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  1. #11
    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maria_harlequin View Post
    If you want to do the Suhaila online courses, I say go for it if you're into technique. Suhaila's classes aren't "style" oriented...they're PURE technique and it's for everyone no matter what style you do.
    I've been a subscriber since they started. I'm actively involved in her program (testing Level 2 in a couple of months) and have been a long-distance student since 2005.

    Pure Technique is exactly the way to describe it.

    Now I will say that between Suhaila and Egyptian style, there are some differences in how certain movements are generated. I had real problems in Raqia Hassan's workshop because she kept insisting we do a lot of hipwork by straightening the leg. I know this is how Egyptians do it, but it doesn't work on my body, and hurts me at times. With Suhaila's format, almost all the movement comes from the glutes or belly muscles in one way or another. Although I dance as close to Egyptian style as I can, I do generate a lot of the movements using Suhaila's technique because they feel better on my beat-up old body. Of course, I still do Raqia's shimmy because I can't do Suhaila's vibration yet, and I prefer the wobbly-belly look of Raqia's hip shimmy.

    It's also a MUST if you're going into Tribal Fusion. I've been doing the Suhaila format (my teacher is certified to teach) for a few months now and my isolations and layers have really improved. Also if you're planning on doing group choreography, using Suhaila's technique can make everything look cleaner.
    Exactly. I think before I started studying with Suhaila, I never thought about where you put the downbeat in a movement. (Except for big hip circles, which Raqia then insisted always started in the front!) Makes doing group choreographies SOOOOO much easier! Suhaila's method of placing the downbeat and then adding footwork opened up a new world for me during improvisation. One simple movement turns into 20 different looks when you change the downbeat, add different footwork and timing options, and alternate between hard and soft contractions of the muscles. And that's not even counting adding layered movements!

    But if you're not into constant technique drilling that will have you all frustrated for a very long time, Suhaila may not be for you.
    Right -- Suhaila's students drill and drill and drill and practice technique forEVER before they get to actually thinking about emotionality or actually DANCING (like performing.) It's really very much like any structured dance class at a performing arts school. You drill and drill ballet exercises for years, venturing out for short combinations at the end of class, but not really worrying about DANCING until all those movements are completely internalized and you don't even have to think about them anymore.

    She also does conditioning for dancers, to build strength and stamina. So of your 90 minute class, 45 minutes is conditioning, strength-building, and what we could classify as "barrework" (where you drill basic concepts slowly without moving) and then you move on to about 25 minutes of drilling one or two movements while moving through space (walking, chasses, grapevines, etc.) then you end with a short combination.

    That's just her regular technique class. The Dance Movement classes are wonderful practice for people who have not had a lifetime of ballet classes, or who need practice with turns, traveling moves, balance, etc. They aren't really focused on any specific dance -- it's just the basic vocabulary and fundamental movements of ballet, modern, and jazz dance. The Jamila format classes have you practicing the movements in Jamila's format while adding finger cymbals, and the Folkloric Fusion class is just insane -- cymbals with crazy combinations and drilling technique, but with more of a focus on understanding the music and rhythm, and keeping different timing and rhythmic patterns going. It's like a super-advanced cymbal dancing class, but it's SOOO fun!


    Here's my theory about learning new physical skills:

    We move through 3 tactile phases when we are learning a new physical activity, whether it's hand-spinning yarn, playing guitar, or belly dancing.

    The first stage is AWKWARDNESS. At this stage it just feels weird! Your hip doesn't want to DO that, or your fingers just get jumbled, and it doesn't doesn't feel good at all. We feel awkward. The only way we get through the movement is to do it very slowly, often with many stops along the way. If we push through the activity, and continue to practice it regularly, it quickly moves to the next stage. (For dancers, remember the undulation and how weird it felt to learn that? How you had to break it up into steps and practice moving through the steps? Or the belly roll -- how you have to break up that movement into pieces and learn each piece separately. For musicians, this is like learning a chord on a guitar, and having to place each finger, one by one, on the right strings.)

    The second stage is the PRECARIOUS BALANCE stage. At this point, the movement or activity is no longer so awkward, and we can do actually do one or two repetitions, but we're just as likely to mess it up as to do it right. The mind and body still are quite on the same page, so to speak, but we can probably do the task as long as we do it slowly. (You can now play the chord by putting all the fingers on the strings at once, but you can't transition from chord to chord without stopping and repositioning your fingers. For dancers, it's when you get the undulation, but you can only do it standing still and while holding your abdomen with both hands.) With time comes ...

