And So the Story Goes…

And So the Story Goes... - Leyla Najma's Belly Dance BlogSkeletons, ghosts and names on tombstones greeted us at the Haunted Hips workshop in Abilene. We arrived in Abilene after driving the long way around to get there and thankfully settled into comfy beds at the hotel. Even our 3 legged blue heeler, Mr. Zippy was out like a light, snoring away and dreaming of that unreachable rabbit. Saturday morning was upon us in what seemed to me to be only ten minutes of sleep but I know I am exaggerating a bit.

The Haunted Hips workshop was finally happening and I was ready and anxious not only to get started but to meet all the wonderful women who travelled to the workshop from out of town. The Magic Lamp Studio director Jami Chance is about the nicest and most gracious hostess I have had the pleasure to work with. Jami and I met through my online videos a few years ago and we have been dance friends ever since.

Saturday was a day full of opposition hip combinations that is based on the Hip Phylosophy curriculum. It was a day of laughing and dancing which is always the best way to learn dance. Everyone who came to the workshop came through the 4 hours of instruction with flying colors. There were different levels of dancers so it was an interesting mix of beginner dancers to professional. Sunday was a mini choreography on Continual Soft movement and group participation. It was my favorite class of the weekend because the girls took combinations apart and put them back together in various ways and then performed the combinations for each other. I think in the Sunday class the girls were able to see that putting combinations together can be fun and both groups came up with wonderful variations on the combinations. They could actually see that what they came up with not only worked but looked beautiful all at the same time!

The Saturday evening show was full of great energy and I must say that Jami did a wonderful job training her girls. Each performance was full of high energy and the evening flowed effortlessly and easily. It was just one of those shows that was a joy to be in. At the end of the evening Jami brought me roses and we all danced to live music by a wonderful drummer named John. It was the perfect ending to a perfect evening!!

When the end of the workshop came it was sad to leave. Jami’s family is just as gracious as she is and we feel so fortunate to have met Jami’s husband Steve, daughters Brittany and Bekah. Thank you so much for making our stay wonderful and memorable. And thank you Jami for letting me off the hook for forgetting the lights!!

DVD Review, Rozana al Jinans Cane Choreography

Review by Leyla Najma for “The Chronicles Belly Dance Magazine.rozanne-al-jinan-leyla-najma-cane-choreography

Rozana al Jinan Presents:
Raqs Assaya “Blue Moon”
Cane Choreography like you’ve never seen it!

Sun, sand and swirling images in blue greet you as you start your journey watching Raqs Assaya “Blue Moon”. Rozana al Jinan takes what you thought you knew about cane and completely revolutionizes cane technique with modern choreography. As you watch Rozana move with the cane, it is almost as if the cane is an extension of her movements. And this is why this is a must have DVD.

A pleasant “warm up” starts you off and is so enjoyable because Rozana has such a soft and relaxing voice. This really gets you into a good mood and prepares you for the challenging class awaiting you. But I have to warn beginner dancers; this choreography is intended for the experienced dancer. So make sure you have your foundation movements down and you are able to work in your traveling steps before you try out Rozana’s choreography.

How many dancers really know how to hold a cane? Rozana gives tips on how to hold and control your cane. This is a must know part of cane and even if you have danced with cane previously this information is a really good reminder on how to feel the energy with your cane as it moves with you. Rozana does something that I wish a lot of dancers would do when they produce an instructional; she shows the feet work first than the combination with the cane and than the cane drill. Wow, this took a lot of the guess work out and I was able to follow Rozana with greater ease.

For the professional dancer out there who is bored with her cane this DVD not only saves the day but adds a new spice to cane choreography. Since Rozana is a black belt in Tae Kwando she combined new and exciting elements to her choreography which include martial arts. This is why Rozana’s choreography is different and challenging. She brought in rudiments of Contemporary Wushu which translates to “Flowering Hand”. This is a form of Chinese martial arts that is performed as a sport today. The form itself is known to mean “As soft as a flower while in motion but strong upon impact” which defines Rozana’s choreography perfectly. My favorite combination is the Plum Blossom which is a move derived from Wushu. Trust me this particular move with the cane will test your ability to do two things at once which I found out to my chagrin. The bottom line is this DVD is educational, challenging and different. And an added bonus is a “Tips and Inside Information” booklet that Rozana provides with her DVD.
With so many instructional DVDs out today Raqs Assaya “Blue Moon” is
a wonderful surprise and once you buy it; you’ll find it is money well spent.

Raqs Assaya “Blue Moon” is available from Rozana al Jinan. For more information contact Rozana al Jinan at: or

By Leyla Najma

Drum Roll…Belly Dance Village has arrived!

Belly Dance Village is Open To All - Leyla Najma's Belly Dance Blog

Can you all believe it…….Belly Dance Village is finally up and running! It’s been a journey of ups and downs especially with the design and content but the finished project is a gem of a site. It definitely has been a labor of love for Daniel but for me I must say it’s been a little like falling down the rabbit hole. I’m sure Dan can attest to the many animated discussions we have had since the thread of the idea started. But it has all been worth the trials and tribulations of getting it rolling because it is a huge part of the demands and needs of belly dancers today. In other words times are changing therefore Belly Dance Village has arrived!

