Friday, 16 November 2012

Lovely Props

Nicolah bellydancing with a veil
After a crazy busy week at work, it feels soooo good to be doing dance rehearsals, as it helps boost energy and gets the old creative juices flowing.                                                                                                  Currently, I'm choreographing for solo performances and plan to include my favourite bellydance prop, the oh so lovely silk veil. It's a great way for a dancer to make an entrance onto the stage with elegance. Softly floating through the air to a rhythmical Middle-Eastern beat, the veil can look graceful and enhance just how a bellydancer wants to translate the creative art form to his or her audience beautifully. I always get excited when I dance with the veil because it makes me feel like I'm flying around the stage with the colourful wings of a butterfly having been set free.                                                           
Another prop I like are the clinkedy clanky hand musical instruments, called the fingers cymbals (aka the zills or sagat).  Known to originate in Ancient Greece and Egypt as an extension of dancers clapping their hands, the zills are still recognised today to be an enjoyable and melodic way of joining in the rhythms and beats of bellydance songs. Since being introduced to the zills myself in 2009, by Razia Star, an American bellydance teacher, I'm guilty of not using my zills enough and feel I should be using them a lot more in my dancing.  This may be because the zills are not as commonly used in bellydance circles over here, compared to their more popular use in places like America, Turkey and Egypt. However, when I do get to see performances in London with dancers delicately zilling away with this shimmering metal prop in tune to the zill rhythm, I am blown away and feel inspired.  

Using the veil, zills and other props in bellydance have made me a lot more conscious of how I position my arms and use my upper/lower body aiming for perfect 'lines' to carry myself with poise and grace with whilst dancing.  This is why I recommend working with props every now and then, because they have made me change perspective at times to work on other things, which in turn helps improve my all round dancing, both with and without props.

Happy shimmies :)


Sunday, 11 November 2012

Remembrance Shimmies

Bellydancer in army costume
It's 11 November, Remembrance Sunday - the day we remember and salute the bravery, dedication and determination of the service men and women who have fought for their countries. I pay kudos to anyone serving or has previously served in the army, and their gutsy approach towards standing up for what they believe in, often resulting in the freedom of others.  

All too often we see in our everyday lives, how unjust acts of cruelty can devalue the perceived "underdog", so they feel downtrodden and become weak. People take it upon themselves to go on a power trip to feel “big” and get one up on others, which is a crying shame in this day and age.  Unfortunately this happens within workplaces, communities, industries and countries; hence the wars, large scale disagreements, riots and upheaval caused for thousands of innocent people around the world. 

If folks learnt to hate less and LOVE more, by accepting one another, realising that nothing and no one is perfect, I believe that life as we know it would run a lot smoother with less wars for our serviceman to fight in.  What one person sees in another is ultimately a reflection of themselves so it’s better to let it go, and get on with life with a positive mental attitude.  

My take on things, is regardless of the quarrels and wars, its best to invest your own time and energy into fun and more creative pursuits to lift your spirits. We owe this to all of those people who lost their lives on the front line fighting for liberation. For me, my freedom and energy are invested in vigorously drilling bellydance workouts, combinations and choreographies for hours on end, as if I’m being shouted at and put through my paces by a sergeant major from the army.  I want to be a better dancer and by dedicating myself to my passion by taking command and going for it, I hope to continuously improve. With this, I pay ultimate respect to any bellydancer who has come up against the stereotypical odds, stuck to their guns and made a stand by focussing solely on the love of their passion and being true to the art form. 

So its days like today, we should all take the time to reflect on where our own energy is heading – is it mostly towards love or hate?  Also, to appreciate and remember what it takes for a person to stand up against the odds, be strong and do the right thing.

Happy Shimmies this Remembrance Day!


Friday, 2 November 2012

Let’s Dance Again

Nicolah in bellydance gypsy skirt
After a break from the world of all things bellydance, I’m pleased to be practicing my shimmies, learning new dances again and creating new choreographies to perform.  

Earlier this year I decided to take a step back from dancing due to other commitments, but as time went by, I felt that something was missing.  I eventually realised that I missed the beautiful and mysterious artform of bellydance and just how much of a great stress busting release it is for me. It’s what keeps me going.  So, by not pursuing my passion further, I was holding back the inner dancer in me who was screaming for authentic creative and artistic expression. 

The good news is that a couple of weeks ago, I joined the cast of the innovative dance theatre project, “One Day in Istanbul” (ODII) to dance as one of the harem dancers in the show.  Devised by world-renowned Master Dancer & Teacher, Ozgen, and presented by the fabulous duo Dunya Bellydance, the show is set around the bustling streets of Istanbul and is brought alive through drama and dance to showcase Turkish culture.  ODII is sure to be an A-M-A-Z-I-N-G collaboration of performances, and will profile how empowering and self-assuring the beauty of this dance is for women. Click on the flyer to the left, to see image clearly. 

With exactly one month until show time (2 December 2012 at the Cockpit Theatre London), ODII is a lovely and focussed step back into the swing of things for me with lots of fun rehearsals ahead.  It also kick starts a series of other dance workshops I’ll be attending and more performances I’ll be doing throughout the festive season and beyond.  Yaaay!

In hindsight, I’m glad I had a bit of break from dancing, because I am now able to reflect and appreciate bellydance that much more. 

To sum things up, I’ll leave you with a great quote from Hans Bos, which he words in a much better way than I ever could: "While I dance I cannot judge, I cannot hate, I cannot separate myself from life. I can only be joyful and whole. That is why I dance."

Happy Shimmies,


P.S. If you'd like to read how my bellydance journey began in Egypt, go to a previous blog post of mine by clicking here: