Shakti Dance- Belly dance fusion review

There are so many new types of Belly Dance inspired dance springing up everywhere! Whether it is a new ‘format’ or fusion style, there seems to be a new one I hear of each week. It’s a credit to our dance style that we inspire and support so much creativity but it can be a little overwhelming.

Shakti belly Dance

Recent Shakti Flyer

While I was in Bali a few months ago I took a “Shakti dance” class (if you are thinking of taking classes while on holiday be sure to read my post on how to make it easy!). I meant to post about this experience months ago. Arggh! How time flies.

I must confess that I am dubious about the value of many of the new formats and fusions. Some of them really don’t look all that different to what you would see in any standard class. While I can see how some dancers are trying to set a certain standard of teaching capability and/or skill for those working with them, for others it seems that it is merely a marketing tool.

I mention this because I went in to the Shakti dance class in Ubud, Bali with low expectations, it could have also been that I my stomach had been a bit unhappy that day too, I wasn’t sure I really felt like dancing at all.  I hadn’t visited the website, I hadn’t heard of Mishaal, all I had to go on was the flyer on the Belly Dance Bali facebook page.

Shakti dance is apparently ‘the yoga of dance’

“Your body is your temple, relax your mind, awake body and soul. Through the natural healing art of bellydance, we cultivate shakti flow, and inner awareness, celebrating the divine feminine within. Open to everyone, no experience necessary, all levels welcome.”

Shakti dance class

Sweaty after class shot!

The venue was Radiantly Alive yoga studio in Ubud. It was a gorgeous, large, clean and very peaceful room with nice views over Ubud and lighting down low. Mishaal Miyamoto (also stunningly beautiful) was very welcoming and prepared herself for class in contemplation in front of a small shrine. I didn’t mention that I was a belly dance teacher, I didn’t want to feel the pressure to perform, I just wanted to be in the moment.

Class started with some moving meditation type exercises and then moved onto Mishaal introducing one belly dance movement at a time and allowing the dancers to explore that move within a piece of music and guiding with variations. I have struggled to put my finger on what the key element was to her class or why it felt so different to me. It was beginner- intermediates level (the other dancers were new to belly dance so this makes total sense) and the moves were pretty much straight belly dance with very little fusion in my opinion. There was no choreography and the music was predominantly a fantastic selection of modern world fusion pieces.

It was the way the moves were presented and the energy of the teacher that was unique to me. Despite having entered the class with low energy and feeling a bit out of it, I danced with a joy and enthusiasm that was profound for me. I was on a high for hours later. As someone that has struggled with being shy particularly in new environments, I was quite astonished that I felt so comfortable almost immediately. The other participants seemed to flourish too. Shakti dance doesn’t seem to be exclusively for females either, there was a man in class and he was welcomed like the rest of the ladies.

I thoroughly enjoyed the class and recommend it to both tribal and oriental dancers visiting Bali, actually even if you don’t usually dance Middle Eastern style it would be a nice class to take. I would love to hear if you enjoyed it as much as I did.You can see a very professional clip of Mishaal dancing at her website. (just make sure your speakers are not up too loud because the website has LOUD background music.)

What is your favourite fusion style? (either music or dance) Please comment below.

South up map

Seasons Greetings, Merry Christmas and Happy Summer Solstice (or winter solstice if you are upside down on the other side of the planet 😉 )

Dance classes on holiday – how to make it easy.

When taking holidays – is it worth squeezing dance classes into your schedule? With flights accommodation and organising what sights to see, does adding dance classes to your itinerary just slow you down?

Recently I had the good fortune of travelling over to Bali with a friend. It was a short trip for leisure, sightseeing and shopping. I briefly toyed with the idea of offering my skills as a belly dance teacher for a workshop or 2 but decided against it. It would have been good to do for promotion etc. but one has to have some down time! I wanted to refill my cup and return refreshed.

That’s not to say I had a trip devoid of dance – of course not!!! I love dance!

A belly dance show at a resort – kuta beach, bali.

When asked what was the highlight of my trip – it was the dance classes I took and the shows I saw.

It might be easy to think of this as a crazy response – e.g. the temples are incredible, the climate was perfect, the food inexpensive but I found dance as a way to experience the culture a little better. I took private classes in Balinese dance and even got invited back stage to a performance as a result. I took a great “Shakti” dance class (it’s a derivative of belly dance more on that in a post to come) and managed to catch both belly dance and Balinese performances.

I was happy to join in the show!

While Bali was great

– anywhere you travel could potentially offer you unique and fulfilling ways to experience the place through dance.

Belly dance is so popular throughout the world that even some very small towns have a vibrant belly dance community. Most teachers are happy to have an enthusiastic dancer drop in.  Don’t be shy to try a different dance style that takes your fancy too. If the locals have a dance style then taking a class is a great way to meet the real people and get off the tourist track. You may even come up with some great fusion ideas from the experience.

3 tips to incorporate dance into your holiday schedule with ease

Research ahead of time

It’s a pain in the bum to find out where and when everything is if your accommodation doesn’t offer free wifi or if the connection is not great. It can be really expensive to use your phone connection for data while overseas too. Try a simple Google search or having a look on facebook and save the findings in a note on your phone (include times addresses and phone numbers). Before I left I got in touch with some Balinese belly dancers via facebook to find out about classes etc. Thank you a million times over to Allison Mulroy who answered so many of my questions about the who, what, when and how of Bali belly dance. She is doing a great job of promoting the dance style for everyone and strengthening the sense of community.

It is common for there to be a multitude of dancers and musicians at these shows that run nightly in Ubud. Well worth supporting!

Don’t do too much

It’s a holiday! Unless you are travelling with a bunch of equally enthusiastic dancers that don’t want to see the sights then it’s likely you won’t be able to experience everything on offer. If you are travelling with kids then definitely go easy. Pick classes they can join in on too or performances that you think they may enjoy as well. Doing too much will only wear you out and possible cause tension with your travel buddies as you rush from one class to another. Pick a class that fits in with your time schedule with the most ease and enjoy it.

Don’t worry about difficulty level

Trying to remember the Balinese dance positions to the cheers of locals!

If you are a complete beginner then try and find easier classes for sure but if you are a bit more experienced then don’t stress if the only class available is an open or beginner one. Everyone teaches differently and chances are you will learn something new.

Why do it?

Get to meet the locals

Most classes are attended by locals and ex pats. Often when you are travelling you only get to meet those in the tourist industry and it can be hard making a connection with a ‘real’ person, not just someone trying to sell you stuff.

Learn new moves and /or teaching methods

There is so much variety in Middle Eastern dance- after 13 years I still am learning new moves and approaches to teaching. Different areas often have their own approach or style and it can be fun trying something new.

My lovely Balinese dance teacher Debbie and myself – she was an excellent teacher (go to the library near the soccer field in Ubud). I didn’t even realise I was such a giant next to her until I saw this picture!

Make new friends with a common interest

You never know – you may make a lifelong friend!

Keep fit while you travel

When travelling it is great to break routine but some elements of routine are really good for you. Like exercise! The odd dance class can help keep your bod in tip top shape!

Support dancers the world over

There are very few dancers that have made a lot of money from dancing. Most teachers do it for the love. Supporting dancers by going to their performances and classes means you are supporting artistic and cultural pursuits and a flourishing dance scene helps us all.

Dance performance, Ubud

So is it worth it?

It turned out to be the highlight of my trip. What are your thoughts? Would you take a class when on holidays? Would you like the occasional traveller dropping into your class? Please comment below.

Follow Jade Belly Dance on
%d bloggers like this: