Thursday, December 29, 2011

what's in the baskets?

This New Year's Eve, PRISM is debuting our "Basket Dance" which is just a bunch of fun, really. One of those dances we do for ourselves! One reason is the raucous beledi music, Luxor Baladna (Afrah Baladna Said). Yeah, YOU know what I mean! A definite party piece.

The New Year's Eve show looks fun all around actually. One more rehearsal tomorrow night...then on to First Night in Fredericksburg on Saturday!

So we've had a Class Holiday this week and last week, and outside of one rehearsal I've done NO dancing... just letting my body rest. BUT, you know how it is when you're used to bellydancing - you can only go so long without it! Your body wants to do it even if you're not planning on it. So I've been breaking into "spontaneous yoga", in other words, Chakra Isolations. I love how that happens! I love chakra isolations anyway, and when my body does that I remember I need to move, so when that starts to happen I just focus on doing them as usual, from bottom to top or vice versa; or sometimes just a few in whatever chakra wants to move! I don't think I've written an article on doing the Chakra Isolations yet, but I did mention them in this post - they're something I learned from my wonderful former student Shakti.

...and what's in the baskets? Beans of course!

Happy New Year!

- Anthea / Kawakib
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Friday, December 9, 2011

Homecoming: Return to The Solo!

Last weekend I did my first paid solo gig since my hip surgery, and it felt great. I mean emotionally, but of course physically as well. Since I hadn't done a 15-minute show by myself in about three years, I asked one of my regular dancers, Pixie, to come and do a number just in case I got winded and couldn't finish. I know that's silly but I felt like I needed a cushion - again, emotionally, not physically! So Pixie opened the show with a Sword solo, and I did an Oriental piece, drum solo, and audience dance number. It was great!

The audience couldn't have been better - the Richmond, Virginia dancers are some of the best at hospitality and graciousness, bar none. This particular group, the Belly Dance School of Richmond, evolved from Sheva's School of Belly Dance, and Sheva left a strong tradition of bellydancers supporting bellydancers. They've always been the warmest, friendliest people.
A big "Thank You" to Dorma for thinking of having me!

So it was a great "Homecoming" for me, returning to The Solo. Kind of like icing on the cake... being able to dance again, period, is great - but being able to solo... that's extra fine!

- Anthea / Kawakib
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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I'm back!

I'm SO looking forward to December! A couple of really fun shows are in store. THAT's what it's all about: sharing the love of this dance with our besties!

Some of my super fans in Richmond invited me down to dance at their Belly Dance School's holiday party... and it'll be my first real "solo gig" since I retired prior to my THR.
This is another milestone in my recovery; solo gigs are something I said "Goodbye" to when my hip went bad. I'll never forget that emotional ride home after what I knew had to be my last restaurant show. Dancing had become too painful, and because of that my movements just weren't good enough anymore. At least I left on my own decision rather than be "let go", but that's small comfort when you're looking at the end of what you love.

I found that though I hated leaving the dance world as a performer, I didn't miss the restaurant gig scene much at all. So much time spent in dressing rooms, kitchens, cars... HAVING to perform no matter what... well, it was great experience but I'm glad it's behind me.

Now coming back, it's one step at a time, but such an enjoyable journey. Performing is something that's fun again because it's not a demand. And it's so exciting to be working up a solo Oriental piece again! Now I'm trying to figure out how long I can effectively perform solo as my stamina isn't what it was, but maybe I'm being too cautious! We'll see...

And - funny thing: the other night while I was doing my exercises I realized that my right leg is now STRONGER than my left one, since I've been concentrating on it so much! Oops!

- Anthea / Kawakib
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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Getting my Dance on!

The last couple of weekends were filled with Belly Dance! I'm so enjoying getting my costumes out and planning performances again...

dancing at Zafira Daima's show (A. Savedge photo)
One Saturday evening I went to Richmond to a friend's (and fellow teacher) student recital and shared my Layali pop number. That's really my first out-of-town solo in a couple of years (and the first since my THR) - it felt great seeing and dancing for old friends again!

