.

It’s light!

With Mini Snacks I focus on just one thing at a time (well, maybe two). Just my posture. Just my arms. Just my gaze. So I can be in a state of enjoyment, but also hone some little element. This way, I never get overwhelmed and I can practice having fun, too. That’s right– 

It’s fun!

Mini Snacks let me dance around enjoying myself while I flip from one focus to another. My focus on joy can stay constant as I only have a little bit of other things to include. When I notice my posture is off, I switch to that, and I dance with my beautiful posture fore for a while. When I notice an arm is lagging, I switch my focus to my beautiful arms for a while. I go in and out of these focal points and little by little everything gets attended to, yet I never have to spend my time squinting at myself or despairing over my ability. 

And, you know what? Mini Snacks have serious benefits.

One of the hot topics in learning science is interleaving. This means practicing many things in short bursts, coming and going from the practice. The benefit comes from the coming and going–in fact, leaving something until you are a little rusty and coming back to it is especially beneficial. It’s the spaces in between that heighten the learning. 

So there you go! A great way to practice a lot of things in a short amount of time while having fun. What more could you want?

How about a practice planner?

It’s a free gift from the folks at the Belly Dance Bundle, and it’s been getting great reviews. Just click here to get it:   https://aliathabit.com/what-to-practice

Thanks for checking it out!

Lots of love,

Alia

 

What to practice?

“We’ve all been there. It doesn’t matter your experience level. Figuring out what to practice can be mind-numbingly difficult, and practicing the things you’re not as good at is HARD.

It’s extra hard when you’re struggling to make the time to practice in the first place, let alone working on the stuff
that makes your brain hurt. Haven’t you already expended enough willpower to be there in the first place?

And so we end up in the cycle. We practice at the studio, and we practice choreographies for the recital, but the
other stuff? It tends to fall by the wayside. We get better over time, because we keep going to class and our teachers are awesome, but we know we’re capable of SO much more.

So the question becomes, “How do I figure out what to practice?”

Announcing!free guide from The Bellydance Bundle.

 

Figuring out what to practice: a guide for the modern dancer

Worksheets lead you through finding your dance strengths & challenges and help point the way to a much more effective practice session. It’s time to focus your practice time on what really matters!”

Did I mention it’s free? 

Get it right here: TheBellydanceBundle.com/gift

Why Good Enough really is good enough–and so are you

Inktober 3. Collect

I’ve been reading a lot of novels in the last few weeks, since I discovered OverDrive, which lets me take ebooks out from the library and read them on my phone. I am ridiculously happy reading on my phone, which, as a book person, I never thought would happen. I’ve been binge-reading Ursula Le Guin, Richard Kadry, and Neil Gaiman. It’s been such a pleasure to read beautifully written books!

The other day I read a passage in Gaiman’s book, American Gods that just floored me. Sighing, I thought, “I will never be this good, no matter how long I write.” Oddly, this didn’t depress me–I get such a lift from great work. More oddly, the rejoinder that came right to mind was, “No, but if I put the effort in, I can certainly be good enough.”

It’s funny to think that, isn’t it? “Good enough” is kind of second best. It was was a catch-phrase a friend and I enjoyed over the summer. “I’ll never be as amazing as you,” one of us would sigh. And the other would kindly respond, “Well, if you work reallly hard, someday you might just be good enough.” And then we would laugh our heads off.

Good Enough has a lot going for it. 

When I had to make a lot of repairs to my house so my insurance wouldn’t get cancelled, we worked like dogs–but as the hour of the inspection approached, I realized we would never be finished in time. I almost just gave up. Then I thought, well, it won’t be done–but maybe it will be good enough to succeed anyway. And it was. So many times this has happened. It’s not perfect. But it does what it needs to do. It’s enough. And that’s good. And next time it will be better.

It’s like this with the book too–which is so close to done, it’s scary. What if it’s not good enough? But it will be. It won’t be perfect. Nothing is. It won’t please everyone. Nothing does. I’m sure it could be better. Everything can. But it will be good enough.

We are so hobbled by the notion that if we can’t be the BEST we might as well stay home.

That anything less than perfection is failure. Every artist struggles to reconcile the image of what they wanted to create with the reality in front of them. Even Neil Gaiman finds a typo in every book he publishes, yet American Gods still won every award in sight and is being made into a TV show. I don’t have to win every award, nice as that would be. I just want to make work that satisfies me and that readers buy and enjoy.

It’s the same with dance.

