Roula Said is a multi-faceted artist who has mainly dedicated her talents to Middle Eastern music and dance. One of Canada’s leading lights in the world of bellydance, Roula is the director of Om Laila Studioand the vocalist, dancer and percussionista of Gypsy/Arabic funk band, Nomadica(which she co-leads with Juno-Award Winning trumpeter and composer, David Buchbinder). Roula is also principal Arabic vocalist for David’s upcoming project,Routes of Andalucia, which will premier on opening night of Toronto’s new cultural institution, the Agha Khan Museum, in September 2014.
Roula is an inspiring teacher who has been sharing the wisdom and pleasure of bellydance for over 25 years. She has taught workshops from coast to coast in Canada, as well as in the US. Along with her warm and poetic teaching style, Roula also brings to students her fluency in the Arabic language and vast knowledge of Middle Eastern music. As a musician, she sings and plays qanun and percussion, having studied with George Sawa, Simon Shaheen, Bassam Bishara and master musicians in Aleppo, Syria.
Roula is also a masterful finger cymbal player and has developed a thorough and challenging methodology for teaching and playing the saghat/zills which she is currently setting to video. She is also excited to launch the Musical Dancer Choir in the fall of 2014, presenting Arabic song and dance as never before.
Two of Liz’s greatest passions in life are Belly dance and Midwifery. Liz has been belly dancing since 2002 and was part of fire troupe, Luminous in Montreal as well as dance troupe, Language of the Priestess. She is a graduate of the Om Laila Essential Bellydance teacher training course and is currently a member of the Bellydancer Choir as well as a brand new dance troupe troupe to emerge from Om Laila that is as yet unnamed. Liz completed midwifery school in El Paso Texas in 2011 and has attended births in Trinidad and Tobago, Guatemala, the south pacific and The United States. One of the things that she loves about working with women during pregnancy is that they are in a constant state of growth and change. This is a special time in life when the potential for transformation is the most available to us. Knowledge is power. Liz sees bellydance as an avenue to empowerment through the art of movement and self-exploration. Feeling confident in yourself and what your body can do is an essential element to have in your tool belt for birth and motherhood where your limits will surely be tested.
Roula Said’s Seven waves is a moving experience. It is moving through space in a delicious way; moving energy through the entire body; spiritually moving , moving body and mind in a relaxed harmony which creates a grace of movement and a feeling of grace. One is moved by music that is beautiful, joyful and sometimes almost trance-inducing. It includes the smallest and subtlest of movements that bring remarkable comfort and release. It is moving to strength. The seven waves strengthen core muscles. My back problems have diminished. Without my even noticing, my abs are stronger than any time in my entire life. Wow. It’s an extra.
For me the Seven waves is also about moving forward into the future. In my 60’s, when I might expect to be shutting down and accepting the limitations of my aging body, accustoming myself to all the minor aches and pains, I am delighted instead to find myself opening up and finding that my body and I are happier together than we have ever been.
In her classes Roula speaks of allowing, inviting, opening, listening. Her approach is gentle – one never fears injury or strain. It is the polar opposite of boot camp. She has an uncanny intelligence about the body and a very sensitive intuition. Often when she initiates a subtle change to movement, it is exactly what my body wants, and I wonder: how did she know that?
Oh, and it’s not all airy-fairy cosmic either. Earthy is a better description and with Roula, laughter is always part of the process. A seven waves session feels like a total body massage and produces feelings of joy and contentment. Really. It is that good. I love it.
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