Most of my students and, of course, my dance company members, know that I am training for level 4 this year, but my audience and community might not be aware. I have had several people ask me about the changes in my performance style this year and/or about this "test" they keep hearing about...so I thought I would take the time to share what it is I am doing.
I am working toward my Level 4 certification with the Suhaila Salimpour School of Dance, based in Berkeley, CA. Suhaila Salimpour's school is one of the best belly dance schools in the world. It has a well-rounded curriculum that trains dancers in a logical, cumulative sequence to become proficient in technique, finger cymbals, rhythm identification, history, music, culture, improvisation, choreography, performance and teaching skills. Inspired by Bruce Lee's methods, Suhaila developed 5 levels of development. I have been training with Suhaila since 2005. After 13 years of training, I am now ready to test for Level 4. I think this speaks volumes as to the rigor and high expectations of the program.
Level 4 testing is a 1.5-2 year process. It entails performing over 100 minutes of improvisational dance to classical Middle Eastern Music, performing 20 minutes of Suhaila choreographies, a choreography recital with all of the highest level choreographies in the format, a recital with a live Arabic band in Berkeley, CA, and so much more. I am mastering dozens of finger cymbal patterns, both right and left hand dominant, and learning various stylizations of Middle Eastern dance that come from specific regions in the Middle East, Turkey and North Africa.
I often get asked, why? Why do so much work for a certificate? This is a really good question and one that I have thought long and hard about. I do this because it feels really good to learn about something I love. The history, musicality and cultural influences are so very important to understand in this art form. The last thing I want in 2018 is to be dancing a cultural dance and not be thoroughly educated on where it comes from and the nuances of its roots and culture.
This is called being a responsible and ethical artist.
I also love teaching and I want to be the best teacher I can be. This means really knowing the content, inside and out. Safety and structure are key to teaching dance. I am committed to this. I also want to demonstrate the highest quality of the art form that I can and I am committed to this.
2018 is about commitment.
I hope folks in COMO are able to attend some of the performances I am offering this year with the Level 4 required improvisation and classic Suhaila Salimpour choreographies. I truly appreciate your support on this journey. I have grown up as a dancer in this lil' big town of Columbia, MO and many of you have watched me grow from a baby belly dancer to the full grown belly dancer I am today. Thank you for witnessing and supporting me along the way.