Bring Nadira to Your Town!


It’s easy to find instruction on the “what”

If you want to learn moves, choreography, and combinations, you have lots of options.
Most classes, DVDs, and workshops focus on those exclusively. And those things are important.

But they only take you so far.

What if you need help with the “why” and “how”?

It’s a lot harder to find instruction on musicality, culture, composition, stagecraft, and performance skills…

The things that make you an artist, not a cookie-cutter copy.


NadiraJamal-Red-PeekThat’s where I come in

Other teachers give you moves and choreography to copy.
I geek out on how the dance works, so you can create it yourself.

You’ll leave my workshops with useful skills, not a choreography you’ll forget by next week.

What I can help with

My #1 specialty is improvisation. Learning to improvise usually feels like being thrown in the deep end of the pool. I teach improv as a set of skills that you can learn step-by-step.

I also teach composition, personal style development, stage presence, 9/8s (both Turkish and American style karsilama), low-cost video production, and habit cultivation.

My Workshop Resume

I was proud to teach at the following events:

  • Shimmies for a Cure 2007 (MA)
  • Shimmies for a Cure 2008 (MA)
  • Shimmy-a-thon 2014 (NH)
  • Solo workshop in Austin sponsored by Jamie Lynn and Treasure Marshall 2014 (TX)
  • Las Vegas Belly Dance Intensive 2014 (NV)
  • Shimmy-a-thon 2015 (VT)
  • Daughters of Atlas Belly Dance Festival 2016 (ND)
  • Cabaret Dance Camp 2016 (TX)
  • Austin Belly Dance Convention 2017 (TX)

Plus multiple self-hosted workshops in the Boston area.

So let’s get together!

I’d love to come to your town to geek out with you. (And your students, colleagues, troupe, etc.)

You can find my workshop menu below. If you don’t see what you need there, just let me know. I’m happy to develop a custom workshop just for you.

If you are interested in hosting one of these workshops, contact me to get started.

Let’s get started 

(Or if hosting isn’t for you, send your wishlist to your local workshop sponsors.)

Popular Topics:


Stop Drawing a Blank!
Description Do you have trouble thinking of moves when you improvise? Drawing a blank is the result of having too many choices, not too few!

This workshop will help you use your movement vocabulary more effectively when you improvise. You’ll learn to:

  • Open up the free flow of ideas
  • Identify your personal safety moves
  • Transition between them smoothly
  • Use them to create interesting and lovely dancing
  • Use simple mnemonic tricks to make the rest of your movement vocabulary accessible – and more responsive to the music!

Note: this workshop includes journaling exercises as well as dancing. Participants will need paper and a pen.

Approximate Run Time 90 minutes
May be adapted for 60-120 minute timeslots.
Audience Appropriate for all levels and styles.
However, for maximum benefit, participants should be comfortable with at least 10 belly dance movements that are appropriate for their skill level.


Scribble-Proof Your Improv
Description Do you worry about boring your audience when you improvise, but “scribble” when you try to do more?

Most dancers don’t realize that interesting dancing doesn’t need more “stuff”, it needs structure.

In this workshop, you’ll learn to organize your dance, so your audience can follow your train of thought. You’ll learn important structural tools, including:

  • Continuity
  • Alternation Patterns
  • Theme & Variation
  • Compositional Skeletons
  • Safety Riffs

Note: this workshop includes journaling exercises as well as dancing. Participants will need paper and a pen.

Approximate Run Time 2 hours
May be adapted for a 90-minute time slot, or up to a full day.
Audience Appropriate for all levels and styles.
However, for maximum benefit, participants should be comfortable with at least 10 belly dance movements that are appropriate for their skill level.


Composition: It’s Elemental!
Description This workshop presents an analytical approach to dance composition, by exploring the 4 elements of abstract movement: Space, Shape, Time, and Energy.

That’s a geeky way of saying that you’ll learn an organized, straight-forward way to give your dance texture and variety.

We’ll examine the four elements in detail, look at the many ways you can vary them, and how those variations evoke different responses in your audience.

The workshop will include:

  • Analytical vs. Intuitive composition
  • An explanation of the four elements
  • An introduction to element variations
  • Moving exercises for some variations
  • An improvisational exercise
  • The limitations of this method
  • How to use this method in improvisation

Workshop notes will be provided, including a recap of the topics covered, and information on further resources.

The goal of this workshop is to present compositional theory.

We will be doing a lot more talking and less dancing than in many workshops. The exercises are included to help explore and cement the ideas, not to teach specific technique or combinations.

