Friday, September 30, 2011

Class class class.

Days 271 and 272 of practice.

Wow, how did I forget to blog after class on Wednesday? I guess I had other things on my mind!

Anyway, class has been good for the past couple of days, keeping me busy with learning new things and fine-tuning the ones I know. Lots of zill work! Tonight in Anaya class each person had to go to the front and do a move with a special zill pattern all by themselves. SCARY! I only screwed up a little bit, though. Yay for practice!

Now I'm so tired that my arms want to fall off, so I think it's time for a cookie and sleep.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

All I do is zill!

Day 270 of practice.

Another day of zill practice. I mean, I also worked on some other stuff, but mostly it's zills. They're definitely the area that I need the most improvement in. In fact, I should probably be working on them for a few times a day, since there's only so long I can spend drilling them before I get fed up at my own badness.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Performance Recap and Today's Practice

 Day 269 of practice.

Above, a photo that Jen (aka Sata) took at our post-performance Pei Wei meal. She, Amanda and I grabbed a bite because we'd had a long, hungry day. We were far too hungry to bother with such silly things as removing our hair flowers and makeup before eating.
And here's a lovely photo of almost the entire troupe! A couple of members couldn't perform on Sunday, so it's not quite everyone, but it's still a large and colorful group of tribal dancers.

My first troupe gig was not just a performance, but also a talk and class on belly dance, for a group of teenage girls. I have to admit it was a bit intimidating to be working up close and personal with our audience, and an audience of non-dancers at that! I'm really used to performing for my fellow dancers. But it was also very fun to be part of these girls' first introduction to tribal belly dance!

The afternoon started with Cari and Tiffany giving a talk about belly dance, tribal style, and Anaya, then we did a big performance, then the girls got to learn shimmies and our five basic fast moves... Then we were split into groups, with one or two troupe members and three students, to come up with a short routine and dance on stage for each other. I think most of the girls were a little nervous about dancing but they were also very supportive of each other, cheering and clapping and having a lot of fun.

I think this was a great introduction for me on what it's like to be part of a troupe -- it's not just having a set group to dance with, but also becoming a part of the dance community AND the local general community. Many of our gigs will be at community events, fairs and festivals and parades and pride events, where we'll be introducing the public to belly dance. I'm very excited to be part of it!

Compared to all that, today's practice was nothing to carry on about -- I drilled some mayas, did some stretches (legs, hips, why are you always so tight?), and of course played my zills while practicing my gahwazee.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Tune in tomorrow...

Day 268 of practice.

Today I had troupe practice AND a two-hour gig with the troupe AND a MECDA meeting... I was gone for 13 hours, I'm totally exhausted, and I've still got makeup on my face and a garden in my hair... so tune in tomorrow for my thoughts on my first troupe performance :)

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Day 267 of practice.

Today I worked on various skills... Zills of course, plus lunges, levels, rib taxims and mayas. All things that I really need to polish. I'm happy to say that my Saiidi rhythm is starting to sound a little better.

Keeping this post short because I need to finish my new tribal bra and pack up all my stuff for a busy Sunday in Phoenix!

My glutes hurt!

Day 266 of practice.

Yesterday we had to do some level drills and some walking lunges, and it's really embarrassing how sore I am! I used to be really good at that sort of thing when I was going to the gym, but now I'm out of shape. As much as I love dancing, I need to admit that it is not a well-rounded workout.

Anyway, today's practice consisted of dancing while cleaning, and doing some zill drills. Took it easy today because I ended up a little crunched for time and very tired, but I'll make up for it with a busy dance weekend.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

100 days to go.

Day 265 of practice.

Look at that! There's only 100 days left in my year of practice!

Anyway, tonight was dance class night, as Thursdays usually are. It was fun! We did some peripheral vision exercises and re-learned one of my favorite moves in the Anaya classes, and DC Skirt class had two new moves, and I even took a turn leading the little trio I was part of.

Now I am tired. I need an in-house masseuse to be waiting for me every Thursday when I get home.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A day with no zills!

Day 264 of practice.

I thought we would do zills in class tonight, since we're going to be playing them for our student performance next month, but we focused more on slow. Ha! A break from my own horrible zill playing!

