Sunday, February 23, 2014

15 February 2014- Tribal Fusion Beginnings, Discover your Basics workshop by Jasmin Victoria of Junonia Dance Company

Wow, what a busy last two weeks it has been! It was filled not only with plenty of work assignments but also with a plethora of organisational dance duties. I was organising and co-hosting a dance event called Celebrating the Body in Dance (Part II) on 21 February and preparing my material for my folkloric fusion introductory workshop at Temple Lane Rehearsal Studios. The workshop took place yesterday and was an introductory session in a series of folkloric fusion workshops inspired by my study of the Jamila Salimpour format.

I was also gearing up to teaching a Tribal Fusion Beginnings workshop under the title "Discover your Basics" on 15 February 2014.  The workshop was specifically created as part of Yelp's Festival of Firsts and took place in the gorgeous Studio 2 of the Dublin Holistic Centre where I normally teach my regular classes.

I thought it was such a great initiative to introduce modern style and Tribal Fusion belly dance to anyone that may be interested in finding out what it's all about. The offer was valid for any Yelp members that signed up for it in advance and the Yelp members that did attend the class were great sports, really inquisitive, eager to learn new concepts and up for the challenge. I love teaching such a pro-active, curious and eager crowd and it was amazing to see all of the baby belly dancers work their isolations. It was lovely to answer your questions, and participants approached me after class with enquiries and input.

Thanks so much for showing up and making the workshop so memorable. If you are interested in finding out about the experience and impressions of some of the Yelper bellies you can read their reviews on the yelp page. It means the world to me to receive such wonderful, constructive and positive feedback, and I am thrilled to hear that the workshop was as enjoyable to them as it was to me! Thanks to Yelp, the yelp members, and the Dublin Holistic Centre for making this event happen, what an amazing initiative! Definitely cannot wait for more events of this kind. For more information on classes, workshops and dance events please visit my website at and get in touch to jump on the shimmy train with me at

Dance OM J.V.S

Junonia Fairy Pre-Christmas Party- Chancery Lane Theatre 8 December 2013

When I first heard of the Chancery Lane Theatre I was thrilled, and really excited at the prospect of organising dance events like our regular haflas in such a lovely, cosy and inviting place. The Chancery Lane is a fairly recent establishment by Gavin Logue and you can find more info at It has the capacity to accommodate around 50 theatre visitors. It also has a gorgeous, welcoming café in the front area where guests can hang out for coffee, drinks, snacks and chats before shows. The theatre was a great discovery and is conveniently located in the centre of Dublin, really close to Patrick's Cathedral on one end, and to George's Street on the other.

Revisiting all the accomplishments, and the many events and rehearsals of the group throughout 2013, I thought The Chancery Lane could be the perfect place for all the dancers from my classes to get together and celebrate their achievements over the year. We decided to have a Fairy Pre-Christmas gathering in the Chancery Lane on 8 December to end the term/ dance year. It was a perfect occasion to hang out, have a mini souk, some projections and beautiful performances of whoever wanted to dance and who volunteered to contribute their creations.

Junonia Ensemble performed two group pieces, and my gorgeous students Ciara and Dee also staged their first solos, which were absolutely stunning. Everyone did such an amazing job at performing for each other and it was a truly tribal occasion. The souk and swomp shop was a huge success too, and my peacock scarf that I had abandoned for so long finally found a new, adoring owner . I see her wearing it at gigs all the time and she looks gorgeous with it on.

Thanks to Gavin for being so accommodating and for the yummy tea and cakes served.
Here a video link for one of the performances by Junonia Ensemble to Omar Faruk:

We are hoping to have many more class parties and haflas in this gorgeous little venue. All the dancers loved the cosy atmosphere of the place so much, it was truly magical. Indeed, word of mouth has already spread about the Chancery Lane and other Dublin based dancers will host events there in the months to come.

Thanks to Nadia Gativa for taking a few shots on the night, of which I will include a few here!
Stay tuned at for info ref. workshops/classes/haflas etc and

Dance OM! J.V.S

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Suhaila/ Jamila Level I Certification Intensive workshops Brussels, October 24-29, 2013

The month of November has just flown past with all the gigs and gig related trips we had lined up. So many wonderfully unique and greatly inspiring sensory impressions were to be had that frankly, I have not quite had the time to process even half of them yet. The incredibly energetic and sexy Depeche Mode, the ever so powerful The National and otherwordly Sigur Rós all played at the O2 in Dublin and we also travelled to Paris (my very first time in the French capital) to see Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds live at The Zenith. I consider myself so very blessed to be able to see all these incredible bands live and admittedly, even though I often resent my full-time office job it does have its advantages. When my favorite bands release their tour dates and are performing live, I do whole heartedly thank the monthly pay check for covering the gig (and dance/arts) induced expenses. At those times I definitely do not miss my student days when I barely scraped by on a part-time job.

