Summer School

17 Apr

Improve Your Dancing

with JWAAD

The Josephine Wise Academy of Arabic Dance has existed since 1990. It is dedicated to improving the standard and raising the profile of Egyptian and Arabic dance in the West. JWAAD runs an annual residential course every summer, with classes for all levels in a variety of styles, taught by highly qualified and experienced teachers.

The historic Wellington College in Crowthorne, Berkshire is the magnificent new setting for the highly recommended JWAAD Summer School courses.  You can spend your days taking classes in a wide variety of styles of Arabic dance, classes with Egyptian musicians, work on technique, rhythm and choreography. You can book a private lesson with one of the JWAAD teachers, or spend time relaxing in the gardens, swimming in the pool, shopping in the souk or enjoying a pampering massage. Advanced level dancers can join the Professional Performers Development Course with Josephine Wise.

wellingtonResidential courses from 2 to 7 days, all meals included with classes, activities and entertainment. Prices start from 280.00 GBP.



11 Apr

Designer Costumes

Brighton Orient is an online shop from founder and couture designer Maayan Aviram. Maayan travels to Egypt four times a year to work on her own astonishingly original couture costumes and to collaborate with top designers. She is also an experienced dancer herself. Visit the store here:


Fullscreen capture 11042013 092532



A Film About…

26 Feb

Bellydancers in Kent

Hollywood could be coming to Edenbridge to tell the tale of a group of women whose lives were turned around by the exotic art of belly dancing.

A story by Markbeech dancer Charlotte Desorgher, 54, has been snapped up by a major studio and tourism experts predict the town could benefit by up to £1.5 million if it is also chosen as the main filming location.

The movie, which is described as being about “bringing belly-dancing to a lovely, quintessential English village”, will be based on Mrs Desorgher’s experiences and the inspiring tales of her students.

Fullscreen capture 26022013 084852These include the story of a woman diagnosed with terminal cancer a week after she was chosen as a soloist in one of the company’s dancing shows.Mrs Desorgher said: “As time went on, the belly dancing and her belly dancing friends kept her going and she’s actually still alive, five years later, even though she was originally only given 18 months to live.” Another character will be a talented belly dancer who ran away from home because her mother tried to stop her dancing.

A Yorkshire-based writer is working on the script and will visit Tunbridge Wells to see a concert at the Assembly Hall by Mrs Desorgher and her 150 students on Saturday, June 23. She has to be tight-lipped about the details but Mrs Desorgher said a British producer was on board and well-known names would be recruited to play the lead roles.

She added: “It will be a very British film so there won’t be so many American actresses in it.” While she will not have control over the film, she will be an adviser and is keen to ensure locations are authentic.

She said: “We’ve got some lovely villages and this is a story about bringing belly dancing to a lovely quintessential English village.” Mrs Desorgher became captivated by belly dancing in the 1980s. By 2001, she was showing Markbeech’s women how to belly dance in the tiny village hall and says she now has more than 1,000 students in the South East.

About ten years ago she and her class of dancers, who had been learning for just a year, held a concert in Edenbridge’s WI Hall. Mrs Desorgher said: “I had no idea how it would be received. But they were brilliant, the queues were on to the High Street and the hall was full to bursting. It was just a remarkable night and I remember thinking, this would make an amazing film.”

For a decade she carried that dream before bumping into a film executive at a wedding, who loved her story and set the wheels in motion.


The Old Movies

12 Feb

Elegance & Beauty

Health & Wellbeing

25 Jan

The Love of Movement

Why We Should Dance

PRINT 20X8Dancing is a great way for people of all ages to tone their physique and stay in shape. This has many positive health benefits including; Flexibility, strength, endurance and a sense of well-being

Dance is physical exercise and in turn, increases endurance. Endurance is the ability of muscles to work hard for increasingly longer periods of time without fatigue. Regular dancing is great for improving endurance, especially vigorous dancing as elevating the heart rate can increase stamina. Just as in any form of exercise, regular dancing will build endurance.

belly dance1Flexibility is an important part of being healthy and dance requires a great amount of flexibility, therefore most classes begin with a warm-up including several stretching exercises. Dancers must strive to achieve full range of motion for all the major muscle groups and belly dancing is about controlling and isolating the upper and lower half of your body. The greater the range of motion, the more muscles can flex and extend. Belly dance requires moves that involve bending and stretching, so dancers naturally become more flexible, simply by dancing.

