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