Monday, December 28, 2009

More on that wedding

One of my recent entries was about the wedding we danced at in October. Well our friends Christina and Jason are Offbeat Bride. Go over take a look at the gorgeous pictures of the ceremony and after party!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Gearing up for the new year

Ever since October I've been feeling like the end of this year has been kind of . . . eh. I haven't been motivated, class schedules were weird, holiday and other obligations were looming. I tried to slow down a bit to enjoy the fall, get outside, rest up for the end of year craziness. Now that we're past the holidays I feel ready to jump into what's coming up next. 

 Christmas was wonderful as usual; my parents gave my SO and I a week of their time share in New Orleans over Halloween (his birthday). I already let Ali know we'll be down there, and (being me) I'm already making a list of places to eat. I've been twice before, as a poor goth young adult. Now I'm looking forward to going back as a less-goth (AKA not too cool to go on tours and other silly things) adult with a real job and some spending money. Thank goodness we have so much time to plan! There are also multiple Honk (marching band) festivals happening around the country and my SO wants us to go to at least one together. Need . . . more . . . vacation time. 

In April Noralita and I will be taking part in a show of all illuminated dance and performance. We're actually both performing as soloists. I'm pulling out my much neglected fire sword. Let me just say that I will be getting up close and personal with Belladonna's sword DVD this winter, as well as probably booking a private lesson on sword work with my teacher Shems (who won the Belly Dance Nationals Proptastic Category!). 

Also, there's a distinct possibility I will be buying a house in the first half of the year. Eeeeeek! I know nothing about buying a house but *gulp* I guess I'd better start learning. 

And on top of that I'm waffling about going to the FCBD GS in Arlington, VA in February. I really want to go, I've wanted to attend GS since Carolena first mentioned the idea of it several years ago. Unfortunately it finally came to my area right as it went from a 3 to 4 day session, which hikes up the price. Also unfortunate is the location; the studio is awesome but it's over an hour drive from me in metro DC traffic. So I'm still thinking about this one. On one side, getting all that info from the source, digging into my dancing for four days and getting to really work. On the other, the cost and manipulating my schedule and accommodations to attend. 

In preparation for all of this performing and dancing I've lined up some dance videos on Netflix so I can start getting my act pulled together in my home practice. After this weekend I'll be working on my schedule so I can get back into classes. There's a new dance studio in my neighborhood and I need to looking into their new year schedule. 

So yes, I'm gearing up to launch myself into the year. Who needs sleep!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Dancing out of the box

This past weekend my troupe had the honor of dancing at our friend Chris's wedding. Chris is Flissy's dance partner in Verve tribal, and they danced too (so Flissy had double performance time and handled it like a pro). This was all at the reception which luckily was indoors, and I say luckily because the weather was in the low 40s and raining all day long. The happy couple had wanted to rent a park pavilion and have an outdoor event, but it was too hard to get alcohol and loud music permits. We did get a chance to "enjoy" the weather for a bit because their wedding ceremony was at the Maryland Renaissance Festival (the original intent was for everyone spending a few hours enjoying the Faire after the ceremony before heading to the reception). It was a bit of wet chaos but right at the crucial moment it all pulled together and they had a lovely, heartfelt ceremony. My SO and I stayed on at the Faire for another 4 hours, hanging out, watching shows and generally feeling like "It's raining? Well we'll still have fun!" before heading to the reception. And dry clothes. A sense of humor, a resignation to getting wet, and a warm dry cloak (for me) make all the difference. 

For the wedding I had proposed the idea of writing a choreography to one of our selected songs (Tim Rayborn, Zaman). It has very quick changes and some tricky bits, so I felt it might be nice to make something definite to the music instead of winging it with improv. I wrote the preliminary choreo, then Flissy and I got together and worked out the tricky or vague bits, then it went to the whole troupe and we polished the whole piece. We'd planned bits of other songs before, and learned a short choreo from Ali of n.o.madic tribal, but this was out first total almost six minute piece. 

It wasn't perfect, we all had bits of "WTF am I doing right now?", but we felt good about the piece and our performance and most of all the Chris and Jason were happy with it and that is what really matters. The hours of troupe rehearsal (five in the 5 days before the wedding) paid off. It was awesome to look over during the intro (we led in with the FCBD dance meditation/prayer) and see Chris's huge smile. We segued from the choreo to improv, first with a slow piece doing dueling duets, and the last was lead out with a very upbeat song by Turku. My SO remarked at one point all four of us let our arm posture give a bit, and I told him I think the long day hit us all right at the same time, but we all perked up and rallied to the end of the set. Then we relaxed with cupcakes and open-dance-floor, no pressure, get your groove on dancing with the guests. 

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Live and In Person!

A video! This is from May, when we danced as the headliners at Charm City Tribal's quarterly event, which is a ton of fun and you will want to attend if you're in the area when one is happening, like in early November.

This is the first time we performed with the dueling duets and it was Flissy's first performance with the troupe; we asked her to join right after this. She did a beautiful job.

One funny thing you can't see from the angle is that when I'm behind Nora at one point we spin around and our skirts hook together. I had to do a quick reverse spin to unhook us. Note to self: only one person at a time gets to wear an Indian embroidered skirts with sequins, and also never wear them around someone with a lot of long chainette fringe or yarn belts.

