The SELF in a Climate of Great Change

The SELF in a Climate of Great Change

Dear People

Bob Dylan wrote the song “Times they are a-changing”  57 years ago. At that time it was to do with social and political change. Could he have imagined that at the bed rock of our existence, Mother Earth and all sentient beings would be facing this great existential turning point.  

We in Austraia have had the impact of Global Warming bought to the forefront of our psyche. 

For those not directly affected by the fires and floods, we grieve together as we have witnessed the loss of lives, loves and homes. forests, animal and plant species. Our beautiful unique island home has been directly hit by this expression of Mother Earth as the whole world watches. The magnitude of what has happened here, potentially will happen everywhere. 

We are digesting all of this
We are coming to terms with many things

I personally in my heart of heart believed that humanity has the ability to make the change towards a better world. To make this reshaping we must be prepared to ride out the transfiguration

I believe that good will prevail. 

I believe and know that there are many people on the planet who believe in and are working for this. These beings are not in the media, (well actually some are now) you may not even be aware of who they are.  There are a great many groups and organisation working on the matrix of Good Will with Intention, Pray, Meditation, Creative Gestures and Non Invasive Action.  Google will help you find them 

You may be asking your self:

  • Who can I trust or believe?  
  • Have I been cheated?  
  • Why would humans do this to each other? 
  • What can I do?
  • What about my kids?

How do we navigate these traumatic events with authenticity and vulnerability and keep our “SELF” in tact?
How do we maintain faith and hope and trust and keep our hearts open?

I invite you to join me in a dance of PERSONAL ACTION in the company of others. 

Hobart Dance 21 & 22 March 2020

There will be one in Italy in July.

SensingFeelingDancing the Chakras for DTAA

SensingFeelingDancing the Chakras for DTAA

Dance movement exploration

Maria Sangiorgi

Maria: dmt and esoteric healing certs., Egyptian dancer and teacher began her training in Egyptian Dance (Raqs Sharqi) in 1989.  Her classes are called Embodied Bellydance,with a focus on body awareness, and workshops called SensingFeelingDancing the Chakras, the Dance of the Sensual Soul and Trance Dance. She is using Egyptian Dance within a dance movement therapy model when working with disability groups and women in prison. She is also a visual and performing artist and member of the Middle Eastern music and dance group, Yalla! and The Sanctuary Ensemble, a Sufi inspired group. She is passionate about facilitating the dance journey for all those who attend her sessions. (See

I began to facilitate SensingFeelingDancing the Chakras in weekly workshops towards the end of 2003.  My inspiration first came from my many years of study and practice of Traditional Egyptian dance and other Middle Eastern Dance forms.  The deeper I went into this dance the more I felt a deep connection to what I believe to be the primary source of movement that is intrinsic to all indigenous dance styles across the globe: the shapes that are common to all of nature and to the movements of the universe and our DNA.  I also felt that the movement of this dance: the flow through the pelvis the vibrating of the legs and hips, the celebration of life; where physical expressions of the path of the Kundalini and the Energy centres or Chakras supported me; that flow of energy had a healing affect on me.  I have

felt a deep spiritual connection to dance and movement that is intuited and often have a sense

of being part of something very ancient and sacred.


During those years I was also a part of a dance and movement research group.  This group began in 1986 when the dance group that I was a part of then, called The Snake Sisters, decided that we wanted to deepen our relationship to movement.  We found Jane Refshauge; she introduced us primarily to Alexander Technique, Body Mind Centering, and Idiokinesis.  As we deepened our connection to movement and studied how all of these modalities enriched our formal dance practices, we felt the need to work with other movers.  We changed the focus to a research group and invited others to join us.  We then shared the facilitating and explored Feldenkrais and Authentic Movement, Egyptian dance, Ritual dance, and the work of Rudolph Laban, to name a few.

Originally I called SensingFeelingDancing the Chakras, Raqs Chakra.  Raqs means “Dance” in Arabic. In Egypt their dance is commonly called Raqs Baladi.  Baladi means “of the people”.  The name reflects how important dance is to people’s lives.  This is not just a dance for women, as is commonly thought by Westerners, it is a dance for all.  In saying this it is the women who are the primary performers of this dance as entertainment.  An Egyptian will say that you hear the music through the movement of the dancer.  A good dancer will be able to connect to every instrument, every feeling and every nuance in her dance.

Spatially, Raqs Baladi is made up of circles, waves and spirals that move through an axis. These mimic the double helix of DNA, the spiraling structure of our bones and muscles, the spiraling nature of the universe and the weaving and spinning of the Energy Centre or Chakric centres of our bodies.  As I deepened my knowledge of Egyptian dance I was led to explore the possible connections between the spiraling patterns of Raqs Baladi and the Energy flow of the Chakric System.  This is how I began to develop my relationship between the Raqs and the Chakras.

Raqs Baladi and the Chakric system both move energy up and down the spine. I believe that the movements of Raqs Baladi physically express the Chakric system.  There is a central axis which supports a weaving from where energy moves from the left to the right, the same as the weaving of the Left and the Right Channels which represent the masculine and feminine.  Raqs also moves forward and back.  In each centre there are wheels of energy that spin or spiral, and these centres drive the curves, circles and spirals that are Raqs Baladi.  The deeper I go into these two modalities and bring them together the deeper I feel that a force greater than myself propels me. I come away feeling uplifted, I come away enquiring, and I come away with a variety of strong emotions, sad, happy, ecstatic.  Whatever it is I am always affected.

