Saturday, April 30, 2011

Must... layer... shimmies!

Day 119 of practice.

So, last night in level 2/3 class, we revisited layering shimmies over basic moves and I still can't do it, so Cari worked with me and told me what I need to practice to get it right. So that's mostly what I worked on today. I planned to get more practice during the day, but a couple hours of errands turned into 5 hours of running around town looking for things, so that kind of threw the entire day off.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Flirty Skirty

Day 118 of practice.

Class was fun, as per usual. It's the start of the new session, so we started beginner over... AGAIN (*sigh*), and started Level 2/3, which is good because I really needed to review those moves, and then Skirt Combos! Woohoo! I love 25 yard skirts, so it's fun to learn more ways to dance with them.

I narrowly resisted the desire to buy new dance pants, too. My resolve may crumble next week!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I got an "A"!

Day 117 of practice.

Taking classes from Fonda at the Dance Loft is a lot of fun, because she always says the silliest things, like "No one died!" and "Ok, you pass the class." Today I kept getting "A"s for doing things right, along with a couple of other students. I smile and laugh a lot in her class. We worked on slow moves and balancing props and leadership transitions and such. All good.

Today I also cut up an old too-tight t-shirt and turned it into a top to wear for classes. American Apparel has this silly idea that women shouldn't have muscles, so all of my "girl cut" t-shirts that used to fit before I started working out are now really uncomfortable. But I really like the designs on them, so I modify them into cute tops to liven up my practice clothes.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

In case you were wondering...

Day 116 of practice.

I discovered today that it is, in fact, possible to read a book while sitting on the floor and drilling knee shimmies by attempting to whack the backs of my knees against the ground. This is not an uncharacteristic experiment for me -- when I was a teenager I discovered that I could enliven boring errands by writing in a notebook while I followed my parents around the store.

Today's practice also included dancing to music, practicing zills, practicing spotting while spinning, and dancing around to music while I did housework. It was not a particularly spectacular practice, especially where the zills were concerned. I'm feeling generally off still (no headache, thankfully). Hopefully two nights in belly dance classes will rekindle my dancing fire.

Monday, April 25, 2011

I have a headache

Day 115 of practice.

Oh good grief, I really need to just dance during the day no matter how hot it is. I've spent the entire evening waiting for a headache to go away so I can dance. It is not going away. Not even though I gave it aspirin, a glass of water, and a chocolate cookie. Really headache, what else do you want?

Anyway, I'm going to go lie down and practice isolations in the dark. Dancing for reals is out of the question, as the headache is accompanied by a tough of nausea and general icky feeling.

For the record, I have been doing a lot of dancy-related stuff for the past two days. Yesterday I watched a the Bellydance Superstars DVD "Babelesque: Live from Tokyo." Today I danced a bit while cleaning earlier, and I repaired a hip scarf and my awesome beaded kuchi belt, plus turned a pair of green fishnet tights into a pair of green fishnet sleeves. So at least the day's not a total wash.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Does hooping count as dance practice?

Day 114 of practice.

What an unexpectedly full weekend I've had! I spent tonight out at the Pima County Fair, seeing the sights and hanging out with the performers of Elemental Artistry, one of our local fire performance troupes. My brother was working fire safety for them and offered to give me a ride to the fair.

Turns out the County Fair is not really my scene, but I did manage to have a good time. I really enjoyed the fire shows, the three performers who were out tonight all did some great tricks and nice dances to a good selection of tunes.

Between shows, I played with the hula hoops that they had brought for part of an audience participation bit. I figured heck, I'm a belly dancer, hula hooping should be a cinch for me! (I never got the hang of it as a kid. I also never learned to jump rope or swing across monkey bars. I was basically a failure at being a child) As it turns out, I could not keep a hoop going around my hips, but I could spin it on both arms. Not sure if it really counts as dance practice, but it was fun, if faintly embarrassing.

I did get some legitimate practice as well! I took a walk up to the ATM and brought my zills along, and kept nice, strong arms while I played. I also danced around while dinner was cooking, and actually danced a bit while I was eating, too. Hey, it was good music, I couldn't help myself!

