Art/ Dance Academy

  Keep the Culture in Arabic Dance. Open Borders for ALL Movement!



Posted by [email protected] on October 28, 2020 at 3:10 PM Comments comments (0)



DANCERS: They spend their whole life aiming for perfection. Now, there is no problem with aiming for perfection as it keeps your ideals at a high standard. Will you ever reach that goal? NO! But, it gives you pwer to be be better all the time.

We all want to have, perfect feet, the perfect body etc. But dance like life is a questionable thing. We fully desire to conquer space and time. We want our dance to be perfect. We are humans after all. The unending refinement of our dance ability is through sustained training and exploration. This is where vitality comes in. It provides us with the opportunity to feed our need for discovery and humility.

CLASS: The real goal is to arrive early for class being prepared to learn. Class is a joy. View in your mind the treasure trove of what you learn Savor the intricacies of each movement. Every gesture is is worthy of your attention. Feel you are getting closer to perfection every day.


TEACHING: Even as an instructor you have the responsibility of shaping students. Do this with the mindset that you are still learning about your art.There is no end. Do not hold back what you teach. That is selfish! Put it all out there to make them great. You are growing as you grow them.


PERFORMING:There is no such thing as a perfect performance. It is a living, breathing reality. There is always a movement that could have been executed cleaner. An interaction that could have been richer. If you felt a performance had reached perfection there would be nothing left to strive for. Aiming for perfection gives an ongoing gift of discovery.

AUDIENCE: What does perfect performing mean to your audience.The magic of a live performance is to see dancers striving for perfection. The average viewer is not a dancer and watches in amazement. The dancers at any level do their best. It means more than just entertainment It is inspiration and consolation. Yes, be the best you can be.

Morwenna Assaf = Author, Choreographer & Educator

Walid Assaf = Percussionist, & Educator

Art/Dance Academy, USA 760-715-2276 [email protected]


Posted by [email protected] on September 24, 2020 at 2:15 PM Comments comments (0)


Here it is autumn again! A new season for your dance classes. Here are 6 ways to improve your dance as you get back into the studio, be it in person or online. These are corrections teachers give the most, or should be. They are basic things. Set realistic goals and fix them. Make your dance come alive not matter the level of dancer you are. These seven things will at least get you off on the right foot.

1. USE YOUR EYES: Do not get stuck in the mirror. Utilize the mirror when you need to. The head is the heaviest part of the body, so if you direct your eyes your body position will be corrected. Utilize your eyes when using your arms. This helps relate to what happens when you dance.

2. ENGAGE YOUR CORE: Having a strong core helps you move with more stability and faster. Keep it together. Remember the core in Oriental Dance is the solar plexus area of the body. Other dance forms it can be a little lower in the body.

3. DO NOT CHEAT ON TURN PREPARATIONS: For turns, 1. Losing turnout. 2. Doing a double plie. 3. Swinging arm behind body. Weight should be forward. Plie properly to push down so you can go up.. Make sure your mechanics are correct. Do it slowly, Build good muscle memory.

4. BE POSITIVE: Incorporate positive thinking. Do not judge yourself. Be ok with what you do not know. Be willing to receive information. Do not let one problem you are having with an area affect the entire combination. Allow yourself to make mistakes.. Learn from them. Also, do not be a knw it all. There are always those that know more than you.

5. LIFT YOUR ARCHES: When you lift your arches away from the floor you engage muscles in the back of your legs. Make sure all 10 toes are connected with the floor. This prevents rolling forward and putting pressure on your knees. Make sure your feet are fully engaged. This will help with balance, turns and knee health.

6. APPROACH PLIE AS A MOVEMENT: A plie is an action with resistance. Plies, should support what you are doing both rhythmically and technically. Resist going down. Hold upper body up. Do not sink into hips. Push the floor away as you lift up.

These six steps are a place to start. Certainly not everything you need but a good place to start to make all of your learning easier regardless of the style of dance you are learning.

Morwenna Assaf = Author, Choreographer & Educator

Walid Assaf = Percussionist, & Educator

Art/Dance Academy, USA  


[email protected]


Posted by [email protected] on August 27, 2020 at 6:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Consistency In Thinking

The last area to consider is consistency in thinking. Turning pesky negative thoughts into positive ones only takes a bit of practice. As the teacher, it’s your responsibility to create a positive environment for your students where they don’t feel belittled for their mistakes, but encouraged to learn from them. Remind your students that there is always opportunity to improve and refine their ballet technique and that learning ballet is an ongoing process – it’s not just about ticking the boxes! The beauty of the adult ballet experience is that there is always the next class to practice again.

