Suhaila Salimpour in Wellington


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I couldn’t believe my eyes last year when I saw the post on FB that Suhaila would be coming to Wellington in February 2015!

Suhaila? THE Suhaila Salimpour??? WOW! What a great opportunity to study her format and Jamila’s format too. 4 days of workshops - 6 hours a day. Two days of the Suhaila format and two days of the Jamila format. How could I not go?

I flew down to Wellington the day before the workshops and chilled out enjoying all that Cuba St had to offer – our motel was just around the corner to Cuba St and a 10 minute walk to the dance studios. Perfect! My roomies were Lisa from Napier, and Amy and Natalie from Brisbane, Australia. They were a really good group of girls to share with and it was lovely to be able to come back after a day of workshops and catch up and still be buzzing about what we’d just done.

We started the first day off with Suhaila introducing herself and Sabriye. She was being assisted by Sabriye who is her Level 5 student, teacher and professional dancer in her own right (she had just flown in from Dubai where she was working), and it was to prove invaluable to have the two of them there to train us.

It was wonderful to hear from Suhaila how her format had developed, her experiences over the years, her upbringing and so on. She was very open and approachable and funny too. We had a lot of laughs with them both.

For the whole four days, every session began with an intense warm-up and strengthening exercises for approx. 30 minutes. I loved this! Suhaila also incorporated some isolated drills for the glute clenches and undulations. This was cleverly done as although it was part of the warm-up, it also got you practising them every time.

Every session ended with a cool down stretch and relaxation. I think it really helped to combat any strains that can occur from not having a proper warm-up/cool down.

A hafla was arranged for the Friday night and even after a full day of drills, for those of us who were performing, we were so full of energy and on a high from another wonderful day that our feet felt light and that we could dance all night.

I performed a Shaabi number that I was taught by Aleksey Ryaboshapka - a lively, full of energy choreography that I love to do. How wonderful it was to be able to perform for Suhaila.

The four day workshops were progressive and each day we built upon what we learnt the day before. Day 4 in the afternoon it all culminated in a choreography. The steps that we’d been doing for the past four days were incorporated into the choreography so they seemed really familiar and it was a great way to learn the choreography.

And then, it was all over – all too soon! At the beginning the days seemed so lovely and long and endless, but now it had reached the end. I was really sad to leave as I had had a fantastic time in Wellington with the girls and to meet Suhaila and Sabriye and study under them was quite out of this world! I am so pleased I went and didn’t miss this opportunity.

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