Monday, December 31, 2012

The 100th Day

Remember when I decided to take Gina's 100 days challenge? I set some goals of things to do in the last 100 days of the year, and here we are on the 100th day. Now comes the painful moment of truth when I have to look at my goals and see how I did with them:

1. Practice dance for 1 hour every weekday, ideally from 3-4pm.

I started out so well with this one, but in October I got assailed by some serious gloom and never fully recovered. However, I did learn that I CAN practice for an hour a day, so I need to work this back into my life in the New Year, while also being honest with myself about when I need to take time off.
2. Do one thing every day to improve the state of my home.
Another one that started strong and ended weak. If there is one thing I have learned during this challenge, it's that I'm really bad at doing anything on a daily basis. But I did manage to get rid of a lot of clutter, including a bunch of things that had been in boxes in the coat closet since we moved.

3. Get some advice and set some goals for taking my dance career to the next level.
Ok, I actually succeeded quite a bit on this one! I started out with a great meeting with Jolie where she gave me some advice and had me make a 3-year business plan like a real professional adult person. Then we had another meeting where she looked over my plan and helped me fine-tune it a bit. I am on track with my 1-6 month goals so far.

4. Get a quote on how much my orthodontic work will cost and develop a plan to pay for it.
 
Another success! I saw an orthodontist, got a quote, started the dental work that needs to get done first, and we just switched to a dental insurance carrier that will actually pay for some of my orthodontics. I should be getting braces early in 2013, with scary jaw surgery sometime further down the road (eep!).

5. Maintain at least 100 active listings in my Etsy shop.
 
It's the last day of the year and I have exactly 100 items in my shop! I did get to over 100 a couple of times, but holiday sales were pretty good this year so I had to work hard to keep myself out of the 90s. I hope to maintain a minimum of 100 from now on.

6. Finish at least one currently unfinished beadweaving/bead embroidery project.
 
At the end of October I finished Sunny Seattle Summer, a beadwoven bracelet that I started in August.

7. Make at least one project from one of the numerous beading books on my shelves.
 
At the end of November I made this bracelet. I'm also currently making some beaded leaves from a book which will be made into a necklace of my own designing at some point.

8. Actually photograph and attempt to sell the costume pieces that I've already decided I need to get rid of.
 
I photographed some, but not all, and a couple of pieces sold.

9. Do one nice thing for just myself every week.
 
I lost track of whether I managed to do this every week, but I have been pretty good about giving myself little treats that are not related to dance. For a while there, all I was buying for myself was new costuming and stage makeup. But I bought myself some ridiculous boots, and some makeup to wear day-to-day, and took time to go out and do fun things by myself.

10. Take some yoga classes.
 
Argh! I totally forgot this was on my list, I thought it was just in my three-year-plan. I did intend to do yoga at some point in these past few months, but things just kept being too busy.

11. Finish reading Universe in a Nutshell.
 
I never even tried. It may be time to admit that I will just never understand physics.

12. Develop at least one solo that involves a prop.
 
Another success! I now have a very nice veil solo to "Crooked Muse" by Beats Antique, which I performed at the first new Open Stage at Sky Bar.

So all in all, it's not too bad. I only have two total failures, a couple of strong starts with weak finishes, and a bunch of things that I did, sometimes even going beyond my initial goal. What this shows me is that I do much better with finite goals (make a thing) than with open ended (do this every day). It also confirms my belief that I work best with a deadline. I had wanted to start beading things from books for a while, for instance, but once I knew I had to have something done by the end of the year, it encouraged me to go through my books and find a project that I had all the beads for.
 
Tune in tomorrow when it will finally be 2013 and I can start talking about goals for the New Year!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Datura Online -- finally!

I was finally able to make use of my Datura Online subscription tonight! The whole thing was a bit of an ordeal. It turns out that there's something about the way they do the videos that means that I can't play them using the internet or video sharing options on the new TV, they only work if we use an HDMI cord to plug the TV into a computer, turning it into a giant monitor. So that's something to keep in mind if you're shopping for a new TV with the idea of using DO: Don't buy an LG Smart TV.

Unfortunately at the moment the only computer free to be plugged into the TV is Chris's old laptop, which is pretty much on its very last legs. I keep having trouble with it freezing, or taking forever to load the videos. It's hard to say when slowness is a problem with the site and when it is a problem with the stupid computer. I will probably invest in a new laptop sometime in the coming year, but right now I'm hoping to nurse this one along.

