Sunday, March 25, 2007

I can do that but I can't do it all

March blog carnival topic

If you belly dance, then you know you have said or heard this phrase at some point: "I can do that!". Sometimes it shows up as, "I can make that!". I think all but the most non-DIY person among us has made this comment, stating that yes indeed, this item here? I could make that my self, nooooo problem. Sometimes this statement is made with a note of superority in the speaker's voice. That simple hip wrap? Why buy it, I could make it myself? Those decorated dance slippers are how much? Give me some glue, jewels and ballet flats and I'll do it in my spare time! The long belted robe cover-up out of interesting fabric? I could make one just like it for myself!

I've had my own DIY moments. I am a crafty person. I sew a bit, I can knit and embroider, I can figure out how to make a lot of things, and if I can't do them already I can use Google and the library to help me out (I get my SO to chip in on the more heavy duty projects, such as my fire toys). I've had many make-it-myself moments, some more successful than others. The cover-up: batik cotton material and a bathrobe pattern, this was pretty simple and worked out well. The velvet stretch choli: the free pattern was fine, though I had trouble with enlarging it on a copier and damn I hate darts. The three tiered 10-yard skirt: gathering is the bane of my existence, I think my SO would take up a collection to buy me a new skirt before he'd let me sew one again. The coin bra: several weeks and countless sewing needles later it was finally done, and my poor finger tips peeled for weeks, but it fits me perfectly. The mirrored tassel belt: the first one went through two remakes to get it right, the second one has just been started.

Making things myself has taught me a lesson, though. Yes, I can and will do my own projects, because I love the process of making items, but seriously it is often worth it to just pay to purchase an item. This is doubly true when I can buy an item that is being made by a small business that specializes in dance wear. Instead of making my next tiered skirt, I'm buying one from Flying Skirts (as well as any choli's I want, unless I need one out of a particular fabric, then I'm locking myself in my office with FCBD/Folkwear's pattern and you can shove food under the door until I emerge). I'm seriously thinking of buying some pantaloons from Belly Roll, because even though I can whip them out in no time I end up spending not only the money for supplies but also a chunk of my time to finish the project.

See, that's what it boils down to. Time. I bet a lot of people will talk about time when they talk about their dance budget. I may not have a lot of money, but what I'm really low on is time. If I really need to save some cash I'll make sure to hit the fabric sale racks or dig in my stash and come up with what I need. I'll repurpose jewelry and clothing into what I want, and I'll spend my time-budget getting the items finished. My coin bra probably cost me way more than a similar handmade item would have if I'd bought it custom made, simply because I spent many evenings sitting at my desk pulling needles through the bra with a pair of pliers (and cussing). Those evenings could be calculated not just in time, but also in money, an hourly wage paid to myself for every minute spent working on a costume (this is one way the retail cost of an item is figured).

Luckily I have a job and the luxury of extra spending money. I can keep adding my spare cash to the tribal piggy bank, and one day I can pour out the money, add it all up, and buy something I want. Try doing that with hours spent stressed out over uneven skirt gathers or yet another damn dart! My time is precious to me, more than money, and I'd rather pay it to myself in hours spent practicing, evenings spent knitting, afternoons spent hooping or mornings spent relaxing with my loved ones.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Dance Crush Part 2

OK, so I've never seen her dance in person, and I have never met her, but I've been hearing for years that Nanna Candelaria is a fantastic dancer. I checked out her (few) YouTube videos, and now I have a coast-to-coast dance crush. Watch how she makes her belt fringe dance with her!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Hooping . . . fever?

On my Christmas list this year I put (among other things because I am a greedy greedy person): hula hoop.

OK, not the old hula hoops you used as a kid, the flimsy striped circles with the beads inside. Nope, I wanted one of the new breed of hula hoops, made of heavier poly tubing, connectors and some colorful tape. These hula hoops fit adult bodies, are easier for starter hoopers to manage and can be easily made at home. Hoops like this come in plain, multi colored, UV reactive or light filled versions. They can be small, for kids, or large, for taller or rounder people. I wanted one!

I was introduced to hooping through my involvement with the Baltimore/DC Burning Man community, particularly at the biannual Playa Del Fuego event. It didn't really catch my eye until I watched a friend hooping - her movements were so smooth, so joyous, so much a dance and MORE that I thought, "I want to try that!". I didn't get an opportunity at that burn, though a few months later I did get some instruction while at a dance camp. All I managed to pick up at camp was the ability to keep the hoop up for about a minute, but I loved the whole process! I dropped the hoop, I shot it across the lawn, I hit myself in the head, I pulled muscles all along my sides but it was worth the satisfaction of getting that huge plastic circle spinning for just a little bit. That's when I added "hoop" to my Christmas list.

It is now a few months past Christmas, and the hoop is finally here! Make that the hoops are finally here. J read the hoop making tutorial, then went all over the area to find the proper tubing while being unable to find the proper connectors. So the hoop was partially done: a white unfinished circle, decorated with a pattern of made by laying lace over the plastic and coating it with spray paint. That's the hoop I got on Christmas. A month later, on a hunch, I went to an unvisited hardware store, and there were the connectors. Except, the size I picked up didn't work and J was leaving for tour for a month, before I could make another connector run. Finally I got back to the store, he got back from tour, and the second connector worked with a little tweaking from J. Success, a hoop!

But this hoop, this hoop was hard to use. Larger hoops spin at a slower rate, which is often easier for new hoopers. This hoop was smaller, just a little taller than my navel, which means I'd have to hoop fast for it to stay up and moving. Since I'm new at this I couldn't keep up my speed, and the hoop kept falling. So, "Larger hoop please!" I demanded, and J was happy to fill the order. Now there are two hoops; the second, when resting with one edge on the ground, comes to my chest, and it is decorated with a simple stripe of black electrical tape over the white base. It's rotation is slow and almost hypnotic, much easier for my untrained muscles to handle. J has happily found he can use it too, so for the past few days we've been grabbing the hoops and working with them in the middle of the living room.

Now, hooping is not belly dance. The hip movements that work with belly dance do not work with hoops. You can dance with hoops; I recommend looking up videos on YouTube to see what is possible. What I am looking forward to is learning a new kind of movement, one I can dance, one that that can be exercise that does not involve going to the gym, one I can take to the park or a party or a festival. One of my troupe members hoops, so I'm going to pick her brain while we're hanging out (I bet it would make a great pre class warm up!).

I admit, belly dance has a lot of my heart, and it's not going to be replaced, but it(and knitting, and sewing, and fire dancing) are going to have to scoot over a little and make some room for my hoop. I hope there's some space left when I finally learn how to play my accordion.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Good luck!

I just wanted to say good luck to Toya and the rest of the NDC. They are headed to Rakkasah West, and perform on the Cabaret Stage Saturday evening. Have fun, dance hard, and don't spend too much money! (Oh, and give us a call when you get back so we can get the full report)