Ottawa Dancers’ Newsletter

Ottawa Blogletter – 2018/02/11

Winter Session Melt into Spring Session!

The winter session for classes are now past the half way point and the registration for the Spring session will start up soon.  In fact for the classes being offered through the City of Ottawa the e-guide is said to be available online as of February 21, 2018.  Have you enjoyed the class you found and you’d like to continue?  Be sure to jump on the e-guide when it’s out and check out when registration opens.  The city typically will not run a class if there are less than 8 people (7 for my classes because I said I’m okay with a minimum of 7) registered at least 1 week before the start of classes.  Why?  Well, there are a couple of reasons, time and money.  They’d like to be able make the most of the money they can get out of a studio space being used.  If a class doesn’t run then there is the potential of renting it out to the community who may want to run workshop and/or event in their studio space.  Also, they don’t want to waste the time of the teacher who works hard to make sure the students will have a full session of interesting moves to learn.

Is there a next level of the dance class you like?  Some dance forms offer a “next” level to their classes.  Belly dance is such a dance form that builds up the basics and without the basics offered by a beginner or level 1 class, jumping into a level 2 and/or higher can be both frustrating for the student and teacher.  Most Bollywood classes will not have a second level as often the moves are not really building upon each other.  There are basic moves that show up in most choreographies but often there will be new moves and songs to play with and new combinations.

So how do you know if you are ready for the next level?  Well, if you caught on quickly to the moves taught in the level 1 class and it felt extremely easy, then you are most likely ready for more a challenge.

What if there is no next level on the day and/or location you like? 

  • Option 1:  You take the class again and continue to refine your movements.  Practice makes perfect as the saying goes.  As a teacher who teaches a level 1, I like going over the basics because it means I get my basic practice and often I find new ways to teach it.
  • Option 2:  Talk to your current teacher and let them know that you’re going to return for the same level but would like to have some extra things/moves to work on in the new session.  This gives the teacher a chance to work on something extra for not only you but other students that may in the same position.
  • Option 3:  See if there will be a next level offered in the near future.  For instance, I’ve now been teaching my Monday belly dance classes at Shenkman Arts Centre for a few sessions and I have some wonderful students who have been returning.  (Enter the awesome news:  Level 2 belly dance is coming to Shenkman Arts Centre this Spring for belly dance).  Prior to the new level coming, I have tried to always give my returning students something new to challenge them but I know there is a time when finding another teacher and class to try can be good for the growth of a dancer.  There is nothing wrong with trying a different night and teacher.  In fact, it’s a good idea to try new classes.  Every teacher is different and will present the same dance from slightly different angles.  How one teacher interprets a song to teach will most likely be different than another teacher’s interpretation.  Multiple teachers, can allow a dancer to really explore their own dance style too and often your first teacher will always be proud of you for growing and becoming the dancer you want to be.

What about a summer session?  There are some studios, like Oasis Studios and Duniya Studios that will offer summer sessions, but due to the fact most people take vacation or like to be more outdoors in the summer time classes being offered are limited.  Does this have to stop you from dancing?  No.  You can take what you’ve learnt and practice at home, look into taking workshops being offered in or out of town or ask your teacher about some private lessons or a ladies night for you to continue to have.  There are always options available, especially when you need to dance!


Ottawa Dancers’ Blogletter – 2018/02/04

How to Choose which Workshops to attend as a Dancer?

As a person who loves to dance and learn new things there comes a time when there are so many dance workshops available throughout any given year that it can become difficult which to choose to attend.  This weeks blog will focus on providing some food for thought of how I decide which workshops, I want to attend and which ones I would suggest to different levels of dancers.

What is your Budget?

One of the main factors that influences any decision is whether or not you have placed a limit on your spending for all of your dance activities for the year.  Items dancers will spend money throughout the year typically are:

  1.  The price of the Workshop alone (make note if the taxes are shown in the workshop price or are separate)
  2. Competition entry fee (if you are doing a competition as part of a workshop, you often have to purchase the full package as well as pay a competition entry fee).  The fees help pay for the rental of the facilities where the competition is being held along with the usual costs of running events (a discussion for another blog).
  3. Costumes – Whether you’re going to take workshops or not, often there is at least one time in a dancers’ life she wants to own a costume for a recital/show.
  4. Dance class attire – Most often the basic workout wear for any dance class is fine, but sometimes it’s nice to have a new hip scarf or outfit for a workshop and/or class so this shouldn’t be discounted.
  5. Travel costs – If the workshop is out of town you will need to take into consideration how much it will cost you to get there i.e. gas for the car, train and/or plane
  6. Lodging costs – Again, if the workshop is out of town and you don’t have someone to stay with in that city/town you’r going to take the workshop then hotel rooms (B&B, Air BnB etc.) costs will need to be added to the budget.  If you can share a room with a dance friend that always help.
  7. Meals & Snacks – A dancer needs to keep her energy up, keep hydrated and eat enough to replenish all those calories they burn during the workshop(s).  Even if the workshop is in your home town, buying drinks and snacks can add up fast and often we like to go out with the group to watch a dancer perform in a local restaurant which you will need to add the cost for that to your budget.
  8. Miscellaneous – This category will be for the extras not covered above.  At many workshops there will be dance accessories for sale, like zills, veils, music and workshop memory gear (paraphernalia) you may want to buy to remember your awesome time you had, definitely put aside some extra money for that.  There may even be workshops that will give your body pampering options for a great deal, check and maybe put a bit of money aside for that.  At Masriyatt last year, I enjoyed a Fascial Release Stretch Therapy for 10 minutes for $10 dollars.  If I had thought to have a little more for those type of expenses, I would have enjoyed more time on the table; my loss for longer but I felt it was $10 well spent.

Where is the Workshop?

The location of the workshop is important as noted above for cost, but can play into whether you like to travel far.

  1. How far is the workshop?
  2. Is it easy to get to by transit and/or are there parking fees involved.  When I give and/or host a teacher for a workshop, I like to be able to rent a location that has free parking and is easily accessible by transit.  Not all workshop will have as much successful due to cost of rental space and/or the location of the dance studio they own.
  3. If it’s an out of town workshop, I will ask, is this city I haven’t been and want to visit?
  4. Again, for out of town workshop, I will look at where I’m staying in relation to where the workshop is being held.  If I’m not taking my car, I like to stay either on a good transit route (that won’t take more than 20 minutes) or in walking distance to the venue.

What Level of Dancer should attend a Workshop?

Not every workshop is suited for all levels of dancers.  If you are a beginning and you want to be challenged then taking workshops are great way to improve and grow yourself a little faster than just your weekly class.  However, some workshop may feel quite overwhelming for a beginning dancer and I would recommend asking either your teacher’s opinion as to whether or not your would benefit from the workshop or even email the workshop organizer to inquiry how they view the level of dancers that the workshop is aiming for.  For example, the Princess vs. Village Workshop is a workshop being taught by Nada El-Masriya.  The focus on the workshop will be learning the difference between folkloric style and oriental style in Belly dance on day 1 and then Baladi folkloric style on day 2.  Would I recommend this workshop for beginning?  No, I wouldn’t recommend this for brand new dancers because the focus isn’t really about learning the basics of the dance, it’s focused on the stylization and differences between folklore and oriental belly dance.  I would recommend this workshop for those who have the basics of belly dance covered, so at minimum a dancer who has a few sessions of beginner to intermediate.  What about the advanced dancers?  Yes, I would recommend the workshop for advanced dancers because it’s always nice to refine and update the knowledge you have.  At most workshops, you’ll always come away with something new or remember something you forgot.

Does the Topic of the workshop interest me?

Any type of dance will have topics you either love or try to avoid when looking at workshop content.  Depending on what you want to learn and how you want to grow as a dancer the topic of a workshop is important.  The basic question you need to ask:  Are you interested in learning what the workshop’s topic is about at this time?

Do you want to learn from the Dance Instructor?