If you can encourage your students to be consistent through all aspects of their ballet class, they will find fulfillment and success.


Consistency is key for building knowledge and improvement in any activity. Encouraging your adult students to be consistent across all aspects of their classes will set them on the path to success.

Consistency In Effort

Consistency in effort can also be very dependent on the emotions of the day, and life outside the studio heavily influences this. It can be great one week and feel less so the next. It can even swing between the two within a single class. So how do you encourage consistency in effort during class?

Ballet is truly an ‘in the moment’ experience, and when the dancing stops, that moment has passed. Ask your students to approach each enchaînement with renewed effort every time, not allowing what has gone before to color their view. Of course it’s important to hold on to the corrections and instructions that you give them, but if something doesn’t work, it’s important they learn from it, and then let it go. This is one of the most challenging aspects of learning ballet, however encouraging your students to find consistency of effort in every moment that they’re dancing will bring clarity to their movements and thoughts.

Consistency In Thinking

The last area to consider is consistency in thinking. Turning pesky negative thoughts into positive ones only takes a bit of practice. As the teacher, it’s your responsibility to create a positive environment for your students where they don’t feel belittled for their mistakes, but encouraged to learn from them. Remind your students that there is always opportunity to improve and refine their ballet technique and that learning ballet is an ongoing process – it’s not just about ticking the boxes! The beauty of the adult ballet experience is that there is always the next class to practice again.

Boost Your Body Confidence

When you are dancer you are being body scrutinized all the time. It is your instrument. When performing people are looking at your body moving. In an audition you are being checked out. Even in the class room you spend hours looking at yourself in the mirrors. It is constant. Yes, this is all true so you have to be able to develop the confidence in you. Be resilient and accept all the judgment that comes with a dance career.

Here is how you do that. This is a good place to start.

1. Name What You Like About You.

Look at yourself in the mirror. See what you have, not what you do not have. Accept the things you are not good at. But, what are your really good qualities. Work on them. A beautiful line in an arabesque or a fantastic shimmy? Small chest, we can fix that in costuming. Be positive.

2. Filter Feedback.

Take advice from well meaning people with a grain of salt. Filter it. Some of it might be worth keeping. Some not. Be realistic. Be strong about your strong points also know your weak points and work on them

3. Focus On How You Feel.

Try not to feel insecure. Wear what makes you feel comfortable. Always enjoy the movement. Relax, do not try to be perfect.

4. Study Other Body Types Like Yours.

Yes, find a body double. Identify movement qualities you admire in these dancers and try to bring those attributes into your own dancing. See how that person makes up for whatever it might be.

5. Be Grateful for What You Can Do.

Remember all the amazing things you can do. Find balance and perspective wit your body image. Use your best skills and make them better.

6. Do Not Pin Your Hopes On What Others Do.

You are more than just a body. Look for a place where you belong. Draw strength from what is going on outside the dance world.


Look at your whole life, not just your body and pursue the project of being a balanced human being.

Morwenna Assaf, Educator and Choreographer

Arabic Style Dance and Movement

[email protected]

:760-715-2276 Online – In Studio Sessions

Walid Assaf, Rhythm Master & Musical Director




Posted by [email protected] on July 23, 2020 at 6:05 PM Comments comments (0)




Part 2


Here is Part 2 as promised. I hope these articles are of help to you. They are the basis of all great dancing. You need all of them to be a good dncer. Do not leave any out. Be the best you can be. While we are all on this lockdown called COVID-19 spen your time wisely. These are the building blocks of dance.


5. BALANCE: Balance is concerned with more than balancing on one leg. Your aim is to achieve and constantly maintain an inner balance of the whole body. It is tension of mutual support among all parts that brings the whole together in a new way. It is an inner relationship between all the points of your body which you hold in your awareness. It is not something you do once in awhile. It is constant. A sense of balance whether you are moving or standing. In the actual act of balancing, if you can find inner balance , you are nearly there. If you are aware internally the need for the sensation of balance, you should be able to get it. * Remember, balancing in both states is an active state.



