Archive | December 2012

Weekly Challenges Return!

After a long hiatus for NaNoWriMo and the big move to Chicago, the Weekly Challenges have returned! Are you ready to get back to challenging yourself every week?

A refresher: these challenges are designed to be done EVERY DAY. A week is not enough time to master the skills that I am challenging you with, but it does give you a chance to work on things you may not normally drill or practice. It gives you a taste of all the different things in the world of belly dance! It also gets you used to practicing every day. To improve your dance, you MUST practice every day (or at least most days of the week). Going to a workshop once or twice a year does not cut it. Not even once a month is enough. Every. Day.

So here’s the challenge!

Back to basics

What was the first move you learned? Don’t remember? That’s okay, but think back to your earliest days of belly dance. What moves did you practice all the time? Did you have a move that absolutely drove you crazy because you couldn’t do it? And how often do you practice that move now? Not that often? You got it down, right, so no need to practice it now, right?

Your challenge this week is to pick one of the most basic moves you know, either the very first one you learned, or something equally as basic. A hip on the up, or maybe shoulder shimmies. Now practice it.

Wait. This is supposed to be a challenge, right? Doing basic drills isn’t challenging, right? Wrong. Take a look in the mirror and see how that move looks. Has it gotten sloppy? Are you cutting your mayas off halfway? Do you find your mind going, “Yeah, we got this. Next!” Then you haven’t been practicing this move enough! The challenge is to get that basic move back up to scratch and drill it for one song every day. No more sloppy figure 8s. No more lazy shoulder shimmies! Watch your form carefully and make sure you are doing exactly what your instructor told you to do (and here’s something even more basic–check your posture and arms while you drill).

I bet you that you can definitely find room for improvement in any move you can do, even the most basic ones. Even advanced dancers need to practice the absolute basics often. Get back to those basics!

Happy dancing!

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Dancing with Injuries

Dancers, especially professional ones, are athletes. We often do not think of ourselves as such, but we are. The hours we put into training, the cross-training, and the performances can be hard on the body. Injuries happen, and too many dancers dance through the injury. Not a good idea, though we often don’t have much choice. Beginners may quit, because they don’t know how to deal with the injury and may have to take a long time off in order to heal.

There are, however, things you can do to keep up your skills while you are injured and healing up. First, a disclaimer: always follow your physician’s advice. Never dance through an injury if your doctor has told you to rest it.

While it was not a real injury, I found I had a lot of time to think about dancing when I got a tetanus shot in my left arm recently. Tetanus shots suck, plain and simple. I often cannot use that arm for days afterwards, and I get body aches and pains that make it difficult to do anything more than shiver under the blankets and moan. Makes it really difficult to keep in practice… I found myself annoyed that I could not do more except drills where I could hold my arms at my sides. Boring. And then I realized, there was a lot I could work on while I was “injured!” I couldn’t use my left arm, but I had been meaning to work on my occasionally-floppy right arm. What a perfect time to do it! So while I danced, I was able to pay more attention to my right arm, leaving my left at my side. I noticed things about my right arm that I hadn’t before, because I was always more focused on other things.

So if you find yourself injured and unable to dance, perhaps there is something you can do to improve your dance while still resting your injury. Broke your foot? Have a seat, prop the leg up, and focus on upper body. Rotator cuff problems? Rest your arms and work on traveling steps instead. Think of an injury, not as a forced time away from dance, but a time to work on all the other parts of your dance you haven’t had a chance to get to yet.

But always remember to follow your doctor’s advice on how to treat your injury. It’s better to get a few weeks of rest then to keep hurting yourself and end up with months away from dance. And if you find yourself injured a lot, you may need an assessment of your dance technique from a qualified teacher. Always remember to warm up (don’t do intense stretches!) before you dance and to stretch and cool down afterwards in order to prevent injury.

Going to Chicago!

Big news (big, big news!…sorry inside joke)!

I’m moving to Chicago! Yep, that’s right, I’m leaving the desert to go North, back to the cold. And yes, I am aware it’s cold up there, in case anyone else is likely to inform me. In fact, right now, as I compose this, I am sitting in the airport, waiting to fly up to Chicago in order to look for apartments.

So, things will be weird for a little bit. The weekly challenges aren’t likely to happen this month (considering that I’ve already missed one of them!) but I might surprise you. I’m going to have lots of time in airports this month, so maybe I’ll come up with a few things.

If you are interested in taking classes with me and live in the Chicago area, keep an eye on my website for more news about when those will start. It won’t be right away (especially with the holidays coming up), but I’m aiming for as soon as possible. Got any New Year’s resolutions? Consider fulfilling your dance/exercise/get in shape resolutions with me!

This is a huge change for me! And I have other Secret Projects in the works, too, including a new workshop, so you’ll want to keep up with the news here and on my website.