Introduction to Bellydance

Introduction to Bellydance

I love love love blank notepads! They make me excited and inspired. I start a new notepad every couple of months, because it’s a sort of meditation for me – to re-fresh, to re-start. Need I say how much I love the first days of a New Year with its resolutions and motivation?! 🙂 This year the New Year’s Day was combined with a New Moon, so you can only imagine how far I can take it!

Have you ever noticed how many people go to the gym on Mondays? It’s all about this promise you give to yourself – to start a new life on Mondays, New Year, etc… Only few of these promises survive 🙂 That’s why my favorite class, Introduction to Bellydance, falls on Monday! You can start your new life every Monday!

Introduction to Bellydance is my favorite class because of so many reasons. Besides the fact that it keeps me focused on my technique and lets me drill moves over and over (there is a Russian saying “Repetition is the mother of learning” 🙂 ), this class allows me to meet new beautiful dancers! New people always make me fall in love in Bellydance again! I see new eyes lighting up, excitement and a little timidity… First Bellydance class is like a first good date, when you just get to know someone but already so excited for the next time. And there is no better feeling than seeing someone dancing in the circle, after 5-8 classes, especially when you, as a teacher, remember how shy your student was on the first date in the first class.

Add one more resolution to your 2014 list – keep promises to yourself! Start doing something you always wanted to, but delayed it and came up with new excuses for why not… If you ever wanted to start Bellydancing, the doors of LABA are always open and I personally will be there to guide you through this process. Come dance with me on Monday nights at 7:15pm. If it’s you first class ever or if you want to go back to basics, you are always welcomed here. If you need more details about this class, please click here.

…As for the new notebook 🙂 I got this wonderful Date book that reminds me: Everything you can imagine is real! And the mantra of January will be: Spread your wings and let the fairy in you fly!

notepad

Happy New Year!

Oh, these days before New Year… When I, like the rest of the world, summarize my past year… I really try not to make any new plans these days, these days are for thinking, learning from your experience, letting go and forgiving yourself for mistakes. The biggest goal of all – not to judge. I’m trying to exclude the thoughts like – “I wish I would do it differently…” or “Too bad I didn’t know it before…” or “Why did I spend my time doing this…” or (one of the worst): “If I would start this or that at the beginning of the last year, can’t image where I would be now…“. Everything is a lesson for a next time. 2014 will be different, with a little more experience than in 2013 (and, of course, less than in 2015!) 🙂

But today I wanted to write about something else. I actually wanted to share my memories about the New Year celebrations from my childhood. It’s interesting how crazy it gets before Christmas here in US and how everything slowly goes back to its rhythm after December 25th. In Moldova everything begins around this time! I was born and spend my childhood in one of the post Soviet Union countries where the biggest and greatest celebrations were on New Year’s Eve! And we would have the holiday fever before NYE, the same as here people do before Christmas (it would start around December 20th though, not like here right after Halloween 🙂 ).
Everything was about New Year’s Eve! We didn’t call it Christmas Tree, it was a New Year tree… And our Santa would come with presents on December 31st (Christmas is actually happening January 7th, but it wasn’t that big of a deal)… And we used to have big dinners with our families before midnight and go out and celebrate on the streets after 12:00am! We sang songs on the streets, hugged strangers, visited all friends in one night… And literally, literally celebrated a-l-l night long!
The snow would always fall on December 31st and it was magical. There were powerful chimes coming from Kremlin in Moscow (it would be translated on TV) right at midnight when everybody were making a wish and drinking champagne! There is a tradition in post USSR countries – to write your wish on the piece of paper and when the chimes of Kremlin ring, you should burn it and put the ashes in your glass of champagne. If you do it all and drink your glass during the chimes, your wish will come true! How many times I saw my family and friends do it!.. This midnight minute is so magical and powerful, you can see tears in people’s eyes.
It is just the best day ever! And I hardly remember things from my childhood, but I remember the celebrations of New Year very well! You could grew up in different cities and countries (of the post USSR), but we all had the same traditions, food on the table, movies on TV… It made us feel very united. That’s why this night was also so special…
I have a secret dream – one day I’ll celebrate the New Year’s Eve in Moscow, at the red square! I would also do it in New York, but hey, no offense, there is just no place on Earth to celebrate New Year’s better than in Moscow!

