For a long time, I didn’t publicly state this because it felt performative. But I’ve realised that being more vocal about what we believe in also helps ensure we attract the students and collaborators who also share the same core values.

To that end, I want to tell you what inclusivity looks like to us, and what we’ll be doing to do better as we go forward.

💚 Modifications are always offered in classes to accommodate injury or illness. You are always allowed to take a seat if you need a rest. On the rare occasion I don’t offer you a modification and you need one, you are always welcome to ask.

💚 There is no shame in leaving your camera off during online classes. I do often acknowledge it and invite you to give me feedback if you have a question (as I can’t see you and give feedback), but there is no shame here.

💚 There are no body type requirements and no body shaming in our classes.

💚 There is also no tolerance for whorephobia, fatphobia, racism, homophobia or sexism in our classes. I, Siobhan Camille, acknowledge that as a white female in our society, some of these things are ingrained and unconscious. I invite you to call me in if you hear me slip up.

💚 We make multiple donations per year to anti-racist organisations, and causes supporting dancers of MENAHT origin and MENAHT peoples in general.

✨ The important part – how will we continue to do better? ✨

💜 We will be more transparent in our donation processes. Currently we’ve been providing the donation overview amounts only to those who request it, for no real reason other than it felt “showy” to publicly post our donations. These will now be public. We hope this will also help highlight some awesome organisations and initiatives doing good in the Black and POC communities, MENAHT communities, dance communities and beyond.

💜 We will continue to teach on cultural relevance and significance in all dance classes; you cannot divorce this dance from its roots and context.

I also want to give a huge shout out to Eshe of Mahasti Creative Emporium who inspires me to stand up for what is right even when it’s uncomfortable. I truly appreciate you.

Let’s make the world a kinder place together.

This month Greenstone Belly Dance is celebrating its third birthday! We’re excited to celebrate with some free events this Sunday the 18th of July. We’ll begin in the morning with an in-person dance class and birthday picnic in Delft, then we have our online events in the event, starting off with a belly dance quiz, followed by a performance watch party! See the full schedule on our events page.

For those of you joining us in Delft, the Netherlands, we will be supplying cake! But we do invite you to bring a plate of something to share, if you wish. For those of you joining us online, we thought we’d share our 2021 birthday cake recipe with you!

Greenstone Belly Dance 2021 Birthday Cake Recipe (Vegan friendly!)

This chocolate cake is vegan-friendly, and it’s based off the Ultimate Vegan Chocolate Cake from “It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken.” I’ve been making this cake for a couple of years, so I’ve experimented with how I like making it!

Dry ingredients:

1 cup wholemeal flour*

1.5 cups white flour

1 cup sugar

1 cup cocoa powder

1 big teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 small teaspoon salt

*No wholemeal flour? No worries! Just make it 2.5 cups of standard flour instead

Wet ingredients:

2 cups plant-based milk (e.g. almond, oat)*

2/3 cup neutral oil (e.g. canola or vegetable; don’t use a flavourful oil like olive)

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Optional: Frozen raspberries

*No plant-based milk? If you’re not vegan, I often use regular milk

Instructions:

Pre-heat your oven to 180C/350F. Lightly grease your cake tin or cupcake tin (I really like making these as cupcakes).

Whisk together all the dry ingredients.

Whisk together all the wet ingredients.

Combine wet and dry ingredients and whisk until just combined.

Instructions:

Pour the batter into your cake tin, or 12 cupcake moulds.

If baking cupcakes, optionally add 3-5 frozen raspberries on top of each filled cupcake mould.*

*In my experience, the frozen raspberries seem to work better on cupcakes than in a standard cake. I’m a dancer, not a baker, don’t ask me why!

Instructions:

If baking a cake, bake for about 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean. For cupcakes, bake for roughly 20 minutes; keep an eye on them and also use the knife method.

Then let them cool a little before you remove them from their moulds/the tin, then enjoy!

Let me know if you make this at home! I’d love to know if you put your own spin on it. This cake is really fudgy, so I usually don’t put an icing on top. Icing is definitely optional if you want to go ahead and add some. 🙂

Happy baking, and hope to see some of you at our birthday celebrations online or in Delft this Sunday the 18th of July!

(English follows)

We mogen weer dansen in de Delftse studio!

Dansers en danseressen, we zijn zo blij dat er vanaf 5 juni weer groepsdanslessen mogen worden gegeven in de studio!

