The Trouble with Cabaret Belly Dance

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Where is the world of Cabaret Belly Dance headed? Why do traditional dance classes seem to be getting smaller and Tribal and Fusion classes grow in popularity? Why are there fewer young people learning the dance? –something to think about.

I was at a haflah a couple of years ago and struck up a conversation with another dancer. We got along well and laughed. At that point neither of us was in costume and we didn’t discuss the style of dance the other did. Later I overheard her speaking to her troupe mates, a very talented AT troupe. She was blasting Cabaret dance, saying that it was degrading to women; pitting them against each other, intolerant of plus size dancers and fueled by patriarchal dogma. Unlike the tribal dancers who where communal and embraced womanly curves.

Wow, I thought. I knew that there was a bit of a rift between Cabaret and Tribal dancers but, I didn’t know it was that intense. So one could say, “Can’t we all just get along?” and chalk it up to cattiness. But, I think there might be some bits of truth in what she said.

It easy to see how Tribal would be appealing for a young woman starting out. Tribal is earthy with poised movements and ethnic costume. In AT dancers mainly perform as a group. They must constantly communicate with each other since the leader gives cues and instructions throughout the dance. The energy is strong and feminine and all sizes and shapes are welcomed. It’s an American invention so there are no ethnic or political questions. A simple costume consisting of a choli, 25 yard skirts, tassels, turban and tons of jewelry is affordable for most dancers and looks good on all body types.

Cabaret is elegant and graceful. Its origins are buried in pre-history from foreign lands. Soloists are the norm. To do this well the dancer needs to draw the audience in –all eyes on the dancer. As one learns the dance it’s expected that you’ll begin with the student troupe then eventually graduate to become a soloist. Dancers are expected to be young, thin and “commercially attractive”. The standard costume consisting of a sparkly bra/belt and skirt can be stunning yet expensive.

Being an Egyptian Cabaret dancer can be challenging. As a 5’1”, size 10 dancer, finding a flattering costume is nearly impossible. Plus size dancers and those looking for modest costumes, also have a really hard time. Strangely enough, even though I am of African descent (the continent that originated this form of dance) I’m questioned about being a dancer all the time.

Don’t get me wrong I love Cabaret style. It’s my foundation in technique, I love its history and that has served me well. But, I do think that there are some issues that need to be addressed. So let’s think about –talk about it. What do we need as dancers to thrive and are we getting it? What can we do to change that? The more we talk and are willing to grow, the happier our dance world becomes.

Are You a Magpie Like Me?

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If you were to ask me what was my favorite thing to do, I’d say dancing, art, food, travel, nature, science and culture are definitely my number one favorite. They all bring me great joy and fulfill me on different levels. So when I attended a business workshop and the instructor suggested that we focus on only one (possibly two) thing to build our company around, I was stunned into silence.

All my interests nourish me. My studies in Asian medicine, (as a Shiatsu Practitioner) have really benefited my dance. Being in nature and learning about plants for me is real and grounding. Art and journaling is a wonderful way to meditate and work through ideas. I learning science and technology with my son keeps us close. Dance helps me express my heart with energy there are no words for.

All of these activities are essential to my wellbeing. Sharing the experience with others makes it ten times better.

My feeling is that I’m not the only Magpie out there (standing on soap box). I believe that there are others that thrive on learning and experiences. I believe that just because someone is attracted to all things unique and wonderful, doesn’t make them flaky. It makes them fascinating and whole.

So my plan is to wrangle all my interests onto one platform. I’m sure a business expert would cringe reading this. My BloomStudio and BellyRhythm will not only offer dance and exercise classes, but also art, health, food, culture related events starting this Fall. There will be a great line up of guest Instructors and I’ll share my talents too.

Please join us either online or at the studio. We Magpies have to stick together.

Peace,
Audie

Visit BloomStudio on Facebook: BloomStudioBloomfield or check out http://www.BellyRhythm.com for more info.
***If you are interested in teaching a class, I’d love to talk to you.