The next day I instigated a Drum & Dance Hafla - outside - to take advantage of the last nice Fall weather. Thank goodness it was sunny and in the mid-50's. We set up in the downtown park for some tribal improv, drumming, and a few special solos by friends.
(l-r) J.Bob, Pixie, Pat, Galiyah, Uzume join me at Hurkamp Park!
The next weekend I hosted a bellydance party at Aladin, one of the few remaining local Middle Eastern restaurants. Aladin was actually the last place I worked as a soloist before my degenerated hip joint ended that for me. I'll never forget driving home after my last performance there when I realized I could no longer continue.
Anyway, now in happier times, Aladin no longer has Oriental Dancers perform there regularly; they've decided to accommodate sports fans and hookah fans. So at this time, Fredericksburg has NO regular dancing - and just a few years ago, there were three places to dance!
During the Hafla, the other patrons enjoyed our dancing when they weren't watching football (with the sound turned down).
I LOVE bellydance parties! 

It's really good to be able to enjoy these events by DANCING again, and not just watching. I feel renewed as a dancer!

by Anthea (Kawakib)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

shimmy shimmy shake!

I've got to say I love being able to post such postive reports about dancing again :)

I had an urge to replace the "how to shimmy" clip that went missing, so yesterday I put some makeup on and whipped this quick clip out. I think you'd never know I had a hip replacement, right? So it's all good. Yay!

I also am looking forward to's interview in the next few weeks, which will put the THR + bellydancing issue on blast. Bellydancers who've had hip replacements, come out come out where you are!
Kawakib's Shimmy Tech - 3/4 and Regular Shimmies

by Anthea (Kawakib)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Don't be afraid to bellydance- it won't hurt you like it hurt me.

I've noticed that sometimes my students look a little freaked out when I mention my hip surgery.
Here's the thing: we professionals wear ourselves out by constant use in performance, teaching, rehearsing; preparing class material, etc. Not only is our physical load much more extreme than student hobbyists, but we often continue our activities when we should be recuperating from injuries - how can you keep a dance job if you miss work while you tend an injury? You won't, not without a contract.

So there's no comparison - don't be afraid to bellydance because your teacher's had hip surgery!

Here's how my hip is doing - almost back to pre-surgery strength, and it works so much better than it did just prior to my THR! Bellydancing in October 2011

Photo from bellydance show this past weekend

Meanwhile, my first belly dance teacher's had her THR and is recovering at home. I expect we'll hear of more and more bellydancers having replacement surgeries, now that we're taking our first steps out of the closet!

by Anthea (Kawakib)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

bruises, aches, and pains oh my!

  Another week and my ribs are still really sore from the fall. I overdid things on Saturday too - that was a long day with lots of physical activity, and since then I've really been feeling aches and pains. Also found a big bruise on my backside that's quite spectacular...

So today, more teaching, but this time I'll sit and coach more. What's nice is that in class we're working on the pop choreography I'll be performing in the upcoming October shows so I can review it for myself while I teach. Of course I'm still planning to dance in the shows! And that's why I can't wait to feel the turnaround and get back to "normal".

by Anthea (Kawakib)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

(gasp) OUCH (gasp) No, really, I'm okay!

Teaching bellydance classes last night went fine even though I couldn't really take a deep breath because of my rib injury (see previous post about my fall off a horse)... but at least I'd remembered about my left-over pain meds from my hip surgery and thus felt pretty good! So more of that will be happening tonight with my two beginner classes!

And October is going to be busy - I decided to load up my calendar with an in-house student workshop, as well as solo performances at a couple of nearby shows, and local marketing demos. It's like getting back in the saddle, bellydance-wise. But I feel up to it, and the discrepancy in strength between one hip and the other is diminishing, though I still notice it in certain moves like shimmies and sharp moves. Maybe I only notice it because I'm looking - but I know if *I* am looking, others will be too. And that's fine because I consider myself a source of inspiration for Aging Bellydancers, which pretty much covers them all!
...and now off to get ready to teach!
by Anthea (Kawakib)

Monday, September 19, 2011

My fifth tumble off a horse, but who's counting?!

So now I can relax, I've had my first horseback fall since I got my hip replacement, and all seems well.

