Gardening and Belly Dance!

Oh Hell.  I’ll combine both themes today.  There is ‘fruit’ in both I see.

This week I started teaching again. This is the second year for me to teach belly dance.  It is an iffy proposition at times, but seems to be bearing a bit of fruit finally.

I have a few students, but Friday I scheduled a first class with a new student.  I think this is a good thing when you don’t have a lot of students….even when you do and can expend the time.  This student was more advanced and it was a PLEASURE to work with her.

Oh God.  She could move.  She had classes before….she understood the language.  And best???  Her heart and mind is completely IN it.  There was no trying to convince her about the benefits to belly dance.

She is Italian, and has a wonderful, fiery temperment.  She will do well.  She is dedicated to belly dance and can take what I throw at her without whining.

The main thing is this:  She DOESN’T JUST STAND THERE AND WATCH ME.  She can move herself.  Of course, since I am a ‘hands on’ teacher….I literally position her arms, hands, hips, feet….and she picks it up fast.  But that is just in the beginning.   This is such a relief!   She had many years of ballet when young so there is a bit of discipline in her.  She will do fine.  She will practice…and she will eat everything I throw at her. Or most of it.

When you are teaching someone who is more advanced, you have a lot more freedom.  I want women I teach to develop to the extent that their bodies can…pick up rhythm, etc…where THEY come into their own in terms of choreography.  They go home and develop their own.  They bring it back to class, even if it’s only a few moves…but it is THEIR ideas of belly dance.  It’s not all out of the package of the teacher.

And this is what I am thinking about American Belly Dance classes.  How much do we leave room…EXPECT our students to BE dancers..independent of what we are teaching them?? They shouldn’t mirror what we are doing…and frankly, they can’t.  They aren’t us. They are them…and either they have it inside or they don’t.  I think most do have it inside…after all…what is belly dance?  It’s natural movements (and yes…birth movements in the tummy) that all women are capable of doing.

I always demonstrate my own dance techniques when I have students….not so they are supposed to do like I do…but so they see the layers of movements that are necessary to DANCE.  It’s not just hips, or arms …or legs….it’s the combination of all these things.

I do have to slow down though.  I was dancing a riotous beladi and that is very, very individual.  My students look at my feet and they say:  How many beats are you hitting with the left and why the kick out, and how many with the right?

LOL~ Hell if I know.  It’s just a natural pattern that all dancers develop over the course of a few years of dancing that sets some patterns to the muscles…and involves a rhythm the body relys upon.  So you can’t teach the EXACT moves…and shouldn’t. THAT should be what each new dancer develops for herself.

This new student moved left and right….but she MOVED…and that is what is so good.  She didn’t stand there like a drying lump of clay and look confused ….or blank.  She tried….as much as the music…which she loved!….answered to own rhythm internally.

We broke class to watch on YOUTUBE….Fifi Ado…an  older Egyptian dancer…and a video sent by Phil from Egypt this week.  Both were absolutely natural dancers…which is why they are popular….Fifi Ado is such a natural dancer: there is no positioning herself and it’s not that you are watching her struggle with patterns in her head:  “Oh, let me do this now…and I’ll switch to that….on a four sided direction, and let me concentrate on a shimmy here and and now bring in more pelvic circles…”

No….Fifi Ado just dances.  She just uses her body in the most natural ways possible.  And she has some of the WORSE costumes possible…but that is funny!  Look beyond the skin tight mini dress and see the naturalist movement of a real dancer confident in her craft.

And that is it:  it’s a craft.  Developed over many, many years.  One man asked me how long it takes to become a belly dancer:  I said 15 years, but it’s not that at all.  I think women can be dancers from the cradle.  I think women can belly dance from the first year…month…but it’s perfected and made more natural over a life time.  And that is the rub.  Or non-rub.  Belly dance is a life time delight.  I have seen Lebanonese women in their 80’s creep up to the dance floor and when they start to dance?? They are transformed.  They are amazing!  The spine straightens, the arms are lovely, and they have lost NOTHING by age.  The music takes them, seduces them….and they seduce us!

We make too much of our patterning in class. We sweat and worry over too many missed beats, too many forms where we are trying to imitate the woman in front of us…or the teacher.  We expect to do this…but there comes a time when we feel the music in our bodies, our muscle memory wakes up! and we are dancing as we are capable.  And with more of this??? We get ‘better’.

I am so happy to be teaching this wonderful woman!  And this weekend I was asked to teach a class weekly at the local library.  This is the third time these women of the library have asked me in the last few months…and I have been avoiding it like the plague.  I don’t know that I can give the individual attention to each new student in that setting…and right now….I am so hands on that I can’t see how else to do it.  But perhaps I will….this summer, because they have air conditioning….and I don’t.  LOL!


Gardening!  This weekend I got potatoes/tomatos/cukes/strawberries/carrots/chives/lettuce/radishes/parsley plants/other stuff I can’t remember in….actually my French Breakfast Radishes are about a week old already..mulched and about 2″ high.

To me…..either cold pizza in the morning for breakfast or fresh French Breakfast radishes with a dish of salt to dip into are the perfect breakfast.  Go figure.

But I am glad I have done it.  And I am sunburned, too.  The Winter-White look is gone and at least the Vitamin D is circulating in my blood, now.

I am proposing a Garden Exchange with other friends and neighbors in the three closest neighborhoods ….and I am the one with the EGGS!  I also have the chicken shit, and will give that out in buckets to urban gardeners for manure tea.

Spring has sprung and I am happy for it.  Though I can’t breathe because of the pollen count.  But that will pass and the garden will grow…and so will my students.

Lady Nyo



I took a walk this morning.