After class, my Anaya Tribe troupemate and carpool buddy Amanda came over and we worked together on our new tribal bras, which we need for a performance this weekend. Tedious hand-stitching is much more fun with a friend who likes to talk about bugs and science and other weird stuff. A fun night!

Zills. Sick of them yet? I sure am.

Day 263 of practice.

It's going to be all zills all the time around here. I can't stand how bad I am with them. I think maybe I should put on my zill mufflers so at least my bad playing will be less offensive.

I am getting marginally better at playing rhythms while doing basic tribal moves, which is to say that I succeed occasionally instead of never! Still pretty ugly though. I think I don't really have a good natural sense of rhythm, which is born out by the fact that I also sometimes have a hard time finding the "1" in a 4-beat song.

But whatever. Dancing is what I love to do, and if I have to zill, too, then that's what I gotta do.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Clangity clangity clang.

Day 262 of practice.

That's the sound of me struggling with my zills! I'm making progress, but I still have a long way to go. Well, that's what practice is for! That and also cleaning up my technique, so I worked on my gahwazee and choo-choo. Fonda keeps teasing me about my gigantic gahwazee steps (something I have struggled with since I started dancing!), and Cari is a stickler for having your left hand turned just so in a choo-choo, so they're both things I want to focus on til I have them just right. I'm sure I have other things I need to work on, too, but I've decided those will be my goals for this week.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I'm a water faerie!

Days 260 and 261 of practice.

Here's a picture of my costume from yesterday's performance! I danced to "Ocean" by Collide, and my character for the piece was an amoral water faerie... Shy, seductive, alien, and graceful. Also she wears tiny winged bird skulls over her ears, because I've been waiting for the perfect excuse to wear them. I got a lot of compliments on the costume and the dancing, so I'm floating on Cloud 9.

Over all, the Healing Through Dance benefit was a success! All of the performances were great, we had an enthusiastic crowd, and we raised a nice amount of money for the Sessoms family! Speaking of raising money, we ended up with a lot more rummage sale donations than we expected, and Plaza de Anaya has kindly allowed us to leave a rack of items in the store, so if you were unable to make it to the benefit but would still like to shop, head over to the studio this week! There are some really nice items! I personally came home with a new tie top, gahwazee coat and panel skirt all in beautiful Autumn-appropriate colors. There are things for tribal, fusion, and cabaret dancers, and some clothes that can be worn for day-to-day stuff, too!

Today was troupe practice, where I got my brain broken by more zill patterns! I really need to work harder, and also get myself a private zill lesson with Mahin, because she is awesome and I need help. We also talked about upcoming gigs, costumes, and our dance levels. I am pleased to announce that I am now a Level 2 Anaya Tribe Dancer and I only need 1,000 more EXP before I level up (a little joke for my gamers there).

We have a troupe gig next weekend but it's for a charity event and I don't think it's open to the public, so if you want to see me get my group tribal improv on, you need to come to the Desert Shakedown on October 8th!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Fabulous daydream life

Day 259 of practice.

Do you ever daydream about a life where you have no obligations and can spend all of your time on creative pursuits? I know I have it easier than most because I don't have a dayjob or kids, but sometimes it gets so annoying to feel like I'm going to have most of the day wide open for dance and yoga and jewelry and costuming, and to instead spend it running errands and cleaning the house.

Well, at least I got a lot of cleaning done today.

And I shimmied while I cleaned. And my zills turned up.

But I'm tired, and I didn't get to do yoga like I wanted to, and by the time we got back from our late dinner with a friend we hadn't seen in forever, I was too tired to do a dress rehearsal for tomorrow's performance, which means I have to do it tomorrow before I leave, and if something doesn't work I won't have much time to replace it with something that does work. I don't even want to think about everything I have to do before I leave tomorrow. Uuuugh.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Where are my zills?

Day 258 of practice.

My zills are missing! I couldn't find them in my dance bag at class last night, so I figured I had left them at home... but I can't find them at home, either :( I had to use loaner zills and class and half of them had elastic that was too tight and the others were too loose.

