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Najia Marlyz
A Teacher or Coach:
What’s the Difference?

Why All Performing Dancers Need a Dance Coach
by Najia Marlyz
Bay Point, Greater San Francisco Bay Area, CA

What was it that the police officer said in that movie?  I think he said, “Badge? I don’t need no stinkin’ badge!”  Well, perhaps not, and it is certain that because you have a teacher, can dance beautifully, and get plenty of gigs too, you might think you don’t need no stinkin’ coach either…

However, I would like you to imagine what you might become if you only knew some of what it is that you do not know now… 

People will not tell you the truth, you know.  If they thought your dance was lacking, they feel sorry for you, and they will say something they think sounds supportive and positive.  If it was a truly amazing performance, they will say something that they think sounds supportive and positive. I hope that they will always cheer and never boo your efforts.  However, you cannot see yourself the way that another person can see you. 

Video not only adds ten pounds but also often subtracts the magic that is the essence of your dance.  Aren’t you just a little bit curious how another looks at your dance and sees…what?  Don’t you wonder sometimes if your dance is all that it could be?  If you have begun to believe in your dance skills as outstanding in quality, or that your skills are substantially on the road to superior (though it would be embarrassing to admit that aloud to very many people), it is time!

It is not a moment too soon to find a coach who can aid you in all phases of your performances—from costuming (Does this costume make me look voluptuous—or just like I have a huge derrière?) to technique and choosing just the right music.

Most performers have a great deal of untapped potential; additionally, many consider it cheating to engage a professional coach and yet, that is exactly what they would look for if this were the Olympics and they were competing for the gold. Obtaining a performance coach to enhance what it is that you are good at doing is probably your next logical step in attaining your dance goals and subsequently renewing your inspiration. It is less publicly revealing of your little faux pas and deficiencies when you can work without witnesses hearing your questions and hearing assessments of your skills and corrections of errors in technique. Therefore, you will want to work in private with an experienced dance coach who has had a full dance career in performance skills. (The better you are as a dancer, the more we can accomplish together!) 

Since the time I began to dance in 1968 and now, I have developed some unique insights into coaching Western dancers in the Eastern dance (and creative dance form also) and have become a recognized coach in the field of performance dancing because of the amazing and rapid improvement others see in my clients’ dancing. 

I urge dancers who perform in public, and some who are about to begin performing, to seek the benefits of working with an appropriate performance coach as I did for about three years when I was just beginning to perform.

I offer my clientele private sessions (one-on-one) that take place during the daytime and on alternating weekends, in a small, non-intimidating home-studio environment in Bay Point, California. (Greater San Francisco Bay Area, near Concord, Martinez.) You will need private transportation to get to my studio.

I never require my coaching clients to “start over” with beginner’s lessons (even if it becomes evident to me that some of them have vast un-addressed lack of dance concepts missing from their dance technique).  Consequently, I enter them into a sort of dance triage.  When using term “dance triage” I mean the sort of selective treatment order one might receive in a crowded emergency room of a hospital. I take on areas of egregious neglect and need and, at the same time, build upon strengths of survival that have sustained my client’s dance thus far.  If some part your dance needs a tourniquet, I will see that you understand exactly why!

Without exception, my dancers move forward from wherever they are in dance presently to a greater level of dance expression that they most certainly would not have envisioned alone.

However, in order to withstand the process of my triage, dancers must have a real love for moving in an extemporaneous style of composition and must have outgrown the Western need to rely on a formal choreography. (Please note that the term “choreography” means nothing more than a pre-planned written dance for skillful memorization. However, in my opinion, in recent years, it has come to imply an element of legitimacy in form and stature that is a false impression and a debilitating crutch. Therefore, I will not be creating choreography for you or helping you with anyone else’s.) I will teach you how to listen to music analytically and how to react to it as a unique dance artist.

“The magic of Oriental dance springs from an intense desire to communicate emotional truths by moving one’s body from the inside out.” --Najia

If you move from your emotional center, (not the dancer’s center of gravity!) you should continue your learning process by adding a dance coach to your dance life and career, nonetheless. Even though this may increase your dance involvement at least a couple of times per month, one should not drop classes with a current instructor so that social contacts in dance are not broken.  These contacts remain important in one’s dance advancement now because they will become a part of one’s dance networking in the future.