But anyway, enough about my technical problems... How is Datura Online? I have to admit that I was so annoyed about the crashing laptop that I almost gave up on dancing, but instead I loaded up a shimmy drill warm-up with Rachel Brice, and I started smiling almost immediately. I mean, when one of your favorite dancers is guiding you through a little yoga to warm up your back, how can you not feel better? I really enjoyed this video, as it did get me warmed up quickly and was an easy enough sequence that I feel like if I use it regularly, I'll be able to memorize it and make use of it backstage before gigs, which is what she originally developed it for. I like the fact that it involves a minimum of traveling steps, making it easy to do in a tight spot like my living room or the hallway next to the bathrooms (aka what counts for backstage at most restaurant gigs).

After that I decided to try the Slovenia Slam scale combo, also by Rachel Brice. I enjoyed the scales when we did them in her workshops last year, and I like that it's another quick 10 minute video. These scales are great drills to add to your daily practice to work on basic isolations -- they're based on the concept of the scales that musicians drill over and over again when learning to play. This one has a lot of chest isolations, including a chest circle to the back which kept throwing me off, I am too used to going to the front first! I think I'll do that scale every day until going to the back feels natural.

I like the idea of DO because it's flexible to what sort of practice I want to do. Tonight I wanted to warm up quickly and drill. Maybe tomorrow I will feel more like an hour-long class. Or I might decide to give the Unmata ITS language a try, since that's gaining popularity in Tucson.

One of the main reasons why I subscribed were the conditioning videos. I know that I need to work on my strength and flexibility, but without an actual routine to follow, I tend to slack off. I feel like with workout and yoga videos at my fingertips, I will be able to make sure I'm doing enough reps, holding long enough, and have a visual representation of what I'm supposed to be doing instead of what I think I remember from class. DO will make it easy to mix and match the routines that work well for me, throwing in some drills and cool-downs, instead of having to switch back and forth between my various DVDs and YouTube videos.

I'll be sure to post about the other videos that I try as I work to keep myself busy until classes and troupe practice return!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Go away, 2012!

I really hate the end of the year. It makes me impatient. Dance classes and troupe rehearsals are invariably canceled due to holidays, but it's hard to get any really good practice in at home in between parties and last-minute shopping and cleaning and being cold.

Then there's the fact that my in-box is full to bursting with an endless array of "year-end sale" e-mails. This might be awesome, except 1: I'm saving up for Tribal Fest, and 2: My family exchanges gifts on New Years Day, so I can't buy anything for myself that I previously offered up as a gift hint. Woe is me! And of course, I am impatient to get to the gift exchange, because I want to give everyone their presents, and yes, I would like to GET some gifts, too, I will admit it.

But there have been a couple of bright spots this week...

1. Datura Online finally works on my TV (sort of, in that we had to hook up a laptop and treat the TV like a monitor) so tomorrow I can start making use of that to improve my home practices.

2. I've been able to hang out with my friend Jen while she's down here visiting her in-laws.

3. Today we went shopping on 4th Ave and bought GLITTER because we are dancers and that is what we do.

4. When classes start back up it will be in the new studio and it will be warm and wonderful and I think we'll have new troupe members, too.

5. I have so. many. gigs. to look forward to in January and February, which is inspiring me to practice.

Hopefully next week I can stay a little more focused and maybe work on writing more blog posts. I have a few things I want to start doing with this blog -- more vendor features, some in-progress posts of costuming (I photographed almost every step of making my latest bra), and makeup reviews. Plus I need to do a year-end review and set some goals for 2013. I just have to wait for this year to end first.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Dolled up

There was a point tonight where I thought this eye makeup look was not going to work out, but I kept going and it actually turned out pretty nicely. I even managed to get my half-lashes on! Yay lashes! I think it's time to graduate to full lashes, so I can start building my way up to really large, elaborate ones. Brandye was wearing some REALLY big ones with glitter mascara on top and she looked amazing.

Tonight's gig was a lot of fun and it also gave me a feel for what being a professional will be like -- evening gig on a Friday night, two 20 minute sets, not getting home until midnight... I think I could live this life.

Of course now I am sitting here trying to muster up the energy to remove all that emerald green eyeliner and put away all my hair flowers.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The world isn't ending, but...

I don't believe that the world is going to end tomorrow, or indeed, any time soon, but I am still dancing in a End of the World party tomorrow! What can I say, I'm addicted to dancing. I will be debuting a new solo as well as performing some favorite choreographies with Skirt Full of Fire and Fire & Gold. The other performances include drag kings, burlesque, musical mayhem and more, so if that sounds like your idea of a fun way to celebrate the false apocalypse, come on down to It's The End... So Let's Party! Cover is only $5 which is a great deal for so much entertainment.