I am not going to describe the individual gigs in great depth here, as this was meant to be a brief write up on my impressions of the Suhaila Salimpour Intensive in Brussels at the end of October.

Suffice to say that Depeche Mode swept me off my feet with their truly unique, dance inspiring live show and their amazingly energetic delivery (Hail to Dave Gahan and Martin Gore in particular). Dave Gahan's precise impeccable spinning technique could possibly teach any aspiring dancer (or any more experienced dancer wanting to perfect their turns) a thing or two and his hip work is simply mind blowing. The National- What can I say! I don't think I could ever get tired of seeing them live (we had only just seen them live at the Parco della Musica in Rome for my birthday a few months ago). I am glad I was introduced to this fabulous Indie Rock band from Brooklyn whose frontman Matt Berninger never ceases to amaze me with his truly authentic stage presence. He delivers his heartfelt lyrics with all his soul and presence every single time they play live.

And Sigur Rós!! My first time seeing them perform live at the O2 in Dublin on the 16 November! I don't even have the words to describe how I felt during the gig. It was magical, dreamy and truly special, their stage art and projections well reflected on and perfectly matched to their tunes. I felt like dancing in Icelandic fairy forestland all throughout the show, and the musicianship of Jónsi and Co is jaw "dro(ol)ppingly" skillful for lack of better words. To wrap the November gig saga up- Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds. What more to say. Dark Lord, Count Dracula, Sandman aka Nick Cave and the incredible Bad Seed musicians managed to create the most magical atmosphere. Nick Cave just floored me with his incredibly strong and powerful presence, and deep sultry voice. telling/singing tales of sadness and sorrow and many more. And Warren Ellis is the best rocker- violinist/ multi-instrumentalist, ever so talented musician ever- Wow! So worth the travel to France. Despite the sleep deprivation and many hiccups on Parisian (not so great) public transport and scammers everywhere, I would do it again every time. This band is worth it for sure!

Now after drooling over the aforementioned musicians who continue to inspire me with their artistry and stage presence, I want to just briefly attempt to recall my experiences and summarise my impressions of the Suhaila Salimpour Intensive in Brussels at the end of October. It was an intense five days spent dancing and training our butts off, topped off with late nights studying Dance History for our Jamila Level I exam. But it was worth every drop of sweat. And I am not lying when I say that we sweated buckets of sweat. Trust me, despite the freezing weather, the sweat pools were comparable to when I was training for the Pro-Track at Tribal Umrah in tropical heat this past July. I think this truly points to the physical intensity of training with Suhaila Salimpour. Whatever your opinion may be on certification programs in general, it's difficult to make an argument to contest the hard work students of the format put in. Suhaila Salimpour really does kick arse, and every time I train with her I extremely grateful that she pushes me beyond my boundaries (in this case, it was hard core cymbal playing that kicked my arse and bruised my fingers big time). It now almost feels like a class reunion every time I participate in workshops with Suhaila, and I just realised it's three years in a row now that I have done workshops in the format. It was great to see some of the Tribal Umrah Pro-Trackers again, and to share a flat (and frantically study) with the lovely Shereen who I first met at a dance event in Brighton a few years ago,

I am grateful for this truly invigorating, physically and mentally intense experience which reinforced my spirits and proved that I am a strong player on both a physical and mental plane. I am also happy that I decided to try out the exam scenario and test in the end. I did both the Level I Suhaila and Jamila exams, and participating in this highly stressful, intense environment has taught me a few personal lessons for sure. I have been studying the format (especially Suhaila material) for quite some time now but nothing could prepare me (or anyone judging from the reactions) for the exam related stress that makes your knees feel like jelly and which makes technique you normally (think you) have down resemble an out of body experience.

I personally found the Jamila exam challenging, maybe not as much in a technical sense as it's not pure technique (as is the Suhaila format) but more so because you have to successfully work in and around a group while still being tested on your individual skills and knowledge. You need to trust and utilise your spatial awareness and accurately follow verbal movement cues with confidence even if at times they may be difficult to make out over the music.