Finding rhythm is largely a matter of paying attention. It is something everybody has, though, some people are not as aware or sensitive to it. Our hearts beat to a rhythm, our lungs breathe to another. Rhythm is essential for a dancer. Pay attention! Generally the beat is carried by the drum. Make sure you are right on the beat, not slightly late. All the work going into making a beat has already been completed by the time you hear it. In fact to get it right, you have to anticipate the beat slightly. Feel as if you are making the beat with your body as well as hearing it. Try to be at one with it, rather than dancing to it. It is the rhythm and the beat of the dance that form the "threads" which allow you to memorize the structure of the dance.



You need to be as aware of the space around you as a cat. You have to move with care and awareness, gauging the space. Space is not just empty air but a tangible element that you move through. Consider the space an area you must go through. Consciously go through space. Feel your accomplishment as a journey through space. You will express thoughts and emotions. Actually press your feelings out through your torso and limbs in such a way as to show other people how we are feeling and to satisfy our desire of movement. Our muscles feel better when they are used, and once we get used to moving them, the whole body will respond by working in harmony with itself; to dance.



Breathing is crucial to dance. Not only does it bring oxygen to the body but it also gives your movement fluency and harmony. It is an expressive tool. Calm slow breathing suggests a certain degree of self-control. It denotes a specific quality of movement. Also a movement with breath has a controlled and considered extension of time. A clear beginning and end no matter how fast or slow the phrase. A phrase without breath looks stiff and mechanical. It is important to learn how to do two or three things at the same time. You frequently have to divide your attention while dancing. You must learn to breathe deeply expanding your ribs at the back of the body rather than from the front. This will also give a more emotional, organic look.

Here then are the elements of dance which make up the word TECHNIQUE. This is a dirty word in a lot of circles. This is the sum total of the tools of DANCE.. Makes no difference whether you ar doing improvisation or choreography.







Morwenna Assaf

Walid Assaf

Art/Dance Academy


Cedar Productions




Posted by [email protected] on July 15, 2020 at 2:05 PM Comments comments (0)




Based on works by Robert Cohan "The Dance Workshop"

Part 1

This is a multiple part article to help you while in the doldrums of COVID-19.  Digest these four and next time, the 3rd week in July, we will give you the next four. Hope this gives you something to think about and digest. Here is to a better dance in the down days of 2020.

When you start dancing, it is important to recognize the tools a dancer needs. There are eight (8) elements in dance that are most vital. As you progress your understanding will change as you discover what they mean to your body. The total sum of these elements is what is meant by your body. The total sum of these elements is what is meant by technique.


This is fundamental to your ability to dance well. This is maintaining a sense of your own body center that holds you together as you move. It allows you to move gracefully and freely. This means you have to have the ability to move, to hold, to organize yourself around your own physical body. If you are centered you can eventually learn how to do anything. If you are not centered you may develop beautiful looking arms and legs but never be able to move well. Liken your center to home. If you don’t have a sense of home you will probably get lost every time you go out. Your body needs to be balanced like a see-saw. Position fluctuates between individuals. Center for Middle Eastern Dance is in the solar plexus. Every movement has to go through this center. This is what makes it Orientale or eastern! Your natural base is approximately just below the navel but the movements for this dance form come from the solar plexus or above the naval. Everything emanates from there. Start by feeling how your arms and legs work from the same central point in the back. Moving from your center will make movements easier to control.



This is the force that holds you to the earth. It is a force you have to work with because it constantly inhibits movement. Try to become aware of the pulls in your own body. What points are taking the most weight? When you push on these points can you feel a rise-up from them? You should be holding yourself better. When you dance you want to feel as if someone is pushing you under your buttocks and the base of your spine and directing the energy up hrough your breastbone. It is a two- way stretch.


To achieve this element you need to change your perception of your body, there is often a wide discrepancy between what feels right and what looks right. Dancers work all their dance lives on their posture, also called alignment. It is the key to balance and movement. Your posture not only reveals your feelings but can also reveal feelings in you. Learn how to stand properly. You will actually feel lighter, brighter, and more aware.



The gesture involves using the body as an expressive instrument to communicate feelings and ideas in patterns of movement. With subtle gestures and postural attitudes, we show cooperation, give confidence to friends, or display aggression to enemies. Arms crossed over the chest are a protective wall. Hands-on hips mean "show me", fists on hips is even more challenging. Anger patterns are depicted very differently form joy or sadness. Weight on one hip -waiting. Hands out in front you are ready to give or receive. Raising shoulders is a gesture of not knowing or caring. Shoulders forward express pain. Tapping foot boredom. Observe! Recognize what the body is saying.

