Welcome back to classes, students!! Now that we’ve been a few weeks into it, hopefully your bodies have welcomed back some movements and isolations that may have been sitting on the shelf gathering dust over the summer. The snaps, crackles, and pops have given away to some fluidity and you’ve rediscovered some of the muscles and magic only to be found in Bellydance. To Ishra’s new students, hopefully you’re beginning to discover the awe in what your body can do and immersing yourself in the setting of ancient ambiance, worldly music, and the camaraderie of the other ladies in your class – a true getaway from the grind of the everyday world.
A note about classes this year – former students may notice a new format for Ishra’s classes. What once was “Level 1-5″ with the assumption of a graduated class system has been re-labelled and redefined. Yes – there will still be a Level 1 Intro class. This is highly recommended for the newbie Middle-Eastern dancer. Here, you will start to build a solid foundation in Raqs Sharqi technique (traditional Bellydance). You will learn some cultural history. You will learn form and posture. You will be introduced to traditional music and movement. You will learn Ishra’s teaching method and develop a relationship with her as well as with the other students in your class. Some students have even repeated sessions of Level 1 to further strengthen this initial introduction to Bellydance and to develop a solid foundation on which to progress from.
From there on, you have options of which classes to take. In the past, you would naturally progress to Level 2, 3, etc. Over the past 10+ years that Ishra has been teaching, there has been an increasing interest from a number of students in furthering their learning in Tribal Fusion style.
Others desire to stay on the traditional path, and some want to do both. Some students have settled into repeating a class as a result of their love of the style and the connections they’ve made with the peers in that class. As a result, Ishra has offered two subsequent levels of continuing onto a Tribal Fusion path or on the Raqs Sharqi path. Instead of calling these classes “Level 2, 3, 4, etc.,” Ishra opted to use names of gems and spices instead to endearingly represent her students (Cayenne, Saffron, Jade, and Sapphire). The number system assumed a progressive level of technique which was not true anymore as many students would stay in the same “level” for years, yet they would obviously be constantly improving. You will see descriptions of these classes in the “Classes” section of the website.
For the progressive students, all paths will lead to Ishra’s Advanced “Sapphire” class. Here, all of the previous classes will meet and marry. With its high emphasis on traditional style and technique combined with fusions and the use of props, students from any stream will find this class challenging and innovative. Intense drilling meets creative freedom. Choreographies may (and have) range from tight drum solos, flowing veil work, powerful sword, balanced shamadan, co-ordinated zilling, earthy Folkloric, challenging Karshilama, and womanly raqs. Given that students at this level have had a substantial degree of training, Ishra will challenge students to work beyond pure technique and to also consider other elements such as stage presence, emoting, intention, and chemistry with both the audience and fellow dancers. Dancers who are interested in performing with the Invoketress troupe must have experience in the Sapphire class.
Here’s to another year of love and learning in this ancient yet ever evolving art form!