This should really, genuinely be my last gig for the year. I don't have anything else on my calendar until the January Open Stage, which is just the start of a pretty busy January. Believe me, you will have plenty of chances to see me dance in 2013! It's going to be an awesome year.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Good Bye, Studio A

Well, tonight was our last night of class in Studio A at the 4th Avenue location of BreakOut Studios. When classes return for the new year we will be in the new studio. It's bigger. It's warmer. It has better speakers. It doesn't have that really weird mirror where there's a strange raised part off the wall.

There are a couple of things I will miss about the current studio. I will miss having a convenient place to park on 4th Ave. I will miss being able to walk to all the great restaurants, cafes, bars and shops after class. I will miss the "Secret Dance Garden" behind Studio A, and showing up 20 minutes early for class to hang out with my troupemates on a nice Summer night.

But in general I am REALLY excited about the move!

A lot of people showed up tonight, maybe because it wasn't as painfully cold as it was last night. It was good to see some familiar faces who hadn't been around in a while, and to have a big group. It was a nice send-off for the room that has been our (sometimes awesome, sometimes awful) home for over a year.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Hard at work

You might think that for our last troupe practice before the studio closes for the rest of the year that we MIGHT take it easy, just practice some old choreos or do some drills or shoot the breeze. You would be wrong. Instead we took the usual class time, and our troupe practice time, and crammed them together into one two-hour choreography marathon. We learned 2 minutes of a new choreography, and none of it was simple walking, posing, or doing our own thing.

I am exhausted.

But I am also happy to have something new to practice for these two weeks. I'm not traveling for the holidays, and I don't have any major plans. Even if the studio wasn't moving, we would have had to skip the next two practices anyway due to them falling on Christmas Eve and NYE, respectively. So while I'll miss seeing my troupemates, at least I will have something to work on other than drills and practicing the same old choreos (which I will also practice, because I have been slacking).

Right now, however, I just want to go crawl into bed with a book and sleep for about 12 hours.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The weekend is too short

How is it already 11:30 on Sunday night? This weekend flew by.

I didn't end up performing at the Circus Farm fundraiser after all. The weather was far too icky to drive all the way up to Mesa and dance outdoors at night. Instead I ended up going to a holiday party, which was nice. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in dance (and this time of year, my jewelry business) and I just don't make enough time to socialize with my friends.

Today I went to dance class in the too-cold studio. Two more nights of cold classes and then I am FREE! The studio is closing for 2 weeks starting on the 21st and moving to an exciting new venue with more room and best of all, HEAT! Oh, I can't wait to no longer shiver my way through dance classes. I hope that the nicer, bigger studio also results in more new faces in class, and maybe in the troupe, too.

Then I went jogging, and it was also too cold, but you do what you gotta do. I did pretty well, until we stopped jogging and suddenly my calves decided to entirely cramp up. But that's sadly pretty normal. Maybe if I didn't subsist off of tea all winter long I would be less prone to calf cramps, but water is cold and tea is not. I guess I could drink plain hot water but that would be awful.

Friday, December 14, 2012

A good day

I feel a little guilty posting this in the face of the tragedy in CT, but I had a good day of dancing today.

Jolie, Rachel and I performed at a holiday party for the radiation/oncology department of one of the local hospitals, and it was a great show. Our audience of patients and staff was really, really enthusiastic and afterwards several of them wanted to talk to us about dance, their past experience with it, where they could see us again, etc etc. It felt really good to make them so happy. I did a solo to Trans Siberian Orchestra's "Revenge of the Sugar Plum Fairy" and I did so many turns with proper spotting that you would not believe they used to almost bring me to tears on a regular basis earlier this year. That is the power of practice, people!

Then tonight I went to High Heel Fit because Jolie was teaching, and she made us dance on chairs. In heels! Now, I happen to have a fear of falling and standing on things freaks me out -- doubly so in high heels, triply so when I'm getting light-headed because I didn't eat dinner. But I did it, and I didn't fall, and I had fun. I'm feeling a little bit like a bad-ass. I hope the video turns out, I want proof that I was dancing on a chair and I didn't freak out.

Tomorrow I am going up to Phoenix for the Circus Farm fundraiser, which should be my last gig of the year unless something else comes up!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Frustrations!

Ever have one of those weeks where things keep getting in the way of your practice? This is shaping up to be like that. For instance, yesterday I decided to set up a Datura Online account so I could use it on my new Smart TV. I was skipping dance class to go to a show with my family, so I figured I could make up for it by doing a little drilling with Rachel Brice. Instead I got to spend most of the day fighting with my TV and didn't get any practice at all.

