Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Dancing at the park, dancing in my skirt

Day 151 of practice.

Tonight I went to the park, where there were a bunch of lovely drummers playing live music for us. Mostly we went over tribal basics, and then had some freestyle dancing to an Ayyoub rhythm.

I left early so I could come home and practice some DC skirt combos. Still having a bit of trouble with them, I sure hope we do some good review at class on Thursday! I think I'll also run through them before or after class tomorrow. I really like Divine Chaos's style, so I want to truly commit these combos to memory for future use.

And since it's so fun to spin around in a skirt, I practiced my spotting, too! Getting better!

Monday, May 30, 2011

One Five Oh

Day 150 of practice.

Woohoo, 150 days of practice, despite burn out and frustration and questions on where I'm really going with dance!

Just as I planned to, I spent today's practice working with my skirt, after tearing down the table that was taking up valuable living room space. I printed up the descriptions of the moves we learned in class last week and stumbled my way through them, then put on some music and danced them to the best of my ability. I did well on some, but the really long combo is going to take weeks, possibly months of practice to work into my muscle memory, and my memory memory.

I also did spins, to practice my spotting, and worked on my Arabic shimmy (still sucks, but I haven't been practicing it as much as I should). That didn't quite total up to half an hour, so I think I'll do some arms or abs or something before bed.

Burned out

Day 149 of practice.

I think it's time to admit that I'm burned out! I mean, I'm not going to let it stop me or anything, but I just have no enthusiasm for dance practice right now. I know I should be practicing moves from class, and working on my Convivio solo, but all I do is drill isolations and exercises while doing other things, because I just don't feel like dancing. I'll dance around if a good song comes on while I clean, so at least I still like dancing. I just don't like practicing.

Today was lower abs and pelvic floor muscles and glutes and obliques and floreos. All good things. Now if only my passion for really dancing and practicing and being at my personal best would come back. I think tomorrow I'll tear down the extra table and force myself to practice some DC skirt combos no matter what, otherwise I will really fall behind in class!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Not much practice

Day 148 of practice.

Definitely didn't get half an hour in today. Did some dancing while I finished the housework, and did some glute shimmy practice, but I have a headache and my knee hurts for no apparent reason, and I'm tired and cranky, so I think I'll just go to bed and get extra practice tomorrow.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Working and dancing

Day 147 of practice.

Today was a house cleaning day, which means that most of my practice was dancing around while I folded laundry or put things away around the house. I did work on some ab and hand isolations while reading, too. I wanted to get some skirt practice, but there isn't room to really do skirt combos in my living room until I can take down the extra table on Sunday.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Please break my brain

Day 146 of practice.

Still in that bad mood, but at least class was a lot of fun tonight. My awesome carpool buddy Dawn couldn't come with me, so I decided to skip beginner class, mainly so that I could actually eat a real dinner before leaving. Usually I have a PB&J sandwich and maybe some chips or apple sauce, so it's really no wonder that I can't focus by the time skirt class comes around!

All of our Anaya teachers were out of town, so Shannon from Divine Chaos was our substitute teacher for the night. She went over a couple of moves then gave us some really fun formations and exercises to play with for the rest of the class. This was just what I needed! I think my brain is bored of just hanging out while my body repeats the same moves over and over to put them in my muscle memory. I know that practice and repetition are important, but I also need mental stimulation! Tonight gave me some of that.

Then Shannon taught skirt class, and we learned SO MANY Divine Chaos combos! I'll have to practice hard all week if I intend to keep them in my head.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Day 145 of practice.

I'm dealing with a lot of frustration, impatience, and uncertainty about dance right now, so this post is going to be short and sweet. Practice tonight was going to class at The Dance Loft. We practiced slow and fast basic tribal moves and learned an old school Domba move that's really cute.


Day 144 of practice.

I had to miss dancing at the park tonight due to my husband's job keeping him late, thus pushing dinner back to an unreasonable hour. So I stayed home and practiced isolations. I got bored of doing hands and arms and decided to work on my abs, and I'm very happy to say that I can now push out just the upper portion, and pull it back in, while keeping my stomach relaxed. It's the first step to a flutter! YAY!

Aside from missing the park, today was a good day. I went up to Phoenix for a bead show, where I got beads for some new tribal necklaces, then I met a few dance friends for lunch, and we hit a couple shops in downtown Mesa. In one, I got a t-shirt with Catwoman on it, which says "Femme Fatale"! Perfect!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Fun with randomness

Day 143 of practice.

Decided to do the random song thing again. You may remember that the last two times I did it, I got songs that were really slow. Well, today was the opposite, I got Apocalyptica's cover of "Enter Sandman", so there I was shimmying my butt off to cellos. I think my iPod is out to mock me.

Also did various arm drills, as that seems to be my thing lately. Really wasn't feeling 100% so it was hard to get enthusiastic about actually dancing.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Orange dog says "Less practice, more petting!"

Day 142 of practice.

Tonight I was sitting on the couch watching Dr. Who Season 5 and practicing some isolations. I decided I felt like doing more super-slow arms, so there I was, sloooooowly pushing my hands in and out. Well, my little orange corgi Daisy was lying next to me, in hopes of getting some belly rubs, and she couldn't stand the fact that my arms were doing something other than petting her! She started pawing at me with her little stubby legs. So of course I had to take a puppy break. Orange dog will not be denied!

I also practiced knee shimmies and glute shimmies and did the exercise to eventually get my layered Arabic shimmy, and did some shoulder exercises from the Deb Rubin workshops. Plus of course my tooth brushing shimmy drill this morning, and I also demonstrated a few different shimmies for my husband when he thoughtfully asked how my 3/4 layered shimmies were coming along. It was a veritable smorgasbord of practice today!

Slow progress

Day 141 of practice.

So, I have this character flaw (actually, I have a lot of them, but this one is relevant to dancing). I only like to do things that I'm naturally good at. I don't like to struggle with things. Ideally I'd like to be the best at everything I do, but I long ago learned that if there's anything that I'm exceptional at, I haven't found it yet, so I have to settle for doing my personal best.

There are some parts of belly dance that I naturally took to, which is good because if not I never would have done it. In fact, my dance journey was delayed because the DVDs that I first tried to learn from had some isolations that I couldn't do right away so I got discouraged and gave up until I had a real live teacher to help me locate the right muscles and build up to it.

The thing about taking belly dance classes and being serious about it is that I can't just say "Oh well, I can't do a hip drop so I'm not going to." If I want to keep up with the class, and be the best dancer I can be, I have to work on the things that don't come naturally to me. And that's what a lot of today's practice was -- shimmies on the down, lower ab tucks, and working up to belly flutters (which is not something I HAVE to learn, but I decided to challenge myself with). There should have been some Arabic shimmy practice, too, but I didn't get around to that. Also, there was some fun dancing to music while I cleaned, because dancing makes dealing with clutter so much more fun.

I'm not at all sore from yesterday's workout, by the way, so clearly I did not work out hard enough. I'll have to be more vigorous on Monday. Tomorrow I have a date with some yardwork, which is a workout enough in and of itself, but I may go for a jog with my husband and the corgis if the weather is still nice.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Workin' out

Day 140 of practice.

Today was a day of afternoon exercise and practice. After spending a little time dancing while cleaning, I did a workout of squats, push-ups, shimmies and arm isolations, followed by practicing my Convivio solo because I'll probably be performing it next month.

On top of my usual classes and practice, I'm also doing Mahin's Shimmy Challenge from the Daily Belly Dance Quickie. Participants chose one shimmy to work on 2x a day while brushing their teeth. What could be easier? I'm working on a simple tic-toc on the down, because as simple as it is, I suck at it. I do too many hip-ups and not enough hip-drops.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Substitute Teacher

Day 139 of practice.

A lot of people are away for Tribal Fest right now (lucky people!). This includes our usual Thursday night teachers Cari and Tiffany, so Danna (who is also part of Anaya Tribal) was our substitute teacher. Class was also smaller than usual. We went over a lot of level 2/3 moves which was nice, I really needed refreshers on those.

