My original title for this post was "Don't Panic, You Can Do This. Really, You Can," but I feel like that sentiment gets through anyway.
For those of you not aware, we at Moon Belly are absolutely elated, delighted, and thrilled to be hosting the esteemed Suhaila Salimpour in Columbia, Missouri, from October 19-20, for an all-levels workshop. If you're in town-- or in state-- a month in advance, we do have a preparatory workshop, led by our Artistic Director, Kandi, and yours truly, and we'll hope to see you there, too.
If you have never attended a Suhaila workshop, or who have before and found it harder than expected, or who are just way, way too intimidated by the war stories you've heard to even think of signing up for anything from the Salimpour School, this post is for you.
I don't claim to be an expert on preparing for workshops led by Suhaila, but I've been in the school for 9 years, and am Suhaila Level 2 and Jamila Level 1 certified, and I have some tips I'm willing to share on preparing for a workshop.
The 4 Most Important Things You Must Do to Prepare for a Suhaila Workshop
1. Don't panic.
2. Make yourself a plan and stick to it as much as you can. This includes forgiving yourself when you miss a day, so that you can start again fresh the next day.
3. Trust your body and its limits, but don't let fear dictate your training. If you need to stop, stop. If you need to pause and do the movement more slowly so that you can understand it, do that. If you are struggling and have a question, ask. Just do not stop because you gave up on yourself. Understand that these workshops are hard and that you're going to have trouble with the material and that's okay. Pause to take a breath, get a drink of water, do the movement half-time a few times to make sure you've got it, and pick up and start again.
4. Rely on your local Salimpour School community. One of the things I love about Suhaila's method of teaching (one she's transferred to her students) is that we are all a community working together. Ask one of us if you need help, we're happy to provide it!
I am not going to lie: these workshops are hard. But what that means is that they are hard for everyone. No one will think less of you for struggling-- that's what we're all there for!
Now, specifics: I recommend you read the information Suhaila has at her website on preparing for a workshop (https://www.salimpourschool.com/workshops/about-workshops/), especially under the "Physical Preparation" and "Technique" portions of the page. She recommends stamina training at least 2 weeks away, at about 20 minutes of cardio 3-5 times per week, and familiarizing yourself with Salimpour School nomenclature.
Okay, don't pa...you're panicking again. Hang on, let me get you a paper bag to breathe into...
I can recommend this schedule from experience, and what's more, it's very simple to do. Do you know the eight basic movements of Suhaila format? Great! You have the beginnings of a training plan. Try doing one those movements half time or quarter time while walking, your feet half time, to the front, back, and to each side for 5 minutes.
Congratulations! You've just done 20 minutes of drilling. Want to mix it up some more? Here are some things I use:
If you want something more comprehensive, under the "Resources" portion of her website (https://www.salimpourschool.com/resources/), there is some good material on building a training plan that I strongly recommend you try out. I've literally used it for years.
And finally, do you have a question? Email me. Let's work with Suhaila to make you the best dancer you can be.
This blog is designed to provide information about Moon Belly and MOON dance company happenings. At times, it becomes an open journal of our various theatrical explorations. At other times, it serves as a source of education on belly dance culture and history.