Then today I was super-busy. Finally at around 10:20 I decided to do a little dance practice. There I was, working on my solo for Saturday when my phone rang. Well, if my phone is ringing that late at night, it must be an emergency! So I drop everything only to find that it's supposedly some news opinion poll. Excuse me? Who the heck conducts a poll at almost 10:30 at night? A normal person with a normal day job would probably have already been in bed! I was not happy with being interrupted and losing my groove.

Anyway, I am really frustrated over the whole TV issue. There's not enough room to practice in the office at my computer and I don't want my subscription fee to go to waste! I hope we will be able to get it to work, but I worry it will require setting up a computer hooked up to the TV -- which negates the whole point of shelling out the big bucks for a Smart TV! ARGH! Besides, I really need something to keep me occupied at the end of the month when we go 2 weeks without troupe practice and class due to silly holidays falling on Monday and Tuesday.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

So much dancing!

I have been so busy that I forgot to tell you to come out and see Skirt Full of Fire and Fire & Gold perform today! We were part of the BreakOut holiday show, which always coincides with the street fair. Although this will be the last one in this location, I suppose, because BreakOut is moving! I'm very excited because the new studio is not only bigger, it has central heating and cooling! But the Fourth Ave location was not without its charm, and I will miss it (and not only because it gave me a convenient place to park on Fourth).

The show itself was great, I feel like we danced really well. Sadly, this is Kamrah's last performance with us, as she is moving away to Chicago! I will miss her greatly because she is such an incredible dancer and a very nice person to work with, and her husband is one of the most supportive guys in the community (you can see his elbow in this pic as he is filming us). They're a great couple and Chicago is lucky to get them!

Thursday's Open Stage was also AWESOME! What a great crowd! People really got into it, even though a lot of them were originally just there to watch football on the big TVs at Sky Bar. It turns out that when given the choice between sports, and beautiful women dancing, a lot of people will choose the dancers. Sky Bar gave us a nice big space to dance in, which was great, and the drink prices were awesome! I look forward to performing again next month.

I have two more gigs next week and then I think I am done for December, unless any last-minute holiday parties crop up. Whew!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Come to the Open Stage!

Here is the official FB event page for the first ever Sky Bar open stage! I know it's kind of short notice, but I am hoping to see a lot of people there, both to dance and to watch. We want Sky Bar to be happy to have us, after all! Plus I have really missed the social aspects of the open stage scene -- hanging out before and after, sharing tables with friends, seeing dancers from across town, etc etc. Please come out if you can!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

What a weekend!

I've had quite the busy weekend. On Saturday I went to the Tucson Belly Dance/Tucson Tribal Collective student recital to see my friends from those two groups dance, and my friend Martha from Phoenix met me there. The recital was held at the Cushing Street Bar and Restaurant which was a GREAT choice! The food was really good, and the outdoor courtyard was beautiful (and it was sunny and 80 degrees, so a perfect day to be outside). It was great to see what all of the students was working on, and there was a nice variety of performances. The show was just the right length, and I really appreciate that it was held at lunch time, so that Martha and I could hit 4th Ave to kill the rest of the afternoon, and then I could attend the art show that my troupemate Liora was in that evening!

Today I got back into the swing of things by attending drills and ITS and going for a jog this evening with some friends and my corgis. I felt good in class, happy with my current progress. I was worried that with how little I've been practicing lately, I would have lost a lot, but really, it's only been a few weeks. Jogging went pretty well, too, and now my dogs are nicely tired out and lazing around the house instead of chasing the cats.

And on top of all of that, I have TWO more gigs coming up! I'll be part of a group piece at BreakOut Studios as part of their Street Fair show on Saturday, and on Thursday I will be dancing at the VERY FIRST SKY BAR OPEN STAGE!!!! Woohoo! I am super excited because not only have I really been missing open stages, but Sky Bar is the perfect venue! I think people will be a lot more enthusiastic about coming out to see the dancers if they don't have to plan their dinner around it. Besides, it's such a pain to eat dinner while watching a show! Much better to kick back with a drink, and more affordable, too.

So far it's looking like December is going to be pretty awesome!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Performance Added

I just confirmed that I will be dancing at the Circus Farm Fundraiser in Mesa AZ on December 15th! I've been trying to cut down on my Phoenix performances (it costs me $20 in gas money every time I perform up there), but this is right after the Plaza de Anaya holiday recital, so I can go see my friends, shop at Plaza, and then carpool over with Jen who will also be performing. Sounds like the perfect night!