You never know which horse will dump you. I think it's the quiet ones you have to look out for! You just don't expect it from a horse who's notoriously dead to the leg like Velvet. But put her next to a little firecracker of a pony with an attitude and watch the hooves fly!
All I know is that we were quietly warming up in the arena and passed little Belle (who's quick to take offence to other horses, especially other mares), and Velvet exploded sideways. Turns out Belle tried to give her a little kick as we passed, just for the heck of it... 
Velvet's sideways dance brought us right into a corner where a jump butted up to the fence, and I tumbled off. I hit the ground sideways, and of course on the same side with my artificial hip! Luckily though my ribs took the brunt of the fall, and I've got plenty of ribs, so no worries. It rang my bell pretty good when my helmet hit though. I can't imagine NOT wearing a helmet! That is just plain dumb.
So my ribs are pretty sore and it's hard to take a deep breath, but my hip is only a trifle sore to the touch. I'll take a day off from exercise and dance and see how I feel tomorrow. I don't have to dance until mid-week anyway!

Sweet Black Velvet

Monday, September 5, 2011

two weeks of sweating my a** off...

The past two weeks were pretty demanding so I MUST be getting a lot stronger. I did afternoon chores at White Buffalo Horse Farm for almost two weeks straight (that's 23 horses to take care of!) and taught two mini-workshops (2 hours each) of a fast and intense Egyptian Pop choreography; and of course my regular weekly horse back rides and lessons. Nothing hurts! Well actually I had a collar bone/shoulder ouchie but that's beside the point.
I've got to admit though I was too pooped to do any regular exercising! So maybe I'll just count it as two weeks of "cross training".

This week it's "back to school", teaching my regular bellydance classes at Fredericksburg Parks and Rec. and I'll enjoy a regular routine again.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

a year ago...

Last year at this time, I got my doctor's okay to resume Horseback riding and Bellydancing! A wonderful year indeed! When you think about it, 4 months is not long to wait at all!
To celebrate, here are photos taken this week, from both of my passions...

Monday, August 22, 2011

I LOVE this exercise!

A couple of weeks ago I heard from my first and primary bellydance teacher, Sandy (Bedia), because of this blog. She's scheduled for hip surgery and couldn't find much info regarding bellydancers and THR - I wish more dancers would write about their experiences, it would be so helpful to others who are facing that situation.

Sandy's always been into fitness and exercise, so after retiring from bellydance she went into teaching Pilates and Zumba. Of course, like so many other dancers and fitness professionals (including myself) who power on with their activities even through injuries and pain, she finally learned she was a candidate for hip replacement surgery. The silver lining is that I'm sure her level of fitness will help her recover quickly.

She gave me a great exercise I hadn't heard before, and I've added it to my day. It requires an appropriate slope where you can walk (I use my backyard):
1. Walk backwards up the hill
2. When at the top, turn 45 degrees, and walk downhill step together, step out, close etc.
3. At the bottom, come back uphill, same step.
4. At the top, turn 180 degrees, do downhill same step.
5. Come uphill same step.
6. Walk backwards down the hill.
This works weaker leg muscles, hamstrings, adductors, abductors.

I LOVE this exercise! You'd think from all the dance steps I'm used to doing it would be a piece of cake, but the first time I did it I could feel various leg muscles startng to burn half-way down the hill! It must be the angle of incline making the difference. Anyway, my neighbors will no doubt chalk it up to just another of my "weird" activities...

So I wonder how many dance and fitness professionals are "in the closet" about their physical ailments?
If you've decided to "come out" please connect with me: Anthea (Kawakib)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What my weight belt told me...

Sometimes when I don't have time or energy to do regular exercises I just put on my weight belt (from Delilah) while I'm doing house chores, and I've noticed that when I'm walking, my right foot (THR side) feels different hitting the floor than the other. The impact is much more jarring, but so far I can't pinpoint why. There's something different about how I'm using that side, I'm trying to figure it out.
I would never have noticed without the weight belt. I should be a paid spokesperson for these things - I don't get anything for recommending them. I really love mine, and tell my students if they REALLY want to get into their bellydance movements they should get one, but I know they're pricey and it's hard for students to spend what could be costume money on something like a weight belt. Too bad, they are really cool. They're really amazing 0 in my experience they seem to magnify what the body is doing, in terms of awareness. They make you really feel what your muscles are doing. Obviously, they're fabulous if you do Egyptian style, where you need that inner muscular awareness.
So now I have to wear it and walk around to see if I can figure out what I'm doing that's different on my right side...

