Suhaila/Jamila Level 2 Intensives. Albany/California

I returned back home to Dublin on Sunday 31 July 2016, after two amazing and intensely satisfying weeks spent training with Suhaila Salimpour at the Mothership Studio in Albany/California. Since first joining her Brighton workshops in 2011, every time I train with Suhaila, I come out a stronger, more mature and knowledgeable individual and overall, a better dancer version of myself. However, the intense sensation of growth and gratitude for Suhaila's work and the Salimpour legacy became particularly tangible for me when training at the source directly these past two weeks.

The first week (18-22 July 2016) we delved into Suhaila Level 2 (SL2) material, focusing on technique and drills around the room that would make the fittest individual break into a pool of sweat. Despite training regularly at home, my sweat glands were working overtime like in no other dance trainings! In all those years of attending her workshops and Intensives in the UK/Belgium and the US, Suhaila never fails to surprise me with new and improved, harder drills. Her creations are sure to get your brain cells and physical body run on full blast. In fact, the level of Level 2 has increased over the last few years, and this is a testament to the format constantly evolving.

What I love about the Suhaila format is that it provides an incredibly strong technical foundation for any dancer, whatever their preferred stylisation may be (Tribal Fusion, Cabaret etc). The superior technique this particular training instills in students, will then allow you to skillfully manifest any of your preferred stylisations in your own body. Suhaila's mission is not to create carbon copies of herself. It's not about dancing like her but about becoming the best dancer you can be based on a sound technical framework. I found the SL2 Intensive to be incredibly rewarding, in that we were made to work hard during the day and given assignments to be turned in the following morning. The homework gives you the opportunity to deeply research music and history in the evenings, while letting your creative juices flow. During the week we also got to study ballet and modern dance technique and had informative discussions around music, history and Middle Eastern culture. It just leaves you wanting to research more and collecting as much knowledge as possible about the roots, culture, and history of our chosen dance form.

To my surprise, performing the Level 2 choreo in front of the class was not as stressful an experience as I had expected. The whole group were supremely supportive of one another and the atmosphere was so positive. That said, I can't wait to work on the L2 drum solo more and perform it at recitals here in Europe. We also scratched the surface of emotional work in relation to staging and stage presence and many tears were shed. I can't even imagine how intense the emotional work of SL3 must be!

Week 2 (24-28 July 2016) was dedicated to Jamila L2 material. As opposed to the Suhaila format which primarily focuses on technique and emotional work, the Jamila format is a stylisation based on the strong technique of the Suhaila format. I just love it! Jamila format brings you right back to the joy students must have felt at Jamila's classes and the Bal Anat performances in the 60/70s. We got to do educational assignments that help you practise the "concept of completing projects" and remaining (or at least trying to remain) composed in front of an audience. I also loved Abigail Keye's history lectures which puts everything into perspective and really appeals to my academic nature. I adore that we are not only able to train our bodies but also our minds!

Performing Shams El Shamouseh in front of the class was a bit more nerve-wrecking than I had anticipated. I was called second last and despite trying my best to rehearse in my head while everyone else was performing it, my nerves started building. Dancing El Samer was a more relaxed experience, and I was lucky to be called up the first day and really enjoyed it! Not sure if the nerves still showed, but I loved performing the choreo.

In addition to the ballet/contemporary modern classes, lectures and screenings, another special treat was to watch the Level 4 Certification Show in Walnut Creek on 24 July 2016. So much respect for all the work the two dancers who were testing put in, it really paid off! Oh and I also treated myself to a pair of turquoise scrunchy pants, and top after the two weeks:)

I recently found out that I passed the exams and I am now officially certified in L2 of both formats. This is just the icing on the cake of a wonderful dance experience that helped me grow immensely as a person and a dancer. It restored my faith and confidence in my own abilities and I am ecstatic that the work and dedication I invested paid off.

Thanks Suhaila Salimpour for being such an inspiring mentor, TA Abigail Keyes (and everyone behind the scenes) for all your support and encouragement throughout the Intensives! I can't wait to continue on this path and venture on the next track now:)

<3 Jasmin

See the below links for more information:

DanceCraft-Key of Diamonds and Key of Spades

At the start of 2015, during tea and chats with my friend and fellow dance soul Sundari at one of Temple Bar's hip(pie) cafés, we were all set to sign up for DanceCraft: Key of Diamonds. This was the first ever Key of Diamonds session to be, and we were eager to explore what kind of format Zoe Jakes had created. Key of Diamonds was scheduled from 17-22 June 2015 in Berkeley/California and we were already visualising ourselves as the aspiring, hopeful Level 1 graduates of Zoe's freshly baked format.  Eager to get accepted, we hit the booking button the second the applications opened and to our big surprise we both got in.

