“They don’t train their bodies, they train their souls!”*

“They don’t train their bodies, they train their souls!”*

Zumba, vol 2

Zumba perfectly balances oriental dance in my life. While bellydance is full of different emotions, different levels of energy and very much dependent on one’s mood, surroundings etc., Zumba is pre-formatted, crazy, intense and 100% fun.

It had been almost a year since my last Zumba training in Delhi, so I signed up for Zumba Basic 2 in Dubai, taught by Zumba Education Specialist Steve Boedt. The training itself consists of six basic rhythms (belly dance, flamenco, tango, samba, soca and quebradita), plus there is a lot of instructor-centred discussion on topics such passion, burnout and self-confidence.

Now, if you are fluent in any of the above-mentioned dance styles, and have taken a Zumba-class, you know that we are talking of completely different planets there. To be fair, they do not try to claim that what they do is authentic, but inspired. Nevertheless, some of the stuff what gets presented as bellydance in Zumba, made me chuckle (think of tomb-painting arms, for example ;))

What also made me laugh was Steve going round and apologizing multiple times for what the format has done to bellydance! I guess he does it at every training, but being in UAE where bellydance is quite visible, he had to put an extra effort into it. Actually, we even got down to disussing where the term hagallah comes from!

It wasn’t just laughs and (sweaty!) dance sessions though. I love how the Zumba trainings also focus on the instructor – how too much passion can lead to burnout, and how to deal with it; what characteristics are important for an instructor; and how to overcome self-doubts in class. I found the latter topic very interesting – we often address that issue when coaching people to perform, but I haven’t seen much discussion when it comes to teaching classes. The moral that I took from the training was that you should never make up stories in your head. It is always better to get the facts.

And if you ever get the dance to take a Zumba class with Steve, grab the chance. He’ll make you laugh, he’ll make you sweat, and he’ll probably make sure there are parts of you hurting the next day!!!

* Steve’s impression of the first time he saw Zumba. However, I’d say it would also apply for oriental dance! 🙂  

On not taking it personally

On not taking it personally

My first show of 2015 took place in a little lounge-type of place. It is situated on several levels, has low seats and tables and no stage area as such. I have danced there before, and I know there is no point of using any props or dancing large mejances there, as space is limited, and usually the people just get up and dance with me… and sometimes, if they are in a very elevated mood, they just get up and dance despite me 🙂

This night was no exception. Be it a baladi or a drum solo, I was surrounded by people happily dancing away. I ended up with not a lot of space to dance in, and not a lot of people to actually look at me. But I did not mind it at all…

During the drive home I started thinking how my perceptions of performing have changed over the years. As an artist, of course I do seek attention, and enjoy it when I perform. But that does not mean I get upset if I don’t get devoted attention from my audiences. In addition to being an artist I am also an entertainer, and my task is to make the audience enjoy themselves. Finding the balance between art and entertainment is however very individual and differs for every performance. In this particular case my job was to help people enjoy themselves, and this they did. So no offence taken…

In the course of time I have also learned how to handle feedback better. Most of the people have an image in their head of what oriental dance should look like. And everyone will have an opinion about your dancing. It is very easy to be disturbed by the corrective or negative comments you may receive. But as you become more aware of your dancing, and your environment, you will also learn to filter the things said to you. So, depending on the person and on the context you can chose yourself if you want to take what has been said into your heart, merely consider it, or just smile nicely and shrug it off in your mind 🙂

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