Pretty thrift store find

Day 113 of practice.

Today was a very social day for me! A friend and I were in the mood for some retail therapy, so we took off to Savers. Check out my neat find! It's a lace poncho, but the neck-hole is just the right size to rest at my hips. I thought I was going to have to modify it to have a cute overskirt, but it's already the perfect fit. Yay! I'm super in love with it because it's such a nice shade of green.

Then in the evening, I went to my teacher and friend Fonda's birthday party! There were a lot of other dancers there, but also non-dancers, so I got to meet a lot of new-to-me people and be social and have fun.

Oh yes, and there was practice, too! More shimmy drills. I am determined to get a good glute shimmy, to go with my knee shimmy and washing machine shimmy and oblique shimmy. Moooooore shimmmmiiiiieeees! By the way, I had a HUGE slice of cake. This is how I blog when I'm hyper. I think I should probably shimmy a bit more to burn this off before bed.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Glutes glutes glutes

Day 112 of practice.

It's hot and I'm in my usual post-solo lull where I'm trying to decide what music I want to practice to next. So today I decided to practice some drills... and I made myself stand here and drill glute shimmies for almost 15 minutes straight! And I kept nice upper-body posture for most of it. I think next time I'll put a basket on my head, that way I'll definitely know when I'm not isolated enough :)

I did do a bit of actual dancing earlier. I found that I have five versions of "Cantara" on my iTunes list... The original Dead Can Dance and then four covers (including two different versions by Rajna). I had this silly idea to listen to them all in a row, just to see if I could and to see if any of them were bad so I could delete them. But I liked them all and I danced around a bit while I listened to them. It's hard not to dance to it, it really pulls me in.

So with glute shimmies and dancing around, and other assorted drills, I'm sitting at around half an hour. So much for my great plan of an hour of dance a day for two weeks. *sigh* I think I'll blame the heat.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Successful Solo!

Day 111 of practice.

Whew! What a night! I performed my solo... you know, the one I've only been practicing for a week. I was unexpectedly super crazy nervous while I performed it... so nervous that I felt like I was visibly shaking and I was sure that everyone could see it. But they thought I looked happy and beautiful. The fact that I loved the song really shone through and overpowered the fact that I was suffering from an unusual bout of nerves. The song was a big hit. Hooray for having a husband who finds obscure songs for me :)

This was the last night of the session. We had a review and quiz for the Rhythm class, which was a lot of fun. I'm going to miss that class! Elissa Nova and Amanda Rose are both great teachers, and I enjoyed the fact that they gave us tests to keep us on our toes. And there were cupcakes! Hooray, cupcakes!

Also... daaaaaaaaance paaaaaaaaants! Next session I'm taking a skirt class, so I got some poofy green pantaloons to wear under my skirt. They're nice lightweight cotton so hopefully I won't feel too hot with two layers of clothes.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Fun class

Day 110 of practice.

Tonight was a good night of class at The Dance Loft with Fonda. We worked on slow tribal moves and danced with our props. Because there were only 9 people in class, we were able to break into trios for practice and get some good individual feedback. Afterward, I stayed talking with Fonda and a couple of my classmates, just a nice hour of chat about dance and crazy stories.

If you haven't already, please check out the post I wrote earlier about dance names!

Choosing a stage name

What?! This isn't a post about practice! What's going on here? So, for a bit now I've been wanting to start including some extra posts on this blog, separate from recording my daily practice goal. These posts will cover a wide array of topics, from product reviews to my musings about dance-related topics, and maybe someday even interviews. I'd like to make this blog a little more well-rounded and interesting, and also, since I usually practice at night, I generally don't want to sit here and spend half an hour on my blog, so it makes more sense for me to write this stuff during the day when it's too hot to dance.

So. Stage names. I think I want them. Not to protect my identity, or to pretend to be a different person, but because I like names. And I don't like the one I was given at birth. When I was 11, I decided I was tired of my first name and I chose to go by my initials. 18 years later, I'm pretty bored with "AJ" too. I don't want to go back to my given name, or use my middle name, and I want something prettier than my initials for when I dance. After all, I eventually want to go pro, and I don't think "AJ" says "glamorous belly dancer" to prospective customers. Honestly, I'm pretty sure "AJ Reardon" sounds more like a mystery author than a dancer.