It's so easy to get thrown off by what other dancers are doing around you, or to get derailed, so it's really a great lesson in being present and concentrating fully. The other challenge was of course the cymbal playing. For it being "just" Level I Jamila a lot of skill in terms of cymbal playing mastery is required of the student, and I find left hand dominat cymbal patterns a definite challenge especially when they are sped up. Suhaila proved once again that she wants each one of the participants to perform at their best abilities, and while she was firm in the testing environment, she was very encouraging and supportive as well.

All in all, I am super excited about having had this precious experience, grateful about studying with Suhaila and her lovely assistant teacher Sabriye and to Maëlle for organising this event. It was such a great opportunity for further development which I would recommend to any dancer, whatever their preferred stylisation (be it Tribal Fusion and Modern Style Belly Dance, traditional Raqs Sharqi etc).

Thanks for such a wonderful dance experience, looking forward to seeing you all again, and dancing with you soon!

~Dance OM~ 

Jamila Salimpour Level I workshops

Suhaila Salimpour Level I workshops

Junonia Dance Company Autumn Hafla @ McGrattans on Fitzwilliam Lane, Dublin 2

It's been quite a few weeks/ months since our Junonia Autumn Hafla (6 October 2013) but I have simply been up to my ears with work and dance related travel (Suhaila Salimpour Intensive in Brussels). I truly was unable to set aside time for composing a brief entry highlighting the beautiful hafla experience. The following paragraphs will serve as an extremely concise memory aid to record some of my main thoughts surrounding the event.

The hafla turned out to be super special not only for me but it seems for all the dancers involved, judging from the feedback received. The venue I chose this time worked out a lot better than Sweeney's (which we used for our summer hafla) mainly because the layout is square and so allows for the audience to properly follow and watch performances. From that point of view, it was a major improvement, and we were able to set up chairs for the audience as well as my newly acquired Panasonic in order to record the event. A very exciting little detail for me as I always loved videography and photography. I cannot wait to use my camera more often in the future and to learn more about videography and related editing software and applications.

I felt greatly supported in the preparations leading up to the arrival of our guest dancers that night! All my beautiful core students arrived early and helped with prepping the place. In the end we managed to create a proper audience seating area, a nicely and snugly set up souk (=market place) at the back and we even set up a makeshift changing area to the side of the stage. I got to admit it, it looked somewhat like a coffin but the purple velvet material that the crafty Miss Nell from the Zoryanna brought in came in very handy. It allowed us to conveniently put on make up, and dump our costumes out of everyone's sight. The whole set up was a collective effort, and I was so relieved to get so much support from all the dancers so a huge shout out of thanks to you all, you know who you are! I am especially grateful for my Viking partner in crime to be present at the event and assist with the set up! Thank you very much for coming along to the venue with me way early, for helping me with the sound check, stage set up and the camera! I am infinitely thankful for your help and support all the way through knowing that dance is not your most pressing passion.
It really does make all the difference to have a partner and supportive team back you up.

As mentioned, I got my Panasonic camera as a birthday gift and it came in so very handy. It recorded the performances beautifully and we now have a lovely visual reminder of our beautiful event so check this Youtube channel for the recordings

I am also planning on uploading them to my own Youtube dance channel at some point soon at

In the next few weeks, I will make a concerted effort to revamp the website at and to update blogs and facebook pages for Junonia Dance Company, so please do subscribe to the Youtube Channel/ Twitter and facebook group pages.

All the above media will contain information on hafla and shows in the future, as well as workshops I am organising or attending and any dance/music related type information.

Thanks to all of the dancers who performed at the Junonia Autumn Hafla who made it so very special and thanks to Nadia Gativa for designing a flyer last minute (see below).

~Dance OM~

Above images are by Ricardo Meneghel, photoshop edit by Ana Aninha.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Ailbhe Large- Tik Tok Tribal Fusion Workshop/ Temple Lane Rehearsal Studios/ Saturday 16 November 2013

Post- workshop write-up!

I am just after coming back from Paris where we saw Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds live at The Zenith (19 November 2013).