    COMFORT -- the stage where you not only know how to do the movement, but you can execute it on demand, and with the degree of skill required. (For dancers it would be doing a movement in time with the music, or for musicians, switching between the C chord and the F chord smoothly and with no stops.)

    After comfort there is actually a 4th stage, and that is INTERNALIZATION. It's at this stage that you really don't think about a movement; it just happens. You don't worry about transitions, because you just sort of DO them. Internalization of movement is what is needed to be a good performer.

    THAT's my theory, anyway. Feel free to point out the holes

    Anyway, what I like about these classes is that they make you work through those stages. You literally drill a traveling movement for 25 minutes. I can't remember the last time I drilled ONE thing for 25 minutes straight -- going forward, backward, and sideways both ways. If a movement felt awkward when you started, you will most likely have moved into the second stage by the end of the class. That's massively helpful when you're learning new things.

    One very important thing these classes won't do is work on musical understanding and emotional expressivity. She saves the emotional work for Level 3, and although you get a lot of rhythmic training in the cymbal classes, these classes don't go into much detail at all about the music. She throws snippets of cultural information in there every now and then, but not much about music. That's a REALLY super important element of this dance (some would say THE most important element,) and I'm surprised she's not addressing that. The combinations very often have a jazzy feel to them, which isn't to everybody's taste, but I think the combos are useful especially in learning transitions.

    Scarlet - if you have any other questions, feel free to post or PM me. I'm pretty vocal about what I do and don't like about the program itself

  2. #12
    Member staranise's Avatar
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    thanks for that info Aziyade. I have been seriously considering getting a yearly subscription for the past month, at least. I'm finally getting the funds, but now I'm concerned. I don't know if it's worth getting a year's virtual dance education when I could save a little more and do an intensive, where I'd obviously get feedback from a teacher.

    I'm torn. any thoughts on this matter?

  3. #13
    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by staranise View Post
    thanks for that info Aziyade. I have been seriously considering getting a yearly subscription for the past month, at least. I'm finally getting the funds, but now I'm concerned. I don't know if it's worth getting a year's virtual dance education when I could save a little more and do an intensive, where I'd obviously get feedback from a teacher.

    I'm torn. any thoughts on this matter?
    Well, before you sign up for the year, I would definitely recommend getting the 3-day free trial, and really WATCHING the videos. Also, if you haven't had a class with Suhaila before, you might want to get the Fitness Fusion dvds -- they're sort of an introduction to her method.

    If you've done all that, then try the 3-month subscription first. There are a lot of videos on the site, and it will easily take you 3 months to work through them and decide what you like.

    Like Maria said, this format is the base for Tribal and Tribal Fusion, so it's probably WELL worth your time and money to do these classes if that's your chosen dance style.

    If you're wanting more pure Egyptian classes-- well, I'm not sure that these are the best option for you. Like I said, I blend the two -- but it was a struggle, and there are some elements that just don't want to blend.

    A lot really depends on your dance style and what you hope to get from the classes.

    What I personally needed (to progress in the format) was some type of regimented drilling (I guess I don't have the self-discipline to do it myself). The material for Level 2 is SOOOOO massive -- there is so much to practice that I didn't know where to begin. With these classes, in each one there is a focus on just one or two movements with different locomotion possibilities. This approach made sense of the material for me, and broke it down into small enough bits that I felt like I COULD practice all of it effectively, over time.

    But there really is no "dancing" in the classes (apart from the combination at the end) and no musical training in the open classes. So if what you're wanting is to learn how to interpret Inta Omri -- you won't find it here.

    So it really depends on where you are in your training, and what you hope to get out of the classes. They aren't like some bellydance classes where you learn some new moves, practice them for 10 minutes and then do a bunch of combinations or learn a choreography. Suhaila's classes are pretty much entirely DRILLING technique.

    Does that help any? I would recommend the 3-day free trial, and then maybe the month or 3-month subscription before you commit to the annual. I know these classes won't be for everyone.

    -Amanda

  4. #14
    Member staranise's Avatar
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    thanks for the detailed response. This sounds like what I need (I too struggle with a lack of self discipline) I've checked out the 3 day trial and although I was a tad overwhelmed with the amount of classes available, I want to take them all so I will get a subscription.

    oh and tribal is my style. I haven't had a class with Suhaila herself but I have studied a bit with Rachel Brice and I can see the similarities already.

