*** Oxana Tokarchuk ***
With her sweet disposition, Oxana is a pleasure
to instruct and perform with. Her delicate yet sharp isolations and
infectious smile make her dance a true joy to behold.
Oxana was born in Russia
and moved with her family to the Ukraine. After graduating with
a degree in finance, she decided to travel a bit and found herself in Italy. It
was there that she began studying Middle Eastern dance with a local Italian
dancer who structured her classes to be a meditative and fun loving social
outlet for women. Oxana studied bellydance for four years during which she performed
group and solo performances. She then decided to come to the States to
study at Economics at UCSD. She enrolled in the bellydance
class held at UCSD's Recreation Department and
continued fostering her love for this dance form.
One year later, Oxana still takes the UCSD class
as well as Wednesday (Beginning) and Saturday (Intermediate) classes with Vilia. She was excited to attend the recent San Diego workshop
with Suhaila Salimpour
and was invited to perform with the HipSlingers
at the subsequent showcase.
Oxana's next show will be this month at Claire de
Lune with Middle Earth! Unfortunately, this will be a farewell performance
for Oxana as she will be returning to Italy at
the end of this month. However, plans for her return in September are in
the works! We will miss her while she's gone, but in the meantime, don't
miss Oxana's unique and beautiful style on
Thursday, June 21st at Claire de Lune. Show starts at 8PM and features
three additional dancers from the San
Diego area. Cover is just $5!
With the Suhaila workshop behind us, I have now
had time to reflect on my goals in this dance form. Of course there are the
spiritual and mental goals but even more pressing are the physical goals
which so annoyingly emerged while attempting to master the various
isolations upon isolations demanded by the Suhaila
dance format. And then of course there is the coveted "glute" shimmy made famous most recently on
"You Tube" as well as The Ellen Degeneres
Show. View Clip Here!
Those of you unfamiliar with the "Glute Shimmy" phenomenon, Suhaila
is the one who created and mastered this movement. Where hip
movement had always been taught as a simple bending and straightening of
the knees, Suhaila decided she would have a helluva lot more freedom to interpret the music with
her body if she could achieve hip movements (aka shimmies) by using her glutes so as not to rely on her feet, hamstrings and
quads. Not to mention the wear and tear it would save on her knees.
Years of practice later (she started routinely squeezing her glutes an hour a day to Prince's Purple Rain album when
she was 14), Suhaila can now vibrate her glutes achieving a perfect, double time shimmy without
relying on her feet/legs etc... In other words, try sliding down into a
second position split while shimmying with your knees!
So how does one achieve such a feat? Well, tons of practice in the form of glute squeezing wherever and whenever you can. Suhaila suggests an hour a day of practice for one
year. This might sound incredibly out of reach for those of us who crave
immediate gratification. However, in order to have this dance form taken
seriously, we have to accept and welcome the fact that there are some
techniques that will require time and hard work to achieve. After all, it
takes five straight years of ballet practice before one can even think
about acquiring the ankle and arch strength necessary to dance en pointe! Why should it be any different for Middle
So...is Suhaila a freak of nature or can others
achieve the "glute shimmy"? Apparently,
a handful of her dancers have achieved it. However, Suhaila
did admit that her two closest proteges, Kendra
and Tiffany were having trouble. After so many years of daily practice and
teaching of Suhaila's format, why were these
dancers not able to achieve their goal? It took some detective work by Suhaila's physical therapist to determine that the Iliotibial Band was a likely culprit.
** The IT Band **
The Iliotibial or IT Band is defined as, "a
superficial thickening of tissue on the outside of the thigh, extending
from the outside of the pelvis, over the hip and knee, and inserting just
below the knee. The band functions in coordination with several of the
thigh muscles to provide stability to the outside of the knee joint."
There is a whole syndrome associated with the IT Band (ITBS) which is often
suffered by runners and is characterized by pain in the knee.
So what does this have to do with the glutes?
Well, if this band gets too tight from various exercises involving
repetitive flexion of the legs as in running, cycling etc... it can not only cause knee problems, but can prevent the
full contraction of the gluteus muscles when attempting to do glute squeezes!
Since Tiffany was a former long distance runner prior to her training with Suhaila, this seemed to make sense. So what to do about
loosening up this IT Band? Well fortunately there are a number of stretches
designed to remedy the situation (Check out
www.howtostretch.com/iliotibi.htm). However, Suhaila
recommends the use of a foam roller (prescribed by her PT) which you use to
literally roll out your IT band by laying on top
of it, while positioned on your side. Slowly roll your leg up and down the
roller, pausing for up to 20 seconds at each sore area along your outer
thigh. This can be extremely painful for a beginner, but the pain will ease
up the more time you commit to it. Suhaila's prescriptin is to roll out your IT band once a day for
5 repetitions (that's 5 times up and down the roller).
You can purchase various sized rollers online (www.ptmart.com) or at some
sporting goods stores for a reasonable price. I got mine for just 5 bucks!
It is compact and easily fits into my gym bag. Larger ones are also
available if you would like to use it for other body parts such as the
back, neck, shoulders, calves and hip flexors. By the way, professional
ballet dancers have been using these rollers for years!
I've been "rolling" now for the last couple of weeks and I can
tell you it was extremely painful at first but after a few days I find that
I now look forward to stretching and loosening up that tissue...especially
after a work out. Check out this PDF file for more detailed pictures and
descriptions of how to use the roller for the IT Band and other parts of
********** SHOWS! **********
Friday, June 1st, 15th and 29th, Sunday, June 10th & July 13th &
27th - Vilia will be performing at the Marrakesh
Restaurant in La Jolla. Enjoy an exotic
Moroccan dining experience featuring two dance shows (7:30PM/9PM).
Friday, June 8th - Vilia performs at Armenian
Cafe in Carlsbad.
Enjoy two dance shows (7PM/8:30PM) with live music by Tatool
and John Bilezikjian! See side bar for location
Friday, June 15th - Jennifer performs at Armenian Cafe in Carlsbad. Enjoy two dance shows
(7PM/8:30PM) with live music by Tatool and John Bilezikjian!
Thursday, June 21st - Oxana performs at Claire de
Lune featuring live music with drummer Frank Lazzaro
and Middle Earth! Show starts at 8PM and features 3 additional dancers from
the San Diego
area. $5 Cover. See side bar for location information.
Friday, June 22nd, Jennifer performs at Zorba's
Greek Buffet. Enjoy live music, great food and four dancers! Seating is at
7:30PM..show starts at 8PM. (Chula
Tuesdays - Jennifer performs at Marrakesh in
La Jolla. First show starts around 7:30PM.
** See the "Relevant Links" column to the right for restaurant
websites and location information. **
For Detailed Class Descriptions
Middle Eastern Dance Basics
9500 Gilman Dr.
La Jolla, CA 92037
La Jolla YMCA Firehouse
7877 Herschel Ave.
La Jolla, CA 92037
Intermediate/Advanced Performance & Technique
3980 30th Street
San Diego, CA 92104
Private Coaching by Appointment
** Existing Students ** Bring a friend to class and receive your class
** All Students ** Purchase a 6-class card and receive a FREE half-hour
private coaching session valid for six months.