Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Hot times, fun times

Day 180 of practice.

Being in class tonight helped get me out of my funk, even though it was REALLY hot at The Dance Loft. Their cooler doesn't work well so there's always all these fans running, and they're really loud. I think I'd rather be hot than listen to the fans all night! But I am cold-blooded by nature, so my opinion doesn't count.

Lots of exciting things on the horizon, but I'll announce them later. What I will say is that I am performing tomorrow (Thursday the 30th) at The Luxor here in Tucson! The show starts at 7pm and there's a $10 minimum purchase. The Luxor does have hookah, so if you have asthma or allergies you may want to stay away. Otherwise, you should definitely come have some food and see some dancers. Lots of Tucson's best dancers and student troupes will be there!

Funky funk

Day 179 of practice.

In a bit of a nostalgic funk. I blame the heat and the fact that I've been looking through my old writing. Today's practice was glute squeezes and arm isolations while reading a weird anthology. Just finished a really sad story, so that didn't help things at all. Time for sleep!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

So hot

Day 178 of practice.

Yeah, I'm not even going to pretend that I'm going to practice during the day for the next few months. 110+ degree temperatures are here to stay. Tomorrow night's drum and dance in the park has been canceled because the forecast says it will still be 100 degrees at 8pm. Remind me again why I committed to half an hour of daily practice, even through the summer? Oh yeah. Because I like becoming a better dancer. Not that one needs to practice every day to get better (but it certainly helps), it's just that I used to really slack off without the accountability that this blog and the challenge provide.

Anyway. I not only worked on my veil solo, but I also played around with my veil. Experimented with different things I could do. And I did some shimmies, and some super slow tribal moves.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Not quite what I planned

Day 177 of practice.

Well, I had planned to work in the garage today, to make room to dance. Instead Chris and I went out, bought a new bookcase, and assembled it. It was something that needed doing. I'd love to say that it will help with the garage project, but really, I already mostly filled it with books from the house so there's not much room for garage books.

Practice consisted of dancing while cleaning (and while assembling the bookcase, even!), isolations while watching TV, and some veil solo practice. Next time I should do veil before building furniture, because all the work damaged my nails and they kept catching on the veil. Time for a home manicure tomorrow!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Clean clean clean

Day 176 of practice.

I got really into the cleaning today, which was nice because I actually temporarily moved some small furniture out of the living room to really sweep and mop the floor, and before I put it back I had lots of room to spin around with my veil. It would have been a nice opportunity to do skirt, too, except that it was really too hot to wear a skirt.

I also got some dancing done while I cleaned, and some floreos while I gamed, and now I'm going to do isolations while I read.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Amazing dream

I had an amazing dream this morning. In my dream, I had wings... natural, fully functional faerie wings growing out of my back. Otherwise I was still me, still a belly dancer. An event organizer found me, and because of my wings, they wanted to make me the opening act of this really big, artistic dance show. They didn't publicize the fact that I had wings. I got all dressed up in an amazing costume (Well, I didn't really see my costume in my dream, but I figure it was probably vintage style with chains and crystals, like something Deb Rubin would wear). Over my costume and my wings, they draped me in pure white silk, arranged like the gown of some ancient goddess in a painting. I danced onto stage and shed the silk and unfurled my wings, to the gasps of the audience...

Then I woke up. No wings. No amazing dance opportunities. Back to mundane life. But ah, what a dream...

Off day

Day 175 of practice.

Only a few minutes of lackluster practice. I'm really not feeling it today. I'm pre-occupied by life stuff and I'm frustrated with my tiny dance space. On Sunday, if nothing stupid comes up, I want to spend some time in our detached garage and see if I can make room for myself to dance in there. I need vertical space to throw my veil around and horizontal space to do traveling steps, especially with my skirt.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Ceiling fan!!!

Day 174 of practice.

Do you know what I still hate? The stupid low-hanging ceiling fan in my living room. I was doing some veil practice and I flung my veil overhead to walk under it, and whacked the ceiling fan. Luckily I am not that woman in "1000 Ways to Die" so my fan was not running and I was not strangled to death. But seriously. I'm a dedicated dancer. Why don't I have a dedicated dance space? Why am I still fighting with my ceiling fan, and hoping that my dogs don't come lick my face while I'm doing floorwork?

