2021 Bellydance Bundle!
I am beyond thrilled to announce this – I have been accepted as a Bellydance Bundle Contributor for 2021!!
It has been one of my GOALS for the last few years to join this group of dancers & teachers & it finally happened!
What is the Bellydance Bundle??
It is an AMAZING Collection of dancer collaborations to keep you training & working at your own pace to grow as a dancer. There are dancers from all over the world & backgrounds that are included in the bundle so you have a variety of teachers & disciplines to keep growing.
This year I will be presenting 2 workshops on Pilates for Dancers that will be included in the bundle.
4.5 years ago I stepped into my pilates training to not only learn how to help others through movement but also how to help my body & dance. It has been an integral part of relearning oriental dance & movement patterns – not to mention core conditioning, strength and muscle integration. During the start of the pandemic I started to teach virtual mat pilates classes to dancers, personal trainers & other fitness professionals & I got such positive feedback! Today my virtual class is made up of mostly dancers who are looking to keep their bodies strong & develop muscular awareness.
“Pilates has helped my dance ability! My muscle & joints are stronger, which supports my body more. For bellydance, I can articulate moves better & I have a larger range of motion” – Sheri
2021 Bellydance Bundle Details
We kick off a strong month + of Bellydance starting today (September 15) with a fantastic new resource to see the progress you’re making in your practice in real time.
Track Your Dance, See Your Progress.
This new guide takes you through some different ways that you might be able to track your practice, has you set some goals, and then has a 30 day fillable tracker that you can use while you’re practicing!
Check it out here: The Bellydance Bundle Link
Can’t wait to see your progress in real time!
Who doesn’t need a new pair of zills, or five? The Bellydance Bundle is giving five lucky winners, five pairs of zills from Turquoise International & Saroyan to celebrate their fifth year! Check it out here!
Contest starts September 20 – October 2!! There will be loads of other giveaways (including from yours truly) so make sure to watch your email!
Bellydance Bundle Sale
In October, there is a crazy sale happening for the bundle which starts October 20 – 27 (7 days only!!) where you can save a Bundle on the Bundle! Mark your calendars to grab this deal!
Thank you all so much for this support! It is crazy amazing!
Guest Author – Adrianne (USA)
When I started out taking my first belly dance class I had no idea how this dance would greatly affect my life. I was painfully shy and I had not found my voice or strength yet. I still felt so young and naive, I was 26 when I started my dance journey. But something about this dance pulled me in, maybe it was the glitter or the music. But once I started working with the local Arab-American community here in Southern California something in me changed for the better.
Years ago at one of our local bely dance haflas I meet some of the gigging dancers in town and they asked me if I wanted to work and make some money. The manager would book me at local Arab-American night clubs here in Southern California and take a cut of the money for booking me. I honestly still don’t know why I agreed to join her. I’m a morning person, I can’t stay up past 10pm, I hate being in situations I don’t know what’s going on and I never leave my comfort zone. But for some reason, I said “yes”.
I had “the look” and a basic understanding of the music and culture thanks to my class training from Sa’eeda and Tamra Henna here in Los Angeles. So my gigging dance career went form zero to 100. It only took a couple of weeks for me to start dancing at multiple clubs each weekend. The next stage of my dance education was about to begin. Seeing how the dance exists among the people. The doors opened wide for me into the Arab-American community. I was invited into their homes, personal celebrations and life’s biggest moments. I was finally able to see and practise all the knowledge that was given to me in my first dance classes. What I didn’t expect was how they would change me, teach me to be a better, stronger person.
The Dancer Persona
I have always been a shy introvert. I barely spoke up in school and I was always known as the quite one. When I showed up to my first solo gig the Egyptian owners assumed not only that I knew what I was doing but I would command their hookah lounge. They made it clear I needed to get every single person up to dance. While I had a very extensive education in Egyptian dance, nothing really prepares you for your first solo gig at an Arab-American establishment. I was absolutely terrified once I walked in, completely out of my element. I’m usually in bed by 9pm, I hate crowds and loud music and now here I am at midnight waiting to dance as laser lights and smoke fill the room.
I had to pull from deep to find my confidence. It was sink or swim and I needed to really put on a great show. I don’t like not succeeding, so from there I created her: The Diva. They always say fake it until you make, it so I changed my persona and became someone else, confident, full of life and joy. The Egyptians in the room would sing loudly and gesture to the music and encourage me even more. The louder they clapped the more into my character I would dive. They gave my inner-diva permission and acceptance, she started to grow bigger and stronger. It was in these smoky rooms the I was able to grow my dance persona. I was the boss.
As I would dance I would watch the women and men, I’d analyze their reactions and take notes. After each gig I’d sit and think about which moves and actions I did that had the most reception from the families I was dancing for. The more I fell into the “Feminine but in charge” category the more they loved me. Soon I could easily accept the challenge of convincing every one in the room to dance or engage with me. Within 3 months of gigging I went from faking confidence to actually having it.
