Category: Classes

Turkish Dance Intensive in Gainesville, FL

Hi everyone!  Heather here, to tell you about some workshops I recently attended.

This past weekend two local dancers, Leela of New York and Najmah Nour, co-sponsored a weekend with 2 workshops overviewing several Turkish folks dances (mostly line dances), as well as 2 workshops exploring the Turkish Oriental style through choreographies.

The folk dance workshops were taught by a wonderful local lady, Margaret Tolbert.  One look at her website and you will know that she is definitely multi-talented.  In addition to being a wealth of knowledge on folk dances from many regions, she is also an artist and an environmental activist.  She recently released a book including her own art and writing, as well as that of other contributers, about Florida’s spring systems, their features, and the urgent need for their preservation.  The book is AQUIFERious and you can learn about the book project, and find out where to purchase your own copy, here. (It’s available at several local venues, as well as on Amazon.)

Each day had one workshop focused on folk dances and one focused on an oriental choreography.  This was nice to keep the brain from being overwhelmed with two much information on one subject.  I loved both classes!

The first day’s folk dance was all line dances, and they were so much fun!  Unlike the dance workshops I’m used to – this was not stressful.  That was a nice change of pace, and it was great dancing together with everyone.  This cooperative aspect is something I really like about tribal group dance, that is missing from a lot of other dance styles.  I think I would like to learn more line dances and begin incorporating them into show and hafla activities for audience and member participation.  (And to make sure I don’t forget what I have learned!)

Some of the dances we learned over the 2 folk dance workshops were:

  • Kemane from Konya
  • Militsa from the Black Sea area
  • Delilo from Elazig
  • Berde from Erzurum (one of my favorites!)
  • Kechiko from Elazig (another favorite)
  • Madimak
  • Sepastia Bar
  • Erzurum Bar

The first day’s oriental choreography was also a blast.  Some of the moves were pretty tricky, but I really *loved* the music.

The second day’s choreography was more in my usual style and aesthetic, (and I really liked that music too) but I luuuurve the first day’s music.  (Hadi Hadi, which is a pop song about a pre-destined love that is just meant to be.  Everyone likes a good love song.)

Day 1 Group Photo!


I really enjoyed this intensive, Turkish culture and dance are major influences on American belly dance, and so I think it’s an important part of the picture that we should have a bit of familiarity with.

In the past, though sadly not so much today, it was not uncommon to have a full belly dance show performed at a restaurant or nightclub. These shows generally followed a set progression that still influences how belly dance shows are laid out today. Today we’re going to talk briefly about that show structure, and about a new project we are about to start at the Shambling Shimmies School of Belly Dance.

The show structure commonly used in the 60s and 70s for restaurant dancing in the United States was a 7 part show.  Shira has a good article on her site [link] for further reading, but I’ll very briefly list the 7 parts here:

1. Entrance, to greet the audience.
2. Slow, flowing music with veil (previously wrapped and tucked).
3. Fast or medium-speed song to keep the show moving.
4. Floorwork, sword/tray balancing, or standing taqsim (slow).
5. Fast or medium-speed song to bring the energy back up.
6. Drum solo.
7. Finale.

In a 7 part show, each section is a full song. Currently, it’s less common for a dancer to be hired for such a long show, so she will often use a variation on the 7 part format, taking 3 or 5 of the parts, which still gives her the opportunity to present variety and an interesting progression, in the reduced amount of time more commonly available today.

While it’s rare, especially in Gainesville, to see a professional belly dancer hired for solo shows in a restaurant or nightclub, this totally still happens in larger cities. Today, it’s more common to see belly dance performed at a hafla (hafla means party, and is commonly used in the US to describe a party or similar event where there will be belly dancing).

At most haflas there will be multiple dancers, most likely with different skill levels and presenting different styles of belly dance. Haflas are huge fun because they provide a great opportunity for belly dancers to get together to support and enjoy each others’ dancing, and they also provide performance opportunities for students that are ready to begin getting practice performing for an audience. As an audience member, seeing belly dance performed in a club or restaurant show is different from seeing it at a hafla, and even more different from seeing it in a stage show.