Strength is defined as the ability of a muscle to exert a force against resistance. Dancing builds strength by forcing the muscles to resist against a dancer’s own body weight. Belly dance incorporates lots of moves on the balls of the feet whether small controlled steps or large leaps; these require tremendous strength of the major leg muscles.Clbr8Pride 110812_0514-003

Dancing is a social activity. Studies have shown that strong social ties and socializing with friends contribute to high self-esteem and a positive outlook. Dancing provides many opportunities to meet other people and joining a dance class can increase self-confidence and build social skills. Physical activity reduces stress and tension and gives an overall sense of well-being.


Fantastic Dancing

17 Jan


7 Jan

…Through Photography







Intermediate Steps

28 Nov

Belly Dance Instruction

Swagger Walk (Also known as Egyptian Walk)

Very similar to Egyptian walk. Stepping forward on the right foot, drop the (right) hip as if you are about to sit down, pushing out the opposite hip to accommodate it, and bending both knees at the same time. Just as you come up to lift the left foot for the next step slide the hips from side to side 2 or 3 times quickly in a soft snap movement, and then place your left foot down as the next leading foot. The snap movements should be between each forward step. As you walk, alternate your arms (opposite arm to leading foot) across the body adding a slow shoulder shimmy movement.

Sharki Walk

A simpler version of the Swagger Walk. Step forwards and as you do so, push out your opposite hip, bending both knees at the same time. Keep your back straight.

Sideways/Vertical Camel

This is a movement done facing the front and moving to the side. Step to the right, and immediately lean slightly over to the right, leading with your shoulder. Bring your shoulder down and around back up (in an arc), straightening up and bringing your left foot close up to the right. Arms can be held out to the sides, following the flow of the body and doing a snake arm movement. Reverse the whole sequence for the left. Alternatively you can start your move by stepping out to the side onto the ball of your foot, raising and leading with your hip and as your transfer the weight and lower your heel, straighten up by bringing your same side shoulder and opposite foot in. There should be a slight delay between stepping with your foot and bringing the shoulder into line. This move is very similar to a travelling vertical Fig 8.


Facing the front bring your right leg in an arc towards your left leg and outwards in a small circle back to its original position, As you swing your leg out and around, turn in the direction of the foot and push your chest and torso outwards and forwards slightly, echoing the arc of the foot. Repeat on the left and alternate from side to side. See Brush Circles.


This is a travelling step, which can be used to move in any direction. For a more folky, flatfooted version, start with both feet side by side, and then with your weight on your left foot, kick forwards twisting the hip inwards slightly, with your right heel tilted slightly inwards and upwards. Replace the right foot, then lift and repeat on the same hip & foot. The move can also be done kicking with the left foot. Always kick with the same foot repeatedly moving in one direction, then change over to the other foot when you change direction. This move works well when using zils. For a faster lighter version, come up onto the balls of the feet, and twist both heels in the same direction, lifting one foot off the ground with an inward kick or lift. Make sure both knees are slightly bent. Twist both hips in the same direction as the lifted foot to add extra emphasis. If you are repeatedly lifting and twisting your right foot and hip, travel to the right, and vice versa. For further variations, emphasise the upward/outward movement with an extra lift on the toes, or emphasise the downwards movement with a deeper bend of the knees.

Camel Walk

Using the camel movement with the body, take small steps on the balls of the feet, always leading with the same foot. This can also be done facing the front and stepping to the side, one foot stepping behind the other. A variation is to camel using the step-ball-step.

Swerve-Shuffle – A move that uses the swerve action. Starting on the right foot, twist the hips to the left, and at the same time, bend your right knee and lightly kick out foot. Then, twisting your hips and shuffling 1-2-3 (starting on the right foot and moving to the right) then kick out your left foot then shuffle to the left (1-2-3). Repeat on alternate sides. This can either be done on the spot, or can be used to move slowly to the left or right.


This step is used to travel in one direction at a time. Turning to face diagonally to the right corner of the room, step forward onto the right foot. Almost immediately, push off the left ball of the foot with the heel raised, pushing up the hip, bringing the left foot in just behind the right. Keep repeating, keeping the left heel raised up. To travel left, step forward on the left, followed up by the right. Should be an undulating continuous step. Saidi Variation: Step forward as before, but when you bring the back leg in towards the other, bring both legs together with knees level and bend. Then, push off with the back leg at the same time as straightening up and stepping forwards with the front foot. Keep your back straight, and don’t be tempted to bend further than your knees will go comfortably.

