Archive for Author Morgiana

About the Author: Morgiana
Morgiana has been belly dancing in and beyond Southwestern Pennsylvania since 2002.

10 minute band workout

Notes:  Don’t forget to do a brief warm up that explores your range of motion in all major joints: walking in place with slow shoulder rolls, a big hip circle, etc.  You’ll also want to allow some time for basic stretches, including hips, back, shoulders, and hamstrings.

This workout is just a guide, with ideas of exercises that alternate upper and lower body so you don’t get too fatigued, as well as creating a “flow” to maximize your time.  Have fun creating your own flow out of your favorites, or adding or subtracting exercises to fit your time frame.  Just make sure you are working both sides of every muscle (ex. Biceps AND triceps) so that you stay balanced.  If you have more time, do the circuit twice!

Always listen to your body.  Participation in any exercise program is at your own risk, so if something doesn’t feel right, modify it, or skip it!  This is your workout, after all.  Talk to your doctor if you feel joint pain or strains beyond normal muscle fatigue.

  1. Start with band under both feet. Two steps right, two rows (keep wrists straight!) Repeat to left. (5 to each side)
  1. Keep weight in your heels and sit back.(2 sets of 10) You can add a twist in the second set.
  1. Bicep curls. Elbows stay in toward your body.(2 sets of 10)
  1. Drop one side of band. Shoulder raise R side, then crossing your body. Then switch to L. (one set of 10 each)
  1. Lunges with upper back pull – band in front of you, held shoulder width apart. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you pull your hands back. (one set of 10 each side). Make sure your toes are pointing in the same direction, and you are coming straight down.
  1. A little Cardio! Jump ups. Hands to floor, then knees, then air (or calf raises). (10 total, stay down on last)
  2. Elbows under shoulders, pull your abs in, nice straight back! Hold for 20.
  3. Pushups (one set of 10) – can do these off of a wall, or from all fours, knees, or plank. You can also start with a yoga ball or sturdy bench under your legs – just leave a clear space in case you slip off!
  4. From all fours, back extensions (elbow to knee) (one set each side)
  5. Tricep pushups seated with hands behind you – or “dip” from a sturdy chair or stair (2 sets of 10)
  6. Roll down. 20 straight crunches.
  7. Reverse crunches or toe taps (20)
  8. Knees in to chest. Roll side to side (10 each side)
  9. side crunches, 20 each side
  10. Bridge, pulse up with glutes (20)
  11. Roll up to squatting, nice slow roll up to standing to finish.

Feb 2015 – All About the Love

“Dare to love yourself as if you were a rainbow with gold at both ends.” – Aberjhani


Thanks to all who came out to dance and support dancers this past Saturday at the Anti-Valentine Hafla, hosted by the wonderful Angie Mitchell.  This Hafla (belly dance party) was anything but “Anti-“, filled with captivating, original performances by students and professionals alike, and a fantastic, responsive audience sharing our love of the dance.  I was thrilled to finally perform my “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Firiend” piece before so many friendly faces, and it was a big hit.  (If you haven’t gotten a chance yet, you can find my special “Making of…” article here.

Looking for something fun to do for Valentine’s Day tomorrow night?  I will be performing at Tamarind Savoring India, 2101 Greentree Road, 15220 Saturday Feb 14 6:30-9:30 p.m. Enjoy live middle eastern music by Rich Ermlick and Harvey, and bellydance by Husna, Amythest and myself while sampling delicious Indian food.  No reservations needed!  Bring a date, a friend, or your family.

Cold weather have you down?  Research has shown that regular exercise and spending time with friends can help ease those winter blues.  Do both by grabbing a friend and joining me on Tuesdays at 4:45 for belly dance fitness at CMU’s University Center.   If toning muscle is more your goal, my Fox Chapel body sculpt classes are starting again soon, as well.  Register at, or for more info.

Notice something NEW this month?  I spent some time getting to know your names a little better, editing your profile in my list so that I could address you a little more personally.  If I spelled your first name wrong,  your greeting still says, “friend” or you have a different preference, you can edit your Subscriber Preferences by clicking the Mail Chimp link below.

Hope to see you dancing soon!


