Connecting the Dots in Belly Dance

Connecting the Dots - Leyla Najma's Belly Dance Blog This past weekend I was able to do a workshop with my students and at the same time showcase  the curriculum that I have been  working on for a better part of a year.  What is so exciting about  this new curriculum is that it is the end result of students understanding choreography in a way that makes sense to them.

What I mean by this is students are learning  to understand their own choreography. The curriculum shows them how to connect the dots.

The one thing that I have noticed especially with the emails Daniel and I have received through out this last year is that many dancers don’t understand how to interpret movement to music or they don’t even know why they move a certain way to the music, they just follow their teacher. Some dancers have said that they learn the same moves over and over again but  the reason behind the move is not talked about.

I think as teachers we have to take a good look at our own curriculum and than stand back so we can take a good look at what we are teaching. Read more

The American Silk Road

belly-dancer-leyla-najma-desert-queen-300Through out the year there have been many experiences and lessons that have taken me to places I never expected. There were roads less traveled that caught my attention. Walking down them made me realize that we can’t always learn our lessons from conventional methods. And I also learned that I can say no to a lesson that keeps coming back.

An African Priestess who mentored me years ago told me that we can always say no to the Universe and that our request will be honored. I know what some of you may be thinking; how can I say no especially if it is a lesson that is necessary for my growth? Sometimes in our gut we know when there is a lesson that comes around that just isn’t necessary. Realizing this can release the chains of “society expectations” that we carry around with us on our journey through life.

Our American heritage seemed to be added to the melting pot of the dance world. In many ways our lives are intermingled with each other to the benefit of us all and to our detriment.   This leads me to new insights gained from this year, insights that surprised even me. With each step I took with my yearly path of my dance education I realized that years from now maybe none of this will matter. Because I realized that in the end all that really matters is how I create my dance for myself. Does my dance end with me or will it live long past my dieing breath? Does my mark on the belly dance world even matter? Read more

The Belly Dance Agenda

The Belly Dance Agenda
The Feminine Symbol

For most dancers walking into a dance studio is refreshing, enlightening and therapeutic. Since women today have so much on their plates, it is important to find something for themselves so they can find their own identity besides the mother, wife, and co-worker identities. In todays society we need to make sure that we keep our sanity.

There are many reasons why women dance and there are even more reasons why women want to express life and its meaning through dance. With the history of dance and what it represents for so many there can be no denying that a woman dancing in ways where she is undulating forward and back like a snake or moving her hips side to side is a powerful feminine symbol. Read more

Dancing To Your Own Tune

belly-dancer-leyla-najma-relaxing-desertMy husband Daniel, looked up at me from his desk today and said, “Why don’t you write about dancers performing from who they are instead of performing from who they want to be?” He is always thinking about cool stuff for me to write and this one was a gem! So ladies thank my husband on this one.

Before Daniel suggested this short article I was giving him photographs of myself to copy that were taken years ago. I wanted to show you guys who I am besides Leyla Najma, the belly dancer. One photo is me praying in my medicine dress in the desert around Tombstone, Arizona. The other was me on my Clydesdale mare, Maggie who was doing a curtsy pose. I was dressed in my gypsy outfit riding Maggie for fans who were taking pictures.

These are both still me today but the belly dancer has taken precedence for many years. I often wonder how much the medicine woman comes out it me. I am still a gypsy and always will be…… where is she in my dancing? A while back I wrote an article talking about “Life is a Stage” and this actually coincides with that article. Read more

Life Is A Stage

belly-dancer-leyla-najma-live-performance-texasLights, camera, and oh yeah…….for a minute I forgot where I was. Isn’t it amazing what a stage can do to you? I mean for most of us who have been dancing for years, we have had the pleasure and displeasure of dancing on a variety of dance floors in odd spaces. I’ve danced on grass, tables (don’t recommend them) chairs (definitely don’t recommend them) gooey floors (don’t ask)and brick patios with little pebbles (my toes wouldn’t speak to me for weeks). Carpet is great for carpet burn and sloping hills can really challenge your sense of equilibrium!! Read more