For personal reasons, I missed part of Day I of Hadia’s workshop but managed to catch some of it. Hadia, if you haven’t heard of her, is a Canadian dancer. Surprisingly, a lot of people have not heard of her (most of the people at the workshop confess they did not). I would say that she’s most famous for her teacher training. Her training, according to the people I know who have gone through parts of it, is about teaching instructors safe ways to dance.

Hadia was very nice to me, despite showing up for only half the first day.  I arrived just in time to learn what really interested me in the first day: Khaleegi. Khaleegi is dance done by people in the Gulf parts of the Middle East. Below is a clip of what Khaleegi looks like.

Hadia went over some brief information on Khaleegi before going into steps and what they signify. I thought this was very useful, since I’ve only seen on Khaleegi performance and know very little about the dance. What I think was highly useful was Hadia emphasized safety and demonstrated how to something safely. For instance, Khaleegi is known for the swinging hair. It would be very easy to injure your neck doing it by using your neck. She instead pointed out if you put your shoulder into the move, instead of making it about using your neck, that it’s much safer and still throws your hair.

I was there for all of Day II, with almost a completely fresh set of people. We went through her warm up, which was rather goofy. Just all sorts of random movements that seemed to not make any sense. It turned out that everything in our warm up was a goofy, silly way to do the dancing she wanted us to do later on. I thought that was very clever and intelligent. She did a lot of quizzing throughout the raqs sharqi portion of the workshop, making sure we knew rhythms and why she chose the combos she used in the music. She also taught us how to move simpler, like using our arms to help with a turn. A lot of her moves were very simple. The tricky part was not doing what you’ve practiced for so long.

The Turkish Rom section was probably my favorite. I’m starting to really warm up to Turkish dancing period, so this was a special treat for me. Again, there was review of history and explanation of the moves. I thought it was a good overview of it.

Although I recommend taking a workshop with Hadia, I will say that she is very opinionated and is not shy about sharing them. She is also very silly; she randomly sang twice to us on the second day and likes making random sounds to show where we are the music. She also does seem to have very little regard for personal space. Hadia danced in your space, very close, when she was dancing around all of us to demonstrate a move.

However, I think she has a lot of offer and has very intelligent thoughts, such as questioning who are your teachers’ teachers. I also appreciate that she cares truly about people’s safety; she saw someone do a stretch she thought they were not warmed up enough for and stopped them. Hadia is very friendly (ate lunch and talked with us) and gladly answers questions.

Before I end this review, I must give a positive review of Pineapple Dance Studio. It is a beautiful studio, and Erika is a fabulous host. I don’t mind big workshops, but I admit there is something nicer about attending a 20-30 person workshop over a 60 person one. She had the best spread of food at a workshop I’ve attended; she had Middle Eastern food! I know workshops aren’t required to have food, but when you aren’t familiar with an area or trying to save money, it is certainly more than welcome.

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