Art/ Dance Academy

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


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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]



Reviewing Your Work

Posted by [email protected] on October 9, 2019 at 11:35 AM Comments comments (0)


Reviewing Your Work

Posted on September 14, 2019 by Tales1001

The work does not end when you bow at the end of a piece. It is not over! It is the beginning of getting better. Your post performance analysis can help you progress and grow. After show take some time to calm down and be grateful for what you have just done. Taking time to reflect gives you a chance to recognize the full value of the work you just did and take control of how you want to proceed in the future. Use each show as an opportunity to evolve. It is only a means to an end, not the end. Learn how to calmly evaluate your work will make sure you do not turn into a machine that dances by rote. You will actually learn and improve each time you perform. Real growth as a dancer comes once you have learned to evaluate productively. Just give yourself a chance to calm down before trying to fig-ure out what happened, good or bad.

1. Start with the Good Stuff:

Yes, start with the being positive! Think about all the things that went well before dwelling on the not so good. Have a moment for yourself. Pat yourself on the back a little. Have a feeling of gratitude. Feel positive, it will help you have more momentum and energy to improve. Did you enjoy the show? Also reflect on the things you did right in leading up to the show. The preparation you did. Even diet and before the show rest. Think about what went well in the performance. Where you improved? What you nailed! What can you learn from this performance? People are naturally inclined to reflect on the negative. Being overly negative is not productive.


2. Put Your Thoughts on Paper:

Get in that positive frame of mind. Writing gets problems good and bad out of your head and onto the page. From there be an outsider and be honest with yourself. Then you can move on.

Make three columns: 1. Things that worked. 2. The things that did not work. 3. Things to work on. This way you will not just fixate on the things that went wrong. Seeing all sides and a place to work and will help you not to fixate on just what was not up to par. Always ask yourself, Is this a produc-tive thought?


3. Take Criticism Calmly:

Getting others’ opinions is essential. You might not like what you will hear but it gives you thought. Your own subjective thoughts of what you did, do not give you the full picture You might feel some-thing went wrong but not why. Someone else’s perspective may give you insight. Then you can work in fixing it! It is very easy to get defensive. Remember you are a performing artist. How many times have you heard “Breathe”? Develop the skill of deep breathing. Breathing deeply occupies space in your brain and allows you to reset. Yes, feedback can be overwhelming. Decide on a few people to really listen to.

4. Watch A Replay:

Seeing yourself dance is really important. Get comfortable using video as a tool. Video helps you un-derstand what sort of dancer you are. Just, try not to focus on all the things you do not like. You have to look at yourself and understand how to make things look better. Step back and think less about yourself and more about the whole thing. You are just part of it. Be able to understand your role in the big picture is important and helpful. Trust that the sky will not fall. You are part of a bigger experi-ence. That is art!

Contact: Morwenna Assaf / Walid Assaf

Art/Dance academy/Tales1001/ Cedar Productions

[email protected] – 760-715-2276

[email protected] or Cedar [email protected]






Identity Crisis! To Be Or NotTo Be

Posted by [email protected] on August 28, 2019 at 4:40 PM Comments comments (0)


After being a professional dancer and instructor for over 40 years I realized the pain that I had been feeling for the past 5 years was not going away. I had been ignoring the signs of an aging dancer. I had never stopped dancing. Had never taken time off. In fact even vacations were always dance vacations. Then it dawned on me that this is the beginning of the end of my dance career. At some point in our lives all dancers face this in one form or another.




So, I cut back. Started just coaching instead of teaching classes. Cut back on teaching workshops when I broke my right big toe 3 days before a workshop in San Diego. Taught the first day in excruciating pain. The next day it was a no can do. My husband ended up running the class for me. Figured a rest and healing of my foot would take care of it. Guess what? I was wrong! The pain did get better with rest of both the foot and the Periphiral Neuropathy. I did learn that I was overdoing things and that by letting up some the pain eased off.