Otherwise, class was fun. In DC skirt class, Shannon had members of the student troupe pair up with non-troupe students, which was awesome because I was able to have the more experienced dancer lead the combos, and then talk me through leading them myself. We practiced passing and fading and my partner was so happy with how quickly I got it that she gave me a big ol' hug.

In other awesome news, my sweet friend Jen aka Sata brought me back a beautiful green bead and medallion belt that she found while on vacation in California. It's the perfect shade of green, I'm pretty sure the medallions are set with malachite (one of my favorite stones) and it's so pretty that I must have gotten compliments from a dozen people just during class!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Why so tired?

Day 257 of practice.

Just got back from class at The Dance Loft. We practiced for our performance and I had a good time, but on the way home I was suddenly struck by drowsiness! Don't know why, but I'm having a hard time focusing now.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Work and Play

Day 256 of practice.

Tonight I worked on my solo, and my Anaya moves and tribal basics (I've been taking HUGE steps for Gahwazee again so I drilled taking little steps, for instance). But I also played around by hearing a random song on my iPod and wanting to get my dance on. I might just use it for my solo performance at our upcoming student show here in Tucson. It's fun and funky and it's NOT A VEIL SONG. I love veil, but I don't want to be typecast as "Sophia Ravenna, the girl who always does a veil solo at every hafla." Especially since there's a veil part in our student performance.

The other thing I did today was go shopping for supplies for a new dance bra. Yay! I bought a nice bra to use as my base -- dang, good bras are expensive! But if it's the only thing between my nipples and the audience, I want it to be good quality.


Day 255 of practice.

Worked on some nice, juicy slow mayas today. At least, that's what they should be. Sometimes I think that Mayas, Taxims and Snake Arms are only put in beginner classes with the idea that if you start them right at the beginning, you might maybe not suck at them by the time you're tackling all of the other advanced moves. They're certainly not easy, at least, it's not easy to make them look pretty.

I really need to focus on being able to sink deeper into my knees. I have really short hamstrings and achilles tendons, and ever since I stopped going to the gym that made me do a zillion squats several times a week, they've really tightened back up. My hamstrings especially have been bothering me a lot lately, and it's embarrassing how bad I am at doing levels right now. I think it's time to go back to doing squats at home, as much as I hate them, and lots and lots of stretching, which I do like.

In awesome news, it has been raining A LOT and the temperatures are down, so heat is no longer a barrier to dance practice. I just have to balance my desire to dance with my desire to work on the yard while the weather is nice and the ground is soft!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I don't like dancing to the flute!

Day 254 of practice.

I've been learning so much from this improv challenge. Tonight's lesson was that I don't enjoy dancing to New Age-y Native American style flute music. Really, the whole message of this challenge has been to reinforce to me the importance of having some sort of emotional connection to the music. Some songs have personal meaning to me. Others just conjure up fun memories of dancing with my friends in class. Then there are the songs that draw me in with their beauty. And then aside from all that are songs that have nothing wrong with them, they just don't inspire me to great heights of dancing.

Other than improv, today's practice consisted of various isolations while I was waiting for customers at a bead show, and shimmies while I did the dishes. I should probably practice more (didn't I say something about DC Skirt?) but to be honest, I feel like making some jewelry so that's what I'm going to do.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Maybe I should actually dance?

Day 253 of practice.

Today I realized that I had been so caught up in practicing my zills for Anaya class that I had not been practicing the moves at all! Oh no! So I did two songs worth of fast and one of slow. It was scary how much trouble I had remembering combos, but they eventually came back to me. Of course, while I was doing that I realized that I haven't practiced DC Skirt either, so I know what I'll be doing tomorrow.

I also worked on my solo, which is coming along nicely, and my random improv. Today was "Blink" by Infected Mushroom. I really don't like that band very much, so it was hard to get into it. But I did it anyway, and explored some different movements.

Then it was zill time and my zills were just horrible. Plus the elastic really is barely holding on, so I think I'll go to the fabric store on Monday. It would be good to fix them before class on Wednesday.


Day 252 of practice.

Today's improv practice was to "What?" by Rob Zombie. It's fun to shimmy to metal music. I was caught unawares by a very abrupt ending, though. That's my least favorite part about doing improv to unfamiliar music... You can't always tell when the song is winding down and you might get caught in an awkward pose.

