Off the back of our Bal-Anat inspired workshop yesterday, here are some vids for you to enjoy.
Jamilla Salimpour is a mega influential American bellydancer - she started teaching bellydance in the late 40's in the bay Area, and nowadays gets reffered to as the Mother of Tribal, as decendants from her students from her troupe, Bal Anat, created ATS bellydance (That would be Carolena Nericcio through Macha Archer) and tribal fusion bellydance (mainly through Jill Parker, a student of Carolena's), though at the time, there was none of this "I Am Creating Tribal Bellydance" stuff - it was just Jamilla teaching dance the way she knew how and presenting a glorious theatrical fantasy to an audience.
So, let's get learning about our dance history. First up is a biography vid about Jamilla Salimpour - it's fascinating man. Give it a whirl.
And here is a video of Bal Anat in the 70's - I love it! So much energy, and colour, and even though it's really simple, it's really vibrant and interesting to watch.
This summer I did another stint with Suhaila Salimpour in London.
Every time I train with Suhaila I am completely blown away by how much I love her and her work, and how what she teaches is JUST EXACTLY what I need.
This was my third intensive weekend with Suhaila in as many years, and I spent the 6 months previous to the weekend working with her excellent Online Classes to prepare. Finally, this year, I COULD ACTUALLY DO STUFF! I could do the glute squeezes properly, I could layer full time things on half time things and do them walking backwards, I (mostly) did all the warmups without wussing out, I could do the undulations fast enough without hyperventilating... it was IMMENSE.
The thing about Suhaila's format is that it takes a hella-tonne of hard work, and I think it takes a different amount of time for everyone to grasp, because everyone's body is different.
For me my white whale was glute squeezes - I have an old IT band injury (which Suhaila helped heal two years ago, cos she is awesome like that) I sustained from STEPPING ON A TRAIN (yes) which really messed up my right side and whenever my baby learning glutes tried to squeeze, the right side would pull on my IT band and aggrevate it further. I couldn't get into the straddle position Suhaila encourages to practice glutes in - it's kind of a sitting on the floor with your legs wide apart and leaning forward move, and when I started I could barely sit up straight on the floor with my legs together in front of me, let alone some crazy ass splits-ish nonsense! It was one of those movements I just felt I was doing wrong all the time, as nothing was happening and I was paranoid about bothering my IT band.
Also, glute squeezes are just f'ing difficult. It was not a natural movement to me.
Finally over Christmas last year I cracked it: I've learnt that if you just keep trying to do something, eventually, when you've kinda forgotten how much you care about it, it just happens. I could sit forward in straddle and my glutes were UNLEASHED. Literally, as I spent the next few months proudly showing everyone I know that I could sit on the floor and rhythmically squeeze my bum and telling them how long it took for me to be able to do this. Three years people.
So this year, I felt awesome. It was still hard, there was still a huge chunk of stuff I couldn't do, and I was still sweating and frowning like a mother, but I had progressed so far from where I began and I was so proud of myself!
During one of the drills, Suhaila actually looked at what I was doing and gave me a big thumbs up and "You got it, that's great!" and then I was incredibly chuffed and proud and pleased forever more.
Just being in that ridiculously hot (heatwave in London folks) classroom, with non-stop dancing and drilling and being so challenged and learning from one of my ultimate bellydance hero's, maybe my ultimate bellydance hero, and grinning so hard because I loved every second... I actually teared up a bit. Well, quite a lot really. And often. But no-one could see because I was so disgustingly sweaty everywhere, thank Christ.
This year I left knowing that this is what I need and who I need to train with, who inspires me, and that I freaking love Suhaila Salimpour and the Salimpour Format.
I'm doing Level 1 training in London next year, then saving up to go to San Fransisco in 2014/2015 to do a weeklong with Suhaila. Bring it.
Ok, I think I was the second person to pay up and reserve my Suhaila Workshops in Brighton this year. A friend e-mailed me at work the day tickets went on sale, and since I had no internet at my house, after work I literally ran home, picked up my debit card, came all the way back to work and paid for it.
We almost have a Suhaila war chant in my house, the boys have listened to me rabbiting on about her so much.
I hope I am expressing to you how excited I was about training with Suhaila.
Let's give you a blow by blow of the workshops. Three days. Day one was Jamila Salimpour format, in which we learnt Jamila's original moves used in her Bal Anat troupe (Jamila being the mother of tribal, and of course of ATS) and spent five hours zilling (after so long thinking that I can't zill as it destroys my wrists, I was taught safe zill practice and managed to zill, very inexpertly, for five hours) and dammit I am bringing the Zills back to ATS in Cambridge. And I need to get some big noisy sexy ones as well.
Day 2 was Suhaila level 1 format. I could handle the warm up ok, which was a good start. Then came the maths, oh my. Suhaila's mission was to package bellydance into an intense training system equal to other dance forms, like Ballet and Jazz. Part of this was creating a terminology for moves, timing, and instead of saying "mya while walking" it would be "walking half time downbeat on the right with vertical eights up to down full time." My brain does not process anything vaguely related to maths, so this was super challenging to me. I had my Face Of Trouble on and my Concentration Tounge out through that lecture.
Day three, Suhaila level two, with LAYERING. My brain, my brain, my brain. I think all of us were concentrating so hard that if we tried to pay attention to anything other than counting and where the downbeat was we would have exploded.
These workshops really made me realise that I have SO FAR TO GO to be the dancer I want to be. All we did were drills, drills on different foot patterns, drills layering other drills on top of drills, drills changing tempo. There was no dancing, no opportunity for me to hide my slim technical knowledge with all the pizazzy bits or to judge who was the dancer I'd like to see perform most. And my god were we sweating.
And I LOVED IT.
I'd like to live in Suhaila's STUDIO CUPBOARD I loved it so much.
In addition to five hours of drilling and learning dance stuff every day, Suhaila did a LOT of talking, about how her Mum became a dance teacher, about how she came up with the format, about the history of the dance in America, what is safe dance practice - she's got a brain full of stuff. Chockablock. Did I say chockablock? I meant chockamockablock.
I was horribly worried that I wouldn't be able to do anything in these workshops, as an old knee injury had popped up again a week and a half before Suhaila time, and I was freaking out a bit, cos I know I'd give it my all in workshop then be a hobbly cripple afterwards. Suhaila asked if we had any injuries, and I said my knee and explained what it was, and she told me I needed to ROLL IT OUT and asked someone to bring in a roller on day 2. When we were doing warm up, Suhaila came up to me and dug her fingers into my thigh, from mid thigh to practically my groin, and dude it HURT. Maybe stabbed her fingers would be better. But, after that, honestly, the pain in my leg, which had been so crap that previous week that I couldn't even lead my dance class or sit down for long periods of time, was 98% gone. For real. I shall say that again - gone, for real.
She got me on a roller the next day, and even though it was blasphemously painful, I bought one when I got home for future fixing and regular painful use. I'm gonna get my boys on it too.
Suhaila was incredible - anyone who has read my blog before will know that I am a leeeetle bit gay for her, but know my god do I know why. I love how her system is structured, the emphasis on muscle control and safety and conditioning so we have strong dancers bodies. I loved the drills, I loved the music, I loved how much she knew, I loved holding her ass while she did her butt vibration shimmy and I loved how much I couldn't do it.
Aggggghhh Suhaila! If anyone else wants to bring her to the UK, I have money here for you. If not, well, it'll be Belgium next year for Level One and America in 2013 for future progress!!!!