Walking Around The Stage

23 Nov

Beginners Steps

Belly Dance Instruction


Step forward on the right foot (flat footed), then stepping on the ball of the left foot bring the left foot close behind and then take another step onto the right foot. Then bring the left foot into the front (flat footed) to start the whole movement again starting on the left. This should be a continuous movement.

Scissor Walk

This is a step-ball-step step, but as you move, you bring your arms alternately forward across the body as if to touch the knee of the opposite leg, as you step forward on that leg. This is also a continuous movement.

Zig-Zag step

This can be done on the spot or used as a travelling step. Using the Step Ball Step, turn to the left and starting on the left foot, camel and step on the spot, then turn 45 to the right, repeat, and alternate. As a travelling step, imagine a zig-zag line drawn on the floor in the direction you want to travel, then step alternately to the right and left on this path moving forward with each SBS.


This is a travelling step, which can be done either to right or left. Moving to the right, bring your left foot in front of your right, step out with your right foot to the side, then bring your left foot behind the right, and then the right foot out to the side again, and keep on repeating. To travel left, start with your right foot stepping in front of your left, just reversing the whole sequence. This can be done flat footed or on the balls of the feet.


This is a balletic movement featured in the Raks Sharki style of dance. Using the basic zig-zag step, step to the left but start with the right foot. As you make your 45 turn (on the ball of the right foot), allow your left foot to swing out and around in a large arc off the floor, replacing it across in front to start the SBS for the right hand side. For the right side start by stepping across yourself again with your left foot and swing out your right foot as you turn, and keep repeating. This move can also be done in reverse with the swinging foot moving from front to back. This also looks very effective when holding a veil behind with arms outstretched.


Using a zig-zag step (SBS) to the right and left, push out your chest and curve your back as you step forwards, then straighten up as you bring the back foot in. Bend your arms at the elbow and hold at your sides, bending the elbows backwards (as if trying to touch them together behind your back), as you step forwards. Looks as if you’re doing chicken impressions!

Arabic Walk

Step forward on the right foot, and slide the left foot up behind with the heel raised slightly, then keep repeating. Keep both knees bent, with the leading one more so. The arms should be held at right angles to the body – one straight out in front and the other raised up above the head. A camel movement can be added to this. This is an American Tribal step.

Sheeba Walk

This step is based on the forward and reverse horizontal hips fig 8’s. To go forward, use the forward fig 8: twist your right hip forward, and as you swing it around to the side you take a step forward, taking 75% of your weight in your right foot, and at the same time lifting your left heel. As you bring the hip back into the centre to transfer from one side to the other, you will already be twisting the left hip to the front, and lifting the left foot to step forwards. To go backwards: twist right hip back and step back with the right foot at the same time. As you swing the right hip around the side to the front (and towards the centre) you briefly take all the weight in the right foot as you lift your left foot to step back, whilst twisting the left hip to the back to repeat on that side. It should be a flowing, sassy, sensual hip movement. Try holding your arms above your head in a ‘V’ shape as you do it.

Part 4: The Hips

6 Nov

Working Those Hips…

Belly Dance Instruction

Large Hip Circles

Using both the lower and upper body, move the hips from the right to the left. Your upper body should be leaning forward and your arms come down as though you’re scooping up water. As you finish the circle you bring your body and arms up and move them behind you as your hips and pelvic bone move from left to right in front of you.

Small Hip Circles

A much smaller version of the large hip circle, but not as compact as the inner hip circle. It’s useful to imagine you have a small ring around your ankles and you’re following it with your hips.

Inner Hip Circles

Squeezing the gluteus muscles individually and allowing the lower stomach muscles to respond accordingly and then release individually to create a small circular movement. The hips are not moving side to side, the knees should be relaxed and bent.

Outer Hip Circles

Circle the pelvic bone around the feet – left, front, side and back.

Half circle forwards/backwards

Bring the hips from the side, pushing back and round to the other side or forward and round to the other side but stop halfway.

Hip circle on one hip

Stand with the right or left leg bent and on the ball of the foot, while the other food is flat. Rotate the hip using the bent leg by bringing it forward, then up and round, then back to the centre.

