Jillina’s Workshop in NYC: Another Brush With Greatness

Sometimes, when you’re going through one of those occasional belly dance funks, the best medicine on earth is to attend a great workshop. This past Friday, I learned a great Contemporary Egyptian choreography with none other than Jillina herself.

The ride into Manhattan was an adventure in and of itself. A fire near the Fairfield station delayed our arrival by 45 minutes. Hell hath no fury like a bunch of already drunk Yankees fans running late to their Big Game!

Happily, a very nice cabbie got me to my destination safe and on time – because whenever I’m lucky enough to study with Jillina, I never want to miss a moment! She’s funny, interesting and full of wonderful information.

This time, we learned a Contemporary Egyptian choreography, considerably more Cairo than I’d expect from Jillina. Of course, there were Jillina’s trademark spins, turns, head tosses and directional changes. But the choreography was mid-tempo and juicy, with an emphasis on making it ooey-gooey.

Jillina’s teaching style is awesome: first technique, then useful combos, then partial choreography, then the whole dance. Her workshops strike that perfect balance between a hearty butt-whooping and a walk in the park. You feel challenged, yet motivated. I loved that she broke everything down into Fun-Size chocolate morsels, as I’m more inclined to use combinations than full choreographies from workshops.

Jillina gave an excellent explanation of what makes Egyptian dance so special. It’s not so much about technique, she said, but about your emotional interpretation – and also about making the most basic movements more deliberate, controlled and purposeful. It’s the simple figure eights and hip circles, she said, that you’ve gotta watch out for! Too often, we put those movements on Autopilot and can’t get that juicy look.

I left Jillina’s workshop with mixed emotions. I was inspired that I had learned so much, yet sad that she only comes around once a year or so. As always, Kaeshi Chai of Bellyqueen did a great job hosting yet another top-notch workshop, and I can’t wait for my next opportunity to study with one of my biggest inspirations.

This was definitely a Friday night well spent.


Leave a Reply