When planning a hafla’s performance lineup, the organizer will often take into consideration the style of belly dance each dancer plans to perform, props they plan to use, or the music they plan to use, in order to lay out a pleasing and interesting progression for the audience. When possible, the classic 7 part show may influence the ordering of the acts.

Harkening back to this era in belly dance history, we’re about to start a new project at the studio. In our belly dance sampler class (currently on Mondays), we’re going to go through a 5 part show!

We’ll be including choreographies for:

1. Entrance
2. Veil
3. Uptempo (with Zills)
4. Taqsim (with Optional Floorwork)
5. Drum Solo

We’ll actually be going through them in reverse order (so that the pieces which will require the most practice are learned earlier in the series). When all 5 pieces have been taught, the group that is ready to perform will get a full set at the monthly Student Showcase! (Dancers do not need to commit to learn and perform all 5 pieces, students who have learned at least one choreography to a performance level will be eligible to participate.)

We’ll also be going through much shorter and simpler ‘tastes’ of all 7 parts in the belly dance party jam class on Thursday nights!

The belly dance stylization we’ll be using for this project is something that is perhaps best described as American Vintage – heavily inspired by Jamila Salimpour, the style includes a variety of movements from multiple middle eastern dance genres. We still call the stylization American because it came about in the United States when immigrants from many cultures came to the U.S. and people began to share their own music and dance with one another. Jamila Salimpour is a pioneer in the field that codified many movements and preserved a format that is still in use today. Though she’s very well known for her Bal Anat performances at Renaissance fairs, which used a tribal stylization and presentation (including a chorus or backline and featured dancers, still used today in both ATS and ITS), it may be less known that at the time, those same dancers changed costumes and performed the same movements to different music in shows at nightclubs and restaurants in the evenings.

Hope to see you in class!



Wow – what a great weekend! We were very honored to host Lacey Sanchez of Florida Tribal Dance and her lovely assistant Aivin for an intimate tribal fusion intensive this past weekend at our studio in Northwest Gainesville. All in all, we went through 10 hours of instruction ranging from key techniques used in tribal fusion to tips and tricks for layering,  influences from industrial music, performance concepts, and more. Lacey is a talented and enthusiastic instructor, and such a joy to have around. Aivin is also a sweetheart and a very talented dancer. I hope we’ll be able to see them both again soon! 

In addition to the workshops, this weekend was also Gainesville’s first ever Shimmy Mob on Saturday.  One of our own students, Tara, was the team leader and coordinator for Gainesville. Our school was able to contribute by donating studio space for practices, which one of our instructors graciously volunteered to teach.  The Shambling Shimmies School of Belly Dance also hosted a hafla and fundraiser on Saturday night, which was a blast! The funds raised by the party and the efforts of other Shimmy Mob sponsors that donated % of sales or raffle prizes went to Peaceful Paths.


Next week (April 3, 2012) we won’t be holding our usual Thursday night classes, Belly Dance Boot Camp and Belly Dance Party Jam. We’ll miss you gals, but we have a good reason!

We won’t be holding classes that night because Jules and I are going to be spending the evening driving down to Fort Pierce for a 3 day level 1 intensive with Suhaila Salimpour! At the end of a gruelling 15 hours of training (and at least 1 nice party!), we’re also both planning to test for level 1 certification.

Being so far from Suhaila’s home studio in California, we’ve been studying with her online classes. (If you think you might be interested in learning more about those, you can check them out at

The way in which we teach belly dance technique at our studio here in Gainesville is heavily inspired by Suhaila Salimpour’s format, so pursuing further study and certification in her format makes sense for us. Our philosophy is that cultivating strong underlying dance technique is very important in any dance form, for a few reasons. Strong technique provides a dancer with a solid vocabulary of individual movements, an understanding of the body mechanics to execute them, and a framework to learn new movements. Once this vocabulary and skill set is established, a dancer will hopefully find it easier than they otherwise would to learn new dance material – whether that be in the form of specific movements, dance stylizations, or choreography and combinations.

The skill of being well-equipped to learn new things is valuable in many fields, and I think that dance is no different. This is important to us because we are fusion dancers, and strive to have the broadest movement vocabulary possible, drawing from many different styles of dance, in order to interpret and express the music to our audience.

To learn more about Suhaila Salimpour, check out her website ( and her blog (

Hope to see you on the dance floor!