Through the exploration of Body Mind Centering and Navel Radiation I developed a way of teaching Egyptian dance that begins with the navel as the primary source of movement. Every movement either moves through or is driven by the navel.  I call the navel the driver but it is not the external front navel: it is what I call the “Spine-navel”.  This is a point behind the navel and in front of the spine.  This point is moved by the expansion and contraction of the abdominal muscles aided by deep diaphragmatic breathing.  From this place the wave of energy undulates through the spine and pushes up and down the spine.  All movements in Egyptian dance are supported by this energy pattern.

The Chakras are energy centres located in various parts of the body.  The seven main centres are located along the spine beginning at the tailbone and ending at the top of the head. These seven Chakras also relate to the endocrine system. I will now offer you a brief description of the function of each Chakra that is by no means complete or the sum total of what each energy centre governs or expresses.

The Base Chakra, known as the Muladhara Chakra, is governed by adrenal glands located at the base of the kidney.  Adrenalin is what drives us to move forward; to take action; our fight or flight instinct.  It also rules the skeletal system, primarily the spine.  We make a commitment to stand and be present on the earth.  To do this we need to be grounded; we need to have a strong sense of security and of self.  The will to be here, the will to live, the will to be born.  The Base Chakra’s element is earth and its colour is red. This is the seat of the Kunadlini which over time and a deep commitment to meditation and self awareness and a clearing of all the centres rises to a state of enlightenment. To do so prematurely is dangerous.  “The Base Chakra houses the Kundalini ‘fire’, which rises up the spine after all the Chakras have become activated and vitalised.  It can be raised prematurely by unwise meditation practices, such as concentrating for long periods on the lower Chakras or through the use of hallucinogenic drugs: if this happens serious health problems can result” (Judy Jacka, p. 58, Synthesis in Healing, 2003).

Then we move up to the second Chakra, the Svadhisthana or Sacral centre.  The ovaries in women and testes in men govern it.  We meet the need to unite with another to create relationship.  This is also the centre of joyful innocence and playfulness of a small child, the seat of pleasure, which can be sexual, or the pleasure of eating.  It is also abundance and the wise use of money. Its element is water and colour is orange.

Above the Sacral centre is the Solar Plexus centre; the pancreas governs the Manipura.  We are looking for the sweetness in our lives.  This is the seat of our emotions and feelings.  How we digest what is given to us in life.  It also rules our desires, wants and needs.  This is the ‘I’ centre. This is the last of the Physical chakras.  Its element is fire and colour yellow.  On a global level the evolution of the human race is at this level.  We are challenged by greed and selfishness and we are on the brink of great change to either evolve to the Heart consciousness or to destroy the earth, as we know it.

Next is the heart centre; the Anahata. This is governed by the thymus gland.  It is the seat of unconditional, and transpersonal love.  We open ourselves without judgment of others or ourselves; we have left the physical realm and are moving into the higher plane of the spiritual realm.  We are now also beginning to balance the lower three Chakras with the higher ones. The Heart is balanced by the Solar Plexus and manifests as Wisdom and Love. Its colour is green and element is air.

The Throat centre, called the Visuddha Chakra, is governed by the thyroid and para thyroid glands.  This is the seat of communication, both inner and outer, and forgiveness; the words that we speak but also the voice of silence, the expression of ideas and making creative contributions to our life.  It also governs the senses, touch, smell, taste etc.  The Throat is paired with the Sacral centre and manifests as creative intelligence.  Its colour is blue and element is ether.

Next is the Third Eye, called the Ajna centre and governed by the pituitary gland. It is the conductor of all energy centres. It helps to integrate the personality by gathering energy from all the spinal centres and focusing them in the head area to synthesise them into a whole.  It rules our inner and outer vision. It provides access to the mediative state and transcendental experiences, and is the door to inner peace.  Its colour is indigo and element is light.

And finally the thousand-petal lotus; the Crown Centre called the Sahasrara.  This is governed by the pineal gland.  Here we have reached our spiritual home having travelled the road from the earthly connection of the base Chakra through all the personalities of each to the seat of enlightenment.  We are at one with God or the Universe. The Crown Centre is balanced with the Base Chakra to create Spiritual Will. The colour is violet to white light and the element is thought.

I presented at the conference a very condensed version of the Solar Plexus Chakra dance.  So little time was challenging, but it was well received and there was enough time to experience the essence of what it was about.

I chose this Chakra because it feels to me to be the beginning.  Before we are bones (Base Chakra), before we touch the earth, stand on our feet, we are navel/belly; we are attached to our mother in utero via our umbilical cord and everything forms around it.  It is the instinctual place, our gut feeling the “I am” of which the breath plays an intrinsic role.

I asked the participants to lie down and to connect to their breath.  As they did this I asked them to feel the support of the floor, to validate their bones and soften and release them.  I proceeded with a guided visualisation to connect each Chakra to the Solar Plexus.  I then asked them to connect to their navel and breath so that as they breathed in the navel rose, and as they breathed out, it fell.

I began the movement process by using various images such as being a balloon full of water that was being rolled by another, feeling the water tipping from one side to another, or one end to another.  I find this to be a very effective way to engage the whole physical and mental body very quickly.  I then asked them to come back to the breath and navel.

The process deepened into creating a connection to expanding and contracting, with the belly/navel as the centre or the motor that drives the movement.  From here I asked them to include their limbs, head and tail.  I used Didgeridoo music for this, as it is deep and earthy.  The circular breathy drone that the Didgeridoo makes seems to help the connection to gravity, and to focus and not to rush. I began to call out phrases, beginning with “What do I want, what do I need?” Then as I began to give different themes for movement, I began to change the music.  The predominant theme was expanding and contracting, opening and closing to feel the support of the Solar Plexus.  As the music became more rhythmic and trance like, and got faster and faster, so did the dance.  Another phrase I used was “I can feel it in my gut”.

I ended the process with time for the movers to consolidate by drawing and writing, finishing in a feedback circle where I asked each person to share their process using three words.