A good beginning to dancing. Learn and enjoy it!

by Morwenna Assaf,



Posted by [email protected] on July 1, 2020 at 3:50 PM Comments comments (0)


by Morwenna Assaf, Director

"The basics you need to look and perform your best."

Before you get into performance you need to hone your skills in class and practice. The skills are the same. It is all one working curve. To perform well in any area of your life you need to develop these qualities.

You will use these qualities whether you are cleaning house, performing or whatever. You will look better and feel better. Whether you are a beginner, professional or anywhere in between develop the essentials for having it all. They will help you build a strong, balanced body, which not only looks good but functions better. Think of them as the alphabet. You will never read well if you don’t learn the alphabet first.

These skills will help you acquire all the skills you need in life in the order that you need them. Make them a habit. Do it right!

Balance: The foundation of the qualities. Required for everything you do from walking to performing.

Coordination: This point allows you to have control over your body and makes you less likely to get injured.

Flexibility: Makes you look young and graceful through efficient movement.

Endurance: Allows you to keep going. You cannot live without this.

Speed: This isn’t about moving fast. It is about how fast you move and react. The one thing that will give you an edge.

Strength: Without strength you cannot help yourself or help others. You cannot survive without this point either.

These are the six points of achievement that all need to strive for, especially dancers. To achieve this you need to workout a minimum of 30-minutes 3-4 times per week. Plus extra strength training 2-3 times per week is recommended.

Step 1: Warm -Up—Do a 5-10 minute low intensity total body movement. Breathe deeply from the diaphragm.

Step 2: The Workout—Make sure you work right and left side. Do your moves at three speeds. Vary the moves at these different speeds. Use a slow pace to learn movements. This helps integrate various muscle fibers and increases coordination, balance and power.

Step 3: Cool Down—Stretch all major muscle groups.

Technique is the dancer’s "home base". Technique is the dancer’s main tool for accomplishment. Technique should not work on but through a dancer’s body. Technique arises from the necessity of knowing how to do something. Express through movement both physically and expressively. Sometimes we need more than just plain technique. We need something in dance called "somatics". According to the dictionary this means relating to or affecting the psyche.

How do we do this? Here is just a few key phrases to set you thinking.

Be aware of the subtlety of movement. Movement does not have to be big and bold. Over working leads to injury. Decreased body connectedness can lead to impaired emotional content. Know from where a movement starts, follows through and finishes.

Develop skills of self observation.

Learn how to learn.

Maintain a flexible mind-body map. Be kind to yourself.

Learn a balance of use and rest.

Discuss with others where and how you are. This is what teachers and peers are for.

Build a vocabulary of dance and kinesthetic sensations. Learn how to move mechanically, physically and expressively.

Build a support system - if not with others, with yourself.

Have fun. Play with the dance.

Just keep dancing.

Hope this gives you something to ponder for the next month or so. Dance is the one field where there is always something new to research and learn.

Sawt Al-Wadi

Posted by [email protected] on February 27, 2020 at 5:20 PM Comments comments (0)


Sawt al-Wadi

Posted on February 27, 2020 by Tales1001 Edit


SAWT AL-WADI = Voice from the Valley


Another momentous occasion at the Rose Center in Morristown, TN. The one spot you can find culture in Eastern TN outside of the little in Knoxville. The Rose Center presented am Arabic musical group. They were from UT. (University of TN). The concert was one of a kind. It just happens to be led by someone we had met before several times at UT functions. This is the incomparable Lillie Gordon a former professor at UT.


I remember her telling me a few years ago that she wanted to start a musical group of Arabic musicians. By this, I mean that all the music performed would be from the Middle Eastern/Arabic countries. Well, she has done exactly that! What a feat! Most of the musicians were Americans. They were trained well. The singers were amazing. Notably, the three women, who had very different voices. All excellent with true Arabic sound and feel. No


We invited some friends to be exposed to the real thing. There were six of us. I was afraid we might be the only ones in the room. The auditorium was filled. Out of curiosity, I believe! Most people in this area have no idea about the people or culture of the Middle East. Let alone the musical history. What is this Arab music? Aren’t they all terrorists? The room was filled and set up with tables. We had a center table reserved for us. We were obviously the only table with inside knowledge of the music and the traits of the people. There were several tables that came in from the Appalachian


Lillie made everyone feel welcome by explaining the instruments, and the type of music being played, the maqams and which country each piece came from. Everyone felt comfortable and understood. Lillie herself, besides singing, also played the violin and the oud. She also did all the announcing and explaining. She introduced each member. It was a spot of Middle Eastern graciousness. It was like being in a Middle Eastern home. Wonderful! The variety of of different areas was amazing.