Every teacher is different in their style and what they are teaching in each workshop.  The questions to ask yourself are:

  1. Do you like the way the teacher instructs?  Not every teacher will strike a happy note with you.  There are some teachers who will intimidate you, even if they are complete sweethearts to talk to.  There will be teachers who you will avoid because their approach just rubs you the wrong way.  And there will be teachers who will just inspire you and you’ll try to follow wherever you can because they are just that awesome.
  2. Are they well established and/or know their topic really well?  This is important to know as you want to learn from them.  If they are teaching a choreography they created and just really want to share with you, then you can decide whether or not you want to learn that choreography.  So in this case they should know their choreography well.  A teacher who is advertising advanced and/or master level workshops, well I would suggest doing your research and investigating their dance background and ensure you feel they would teach you at the level you’re expecting.  Also check the instructor’s website and/or YouTube for videos to see if you like the instructor’s dance style.
  3. What kind of certification does the teacher have?  Ok, this is kind of a trick question.  There is not a world dance body that certifies Belly dance and Bollywood dance instructors, at least not what I have found so far online.  There are teachers, such as Suhaila, Hadia and Nada El-Masriya that do offer teacher certifications for those who are interested in becoming teachers (another topic for another time).  And there are style certifications like for Tribal belly dance that exist as well, offered by affiliated teachers/studios.  I would default to point number 2 and use your judgement as to whether or not you feel the instructor will teach you something your want to learn.

To recap there are 5 items to consider before signing up for any workshop:

What is your budget?

Where is the workshop?

What level of dancer should attend a workshop?

Does the workshop topic interest me?

Do I want to learn from the dancer teacher?

If you consider those items, you will feel that any money and workshop you attend will have been worth the investment as a growing dancer and money well spent.  Now, go find your inner dancer and let her shine.


Ottawa Dancers’ Blogletter 2018/01/28

Make a little time for yourself – Take time for Dance

I have a full-time job that can be very demanding of my time.  I’m lucky, that I like what I do and I have the opportunity to learn and grow with it as required.  I’m also lucky that I work with people I like, even when we can annoy each other from time to time; they’re kind of an extended family.  This month and the next few months are going to be very busy for me and I’ve already worked some long days and weekends to keep up with my workload.  So where does this leave my dance?  Well, I’m fortunate to have my Monday classes at Shenkman Arts Centres (Belly dance and Bollywood) running and I’m thankful to Kuljit to let me continue to substitute teach for his Thursday classes at Hintonburg Community Centre (Bollywood) that ensure I take a break for dance.  Also, there are workshops, that pop up, that I decide whether or not I want to take or events that get me out to dance.  Today, I get to be a student and learn from a talented and lovely dancer named Carina.  She’s been dancing since she was a kid and it’s been a wonder to see her grow into an adult and see where her dance takes her.  I’m looking forward to 3 hours of not thinking about work deadlines, groceries, house cleaning or any of the regular “To do” stuff and just dancing. 

Another event coming up this Friday, February 2, that I’m really going to try and make this time, is the Shimmy Shanga.  It’s a ladies only event for the dance community.  Yes there is a charge to enter and just dance however you want but that $10 helps to pay for the space and assurance that you’re not going to be suddenly dirty dancing by a stranger on the dance floor, because it is a ladies only event.

What happens after this week for dance?  Well I do sneak in the odd shimmy or vertical hip circle while I’m brushing my teeth or waiting standing up from the desk to stretch at work.  If you are looking for another dance class, well Zamira (Gailene) has a new session starting on Wednesday, February 7 and continuing until February 28 (details below)

Belly Dance Level 1 with Zamira (Gailene)

February 7-28 (Wednesdays) – 8pm-9pm (20:00-21:00)

Price:  $44.75 code 1108737

Location:  35 Stafford Road, Bells Corners


Or contact Nepean Creative Arts Centre – 613-596-5783

For more information:

And Tracy of Tribal Fluid’s classes going as well; they just started last week.

Location: McNabb Community Centre – 180 Percy St.

Hours of event : 6:30 – 7:30pm

Cost: 10 week semester – $130.00
email for more information :

Classes run by Anna and Safiya, Oasis Studios, Duniya Studios also allow drop-ins for their classes, so if you aren’t able to commit to a full session, contact them to see their rates for a drop-in class as well as to check if their classes are running.  On average a drop-in class rate is about $20.  So make time for yourself and find and let your inner dance shine!

