Belly Dance Party in Atlanta!
Ladies, have you ever wanted to know if your hips don’t lie or if you could swing your hips like nunchucks? (Gentlemen, have you ever wanted to see your girlfriend or wife shake it like Shakira?) Well ladies, taking a class the Nazeem Allayl Belly Dance Studios is your first step to finding out these answers. After the first course or workshop, I bet you will find that you can move your hips, chest, and shoulders in new feminine and strong ways. You’ll probably even notice that you are using some different muscles than you would if you were weight training or doing aerobics at the gym. Aside from these benefits, the instructors will actually teach you how to belly dance and move to the beat! You may even catch the belly dancing bug – as noted on Nazeem Allayl’s website, “We create Belly Dancers!” – and now you’ve been warned. So, with many belly dancing classes under my belt, I was ecstatic to attend Nazeem Allayl Studio’s Haflanta II.
During the weekend of August 20-21, Nazeem Allayl Belly Dance Studios hosted Haflanta II, named for the combination of the Arabic word Hafla meaning “Dance Party” and Atlanta = Haflanta. After sponsoring out-of-town guest teachers in the past, Nazeem Allayl Belly Dance Studio owners Schadia and her husband Nazeem, felt that their studio had some of the best belly dancers and dance teachers in the United States, so they opted to create and host an event where students could really connect with their fabulous teachers – learn from them, meet them, and see them perform. Last year’s Haflanta received such great response and success that they decided to host a second one this year.
Ladies, if you weren’t able to attend this one, then you missed out on a positive environment which nurtured dance skills, physical strength and cardio, fabulousness, friendships, and the ability to work with dance props! One thing that I really like about the studios is that if you are self-conscious (like me), then they have strict rules to help you feel more comfortable in your own skin and in their studios. Every workshop at Nazeem Allayl is female-only and no one is allowed to watch or hang out – if you are in the classroom, then you are dancing. For every woman’s peace of mind, security, and to minimize distractions, the windows were covered with big curtains so that no one could stare inside while each workshop was being taught. This allowed women to feel more at ease throughout the weekend, during which some opted to wear belly revealing clothing. Belly dancing clothing was encouraged, but not necessary. If you preferred, you could wear work out clothes to class. After having taken several classes at the different Nazeem Allayl studios, I would recommend wearing a midriff shirt, choli top, or halter top with harem pants, yoga pants, or a large gypsy skirt – outfits like this help you to learn and monitor your technique in the mirror. (But don’t feel pressured; I’m still very slowly working my way towards wearing belly revealing clothing.) The same rules apply to their regular belly dance classes as well. The only time men and children are allowed in the studio is when Nazeem Allayl is hosting a show or open house.
A big reason Schadia and Nazeem started the studio is – not only is Schadia passionate about music and dancing –it helps women with their self-esteem and body issues. She said, “We change women’s lives at our studios by changing the way that they see themselves; by getting them to look in the mirror and love what they see. Belly dance is empowering for women. It has given me, many of my students and my dancers’ strength, a love of self and fabulous-ness!” Having attended different classes with different instructors, I can attest that this is true. Several instructors will openly tell you about why they got into belly dancing, how they have lost weight and gained confidence through this art form. Aside from that, one of the most beautiful things I find in taking classes and workshops is that you will meet women from all different walks of life – different ages, sizes, ethnicities, styles, backgrounds and personalities – all their for one common purpose – to learn how to become fabulous dancers. (If you’re having trouble believing this, then go take a look at Nazeem Allayl’s online photo galleries.) Each of the instructors has even built up a dedicated following of students. For instance, the ladies who religiously take Sabeeya’s Intermediate Thursday night class at Windy Hill started their own blog. The belly dancing bug has stung again! Another charming observation about Nazeem Allayl’s classes and workshops is that all the women attendees and instructors typically dress in beautiful, brightly colored clothing and coin sashes. What woman doesn’t want to dress brilliantly and celebrate her femininity and strength with dancing when you’re surrounded by such positive energy? Some women even accessorized magnificently, adorning their hair with flowers, wearing multiple bangles on their wrists and bindis on their foreheads.
All Haflanta II workshops and the show took place at Nazeem Allayl’s Perimeter location (off the Chamblee Dunwoody exit on 285). (Nazeem Allayl also has a studio closer to downtown Atlanta in the Little Five Points area and another off of Windy Hill in Marietta.) The workshops were held in two rooms with concurrent classes going on all day. Both Saturday and Sunday workshops started out with a 45 minute “Wake Up and Warm Up” workout with Maliqa, where she combined yoga and body conditioning to get the ladies blood pumping and ready for a full day of shimmying! Both days’ class schedules included several technique or combination workshops and one choreograph class. Workshops were sold individually or as day or weekend passes, so that women could choose which classes would best fit their schedule and dancing needs. For some attendees, it was a good introduction to different belly dance fundamentals and yet for others it was a great way to expand their dance foundation and techniques. Whether you wanted to work on your abs, learn a new dance choreography, play with props, or learn a different type of dance, Haflanta II had a workshop for you! Throughout the weekend, the studio had a super sale on hip scarves, swords, veils, and other belly dancing items and also allowed select vendors to exhibit and sell their wares during the class breaks. Schadia, She’nez, Sabeeya, Marwa, Maliqa, and Marjaan taught the workshops.
What advice would Schadia give to someone new to belly dancing?
“Find a studio that feels like home and a teacher who can be your mentor. Then, be loyal to both. I think in developing as a good solid dancer, loyalty is one of the most important advantages you can give yourself. If you hop from teacher to teacher, style to style and studio to studio, you end up being a jack-ie of all trades, but a master of none.”
Nazeem Allayl Belly Dance Studios next studio show will be held on Saturday and Sunday, October 22nd and 23rd. There will be feature performances by Nazeem Allayl and Nazeem Alsabah dance troupes, as well as their fabulous professional dancers and talented teachers. This show will also have three groups of students performing, some for the first time and others as seasoned dancers. Schadia said, “We will have more than 60 dancers performing in the shows. You shouldn’t miss it! It is a wonderful way to introduce yourself and others to the amazing world of American Belly Dance, right here in Atlanta!”
For more information about belly dancing, Nazeem Allayl Belly Dance Studios, or for their class and performance schedules, please visit www.atlantabellydance.com.
Haflanta II Workshops:
• Abs-olutely Fabulous: Belly Dancer’s Coolest Tummy-Toning Tricks with Sabeeya
• Sword Styles of the Fierce & Fabulous: Technique & Combinations to Make You a Fierce Fusion Sword Dancer with Marwa
• Party in the Gulf: Persian Bandari Dancing with Schadia
• Vamp Like a Vaudeville Starlet: A 1930’s Vaudevillian Belly Dance Fusion Choreography with She’nez
• Cabaret Veil Combinations: From Basic Veil Technique to Awesome Combinations to Satisfy Your Cabaret & Fusion Flare with Marjaan
• Fluid & Fierce Liquid Fusion: Hip Hop Belly Dance Combinations with She’nez
• A Star is Born: Creating Your Dance Alter Ego (includes lecture) with Schadia
• The Art of Taksim: How to Capture the Audience When the Music Slows Down with Marwa
• Schadia Cane Dance: Choreography Workshop with Schadia
• Get Serious: Double Isolations (Learn the same wild drills the pros practice in order to perfect advanced layering moves) with Sabeeya
HAFLANTA II Belly Dance Show Program for August 20, 2011:
1. “Djenna Djenna Lebanese Folk & Belly Dance Fusion” – Performed by Nazeem Alsabah members: Hasna, Haifa, Marwa, Maliqa, & Hakima
2. “Mizmar Classical Egyptian Cabaret & Passion Drum Solo” – Performed by Marjaan of Nazeem Alsabah
3. “Haya Gat Alaya Modern American Belly Dance” – Performed by Nazeem Alsabah members: Habiba & Hadiyah
4. “Behabak Raqs al Seniyya Fusion” – Performed by Misham of Nazeem Alsabah
5. “Billie’s Blues Vaudevillian & Belly Dance Fusion” – Performed by Nazeem Allayl member She’nez
6. “Tigi Tigi Modern Egyptian Belly Dance Fusion” – Performed by Nazeem Alsabah members: Marjaan, Misham, Hadiyah, Jaseena, Jenna
7. “Yoam Al-Haz Raqs al Assaya & Sharqi Fusion” – Performed by Nazeem Allayl Member Schadia
– Intermission –
8. “Mabyes’alsh Aalayya Abadan Classical Egyptian Cabaret” – Performed by Nazeem Alsabah members: Marjaan, Misham, Habiba & Haleema
9. “Vele Ya Vele Modern Egyptian Shaabi & Belly Dance Fusion” – Performed by Maliqa of Nazeem Alsabah
10. “Khajre Re Bollywood style Indian Dance” – Performed by Nazeem Alsabah members Haifa & Hasna
11. “Good Bye Alan Tribal Fusion Raqs al Sayf” – Performed by Marwa of Nazeem Alsabah
12. “Egyptian Nights American Cabaret & Tribal Fusion Belly Dance” – Performed by Nazeem Allayl members: Schadia & She’nez
13. “I am Woman American Belly Dance Fusion” – Performed by Nazeem Alsabah members: Maliqa, Habiba, Hakima, Haleema, Jaleelah, Jasena, Javaneh, & Jehaan