Tuesday, December 29, 2015

it only takes a moment

I'm spending the holidays sitting on my butt when I'm not using crutches to get around the house. 
Recently I started jumping in my riding lessons which made me want to "step up" (pun intended!) my exercise routine. I started using a plastic garden bench about 15" high for stepping up and down to strengthen both legs. That's been going really well and I was enjoying how much stronger my legs felt, when this interminable rain began here this winter in Virginia. I didn't want to bring the grimy bench inside so instead tried using my husband's space heater, which was about the same height. That was a mistake, since it's actually on wheels. While exercising a few days ago, I was on my last step-up, and wasn't paying enough attention. I placed my foot too close to the edge, and the space heater tipped over. 

So I fell, my knee got jammed and went sideways, and now I'm on crutches with what I hope is just a sprained knee. Of course it happened JUST during the holiday break when I was getting ready to film a short "down shimmy" video tip, as well as start on the Tribal Fan Veils video tutorial. The studio was set with lights and ready to go the next day. I'm so disappointed. 
Accidents happen so quickly! But to look on the bright side, at least I already had a set of crutches from my previous accident. And both my hips are doing great! 

Here's to a better holiday and new year for you and me. In fact I'm busting into this tasty little gift set right now. Cheers!
small boxed set of wine
Vinho do Porto
Yours in dance, 
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Friday, September 11, 2015

lotsa dancing going on

Dancing gives you wings!

Dancing, teaching, farm work, and horseriding have been my workouts lately, they're all strenuous but fun, and they're helping me get strong again.
Of course, immediately AFTER these exertions I'm pretty tired, and the next day my muscles might be sore, but the payoff of feeling stronger is worth it.

I'm still working on my Oriental solos, and dancing a lot with my group. Last month just after my annual camping trip (Pennsic) my dancers and I performed in Richmond, Virginia at Tribal Cafe where I was able to do my Layali pop solo again. Here's a short clip, courtesy of Siyala:

I love this number, it's not only strenuous but repeats a lot so it's really a good workout! Tribal Cafe features a mini-class too, so before performing I was able to share some of these combinations and travel steps with the dancers in the audience. It was a really great time and produced very well by the Madame Onca and the Bandit Queens. 

A couple of weeks later we were in Richmond again for a monthly Hafla called Tummy Tuesday, where I performed my "Al Saiidi" Cane Dance - for the first time since 2007. The last time I performed it my right hip was so bad I could barely use it, which is obvious in the YouTube video. That's why it thrills me so much to be able to perform it again. And talk about a workout! That folkloric stuff will really get your heart pumping. 
This event is heavily attended by the greater RVA bellydance community, not just new but old-school dancers, many of whom I've known for my entire career. Seeing them again and being able to dance for them was such a blessing, I was on Cloud Nine! 
Here's to more of the same as we go into fall: dancing, friends, and community. 
Yours in dance, 
Anthea Kawakib
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Monday, July 20, 2015

the "Fifi" is back!

The return of those moves... 

Our "all veil dance" show this past weekend went pretty well, with loads of merchandise at the bellydance Flea Market and a good turnout from local folks and far-away friends!
This show marked my return to "real dancing" - not just class material or my Layali pop number; but a real Sharki solo. Not that I have this number completely down yet - it was a lot of improv for sure.
But the reason I'm excited about it is because this dance DOES include the two moves I haven't been able to do for years: the Side-Step with Shimmy, and of course, the very delicious "Fifi move"! The former does need more refining as my outer leg muscles are still weak; but I felt it was okay enough to do in performance.
These two moves were ones I couldn't "fake" when first my right then my left hip went out of order; they're too intense and intricate. There were lots of moves I could "sort of" do while my hips were deteriorating, but not these two. So I'm pretty excited about it!
I have to laugh about this one, the "Side-Step with Shimmy" because I think I overdid it, just because I could! It still looks a little awkward to me. I'm working on it!

And I'm so happy to have this one back, the lovely and delicious "Fifi move".

Please share with anyone who's wondering about dancing after hip surgery!
Anthea Kawakib
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Thursday, July 9, 2015

into the HIP SWING of things!