We took the same flight over to San Fran and shared house with three other dance mates attending the Intensive. Despite numerous logistical mishaps (an epic traffic jam preventing us to get onto Oakland bridge for two hours, resulting in missed appointments with friends and a smashed iPhone screen), I loved the experience of it all. Granted the format is young compared to more mature formats like the ones provided by the Salimpour School of Dance. However, if you love Zoe Jake's stylisation, it provides a great overview and entry point into the wonderful, rich world of Tribal Fusion Belly Dance.  Key of Diamonds offers a stunning array of short combos and old school movements as well as an introduction to cymbal playing. The exam at the end of the Intensive which took place at Zoe's Coven Studio was slightly stressful as the wait was long. We were assigned into groups of three and my group happened to be one of the last. After almost two hours of anxiously awaiting our turn, we finally got tested on our knowledge of the L1 format. The exam night was rounded out by being gifted specially forged keys and a post-Intensive decompression party,. Sadly, I had to leave early due to an early-morning flight the following day.

Fast forward a year, and I am after returning from California where I went for a second time in July to join and test for Suhaila and Jamila Level 2. Back in June 2016, I traveled to San Fran to continue the DanceCraft journey and participated in the first ever L2 Key of Spades Intensive. I felt really present and connected all throughout the ten days of the Intensive and loved learning more about the format after passing L1 last year.

Since I was staying in the Mission District in my friend Wendy Marlatt's house, my routine would consist of jumping in the car at around 6 15 am to drive out to Ashtanga Yoga Berkley to practise Ashtanga yoga. I am ever so grateful to have discovered this peaceful shala. Vance Selover's adjustments really benefited me and helped me grow my strength in a short amount of time. After the practice, I would leave my rental car parked in front of the studio and walk up Parker Street to reach the dance studio. Parker Street must be boasting some of the most beautiful houses of the Berkeley neighbourhood! I certainly did not tire of my morning and evening walks at all. There was always a new house, street art and plants to discover along the way. I would then arrive bright and early at the Works Studio on Telegraph Avenue, all eager to get started with Key of Spades for the day.

The Intensive ran over ten days, and a few added evening sessions. We were also given group projects to complete over the weekend. This was definitely a great practice in collaborating with dancers we had not worked with before and we were given the opportunity to present our collaborative efforts to the wider Key of Spades group too! What I loved most about the Intensive was the real sense of loyalty and support within the group. Since many of the same dancers took part in the first Key of Diamonds Intensive, we reconvened and got much closer this year during Key of Spades. I loved hanging out and practising choreography, and movement phrases in the parks with my dance friends and will always cherish the memories of cymbal jams in the sun!

A month after completing the Intensive, I have many different feelings around it. It will take some time to figure it all out and to determine whether to continue the DanceCraft path or if to prioritise the Salimpour Trainings instead. I first met Suhaila Salimpour 5+years ago and after this month's Intensives, can safely say that I have the utmost confidence in her work and mission. I feel safe, and trust the format to help me grow as an individual and help me be the best dancer I can be. I will touch on my impressions of the Suhaila and Jamila Level 2 Intensives in a separate blog post.

I will post pictures of DanceCraft as they get published. For now, see below the group photo of the first ever Key of Diamonds session in 2015.

Suhaila/ Jamila Level I Certification Intensive workshops Brussels, October 24-29, 2013

The month of November has just flown past with all the gigs and gig related trips we had lined up. So many wonderfully unique and greatly inspiring sensory impressions were to be had that frankly, I have not quite had the time to process even half of them yet. The incredibly energetic and sexy Depeche Mode, the ever so powerful The National and otherwordly Sigur Rós all played at the O2 in Dublin and we also travelled to Paris (my very first time in the French capital) to see Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds live at The Zenith. I consider myself so very blessed to be able to see all these incredible bands live and admittedly, even though I often resent my full-time office job it does have its advantages. When my favorite bands release their tour dates and are performing live, I do whole heartedly thank the monthly pay check for covering the gig (and dance/arts) induced expenses. At those times I definitely do not miss my student days when I barely scraped by on a part-time job.

