As I start to write this newsletter, I find myself again reflecting on the past year and how far we've come. It’s been an incredible year and I can’t wait to see what the next one will bring...
January is shaping up to be another busy month, and I'll be diving in at full speed. First, I'll be attending Fathiem's workshop in Las Vegas for the third year in a row. Please see the "classes" sidebar for info about this workshop. Then I'm off to Hawaii to teach two bellydance workshops there. It will be my first visit to Hawaii so you can just imagine how excited I am! I'll be teaching my Dance Your Belly!™ Basics workshop, as well as a more comprehensive workshop for intermediate/advanced students this time. I'm calling this workshop the "911 Emergency Combinations", which will cover some interesting new combinations you can add to your choreography or improv dances. You can read the description of it on my workshop registration page. If you happen to be in Hawaii in January, please pre-register and please do stop by!
All this will be hosted by Malia in Hawaii. She's Hawaii born, and a beautiful dancer and bellydance promoter. I can't wait to meet her and get to spend some time in Hawaii. Thank you Malia for hosting these workshops!
Valentines day promises more interesting events and one of them includes teaching a workshop at the Body In Mind Pilates studio, here in Las Vegas. I met with Nina, the owner of this studio a couple of weeks ago and getting to know her was her was a real pleasure. She is just that type of person that seems to never get tired and carries some great energy around her. She is very inspirational, her studio is beautiful and her hard work is admirable. I’ll be sending you more info on those workshops as we get closer.
After all the work of producing the DVD, getting the website into the mainstream and all else thats been going on, we are finally seeing lots of results with so many of you joining the mailing list every day, the search engines are finding us, etc. It’s so fulfilling to get so many folks joining from all over; in December alone, we’ve been visited by people from 87 countries around the world! Its also so good to see the interest is there, and it is rewarding to see that the message of beautiful bellydance and its miraculous benefits is getting across.
We’ve also been working hard at getting the DVD out there for sale and reviewed in as many places as possible, including Amazon and the like. I’m anxious to see how it will fare in the reviews up against the masters such as Delilah, Jillina and so many others that have such wonderful videos out there. It is a bit daunting, but I’m also very proud of my DVD and am sure it will continue to do well.
The bellydance music compilation CD is still a work in progress, slated for release early next year. It will contain some fantastic music from some of the best known names in Middle Eastern music, which is very exciting! Stay tuned for more information as that develops.....
The last newsletter went out right before my flying to Miami at the end of November, which turned out to be such an incredible and inspiring trip.
As many of you may know, Johara puts on fantastic workshops and shows there in Miami every 6 months. This time one of my favorite dancers, Aziza, was the featured master teacher for the workshop, and one of my big reasons for going. I also had the honor to perform at the Hafla on Friday night.
What an adventure it was getting there, though. For a while, I wondered if I'd make it at all, Miami traffic being what it is. My good friend / Flamenco dancer Vanessa was driving, doing her best to get me there but we were completely stuck in traffic for a while, feeling utterly helpless. I guess I should never again complain about traffic in Las Vegas. Miami is a lot worse...
Anyway, Vanessa got me there at about 10 minutes till show time. It felt good; the energy was great and audience was just delightful. I was happy with my performance, and then kind of like a cherry on the top of my cake, Aziza, in her gracious manner, paid me a wonderful compliment. She approached me after the show, introduced herself (like I did not know who she was) and told me how much she enjoyed my performance. It is always so encouraging and heartwarming to receive that kind of acknowledgment from someone so well respected, and someone I hold in such high esteem.
Thank you Aziza!
The next morning we attended the workshop. As usual Aziza did an awesome job of teaching. Her veilwork is gracious and looks so effortless. She managed to teach us a full 5 minute choreography in just 4 hours. Beautiful stuff! She is definitely a wonderful woman and a teacher I highly recommend. And her sense of humor is such a big part of her personality, it makes her workshops so very enjoyable. If you haven't yet, be sure to check her out!
At the end of the workshop Johara announced the drawing for the raffle prizes, and Aziza was of course the one to draw. There were many prizes to give away, including all kinds of accessories and gift certificates along with the grand prize of a $200 gift certificate to Johara's store. Now, I never win at these things and have no luck at raffles and such, so of course I expected the same this time around. But, to my amazement, somehow Aziza managed to compliment me again and pulled my ticket number out of the basket !!! A Grand Prize for me ?!?! I guess it just means Aziza is good luck for me.
So... a huge thank you to Johara for your generous gifts and for all your hard work of organizing all these great events! See you there next time!
On Saturday evening, I got to relax, sit and watch the second night's show, which ended with Aziza's performance we had all been waiting for. I also got to spend some time with Belda, my old time Las Vegas friend, supporter and dancer. She has also moved to Miami from Las Vegas like Vanessa (what is up with that? Everybody moving to Miami?) and it was just wonderful to see her again and catch up. Thank you Belda for all your support and everything you have done for me, you will always have a special spot in my heart!
