This past weekend I attended two workshops taught by Jayna and Stefanya of the Bellydance Superstars, as well as the evening Cairo Nights Vol. 4 CD Release show and party, produced by Roxy. Jayna taught double 3/4 double circular veil technique, and Stefanya taught a choreography that she uses for the Bellydance Superstars tour.
The first workshop of the day was with Jayna. Trying out double 3/4 circular veil with Jayna was a new prop that I'd never attempted before. Jayna credits her 3/4 circular veil inspiration to her mother, Marta Schill. Marta was one of the founders of national non-profit Middle Eastern Culture and Dance Association ("MECDA") and co-author of the book The Compleat Belly Dancer.
I don't think I was personally that successful at it, but Jayna definitely had some wow-factor moves. I was hoping she had a video of her double veil posted online, but unfortunately I wasn't able to find one to share with this post. (I have one that I took during the workshop, but I don't like to post without videos without people's permission.) So instead, for your viewing pleasure, check out her skill at double sword!
The second workshop of the day was with Stefanya. I don't usually care for learning choreography in workshops, but Stefanya won me over right away with her emphasis on artistry and expression. A couple great tips that Stefanya shared were:
- Three connections - in any performance you must make sure you are establishing the three critical connections, which are (a) your connection with the earth, in which you ground yourself down into it, (b) your connection with and relationship to the music, which like in any relationship, sometimes you lead and the music follows, and sometimes the music leads and you follow, and (c) your connection with and unity to the breath, which is your spark for creative expression.
- Engage in the inner thighs - to find the right muscle to engage, place your arms straight down at your sides, then take the hands and move them to the back of the leg (you should be touching just below the ledge of the glutes) and then think of squeezing these two points in toward each other. I had never actually had another teacher talk about engagement in this exact place or manner, but when I activated here, I automatically grew taller as it caused the arches of my feet to engage upward and it also caused my core to automatically draw in to the proper engage position.
Not the same choreography that we learned, but to see Stefanya's artistry in action check out the video below.
Photo Credit: Cover of Cairo Nights Vol. 4