Walid and I knew most of the music. Made me realize how much I miss the community and hearing the music live. It was like coming home for us. Even I, could sing along and I do not speak Arabic. It brought tears to my eyes. Thought of the days in Boston when we were out every day engulfed in this wonderful life of music and dance. Gone are the days of that Arabic connection that is so rich and tasteful. Even the big names in the ME do not get to come to America these days.


What a wonderful evening. It was exhilarating and amazing. I thank Lillie Gordon for her excellence in training these people. The male singer we enjoyed the most was Lebanese. He is a student getting his MD at UT. His name was Karim. Then there was Sumer a Palestinian girl with an amazing voice. Of course, then there was Lillie who was amazing. She played the oud, violin and sang. What an amazing treat. The music covered the areas of Egypt, Syria, Turkey, Sephardic Jewish, Iranian and Lebanese. A great blend of new and old from the areas.


I certainly hope that they will be back in our area. This corner of the world needs to feel the presence of people from other areas of the world. Or, even other areas of North America. It educates so people understand all people are human. Not to be afraid of people who think or play music a little differently Brings us all together as one family of humanity.


Until the next concert, we will support The Rose Center and the musicians and artists who frequent the center. It is a little piece of heaven for us in this place we call home after traveling the world. We have settled here and but so enjoy the culture of others.


Morwenna & Walid Assaf

[email protected]

760-715-2276 or 760-715-2220

Next concert at The Rose Center will be Fri, February 28th 7pm. Free and open to the public. Help us support the artists.

Share this:


Press ThisTwitterFacebookPinterestPrintEmail




The Rose Center "Author"


Little Christmas in Eastern TN "Educator"


So Many Drums, So Little Time "Arabic Dance"

Categories: Arabic Music, Author, Dance, Educator, Egyptian Dance, Events, Music & Rhythm, Orientale Dance and Folklore, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Post navigation

← Older post

Leave a Reply


How Does Appreciation Become Appropriation

Posted by [email protected] on December 8, 2019 at 2:05 PM Comments comments (0)


How Does Appreciation Become Appropriation

Posted on December 8, 2019 by Tales1001 Edit


After being in the business of Arabic Dance styles for over 45 years this business of appropriation has become a huge subject. It puzzles me. When I started it was not even suggested. I lived in a primarily Lebanese community and danced in every club in the Boston/Rhode Island/New Hampshire area. They were clubs where the Middle Eastern people attended any night of the week. I was never accused by the natives of Lebanon as appropriating their culture. They helped me in every way. Even after moving away across country in 1996 we are still friends. I am British by birth and my husband is Lebanese and a percussionist. I believe that no one of our era in the area ever got accused of this. Today it is everywhere by native dancers and non-native dancers. In those days we were a community. We were all one.

Onstage Beirut LebanonYes, I still have friends who are of the culture who are dancers. We all respected each other. So, now I have delved into this subject I will try to unravel it. Let us start with hip hop. This dance form has made global impact and a voice for so many around the world. Yes, sometimes it is used in ways the culture does not benefit from it. This includes marketing, including products, music, videos, classes to sell an attitude. It has become an energy that has been stripped of its history and significance. It is sprinkled in everything including Broadway shows to fashion and even spices. Sound familiar?

People think all they have to do is have certain steps, wear certain costumes, dance to certain music and that makes it a cultural dance. Donning toe shoes, and a tutu and dancing to Swan Lake music does not make one a ballet dancer. This is a disconnect from the origins of the culture and the people who created the style. This is problematic.

This shallow aesthetic of borrowing and disconnect is “cultural appropriation”. It has a long history in dance. Ballets like L Bayadere, Le Cosaire, tap in vaudeville. Even Ruth St Denis who found inspiration in Egyptian and Indian cultures. Cultural appropriation is taking the external trappings of cultural traditions and using them for decorations on your own history without developing mutually supporting relationships in the community that you are taking from.