Since I’ve started to bellydance, I’m very blessed to perform every New Year. I don’t get to celebrate this childhood holiday as I used to when I was a kid, but thanks to dancing and performing, this night remains very magical for me! No matter what year I had before it, the last night of the year and the first minutes of the upcoming year, I spend dancing! Isn’t it a dream come true?..

Here is a throw back to my first NYE performance – December 31st, 2006! 🙂
New Year's 2006

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4 Elements of Nature: Bellydance

4 Elements of Nature: Bellydance

I was 17 years old when I first found out how Bellydance is connected to Nature and its Elements and since then I saw bellydance in a completely different way! I find it very interesting how dance can be affected by Elements of Nature and how much we can learn about ourselves and about dance through Nature.

Earth, Air, Fire, and Water, these are the elements of nature. Each one has an energy and a spirit of its own. Each has its likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses… And each one of them we can DANCE. Nature helps us to bring more awareness to both – our body and soul.

We were born with a lot of knowledge that we just forgot. Nature is always there to remind you how simple things actually are. And I can’t wait to start teaching a new 8 week dance session “4 Elements of Nature: Bellydance” at the Los Angeles Bellydance Academy. The session will start January 8th, 2014. We’ll dance every Wednesday at 7:15pm. The level will be intermediate. However, you can combine this session with “Introduction to Bellydance” and you won’t feel lost!
Explore your Bellydance world and discover something new in your dance that has been there all along.
***To sign up for the session, please click here.

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In the beginning of 2009, just before I moved to Los Angeles, I created and produced a show in Israel, “The Fifth Element“. I had my beautiful students dancing the elements of nature in the costumes my mother and I developed and made. It was truly an amazing experience and such a beautiful collaboration of so many strong and talented women.

By the end of our session, LABA will be hosting a showcase (March 1st, 2014) and I’m sure we’ll create an unique dance that we can perform with!

Here are some pictures from the show of 2009! I hope you enjoy them and feel inspired! 🙂

water

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Freestyle!

Freestyle!

I finish all the classes that I teach with some freestyle time. I think it’s one of the most (if not the ONLY) important thing during a bellydance class – to dance by yourself, with no instructions or frames, but just dance. Very often I hear the same things from different students – “It’s too hard to dance when people watch me” or “I can’t dance, I don’t know how” or “I’m not that good yet, I’ll dance later”. Despite all these fears, I still encourage my students to freestyle. And I want to share with you my experience and thoughts about it, that might help other beginner dancers to feel more comfortable while free-styling.

Will it be it too cliche if I star from reminding how beautiful you all are? It it so true, we all know it, but nobody can really remember it when it comes to dancing. Don’t compare yourself to other people! I really like what Osho tells us… He is saying that comparison brings inferiority, superiority. When you don’t compare, all inferiority, all superiority, disappears. Then you are, you are simply there. Let’s face it, there is always going to be somebody who is more beautiful, more talented, stronger, more intelligent, or apparently happier than you are. And conversely, there will always be those who are less than you in all these ways. The way to find out who you are is not by comparing yourself with others, but by looking to see whether you are fulfilling your own potential in the best way you know how.
So stop thinking that you are not as good as others. Your dancing is unique and it doesn’t have to do anything with other’s dance experience!

Speaking of experience… You will be surprised to find out that other people don’t even think about you as much as you think they do! I’ve been teaching bellydance for more than 8 years and I know for a fact that people who dance with you in the class, actually think about themselves. We are all concerned about our shapes, styles or even the way we put our make up on the day of the class! So everybody is watching themselves only and everybody is so busy judging or loving themselves, they just don’t see you! Let’s not get into how good or bad this habit is, but focus on our main idea – other students just don’t have time to judge your dancing, simply because they are focused on their own!

That leads me to another point. Dance classes are there to help us understand what we don’t want to do on stage (when I say “stage” I mean everything – from dancing in the theater, restaurant show or in front of our family. All these have a common thing – audience, your audience). There are so many mirrors where you can see your reflection for a reason. You have to try some things first, before bringing them to your performance. But how would you know what not to bring to the stage if you haven’t tried it and saw how it looks? Dance anything you want, allow yourself to be silly, experiment. This is how you decide what you like about your dancing! There will be things you will think: “Thank God I tried this move here and not in front of the audience!” But you have to start improvising and trying things out!

