Art/ Dance Academy

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


"IDEAL" Weight, Myth NOT Fact!

Posted by [email protected] on December 9, 2020 at 1:25 PM Comments comments (0)

"IDEAL" Weight, Myth NOT Fact!

The number on the scale has nothing to do with dancing. Striving for unrealistic low weight while dancing which builds muscle is unrealistic. Not going to happen. The more you attempt to have low weight will only deter your love for dance. When you engage in strength training activities like dance, your weight will naturally be a little higher. It is impossible to build strength while dancing. Muscle weighs more than fat. The number on the scale has nothing to do with your dancing. Body shape and size are very much apparent in the dance art form. Do not let it dictate you. Be realistic.

When food is used only for achieving weight goals and you will lose the experience of eating delicious food. Body fat regulates hormones which support the brain health, skin elasticity, and bone strength. Despite these realities. Yes, the scale offers a measurable outcome. But, it is unhealthy and not a positive solution. The body is wired to survive famine to protect genetically a predetermined weight. So, what is the correct weight for a dancer? A healthy weight is one that can be maintained without dieting. It fuels performance and allows for ALL foods.

If you are struggling with pressure from a director etc to lose weight, seek help from a qualified source like a registered dietician nutritionist who specializes in working with dancers. They will help you make more balanced choices. Today's demanding choreography requires strength and endurance, both are dependent on a strong body and healthy mind. An under fueled dancer on the other hand is drained physically and mentally and at risk of injury. The number on the scale has no connection with a dancer's talent of drive.

Put It Into Practice

1. Ditch The Mirrors: Try taking a break from constantly assessing yourself in the mirrors in class. Think of the mirrors as a tool to rehearse your relationship with your audience rather than always scrutinizing yourself.

2. Drown Out The Noise: Never mind the comments. No one's opinion is as valuable as your own. You need encouragement, give it to yourself without the chatter on the periphery.

3. Do Not Forget Your Strengths: The best dancers are not acknowledged for how much they weigh.Appreciate what your body brings to the floor.

4. Talk About It: Acknowledge that you need help with your confidence, and that you are not alone when it comes to body insecurities. Normalize healthy conversations about self-image with your peers etc. This can help insecurity from turning into something more harmful. You are not alone.


Morwenna Assaf = Author, Choreographer & Educator

Walid Assaf = Percussionist, & Educator

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




Posted by [email protected] on November 27, 2020 at 1:35 PM Comments comments (0)


The missing ingredient in most dancer's optimal performance is the lack of rest. As many dancers know, repetitive strain on muscles can lead to minor tears in the muscle tissue. If the body does not get a chance to heal, an overuse injury can occur. Rest gives muscles a chance to repair themselves. Most dancers but most dancers do not allow for this in their schedules.

Active relaxation is the tool all dancers need to recover both physically and mentally. Find a way to soften and move with ease is actually calming for our nervous system. Using a set of physical and mental techniques through progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing, visualization, and a combination of all of these can help. These can be done as you ready for bed or just grabbing 10 minutes anytime. This prevents soreness, enhances flexibility, reduces stress and boosts immune system.

1. You Have to Breathe: You cannot dance and just be a chest breather. Breathe into the belly and allow the pelvic floor muscles to relax. Shallow breathing can make you feel out of breath. It can make you anxious and tired.Deep breathing into the diaphragm , gives the lungs a chance expand. Doing this releases he shoulders and enhances freedom of movement. It increases oxygen intake and expels carbon dioxide. This increases energy and reduces fatigue. This helps not only in dance but in everyday life.

Work on a several part breath -

A. Sitting or lying down, breathe into the lower part of your lungs, allow the belly to expand.

B.Continue to inhale into the middle part of the chest. Allow your rib cage to expand sideways.

C. Still inhaling let the air come to the top of the lungs and into the space behind the collar bones. Do not let shoulders lift but avoid forcing them down.

D. Exhale completely by emptying the lower, middle and upper part of lungs. Repeat several times. Then feel the sense of calm.