Ottawa Dancers’ Newsletter – 2018/01/20

Experience Dance through Learning or Watching

Welcome back to the second blog edition of the Dancers Newsletter.  The week has flown by quickly for me, as I have had long days at the office and everything is pretty much a blur.  Luckily, I have the opportunity to teach dance again and cannot work long days on Monday and Thursday.  Thank you to everyone who have joined classes across Ottawa-Gatineau; it’s always great to see returning students and fresh faces.  At this time of year, it’s really beneficial to get out and move.  Although, I’m very biased, dance is probably one of the best ways to help push back the seasonal lows we can experience while the days slowly creep back to being longer and warmer.  It’s also a great excuse to get out and social with our dance friends and wear shiny skirts, belts or fun class wear.

Speaking of getting out to dance there are opportunities to learn and opportunities to watch some of the dance things coming up in our community, outside of the classes.

Last week I mentioned, the Workshop with Carina at Studio Oasis in Gatineau.  That is still happing and you can see the details here for your refresher.  I may see you there as I enjoyed her performance of the choreography she plans on teaching and I liked some of the combinations she does.

New things that are coming up after Carina’s workshop are the Shimmy Sangha event where you can participate in free dancing or socializing and the Fête Frisson that has a Bollywood performance by Puja and her Kids Bollywood class.  Details are below and as well as on the “Upcoming Events & Workshops” page of this site.  Happy dancing!

Friday, February 2, 2018 Shimmy Sangha

Shimmy Sangha on the First Friday of each month

The Next Shimmy Sangha is slated for Friday, Feb 2 from 7 – 9:30 at the Westboro Masonic Hall at 430 Churchill Ave. N.
Open to all forms of dance. This is a women only event.  Admission is $10. Bring cash!
Bring your favorites tunes on your device and join in the fun!
Keep updated by following us on Facebook.

Saturday February 3, 2018 Fête Frisson –  8:30 am to noon

Presented by: Shenkman Arts Centre

Get out of the cold and enjoy a family friendly event that includes a Bollywood performance with Puja and her Kids Bollywood class.

Location:  Shenkman Arts Centre, 245 Centrum Blvd., Orleans (Orleans exit off the 174)



Ottawa Dancers’ Newsletter – 2018/01/18

Shimmies keep you warm and Dance Blogs can keep you informed.

Welcome to the start of the blog portion of the Ottawa Dancers’ Newsletter.  The main language of communication will be English; however, there will be some French translations from the awesome people who can write it way better than myself.  Those of you who may already subscribe to the newsletter have already started seeing the change of format.  My plan is really not to inundate everyone with a ton of emails with the same news every week; this is what a website is for, to allow you to check out what doesn’t change frequently but keeps you connected.  When I send out the newsletter and/or even write the blog I’d like it to be short and sweet and highlight some of the dance events, be it classes, workshops, show etc., that are coming up.  Sometimes it’s nice to have the reminder that an event and/or workshops is just around the corner.  So without further ado here are the highlights of dance stuff coming up.

Sunday, January 28 – Belly Dance Workshop with Carina (Studio Oasis Gatineau)

Time: 1-4pm

Price: $60 (cash or cheque payable to Denise Enan)

Location: Dance Oasis – 200, St-Joseph blvd Gatineau (QC) J8Y 3W9 (location can be seen on the Dance Map here)

Description:  Looking to learn a new and unique modern oriental choreography? Save the date because Carina, teacher at the Oasis Studio, will be teaching her own creation. Carina performed this piece at Raks Québec 2017 which awarded her first place and People’s Choice in the semi-professional category. This workshop is recommended for intermediate to advanced students.

You’ll be convinced seeing a video of the choreography!
Click here:

Note: Only the full payment guarantees your participation.

If you have not done so already, please contact Denise (819-776-5033 / 819-962-2645 / or ask your teacher to register.

See you on the dancefloor!