Monday, October 05, 2009

A Balkan Beat

This past Saturday my SO and I made the very, very, VERY smart decision to attend Balktoberfest in Silver Spring, MD. Oh, it was awesome. It was held at a Ukrainian church, the first part outside and the evening show inside. The location made me think of church events I went to as a kid, though this was a LOT more fun than anything I attended at St Mary of the Mills Catholic Church.

Halfway through the evening, hanging out with J and some of our marching band mates, I made the comment that I really, really wish I saw more belly dancers there. In particular, I'd love to see some tribal/fusion dancers, particularly with the recent Balkan music craze going on in the scene. I didn't want to see them there belly dancing, I wanted to see them there absorbing the music and dancing in a back-to-the-roots way. Get at least a little closer to the source, then work from there.

Highlights of the evening, for me, were seeing a number of women rocking out on the tapan, whipping my head around towards the stage at the first amazing sounds of Elitsa Stoyneva, everyone crazy jumping up and down dancing to "Kalashnikov", and finally catching on to the patterns of the group line dances. On that last note, I managed to pull the muscles in both my calves while doing those dances. Next time I'm warming up first.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Oh yes!

*rubs hands together in glee*

Today I used my 50% off Joann's coupon to buy 3.5 yards of gold dupioni silk. Gold pantaloons, the ones I have been dreaming of, here I come!

Yes, I could use the gold for something more glamorous, but I have been wanting gold 'loons for over a year, a good neutral for stage wear that's a little glam but not too much so.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Hafla Round Up

Yesterday was our 3rd Annual Kallisti Tribal Inappropriate Hafla. Third! Three years! It amazes me sometimes that our little troupe has been truckin' along since the beginning of 2006. The hafla was born out of the serendipitous meeting of our troupe with our Southern Maryland counterparts Troupe 'Hip'notic at the 2006 Tribal Pura show in DC. While backstage we bonded over our nervousness at dancing at the show, which lead talk of what we worked on in practices, and what other things we did in practices. The silly things. The inappropriate things. The dance things that, if done at a regular performance, would "get us kicked out of the local belly dance scene." And thus the Inappropriate Hafla was born.

This year's hafla ended up being wet; it started out with no rain, went to a misty rain thing, and then moved into a steady drizzle as the second act started. We did not despair, though! All the performers sat tight (under their umbrellas), waiting to dance and cheering each other on, and our non dancers stuck it out too. I told one performer, for whom this was her first time dancing outside of performances with her teacher, that after dancing in someone's back yard in the rain she could dance ANYWHERE.

We got to see dance offs, an amazingly silly cane dance, cheerleaders, a water gun fight, a burlesque fan dance, improv dance to a song picked by the dancer's Facebook friends, a slinky flapper-esque piece, and we had Troupe 'Hip'notic round things out with a hilarious "vicars and tarts" piece. We danced to Mika's "Lollipop", incorporating kids dances with some of our group improv and it was a LOT of fun. Not as epic as our multi-song mash up spoof of last year, but this one had some choreographed parts! I love the bio Lyra wrote for us:

Kallisti Tribal is a bellydance collective focused on pushing the boundaries of dance. Although originally brought together by a love of improv tribal bellydance, Amy, Brooke, Flissy and Nora are passionate about evolving their dance vocabulary and challenging the norms to achieve a new level of expression.

For this, their premiere Inappropriate Hafla dancing as a quartet, they sought out, searching far and wide for the biggest of all envelopes to push. They would not be satisfied with a mere A4 invitation sized dance envelope - no. They scoured their hearts and souls for, like, the biggest envelope you can imagine, ever. And lo, when they found it, they all got together and pushed as hard as they could.

By finding The Mighty Envelope and pushing it, they emerged with a regressive fusion that calls on their most innocent, most pure tribal roots. They're not just going to kick it old school, they went Older School, like pre school. No. Pre-pre school.

Kallisti Tribal......invites you to join.....
........ our TRIBAL..............

If pictures pop up on Flickr I'll link to them.

ETA: Here is a video of about 1/2 of our performance. Flissy had to resync the music to the video, which is why the sound is not in "real time".

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Trying something new

This weekend I'm going to mix it up a bit. Friday J and I plan on hitting Blob's Park Bavarian Bier Garten with friends, where we'll see Die Schlauberger on their Alpine Thunder tour. I'm not quite sure what to expect but I'm sure it'll involve beer and maybe polka.

Saturday Lisa Zahiya is in town and I'm taking two workshops with her, one on fusion drum solos and one on hip hop fusion. The hip hop is waaaay out of my normal range. I'll be beating a drum with Barrage Band at the Charm City Tribal Show Lisa's headlining, Sat night at Joe Squared (9:30 start time). Sunday evening Kallisti is dancing at the Bark's Animal Benefit in DC. It's going to be hot, in more way than one. Monday? Someone I have to crawl into work!

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Things that mystify me

Well thank goodness I have some talented ladies in my troupe, one of whom is a pro graphic designer, because I? Just spent 90 minutes resizing an image and figuring out how to paste it into a blank document in order to fit 4 small flyers per page. I'll try printing it with some left over card stock and linen resume paper (it's time for a new batch) tomorrow so I have them to pass out at the All Seasons Hafla.

On that note, the Third Annual Kallisti Tribal Inappropriate Hafla will be Saturday September 12th! (dancers can contact me about performing)

It's all fun and games until someone loses a bindi. 

Monday, August 03, 2009

Something that popped in my head

This thought just popped in my head, following my usual perusal of dance sites.