Anyway, practice was all over the place today. I did shoulder and hip isolations while waiting at the bank. I did glute squeezes while reading on the floor. I did veil solo practice. Have I mentioned that I love my new veil? It's heavier than my other silk veil, so that when I spin fast, it makes a loud rippling noise like a sail. It's so sweet!

Oh yes, you probably expected that I'd be blogging about classes. Plaza de Anaya is closed for two weeks, so no class for me tonight. I'm really excited for the next session, though. In Anaya Tribal we'll be moving on to more advanced moves again, and in Divine Chaos skirt we'll be learning skirt and fan combos. Skirt! And fan! I've already reserved a pair of green fans.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Hot times at The Dance Loft

Day 173 of practice.

Apparently it was 112 degrees today. As such, it was still pretty hot when everyone got to The Dance Loft for class tonight. Fonda ended up changing a lot of her plans because I guess she didn't want to give us heat stroke. She's just nice that way! We did some fast, but mostly we did slow and talked about formations and plans for the future and how to do better snake arms and seaweed. It's funny how snake arms are one of the first things a newbie dancer learns, and they take the longest to master.

I'll probably do some solo practice later, but I figured I'd update the blog now while I had a few spare minutes.

This and that

Day 172 of practice.

Well, today was pretty productive, practice-wise. I got some dancing done while I cleaned up and did various jewelry-business-related things, then I spent a few songs really dancing tonight, including working on my new veil solo and reviewing Anaya Tribal moves. Then I worked on the homework that Cari has been assigning us from TX. I guess I'm a total nerd because I love homework. It takes some of the guesswork out of what I should be practicing.

I'm not sure if the veil solo will be ready for my performance on the 30th. But the good thing is, if I'm not comfortable with it, there's always Convivio. I'm still not sick of that song and now that I've performed it twice and practiced it so much at home, I feel like it's something that I can pull out whenever I need a quick, pretty solo piece.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Randomly Tired

Day 171 of practice.

I've simply been tired all day. I don't know why. I thought I slept well, but maybe I didn't. I certainly can't blame it on all the drills I did yesterday, I didn't do that many.

Due to this general sense of tiredness, today's practice consisted of playing around to random Pandora-picked tunes while I did housework, and some belly rolls here at the desk. Now I'm heading to bed to hopefully get some good rest so I can practice hard tomorrow.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Anaya Tribal Student Recital

 I apologize for the poor quality of this picture... My camera was clearly more interested in the back of Sam's head than in the fact that Kristen and I were dancing. This was us, mid body wave. What a difference almost 6 months of daily practice makes. Our last recital was in December and I was really worried because we had to do some slow in the chorus. But there I am happily leading slow!

We had a really small group this time around. Just Kristen, Jen, No-El, Amanda and I. Usually our recital groups are huge, so while I missed having more friends around, it was also nice that each person got to lead more than one move and spend less time in the chorus.
 My costume! I was definitely happy to be able to wear some of my more recent costume acquisitions. I wish my henna showed up better, though. By the way, in case you were wondering how white I really am... Look at the glare on my arm. This was taken without flash.
And because I'm totally obsessed with my hair and put as much thought into what to wear up there was on the entire rest of my body, here's a picture of the back of my head. Three tribal hairsticks (from the gem show!), an awesome skully clip from Kyla, and barely visible, a flower and feather clip from The Gypsy's Kiss. Plus a big ol' bun... yeah, that's all natural. No extensions!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy dancer is happy.

Days 168, 169, and 170.

I am back from my internetless sojourn to Scottsdale! My husband and I decided to make a long weekend out of the recital, and have some fun in the Phoenix area. Unfortunately, while we got a great deal on a resort in Scottsdale, the resort found it acceptable to charge through the nose for internet. And not even WiFi! I guess I'm spoiled but I feel like there should be free WiFi in every hotel, coffee shop, and bookstore. Anyway, I figured I could go ahead and post quick blog updates from my phone, but no. No matter how many times I touched the text box it wouldn't bring up my keyboard! I have no idea what is up with that but I did not approve.

