Making Good on those New Year’s Resolutions (for bellydance enthusiasts)

So, we all have them. Lots of hopes and goals for 2014. Some are new, some are old resolutions that we keep striving for year after year and can’t seem to successfully complete. Below are some of the most popular New Year’s Resolutions among bellydancers with tips on achieving each one. Feel free to comment with your goals and I’ll see if I can give you some specific pointers as well. Best of luck to all of you!

1) Lose weight/get in shape. It seems that this is the most sought after goal every year. Who doesn’t want to be healthier? One amazing aspect of bellydance is that it celebrates bodies of all shapes and sizes. Therefore this year, anyone with this goal should focus on getting fit in a different way. Don’t worry about pounds lost or finding your long-lost abs, instead work on something more specific and put it to practical use. Hate your arms? Work on a choreography/drill with a focus on simple hip work with stunning arm movements. Wish your stomach was a little more toned? Try doing improv with simple arms and intricate hips and midsection isolations. By keeping focus on those small details you want to improve and mixing them with choreography/improv, your whole body will thank you (including the area you wanted to work on the most).

2) Attend more workshops/festivals. The key to being a great dancer is to always be a student. Working with well-known instructors or someone you admire will not only help you grow as a dancer, but it also makes connections that are sooo important in this business. The setback most people face is that most workshops are too far away, too expensive, or they don’t have time.

-If you live in a remote area (like I do!), you may have to drive an hour or 6 to attend a workshop or festival. Look around and find an area within a comfortable driving distance and plan a vacation around it. Before I traveled so much, my family would take a trip once a year to the beach. So, I would find a workshop in that area during summer and add that as one of the fun activities on our trip. Send your hubby/kids away to shop or sightsee while you take a few hours to do something you love.

-If you don’t have a lot of money, like most of us, there are still ways of attending workshops. If there are none in your area, plan to visit family or friends in an area with a workshop going on. This way you don’t have to pay for a hotel and maybe food, which is usually the most expensive part. Drive to save money and choose a couple workshops that are of specific interest to you. A lot of times if you ask the host, they can also do payment plans and some offer scholarships or will give you free/discounted classes for volunteering.

-Most of us work a full time job and lead busy lives outside of work, so it’s an easy excuse to say you don’t have time. In this case, you need to make time. Find weekend-long workshops so you don’t have to take any time off work. Like I said before, plan your vacation with one day or a few hours dedicated to learning. The key is to plan ahead and commit. Pay in advance so you can’t back out later.

3) Master a different style or prop. So you’ve dedicated this year to branching out and exploring new styles. Take workshops, watch videos, do your research, and find which one you want to commit to this year and then repeat the process. Then add another resolution and make a goal to perform a choreography or improv in that style before 2015 rolls around. For me, once I feel I’ve mastered a certain style, nothing sets it in stone like choreography. Most of the moves you do normally may be similar, but the feeling and aesthetic will be completely different. Picking up a new prop? Follow the same process I mentioned above.

– If you’re specifically wanting to learn zills, I find that 99% of my students pick it up much quicker by learning rhythms while walking, skipping, or moving around. I find that all too often people learn while standing still or sitting down and once they’re asked to move with it, their knowledge and abilities seem to digress and this makes many feel like they won’t ever master zills.

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