Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Celebrating the body in dance 7 August 2011- Present and future

After an eventful last few days in the Northern Vikinglands, and a rather worrying onset of post-bliss/holiday blues, I have decided the only thing to cheer me up at this point is to recall the wonderful event Junonia Bellydancemble organised recently. More info about the Ensemble at

Two weekends ago, on 7 August 2011, Junonia Fusion Bellydancemble hosted their first dance event. The aim was to unite local dancers and musicians in the joy and passion for the arts. The dance event took place in The Church Cellar Bar and hosted performers from many different dance styles, ranging from modern and traditional bellydance, Tribal Fusion to American Tribal Style (ATS), Modern Contemporary Dance and Tango.

Importantly, this event was designed as a platform for dancers and dance enthusiasts to share their love of dance (and music). However, another explicit goal of the night was to foster awareness of the work of Bodywhys, the National Eating disorders association of Ireland. As a voluntary association, the organisation currently works hard to provide support services for around 200,000 individuals affected by eating disorders across the Republic.The incentive to raise awareness (and funds) for Bodywhys was dear to me, and the intersection between dance (and the creation of a positive body image through dance) and the work of Bodywhys.

In addition to offering support services, such as online and phone support for people affected by eating disorders, their families and friends, Bodywhys also organise physical group therapy sessions in Dublin, Carlow and Cavan amongst others. Another crucial campaign, personally, is the Bodywhys "Be body positive" campaign which supports and invites youth across Ireland to help creating a more positive understanding and perception of the body in general. To find out more about the campaign please refer to Bodywhys will profit from any type of support, be it volunteering efforts and your efforts to raise awareness on eating disorders and the importance of being positive about your body, nation-wide.

I really do hope that the event helped to further the cause and promote awareness firstly around the crucial work Bodywhys do, and secondly, crucially, about the central role of dance in the creation of a positive body image. My motto to "dance yourself body positive" certainly correspond to the "be body positive" campaign of Bodywhys, in my mind. I would certainly hope that many more individuals will consider dance as an outlet, a way of catharsis in the future, to chanel emotions constructively via dance rather than destructively via resorting to eating disorders and body dismorphia.

In today's capitalist society, where (artifical consumerist) needs and (flawed) perceptions and standards of how we are meant to behave and look are created on a daily basis, it becomes all the more pivotal to go back to the source. And to listen deeply to the voice within yourself, and trust your instincts and your body, and work with it rather than against it. In my humble opinion, dance is one of the ways to do exactly that. Alongside with painting, it is certainly one of the most powerful means of expression I have ever encountered. Even better, you are not required to purchases tool and gadgets, the "tool", your friend, your body, is right there! Without music and dance, there is no life. Sound and movement is like breathing, and dum spiro, spero.

I am hopeful that Celebrating the body in dance, the first edition of a sequence of events to follow, gave the audience and artists alike a grasp of how powerful (and beautiful) movement really is and how deeply you can tune into (and feel) your body when moving consciously and with respect for your body.

We had some wonderful performers on the night. Junonia Bellydancemble dancers did a wonderful job of presenting three great (and rather different, refreshing) numbers. I am very grateful to have devoted dancers to work with. Also, Laura M.Dunne did a beautiful job at representing the wonderful art of ATS, and The Zoryanna (Tribal Fusion) stunned everyone with their sword number. Then there was Stephanie representing the very origins of Modern Bellydance, presenting a traditional Egyptian piece. to  "Ala Warag Il Foull" by Fatme Serhan. In the song, the singer is asking her lover to bed her on Jasmine-blossoms and pamper her. She tells him "I have nothing, but this bangle on my arm. Let's sell it and you can stay with me." Stephanie did a great job of story-telling, and "selling" of her jewellery to allow her lover to stay with her! In keeping with the belldancers, my friend Nadia Gativa amazed the audience with her solo to a song by Dead can Dance.

Then there was Laurie Schneider, representing Expandance. She involved the audience in inviting them to pick a random number from 1-10 (and therefore a specific song associated) with it, which she would improvise to. Her rendition of the song was heartwarming, and a wonderful example of how touching improvisation (which comes from the heart) can be.

