Editorial by Amira
"Bellydance 101" DVD
I love Bellydance
New Styles !
ARE NOW HERE !
Don't miss Amira's upcoming performance in Las Vegas, with
Master teacher and performer
along with some of Las Vegas' hottest dancers!
At The Royal Persis
2790 E Flamingo Rd.
Las Vegas, NV
Sat. July 15th at 7 pm
For details and more information,
Coming Soon !
Amira's Bellydance CD
It has been delayed,
but is now due for
release in the USA
in the coming weeks !
Click the image above for more info, images, and the liner notes
New design of super cute racer back tank top, available soon!
information on the
4th Annual Las Vegas Bellydance Intensive Weekend
September 9th & 10th
Please click HERE
For general information, schedules and testimonials on my workshops, please visit my website workshop page HERE
Not a member?
If you received this newsletter from a friend, and you would like to sign up to receive it, please visit www.amirasbelly.com
Welcome to the July '06 edition of
Dance Your Belly!™
“Take a 15 minute break. Go drink some water, and relax. You all did great…” I announce calmly and proudly.
We had an almost 2-hour workshop behind us with 2 more hours to go. The classroom is packed, and the energy is great. I sit down to give my vocal cords a break. I close my eyes for a minute but when I open them again, I can’t just sit still and relax. I see something that catches my attention… Some girls are still in front of a mirror trying to figure out the steps, one is calling out, another one is writing it down, they think, they argue but they don’t come to bother me on my break with their questions. There is another girl leaning onto the windowsill, her pen is moving in her hand, and then she puts it in her mouth, thinks for a second and writes again… They are so into the dance, they want to get the steps and the movement, and they have figure out how to remember the choreography.
As an instructor, there is almost nothing more rewarding in the world than to see this kind of commitment and inspiration. I sometimes feel selfish saying that I don’t only teach to give to others because the reward I get from teaching is more than I give. For me, when I see my choreography performed by others, it is like seeing a new birth. It sounds silly, but those dancing to my choreography have become like my own children, and it can bring a tear to my eye to watch. That is one big reason I teach and why I love it so much!
Based on what I see in those girls who are so eager to learn, those who come with learning techniques and how I’ve developed my own learning skills from info-packed workshops, I decided to write this newsletter on how to get the most out of a workshop. Also, I occasionally hear comments like “Oh, I don’t want to go to the workshop, there will be too much information and I cannot keep up.” This left me thinking that I could share a few things to put you at ease in the workshops you attend.
Editorial by Amira
To be honest with you, I barely remember anything I learned from my first year of bellydancing and the workshops I attended. Not that I was not interested, because I was, but what I did not know is how to embed it all into my brain and store the information I gained.
What is a workshop?
A workshop is where a leader/teacher offers the most information possible to fit into a reserved time frame. Workshops can last anywhere from an hour to a weeklong adventure. One difference between consecutive weekly classes and a workshop is that in the weekly class there is no specific goal to reach (you can simply continue in the next class) while the workshop is designed to produce specific results in the time given. You may not master a move completely, but you will be given tools that facilitate improvement in a relatively short period of time. Because the workshop aims to offer as much information as possible in a specific amount of time, workshop participants continue to process and to work with the material presented long after the workshop has ended, and possibly on their own, they master the moves and steps.
Personally, I go to any workshop that comes through town, I don’t care whether it is a beginner or advanced workshop, and all I can tell you is that there has never been a workshop where I did not learn anything or where I was bored. I have also gone to workshops that I did not consider my style, however, the information, and energy that I received was priceless.
Amira on stage at the Bellydance performance in Tallinn May 2006.
Photo courtesy of Jaan Priimägi.
To view more pictures of this performance click here
I even went once with a pretty bad case of the flu, and I was only able to sit and take notes, but I still learned a lot. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity of a workshop in town because to attend this workshop, I did not have to travel anywhere, book the hotel or have all the related expenses.
Money may have held me back from going back to Egypt as many times as I would like but never from a workshop held in my hometown. If money holds you back from attending, you are probably not serious enough about your dance. If you have to work, go out of town, or that you only like certain styles are better excuses than not having the money. $35-60 for a workshop is worth the experience of being in the presence of amazing teachers full of positive energy. Moreover, every single teacher has spent a lot of money and hundreds of hours learning from other Master teachers, as well as many trips to the Middle East and other places. Workshops are an opportunity to benefit from their wealth of experience, knowledge and energy. They have done the research and put their heart into what they love in order to bring it to you.
In some countries, like Estonia, some towns are very small, and the distances between them are small, but to get to the workshop may still be hard due to the inconvenient bus schedule or what have you. Committed dancers have found ways to get to a particular workshop no matter what circumstances presented themselves. They may have carpooled or shared expenses to make it happen.
Whenever my schedule allows, I travel to Miami, LA or New York for more knowledge, and for more workshops. I am very lucky that this is all I do; I don’t have another job. While I can’t travel to other towns all the time to take workshops, I do not ever miss the ones that come to my town. This is a practice I cannot recommend highly enough that committed dancers adopt!
