Sunday, February 27, 2011

Rachel Brice Kicks My Butt

Day 58 of practice.

My brother-in-law gave me Rachel Brice's Serpentine DVD for the holidays, and tonight I finally made it part of my daily practice. I decided to give the shimmy drills a try, because I'm really bad at drilling anything if I don't have someone (even if they're just on the TV screen) telling me what to do. The exercise consists of several different types of shimmies, with arm, torso, and hip movements layered over them. Some of the drills were easy, and some of them were impossible at my current skill level! Of course, Rachel makes all of them look easy. I think I'll do these drills every day that I have time for an extra-long practice and don't have class/workshops, at least until I can do everything in the exercise. Maybe then I'll move on to one of the other sections of the DVD.

And that was just the start of my practice! I skipped my usual shimmy warm-up, since I was VERY warm (had to change into a lighter-weight shirt partway through the drills!), and moved right into veil practice. My routine is coming together, but since the hafla is in less than 2 weeks, I definitely need to work out my entrance and smooth everything out. This was followed by two songs worth of Anaya Tribal fast, one of slow, and some solo practice to Collide. Add in some cool-down stretches, and I practiced for about 45-50 minutes total. Not bad!

I finished my Level 1 flashcards today. Of course, I don't really NEED flashcards for the Level 1 moves, but I'm a completist.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

I gave myself a rain check

Day 57 of practice, sort of.

You may have noticed that I didn't blog yesterday. I also didn't dance yesterday. Why? I was SICK! I had some stomach issues, and I was utterly exhausted. The tummy problems ruled out belly rolls, and nausea and dancing just don't combine well. I was going to do some arm isolations and maybe some zills, you know, take it easy, but instead I fell asleep.

Dreaming of dancing doesn't technically count as practice, I suppose.

After over 12 hours of sleep, I woke up this morning feeling much better, and I'm back in the dancing saddle. Today I started going through the belly dance music CDs that I purchased at the Borders going-out-of-business sale, and I started my flashcard project (making flash cards for all of my Anaya Tribal moves, and eventually probably flash cards for all the combos from prop classes that I have handouts from). After setting up a new homework play list, I got half an hour of practice -- shimmy warm-up, veil practice, Anaya Tribal fast and slow, solo, knee shimmy drills and lots of stretching.

Tomorrow, I plan to get an hour of practice to make up for the half-hour I missed yesterday. If the weather's good (which it probably won't be), I'll take my zills for a walk around the block. If the weather's bad, I'll do some drills from a DVD. And I'll definitely keep going through my music and working on my flashcards.

So my year of practice won't be quite perfect, but I don't intend to let missing one day throw me off.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Class, finally

Day 55 of practice.

Ahh, dance class. It's been too long. Tonight it was off to Plaza de Anaya for two hours of Anaya Tribal classes, wrapping up the New Year session. We reviewed all the moves that had been covered in Fun-Duh-Mentals, and Cari talked about room for improvement. In Advanced/Performance Prep, we went back over some moves that people (me chief among them!) needed more work on, and then practice performing with audience members scattered throughout the studio.

Next week I will have to miss class, due to Wild Wild West Con, which is a bummer since it's a new session and I am planning to take the drumming and dancing class. I hate to miss the first night of a new session, and even more so of a completely new class... but I bought the tickets for the convention back in Autumn and I intend to take full advantage of them. I just wish I had a clone so I could be in two places at once!

Still in a bit of a dance-related funk, but I did get some compliments on my dancing and assurances that my practice is showing, so I guess I should soldier on even when I am feeling bleh about my own progress and chances as a dancer.


Day 54 of practice.

To be perfectly honest, I don't feel like dancing today. I'm not in a good mood, I'm not feeling particularly optimistic about my dance future (or other elements of my future either, for that matter), and this goal to dance for 30 minutes every day feels like a silly, superfluous thing, especially when I've been fudging it so much lately. I couldn't even muster up the enthusiasm to actually dance, even with quiet music, but I was tired of doing belly rolls, so I'm dancing in my chair to some very quiet Beats Antique. I'm only doing it because my husband practically forced me to. I'm sure later, I'll thank him for not letting me throw my goal away, but right now I'd rather be in my warm bed.