Anyway, the recital was a lot of fun. I'll post some pictures from it tomorrow, maybe even video eventually, if someone got a good recording.

The happiness mentioned in the title comes from getting kudos not just from Tiffany* who was there to watch the recital, but also Cari* who is away in TX and just heard about the performance. Cari has a lot going on, so the fact that I not only made her proud, but that she took the time to let me know just fills me with warm fuzzies. Plus it's always a good feeling to have external validation that my daily practice is paying off.

Speaking of daily practice, the past three days of practice were...

168: Over half an hour of arm drills while watching stupid reality TV in our hotel room.

169: Warming up with shimmies and isolations before the performance. 7 minute long performance of fast with zills and slinky slowness. Playing with my new veil back at the hotel room.

170: Today! Lots of drilling. Did 25 reps each of calf raises (Fonda likes to make us do those), various arm isolations, floreos to the inside and outside, and hip drops on each side. Then some shimmies!

*My Anaya Tribal teachers, in case you didn't already know.

Friday, June 17, 2011

No internets

my hotel has no internet and blogger wont let me write text except as a link.

Henna and a new veil!

Day 167 of practice.

What a fun night at class! In addition to three hours of classes, including some practice for the recital, I got a beautiful henna tattoo on my forearm, and I found an awesome veil to use for the solo I'm working on. It's really heavy tie-dyed silk. Mmmm.

Also, tonight's carpool was just Amanda and I because Dawn is in TX with her brand new granddaughter! Congratulations, my friend :)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Student Recital This Weekend!

The picture above is from my first student recital! Aw, I was so excited.

This weekend is my third student recital and I'm still pretty excited! It's held on Saturday at Plaza de Anaya and if you'd like more information, you can check out the Facebook event page.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Props and veils

Day 166 of practice.

Just got back from Fonda's Dance Loft class. We did a fun exercise where part of the group was in crescent, using veils, and three people were in the center with balancing props. Unfortunately, since I had a balancing prop and was comfortable using that, I had to balance instead of playing with my veil. Oh well. Plenty of time to play with veil at home!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tuesday night at the park

Day 165 of practice.

Thankfully it's still cool enough at night to go to the park for a little tribal practice. We reviewed moves, danced a bit, and chatted a lot. It's nice to get out and socialize a bit as part of my practice.

Intoducing Sophia Ravenna...

Oh, it's me! Yes, I've officially decided on a dance name -- Sophia Ravenna. As it turns out, as nice as Sophia Hariti sounds, Hariti not only means "green" in Sanskrit, it's also the name of a goddess of childbirth, motherhood, and protecting babies. All very good roles for a goddess to have, but that certainly doesn't fit my childfree lifestyle. So remember, everyone... when you're picking out a stage name or pen name, make sure you do some research instead of just picking something that sounds nice on a baby name page.

Speaking of pages, I made this post to let you know that I just set up the Sophia Ravenna Fan Page on Facebook. You can stroke my ego by clicking the Like button, and then you will get a couple of dance-related posts a day and updates on where I'll be studying or performing. Also, there will be pretty pictures! And who knows what else!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Slooooow like a mo-fo.

Day 164 of practice.

Fun practice today, over 40 minutes of dance. Well, ok, some of that time was actually spent reading the descriptions of skirt combos and walking my way through them, but that was dance-like. In addition to that I did the shimmy drill section from Serpentine, and then I put on a song and practiced dancing as slow as I could. I dance so slow that I ran out of song long before I ran out of slow moves that I could remember off the top of my head, which doesn't usually happen.

Fun with isolations

Day 163 of practice.

So, today I learned that I can do belly rolls and chest circles while drinking tea, and execute a pretty floreo with my left hand while my right holds the mug. That was a fun little bit of practice while rearranging my iPod playlists. I'd had the same "Homework" playlist since probably around when I started working on my Convivio solo and I was way beyond bored with those songs.

I decided to combat my usual post-performance blahs by jumping right into working on my next solo, which as it turns out will be a veil piece. It also turns out that I will need to buy a veil to match the costume I want to wear.

