Available Workshops

My philosophy on offering workshops is that I want participants to have fun, explore concepts or techniques they’ve never tried before, and learn to take their dancing to the next level.

Therefore, I love input from hosts interested in booking a workshop – what level of experience do the students have,  how do they learn best, what aspect of my teaching are they most interested in?  I show up fully prepared, often with handouts, but with the flexibility to adjust as I go.  My role is not to punish or intimidate, but to encourage, empower and stretch to the next level.  And we definitely won’t take ourselves too seriously along the way.

All of the following are original workshops I’ve offered in the past, and as such are tried and true lesson plans and material. Feel free to browse the list, or use it as a jumping off point for working with me on a customized workshop or series for your company or studio.

Suggested length of time included – be aware that for short workshops (under 2 hours), I will not include much warm-up or stretching so as to not waste your time and money.  Please advise participants to come early to prepare themselves.   Longer workshops allow for deeper exploration and detail of concepts, one-on-one attention with students, and will include breaks.


List of Workshop Topics

(Scroll down for descriptions)

Technique/Stylistic Concepts:

  • Ooey Gooey
  • Hip Hop Fusion – Pops, Locks & Ticks
  • Hip Hop Fusion – Waves, Rewinds, and Footwork
  • Advanced Bootcamp
  • Shimmies
  • Intro to Tribal Style Improvisation (ITS)
  • Floorwork & Level Changes
  • Fun & Funky Combos

Props:

  • Introduction to Zilling
  • Zilling Choreography
  • Balancing Technique & Drills
  • Sword Choreography
  • Poi for Bellydancers
  • Cane Choreography

Great for Troupes

  • Intro to Tribal Style Improvisation (ITS)
  • Dynamic Choreography Concepts for Groups/Troupes

Other:

  • Mommy & Me

Ooey Gooey

“Slow down! Slower. Even Slower. Painfully slow, but don’t stop moving.  Make it gooey. ” Dancing dramatically slowly is so much more difficult than brushing from move to move in a quick choreo. This workshop will teach students how to articulate even the simplest movements into fluid, dramatic ‘moments.’ Learn how muscular control, breath, musical timing and facial expression can take your taxeem style dances from flat choreography to dynamic experiences. Put these techniques together in a few combinations that will have students exploring the concept of ‘sensual vs. sexual.’

Experience Level: Open to dancers of all levels

Length: 1:30-2:30

Shimmies!!

Hips just don’t wanna cooperate? Problems ‘freezing’ up during your shimmies? Don’t know what to do with that jiggle now that you’ve got it? Take your shimmies to the next level! Drill 8-10 different shimmies, including ¾ up, ¾ down, 4/4, Syrian, and Memphis’ own “Elvis” shimmy. Learn to add depth to your shimmies with layering and traveling using isolation techniques and drills. You’ll have plenty to take home from this workshop!

Experience Level: Prior bellydance experience recommended

Length: 1:00 – 2:00

Hip Hop Fusion – Pops, Locks & Ticks

Memphis Raqs is known for our hometown music and dance influences, incorporating hip hop stylizations into our none-too-traditional bellydancing. We’ll break down the mechanisms and tricks behind sharp pops, tight locks, and quick ticks. Then drill them in conjunction with bellydance isolations and movement vocabulary, and teach you a few combinations that can be incorporated into your bellydancing.

Locks – they’re not just for your hips anymore!

Experience Level: Prior bellydance experience required.  Must be familiar with basic posture, arm and foot positions, and isolations such as hip locks, drops, circles, torso isolations, snake arms, and mya.

Length: 1:30 – 2:00

Hip Hop Fusion – Waves, Rewinds, and Footwork

In this workshop that can be offered in conjunction with, or separately from, the Pops, Locks & Ticks Workshop, we will dive into the hip hop influences on waving, funky footwork, and what I call “rewinds.” These techniques are great for creating unexpected eye-catchers in your performances and are essential to my personal style of dancing. You’ll go home with a few combinations that can be incorporated into your bellydancing.

Experience Level: Prior bellydance experience required.  Must be familiar with basic posture, arm and foot positions, and isolations such as hip locks, drops, circles, torso isolations, snake arms, and mya.

Length: 1:30 – 2:00

Fun & Funky Combos

Spice up your next choreography with a mixed-bag of some of my favorite original funky, tribal fusion combinations!

Experience Level: Prior bellydance experience required.  Must be familiar with basic posture, arm and foot positions, and isolations such as hip locks, drops, circles, torso isolations, snake arms, and mya.

Length: 1:00 – 2:00

Floorwork & Level Changes

Take your dancing to a whole new level – literally! Level changes and floorwork, when used properly, can add variation to a static dance and are an essential component of bellydance technique.  We’ll begin with strengthening exercises and safety awareness for the joints and muscles used in these maneuvers. Then we’ll incorporate adding level changes to basic movements, graceful transitions to and from the floor, and elegant floorwork combinations (may be used with balancing).  Special attention will be provided for those with injuries and limitations, so please notify me in advance by email (liz@memphisraqs.com) if you’d like to register for this workshop and have a physical concern.

Experience Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Length: 1:30-2:00

Introduction to Zilling (Finger Cymbals)

Add a whole new dimension to your performance by incorporating zils to your dancing! This workshop introduces students to zils for the first time – how to wear them, the basic sounds/notes, and a few common Middle Eastern rhythms such as beledi, saiidi, triplets, ciftitelli, etc. Then, for the braver students, learn how to put those rhythms with dance moves and combinations!

