Friday, January 20, 2017

An interview with Boženka - January 2017

I am very honoured to present to you this interview with Boženka, a brilliant coach and mentor, and one of my favourite performers in Oriental Dance. We talk about Boženka's current plans, her upcoming projects, and living in Crete. She also shares with us her favourite moment in dance, gives us a bit of insight into her creational process, and tells us more about the DancEscapade event she is hosting in Plakiás, Crete for the first time in May 2017. Enjoy!

"I believe that it is a luxury to take one's time learning a new craft, and if you are lucky to have a good mentor/teacher by your side, take everything you can from them."

Bellydance Superstar Boženka is an award-winning, internationally acclaimed dancer performing and teaching worldwide. Her distinguishing elegance and her classic and earthy technique has elevated Boženka to superstar status. Charismatic yet unpretentious she is globally loved and admired as one of the most sought out instructors in the art of belly dancing.

Boženka's website -

K: How are you doing right now?

B: I have a strong desire to teach and dance and feel ready to get back into the swing of things after this holiday break.

K: Please tell us about how your love for Oriental Dance came about.

B: In a nutshell I owe it all to a few artist friends that opened my eyes, ears and mind to this artform.  A friend had me listen to a Natacha Atlas CD that I loved from the first time I heard it and another friend showed me where to sign up for classes.  That studio would later on become my own! 

K: What other movement/dance forms did you enjoy before discovering Oriental Dance? What did you like about them?

B: Just about anything!  But my two favorite dance forms remain Flamenco and Oriental.  What I love about these two dance forms is the versatility in improvisation and how each dancer can express something completely unique and inimitable. 

K: How do you go about 'creating dances'? What is your process?

B: I listen to the music and dance it in my head (internally) and pick out the parts I think I will want to keep.  I do this several times and then move to it, applying my mental improvisation, physically, to see what actually works.  Slowly, I start to lay out what fits best.  Simultaneously, images emerge and I also take note to how the piece makes me feel; what emotion it evokes.  This is not a process that repeats itself identically each time.  Sometimes, movement comes first and I place it inside a song so that it fits the timing of the piece.  This only pertains to choreography though because when improvising, I know the music but allow the movement to be spontaneous.  It's actually challenging to put into words because it sounds simplified and it is not.  It is a very complex process.

K: What advice would you give beginning dancers and/or your younger self?

B: When asked this question, I always advise "beginners" to enjoy the learning process and not to rush or skip through elements (props, rhythms, music theory, etc.).  I believe that it is a luxury to take one's time learning a new craft, and if you are lucky to have a good mentor/teacher by your side, take everything you can from them.  Generous teachers are real gems.  Another piece of advice to dancers at any level is not to hold back in class and to dance full out even while learning.

K: What do you love most about teaching?

B: Learning.  I learn and grow so much when I teach.

K: If you had to choose, what would you describe as your favorite moment in dance up till now? Why?

B: There are many priceless moments in my 20 year dance career that have made every sweat and tear worth it.  I will share a recent one; performing pregnant without anyone in the audience knowing (because I did not show yet) and feeling that I was not dancing alone.  Dancing with my "child" and feeling whole and elated was one of the nicest feelings of my life, let alone my dance career.  But that's just one! 

K: What do you love most about living in Crete/Greece?

B: I feel closer to nature and to humanity living here.  Crete is not superficial as the city I grew up in can be.  Miami is still dear to my heart, but I needed to be here in Crete where I can breathe fresh air, not have to deal with traffic and feel like I can leave my door unlocked!  It's a more wholesome life here for me. 

K: What are the projects/ideas you are currently working on?

B: Firstly, there's DancEscapade with Khalida this May and I'm looking forward to that very much because I have hosted weeklong retreats and 10 day intensives on Crete before, but this concept is new in that it is a dance weekend geared towards all levels of dance and focusing on a fun filled and inspiring learning experience.  It promises to be short, sweet and intense!

I am also now hosting instructors with their own groups to train with me on Crete.  These are custom designed retreats and they fit each group's individual requests.  This work is exciting for me because it gives me a chance to work based at home while offering dancers something different to their usual setting and routine.  My studio is on the beach and Crete is a very inspiring place.  The space lends itself for creation and growth on many levels.