Tomorrow my plan is to practice during the day and try to get a really long, really good session in with some solo practice, and recital practice, and skirt practice, and some drills. I also need to get into practicing the moves from Fonda's class, because with the new format we're learning more things that I don't already do in Anaya classes, or that are done differently.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Home from the Hafla

Day 162 of practice.

Please forgive the unglamorous backdrop, the lighting at the hookah lounge wasn't great so I had Chris take some pictures of me in costume after I got home. I'm very happy with my costume/hair/makeup from this performance! I had better be, since I spent almost 2 hours getting ready for my little solo.

Tonight was a fun experience for me. Dawn and I arrived early, and found that the hookah lounge did not have a dedicated stage area for the dancers, and that it was divided into two rooms. Well, that was exciting! I've never done a performance where I had to circulate among the crowd before, though we've played with it a bit at the Anaya performance prep classes. I think I did alright, but because of that set-up, there was no real chance to get video. It's a shame, because I really like my Convivio solo. I guess I'll have to perform it again sometime.

I did not get a lot of dance practice today, though I did play around a bit to the new exciting song I found (it's a secret!) while I was cleaning. And I feel like I got some very valuable experience today, from accidentally deciding to do a winged sort of eyeliner, to dancing in a hookah lounge without a stage.

By the way, the pants that I'm wearing in the photo are the ones that sort of cemented my status as a dance pants addict. The picture does not do them justice, they have some sort of magical power that makes my already pretty nice legs look amazing. I've been waiting for the perfect performance to wear them for and this was it!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Little practice

Day 161 of practice.

Ugh. I'm so tired of juggling so many things. I'm a dancer. Why can't my life revolve around dance? I got a lot done today but it was stuff like making jewelry and cleaning the house. I didn't have time to practice until now, and all I did was run my solo really quickly. I guess I'll work on some isolations while I do more housework before bed.

At least some of what I did today was dance-related... I repaired my dance shoe that keeps breaking, and made myself a new bindi, and looked up directions on how to get to the hafla tomorrow, and got some opinions on a dance name, and even found a new song that I want to perform to. I just didn't get to actually dance much.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Getting ready for recital!

Day 160 of practice.

Class nights are so much more fun now that I have friends to carpool with. I find myself much less tired when I get home now, because my brain hasn't been numbed by a boring drive. Thanks, Dawn and Amanda!

Anaya Tribal was all about review and recital prep tonight. The recital is next weekend and I'm looking forward to it. I simply don't get to perform often enough, so it's really nice to have performances two weekends in a row.

In Divine Chaos skirt class we learned one new combo, did some review, and then played freeze tag just for fun. Good times.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Good Wednesday

Day 159 of practice.

Today was a pretty good day. During the afternoon I ran a quick dress rehearsal for my solo, to make sure I could do floorwork in what I wanted to wear. I also discovered that I should wear my hair up, because if I wear it down it gets tangled in my crazy hair clip.

Speaking of hairclips, I got some in the mail which I will review next week!

Tonight I went to Fonda's class, where we did some fun drills and went back over a couple moves and then practiced dancing in formations. It was a good time.

Hot Summer Habibi Hafla!

Where can you find ME this Saturday? At the Hot Summer Habibi Hafla! I will be performing my beautiful Convivio solo. My friend and carpool buddy Dawn will also be performing, as will plenty of other dancers. Amanda Rose is one of my favorite people so I'm very excited to perform at her hafla.

I hope that if you're in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area and you don't have other plans, you'll consider coming out and spending a few dollars and making some noise for us.

You can even go to the Event Page on Facebook to RSVP or ask questions. I think you can also still sign up to perform!

Bad hip, bad.

Day 158 of practice.

My left hip was bothering me today, for no good reason. Luckily it felt better after a good massage from my husband, but by the time he got done with that it was too late for major dance practice. I did work on my solo, and show him the Jen and AJ Combo of Awesomeness, and now I'm sitting here doing belly rolls and working on flutters.

No park for me tonight because we had to run more than half a dozen errands, which ran well past the start-time. But in a way that's OK, as the stuff needed to be done and there were things I had to do at home tonight, too. Dancing at the park is fun, and I was looking forward to gushing about Rachel Brice, but the things we practice at the park are not what I need to focus on this week. I need to be thinking about my solo and the recital!

