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Sunday, November 20, 2011


I think all of the readers of this blog may live in Brazil, but on the off chance you're in New York City, I'm posting to tell you that I'll be offering regular weekly classes in January. I haven't offered weekly classes in a few years, and depending on enrollment, may not offer them again, so please consider this as a unique opportunity. Let your loved ones know that classes make great holiday gifts!

Winter 2012 Schedule

Beginning Belly Dance Twelve Week Course
$180 / $18 Single Class Drop-In
Section A: Wednesdays, 7:00-8:00, Creative Wellness (Long Island City), 1/11-3/28
Section B: Thursdays, 6:30-7:30, 440 Studios (East Village), 1/12-3/29
Section C: Saturdays, 2:00-3:00, 440 Studios (East Village), 1/14-3/31
Section D: Tuesdays, 6:00-7:00, Pearl Studios (Midtown West), 1/17-4/3

"Dryad Dance" Choreography: Lyrical Belly Dance Workshop (4 weeks)
For Intermediate, Advanced, and Professional dancers
$100 / $30 drop in
Saturdays, 3:15-5:00: 440 Studios, 1/13-2/3

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(Or purchase a Gift Certificate.)

Course Descriptions

Beginning Belly Dance Twelve Week Course
Start your dance education off on the right foot, following a structured curriculum that builds clean versatile technique from the ground up. This comprehensive course for new beginners lays it all out step by step.

See and enjoy clear advancement in every class, reviewing and perfecting essential foundation movements, applying your growing skills to new and progressively more sophisticated material each week, and putting it all together in a simple choreography that we will build through the session.

Learn footwork, torso isolations, technique for arms, wrists, and hands, and music theory in a training program that emphasizes precise and confident dancing. Each movement is taught with consideration to ideal placement and alignment relative to each dancer's unique anatomy and abilities; performance context; and cultural context.

Makeups and "booster" classes are available for this course. Each section follows the same syllabus: if you miss a class, you may receive the same lesson by attending class in another section later in the week (or, if you know in advance that you will be absent, come earlier in the week). Want extra review? Double-up, triple-up, or even quadruple-up at a steep discount: repeat a lesson in another section for only $5. (Please be advised, though, that makeups and boosters are subject to availability: courses that do not meet minimum enrollment are subject to cancellation.)

At the conclusion of the session, students will have the option to continue on to a Beginner II course.

Drop-ins are permitted at the rate of $18/class, but, in fairness to those who come every week, drop-in students are respectfully asked to understand that time can't be taken out of class to catch you up on prerequisite material you've missed. If you drop in and are out of pace with the class, please accept that you may receive less individual attention than regular students.

"Dryad Dance" Choreography: Lyrical Belly Dance Workshop (4 weeks)
Learn a richly detailed artistic choreography to medieval-inspired music by the band Faun. This musical and intricate dance combines soft feminine styling with challenging precision technique. "Dryad Dance" uses vocabulary from tribal and ethnic belly dance styles, Persian dance, and Western dance, and includes footwork, sophisticated arm movements, quick transitions, and densely textured isolation combinations.

Each class also includes detailed movement breakdowns for the vocabulary used in that week's section of the choreography; technique drills promoting clean lines, grace, and coordination; and center and across-the-floor work focusing on music interpretation, expressivity, and charismatic stage presence. Exercises in this course both build technical excellence and encourage artistic growth, supporting dancers' individually authentic creative expression.

Studio Locations

Creative Wellness (Wednesdays)
44-02 11th Street, Suite 308 (between 44th Rd and 44th Ave)
Long Island City, Queens
Subway: E/M/7/G to 23rd-Ely/Court Square
Ample Street parking.
Come on baby. Don't fear the G Train
Google Map
Schedule and Link to Enrollment ↑

440 Studios (Saturdays and Thursdays)
440 Lafayette St. (Just southeast of 8th and Broadway, near the Cube)
East Village, Manhattan
Subway: N/R to 8th St.-NYU; 6 to Astor Place; short hike from Union Square (L; 4/5/6; N/Q/R)
Google Map
Schedule and Link to Enrollment ↑

Pearl Studios (Tuesdays)
500 8th Ave. (between 35th and 36th Streets)
Subway: A/C/E to 34th St.; 1/2/3 to 34th St.; short walk from the N/Q/R to 34th St. and 33rd St. PATH
Google Map
Schedule and Link to Enrollment ↑

Private Lessons

To make arrangements for private coaching, contact me directly at (917) 686-1622. My fee for individuals is $80/hour, or $140/2-hour lesson. Midtown studio, your home or gym, or other location. (Travel fee may apply.) I do not recommend individual private study for students with no previous dance training.

More Information

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Friday, October 7, 2011

Raqs Europa

I originally created Raqs Europa in 2008. There's a version of this dance on the 2009 World Dance New York Fantasy Bellydance perforamnce DVD; the performance in this clip was filmed on Oct 1, 2011, at the Venus Uprising "Bad Girls and Guilty Pleasures" showcase.

Raqs Europa is a belly dance fantasy inspired by the glamor of nightclub floorshows from the early twentieth century. The name of the piece is an allusion to the Arabic name for Oriental dance: "raqs sharqi," the dance ("raqs") of al-Sharq ("the East").

The music for this project was a custom commission; it was composed and produced by Jeremy Bloom, based on my requests for structuring and instrumentation. MP3 download available at

Amazing costume construction by Erica Young, who engineered and fabricated a lovely garment from my barely legible stick-figure sketch.