I'm pretty excited because I will be debuting a new solo, and possibly my new costume? And maybe I will make new friends, since there will be a bunch of people there I've never met. I love getting the chance to dance for a new crowd. Plus I will get to watch performances of people I've never seen dance before, too!

This will probably be my last performance for 2012, unless something crops up last-minute here in Tucson. I definitely don't want to make two trips to Phoenix in December, since I will be busy getting ready for the holidays and all. Besides, 2013 will probably be pretty exciting so I may need a couple of weeks of rest before jumping into the New Year :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Vendor Spotlight: Mermaiden Creations

  
Since the holidays are just around the corner, I thought I might start featuring some of my favorite vendors, just in case you need to buy a gift for a dancer in your life!

You may have noticed that I really like to do a big ol' tribal hair garden around my bun! For extra variety, I like to add a beautiful chiffon rose by Mermaiden Creations into the mix. Although at the rate I'm buying them, I'll soon have enough to go all the way around, without any cheap fake flowers mixed in.

 
 This absinthe green is my favorite. I'm wearing it in that picture above, and I also wear it any time I wear my peridot green 25 yard skirt, because they're pretty much the same color. This shade stands out well against my red hair, but I think it would look good against any natural hair color and a lot of unnatural ones, too.

 Mermie also makes fascinators out of her roses. I am not-so-secretly hoping someone will buy this elegant one for me for the holidays, but you can feel free to buy it for a dancer in your life instead, because I am not going to die from lack of peacock feathers, believe me!
She also makes jewelry! I am partial to these earrings because I picked the spiked beads out, I saw them at the gem show and they said "MERMAIDEN!" in a surprisingly loud voice for something with no vocal cords. But the silver beads are cool, too! They are over 50 years old! I love sellers who source unusual supplies, it really makes their work stand out. These earrings would be so beautiful with a fusion or even ATS costume.

You should also check out her great Roman glass jewelry, and her new stacking rings which would even make a great gift for non-dancers!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I've got a website!

Part of transitioning from an amateur dancer to semi-pro status is acquiring the trappings of a pro. So this weekend I built my own website! SophiaDances.com

It's not much, but I did it myself with WordPress templates! I've never used WP before but I found it to be not too difficult to figure out. I won't lie, there were some snags along the way, and I have a lot more work to do, but at least I have something for people to go to if they want to learn more about me.

Of course I will still be blogging here! It's just that "Sophia dances dot com" is a lot easier for an emcee to say and a person to remember than "dance pants addict dot blogspot dot com." Plus once I get more comfortable with site building, I can add a gallery of photos, a biography page, and other professional-looking stuff.

I also ordered some business cards! Now when people ask me where I dance, I can give them a card and they can come here or to my website and see the list of my upcoming gigs (which is currently empty, but that's soon to change. Things are a-brewing).

Anyway, that's what I've been up to. Sorry about the long silence, after the Shakedown, I had less than a week to get ready before flying off to NY for Thanksgiving with my in-laws! I didn't dance at all while I was there, because it was a crazy trip. Now I am home, and I went to class on Sunday and it was great... then I woke up sick yesterday. *sigh* So I am using my time wisely to work on the business side of things, and also to make a new bra. More on that later!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Come see me at the Shakedown!

Well, I will not be performing at the Shakedown as I originally thought, but I will still be there all day. First I will be taking a workshop with Frank Farinaro (my first time with a male teacher!), and then I will be vending my jewelry!

Normally I don't use this blog to shill my business, because that's what my beading blog is for, but I will say that pretty much all of the money that I make between now and May will go to TRIBAL FEST (!!!!). So if you can find it in your heart and pocketbook to either visit my booth at the Shakedown or my Etsy shop, you can be confident that the money will be going back into the dance community in the form of workshops and shopping.

I have been hard at work this week making new jewelry, including some awesome tribal designs that I am pretty proud of!

Whether or not you want to shop, if you are at the Shakedown please stop by the Erthe Fae Designs booth to say hello :)

Monday, November 5, 2012

All Souls Procession

Tucson may be a small city, and it may lack the excitement of places like NYC and San Francisco, but there are some things we do right and one of them is the All Souls Procession. This local event takes the traditions of Dia de Los Muertos and gives them a distinctly Tucsonan flavor. Where else will you see bagpipers in skull-face makeup, bicycle-powered parade floats, and of course, a horde of well-costumed belly dancers with their own contingent of drummers?

(Above, me before the show. I did not whiten my face. I don't get a lot of sun, OK?)
I missed the Procession last year, which made me sad because I didn't get to wear my light-up bustle. Here I am shaking it and playing my zills.

