DEAR BALADI NERDS:
I’m feeling a whole lot of gleeful anticipation about this upcoming series, and so excited to dig in to this IN A BIG WAY with you!!
The Egyptian baladi might just be the most satisfying experience you can have as a bellydancer, whether you are performing onstage with a band or dancing just for yourself at home.
- Deep connection to the music and to your intimate self
- An earthy feeling that you can sink into like a nice hot bath
- It’s a great workout, and emotionally rewarding too. It’s grounding, and also leads you towards extroverted action.
- Whenever I dance baladi, whether it’s by myself or in front of a crowd, I feel I’m able to connect with myself, in my body, in a primal, rooted way.
I’m designing this series as a place for you to connect with that part of yourself, while honing your technique and building ever-greater familiarity with baladi style. And we are gonna have FUN too!!!
HOW ARE WE GONNA DO IT?
After polling fans of my Baladi DVD (on the Ranya Renee Baladi Video Study Group on Facebook), and finding that people were interested in more regular live training on this topic, I started thinking (hard!): What is the best way to dive deeper into this material in an interactive, online format?
Now, people that have met me in person know that i’m not a snob. (well, maybe a snob for good music, ok…) I love to see a variety of kinds of dance, to be inspired, and it doesn’t have to follow a strict model to impress me.
I’ll be honest: there are a lot of videos out there from people presenting themselves dancing to baladi pieces, but there are quite a lot of videos out there that just don’t look much like the baladi I learned from Egyptians.
Watching online videos is a great resource to all, inexpensive, easily available, and there is a wealth of videos out there to watch. But it can be hard to separate out what we are seeing. Despite the availability of this resource, and indeed even having the chance to study with actual Egyptians in one’s one country at a festival, the right feeling for the baladi still seems elusive to many.
Now, I did say I’m not a dance snob. So how can there be a “right” feeling?
You probably know this already, but the type of baladi that pretty much all Egyptians can do is improvised social dance.
But the type of dance taught in most workshops these days by Egyptians and labeled as baladi is choreographed. So it is already a step removed from the improvised original. Egyptians know the difference. Do you?
If you do, you’ve probably noticed that, these days, belly dance internationally looks more choreographed, more standardized, less like the original Egyptian dance icons you might have fallen in love with, dancers from the 1940s to the 1990s.
Dancers trained in folklore often make exceptional teachers for choreography, and many people do want that. Personally I like doing choreography too! But that is not how I learned to develop my baladi. (and p.s., I’m STILL developing it)
I learned by channeling the dancers I admired, and also, by paying very careful, respectful attention to the music and how I could shape my performance around that — a kind of attention that, frankly, I see lacking in many dancers today, even some Egyptian ones.
I believe it’s helpful to follow a journey from homestyle baladi to presenting it for nightclub or stage. And that is in the back of my mind in crafting this program: how to build that journey for you too.
To guide us, who better to inspire us than the great icons of Egyptian dance?
Connecting with their energy… channeling their emotions through our own… embodying their amazing physicality.
AND: deconstructing and demystifying what they are doing so we can get deeper into it in our own practice.
We’ll be using videos you might have seen before, but exploring what they have to offer in a whole new way. And using them as a jumpstart for our own practice.
Each week we will:
– Watch short videos of famous dancers doing baladi (videos chosen for relevance to themes we’ll work with)
– Analyze their movements
– Discuss their emotional response to the music and to their own movements, and
– Watch how they present the baladi for the audience
– Plus: a dash of socio-historical context for you serious nerds
I’ll focus on key moves and points of interest for our work that week, taking inspiration from the videos selected.
And we’ll have master Egyptian accordionist Nabawy adding his thoughts on the videos we are working with!
You’ll get brand-new training videos to work with each week, including:
- Juicy baladi-based warm-up that works your muscles
- Technique highlights to work on
- Emotional focus and performance skills (this is helpful in getting the most out of the baladi, even if you’re not a performer
In my teaching, I offer a multi-level approach, with challenges for advanced dancers and modifications for beginners or those with physical limitations (plus some teaching tips for those of you who are instructors)
I know there are some serious baladi nerds out there who are considering joining me in this program, and I’m really excited to have conversations with you on this topic, and to reconnect together with what drew us deeper into this dance in the first place.
The videos will be short and modular, so you’ll be able to cover the basic material and review as much as you have time, to really nail it, refresh your technique, or just to join in on the discussion!
If you are having a busy week or two in there, don’t worry. All the material will remain live online for the duration of the course plus one extra week, so you can “binge-baladi” if you need to catch up for any week or at the end!
BONUS INTERACTIVE: Since this is the first time I’m running the series, I’ll offer not one, not two, but *FOUR* ***LIVE*** Q&A video sessions during the four week series (on different times/days to accommodate folks from diverse time zones) to offer answers to your burning questions or weigh in with my thoughts on discussions that you post on the private Facebook group. Don’t worry, these sessions will be accessible for your viewing (or listening) even if you miss the live stream, and you can submit questions or opinions in advance for me to address if you wish.