We don't have to save belly dance.

All we can so is dance, teach, study, share. We can be passionate, dedicated, thorough, inspiring, inspired, tough, helpful. We can set ourselves up as good examples and admit that we are only human, with the attendant faults. We can fight for what we love, and let go of what will only drag us down.

The dance doesn't need us to save it, it just needs us to be.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

There will be more content

I swear I will write more interesting things soon. I spent part of this past weekend taking workshops with Ali of n.o.madic tribal, and I have some thoughts to unpack about that and last month's workshops with Paulette of Gypsy Caravan.

Right now, though, I'm in the middle of tech week for my summer performance extravaganza Fluid Movement!!!! Fluid Movement is amateur community theatre that focuses on the mediums of water ballet and roller skating. Sometimes there is more dancing (2002's show was a biography of Freud done in belly dance. No, I was not involved in that one but I wish I had been!). This is my third year and, as every theatre person knows, tech week sucks away your time and energy and sleep schedule. It'll all be worth it for the shows, though!

So, expect me to dig myself out of my pile of glitter, tulle, and geisha wigs made of pool noodles sometime soon. I'll be back!

Thursday, July 09, 2009


This week(end) Flissy is at the FCBD General Skills session in Orlando, FL. I wish I was there (okay, not in Orlando exactly I'm more of a Florida Gulf Coast girl, but at the GS). Since I'm not I decided to do my own FCBD ATS brush up. I've pulled out all my videos and I'm going through them one at a time, looking for new insights into moves and brushing up on what I already know. I'm also going to go through some of the latest FCBD videos on YouTube to see if I can spot changes and try to anticipate the information Flissy will have for us.

One day! One day I'll make it to the GS!

Monday, July 06, 2009

I grow old, I grow old

Today I randomly started reading the blog . . . in a bottle. Genie is a friend of a friend and she hosts a participatory blogging project called Living Out Loud. While looking back over some of the past round ups I found this video post by Megan of An Acorn Dreaming, put together for the "Don't Tell Me. Show Me." project.

Click here to see the entry titled An Old Dancer.

Megan's observation that she started Irish Dancing "old" (24) and has only been getting older struck a cord with me. I started belly dance at 27. That's not old in the scheme of things, really, but by 27 I was starting to get a glimpse of what getting older holds in store for my body, especially when it comes to my knees. Some days I think, "What if I had started dancing in high school or college? Think how good I'd be now?", wishful thinking that I am sure has gone through the heads of many practitioners of many hobbies. I turn it around with, "Well, if I live until at least 60 and I keep up the dancing that means I'll have been doing it for over 30 years and that's a pretty good run." I also tell myself, "Shut up and be glad for each and every day you get to do something you love because you never know what's going to happen tomorrow, much less 30 years from now."

So perhaps I'll never be a fabulous dancer or do some of the crazy dance tricks I'd love to master. I do know that all I can aim for is approaching each day of dancing with commitment and love and passion. As Megan says: "I lay my heartbeat down on the floor every time I dance."

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What is this I see?

Here is a picture from our Sunday performance at DCTribal Cafe. Hey Paulette, do you see what move Flissy pulled on me? The one we just learned and have practiced, oh, twice? Hopefully we'll have video up soon too.

Photo via Jonathan LC on Flickr. Check out his photo's, he's managed to get great action shots of dancers which is not easy at all, and the colors are gorgeous.

Monday, June 29, 2009

One More Tiny Choice Thing Archives

A post to hold my weekly One More Tiny Choice Things. See my first post and who inspired them: One More Thing and Tiny Choices.

8/3/09: Clean the house, because for me a clean house means a productive house, and a productive house is one that uses less stuff, eats less take out, makes new things out of old, and cuts down on generating waste out of frustration. Cleaning also means adding to the "out with the old" pile, getting rid of the things that are just sitting around, taking up space.

7/27/09: Pack and take a lunch every day to my new job! Avoid take out unless necessary.

7/20/09: Several small things this week. Get in tune with our new recycling schedule. Take a box of old magazine donations to The Book Thing. Plan out our meals and shopping this week for less waste and efficiency.

7/6/09: Stop wasting drinking water, that is, finish the water I put in a glass or else collect it to put on the potted plants. There is no need for a half a dozen half filled glasses of water to sit around the house. If I pour a glass of water I should finish it.

6/29/09: Getting in line with Eat Down the Fridge and start using up what I already have instead of hitting the grocery store for new food that will become the old food that gets thrown away.

6/23/09: Making sure all the recycling from the bathroom makes it into the recycling bin instead of being lazy and throwing it away.

6/15/09: For my One More Thing I am going to recommit to using cloth napkins and I'm going to find the time this week to sew some out of my scrap fabric so I have extras to put in my car and with our camping gear.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Performance Prep Tip

This morning has been a leisurely one at the Notary Republic*. Last night my SO and I played with Barrage Band Orchestra at a local bar's Circus Saturday event (where we marveled at the trapeze artist's ability to avoid swinging into the bottles behind the bar or the bar itself, as the trapeze is right over the counter). I've had a lazy morning, eating ramen (with kale and an egg mixed in to make it "healthy") and reading Princess Farhana's blog while my nail polish dries.