I'm running into a couple of problems with choosing a stage name, however. The first problem is that I really like names. There are so many names that I love that it's hard to narrow it down to just one. The other problem is, well, to put it perfectly bluntly, I am as white as the day is long. I would feel a little ridiculous taking an Arabic stage name, especially since I don't even dance in the Egyptian style -- I'm very much an ITS/Tribal Fusion sort of girl. I have a great respect for Egyptian, Turkish, and American Cabaret dancers, but it's just not my personal performance style. So I want something that sounds pretty and a little exotic, while not feeling entirely out of place on a pasty, freckled American girl.

Here are a few of the names I'm considering:
Sophia. I simply love this name, I've used it in my fiction writing and in gaming, and if I was going to have children, I'd want to name my daughter Sophia.
Nerissa. Also a pretty, slightly exotic name. I also used it in gaming and writing.
Kadath. A Lovecraft reference and the name of my Guild Wars character. My goodness, I am a nerd.
Niamh. From an Irish faerie tale.  Of course, the problem with Gaelic names is the weird pronunciation.

Thoughts, suggestions? Although I'm not performing much now, I'd really like to settle on a stage name so I can use it in on-line belly dance communities.

Not so wow

Day 109 of practice.

After yesterday's partial success, I expected today to be even better. Instead, today was kind of weird. I had more errands to run, and I was just off. For instance, usually I'm starving for dinner by 6, but today I didn't eat until almost 9, and that was only because I realized it was getting late and I should eat, hungry or not. But then I was full and didn't want to dance for a couple of hours. I think that for once, I actually spoiled my dinner by eating cookies. They were really good cookies, too.

On top of that, my wonky right shoulder is acting up, making weird crunching noises when I do snake arms (note, it doesn't really crunch, I can just feel/hear it grinding, but anyone outside my body can't hear it). It feels a little better now, but I don't know if that's because I warmed it up and danced it out a bit, or because I rubbed some nice lavender massage oil on it. Anyway, that kept me from wanting to do too much slow stuff with veil and basket like I did last night.

So I did some isolations, a good warm-up, practiced my solo, danced around to a song I was supposed to practice my fast moves to, and danced to my random song of the day... which was "The Beast of Pirate's Bay" by Voltaire. That kind of summed up how today was different from yesterday -- instead of a profound experience, I had a silly pirate song. Which was, admittedly, fun to dance to. And it allowed me to work on my goal of practicing spotting while spinning. I think I found one problem with the technique I use for practicing at home. My usual "spot" is this weird candle on my bookshelf, which is below eye-level. When I switched my spot to be the dragon picture hanging over the shelf, above eye-level, I did better. So I'll play with that a bit more this week.

Now I'm going to go read in bed and work on my glute isolations. I did pretty well with glute shimmies during the Mira Betz workshops, but I haven't been practicing them as much as my oblique shimmies (which I like better), and now they kind of suck again. Note that "pretty good" for me with glute shimmies means "Oh hey, I am actually shimmying with my glutes" and has no actual resemblance to a well-done shimmy.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Just wow.

Day 108 of practice.

Wow. What an experience I just had! I decided that one of the things I would do this week, to keep my practice dynamic and help me really work on strong improv skills, would be to dance to one random song a day. After working through my playlist of homework songs, switch over to the giant melting pot that is my iTunes collection, hit shuffle, and dance to the first thing that comes up! I have some pretty weird stuff on there, so who knows what I'll have to work with.