Our lives are intertwined forever. In life, in love and in our careersMorwenna & Walid




At first it was nice, no pressure but then I realized things were not getting done. I really had no idea what to do with myself. I felt lonely. I was terrified! Who am I? I felt like I had lost everything. I did not know who I was. I was losing everything. Or at least anything that meant anything to me. Although unplanned, it made me think seriously about my career and what I really wanted out of life at this time of my life. It has left me in a situation where I am dealing with insurance, doctors, and unable to pay bills. I realize I am not a kid anymore. Had my 79th birthday last week. So I have had to ask, what do I really want?




These are all questions that need to be answered.




  1. What do I do with myself? - What other dance related things can I do? Movement classes like Pilates, Somatics or Yoga. Nutrition has always been a thing I was interested in. Writing dance books and blogging. learn podcasting and video casting. Prepare for retirement show in Ct next April
  2. Give yourself space to rest. - Get healthy again.
  3. Stay involved with dance in other ways? Writing is one way. Running things on line. Taking a trip to Lebanon again to do research. Help husband set up his side of the business. Talk to other dancers.
  4. Remove yourself entirely? - This is not an option for me. How about you?
  5. Stay on a schedule - As a dancer and teacher our lives are very regimented. Structure your days. This helps combat symptoms of depression.
  6. Celebrate small victories? - Mentally maintain a sense of momentum. Somatics are my main source of exercises which keeps me sane. I need to move and it is healthy for me.
  7. Find other creative outlets? - Write, blog, paint, podcast, sing. Use the same amount of energy you used in the dance
  8. Cross-train? - Do something physical. Again somatics, pilates or yoga. Look for ways to keep your body in shape and moving forward. Use it or lose it!
  9. Find a group? Do not allow yourself to get isolated. Find a friend or group that holds your interest. Even a book club.
  10. Take advantage of the time off. - Take classes, socialize Build other parts of your personality regardless of age.







Yes, this is my future plan for my retirement. No more classes. Coaching instead. I am done running from state to state teaching. Yes, even country to country. I have loved every moment of it but now it is too exhausting. I look at what is written above and realize I have so many choices to make and still be in the dance I love so. I have had a wonderful career and do not regret one moment of it. It is time for family and loved ones. I thank God for my love of this dance form, my talent and the people it has brought into my life. It will always be a part of me.




So anyone who is going through a similar situation. Sit down and ask yourself the above questions. Turn yourself around and see where you can be aiming. By being calm and rational you can find the answers. Yes, sometimes one has to dig deep. But, the answers are there, inside you. The only thing I ask is that you treat dance with respect. There is a time when we each have to step aside and leave the stage and classroom to the younger ones we have trained. We leave its destiny in their hands. Our job is done. I have done my best and hope you have too. That is all that is important. Yes, I am still a dancer at heart.







Written by Morwenna Assaf, owner/Choreographer and Producer of Art/Dance Academy-El Fen, being located in Jefferson County, TN., Oceanside, CA & South Eastern MA and Rhode Island. 760-715-2276
[email protected] [email protected] [email protected]



Posted by [email protected] on July 19, 2019 at 5:40 PM Comments comments (0)


I am a firm believer that dance classes at all levels should really be held in person. The student and instructor need to be together in the same room. Yet, on the other hand there are times and situations where this is impossible. So, yes, there is a need for on line coaching and classes. As time goes by and as I have moved from a city where cultural development was everywhere to a location where culture might as well be a foreign word. Today, I see a need for online teaching. While not a replacement for studio training, Online classes gain a particular following.

Musicians can learn from a sore but dancers have always learned from person to person. The true work of dancers still remains solidly in the studio. A dance student needs personal feedback. It is the older generation of students not the kids who go for online classes. They are far less experienced and confident in their abilities but are fascinated by dance. So the appeal is there, especially for beginners. It suits their timetable, their level and held in the comfort and privacy of their own home.