And why do I need practice at home? Because once again, life kept me from being able to go to the Dance Loft. You'd think that going to classes at a studio 5 minutes away would be easier than driving an hour and a half to Tempe, but no. Thursday has already been consecrated as Dance Class Day, observed constantly unless I am sick, or working gem show, or out of town, or class has been canceled. But Wednesday is a newcomer to the schedule, still prone to being thrown off course. But no more. I think I'll get a stack of frozen entrees to keep in the freezer, and if it looks like dinner plans will interfere with my ability to get to class, I'll just nuke something and then be on my merry way.

If I am going to keep doing this thing, I need to be firmer about saying "No, I need to dance." Also, instead of wasting time waiting for other people to be ready to proceed with plans, I should dance while I wait.

(In short, other people ruin my plans because I let them. Also, I want to go to bed instead of doing isolations while I type)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

New veil! SQUEEE!

Day 53 of practice.

Today, my plain white silk veil arrived in the mail! I'm supposed to dye it with Kool-Aid, but I'm strangely drawn to its pristine whiteness. I might very well wear all black, and dance with my plain white veil. It kind of fits the sad, down tempo vibe of the song I'm performing to. It would also be nice with Pilgrimage of Lost Children. Hmmmm....

I feel comfortable with the idea of keeping this veil white, because I was very bad at Ren Faire and sort of commissioned a painted/dyed veil from a vendor there who does beautiful work. I say "sort of" because we discussed exactly what I wanted, and she took down my e-mail address to let me know when it's done, but she didn't ask for a deposit, so neither one of us is officially tied down to the deal. But as much as I hate when people back out of deposit-less custom orders on me, I would not do it to this artist unless I have another major house repair or other emergency come up.

Anyway, practice! Since I made oatmeal this morning instead of us going out, I was able to get some fun shimmy, undulation and isolation practice in while I cooked. Then tonight, since I had a NEW VEIL (!!!) and my mother-in-law was still awake, I practiced my veil solo (and let me just say, one-armed spins are so much nicer with silk instead of heavy synthetic), and then some fast Anaya Tribal moves. Of course I also did my usual shimmy warm up, with lots of arm movements so I wouldn't hurt myself, and cooled down with some stretches. Gotta take care of those muscles!

Monday, February 21, 2011

I want to dance!!!!

Day 52 of practice.

Practice today consisted of isolations in the car, bits of dancing to music overheard as we traveled through Ren Faire, and belly rolls at my desk tonight. Tomorrow I'll finally have time to actually dance during the day and get some good, real practice!

Ren Faire was lots of fun, got to see some dancing, hang out with a dance friend, and buy new costuming goodies. Also got some compliments on my costume, especially my ridiculously large $7 mall bracelet. Hooray for cheap costume jewelry! (Wait! I make jewelry! Why would I say such a thing?)

Also got way too much sun. It was cool and partially cloudy so I foolishly didn't use sunscreen and barely used my parasol. I have very bizarre sunburn patterns all over my body. Good thing I have plenty of time for them to heal before my next performance. I'll just look funny at class!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

More silent practice

Day 51 of practice.

Lesson learned. Gotta dance during the day when my MIL is here, or else I get stuck silently drilling belly rolls while she sleeps. Boring!

I had better work some of these belly rolls into my veil performance, given how much practice I've been having with them.

Tomorrow I'm off to the Arizona Renaissance Festival, where I will see Ghazaal Beledi and maybe Jamila Lotus perform, and I'll shop at the Domba booth, and of course I'll rock a tribal costume. Not sure how I'll work dance practice into the day, other than drilling isolations on the ride up.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Day 50 of practice!

That's right, here I am quietly practicing belly rolls while my mother-in-law sleeps in our guest room. Sadly, no real dance practice for me. Someday, when our game room is finished, I can go out there and blast music when we have sleeping house guests, but for now I am drilling belly rolls and mayas and whatever else comes to mind, sans music.

315 more days to go. I think I can make it through the year!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Practice while you work

Day 49 of practice.

Today's practice was interspersed with massive amounts of housework. Now, I generally keep my house pretty tidy, but there's tidy and there's mother-in-law clean, which requires quite a bit more work.

Walking back and forth through the house gives me good opportunity to practice traveling shimmies. Sometime, when no one else is around, I think I'll declare one day "Shimmy Day" and make myself shimmy everywhere. At the very least, it would confuse the dogs.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

New veil time!

Day 48 of practice.