And Kristian and Julian from Tangofiesta took everyone's breath away with their two Tango numbers. Such amazing chemistry, such amazing performers! We were very honoured to have them!

Last but certainly not least, the live drumming enriched the night so much, and I want to thank Andy and Dave Mooney and Thom for playing for us, as well as DJ Yabe Chan for sorting the music on the night and the after-show Balkan beats.

Finally, this event won't be the last. It was a wonderful kick off to a sequence of events and collaborations planned for Junonia Bellydancemble in the future so stay tuned for more info at

Yours in dance,

Here a sample of photos depicting Junonia Bellydancemble. For more photos of the other performers please see

Junonia Bellydancemble performing to "Heartbeats" by The Knife.
Photo courtesy by James O'Farrell at

Junonia Bellydancemble performing to "Heartbeats" by The Knife.
Photo courtesy by James O'Farrell at

Junonia Bellydancemble performing to "Dope Crunk" by Beats Antique.
Photo courtesy by James O'Farrell at

Junonia Bellydancemble performing to Amoon live drumming.
Photo courtesy by James O'Farrell at

Junonia Bellydancemble performing to Amoon live drumming.
Photo courtesy by James O'Farrell at

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Don't stop the dance in Space 54 on 28 August 2011

As one of the dance facilitators of “Don’t stop the dance”, I will be teaching an introductory session to the mesmerizing art of tribal fusion and modern belly dance.
The workshop will familiarise you with some of the basics of modern belly dance. You will learn the pivotal importance of a thorough and safe warm-up before embarking on a dance routine. The session will also allow you to work on some technique and drills, such as hip work (singles/ ¾), vertical hip figure 8s and many more. Muscular isolation drills will make you more aware of the core muscle groups used in modern belly dance. We will then embark on learning a few combos as cornerstones for a refreshing and vibrant modern belly dance choreography to Heartbeats by The Knife. We will repeat those combos amply to give you a chance to internalize the moves, and take some away with you for inspiration.  Finally we will do a gentle cool down to lock the new found knowledge in our bodies.
This session will be greatly beneficial to anyone curious about the art of modern and tribal fusion belly dance. I will not only seek to give you a brief summary on the history of the dance form, but you will also learn some of the basic belly dance core moves. The workshops will allow you to put learned technique into perspective by way of a choreography and promises to be a great workout to boost your energy and enthusiasm.
For more information on my approach to teaching, please check out and follow my belly twitters on!/Jasmiini3.
Also, check out for info on Don't stop the dance workshops!
Looking forward to seeing you on 28 August!


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Belly Twitters

Dear dancers,
I have finally given in to the peeps pressure and set up a Twitter account.
For those of you who have one and are online a lot, it would be a great way to get class updates on the day, and info ref. workshops/ dance events etc, so do please follow me if you would!
Yours in dance,

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Teaching as a measure of self transformation

When I started teaching Modern Belly Dance at the beginning of 2011, I realised it was going to be an enormous task, and entail a huge responsibility which would push (and require) me to continously learn, improve my knowledge and find new ways of making knowledge accessible to students new to the art form.

Eight months on, I still love teaching dance! Teaching provides a refreshing balance to my mundane, extremely busy office job. It makes me feel alive, like dancing in general. So while at times I feel pressurised with the triple demands of work, volunteering for NGOs and dancing, I know that teaching was the right step in my further progress as a dancer. It not only helps me to change, transform, and continuously improve my teaching methods as well as my own dancing, but I sincerely hope that my approach to teaching empowers students and makes them grow as much as I feel I do.

I have so much to learn still, and I am so grateful I have been able and continue to learn from amazing mentors in the field, Wendy Marlatt, Sam Emanuelle, Suhaila Salimpour to name but a few. Incredibly talented, creative, disciplined, yet ever so modest and generous individuals.

In the near future, events like Celebrating the body in dance which is a showcase taking place on
7 August in the Church Bar, Dublin 1 and workshops (see below) keep me on my toes.