“Coaching is an intimate process in which your ability to grow in dance, your needs, and your heart's desire for your life reflected through dance will come under intense scrutiny.” --Najia

In order to do it right, coaching takes time, and to know you well enough to access what you need will take time and repetition as well as numerous performances of all types: birthdays, recitals, festivals, etc.  New paths should open for you, and one or two get-togethers can only reveal to a coach where they are—not how to reach the performer with the new information deemed necessary. Whether dance clients can enter onto those new paths securely depends on intent, dedication, and follow-though.

My Scheduling:
Most clients schedule a two-hour session on alternating weeks on a designated day at a set time that remains constant twice per month.  Coaching time is open on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and alternating weekends--both Saturday and Sunday.  You may schedule your coaching sessions to begin between 9:30 in the morning and 4:30 in the afternoon; the latest possible appointment would be 4:30 to 6:30, unless there are some special circumstances involved.

9 months of the year are available for booking your coaching sessions!

However, I book no sessions between the Fourth of July and Labor Day in September, or from Thanksgiving through the first week of the New Year, or on national holidays—except for my regular clientele and on an urgent basis.

Take care to begin coaching sessions only if you expect to stay involved for at least a year after your first two-hour session!  Planning to finish what you have begun is an important part of making your dance become outstanding and professional.  You need not worry about getting involved in a process that you cannot handle or enjoy. In the event that you are not satisfied after our first or second dance session together, I will schedule you for a consultation to try to identify your goals more clearly.  Then, I will put you in touch with another instructor who is prepared to work with you on your goals in a style of instruction different from mine.

Currently, in 2006, one two-hour coaching session costs $75, while a consultation is $45. for one hour.  However, along with inflation and overhead expenses, fees may increase occasionally. (I will tell you if my fee has changed when we first make contact.) I will never obligate you to pay for blocks of lessons because I prefer to receive payment after each session. /p>

Protocol requires 24-hour notice of your cancellation of a session.  It is not always possible to re-schedule missed sessions.  Please note that though there are a few exceptions, the full fee is due for any session missed without a formal phone or email cancellation.

I take coaching seriously, and though I may wish to remain flexible, I will not accept excuses that are preventable happenings because follow-through is part of your capacity to work professionally.

You may phone me and leave a message at
(925) 709-0300

during the day.

Articles on Gilded Serpent by Najia Marlyz
Opinion and Advice, Dance and Teaching Techniques, Memoirs and History, Costuming and Textiles, Reviews, Miscellany

Opinion and Advice
2-17-06 This is Not a Review: Bellydance Superstars Commentary by Najia Marlyz
Herein lies one major flaw concerning the concept of superstardom in Bellydance: choreography. While choreography is a form of quality assurance, it is also assurance that the quality attained will be less than stellar in Bellydance!

4-9-04 Who Died and Made You Queen of Dance?
This lack of background basic performing experience would be unheard of and un-tolerated in any other dance form.

12-2-03 Advice from a Temporal Dance Oracle --Dance related disputes

9-9-03 Searching for Your New Dance Teacher, The First Interview

7-25-03 The New Age Adage for Performing Dancers
If you have nothing to say through your dance, do not dance.

8-12-02 Certifying the Certifiers, The Chicken or the Egg? Part Two By Najia El-Mouzayen, ... artists and stars are born, not schooled. You’ve either “got it, or you don’t”

6-6-02 Certifying the Certifiers By Najia El-Mouzayen
...this has occurred because of the current need to be correct, and within certain predictable standards of competence rather than special, unique, outstanding, unusual, memorable, or even (gasp!) emotion producing...

2-6-02 What do You Owe Your Dance Teacher, besides a Christmas Fruitcake?
Teaching involves a selflessness that often does not often jibe with the egotism it takes to be an outstanding performer.

12-14-00 Why Take Private Lessons and Coaching?
You will enhance your presentation beyond your wildest dreams!

9-18-00 Dancing to the Houri's Siren
She was always there dancing at my shoulder and up-staging me in my own mind...

 2-20-00 Entertainment or Art?
It is possible to be an artiste in a non-art form in the sense that one may be skilled, professional and artistic at the business of entertainment.

9-23-99 Welcome to Bellydance
..Do not allow anyone to limit your possibilities.

A Case against Standardization in Nomenclature for Belly Dance Instruction

February 1999 Najia introduces her new column

12-7-01 Rakkasah West 2002 Looms Ahead By Najia El-Mouzayen
Although Rakkasah still is an attempt to give all dance performers an equal opportunity, results of the phone-in to book a dance time is often very chancy because of high demand.

Dance and Teaching Techniques
9-15-06 The Taxim from a Dancer's Perspective:Tarab or Tyranny? by Najia Marlyz
Sometimes, these improvisations can be quite elaborate. The effect is somewhat like modern jazz and stays within the framework of the traditional maqam or maqamat.