I'm including a link to them on Delilah's site because I think they're awesome -

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

getting LOTS of exercise :)

Wow! a LOT of dancing and horseriding lately...
I'm bringing back an old choreography that needs advanced dancers, my Tambourine Dance to John Bilezikjian's Hezy Yana Waim. What a great song! I love the dance too, it's intense... a couple of my upper level students and I will do it at our Recital in July, I'm really looking forward to it!

All five of my classes are focused on Recital now, so we're cramming in all the choreography review and Tribal Odyssey polishing we can at each class. It's great how deadlines get students' attention!
We're starting extra rehearsals next week so it'll add even more to the routine.

This past week I had a great time riding, rode Reecie Friday, Champagne on Sunday, and Missy yesterday. They're the best! All so sweet & responsive. I'm really focusing on getting my legs on, doing two-point in the trot, and posting while keeping my legs & upper body in position. Missy and I did a little cavaletti work yesterday, but it was so freaking hot & humid we only rode for about 20 minutes. I think it was 90 degrees with matching humidity - at 7pm!

Monday, June 13, 2011


I've noticed my thigh muscles are still really weak so have added lots of lunges during the day. I was really surprised; I only found out trying to do a leg extension/squat exercise, or I wouldn't have noticed from dancing. I'm also putting the weight belt back on for dancing, but with less weight than formerly as it feels REALLY heavy :)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

still need more muscle...

As far as bellydancing goes, my advanced hip moves are starting to come back to my right hip, and shimmies are getting smoother... that's the good news. But, I can tell when I'm horseback riding that my right leg still isnt' strong enough. It's especially noticable when posting the trot, with and without stirrups... When I have stirrups, my right leg is moving around too much; without stirrups, I can feel quite a difference in "gripping action" in my thighs, comparing the right to the left.
So more strength training is on deck for my right leg! We'll get there...

Thursday, May 12, 2011

resuming more activities...

So it's been several years since I could garden, but now without the hip pain I can again! So add gardening to my activities now! woohoo :)
I also think my leg is getting stronger, it seems to be staying in place better when I'm horseback riding.
And, my advanced dancers & I recently started working on one of my harder choreographies, and I'm really looking forward to our performance of it, whenever that might be - maybe this year's Student Recital!!! Yay ~

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

shimmied in Richmond Va!

My shimmies feel A-OK! My PRISM Dancers & I did Egyptian tribal (Ghawazee and Raks al Qaria) for the Shimmy Sunday show in Richmond this past weekend. I so enjoyed it - that style is earthy, funky, flirty, fun!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Happy Birthday, Right Hip!

Officially a year old now, my right hip joint is well and happy!
To wit: this week I taught six dance classes, performed several numbers in a PRISM Dancers show, worked on White Buffalo horse farm, and went horseback riding once and am planning to ride again today.

Life, as the saying goes, is good!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Woohoo! back to Cane Dancing!

I loved the Cane Duet with Nashida in our PRISM Dancers' folkloric set at the UMW Fair yesterday. The concrete was hard on the feet but otherwise, felt great. We used a song from Hasan abou el Saoud's cd - poppy but classic at the same time -

Thursday, March 31, 2011

bellydance hafla celebrating Spring!

Last night was our Spring Class hafla, a bellydance party - the just-for-fun kind, not the performing-for-the-public kind. That's me dancing (with my daughter in the background) doing a little Tribal Odyssey group improv. Haflas are the only time we can really get all levels of students dancing together and that's one of the things I love most about them; plus, it's a PARTY!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

out on the trail finally

Sunday after horse riding class I got to go on the trail again, it's been over a year since I left the arena. I was on Phoenix and he was amazing, that is as soon as we got in front of Tre who was slowing us down :) I've been reading Mark Rashid & Linda Tellington-Jones so was just working on managing my excitement at riding out again and keeping Phoenix relaxed and happy, he was great.

Dancing is going well, stamina is much improved now and both of my legs are looking almost the same as far as muscle goes. Still slightly heftier on the off side, but I can do a full squat and either leg can bring me back up to vertical so that's wonderful.
We'll be having a class hafla later this month so I'll be dancing in that; between me & PRISM we've got several performances coming up this Spring, shows here in Fredericksburg and also going down to Richmond in May. That'll be great fun! Yay Spring!