The season has changed here

Though where you are they don’t.

The dried, brittle grass beneath my feet

Made a consistent crackle,

Echoed by the gossip of sparrows above.

The leaves are gone now from the birches and maples.

They fell like rain on a fallow ground one day

And I didn’t see them go.

I think of your rounded arms when I see the Shedding birches, the smooth bark like White skin with a faint pulse of the river beneath.

Do you remember that river, where it scared you to stand close to the bank?

You thought the earth would slip inward,

Take you on a wild ride downstream where

I couldn’t retrieve you,

And I saw for an instant your raised arms to me, imploring me silently to save you,

though it never happened and you never slipped down the bank and I never could save you.

But imagination plays with your mind when it is all you have left.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2010

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6 Responses to “Gardening and Belly Dance!”

  1. Malcolm Miller Says:

    You make belly dancing, which I see far too seldom, come alive as a kind of happy, dynamic, personal expression of life and joy. I wish I could see you.
    Loved the poem – a moment of imagined horror recalled, of loss and helplessnes, but thankfully it never happened. Whew!


  2. ladynyo Says:

    Ahhhh….I don’t aim for ‘showboat’. In fact, when I was younger….just starting in BD….that was the ‘aim’…for all of us. We cloaked ourselves in gaudiness..thinking that costumes and makeup would bedazzle and our technique would pass! LOL!

    But seriously, technique is so far much more important than how we ‘look’. It’s hard work, and you have to get down on the floor and get dirty and humble. You have to throw out ego and that means a lot of introspection.

    I had a teacher that was a dullard. She was so …uninspired…I wanted to slip her some catnip! Someone HAD to wake up H. She was putting the class to sleep!

    And you have hit it exactly right! Belly dance IS and should be a personal expression of life and joy. That is what you come to realize and WANT to pass along….kind of a generator to the empowerment of other women.

    If a teacher can’t do that…she’s not teaching…she’s just mulling along and going through the motions.

    One thing my students say about my dancing! That I am smiling! I am constantly smiling …well, I smile because I am in a ZONE of Joy and that internal stuff should be made external. What is the point of doing something like this IF you aren’t having a great deal of fun?

    I do remember, when I was in Montreal….and I had just come from a 4 hour Master Class up there with Audra Simmons….well, that Zone carried over for a couple of days. (this was helped by attending a performance of some very varied dancers…and different styles..some good, some ok, and some superb). We were with a rather strange couple at their house overnight and I remember the wife (and husband…) complaining that I was never still. Well, hell yeah. I was trying to teach her poor ass some belly dance, and she didn’t (as he didn’t) understand about belly dancers: we are constantly moving…and they had NO Music! The poor woman was afraid to ask her husband for a radio, or a cd player…or something…so I carried the music in my head. We made a LOT of noise and laughter, because that took the place of actual music. We both had fun….but apparently, they weren’t used to the company of a belly dancer. LOL!….

    I have been in the company of other belly dancers at a hafla….a danceathon….that went on and on for all night. I’ve been at a Beltaine festival where we danced from dark to the morning. We never tired because you just don’t. You might stop for a few minutes…but you are enthralled with the music and the spectacle of other dancers, and it’s something that I just can’t verbalize. I guess to some observers, it’s hyperactivity….LOL!…or something like that….but dance begets dance and movement is sooooo powerful…that it goes deep inside and creates worlds! That is part of the Hyperarousal Trance syndrome I have written about a lot on this blog and also has been carried by other Dance blogs….and is in the back of my (ahem) new book: “The Zar Tales”: ” Essay: Explanation of the Hyperarousal Trance Experience.”

    If it doesn’t feel good, produces results and transforms oneself….why bother?

    Thank you for reading the poem …and LIKING it! The title is “Season Change”…but for some reason… doesn’t let me do titles….of my poetry….LOL!

    So what can you do? Usually I back up and make some editing change here…but this time I just let it fly. It also didn’t format right. That poem….”Season Change” is from my (plug here…) first book: “A Seasoning of Lust”.

    Thanks, Malcolm …for reading and your comments!

    Lady Nyo ….who when she dances REALLY needs to slow down. Beladi is my favorite form of this….and that is usually pretty quick step.


  3. Malcolm Miller Says:

    I put poems on a WordPress site, but I put the poem title at the beginning, and THEN write the essay or text, and put the poem after that, with the title repeated as a separate line. So the poem’s title actually appears twice, in case anybody misses it!
    I set the poem in place first with the Dashboard, then go to “Edirt” and put the text in ahead of the poem. This seems to do what I want. Maybe you could try it.


  4. ladynyo Says:

    That might work for me!

    Thank you, Malcolm.


  5. Michelle Says:

    Belly Dancing and Gardening!! Sounds interesting..
    And its good to hear that you teach Belly Dancing and I have a lot of passion for Belly Dancing.


  6. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Michelle.

    Well, Belly Dancing is sometimes a chore: you have to keep moving or you freeze up with lack ‘o use. Muscles don’t forget, but they complain and make you feel Guilt!

    it’s good to hear from other belly dancers, because they usually are a silent crowd. I hear from teachers but I like hearing from new students, especially. Some women don’t take to belly dancing because they have extreme body issues, or they are just lazy. They could energize themselves IF they took a more serious interest in belly dance and they also could hit on those body issues we all have.

    My mother is 90 years old and taught ballet for many, many years. She swims and rides a bike in Savannah every day when she is able, and her mind is a snapping turtle. When we move the body vigorously we move and replenish the mind.

    It’s good to hear you have a lot of passion for Belly Dancing! Keep at it, and thanks for reading and leaving a comment!

    Lady Nyo


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