11-28-06 Back to Basics by Najia Marlyz
Belly Dance is most meaningful when we define it as a communication of mutually held emotional response and truths between people

12-24-03 Dancing Inside Out

10-28-03 Raks Assaya Instruction at Najia’s Studio
Demonstrated by Rawan El-Mouzayen (Arab-American, age 3)

5-23-03 The “It Factor”
Between the two men, my dance teacher and my artistic lover, how could I not learn to bring the movements from the core (heart) to the outside?

3-2-03 Painting Dance -Fabulous!
I'd like dancers to understand how the ideas of color, texture, tone, shading, etc. can also apply to the art of speaking through movement.

1-11-03 Music to My Ears, How I Learned to Hear Like a Dancer
Musical interpretation is the single, most important skill that can elevate the Oriental dancer from the chorus line to the spotlight.

11-21-02 The Great American Belly Dance Veil Routine by Najia El Mouzayen
After having said all that, I must add that American style Oriental/Belly dance is a distinctive style composed of creative elements that are simply outstanding.

4-10-02 "Does Learning Constitute Copying? My Musings about Sharing Dance"
I could still feel her pain as she spoke...

10-19-01 Follow the Bouncing Butt; in Defense of a Teaching Method
Some of the "Follow Me" teachers should be more aptly described as "inspirationally oriented".

5-9-01 Taming the Wild Frilly-Lou Bird, Or Training Your Hands to Dance
Once the dancer learns the skill of audience dialogue through energy transfer...

3-10-01 Put Your Dance on a Pedestal
Many dancers make the mistake of using the entire width of the front part of their feet when they dance, because they have never been taught dancer's footwork. "Ankle wobble"indicates...

5-19-00 Dance Emotion, Part 2
The audience is not going to care, or even notice, that a dancer did a high-stepping Fandango Walking Step with an over-lay of a Soheir Zaki Head Tilt and a really fine ......

11-24-99 Dance Emotion, Part 1
"The place of dance is within the heart."

6-7-99 Becoming a Fanana of the Belly Dance-
Instead of a musical slave, I believe it is your calling as a dancer to interplay with the music.

Memoirs and History
3-5-07 My Dance Career’s Dark Side: As seen through a fog of murky emotion by Najia Marlyz
Will recounting my dark stories help me to purge them? Should one forget those special moments of insult and bad human behavior that all performers face?

1-12-07 1-12-07 The Magnificent Fundraiser Part IV: The Berkeley Fire Department and Act 3, Bert and Najia's Duet by Najia Marlyz Slideshow coding by Tammy Yee
Near the end of our Second Act, the curtain began to smolder badly filling the air with an acrid stench and blue smoke...

6-18-06 The Magnificent Fundraiser Part Three: Acts I and II by Najia Marlyz’s dancers and producers sometimes write that they believe that large stage shows with good sound and lighting, a Master of Ceremonies, and live music are only now starting production ...

4-7-06 The Magnificent Fundraiser, Part Two- Police Barriers Surround Event by Najia Marlyz
Over coffee, we decided that our fundraiser would have to be an extraordinary dance show rather than “just another student night” or worse yet, a studio recital.

1-30-06The Magnificent Fundraiser by Najia Marlyz
That included the Belly dance, which he confided in me (later) that he had hated, because it had been introduced to Greece during the time that Greece was under the suppression and control of the Turks.

3-31-05 Defiant Dancer: How I became a Dance Pioneer In a small 1970s California Community Festival My attitude turned from community spirit to outright defiance.

11-19-01 "A Star Remembered, The Maturation of a Career in Performing"
last thing in the world that I wanted for myself and my own dance career was to be a "forty year old belly dancer".

2-17-01 Zil Thrills in the '70s, Memories from another Viewpoint
My experience with Bert was the opposite, however; the cymbals were hardly a secret.

12-16-99 The North Beach Project
I took leave before I was invited to leave.

Costuming and Textiles
4-18-07 Antique Textiles: Renewed Life for Dance by Najia Marlyz
In fact, we often danced for many little luncheon gigs in offices and other places as a surprise
birthday gift—to the music of our own solo sagat. Now, that is a skill that I have never seen anyone repeat since the early seventies!

9-15-05 Part Five; Lace and My Muses: Treasures by Najia Marlyz
I was looking at a piece of artwork featuring a classical dancer of the past, turning it this way and that to get a better view, and suddenly, I realized that I had lost contact with my treasured mentors and had also abandoned my sense of artistic direction that they had helped to foster within me.

