Saturday, July 30, 2016

How I got pain-free - part 3: A DVD

Hello again :)

Almost a full year after writing about my adventures in self-help health care via How I got pain-free - part 1 and How I got pain-free - part 2, it feels like it is high time for an update.

Since discovering (and being part of the pilot version of) Monika Volkmar's awesome Dance Stronger program last July-August, my life as a dancer (and human!) has changed for the better.

Finally pain-free, even still today(!), I have continued searching for ways to maintain my newfound healthier way of moving, dancing and training. To integrate new body awareness into my daily life and even expand it, I started experimenting with different new (to me!) physical activities over time.

These were things I had always wanted to, but was somehow unable (or afraid) to try earlier, and things I had even given up on ever learning how to do. They included:

Since last November I've also started studying Korean martial arts, aka Tae Kwon Do, at Sportschule Chae, with our fantastic Master Großmeister Chae Seung-Eun.

I have also made a promise to myself at the beginning of this year to continue to deepen my (belly) dance studies intensively, which has taken me to the Netherlands in June to take up Sadie's Raqs Flow program, as well as to Plakiás, Crete (Greece) in May, for a week long of private studies with one of my favorite mentors and absolute heroes in dance and life, Boženka.

Grandmaster of Dance, Boženka

(I talk about my experiences in Crete in this Podcast interview by Annett Bone)

So, what to do with all this newfound knowledge and experience?

I have pondered this for quite a while, and ultimately what would make me happiest, is to share all I have learned in these eye-opening, physically adventurous and experience-rich months, with as many people as possible.

My original plan was to write yet another epically long blog post *ahem* :) But as the topic itself is more about embodying, moving and EXPERIENCING change, I decided I might as well go 'deeper' and attempt to pour all of my learnings and experiences into an 'active style' DVD form.

Chapter 1: Awareness and relaxation

This new DVD (and downloadable/streaming class) is a gathering of all the valuable things I have learned in the past year(s), and I have done my best to highlight those exercises, movements and concepts that have brought me the most palpable and immediate change.

I have also attempted to incorporate my own experiences in applying these concepts into my personal dance training, as well as into private classes and workshops with students willing to experiment with movement and awareness with me. What you'll find in this DVD is what came out of all of that. :)

Healthy Movement - Deeper Dance - Drills and Conditioning

Below you can find a short preview video, as well as a listing of all of the chapters I've included, plus links to inspirations and resources for those who want to dive deeper into the material.

Video preview:

Where to find it:


Healthy Movement for Deeper Dance - Drills and Conditioning with Khalida

Part 1: Relaxation and Awareness
- Breathing exercises
- Floor relaxation
- Releasing the upper body, arms, neck, head, legs, and hips
- Tips for deepening upper body movement
- Dance drill for smooth and '3D' upper body and arms

 Part 2: Martial arts-inspired Warmup
- Light cardio
- Footwork warmup
- Breathing for recovery
- Deeper stretches for hips and legs
- Anti-stress and diaphragm strenghening exercise (TKD style punching mini-tutorial)
- Shimmy drill for stronger shimmies with relaxed upper body layering

Part 3: Movement pattern progressions
- Movement sequence and strenghtening patterns
- One-legged and double-legged hip movements drill

Part 4: Feet, Ankles and 'Cogs' release
- Pre-test
- Releasing the feet, ankles and lower legs
- Hip hinge and squat technique
- Re-test
- AiM 'Cogs' in all 3 planes of motion - Dance warmup version
- Rounded movements drill

Resource list

Related/ Recommended books, articles, websites, blogs, instructors, DVDs, people, and programs:

Part 1: 

Part 2:

Part 3:  

Part 4:

That feeling of completion :) <3

I hope the resources and contents of this blog post will bring you much joy, movement, and positive changes and experciences, as they have done for me.

Dance on, move freely.

xxx Khalida 

Friday, July 29, 2016

Tips for shimmy practice

This is a blog post inspired by a question by Laura of UK/Ireland after working with the Shimmy Sessions DVD's, as well as by an amazing 'deep' 3/4 shimmy technique practice breakdown shared by Boženka during her Training Weekend in Würselen, DE last weekend.