Next Dance Lab is September 17-24, 2017, and for those of you who are not familiar with this project, it is a week long cultural dance exchange here in my home studio on Crete.  I work very closely with a dozen dancers that come from different countries to train with me and receive very personal feedback on their dance.  The Dance Lab is a space where pieces start their creative process and some dancers leave with several projects to work on at home.  I like to focus on training dancers to dance from the inside out as I call it.  The work that happens within, shines through in your dance.  Therefore, we work deep.  I'm passionate about sharing my aesthetic of movement and my vision and the dancers that come to study with me are seeking that. 

Aside from what is happening at home in my studio I have started booking myself for travel again and will be participating in some festivals in 2017.  For that information, you can go to

Note: For more information on Boženka's Dance Lab please email

K: Tell us more about the DancEscapade weekend you are hosting in Plakiás, Crete this May. What were your reasons for creating this event?

B: As a teacher and mentor, I aim to create space where I can share my knowledge and also motivate my students that are at a higher level and looking for the next project where they too can share their knowledge and grow from the experience.  I also wanted to share the beauty of the South of Crete where I am lucky to live and have a beautiful dance space.  I know what this place does to me when I connect with it's beauty and focus on dance.  I wanted to create something where dancers could take a few days off and come and explore and learn. 

I am so very excited that the first DancEscapade is with Khalida and that together, in a discussion about our dreams and direction in dance, this idea was born.  Khalida is a hardworking and brilliant artist with so much to share and I just know that this weekend is going to be magic because she attracts like-minded people.  Khalida and I are going to share dance and our experiences and so will each one of the attendees.  I can't wait!

Note: Find out more about Boženka's DancEscapade Event here.

K: Why would you advise dancers to come to the DancEscapade weekend?

B: To take a weekend to be in a beautiful setting, taste amazing food, dance in wonderful harmony, share and learn a lot!  Why not?!  Crete is my home and it is a safe and welcoming place.  Even if you come alone, you will be taken care of and I assure you, you will make friends.  I wait for you here!

Video: Bozenka performing at Egyptian Dream festival in Vienna, Austria

Boženka's website:
Khalida's website:

DancEscapade Flyer:

DancEscapade with Boženka featuring Khalida - May 19-21st 2017 in Crete

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Guest article for ZeOT Zürich - Khalida's top tips for dancing with silk Fan Veils

In this blog post you'll find a link to a guest article I wrote for Aliah McKenzie of ZeOT - Zürich with my favourite tips on caring for and dancing with silk Fan Veils.

My first self-made instructional animated .gif! :)

Check out the full article at

Picture by Philippe Rikir (BE)

You can also find a downloadable (.pdf) version of the tips on

Enjoy and feel free to share!

xx Khalida

Monday, January 9, 2017

Structured Journaling - An experiment

Hello there :)

Another blog post today, about 'structured journaling'. This one is about something that I have been experimenting with since 1st of January 2017, after reading about the benefits of daily affirmations (see my recent blog post on that here) and trying out various (dance and life) journaling methods over the years.

The format is partially inspired by the 5-minute journal (as recommended by Tim Ferris in one of his awesome podcasts), mixed with inspiration from the 'Morning Pages' practice which Julia Cameron mentions in 'The Artists' Way' (one of my favorite books for inspiration), plus my own daily note-taking habits.

It looks like a lot, but in reality it only takes me a few minutes each day to write down something in each section. I take about 5 minutes for the morning portion, and 5 minutes for the evening notes, the rest of it (top of right page) are lines I note down here and there throughout the day, which only takes a few seconds.

Every evening I prepare the page for the following day, and I make sure my (lucky!) pen is at the ready, too - It helps to make journaling in the mornings as easy and accessible as possible.

I looks something like this:

Daily Journal - Example pages

I currently use a Paperblanks lined journal, format 'ultra' (180 x 230 mm) - but whichever format you like journaling in will do.

The points I fill out over the course of the day are the following:

1. Date and time
I fill out the date the evening beforehand, and the time once I start journaling.

2. WWMTG - 'What would make today great?'
3 Things that would make me happy if they happened on that day. This could be anything (eg. receive a booking, sell a DVD, enjoy a great workout/dance practice session or class, go for a walk, etc..) 