Sunday, April 22 –  Ottawa Souk

The Ottawa Souk is a shopping and socializing event focused on accessorizing and connecting dancers with costumes, music, teachers etc.  The organizers of the event (Jocelyne and Lisa-Marie) are hard at work trying to bring in businesses that cater to both Belly dance and bollywood style dances, but if you are a dancer that wants to clean our your closet so you can bring new goodies in, tables are available.  If you don’t think you have too much to sell but would like to try and sell you items, you can always share the cost of a table with a friend and have a fun filled day of shiny shopping.  If you’re interested in getting a table or knowing more about the Souk check out their site here.

Saturday & Sunday May 5-6, 2018

Ottawa vs Toronto – Two locations, two different events going on, but both are what continue to connect dancers.

Ottawa welcomes back Nada El-Masriya (owner of Egyptian Dance Academy) to teach two workshops over the weekend.  She will be teaching the fine difference between oriental style and folkloric style on Saturday and then Baladi (folkloric) on Sunday.  Details are here, and although the first price deal date has passed for the workshop the prices for the weekend is still very budget friendly.

Meanwhile in Toronto, the Blossom Festival is happening.  It’s an offshoot or a seed that grew out of the International Belly Dance Conference that is organized by Yasmina Ramzy (owner of Arabeque).  It offers workshops, discussion panels and another great opportunity to connect with dancers, locally and beyond.

Depending on your budget and what you are focused on for your dance, both events are worth thinking about.

Shimmies keep you warm!

Classes have started but some teachers and locations may still have room if you need to shake the winter blues and have some fun.  If a class doesn’t fit your schedule currently, there are online course available by some teachers, you can have a teacher come teach you at home (ladies’ afternoon/evening in always works) and/or if you know some moves, just use those to play with.  I like to shimmy to keep warm.  Happy dancing!

2013 – Setting New Goals

Oriental Tribal FusionThe last day of 2012 was one of my the best days of last year.  It wasn’t because I was partying up a storm with friends or being with someone special; in fact I spent the day all alone.  Being alone isn’t a horrible thing to have happen sometimes and December 31, 2012 was one day that everything worked out just right.  The sun was shining, the weather mild enough for me to put on my running gear and go for a jog around my nice quiet neighbourhood.  Running through the snow on the sidewalks felt like running through the sand, difficult but challenging many muscles.  My hardest working muscle, my mind, was finally calm, quiet and just focusing on the moment.  Focus, had been the thing that seemed to be often pushed aside with a busy year of both the day job and the gift of teaching and performing.  The stillness of my mind was welcomed.

Upon my return to my house, I freshened up and then sat down in front of my computer to play around in iTunes and start to search for songs for the new session as well as for potential personal choreographies.  I sat thinking, what do I want to focus on this session?  The first two things that came to mind was veil work and dancing with a purpose.

Bollywood is straight forward in its purpose; I belong to fabulous group Bollywood for Fun and the purpose is to always to create choreographies that not only the group will like but that are fun and enjoyable to perform and be watched by audiences everywhere.

Belly dance is not so straight forward in its purpose except I have a passion to dance with silk veils (my collection consists of many from local Ottawa artist Shirbori Borealis) and stick.  Belly dancing has wide range of styles that are distinct from each other.  There are many folkloric dances of Egypt, Morrocco, Lebanon and other middle eastern countries that are classified under the general umbrella of belly dance.  I find folkloric dances fascinating and I specifically enjoy exploring the stick dancing of Egyptian Saidi style belly dance.  Then there is the modern and classical styles of belly dance of which I have also learnt from various teachers.  The choice seems endless and hence sometimes where the lack of focus can be derived.

December 31, 2012 however helped me focus in defining my style of belly dance and it is partly derived from how I describe the new sofa I purchased that day…I am “modern playful”.  I respect and honour the best I can the classic styles but I like to play with different music and moves.

I believe that both Bollywood and belly dance is an excellent way of expressing emotions, strength, grace, sassiness, playfulness, sensual and it is a great method to empower women.  The empowerment of women is something I seek to foster when I teach either in my classes and/or when I have the opportunity to teach one on one.

My 2013 goal is be true to myself, still my mind and continue to share my passion for dance in hope that the women I teach feel empowered, graceful, sensual and playful.

What the summer is over? But there’s so much dancing still to do!