I was delighted and privileged to have a room of movers who were completely engaged in what they were doing.  If only all dance movement sessions could be like this, where the participants are so responsive, causing me to become much more intuitive in the moment.

In conclusion, I feel that everyone went away with something – they moved in a different way and were touched by the experience.



We thank all the presenters who put so much time and thought into their conference presentations as well as the papers above (Eds).

Return to Isis

Return to Isis

Dancing Isis Moves in me. Isis the queen, the mother, lives in the hearts of all of us in many faces, manifestation, and semblances. The time of Isis past revealed itself to me at Dendera the Temple of Hathor in Egypt in June 2007, but not in the temple itself. I was lead by a sister to go to the small temple behind the main temple, which is dedicated to Isis. As I made my way there a guide followed me. I was a bit bothered by him because as it is in Egypt everyone wants money or something, but it proved to be a blessing. The Door was locked and he had the key. He let me in and told me to place my hands in certain places, and then as if he knew why I was there, he left me alone and closed the door. I took the guides advises for a moment and closed my eyes. I let the stillness of the moments seep in; I then found a square stone and sat on it. In the quite semi dark of this ancient place, tears filled my eyes and from my heart I cried out. “Why did you leave me here?” This question was not new but the tense was different. All my life the questions had been “why am I here, who put me here, I just don’t belong?”  As I sobbed feelings of betrayal, of being left behind, alone. Paralleled the feeling of this life and feeling that I had of not belonging of being transported from another plant and dumped here, as did a number of my sisters who have similar stories to mine.

I lived in the times of Isis as Healer. I had many skill and gifts including dance. I was a teacher. I was brutally killed and my whole people were destroyed.  This is my linage this is what I carry with me now into the time. This pain that I had lived with all my mortal life, along with the pain of what had happened to me during this life and my ancestral pain now made sense.

When I began to teach Egyptian dance I had a felt sense of knowing beyond what I knew as my mortal self. I would begin to teach and my voice would speak words to the class about their bodies and how to move them. It was right to me it made sense, I would do what my voice said because my body new it too. But sometimes I would talk to the voice, “How do you know this, who do you think you are”. Years have now passed and we have integrated. My teachings; the voice of the past and the learning’s of now have integrated and we journey together.

Since my healing journey to Egypt my practice has grown.  Dance, is my primary healing practice, Embodied Bellydance, SensingFeelingDancing the Chakras, The Dance of the Sensual Soul, all the Dance journeys for the Awakening Heart . . . are supported by all the layers of time that are a part of me. My Bodywork, Massage, Esoteric healing all a part of me, Herbs oils, spices all a part of me healing, Music, song, sound, voice all a part of me. Art, Craft, Tarot, Astrology all a part of my healing story. And from this time I honour all the teacher and mentor who have taught me Alexander Technique, Body Mind Centring, Dance Movement Therapy, Esoteric Healing and so much more. I am blessed to have the love and support of so many wonderful beings.

What a gift, how grateful I am to be bless with so many skills and knowledge, What a gift that I can share what I know and that I have a deep desire to share all that I know and to be a part of the Healing Game. And what a gift that I want to keep knowing and growing myself.

And what a precious gift that I walk this earth with a group of sisters who are also are great healers. They share my path my healing story and they teach me so much. We are chapters in a great healing story. My sisters who danced with me in the times of Isis. My blessings and gratitude to all my students and journey dances over the years who have taught me so much who have shared their dance and stories with me both now and in those times. There are brothers to who I am also grateful too for they do carry the same story.

Blessed be to you all and those who are to come.


SensingFeelingDancing the Chakras for CIDs

A Dance Movement Exploration 

Maria Sangiorgi

Dance Movement Therapist  Adv. Dip. IDTIA – Australia 

CIDS Dance Therapy Congress, Athens 2012

. . . is Inspired by

  • Traditional Egyptian Dance and all oriental dance forms.
  • The primary source of movement to all of life and the universe : spirals, curves and waves and vibrations
  • Indigenous dance from all over the world
  • The inner movement and shaping of the all body systems; fluid, skeletal, muscular etc., the spiralling DNA
  • Spiritual  Connection – Esoteric Healing – Kundalini – Energy Centres / Chakras – Energy Field
  • Dance Movement Therapy

MY somatic exploration

  • Alexander Technique
  • Body Mind Centring
  • Ideokinisis
  • Authentic Movement
  • Feldenkrais
  • Laban
  • Ritual/Shamanic Dance
  • Butoh
  • Embodied Bellydance®
  • Dance Movement Therapy
  • Continuum Movement

Embodied Bellydance®

Embodied bellydance® (EBD) is a format I have developed from 23 years of teaching Bellydance. It holds the same linage  as SensingFeelingDancing the Chakras, but focuses on teaching dance technique, whilst embracing a therapeutic model which includes woking with the Chakras.

In turn SFD the Charka is influenced by EBD. It uses exercises related to particular body parts that are the home of each Chakra as a part of the warm up 

Raqs sharqi 

Raqs means Dance in Arabic

Sharqi mean East

It follow the same principals of spirals curves and waves. Mimic the double helix of DNA; the spiralling structure of our bones, muscles, connective tissue, blood flow and so on. The spiralling nature of the Universe and the weaving and spinning of the Energy Centres or Chakric Centres of our bodies. 

Raqs Sharqi and the Chakric system both move energy up and down the spine, weaving and spinning around the  central axis called the Sushumna Nadi,.There are also the left and the right channels; the Ida and Pingala Nadis.