I'm finding skirt class hard, by the time I get to it I'm all tired out from two hours of tribal and I have a hard time focusing, and my arms want to be lazy and not hold my skirt up.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

New moves

Day 138 of practice.

Today was really cool and gray and really not at all what you'd expect from May in AZ. They even got rain up in Phoenix, but not down here in Tucson. Because of this, I really wanted to just stay home and finish the good book that I've been reading, but instead I got my stuff together and went to class at The Dance Loft like a good little dancer.

It's a good thing I did, because not only were there some cool new students, but we went over some new-to-me moves. A couple were variations on what I already knew, but one was completely unlike anything from Anaya Tribal classes, which is cool. It's fun and challenging keeping two distinct tribal languages straight in my head.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Dancing in the park

Day 137 of practice.

Tonight I went to the nearby park for some dance practice with fellow Tucson tribal dancers. We were fortunate enough to even have some live drumming tonight! We worked on tribal basics, fast and slow, with Fonda there to remind people how to do it right. This will probably be how I spend every Tuesday night until it gets too hot!

The "We Love Deb Rubin" Workshop Weekend!

As promised, a review of the Deb Rubin workshops that I spent my weekend at!

I have to admit, I almost didn't take these workshops. I mean, I knew Deb Rubin was cool, from taking one workshop with her as part of the Plaza Intensive last Autumn. And a lot of my friends were taking the workshop. It's just that I had said I was going to take less workshops this year, and the topics covered this past weekend looked like they would be pretty similar to the Mira Betz and Rachel Brice* workshops I had taken/was going to take. But I decided to sign up anyway, and I'm glad I did, even if I wasted most of Sunday due to dehydration.

Saturday we started off with some slinky arms, and I learned yet another way to do snake arms (if there is one thing I am starting to notice as a dancer, it's that every teacher/troupe has a different preferred method of snake arms). We also worked on layering ooey gooey moves over each other, which was fun and also broke my brain.

The second class of the day was probably my favorite, "Performance Dynamics for the Tribally Inclined." I'm at a stage in my learning where I want to think more about performing, and about making my performance more than just a string of pretty moves that go well with the music. We explored projecting our energy out, and drawing it in, and how to use that contrast. We also explored different emotions and characters. In the past, I've been in workshops where we were given a specific character to dance, and I didn't really enjoy it, so I never gave dancing as a character a second thought. I've also never thought of having a dance persona, who would be a character separate from myself (actually, I think that's a good topic for another blog post!). But in this workshop, Deb played the song we'd been practicing to and asked us to each develop a character based on what the song reminded us of. As a gamer and a writer, I loved this so much! I came up with a femme fatale spy character. Then I had to dance as her. Well. If you know me, you know I'm kind of shy, and kind of plain, and basically just not a femme fatale. But I drew on my gaming experience and I became Yvette Black, sexy double agent. And apparently I nailed it because Deb Rubin said that she was going to think "femme fatale" whenever she saw me. Compliments don't get much better than that!

Sunday started off with a layering workshop, which would have been challenging for me on a good day. It involved lots of stuff that I'm already not good at, layered with other things on top. Add to this dehydration and exhaustion, and I spent most of the workshop struggling. But I did learn some problem areas that I need to work on, so I'll drill some of the layers here at home.

The second Sunday class was Dance Therapeutics, and I had actually thought of at least just coming up for that if I didn't do the whole weekend. The workshop I took last time was upper body therapeutics and I really liked it. It's great to have a class focused on taking care of your body and avoiding dance injuries! I had a hard time with a lot of the yoga, but then my friend Karen saved the day by realizing that I was dehydrated (I thought I was just tired) and giving me Propel. Hooray! I felt human again and was able to participate in the partner Thai massage, which was really good for some of my problem areas. While Performance Dynamics was the most fun for me, Dance Therapeutics definitely had the most physical benefit. I really recommend those workshops for anyone who can take them, because they apply to any sort of dance. Deb said she's working on DVDs for them, so I'll be sure to pick them up when they come out.