2. Muscle Relaxation: This is progressive too. Focus on one muscle group at a time. This is a great cool down after class or performance.

A. Find a quiet spot to lay down. Slowly inhale, flexing the feet, straighten the knees while flexing the calves, quads and glutes. Hold for 5 seconds. Exhale slowly and release the muscles, while thinking go of any tension. Notice he feeling of relaxation.

B. Move to the hands, arms and shoulders. Clench the fists, straighten the arms, tensing biceps and forearms. Count to 5, then release. Notice the tensing up of the muscles and then the relaxing.

C. Repeat the muscles with the abdominal muscles, chest and back. Then facial muscles, squinting eyes, wrinkle forehead, clench the jaw, and finally the scalp and neck.

D. Repeat the entire exercise then lie still for several moments sensing the weight of the body.


3. In Your Mind's Eye: Now try visualization. It will help you relax more fully. After doing this exercise a few times, try going to your happy, peaceful place in your mind any time you feel anxious. It can be a grounding, calming experience when you need it most.

A. Close your eyes and picture in your mind a place where you feel relaxed. eg. the beach, or t he woods etc. See yourself walking toward the area and sitting down. Breathe deeply!

B. Engage all of your senses. eg the sun on your face, the fresh air etc.

C. As you inhale imagine a calming energy is entering your body.

As you exhale, let go of any that is bothering you. All is well.

D. If your thoughts wander, return to the scene in your mind, focus on your breath. Do this for s several minutes. On ending this exercise visualize yourself walking away calmly. Open your eyes.


Morwenna Assaf = Author, Choreographer & Educator

Walid Assaf = Percussionist, & Educator

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




Posted by [email protected] on November 13, 2020 at 2:55 PM Comments comments (0)


As s instructors we have to help students to hear, understand and show the music when dancing. What does that all mean? Not all dancers are musically inclined. Some dancers even have trouble keeping or even hearing the beat. They need basic training in the music. Most of us did not grow up with an education in Arabic music and dance so we all have to learn. Without a basic understanding of the music those dancers will never understand the what and why of their dancing. But, they can can develop musicality. There are strategies to help students find the beat, recognize the rhythms, and better reflect their dancing.

Teach them how to count the music and where the accents are. This is a basic understanding. Most Arabic music at a student level is counted in 8s. Learn to recognize what a beledi, masmoudi etc rhythms are. There is only so many rhythms we use to dance. Start at the beginning. Always make sure your movements are centered. Always step on the down beat of 1. Using different music in class will help keep students engaged so they do not zone out.

Bring a drummer in. Let them hear the music live. Live music vibrates differently in the body than recorded music. Canned music is predictable as it is always the same but a live musician helps produce the right response to the muscles. As a beginner it is always the rhythm that students have to hook onto. Have students listen and stamp to the music with one foot or clap. I usually start with just one count like #1.

Always count 5,6,7, 8 before going across the floor. Then they know that is a down beat. I also use straight 4/4 music of different speeds. Then I have them practice a short combination. I never teach just steps after an 6 week Intro class. They need to think in terms of music not steps. Make a combination , then count it. They need to understand where the down beat is and that it is stronger than the other beats. If you do not explain it they do not understand it. Listen to the music, it tells you what to do. Learn how to play the derbecki.

Once all this has settled in, the dancer then needs to move into the melody and instrumentation. The melody gives you the feeling. But the instrumentation tells you which part of the body to move and . One simple step can be done in a hundred different ways to evoke the feeling needed. Finally there is staging. Most club dancers do not think of staging as they just play to the audience. But, any other types of setting you need it.

You need to make patterns on the floor for a reason. Otherwise it all becomes mundane. Choreograph a theater piece and you will see what I mean. There has to be a reason in why you are going where you do. You need advanced training. Not just average training. When you choreograph you have to listen to the music. Do a viral show on camera and then critique it. Or better still have someone else, in the know, do it. You cannot just stare at the camera. That is like dancing for 1.