 Raqs Baladi

  • Baladi means of the People
  • Raqs Baladi was born on the streets of Cairo around the turn of the 20th century. In its purity it is an improvised dance to improvised music. Baladi  music is akin to American Blues, Spanish Flamenco and Greek Rembetika. 
  • It is commonly danced on the spot

combined systems

raqs Charka

Raqs Baladi, is the physical manifestation of the weaving journey through the Chakras as was mentioned before. 

At first the work was called Raqs Chakra with a focus on Bellydance. Over time the work progressed to a DMT  process that I together with my group of loyal attendees named SensingFeelingDancing the Charkas. (SFD the Chakras)

Photo courtesy of

The Chakras

The 7 main Chakras are energy centres located along the spine, from the tail bone to the top of the head. Also called the Subtle system.

Candace Pert in her book “Molecules of Emotion” (who has work with dance therapist including Dr Levathal) calls the Chakras the minibrain. she says “These minibrains reside in the midline of your body, where there is also an endocrine gland and a major nerve plexus. The seven endocrine glands are fed by their associated chakras. The endocrine glands manufacture hormones and supply them to the bloodstream, where they are carried to the organs and tissues in your body. The seven nerve plexuses, which are also located along your spinal cord, are responsible for transmitting nerve impulses. They are also dense with neuropeptides. 

Neuropeptides have been dubbed the “molecules of emotion” as they are the chemistry associated with our emotions. They do not rely on transmission through the nervous system. If you are experiencing happiness, for example, you will find neuropeptides associated with happiness in your body; if you are sad, there will be ”sad” neuropeptides in your body, and so forth.

Each of the seven areas that contain these structures can be seen as a model of the bodymind. Your endocrine gland represents your body; the neuropeptides your emotions; the nerve plexus correlates with your mind; the subtle energy of the chakra correlates with your spirit.  

If a chakra is damaged it may cause disruption in the function of its associated endocrine gland. And, because the activity of the endocrine glands and nerve plexuses is interrelated and interdependent, if an endocrine gland isn’t functioning properly, it may affect your entire bodymind.”

One must also take care working with the Chakras, Judy Jacka in her book Synthesis of Healing states that, “The Base Chakra houses the Kundalini ‘fire’, which rises up the spine after all the Chakras have become activated and vitalised.  It can be raised prematurely by unwise meditation practices, such as concentrating for long periods on the lower Chakras or through the use of hallucinogenic drugs: if this happens serious health problems can result” 

Base Chakra

Muladhara Charka

Governed by the Adrenal glands, bones and the Spine

Pre-birth – Choosing to be Born

Standing Present Rooted to Earth

Will to Survive

Element – Earth

Colour – Red

The Seat of the Kundalini

Sacral Chakra

Svadhisthana Charka

Governed by the Reproductive Organs

Relationship to other & the world

Childhood – Innocence

Joy – Gay Abandon

Wise use of Food, Sex & Money 

Element Water

Colour Orange

Solar Plexus Chakra

Manipura Charka

Governed by the Panaceas and the digestive system. 

The sweetness in our lives

Desires, wants, needs & greed

I stand in my Power


Element Fire

Colour Yellow

Heart Chakra

Anahata Charka

Governed by the Heart & Thymus gland. 

Unconditional & transpersonal love for self and others


Balance by the solar plexus manifesting wisdom – love

Element Air

Colour Green

Throat Chakra

Vishuddha Chakra

Governed by the thyroid and Para thyroid glands

The seat of communication


Words and the voice of silence

Creative expression

Balanced by the Sacral centre manifesting Creative Intelligence

Element Ether

Colour Blue

Third Eye Chakra

Ajna Charka

Governed by the Pituitary gland

The Conductor of all the energy centres

Synthesis of our Journey

The way in

Inner and outer vision

Mediative state, door to inner peace

Element Light

Colour Indigo

Crown Charka

Sahasrara Chakra

Governed by Pineal Gland

Spiritual home

At one with God/Universe 

Know thy true Purpose

Balanced with the Base manifesting as Spiritual Will

Element Thought

Colour Violet / White

Sahasrara Chakra

Governed by Pineal Gland

Spiritual home

At one with God/Universe 

Know thy true Purpose

Balanced with the Base manifesting as Spiritual Will

Element Thought

Colour Violet / White

Eighth charka

The Etheric Soul Centre around 12 cm above the crown. Returning home to the source. 

The total of the souls journey. 

Connecting the past, present and future. 


the chakras

Sensing our way through the Chakras, we acknowledge our deep & potentially transforming feelings 

feeling where that takes us now today through Movement & dance

dancing the expression of what we feel & Sense

Sensing our truth in the feeling

feeling the need to dance


Sensing feelindancing

Five part session  in the tradition of Dr Marcia Levanthal IDTIA training.

Warm up:  Sit in a circle; Setting intention through Diamond Meditation*.  Guided meditation & visualisation through the charkas with emphasis on the featured chakra, attuning to the physical, emotional and spiritual selves

Release: Moving into the featured chakra using Embodied Bellydance® framework

*Diamond Meditation, is based on the use of Triangles of light in Esoteric Healing. In this work it is used to connect members of the group to a common goal and to a global matrix of other being working with the same intention. THE GOOD OF ALL. 

Theme: Dancing the featured chakra, facilitated through music and questions and statements given by me that are answered with dance, drawing and writing. 

Centring: Grounding and bringing consciousness back to the present and the group. Dancing as a group. Finding a conclusion through dance, drawing and writing. 

Closure: back to the circle. Sharing a movement Sitting sharing experience of dance, drawing, writing.  Closing meditation. 

*Diamond Meditation, is based on the use of Triangles of light in Esoteric Healing. In this work it is used to connect members of the group to a common goal and to a global matrix of other being working with the same intention. THE GOOD OF ALL. 