These particular students find that they may make fools of themselves in a dance classroom. At home there is little risk of embarrassment. Afterwards they might sign up for an in studio class. These aging students are realizing a new consciousness of exercise, nutrition, and fitness. An adult beginner class is a big seller. For a lot of adults a beginner class in a studio is too advanced. Classes need to be developed for these people

There are also adults who want to learn how to dance, but many of them do not have access to a studio who offers these classes for adults. It takes a lot from the instructor who already has to have the knowledge to teach good classes in technique and knows how to work with adults and not children and teens. An instructor needs to start posting instructional videos, teaching herself how to film, edit and post material. These classes need to be paid for. They need to be in an interactive format, where you can see the student and she can see the instructor. It needs to be a a completely judgment-free zone for the student. The instructor does not want the student/students to feel self-conscious or that they have to be perfect before even starting.

Classes can be run on Skype or Zoom depending on the preference. Chat boxes are great where students can ask questions, get answers and then can be saved saved to website so students in different time zones can watch later. Classes can be offered from 30 minutes to 1 & 1/2 hrs. I offer coaching sessions that work this way. Classes can be scheduled from weekly to anything the teacher decides.

Dance classes of all types are offered. Everything from Ballet, Yoga, and Pilates. International dance styles like Flamenco, Arabic Style/Belly Dance, Folk styles, and Hula etc. can all be found. Plus anything else you might be interested in. The technology can be frustrating at times but it connects with a global audience which is a bonus.

There are also platforms that offer on line systems. Research places like Yes Course, Teachable, Thinkific and Course Craft. Do your home work and decide from there if teaching this way or taking classes this way is for you. My studio is called Art/Dance Academy. I offer a variety of classes that are designed just for the student. YOU! I do coaching for students of any level on Skype or Zoom. My classes on a platform are based on my books. So, everything from playing Finger Cymbals to Choreography or Improvisation and everything in between. Contact [email protected] for information. Check our website at https://Art/DanceAcademy-El Call us at 760-715-2276 or 865-375-0446. Please leave a message. We are always expanding our services. Arabic Drumming and Musicality will be offered the autumn of 2019.



Posted by [email protected] on June 6, 2019 at 6:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Using Your Upper Body in Dance


Epaulement should be a natural part of your dancing. This term epaulement actually means shouldering in French. This is in fact a fallacy as it has nothing to do with the shoulders per se. Using epaulement can elevate your technical proficiency. It can be a be subtle dynamic and exciting. It is the punctuation at the end of a sentence. The head and eyes are the exclamation point.


Epaulement gives gives a third dimension to the dance. It shades what you are doing and gives it depth and color. It creates energy from the inside out. Yes, the shoulders move. But it is movement that involves the rib cage upwards. The whole upper body is utilized – ribs, shoulders, neck, head, arms, hands and even the eyes. Look a beautiful statue (say Venus) and flatten out the front, remove the angling of the torso and shoulders. Now it is just plain uninteresting!


Tricks of the Trade:

1. Do a combination with a fan. This will give you the feeling of having to lift chest, shoulders and head in opposition. The pretend you have a fan and do the same combination.

2. Do not overturn your body to the corner. It makes you look like a washing machine, throwing yourself from side to side. Why? Because there is no opposition.

3. Do not let your movement end at the neck. Energy needs to run through your complete torso, lengthened waist, lifted chest, swan neck, and eyes that look and see.

4. Do not forget epaulement in fast work. This makes your work even more exciting.

5. Do not sacrifice epaulement for height in extensions. See where the head and arms should be. Put these in your muscle memory. Now extend!

6. Do not let your collarbone be parallel to the floor. Strive for it to be on a diagonal. This comes from having life in the waist, back and chest.

7. Do not overturn your chin to your downstage shoulder when on a diagonal/croise. Turn your face ahead, then tilt the head allowing the jaw to move in space as the chest lifts simultaneously.