Tonight, I got "Gotta knock a little harder," which if I remember correctly is from the Cowboy Bebop movie soundtrack. Yeah, a song from an anime. But what a powerful song it is... kind of soulish, and it starts out "Happiness was just a word to me, and it might have meant a thing or two if I'd have known the difference..." It's a very sad song about locking the world out so tightly that once you finally find someone you want to let in, you can. I've always identified pretty strongly with the song, as I'm negative, introverted, and socially awkward (when I'm not dancing!). To have this song come up, randomly, on the first night of really throwing myself back into dance was a strangely moving experience. I danced hard, and passionately, and beautifully (at least, it felt beautiful from the inside, and since I wasn't dancing for an audience, that's all that matters). It was fun, and emotional, and I just allowed myself to connect to the music and do whatever moves felt right, whether or not they were technically belly dance -- just focusing on keeping my posture and dancing powerfully.

Before that, I did a whole bunch of other practice. My solo, of course. Anaya Tribal fast, with and without zills. Anaya style slow. Slow with veil. Slow with a basket on my head. I did it all! And throughout the day, I danced while I cleaned. Not quite my hour goal, but pretty good for the first day, since I also had to run some errands.

For my dance immersion, I watched a lot of videos on-line, and picked up a Belly Dance Superstars DVD while I was out, to watch later this week.

Monday, April 18, 2011

One last lazy day

Day 107 of practice.

I haven't been really dedicated to practice this week. I've been dancing every day and working on my solo and balancing my basket and making flash cards, but there hasn't been real strict adherence to my goal of half an hour. Well, that ends tomorrow! Tomorrow I plan to start two weeks of hardcore dance practice, minimum of one hour a day, plus serious dance immersion -- reading dance magazines and blogs, watching dance videos, organizing dance costumes, making dance jewelry, creating dance playlists, etc etc etc! I feel like if I spend a couple of weeks really buckling down and dancing hard, it will get me back on track and make it easier to get 30 minutes when things get busy for me again.

As for today's practice, it involved working on isolations, balancing my tray on my head, a shimmy warm up, and running my solo.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Level changes

Day 106 of practice.

Ok, I am so using the new song for my solo next week! It's called "Convivio" by Unto Ashes and it is seriously beautiful. The lyrics are from Il Convivio by Dante, but the music has a very Middle Eastern sound to it. I'm really enjoying the ability to switch tempos, and throw in level changes! I practiced it twice today, once spontaneously when it came on while I was cleaning, and once just now, in the tiny spot of my living room that is currently taken up by the gaming table or the discarded belongings of my gaming group.

Also today I practiced some shimmy drills, some tray balancing, and some arm isolations, plus dancing while cleaning. And I plan to run my solo one more time before bed, after all the gamers have left and I can reclaim my living room!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Dizzy dancer

Day 105 of practice.

Wooo... dizzy. I like to end my fast solo with a bunch of fast spins. The problem is that I'm not exactly great at spotting... sometimes I get it perfect, but the more I spin the sloppier I get. It's a hard thing to practice, because after messing up a few times I'm too dizzy to continue! I should make a point of practicing a little each day, even when I have other classes and workshops and such.

I foolishly placed my slow solo song *after* my fast solo song on my play list, which meant that I went into this new possible solo a bit unsteady and lightheaded. This caused me to mess up a few moves (especially the new one I just learned last night!), but over all I'm happy with it. If I dance to the rhythm, I can throw in a few medium/fast moves that lend themselves well to slow medium tempo, and if I dance to the melody, I can do languorous slow moves. If only I was good at languorous slow moves! The song just makes me feel so beautiful, and I think there's a lot of possibility for it if I practice really hard this week. I could also see myself using it for veil sometime in the future.

In addition to a shimmy warm-up and the two solo practices, I did a bunch of arm and hand drills while catching up on The Daily Show, and got a little tray balancing practice earlier. Tomorrow I have to clean the house, so I might see how many chores I can do with a tray on my head -- I can even use it to carry my dust rags!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Class, class, and more class

Day 104 of practice.

Ahhh, Thursday. Three hours of dance class at Plaza de Anaya. I had fun. I tried to put a lot of the basic technique stuff that I learned from Mira's workshops into play. I watched a couple of my classmates perform solos. I learned drum rhythms. And then I drove home.