My personal exploration

This experience proved to be more than I expected for a number of reasons, one is that it allowed me to really participate in my own work and  to consolidate the years I had spent facilitating this for others.

Dancing the Charkas also involved preparing a loop for music that went for 1/2 an hour for each dance. As I want through the process of looping together the music, I was visualising the potential of each track. I really enjoyed that I was putting together this music for me and no one else. Although now that it is done it is ready to be shared with others.

I would close the door to my movement room and enter  the dance and as the dance entered me, the rest of my life melted away. 

There was only me, no responsibility for other. I danced with the intention, the gift that each Chakra gave me. Always coming back to the whole.  My overall experience was that it did not matter what state I was in when I entered the dance, tired, angry, happy and so on, I came out each time  feeling uplifted and revitalised. The dance bought up many things, sadness, negative emotions, insights etc. I danced them to another level. As I danced the drawings began to appear in my mind.  I began to draw as soon as the music stopped, I did not always finish them there and then so the dance continued. 

Breathing into the Bones into the legs into the earth.

A dance of the spine undulating close to the ground to the sound of earth ancient sounds of the Didgeridoo. 

Grounding: Feeling weight strongly with all the weight on one leg then the other. 

Dancing with percussive instruments

A dance of the feet  and legs pounding the ground, make a statement to heavy rhythmic drums.

Moving through space with purpose. The feet know where to go

Breathing into the fluid system, into the pelvis.

Legs supporting the pelvis, together creating circles and figure 8 movements. Music rhythmic and fluid. 

Dancing the fluid feeling of water as it moves in, around and through the pelvic bown.  Music sensual and slow.

Dancing the fast rhythmic movement of the legs as they shake from the ground up shaking the water of the pelvic bowl. Releasing the organs in in the Pelvic area

Leaping hoping skipping.

Music fluid, fun, sensual, sexy. 

Breathing into Belly the Navel 

Breathing into the organs of the belly. 

Moving from the organs

Emotional music. 

Opening an closing from the navel/belly Moving in all directions from the navel, lying down, standing up. horizontally vertically. 

Determined music with personality

Dancing the  the “I” the vertical self sagital self.

Dancing the warm of the sun in your belly. 

Breathing deeply into the Lungs

Feeling the palms of the hands. 

Open arms open hands lifting to the heavens supported by the lungs, radiating out from the Heart and back again.

Light airy music.  Music that pulls at your heart strings, that make you cry. Music that is uplifting that files you with joy. 

Dancing with  Veils. Dancing with out stretched arms. Feeling like a tree with branches and leaves blowing in the wind.  

Feeling the heart open and vulnerable

Sounding Chanting with no music, allowing the sound to become movement. 

circling the throat and the shoulders. Dancing the face the mouth the ears the nose

music that has vocals, music that makes you sing. music that inspires you creative senses and also connects your throat to the pelvis. 

introducing smells and things to taste. 

drawing, writing, making, creating to your dance

Eyes closed breathing and looking into the music. Introspective music looking into your centres 

Through your inner vision conducting the your body parts 

Following your intuition.

Dancing blinded folded.

Allowing the whole body to relax release and enter a trance like state and abandon one self to the music. Music repetitive and spiritually up lifting

Turning and Spinning, Sufi dance. 

Connecting to the whole self. seeing visions, aspirations, dreams, allowing them to move you. 

Finding the centre axis the centre of self. Breathing the whole, keep coming back to the whole.

Moving the connection between Earth and heaven

Music angelic, mystical, spiritual. 

Dancing the impressions that come into your mind/thoughts. 

The Solar Plexus Dance

The following is description of a short experiential that I facilitation at the Dance Movement Therapy Conference in 2007.

The Solar Plexus Charka being the“I” charka and the feeling centre,  also hold part of the beginning. 

Before we are bones (base Charka) before we touch the earth, we are Navel/Belly.

From the Navel we are attached to our mother In Utero via the Umbilical Cord.

I used principals of Embodied Bellydance® and inspired by Body Mind Centrings – “Navel Radiation”  Everything begins with or move through the navel. Navel as a primary source of movement that sends waves of energy undulates through and from the navel, radiating in all directions. 

Opening and closing like a flower. 

The Navel is the Driver

“Spine-navel” – behind the navel in front of the spine

All facilitated by the BREATH

Feel the support of the floor

Validating bones, soften and release them.

Guided visualisation to connect each Charka to the Solar Plexus charka

Breathing in the Navel rises to the ceiling , breathing out the navel falls to the floor

An effective way to engage to whole physical and mental body quickly

Be a ballon full of water.  As you breath in the water fills the whole ballon. As you breath out you deflate, empty.

Imagine that the ballon is being rolled by another;

Feel the water tipping from one side to the other from one end to the other.

coming back to the breath and the Navel

The Breath

Creating  a deep connection to expanding and contracting, with the belly/navel as the centre or the motor that drives the movement.

Include limbs, head and tail.  

What do I want, what do I need

The music changed. The predominant theme was expanding and contracting, opening and closing to feel the support of the Solar Plexus.  

I can feel it in my Gut

As the music became more rhythmic and trance like, and got faster and faster, so did the dance.  

The process ended with time for the movers to consolidate by drawing and writing, finishing in a feedback circle, where I asked each person to share their process using three words. 

What participants from weekly sessions  had to say about SFD the Chakras

Taking this journey through my body, and my soul/my self, connected me as a whole and drew my attention to parts of me I had neglected/abused/over-indulged, the colours; the music; the drawing all pulled this together in the ONE that is ME –

Judith Kavermann  Implementation Co-ordinator VP

My experience of dancing the Chakras allowed me to integrate a traumatic event that had occurred in my life and helped me find connection and healing within my body, mind and spirit. 