Posted by [email protected] on May 22, 2019 at 11:15 AM Comments comments (0)


Last month we talked about ideas for improvisation. Today we will look further into this with how to get your mind ready to do those things we covered. You know you have to warm-up your body before you do any kind of exercising or performing. Well what about your mind? Yes, you have to be prepared there too. While waiting moments before performing your mind might be racing. In reality as you warm up your body you need to think of your mind too. Your mind readiness will dictate how you will perform.







ENERGY: You need to be calm, relaxed and confident when stepping out onto the stage. You need to figure out what works for you. If you feel sluggish, jump up and down or shimmy. Or maybe you need to calm down, then do some arms or undulations. Tell yourself how wonderful it will be and how lucky you are to be able to perform for this group, whatever it may be. Experiment in rehearsal and find your key.




  • Mel'Keta




MAKE MINIMUM DECISIONS: Make decisions before a show as limited as possible. Clear your mind. Develop a before performance routine. Having a ritual frees your mind for predictability. Always keep your routine the same. This frees your mind.




CHOOSE YOUR FRIENDS WELL: Surround yourself with people who have the right mind set. Do not listen to complaining. Walk away. Control your environment. Use headphones to listen to your music. Think of the vibes you want and need at this time.







DO NOT LET YOUR NERVES GET THE BEST OF YOU: Emotions, nerves, and anxiety are all contagious. Stress can actually work for you if in the right mind set. Positive=Helps your muscles to work better and stronger & your mind will be clearer. But, if your nerves are negative then you will just be more anxious. Get it under control. Use what is right for you.




PRACTICE: Backstage, visualize your choreography with as much detail as is necessary.Your brain does not know the difference between a mental version and the real thing.. You are creating a closer bond between what your mind and body wants.




  • Theater Performance San Diego East County. El Cajon, CA




BREATHE: How often do I have to say this word? Focus on your breath. I prefer deep breathing from deep down in the diaphragm just as i step on stage. It seems to release all anxiety




GOALS: Do not focus so much on the performance just let the movements flow. Be in the moment. Enjoy the movements. I usually have a goal that is something to accomplish that has nothing to do with the choreography. e.g Looking in a certain direction or making eye contact etc.







WHAT IF ALL GOES WRONG?: No matter how much you prepare or how long you have been performing, things can go wrong. How do you recoup and quickly?




  1. Self Evaluation: Do not dwell on the mistakes handle it right away, like the next day. Work those things out so you will not repeat them.
  2. Quickly Move on: Get your mind back on track. Get in the moment. Breathe! It is ok. You are human!
  3. Change Your Mind Set: Most people fear failure. Look at a mistake as an opportunity to learn and grow. You will improve faster. Your worst performances can be your most valuable.




Choose one of these strategies at first then try another. It will not ALL happen overnight.




  • Raks el Anwar performing Bedouin number Pala Casino CA 2006










Inspire Individuality In Your Dancers

Posted by [email protected] on April 17, 2019 at 7:10 PM Comments comments (0)


Develop a sense of artistry in your students and dancers. Nothing is worse than cookie cutter dancers. Yes, group dances need to be synchronized but that does not mean they have no personality. Have them reach out and find answers. A true dancer has to find her own voice.

There is so much emphasize on technique and yes, I feel good technique is very important. Without it you will not only abuse your body but you will also not be able to dance. Technique uses the vocabulary of the dance to tell your story. No technique would be like a story teller telling a story with no vocabulary etc. But, you have to go above and beyond technique. Do not let dancers lose their voice or not find it at all. Those will stay students forever. The lack of self-expression leads to robotic movements, lifeless and dead. Inspire individuality!