Spring Workshops with Karen Sun Ray March 9th

Come join us on Saturday March 9th for Tahitian and Egyptian dance!

Sign up and order your tickets online at

See workshop descriptions after the photo.

karen flyergainesville

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Tantalizing Tahitian Treat
10am – 12pm, $35 in advance, $40 at the door

In this workshop you will learn the magic of moving your hips fast and saucy! The versatility that Tahitian dance has to offer with its variety of tempos to play with will challenge the most seasoned dancer while laying a great foundation for those just starting out.

This workshop is perfect for the dancer who wants to add a greater level of control and body vocabulary to their bag of tricks. Tahitian dance has a very graceful, powerful and playful quality to it that will bring out the joy you have for dance. Be ready to sweat and feel some new muscles as we take a tour of the islands playing with traditional movements and combos. Bring a pareau (sarong) and a towel; let’s make those skirts fly!!!

Move Like an Egyptian: Then and Now
1:30pm-3:30pm, $35 early bird, $40 at the door

This workshop is ideal for the dancer who wants to add some spice to their dance. Whether your focus is Cabaret or Tribal styles, the foundations of belly dance are the same. Be ready to move, isolate and explode onto the stage like an Egyptian.

We’ll be going through a series of combos to different types of music, giving you a wide variety of styles to play with, while also working on technique:
#1: Smooth and Flowing (Classical Egyptian)
#2: Explode onto the Stage (Modern Egyptian)
#4: Folkloric Stylings
#5: Drum Solo

There is a package discount for attending both workshops! ($60 in advance, $75 at the door)

Please join us back at the studio in the evening for a casual dance party.
7:30-8:00 mini-rhythm and moves review
8:00 – 10:00 party

We’re very happy to announce that Lacey Sanchez will be joining us in Gainesville, Florida at the Shambling Shimmies Studio for a weekend intensive!  Sign up and buy your tickets online HERE.  You can also check out the Facebook Event Invite HERE.

VIP passes (includes admission to all workshops and the hafla) are $175 if you preregister.  This will be an intimate intensive and attendance will be very limited – get your spot today before spots sell out!  See class descriptions after the photo:


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Ins Outs & Omis (10am – 12pm)
This workshop is designed to give you an intimate look at what makes Tribal Fusion so exciting. We will analyze proper posture and foundational techniques. We will break down those amazing tricks, pops, locks, and snakey bone defying moves that are distinctly tribal. We will also cover my fun smooshing combos as well as performance concepts! Beginners are welcome.

***The Gainesville Shimmy Mob event will be taking place during the midday break. We’ll be organizing a carpool caravan from the studio. Visit to learn more and register.***

Stackable Layers (2pm – 4pm)
Every advanced dancer reaches for the goal of successfully layering multiple movements together. In this class we learn techniques to “trick” the brain so that layering becomes smoother as well as techniques to execute layers with more ease.

Slow & Slinky Combos (4pm – 6pm)
One stylistic element of Tribal Fusion is undoubtedly the snakelike serpentine movements that make us all drop our jaws. In this class learn the signature moves that we all love in an easy to follow broken down format that will have you slithering out the door.

There is an evening hafla in the upstairs area of Sharab Lounge downtown from 9pm to 11pm.  Admission is included for workshop participants, and shimmy mob participants that wear (or show) their official shimmy mob T-shirt. For others, a small donation to Peaceful Paths (the local Shimmy Mob partner) would be very much appreciated.  See the details in the Facebook Event HERE.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Industrial Elements (1:30pm – 3:30pm)
Tribal Fusion borrows from underground club, trance, and hip hop. In this class students will learn how to utilize their technique in such a way that makes their movements look mechanical and otherworldly.

Performance Concepts (3:30pm – 5:30pm)
This class will focus on performance aspects including stage presence, Door vs. Window technique, storytelling, being the visual and how to effectively use your stage whether in a group or solo performance.

Schedule Changes

We’re making a couple of schedule changes at the Shambling Studio for the fall:

  • The Monday Lunchtime L1 Tribal class will not be running for the fall session.
    • It will be replaced by a Lunchtime Special Topics Class (Mondays, Noon-1pm), currently running on the same schedule as the Thursday evening Special Topics Class.  The current topic is Halloween Show Prep.
  • The Monday Evening L2 Tribal class will not be running in the fall.
    • It will be replaced by an all levels class TBA.  We need YOUR help choosing its replacement!
    • Please take the time to fill out our survey below and let us know what you think!