From a girlie belly dancer perspective I have to say I love the artwork because it seems to have a timeless look to it and that was very important to Daniel and I. Jennifer Bauman is our artist extraordinaire and it only took one phone call describing what my vision was for Belly Dance Village for her to get it right on the money. We wanted the look pleasing to the eye first and than Daniel was adamant about making it user friendly. It really is a website that has a life of its own and it will continue to grow as members come in and we start to accommodate different needs, ideas and more content.

I will be doing a new video a month for members, this way it keeps new content coming in and if subscribers have ideas for videos they can put in their two cents besides being apart of  the video process. I know there are women looking for videos that address specific problems so this is our way of answering the needs of the many. I enjoy different ideas so for me it will be fun to see what members have to say and what magically appears gliding on the magic carpet called video ideas.  The possibilities are going to be endless!

We have a few interviews of amazing dancers up for your enjoyment so stay tuned for more that I will be doing specifically for Belly Dance Village.  Also if any of you have dance friends or teachers who inspire you, write in and let me know about them for future videos. I am also interested in interviewing women who have conquered physical problems, personal issues or who are leaders in your communities. We want Belly Dance Village to be a place that feels like a village and community not just a place for dance only but for women with common goals and ideas. The focal point for Belly Dance Village is “you” the dancers and women who are searching for a place that not only feels a little like home but where you can voice your opinion. Realistically speaking if any of us become members of anything we want to feel like our voice counts.

The cool thing about Belly Dance Village is the fact that you can have access to any of my videos. I think at this point Daniel told me I have done 27 videos so that means there is a lot of instruction at your finger tips. So no matter what happens during the day or week you can have access to them when it’s “your” dance time. Belly Dance Village for me is a necessity for   the moms out there, working women or the time restraints from being both. It will be there when you find the time and that is the comforting aspect of being a member. You can go at your own pace and enjoy class time without feeling you are missing out. There is no traveling in the car (gas prices are soaring) and you can be in the comfort of your own surroundings.

I have included important elements of being an entertainer which includes stage terminology, lighting and stage areas. These are must know aspects of being a dancer and a major part of the education of performers. For those dancers who don’t know what entails putting on a show this information is especially for you. Also there is a link on make-up which will help create stage personalities and give tips for a variety of looks.

The history of Belly Dance is also being added but I have kept it more in the Egyptian arena which is my focal point and has been for years. But the history will include important dates, dancers, musicians, composers and information needed for your belly dance education. It does not include American Cabaret, American Tribal, Gothic or Fusion but that can all be added later. As I said the membership site will be a work in progress so that it can grow and more content can be added.

If any of you were wondering what happened to Belly Ache radio well wonder no more because we will be including it into Belly Dance Village. That’s right, I will be interviewing different types of personalities on the show not only dancers but people with important information I feel you should know. So as you can see there is a lot going on with this membership site that will make it an exciting place to be. At least from Daniel and my perspective we are working to make sure that it is the answer to dancer’s needs and more.

So what are you waiting for go check it out!

Leyla’s Commentary for Dancers

Emails, Live Classes, and Sedona - Leyla Najma's Belly Dance Blog

Workshop in Sedona Arizona

I am teaching a workshop along with another friend of mine Rozana al Jinan sponsored by Shimmy magazine/Holly Luky Saturday, June 26th with the evening show happening Friday the 25th .

The show will be at: (Reservations only)

Relics Restaurant 3235 West Highway 89A Sedona, Arizona.

Telephone (928) 282-1593 – Online www.relicsrestaurant. Read more

Belly Dance Classes Live – Test Broadcast May 23rd

Learn Belly Dancing From Home Live Internet Broadcast Test

If you have signed up for Learn Belly Dancing From Home, or if you are interested in witnessing first hand the broadcast quality and technology in action then you’re invited to attend a test broadcast on Sunday May 23rd at 11:00 AM Mountain Time and 7:00 PM Mountain Time.

These are the same times that we’ll be  broadcasting the Tuesday and the Thursday classes. The broadcast will start promptly and will be brief just so you can get a feel for the technology  and the way it works. I mean if you can hit the “Play” button on the player you got it licked.

The broadcast will not last longer then 15 minutes or so. Just enough time for Leyla to say a few words and give a bit more background on the classes, so no need to block out a large amount of time.

The broadcast will take place from our main site. Here’s the URL to click on. I’d recommend that you go ahead and click on it now and then bookmark it so you don’t have to dig around for it later.

This is an open broadcast that anyone can attend. There are no restrictions, so feel free to share this page and the URL with any of your dance friends that might be interested.

The last day for signing up for the 4 week cycle will be on Monday @12:00 AM, however classes will be open for drop in attendance during the 4 week cycle.  If you’re on the email list, you’ll automatically be alerted each week about classes and what Leyla plans on teaching.

See you tomorrow


PS: Here’s the link again for tomorrows test broadcast.

PSS: Go here to check your local time against the broadcast times.