My name is Roula Said. I am a dancer, singer, qanun player, percussionist, and teacher with over 25 years experience. I would like to welcome you to my world of beautiful Arabic dance and song, and health-giving Seven Waves movement.
Om Laila is my boutique studio, my temple and my treehouse. I am happy to share this very special space with an awesome group of women. Classes here are small and very much tailored to the people in the room. Our approach is holistic both in terms of our view of movement and the body and in terms of the material that we teach. At Om Laila you can learn a choreography to an Arabic song, learn to sing it, and to play it on finger cymbals or even a drum.
I teach 3 levels of Essential Bellydance, a Technique Tune-up class, and a unique class called The Musical Dancer which is a training ground for anybody interested in joining the Bellydancer Choir. I also teach monthly intensive workshops where you will learn an entire choreography and the song to go with it. And, I will be offering my second round of 20 hour Teacher Training with detailed video accompaniment to a select group this Fall 2014.
I am also happy to welcome some of my recent Teacher Training graduates to the Om Laila roster. They will be offering some fabulous specialty classes on Saturdays. Check the schedule and the class description for details.
If you are interested in joining us, please connect first to make sure we have space and to determine whether we are a fit for one another. Finding the right teacher at the right time can make all the difference.
How many times have you learned something that just clicked and improved your dancing instantaneously? I know many belly dancers that can’t wait to share their new tips and insight with their classmates, and now they can with the “AHA! Moment” book at Om Laila Studio.
If your teacher has offered wise words, if you learned by watching someone else in class or read some valuable information, share it in the book. Overtime this will be a collection that can be read by every Om Laila student to motivate and inspire.
And if you were wondering, that beautiful calligraphy says “Om Laila” in Arabic!
If you would like a mini-version of the “AHA! Moment” book, with your own name on the cover, let us know and one can be custom made for $20!
The Om Laila Bellydance Choir
In other exciting news the Om Laila Bellydance Choir continues to grow! This upcoming session will be the last for the $50/7 week price. Current students will have this tuition fee locked, so nothing changes if you have already been attending but if anyone is interested in joining the choir at this rate write to email@example.com to reserve a spot for the upcoming term.
Also new on Thursday evening is a choreography class with Kaleena that is being offered exclusive to choir members on a PWYC basis ($10 suggested) at 8pm. If you are interested in dancing the choreography for the songs we have been learning this is a great opportunity to grow with this exciting ensemble and have the dances under your (coin) belt to perform these numbers at shows and events.
Check out an example of one of the pieces we’re working on!
If you have been taking bellydance classes at Om Laila Studio for a while you might start thinking about performing. It’s definitely a fun and rewarding way to show off hard work and new skills to friends and family. While many students will always prefer to rock out in class (and that’s totally cool), others dance at events and fundraisers. Learning how to perform is a skill that takes a lot of practice, and most students start out with studio shows, dancing in groups to the choreographies they learn in class.
The Bellydance Choir is one of the best ways for Level 2 students and beyond to begin integrating what they have learned in their classes such as choreography, zilling and singing and putting it together with other dancers and students in this ensemble. Here’s a picture from rehearsal last week.
Outside of The Bellydance Choir, the dancers at Om Laila also perform at Toronto events such as bellydance parties and community fundraisers. Here’s Om Laila teachers Shaila and Liz performing Taala Waddani with zills at this year’s Moonlight Tribe for Nuit Blanche 2014. No doubt they were singing along as well!
The art of bellydancing also includes improvising to live music. The dancer has to have great technique, a deep understanding of the song she is dancing to and be able to feel the music; freeing her mind and surrendering her body to the essence of the song, as the band is playing it in the moment (and it’s never the same!) This is Camelia dancing with Nomadica at the Kittypants Fundraiser last weekend with Roula Said on vocals. This event raised money for seniors to have access to veterinary care for their animal companions! <3
Many students discover that performing at shows is when they really get to know their classmates and develop lasting friendships. Performing is fantastic for making friends, being social and bringing something together with a group that entertains and makes people happy. As an individual, bellydancing improves confidence and strengthens the mind-body connection.
Om Laila has 2 upcoming shows on November 8 and December 13. Stay tuned for more details!
The Musical Dancer class and choir was busy! It’s wonderful to have new members, and to sing, dance and play percussion with such a talented bunch! Here’s a picture of the group learning Ala Warag Il Foull.
These pictures are from Saturday’s Roma Dance Heritage Event that was part of Culture Days 2014 in Toronto. Roula’s band Nomadica played a fun and energetic set and event organizer, Iana Komarnytska danced beautifully with them. Photography by Ken Dobb
The Sing, Dance and Bring the Drama Workshops on Sunday were AMAZING! Om Laila was packed with students that were eager to learn the meaning behind the song, some choreography and how to express the lyrics through their own personalities in dance. In the last hour of the workshop the students took a go at soloing with Roula’s help; using the choreography they just learned and with a better understanding of the song’s meaning.
Here’s a picture of the workshop participants (Minus Liz) and a video of Kaleena working with Roula, to give you an idea of the final product of this workshop series!
The Musical Dancer class is geared toward the intermediate/advanced/professional dancer that wants to dig deep into Arab music, movement and sound. The class is learning a fun and challenging dance using only zills, while the choir continues to expand their repertoire of songs. At the end of the class we put our songs, choreography and percussion together, and voilà! Musical Dancers!
Learning Songs in The Musical Dancer Choir Thursdays at 7pm
Here are some examples of past collaborations with Roula, her students and other artists!
The new term of classes is well underway but new students can drop in for $20 any time!
This week Level 1 is working on essential bellydance moves: tilts, slides, twists and “the drawer,” as well as basic hip drops. The Level 2 class learned Roula’s basic zill methodology and has started on a new choreography.
Level 3 tonight at 6, followed by mixed level technique. The Musical Dancer Class is tomorrow at 6 (zill emphasis) and Musical Dancer Choir at 7 (singing). Any Om Laila student can attend the Musical Dancer Choir for free. For Non-Students the term fee is $50.
The 11:00 am Seven Waves class is FULL but there is almost enough students to start one Tuesdays at 11:00 am. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a spot.
“The Garden of Ideas” Contemporary Art from Pakistan at Aga Khan Museum in Toronto
Finally, Om Laila Studio’s Fall Workshop Series starts with the first on Sunday September 28. This three-part series is a tribute to Warda and focuses on learning the song and a choreography. Each choreography has a different character and energy to embody and communicate. More information on the Workshop Page and there is also a Facebook Event Group. Take one or take them all!
We are welcoming new and returning students to the fall term today with Beginner Level 2 at 6:00 pm and Beginner Level 1 at 7:30 pm and showing student appreciation by offering a handmade gift. Excited to see what everyone will pick! Here’e some pictures of the Om Laila-style bling.