  5. #15
    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by staranise View Post
    thanks for the detailed response. This sounds like what I need (I too struggle with a lack of self discipline) I've checked out the 3 day trial and although I was a tad overwhelmed with the amount of classes available, I want to take them all so I will get a subscription.

    oh and tribal is my style. I haven't had a class with Suhaila herself but I have studied a bit with Rachel Brice and I can see the similarities already.
    Based on that, I'd say go for it! Rachel went through Level 1, and her technique is based in Suhaila's, as you've seen. If you do Rachel-style Tribal Fusion, you will LOOOOVE these classes!

    Here's my suggestion as to how to approach the classes. They do an 8-week rotation at the studio, with a concentration on one movement family each week. So start with the level one class, and just pick a movement. Let's say hip twists. So do 2-3 of the level one classes each week that focus on hip twists. Then try a level 2 class in hip twists. If that's too hard, just stick with the Level ones for a while.

    Do a Jamila class (for cymbals, especially) once or twice a week, and try a folkloric fusion class -- those are hard, so if it's too hard, just stick with the Jamila class.

    Do a Dance movement class once a week. Those are also on an 8-week rotation, but it doesn't matter which class you choose.

    That's 7 days of classes. Try that schedule (or a modified version) for a couple of months and try to figure out which classes are better for you. As a relative newbie to the classes, I'd say stick with the Dance Movement, Jamila, and Suhaila Level 1 classes for a while. Move up to Suhaila Level 2 and Folkloric Fusion when you're ready. Don't rush yourself, and just enjoy the movement

    Good luck with it! Let me know what you think, and if this approach works for you, okay?


  6. #16
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    Veda Sereem has a certification course and offers classes.
    I loved her book and tapes as a beginner. The tapes are more of a
    home video taped version, but she packs in a lot of instruction
    per segment. She teaches it like a private class.

    - Belly Dancing - Middle Eastern Dance - Bellydancing in MaryLand - Belly Dancing Teacher

    Good luck with what ever avenue you select to increase your
    skills and learning...

  7. #17
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    Ariadne and Da Sage are right. And please ask your teacher want DVD's to start with. If she knows the DVD's you have, she can really help you. I have done so with many of my own students.

  8. #18
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    I have been reading this thread with much interest. Based on Aziyade's thorough analysis, I think that I am very much interested in Suhalia's online classes. I am studying Egyptian at the moment. Which classes or combination of classes would you suggest I start with? I live in the Caribbean, and this is an economical way of getting good instruction.

  9. #19
    Member staranise's Avatar
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    I finally got a subscription! eeeee! so excited! I love the folkloric fusion, it's so fun, and challanging for my mind as well as my body... the zill patterns are completely different to anything taught in this area. I love me some zilling action.

    I've only been doing it for a week, (every second day mind you) but my flexibility and stamina has noticably improved already!

    I only wish I had some other maniac dancers to do it with!

  10. #20
    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nym View Post
    I have been reading this thread with much interest. Based on Aziyade's thorough analysis, I think that I am very much interested in Suhalia's online classes. I am studying Egyptian at the moment. Which classes or combination of classes would you suggest I start with? I live in the Caribbean, and this is an economical way of getting good instruction.

    Nym, Egyptian is a LOT different from what you'll be doing in Suhaila's classes, but once you know that you can work on getting the most out of each type of instruction.

    Definitely start with the Level One classes -- they aren't easy by any means, but they often include the breakdown of movement as it's achieved by Suhaila's method. I'd definitely get the Level One study guide as well -- with some subscriptions, you can download it for free. It describes how to do all the movements and what muscles you're using.

    If you have trouble with some of the walking patterns, or turning or stuff like that, try the Dance Movement classes.

    The Jamila classes and Folkloric Fusion classes are dancing with finger cymbals. I think the Jamila classes are a tiny bit easier than the Folkloric Fusion classes, but they're both very different and very fun! Try a couple and see which one you like best.

    If you're comfortable with all the movements in Level One classes, then try the Level 2 class. Everything is full time (rather than half time) or double time, and you put all the movements over different walking patterns, so it's much more challenging but fun to work up to!

    Good luck and keep us up to date on your progress!

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