I’ve been coaching and training bellydancers in performance skills since 1996, and began to develop my Breathwork for Performance method that same year. Over that period of time, in working with dancers of all levels, I have incorporated into my approach directorial and acting techniques from my theater background; coaching techniques from my experiences in artist coaching circles as a participant and facilitator; Taoist and Ayurvedic principles, breathwork and meditation; knowledge of kinesthetic anatomy from multiple trainings and certifications in anatomy for dancers and in exercise science; Arab and Egyptian cultural perspectives when working with traditional dance interpretation; and aspects of cognitive psychology relevant to performers, from my master’s level research in psychology. I do not take a one-size-fits-all approach to coaching. I attend closely to details of a performance that indicate some underlying issues that can be worked on.
My goal as a coach is to bring my coachees to develop a stronger sense of the connection between what is going on inside their mind during a performance and how that reads to an audience on the outside.
Over my years of coaching, I’ve worked with thousands of amateur and professional performers of all kinds. I’m observant to the patterns I’ve observed over many people, to recognize what certain signals can indicate, and how to gently dig deeper so that the performer is comfortable with the process. I also take a fresh approach to each performer, to see what they bring that might be different from similar traits I’ve observed in others or in that person on another occasion. From this, I’m able to note details that perhaps other coaches might miss, and I always gauge the receptivity of performers when I present these details to them, to have a sense of how best to offer my observations in a way that will help them and empower them in their own journey. This is a highly tailored approach, designed to produce comfort with what feel at times like a scary or difficult process, of digging deeper, to really find the gold in one’s own stage persona and technical capability.
I started acting in childhood. I experienced coaching from a great range of acting teachers and directors. Some were friendly and supportive and others were less sensitive. I used to have a hard time myself receiving critical feedback, until I started viewing it as a tool to help me, rather than as some thing personal. Because of that, I’m quite conscious when dealing with resistance to feedback, and I try to give you reflective information in a way that empowers you.
For me, the best coaches I had in acting and in dance were those that saw what my next step should be, before I could see it myself, and presented it to me, especially with some great visualization or tool to try. That is the kind of coach that I strive to be for my coachees. Someone who helps you see something you previously could not see, or allows you to really own something that you’d like to evolve, without judgment, and to start you confidently on that path of working on it.
It’s important to me that you feel taken care of in the coaching process: I approach my coachees with respect for where they are now and for the journey they are on. I also don’t consider any single performance moment to be something that identifies you definitively, or as any failure (or success!) as something to be “taken personally”: That is, a performance is just one moment in time, and it doesn’t necessarily reflect positively or negatively on the actual owner of that performance. Might it affect your image? Sure. Which is why we work on those things. But I don’t judge you at all by it, and neither should you judge yourself on it. A goal of my approach as a coach is to reduce attachment (and therefore pressure) on the results of any one performance, to make it more about the process of development and less about “nailing it” on any particular day. Nevertheless, I’m in the business of helping you to feel in control of your performances and to be able to even rescue your performances from mishaps to put you even more on top. What I give you are simple, effective tools that you can apply immediately, in the moment, during your practice and in performance, to address confidence or disconnection issues as they come up. These tools, linked to performance concepts include physical practices, breathwork, character work, slogan-training, and visualizations, for direct application in your dance. I especially try to provide tools that combine physical and engergetic/intentional work, so that you can “kill two birds with one stone” in integrating your physical performance with your emotional world. Armed with a personalized toolkit of the best tools for you, you can take to the stage feeling like you can handle whatever comes your way, and that you can save your performance when something goes off—because it will! And: that doesn’t have to be a problem. Rather, it’s an opportunity to build an even more powerful onstage persona, when you take charge of your performance.
“WHAT IF I’M NOT A PERFORMER?”
My coaching methods are not only for those interested in public performance: I work with energy both for performance and for self-healing and connection. Some people dance for self-development, exercise, emotional release… whatever your application, this style of coaching is likely to offer you something beneficial. I have coached many dancers who didn’t have a performance goal but were looking to unlock or unblock certain parts of themselves, or to keep energy flowing, or just to develop in the dance as a dedicated hobby. I can help address your needs and goals through this process.
PRIVATE COACHING vs. SEMI-PRIVATE GROUP COACHING:
I strongly recommend dancers go for the group option if they can arrange that, because then they can learn from others’ feedback too. I find people often make faster progress that way. In a group setting, I can point out things for you personally but also things that you AND your co-coachees can work on. You may find you have similar challenges to others in the group and can often really see it easier on them, the effect of trying new techniques. When you see someone else go through the problem-solving steps, it gives you the focus and confidence to try it too. In my experience people make very fast progress this way, and as they are “all in it together,” there is an element of support from the group as well as from me.
If you feel you’d prefer to work more privately, I do offer a solo coaching package. Some people have scheduling challenges or really don’t feel comfortable in a group setting. Others may have very targeted needs and want to just address those, without experiencing others coaching processes. Some teachers prefer not to get coaching in front of potential students (although I am definitely sensitive to that when coaching fellow teachers even in group settings). And if you are my private coaching client, I absolutely keep that fact private unless you make it otherwise. Wherever you are at in your process, I can work with you.