It is not a matter of ethnic dances as all dance forms are an ethnic dance form. This includes ballet, modern and jazz. What matters is the power of dynamics. It should not be from a position of privilege to just borrow from a marginalized community. That is imperialism! One has to enter a cultural identity in a respectful way.


There has been a history of America appropriating cultural forms of dance and then enacting cultural imperialism. One has to study not only the movement but the culture around the movement and to build relationships in that culture. Even if you cannot move abroad, visiting a dance country’s roots is important. Go and experience the country and learn from different teachers so you understand what the culture is all about. Gain first hand exposure to the culture. Have continuous recognition of the dance forms pioneers and the teachers that have guided you. Always give recognition to to where dances come from and where you learned it.


Crediting teachers and trail blazers on social media, in program notes, and in interviews is a way of acknowledging a lineage of the culture and gratitude and humility. This is often a step people miss and it leads to conflict that is not intended. But immersion and recognition is not always enough. Often it is the entertainment business, cultural institutions, and private dance studios that do not uphold high enough standards for incoming and upcoming dancers.

Study with teachers who know the culture and the dance. Study with those willing to share the culture and the knowledge. Not just the pretty young girl at the local club. What is her history? Just taking a few classes or being born into it is not enough. One has to understand dance, the culture, the costuming, the mannerisms and the music.


I hope this article helps in some way. When I started we were committed to all of the above. We know we had to keep on learning and striving. This has to be a way of life. Not just a fun excursion. We are missing a big piece of the equation if we do not have better intent. Think about what you are creating and the audience/students you wish to attract.


ROOTS: The story line has to change. When on stage we have to get rid of the stereotypical style of a exotic body .

Ancient Phoenician Dancers


CHANGE OF NARRATIVE: Encourage productive discussions for everyone including instructors, staff and students.


TRUST THE NEXT GENERATION: Let new dancers have an enhanced vocabulary. The training and teaching of dancers is not the same as what we brought with us when we came as immigrants. We are all valued.


I am appalled at the lack of knowledge that the average student get from their instructors. This is a complex business. We need to know the culture the dance and more. We have let people with no background in any of these areas. A few lessons with a teacher who knows no more than they do. Workshops are not studying. This is exposure to something. This is wrong. We need to raise the barre and keep it high or this beloved dance form will die away.

Morwenna Assaf has run Art/Dance Academy for almost 40 years. She is married to Walid Assaf one of the finest percussionists in the USA. She studied in NYC for 20 years under the tutelage of Ibrahim “Bobby” Farrah. She has taught internationally in Canada, Mexico and Lebanon plus across the USA. C

Contact information = [email protected]

Morwenna Assaf = 760-715-2276 Walid Assaf = 760-715-2220

Art/Dance Academy = 865-375-0446


De Stress - Get Out of the Gloom

Posted by [email protected] on November 7, 2019 at 1:40 PM Comments comments (0)


Along with all the rewards of a dancing career comes numerous sources of stress. Those of us who have been in this business for a long time understand and realize it is just part of the game. I think dancers have this idea that everything has to be perfect. This is unreasonable thinking. We all have moments of being over loaded but when it becomes a day in and day out situation, it is a problem.







Yes, the occasional stress point will come up. Will I get the job? How will I make ends meet. Praying people will show up for a rehearsal. Praying the show will go well. But, long term problems like not enough money to survive, being injured, can and will contribute to chronic stress. This is turn can be a really dangerous situation. Health problems ranging from depression and heart problems to prolonged injury recovery. So, how will we handle this?







  1. Meditation: Focus on your breathing. Be non-judgmental about your thoughts and feelings.. Accept all! This takes a lot of practice but can be so beneficial. Take a deep breath!
  2. Cognitive Behavior Skills: Make sure you recognize distorted or harmful thoughts. Stop it in its tracks.
  3. Connect With Others: Reach out to others. Socializing has a habit of setting things straight.
  4. Do Non-Dance Activities: Go to a play , concert, take a free class. Sample something new. Give yourself a new interest.
  5. Express Yourself: Keep a journal, write stories or poetry, play misic, draw, paint sculpt. You might have another hidden talent.
  6. Take Time Out for You: Have a special time for you, be it a soak in a hot tub, a special breakfast, lunch or supper. Playing your favorite music. Reading or taking a nap. You are special. Celebrate it!
  7. Reflect on Your Priorities: What would you like to do? Think it over!
  8. Practice Saying "No": Have healthy boundaries. Realize you need to take care of you not the whole world. Do what you can do without getting overwhelmed.
  9. Remind Yourself Why You Dance: You started out just loving dancing. Then, you became a professional and a whole lot of other things came into the picture. Responsibility and having to be good. Plus not letting people down. Refresh on those early days.
  10. Reach Out For Help: If the above does not make you realize that it is dance and you should be loving it and you cannot manage effectively then search out a therapist to help you.