Pick a workshop that is right for you!
This could be looked at in two ways. Most workshops welcome dancers of mixed levels. You will see more experienced dancers going to the beginner’s class or beginners going to the highly advanced class. Try to determine your level as objectively as you can. There is nothing wrong with saying “I have only danced for 2 years and not very regularly, so I think I’m still a beginner”. But it will only lead to frustration in the workshop if you think of yourself as an advanced bellydancer if you took couple of lessons 10 years ago and now you want to start again. Even if you have been a modern-jazz-ballet or whatever kind of dancer for your whole life, it doesn’t give you the results of an advanced belly dancer right away, but it sure makes the studies a lot quicker and easier for you.
Be honest with yourself first and use common sense. Look at your strengths and weaknesses. You may also want to think about what level of workshop you will comfortable in.
You may be one of those students who is really enthusiastic and curious and who takes every workshop there is, no matter what the level is. Great! Keep that sense of curiosity, and don’t feel intimidated or left out if the workshop starts to go too fast for you. Go to the back row and try not to get in the way. I always recommend to my students and to myself to take any workshop there is to develop skills, and for the challenge and variety. After every workshop, it seems like I know myself better, I discover what I knew already and new things I did not know about at all.
It doesn’t matter which workshop you go to, even if it is a beginner workshop and you have danced for 10 years. You’ll always have something to learn because every teacher is different, and represents a different style. More than anything, all teachers have something that is specific only to them; they each have a special area of expertise that you may never find in another teacher. The mood, the ambience, the aura is completely different with every teacher. As soon as you say these words “ Oh, this is a beginner workshop and I probably have nothing to learn from it” you are limiting your expansion of developing, you are closing your energy and you are simply not open to new experiences because you think you know everything by now.
The three most dangerous words are: I know that! Those three words stop people in their tracks faster than a speeding train. As soon as we say, "I know that!" then we shut down to new growth. Humans were designed to be naturally curious and constantly growing beings, but as I always say, "If you're not growing, you are automatically dying."
Author of #1 NY Times bestselling book
Secrets of the Millionaire Mind
In fact, studying with as many teachers as possible shows more self-confidence and gives every dancer more credibility in general. Needless to say, it will polish, develop and expand your own uniqueness, which is like a beautiful stained glass that is made of bits and pieces from different sources, and there is no other piece like it anywhere in the world. After all that is said…
- How to get the max out of the workshop -
1. Challenge but respect yourself!
There is no way one can remember 100% everything that was taught in a workshop. You are not a wonder woman or superhuman. Always respect your body and mind. Some unfamiliar techniques and methods may not be suitable for you and they can potentially put a lot of strain on your body if you are not careful. You are not being fair to yourself if you strain or push yourself too far. This can lead to you feeling completely overwhelmed, disappointed, or even worse, lead to an injury. Respect the limitations of your body or any old injuries; your body might still be healing from. Think of it mostly as an inspirational experience and do your best to “store” the info in an effective way …
2. It is not a competition!
Do not compete with others and especially not with your instructor at the workshop. There might be so many different levels of people at the same workshop. This is YOUR time and this is YOU who is at the workshop. Think of it as a new experience, new adventure, don’t waste time by fighting with your ego. You did not pay for stressing out! You paid for the enjoyment!
3. Ask! Don’t hesitate to ask questions.
You paid for this and you have the right to ask. But again, use your common sense; if you are participating in a highly advanced class and you are still a beginner, it is just not appropriate to ask basic questions. Usually teachers encourage asking questions, but there might be some times during the workshop when it is not as appropriate. Also, please don’t stop listening when someone from students is asking questions from the teacher. It may be as valuable information as any other and you shouldn’t miss it.
4. Take notes!
It is in fact determined by psychologists that if you don’t repeat what you have learned, you’ll lose 50% of the information within 72 hours. After a week there will be only 10% left. Don’t let that happen – don’t lose the information you paid for! By taking notes you trigger your memory and you’ll always have something to refer to. Plus only you will understand your notes. Have you had somebody else taking notes for you? I’m pretty sure they made no sense to you. Sound familiar?
Also, be considerate. Please don’t leave your notebook and pen on the floor so that others may trip over it. Find a place for your notebook that is out of the way of the other participants. It will also help you remember what you learned if you go home and repeat what you learned in the 72 hours after the workshop. Follow your notes, and review your notes. You might also want to rewrite your notes at this point as you realize you “scrambled” them down at the workshop. However, some teachers do not allow note taking for any reason or they find it distracting. Please respect and honor that decision and take your notes after the workshop, but remember… no later than 72 hours.
5. Double up!
Come to the workshop with a friend or partner. That way you double your chances of remembering the choreography. Two heads is two heads! In Egypt, we took notes but we also used to run out of the class at the end of the workshop and videotape each other behind the door because videotaping was not allowed inside. It was the best thing to do because we were immediately off to the next workshop and after a weeklong workshop series, there was no way we could have remembered everything if we did not use this “behind-the-door” videotaping technique.
