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Jillina shimmies at the BDSS show at Herbst Theatre on January 30, 2005. Photo by Monica Berini. Photo below with drummer Issam.
More photos coming from this show soon!
Gilded Serpent presents...
Dancing With A SuperStar
Jillina's Drum Solo
Workshop in
by Erica

As if seeing the Belly Dance SuperStars wasn't enough, those of us living near Vancouver were treated the next morning to a workshop with one of the SuperStars herself, Jillina

Jillina acts as choreographer and artistic director to the Belly Dance SuperStars and the Desert Roses.  Her extensive knowledge of dances in different areas is obvious, and her love of teaching and dancing was a delight to experience.  The workshop was held on a soundstage - a space that was overly warm and lacking mirrors, but with lots of room for dancing.  The small number of dancers (about 35 or 40 of us) made it easy for everyone to have lots of opportunities to be up close and have personal contact with Jillina. 

She switched the rows front to back and inside to outside frequently, and had one half of us perform for the other half, then switch.  Everyone benefited from her attention.

Joining Jillina was the SuperStar's drummer Issam.  What a treat to have a live drummer!  And one of such high caliber, with such personality was extra special.  After warming up, we spent time going over rhythms.  Jillina thanked him at the end of the workshop for joining her and us, and explained that he is a good drummer and likes to make you look good as a dancer.  Saidi, Baladi, Maksoom, Malfoof, and Rasba were covered.  Each rhythm was introduced with a cultural/historical background, we were tod where it fit into a choreography (particularly a drum solo) and given a breakdown of the rhythm.  Issam played the basic rhythm, then added some embellishments to give us a taste of how we may hear them.  Jillina then showed us a combination for each rhythm.  After we repeated the steps enough to have them figured out, she encouraged us to add our own personal touches.  Her cries of 'Aiewa!' and 'ehpah' as we danced certainly had the effect of encouragement that she was intending.  It added to the relaxed atmosphere and reassured us that she was there for us.

Next up was a breakdown of technique needed for the choreography.  We learned some new shimmies!  Egyptian shimmy, hip shimmy, tension shimmy, African shimmy, a really tricky belly shimmy that is going to take me a while to get a hold on, Choo-choo shimmy, and bouncing shimmy were all covered. 

Attention to posture was emphasized, and I learned that the lower back tension I am left with at the end of a 2 hour workout can be avoided by tucking my pelvis a little more. 

Finally we began the choreography of the drum solo.  This was the nimra (the act) that she performed the night before, during the show (did I mention how fabulous the show was?  If you have a chance - go!), though I think it was a shortened version.  After walking us through the first combination, Jillina assured us that this was the trickiest part and the rest would be a breeze.  The dance was, indeed, easy to learn.  It was complex, but short enough that we had time to go through the whole thing, repeating sections, then repeating it from the top, and dancing the whole piece through numerous times.  There is an improvised section part way though.  Jillina cued us on what shimmies to add and work with, but after the first couple of times she just watched us and let us add our own flavour.  A little intimidating for some of us, I think, but she was so good at creating a non-threatening atmosphere that we all had fun.

For a 3½ hour workshop, Jillina did a fabulous job.  She effectively taught us the dance, focused on the technique we needed, walked though the class to give individual focus to dancers,.  She was encouraging with her cries of 'Aiewa!', was very personable, had good eye contact, included Isaam (not that he would have stood for being left out!) and was tons of fun!  If you have the opportunity to dance with this amazing, educated, experienced, beautiful, and did I mention fun? woman, do not hesitate to do it.  It is worth every penny and every minute!

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Check the "Letters to the Editor" for other possible viewpoints!

Ready for more?
2-17-05 Unity through Belly dance by Erica
If you are reading this publication, then you too have fallen in love with belly dancing.

2-14-05 Taking Good Care of our Stars by Miles Copeland
Most of all, as we now need them consistently; we have to free them from financial worries by giving them job security including such things as health insurance.

4-15-04 An American Belly Dancer: The Significance of Jillina, Review by Arabia, Photos by Carl Sermon workshop sponsored by Amina Goodyear, at Dance Mission, San Francisco, California, January 25, 2004
It seems quite evident that it wasn't Jillina's motivation to become the Superstar title which now precedes her -- that she is, in fact, just doing what she loves, being who she truly is, working hard at it -- and the rest sort of fell into her hands.

12-5-03 Jillina’s DVD or All Jillina, All the Time Video reviewed by Yasmela/ Shelley Muzzy
In fact, the production quality is exemplary.

6-5-05 Rakkasah West Festival 2005 Photos- Saturday & Sunday Page 2 photos by GS Staff and Friends
More to come!

6-3-05 Belly Dancer of the Year 2005 Page 1 Duos, Trios & Troupes photos by Monica
May 28, 2005, San Ramon, California.

5-28-05 Rakkasah West Festival 2005 Photos- Saturday Page 1 photos by GS Staff and Friends
More to come!

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