I am not going to describe the individual gigs in great depth here, as this was meant to be a brief write up on my impressions of the Suhaila Salimpour Intensive in Brussels at the end of October.

Suffice to say that Depeche Mode swept me off my feet with their truly unique, dance inspiring live show and their amazingly energetic delivery (Hail to Dave Gahan and Martin Gore in particular). Dave Gahan's precise impeccable spinning technique could possibly teach any aspiring dancer (or any more experienced dancer wanting to perfect their turns) a thing or two and his hip work is simply mind blowing. The National- What can I say! I don't think I could ever get tired of seeing them live (we had only just seen them live at the Parco della Musica in Rome for my birthday a few months ago). I am glad I was introduced to this fabulous Indie Rock band from Brooklyn whose frontman Matt Berninger never ceases to amaze me with his truly authentic stage presence. He delivers his heartfelt lyrics with all his soul and presence every single time they play live.

And Sigur Rós!! My first time seeing them perform live at the O2 in Dublin on the 16 November! I don't even have the words to describe how I felt during the gig. It was magical, dreamy and truly special, their stage art and projections well reflected on and perfectly matched to their tunes. I felt like dancing in Icelandic fairy forestland all throughout the show, and the musicianship of Jónsi and Co is jaw "dro(ol)ppingly" skillful for lack of better words. To wrap the November gig saga up- Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds. What more to say. Dark Lord, Count Dracula, Sandman aka Nick Cave and the incredible Bad Seed musicians managed to create the most magical atmosphere. Nick Cave just floored me with his incredibly strong and powerful presence, and deep sultry voice. telling/singing tales of sadness and sorrow and many more. And Warren Ellis is the best rocker- violinist/ multi-instrumentalist, ever so talented musician ever- Wow! So worth the travel to France. Despite the sleep deprivation and many hiccups on Parisian (not so great) public transport and scammers everywhere, I would do it again every time. This band is worth it for sure!

Now after drooling over the aforementioned musicians who continue to inspire me with their artistry and stage presence, I want to just briefly attempt to recall my experiences and summarise my impressions of the Suhaila Salimpour Intensive in Brussels at the end of October. It was an intense five days spent dancing and training our butts off, topped off with late nights studying Dance History for our Jamila Level I exam. But it was worth every drop of sweat. And I am not lying when I say that we sweated buckets of sweat. Trust me, despite the freezing weather, the sweat pools were comparable to when I was training for the Pro-Track at Tribal Umrah in tropical heat this past July. I think this truly points to the physical intensity of training with Suhaila Salimpour. Whatever your opinion may be on certification programs in general, it's difficult to make an argument to contest the hard work students of the format put in. Suhaila Salimpour really does kick arse, and every time I train with her I extremely grateful that she pushes me beyond my boundaries (in this case, it was hard core cymbal playing that kicked my arse and bruised my fingers big time). It now almost feels like a class reunion every time I participate in workshops with Suhaila, and I just realised it's three years in a row now that I have done workshops in the format. It was great to see some of the Tribal Umrah Pro-Trackers again, and to share a flat (and frantically study) with the lovely Shereen who I first met at a dance event in Brighton a few years ago,

I am grateful for this truly invigorating, physically and mentally intense experience which reinforced my spirits and proved that I am a strong player on both a physical and mental plane. I am also happy that I decided to try out the exam scenario and test in the end. I did both the Level I Suhaila and Jamila exams, and participating in this highly stressful, intense environment has taught me a few personal lessons for sure. I have been studying the format (especially Suhaila material) for quite some time now but nothing could prepare me (or anyone judging from the reactions) for the exam related stress that makes your knees feel like jelly and which makes technique you normally (think you) have down resemble an out of body experience.

I personally found the Jamila exam challenging, maybe not as much in a technical sense as it's not pure technique (as is the Suhaila format) but more so because you have to successfully work in and around a group while still being tested on your individual skills and knowledge. You need to trust and utilise your spatial awareness and accurately follow verbal movement cues with confidence even if at times they may be difficult to make out over the music.

It's so easy to get thrown off by what other dancers are doing around you, or to get derailed, so it's really a great lesson in being present and concentrating fully. The other challenge was of course the cymbal playing. For it being "just" Level I Jamila a lot of skill in terms of cymbal playing mastery is required of the student, and I find left hand dominat cymbal patterns a definite challenge especially when they are sped up. Suhaila proved once again that she wants each one of the participants to perform at their best abilities, and while she was firm in the testing environment, she was very encouraging and supportive as well.