Approximate Run Time 90 minutes minimum
2 hours recommended
May be expanded to up to 2 days.
Audience Appropriate for all levels and styles


Student Feedback on this workshop:

“Fabulous concept – perfectly executed! This is one workshop I will recall for a long time. Usually I come home and forget the combos we went over… but I remember silly things like what the instructor wore. This time I came home with a whole new attitude towards performance"
– Nastasia

“There were the actions that I may have known… but the feeling that it could give the audience … that point of view was something that I had not known before. I think it’s good to think of that when you’re choreographing.”
– Baseema

“Great topic. I haven’t seen anything like this before. You’re a great teacher with lots of energy. Very bubbly.”
– Baseema

9/8 911: Your Karsilama Emergency Kit
Description You’ve never danced to 9/8 music (karsilama) in your life, but the band starts playing Rompi Rompi.  You’ve seen dancers use skirtwork for karsilama, but you’re wearing a straight skirt.  What do you do?

Or maybe you’d love to use that awesome song you picked up on iTunes for your next hafla, but the 9/8 rhythm has you tripping over your own feet.

This workshop covers:

  • the 9/8 rhythm family
  • playing zils to 9/8 music
  • using standard belly dance moves (i.e., what you already know) with
    9/8 music
  • distinctively Turkish moves that give your dance that authentic Turkish flavor
  • a couple of easy-to-remember gestures to make people think you know
    what you’re talking about

Participants will receive a short “phrase book” handout, which will also include resources for further education on 9/8s.

Approximate Run Time 90-120 minutes
May be combined with additional karsilama workshops.
Audience Dancers with at least a beginner-level belly dance movement vocabulary.


Student Feedback on this workshop:

“Thank you for helping demystify this rhythm for me a bit more. I’ve been able to play/dance it but never really ‘understood’ what I was doing. You helped make that connection for me and it seems to be paying off.”

– Katie
Fleur de Leaf, LLC
Baton Rouge, LA

“Super informative, organized, well-presented class. A+”

– Alia Thabit

Getting from Point A to Point B: Transitions in Improv
Description You probably know that clean transitions add polish to your dance, but most dancers don’t realize that they also make improvisation easier. When you make friends with transitions, it’s easier to choose the next move, to make clear movement “statements” that make sense to your audience, and to innovate in the moment.

This workshop will help you use your movement vocabulary more effectively when you improvise.

You’ll learn:

  • How to identify your body position (and do it in the moment!)
  • The three types of transitions
  • A "wardrobe" of basic and ornamental transitions
  • Transition theory, so you can create your own transitions
  • Tips for making transitions an integral part of your learning and practice processes
Approximate Run Time 180 minutes
May be adapted for longer or shorter timeslots.
Audience Appropriate for all levels and styles.Participants must know at least 10 belly dance movements.


Student Feedback on this workshop:

“It was mind opening for me.I have always had trouble moving around the room and struggled with ‘scribbling’… [I would recommend it to] everyone who wants to achieve her personal best.”
– Portia


Low-Cost Video Production (Lecture)
Description Do you have a great idea for an instructional video, but think it’s out of reach? Ten years ago, a professional production would cost you thousands of dollars – money that could take years to recoup. But major changes in technology and publishing have made it possible to produce a professional-quality video for a few hundred dollars, rather than a few thousand. In fact, Nadira has produced two videos, each for less than $100 up-front.

In this session, Nadira will share her low-cost video production method. You’ll learn what resources and skills you need to produce a professional video, the lowest cost ways to get them, and what to do if the best option isn’t available to you.

Approximate Run Time 75 minutes
This can be done in an hour, if needed.
Audience Appropriate for all levels and styles.


Student Feedback on this workshop:

“Nadira’s guidance was invaluable to me when I made my first DVD.”
After her presentation, I felt like I had a map of previously unknown territory.
She presented the various options in ways that demystified them and lifted my paralysis.
I felt like I knew where to start, which is the hardest step of all.
Thank you, Nadira!
– Rosa Noreen, Creator of Delicious Pauses: Negative Space in Movement

Other topics:


Compositional Principles

Based on Nadira’s Taktaba podcast, these workshops take an analytical approach to dance composition by exploring the elements of abstract movement: space, shape, time, and energy. Not only do we explore what we can do, and how to do it, but we examine why it’s effective, and how it makes your audience feel.

How to use repetition for good, not evil

Learn simple “plug and play” repetition patterns that you can use to generate lots of new combinations. Learn how to use Theme & Variation to get the most variety out of your repetition. Most importantly, learn how these methods make your audiences feel.

Directing Focus

Just as a magician uses misdirection to hide what he’s doing, a dancer can use direction to control the audience’s focus. We’ll explore several ways of directing focus through continuous flow vs. discontinuous jumps, framing, gaze, and externalized lines of energy.

Using your Floor Space

Traveling patterns are one of the first techniques dancers learn, but very few of us think about why they are effective. Using simple traveling movements, we’ll examine several different floor patterns and their emotional effect on your audience. We’ll explore ways to make effective use of advancing and retreating, and to milk the drama in the contrast between movement and stillness.

Pace yourself!

Controlling how your dance unfolds enhances its beauty and maximizes its effect on your audience. Learn handy pacing tools like the “one minute rule”, the “one verse rule”, and the “peaks and troughs” rule. We’ll also touch on pacing for managing your endurance. Participants should bring veils.