I'm also burning our CD for tonight's show as well as putting the set list on my iPod as a back up, and that's what make me think about passing on this tip for performances. If You are using your iPod for your performance music, or as a back up, make sure to mark what playlist is yours on the iPod. My method for this is electrical tape. Buy a roll of light colored electrical tape (I have some in yellow and white). Put a strip on the back of the iPod and use a fine tipped Sharpie to write the name of your playlist, how many tracks it is, how many songs it is, and the total running time. I say mark tracks and songs because I once told a (not very nice) music tech that our set was one track and how long it ran, just hit play. Even though the track was still running he stopped the music, which led to the events retold in this post. Because of the Sharpie the info won't smudge and because of the tape it can't be separated from the iPod, and you can easily peel up the tape after the show.

Here is to many music-drama-free dances for us all!

* Whomever rented our house before us was a Notary Public, and it says so on stick on letters on one of our porch doors.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

DC Tribal Cafe - this Sunday!

We're dancing this Sunday, June 28th, at DC Tribal Cafe:

Unfortunately we're not sure who else is dancing, but we DO know it will be an awesome show because I don't think there has ever been a bad Tribal Cafe!

Here is some of the info, pulled from last month's show:

Let us enterain you!

Sit back and be entertained by cutting edge tribal fusion belly dance performances while enjoying Asylum's down-to-earth but oh so heavenly menu – full of the regular standard American fare and extensive vegan and vegetarian offerings.

With your tribal cafĂ© admittance you get ½ price discount on burgers and $2 off select draft beer.

Sunday June 28, 2009

6pm – 9pm
Asylum Bar & Lounge
2471 18th Street, NW
Washington DC 20009

With the music of DJ MELLIE MEL in between dancer's sets! Doors at 6pm, performances start at 7pm – get there early for the best seats!

PICTURES and More info at:
DCTribal Cafe sponsored by
Asylum's awesome vegan and vegetarian menu can be found at!
Questions? Email or check out our website at
Easy to access, paid parking is available 1/2 way down the block on 18th Street (on the same side as asylum)! There is another lot near the corner of 18th and Columbia in between the gas station and Adam's Mill Bar.

If you've never been to Tribal Cafe, it's set up as a pro, paying gig for tribal and fusion dancers in the DC area. Some tips for first timers - get there early to get a good seat. Also, bring small bills, as they put out tip cups for each performer (there are always three acts). If you're a pro tribal/fusion dancer in the DC/MD/VA area, check this event out. Dance there! Not from the area but passing through? Go see it! And maybe even see if you can dance there (special guests from out of town do perform on occasion!).

May we introduce to you . . .

I realized last night that I have been remiss in making an announcement on this blog. If you've been reading along for a bit you've seen me mention my dance friend Flissy of Verve Tribal. While her dance partner Chris was living out of state we invited Flissy to practice, and then perform, with the troupe. Well everything went amazing well so two weeks ago we asked Flissy to join Kallisti Tribal, and to our delight she said yes!

I love this picture*, it looks like she's throwing some heavy metal "Hell Yeah!" horns.

It's been a lot of fun dancing with Flissy. She is both diligent and serious about her dance studies and she is incredibly playful about her practice (which I really appreciate because I can be a bit "All work, no fun!" and need to get snapped out of that tendency). She completed her yoga teacher training last year, which means we beg her to lead us through sun salutations during practice. To round things out, she's also a great vegetarian cook and amazing cupcake baker, which means she fits right into Kallisti "When We Get Together We Plan On Eating (a lot of good food)" Tribal.

Flissy can still be seen as one half of Verve Tribal, and you can always catch up with her at her site and blog Om Chantress.

Welcome Flissy! We are honored to have you dancing with us!

* I would credit this photo if I knew who took it, so if you know please comment and I'll add the info.

Monday, June 15, 2009

One More Thing

Yesterday I had the pleasure of taking some workshops with Paulette of Gypsy Caravan Dance Company. I'll talk about them in a later post but I will say that damn! I wish I'd done that sooner!

At the end of the workshop she talked about a project that came out of discussions with the Collective Soul dancers. Maybe project is not the correct work. Mission? Challenge? Action, maybe that's it. It's called One More Thing, and here is the idea from Paulette:

**But one of the things that came up in our many discussions about dance and about life, is the state of the world, a common topic of conversation in my life these days. With frustration at how many people still do not pay attention to recycling, reusing, and taking care of the earth, I try to do my part on a daily basis. WE can all do a little to help, and every little bit does help, but it is not enough.

I thought, One more thing.

We can all do one more thing. Whether it be helping our neighbor recycle, or not using weed killer on our lawn, or…..

So the Collective Soul dancers and I decided to start here, on this blog, every Monday to write in with what one more thing the can do or have done that week to help educate the public or what they have done in their own world. And I want you to participate!

Beautiful Rima suggests never buying a plastic bottle of water again. Get your refillable bottle and use it, or go thirsty that moment. I think that is a brilliant way to start!

Let’s hear it, starting this Monday…What one more thing can you do?

Bring it on, and remember, it all counts.

This reminds me of my friends who run the Tiny Choices blog, which is all about the tiny choices we can make to creating a cleaner, greener world. I particularly love Jenn's series of posts about finding a new water bottle. Sometimes I think water bottle choice is the gateway drug to figuring out the one more thing or tiny choices we can make to create a healthier world.