One of the great things about this event is that it really brings people together. Whatever your walk of life, it's hard to not be moved by the idea of a parade that honors our dead and celebrates our living, vibrant, multi-cultural city. I think I saw dancers from almost every troupe in Tucson, we had drummers from the SCA, and I saw people of all ages and walks of life in the crowd along the streets.

I'm not sure how long the parade was this year, but it was definitely a long time to be dancing and playing zills! I am pretty sore and tired today! There's nothing like a parade to help you build stamina as a dancer.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

I'M GOING TO TRIBAL FEST!

Well, I found a way to shake myself out of my funk... This morning, I registered for Tribal Fest 13! I stayed glued to my computer until the shopping cart went live, with a handy list of the workshops I had decided on (an agonizing process! so many options!), so I was able to pounce and get into all of my first choices. I'll be studying with 3 awesome teachers I've had workshops with in the past, and four new-to-me teachers!

I cannot even tell you how excited I am about this. I've wanted to go for the past two years, but things kept getting in the way. But this year, thanks to the support of my two biggest fans (my husband and his mom), I am going to find a way to make it happen. I've already been selling off all the costuming bits that don't quite fit or don't quite go with anything else, and I've got a couple of big shows with my jewelry business planned, so I should be golden.

Now no matter how "blah" things get in Tucson, I can remind myself that in X months, I will be at Tribal Fest, so I need to keep practicing to be in tip-top form for my workshops. I can't wait! It's going to be the Best May Ever.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

More Jogging

I have to admit, I haven't been practicing much lately. I've been in a big funk, plus dealing with the fact that my calves have hurt all week since I went jogging on Sunday. So what did I do today? More jogging of course!

I will really be happy when my legs adjust to being re-trained. I spent 3 decades walking on my toes, and this led to me having really bad dance posture -- my weight was always tipped way forward of center, which leads to things like falling down when doing levels. So I've been training myself to walk properly, and adjusting my posture, and it leads to pretty much constant leg soreness and tiredness as my muscles get used in slightly different ways. I've been stretching them a lot, too, to improve my flexibility.

I'm tired of it, but I know eventually it will all be better.

Running went pretty well, not as well as Sunday but I still completed our little training program, so that's what matters.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Old Pictures

I realized today that I'd been pretty bad about uploading pictures to my fan page on Facebook, so I went through my personal profile and downloaded a bunch of photos that I liked. It was an interesting process. It reminded me of the fun I'd had at different shows. It was also a little sad, seeing pictures of me with friends who have moved away, or friends who no longer like each other, so we can't hang out together.

Of course, another thing I like about looking through old pictures is seeing how much I've changed! Going WAY back to before I was a dancer, you see me without any makeup, in pseudo-gypsy costumes for Ren Faire. At the start of my dance career, you can find me proudly smiling after my first dance solo, complete with red lipstick. Then there are the recent changes... Red hair, my slowly growing tattoo, glitter lips, false eyelashes. And in the photos taken mid-performance, you can see stronger arms and more confidence in my smile.

I'm not sure if I'm brave enough to delve into my old VIDEOS though. Oof!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Feeling Competent

Sometimes I feel like I am just totally overwhelmed by dance, or by my goals. Today is not one of those days. Oh sure, we did a gliding exercise which my legs would not cooperate with, but we also did a new layering exercise and I actually GOT IT a few times. Most of the time when Jolie throws new layers at us, I am just completely messed up, but I made this one make sense to me and it feels attainable.

Then I went jogging tonight. I don't know if I've mentioned it on this blog before, but I hate running. I'm really bad at it. Or so I usually thought. Tonight, for the first time ever, I out-ran my husband. Usually he is the one jogging along happily while I am proclaiming that I am about to die, but today I was almost chipper about how well I was doing. I suspect maybe I have been replaced by an alien pod person, but I don't care. I ran and I did well and I completed the running training exercise we were doing for the night. Will I turn into a person who likes running? Well, we'll see how I feel as I continue this training, but tonight I am feeling pretty proud of myself. I feel like my dedication to class and home training has improved my base fitness and maybe running will be more accessible now.

My hideously ugly running shoes might help. They're a brand I've never heard of, and they are silver, sunny yellow, and bright purple, but they weigh pretty much nothing and fit my feet perfectly, so they were easy to run in.

I can't wait to see what tomorrow throws at me!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Makeup Addiction

 Well, this is possibly the least-flattering view of my face ever, but it's really hard to photograph your own eye shadow, especially when you can't seem to find any decent lighting. This was taken on my front porch. I tried to make my eyeshadow match the elytra in my earrings, and I think I was pretty successful! This look was for going to the Bellydance Superstars. If I was going to do it for a performance, I'd do a heavier eyeliner for sure and maybe add some fake lashes, plus of course some glitter lips and more blush!