All in all, I am super excited about having had this precious experience, grateful about studying with Suhaila and her lovely assistant teacher Sabriye and to Maëlle for organising this event. It was such a great opportunity for further development which I would recommend to any dancer, whatever their preferred stylisation (be it Tribal Fusion and Modern Style Belly Dance, traditional Raqs Sharqi etc).

Thanks for such a wonderful dance experience, looking forward to seeing you all again, and dancing with you soon!

~Dance OM~ 

Jamila Salimpour Level I workshops

Suhaila Salimpour Level I workshops

Junonia Dance Company Autumn Hafla @ McGrattans on Fitzwilliam Lane, Dublin 2

It's been quite a few weeks/ months since our Junonia Autumn Hafla (6 October 2013) but I have simply been up to my ears with work and dance related travel (Suhaila Salimpour Intensive in Brussels). I truly was unable to set aside time for composing a brief entry highlighting the beautiful hafla experience. The following paragraphs will serve as an extremely concise memory aid to record some of my main thoughts surrounding the event.

The hafla turned out to be super special not only for me but it seems for all the dancers involved, judging from the feedback received. The venue I chose this time worked out a lot better than Sweeney's (which we used for our summer hafla) mainly because the layout is square and so allows for the audience to properly follow and watch performances. From that point of view, it was a major improvement, and we were able to set up chairs for the audience as well as my newly acquired Panasonic in order to record the event. A very exciting little detail for me as I always loved videography and photography. I cannot wait to use my camera more often in the future and to learn more about videography and related editing software and applications.

I felt greatly supported in the preparations leading up to the arrival of our guest dancers that night! All my beautiful core students arrived early and helped with prepping the place. In the end we managed to create a proper audience seating area, a nicely and snugly set up souk (=market place) at the back and we even set up a makeshift changing area to the side of the stage. I got to admit it, it looked somewhat like a coffin but the purple velvet material that the crafty Miss Nell from the Zoryanna brought in came in very handy. It allowed us to conveniently put on make up, and dump our costumes out of everyone's sight. The whole set up was a collective effort, and I was so relieved to get so much support from all the dancers so a huge shout out of thanks to you all, you know who you are! I am especially grateful for my Viking partner in crime to be present at the event and assist with the set up! Thank you very much for coming along to the venue with me way early, for helping me with the sound check, stage set up and the camera! I am infinitely thankful for your help and support all the way through knowing that dance is not your most pressing passion.
It really does make all the difference to have a partner and supportive team back you up.

As mentioned, I got my Panasonic camera as a birthday gift and it came in so very handy. It recorded the performances beautifully and we now have a lovely visual reminder of our beautiful event so check this Youtube channel for the recordings

I am also planning on uploading them to my own Youtube dance channel at some point soon at

In the next few weeks, I will make a concerted effort to revamp the website at and to update blogs and facebook pages for Junonia Dance Company, so please do subscribe to the Youtube Channel/ Twitter and facebook group pages.

All the above media will contain information on hafla and shows in the future, as well as workshops I am organising or attending and any dance/music related type information.

Thanks to all of the dancers who performed at the Junonia Autumn Hafla who made it so very special and thanks to Nadia Gativa for designing a flyer last minute (see below).

~Dance OM~

Above images are by Ricardo Meneghel, photoshop edit by Ana Aninha.

Ailbhe Large- Tik Tok Tribal Fusion Workshop/ Temple Lane Rehearsal Studios/ Saturday 16 November 2013

Post- workshop write-up!

I am just after coming back from Paris where we saw Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds live at The Zenith (19 November 2013).

Nick Cave is one of those rare to find, naturally charismatic and enigmatic stage personas and his performance and powerful presence just blew my mind. Despite his tiny frame, he exudes a quietly strong and serene Dark Lord, Dracula type vibe which is just awe inspiring to say the least. Seeing him perform live was extremely special to me as it made a long cherished dream of mine come true. It did not only inspire me to work towards becoming a better performing artist myself (despite a strong penchant to introversion) but it also made me want to pick up the Sandman Series by Neil Gaiman again. Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds are a definite must watch if you care about high quality music and showmanship. I for one am definitely going to travel to see them at other gigs in the future and very much look forward to being pulled into their storytelling, magic multiverse many more times again!

