Wednesday, June 2, 2010

New Session at the Westlake Rec Center starts June 21st!

Just a forewarning if you are interested in joining my class at the Westlake Rec Center the next session starts June 21st! Details are the same as before:
6 week course
(6/21 - 7/26) No class 5/31
$72 member/ $77 resident of Westlake/ $82 non res and non-member.
Combined price- $130 member/ $135 non-member/ $140 non-resident

Westlake Rec Center-
Monday nights-
Level one bellydance 7:15-8:15 pm
Level two bellydance 8:30-9:30 pm

Feel free to email me with any questions comments or concerns

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Auditions For DDS 2010 Summer Show- "Soleil Carnivale: Beyond the Rhythm"

This year we are raising the bar and holding a professional audition for our summer show "Soleil Carnivale: Beyond the Rhythm". Upon arrival dancers will receive a packet listing choreorgaphies in the show with their rehearsal dates and costume requirements. This is an open audition and will be classroom style. We'll be watching to see what numbers each dancers fits best. Although parts can't be guaranteed we aim to find a part for everyone who auditions. We can use dancers with experience in bellydance, jazz, ballet and modern. The show is scheduled for Saturday August 28th, evening. We are exploring venues at this time. Dress rehearsal is mandatory for all group numbers and is Thursday August 26th 7-9:30 PM at L2D. Callbacks will be done via email. Dancers will be invited to perform parts that fit them best. Rehearsal times and costume requirements will be listed.

Sunday May 23rd L2D Studio- 12 noon-1:30 PM.
Please bring a recent full body photograph, a hip scarf or shawl and a veil.

Any questions contact or

Updated DDS Calendar!

May 1st- Leyla at Darna and Kan Zaman Restaurant. Darna show 8 pm. KZ 11:30 pm; 1 am

May 2nd- Mother/ Daughter Zumba. l2D Studio; 10-11 AM

May 3rd- Leyla's new classes at Westlake Rec Center start. 6 week session.

May 4th- Official start date- The Madonna Workout!! with Leyla. L2D; 7:30 PM

May 12th- Last Day to register for Mother's Day Workshop with Leyla and Babette!!

May 14th- Spring hafla featuring Gypsy Soul! L2D Studio. 7-10 PM

May 16th- Mother's Day event with Leyla and Babette. Love 2 Dance. 11 AM-1:30 PM

May 21st- Cardio Shimmython with Leyla. Love 2 Dance. 6 PM

May 23rd- auditions for "Soleil Carnivale: Beyond the Rhythm". L2D; 12 noon-1:30 PM

May 31st- NO CLASS at Westlake Rec Center!! Happy Memorial Day!!

June 5th- DDS performs at South River Vineyard.

June 11th- L2D recital DRESS REHEARSAL. All performers are required to attend

June 12th- Love 2 Dance Recital. Downtown Akron main library.

June 14th- Last day of first session of bellydance with Leyla at Westlake Rec Center

June 18th- Private Event

June 20th- Cardio Shimmython and Dance Conditioning with Leyla. L2D; 10:30 AM-noon

June 22nd- Second Session bellydance with Leyla starts at Westlake Rec Center

June 24th- DDS at fundraiser- Tangier Restaurant, Akron, OH. 5-10 PM

July 3rd- DDS returns to South River Vineyard.

July 18th- Cardio Shimmython and Dance Conditioning with Leyla. L2D; 10:30 AM- noon

July 26th- Last Day of second session bellydance with Leyla at Westlake Rec Center

August 2nd- Third session of bellydance with Leyla starts at Westlake Rec Center

August 26th- Dress Rehearsal for Soleil Carnivale: Beyond the Rhythm. L2D. 7-9:30 PM

August 28th- DDS 2010 summer show, Soleil Carnivale: Beyond the Rhythm. Akron main library

September 4th- DDS performs at the Berea Oktoberfest.

November 7th- Workshop and show featuring Leyla Soleil, Lancaster County, PA

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

How Young is Too Young? My Thoughts on Young Girls and Bellydance

Opinions vary widely throughout the world on how old a girl should be before taking up bellydance. In light of the huge story of the seven year old "Samba Queen" this year on CNN I thought I would offer my thoughts as the mother of an up and coming bellydance star. As always, these thoughts are only my opinions and I don't claim my opinions to be right for everyone.