De Delftse lessen vinden plaats op donderdag om 18u (Improvers; basiskennis buikdans is aanbevolen) en om 19u15 (intermediate/gevorderd; 18 maanden aaneengesloten buikdanservaring is vereist). Bekijk het volledige schema hier. Online lessen (met onze professionele audio-visuele setup) gaan door op dinsdag en woensdag voor degenen buiten Delft, of degenen die liever online verder dansen.

Schrijf je nu in op de website om aanstaande donderdag met ons mee te doen (online), en vanaf 10 juni weer in de studio!

Dank u, dank u voor al uw geduld en steun deze laatste 6 maanden. We zijn er nog steeds dankzij jullie!

Shimmies,
Greenstone Belly Dance

Delft classes are back in our Singelstraat studio from June 10, 2021!

Dancers, we are so thrilled to announce that from June 5, group dance classes are allowed back in the studio!

Delft classes take place on Thursdays at 6pm (Improvers; a basic knowledge of belly dance is recommended) and 7:15pm (intermediate/advanced; 18 months continuous belly dance experience is required). See the full schedule here. Online classes (with our professional audio-visual setup) continue on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for those outside of Delft, or those who prefer to continue dancing online.

Register now on the website to join us this coming Thursday (online), and from the 10th of June back in the studio!

Thank you, thank you for all of your patience and support this last 6 months. We are still here because of you!

Shimmies,
Greenstone Belly Dance

I think by now, most of us are thoroughly convinced of the benefits of warming up for dance – or at least, we like doing it! When we surveyed 109 belly dancers in New Zealand, we found that 84% of them warm up prior to their dance practice[1] (bravo!).

When I first started out in the world of exercise science, the evidence for warming up was a bit patchy and contentious. Nowadays, there’s a lot more evidence out there that a good warm up can improve your performance[2][3], and can decrease your risk of injury.[4][5]

However, it’s important to know that not all warm ups are created equal!

How to structure your warm ups for belly dance: The RAMP protocol.

To be fair, I have not seen too many awful warm ups in my time. The one that stands out was when a dancer started with extreme (and I mean: extreme) backbends and hair tosses within 30 seconds of the warm up song commencing. This was one of the few times I was generally worried about injuries (but to be honest, I was stifling laughter because it was so unbelievable). Aside from that, I do see a few warm ups that don’t really fulfil the goal of getting warm, and could have some potential for injury.

One of the common mistakes I see includes beginning with stretching. Dynamic stretching (moving joints through the range of motion you’ll use in your session, but doing so by actively using muscles) is a common part of a warm up routine, but it’s not usually the first thing we do, and it isn’t a passive, held (or static) stretch.

We don’t generally recommend static stretching before exercise sessions (an exception is made at times for hypertonic muscles), as it’s been found to be linked with an increased injury risk due to decreasing the muscles’ ability to produce power (and therefore meet the demands of our dance). Most of this research is on long, static stretches of 60 seconds or more, which a lot of exercise professionals brush off, saying “no one does this in their warm ups anyway!” However, a specific sub-group sometimes does engage in this practice of long, static stretching: dancers!

So how do we warm up properly?

One common method that is supported by science is the RAMP protocol. This consists of three phases:

  1. Raise
  2. Activate and Mobilise
  3. Potentiate

Let’s take a quick look at how we can use each of these phases to build effective warm ups!

Raise

The first aspect of the RAMP protocol relates to raising the heart rate, breathing rate, blood flow, and core body and muscle temperature, but also the level of skill of the dancer or athlete.

Raising a lot of these physiological aspects like heart rate and blood flow is particularly important for some dancers with pre-existing conditions like exercise-induced asthma, but it also helps all of us by increasing muscle temperature and getting our body ready for the challenges our practice or performance will present us.

Raising the level of skill is also not to be ignored. Here, you can think of including key movement and skill capacities for dancers. If you’re teaching a beginners class, it could involve introducing some basic foot patterns as part of this phase. For all levels, it could be including certain movements that use the same muscles you’ll be using in the rest of the class or session.

The general rule for this phase is that movements are bigger and less isolated, they make dancers feel warmer and breathe a bit heavier, and there is no kind of stretching present yet.

Activate and Mobilise

The “Activate and Mobilise” phase of the RAMP warm up protocol involves moving from more general movement in the “Raise” phase, to key movement patterns required for belly dance performance.

This is where things start to become a little more isolated and more closely resemble belly dance technique. This is also the phase where we start to focus on stability and flexibility, and use active range of motion exercises, such as lunges, big hip circles; things that start to move the joints through their required range of motion for the upcoming practice session. This will likely look different for a drills class compared to when preparing for an advanced choreography run-through!