I started noticing this new found confidence creeping into my life off the stage too. I walked a little taller, more sure of my decisions. I knew if I could control a rowdy crowd of men on the dance floor, I can really handle anything. My whole life I had been searching for confidence and I found it on the dance floor in the smokiest, loudest of lounges.
I have always hated confrontation. Any time I had to stand up for my worth or ask for what I needed I would usually give in or give up. I remember one night early on in my gig career the manager handed me my payment and it was $20 short. My heart was racing, I was going to have to speak up and convince them to give me the the full promised payment. I stood my ground, showing them text messages and making it clear I wasn’t going to leave without my full payment. This was very new for me and terrifying. I had never really spoke up in my life before! And to my surprise, I got the full payment. I was honestly shocked. I didn’t know I had that in me, and at first I didn’t even know why I won that negotiation.
I soon learned that the art of negotiation was a very big part of the Arab-American community here and it came into all their business dealings. For them negotiation was expected and they enjoyed it too. I started studying how my clients would approach me for work, the words they would use to try and justify a lower payment amount. I had to quickly learn some solid tactics and approaches to get my preferred payment amount. It was perhaps one of the most challenging learning journeys I’ve ever undertaken. But soon I found that these skills were helping me in my normal life too.
I was easily able to negotiate more transactions in my daytime life. I was able to get bills corrected at a higher success rate and refunds from bad services. I always thought I would never be able to speak up for my worth, but I found it’s like a muscle that I you need to strengthen and it’s possible. Even at my corporate job I’m now easily able to negotiate with vendors for lower rates, and that has been noticed by my bosses. When my husband and I visited Morocco many shop keepers would say “You negotiate like a Moroccan not an American”. That’s because I learned from the best.
Hospitality & Relationships
I don’t think I ever left a gig without being offered food, ever. Numerous times my payment was followed with “Do you want some falafels to-go?” I’ve had the food at most major Middle-Eastern establishments in the Southern California area. Many times the restaurant managers seemed very adamant about giving me food or tea, they wanted me to stay and chat. My inner American was confused, why can’t I just get payment and leave, we don’t need to be friends this is business.
But I soon learned how important hospitality and relationships are in business for my clients. For years I did graphic design and marketing for an Egyptian family that would host major signers from Cairo here in the United States. All our business meetings had to be done over a meal. Even when we meet in one of their 5 businesses, a back room of an AC repair shop surrounded by scrap metal, equipment and file cabinets from 1987, I was always served tea and lentil soup over our meetings. For them it was rude to pay me and for me to leave. Building that relationship made our business dealings stronger. I was more in-tune with their marketing and event visions because of our meals together.
Soon I was able to easily sit and chat with them get to know why the singers were so amazing and create marketing materials that made everyone happy, including the stars of Cairo. It was sitting and listening that I was able to see just how valuable relationships are in a business. My clients wanted someone they can trust, someone they know gets them. And we’re not going to get there by only talking about the project and payment. It’s deeper than that. We need to make sure we are comfortable and welcome and what better what than sitting at the table with tea and food, breaking bread together.
I found that in my day job I started building relationships. I would bring people in other departments food and check in on them and their families. I soon found my bosses noticing I was one of the most resourceful people at the office since I had connections across so many departments. I was because I took the time to feed people, sit with them, talk to them and build those relationships.
My family never listened to music. Not while working around the house or on the car, we had family parties with the TV and radio off. I’ve never heard my mother or father sing a song. Music was not something my family brought into my life. Being a 1980’s latch-key kid with unlimited access to MTV greatly impacted me, but that’s another story for another day. Once I started working in our local Arab-American night clubs it instantly struck me how much they loved to sing along to my set music. Especially the classics. My western-taste assumed they’d prefer my drum solos and modern remixes more than the classic songs, but I was so very wrong. Early on in my gigging career I saw a dancer play Batwanees Beek by Warda and I was so moved by how into this song the audience was! They sang along , they waved their hands, they sang to each other with such joy in their faces. I immediately added the top classics to my shows.
As the Arab-American community soon started hiring me to dance in their homes for their private celebrations. It was common for me to arrive finding Un Kulthumm playing in the background. I was moved by how much music meant to these families and community. How much it was the background to their lives. It was more than just a song they liked. Personal memories were tied to this music. No wonder I’ve had a few clients scold me for cutting their favorite versus out of 10 minute song. Music is life.
Seeing how the music is so much more than a song gave me a much deeper appreciation in my dance and helped me better connect to the music. It’s more than a melody and rhythm, it’s life’s sound track. Now when I dance I still imagine the faces of families I danced for, their gestures and emotions as they sang along. It helps me find in myself those same life experiences to bring to the dance floor. This has really affected my dance and how I approach each song.