Speaking of my solo, I'll post details about the when and where tomorrow, in case you happen to live in the Phoenix area and want to see some awesome belly dancers this Saturday.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

On! Sailing On! To Our Fate!

Day 157 of practice.

Decided to do the random song practice again tonight, and the iPod decided it was in a fast mood and gave me "India" by Xandria. That's where the title of the post comes from. This is a song that I would love to do a steampunk piece to sometime, it has the perfect adventurous spirit... but it's also fast metal, which makes it a challenge to dance to. I was shimmying, making grand gestures, spinning, and rushing across my living room, which left me in a sweat.

That was the capper to my practice, which started with a shimmy warm-up, moved into practicing my solo, then doing one of the combos Jen and I developed this weekend, but only a couple of times because my thighs don't want to do levels today, then Anaya Tribal fast, then working on the shimmy I need to layer over my Arabic, then Anaya Tribal slow. Whew. I am going to have to practice for more than half an hour a day if I want to stay current on my skills and also develop new things. I didn't get to skirt tonight, and I haven't done veil, zills, or balancing props for a while! I probably also need to practice at home on days that I have other dance plans, too. I spend a minimum of three nights a week out of the house for belly dance things, which is great, but when I'm at class, or dancing at the park, or taking workshops, I'm not necessarily working on the areas that I should really focus on.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Raaaaaachel Briiiiiiiiice!

I love this picture! Rachel Brice and Vorpal Shimmy! (I'm now an honorary member of Vorpal Shimmy. I live too far away to participate in practices, but I like to think that I provide valuable services in the area of brain storming, awesome music suggestions, moral support, and occasional emergency jewelry supplying) If you're wondering why the gentleman in the front row is holding up his cell phone, it's because he's displaying a picture of our friend Meghan who had to go to a wedding instead of spending the weekend at the workshops.

So, as you may have already gathered from my exhausted posts over the weekend, the workshops were pretty amazing. 10.5 hours over the course of three days, and pretty high-intensity stuff, too. I'd forgotten how good a deep muscular tiredness really feels (though it does make it hard to catch up on all the housework).

Let's start with Rachel Brice herself. It was a real treat to find out that not only is she a phenomenal dancer and a great instructor, she's just really nice and encouraging and fun to be around. I was especially touched by how she worked with the newer dancers in the workshop, helping them through the more challenging exercises. I also liked that on Saturday and Sunday morning, she asked us at the start of the classes if anyone had any specific issues they wanted to work on in the warm-up, then built a yoga practice around that.

After the yoga, we'd learn some combos and then do them at increasing speed for a good cardio workout. There wasn't a day that I didn't get drenched in sweat! I wish all belly dance classes were that intense, maybe then I'd be as slender as Rachel and all the other tribal fusion greats ;)

As it turns out, my favorite part of the workshops was the part that I was most apprehensive about -- building our own combos. I don't tend to think in terms of combos when I do improv, it's all about whatever the music tells me. So I didn't feel like I was really capable of developing combinations. But Rachel broke it down in a really sensible way, and she also had us work in pairs. It was really nice to be able to share ideas and brainstorm on sticky parts. On both days, I worked with my friend and Anaya classmate Jen (standing in the center of the back row in the above photo), which was great because not only do we have similar skills and vocabulary to draw from, but she has family here in Tucson and comes to visit sometimes, so we can get together and practice our combos in the future. I'm very excited about what we came up with!

Another thing that I enjoyed was the "Scales" which are series of belly dance moves to practice together, like a musician playing scales. They're the perfect way to grab a few minutes of practice here and there on a busy day. I definitely want to drill them until I remember them, so I can make use of them when I go on vacation later this year.

On Saturday night, there was a big show to go with the workshops. Rachel performed two pieces, and the rest of the show was filled with some of Arizona's best dancers, performing in a variety of styles. Pretty much every performance blew me away. I also got to see Eric Salazar and Bastet, from NM, who performed separate solos and a really beautiful duet piece. I'm pretty sure it was the first time I've seen a man and a woman perform a belly dance duet, and the dynamic was awesome (helped along by the fact that they're both great dancers and they had gorgeous costumes).