So now I'm over a year with the newest hip! It's doing well - though this leg is a bit shorter now; it's noticable to me but doesn't seem to cause any problems so far.
After the rehab stage, and getting my feet wet in public performances with my group, I've continued getting back into shape on my own by teaching dance classes, and doing odd jobs (mostly outside) in the realm of "farm maintenance" for a nearby horse riding facility. This is really my favorite work, though I can't do more than a couple of hours at a time.
horse and rider
horse shows are fun too! 
Stamina disappears when your hip hurts too much to do anything, and I had years of limping and suffering. So now those years of muscle atrophy are being remedied with exercising, dancing, and riding lessons. Mounting continues to be the hardest thing to do with the new hip so I'm motivated to get my leg strong enough to mount with ease. What's my plan? Well, I have a dance for that! Inshallah, we'll be working on that number soon in class.
Of course, my PRISM Dancers' scheduled shows give me an extra reason to rehearse and keep my skills improving. The side-step with shimmy continues to be a challenge so of course I included it in a couple of new numbers for good measure!
Next week I'm returning to the downtown Fredericksburg stage with a new solo! How freaking exciting is that! It's almost too exciting at this point - but somehow I'll get through it and be happy while I'm doing it too.
This particular show, "Reflections On The Veil" is going to be outstanding - all veil numbers - even just entering with veil a la Egyptian style counts! Definitely a show to remember; plus a flea market to start the evening, so that's extra fun. We are SO looking forward to it! I hope to see many local F'burgians in the crowd.
Anthea Kawakib

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Thursday, April 9, 2015

I critique myself!

I had SUCH an exciting time dancing in Ravia's show this past Saturday; my solo went well and so did the two group numbers I did with my PRISM Dancers. One of my dancers, Siyala, even videotaped my solo. I wasn't really sure how it would go, so I'm really thankful she did this for me. But of course I HAVE to critique it because that's what I do! I'm a good dance and performance coach - I see pretty near everything about a dancer's movements. So let me take some of my own medicine then, shall we?

In the video I'm facing away half the time because of the audience layout - but then that gives me a good view of what's happening from the back, so win-win!

Overall I think it's good, with a lot of nice touches here and there: my use of momentum, graceful arms, warm expression, audience rapport; plus a fairly good use of the space (an awkward long rectangle with people unevenly arranged on three sides). As I watch my performance I can I see how very excited and happy I am (I know I was enjoying it VERY much!).
On the other hand, I also see that quite often I'm not finishing moves; the hip work as well as some of the foot work is unevenly articulated or executed (it appears I'm still unconsiously "saving" my left hip a little); I'm rushing the movement timing a little (similar to not finishing, but different); and the timing of my hip shimmies is not quite even. And of course all those things bother me! LOL - This is what it's like to have a "coach's eye"!!

But okay, for my first solo back, it'll do. My leg's pretty strong now but I know I do tend to be awkward on that side sometimes, and as I saw in the video, I'm still not using both sides exactly the same. Did I mention this leg is now shorter than the other? Oh well - that's a small tradeoff considering that I can walk and dance again!!
Anthea Kawakib

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Monday, March 30, 2015

back to dancing!

Next up: more dancing!

This Saturday is the show I've been looking forward to for some time, Ravia's "Afternoon with Friends" in Richmond. I'll be dancing in a short set with my PRISM Dancers, and FINALLY, a solo! After the weather cancellation last month I've had extra time to practice, so I do feel more confident.
We're planning a beautiful group veil dance, then finishing with Tribal Odyssey - I keep changing my mind on the music for that but I'm sure I'll settle down by class time this week! My dancers are so good at following the music and the beat it really isn't a big deal to switch around for TOBD, especially if we're playing finger cymbals (which we will be), it really hooks them right into the music.

Recent Appearances

This past week we've danced in demos (short educational demonstrations), first a couple of school shows, then the unique day-long event of networking and workshops that started 33 years ago in Fredericksburg, the Women's Forum.
dancers in costume
Fairuza, Anthea, Galiyah; inset: with Siyala 
It's a busy Spring of dancing, and I love it! 