So get with the program. Do your students and yourself a favor. Learn about Arabic music.

Morwenna Assaf = Author, Choreographer & Educator

Walid Assaf = Percussionist, & Educator

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



Posted by [email protected] on October 15, 2020 at 5:00 PM Comments comments (0)



Some dancers seem to stand out beyond the others. They have it all. They have mastered what is needed to be a great dancer. What is this? How do you get it? No, it does not happen overnight. It is hard work. Getting someone to coach you is so very important. You need someone to guide you. A general studio teacher can give you a head start but is not necessarily the one who can make your rise to the top. Find a dance coach to help you be it in the studio or as so many are doing today find someone virtually. Do not stop your regular classes as they are important. Invest the time and the money into something special which is you. Here are some hints to help you until you find that special person

Dance Outside Your Comfort Zone: If you love Orientale, fine! Now work on Folklore. Folklore is people. There are so many different styles. You might find you like it. It will had depth and distinction to your dance. Pick dances you find difficult. Learn how to be comfortable there so you can express what the dances mean and be part of that tribe.

Push for Tougher Choreography: Work on dance that is above your level. Work on those extra turns etc. That is what class is all about. Work beyond your comfort zone. Yes, you have to be comfortable when performing. But, in class and practice, if you do not extend yourself you will never grow.

Analyze Every Step: Not only steps but every single movement you make, in every way, shape or form. Make sure you are using the right muscles. This is the way you get longevity in dance. Clean up arm placement, yes. Then look at every step. Look at all the details. Ask yourself am I using my back to support my arms and and overall alignment Then, do this to translate everything you do.

Study your Transitions: This is the space between steps and timing. This helps with technique all the way around. This also helps with timing. Make sure you breathe. Make sure you plie when needed and that when you releve your placement is correct. Make sure your weight is correct when coming out of a turn.

Build Strength with Musicality: Work with the music. When the music swells make that movement juicier, this way your supporting leg will get stronger as you develope the movement. Play with the way you approach your arms. Your arms work with your movements. They are not an added flourish. port de Bras also help with upper body clarity if done correctly. This improves your total carriage and makes a full picture.

Fill In The Blanks On Your Own: If you are struggling with parts of a solo, pay extra attention to particular movements in class. Try working the combination that is giving you trouble on the opposite side. Emotionally connect to your work. Without emotion you have virtually nothing. Research the movement and get a full understanding of the work and of the movement.

Now you have a place for thought. Start here! Work on your own and in class on the above things. Find a dance partner to work with. Hopefully, someone at least on a par with you of better. Help each other. Then search for a coach. We can help you. It is what we do.For the past 20 years or so this is what we have done. We help with not only the movements in both Raks Orientale but also in different regions of Egypt and Lebanon for Folklore but also the musicality, choreography, improvisation and staging required in all forms of Arabic Style Dance. If we do not we can put you in contact with someone who is a leader in the style you want. If you are a teacher who needs help contact us. We can help!

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 September 9, 2020 at 6:10 PM Comments comments (0)



This piece is written to help the average dancer at any level understand the use of rhythm and musicality in the dance. Today more than before most dancers learn choreography. But you have to be able to make it yours. You are not a puppet on a string. If you are lucky enough to be able to work with musicians or even work in a club doing long solo shows then you might be doing improvisation. Either way you need this information.


You have to listen to a piece over and over again before you can choreograph or improvise to it. Absorb every piece you want to dance to so you can translate it. Sit sown and let the music be your focus. Try to open a sense of awareness to the sound. Study, the different rhythms that are used and the instrumentation. Is it a keyboard, derbecki, tambourine , tar or tubl beledi giving you the rhythm? If you are unsure of the instrument etc try the following ideas.


1. Find a role model: Look for someone who knows more than you. In class find that person to go across the floor with. Make it a project to improve your timing.

2. Research the score: Do the intellectual work. Who wrote it? Does it have a particular musical form? A 4/4, 6/8, A Beledi, A Masmoudi, Folkloric, Classical, Debke. Which country does it come from?