Healthy & Tasty Molasses

Molasses Mousse_02i

When I was little my Grandmother would give me a big dose of “Father John’s” when I was sick. This thick viscously tonic tasted like a combination of cod liver oil and molasses. I know that doesn’t sound very appetizing but it worked wonders for me then and I always wondered why. Well, the health benefits of Omegas 3, 6 and 9, found in cod liver oil is all over the health journals. Nearly everyone has heard of it, but why molasses? Was it just flavoring?

This sugar cane nectar was a mainstay in most kitchens back when Father John O’Brien originated the recipe in 1855 (it’s still in production). But, today it seems to only be used as flavoring for holiday cakes. What did they know back then that we may have forgotten?

Well, with a little research and found that molasses is an ideal source for a ton of nutrients. Just one tablespoon contains 20% of the recommended daily requirement of calcium and copper, 22.5% of magnesium and nearly 40% of iron. Since the nutrients are plant sourced they are easily absorbed into the body. All these nutrients are key to combating chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, anxiety, and related nervous disorders, arthritis and rheumatism, constipation, high cholesterol, heart palpitations, anemia, acne and many other ailments. And it is simply good nutritional food for nearly everyone.

This was great news but, how to take it? It may be a sweetener but, it’s not exactly tasty on its own. So I made some culinary experiments mixing it with warm almond milk and a little cinnamon – a great breakfast drink. It gave me good energy and I didn’t crash after an hour like with coffee. It was also the perfect addition to a spiced quick bread recipe (super yum). After that I couldn’t think of any other way to integrate it into my diet.

On a recent trip to Montreal I saw an elderly gentleman spreading molasses on his toast and another pouring it on pancakes. Searching on line there were recipes for candies, baked beans, ginger breads and more cakes than one could count. I couldn’t believe what I’d been missing out on. All this flavorful good nutrition and I knew nothing about it.

The health benefits of molasses are many and well documented. So if you have any nutrition based health issues, speak to your Doctor, Nutritionist or Naturopath. Or if you just love “good-for-you food”, give molasses a try. You just may find a very delicious road to health.

Sources:
http://www.ask.com/wiki/Father_John’s_Medicine

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=118

http://www.organic-sugar.com/what-are-the-health-benefits-of-organic-molasses/

The Restaurant Performance

The Restaurant Performance

I’ll admit, I haven’t had many performances at restaurants, besides the odd birthday party gig. The last one I did (pictures here) in April was a bitter sweet experience. Some of the evening was wonderful, exhilarating and fun. Yet, other parts made me wonder why I bothered in the first place.

This was usually my experience with dancing at a restaurant; the manager was dodgy, the floor was dirty, the audience was inattentive or something of the like. I mentally recalled my past experiences going in to the experience, but held my smile anyway. It didn’t help. The event went down a slippery slope of hurt feelings, anxiety and awkwardness. *sigh* At least I was happy with my performance.

Despite all this I was gifted with this wonderful shot of me taken by a fellow dancer. It is perfectly framed, lit and shows me in a wonderfully dramatic pose in the middle of my set. The audience has all eyes on me and one can feel the Middle Eastern ambience. -lovely. The photo was exactly what any performer would want on their promotional media.

In just looking at this pic I could almost feel it was the best event of the season -well almost.

Welcome to my Dance!

Hi! Thanks for visiting!

Here at BellyRhythm you will find dance techniques, exercises, healthy foods, inspiration, empowering articles, interviews, videos, pictures and so much more. Dance is not just about movement. It’s about discovering your inner strength and beauty. It’s about loving and nurturing your best friend -you! And it’s open to dancers of all ages, sizes, colours and abilities.

I’m really looking forward to this journey. Hope you are too.

Peaceful Shimmies,

Audie

http://www.bellyrhythm.com, http://www.bellyrhythm,wordpress.com