House of Inanna

Dancing for the Joy of it, combining both the Sacred and Silly.

21 January 2015
by inannasdancers
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Anitra’s story

Here’s the next of our posts on new year’s resolutions and our students: why they dance, what they dance, and what they love about ATS. Enjoy!

Anitra has always loved to dance. As a child, however, she was unable to attend any of the Lebanese debke dance classes that were part of her matrilineal heritage. There was one year of ballet when she was eight years old, but that was all until she went to college in the mid-70s, where she performed her own choreography of ballet-influenced modern dance set to popular songs. College was also where she discovered and joined the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism). She fell in love with medieval and Renaissance music there, happily learning any period dances she could find. At that time most belly dancers in the SCA were Cabaret style, but there was one woman who defied the usual, dressing in garb similar to what ATS dancers wear — though she called her style “Gypsy.” Anitra was intrigued by that; she’d never seen anything like it before.

Toward the end of the 70s English Regency Dance slipped out of the pages of Georgette Heyer’s novels and onto the floors at science fiction conventions in the greater LA area. Anitra participated in classes, routs, and balls, dressed in clothing from the time of Jane Austen, Mary Shelley, the Napoleonic Wars, and the Regent of England. Anitra loved many things about Regency dance: the lyrical music, the “easy camaraderie,” the attire, the dances themselves, and the books that inspired them. Unfortunately her husband had little interest in dance, and SF cons weren’t held every month. Further, she still wished to find a style of dance that she could perform to the Middle Eastern music of her youth.

It was Rowan who introduced Anitra to Petra, suggesting she join their San Jose classes in American Tribal Style belly dance. As Anitra notes of that time, “I was pretty well dance-starved. It’s always been part of my identity, and I needed to reclaim it.” However, it had been three decades since she’d last done any belly dancing. Her body had changed, and her confidence in her ability to perform was pretty low. Petra’s encouragement helped her begin performing with the class, and eventually — as she learned this new dialect of dance — it wasn’t so scary anymore.

That was ten years ago, and Anitra is still dancing! As she now says, “I still struggle with music that doesn’t inspire me or speak to me, and moves that are foreign to my preferences. Tribal style is like a different language I have yet to learn to think in. Pushing my envelope or limits, I think it’s called. What keeps me in ATS in spite of that struggle are: being part of a troupe and a community, meeting amazing dancers and teachers, seeing choreography that feels right but which I’d never have considered, hearing entrancing music, and using my brain in new ways. I’m finally able to start seeing the open spaces within the structure of the style, much like crafting a sonnet. I really enjoy being with my troupe sisters and classmates — this is not a place for the humorless! I love the way the skirts move, the bold colors we wear, and the patterns we can weave in our dancing.”

2 January 2015
by inannasdancers
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Belly dancing in the New Year!

Many people make New Year’s resolutions that lead them to belly dance classes, whether it’s a goal related to fitness — such as “get in shape,” “learn a new skill,” or “increase core strength,” — or something else like “become more graceful,” “get in touch with my feminine side,” or “connect to something greater.”

One of our current students decided in 2012: “I am going to start taking belly dance classes again this year.” She had learned that yet another of her older family members had been diagnosed as having diabetes and heart disease. Her doctor told her the best way to avoid this was to take regular exercise — something fun she would enjoy and could stick with.

“The prospect of becoming diabetic has always terrified me, after seeing two people I know becoming so obese that they lost all their former flexibility and had limbs amputated, leaving them very unpleasant and angry people. I decided to act.” During this time, our student was also recovering from a personal period of isolation after a decade of intense therapy dealing with childhood abuse.

Our student found classes at dance studios and community centers, read ads and asked friends for suggestions. As she noted, “I tried them all, Cabaret to Folkloric to Tribal Fusion to ATS.” She eventually found her way to House of Inanna’s ATS classes, saying, “I have found that my heart and soul is with ATS!”

For this year she says: “I want to make more opportunities for myself to dance this year, and take the 30 minutes every day for a month challenge!” Something she’s looking forward to: House of Inanna will be hosting a 20/20 Challenge in April in anticipation for National Dance Week — right around the time when New Year’s resolutions need a little boost!