Yip yip! I was talking about my need for a new veil, and one of my on-line dance friends and Etsy teammates mentioned how she custom-dyed her own veil using Kool-Aid. I said maybe I would try that, so she not only sent me a link on where to buy a plain white silk veil, but she also quickly posted a tutorial on how to do it! Visit Shiny Shimmy to see the tutorial. I've got a new half-circle veil on the way from Dharma Trading. Hopefully it will turn out well, otherwise I will really be in a time crunch to get a new veil on time!

Anyway, I was supposed to spend today/tonight at Estrella War, hanging out with dance teachers and friends, but budget and time constraints interfered, so here I am home alone, practicing and blogging. I changed things up a bit by dancing to some random songs, doing some level change exercises, and *wince* working with my zills. My goodness, I am still a horrible zill player. I will NOT zill while my mother-in-law is visiting (because I would never subject a house guest to torture), but I will have to go back to practicing with them every. single. day. as soon as she leaves.

I also worked with my veil, practicing for my performance, and discovered more things that simply do not work. But over all I'm happy with how it's progressing, and I've already figured out my exit, so I don't just walk off the stage boringly. Should focus on the entrance next!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

No class again

Day 47 of practice.

I was supposed to go to class at the Dance Loft tonight, but dinner ran too late and then I was too full to dance. I usually do dinner early on class nights for just these reasons, but it was out of my control today. I might miss next week as well, due to my house guest... but March is looking good for uninterrupted dance class bliss.

Practice tonight was more of the usual. No fun or amazing breakthroughs, and I continue to frustrate myself with the Airplane combo. No combo should be that long! And it somehow makes me forget to do hip drops. I'll just have to keep at it until I finally get it.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Getting Bored

Day 46 of practice.

Now that practicing every day has become a routine, it's starting to feel, well, routine. The excitement of daily practice has been replaced by the feeling like I should be getting more from it. I'm thinking half an hour might not be enough. Oh sure, it's a good minimum, for days when I have house guests, am working at the gem show, or just don't feel good. But on the average day, I should be doing more. I mean really, how much can I be gaining from one song each of shimmies, fast, slow, veil, and just plain dancing? It's helping me keep moves fresh in my mind, which is good, and get more familiar with them, but I feel like I should be pushing myself harder, learning new things, strengthening my muscles, tiring myself out.

This isn't a good time to be thinking these things, since I should be getting my house ready for my mother-in-law's visit, and once she's here I'll be busy doing the hostess thing again, but at least I can plan for next month, maybe set some goals to work towards.

(Practice, by the way, was breakfast shimmies and then 28 minutes straight practice of Anaya Tribal and veil moves)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Always warm up!

Day 45 of practice -- a month and a half!

I think it's Princess Farhana who says "Always warm up and cool down -- it's the law!" Well, I bent the law today and only warmed up my legs with a shimmy exercise, while neglecting my arms, and I paid the price! While practicing with my veil, I did something wrong and wrenched something in my left arm. Ow! Massaging and stretching has made it slightly better but it still hurts in some positions. Hopefully I'll sleep it off!

Before that, I managed to get two songs worth of veil practice. Afterwards, I worked on some mayas, taxims, and rib taxims, sans proper arm movement/position. Earlier in the day I did shimmies, traveling steps and whatever else came to mind as I went about my day through the house.

It looks like I'll be going with "Wandering Star" by Portishead for my veil routine. I like that it's slow, but has room for some shimmy accents to punch things up a bit.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Veil details

Day 44 of practice.

Most of my practice today involved shimmying through the house with my dance playlist on. My traveling shimmies are much better when I'm just goofing off and not thinking about them... When I do them at class, and have an actual goal in mind, I look and feel ridiculous. Hopefully all the home practice will eventually produce results that show in class and performances.

Speaking of performances, the rest of my practice involved working on different little things with my veil, with an eye towards my performance next month. Rather than working to music, I experimented with trying a few things I had been curious about, different entrance and exit possibilities, level changes with veil, a touch of floorwork, and some transitions. Tomorrow I'll try them to music, in the context of a dance, and see what sticks.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Supporting the community

Day 43 of practice.

Tonight I went to an event to raise money to pay off the bills from All Souls 2010, the big awesome parade/show in downtown Tucson that honors our ancestors and lost loved ones in a very showy and creative way. I went out because I enjoyed All Souls, and also because Fonda and Brandye were dancing. It was a good time, and I was able to hang out with Kelli from class, meet a few other dancers, and boogie a bit.

