New Session Fall 2015

Sept. 2015

Sept. 2015

Greetings, Lovelies! September is here and our next class session is starting on the 12th. I have moved to a 7 week format to allow for more opportunities for people to start a new session, and so we can wrap up by May as summers are always busy. See my FAQ tab above for more info.

Also Jasmin Jahal is coming back to teach us a bit about Saidi style dance! Kismet is really excited to be able to present this workshop. Please see the WORKSHOP tab above for more info. The early bird gets the discount, so don’t delay, whether it is just the Friday intro or both days. It is worth your time to check it out.

On Oct 3-4 I will be traveling to Minneapolis to participate in Karim Nagi’s workshops presented by Jawaahir. Check it out!

Hope to see you all soon!

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Cassandra’s Weeklong Intensive – March 2013

Class of 2013

Class of 2013

It has been a few weeks since I got back from Cassandra’s week long intensive, so I’ve had a little time to reflect and review. Here’s my experience in case you are interested in going next year.

First of all, the whole idea of this was a bit daunting for me. I’ve been without a teacher for a few years now and I really needed a challenge. When I was taking classes from Laura at the Y she encouraged us to go to workshops and check out other teachers, and she even handed out the Jawaahir newsletter in class a couple times. I was really, really excited to be a student again. However, being completely immersed in belly dance for a whole week, 10am-4:30pm is a little overwhelming. And being taught by THE Cassandra Shore made me a little nervous. I think it was because I felt (before I went) like I needed to be at some elite or advanced level to even be there. I became more nervous as the weeks and days got closer and closer. The good news is that Cassandra is not a queen bee at all, but a completely real, down to earth person; very approachable and likeable, great sense of humor, lots of fun. Not that I expected her to be aloof, but she’s kind of a big deal, you know? And she was not alone, in that she had a bevy of teaching assistants who are all equally lovely.

We only learned one full choreography over the course of the week, but it was challenging, and about 8 1/2 minutes long. It is also gorgeous. There is a pretty strong ballet influence to her style though, so as someone who took ballet for one year during 4th grade I am always at a bit of a disadvantage when any instructor, live or on video, starts speaking in terms of ballet arm positions or mentions Relevé and Passé (I’m looking at you, Shimmy Mob), etc. But that wasn’t really too big a deal, since I had plenty of time to come to grips with it, and several teaching assistants to help out. As far as the choreography goes, I do wish we had done more with the Saidi, because it was quite a lot of fun, but we only worked on it Friday afternoon. Perhaps if I find an opportunity to do a Saidi workshop I will explore it more.

There were a couple of vendors at the workshop, including Dahlal International. This was pretty distracting because we would line up along one side of the room and move in twos diagonally across the floor when practicing technique. While waiting for our turns, most of us would be glancing back at the pretties and not paying as close attention as we probably should to what was going on. I am 100% guilty of this! Dahlal got a lot of my money that week.

We also had an acupressure and massage therapist available, as well as a henna artist. They were part of the cost of the workshop! I did not partake myself, but by all accounts they were super. Appointments were available during class time.

So the days were scheduled as such:

10am-12:30pm: warmup, conditioning, technique

12:30pm-1pm: lunch

1pm-2pm: lecture (music, makeup, etc; something different each day)

2pm-4:30pm: choreography

Monday evening we had dinner as a class at the Beirut restaurant, which was really good, and got to watch fellow students perform during dinner. I opted to perform, and I am glad I did. That was one more thing that was a bit intimidating, even though everyone is really supportive. Everyone is their own worst critic, I know, but I always feel extra self-conscious about performing for other belly dancers because they actually know what I’m doing. When I perform for the general public they typically don’t comprehend subtle technique and are just impressed by a pretty lady in a sparkly dress. Fellow belly dancers are usually studying each other. Not judging, mind you, just studying. Yeah, I was studying all of the other dancers who got up on stage. I think I learned a thing or two from them too.

Friday and Saturday evenings we were able to watch the pros do their stuff. It was probably worth the 4 hour trip just to be able to watch all of the other dancers! Friday was at Patrick’s Cabaret, which is in the same building as the Jawaahir studio. Saturday the studio was transformed into Cassandra’s Cabaret. Awesome!