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Welcome LivingSocial Students!

Welcome to all our new students from Living Social! Whether you are interested in General Bellydance, Tribal Bellydance, both, or just looking to try something different, we’d like to welcome you, help you find the classes you are looking for, help your first class go smoothly, etc. – so here’s the quick runthrough of the basics all in one place. We’d also like to invite you to join us this Tuesday, June 26, 7:30-9:00pm at Satchel’s Pizza/Lightning Salvage for our monthly Hafla (party)! Come by, see the “Swamp Daisies” – our all levels tribal student group – in action, catch the “Shambling Shimmies” – both solo and together, enjoy some music, order some of their awesome pizza, and help us let Satchels know we’re glad they’re back!  Check out the Facebook Invite, or Satchel’s Website and then come join us.

Now on to all the classes …


If you are new to bellydance, you will want to look for classes marked “level 1” or “all levels”. Your options include:

  • Bellydance Technique – This class focuses on learning and drilling general bellydance technique applicable to many styles of bellydance. All levels class. Mon. 7:35-8:35pm. 1 card punch.
  • Level 1 Moves and Jam – In this class you learn Shambling Shimmies Tribal Bellydance Format (a group improvisation format) movements and practice group dance concepts in a fun and casual atmosphere. Mon.12:00-1:00pm, Tues. 6:00-7:15pm (ends at 7:00pm last Tues of every month). 1 card punch.
  • Study Hall – In study hall, we work on what you want to work on – when you arrive students discuss with the instructor issues they are having, what moves/subjects they would like to go over, etc. and the teacher(s) arrange class from there. This can work out to anything from reviewing the week’s new moves for students who missed them (or just want a review) to extended jamming time with instructor feedback. All levels class. Thurs. 7:15-8:15pm. 1 card punch.
  • Special Topics – We offer 4-6 week classes on special topics at varying levels that cover a wide variety of subjects. The level will always be listed in the class description of the class calendar. The next level 1 Special Topics class we offer will be “Beginner Veil” which is scheduled for Thurs. 6:00-7:00pm August 9-30. These classes are drop in classes, so you may attend as many or as few as you like, but please note that they require 1.5 card punches per class.

If you have bellydance experience, but are new to our studio, the above classes should still be appropriate. In the general classes, we make every effort to adjust classes to the level of the students. In tribal classes, everyone must start in Level 1 because in the tribal format we are working with a very specific vocabulary that must be learned before moving on to Level 2.

  • Special Topics classes marked level 1.5 or level 2 on the class calendar, however, may be appropriate for you as well. You may discuss your previous bellydance experience with a Shambling Shimmies instructor and she would be happy to help you make that decision. The next Level 2 Special Topics Class we offer will be “Solo Construction (Structured Improv)” which is scheduled for Thurs. 6:00-7:00pm, July 5-26. These classes are drop in classes, so you may attend as many or as few as you like, but please note that they require 1.5 card punches per class.
Your card is good for any classes (within your level) – you do not have to sign up for any particular class or use the card for one type of class only, you have 12 punches per card to use as you see fit in any class combination you wish (all classes except special topics are 1 class punch, special topics are 1.5 card punches)


Please plan to arrive at least 5-10 minutes early for your first class. (The studio opens 15 minutes before the first class of the day/time block) We will have a short form for you to fill out, redeem your voucher for your class card that you will get marked each class, and sign you in. We then ask that everything you will not actually be using during class be placed in the storage cubbies. If you would like to use any additional time before class to warm yourself up, it is encouraged (our beginner classes do include a short warm up).  For info on what to wear, you can go here and here, but in general fitted clothing through the torso and hips is a good idea so we (and you) can see your alignment and isolations.  The addition of hip and ribcage accents (such as a scarf for the hips and a shrug to accent the ribcage line) are even better.  Most important, however, is wearing something you can move in.

If you have any questions, please contact us here – we’d be happy to help. You can check out the class and event calendar, and follow us on Facebook, and via our newsletter if you don’t want to miss a thing.  We look forward to seeing you in the studio!