These days I rarely gig as I’ve gotten older and I’m done with the hustle. Over the nights of coming home at 4am with smeared eye shadow and dirty sore feet. My stable corporate job allows me the freedom to dance when and how I want. I can live my artistic life on my own terms now. But I’m a much different person because of the work I’ve done over a 10 year period in the Arab-American community here. They challenged me and made me grow. Families encouraged me, fed me and taught me. I’ve seen all sides of their complex lives full of joy and pain. I am forever grateful for the opportunities given to me and the challenges I accepted. I’m a better person today because of the families I danced for.I hope to never stop learning from this community.
Connect with Adrianne!
Autumn 2021 Classes with Ashley Rhianne
Oriental – Beginners 2/ Intermediate class 730 – 830pm PST
Session 1: September 13 to October 18 (no class October 11 for Thanksgiving) $65
Session 2: October 25 – November 29 $78
*Drop in $17
Registation payable by etransfer. Participants will receive the link after payment
Oriental – Beginners Tuesday 6 – 7pm
Session 1: September 14 – October 19 $120
Session 2: October 26 – November 30 $120
*Drop in $25
Oriental – Beginners 2/ Intermediate class 730 – 9pm PST
Session 1: September 14 – October 19 $135
Session 2: October 26 – November 30 $135
*Drop in $25
Location: 1701 Powell Street “The ARC”
Pilates Classes are now online!
Wednesdays 5pm PST
$12/class or 4 classes for $40
To register, please contact Ashley Rhianne: firstname.lastname@example.org
Subscribe to my mailing list! Click here.
October 16 & 17 2021 Raks Quebec
I will be teaching 2 workshops for Raks Quebec October 16 & 17th – Baladi & Dance in 3D focusing on Laban’s Theory of movement!
Classes will be offered on Zoom.
Please see Raks Quebec for more details & how to register!
October 23 – 25 2021 Ashley Rhianne in Kelowna
Ashley Rhianne is back with her first in-person workshop in over a year!
Come join us in Kelowna, BC October 23 & 24th for 2 days of dance, a gala show & a bazaar of goodies that you can round out & refresh your dance gear!
For more info, please see the event details on Facebook here.
Contact Linda Kovach here to register or more info!
My personal philosophy of why dancers should cross-train
As someone who has danced all her life, movement has always held a huge part of interest, investment & therapy. It’s been the place where I always could meet people and make friends, channel my energy & also learn and grow. Here I also learned discipline and the feeling of hard physical work. I was never into sports (still to this day!) but dance was this equivalent.
I went to my first step aerobics class at 11 years old and loved the athletic flow of the class. The combos and sequences were like dance and just made sense to my body. I added fitness to my life from then onwards. The further I went into dance and fitness I started to make the connection of how these two activities were very complimentary to each other. I gained a good understanding of how to shift my weight, where my body was in space (proprioception) and basically how my body worked. This awareness has allowed me to train with higher level performance trainers and keep pushing myself.
Incorporating Pilates into my life has taught me a deeper connection of recruiting muscles + dancing/teaching more anatomically correct.
Cross training also allows our brains to get smarter (really!) by forging new neural pathways that through repetition become engrained in muscle memory. And because our body is very smart & wants to always conserve energy, cross training constantly challenges our body to keep learning and growing. This body growth contributes to our dance in so many ways. Not to mention the strength and stamina we get from training & also the perky bum (ALWAYS a bonus).
As we age through dance, we want to keep our bodies as active as possible so that we can continue to do the things we love to do now. Cross training also decreases the chances of repetitive injuries & aids in recovery.
My Weekly Routine:
I aim for 5 days of exercise a week. I attend 2 HIIT classes a week (usually Tuesdays & Thursdays) at 6am – even though its hard to wake up I am always SO GLAD to have my workout done. I then aim to hit the gym 2 other days in the week to lift weights, get a bit of varied cardio in. I teach a pilates class Wednesdays online and in studio Mondays. I try to get into the studio early so I can get a reformer workout in.
I also teach dance so I get in some practice time and set up my class through training.
On top of this, I aim to walk 10k steps a day and take stairs whenever I can. During the pandemic I was working from home and sitting at my table working so I was only taking between 1500-2k steps a day!! Research has shown time & time again that low impact, steady state exercise like walking is an excellent stress reliever, helps strengthen & tone your legs and boosts mood. I have really enjoyed committing to these walks and it helps break up my work day or is a great way to wind down for sleep.
We only have this body now – treat it like a temple
Ashley Rhianne is excited to announce that she will be returning as a featured performer and judge at the 2019 edition of Oriental Passion Saigon in Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam. This is an incredible opportunity to meet dancers from all over Asia and esteemed teachers Aida Bogomolova (Russia), Ahmed Rafaat (Egypt) and Mijin Kang (Korea).
For festival details, please here.