Hip Slides

Move the hips from side to side, keeping the upper body in the same position, as though there is a strait line running through the centre of your feet and out beyond hips on both sides.

Hip Bumps

You shift your weight from right to left, pushing your hips out to the side as though you’re pushing a car door shut with your hip. The movement is fast and ‘punchy’. The knees bend as your weight shifts. So, the hip that is bumping will have an almost strait leg, while the other is relaxed and bent.

Hip Lifts

You lift each hip up quickly and control the movement back down

Hip Drops

You start with the hip lifted and drop it quickly and control the movement back up.

Advanced Hip Drops

These involve using the muscle groups in the thighs and buttocks with the minimum movement of the pelvis and thigh.

Egyptian Hip Tilt

This involves further isolation techniques of the hip and is for advanced students only.

Zuhair Zaki Dump

A dump is where the hip is pushed down into the ground without allowing the leg to push the hip upwards at any time. The result is a unique and fascinating movement that was the signature move of the famous Egyptian dancer, Zuhair Zaki. As with the Egyptian Walk, this movement is notoriously difficult to teach and master. It can take years to perfect and requires hours of practice. The basic technique requires the pelvic hip bone to slide down towards the ground, whilst not allowing any lift to the ball and socket part of the hip. There will be a tugging, pulling sensation of the muscles around the waist.

Fifi Abdou Dump

This movement is advanced and complete mastery of the basic dump is needed before you can even begin to get your head around it. It is a complex movement involving three different layers – the dump, the shimmy and the twist. There is also a characteristic double stamp of the foot.

Hip Twists

Bring one hip forward and then move it back, repeating this movement. You can travel with this by stepping forwards, backwards or to the side. As well as going up and down. Keep the rest of the body still.

Hip Shimmy

You move the knees rapidly controlling the movement with your hips, alternatively you can squeeze the gluteus muscles individually. The end result should be a rapid ‘vibration’ of the hips from side to side.

Egyptian or “straight legged” shimmy

This involves keeping the legs straight but not locked. Drive the movement with the thighs, allowing the knees to move freely. The hip is loose and relaxed with no tension in any other part of the body. This shimmy is perhaps one of the easiest to sustain and due to the straight legged nature of the posture allows for ease of layering for undulations and shimmy twists.

Bent legged shimmy

Keep legs close together and bend knees slightly. This shimmy produces a more rolling effect. The knees move freely.


There are two ways to produce shivers – with straight legs or bent knees. The straight legged shiver is more often performed with the body weight on one leg and this supporting leg is the one that shivers. The bent leg shiver produces exquisite tremors which can be layered with figure eights and walking.

Forward Vertical Figure 8

Imagine you have a figure eight laying on the floor at your feet, you bring you right hip forward, go round to the back, across to the other side and bring the left hip forward and round to the back and over to the other side. The movement should be smooth.

Backward Vertical Figure 8

Using the same principles as the forward, but instead you bring your right hip to the back, round to the front and then slide across and back to the other side, bring the left hip round to the front and then back over to the other side to start again.

Upwards Horizontal Figure 8

Imagine you have the figure of eight floating on it’s side in front of your pelvic area. Bring the right hip up, out, round and down then push over and down to the other side and bring the left hip up, out, round and down. You are using the balls of your feet to lift and lower the movement. The movement is accentuated as you come up and down.

Downwards Horizontal Figure 8

You start with the right hip up, bring it out, round and down, slide over and up to the other side. Now you have your left hip up, bring out, round, down and over and up to the other side. The movement is accentuated as you come down and up.

Hip bump and twist

Push your hip out to the right, as though you’re slamming the car door shut shifting all you weight to that side (this is the hip bump) and then twist the right hip forward and back, then sway over to the left and push out (shifting the weight to the other side) and twist forward and back.

Hip drops, lifts and kicks

Move the right foot in front of the left, resting on the ball of the foot, keep the left foot flat. Starting with the hip up, drop it, then lift and as you drop the second time kick out the right foot. Keep repeating the hip lift, hip drop, then hip lift, drop and kick. Make sure you scrape your foot along the floor, as though you have something on the bottom of your foot.

Bicycle Hips

Bring the right hip up, slide it back then down and across to the middle, then slide it up, forward and down then back. You can do this on both sides by alternating.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 196 other followers

%d bloggers like this: