Things are getting busy in the lead up to Christmas and the New Year here in the Netherlands! I’ve been performing at several private and public events, and I’m organising the 2019 belly dance class roster. If you want to learn belly dance in Holland next year, stay tuned, as Greenstone Belly Dance will be offering classes in multiple locations!

At the beginning of this month, I danced to a favourite classic at MounaMay’s 10 year anniversary show in Den Haag – the beautiful Lissa Fakir! Watch it below!

Happy Monday everyone! I hope those of you in the Northern hemisphere are keeping warm, and that those of you in the Southern hemisphere are starting to get some more sun!

As many of you know, this year I made the big move to the Netherlands from Montréal, Canada. I have to admit, one of the things that made me most sad about leaving Montréal was leaving the vibrant, thriving, and high-level dance scene.

However, I’m really excited to be getting involved in the Dutch dance scene, and I’ve been so pleased to find that dancers here are friendly, welcoming, and warm! 😀

I had a great time getting to meet a whole lot of dance students, performers and teachers last month at Festival Oriental Impressions, and it was great to chat and watch everyone dance!

I performed a piece that Leyana and I choreographed as a duet for my leaving hafla in Montréal – so it’s a nice little nod to my Montréal dance life while embracing the new dance scene here in the Netherlands. 😉

Enjoy!

Are you looking to organise a Christmas party, end-of-year work function, or any other corporate event in the Netherlands to celebrate the New Year? Make your event unforgettable with a professional belly dance performance! Enquire now to find out about our different performance packages available across Holland.

A professional belly dance performance from Greenstone Belly Dance in the Netherlands will set your event apart and make it unforgettable! Enquire now for Christmas party and corporate e

Bent u op zoek naar een kerstfeest, eindejaarsfeest of een ander bedrijfsevenement in Nederland om het nieuwe jaar te vieren? Maak uw evenement onvergetelijk met een professionele buikdansoptreden! Informeer nu naar onze verschillende voorstellingspakketten die in Nederland verkrijgbaar zijn. 

Happy Monday, everyone!

In case you missed it over on our Facebook page, Siobhan’s performance from this year’s edition of Tribal Momentum in Montreal, Canada is now online!

Siobhan originally performed a semi-choreographed version of this piece to a small group of dancers in the Laurentians at Aziza of Montreal’s 2017 Dream Camp with Shahrzad. So here it is, revamped and souped up for Tribal Momentum – hope you enjoy!

In addition to being the founder and director of Greenstone Belly Dance, Siobhan is a Rehabilitative Exercise Specialist and Strength & Conditioning Coach. This blog post was originally written by Siobhan for her Safe Dance Column in the Middle Eastern Dance Association of New Zealand (MEDANZ) March 2018 Newsletter. You can join MEDANZ to access their newsletters and find out more about MEDANZ here.  Photos thanks to Nathan Pigeon of Montréal, Canada, and Vera of love.vera.nz. You can read Part 1 of this blog series here.

3 tips for preventing belly dance injuries.png

In Part 1 of this blog series, we covered some tips to prevent (or mitigate) chronic injuries. But what about acute injuries? An acute injury is the kind of injury that catches you by surprise – you slip on a veil and bang your knee, or twist your ankle on some uneven ground while you’re out running. These injuries are also known as “sudden onset” injuries.  Often, these injuries seem unpreventable. However, that’s not exactly the case…

While we can’t control everything, and injuries do happen, you might notice that some of us tend to become injured more often than others. While some of this can be due to genetic factors, there are things we can do to help prevent injuries and increase our injury tolerance levels, even in the case of acute injuries.

Here are three quick tips to help prevent those injuries that take you by surprise.

1. Warm Up – But do it Right
A warm up doesn’t need to be super long, and certainly won’t be the same for every person or dance session. In the past, exercise scientists were actually quite divided over whether warming up did prevent injuries. In the last few years, evidence has been emerging for a “neuromuscular” warm up1. This is just a fancy way of saying that we should “wake up” the muscles and joints we’ll be using in that dance session.  As dancers, we’re on our feet, so warming up the lower body is key. But consider what else you’re focusing on that day. Will you be doing a lot of mayas? Warm up the obliques (your side abdominal muscles). Working on a lot of level changes? Put some squats and calf raises into your warm up. Preparing for a back bend practice? Start with some gentle abdominal and back strengthening.

Siobhan teaches belly dance to women of all ages, shapes, and sizes in the Netherlands and beyond.
When you’re warming up at the start of your practice session, be sure to warm up the muscle groups that you’re going to be using in that session to help avoid injury.

2. Stay Strong
“Ligament dominance” is a cause of many sudden joint injuries. This is the name for when the muscles that cross our joints are not strong enough to keep the joint stable, so the ligaments have to try and do all the work. A common example is when the hamstrings, quadriceps (thigh muscles) and calves (lower leg muscles) are weak, and the result is a more easily twisted knee, or ligament sprain. Training our muscles helps them to become the main joint stabilisers (as they are meant to be) in order to protect both our ligaments and joints. If you want to cheat, get that strengthening into your dance warm ups! We start losing muscle mass after age 30, so it is recommended that everyone strength trains (lifting weights, body weight exercises, using weight machines or resistance bands) at least twice a week, with 8-10 different exercises for a full body workout2.

3. Get Some Balance
Better balance has been found to be associated with a reduced risk of injury3. There are a few different ways to improve your balance. Strengthening your core (abdominals, back, and glute muscles), working on single-limb or “uneven” exercises like lunges or single-leg calf raises, or even standing on one leg with your eyes closed. There are a lot of different components to balance, and in addition to helping us reduce our injury risk, it’s also important for our dance abilities!

References:
1Herman et al., 2012, The effectiveness of neuromuscular warm-up strategies, that require no additional equipment, for preventing lower limb injuries during sports participation: a systematic review. BMC Medicine.
2American College of Sports Medicine, 2013. Resistance Training for Health and Fitness. https://www.acsm.org/docs/brochures/resistance-training.pdf
3de la Motte et al., 2017. A Systematic Review of the Association Between Physical Fitness and Musculoskeletal Injury Risk: Part 3 – Flexibility, Power, Speed, Balance, and Agility. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research.

In addition to being the founder and director of Greenstone Belly Dance, Siobhan is a Rehabilitative Exercise Specialist and Strength & Conditioning Coach. This blog post was originally written by Siobhan for her Safe Dance Column in the Middle Eastern Dance Association of New Zealand (MEDANZ) December 2017 Newsletter. You can join MEDANZ to access their newsletters and find out more about MEDANZ here.  Photos thanks to love.vera.nz. You can read Part 2 of this blog series here.

for preventing dance injuries

Some injuries take a long time to develop and become painful. We call these chronic (or slow onset) injuries. This kind of injury could be the sharp pain in your shins that seems to come on suddenly, but is actually a result of dancing on a tiled floor for weeks without shoes. Or, it could be the low back pain that appears a couple of weeks after switching to a job where you’re seated all day.

Here are five quick tips to help catch these injuries and address them before they develop, or before they get too painful.

1. Keep a dance diary: How was your body feeling? Did anything hurt in this session? How long did you dance for and what did you do? Did you feel energized and ready to dance, or tired and unmotivated? Record both your physical and mental states in your practice, training or performance. It can be helpful to glance at your dance diary to get a big picture of what’s happening. If you’ve written “Tired, sore, wasn’t going to dance but I did,” for the last 7 sessions, it’s a sign you need to check in with your mind and body before starting your next session.

2. Compensate: With stretching and strengthening. Stretch both sides of the body equally at the end of your practice to make up for any one-sided movements in your dance. If one side of the body is prioritised all the time, it can lead to painful imbalances, which could then lead to other injuries. If you’re performing a lot of backbends, for example, you’ll want to make sure that not only your back is strong, but your chest and abs too. That way, the opposing muscles can support the spine and the muscles of the back during extension, and be strong enough to bring them back safely back to their neutral position.

Taking part in a belly dance class is a great way to unwind, and is great for mind and body. Try a belly dance class in the Netherlands with Greenstone Belly Dance!
Stretching can be easy to neglect, but makes up an important component of our dance training.

3. Take rest days: If you overtrain, you’re going to just head towards injury. This is where your dance diary will come in handy – when did you last take a break from dance? A rest day doesn’t need to mean absolutely no dance. Can you put the music on and close your eyes and visualize? Can you walk through it without the music slowly, so you’re not putting the same pressure through your body as when you’d do a high-energy run-through?

4. Don’t underestimate the activity: If you’re very fit, you might consider your belly dance practice to be low impact, and of much less stress to your body. But while you might have great bone density, strong muscles and ligaments, and a great aerobic capacity from running regularly outside of belly dance, you’re still putting body structures under load, often repetitively when you’re drilling or repeating a choreography. Rest days, stretching, and listening to your body still apply!

5. Wear the right gear: If you’re practising a lot on hard surfaces, there is no shame in wearing dance or sport shoes, and you’ll be glad you did when you’re still able to dance! Consider whether dance slippers would make turns easier on the surface you’re dancing on to reduce the twisting impact on your ligaments.

Chronic injuries can often be prevented if we take a step back and think about how we’re dancing. Use your dance diary to identify patterns that lead up to injury, take a look at whether you’re varying your sessions enough, consider how to compensate with stretching and strengthening, and whether you’re in need of a rest day.