Leveling Up: Achievement Unlocked

While I haven’t written much about my dancing and teaching in the past year, things have continued to progress at an exciting and wonderful pace. In January 2015, I attended the first ever ATS Homecoming in San Francisco, put on by the amazing folks at FatChanceBellyDance®. My classes were challenging and exciting, I made several really fantastic new friends, and reconnected with old friends. In March, I spent a day at the workshops in San Diego at Tribal Trove. In May, my annual trek to Sebastapol for Tribal Fest included not only amazing workshops and performances, but a fun way to give back to the community. I headed up the painting detail for the metal-work art sculpture of the festival mascot and was thrilled as festival goers took selfies with Maverick all week. I also performed with one of the workshops and had an amazing time. Then in July, workshops here in Los Angeles with two of the men of ATS®, Valizan and Yuska, followed by a second day of more Valizan dance goodness.

But what I’m most excited about have been some of the exciting steps I’ve been able to take with my own teaching. In August, I’ve launched my first ever Advanced class, also called Level 3, with a set of students who drive almost an hour to dance with my on Sundays. Since they drive so far, I wanted to offer them two hours of instruction and really make the drive worth it. In preparing the syllabus for our five Sundays in August, I decided to condense the material for the first class and the second class so that both of them are a “Summer Boot Camp” experience. And I couldn’t be prouder of the dancers who gave it their all and really stepped up to the challenge. As a teacher, I was kept on my toes, studying, researching, preparing materials, and ensuring we had everything we needed in place. As a fellow dancers, I haven’t had to sweat that much or that hard since some of those workshops I took earlier in the year at the various festivals. It feels like an awesome “leveling up” achievement for myself, and I’m humbled and honored to have students willing to take on this level of work.

My weekly open-dance format in the park continues to grow and develop. The park group gives me a chance to slow down and be more thorough, stressing our fundamentals in drills and gentle correction. And now my studio students get to “crank it up to eleven” with me. I love that we have a chance to work through this together.

Finally, I did a professional photo shoot for bellydance and narrowed down 340 proofs to the 25 images I’m purchasing. The photographer is also an ATS instructor, the same Yuska I mentioned above, and working with a dancing photographer makes all the difference in the world. I’m excited to finally have business cards and class postcards to put out at the studio.