You put in the effort, and you get better. But there will be mistakes, errors, disasters. That’s how you know you are learning. After a while, you have fewer, but each time you put yourself in the position of being a novice again, you go back to that awkward place of beginner-dom. but there is nothing better for us than to be thrown periodically back into that place. Real learning is a difficult, messy, uncomfy process. But that;s how we increase our intelligence and gain new skills. By putting ourselves outside of our own comfort zones, taking risks, and–failing.

It’s not the failing that’s important–well, it is.

Failing means that we tried to do something new and difficult. We put ourselves out there. We went for it. But there is more to it than simply falling on our faces. There is the getting back up again. There is the continuing. The keeping going. Persistence. Perseverance. That is what makes a difference. So many of us have had dreadful setbacks–but we continue on. Not everyone gets to do that. Some of us are unable to go on. Those of us who can have something for which to be deeply grateful.

I will never be Neil Gaiman.

Or Bill Watterston, who created Calvin and Hobbes. Or Elena Lentini, queen of our dance (and that one does sting). Here she is, thanks to Tarifa Salem (Bobby Farrah’s niece): https://youtu.be/regqBiXdLrc

But I can be me.

And I can be a pretty darn good version of me. Maybe not the Me I see shining in my mind’s eye–the Platonic Ideal of me. I’m just too damn tired for now. But I can keep going. I can keep learning. I can keep challenging myself. I’ll fail. But I’ll also succeed.

We spend so much energy bemoaning our failures and not nearly enough appreciating our strength, good fortune, success, and persistence. Let’s cut ourselves a little slack. Let’s be grateful that we are all here, together, and that we can dance.

Let’s try liking ourselves. 

I like you. You like me. Why not like ourselves?

Love,

Alia

 

PS I’ll be teaming up with Rosa Noreen and Nadira Jamal for another Compassionate Critique Salon. We will celebrate each dancer’s strengths as well as some suggestions for growth. Get some feedback for yourself or watch and learn. It all happens on November 15th.  http://www.bellydancegeek.com/compassionate-critique-salon/

Thank you all so much for the Compassionate Critique event! I appreciate your discerning eyes on my dance, especially I have had no outside critique in over 12 years. I have just been bumbling along on my own, doing my best to apply what I learn as I can. I also took copious notes on everyone else’s critiques too because, as it was pointed out, there is so much to learned from other people’s critiques.
All 3 of you were great at articulating what I see in dancers but can’t always explain. So it was also very useful to me as far as being able to give better critiques as a teacher. I also really appreciated the different perspectives that each of you brought to this salon.
Thanks again for offering it. I hope you will do it again.

 

PPS more upcoming events: 

November 1-31,
National Novel Writing Month
Write a 50K word novel in 30 days.
http://nanowrimo.org

 

Saturday, November 19 at 7:30 PM
Gina’s 12th Annual Belly Dance Showcase
“They Called us Gypsies” in Lebanon, NH
http://ginadances.com/events-page

 

Wednesday, November 23-30:
Sausan’s Raqs Al-Masriya,  Internet Choreography and Belly Dance Challenge
www.raqsalmasriya.com
Everyone makes a dance to the same piece of music (available on the site) and posts it online. Register with the Challenge to display your video with the others and let the open web view and Like favorite videos.

 

Friday and Sunday, December 2 + 4
Tarifa Salem (Bobby Farrah’s niece and protege), teaching in Danbury CT. 
http://riskallah.com/tarifasalem.html

 

August 4th, 5th, & 6th 2017:
Raq-On Strong: VT Festival featuring Leila Farid, Sahra Saeeda, and Tamalyn Dallal
(registration and payment plans now open).  https://www.facebook.com/events/1701852790031831/

 

And just in case you missed them…
Great Books, recently or nearly published. 

Erotica, Love and Humor in Arabia
Spicy Stories from The Book of Songs by al-Isfahani
Abu al-Faraj al-Isfahani. Translated and Edited by George Dimitri Sawa (georgedimitrisawa.com). Spicy!  http://www.mcfarlandbooks.com/book-2.php?id=978-1-4766-6365-4

Trance Dancing with the Jinn 
The Ancient Art of Contacting Spirits Through Ecstatic Dance By Yasmin Henkesh (sandsoftime.com). She is brilliant. This will be amazing.  http://www.llewellyn.com/product.php?ean=9780738737942

 

 

 

 

How Hidden Dreams find you

It’s October, and that means Inktober has arrived! Inktober means an ink drawing every day for 30 days. I’m doing this (in digital ink so far). You can follow my progress in the album #Inktober #Inktober2016.