Our anonymous student concludes: “I did and still do feel that belly dance has helped me greatly… I’m so happy when I dance!”

…and aren’t we all? Happy New Year, Happy Dancing!

17 October 2014
by inannasdancers
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EVENTS!

Hey Everyone!
Reset Studio is having an Opening Party tomorrow from 3-7pm!  Come see amazing acrobatic acts, burlesque and of course House of Inanna performing at 3:45!  After the performances, there will be a DJ spinning music live and a band!  Come join us – it’ll be fun.  The Facebook link above has all the details!

Because of the party, our regular Saturday morning belly dance class is canceled, while the Reset team prepares for the party.  This means that “Proptober” will actually gloss into Propvember (which doesn’t roll off the tongue as easily!).  We’ll do our Veil class a week from tomorrow on 10/25, then Canes on the first Saturday of November.

ALSO:

Tomorrow is Haunted HaflAdira!  There will be spooky and fun dance acts all afternoon at Adira’s Dance on the South End of Willow Glen.  House of Inanna is on at 1:45.  The picture was from a scary set we did a few years ago. This year… should be not so scary.  Hopefully you’ll enjoy our set.  :)

Yes, we have a busy day tomorrow and hope you can join us for some of the fun!

Love and Namaste,Petra

27 September 2014
by inannasdancers
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Proptober is almost here!

Get ready to have your swords (and more) at hand in a couple weeks.  We’ve almost reached  Proptober — we’ll be offering a sampler of belly dance props including swords, veils, and canes, used in a Tribal/Group way with dance moves that you are familiar with, plus some extra moves that especially showcase the prop!

Here’s the tentative calendar:

October 4 & 6 – The HoI Troupe favorite:  swords!
October 11 & 13 – Playful and Balanced Baskets!
October 18 & 20 – Sultry and strong moves with Veils!
October 25 & 27 – Petra’s favorite, and the most traditional of props:  canes!

We have extras for each of these props; however, please bring your own if you have them. Also, we’re highly likely to use one of these props in an upcoming show or three. Come try them out and see what you like, so you too can be part of that decision-making process.

Please feel free to repost this note wherever is appropriate.

Thanks!
Petra

11 June 2014
by inannasdancers
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Dance of the Taras at Tribal Fest 2014

In this performance House of Inanna honors a rare and beautiful occurrence — a Female Bodhisattva — by dancing her story: a lost soul who becomes a Tara, an an enlightened one, through breaking through her suffering and finding compassion for herself and others.

Gratitude and thanks to Carolena Nericcio, Fat Chance Belly Dance, and other teachers like Azar (veil), Colin Peterson (buugeng) and others who have taught us how to handle props well. Also very importantly, we thank Fontain’s MUSE for putting together an original score for our piece. The collaborative process rocked, and we’re honored to have them involved. Buy their music!

 

7 March 2014
by inannasdancers
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Open Heart/OM Yoga classes

I love doing and sharing yoga!

Yoga and belly dance are great compliments for each other: both use movements anyone can do (sometimes with modifications) to strengthen the body while also deepening the spirit. The posture is very similar in both, and this concentration on good posture allows energy channels to open and flow within the body.

While not quite a panacea, practicing yoga can provide great benefits to your body, mind, and spirit, regardless of your size or level of experience. More than just practicing postures, it can open you up to a more fit physical body and a more open and flexible mind. Practicing Pranayama and Meditation will quench your spirit and give you so much more energy and enthusiasm for living.

If you’re interested in consultations or private lessons, please contact me!

The Yoga Process

Below is a brief synopsis of the Eight Limbs of yoga, written for the yoga teacher training program I did a few years ago. The Eight Limbs are the traditional way that yoga is taught, beginning with the most outward part of the self: our interactions and relationships with others. You might be surprised to learn that Asana practice — that which is generally referred to as “Yoga” in the west — is the third Limb rather than the first!