Coming back home to the daily grind is always hard but I am motivating myself to get through today's office/work day by thinking of inspiring dance workshops in the recent past and workshops scheduled in the weeks to come. I have been fairly busy plotting workshops with fabulous dancers across the UK and Republic of Ireland regions and will be announcing further dates and details soon.

One of the most recent Tribal Fusion workshop experiences that was really nurturing and fun was Ailbhe Large's Tic Toc Tribal Fusion workshop at The Temple Lane Rehearsal Studios last Saturday the 16 November 2013. Ailbhe is the one Dublin dancer that from the very start (aside from my teacher Wendy Marlatt) had me fall head over heels with their performance and natural stage persona skills. She is a wonderful example of a dancer that is perfectly at ease with their body and thoroughly enjoys and masters presenting their art to both smaller and larger audiences. Every time I see her perform live, she skillfully pulls in audience members by actively interacting with them during her performances and by simply being fully present while dancing. It was a precious treat for us that Ailbhe squeezed in a 2 -hour Dublin workshop into her busy schedule and we all agreed that it was super fun and that we want a repeat of it.

I won't go into the details of the drills we did during the workshop (see below for the original workshop description), but suffice to say that we all adored the lovely, intricate and at times slightly wacky (The Walking Dead comes to mind) elements and combinations Ailbhe taught us. Experiences like that are so precious to the Dublin dance community and I hope there will be many more events like this in the future. I will definitely contribute and do my best in organising many of them. Thanks to Ailbhe for taking out time for the Junonia dancers and to all of you for taking part! Special thanks to some of my very new modern style belly dance babies who did a great job of following and studying with Ailbhe!

~Dance OM~


Tik tok tik tok tik tok

Ailbhe Large is back in town! YIP YIP YIP!!:)

In this workshop we will work with timing to break down music then reconstruct it using choice movements.

Playing with timing and isolations, building on them, using layering and different speeds, direction, spins to build an easy but exciting choreography.


Temple Lane Rehearsal Studio/ Curved Street/

Temple Bar- Dublin 2

Start time: 10 30 am- 12 45 pm


Early-bird cash payment: 25 Euro

If paid in cash in Wednesday or Friday 

Junonia Dance Company

 classes (before 10 November)

30 Euro thereafter

Contact to secure your spot asap and for booking information.

Don't miss out on a wonderful workshop with the one and only 

Ailbhe Large

 who is coming to visit and shimmy with us in Dublin's fair city!! This is a rare and precious occasion to study with a very special, dazzling Irish dancer so be sure to grab your spot TODAY!

Shimmy on

Junonia J.V.S

Junonia Bellydancemble Summer Hafla @Sweeney's Dame Street, Dublin 1 on 16 June 2013

Another belated entry, but better late than never.

I just wanted to mention that my group, Junonia Dance Company performed at our summer hafla in Sweeney's on 16 June and it was an absolute success. The Junonia dancers worked incredibly hard to rehearse and perform two group choreographies, the first being "Heartbeats" by The Knife, the second being a more traditional piece to "Crush" by Beats Antique featuring Brazz Menazeri.

The weeks leading up to the summer hafla were filled with loads of rehearsals and "overtime", and many discussions on how to create group costumes efficiently. I really enjoyed seeing the dancers grow so much and be so involved and excited about the whole process. It makes my job as a dance teacher and organiser so much easier and much more exciting because I can feel their support and enthusiasm which nurtures me throughout.

While I must say that the choice of venue will have to be a different one next time (It turned out to be far too small and stuffy), I had the impression the hafla turned out really well otherwise. We had a lot of really talented Dublin dancers perform at the event and it was a great start to networking more and will hopefully be a platform of increased collaborative efforts amongst the Dublin (Tribal Fusion and American Tribal Style community) in the future. I really enjoyed organising the event although sometimes juggling all the logistics and retaining a full time employment can be a bit challenging and demands good time management skills. But it all worked out really well, and everyone was so supportive on the night, so a big thanks goes to all my students for being so super amazing, and Nadia Gativa for keeping "my cool" on the night:) You guys just rock and I cannot wait for more haflas to come over the next few months. And a big thanks to all the other performers involved in the event!

Please check out Junonia Dance Company's new group page on facebook at


Image by Eva Ziggiotto

Flyer design by Nadia Gativa

~Dance OM~