The society taught us that we can’t be free and open minded in a room full of other women. It’s sad, because long time ago bellydance was danced by women and for women. Women were spending most of their time together, while men were hunting or fighting. Women knew how to support each other and fulfill each other with strong positive energy. If we think how great it can be to dance in the circle for other women, give and receive each other’s experience and support each other’s dancing, we can truly enjoy the freestyle time! But you have to be the first one to set up an example that you are not afraid dancing in front of your classmates and show them trust of knowing they won’t judge you…

We forget that dance exists to give us the feelings of freedom, happiness and joy. We try so hard to create a perfect figure eight with our hips that miss the main idea of dancing. Enjoy the music, the ability to move, let yourself be open and free! My teacher always used to joke – you already paid for you class! Why not trying something you wouldn’t do at home? 🙂

About Fusion

About Fusion

To tell you the truth – I’m not a big fan of Fusion. I mean, don’t take me wrong, I can dance fusion sometimes myself, but it’s not my favorite. I think, Fusion is very popular in the US where people like “show bellydance” and are always hungry for new dance “effects”. I do like the fusion of Flamenco and Bellydance (Andalusian), Tahitian with Bellydance, Samba and Bellydance… Maybe anything that’s about hips, circles or big skirts? 😉 I don’t know. But I do think you should be very careful when you start mixing dances.

I personally don’t like when bellydance is fused with something completely opposite. It’s like eating chocolate and pickles together 🙂 Here is my example: when I was young (long time ago!), 18 years old, I think, I had danced bellydance to Scooter’s song “Fire“! I mean, that is wrong! 🙂 Don’t ever do that!
Please, experiment and always try something new, just to see what works for you, but just don’t bellydance to Scooter!

Ok, I’m getting closer to the point with my long introduction! 🙂 My friend and business partner, Stefanya, was teaching a very cute Samba-Bellydance fusion for the past 3 Saturdays (we have Bellydance Choreography class on Saturdays). And it was very fun to dance! Considering how I usually feel about Fusion, this one was very organic. I think it’s the most important ingredient in creating a Fusion piece – organic mixing!
So catch Stefanya in your city or come to LABA to experiment!
And use organic products when creating your next Fusion! Just remember, no bellydancig to Scooter! 😉

Hello, friends: my first post!

Hello, friends: my first post!

I’ve been blogging in Russian for about 10 years! I’ve been changing nicknames, switching platforms, opening my blogs to the public and closing it from everybody, having over 500 followers and switching to a “quiet” place with about 10 followers… I’ve never really had a theme blog, I wrote about everything that was happening in my life…
The other day I was talking with one of my students and she asked me about my experience as a performer – what was my favorite performance, where do I like to perform, what was the most touching performance for me… And as I started to tell her things, I’ve realized how many stories happened in my Bellydancing life! My student told me I should write a book and I just laughed… Well, I don’t think I can write a book or that my stories are that interesting… But I thought I could try a Bellydancer blog (before I write my best-seller book, of course!)?

I would never think I would create a blog in English. English is not my first language, not even my second, neighter third… It’s almost my fourth language! I was born in Moldova and by the age of 2, I spoke two languages – Russian and Romanian. Romanian was my second language and when you watch my childhood VHS tapes, you can’t tell which language I’m speaking better, Russian or Romanian, because I spoke 2 languages on the same level!
When I was 13, my family immigrated to Israel. My whole life changed… I had to learn Hebrew, I started the high school in a totally new country and had to learn the language as quickly as possible, because I had to do all my exams in Hebrew! I haven’t had one person who could speak Romanian with me, so slowly I lost this language (my family doesn’t speak Romanian). So if you ask me today, do I speak Romanian, it’s a disappointment, but no, I don’t speak Romanian (however, I’ve visited Moldova this summer and was surprised how much I actually can understand).

Anyways… Back on track! 🙂 English! I live in the beautiful and maybe a little bit crazy city of Angeles, California. Most of my dancing is happening here in the US and most of my friends are English-speaking dancers. So I thought I’ll give it a try and start an English blog! 🙂
I hope I won’t drop this idea, because not only I can “store” my bellydance stories in one place, but I can also practice English that way! I know I’ll keep writing if I have my friends helping me by commenting my posts and participating in this blog life. So now I would like to ask you for a favor – please follow my blog and be active 🙂 I know, I know… I’m asking too much in this era of Facebook and Instagram. But I’ll still give it a try and hope I can be interesting enough for you to reply to my posts!

That was kinda long introduction, wasn’t? 🙂