Bellydancing and makeup are intrinsically entwined for me. I bought my first makeup to wear on the same weekend trip that I took my first class at Plaza de Anaya. I was in my mid-20s and I decided that it was about time that I learned how to wear makeup like a normal adult woman (not that there's anything wrong with NOT wearing makeup!). I bought my first lipstick in preparation for my first student recital later that year. Of course, I still HATE lipstick, but it's a necessary evil when doing tribal makeup. Sparkly gloss just doesn't cut it! After a few years of dancing and one very useful workshop with Jolie, I feel pretty good about my skills now, and I have a total eye makeup addiction. I love experimenting with different colors of shadow, different styles of liner, and GLITTER!

Although I waited until my 20s to learn to apply makeup to my face, I have been painting my nails since I was a teen. I'm fortunate to have nails that grow long and beautiful naturally and I really enjoy painting them in shades of green, black, teal, green, aqua, silver, green green and green. Oh, and occasionally purple or blue. I don't think they've ever been pink or red. Today I splurged on brand new holographic jade green polish, as seen above. It's AMAZING! I can't wait to experiment with how it looks over other colors, since I think it's a little sheer on its own. I wonder if I can find matching holographic glitter for my eyes?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Performance tomorrow!

Come see Skirt Full of Fire and Fire & Gold dance at Tucson Meet Yourself tomorrow! We will be performing during the 5pm hafla dance party on Friday, sharing the stage with Lykiska.

Oddly enough, in all of the years I've lived in Tucson, I've never gone to Tucson Meet Yourself! I may have to wander around a bit after the show, so if you see someone with way too much makeup and a lime green caftan, it's probably me.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Getting Things DONE

Don't let the general lack of blog posts make you think that I have not been dancing. Oh, I have been dancing, my friends. I've been going to class, and going to troupe practice, and practicing at home, and dancing in my mind, and shimmying when I'm bored in line at the store.

Actually, this has been a pretty good week. I have a confession: sometimes, I really do not want to go to dance class. Sometimes going to class and doing drills feels like the work I have to do in order to get better at the thing I want to do, which is, you know, dancing. But this week class has been really fun, not just because I love my teacher and my classmates, but because everyone was in a good mood, and we did fun, silly things and we decided that a new combo was called "The Hell Tornado." Really, when you have a combo name that could double as a SyFy Channel Original movie or a Rob Zombie cover band, you know you're having a good time in class. And that was before we discovered that we could perform one of our existing choreos to a ridiculous 90s pop song, which had us all laughing so hard we could barely dance.

That's not all I've been up to. On Tuesday, I devoted my practice time to career development instead and wrote a three year plan for my career, with the eventual goal of being a professional dancer. Just taking this step makes me feel more professional. I've written down my goals and how to achieve them.

One of the things I have to do is get braces. I know that there are people who think my smile is just fine, but I know I will feel more comfortable and be more hire-able if I have a standard beautiful smile. So today I had a consultation with an orthodontist, and while they said some things I didn't want to hear, it's nothing I can't handle.

So here I am, moving forward with things. No more "I want to be a pro someday" and "I will get my teeth fixed someday." Someday is now-ish.

Oh yeah, and I got a new costume in the mail today, as if The Universe (or whatever) was rewarding me for being proactive.

It's a good day to be me!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Jam-Packed Saturday!

Check out this pre-show shot of Skirt Full of Fire (front row with the fabulous LEGS!) and Fire & Gold (back row with the gorgeous tops!) prior to performing at An Evening of Dance, hosted by Belly Dance Tucson with headliner Sadie!

This was such a crazy busy Saturday! First, I went to one of the Sadie workshops because a friend had a scheduling conflict and offered to let me take her spot. It was a drum solo secrets workshop, with lots of drills and locks and fast-paced combos. I got a great workout! Drum solos are so amazingly hard and it was hard to keep up with Sadie. However, I felt pretty good. All the time I've spent in class for the past year has really trained my brain and body to be quicker at picking up unfamiliar material, or at least faking it well enough that I'm not a hot mess and throwing others off. Sadie did a pretty good job of explaining everything she taught and had a really friendly attitude. I can see why she's so popular! This was her first time teaching in AZ, so a lot of dancers came all the way from Phoenix for the chance to study with her.

Then I went to my troupemate Liora's house so we could do our makeup together. We shared makeup and she gave me some great tips because she used to work at Sephora and she's a fashion photographer, so she really knows her stuff! She helped with my eye makeup and made it look awesome. I also got to wear the new Eye Kandy glitter that Jen brought me from Vegas. WOO glitter!