This phase also has benefits for learning, as if you introduce similar movement patterns to those you’ll be using later in the class, it gives students a chance to repeat them and learn them better.

Potentiate

This is where the warm up starts to bleed into the class or practice session itself! The “potentiation” phase is all about increasing the intensity of the warm up until it is truly “sport-specific” (or dance-specific, in our case!). This phase is where you start moving and performing movements at the same intensity as you will for the rest of the class. The more intense you intend your practice session or performance to be, the more important this phase is. So if you’re about to get on stage and do a drum solo, you certainly want to be moving quickly, feeling really warm, and have worked up to fast, strong isolations by the end of your backstage warm up!

Warm ups should be individualised to what is coming in the class or performance ahead. The literature suggests that this full warm up (phases 1-3) should last about 10-20 minutes, which can sound scary when we only teach 50 or 60 minute classes!

However, as mentioned, the third phase (“Potentiate”) really starts to become inseparable from the class itself. I tend to spend around 8 minutes on the first two phases, and then I move in to specific drills that increase in intensity. That way, we’re all warm and ready to go, but we’re also learning and improving during this time!

As long as you make your warm up specific, that 5-10 minutes at the beginning won’t feel like a waste. Consider what dance concepts you can remind students of as you get them warming up so they’re not only prepared physically, but also mentally for the class ahead.

Have fun getting warm!

Want to create the strength, mobility, and metabolic conditioning you need to be the dancer you dream of? Siobhan Camille writes personalised strength and conditioning programs for dancers, and regularly hosts online and in-person dance-specific workshops. Find out more about what Siobhan has to offer here, and sign up for semi-regular newsletter here to get all the knowledge delivered right to your inbox!

In addition to being the founder and director of Greenstone Belly Dance, Siobhan Camille 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 2020 Newsletter. You can join MEDANZ to access their newsletters and find out more about MEDANZ here.  Photo by Veronika Hegedus-Gaspar.


[1] Milner et al., 2019. A Retrospective Study Investigating Injury Incidence and Factors Associated with Injury Among Belly Dancers.

[2] Jeffreys, 2007. Warm-up revisited: The ramp method of optimizing warm-ups.

[3] DeRenne, 2010. Effects of Postactivation Potentiation Warm-up in Male and Female Sport Performances: A Brief Review

[4] Malliou et al., 2007., Reducing risk of injury due to warm up and cool down in dance aerobic instructors.

[5] Barengo et al., (2014). The Impact of the FIFA 11+ Training Program on Injury Prevention in Football Players: A Systematic Review.

Hey dancers!

I was honoured to be asked by Athena, Liila, and Kirah to be an “early-adopter” (or an ‘influencer’) in their new challenge, The Real Dance Thing!

What is #TheRealDanceThing?

It’s a dance challenge that starts on Instagram today! The aim of this challenge is to encourage spontaneity and help us move away from perfectionist tendencies. No filming and refilming – one shot, then sharing the real-ness.⁠ Take a read of the mission and the rules below, or click here to check out The Real Dance Thing Instagram page.

#TheRealDanceThing Mission:

"#TheRealDanceThing Misson: We are all feeling pressure to film and re-film dances for social media until they are "perfect." This makes us sad, because the spontaneity and realness of the moment is being lost. Our goal is to create a place that celebrates authenic moments of dance. Let's enjoy real dances done in a single take, just like a live show. We can revel in the real, raw experience of being willing to share our first take."
#TheRealDanceThing Misson

⁠”We are all feeling pressure to film and re-film dances for social media until they are “perfect.” This makes us sad, because the spontaneity and realness of the moment is being lost. Our goal is to create a place that celebrates authenic moments of dance. Let’s enjoy real dances done in a single take, just like a live show. We can revel in the real, raw experience of being willing to share our first take.”

#TheRealDanceThing Rules:

"#TheRealDanceThing Rules: 

This challenge starts February 1, 2021. Prompts will be posted every Monday.  This should be the first video or picture you've taken in response to the prompt. We are asking you to be authentic, so only do the prompts that speak to you. Or do them all - we really love all of them!"
#TheRealDanceThing Rules!
  1. “This challenge starts February 1, 2021. Prompts will be posted every Monday.
  2. This should be the first video or picture you’ve taken in response to the prompt.
  3. We are asking you to be authentic, so only do the prompts that speak to you. Or do them all – we really love all of them!”

The first prompts are already up- I’ll be sharing my first entry for #TheRealDanceThing on my Instagram feed later tonight!