3. 3TIATF - '3 Things I am thankful for'
These things can be very simple (eg. the pen I am writing with, fresh coffee, a bird you hear singing outside), or more abstract (a person you are happy to know, something you look forward to doing that day, your health, etc..)

Note: This section (2 and 3) is borrowed from the 5-minute journal, and they help prime you to think about the 'bigger picture' of your day and feel grateful for small and bigger things in your life, both of which will help set a positive mood and bring focus to your mind before any input (eg email, etc..) has the chance to redirect your attention for the day.

The biggest space on the left page is for this section, but on days where I am inspired to write more, I just continue on the back of the page 2 where I add the date and 'MORE THOUGHTS'

As long as I only prepare one 'Journal Day' at a time I can be flexible with the space in the rest of the journal.

- If I remember anything I dreamt that night, I start with writing that down, including any thoughts/memories/insights it might trigger. I have noticed that making space to note dreams for the past 9 days (it's January 9th today) has already helped me recall more of them, with more and more detail.
- If not, I just jot down a stream of thoughts, things I remember from the previous day that I have not written about yet, things that occupy my mind at the moment, anything that comes up is fine. This section is to 'get it on the page', so your mind is free and 'open' for the rest of the day. If, on occasion, interesting, new or fresh ideas come out of this, I make sure to note them down in a separate 'Ideas journal' (I have many journals) to use for later on.

This section is self-explanatory. After some experimentation I have settled on a maximum of 6 Todo-items per day - 3 work-related ones, and 3 personal ones, inspired by the Passion Planner to-do list setup, to make sure I prioritize for the day.

Note: I have CONSCIOUSLY made this section as small as possible, because otherwise it just becomes a repeated and ever-growing list of items. I do make a 'Master TODO'-list for each month at the beginning of the month, with one main focus per week, so the 'best' (ie most effective) daily Todo's can be easily deduced from that.

I note what I eat and drink during the day in this section. It might feel a bit hokey at first, but adding the word 'fuel' helps to see food as what it is: something that helps your body (and mind!) work and keeps it running happily. Water is also fuel!

I've added this one because it sounds badass :) And also because checking in with how my body feels helps me get grounded and can give me inspiration/direction for the following section, which is:

Planning/noting down what I do, physically, movement-wise per day. This is an attempt to work in more healthy movement-habits throughout the day.

Note: You can write down 'structured' movement in here (ie. a dance practice session or movement class, a workout, etc..) but in reality every bit of movement counts (ie taking the stairs, walking, doing a few TKD kicks in the hallway while you wait for your coffee, elevator shimmies, hanging from a doorway, a ghetto stretch while waiting in line, breathing deeply, etc.. etc..) 

Writing these down consciously will magically motivate you to do more, and it will help you think of new ways to sneak in healthy movement throughout your day. 

9. 3GTTHT - '3 Great things that happened today'
Here I note down 3 things that made me happy. They can be anything, great or small.

10. HCIHMTEB - 'How could I have made today even better'
Here I note 3 ideas on how I could have had/made an even better day. Simple, but very powerful.

Note: This section (9 and 10) is also inspired by the 5-minute journal, they help put the happenings of the day in a positive perspective, and the last question might even inspired ideas 'in the background' while you sleep! After filling out this final section I prepare the journal for the next day, and repeat the process the following morning.

So.. that's it. My 'structured journaling' experiment in a nutshell.

If you decide to try it out for yourself, please let me know how it works for you. And/or if you have any journaling habits/tips you'd like to share with me in the comments, please do! I would love to learn more about your own journaling processes/experiences.

Bonus note: A year-end review
Again, inspired by Mr. Tim Ferris, but this time his 'Tools of Titans book (which I highly, highly recommend), I have used the following writing prompts for a 'year end review' of 2016 at the end of my previous journal, right before starting this daily journal for 2017.

At the top of the page/journal, I wrote down the following questions:
  • What did I do?
  • What did I learn?
  • Who did I meet?
  • What did I make/create?

