Shaabi Dance – Salam Alaikoum by Saad (translation)

shaabi3On March 1st LABA held a showcase where I danced a fun Shaabi improvisation. I was surprised how many people came to me after this asking about the style. I even felt guilty for not performing a true Shaabi piece, because the thing that I danced was more Shaabi-inspired improvisation, but maybe not the purest Shaabi dance.

Ok, let me explain it.
What is Shaabi?
Shaabi – is an Egyptian musical genre. It is a form of popular working-class music which evolved from baladi in the second half of the 20th century.
Shaabi literally means ‘music of the people’. It originated in Cairo in the 1970s, as a new form of urban music expressing the difficulties and frustrations of modern Egyptian life. Shaabi lyrics can be both intensely political, and filled with humour and double entendre. (c)

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Introduction to Bellydance class: First performance!

Introduction to Bellydance class: First performance!

I would like to say how PROUD I am of my Introduction to Bellydance class! These dancers came to take their first Bellydance class 8 weeks ago! Only 8 weeks ago!!! And yesterday they were amazing! They were fabulous and brave! This little video shows so much… The dedication that they brought during the 8 weeks period, the determination they had, the commitment to themselves and to each other as a group!

Dancers, you were very beautiful! Your smile, energy and dancing moved me so much… You inspired me! And you showed me again why I love bellydance so much and why this dance has so much power!

P.S. To those of you who have taken this class and haven’t performed: I’m proud of you, too! I know how much energy and love you brought to this class. And your support at the showcase meant the world to the rest of the group. Thank you!!!

Picture credit to Clint Marien

Intro to Bellydance class

Tips for your first Bellydance performance

Tips for your first Bellydance performance

As I told you in my previous post my Introduction to Bellydance class will perform at the LABA Showcase March 1st. These dancers have been bellydancing for just 8 weeks and it will be their first performance ever! This post is for them, for my other students who want to perform and for anybody who are ready to showcase their talent, but need just a few tips to feel ready!

We perform everyday and everywhere. We go to work and perform there (do our job). We get into our cars and perform our driving. We cook dinner at home and perform in front of our families with a meal. To bellydance in front of the audience is one of many other performances we do all the time. So don’t let it scare you! Just be ready for your show and enjoy every second of it. You will be surprised how fast it will be over and once it’s over you know one thing right away – you are addicted to it now and can’t wait for your next show!

Club Bellydance LA 2013

Here are some tips for your performance! What to do days before, the day of the show and of course, on stage.

Days or weeks before your show.

1. Practice.
Practicing – is not necessarily standing in front of the mirror and repeating the steps and combinations. Don’t get me wrong, you DO need to do it. But not ONLY that.
Practicing – is listening to the music of your routine. Just listen to it as many times as you can, find accents, recognize different instruments. Make yourself so familiar with the song, that you know every bit of it!
Watch inspiring youtube videos. Watch your favorite dancers walking on and off stage, watch their grace. Get inspired by their energy or moves.
Dance your routine in you head. It doesn’t matter if it’s a choreography or you plan to improvise. Listen to your music and dance it in your mind.

2. Prepare your look.
Everybody know we need a different hair and makeup when we perform. But it’s wrong to think you will be okay the day of the show. Practice your stage look before! There are many youtube tutorials that teach you how to apply stage makeup. Try to experiment with your makeup couple of times before you know what you like. Just surprise your family and friends with everyday-new-look a week before your show! 🙂 I do that, too. I start practicing my makeup ahead of time by applying variations of it days before.
Get your costume ready. Not it your mind. Try your costume on. Dance in it. See if feels comfortable and if it looks good on you. Think if you want to dance barefoot or have your shoes on. Practice in your shoes! Don’t wear your dance shoes for the first time on the day of the show!
Trust me, the last thing you want to worry about during your show is your costume. Don’t count on putting safety pins all over your body. It’s not safe 🙂

3. Go through your performance day in your mind so you know you are ready for anything!
This is what I do before every important day or show! Right before I go to sleep I imagine my next day in a very small details. I imagine everything – from when and how I’m going to wake up to what I put in my purse before I leave my house.
Go through the moment you arrive the venue until the moment you are done with your show. Here is an example of what I usually have in my mind: “My show is at 7pm, I need to arrive at 6:30pm. I need to get to the venue and park my car. Parking! I need extra 10 minutes for it, so I’ll plan I need to arrive at 6:20pm. I need to leave half an hour before. Traffic! I have to check the traffic, if there is one, I have to leave 45 minutes before. I arrive to the venue. I’m going to my dressing room. First thing I’ll do – find my spot and put my costumes out of my suitcase…” And so on. It seems silly but it helps to lower the level of your stress, because you are READY for everything and nothing will make you panic.


Before you go on stage.

1. Relax.
Stop practicing 🙂 You can still listen to your music and even go over some steps, but don’t make it a priority. You’ve practiced enough. You are ready. Don’t overkill yourself before your show.
Take a nice bath. Do your nails (beautiful nails are important!). Do your hair. Do your makeup.
Wear something comfortable and nice. Wear comfortable shoes, you don’t want to make your feet tired before you even got on stage! Make it a fun and special day for yourself!