 I remember the safe and sacred space that was created to allow me to explore the Charkas though movement and creativity. I loved the freedom of expression. I was humbled by the support I found in the other women of the group. It opened my heart, mind and body to new possibilities. I really enjoyed the experience and it has inspired me greatly, the dancing and you Maria have played a large role in who I am today and what I aspire to be as a therapist. 

Sarah Crisp – Transpersonal art therapy student

 It was beautiful.  I loved the way you harmonised the colours of the props with the relevant chakra colour, and provided music and  activities that were totally appropriate to the function of that chakra.  It felt as though it pulled  energy from all over my body to be channelled to and through that chakra, so that I got a much clearer sense of the feeling and function of the chakra. 

Helena McCallum Psychologist

We were all deeply connected in joyful self expression. it has been a profoundly unforgettable experience.  

Naomi Martin, Massage Therapist, Mother

It was my life blood when working through difficult times, a profound way to communicate with my soul and a wondorous healing practice in a beautifully held and supported environment. 

Andrea ,(Participated in the dance for 5 years, accident trauma victim )

“I was able to connect with so many deep and joyous parts of myself, dance is such a liberating form to immerse yourself in, and for this I’m always grateful to Maria for opening up a space where I could feel free to explore my soul without fear.” 

Jessica – poet and mother of two


Taking into consideration what Candace Pert’s research has found about  neuropeptides – “Molecules of Emotion”,  we need to understand the Chakras as an intrinsic part of the healing mechanism. They are not an abstract notion but something real and concrete. Then there is no better way than the creative arts especially movement and dance to give the neuropeptides the good time feeling they need to help us to be. By using the personality of each of the Chakras give us a beautiful palet of expressions for movement and dance to assist in the transformation and change that movement and dance gives. 


Candace B. Pert PhD, Molecules of Emotion, The Science behind Mind-Body Medicine. Scribner, 1997

Judy Jacka, p. 58, Synthesis in Healing, 2003.

Didgeridoo music is deep and earthy 

The circular breathy drone of the Didgeridoo helps to connect to gravity.

Go slow

“What do I want, What do I need”

What’s in a Name?

This article is based on an Email dialogue between Amera from Amera’s palace in Sydney and my self that took place early 2001, in between our busy live and her computer crashing. 

I was inspired to write about our discussions because while Amera and I share the common ground of Middle Eastern dance, the way we dance and what influences us are very different, but between us there is a willingness to accept each other and our passion for what we do. 

The topic of our conversation was,  the  confusion around the different names, who calls what what? Why? Predominately what the title Raqs Sharqi represents and perhaps some light on the subject.

I have included excerpts from our conversations and my own research and thoughts on the subject. We would love to hear what any one else has to say about this subject.

Amera was distressed when a girl came to the shop and asked her what the difference between Raqs Sharqi and Belly dance was and what did it all mean. The Style of dance the girl was referring to was ‘Hilal Raqs Sharqi’, the girl had been to a workshop with a Hilal Raqs Sharqi  teacher. The girl was confused, and this is where it goes from here. . .

Amera told her “As long as you dance, love it and dance”

Amera wrote, “I call myself an Oriental dancer, in Arabic I’ll say Raks Sharqi, and if you still don’t know what Oriental is I’ll say Belly – what’s in a name, call it what you want, and do the best you can!”

I call myself an Egyptian dancer or Raqs Sharqi dancer. Because I believe more and more that I am possessed by the Spirit of an Egyptian gypsy with a big belly and my style has very traditional base.

I am very influenced by Hilal Raqs Sharqi. Of all the workshop I have attend the Hilal School Workshops are the ones that are closest to my heart as far as the style of dance goes,  but I am not of the school. The school of Hilal Raqs Sharqi in the past has uses the Title Raqs Sharqi as if it is just their dance and that is part of where the confusion lies. It is more appropriate when they call it Hilal Raqs Sharqi or Hilal Technique or Hilal Art, as Suraya hilal does herself now.

A brief glossary

Raqs Sharqi:- Arabic term or Eastern or Oriental Dance  nick name ‘Sharri’

Raqs Baladi:- The dance of the people (if in Egypt it is the dance of theEgyptian people if in Tunisia is the the Tunisian people etc.)

Raqs Sha’abi:- Folk Dance of the Country people; Popular dance – The Felahin and Saiddi (that is in Egypt). Shaabi os also what is popular today.

Oriental dance:- Many people like to use this title, Ibrahim Farrah used this title, but as Amera said sometimes people get it confused and associate oriental with Asia.

Middle Eastern Dance:– A very popular alternate title to Belly Dance.

Belly Dance:– This is the most common title known. Every one understands it, but sometimes what they understand is not what you want them to understand. In its purity, it is the style that marries all the styles of Middle Eastern dance and is largely influenced by America. It was originally called Le Dance du Ventre Meaning belly dance in French. One of the reason why the Hilal School of Raqs Sharqi disassociates itself from this name is because it does have so many connotations, and sometimes in the name of Belly Dance, the art has been bastardised and exploited for many reason, which in fact it has, (but that is another story).

Belly Dance can be so many things, depend on your influence and preferred style. It has grown changed evolved as has everything else.

I said to Amera “What I am interested in talking about with you, is the way you see the different styles. Like how who you define the style you dance and people who are you contemporaries, and how you would define the way I dance? and how do you see them fitting into the history of this dance.”

Amera said to me “I think that the different styles are just an extension of people and there personalities, then there is the pioneers of different styles, taking as far back as Samia Gamal, Nayima Akaif, Taheya Carioca, then going into the 70’s Nagua Fouad, and to many others like Mona Said, Zizi Mustapha,Aza Sherif, going into the 80s people like Aida Nour and Fifi Abdou, 90’s-Lucy, Dina,  Then there are people outside Egypt, that have made a huge difference to the dance, like Suraya Hilal, that have put western knowledge into it – but have tried to separate it in teaching and give the students other things to think about, and give them room to judge it – why should it be like that why put a divide in it in this part of history ?