Practice has so far consisted of breakfast-time dancing, dancing through the house off and on all day, and doing belly rolls on the way to the show. I might do some more actual dancing later, but probably not as I am exhausted again. I went to an outdoor gem show (my last show of the season), and being in the sun always wears me out.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Six weeks under my jingly belt!

Day 42 of practice. 42 days = 6 weeks!

I wasn't going to buy myself anything special to mark my six weeks of practice, but then I saw this beautiful tribal faerie pendant at the gem show and I just had to have her. When I asked how much, the vendor said "$25, but for you, $20" which I found funny, since we hadn't met before and hadn't spoken at all, since she was on the phone. Perhaps "for you" means "since the show is closing in 2 hours and it's one less thing to take home." Still. $20 for an awesome faerie! Happy day!

Practice tonight consisted of skipping around through my slow play list trying to decide on a song for my veil solo. It needs to be less than 5 minutes and the Stellamara song I've been practicing to is 5:01. Currently leaning towards Faith and the Muse or Portishead, but I'll need to practice some more to see what feels good. I also drilled all the new moves I learned last night, since there's no class next week (boo hoo!) and I want to make sure I don't forget them. I'm horrible about remembering long combos, I always forget some key part.

Now time to go window shop on Etsy for a veil I won't trip over!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Nnngggkkk, tired

Day 41 of practice.

I'm not even sure what sort of noise that is, it just seems to fit. I am really, really tired from my 2 hours of dance class and close to 4 hours of driving, thanks to traffic and road construction.

Class was fun, however. We learned a long slow combo, which involved a level change/drop. We also did lots and lots and lots of fast turns and spins, so that I spent most of class slightly dizzy.

Unfortunately, the beading on my new belt started to come unwoven. Fortunately, I am a beadworker, so I should be able to stop it from further coming undone.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I skipped class!

Day 40 of practice.

I skipped class at The Dance Loft tonight. My usual teacher Fonda was out, and was going to have a substitute. The substitute is a lady named Brandye, another friend of mine, who I've seen dance and think highly of. But then Brandye got sick and called in a substitute substitute, someone who I'm pretty sure I don't know, and my natural shyness kicked in. Shyness and laziness combined, I suppose.

Instead, I watched some of Serpentine, Rachel Brice's new DVD. I want to start doing some of the drills, but tonight the gaming group is meeting at our house, and I didn't want to be messing around with new drills, and thus making a fool of myself, while people might be tromping through my living room. Friday seems like a good day to dive into them!

Of course I practiced too! In addition to my breakfast shimmies and undulations, I did some Anaya Tribal fast and slow, some veil practice, and some solo practice. For my solo, I let me hair down and tried some playful hair-tosses and other hair play. Lots of fun! Some day I'll feel comfortable enough with it to actually throw it into a performance -- just not when the weather is this dry. Can you say "static"?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Belly rolls annoy my cat

Day 39 of practice.

I'm getting lazy and falling into a bad habit of considering breakfast shimmies and evening belly rolls as acceptable practice even on days I'm not working at a gem show. I'd like to blame it on being unreasonably tired, but I really should have practiced earlier in the day when I had energy.

There's only a little over a month until my next scheduled performance at a local hafla, and since I want to do a veil piece, I should really be practicing with my veil. I think I'll do some daytime practice tomorrow, even though an hour and a half at Dance Loft will more than fulfill my daily practice obligations. I think that getting back to class will also help me get back to practicing, as I'll be learning new things that I'll want to drill between classes.

As for the title of this post, my big fluffy Maine Coon mix decided to get into my lap while I was practicing belly rolls, then proceeded to twitch irritably whenever I pushed my belly out into his fuzz. But he's still less disruptive than the dogs!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Inspiration from strange places

Day 38 of practice.

Mostly, I get inspired by other dancers, music, props, and costuming. But today I am inspired by a runner! This article explains how Belgian runner Stefaan Engels just completed his goal to run a marathon a day for a year. Compared to 26 miles of running, 30 minutes of dance seems ridiculously easy.

So today, some actual practice! I started off with dancing while cooking oatmeal -- I think this will be a new tradition, until the weather really warms up, at which point I'll switch to dancing while making smoothies. This morning-time practice seems to be really improving my shimmies and it allows me to playfully explore music without thinking so much about specific moves or performing, just having fun.