Timing Patterns

Varying the timing of your movements is one of the simplest ways to turn boring repetition into mesmerizing, musical combinations. We’ll cover several different timing patterns, which rhythms they complement, and how to adapt them to playing zils. You’ll also learn combinations to help you practice and internalize those patterns.

Turkish Oryantal and 9/8s (aka Karsilama)

Classic AmCab Karsilama

A 9/8 (commonly called karsilama) is an exciting way to end your show, and my favorite part of a routine! This workshop covers the 9/8 rhythm, movements and combinations, American Cabaret skirt manipulation, gestures, finger cymbals, and mood. Historical and cultural context will also be covered, demystifying what comes from the Turkish Romani (“gypsy”) tradition vs. the American Cabaret repertoire. Participants will need to wear full skirts and an under layer (harem pants, leggings, or shorts).

Fancy Footwork, Turkish Style

We think of belly dance as being all in the hips, but the hallmark of Turkish style is its exuberant footwork. You’ll learn a variety of fancy footwork patterns to give your dance an authentic Turkish flavor. This workshop will focus on footwork for 9/8 rhythms, but some 4/4 material will be included as well.

Turkish Delight

Have you ever wondered why Turkish style looks so different from Arabic and American Cabaret, even though they use mostly the same moves? You’ll learn the unique aesthetics, embellishments, and yes, signature moves, that give Turkish oryantal its delicious flavor.

(This workshop will focus on dancing to music in 2/4 and 4/4. It pairs beautifully with any of my workshops on 9/8s.)

Finger Cymbals

Zils in Improvisation

Are zils the first thing to go when you try to improvise? You’ll establish safety patterns, explore ways to create variety in the moment, and learn how to play more complex patterns without having a meltdown.

Beyond The Ring

There are over a dozen different sounds you can play on the zils, but most dancers use only the ring. You’ll learn a repertoire of 5 interesting sounds, which we’ll mix and match into multi-sound patterns. You’ll also learn principles and tricks to help you mix sounds by habit.

(This can be done as a zils-only workshop, or we can incorporate combinations and/or improv drills.)

Lace: How to make your zils interesting, not overwhelming

Are you feeling uninspired with your zils? Claude Debussy said that “music is the space between the notes”. You’ll learn simple, systematic ways to make your zils more musical by incorporating silence. It’s like a piece of lace: it’s the holes that make it beautiful!


Routine Basics

Are you ready to move beyond 5-minute hafla sets? Learn the structure of the classic 6-part routine, as used in American Cabaret and Turkish styles. You’ll learn how the routine is structured, what the audience expects, and how to give it to them. We’ll also talk about how to adapt this format for parties and other shorter shows.

Note: this workshop was designed to take 120 minutes, but it can be adapted for many different lengths, from a one-hour seated lecture to a weekend of in-depth instruction on each section.

Song Mapping

Understanding the structure of a song is an important first step when creating a choreography. If you prefer to improvise your dance, it will help you make your performance more logical and accessible to your audience.

In this workshop, we will map out and analyze a song, including its:

  • Rhythmic structure
  • Number of measures
  • Phrasing
  • Accents

Note: this workshop is done primarily on paper, and includes little or no dancing. However, if enough time is allotted, it can be adapted to include sample combinations, a full choreography, or even for the participants to develop their own choreographic ideas.

Let Your Light Shine: The Secrets to Stage Presence

The difference between an okay performance and a great one is stage presence. Stage presence is the spotlight that lets the audience appreciate everything else you’re doing. Exquisite technique and even a great ear for the music are wasted if you don’t let your light shine. In this workshop, you’ll learn physical and mental techniques to help you radiate on stage, share your joy with the audience, and even feel more confident. This workshop is suitable for all levels, from beginners preparing for their first recitals to seasoned pros who want to bring more “oomph” to their show.

Walk This Way

Every dancer knows how to walk, but very few know use it as a dance move.
In this workshop, you’ll cultivate a great “dancer walk” that adds power to your entrance, and lets you create moments of stunning simplicity anywhere in your show.

This is not about traveling combos, and it’s not about layering.
This is about how to make just walking work as a primary element in your dance.

You’ll learn:

  • Technique: how to transform each step into a dance move
  • Stylization: how to create very different effects at a variety of speeds
  • Intention: how to bring “attitude” to your walking
  • Variation: decorative elements that add texture and nuance
  • Musicality: how to interpret the music without adding hip work
  • Conditioning: strengthening and stretching methods to keep your feet and legs happy

Note: This is a very foot-intensive class. Variations will be provided for those who aren’t comfortable working on relevee, but students with foot issues will need to be particularly pro-active about listening to their bodies, asking for modifications, and respecting their limits.


Don’t see what you need?

I’m happy to develop workshops to suit you. Just let me know what you need. You can email me at

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