Art/ Dance Academy

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"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 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



Getting Out of A Dance Rut

Posted by [email protected] on February 12, 2020 at 1:00 PM Comments comments (0)



No matter what your situation or your level of dance, this is inevitable at any stage of your career. Maybe you just got a job? It has been fine so far but you do not feel like you are growing as an artist. You are in a rut! These slumps hit hard no matter at what level you are. They are difficult to shake but with the correct mindset you can and will find your love for dance again.


The way of a dancer’s life


Why does this happen? Maybe you are focusing on the things you have given up for dance and not focusing on your accomplishments. At first you are really excited, then at some point you lose momentum. You start looking at what you left behind and not on what you have accomplished. It can be frustrating. You feel stagnant. You are in a motivational hole.


Initially you are grateful but then the excitement wears off. The mind-set changes. You want more out of this life. It is a natural part of the developmental process. Dancers need the tools but also the strength to be able to face all the challenges that come with the territory. You have to be more independent to be successful. It is part of the education and journey. Sometimes you will feel invisible but that does not mean you are doing something wrong. You are just not the main topic of conversation. At times you need help adjusting to a move or a situation. At other times you do not.




With practice you can overcome this set back and get back on track.


1. Set Reasonable and productive goals:

Focus on what you put into your work. Not, what you get out of it. Goals should be centered on things you can control: Applying corrections. Etc. Work on it.


2. Sit in on rehearsals and classes:

See shows – you need to be inspired. Look for other inspirational outlets. Take a class in another style. Another teacher maybe. But, make sure you take classes.


3. Expand your horizons:

Most people start dance as a hobby but then it becomes work, the joyful escape is gone. Find something else for a hobby. I happen to write.


4. Do not forget your value:

Realize you are needed where you are. You are valued.


Hopefully, these suggestions will help you. Even after 40 plus years in this business I have my days. After a week or so of doing nothing, I realize I am here for the long haul and will always be a part of the dance world. It is who I am!


A working artist at that!


Morwenna Assaf



[email protected]


865-375-0446 or760-715-2276

Categories: Author, Belly Dance, Dance, Dance Coaching for ME Dancers, Educator, Egyptian Dance, Ethnic Dance, Events, Health, Intensive Classes, Lebanese Dance, Middle Eastern Dance, Music & Rhythm, Orientale Dance and Folklore, Uncategorized, Workshops, Zills | Leave a

Little Christmas in Eastern TN

Posted by [email protected] on January 23, 2020 at 12:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Little Christmas in Eastern TN

In San Diego it was an annual event that every Christmas Eve  we would have an open house and invite any and all involved with the dance studio etcetera. People were invited to come to our house . Basically the idea was to invite everyone who had migrated to Southern CA and had no family with which to clebrate Christmas. We became a family. We did that for 17 years and loved evey minute of it.

Then, we moved to Eastern TN. There was no need for this event as everyone had family locally. This worked well thill this last Christmas-2019. This was the year we had sickness and there was no real clebrating. Health was getting better but no one had the energy to plan, cook or celebrate. So many people just wanted to relax. In January 2019 we had invited a couple we consider close friends with a friend we had met through them and their son. The date happened to be "The 12th Ninght of Christmas which fell on Jan 6th. The Feast of the Epiphany. No one here celebrates 12th Night. Most people have their Christmas trees down on the latest the day after Christmas which to me is Boxing Day.

Yes, we are different . I was raised between England and Montreal, Canada. In our family a tree was not put up till Christmas Eve and stayed up through 12th Night. Plus, my Lebanese husband and the 6th of January is a big day of celebration. So, this year we decided to invite those same friends form last year plus a couple more friends that are dear to us- Marlayne and Maggie! So, with us there was eight people in all. A small but wonderful group. Walid cooked all day. This was to be a treat. Something we will repeat every year.

Our guests arrived at 6:30pm We had a wonderful dinner. Conversation was great! Our friend Doctor John had just  retired so this was something to clebrate. He was a professor at UT for 34 years. Also, this year he got his Phd from UT Something else to elebrate. Laurie a friend of John & Sharon's had just graduated with her BS. Go, Laurie. Her son, Jonathon, a special needs person of 17 graduated from highschool. Walid, gave him a derbecki. (Lebanese hand drum as a gift. He was elated. He was a happy camper. Our friend Marlayne had just turned 70 a few months ago. So that was her milestone.  Maggie got a divorce and has a new lease on life. She is going to Europe for the first time in a few months. Walid and I were celebrating our good health and the good health of a close family member. So much to be thankful for. We all had so much to share and celebrate.

After dinner we all went downstairs to the dance and music studio. The music started, the keyboard and drums were brought out. The music started. Someone played the keyboard and others played drums including Jonathon on his new drum  Everyone was dancing. The party was on.

This was OUR Little Christmas in Eastern TN. What a great time of celebrating with good, good, no great company. A tradition is started.  Maybe not the original idea of the Epiphany  but definitely a day to remember for the second year in a row. We all realize good friends are few and far between.The date for next year is set. So remember January 6th is the Feast of the Epiphany or 12th NIght, if you like.And, yes, that is why we have Christmas lights outside till after 12th night. The Three Kings need to follow the light.

NB: Sorry no pictures this year. Will make up for it I promise.

Morwenna Assaf
[email protected]