Experience Level: Open to dancers of all levels

Length: 1:30 – 2:30

Zilling Choreography

Learn to make your own music with a zil choreography of your own. Can be catered from first-time zillers to the experienced professional – includes multiple rhythms throughout dance, not just steady triplets!

Experience Level: Intermediate to Advanced dancers, but first-time zillers welcome

Length: 1:30 – 3:00

Advanced Bootcamp

Ready for a challenge? If your technique practice has become stale or even petered out completely, bootcamp provides an afternoon of technique drills, creativity exercises, and new combos to re-inspire your own practice. Shimmies, rolls, layering, traveling, pops & locks, ooey gooey and hand movements.

Experience Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Length: 1:00-3:00

Balancing Technique and Drills

Grab your sword, cane, pot or basket (or even just a book!) and learn the tips, tricks, and terrors of balancing props. Learn to incorporate your prop as an element of your dance, rather than simply maneuvering a series of poses and tricks. You’ll learn great drills to perfect muscular isolation in order to maintain prop balance and some smooth transitions into and out of balancing movements.

Experience Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Length: 1:00 – 2:30

Sword Choreography

Though dancing with a sword is not a historically authentic Middle Eastern practice, this prop became hugely popular in paintings and on stage over generations.  Always a crowd-pleaser, dancing with a sword is a great demostration of body isolation, muscular cotrol, and overal coordiation and balance. Generally these pieces are slow and dramatic, and usually incorporate floorwork. Students must provide their own swords, and must have a basic concept of balance work. (I recommend starting with a book or basket balanced on the head while practicing isolation drills in any level bellydance class.)

Experience Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Length: 2:00-4:00

Poi for Bellydancers

Poi has been becoming more and more popular as a prop in the bellydance community, whether it be veil-poi, LED poi, or fire poi! Taken from the Maori culture of New Zealand, where performers dance and sing while rhythmically swinging balls at the end of chain or rope, poi is an excellent exercise in coordination and an impressive prop for any performance.  Learn the basics techniques and combinations of this art form, and a few great tricks for incorporating poi flow into your dance as an extension of your movement, rather than a prop to simply move through a series of ‘tricks.’ We’ll end with a short sequence of dance that utilizes poi to compliment bellydance movement and technique.

Experience Level: Beginner through Advanced Bellydance – no poi experience needed

Length: 2:00-3:00

Dynamic Choreography Concepts for Groups/Troupes

Looking to jazz up your static group performance with more interaction between dancers, stage dynamics, utilizing floor space and creating fun visuals for your audience to more engaged? Memphis Raqs became known for creatively working with groups, from dynamic duos to large troupe formats from 8-20 dancers at once, while maintaining clean lines and forms and keeping the audience’s eye moving from start to finish!  This is not a choreography class, but a conceptual class that will provide tips and tricks for creating these group dynamics using a few short dance combinations.  Participate as a group with your own dancemates, or plan on making new friends by working together in teams.   This class also works for troupes with existing choreographies that we can adapt and adjust in a priate workshop. (This is also a great team-building exercise for new troupes, troupe leaders, or inter-troupe collaborations).

Experience Level: Beginners welcome  – must have basic bellydance experience.

Length: 1:30 – 2:30

Cane Choreography

Raqs al Assaya, or the cane dance, is common among the Egyptian Saiidi. This is a playful, flirty adaptation of the male martial artsy ‘stick dance’ – Taytib.  Your workshop will include a short introduction to the history of the dance, basic techniques on dancing with, spinning and flipping the cane, and a simple choreography for your own use and performance.  This choreography can be catered to all bellydance levels from cane beginners to advanced cane spinners!

Experience Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Length: 2:00-4:00

Introduction to Tribal Style Improvisation (ITS)

What makes tribal style so different from traditional bellydance? “Tribal” implies a group setting, which is exactly what tribal bellydance emphasizes. What could be more fun than getting together with your dancemates, turning on your favorite song, and dancing together without having to choreograph a piece first? This is how bellydance originally evolved!

Tribal style group improvisation uses a vocabulary of shared movements and combinations, along with cues and transitions, to allow a group of women to create unique dances on the spot, so fluidly that it looks choreographed! This workshop will introduce first-timers to some of the most basic ITS moves and combinations, offer tips on transitioning, and maintaining focus on troupe interaction. (How is this different than ATS?  American Tribal Style (R) has a very specific standardized set of movements recognized worldwide, certified, and formatted by its founder, Carolena Nericcio. ITS is a blanket term for those of us who use the same improvisational format while having the freedom to invent our own moves and invoke individual/troupe-specific stylizations)

Experience level: Prior bellydance experience required.  Must be familiar with basic posture, arm and foot positions, and isolations such as hip locks, drops, circles, torso isolations, snake arms, and mya.

Length: 1:30 – 3:00

Mommy & Me!

Share your love of the ancient art with your very own Princess Jasmine! Learn a cute, short choreography with your daughter(s) – sure to be an afternoon of fun, and enough to ensure she’ll be sleeping soundly! For girls age 5 to 95!

Experience Level: Open to all levels of dancer

Length: 0:45 – 1:15