Nick Cave is one of those rare to find, naturally charismatic and enigmatic stage personas and his performance and powerful presence just blew my mind. Despite his tiny frame, he exudes a quietly strong and serene Dark Lord, Dracula type vibe which is just awe inspiring to say the least. Seeing him perform live was extremely special to me as it made a long cherished dream of mine come true. It did not only inspire me to work towards becoming a better performing artist myself (despite a strong penchant to introversion) but it also made me want to pick up the Sandman Series by Neil Gaiman again. Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds are a definite must watch if you care about high quality music and showmanship. I for one am definitely going to travel to see them at other gigs in the future and very much look forward to being pulled into their storytelling, magic multiverse many more times again!

Coming back home to the daily grind is always hard but I am motivating myself to get through today's office/work day by thinking of inspiring dance workshops in the recent past and workshops scheduled in the weeks to come. I have been fairly busy plotting workshops with fabulous dancers across the UK and Republic of Ireland regions and will be announcing further dates and details soon.

One of the most recent Tribal Fusion workshop experiences that was really nurturing and fun was Ailbhe Large's Tic Toc Tribal Fusion workshop at The Temple Lane Rehearsal Studios last Saturday the 16 November 2013. Ailbhe is the one Dublin dancer that from the very start (aside from my teacher Wendy Marlatt) had me fall head over heels with their performance and natural stage persona skills. She is a wonderful example of a dancer that is perfectly at ease with their body and thoroughly enjoys and masters presenting their art to both smaller and larger audiences. Every time I see her perform live, she skillfully pulls in audience members by actively interacting with them during her performances and by simply being fully present while dancing. It was a precious treat for us that Ailbhe squeezed in a 2 -hour Dublin workshop into her busy schedule and we all agreed that it was super fun and that we want a repeat of it.

I won't go into the details of the drills we did during the workshop (see below for the original workshop description), but suffice to say that we all adored the lovely, intricate and at times slightly wacky (The Walking Dead comes to mind) elements and combinations Ailbhe taught us. Experiences like that are so precious to the Dublin dance community and I hope there will be many more events like this in the future. I will definitely contribute and do my best in organising many of them. Thanks to Ailbhe for taking out time for the Junonia dancers and to all of you for taking part! Special thanks to some of my very new modern style belly dance babies who did a great job of following and studying with Ailbhe!

~Dance OM~


Tik tok tik tok tik tok

Ailbhe Large is back in town! YIP YIP YIP!!:)

In this workshop we will work with timing to break down music then reconstruct it using choice movements.
Playing with timing and isolations, building on them, using layering and different speeds, direction, spins to build an easy but exciting choreography.

Temple Lane Rehearsal Studio/ Curved Street/
Temple Bar- Dublin 2

Start time: 10 30 am- 12 45 pm

Early-bird cash payment: 25 Euro
If paid in cash in Wednesday or Friday Junonia Dance Company classes (before 10 November)

30 Euro thereafter
Contact to secure your spot asap and for booking information.

Don't miss out on a wonderful workshop with the one and only Ailbhe Large who is coming to visit and shimmy with us in Dublin's fair city!! This is a rare and precious occasion to study with a very special, dazzling Irish dancer so be sure to grab your spot TODAY!

Shimmy on
Junonia J.V.S

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Junonia Bellydancemble Summer Hafla @Sweeney's Dame Street, Dublin 1 on 16 June 2013

Another belated entry, but better late than never.

I just wanted to mention that my group, Junonia Dance Company performed at our summer hafla in Sweeney's on 16 June and it was an absolute success. The Junonia dancers worked incredibly hard to rehearse and perform two group choreographies, the first being "Heartbeats" by The Knife, the second being a more traditional piece to "Crush" by Beats Antique featuring Brazz Menazeri.

The weeks leading up to the summer hafla were filled with loads of rehearsals and "overtime", and many discussions on how to create group costumes efficiently. I really enjoyed seeing the dancers grow so much and be so involved and excited about the whole process. It makes my job as a dance teacher and organiser so much easier and much more exciting because I can feel their support and enthusiasm which nurtures me throughout.

While I must say that the choice of venue will have to be a different one next time (It turned out to be far too small and stuffy), I had the impression the hafla turned out really well otherwise. We had a lot of really talented Dublin dancers perform at the event and it was a great start to networking more and will hopefully be a platform of increased collaborative efforts amongst the Dublin (Tribal Fusion and American Tribal Style community) in the future. I really enjoyed organising the event although sometimes juggling all the logistics and retaining a full time employment can be a bit challenging and demands good time management skills. But it all worked out really well, and everyone was so supportive on the night, so a big thanks goes to all my students for being so super amazing, and Nadia Gativa for keeping "my cool" on the night:) You guys just rock and I cannot wait for more haflas to come over the next few months. And a big thanks to all the other performers involved in the event!