There are daily prompts to help you when you feel out of ideas. Today’s prompt is the word “hidden,” hence the title of this piece.

You can hide your dreams–from yourself and the world–but you can’t hide from them. This is my feeling about it. They will find you. They will poke you. They will demand to be seen, recognized, honored. And if you do not, they will clamor until you do. Making art is scary and painful. NOT making art is worse. So consider joining me in the Inktober challenge. You can certainly start now.

Right now. Draw a picture and send me a photo of it!

Here’s my picture for today.

Hidden (Dreams)

PS if you are an artist who belly dances, we have a FB group.  Ask me.

I find that my creative work tends to get short shrift. Somehow everything else gets a higher priority. But the creative stuff is the most rewarding, and it takes way less time than every other dang thing in my life including things I have put off successfully for years. It took a long time for me to realize this and I realize it over and over again as I let things drift.

The best way for me to manage this, I have found, is to simply Put Art First. That means that no matter how much other crap is overloading my plate (and there is plenty), the first part of my day is for creative work. And I get up extra early to do it, like 6am, sometimes earlier. I don’t dance. I need quiet that early in the morning.

I mostly write at this time. I don’t check email or FB or anything else. Just maybe make some coffee and toast and go to work. Once I get going, I tend to keep going. It’s getting going that is the challenge. Lots of times I go to work before the coffee and toast, and use that as a break. When I finish, I put on dance music.

This pattern feeds me. I wish I did it every day. I did for most of the last year, but it slid over the summer. Now I am getting back into it. Inktober is helping. National Novel Writing Month is coming soon, too!

What helps you? Post here or email me. 

Love,

Alia

 

Cool things you might like! 

Now: Inktober
http://mrjakeparker.com/inktober

 

Saturday, Oct 15th, 7-10pm EDT
Raq-On Community Dance Day Hafla @ the Hotel Coolidge. $15 in advance, $20 at the door
Phaedra of Boston is the featured dancer.
https://www.facebook.com/events/283738358649476/

 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016 at 8pm Eastern Time
The Compassionate Critique Salon
Join Alia Thabit, Rosa Noreen and Nadira Jamal for an evening of kind, actionable dance critique.
http://www.bellydancegeek.com/compassionate-critique-salon/

 

November 1-31,
National Novel Writing Month
Write a 50K word novel in 30 days.
http://nanowrimo.org

 

Wednesday, November 23-30:
Sausan’s Raqs Al-Masriya,  Internet Choreography and Belly Dance Challenge
www.raqsalmasriya.com
Everyone makes a dance to the same piece of music (available on the site) and posts it online. Register with the Challenge to display your video with the others and let the open web view and Like favorite videos.

 

Friday and Sunday, December 2 + 4
Tarifa Salem (Bobby Farrah’s niece and protege), teaching in Danbury CT. 
http://riskallah.com/tarifasalem.html

 

August 4th, 5th, & 6th 2017:
Raq-On Strong: VT Festival featuring Leila Farid, Sahra Saeeda, and Tamalyn Dallal
(registration and payment plans now open).  https://www.facebook.com/events/1701852790031831/

And just in case you missed them…
Great Books, recently or nearly published. 

I’m currently enjoying
Create or Hate
by Dan Norris (and at this moment, it is free)  http://buff.ly/2dqPIaC

Erotica, Love and Humor in Arabia
Spicy Stories from The Book of Songs by al-Isfahani
Abu al-Faraj al-Isfahani. Translated and Edited by George Dimitri Sawa (georgedimitrisawa.com). Spicy!  http://www.mcfarlandbooks.com/book-2.php?id=978-1-4766-6365-4

Trance Dancing with the Jinn 
The Ancient Art of Contacting Spirits Through Ecstatic Dance By Yasmin Henkesh (sandsoftime.com). She is brilliant. This will be amazing.  http://www.llewellyn.com/product.php?ean=9780738737942

THE FIVE ELEMENTS based on the world’s oldest personality system by Dondi Dahlin, a belly dance super star! (http://www.dondidahlin.com)
http://www.powells.com/book/the-five-elements-9780399176296/62-0  After you pre-order, you can head over to www.LearnTheFiveElements.comand pick up three bonuses. All bonuses disappear October 1.

Thanks for looking!