Celebrating the body in dance is the first showcase of what is envisaged to become a sequence of dance events to promote collaboration across various dance styles in Dublin. With a multi-disciplinary background in dance, I am hoping that it will bring dancers of different styles together to learn from one another. Also the event is meant to celebrate what the body is able to achieve and create, as our tool, but also, as our friend. The mini showcase thus aims to promote positive body and self awareness. In such a vein, we have selected Bodywhys as the beneficiary of our first event on Sunday. Both my co-organiser and friend Nadia Gativa and I are hoping for a good turn out and for performers and audience to dance the night away. For more infos on the event see!/event.php?eid=188820901182293
and my website

Meanwhile, on a personal front, I am still searching for a vacancy and occupation in my field, and am continously pondering how lovely it would be to just go off to travel for a year, and then enroll in a dance academy full-time. If only I was a millionaire, this would be a done deal already.

Hope to see you all at Celebrating the body in dance this Sunday and future workshops.

Flyer courtesy by Natalie Dwyer, Photo by Nadia Gativa

Modern Fusion Masterclasses in Cork on 20 August from 2- 6 pm!

I am very excited to announce that Hip Circles Bellydance will host me for two Modern Fusion Choreography Master Classes in Cork, Ireland!

Come join me on Saturday the 20th of August at the The Montfort College of Performing Arts at the Thompson House, on McCurtain Street, Cork City Centre.

This class will suit all levels of experience.
Investment: 45eur (4 hour class, a bargain!)

Early-Bird for 40eur if paid by 10 August 2011
For more info please see!/event.php?eid=219168138125478 and contact Graziela Calis at hipcirclesbellydance@gmail​.com for bookings.
Also, visit my website at for more info on weekly classes and workshops.
******** PART ONE: TECHNIQUE SKILLS ********

Warm-up (Strengthening and flexibility exercises, accessing muscles needed for belly dance isolations and warming up to safely execute technique. We will emphasize the necessity to warm up thoroughly by introducing a set of strengthening and flexibility exercises that are easily adaptable to your own practice)

* Fluid arm transitions and mesmerizing arms
* Precise isolations (head, shoulders, chest, pelvis- distinction between hard and soft contractions)
* Walking with reverse belly roll and learning travelling patterns (step cross)
* Travelling steps layering smooth contractions on top
* Turns (spotting technique practice and stylisation)
* Smooth transitions between turns (coming down to floor safely)
* Safe backbend technique
* Introduction of combos to prepare students for Dope Crunk choreo.

This set will teach students how to safely execute selected belly dance technique. An understanding of safe technique will promote the skilful and clear use of a variety of belly dance moves for choreographic purposes. For starters, various concepts, such as precise isolations, fluid undulations and transitions, turns technique and quick (yet, safe) floor transitions as well as back bending technique will be introduced. A thorough understanding of these notions will prepare students for the modern fusion belly dance choreography session to follow. It will give students an opportunity to learn and/or perfect their existing belly dance isolations and moves, asking questions about executing them safely and preserving clarity in movement. It will also provide dancers with vital technical pointers in order to promote muscle control and heighten presentational skills.

(to Dope Crunk by Beats Antique)

* Musical Analysis (mood of the song, emotions invoked/belly dance repertory it inspires)
* Counting and choreographic skills
* Choreographic combo drills (learn them individually and then put them together)
* Drilling choreography in a group set up (groups present it to one another)
* Whole group performing the coreo (taping)

This set will take technical concepts and choreographic combos introduced in the general skills class to the next level, by putting those skills into the context of a 4-minute long choreography to Dope Crunk by Beats Antique, one of the leading bands in the Tribal Fusion world. Study items will include musical analysis and choreographic skills. We will learn the modern belly dance choreography thoroughly by breaking it down into digestible components (combos). Students will thus sharpen their memorising skills by repeating individual combos and then executing them in the correct sequence. We will eventually drill the whole choreography, taking care to respect group synchronicity and then present the finished piece to our fellow dancers. At the end of the second class the whole group will be able to perform the Dope Crunk piece together and have fun with it, putting their own emotional twist on it.

Finally, a gentle cool down will stretch out and soothe the body and the mind after training.
I am really looking forward to this and cannot wait to meet the Cork dancers and dancers from across Ireland to join me for these classes!