I also practiced my zills, which sounded awful. Even the chicken in my pants can't help me once I start moving my arms!

Then I worked on my solo, which was fun. Afterwards, another song came on and I was catching accents. My husband walked in and said "Did you just do chest lifts to that?" to which I said haughtily, "Of course not, those were chest DROPS." He merely looked amused. I guess it is weird to be just standing there and then do a series of quick chest moves, but slip them into a performance and they make it look awesome.

Friday, September 9, 2011

I have no class

Day 251 of practice.

No class for me tonight! Everyone's off at Vegas for the Belly Dance Intensive. I almost made a last-minute trip out there too because it sounded like so much fun, but my fiscal responsibility prevailed. It WAS nice not to have to make the drive up to Tempe, but I miss my friends and I miss the dancing. Today ended up being all weird, so I didn't get to practice much.

Random improv was another Rajna song. I'd complain, except that I saw some of the other stuff Chris put on that playlist and I'm not sure I want to dance to most of it! I guess he wanted to give me a challenge.

Zills are still not-great. And my elastic is shot, guess it's time for an exciting trip to JoAnn's for replacement elastic. If I had to choose one thing that I hate the most about being a belly dancer, it would be replacing the elastic on my zills! It's so annoying to stitch through and I always poke my fingers. You'd think that with all the beadwork I do, I'd be a whiz with needles, but no, I stab myself when I'm beading, too.

Wow. This post is kind of negative. I guess I'm Miss Cranky Dance Pants because I'm not in Vegas!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Stupid mosquito

Day 250 of practice.

There was a mosquito at The Dance Loft and it bit me at least 5 times... including twice on the belly! Good thing I'm not performing this weekend, I'd feel all self-conscious about big red dots on my tummy. Otherwise class was fun, there were only four of us so we got to practice dancing in a tight little group, and doing duets. Plus we did a lot of zilling, so I don't have to practice that today.

I asked my husband to find me a new song to do some improv to while I was at class, and when I got home he'd made me a playlist of 18 songs! He's awesome that way. I put it on shuffle and the song that came up was another one by Rajna. It's called "Buried Philae" and it's amazingly awesome. I think it might be a femme fatale song. I wanted to drape myself in jewels, wear smoky eye shadow and stalk across the stage.

Healing Through Dance for PJ Sessoms

I am pleased to announce that my next performance will be at the Healing Through Dance benefit for PJ Sessoms, who is the other of my classmate Jacque. Mrs. Sessoms is battling cancer, so we're putting on a benefit to raise some money to help the family with the costs. See the flier for all of the details you need!

I'm part of the "...and more!" performing, and I am also donating two pieces of my unique handmade jewelry to the raffle. There will also be a rummage sale of gently used costume items, so if you're looking to work on your costume closet, you can't go wrong there. All in all, I think it's going to be a pretty awesome event and I'm looking forward to it.

By the way, there is no set admission but they will be requesting donations at the door. Plaza de Anaya is donating the use of the studio for the night, so all of the money will be going to the Sessoms family. Please come as you can and donate as much as you can, whether is by paying at the door, buying raffle tickets, or participating in the rummage sale. I hope I'll see you there :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Getting down to business

Day 249 of practice.

No more Miss Lazy Dancer! I've been noticing over the past week that my midsection was getting a little squishier than I would like, the results of not practicing hard enough and eating out too often. This is unacceptable! I need to dance harder and eat healthier and be the best dancer I can be.

So tonight's practice consisted of a nice dynamic stretching warmup to get the blood flowing and everything all loosy-goosy.

Then I did the shimmy drills section from Serpentine with Rachel Brice, which built up a nice sweat and reminded me that my shimmies on the down suck.

Then I grabbed my Rajna CD, because somehow I've never listened to it, and I set out to do some improv. But the first song was only 2 minutes long, so I decided to do the second song too, and it was over 6 minutes long. So yay for over 8 minutes of improv to unfamiliar music! Boo for the fact that the second song had a lot of dulcimer or qanoon or some other vibrating instrument that required more shimmies.

Then I grabbed my veil and practiced my solo.