The picture above is from the meet-and-greet held after the show. Rachel Brice and a few of the other performers were on stage, chatting, signing, and posing for photos. I thought this was really nice as it gave people who weren't taking the workshops a chance to get a photo and a signature and talk a bit with the dancers.

All in all, I had a really amazing weekend. I learned so much at the workshops, I was delighted by Rachel Brice and her awesome business partner Sol (who handled the organizational details, merchandising, and putting out tasty snacks during the breaks!), and I got to spend time with friends that I see far too infrequently.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Rachel Brice Day 3

Day 156 of practice.

I am home from Tempe! It's nice to be back home with my pets and all my stuff, but on the other hand I miss my friends, and there's the sad knowledge that I will not go to more Rachel Brice workshops tomorrow.

I had 4 more hours of workshops today and I'm so beat! All weekend, the workshops were really intense and high energy. I'd forgotten how much I missed the feeling of having a really good workout. On the other hand, I don't really have enough energy to scare up some dinner and clean the house.

Come back tomorrow for the full-length workshop review!

Rachel Brice Day 2

Day 155 of practice.

4 hours of workshops with Rachel Brice today. Totally awesome! Not only that, but a great show tonight, with Rachel, local dancers, and dancers from NM.

But now I'm about to eat some late-night pizza with my friends, so I'm going to keep it short. Once again, detailed post coming Monday.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Rachel Brice Day 1

Day 154 of practice.

I'm in Tempe for the weekend, taking workshops with the one, the only, RACHEL BRICE!!! So amazing! Tonight we had two and a half hours, going over drills and combos. Then I went out with my friends for dessert, so I'm in this crazy tired, sugar buzzed state. Expect a more coherent review of the weekend come Monday :)

PS: My abs hurt.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Day 153 of practice.

Yay, I temporarily have a second carpool buddy! Amanda is staying in Tucson for the summer, but she didn't want to miss the rest of the session, so she'll be coming up with Dawn and I for a bit. It was a lot of fun to have two friends keeping me company tonight, and of course we all saved on fuel. Win-win!

Class was a lot of fun. Went over some Anaya Tribal moves, learned more Divine Chaos skirt combos, ruined my tabi socks. An eventful night.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

New class format!

Day 152 of practice.

I'm really excited because Fonda changed the format of her Wednesday night class at The Dance Loft. It used to be totally drop-in friendly and we'd learn the same moves over and over again. But because there was a good core of returning students, she decided to start adding more advanced material, have us spend more time practicing dancing as if we were performing, and throw in some drills, too! The funny thing is that after she made this decision, only I and one other regular student showed up, plus one student who has been there 3-4 times, and then a bunch of newbies! But the new students kept up pretty well and I think everyone had a good time. I sure did.

I've picked out my year's end reward

Hey look, it's another supplemental, non-practice post! My goal is to do about one of this a week from now on. We'll see how that goes.

So back when I started this thing, I wondered what I should do to reward myself... should I buy frequent rewards (one for every completed month?) or save up for a really big one? So far I've occasionally treated myself for big milestones, but for the most part I've been just buying myself things when I found something I wanted or needed, or when I was at a workshop.

But recently I found something to look forward to as my one year of practice reward -- 3rd Coast Tribal! It has a lot going for it -- awesome instructors, an early January date that nicely coincides with the end of my goal, and it's conveniently located in Ft Worth, where my husband frequently goes for business trips, so I can probably piggyback onto a trip and take advantage of the fact that his employer will be paying for the hotel and car ;) Plus since it's right after the holidays, if any of my loved ones are stumped on what to give me, they can pay for a workshop or buy a gift certificate for a vendor that will be there, or a TX restaurant, or what have you.

My awesome carpool buddy Dawn and awesome Ren Faire carpool buddy Cynthia are also considering coming, so that would make it even more fun -- an adventure with friends, and then sharing a hotel with my husband at night!

Some of the workshops are already selling out, so I may need to start registering now, which means I'll have to stick to my resolution of not taking anymore big weekend workshops for the rest of the Summer and early Autumn -- I already passed up Suhaila at the end of July, even though three of my best Tucson dance buds are going.