Here are some water bottles I have known and loved:
* A 32oz. wide mouth Nalgene in hot screaming pink. This was my first water bottle and it served me well. Unfortunately it ended up with this permanent weird smell inside and I had to get rid of it, though I'm not too sad because I always splashed water on myself even when I used the no-splash insert for the top.
* The SIGG Maharadsha in ruby. I call this the belly dance bottle. At Sunday's workshop there was my red one, Flissy's (purple) and another dancer's (blue). It's pretty awesome though it is a little tougher to screw on the top since it's so narrow.
* My everyday bottle is the 20 oz. Earthlust peacock. Or it was, the design rubbed off on mine. I may try another one day, maybe the 20 oz. dragonfly. These bottles are stainless steel, so no worries about what the liner may be leaching into your water. Also, I might get the sport top to add to mine because again, the narrow top can make it hard to close.
* I don't own one, but there is always the classic Kleen Kanteen if you want a simple stainless steel bottle.

Want to get in on the action? Paulette wants to hear from other people about their "One More Thing", so give her some feedback at her blog. I mentioned over there, and now here, that Tiny Choices runs a weekly survey where they profile one person and talk about that person's tiny choices; you should take the survey!

For my One More Thing I am going to recommit to using cloth napkins and I'm going to find the time this week to sew some out of my scrap fabric so I have extras to put in my car and with our camping gear. Here are some tutorials:
* Make napkins with pretty corners. Here are two other options.
* Fancier sets with bias tape binding. I'm sure you could buy bias tape for this project if you don't want to make it.
* The easiest option out there!. I'm not sure how much they will fray, though, I've cut fabric with pinking shears and still get some loose threads when it's washed.
* My quick and dirty version: Cut cotton fabric (I use quilting cotton) into squares as large or small as you like. Sew a zig zag or overlock stitch along the edge to prevent fraying. Use. Change the size to a rectangle and you have a thin kitchen towel.

The bonus is you can use your clean napkins as a convenient and stylish way to mop your brow when you're in the middle of an intense, sweaty dance workshop.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Homemade Mixing Medium

Well, I think summer is here to stay in Baltimore. We have window unit air conditioners in parts of our house but we try not to use them unless it's unbearably hot. Considering my SO and I both grew up in small houses without AC we don't give in until it's very hot. So right now we're making do with fans and cold drinks and I'm keeping my entries on the lighter, less taxing side of things. I'm sure once I'm used to the seasonal changes I'll come around and get serious again.

The following video was linked on the Bhuz forums, and I'm really glad I found it. It's a tutorial for a cheap and easy way to make a mixing medium at home. Mixing medium allows you to take loose or solid pigments and other types of make up and apply them so they stick. The medium will increase the intensity of the color, too. Ah, here's a nice application tutorial. No, it won't keep the make up on forever because it's not waterproof, but with the medium you should be good to go for awhile.

I made some up the other day and used it to turn my Aromaleigh Drama Queen Liner in Topaz from a powder to an awesome gold-green liner. I've done this before using my Eye Kandy Sugar, which makes the liner super metallic. The medium made the liner bright and defined but not quite as shiny. It held up nicely for several hours and was easy to remove. I'll have to give it a try during a hot, sweaty practice (our rehearsal space is in an old studio that does not have the best AC either) and see how my eye make up holds up.

Here is the original tutorial I found through Bhuz. I watched a bunch of Koren's videos and really liked them, he's very relaxed and low key and it's kind of soothing to watch or listen to the videos while I'm working on other things. If you have makeup or hair questions I recommend using Youtube for tutorials and tips, people are really taking advantage of the medium (ahem) and putting tons of information out there.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

The fruits of my labor

So, after all the talk about make up I was dumping on you I figured you all might want to see it in action.

First, though, I'm going to start with a picture of my oldest tribal belt. This is not the first one I made, which was crafted from a Pier One place mat, upholstery tassel trim and home made yarn tassels. I do still have that one. This belt is made from a base I bought from The Red Camel (shop there, she rocks). I cut a piece of flannel to line the belt, then sewed two ties to the lining then hand stitched the lining to the belt, so when I tie it on (tight) I'm not stressing the fabric of the belt but am instead pulling against the lining. I added embroidered shisha mirrors to the ties, as well as some metal beads. The lower edge of the lining has one half of a row of snap tape sewn on so I can sew an arrangement of tassels to the corresponding side and swap out different "looks". No, I did not come up with that but I'm glad I read about it somewhere!

Anyway, I had been wanting to do a bunch of pom poms instead of tassels for the belt, so I spent the last week wrapping yarn and making poms. I'm really happy with how they turned out, because when you get moving the poms really dance. I also added two darts to the top back of the belt so it will hopefully mold to my back end a little better. They are hiding under the blue tassels. Here is a pic of the finished product, hanging on my front steps.

Next up is a Myspace style close up in my bathroom mirror. This was taken about 8:15 p.m. Saturday as I finished getting ready for our show that night. Here you can see my first homemade bindi (small but sparkly), my eyeshadow that is FIRMLY held on with Two Faced Shadow Insurance, the results of my new bottle of Lorac Oil Free foundation, and my awesome new red Make Up Forever lipliner and stick. Except for the lipstick, which I eventually wiped off while eating pizza after performing, the rest of the make up was going strong when I got home at 2:30 a.m. As was my hair, of which most of what you see is fake and let me say that was SO much easier to deal with than fighting with my own hair.