Nurture Enthusiasm: Have them love dance. Yes, teach them well but do not be a task master. Our dance form especially is open to all peoples. No matter age, size or age. But they must also realize where they belong. Yes, to be a professional dancer there are guidelines but that does not mean everyone will reach that level. Have things for the student dancer, be it: recitals or any student shows, that they can perform in. As they grow, let them advance.

Encourage Ownership: Let students articulate themselves verbally and physically. Establish their identity and learn that dance is not about imitating their teacher. I tell students to tell themselves a story to learn. It is their story. No one else’s! No one needs to know it. It is their secret. It does not matter what others think or feel. It is about you.

Include Improvisation: Dancers wh create movement on their own get a deeper understanding of how their bodies move, what feels good to them and how to express themselves. For the club dancer or anyone working with live music this is a must. It is creating movement off the cuff, off the top of your head and just freely dancing. You have to have an individual style ( this is you). You can free style from given combinations. I always start students with 2 movements. First a moving or traveling step. Then a movement in place Then repeat the first traveling step. Then switch them. This way they get to move between moving and being in place by themselves. Hopefully learning choreography has instilled this in them. Most new dancers are afraid to experiment so this eases them in. Help them find their individual voices. Gradually lengthen the exercises. I have everyone dance together at first.

Develop Stage Presence: Personality in dance is part confidence, part vocabulary and part showmanship. Facial expression is is an important part of the equation. Without facial expression there is no story being told. Do not train robots. Gradually after the last exercise, I do 2 things. Number one is I have dance captains (this can rotate every class) who create the exercises for the others. Number two is dividing into groups and having each person perform a chosen exercise for all. Being complete is part of the job.

Observation: Dancers sometimes need to get out of the mirror image to find themselves. Encourage them to observe other dancers. This can be done in the studio at class, in performances and also on line. The one who touches their heart is the one to watch as they will recognize themselves. Ask students what it is about the dancer that excites the student and inspires them. Dancers cannot give their best if they cannot even find themselves. When they do they will start to shine. There is no competition here. Each is an individual.

Outside Inspiration: Have students bring in a piece of art that speaks to them. Talk about it. Art is art! Then have them create a short piece that defines that art piece. It can be anything. A couple of counts of 8 will do. Music is great.

Exposure to Other Instructors: Studying with another instructor cn also inspire an new approach to movement and help students learn more about themselves. Learn other styles of dance to become versatile and well rounded. Have them work well with others and gin confidence. Build their vocabulary. It will help them find themselves.

Be Real: One last note. Taking workshops and seminars is not studying. It is exposure! That is all. Now go and study. Dancers and students, find your passion and go for it!

It Is The Little Things That Count

Posted by [email protected] on March 20, 2019 at 11:35 AM Comments comments (0)

To begin dancers are told to not work so hard. Make it look effortless. What does that mean? How do you achieve this? Dancing with efficiency helps you conserve energy and minimize wear and tear on the body. It allows you to achieve big impressions out of little moments and creates last memories to the viewer. Mastering the art of effortless movement requires a new perspective. "Less is More" is often the term we hear. This equals priorities towards simplicity and ease.


Use rehearsals to determine when to step on the gas and when to coast. Giving 100% all the time wears you out physically and mentally. It makes it impossible to keep going. Each time you repeat a sequence you are recording it physically and connecting with the sensation. Movements have sweet spots. Pause, ask yourself how much force you are using? You will usually find you have some to spare. Pull it back! It is all about following through. The idea of release is not collapse. It is actually poise! Then, you are a magnet for the audience to focus on your dance. Not, trying to capture the audience's attention. Small details can have a big impact.


Think what you admire about other performers.. Never mind the tricks. What makes them sparkle? You are performing not a machine. The artistry can make or break a performance. Build the sense of anticipation by playing with the timing and musicality. During transitions make sure you shift weight with a softness of the knees (slight plie). Thinking about arm placement to maintain control. The audience sees all! Hands are the most expressive part of the body. Be aware of hands from the spine, the shoulder blades, through bicep, tricep and elbow. Let your arms and hands talk.