Dance has been with us forever. Orientalist view of the Oriental Dance.




My favorite saying is "It is not brain surgery". Relax! We are only hear for a short while. Do not get bogged down.

[email protected]




Morwenna & Walid Assaf
760-715-2276 or 865-375-0446




Morwenna Assaf






Winging It - Improvisation

Posted by [email protected] on October 18, 2019 at 12:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Winging It - Improvisation

Middle Eastern dance styles are made up of both choreography and improvisation. Theater dance and group are done with choreography. Restaurant and night club dance, commonly called belly dance in America but is really Oriental Dance or Danse Orientale in the rest of the world is done by improvisation. Winging it is actually a misnomer. It is planned! Why improvisation when in this situation? Mainly because you as a performer are working with musicians. This is the ultimate in performing for this style. Today many clubs have closed as owners do not want to pay musicians and dancers. This is a travesty and harming our business. But, if you are lucky enough to live in an area where live music is available or you get the opportunity to work with musicians, take it. It is so worth it.

After being in Los Angeles and seeing a theater performance with live music where 9 out of 10 dancers just did not know what they were doing. All dancers were excellent, not just students. After analyzing and talking with musicians around the country, I realized it is because most dancers do not have the opportunity to dance with live music. Everyone, choreographs and then cannot deviate. This was sad to see. It is a test for individual artistry , a test of decision making skills in a high pressure environment. Improvisation is rooted in spontaneity but needs to be fine tuned to make it ready for the stage.

Most dancers have spent years perfecting their technique and learning how to execute the choreography with exact detail as to the instructors demands. Improvisation, on the other hand encourages free thinking and artistry. It adds a bigger picture of of elements. Dancers have to think how the audience will perceive the art and the dancers have to shape the piece in the moment. The challenge of improv is different for each dancer. Shy people will be timid. Technical dancers will fall back on their generic favorite steps. Outgoing dancers may try to overpower the music.


You really have to check your ego at the door. One needs to feel the people around them while still working with the music. You need to know how to improv in a high in a high pressure environment. You have to put yourself inside your dance. You need to make the audience forget and not realize it is improv.



A huge part of improvisation is connecting with the music From entrance to finale connect with the music. Use movements that are unique to you or are your favorites. Be individual! Do not just string steps together. Be an authentic dancer from inside you. Make sure you include build a movement with intensity or structure. It is no just a free for all. Not every time you dance will be wonderful. Practice performing depends on trial and error.


1. Have a beginning: Plan your entrance. Not choreograph but planning where you are going to be where you need to be to start the dance.

2. Think of what makes a dance successful: Use the whole stage and vary the heights- on the ground to the space above the head. Have texture in your dance.

3. Set goals for the dance: It is always a good idea to come into the dance space for specific tasks. Do not move for movement's sake. Have a purpose. Include slow and rhythmic moves. Have a loose checklist. Cover the ground in all aspects.

4. Less is more: Sometimes you are part of the dance by not moving by just being in the space and standing there. Let the energy guide you.

5. Work with musicians: Ask for music you are familiar with. If you are polite with the leader and the guys, they will help you. Also, know your instrumentation as this will tell you what type of moves to use.

6. Stage your dance: No, you do not choreograph each step but you plan where you are going at different points. First plan your entrance. Plan your drum solo. Then plan your finale. The rest will come to you.Do not let an opportunity pass to not dance this way. It is the ultimate for this type of dance.


Morwenna Assaf- Director of Art/Dance Academy [email protected] of Tales 1001 [email protected]

Walid Assaf – Director of Cedar Productions [email protected]


Morwenna Assaf- Director of Art/Dance Academy [email protected]

Author of Tales 1001 [email protected]

Walid Assaf – Director of Cedar Productions [email protected]