Along the way, I contemplated doing a completely different song for my solo, which would require a switch to slow moves instead of medium/fast. The truth is that after two friggin' months of practicing to it, I am kind of tired of Turbo Tabla 4, and I have a new song I absolutely love. I'll practice both this week, and if I feel comfortable with the new song by next Thursday, I'll use it instead.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Class and little changes

Day 103 of practice.

I just made a couple of small changes to this blog... added some links and bands, and I changed both of those lists to be sorted alphabetically, because it's easier than keeping them sorted by some imaginary level of importance.

Anyway, I spent tonight at The Dance Loft for tribal and balancing props. My new tray worked out really well, it didn't even come close to falling off of my head, unlike my obnoxious sword. I got to spend a lot of time leading my fellow students through slow moves, with and without props, which was really good practice for me.

Basket Tray!

Day 102 of practice.

Today I went to World Market in search of a basket or tray to use for the balancing prop class... and I found a basket-woven tray. It's the best of both worlds! It's pretty, it balances nicely on my head, and I had a coupon. Hooray! So of course part of my practice today was walking around and doing isolations with a tray on my head. I also played a video game with a tray on my head, though I took it off before actually setting out into a combat zone.

The rest of my practice consisted of drills and isolations throughout the day, and knee shimmies on the floor (surprisingly without doggie help this time). I didn't set aside any time for real dancing, which annoys me. I need to be more firm about setting a dance schedule, and not let myself get derailed by the internet or going out or watching DVDs.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Obliques, glutes, psoas, etc etc.

Day 101 of practice.

Today was mostly about cleaning the house, which meant that I had music playing all day and I did little practice shimmies here and there, but I don't want to let that become too major of an element of my daily practice. I'm going to try to move away from even letting that count for the half-hour total, since it's really hard to focus on good posture and using the right muscles when I've also got my arms full of laundry. It is still a great way to practice walking shimmies, and to get to know new music, but it's not the best use of my practice time and should really be considered a bonus.

I did make time for some real practice. I did some of the homework that Mira gave us, practicing glute and oblique shimmies, ovary crushers (take that, ovaries!), pelvic floor muscle exercises, and really just mulling over a lot of what she said in the workshops. I'm going to do more of the isolations while I read tonight, since they can be done lying down.

I also ran through my solo, but I asked Chris to watch me, which through me off because I was performing for him instead of focusing on the moves. I definitely need to put more work into it tomorrow, run it a few times and make up for being kind of screwy tonight.

My plan was to have a picture of my Day 100 reward, but I got busy, so I'll just describe it... A black 25 yard skirt with silver stripes. It's so pretty! A few of my friends have them (and Meghan and Rosie wore them for their performance this weekend), and I've been really wanting one of my own because it's so beautiful and unusual, but it was too expensive to just buy on a whim, since I already have two 25 yard skirts, a 10 yard skirt, and a 9 yard skirt (plus 25 yard pants). I was saving it for a special occasion, and 100 days of practice felt pretty special!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Mira Betz and The Big 100!

Day 100 of practice. Woohoo! *throws confetti* (^^^^ Look, it's me with Mira Betz!)

Doesn't the title of this blog post make it sound like some sort of children's novel? But no, this is the story of how Mira Betz and Plaza de Anaya and my wonderful Tempe dance friends made days 99 and 100 of my daily dance goal really awesome!

First of all, I want to say that Kimberly of Plaza de Anaya is one of the best people in the world. She's so sweet, and she works so hard to not just provide dancers in the Valley and beyond with a great place to dance, but to bring us the best workshop teachers. So I want to publicly thank her for all that she does to make my dance life, and that of so many of my friends, so much better! Luv ya, Kim!

And my friends and classmates bring a lot to my dance and social life, too! Usually when I go up for workshops, I stay at Casa de Meghan, but this weekend Meghan had a lot going on, so Rosie and Nahks offered to let me crash with them, just hours before I was due in town. Not only did they give me a place to sleep, they even cooked me a super-yummy lunch before I headed home, and talked nerdy with me! I love that I've found people who love dance AND gaming AND SF/F novels as much as I do! Also, I need to mention that Rosie and Meghan performed beautifully at Saturday night's show, a wonderfully choreographed dark, dramatic, feathery fusion number that made me so proud of them! And I helped -- in the tiniest way, by stitching down some lace on Meghan's bustle. LOL.