Then I came in here to update my blog and SaraBeth's comment on yesterday's post reminded me that I had not practiced my 3-3-7 zill pattern! So I spent a few minutes working on that and made some progress.

Now it's time to take a relaxing shower, and do some stretches so I don't wake up with sore abs tomorrow!

Good, good, bad.

Day 248 of practice.

Today's practice was broken up into three parts.

First part: Partial dress rehearsal for my upcoming solo. While digging around in my closets, I not only found a pretty blue silk scarf big enough to be used as a veil, but I also figured out my costume for the solo, too. So I put it on and danced in it, making sure that the veil was going to get along with the costume. I just wore the clothes, though. I need to decide on hair and jewelry and put all those on with it next time, to make sure nothing will catch on the veil or otherwise not work out. But so far, pretty successful!

Second part: Awesome local dancer Kamrah posted a challenge on her blog to do improv every day. Well, I already improv all the time so I decided to try the advanced challenge, which is to do improv to songs I've never heard before. Today I danced to "Aim for the Head" by Creature Feature -- yes, I did belly dance to a song about shooting ghouls. It was a whole lot of fun! But there was a part in the middle where it was just someone talking, and I had to just kind of pose and I found myself wishing that I had my sword or some other weapon to make me look badass. Of course, no one was watching, not even the cat, so it didn't really matter.

Third part: Zills. Ugh! Why am I having so much trouble with the 3-3-7? Anaya wants us to layer it over a Turkish, and I can fake it in class when I'm following the better zill players, but at home it turns into 3-3-what was that awful clatter? I'm going to have to work on it every. single. night. until I can do it on my own.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Drilling those zills

Day 247 of practice.

Got my practice done early today! My friend Dawn invited me to join her and a few of her troupemates for some zill practice, because we're all pretty unhappy with our zilling right now. So we spent a good 45 minutes talking about them and practicing, working on triplets and beladi. Much more fun than practicing at home, being around other people helped me stay upbeat and focused, instead of giving up and doing something else.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Solo Saturday

Day 246 of practice.

I worked really hard on my cleaning so that I would have time to work on my solo before company comes over... and it worked! Hurrah. Not only that, but I got to dance and explore some floorwork on a freshly-mopped floor. So nice :)

I'm still trying to figure out exactly what I'm doing with this solo, but I'm enjoying the song. This week I'll work on my costume... I think I might wear my amazing black, aqua and cobalt silk wrap-pants. I normally don't use them in costumes, but I think they might be just what this piece needs.

The rest of today's practice consisted of shimmying my way through various chores, which always makes things so much more fun.

Nothing to see here

Day 245 of practice.

Not much to report today, just some simple isolations. It's really hot in my house. September hasn't gotten the memo yet that it's supposed to be cooler than August. C'mon Autumn, why don't you visit AZ and stay for a while?

Friday, September 2, 2011

New session!

Day 244 of practice.

Tonight was the start of a new session, which meant lots of fresh faces in Anaya Fundamentals, and starting over with DC Skirt, which also had some new people. And one of those newbies is none other than frequent (only?) blog commenter SaraBeth. YAY! For a long time, the running joke was that we were never at the same dance events, so it's really awesome to be sharing a class with her. Amusingly, we both wore the same black iris sparkle scarf, so we had matching butts.

It was a really fun night. We did lots of zills in advanced class, and I enjoyed having my friend Amanda keep me company on the drive, allowing us to catch up with each other. Next class may find me with a FULL car for the drive up. I love having carpool buddies :)

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Day 243 of practice.

I didn't go to class today because I was feeling cranky and antisocial. Blame the heat... or the rain... or my sleep schedule which still hasn't normalized from the double-whammy of vacation and sickness (my body: weee! Let's stay up reading past 2am like we used to! Oh, but then let's wake up at 7 when the husband's alarm goes off, and not fall back asleep!). So I stayed home and did shimmies and arm and hand isolations, on top of the housework dancing I did earlier.

Hopefully class tomorrow will snap me out of my funk. I do find myself eagerly looking forward to troupe practice... only to remember that the next one isn't until the 18th! There's a big part of me that wishes we could have practice every weekend... whereas the rest of me reminds that part that it is, in fact, a long drive up to Tempe and I have to get up at 7am to do it.