Bellydance class in my experience is an excellent device for helping preteen and teen girls cultivate a healthy body image. At a time when girls are first developing curves it can help them learn to accept and like their bodies as they are. Many of the movements look as nice on a softer body as they do on a more muscular body and as a result the classroom environment is more accepting of different physiques. This type of atmosphere helps young girls to overcome the stereotypes of what beauty is and they begin to see real tangible beauty in themselves and the women around them. A good bellydance class taught by the right teacher can also help women and girls of all ages maintain a healthy body weight by burning calories not to mention helping them develop and maintain coordination, grace, muscle strength and flexibility.

At the youngest ages (say 3-7) girls are really just learning about dance class etiquette, spatial relationships and the basics of what their body can do. Before enrolling I would consider a little ones attention span and her interest level. There aren’t a lot of bellydance classes designed for very young girls so between the ages of 3 and 7 it might be a better idea to start her in ballet and let her revisit bellydance at a later age. That way when she does come back she’ll have some understanding of posture, frame and footwork. This is what I did with my daughter, Babette. She took ballet on her own and whenever I was lucky enough that she wanted to come with me to bellydance class I brought her as a drop in. Looking back I am so grateful to have had the gift of spending time in dance class with Babette. Dance is the cement in our relationship. It gives us something to talk about, laugh about and dream about together. Mostly it allows us to be together without focusing on the frustrations that go along with being a mother or a daughter and this is especially helpful now that she is 13. I would highly recommend the experience of taking your daughter to bellydance class with you if the circumstances allow.

Performing is a another thing. Besides Babette, I have had the pleasure of a couple of other young girls in my class who became graceful, beautiful dancers at a young age and wanted to perform. I don’t think bellydance movements are sexual any more than Latin ballroom, jazz and hip hop. However, because there are a lot of ignorant people out there who are uneducated about dance and performing arts in general I am very picky about the circumstances of my younger dancers performing. My opinion is young girls should only perform in theatrical shows where they are more removed from the audience and haflas and student shows where the audience is very supportive. I just don't like the idea of my girls circulating an audience where tipping might be done. I also don't particularly care for a "bra" on really young girls (to me it just looks a little strange) and in general I feel costumes should be a little more covered up. For all of these reasons I tend to enjoy them in the tribal style and folkloric dances but if your little dancer just happens to love Arabic music and sparkles like mine did cabaret can be done. Babette had one costume she wore a leotard underneath and another one that she wore her jazz pants under her skirt. Girls should only perform if and when they want to and parents or some other guardian should be there for all performances. As long as these types of protective measures are taken there is no reason why some younger girls can’t perform bellydance. It’s not for everyone but what a pleasure it is for us big girl dancers to watch them grow! And for anyone who disagrees they probably only know of the stereotypical sleazy bellydancer in some half lit tavern and have never seen an artistic bellydance show. Anyone who would have a problem with that probably dosen't allow themselves to dance at all.

Monday, July 20, 2009

My Left Foot- a funny story

As a dancer my feet are of obvious importance to me and I do my best to protect them. I only wear heels for certain occasions and only wear really high heels if I'll be mostly sitting. And, although I am a professional bellydancer I hardly ever dance barefoot. In spite of my attempts at protecting my feet through the years it has become clear to me that my left foot is doomed. And yes, it is only the left foot. While the right foot remains pretty much unscathed, my left foot has suffered repeated injuries due to incredibly unlikely accidents, the latest of which occurred last weekend.

In order to understand the strangeness of this you have to know the history. About 7 years ago I was cooking and dropped a large glass mixing bowl right on my left big toe. It was unbelievably painful and took many months to heal but what I didn't realize was this was the start of my left foot's stroke of bad luck. A few years (and toenails) after the mixing bowl incident I started getting an artificial nail put on my left big toe because it never looked the same and I wanted to wear cute sandals. One day I was at a summer party sporting my cute sandals and fake toenail when out of nowhere some overly exuberant husky girl with mammoth sneakers rudely pushed past me and trampled on my left foot smashing the big toe. That was actually a really bad freak accident which resulted in my entire nail bed and the surrounding skin being lifted off the toe. I had an emergency in-office surgery at my podiatrists office the following Monday. A year later I developed a bone spurs on that toe due to repeated trauma. And then there’s the everyday stuff. If an object falls from the dresser it falls on my left foot. If I accidentally stub a toe it’s on my left foot. My cat scurries past me and scratches my left foot. I guess I may be sensitive to it at this point but it is really strange. I have even asked myself is it possible for one body part to have bad Karma?