But now, MIRA BETZ!!!! Wow. I have taken a decent amount of workshops in the slightly-less-than-two-years that I've been formally taking belly dance classes. Usually I learn some things, take away a few good tidbits, but whatever combos and choreos we learn get forgotten, because I take insufficient notes and have no one to practice with. I was really excited when I saw that Mira's workshops were going to be all technique instead of specific moves, because that's really what I want more of, ways to refine the moves I know and develop more of my own. I knew this weekend was going to be good, and a lot of fun, but I had no idea that it would be amazing.

Seriously, every time I take a workshop with a dancer that I really admire, I jokingly think to myself "Maybe some of her talent will rub off on me!" This is the first time that I've felt like it actually might. Well, not so much HER talent, but she gave all of us the tools to hone our own talent, to each be the best dancer we can, whether we dance Egyptian or American Cabaret or ITS or Gothic Tribal Fusion. She imparted so much wisdom and advice that I literally feel like this weekend changed my life -- it's shown me the path to be the dancer that I want to be, how to get myself out of the rut of ho-hum daily practice and work hard to perfect even the most boring beginner moves.

If you have a chance to take workshops with Mira, I totally recommend it. In fact, not just recommend it, I say DO IT NO MATTER WHAT! If you have to sell plasma and live off of ramen for a month just to afford the workshop, it will totally be worth it. I've never had an instructor inspire me so much, or make me work so hard! And on top of that, she's just plain funny, so even when we were working really hard, she kept the mood light and I never felt stressed, even when I was struggling to layer a rib circle over a vine step (yes, for some reason I am vine step impaired). It helps that she encourages failure as a way of learning, so I felt like even if I messed up, I was trying, and I was learning, and I got pretty much every exercise right at least once, through sheer persistence.

Although my muscles hurt, I am so energized from this amazing weekend. I feel like I could gush on and on in this blog post, or I could clean my entire house, or make a necklace, or go dance for half an hour, or work on one of my novels, or tackle any of a number of other projects. This is so what I needed, and I hope I can find a way to make this feeling last.

(Oh yeah, I'll post about my Day 100 reward tomorrow!)

Not actually here

Day 99 of practice.

This is a pre-scheduled blog post to let you know that I am in Tempe, and I'm having an awesome time at Mira Betz workshops. Tonight will be the big show with Mira and many of our amazing local dancers, and I'm sure I'm going to enjoy that, too.

I will be back tomorrow afternoon, to tell you all about it and celebrate 100 days of practice. See you then!

Friday, April 8, 2011

New music!

Day 98 of practice.

Four new CDs in the mail today! That should give me plenty of new music to practice to. Hooray! I ripped them all to my iTunes library (as well as a bunch of other music that I had lying around) so that I can listen to it on my trek to and from Tempe.

I seem to have staved off whatever was trying to take me down yesterday, so I am still on for my weekend of Mira Mania! Woohoo!

Practice so far today has consisted of dancing while doing housework and packing for my trip, and one run-through of my solo. I'll do another run-through before I leave, and work on some drills at some point, too. I just wanted to blog now so I don't forget.

Under the weather but awesome

Day 97 of practice.

You would expect that since today is Thursday, I would be posting about a lovely night of Plaza de Anaya dance classes. But no. Instead I feel like I'm coming down with something, so I stayed home and dosed up on vitamins, drank a million glasses of water, and sulked because I missed out on cupcakes in rhythm class. CUPCAKES!!! It's really important to me that I not get sick, because I have Mira Betz workshops this weekend! Not only have I been looking forward to them for months and months, but I already paid for the workshops and a ticket to the accompanying show, and it's all non-refundable, so I will be both sad and out of some money if I can't go. But mostly sad!

Anyway, my plan was to have a full-length but gentle practice session at home, work on my solo, do some Anaya Tribal moves, and play around with a song that I love and will probably dance to the next time The Dance Loft has a hafla (that being the only place that lets a solo girl like me dance to a song over 5 minutes).