All told, I'm glad I went to the workshops and I hope Deb Rubin will come back to AZ again in another 6 months-ish so I can take more... and this time I'll be sure to stay hydrated!

*Edit: Forgot to add my footnote. Yes, that's right, workshops with Mira Betz, Deb Rubin, and Rachel Brice in a single Spring. I am unbelievably lucky and spoiled.


Day 136 of practice.

Ok, so I didn't post a workshop review today. Tomorrow, for reals this time! I spent today catching up on the things that built up while I was away for the weekend, and recovering from being tired and dehydrated.

Practice has been a pretty lazy affair, consisting mainly of stretches and isolations, with a song of alternating between basic tribal moves and fast turns. My turns/spins were horrible! I didn't get too dizzy, thanks to my spotting, but I was all over the place. Sloppy footwork, I guess. And I can't seem to whip my head around to spot without my hair slowly coming out of its bun (during class last week, this resulted in me throwing a hairstick at a classmate!). Definitely need to work on smoothing that out, so that I can perform spins with a head full of hair accessories.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Jam-packed weekend

Day 135 of practice.

Whew, what a weekend I had! 9 hours of Deb Rubin workshops, a dinner with the aforementioned Deb and other workshop students, a birthday party for two dancer friends, retail therapy, exhaustion, dehydration, and so much more!

I'll try to make a really good workshop review post tomorrow. Right now my head feels slightly detached, and I'm not entirely convinced that I'm forming coherent sentences right now. I need sleep and fluids and corgi love.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

I'm at the workshops!

Day 134 of practice.

This is a pre-scheduled post to let you know that today's practice is presumably 4 hours of workshops with Deb Rubin at Plaza de Anaya! Even if I had my laptop with me in Tempe, I'd probably be too busy having an awesome time to actually update this blog. I will be back tomorrow night!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Two days in one post

Days 132 and 133 of practice.

As you may or may not be aware, Blogger was down for 20.5 hours yesterday, a span of time that included my late-night attempt to update this blog after class. So while I did in fact practice yesterday, with my customary 3 hours of classes, I was not able to blog about it.

Here's a brief run-down of yesterday: I had a nice drive with Dawn, and classes were pretty good but I was feeling really tired and not really on top of my game. Skirt class was especially challenging, because after two hours of classes already, I was really beat! Then I got almost home, after dropping Dawn off, and got stuck behind a stupid train. After waiting 8 minutes, I took advantage of an opening and made an illegal mid-interesction U-turn to get out of there. It took me 6 minutes to detour around the train tracks, and guess what? The train was still there! So I'm glad I didn't wait. Who knows how long I would have been stuck there.

Today I had some nice afternoon practice at home. I tried to do some belly flutters and failed. I expect many more days of failure before I have success. Then I put on some music and practiced this-and-that. I found that I still very much like dancing to "Convivio" so I think I will perform to it the next time there's a hafla. I did some Anaya Tribal fast and slow, then spent an entire song walking back and forth across my living room with various traveling shimmies, including glute shimmies which is pretty awesome because until the Mira Betz workshop, I thought I couldn't even do glute shimmies. Then I decided to dance to one random song, and once again the ol' iPod stuck me with something slow and hard to work with -- "The Witch" by Danny Elfman. The man's a great composer, but as it turns out, movie soundtracks are not ideal to dance to. Oh well. It was fun for practice.

This weekend will be jam-packed with dance! Deb Rubin workshops, a group dinner with Deb Rubin, a joint birthday party for two dance friends, more workshops, a MECDA meeting, and then watching Anaya Tribal, Qadesh and Divine Chaos perform before I head home to collapse into a heap of exhaustion.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Belly flutters!

Day 131 of practice.

I've been thinking for a while that I'd like to start trying to do flutters, but I was too lazy to ever go do some actual research on how to do it, since I didn't lack for things to work on already. But tonight at The Dance Loft we had a substitute teacher, and one of the things she went over is how to work your way towards doing a flutter. Hooray! Something new to practice! Thank you, Brandye!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The benefits of cross-training

Day 130 of practice.