Back to Focus: Sternum needs to be lifted and eye level just above the horizon. When dancing in a group make contact with the dancer next to you. Focus all the time.. Think about what kind of energy you should be expressing. Is it soft, intense or some where in between?


In your entrance you often do running or walking steps. This again is all about transfer of weight. Make it seamless. Use your shoulders and back. I like to say "have the wind at your back" Move through the space. Stay in character throughout. The piece is not over until it is over. Thoroughly rehearse bows. Be thankful for your audience. Define your finish. Leave it all onstage.

Dance has been with us forever.

NOW! What Is Ethnic Dance

Posted by [email protected] on March 7, 2019 at 10:50 AM Comments comments (0)

NOW WHAT IS ETHNIC DANCE - As Americans we are made up of a combination of cultures and nations. With the dance you can visit the culture without leaving your home town. Deciding what class to take is often much easier than finding a good teacher. Most cultures in a community have ethnic festivals. Go to the local Greek festival or Lebanese Festival etc. Some are run through Colleges and Universities. Others are run through the local churches. Everyone wants to run an International Festival. In New England every Lebanese church runs one and in San Diego we are lucky enough to have the Houses of Nations at Balboa Park. Every weekend another House is represented and there is often wonderful entertainment. Some polite inquiries could easily provide you with the names of instructors etc. The local Tourist center might be a place to check also.

Bedouin Performers Lebanon

Ethnic restaurants can also be a good source. If they have entertainment, ask the dancer who her teacher is and where she/he is located? Musicians are a good source for finding teachers as they work with them. Good, working musicians are at a premium. This is a great idea if you are in a big city that has ethnic clubs with good music. Everybody knows everybody in this business that is for sure. Then of course, let us not forget, the internet. Google Belly Dance Teacher in your city or area. That should come up with some leads. If all else fails contact me and I will help you. I know just about everyone in this business.


Fadi el Saadi. Ranin CD


MORE QUALIFICATIONS – Ethnic dance is much more than just learning steps and movements. You cannot take the history out of the dance, nor can you take the dance out of the history. The class should be so much more than just movement. The instructor has to be knowledgeable in much more than steps but also as to the origin and significance to the culture. The history and the ritual behind each dance is what gives it uniqueness and substance that needs to be passed on during instruction from teacher to student is a priceless legacy.


Folklore Scene San Diego C

Authentic costuming should be introduced. The real thing if possible! If not, then at least by pictures and DVDs or other visual aids. Musical instruments need to be recognized for the sound and the look. In the Boston area it was easy to get people to go to the local restaurant or club to see and hear the instrumentation. But in Southern CA and Eastern TennesseeI have had to resort to other means. Now a word about props Finger cymbals should be learned. I wait about six weeks to introduce them. Before that people have enough to grasp the steps to straight 4/4 music. If you wait longer it gets too hard to add them as they are locked in to what they are doing. Right now finger cymbals or zills are not so much in vogue. That does not mean you should not learn how to use them. Not only are they added to a show but they help with rhythm and counting. The same goes for castanets for Flamenco or Ipo gourds etc fro Polynesian. Plus a few weeks down the road you will be introduced to the different rhythms that make up belly dancing. Other props that can be used are scarves, shawls, veils, canes Isis wings, shamadan ( candelabrum) swords (American idea)and various other props come into play


On stage in Beirut Lebanon Amani in Druze costume


As for music, let me say. The instructor should make every attempt to use native music for their classes. It is plentiful and beautiful. Something for everyone! Of course, the music must relate to the dance being covered. Commercial Arabic music is great for warm-ups and fun stuff but not for a full solo performance. You need something with more structure and fullness

So now you have an idea as to what to look for. Now go out there and dance! Enjoy and learn all you can about the dance of the Middle and Near East countries or any other country you are interested in.



Morwenna Southern CA