 

 

Time, the final frontier (or, my summer vacation)

No TimeChristopher Columbus believed the world was round. He was determined to show that he could get to the East–by sailing West. Finding a water route to Asia was important because spices were incredibly valuable, so Queen Isabella gave him permission (and money) to find it. Columbus was right about the roundness, but wrong about the route. Instead, he famously found the New World, America. He proceeded to destroy its inhabitants, but that’s another story. My summer has been like Columbus’ journey, minus the boats, scurvy, etc. I thought I would get a lot a work done by visiting friends.

The visiting has been great, but the work part was a disaster.

I got even less work done than while caring for my Mom, and that is saying something. It’s made me think a lot about time; how I use it, abuse it, and give it away. It’s also made me think about boundaries–and how few I have in the face of other people’s comfort.

For example, I avoid eating a lot of things for a lot of reasons. Some I don’t care for, others don’t agree with me. But if anyone asks me what I don’t eat, I do not list those things. I say that I eat anything. Why? I don’t want to be that picky, annoying buzzkill constantly talking about their picky, annoying diet.

This means I sometimes get served things that I know will damage me, and often I eat them, to be agreeable, because I like the person serving them, or because I am too damn tired or hungry to care.

This is exactly what happens with my time, too.

When visiting, you exist to some degree at the whim of your host. You do what they want to do, because you are a guest. Now, that’s not always true, and my friends would happily let me do whatever I wanted, even if that meant we did not hang out. But I am visiting to see them. I mean, I bought a plane ticket. I could have stayed home and had all the time in the world (I am off Mom duty for the summer). But no.

I somehow naively imagined that my carefully-constructed work habit would continue unabated in the face of visits. That, in fact, I would have more time to work while visiting friends. Ha, ha, and ha.

Not only could I not work most of the time, I did I not work when I could have, and I tried to work when I shouldn’t have. Then, just to add to the confusion, I got the most work done when I thought it would be impossible. What’s really annoying is that if I had stayed home, I would have been too distracted by the other things that need to doing, and just as little would have been accomplished.

The problem is boundaries. How do we keep things in their places?

Do I have a suggestion? No. Honestly, I have been so exhausted that it’s a wonder I have accomplished anything at all for the last three years (and I have accomplished a lot). I am only now realizing this. I kept thinking all I need is time to myself and I will bounce right back. Sorry, no. Bounce is broken. It’s taken two months to begin to feel like doing anything.

Am I making excuses? Kind of, yes. I’ve been out of touch for the last two months. I apologize for the long spaces in between these newsletters. The registration for Focus on the Feeling should have opened a month ago. Pretty much everything dance has fallen off the table. (I have ben working on the book, though. Slowly but surely. That is good.)

But here’s the really important thing.

Well, two.

  1. Taking time off is vital. Make a decision and stick to it. My problem is not my work, it’s the anxiety about how much I work, the nagging feeling of not doing enough. That’s deadly. Think about an undulation. You have to relax the muscles between the contractions. If there is no release, it’s all contraction. And that hurts.
  2. Listen to your inner wisdom. I’m at my brother’s house atm, back to caring for my mom while he and his family have a break. Having had some time off from the boiling water, I can see some changes I need in my life. Focusing on those changes is a goal. It’s nice to have goals. Especially when they entail a brighter future.

If all goes well, I have maybe another month of “summer vacation.” Some of that is designated work time, some is designated play time. In the last 25 years, I have rarely given myself permission to just hang out, to not have an agenda, to not feel guilty about anything. I’m hereby giving myself that permission now. Columbus wishes he had it so good ; )

To kick off the work time, I’ve opened registration for Focus on the Feeling.

So many dancers experience useless feedback: empty, generic praise, or niggling, negative shame. We become so unhappy with our own dance we can’t even watch a video without wanting to die. It’s time for that to end.

Focus on the Feeling uses tried and true critique strategies to

  • Sort out what’s important (and what’s not)
  • Help dancers step back from their own work to view it with fresh eyes
  • Give constructive, useful feedback to other dancers
  • Be honest AND kind
  • Get good feedback for their own work

There are new methods each week, lots of hands-on practice in applying those methods, and instructor feedback on the process. If you never know what to say when someone asks you about their dance, if you hate your own dance, if you can’t get god help, or if you just want to have a better toolkit, this class is for you.

Registration is open now. There are only 25 seats. The price goes up on Wednesday, August 17th and again on Wednesday, Sept 10th. Please take a look right away.

Here’s the link: https://aliathabit.com/dancers/focus-on-the-feeling/

Thank you!

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!