The Making of “Diamonds…”

Morgiana dancing with finished fans

Finished piece! Performed  Feb 7, 2015 (photo thanks to Robert Metil)

I’m very excited to be presenting a new piece at the upcoming Anti-Valentine Hafla, Feb. 7 2015, to Marilyn Monroe’s iconic “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend”.  Other than dancing to a great song, what thrills me most is getting the chance to not just perform, but really design the piece from scratch. Here’s a sneak preview of what has been going on:

The Music
I listened to a LOT of different versions of the song; from Marilyn to Eartha Kitt, from Moulin Rouge and Burlesque to a lesser known bollywood remix.  I wanted something with a good rhythm, upbeat but sensual, and a really memorable ending.  I ended up choosing the original Marilyn version, from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.  It had two out of three, and so the challenge of practicing with music that had no real “backbeat” began.

The Dance
I started playing with the song about a month ago, using practice fans.  There was a lot of figuring out how best to use them, when to snap them open or closed, and working in a variety of moves without the fans distracting from the actual dancing.  I looked at clips from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, as well as work of other belly dancers for inspiration.  I wanted to not just dance to the music, but really capture the lyrics and heart of the song.

The Fans
Like most performers who make their livings performing, I didn’t have a lot to spend on props for this. So I put my propping skills to the test.  I found a pair of cheap fan veils on Amazon, and made one of them into a left hand fan by switching the ribs around.  Then I trimmed off the excess veil (some of which I would later use as a hip wrap) and added some lovely silver lame that I found in the scrap bins at work.

pink fan with silver detail

Cheated, using painter’s tape to secure the silver fabric before sewing. Lame is very hard to pin to chiffon!

Then I blinged them out, using some pretty chandelier beads to hide my seams, and adding in some gems. I had to be careful not to go overboard or use too much glue, as that effects the flutter of the fan as well as how well it opens and closes.  I finished with a dry brush of silver on the ribbing.

Pink and silver fans with gems.

Finished fans, ready for dance.

The Jewels
As gems go, I must admit I am much more of a pearl girl than a diamond diva.  To paraphrase Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, “Oh, I think diamonds are devine, on older women, but not so much for me…don’t you agree?”  As such, I didn’t have much in the outright bling department, and again, didn’t have a whole lot to spend.  Back to prop skills.  I found a great pair of earrings on clearance at Target and married the posts with a broken pair I already had.  Then I took the leftover bits and worked them into a choker with a few pearls and a little gold.  Perfect!IMG_20150201_160314


Now, back to practicing!

Shimmying into a New Year

” As long as I am breathing, in my eyes, I am just beginning.”  — Criss Jams, Killosophy

Dear Friend,

If you substitute “dancing” for “breathing” in the above quote, you’ll just about get how I’m feeling going into 2015.  Even though I must admit that I unfortunately fell out of practice with my newsletter writing, 2014 was far from an idle year for me.  Through dance, I forged some wonderful new relationships and unforgettable performance opportunities, teaming up with local band Amun Raqs as well as the lovely and talented Lalita, winner of the 2012 Belly Off Competition, to perform at events such as Luvest 2014 as well as the Cathedral of Learning’s annual Holiday Open House.  Performing to a huge receptive crowd in the Cathedral’s impressive lobby was truly a one of a kind experience.
Cathedral of Learning Performance
** Photo Courtesy of Marcel Walker

For something completely different, I put my dance (and new LED fire fans) to the test with Colonel Eagleburger’s Highstepping Good Time Band this holiday season, performing as the eclectic Marching Band’s “fireguard” at Light Up NIght.  I look forward to more performances in 2015, especially as the weather warms.

This year, my goals (I don’t believe in resolutions) are simple; Show Up and Shimmy.  To dance more, to breathe more, and to bring more entertainment and belly dance to the Pittsburgh area…and beyond.  So far, just 12 days in, I’ve gotten off to a pretty good start.  My morning practice has a new life and resolve, and I am excitedly working on a brand new, unique piece that I’ll be debuting at the Anti Valentine’s Hafla on Feb 7, alongside many other great performances by Pittsburgh’s talented belly dance community.  Check out the event page here.

I’m also happy to announce that I am now offering a belly dance fitness class as part of Carnegie Mellon University’s Group X program.  At 4:30 pm every Tuesday, students, staff, and outside community alike can get a great core workout with me while learning and drilling belly dance moves in a fun, relaxed atmosphere.  Classes are low cost and open to the public, click here for more info.

Stay warm and I hope to see you dancing soon!


Small Business Saturday – Nov. 30, 2013

Small Business Saturday is also my birthday this year – How cool is that?

While you are contemplating, here are five ways you can support my own small business, give me a happy birthday, and feel good for yourself – all in one!