Already, religion and social status in the middle east, put women down because they become dancers or singers, why now do it in Western society, we can move ahead in other areas of our lives, we now have colour TV not black and white, we all use email, this is a part of moving forward.”

Amera talked about the pioneers of different styles. Those that she has mentioned, are the dancers of the mid 19 hundreds, because that is the style that she is influenced by.  My influence is more of the Folk or Gypsy root that goes back even further. And the Earlier Baladi, which is where  some of those stars like Fifi Abdo came from.

When Amera talks about the influence people have had outside of Egypt and mentions Suraya Hilal, what she is concerned about is not what they are teaching as far as teaching the dance. Hilal has done a lot to promote the roots of Egyptian Raqs Sharqi – predominately in her Shaabi and Baladi styles  and marries very contemporary ways of teaching. The problem is the political content. That is reflected in anyone who comes into contact with the school. They love the style so much, and either become completely engrossed in the politics or very confused. If you become a student of Hilal raqs Sharqi you are required to relinquish contact and dissociate oneself from any other form of Middle Eastern dance, especially Belly Dance and I am speaking from experience. It is very confusing and sad for some one like myself. You find the dance style you are looking for and it has conditions attached to it, that have nothing the do with the dance its self.

 Amera is right it is the year 2001, why create a divide. Perhaps what we need is more clarification.  In this day and age why not find a way to support each other.  The standard of all forms of MED has improved 100 fold. Lets promote integrity lets create room for better more contemporary ways of teaching and opened people minds. Alas there still is the archaic view of Belly Dancing, where ignorant people associate it with something sordid and sleazy and alas there is still the restaurant owner who wants to keep it that way because he thinks that is what the public want.

As I mentioned earlier, I call my dance Egyptian Dance or Raqs Sharqi. I  prefer to make a distinction between what I dance and teach and Belly Dance. Not because I think it is a sin to be called a Belly Dancer, and many people do call me a Belly Dancer and i let them.

For me the reasons  are practical;- as far as teaching goes, I have a very different approach to teaching than most Belly Dance teaches I know and am aware of. I like to promote my style of dance and explain it so that people come to know that there are many styles. I also don’t relate to what the general public’s definition of a belly dancer is. If someone rings me up looking for a Belly Dancer for a party I usually send someone else because when I ask them what they are looking for,I often don’t fit the bill.

One more reason is that I love the title ‘Raqs Sharqi’ it sounds good, it goes with ‘Flamenco’ and we don’t call Flamenco ‘Foot stomp dance’.

The other side and I have another side, is that ‘Belly Dancer’ is such a commonly used name and there is a  public that just enjoys it for what it is, without a lot of drama. As I said many people refer to me as ‘Maria the Belly dancer’, sometimes I give them the Raqs Sharqi talk and sometimes I just let them go because I know that they just accept it as another valid dance form. In some circles it is a very valid art form, especially amongst artistic, spiritually seeking and creative people and teenagers. My daughters friend think it is great she has a mother who is a Belly Dancer.

As Amera says, call it what you like. As for me I will probably just keep calling it everything.

To finish this story –

Amera’s answer to me when I said that my dance chose me . . .

“I can understand this. Dance does choose who it wants to be a part of and vice a versa, dance is an expression of love, and life”

And I said “As far as appreciating watching a dancer. I enjoy people who dance from their hearts. I really enjoy watching you dance, because you are very sincere, like you are as a person”



Laban & Dance Movement Therapy

Laban terminology as a matrix for organising expressive experience and its relevance to DMT.

 Dancing with the Dusters

When Joan Littlewood asked Laban what attracted him to dance, he replied: “I saw the man polishing a ballroom floor with two dusters tied to his feet.

 “What a lovely job” I thought. “ That is the way I shall go”

(Newlove and Daby p.10,  2004)

To know that Laban chose to become a dancer whilst watching a man polishing the floor with 2 dusters tied to his feet would indicate that a man with this kind of thinking alone that develops a movement language, would lend itself totally to the craft of Dance Movement Therapy (DMT). I believe that it is this kind of vision and inspiration that a Dance Movement Therapist needs to hold a client group, let alone the language that Laban gave to the world of dance. The more I explore Laban and know of the way he came to develop his method the more I can understand and embody the language of Laban Movement Analysis (LMA).  Rudolf Laban was born in 1879 in Pratislava, when it was a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He was one of the greatest innovators of his time. Laban was man with immense charisma, who changed the course of dance in the twentieth Centaury. Laban was a great teacher who never stoped learning.

Laban Movement Analysis holds intrinsic value in DMT. Through the use of the Laban language we are able to interpret and describe movement qualities of those we are witnessing in the dance.  LMA draws on the theories of effort and shape to describe interpret and document human movement. Through this common language we are able to speak with peers, colleagues and employers about the movement qualities that we witness in our client populations in a language that everyone understands. The use of the LMA also helps us to think and make quick assessments of what we see, which is a great tool when we are writing about our clients.

Laban a Way of Seeing and Experiencing

Although I am still a fledgling in the understanding of the language of the Laban Efforts, I find that if I think of the Efforts as “the storytellers”, it helps me to grasp the meaning of them. The more I do understand the more it helps me with my groups. I chose this paper because I wanted to become clearer about Laban. I found that drawing up the charts (see bellow) myself this time has given me a stronger connection to the language. Through the process of writing this paper I have began to experience LMA more fulling than ever before. I am more willing to formulate a movement experience for my client groups from a LMA perspective. This is helping me be have a sharper direction in my intervention, It is enabling me to keep a stronger focus and on track with my objectives. One of them being to affect and expand the client’s movement range.