2-16-05 Lace and My Muses, Part 4 of 5:Tarnished StarDust
Not until very recent times, could I admit, even to myself, that I had lost a large part of my creative thrust along with many of my treasured friendships because I had perceived wrongly that I needed to become more like the Egyptian and Lebanese dancers of the day.

11-08-04 Lace and My Muses: In Search of A Personal Style Part Three
I suggest that “elevating Belly dance” to the standards of western dance would be counter-productive in the long-term rather than a valid goal for us to desire.

8-3-04 Lace and My Muses: Everything Old Becomes New Again Section 1, Part Two
Now it was the ancient, exotic art of Belly dancing and my fantasies of the bizarre life of a Belly dancer that smoked incense into my heart.

6-15-04 Lace and My Muses Part 1: Egyptian Mummy Lace or “Assiute Cloth”
I fastened around my hips a white Assuite cloth encrusted with gold knots throughout, forming pictographs of falcons, pyramids, crosses, and diamond shaped designs.

Poetry and Allegories about Dance
12-31-05 The Key: an Allegory* in Which a Courtesan Dancer Greets the New Year by Najia Marlyz
Court dancer, Raven, was lost in thought as she shifted her gaze toward a novice barefoot dancer whose name she could not remember.

12-16-04 Raven of the Night: Dancer’s Allegory for New Year’s Eve 2005
Raven of the Night was the name by which he thought of her–but feathers? Raven had none! She was the castle’s Dancer of Dreams and aspired to become Jester of the Court...

12-31-03 The New Year's Dance Poetry by Najia

6-16-05 Surreyya: Adding Dance to Her Repertoire
Set choreographies are seldom the “stuff of dreams” but simply serve as crutches for the dancer who has not developed a “clean edge”.

2-25-04 Live Music and Me: The Third Sunday at El Morocco, Photos and story provided by Faridha, Written by Najia Marlyz
Live musicians, whether hot or just luke warm, alway confront the dancer with a set of variables.

10-22-02 A Story Written with Arabic Idioms; Why it is Difficult to Translate Arabic songs into English, Story by Annonymous, Translations and interpretations by Rima El-Mouzayen, Introduction by Najia El-Mouzayen
“just try to read it in English and at the same time, think in Lebanese Arabic…if you can! "

7-31-00 MiniDisc Recorders-The Best Kept Secret for Music Lovers I would unhesitatingly recommend that, at the very least, a dancer should own a MiniDisc recorder for its editing function alone.

7-2-99"The Living Goddess", June 18, 1999, Marin County, CA by Najia El Mouzayen
Theatrical Dance production by Dhyanis

8-13-02 "Yarus” by Mirage CD Review by Najia
The Mirage sound is exceptionally clean ...

7-16-02 “Pangia, Classic & Original Music Arranged with the Dancer in Mind” CD Reviewed by Najia El-Mouzayen
this well recorded music gives the “Belly Dance” a decidedly fusion flavor

4-27-02 “Amera “Wahyatak Habibi: Music for Middle Eastern Dance” CD Review by Najia El-Mouzayen
...the production is meant to be "dancer-friendly" ...

3-16-02 “Modern Bellydance from Lebanon, The Enchanted Dance” Produced and arranged by Emad Sayyah, Reviewed by Najia El-Mouzayen You are going to have to strap on your dancin’ stiletto heels tightly...

3-15-02 Review of “Qanun El Tarab” By H. Ramsy and M. Serour Reviewed by Najia El Mouzayen
Ramzy has fired yet another musical salvo across the bow of your tall ship...

3-6-02 Nourhan Sharif Presents: "Arabic Rhythms Volume Wahid" Reviewed by Najia El-Mouzayen
...consisted of rhythms disembodied from the motivational force of complete music

10-28-01 "Faddah" (Silver) by Hossam Ramzy, A Review and Commentary by Najia El-Mouzayen
Dancers who have enjoyed many of Hossam Ramzy's 16 other CDs will doubtlessly be thrilled by this beautifully produced collection of new music.

10-15-01 Turkish Bellydance: Nasrah By the Ensemble Huseyin Turkmenler CD reviewed by Najia
What an absolutely delightful surprise it was...

9-29-00 "Halawah" on Compact Disc by Reda Darwish review by Najia El-Mouzayen
San Francisco's favorite Egyptian drummer has again produced a musical offering for the dancer and Middle Eastern music fans.




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