Its not too late to put together your plans for improving your belly dance in 2016. Maybe you are going to take another weekly class, or do daily drills in your lunch hour. Perhaps you are going to finally write a chorography to your favorite song, or perform solo at your local event. One of the ways that I believe you can greatly improve your personal development as a dancer is to travel. Yep, a day trip, weekend away, or even a vacation can count as training !
Here are ten ways that a belly dance trip can improve your belly dancing:
"In 2006 I set off on my first real belly dance adventure. I spent a week in New York, took Morocco's intensive training course and had my first taste of America.
Through contacts made during my obsession with the MED list (the belly dancer connection board that grew through the early days of the internet), I invited myself to restaurants where the big name dancers were performing, and to drop in classes with my heroines.
The next year, I took a similar trip to San Francisco. I used google and email to contact a dozen teachers in the area and plan my own intensive made up of classes and private lessons. Some of these people turned out to be upcoming stars, others were the "grandmas" of belly dance - each of them made me feel welcomed, shared their knowledge and love of dance. After taking two or three lessons with Rose Harden, I invited her to visit the UK and hosted her a couple of times over the next few years. I planned my meals around restaurant shows and fell in love with the best city in the world.
The final trip in my Trilogy of American Belly Dance was to The Las Vegas Intensive in 2008. This time I took the whole package, which included hotel, workshops, performances and even some transport. I picked out workshops that covered the gaps in my knowledge, as well as those I knew I would enjoy and loved both the professional and attendee shows.
By 2009 the pound to dollar exchange rate had changed and I no longer had the budget for exciting trips abroad. However, three years of training with some of the top belly dancers in the world had changed my own skills and experiences beyond recognition.
Back in the UK I continued to travel to improve my belly dancing, visiting other cities and weekend events from the Isle of Wight to Leicester. Weekend events like Celebrating Dance and social dance events like Planet Egypt in London.
In 2011 we had the opportunity to move as a family to San Francisco. Since then I have taken every opportunity to perform, teach, watch, learn and write !
This year I will be teaching in Merced, attending Waking Persephone in Seattle and the Las Vegas Intensive. I also plan to tour the UK with Dawn Devine once our new book "Becoming a Belly Dancer: From Student to Stage" is finished. If you would like me to teach in your area, I'm now taking bookings for 2016/2017!"
Check out my previous Blog Posts including : "I'm Perfect for Belly Dance - And so are You !" and "Picking out your Troupe's Costume"
Sara Shrapnell is a belly dance writer, teacher and performer.
She has taught more than 4,000 belly dance classes, both in the UK and US. She now teaches in Pleasanton, Dublin and Livermore in the SF bay area, as well as workshops world wide. Her classes are known for their humor, detailed breakdowns and cultural context. Students who have studied with Sara have gone on to teach and perform in all styles of belly dance and many have made their living through performance or teaching.
Sara’s first book “Teaching Belly Dance” is available on Amazon. Her second "Becoming a Belly Dancer: From Student to Stage", co- written with Dawn Devine, Alisha Westerfeld and Poppy Maya, is available in 2016.
New Years Day ! - the day when the diet adverts start, the offers from the gym come through the post and the wrinkle cream ads fill up Facebook. Isn't it wonderful to be reminded that you are old, fat and unfit !
If there is one thing that belly dance has taught me, it is that I am perfect. I don't want to sound self centered (although I am - and that is fine too), but this is as good as it gets. I woke up this morning, therefore I am perfect for the day ahead. I have food for my family, a roof over their heads, time to laugh and smile - that's perfect. My body may not be your idea of perfect, but as long as it processes food, gets me up the stairs and doesn't hurt, then its perfect to me.
Being body positive is knowing that today is a happy day, which deserves to be shared in photos. Its about loving that pink jumper but buying it in the size that fits today, so you can wear it tomorrow. Its about knowing that some people don't like your body shape/hair color/height/sex, but that millions of other people think you are red hot - and neither group matter as long as you and the person you snuggle are perfect. Its heartbreaking to see people who put their life on pause, until they are perfect. Perfect is here and now, its you and me - it can't be a wish for the future, when today is already here.
I feel sad when students tell me they are too big, too tall, too old, too "not perfect" for belly dance. Its simply not true. Because belly dance works with your body, and not against it, you are perfect for belly dance ! There are no rules, only ideas: when you dance a love song, you don't need arms that open wide, or ankles that can support your weight - you need a heart, you need honesty, you need fearlessness....
A great teacher can help you increase your strength, flexibility and coordination. Some people who take belly dance classes loose weight, some tone up, some get great abs. Everyone gets more confident. Confidence comes from learning how far your body will take you, how it can move to the music, how beautiful you feel and look. Confidence is sexy and sometimes it can be life changing.
Take a moment today to say thank you to your beautiful body for all it does for you. Pamper it with good food, lots of water and rest. Put on some music and move, relax and unknot the tensions of the holiday season. Take a look in the mirror and look at the belly dancer. You are the belly dancer, and you are perfect x
Sara Shrapnell is a belly dance writer, teacher and performer.
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