SPECIAL FOR THIS INTRO SERIES: If you sign up EARLY (by DECEMBER 1st), you’ll be part of the select group of dancers helping to shape the series. I’ll advance-release to this group, on December 1st, links to the videos we’ll be using, and some of my reasons for choosing them. Then you can submit requests about technique you’d like to see broken down or other points you’d like me to address in the training videos and discussions! I’ve chosen the videos to cover some specific themes, but I’m leaving room in the program to incorporate your requests, like those Moves You Just Gotta Have Broken Down!
REAP THE BENEFITS: To make the most of this series, you’ll want to be at least a little bit familiar with Egyptian baladi. If you don’t have it already, you may want to grab my Bellydance Egyptian Style: The Baladi DVD and at least go over the basics, including the intro part with the musicians about the structure and background of baladi, and the posture and alignment section so we’ll have common language about core technique. Even better if you can get through some of the exercises too, but no pressure! You can still jump in wherever you are and get started with us.
My intention in this series is to bring you into a comfortable physical and emotional dialogue with the baladi, in bite-sized pieces, so you can enjoy all the juicy benefits of baladi, one delicious morsel at a time—with inspiration from the legends of the dance. You can devote as much time as you want to practice, and you can share your progress with others in the group or not, as you wish!
PS – You can order the Baladi DVD here on my shop page so you’ll be all ready to go when we start up in January—also send me a message or email if you want me to autograph it for you (and to which name i should dedicate it!) –or you can order from your favorite online bellydance DVD dealer.
BIG NERD BONUS (first 10 registrants only—hurry!) :
Photos of the four legendary dancers in the videos we’ll cover in this first volume of the Baladi Salon series are below! They were big influences on my work in baladi, and I’m excited to focus on details in the videos I’ve chosen from them for this series. (These are not photos from the exact videos we’ll use, but the same dancers)
Here’s how to win: Send an e-mail to me at firstname.lastname@example.org AFTER YOU REGISTER online listing the dancers’ names, correctly and in order, signing the memo with your dance name or preferred first name, and I’ll give you a surprise bonus! If your preferred email is different from your payment email, let me know that too. (These should be reasonably easy, folks, so hurry up before someone else gets ‘em!) The first 10 lucky dancers to guess these correctly with their series registration will have access to a bonus live video hangout class with me in early December. If we have contestants in very different time zones I’ll do more than one. (We’ll record it so you can catch it later if you can’t make the live slot, so don’t worry, nerds! Get on it! )
The faster your internet, the better experience I think you’ll have with the live stream bonuses and Q&As, and it might be helpful too with viewing the pre- filmed videos I’ll share with you. But I’ve chosen to offer most of the content in a pre-recorded fashion so that having a fast live stream will not be so important for the main class content.
Course starts Thursday Jan. 5 – course content will be released one week at a time with content available to participants until Feb. 12.
The Baladi Salon Series
Analysis, discussion, inspiration, and video training with me, based on four videos of famous Egyptian dancers in Baladi performance (see description above) – $99 special for December (best deal by Dec. 1- with Ground Up module included!)
Baladi from the Ground Up
This new video module will be a little “crash course” in baladi technique, an optional useful supplement to the Salon Series course training. It will include some of the course material I’ve developed in the past eight years since the filming of my Baladi DVD—new ways I’ve started to approach the technique since then, and new slogans, visualizations, and descriptions I use in teaching it. I’ve taught some of this material in live workshops during my travels but have not put it on video before now. It’s helpful if you’ve gone over the posture and technique sections of the DVD but not required—this new optional module will be a great intro to the salon series and will provide a good checklist of technique points for our process of working with the videos. I’ll do a live Q&A for registrants of this module too, and you can post your video questions on the private Facebook page so I can give feedback. For this module (with bonus downloadable PDF checklist as reference), à la carte: $29
NOTE TO REGISTRANTS: After you sign up for any of the online course offerings at my shop site, the site may send you an email asking you to download your “downloadable product” –but this is not where I’m storing the materials for the course, so you can just ignore that instruction—I just have a photo there as a placeholder so the shop won’t charge people shipping! You’ll receive an email with instructions once the course material is ready. Also be sure to send an email to email@example.com with your preferred email address for communication AND your Facebook identity so we can invite you to the secret discussion group (for Salon Series and Coaching series participants).
Still on the fence?
Well, I’m offering you a MONEY BACK GUARANTEE (for Baladi Salon Series and Baladi Coaching Series):
So there is no risk in trying it out! You’ll have two weeks (15 days) to test drive the series from its start date. I’m confident you’ll find it useful, fun, juicy, community-oriented and packed with value. I want to satisfy your baladi nerd cravings, I really do! But if you try it and don’t think it’s right for you, let me know and I’ll refund you, no questions asked. Well, okay, I will ask you the question of *why* you didn’t think it was right for you, because it will help me to know… but that will not stop me from refunding you, as long as it is within that two-week window.
I’m really excited to have you join me and the other baladi nerds for this online adventure!!
Up for some baladi coaching too? Click the button link below for more info!