Just now, I finished doing some more serious dancing. I warmed up with shimmies and arm movements as usual, then did one song each of Anaya Tribal fast and slow moves, to start refreshing my memory before I go back to class on Thursday. My slow vocabulary is frustrating me... I can only remember a few moves reliably. I should spend more time with my DVDs, and ask Cari to spend more time going over slow in class.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Breakfast practice

Day 37 of practice.

Definitely under the half-hour mark today, but I did practice during breakfast. Right now I'm so tired I almost forgot to blog. Dancing is out of the question. Sleep is the only option. Real, honest-to-goodness practice tomorrow, and lots of it to make up for all the lackluster practice this week.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Practice where I can get it

Day 36 of practice.

What a day it was! To think I thought yesterday allowed little time for practice. Today started on the wrong foot when I slept through the alarm! That's never happened to me before. In fact, I'm the sort of person who usually wakes up a few minutes before the alarm goes off, as if I'm equipped with some sort of magical internal alarm. But not this morning! I guess my body was too tired from all the partying last night. I overslept by an entire hour, which left me with no time for breakfast and definitely no time for dancing.

I did get a silly moment of practice during work, when I balanced a cone of thread on my head and did isolations while waiting for a price check on aforementioned thread. It was a lot easier to balance than a sword, but I don't think it would wow an audience. A couple of my classmates from Tempe did come down for the shows and visited me at work, but it was too busy in the booth for any improv tribal!

After putting in my eight hours at work, I went to an awesome dinner at one of Tucson's best restaurants (courtesy of my awesome boss!). Then I had to go straight to a party and make a slightly-more-than-token appearance. Both events were great, but I didn't get home until nafter 11pm, and I was stuffed and tired. So tonight's practice consists of isolations in the shower, and chair dancing to Beats Antique while updating this blog. I can't wait to get back to real dancing!

Friday, February 4, 2011

I cheated

Day 35 of practice.

When I started this goal, I said dancing at parties did not count for my practice... but today I am counting it. I just got back from the Swarovski party, where I danced a lot, and I am too tired to do 20 minutes of real practice to round out the 10 minutes I did while cooking breakfast this morning. In fact, I'm so tired that I'm just going to go crawl into bed right now.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

No class for me, boohoo!

Day 34 of practice.

Due to working the gem show, there's no way I could have made the drive to class and back tonight. I'd just be too tired! Plus the temperatures were in the 30s or lower all day today (28 degrees on the way to work this morning! This is unheard-of in Tucson). These temperatures froze up pretty much all the water in the city, rendering me unable to cook oatmeal this morning, so there was no dancing while preparing breakfast. AND I was supposed to dance at work today, for the entertainment of my co-workers, but we had a constant stream of customers in our booth. Great for business, lame for dancing! (It was tempting to dance FOR the customers, in hopes that they would tip me in beads, but that's a little too attention-grabby for me)

So it's another day of drilling belly-rolls (including in a blissfully hot shower once our water was back). Hopefully tomorrow morning will be less chaotic!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Shivering does not count as shimmying

Day 33 of practice.

Brrrr! Sudden cold snap here in Tucson! I could barely dance my way through cooking breakfast, my muscles were too cold. It's below freezing outside and none too cozy inside my house tonight. My furnace has been incredibly unreliable this season.

Anyway, practice was split up between breakfast, work, and after dinner. Mostly belly rolls and mayas and shimmies and floreos. I'm sad that working the gem show kept me from class, but I heard it was cold in the studio, too, so I wouldn't have been very happy there. Sure hope the weather gets better soon!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Day 32 of practice.

Today was the first day of my gem show job, the day of setting up the booth -- which took about 6 hours. My practice consisted of dancing around the house while I cooked breakfast and got ready for work, which was hampered a bit by the fact that my husband and his co-worker were working from our dining room table, so I didn't feel like I could dance too much. I also did some belly rolls and mayas during brief breaks throughout the day. I'm not sure if my practice really totaled half an hour, but I'm calling it close enough!

Putting on my dance music in the morning really helped! I am not a morning person by nature, and I had a hard time falling asleep last night (busy thinking about the gem show!). The energy of the music really got me moving, especially paired with the knowledge that I wouldn't have much time for practice later in the day.