Anthea Kawakib

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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Cabin Fever Bellydance

Ah, winter in Virginia.
The Richmond event I was invited to dance in today was cancelled due to weather. It would've been my first "real" solo with my new hip! For the last couple of weeks I've been working on my 3-minute Arabic pop number; and just the day before yesterday I was thrilled to be doing my dress rehearsal, and posting about it on instagram. In these two weeks I'd gone from barely wobbling my way through the first 90 seconds, to being able to run through the whole number several times. That's real progress! 

But it's a mess outside - no one should be out driving in a "wintry mix" of snow, sleet, and freezing rain! So I kept myself busy making another quick technique tip, this one on Better Hands and Arms in Bellydance, to add to my Playlist of "Best Bellydance Tips". 
screenshot of video
Diagonal Arms

I really love this particular topic too, because there's SO MUCH going on in the shoulders and arms - the emotion of the dancer flows through them; they provide the frame to ALL the body moves; they help direct the audience's attention; and beautiful hands provide the finishing touch! 
So because I was stuck in the house today, here's my latest endeavor in the world of bellydance:

Anthea Kawakib

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Thursday, February 5, 2015

Anthea's hips are working again

Dancing again makes me so HAPPY!

One of my students told me in class last night that when I was dancing at our Hafla this past Sunday, her husband said "I see Anthea's hips are working again." That made me laugh!
Doing that short one-song improv was a mental challenge, as I am not so sure of my body as I used to be, but once I started, I really enjoyed it. Although I know it wasn't the "artistic best" I'm used to doing, it still was fine. And like I kept telling everyone, "it's just a party!"
Getting this first post-op performance done kind of reminds me of getting on a horse again after you've been tossed off. You gather yourself together, brace yourself, take a deep breath, and just do it. Speaking of horses, one of my riding friends attended the Hafla with her husband, and took this photo of me: 
Anthea Kawakib in orange assiut
Anthea does an improv solo at the Hafla

NEXT: More dancing in store!

I'm super excited to be dancing at a show in Richmond (VA) in a couple of weeks! A very sweet lady, Rose Ravia, is hosting an afternoon restaurant show and invited me to dance, as well as my PRISM Dancers; and our own Pixie will be doing her Double Sword dance too. The event is "An Afternoon with Friends", 1 - 5pm at the new Pho House of Noodles on Broad Street. 
For this show I decided to tackle my old pop number, Layali by Angham. Getting through it in my studio the other day was challenging, but I did it; my left hip gets tired, and the muscles are lazy, but articulating these easy moves will be good exercise for my left side. I'm SO happy Ravia invited me! Not only do I get to dance, but my dancers will be with me too. I'm absolutely intoxicated with anticipation! 

Anthea Kawakib

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Out of the darkness into the Light

Emerging from the long dark...

It's been a wearisome winter, cold and wet; making my bones ache. I've been dancing in little bits now and then in my studio (and teaching my regular classes) trying to recover and refine the old skills.
It's funny, but after not being able to move one hip very much for so long you'd think all the belly dance moves would be gone - but they're not! They're a little weak and sloppy on that particular side, but I think the fact that I continued teaching even though I was pretty much disabled kept the muscle memory intact. I feel like I'm bringing it back now. Even though I don't have a lot of stamina, it's SO much fun to dance!

Now it's mid-January and I'm really looking forward to our first event of 2015, the "Bring the Light" Hafla, celebrating the return of lighter days. I think it will be a small party, in a small restaurant, with only a few performances, but I know we'll make it fun!

It's such a small space that we've had to adjust ourselves to fit; I wanted to do our Candle Dance especially; and Tribal Sword because we love it. It may be a tight squeeze! And there's several solos planned as well, which I can't wait to see.

While I was teaching a private lesson today I realized the music we were using was by John Bilezikjian, who passed away this week. It's such a lovely song; his music was indeed heavenly. The oud is such a soulful instrument! So now I'm thinking maybe I'll do this veil dance myself at our Hafla, in his memory. It's a lovely, short chifti-telli called Aphrodite's Mysteries, from Dolphina's Goddess Workout music; or as we call it for short, "Aphro Myst"! Anyway, I'm looking forward to this, our first event of the year, and the first solo for me with my newest hip!

As we're reminded so often, our time here is short; we have to make of it what we can. Use your life for good things - don't waste your energy on the bad stuff. Move forward, be happy, and spread good cheer!

Anthea Kawakib

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