I practiced during the day! For a while now I've wanted to take the time that I used to go to the gym (12:30-1:30) as my dance practice time. I wouldn't have to worry about being too tired, or about having had a large dinner and feeling too bloated to dance. But while the cooler was malfunctioning, it was simply too unbearably hot to do any sort of anything until about 10pm or later.

As part of this hour or so of practice, I also want to get back into working out. You see, I spent over a year going to a CrossFit gym in my neighborhood, where I got accustomed to doing really hardcore workouts -- running, rowing, Olympic lifting, pushups, sits-ups, squats, etc etc. I got into great shape but I was also too tired to get quality dance practice, and I was frequently covered in bruises (I bruise really easily!) and nursing sore muscles. Plus the membership fees were crazy expensive, so I decided to drop out and focus on dance. But I've been losing a lot of the great muscle tone I had, so I want to get back to at least doing some fitness stuff at home to supplement my belly dance and keep me in shape. I may also pick up some yoga classes or something to further my cross-training goals, but I don't know.

Anyway, my husband decided he liked my idea of practicing/working out in our old CrossFit time slot, so he decided to invite me on a jog. Even at my peak adult fitness I was horrible at running, but I decided to go with him anyway. We probably jogged about 400 meters and walked the rest of the block and it kicked my butt! I decided not to do any skirt practice because I didn't want to get all that gross sweat in my nice skirt :P

For the dancing part of my practice I did my layered shimmy practice, some glute squeezes and lower ab isolations, random bits of dancing to music that came on while I was doing things and inspired me, and then I decided to go back to my "one random song a day" exercise. "Come Tenderness" by Lisa Gerrard was what the iPod gave me. The song is really, really minimalist, the sort of thing I would never want to perform to. I used it as an excuse to practice really, really, ridiculously slow slow moves. I was glad when it was done!

I'll round out my half-hour later tonight by throwing on the skirt and practicing skirt combos and spotting.

Cool Air! (Not the Lovecraft story)

Day 129 of practice.

Oh, blissfully sweet cool air! Our cooler was fixed this morning, so the house is finally at a tolerable temperature and I can finally dance! Of course, I still did arm drills for most of my practice because I was feeling tired, but I did get up, put on a skirt, and practice some moves and some turning/spotting! In the process I found that I spin much better in one direction than in the other. I could stay pretty steady in the one, but then the other would find me stumbling. Or maybe I was just dizzy. Anyway, turns are much more fun with a big 25 yard skirt on. Deep down inside I am still a pretty, pretty princess who just wants to put on a floofy skirt and spin around the house.

Monday, May 9, 2011


Day 128 of practice.

Ugh. I know drills are good for me and all, but I'm bored. I want to daaaaaance. Sure hope my cooler is fully operational tomorrow, I can't stand much more of this oppressive heat and the accompanying constant dehydration and tiredness.

Spaced my drills out with a little bit of actual dancing, but not too much because it's hot and of course the ceiling fans are on, so I have to keep my arms at shoulder level or below for fear of finger-smacking.

Tomorrow will be better... tomorrow will be better. Hell, if it's not I'll put on my shoes and go dance on the cement slab driveway, because at night it's cooler outside than inside!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Is it Monday yet?

Day 127 of practice.

Yes, I'm actually looking forward to Monday, because my cooler will be operational and I can dance for real! Tonight's practice was arm drills, a little bit of shimmy drills, and some belly rolls. I can't wait until I can actually put on my 25 yard skirt and practice some combos.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Tired dancer feels bleh

Day 126 of practice.

Today has been a "bleh" kind of day, and not in a general "I don't feel dancing but can't say why" sort of way. I have very good reasons for how I feel -- it's too hot in my house (getting the cooler fixed on Monday), I'm tired, I have a headache, and my sinuses are still acting up. I really just want to crawl into bed. In fact, that's what I'm going to do, and you and I will just have to hope that I actually do some oblique drills while I'm in there before I fall asleep!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Skirts and friends

Day 125 of practice.