The summer was dry, hot and a blur of all the various activities and dance festivals I had the honour to be a part along with fellow dancers.  Some of the festivals Bollywood for Fun had to juggle dancers in between, such as the Festival of India and the South Asian Festival; luckily we have grown and had enough dancers to be featured at both places at the same time.  One of the dance things I very much enjoyed this past summer was teaching privates to two dancers, conduct workshop at both the high school and elementary levels as well as be part of two weddings as a performer and coordinator for the entrance of the bride and groom.  It was definitely a memorable summer and one of a lot of thinking of where do I want to take my dancing to next.  Just before my annual Aziza Dream Camp outing I passed on my Wednesday night classes to my good friend and fellow dancer Farasha.  I’ve come to the decision that although I love my regular students and I love spreading the joy of dance I feel that I want to try a new approach in how I teach.  We so often hear that life is about balancing, work and personal life but really life is a continuous fluctuation because we learn and grow through our experience.  Balance is perhaps more about managing out time effectively so we can enjoy the little things in between our daily responsibilities.  So what does this mean for my dancing?  I’m not stopping…there is definitely more dancing to be done I’m just in the planning stages of the road map of where I’m going….it’s going to be an interesting journey and I look forward to it.  The first stop is the Queen of the Nile competition in Montreal this November.  I’m excited for this challenge and I’m excited to see how I will grow this year as a dancer.  May dance be with you!

Summer of 2012 – Festivals & Personal Goals

The June student show has passed and the summer festivals are in full swing so I haven’t had much chance to slow down in the dancing.  Is all this dancing good? The simple answer is yes.  After seeing my students perform and only dancing in one song to encourage my shy students to dance I yearn to perform myself.  I’m not really an attention seeker but I love dance.  I love performing and sharing the art of dance.  Luckily the summer is here and there are lots of festivals that provide me the opportunity to dance.  The popular dance right now is Bollywood.  This dance is all inclusive, fun, flirty and sassy.  Although some of the songs can be sexually charged in language (when parts are song in English) it seems to be digestable for most audiences.  However, don’t count belly dancing out there are still places around town to enjoy a great belly dance show; like Topkapi on Preston or 73 North on Sparks during the weekends.  I recently enjoyed performing at 73 North to a mix ground.  Of there is always the few that avert their eyes but that’s more to avoid me asking them up to stand up and dance.  What I love though is getting people up to dance to just dance or teach them a few moves.  Of course those that don’t want to stand up are taught that they can at least do a little shoulder work while they sit.

So with all the festivals keeping me busy where does this leave me for my personal goals. I have a couple of weddings to perform at this year which requires preparation of music as well as choreographies to create for my fall/winter classes.  Then there is the biggest challenge and goal for myself this year and that is the Queen of the Nile competition in November in Montreal.  Am I nervous?  Yes because I’ve never been in a dance competition before but I’m also excited because I want to have this experience.  It’s good to change and challenge oneself in your passions.  There is so much dance left to be explored and 2012 is definitely for of dance.  Hope to see you at the festivals or somewhere dancing.

Two dance loves – finding the balance

Over three years ago my dance life changed.  After an email from my good dance friend Halyma, I was thrust into the world of Bollywood dance.  A small group of us studied and prepared in the span of two weeks a small collection of choreographies of Bollywood styled dances as well as prepared to teach a large crowd (300-400 people) Bollywood dance.  This whirlwind challenge has now turned into a second love for a different style of dance.  My first love is belly dance or oriental dance which is my inner journey as it often reflects the sensual, sassy and passionate flow of life.  My second love is Bollywood dance which is my outer of journey of adventure and social interaction with various people and cultures.  The challenge is, like everything in life, is finding a balance between the things we love.  It is difficult to do everything at the exact same time.  One thing has to give so the other can be exercised but this doesn’t have to be permanent.  Like water coming into the shore it caresses the shore and then returns out to the deeper body of water.  Water  ebbs and flows and similarly so does life.  It is important to recognize this and not worry so much about being able to do everything all at once.  Planning which dance to play with today is not so much a challenge if you decide which one to start.  You can always change it tomorrow.  What’s important is that you take the time to dance and express yourself in it.  Find a song and just dance.

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