1. Sign up for Jinglethon!  Nov. 30 is the last day of the Thanksgiving special, 2 tickets for $30.  That means you can share the fun with a friend and save enough money to go out for hot chocolate and cookies afterwards.  Part of the proceeds goes to programming for local cancer survivors, so you can feel good about that too.

2. Join me at Alba Fitness!  Monday Nights – 7:30 pm, Monroeville (just a block away from CCAC Boyce) Class will be held Dec. 9, 16, and 30, and are a great opportunity to work off holiday stress and stiffness with some soft and sexy ab work to great beats.  Alba Fitness offers class cards – 6 classes for $25 that make great gifts.  Get an extra one as a stocking stuffer and spend time with a good friend.

3. Book a show!  Limited bookings are still available for December, January and February parties, and priority booking is already available for spring and summer weddings, parties and special events.  Don’t stress over entertainment for your big event last minute when you can get first pick of dates before 2014 even hits, and win big when I create memorable moments for you and your guests.  Find out how I can dazzle at your event by emailing .  Mention “Small Business Saturday” and get 10% off any 2014 show if you book it by Dec. 31.

4.  Cheer me on!  “Like” Morgiana’s Dance or Moquette Volante on Facebook.  If you already have, invite a few friends to do likewise.  Leave a comment if you particularly liked a recent show.  Share a photo or two.

5. Sign up for my newsletter, and keep in touch.  I am always open to new ideas and insights.

Thank you for your support!


Belly Dance and Fitness – Overview

“Belly Dance” is a broad term referring to various styles of Middle Eastern Dance, including Arabic, Egyptian Cabaret, American Tribal, and Turkish, just to name a few.  Each of these styles is characterized by isolations of muscle groups as well as the focus on movement from the core rather than from the limbs as in most European dance styles.

While belly dance in the East seems to have existed in some form or other since before recorded history it made its first appearance in America in 1893.  Audiences at the Chicago World’s Fair thrilled at Little Egypt’s unique and exotic dance performances.  The popularity of the art spread throughout the 20th century inspiring not only Hollywood and Vaudeville, but modern dance pioneers such as Ruth St. Denis and Isadora Duncan as well.

Popularity of belly dance for fitness soared in the 1970’s with the release of an album by Turkish dancer Ozel Turkbas, which included an instructional booklet.  Women across the United States sought classes at YWCAs and private studios alike, finding a low impact cardio workout with fun, sensual movements that celebrated camaraderie among classmates.

Today, men as well as women across the globe are learning to belly dance, enjoying benefits such as increased body confidence, better posture, toned muscles, and increased agility, just to name a few.

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Morgiana’s Notes – August 2013

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

This past month, I have been working and learning quite a lot outside of my normal comfort zone.  A creative thinker by nature, the “logical” world of technology is frustrating, confusing, and yes, a little bit scary to me.  Despite this, I have taken it on, welcomed the new challenges, found some great resources, and not only redesigned this newsletter but started a new website, . While it is an ongoing work in progress, one of my favorite features is the calendar on the right hand side, which allows you to scroll over dates and find the next class or performance.

So how about you? Are you currently learning anything outside of your comfort zone?  Feel free to share it with me!  Whether trying out Belly dance or Zumba for the first time, getting back into a regular fitness routine, or adding a new move or prop work to your already developing abilities, it’s easy to get frustrated with yourself.  The best skills are rarely learned overnight, so cut yourself a little slack, use your resources (I am always happy to answer what I can, refer what I cannot), and be proud of what you’ve accomplished.  Because if I can face Technology, anyone can dance.

Here are some upcoming chances to dance or watch a performance:

Wonderaddo Launch
August 31, 2013 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM
Pittsburgh Public Market, FREE (tips gladly accepted)

A fun, world-culture oriented family event.  I will be performing with talented local dancers. Enjoy the dancing as you sample local delights from the market’s vendors, then get up and dance with us!  A mini lesson will start at 12:30.

Fall Classes in Shadyside (Wednesdays, 7pm)  and Fox Chapel (Thursdays, 6:30pm) will begin the second week of September.  I’ve looked forward to them all summer, and hope you have too.  I will send out information on how to register soon.  Meanwhile, if you have mornings free, join me in a Zumba Gold class at Alba Fitness in Monroeville (just down the road from CCAC Boyce) on Thursdays at 9:30am.  Classes are only $5, and support a wonderful locally owned new business that I hope will thrive.

Wishing you many reasons to dance!


aka Kristin Ward

Would you like to receive a monthly email of  Morgiana’s Notes?  Just fill out the form on the upper right hand side to subscribe!

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