I started to write this post as a reflection on 2016. While I was writing and this post got longer and longer, I felt gratitude that my life is filled with so many friends and family. I wish you all a very happy, sparkly 2017 filled with love and laughter!
And for those of you who are not afraid of reading long blogs, here’s a more detailed overview of all the belly dance accomplishments of last year.
Teaching belly dance
My weekly classes started on February 8th and it took me a while to get back in the saddle. I am very proud of my students, who got to perform our group choreography several times later that year. I taught ATS to my intermediates/advanced for the first time, and the beginners were extremely dedicated.
Teaching my first bellydance during pregnancy workshop was a lot of fun! I’ll continue with developing the workshops and classes in the next years as I plan on making it one of the main features of my dance studio. More about the dance studio later in this post.
The student recital in June was a great achievement for all off us and we can all look back on a great year. I was in for a surprise as my intermediates class sold out within 8 hours after enrollment opened. That certainly got me all excited! I decided to allow more people in the group, making this the first season that I have thirteen beginners and twelve intermediate/advanced students. It is also the first time that I teach fan veils to my intermediates, which is a bit of a challenge considering the group size.
In Februari we had our first belly dance party at Parnassos and I did my first post part solo performance. Despite my insecurities and my muscles not completely remembering everything I was really happy to dance and perform again.
Our annual belly dance party in Zeist was a big hit: we had to turn away some last minute visitors because the fire department didn’t allow more people in. Sense of Bellydance performed a special themed theater piece titled ‘Rainbow’ about the life cycle of women. It was fun and intense. I did a structured improvisation to Celtic harp music, played live on stage. I appropriately danced my interpretation of the phase of ‘giving birth.
In October we had our first Halloween Hafla. I am really proud of one of my students who performed solo for the first time after taking classes with me for six years. It takes guts to put yourself on stage, and she totally nailed it! It was fun to have a Halloween half and I plan on doing another one in 2017.
In October we also had a belly dance party in Wijk aan Zee, organized by one of the members of Sense of Bellydance. It was her first big event and it had a varied line up, she put up[ beautiful decorations and all the performers and audience members felt great afterwards. We jammed until we had to vacate the building 😊 Two students who joined me for an improvised ATS performance. 2016 was the year that I fell back in love with ATS and I plan on doing combination based ATS with my students in 2017.
Stuff I learned in workshops
At the start of June, Sadie Marquard came to the Netherlands to teach her Raqs Flow program. I participated and learned a lot about her way of training, drilling, interpreting moves. Her efforts to create an accessible and inclusive training program that contains all the building blocks essential to belly dance is impressive. I also enjoyed meeting new dance friends and seeing old dance friends like Luna and Khalida. Having other crazy people to share the love for belly dance with is awesome.
Not many completely new costume projects in 2016 but I am fine with that. I finished the gold metal mesh costume and celebrated by doing an outdoor photoshoot. I started refurbishing this costume in November 2015 and I am rather proud that I finished, as I had it in my stash since 2010 or earlier. Stash busting rules!
The Minty Fresh costume got some extra beading and was worn during a drum solo performance. It still needs some more permanent beaded fringe but I am happy that I made some progress on this costume.
Last but not least, I lined the white Moon goddess costume, added a sleeve and adjusted the drape. And then I had a pretty impressive corporate duo performance with May’sa that involved a road trip and croissants.
On a personal note
2015 was the year that I gave birth, 2016 is the year that I became a mother. It took me some time to readjust to our little one, and balancing my full-time job, belly dance, my family and my social life. I am grateful for my amazing husband who helps me carry the load, helps me laugh things off and keeps me firmly grounded when my thoughts go in many directions at once. Our little girl turned one recently and I am immensely proud and happy that I am her mommy. She loves it when I dance around the room, and she even waved a fan veil around when she helped me unpack a shipment of fan veils. Here she is reaching for the Christmas tree.
I told you I’d write more about the dance studio earlier in this post. In 2016 we decided to put our plans of remodeling the house and garage into action. We figured that we might as well start right now. The first phase is nearly completed: the contractor knocked down the old garage and replaced it with a small dance studio. The dance studio includes it’s own bathroom and shower and it’s own entrance. It’s going to take a couple more months to finish the details like the mirrors, floor, window dressing, pantry and other things. At the start of 2017 the contractor will start building an addition to the side of the house plus make changes to the living room. We anticipate the remodeling to be complete in June 2017. I am already creating workshop material for the new studio, focussing on small groups and in depth belly dance related subjects.
Affirmations and Belly Dance Practice Dice
I am grateful for the cooperation with fellow belly dancers Mao (www.sparklybelly.com), Khalida, Zahra Zuheir and Andalee (www.bellydanceatanysize.com). We created a beautiful set of bellydance affirmations that you can download for free! I created a separate website called Belly Dance Resources to give the affirmations and practice dice their own place to live. Check out my other website and get your own set!
In the last half of 2016 I created several prototypes of belly dance practice dice. With these dice you can spice up your practice routine, or use them in class and let your students play with them and try new ways of combining moves. I am currently using the fourth prototype in my classes, got a quote on how much it would cost to produce them in higher quantities (I hand punched and cut the prototypes). In February 2017 I’ll launch a kickstarter to see if there is enough interest in producing these sets for other dancers as well. Read all about it on this page.
We are at the end of this blog post with many, many things that made me feel happy and accomplished in 2016. Thank you for reading this post up until the very, very end 😉. I have every intention to make 2017 a wonderful year filled with belly dance, cuddles from our little girl and late night talks with my husband. I want to thank you for reading my blog, for your comments, questions and support. Have a great year!