Dunphy and Scott (2003)  talk about the importance of Laban in terms of it being a whole body, expansive in all direction and dimensions dance form.

“Our experience has indicated the merits of the Laban framework’s expressive and expansionistic approach to movement and dance for people with intellectual disabilities. Movement restrictions imposed but physical and congestive disabilities and compounded by sedentary life style and limited choices, make it particularly important that no further restrictions are placed in movement potential.”  (Dumphy, Scott p. 20, 2003)

I work with a group of women with very low energy.

Their energy is:

  • Sustained time – they generally move slowly
  • Heavy weight – They prefer to sit down and carry a lethargic demena
  • Indirect space – they seldom move directly or purposely through space
  • Bound flow – their movements as often staccato and angular with limited range

From this place I can work on simply taking the opposite polarity and choosing a variety of effort qualities

I can use:

  • Slash time – I can give them a short swimming noodles and ask them to hit the each others noodle, or the floor, or the wall this would become, sustained, direct, heavy weight. It would have an impact, I would affect their inertia and also in Riechian terms it would help to move deeper feelings, consciously or unconsciously.
  • Dab /flick  weight – conducting an orchestra to their favourite music with their hands moving from their wrist as their arms move in space in sustained time.
  • Direct Space – walking purposefully across the room. Stomping their feet would add strong weight.
  • Free Flow – Dancing with Peacock feathers to Straus blue Danube

I don’t think one can talk about Laban without adding Irmgard Bartenieff to the equation. As with many great innovative people there is someone there to help them to consolidate the inspirational, creative genius, which is what she did by giving the effort a framework. She then added her own genius that became Bartenieff Fundamental, which I have found much easier to understand and embody. This is because they begin within the body and move out. I am comfortable here, the same way I am comfortable with body Mind Centring, which are much of the same. I love the repatterning system of Bartenieff and exlproation of the development movement pattern of BMC and navel radiation. I am organically drawn to this part of a Laban rooted practice because it is also very much a part of Belly dance and is also what I use to teach bellydance. Bellydance in turn has been a great tool for me in my  DMT work. I draw on it often.

Kinesphere: the area that the body is moving within and how the mover is paying attention to it.

I love the term Kinesphere. We can take the Efforts and apply them to a persons Kinesphere and we can see by looking at the body part separately and as a whole what is happening. We can see the connection they have to their movement qualities and help them to understand what they are by mirroring back to them and then expanding then and giving them back.

In conclusion, through doing this paper I am much the wiser and more confident with Laban MA. This is also because over the years of simple keeping it in mind even when I did not feel it flowing, has helped me to find my way into it. I think the penny has nearly dropped as my shorthand teacher used to say, When the penny drops.

Laban System of Efforts

Polarities / Factors
Time Quick / Sustained
Weight Heavy / Light
Space Direct / Indirect
Flow Bound / Free


Effort Qualities

Time Weight Space Flow
Press Sustained Heavy Direct Bound
Punch Quick Heavy Direct Bound
Dab Quick Light Direct Free
Flick Quick Light Indirect Free
Slash Quick Heavy Indirect Free
Wring Sustained Heavy Indirect Bound
Float Sustained Light Indirect Free
Glide Sustained Light Direct Free
Light <> Strong          Indirect <> Direct         Urgent  <> Sustained          Bound  <> Free
Light Indulgent/expansive intention in weight Delicate of fine to touch
Strong Fighting/condensing intention in weight Having an impact
Indirect Indulgent/expansive attention in space Flexible, multi-overlapping foci
Direct Fighting/condensing attention in space To the point, aimed, blunt
Urgent Fighting/condensing decision in time Spark-like excited, rushed
Sustained Indulgent/expansive decision in time Leisurely, prolonged, endless
Bound Fighting/condensing emotions or continuity Careful restrained, controlled
Free indulgent/expansive emotions or continuity Abandoned, uncontrolled, unlimited
A combination of equal parts of 2 Effort Elements
Weight + Flow Dream State Light/Free. Strong/Free. Light/Bound, Strong/Bound
Space + Time Awake State Indirect/Sustained, Direct/Sustained, Indirect/Urgent, Direct/Urgent
Time + Weight Rhythm State Sustained/Light, Sustained/Strong, Urgent/Light, Urgent/Strong
Space + Flow Remote State Indirect/free, Indirect/Bound, Direct/Free, Direct/Bound
Time + Flow Mobile State Urgent/Free, Urgent/Bound, Sustained/Free, Sustained/Bound
Weight + Space Stable State Strong/Direct, Strong/Indirect, LIght/Direct, Light/Indirect
A combination of equal parts of three Effort Elements
Action Drives: Equal parts of Space, Weight & Time. Only Acton Drives are provided with individual names for each combination
Strong Weight + Direct Space + Urgent Time Punch Action Drive
Light Weight + Direct Space + Urgent Time Dab Action Drive
Strong Weight + Indirect Space + Urgent Time Slash Action Drive
Light Weight + Indirect Space + Urgent Time Flick Action Drive
Strong Weight + Direct Space + Sustained Time Press Action Drive
Light Weight + Direct Space + Sustained Time Glide Action Drive
Strong Weight + Indirect Space + Sustained Time Wring Action Drive
Light Weight + Indirect Space + Sustained Time Float Action Drive
Transformation Drives
Weight + Time + Flow Passion Drive
Time + Space + Flow Vision Drive
Weight + Space + Flow Spell Drive



Dumphy, K & Scott, J (2003) Chapter 2, Creative dance using a Laban-based approach, Freedom to Move, Maclennan + Petty