So I warmed up, and that went well; and I worked on my solo, and while I missed a couple musical cues, I also found some good moves for a couple of spots I was unsure on; then my song came on and I was just ON. I went from gentle, fun moves to just relax, to really throwing myself into the music, complete with hair tosses and floorwork. Floorwork! Without knee pads! On tile! In shorts! I even tried that classic Cleopatra pose with an undulation, which probably looked ridiculous because I've never done it before, but what the hell. I was in my living room and the dogs were the only ones watching, and they clearly think all dance is ridiculous. The point is, in the moment I felt awesome.

Of course, then the song ended and I said "Wait a second, I'm supposed to be taking it easy, what was that all about?" and I felt a little overheated and beat up, so I decided to turn off my music, cool down, and I'll round out my practice with the hand drills that we did in Fonda's class last night, because you can never work too hard on beautiful hands.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

On my head.

Day 96 of practice.

Today I went to call at The Dance Loft, and we started working with balance props. I had intended to go out shopping for a basket or tray or something last week, but I forgot, so I had to take my sword with me. Other than Fonda (the teacher!) I was the only one with a sword. I really do need to get a different prop as we had a lot of people in class tonight, so a smaller prop would be better. Preferably something that actually fits in my dance bag, so I can leave it there. I almost forgot my sword!

Class was fun, in addition to balancing props, we did some drills and some 3/4 shimmy work and some practice with zills. Definitely what I needed to fight the funk.

3 minutes =/= Half an hour

Day 95 of practice.

Ugh. I fell way short of my goal today. All I did was run through my solo -- although it was a pretty good run-through. There were a couple spots where I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do tonight, but a lot of really good spots. Not bad for being in an utter and complete funk.

I wasted my afternoon, the time when I thought I was going to practice. Then I spent the evening working through some major obstacles in my life, which were standing between me and my dance goals. Hopefully tomorrow will find me ready to make some changes and work harder, but I don't know. One thing is for certain, though... when I've already been up until 2:30am, half an hour of dance practice is not the way to get to sleep... all those endorphins would just keep me awake. So three minutes it was. And if that makes me a failure at my goal, oh well. I'll just have to do better tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Lackluster practice

Day 94 of practice.

Today's practice consisted of dancing while doing housework, more floor shimmies (with more corgi help! This time they both tried to pile in my lap), and running my solo. Not very exciting or noteworthy. I'm hoping for a more intense practice tomorrow, maybe during the day. The house is actually cooler in the day sometimes -- it cools down in the wee hours of the morning, then takes a while to heat back up, but when it does heat up, it takes a while for it to dissipate. We'll see.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Knee shimmy complication

Day 93 of practice.

A while back, Cari showed us an exercise to improve our knee shimmies: sit on the floor and rapidly try to slam the backs of your knees into the ground. Now, I'm pretty happy with my knee shimmy, but there's always room for improvement and it seemed like a fun thing to do while watching DVDs. The only problem was that my corgi Daisy was very excited about me sitting on the floor, and decided she had to help... by flopping across my knees! My legs are pretty strong, but not strong enough to shimmy with 23 lbs of dog muscle draped across them :)

I did manage to chase Daisy off of my lap, but afterwards she sat right next to me and stared deeply into my eyes, as if trying to fathom why belly dance is more important than puppy snuggles. Poor dog, she just doesn't understand my art!

In addition to shimmies, floreos, and belly rolls while watching DVDs, I did a quick run-through of my solo, which is getting better and better. Practicing it would be even nicer if I didn't have to stick to a tiny part of the living room floor so as to avoid the Ceiling Fan of DOOM!

Anyway, since it's only 1:15am instead of 2am, and I've had a mostly relaxing day (other than a short moment of panic when our dogs escaped, luckily unlike cats, they come when they're called), I can tell you all about my fun and exciting trip to Phoenix yesterday!

A while back Mahin announced that she was putting together a Belly Laughs show! Belly dance comedy, something that I've seen videos of on-line and kept wishing someone would do here. It turns out that my friend Dawn also wanted to go, so we agreed to carpool! Then we found out that Aura (a black light party at Plaza de Anaya) was planned for later in the evening, so that was an added bonus -- comedy + party + dance + friends = perfect Saturday night!