Tonight was a fun evening of Anaya Tribal classes, made extra fun by the fact that my friend Dawn is now carpooling with me to take classes at Plaza! That long drive sure went a lot faster with someone to chat with :)

We learned this weird half-turn double choo-choo move in skirt class and it was just so counter-intuitive, a lot of us were struggling with it. I know what I'll be practicing all week.

Also, in performance prep we learned a BRAND NEW slow move! So exciting! I'll have to also practice that, since it's new and all :)

Now, hydration followed by sleep.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Costume Closet

Day 124 of practice.

If there's one thing this blog needs more of, it's pictures. Here's one of my costume closet! There are a few things in there that belong to my husband, but most of it is mine. Some of it will hopefully go away when we have a costume swap meet here in Tucson (maybe this month?). I made some unwise costume purchases when I was a young dancer, and now I have a lot of things I'll never wear, taking up valuable space that could be occupied by dance pants.

I had to skip class due to timing issues and continued malaise (although I am better today than yesterday), so instead I practiced some skirt moves and more hand and arm drills. I am determined to have beautiful, fluid, boneless-looking arms some day! Also, as part of skirt practice I did lots of spins with spotting and I seem to be getting better with that. Oh, and as part of my warm up I did my layered shimmy homework. It was definitely a multi-faceted practice.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Day 123 of practice.

I've been really into arm and hand drills lately! I guess they're the new belly roll. Tonight I did a whole bunch of them while catching up on Princess Farhana's excellent series of blog posts on the various styles of belly dance (and related dances). I'm a big ol' geek, so I love being able to read up on the history of dance and the evolution of different styles.

I was supposed to go practice in the park tonight, but I think I'm developing allergies in my old age. I've been fighting some sort of sinus thing since yesterday and I didn't really feel up to actual dancing. Heck, I didn't even feel up to the 2 minute drive to the park. I sure hope I feel better tomorrow so I can go to class!

Fast and slow and a third of the way there

Day 122 of practice.

Wow, is a third of the year really behind me? I guess it is!

Today's practice was a little bit of dancing while cleaning earlier, working on my fast layered shimmies homework, and doing some really slow arm drills and floreo practice. Mira Betz talked about tempo changes during the workshops last month, so that's been on my mind lately and has me listening to music a little differently and working on the sort of syrupy slow dancing that Cari exhorts us to strive for in Anaya Tribal classes. Usually I dance too fast, because I'm an impatient person, but I'm starting to understand the dramatic impact of moving super slow, and then throwing in something fast where the music calls for it, then slinking back into slow. I played with it a little bit in my Convivio solo, but I didn't get super-slow because I wasn't thinking that way yet and also I always dance faster when I'm nervous!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Happy birthday to me!

Day 121 of practice.

Today was my birthday! Hooray! I had thought about ringing it in with dance, but I woke up hungry and dehydrated and lazy, so instead I rang it out with dance. I danced just for the fun of it to one of my favorite songs, and worked on some shimmies and belly rolls and chest circles and floreos.

I also spent a lot of time talking with my husband about dance, because even though he's not a dancer and not into dance, he loves to learn about things and loves to talk with me, so we often chat about dance. We talked about some songs he likes and thinks it would be nice if I danced to them, and I went over different ways I might dance to them. It was fun.

Now it's time to work on my obliques while I read... and then fall asleep and hopefully dream of dancing!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Saturdays are hard!

Day 120 of practice... four months!

I find it hard to get the necessary practice on alternate Saturdays, as we host a roleplaying game at our house (did I mention I'm a nerd?). Today was especially hard because instead of spending the afternoon at home, cleaning for the game and dancing, we went out for lunch with my family.

I did get some practice today... I did some sloooooooow hip circles while talking with my husband. I've been into doing things really slow the past couple of days, now that I have more muscle control it's fun to take advantage of it. I also danced a little bit while doing some quick cleaning. And I drilled knee shimmies and did some arm drills while actually playing the game.

Also I got a cool gift today from my brother! He got me a Fire Fans DVD! It has how-tos and inspirational performances! I can't wait to watch it and then start learning!