I hate the fact that I never dance barefoot because it takes away from the authenticity of the dance but I have become very protective of my feet. I have been privileged to have danced with some of the greatest dancers in our area and many of them never wear shoes and no harm seems to come to them. I have watched countless times as my sister dancers dress into their thousand dollar couture costumes while standing barefoot on a bathroom, closet or basement floor while the germophobe in me quivers to hold back from yelling out “No! It’s not safe!” Meanwhile I hop around taking special care to change into my costume in a way that neither bare foot comes within a meter of the floor. I want so badly to be faithful to my art form, shun the shoes and be a real gypsy bellydancer.

So every now and then I try to do something truly crazy and last weekend at a private event I made a spur of the moment decision to dance barefoot. The event was held in a hotel meeting room, which was carpeted and seemed fairly clean. The hostess of the event showed me to the bathroom to change. I decided I'd take my shoes off last to minimize contact time with the germs. After everything was tucked in, pinned and hooked I took off my shoes, packed everything safely in my suitcase and walked out of the bathroom feeling proud that I was not worried about my feet touching the floor. Just like a real diehard gypsy bellydancer.

As the door was opened for me and I was introduced to the crowd I struck my start pose and began working the music. Then without warning a sharp pain shot from the bottom of my left foot that could be described as the sting of a large hornet. Of course in the middle of a performance what could I do but pretend nothing was wrong? After a minute the adrenaline kicked in and I completely forgot about my left foot so I was able to give the crowd everything I had. I finished my set, exited the room and floated on a performance high toward the bathroom. Performance highs have a way of making you forget a lot of things. Yes, upon seeing the bathroom door the hesitation was there but I thought no not today. Today I'm a real gypsy and I'm not going to get OCD about the germs on the floor.

So I pressed though the bathroom door threw down my suitcase and began to change back into Melissa. Then, from behind me I heard "Maam...”. I looked down to see blood all over the nasty bathroom floor. I then recalled the pain in my left foot and quickly turned it over to reveal a gash, dark red blood steadily dripping from it. Seriously...just shoot me. A hot white sensation came over me upon realizing the bathroom floor germs were now ravaging my entire system and then I went to my happy place. Somehow I managed to change back into my party clothes and clean up the floor and pack up my suitcase without being able to put my foot down. I rode all the way home with my foot wrapped in brown paper towels. The bleeding stopped but the panic attack didn't. As my husband chatted with me about who knows what I was in a tunnel. All I could think about was water and soap and rubbing alcohol.

Thankfully, the cut turned out to be small and after bandaging it didn't even hurt anymore. I decided not to cancel plans with the girls to hand out flyers in downtown Akron for our upcoming show. I even decided to wear heels thinking if I was going to be handing out flyers for a dance show I should look hot. Another brilliant idea. These particular shoes were new and although they felt fine at first two hours later they were anything but. Obviously taking them off was not an option but the pain was so intense that I began to fantasize about crawling. We ended up hitching a ride with a stoner cabbie back to our car. In the morning I awoke to see the damage- five blisters and a raw sore on the top of my left foot in addition to the bandaged cut that occurred earlier. And the right foot? It was fine.

Go figure. I have no idea what is up with my left foot but one thing I've learned- it can always get worse. So I'm trying to be happy that I at least have a working foot although I can occasionally be heard joking about cutting it off.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Love 2 Dance Instructors

Come check us out at Love 2 Dance Studio in Fairlawn, Ohio. 2872 W. Market St., Fairlawn, OH 44333

Friday, June 5, 2009

Summer Show Booked!

DDS Summer show booked at the downtown Akron main library for Friday July 31st 7-9 pm. Featuring dancers from DDS, Love 2 Dance, Cassandra Al Warda, Shanrae and Danielle Muad'dib!