I filled out the answer to each of these questions for every month of the year 2016. It took me about 30-45 minutes in total (spaced out over 2 days), and it has already given me some surprisingly deep insigths, as well as an innate motivation to 'make more' in 2017, including this blog post :)

I know the year has started already, but there is still value in looking back to look forward nonetheless. Maybe even more so right before diving into a 'daily journalling experiment'. If you want, try it out and.. let me know what you think!

xx K.

(PS: I have added a free downloadable .pdf version of this blog post on ) Enjoy and feel free to share!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

BellyDance Essentials Technique series now also available on DVD!

Hello dear all,

I have just now finished transferring the technique portion of my downloadable online class series 'BellyDance Essentials - A 10-week technique class series' to DVD format, especially for those of you who have asked about a physical version of my technique-focused classes and/or workshops in the past few years.

The Full 10-part BellyDance Essentials Series -woo!

It contains tons of material to kick-start your BD technique practice for the new year, plus ideas for drills, stretches, layering combos and technique explanations as inspiration for fellow teachers.

This DVD series is now available as a set of 10 discs (with +- 45-75 minutes of material per DVD/class) via the DVD store on

Shipping for this series is free when you order the complete set (all orders over 50,- Euros are shipped free of charge worldwide), but you can also buy each BellyDance Essentials technique DVD separately.

Each BellyDance Essentials DVD/downloadable class contains a posture section, a dance warmup, an upper- and/or lower body technique portion, a section on arms and hands technique, a shimmy drill, a traveling step combo, and a cooldown/stretch.

For a content overview per BDEssentials DVD check out the following list:
  • DVD1: Belly Dance Basics, Hip slides, circles and twists, Shimmies: basic hip shimmy technique and drill, dance walk and transitions, walking with hip circles
  • DVD2: Wrist circles, Hip figure eights and variations, Shimmy: Egyptian shimmy, Traveling step: arabesques, Combination: traveling figure 8s, Bonus: shimmy drill with layering.
  • DVD3: Working the shoulders, Hip drop variations and one-hip accents, Shimmies: shoulder shimmy technique and drill, Traveling step: Step-hip, hip-step and variations, Bonus drill: Shoulder shimmies and traveling hip accents.
  • DVD4: Hands & arms: one-sided arm pathways, Technique: double hip accents and variations, Shimmies: choochoo/traveling shimmy, Traveling step: Grapevine and basic front/back step, Bonus drill: Layering accents.
  • DVD5: Hands & arms: Basic arm pathways, Technique: All about the abs - core muscles, belly rolls and camels/undulations, Shimmies: freeze/shiver, Traveling step: Chassé and 3-step turn. 
  • DVD6: Hands & arms: Snake arm variations, Technique: Upper body isolations and accents, Shimmies: 3/4 shimmy down, Traveling step: Hip down travels.
  • DVD7: Hands & arms: Framing, Technique: Pelvic locks, squares and omis, Shimmies: 3/4 shimmy up, Traveling step: Step-cross and variations.
  • DVD8: Hands & arms: Natural arm pathways, Technique: 1-sided hip accents, Traveling step: Smooth transitions, Shimmies: bounce/earthquake.
  • DVD9: Hands & arms: Hand undulations Technique: One-sided sharp hip accents, Traveling step: Traveling with hip and pelvic accents, Shimmies: Layering traveling steps with shimmies.
  • DVD10: Warmup, 1-hour of Dance Jam (a mix of all technique sessions, traveling steps and shimmies to music), Cooldown.

I'm excited to finally share these DVDs with you all, it has taken me a while to get around to transferring them to DVD format, but I think it is nice to have this content available in physical form.

Even though the recording quality of these classes is a bit more basic than the newer DVDs it has a special value, as my future technique-focused DVDs will contain different topics than these.

You can order them now at and!

Wishing you a lovely week/weekend,

xx Khalida

PS: In an attempt to optimize my dance-notes administration for the future, and as a special bonus for everyone who has ever taken a workshop/class with me - or even just anyone looking for some new class/workshop content inspiration - I have started transferring my workshop notes from the past year to downloadable .pdf format documents, and I am sharing them for free on my 'other' site, over at - Workshop Notes as .pdf
Feel free to check them out and/or share the link, more notes will be added soon!

x K.