Please check out Junonia Dance Company's new group page on facebook at

Image by Eva Ziggiotto

Flyer design by Nadia Gativa

~Dance on~

Greystones Yoga- Weekend Intensive with David Swenson and Shelley Washington May 2013

I meant to post an entry directly after the David Swenson Intensive Ashtanga yoga weekend at the end of May 2013, but clearly that never happened.

Participating in the Intensive Ashtanga yoga weekend with David and his wife Shelley Washington was an incredible privilege and I came out all buzzing and really motivated to take my own Ashtanga practice that bit further. Thanks to Rionach O'Flynn of Greystones Yoga, we were able to study with this seasoned, incredibly insightful and refreshingly funny yogi who has been practicing Ashtanga for the last forty years. It was an inspiring reminder that I am on the right track with my own practice, and that my practice has become so much more than just a way to become and stay physically fit. As a matter of fact, with consistent personal practice, I have managed to transform yoga into a lifestyle over the last few years. I am incredibly grateful to have discovered the practice because without it I would not know what to do, it's my anchor and keeps me sane no matter what is going on in the external world or with people around me.

David and Shelley take such a refreshing approach to teaching yoga, and make it so much fun. In fact, I cannot remember laughing as much in any yoga workshops I have taken in the past.  I loved hearing David's little anecdotes throughout the workshops. While taking Ashtanga yoga seriously and passing it down in the traditional framework as taught by Patthabi Jois, David Swenson still manages to keep a healthy balance between a serious, disciplined practice and a lighthearted approach allowing for human error and inviting playfulness.

Another thing I particularly loved about David's workshops was the fact that it involved a lot of group work which did not only take out the tension and possible anxiety that some anasanas (like headstand, handstand and backbend) may cause in some people but it also gave us really precious knowledge about how to assist other yogis in accomplishing and practising certain poses in a healthy, supported and controlled manner. While I love backbending sequences I am still a little weirded out by the concept of freestanding headstands (this got much better over the last year) and especially handstands. The idea of potentially falling freaks out my adult self and I much prefer having people around to catch me in case I do happen to fall. I know falling won't kill me and David did explain how to fall and roll out of falls safely but I still have not managed to entirely let go of the fear (that simply imagining the potential of falling creates).

The fact that David and Shelley put us in groups to work on and explore handstand helped me enormously as it made me realize how much fun handstands actually are. I love seeing the world from an entirely different perspective, and exploring my balance and strength. Also, it made me acknowledge that I am probably already strong enough to attempt them (gradually) on my own although my rational mind still tends to try and convince me differently. Another aspect I really loved about the weekend was that we were able to discuss yoga philosophy quite a bit too, which was a great way for winding down the weekend.

While I mostly practise yoga on my own, I always appreciate opportunities of connecting with and getting to know fellow yogis/yoginis. The events organised by Greystones Yoga are always such a welcome chance for me to do yoga in a group setting. The David Swenson workshops (much more like the David Williams workshops at Greystones Yoga last year) really allowed me to exchange myself with yoga practitioners and to feel that I am part of a greater movement. Not only did I get a lift of a beautiful massage therapist and met other yoga girls as a result, but I was also able to meet new people assisting and being assisted in the workshops, and I spent two amazing days in Greystones. Greystones is such a beautiful place and the whole weekend was sunny and bright, and I enjoyed vegan food at the Happy Pear. How much better can life get?

Just because I am only posting this entry now, I wanted to also mention that my participation in the Luke Jordan workshops at Samadhi Dublin on 14 July was amazing too. Again, the second workshop (which followed a Led Primary Series class) was about Yoga philosophy and chanting and I will definitely read the Yoga Sutras in depth after this. My next yoga related adventure will be with the wonderful Gillian Mooney who will teach a series of amazing workshops over the coming bank holiday weekend.. I absolutely cannot wait for it! Saturday 3 August will commence with a Tristhana workshop (10-1 pm) followed by the Principles of Backbending (2-4 pm). Sunday 4 August will start with a Led Primary class (10-1 pm) followed by an Inversions workshop (2-4 pm). And Monday will be an Introductory workshop to the Intermediate series (10-1 pm) which I am particularly looking forward to. See for more information.



Photo by Greystones Yoga