2. Don’t be late.
Never. Ever. Know the difference between your call time and show time. Know when you need to be ready. If you are performing with a group, know when is (if there is) your tech rehearsal or bow rehearsal.
Being in time to everywhere you need to be, will make your day easier and less stressful. That means when you get to dance, you are not tired after running around. Don’t be late. Neither because of traffic or parking, nor because of your makeup or inattention. Just don’t be late.

3. Check in with yourself.
Give yourself some time to check in. Do I have my costume ready? Do I have everything on? Do I know where is the entrance and exit of the stage? Do I know who dances before me? What is happening after I’m done?
Check in with your routine. Go over some steps in your mind.
The point is don’t get out of your car, put your costume on and then talk with other dancers up until you need to dance. Give yourself some time to get mentally ready for what is going to happen.
Don’t spend all your time on taking backstage pictures, uploading them to Facebook or Instagram. Don’t talk before your performance. Just give yourself a minute or two to check in.

4. Remember your intentions.
Every time before I step on the stage, I remember my intentions: why do I do that? I do that, because bellydance – is the love of my life and I want to share it with everybody in the Universe! I could have had a bad day, but I always remind myself – there is an audience that came to see me and my job is to deliver. To dance for them.
I can’t stress about my look now or the camera not being ready to record my show. It’s not about it. A moment before your showtime stop and think – what brought you here today? What IS important in YOUR performance?
Sometimes, when I’m very nervous and the crowd doesn’t look very friendly, I imagine my mother sitting in the audience and I know that I will dance for her. She is always happy to see me dancing. And I’m always happy to dance for her. That helps me to find balance. Find what helps you.

5. Warm up!!!
Yes, exactly this thing you try to be late for during your class 🙂 It is so important to prepare not only your mind, but also your body. Even if it’s two-three stretches or a breathing exercise. Warm up.

BDUC 2010

ON stage, your show time!

1. Be present and aware.
Here it is! Here is your time to dance! There is no time for doing the routine one more time or getting stressed because your fake lashes don’l look the way you wanted them to. Or your boyfriend is stuck in traffic and didn’t make it to your show. Or the music is to low. Or what not! The only thing you need to do now is to be present in the moment. Enjoy your showtime! Drink every sip of it. Look at your audience. Have fun. Dance! Nothing else matters.
Be aware of your dance partners. Of your stage. Be aware there might be a kid running to the stage while you perform your cane routine! Just don’t check out and don’t think about anything else, but your dance!

2. Not only your routine matters, but the whole presentation.
Don’t talk during your performance. Don’t talk right before or after behind the curtains.
Don’t run away at the end of your routine! Let your audience applause for you. Let them take this last picture! Pose just for a second longer
Walk off the stage gracefully. Your exiting the stage time is part of your performance. Don’t ruin it. This is the last thing the audience sees about you. Let them remember you right!

3. Be confident. You are in control!
Only YOU know what your routine looks like. Nobody else does. So even if you make a mistake, don’t give it away. Only your face expression can show the audience something went wrong. Nothing else! So stay positive and happy no matter what. Everybody is on the left foot and I’m on the right? Instead of an “oops” face, make it “everything goes according to plan” face! 🙂
If you need to have an “oops” face – it’s ok, too! Just make it theatrical and be fun or even funny about it. Who knows? Maybe there is a part of your routine where you act confused? 🙂

If there is anything you really need to know about your first performance – is to stay positive. Performance time should be a fun experience. There will always be people who are better than you. It doesn’t matter. And conversely, there will always be those who are less than you. Your performance is not about it. It’s about your love for dance and sharing your experience with the audience. And the audience will always love you, if you stay positive and fun.
My teacher used to tell me: technique of the dance – is like your clothes. It’s very important simply because you won’t go anywhere naked, right? But do you judge or love your friends only because of their clothes? No. You love them because of who they are. Your soul and your style – this is what important!


March 1st SHOWCASE!

March 1st SHOWCASE!

Here it is: the first Open House and Showcase 2014 of the Los Angeles Bellydance Academy is around the corner! On Saturday, March 1st you should be there dancing and sharing your love for dance with us.

This time the ONE and ONLY beautiful Jayna will teach a special 2,5 hours SWORD workshop. Yes, you heard read it right – SWORD! This prop is so interesting, because even though everybody has a picture in their minds of a mysterious Bellydancer dancing with a sword, but so few of us actually use this prop in our shows. To tell you the truth, I’m personally a little scared of the sword, but that’s exactly why I was the first one to sign up for this workshop!
Have you seen how graceful and beautiful Jayna is bellydancing with the sword? Here is the link to one of her recent performance. My point is – who else can teach you better than Jayna?! She has been dancing with the sword for a long time and I’m super excited to study from her.
The spaces in this workshops are limited, so make sure you sign up for the workshop as soon as possible! LABA also offers few swords for this WS, so be the first one in line.

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Have you seen LA Bellydance Academy on TV?

Have you seen LA Bellydance Academy on TV?

What a great weekend we just had!
LA Bellydance Academy was invited to perform at the Annual LA Travel and Adventure Show. We were honored to perform and share the stage with many other beautiful artists and troupes.

Don’t be surprised if you’ve seen us on TV on Friday! Because we were LIVE all morning long 🙂

Not only during the morning and not just live! 🙂 Here is the video from local FOX 11 News at noon. Watch here (or click the picture below)!

LA Travel Show

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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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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? 🙂