Despite getting a late start, we had a smooth drive up to Phoenix and found the Rhythm Room, a blues club that was hosting Belly Laughs. We were even early, so we were able to grab seats right next to the stage, and order some pizza to be delivered during the show, because we were starving! The show was reasonably crowded but not sold out, and sadly I didn't see any of my Phoenix dance friends there -- well, they missed out!

Belly Laughs was hilarious! Lots of talented dancers performing skits about all aspects of belly dance, from crazy customers to over-eager students to ridiculous props. I laughed so hard! In addition to the dancers, there was an all-female improv comedy troupe that did some skits between the dance performances and shared the emcee duties. They were quite funny and had clearly taken the time to learn some of the in-jokes of the belly dance community. Mahin really put together a great show, and if she does it again, I might just have to come up with a funny number to perform, too!

The show ended earlier than we expected and we had an hour and a half to kill before Aura, so we had a pleasant chat over coffee. It was a lovely night up in Phoenix, so it was nice to just sit and talk outside, and get to know Dawn better.

We got over to Plaza just as Aura started, and it's one of those events that starts off slow then gets more crowded as the night owls come out. I was able to introduce Dawn to some of the Plaza crew, and we checked out the retail floor lit only by dim blacklight, which was an adventure of "Is this brown or purple?" And since the dance floor was almost empty, I got to twirl around with my silk veil. Weee!

After a bit, more people showed up and they brought their props, so we alternated our time between dancing, and just sitting back to enjoy the glow poi and LED hoops and staffs. The hooping community is especially always well-represented at Aura and it's so fun to see the amazing moves they can do, and admire the different patterns of LEDs.

All too soon it was time to head home, and it was so nice to have a friend along to chat and keep me company for the long, boring drive through the dark. All in all, our road trip adventure was a blast and I look forward to doing it again... maybe someday soon!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Practice yes, zills no

Day 92 of practice.

Today's practice consisted of dancing at the Aura party at Plaza de Anaya. However, I did not do my 5 minutes of zills, because it is still ridiculously hot in this house, so it's hard to muster enthusiasm to move around at all. I feel bad about failing the 7 day challenge, but at least I'm still on top of my daily practice goal. I think I'll try the 7 day challenge again after our cooler is actually up and running and the house is hospitable.

I had a fun time today going up to Phoenix with my friend Dawn, but since it's almost 2am, I'll wait and talk more about the trip tomorrow.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

I love you, internet!

Day 91 of practice.

It's pretty clear that I at least like the internet, since I have a blog to chronicle my daily belly dance practice, and that blog has links to my jewelry blog, and my Etsy shop, and blogs I like to read. But tonight I'm hear to say that I don't just like the internet, I love it.

You see, it's very hot in my house tonight. We went from a couple weeks of lovely, perfect temperatures to suddenly being in the upper 90s. Yuck! Way too hot to do some shimmy practice, like I had been thinking of doing. So I was sitting here procrastinating, and my husband was listening to some good music on his computer, so I decided to use my computer to see if I could find the album for sale, and not only did I find it, but it was on a 3 for $20 sale, so we had to find two other CDs we wanted, which meant we had to look some bands up on YouTube to see if we liked their music, and next thing you know I'm dancing around the office! Oh, but not before I ordered the music! There's nothing quite like being able to shop after midnight, in your nightgown.

I even got to dance to an oud taxim, which as it turns out, was pretty hard. While doing so I got to tell my husband all about taxims and maqam, which is funny because he is a musician and I am so not. I just read things and pay attention in class and file it away with all the other random trivia stored in my brain.

After that, I had to go do my daily 5-6 minutes of zilling, which was predictably cacophonous. Not only that, but the worse my zilling gets, apparently the harder I play. After only 6 minutes, my thumbs hurt! Ugh. I need to learn to relax before I do some damage.

Anyway, all this talk of music makes me realize that I should do some work on the music links here on this blog... sounds like a good project for Sunday!