I've been coaching actors since I was a teenager involved in theater and improvisational comedy. I began coaching dancers in 1996 in performance skills, applying what I had learned in theater as well as in dance, particularly through my Breathwork for Performance method. Since 1996 I’ve coached and trained a few thousand dancers, singers, and other presenters in this body-and-breath-focused approach.
Getting coaching is a brave decision. You are willing to make yourself a little bit vulnerable, in order to (hopefully) reach a new level in your dancing or performance ability. I have strong respect for people like you who choose to do this, because it means you care more about your own excellence, and about allowing yourself the confidence you deserve, than about staying where you are, in a protected bubble. Because we need to try new things, in order to develop and progress, and to stay interesting to ourselves and to others.
It wasn't always easy for me to accept even slightly critical feedback, even though I really wanted to improve and reach a higher level. What worked for me the most was feeling respected and understood positively - a baseline of respect and acceptance from the teacher or coach that made me feel safe, like they "got me" and had my best interests in mind.
And what struck me when I became a coach myself is how few coaches or teachers of mine, looking back, really could see not only where I was, with that being OK, and where I could get to. Not all of them could see the diamond in the rough within me, could be honest with me about what I'd need to get there, but would know that I already had it. That belief and understanding it critical for creating a safe space to work in.
That belief is respect. And that is what I have for every single person I coach, and what I give to them in every session. If I don't have that feeling, I will not coach someone.
You are not just worthy of respect and appreciation when you reach a new level, but you are ALREADY worthy of respect, now. You already have something to offer, even if you are still working on capitalizing on it, or if you aren't sure what it is just yet.
(Maybe you are a perfectionist who doesn't want to accept that you are acceptable just yet, and if so, I get it, and also, you are in luck, because some of the people I enjoy working with the most are like that: People with high standards for themselves. 🙂 )
So this is what I want to share with you, about my coaching.
If you work with me, I am fully invested in your success as a person with a message, as an artist, and as a performer. I can see the genius and the talent inside you, your uniqueness, as well as the barriers you experience in getting it out into the world. And our job together is to overcome those barriers, working with my time-tested techniques for pushing past them.
Over the past few decades, in working with dancers of all levels, I have incorporated into my approach all of these:
directorial and acting techniques from my theater background; coaching techniques from my experiences in artist coaching circles as a participant and facilitator; Taoist and Ayurvedic principles, breathwork and meditation; knowledge of kinesthetic anatomy from multiple trainings and certifications in anatomy for dancers, yoga, and exercise science; Arab and Egyptian cultural perspectives when working with traditional dance interpretation; and aspects of cognitive psychology relevant to performers, from my master’s level research in psychology. I do not take a one-size-fits-all approach to coaching. I attend closely to each person as an invididual, and the details of an individual performance that indicate some underlying issues that can be worked on. It is not therapy, but some will find it therapeutic and freeing, and it can truly transform your performance and presence, by addressing the little details as well as making the deeper shifts.
My goal as a performance coach is to help you to develop a stronger sense of the connection between what is going on inside your mind during a performance, and how that reads to an audience on the outside.
I’ve observed many different amateur and professional performers and presenters in my years of coaching, so I am able to recognize quickly what certain signals can indicate, and how to gently dig deeper so that the performer is comfortable with the process. I work honestly and with compassion and respect for your process. I take a fresh approach to each performer, to see what they bring that might be different from similar traits I’ve observed in others, or in that same person on another occasion. From this, I’m able to note details that perhaps other coaches might miss, and I always gauge the receptivity of performers when I present these details to them, to have a sense of how best to offer my observations in a way that will help them and empower them in their own journey. This is a highly tailored approach, designed to produce comfort with what feel at times like a scary or difficult process, of digging deeper, to really find the gold in one’s own stage persona and technical capability.
To hear from previous coaching series participants (Bring Your Best and some Baladi Coaching Series members from past years) in their own words, on what it's like to join one of my series, watch this video.
Ranya's coaching is genius!
I am largely self-taught and I was used to filming myself in order to analyse and improve my dancing, so I already had a lot of ideas about what might be better. But Ranya made me realize things I would never have seen by myself. Her comments are always spot on and at the same time always super encouraging. And she will not only tell you what kind of changes might improve your dance but also how to achieve them. Especially her expertise on stage presence and performance qualities is invaluable and makes her coaching format unique. I highly recommend her program to any dancer who wants to not only dance better but also feel better about their dance.
I started acting in childhood. I experienced coaching from a great range of acting teachers and directors. Some were friendly and supportive and others were less sensitive. I used to have a hard time myself receiving critical feedback, until I started viewing it as a tool to help me, rather than as some thing personal. Because of that, I’m quite conscious when dealing with resistance to feedback, and I try to give you reflective information in a way that empowers you.
For me, the best coaches I had in acting and in dance were those that saw what my next step should be, before I could see it myself, and presented it to me, especially with some great visualization or tool to try. That is the kind of coach that I strive to be for my coachees. Someone who helps you see something you previously could not see, or allows you to really own something that you’d like to evolve, without judgment, and to start you confidently on that path of working on it.
This whole series has been very self-revelatory.
Over the past couple of years I've been trying different online sources of learning with some of my favorite teachers. The others have been helpful and useful because they helped me with technique, but is this the first one where it feels specific to me, [designed] to help me be a better dancer.