Here is a picture of me ready to head out the door. I have the pom belt on, and see that lovely red sequined skirt? It got tangled with the skirt of another dancer mid-set so I had to twirl myself free. I bought the choli from a local dance vendor and then added some sequins to the edges. I may add more. That extra shiny is addictive.

Here's the aftermath. First, the pile of metal is my bindi, barrettes and the bobby pins used to keep my hair together. I pulled them out last night and left them on the edge of the sink. There's a point as I'm taking everything off where I just want to start ripping and pulling at my hair and costume, like a little kid who pulls on a shirt they find uncomfortable. The adult side of me always makes sure I am more careful then that, but when you're really tired and you just want to go to bed it can take a lot of self control.

And here is the pile of costume, which Noralita calls "dancer droppings". The pantaloons, skirts and choli are on top of my belts and scarves which are on top of my jewelry. It takes about 2 hours to get ready and about 5-10 minutes to take it all off. We danced an 11 minute set.

Hopefully the video from the performance turned out, if so I'll post that when I get it, as well as any action shots I can find.

Getting the word out!

I want to take a moment to get the word out about some awesome events that are coming up in my area.

July 13-14 there are two amazing weekends of workshops going on, one in Baltimore and one in Philadelphia. First up is ReOrient: Artistic Perceptions of the Middle East.

This is being sponsored by my current teacher Shems and two other local dancers (I am proud to call my friends), Nina and Ariel. I am hoping to hit one workshop on Saturday, Aszmara's Stage Dynamics. I may miss the Sunday show, since I'll be out of town, but I am encouraging everyone to see it. Not only will the dancing be awesome but the Creative Alliance is a fantastic intimate venue.

The same weekend Hipnosis in Philadelphia is sponsoring Paulette Rees-Denis of Gypsy Caravan for two days of workshops.

I'll be traveling to Philly with my friend Flissy to take Day #2. After reading Paulette's book Tribal Vision I am really looking forward to meeting her in person!

Then, July 18-19, Mirage Trio of Westminster, MD is hosting Kassar (a tribal duo from New Jersey) and Ali (of n.o.madic tribal from New Orleans) for two days of workshops in Frederick, MD.

I had the pleasure to take a day of workshops with Ali last summer, and her teaching has been an huge inspiration to me. Two years ago I took (with Flissy) a duo choreography class with Kassar while at Tribeoriginal and it kicked my butt. Check out both workshops if you can, I'll be attending Day #2 (unfortunately being unemployed means I'm having to pick and choose my workshops very carefully, so I don't get to do it all).

Now, go forth and dance!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

More make up: mascara

I realized the other day that I was not going to get around to wearing fake eyelashes for our next performance because I wasn't going to have enough time to practice dancing while wearing them. I test drive everything! I also realized that my current mascara, though good for every day, is not quite enough for performing. So I again headed off to Makeda's blog to see what she recommends.

There I found her review of Cover Girl's Lash Blast Luxe, which boils down to "CG Lash Blast is good, Lash Blast Luxe is no better than the original so go for the regular one." Got it. She also linked this review of drugstore mascaras at Beauty Banter, and the Lash Blast got a good review again. That works for me!

I hit the grocery store while running errands yesterday, and they had it for $7.99. That's good, I can pay that. Then I hit the self check out aisle, where it rung up as over $9. Uh, what? I pressed the cancel button, and a clerk came over. I mentioned the price difference and said I wanted to double check the aisle. He said he'd do it for me. In a minute he was back and said I was correct, it was marked at a lower price in the display, and since there was a discrepancy I could have it for free! I told him I was happy to pay the lower price and he said I didn't have to, since it was their fault it was free (this was at a Weis store in Laurel, MD). I walked out very happy.

I wore the mascara to practice last night. It held up to two hours of sweaty practice, dinner at home afterwards, and a loooong soak in the tub at the end of the evening. I rubbed a little coconut oil over my (closed) eyes and wiped off most of the mascara before washing my face. It definitely added thickness to my lashes, and I'll keep playing with it to get the best, and most dramatic, coverage. And I promise to start wearing my fake lashes at practice so I can add them to my stage face.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Make up, redux

Monday I met up with my dancer friend Flissy and we hit the mall for the Sephora store and MAC counter. I headed into Sephora with a list of product suggestions gleaned from my request posts to Livejournal, Facebook and this blog, as well as information I pulled from emails I exchanged with another dancer friend/make up guru Makeda.

Before I mention what I bought, let me take a moment to credit Natalia for my red lipstick hunt,which was sparked after reading her post Is there a lipstick shortage in St. Louis?. It made me think if my choice of lipsticks, nice intense colors tending towards the browny reds and bronzy browns, were not quite right for the stage. So began the red lipstick search.

Here is what I ended up purchasing, with notes:

* Lipstick: Make Up Forever Lacquered Lipstick in #205, with Aqua Lip Liner in #8C. This is a bright, clear blue-red, which worked better with my medium, slightly yellow toned skin better than I thought it would. At the MAC counter Flissy tried Ruby Woo and they seemed to be almost identical. I wore it to practice last night to see how it held up to two sweaty hours, and my troupe mate Noralita said my lips walked into the room before the rest of me. I think it will stand up to performance hair, make up, clothing, lighting, etc. I'd probably go with Ruby Woo next time since it's $5 cheaper than the Make Up Forever version, but since I had the gift certificate this worked out well.