Tips for practising your shimmies at different speeds 

  • It depends a bit on the specific kind of shimmy you are practising, but in general doing the movements at a slower speed and focusing on evenness in tempo and range of movement (left and right leg) helps to make your body (and mind!) feel more comfortable with the movement. Practising it faster every now and then is definitely also helpful to challenge shimmy dexterity, but if you notice that the shimmy goes 'rogue' then slowing the pace down until you 'refind' it during practise makes the training session most efficient.

  • It is also good to keep in mind that while doing the movement slowly you can go for maximum range of movement, but when speeding up the movement becomes smaller. So for the faster practice try to focus on precision and tempo, but with a smaller range, rather than compromising the movement quality in order to keep the movement 'big'.

  • To practise shimmies at different speeds you can try them without music from super slow to gradually faster and faster, then slower again, trying to keep the rhythm 'even' at different speeds. Then you might find that some 'speeds' (fast or slow!) might be easier than others, which is good to know for 'target practice'.

  • When I train and/or teach 3/4 shimmies (up or down) myself, I practise slow first, then medium speed, then faster movements with breaks in between sets/steps. After a while, if the shimmy technique/sequence starts to feel easier and 'controlled' in tempo, we go for faster movements without breaks, like the build-up in the shimmysessions and shimmies DVDs/ Online Classes

  • If the faster speed of a DVD/Online class/practice session is a bit too much right now you can always go for half that speed for instance, while still following the musics general down beat, this way you can follow along with me/the instructor/yourself to the music, but at a more comfortable tempo until the shimmy becomes easier (which it will, eventually! it just takes time, patience and conscious practice) 

  • When I practise the 'regular' shimmies (eg egyptian shimmies and hip shimmies) I usually combine it with other tasks around the house eg folding laundry, ironing, making breakfast, brushing teeth.. that are not too mentally demanding and can be done 'upright'  This way I get some bonus practice in, which is always beneficial.

  • Focusing on engaging your glutes slightly and lifting the back of your ribs to free up movement also helps to relax the hips and legs, which makes the shimmy feel less like 'work', which is the ultimate goal.

  • Also remember that medium speed shimmies are usually fast enough to match most music, so having an 'even' shimmy will give you more than being able to 'warp speed' it.

  • Keeping your core engaged deeply (pelvic floor, glutes, lower belly) while shimmying helps to concentrate the movement and conserve 'shimmy energy'. Deep breathing, focusing extra on the exhalation also helps to keep the shimmy relaxed even at higher speeds.

  • Making sure to warmup well, and to stretch and relax your musles (and mind) before and after the training session helps tons towards having a 'high quality' shimmy practice session.

  • In very short my answer would be: Yes, definitely keep practising at slower speed, but also try to go even slower, AND speed it up to beyond your comfortable speed every now and then to challenge yourself and to see if the shimmy is becoming easier/more comfortable over time.

Bonus tip: Sometimes, when a practice session feels especially uncomfortable, it can be a sign that you are learning/improving/changing your movement, even though you don't have the 'benefits' of it yet right away. I've noticed at times that about 2 days after a 'difficult' practice session my movements have made a 'quality jump' - so this is something to experiment with as well.

Good luck and happy shimmying!!

xxx K. 

PS: For those interested in shimmy-specific online classes and DVDs, check out the respective links!

ETA: You can download this Shimmy Tips blog post in handy .pfd format via this link.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Podcast interview for The DancePreneuring Studio

I'm Sharing my very first podcast interview, recorded this June by the fantastic Annett Bone as part of her The DancePreneuring Studio podcast series project.

In this interview I share my experiences on studying deeply with Bozenka in Crete in May 2016, as well as tips and ideas on creating and setting up online classes for dancers, plus the most important things I have learned from going back to the basics in dance, life and movement during the past year.


Podcast mode!

The Beauty in the Basics - Interview with Khalida Bech

A visual representation of my week of deep dance studies with Bozenka in Crete this May 22-29th at her beautiful studio by the sea:

Greece seen from above: Sea, Mountains, Clouds

The view from my appartment balcony
Spacey the friendly Goat
She greeted me each morning on my way to the studio

The Taverna - for breakfast and morning ponderings

View on the studio (white building by the sea) from taverna

Red hibiscus - My favorite!
Bozenka's beautiful dance studio <3
Morning by the beach - the rest of me was in the shade :)

Spacey's goat friends!
Posing at the beach bar
With my performance flyer for Saturday night!

The 'bat hammock' at the Studio
To Bozenka from Samantha Emanuel

Final night at Mes Tin Ammos
Performance night and sweet goodbyes