I also made a new friend, Amber. She was kind enough to help out with the merchandising efforts and took my T-shirts and DVDs for sale at her vending table. Besides being passionate about Bellydance, she is also an awesome photographer. She also gave me a ride back to meet Vanessa half way back on the other side of Miami. Talk about distances in Miami - boy, that place is big! Thanks for your help Amber and it was very nice to meet you!
The evening wore on as we cruised the Miami Flamenco clubs till the wee hours. Smoky and loud, but with lots of great food, drinks, and great company. Then as hoped, the next day I got my walk on South Beach and got to feel the Atlantic waters, on one of those beautiful days you wish would not end. But it did, on an airplane, headed back home to Vegas...
Which brings me up to the present times, and the holiDAZE...
It gets so crazy around this time of year, but I guess that is of no surprise to anyone. I get booked non-stop, even during the lunch hours and the clientele varies wildly from one extreme to another. On the weekends it is rather insane. Just the other weekend I had 6 gigs, and last Saturday I had to get from one to another with 30 minutes between shows, and 30 miles between the places. There I was, in my costume, doing 85 mph trying not to be late. This time I arrived just 2 minutes before my performance was to start. It was over in a quick 20 minutes which I hardly noticed (time just looses its meaning while dancing). December sure seems to be the month of driving stories, doesn't it?
On top of the work, there's of course all the family and friends get-togethers around this time. We just had a little all-Estonian gathering with 6 local Estonians, which is now the sum total of the Estonian population in Las Vegas. And it has doubled in the past year! We all got together at Annikkas place who served us some real traditional Estonian Christmas food, which includes (gasp) blood sausages and sauerkraut with potatoes and cranberry sauce. I know what you're thinking... it's good, really!
One of the big differences I see between Estonian and American Christmas traditions is that back home, nobody gets their gifts for nothing. You actually have to earn it with a song, or some poetry, etc. Santa comes around, but instead of sneaking down the chimney, he hangs out with everyone, kids and adults alike, who have to sing a song or recite a poem, and only then does Santa decide if you're worthy of a gift! So I don't know about you, but I'm off to practice my Christmas songs...
Till then, get some rest, get a lot of presents and indulge yourself!
I really hope this Holiday season is peaceful and joyful for you. Please remember to stop and smell the Christmas tree, and spend time with your family because there is nothing more important than family!
May you be healthy and happy,
May we all have peace in our mind and in the world,
Shukran and Happy Holidays,
OH, and if you are still looking for that last minute Christmas present, please keep in mind that my Bellydance 101 DVD will make a perfect gift for anyone. Order it online and you can have it overnight !
Please stay tuned for a listing of upcoming workshops
Next scheduled workshops are in
Jan.28 & 29 of '06
Saturday Jan 28
“Dance Your Belly” 3-hour workshop for beginners.
Price $60 includes Amira’s “Bellydance 101” DVD
Sunday Jan 29
“911 Emergency Combinations“
3-hour workshop, Intermediate–advanced level,
For both workshops $95 (includes DVD)
Find out more about the workshops HERE
I would like to share some thoughts on the Middle Eastern Dance (the dance) with you. In May of 2004, you first introduced the dance to me at the Las Vegas Athletic Club (LVAC). I was a beginner, over fifty, and had been experiencing some low back pain after I competed in rodeo (barrel racing).
I loved the dance and the way you teach because you make sure everyone gets the basics. I then began taking lessons from Yolanda, at the other LVAC and from Donna at UNLV for two semesters. I have improved a little in the dance but the side effects have been extremely beneficial. Since last year, with the dance, yoga, and one chiropractic visit, I now have no back pain. Also, I believe the dance has taught me much about balance and grace. It has improved my riding so that I was able to win the American West Nevada State Barrel Racing Championship for the senior class. (The saddle is in my office.) I am currently the average winner in the Las Vegas Beauty and the Beast Series Rodeo.
Thank you for sharing this wonderful art with me.
- Lauren Dean
Director, Communication Services
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
I want to tell you how much I enjoyed your teaching workshop. I've been dabbling in belly dance for about a year, but still consider myself very much a beginner. Not only did I learn more in your class than some I have attended, but your sweet spirit and love for women and dance made all us beginners feel beautiful and graceful! I would not want to miss any opportunity to take a class from you in the future.
Also, my sister came for her very first class that day, and although you taught us so much in 2 hours, she said she didn't want the class to end! (Maybe we've hooked her!)
Please keep me on your email list, and I wish you all the luck and happiness in the world!
- Tracey McCullough
First of all let me thank you so much for all your hard work, your enthusiasm and a strong desire you possess to help ordinary women (like me) discover this mysterious and beautiful dance!
I am a beginner to a bellydance. Ever since I remember myself I always wanted to learn it, but never had a chance. Right now at the age 24, when I started taking bellydance classes, I surely had doubts about being able to "reproduce” all those moves. With you I learned that there's no prerequisites to start other than desire.
Besides that you are a beautiful dancer and a wonderful teacher, you have a great personality: u r a very warm and friendly person. During your workshop or classes you make everybody feel comfortable and confident about themselves. You are also very inspiring! I think so much more about myself now and the capabilities of my body.
I wish you good luck with your DVD and looking forward for new workshops!
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