Note: It's really hard to steer myself away from all the awesome burgundy and plum colors, my favorites due to spending 2/3 of my life wearing mostly black clothing and almost 10 years identifying as goth. Unfortunately those colors are really too dark for my small mouth, so I bring them in as sheer lip glosses that tint more than cover.

* Eye Shadow Primer: Here I went with Two Faced Shadow Insurance. I was not crazy about Urban Decay's primer. I felt the tube and applicator were not designed in a way to allow you to get the product out of the tube. Then I'd have to put the primer on my finger to apply it anyway, so why not just go with a product that I squeeze out onto my hand from the start? I tried this out at the store with a light gold Lorac shadow, and it held all day with no creasing. Last night I wore it to practice with a plum Urban Decay shadow and again, no creasing after two sweaty hours. This will really be put to the test this summer in Baltimore's heat and humidity. Bring it on!

* Just for fun, Flissy got eye lashes with a glitter strip, #113 Betsy. I can't wait to see them on! Maybe one day I'll be brave enough to rock a pair of the feathered lashes (for non dance costumes).

A product I want to try:

* MAC Paint Pots: I'd like to get this in Painterly to use as a primer (as I've read about online). Also, the colors Delft, Rubenesque and Artifact are gorgeous in person, the website does them no justice. There was also a lovely olive green with a gold shimmer that I do not see listed on the site.

Product I dream of:

* The perfect antiqued gold nail polish. It has to be out there, a faintly metallic gold with a base of black so it's rich, not light. NARS has an eye shadow that looks like the right color match in the container. I might have luck layering a lighter gold over black.

Monday, May 11, 2009

I don't have a lot of money . . .

. . . but I DO have a $50 gift certificate to Sephora! Thanks Mom, what a perfect Christmas present.

So, any suggestions on how I should spend it? I will be purchasing some new performance foundation (I use Aromaleigh mineral foundation for day to day). I have oily skin that is, unfortunately, more sensitive and acne prone than when I was a teenager. My last performance foundation was Lorac's Oil Free, which is no longer available. I took a look at the site, and here is what shows up under Sephora's oil free foundation list. They have a different Lorac one listed, and I'm intrigued by the Clinique ones because my mom has used Clinique most of her life (definitely all of mine) and she loves it (and also has oily skin, though clearer than mine).

If anyone has foundation recommendations for a stage foundation, from Sephora or not, for oily and troubled skin, I've love to hear it! I do prefer ones without SPF because sun block can make me flush, so I prefer to be able to use it or not as it's needed, not have it in my foundation all the time.

I'm also thinking of an eye shadow primer, though I will admit I was unimpressed by Urban Decay's. It didn't work all that well on me and I felt there was not a lot of product in the tube and it ran out FAST! Now, I like Smashbox's Photo Finish* face primer, so perhaps their eye primer would be a good thing to go for? I've also recently heard good things about using the MAC neutral colored Paint Pots as a primer. Either way, I think I will pick up a concealer brush (I do have one for foundation already, but do I ever use it? No.)

Last, I need a good red performance lipstick. This is going to be a tough one. My skin has yellow undertones, I tan in a heartbeat, and I have some redness across my cheeks. I look better in warm tones than cool. I know I'll have to go check out lots of colors, but any recommendations for brands (Sephora or not) that are long lasting would be great! I've tried the two step lip colors with the base that sticks and the gloss that goes on top, but man, talk about dry flaky lips! I so think something with a bit of a shimmer is best (or should I add gloss on top) because I have small lips and matte lipstick makes me look all pinched and mean mouthed. Right now I have a nice copper-brown color, though I think it can be a bit too dark, and I have a great fuschia red from Bed Head, Passion. I guess I'm looking for something classic that can go with any of my eye shadows or costumes.

Makeda, I'm expecting you'll have some input for me?

* Thanks to The Tribal Dancer Sharon for introducing me to the world of foundation primers via her LJ!

ETA: A pic, I'm on the right, see my small mouth! There are other pics from that set where I'm smiling. Thank you to the awesome photographer, the whole set rocks!

Another ETA: Paulette, while reading your book I noticed it appears Noralita has the same bat necklace Thorn used in her dance costuming.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Best Intentions

I have two barely started posts I'm sitting on right now. I want to post, I really do! But right now I'm in the full on crunch to get ready for The Spoutwood Farm May Day Fairie Festival. This will be my 8th year volunteering at the festival, my 7th where I've camped and been there all weekend. On Saturday this year my SO will be playing with his group The Barrage Band Orchestra (he's on the left in the top left photo); I may sit in on repurposed-kick drum-duval, even though really? I have no idea how to drum. I watch the bass drummer and follow along. Or add some zills to the mix. Around playing I'll be running around being useful and catching up with friends I only get to see at the festival.

So I'm trying to finish costumes, cook, pull out the camping gear, do laundry, borrow my parent's SUV, and generally get my act together around trying to finish up some work for a project and (reminder to self) paying bills. When I'm back I'll make sure to get working on those posts, and I'm sure the festival will inspire lots of new thoughts.

Monday, April 20, 2009

It's that time again!

Over the past year my troupe's performance schedule slowed down a bit. One member had a baby last fall, another has other performance obligations, and we all have busy personal lives. We're trying to get back into the swing of things, and so far we have long(er) sets to dance at two local events at the end of May and June. What that means, though, is it's time to pick music.