I was working toward an overall goal of trying to incorporate concepts, breath, really trying to make an impact on the audience. And Ranya’s coaching made me grow in the sense that there were things that I didn't realize I was doing or not doing. That really impacts the impact that I have on the audience.
WHAT TO EXPECT
It’s important to me that you feel taken care of in the coaching process: I approach my coachees with respect for where they are now and for the journey they are on. I also don’t consider any single performance moment to be something that identifies you definitively, or as any failure (or success!) as something to be “taken personally”: That is, a performance is just one moment in time, and it doesn’t necessarily reflect positively or negatively on the actual owner of that performance. Might it affect your image? Sure. Which is why we work on those things. But I don’t judge you at all by it, and neither should you judge yourself on it. A goal of my approach as a coach is to reduce attachment (and therefore pressure) on the results of any one performance, to make it more about the process of development and less about “nailing it” on any particular day. Nevertheless, I’m in the business of helping you to feel in control of your performances and to be able to even rescue your performances from mishaps to put you even more on top.
What I give you are simple, effective tools that you can apply immediately, in the moment, during your practice and in performance, to address confidence or disconnection issues as they come up. These tools, linked to performance concepts include physical practices, breathwork, character work, slogan-training, and visualizations, for direct application in your dance. I especially try to provide tools that combine physical and energetic/intentional work, so that you can “kill two birds with one stone” in integrating your physical performance with your emotional world. Armed with a personalized toolkit of the best tools for you, you can take to the stage feeling like you can handle whatever comes your way, and that you can save your performance when something goes off—because it will! And: that doesn’t have to be a problem. Rather, it’s an opportunity to build an even more powerful onstage persona, when you take charge of your performance.
“WHAT IF I’M NOT A PERFORMER?”
You can still benefit, because this work is not just for obvious performance contexts. My coaching methods are not only for those interested in public performance: I work with energy both for performance and for self-healing and connection. Some people dance for self-development, exercise, emotional release… whatever your application, this style of coaching is likely to offer you something beneficial. I have coached many dancers who didn’t have a performance goal but were looking to unlock or unblock certain parts of themselves, or to keep energy flowing, or just to develop in the dance as a dedicated hobby. I can help address your needs and goals through this process. Also worthy to mention: All the world's a stage. The confidence you build in the coaching experience with me will benefit you in many other areas of your life.
This is a very different learning experience.
I feel grateful for Ranya's coaching series, and I am very happy that I have registered for this course. This is a very different learning experience. The discussion and supportive comments from fellow dancers are the most precious ones I have gotten from this course. Ranya encouraged everyone to give specific comments on each piece, and so I learned to appreciate every different style and every level of dance in this group.
I once fell in some certain styles of dance, but after this course, I broadened my perspectives on various styles. I start to think about how each dancer's personality shapes this dance, and I should not follow other's footprints but create my own. I was not confident in my own choreography and always wanted to try to add more steps in it, but neglected the power of presenting true emotions. In this course, I learned how to show my emotions (which is also my ultimate goal when taking this course), and so the dance will come out naturally.
The breathing technique and the imagery training (painting the room, creating characters, etc.) are also amazing. I've tried to implement these ideas in my different dance pieces and I do find they work very well. This course also helped my teaching, that now I can teach other than techniques and have students go deeper into the meaning of the dance.
PRIVATE COACHING vs. SEMI-PRIVATE GROUP COACHING:
Which one is right for you?
I strongly recommend dancers go for the group option if they can arrange that, because then they can learn from others’ feedback too. I find people often make faster progress that way. In a group setting, I can point out things for you personally but also things that you AND your co-coachees can work on. You may find you have similar challenges to others in the group and can often really see it easier on them, the effect of trying new techniques. When you see someone else go through the problem-solving steps, it gives you the focus and confidence to try it too. In my experience people make very fast progress this way, and as they are “all in it together,” there is an element of support from the group as well as from me. Many coaching series participants have said that they were nervous to share in a group at first, but that feeling quickly evaporated when they experienced the level of support that I provide, and the container of support within the group that has been carefully conceived to make everyone feel safe and respected.
"BUT I LIVE IN A FARAWAY TIME ZONE....CAN I REALLY BE IN A LIVE COACHING GROUP?"
I often get this question from interested participants in the UK, Europe, Asia, or Australia/New Zealand. The good news is that my group programs are designed to accommodate those from across the world! It has never been an insurmountable issue, because I prioritize this cross-continental connection among members, and members enjoy developing these online friendships with people across the world. There are always times we can find that will work for other members of a group, and so we just put people together based on that. Coaching groups are generally 3-5 people per live session, and then those are supplemented by video submissions and video coaching that is created and watched on each person's schedule. My own schedule is quite flexible, since I'm a full-time movement teacher and stage presence coach. And this thing called the Internet makes it very easy to stay in touch 🙂 I employ tech tools on and off the Ginger City platform to share feedback clearly and simply. When forming a new group coaching series, we narrow down each person's available times to coordinate with others, and there are often make-up options if you need to reschedule a session because of travel or illness.
If you feel you’d prefer to work more privately, I do offer a solo coaching package. Some people have bigger scheduling challenges, or just don’t feel comfortable sharing in a group setting. Others may have very targeted needs and want to just address those, without experiencing others coaching processes. Some teachers prefer not to get coaching in front of potential students (although I am definitely sensitive to that when coaching fellow teachers even in group settings). And if you are my private coaching client, I absolutely keep that fact private unless you make it otherwise. Wherever you are at in your process, I can work with you.