Thankfully, at least from my experience, you will benefit from any of these practices regardless of where you start — although I’m sure some purists would shudder to read this. Still, I feel it’s best to practice them all, and in the order given. At a minimum, this is good food for self-reflection:

1) The Yamas (self-restraints on behavior):

  •  Ahimsa: “harmlessness” – nonviolence, compassion. This includes having compassion for oneself.
  •  Satya: “truthfulness” – living your truth in congruity with the Eight Limbs. Learning to listen to your inner voice.
  •  Asteya: “nonstealing” – not appropriating the material, time, or wishes of others without their expressed consent.
  •  Brahmacharya: “self-restraint” or “right use of vital force.” This Yama has historically been translated as “sexual restraint” or “abstinence.” This could also be translated as “seeing the divine in everything,” and therefore not exerting manipulative behavior over people and things. Manipulative behavior can take the form of, for example: sexual manipulation, social expectations, peer- or power-pressure, or taking advantage of those less fortunate (With thanks to yogini Julianne Rice for this definition).
  •  Aparigraha: “not hoarding or collecting” – non-attachment. The realization that change is the only constant in the universe. In accepting this we can let go of the obsolete physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual items in our life while making room for new items.

2) The Niyamas (self-observances):

  • Saucha – purity, cleanliness. Respecting yourself and your personal surroundings.
  • Santosa – contentment. Being satisfied with what you have.
  • Tapas – self-discipline, purification. Burning away doubt, laziness, etc.
  • Svadhyaya – self-study. Observing and being honest with yourself; self-improvement.
  • Isvara Pranidhana – surrender of separation, surrender to the divine.

3) Hatha Yoga – Physical poses or asanas, which tone and strengthen the body and therefore strengthen our personal connection and deepen our understanding of ourselves.

  • Pranayama – Breath/Vital Force Control; this increases our conscious use of Prana, the vital energy of the universe.
  • Pratyahara – Removing one’s consciousness from the sensate world; taking refuge in the self.
  • Dharana – Concentration on one point; one-pointed awareness of an object outside of the self.
  • Dhyana -- furthering Dharana: awareness of the relationship/connection between the object and self.
  • Samadhi -- furthering Dhyana: no difference between self/Object; Union.

The synopsis above is merely a drop in the bucket. I am always happy to learn and teach more about anything related to yoga.

Please do remember that nothing replaces an actual yoga teacher. It is best to take classes with someone you enjoy, and extend your practices at home. Like dance, yoga is a physical activity that involves some risk, so please make sure you work with a qualified person.

Namaste!

~ Petra

P.S. If you’re interested in further research on this fascinating subject, I suggest the following:

Yoga is Youthfulness – my favorite yoga studio, where my mentor Tom Abrehamson works — he’s an excellent teacher! I substitute for him fairly regularly at Yoga is Youthfulness.
Yoga Journal – both the website and the magazine are great resources.
The Wikipedia site on Yoga Nidra, a sleep/healing yogic technique.
Yes: Yoga Educational Seminars – Joyce Anue is a great teacher; I received my yoga teacher training through her organization.

~ Petra

8 January 2012
by inannasdancers
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Descent of Inanna: Journey to the Underworld

This ritual interpretation of the Descent of Inanna was performed at Tribal Fest 2011. Due to the nine-minute limit on stage time we reduced the traditional number of gates from seven to three, and we concluded not quite stripped bare, but wearing simple, unadorned shifts to symbolize the lack of any of the trappings of the ego. The ritual was a profound practice for us; more of an internal exploration than a performance piece.

We received a lot of help with this, for which we are very grateful. Many thanks to Elena Melendez for the beautiful voice-over of Inanna, and to Mixmaster Sean Gugler for mixing our music: A Muey A Muey (Aisha Kandisha’s Jarring Effects); Izgrejala (Vas version); Cantara (Dead Can Dance); Jilala 1 – Nocturnal Ritual (Moroccan Spirit); Shashkin (Rare Elements – O.F. Tekbilek remixed). A huge thank you to everyone who made this possible!