It's tough. Different people with different opinions, though we usually manage to find a middle ground or compromise. Sometimes we're excited about something we all want to dance to. I've been having a lot of trouble finding music I like lately, and all the classics feel so . . . blah. Sometimes I think I should put together the most repetitive and boring practice sets possible (or sets of things that are danceable but not really for performance) so when we pull out "the good stuff" we're excited about it. I have some iTunes credit and a gift certificate to Amazon that I should put to good use, but then I end up paralyzed with indecision! I'll freely admit, too, that I am the pickiest person ever. I have a very clear idea of what I think works for us musically, it's just finding something that matches that idea (oh, to have a band to work with!).

To top it off we have to pick costumes. I've been wanting some new "looks" lately, but along with time constraints it can be hard to get it to where all of us have the money to make and or buy new costumes pieces.

At least we have almost 6 weeks until the first performance!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What is it worth?

Like many people (I can't even say just Americans anymore, it's everywhere) I've lost my job. It hurt, not just because it was my source of income but because I worked for a local business I had helped create, open and run. I would like to say I've spent the past month kicking a$$ and taking names with my dance practice, but that's not true. I've been spending a lot of time sitting on my butt at my house. And cooking. I'm still in my class and my troupe is practicing, but I haven't really ramped things up.

Being out of a job it weird because suddenly I do have the time for the things I couldn't do before. Part of me keeps thinking I can go to yoga class! Or hooping! I could add dance classes with new teachers! I can travel to D.C. for classes! I can travel elsewhere for workshops and such!. Then I remember that Hello! No job! On a super budget!

Not having a job and not having lots of extra money means I am having to skip, yet again, something I want to really do, which is taking the General Skills workshops with FCBD. Between the workshop costs, the travel costs and the hotel costs I'd be looking at at least a thousand dollar commitment. It makes me sad, because I see dancers from my area making plans to go to one of this year's sessions and I want to go too! I remember when Carolena first mentioned them at a Tribal:PURA workshop and Lyra and I excitedly talked about saving up so we could go. Things have definitely changed since then (I think that was almost three years ago). I do not think anyone will bring GS to this area. I'm not sure there is someone in our area who could afford to do it, or who is in a position to be able to set up such an extensive event. I wish it could be me!

With all these thoughts going around in my head I really REALLY started thinking about attending the GS. And I started thinking I'm not sure I'd want to go, though I'm not sure if this thought process is soup grapes or me being reasonable. I know there is a wealth of info being offered, but one thing that I'm not keen on is that since the GS workshops started the size of the sessions has become larger. I think when it started the sessions could be 1 to 15 people (I'm trying to remember based on the old price structure info I read), which is definitely intimate and allows for personal attention. Now they go up to 25 people, and though that can be small for a workshop I know that is big for a regular class. It seems like that personal attention could be stretched a thin. If I was spending a thousand dollars or more to be one of 10 people, that's one thing, but not to be one of 25. I'm sure the size of the workshops has expanded to meet the demand of dancers, and I know that the teachers are also business people and they need to make a living.

But then I start to wonder how I could possibly teach with an ATS base and not take the GS? Not that I teach solely ATS moves, but that is where my troupe is grounded. But I also know that, more than for teaching, my desire to do the GS is for me, for my personal fulfillment. If I want to continuing teaching I just have to teach what I know, and what I am learning. Going to a GS session is more for me to bask in ATS for a few days, to dig into the dance form and understand it more. But right now I'm at a crossroads, balancing what I want with my other responsibilities, what I dream about tempered with a dash of commonsense.

In case anyone is wondering, I've had this cycle of want/don't want conflict tumbling through my head for about the past year. It's ramped up in the past few months I think because I have more time to think about it. I figured maybe if I could dump some of it out here I'd be able to get a better handle on it.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Everything old is new again

This just popped into my head today:

Cowrie falls are an updated version of feathered roach clips*.

* Which I loved as a kid, and didn't realize what I was really wearing in my hair until I was a bit older, though I'm sure my mom got a good laugh out of it.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Now for something completely different

My non-dance life has been a bit crazy lately, which doesn't leave me with much room for coherent blogging thoughts. One the other hand, vegging out to YouTube videos has helped me de-stress a bit. Here's one of my current favorites. What I love most of all is the sense of fun that comes out in this video, even though it's looks like a copy of a copy. And when the conga player really starts rolling around 3:20? Awesome!

Thursday, January 01, 2009


When I first started dance classes I quickly became infatuated with belly dance culture. I felt there there must be some way to keep the glamorous side of dance around when I was not in class, or a watching a performance, or immersing myself in dance stuff. It reminds me a part in "Snake Hips" where Anne Soffee writes about how, in our fantasy worlds, belly dancers should always be living in some kind of Orientalist tableau, not partaking of normal (boring) everyday life (I'd put a quote in here but I leant the book to a friend).

Anyway, I was musing on this train of thought the other day, thinking about how now the belly dancer persona is something I both take on and off and keep with me all the time. And I was thinking about really, how can you keep a spark of your (enjoyable) personal fantasy with you as you schlep through your daily routine? You know what I came up with?


Practice when you're not in class. Practice when you're not at a performance. Or chatting with dancers online. Or buying dance stuff. Or whatever. Practice to keep that magic going, to become a better dancer, to enjoy the dance. Practice at home, secretly at work, stealthily in line at the bank. Practice in sweats or a costume or workout gear. Work on hard things, work on fun things, or dance just for the hell of it.

It was a total "Duh!" moment.