Most teachers do not allow videotaping, even if you are only videotaping yourself! If it is allowed, be grateful and do it only when the permission is given to do so. Please do not place any clips of that workshop on your website or anything. Copyright and other laws protect this information and it is for you to use only as a point of reference. Never point the video camera on your teacher or others without their consent. And no one can prohibit you to videotape yourself at home. Do it right after the workshop as your memory stays the freshest for 72 hours. You’ll be so grateful that you did since you have created the best practice and memory tool. Video is better than notes since it is visual, but it can also be a great way to compliment your notes because there may have been things you forgot to write down.
7. Common etiquette!
Get to the workshop on time. Dress accordingly; it is a workshop, not a fashion show. Avoid private conversations during the workshop and do not ask or comment on unrelated questions or topics. For example, in the middle of an intricate combination do not ask the teacher where did she get that beautiful hip scarf.
8. Be prepared!
Make sure to have a good night of sleep before the day of the workshop. Eat a light meal 2 hours before the workshop and carry plenty of water. Bring a healthy snack for the break. Bring shoes to protect your feet from friction, a towel and changing or cover–up clothes to protect yourself from cooling down and getting sick. Have zills, veils, notebook, pen, tape recorder, video camera and kneepads with you in case you need them. Bring cash or your checkbook for possible purchases because teachers always carry interesting merchandise with them. Don’t forget to buy the music of the studied choreographies or combos. Also, don’t forget your business cards or postcards. Workshops are a great place to network, make friends and find like-minded people.
9. Lastly but most importantly! Breathe! Relax! Have fun!
No comments needed here!
I hope to see all of you in the future workshops in many different parts of the world!
One of Amira's workshops in Estonia
on Hiiumaa Island, May 2006
Next scheduled workshops are at:
4th Annual Las Vegas
Bellydance Intensive weekend
Fabulous 2-day event filled with bellydance workshops, performances, dancing, shopping, and fun!! This year's Bellydance Intensive promises to be even more exciting and action-packed than last year's event.
Amira will be teaching two classes
as part of the curriculum:
"WOW" Veil Techniques
911 Emergency Combinations for Veil
For more information and registration,
please go to:
I would like to share some thoughts on the Middle Eastern Dance (the dance) with you. In May of 2004, you first introduced the dance to me at the Las Vegas Athletic Club (LVAC). I was a beginner, over fifty, and had been experiencing some low back pain after I competed in rodeo (barrel racing).
I loved the dance and the way you teach because you make sure everyone gets the basics. I then began taking lessons from Yolanda, at the other LVAC and from Donna at UNLV for two semesters. I have improved a little in the dance but the side effects have been extremely beneficial. Since last year, with the dance, yoga, and one chiropractic visit, I now have no back pain. Also, I believe the dance has taught me much about balance and grace. It has improved my riding so that I was able to win the American West Nevada State Barrel Racing Championship for the senior class. (The saddle is in my office.) I am currently the average winner in the Las Vegas Beauty and the Beast Series Rodeo.
Thank you for sharing this wonderful art with me.
- Lauren Dean
Director, Communication Services
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
I want to tell you how much I enjoyed your teaching workshop. I've been dabbling in belly dance for about a year, but still consider myself very much a beginner. Not only did I learn more in your class than some I have attended, but your sweet spirit and love for women and dance made all us beginners feel beautiful and graceful! I would not want to miss any opportunity to take a class from you in the future.
Also, my sister came for her very first class that day, and although you taught us so much in 2 hours, she said she didn't want the class to end! (Maybe we've hooked her!)
Please keep me on your email list, and I wish you all the luck and happiness in the world!
- Tracey McCullough
First of all let me thank you so much for all your hard work, your enthusiasm and a strong desire you possess to help ordinary women (like me) discover this mysterious and beautiful dance!
I am a beginner to a bellydance. Ever since I remember myself I always wanted to learn it, but never had a chance. Right now at the age 24, when I started taking bellydance classes, I surely had doubts about being able to "reproduce” all those moves. With you I learned that there's no prerequisites to start other than desire.
Besides that you are a beautiful dancer and a wonderful teacher, you have a great personality: u r a very warm and friendly person. During your workshop or classes you make everybody feel comfortable and confident about themselves. You are also very inspiring! I think so much more about myself now and the capabilities of my body.
I wish you good luck with your DVD and looking forward for new workshops!
Bring Amira to your event!
Schedule An Appearance by Amira
Amira is available for appearances, performances, and workshops internationally. We work closely with dancers, teachers, studios, promoters, and other local partners to create a fun and successful visit by Amira to your town.
We're currently lining up local partners for Amira's 2006 workshop tour.
To inquire or book an appearance, and for detailed information about how to bring Amira to your community, please contact: