New video!

Just uploaded the official video of my performance at the Jamilah weekend hafla organised by Hanaa!

I love love love this music 🙂

 

The whole weekend was really nice. I was happy to take several workshops with Jamilah, and to catch up with dance friends after summer ❤

Good times!

The line up!

The line up!

Jumping dancers! My timing was great - for once! :)

Jumping dancers! My timing was great – for once! 🙂

 

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Tarazade Festival, Istanbul

I traveled to Istanbul on my own, and returned home with a bunch of new friends – figuratively speaking of course 🙂

Tarazade

Tarazade’s opening party on Friday was an excellent start of the event. We got to enjoy the music played by the live band with Baytekin Serce, who would perform almost every evening. It was great to hear their Turkish flavored repertoire!

During the days that followed, I took workshops with Marta Korzun (I love her style, and she is such a sweet person!), Mayodi (so classic and so inspiring!), Hale Sultan (fun Turkish choreo with surprise floor work!), Helene of Norway (really interesting 3D idea’s) and Didem (outstanding technique!).

Every single instructor inspired me in their own way, which is exactly what I had hoped for when I consciously chose varying topics.

The shows were just amazing. Dozens of superb artists giving their best… not on stage but on a dance floor, on the same level as the audience. The energy was mind blowing!

Tarazade Artists

The artists!

On the third evening, I was happy to share the open stage with performers from all over the world! Check out my performance!

 

What a lovely experience I had at Tarazade 2014. Inspiring workshops, awesome performances, great food, cool people. Thank you, Tara!

See some of the pictures I took in the fb photo album!

 

Cool articles I read in July

Happy reading!

The secret to good dancing
by Asharah

and on the same topic:
Four steps to becoming a great dancer
by Shay

Tips for becoming a more dramatic dancer
by Princess Farhana

Why I’d spend a lot more time practicing scales if I could do it all over again
by Dr Noa Kageyama

Dance perfectionist or high achiever?
by Sheri Leblanc

Signs of common bellydance injuries that you should not ignore
by Hadia

15 amazing dancers share their secrets to developing a personal style
by Sharon Mitzy Sheen

 

QooKay’s Dance Intensive 2014

9 people of which only a few know each other, and 4 dance teachers from 3 different dance styles…. When Khalida and I started thinking about the Dance Intensive project, we didn’t even dare to dream of the magic this mix would create!

QKDI 2014I feel honoured and proud to have contributed to this wonderful event. Of course, there was the organizational stress (in Khalida’s words… as always!), and there were the traditional nerves on the first day, but soon enough everything settled and we could… just… dance!

QKDI - just dance!

Which was great, since this was the motto of the intensive 🙂

Most of all, we wanted to create a relaxed atmosphere to focus on dance – and not just bellydance. We were delighted when ballet instructor Constanze agreed to teach with us again after the previous editions – and I spent a good part of the preparatory weeks looking forward to her amazing classes. Popping master Obelixx completed the line up for even more cross-training and added thinking outside of the box!

Also “as always”, I truly enjoyed brainstorming with Khalida to figure out the day planning, to develop our lesson plans and the teaching strategies. Some ideas were crazy but negotiable, others were instantly dismissed, and others just clicked. Not only do I love working with her – I am very grateful for the past 5 years in which I have gotten to know her as a generous person, an amazing dancer and a wonderful friend.

As the 4 days of the Intensive progressed, it was heart warming to see the group spirit grow between the dancers. Breaks between the classes were spent chatting and laughing, lounging about and sharing snacks. Good vibes.

This was amplified on Saturday, at the extremely informal hafla/party night, where the dancers could perform for each other if they wanted to. I loved that one dancer performed for the very first time… another performed a choreography experiment in progress… all in a very supportive atmosphere, it was so cool!

Queenie and Khalida at QKDI

Proudly presenting the party program!

When I returned home on Sunday evening, after the very cool workshop by Obelixx and the extensive goodbyes, I felt so very inspired – and still. These were an intense 4 days filled with bellydance technique drills, musicality and expression exercises, ventures into new dance styles (and not one of the dancers sat down during the classes!)

Dance really is what it’s all about. The glitter and glam are fun, but in the end it all comes back to… dance. We’re born as dancers and that is what connects us, regardless of style, age or nationality.

Practice technique, dance with your heart – that’s when the magic happens ❤

Check out the official post on the QooKay website,
as well as the official QKDI photo album on Facebook.
Also, read Khalida’s blog post about QKDI!

Relaxing is hard work!

I have no idea where the first half of 2014 has gone. I just returned from a lovely holiday in the south of France, and I realized that July is waiting around the corner. My horoscope claims a travel heavy time is coming, so I might not store my suitcases too far away!

These past six months I have been teaching a lot, I changed my day job and somehow I managed to finish the first year of the health coach studies I am taking (picking up my grades tomorrow!). Actually, the last exam was the day before I was leaving on vacation, so I alternated my studying time with office work and packing. I was planning instant relaxing afterwards… which did not quite work out that way 🙂

I spent the first couple of days in a rather restless state. I had to read articles, check my phone, work out, visit cities, go shopping, listen to audiobooks, my head would just not stop. I ended up with a migraine and other annoying issues, until I forced myself to sit and do nothing. It was so hard to release that urge to keep going – I even felt guilty for not doing anything useful – but eventually I could feel my body relax and I could start enjoying the chirping crickets 😉 Finally!

If possible in the future, I will avoid the scenario of going on vacation immediately after work. Having one or two days before going on a trip definitely helps to de-stress, to get used to the idea of having time off and to ease into holiday mode 🙂

And now… trying to hold on to the bliss of being relaxed 🙂

strawberries

Homegrown strawberries for the road. Super sweet!

Saone in Lyon

The Saône river in Lyon, with lotus leaves. Instead of just driving through and only getting stuck in traffic here, we decided to stay for a few days. It’s a lovely city!

Flower stall in Lyon

Flower stall in Lyon. The scent here was amazing!

Espress yourself

Even my coffee came with a message

Poolside

Provence! Getting used to the idea of relaxing near the pool 🙂

dragonfly

Dragonfly joined us for lunch 🙂

Best salad ever

My kind of food! Best salad ever with bresaola, rocket, parmesan, artichokes, mozzarella and pesto, avocado and cherry tomatoes.

L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue

Crystal clear water in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. Love this town!

Pool 2

Enjoying the pool – in the shade. The sun was brutal!

Provence

Amazing Provence views ❤

In a few days I’m off to Germany for QooKay’s Dance Intensive! Khalida and I are so looking forward to 4 days of bellydance, ballet, and even some popping for bellydancers.

Queenie and Khalida's Dance Intensive

End of July, I will revisit a couple of my favorite class locations for summer workshops! All in zen mode, of course! 🙂

Queenie's Summer Workshop Tour

Have a great summer!!

Reflections and resolutions

It seems like 2013 had passed almost as quickly as its last day is rolling by. It is hard to grasp that in a couple of hours, this year will belong to the past. I hope I am not the only one who feels that time seems to go faster and faster as the years go by. It makes me want to enjoy the good moments as much as possible, and it makes me eager to make the best of future experiences.

Aside from this enthusiasm towards the times to come, it is equally important to look back and reflect on past events. I like to do this by looking over my calendar and thinking about what has happened. Re-living events, festivals I have visited, workshops I have taught and taken, performances given and watched, people I have met or moments shared with old friends… people I haven’t seen as much as I would have liked or opportunities I might have missed…

However these reflections might be – have or have not – I try to keep them positive and most of all, to be grateful. Looking back, I might have better done some things differently, but considering it is not possible to change the past, there is not much use in being negative about what has been. I can only try to do better the next time around 🙂

A picture I took in Ghent a couple of weeks ago (after a visit to the Bella store!). The writings are on a shop window while the other side of the street is reflected :)

A picture I took in Ghent a couple of weeks ago (after a visit to the Bella store!). The writings are on a shop window while the other side of the street is reflected 🙂

I hope the new year will bring very happy times for all of us, along with a lot of inspiration, motivation and tons of creativity. I hope to continue to dance a lot, and I hope to share many dances with you. May we all spend lovely moments together – in real life, online or even in thought.

Wishing you a peaceful end of 2013, an awesome start of 2014, and the best year yet 🙂

 

 

Thoughts on learning

It never stops. It really doesn’t. And I love it.

I remember one of my teachers in school once said it. I was horrified at the time 🙂 Learning.. for ever and ever with no way out?? No way!
Of course then, I only knew learning in its school-form. Get out your books and almost mindlessly try to transfer what’s in there into your head to be able to reproduce it the next day. Now I know that there’s a difference between studying and learning (but even the concept of studying has changed since growing up 🙂 )

I am happy to have been able to take a couple of workshops with the wonderful Mme Raqia Hassan last weekend, at Leyla Jouvana‘s festival, in which she also insisted on perpetual learning.

The problem is that we often get frustrated because we want to learn things quickly, we want to be able to do things instantly, and perfectly. But learning takes time. Changing habits takes time. We often get frustrated when we don’t get things right from the start, or we get overwhelmed when we realize how much there is to learn and how much time it actually takes.

One thing you have to remember is that practice does not make perfect. Once this tiny sentence made it into my mind, it made everything better. Practice does not make perfect. Practice makes progress. Acknowledging this makes learning much more enjoyable and less overwhelming, because any amount of time spent on deliberate practice makes progress.
Don’t practice to be perfect. Practice to be better. And have fun while you’re at it 🙂

On our dance journey, we often are confronted with feelings of failure. Watching a performance video and cringing at what you considered a good idea at the time… and we end up beating ourselves up because we don’t like what we see.
It’s part of the learning process. We love this dance and we know what we like and what we don’t like. In other dancers, we can tell if they have good technique or not. Watching ourselves on video on any given moment in our learning career, is confronting because we can see that our technique of this and that move is not yet how it should be, or we would want our expression to be different or more profound… and that is where a lot of dancers give up. They don’t push through this awkwardness by working on these issues, instead they are overwhelmed because the mind knows how it should be, and the body doesn’t always follow the mind.

This is where mindful or deliberate practice comes in. I believe in ‘planting seeds’ in your mind 🙂 Anytime you practice, pay attention to the thing you want to work on: your posture, your arms, your expression, your range of motion, or even just being more relaxed. Go slowly and correct yourself whenever you notice a loss of intention. Take this to daily life as well – don’t be a dancer for a couple of hours per week. You ARE a dancer, there is no on/off switch. Be, act, behave like a dancer – always.
The seeds in your mind will grow as connections between your brain and your body. A good and inspiring book about this is The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle (thank you, Khalida!).

Try to think of learning and practicing as something you get to do. You don’t have to do it. You get to do it. You get to make a better person and a better dancer of yourself. Once you get this mindset, practice will be more enjoyable and interesting, and your progress will be exponential. While you’re having fun 🙂