Thanks to videographer Renée Renata Bergan.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Knowledge of Good and Evil

...And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden. The Lord God commanded, “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat, but of the tree of knowledge of good and of evil thou shalt not eat. For in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Now the Serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, “Ye surely shall NOT die. God doth know that in the day ye eat from the tree of knowledge, then shall your eyes be opened.”

I developed the dance “Knowledge of Good and Evil” between 2009 and 2011. This clip is from its first performance: a contribution to the “Objects of Desire” showcase, presented by Venus Uprising at the Merce Cunningham Theater in New York City in April 2011. The music is “Ketto” by Bonobo, from the album Days to Come. The Serpent was danced by Amador S. Juarez.


My creative process for this dance began entirely with the music. When I first heard “Ketto” I loved the unique sound and was intrigued by the possibility of using its distinct sections to support a dance with a strong narrative component. As a starting point, I focused on the abrupt transition that ends the track, where full lush music suddenly falls away to stark echoes, evoking a feeling of being pulled from a dream. From here I imagined Eden, and went on to adapt the story to the structure imposed by the music and to my interest in an esoteric interpretation of this familiar tale.


“Knowledge of Good and Evil” can be most simply seen as a depiction of Eve’s fall. I designed the large piece of fabric in this dance as a representation of Eden itself, but a viewer accustomed to the conventions of belly dance might automatically see this fabric as Eve’s “veil.” (While Eve is never “veiled” by the fabric, the choreography in this section is built on movements from the veil repertoire of American Cabaret belly dance.) Especially in this light, tragic narratives emerge, with the Serpent playing the role of betrayer, seducer, bully, or thief. When the music falls away to hollow echoes, Eve too is fallen and hollow, not only naked but also empty.

“Knowledge of Good and Evil” can also be seen as an allegory of enlightenment.

The dance opens with technical choreography that is not emotionally expressive. Harp-like instrumentation sounds a series of arpeggios with unexpected accidental notes that make the otherwise idyllic music sound vaguely off. Eve’s movements are languorous but contained in a way that renders them flat. She draws decorative shapes in space, and her character is pretty but one-dimensional.

The Serpent, considered as a subversive character rather than as an evil one, whispers truthfully to Eve: the apple brings not death but higher consciousness; it will “open” her eyes. When she accepts, her character comes to life. Eden unfolds around Eve as her newfound “Knowledge of Good” reveals to her that she is in paradise. But, lost in ecstatic dancing, Eve doesn’t notice as Eden slips away. Alienated from the flow of the natural world, she is suddenly confronted by “Knowledge of Evil.”

In this version of the story, paradise can be regained. With open eyes, we see that we may pay attention, learn to recognize and appreciate the “good” that is always with us, and cherish the things we love; or we may flounder in banality of the mundane.


I designed and created the costume for this dance. The foundation is a pair of store-bought leggings and the “Clear-Back Bra” manufactured by The Natural/Coconut Grove. I created a belt, then lowered and re-shaped the waistband of the leggings to match the belt’s top edge. I also shortened the leggings to calf length. I used the fabric I had cut off of the leggings to cover the bra, then added a second layer of the mesh fabric I used for the belt.

The bra, belt, and headpiece are finished with appliques from B & Q Trimmings, 210 W 38th St. I also used barrette blanks (to anchor the butterflies in my hair) from Toho Shoji, 990 Sixth Ave. My Eden veil fabric came from NYC Fabrics, 256 W.38th St. (All addresses are in New York City).


During my performance in the “Objects of Desire” show, I heard more about my choice of hairstyle than about any other aspect of my dance. Much of this commentary came in the fun form of a progression of cast members squealing “buns!” and rushing at me with squeezy hands. But I was also asked over and over again why I wasn’t dancing with my hair down.

I put my hair up mostly because I thought Eve looked more bare with her shoulders and back uncovered. But my hairstyle also reflects my preferences and what I value in dance performance: I didn’t want to obscure the movements in the opening choreography, and I didn’t want to simplify the veil section to accommodate the unpredictability of flying hair. To me, a dance designed around loose hair would have been less interesting.

I’m aware that Princess Leia also wore her hair in two buns, but I thought in the context of this dance and costuming the hairstyle would convey more of an art nouveau quality. Apparently not. [Sigh], no, [eye roll], I don’t have any news from the rebel alliance.

The buns are created by a twirly plastic device called “MagicBun.”

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Drum Solo Workshop on January 29

Drum Solo: Soft, Clean, and Powerful
Saturday, January 29, from 5:00 – 7:00, at Creative Vibrations, Astoria

Learn secrets to create a powerful stage presence without the aggressive styling and hard edges that make dancing look frantic or flat.

I will teach a complete two-and-a-half minute drum solo, adaptable for Egyptian or Fusion performances. The choreography goes light on the shimmies and locks and instead uses a mixture of crisp and juicy movements that reflect the musicality of the drum, showcasing your technical skills without sacrificing warmth and expression. We will focus on music interpretation, analyzing the relationship of each combination with the rhythm and soloing pattern it accompanies. Notes, including a music diagram, will be provided.

Music: "Ismail," from Beata & Horacio Cifuentes, Oriental Fantasy
Vol. 9 -- Heartbeat of Cairo.

A hafla will follow the workshop. If you would like to perform, sign up ASAP to reserve your spot! To register for the workshop or perform at the hafla, contact Lalita: call 347-345-6095 or email

Creative Vibrations is located at 22-55 31st St., 2nd Floor, Ste. 200, in Astoria Queens. If you’re in New York but think the location doesn't work for you, try double-checking the address on-line or check the travel time on the MTA’s Trip Planner. The studio is literally AT the Ditmars Blvd stop on the N or Q train (a 23 minute ride from Times
Square), and you can exit straight from the station to the studio--you don't even have to walk outside.