3. Practice dancing in silence: Find your inherent sense of phrasing is, absent of any influence. This might allow you to hear the phrasing a little differently or at least to get it right. Try it!

4. Now tap into the musicality: Pretend you are in a group, get in sync. See the space you are in. You cannot just look at the audience and hope you are doing it right. Feel the space. Here is where staging gets into the picture. Now work on becoming a more musical dancer.


Musicality like any facet of dance, can be developed and honed over time. This takes dedicated and detailed practice. It is absolutely respect for the music. Music is your partner. Or consider it a marriage. It is an interpretation of the score. It is executing on the right note and with the right accent. If the dancer feels the music, you know it. She also interprets the music with her body. That is probably the first thing you would notice. It is about a dancer's ability to dissect the rhythm.


1. Do not let your back history with music dictate to you: Exercise restraint. Otherwise, you might rush, or just fall to a flat-line beat that you think you hear.

2. Do not over rely on the counts: Try just doing it. It is not just the counts. There is such a thing as movement phrases. Sing or hum the melody to figure out how the phrases fit. This helps you interpret the music.

3. Forget the in-between moments: Ignoring the space in-between would lead to a monotonous quality in your dance. You have to breathe. Find your internal song.

4. Think about musicality last:You cannot add it on later. Has to part and parcel of your piece. You have to start though by listening to the music and paying attention to the rhythm. Now you can work on the musicality.

Morwenna Assaf = Author, Choreographer & Educator

Walid Assaf = Percussionist, & Educator

Art/Dance Academy, USA


[email protected]

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 August 14, 2020 at 1:30 PM Comments comments (0)




Consistency is key for building knowledge and improvement in any activity you undertake. All adult students, and we are all students of something, across all aspects of classes. This will set them apart and put them on a success path. In this article I am referring to dance or movement classes but can be used for anything you are interested in.

ATTENDANCE: - Attendance is the most obvious way that consistency will make a difference in your work. Turning up every day is so important for learning and retaining knowledge. It also means that skills can be continued and be honed, which means you will enjoy your classes or practices so much more.. Being consistent means there is more opportunity for self expression and less scrambling to keep up. Now I am speaking of just dance technique as technique is the basis for dance quality. Having consistency means your technique is constantly being refined. It gives you the freedom to dance your heart out.

APPROACH:- So now you attend every week. Now, we will turn your attention to how you approach your class. This can swing from being very easy on a good day to very difficult on a day you are having a bad day. Often class is the silver lining- to an average day. But, what happens when it is not that simple?

Consistency in approach can help. Promote a routine for when you arrive. This will put you in the right frame of mind for class. This helps your teacher as well. It might be sitting quietly for a few moments, taking a couple of deep breaths to become centered in the space. It might be instigating a related chat before the warm up. However every approach should incorporate a solid warm up. Warming up is physical and mental preparation, and should not be underestimated. If you can achieve this every time you attend class, you will be perfectly prepared for what ever you get in the studio. 363


Do It Right. Borrow a move from ballet for a beautiful lower body. It is no secret we would all love to have well toned buns and inner thighs. Ballet dancers know how to do this. A turned out second position plie. It is a variation on a squat that also works out your inner thighs. This utilizes the muscles of the buttocks, back of thighs, front of thighs, and inner thighs. All of these muscles control the movement of the body. You do not have to overdo the turn-out. Your feet are in a turned out position. The degree of turnout varies with each person. Do not let your feet turn out past your knees. Weight is evenly distributed.

Only lower to the point where your thighs are parallel to the floor. Keep abdominal muscles tight and upper back lifted. Go straight down with back in natural curve. Tail bone moves straight down and up. Do not allow weight to sit in butt. Hold weight in mid section. Lower only as far as is comfortable.


Morwenna Assaf, Educator and Choreographer of Arabic Style Dance

[email protected] https://ArtDance

760-715-2276 El Fen = OnLine Studio

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,