So, what did I learn?

  1. I need to build up my calf strength, seriously
  2. I would like to add more subtle details to my own choreo in the future
  3. Warda is da bomb
  4. I can’t spin more than twice without falling over (actually knew that before but it was reinforced here)
  5. Some sweet new moves

What you should know before you go:

  1. You should probably be an advanced beginner or intermediate level student to get the full benefit of the workshop. Definitely have a good handle on your shimmies.
  2. Leave your ego at home. All of the TA’s were super nice, but even I felt a mild annoyance at being shown how to do snake arms. I’m thinking “I’ve been doing snake arms for 13 years, lady.” But I paid several hundred dollars for someone to teach me THEIR way of doing it, so I did it and thanked them for correcting me.
  3. You will meet a lot of really cool people and have the opportunity to talk shop. I had the opportunity to converse about everything from the dance scene in different parts of the country, to costume resources, to business strategy, etc.

Regarding accommodations: I drove in from Fargo. Jawaahir was able to get a loft downtown, about a 10 minute drive, or an easy hop on the light rail, from the studio. At $68/night it seemed to be a pretty sweet deal – this was a fully-furnished one bedroom apartment. When my husband and I visit the Twin Cities (about 3-4 times a year) we stay in the ‘burbs. We have never stayed downtown. I did not ask enough questions about the parking beforehand and ended up paying $65 for the week. It would have been more if there had been an event as the loft I was in was situated right between the Guthrie Theatre and the Metrodome. If I had NOT had a car this would have been an ideal situation. Also, they gave me a roommate (knocking it down to $34/night) but did not tell either of us that it was single accommodations. One bed and one (non-fold out) couch, and one key. Not good for an entire week. My roommate found someplace else to stay (with my blessing). I feel strongly that this is information that should have been shared before we agreed to the arrangement. So if you are given this opportunity ask how many beds and keys you will get. Also, if you stay downtown be sure to take a walk around the neighborhood the first day you are there, if possible. I was told there was no nearby grocery store. There was in fact a very nice one only 2 blocks away.

So in conclusion, I highly recommend the intensive or any one of the other dozens of workshops Cassandra does around the country/world. It was a really good experience and it made me want to push my limits more. It was the kick in the butt I needed!

This Month in Bellydance – March!

Vixen Variety Shows

Vixen Variety Shows

February was a crazy month, and March shows no signs of slowing down. Vixen Variety Shows will be putting on a spectacular at Big D’s in Fargo Wednesday, March 13 at 10pm. We’ve just recruited some great hula hoopers and a fire eater in addition to drag, burlesque and of course bellydance, so don’t miss it!

The stars have finally aligned and I will be able to attend Cassandra Shore’s weeklong bellydance intensive. I’m so excited I can hardly stand it! I’ve been wanting to do this for about 10 years. I just got an update today on what we will be doing: two choreographies, a class performance, two professional performances, stage makeup, the works! Gonna be great!

And we’ll be at the Winery again for our monthly show on March 30, this time the theme is “spring.” Chef John could pull anything out of his masterful hat. Whatever it is you won’t want to miss it. Nom!

We’re going to be wrapping up our current class session on March 30 (no class March 23 due to the workshop), and starting a 4-week shimmy intensive to round out the season. That will be April 6-27. After that no regular class until after Labor Day. But we will still have haflas and other events. Check back here for updates.

Looking further out on the calendar, don’t forget CoreCon is May 3-5, where I will co-host The KEEP, which is possibly the best con suite there (totally unbiased opinion), and the Mistryl Shimmy Guard (best bellydance troupe at CoreCon, also unbiased) will be making their debut at the Death Star Visitor’s Lounge.

AND of course May 11 is World Bellydance Day. The Lovely Dozen are hosting a weekend-long workshop with Saroya of Atlanta, as well as the Shimmy Mob! This is going to be a BLAST! If you are interested in the shimmy mob I suggest you register right away so you can come to grips with the choreography. Click the links for more info.

I’m tuckered out just typing about all of this stuff. Hope you can join us!