At the show, we were the opening act, which is always my favorite. When you start the show, you then get to kick back, relax, and watch all the other great performances, which is exactly what we did. It was a jam-packed show (I wish I had a copy of the group shot!) with numerous troupes and soloists, topped off by a set by Sadie, who even went into the audience and got people up to dance. I thought this was great because it meant that those who were seated farther back also got to see her up-close and enjoy her dazzling stage presence.

I was pretty tired by the end of the night, but such is the life of a dancer!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Day Off

So, today I had a really insightful meeting with Jolie, which I will talk more about later. The important thing for tonight's post is that I told her I was practicing an hour every weekday, and she asked me when my day off was, because she knows I take her classes on the weekend, and I was all, "Uhhh..." and she told me I need to give myself a weekly day off from dancing. My legs and abs agree with her. Since I had already made plans to hang out with a friend this afternoon, it was easy to make today my day off for this week. Later I will decide whether Thurs or Fri is a better regular day off, as they both have their merits.

This means I will be amending my goal from "Practice at 3-4pm every weekday" to "Practice from 3-4pm 4 days a week", but that's still good. It's still discipline. It just means that my body actually gets a day of rest, which will be even more important as I start to add some yoga, other dance classes, and plain ol' exercise to my routine to try to round myself out as a dancer.

Now I am going to give myself some REAL rest by sleeping.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tattoo!

Oh hey! I forgot to blog about the fact that my tattoo is finished-ish. Currently the vines only swoop over one hip. It may be some time until I get my right hip done, as my artist is going on maternity leave soon. But that's OK, we had already designed the tattoo so it looked like it was supposed to go over only one hip, and honestly, while I would like to have my right hip done eventually, I would rather not have it done during the winter. When this one has been healing, I've liked to sit around the house in a sports bra, letting it breathe and also avoiding having clothes rub against it -- true fact, shirts with tags in the side instead of the neck are awesome, until you have a fresh, tender tattoo on your side.

My appointment was a week ago, so right now I'm coming into the end of the peeling/flaking stage. It should be nice and pretty just in time for me to hit the stage on Saturday, hooray!

I'm glad that I decided to get this as my first tattoo, rather than starting with a small "starter tattoo." THIS is the tattoo I wanted -- why spend my time and money on something else? Plus if I had waited, I might not have gotten to my artist in time, and I really hadn't seen anyone else in my state doing the style that I wanted. Now I'm applying this philosophy to the rest of my life, too. If I want something, I am going to find a way to get/do it, rather than settling for less.

By the way, practice today was fine. Still bored with drills, but they are what they are. Gotta get them done to be the dancer that I want to be. And I got to play a bit, too, dancing to fun songs, so it wasn't all workworkwork.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A good time

I've really been enjoying classes again lately. There was a while, when I was frustrated by a lack of progress, where it felt like every class threw some stumbling block in my path and had me doubting myself. But now that I've managed to make some headway with things like chaine turns and some of our more difficult troupe choreographies, I'm feeling a lot more relaxed in class. I still struggle with things, but I don't let it get me down. After all, this isn't like a college class where I'm being graded and I have to worry about passing or failing. What is important is that I am there, I try my best, and I work on keeping a positive attitude.

Home practice, however, is a bit more of a struggle. Drilling things at home alone is boring! I mean, drilling in class is often boring, too, but at least I get corrections when I'm doing something wrong, and I get to see my friends before and after class. At home it's just me and Daisy, who just sits on the couch and looks sad that I am dancing instead of rubbing her belly. She's not a very good coach. I am having fun working on some new solos, and I am practicing troupe choreos because we're coming into the busy performance season, but drilling basic skills is such a slog!

Monday, September 24, 2012

So tired!

Mondays and Tuesdays are the hardest for daily practice. I have to fill an hour with stuff that will improve me as a dancer, but not leave me too tired to keep up with class/troupe practice. Even when I take it easy, I am still pretty tired by the end of the night. Three hours of belly dance is nothing to sneeze at!

Played around with veil and zills today, trying to freshen myself up on skills I have been neglecting. I actually prefer to dance without props in most instances, because my personal style relies a lot on the expressive capabilities of my hands and arms, which is limited if I'm holding a prop... But the truth is that audiences like props, and if I want to be a professional someday, I will need to be able to fill up an entire show, and that means having a variety of skills to draw on. It's different when I am doing a < 5 min solo and can thus do whatever inspires me the most.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Last 100 Days

Did you know that today marks the start of the last 100 days of 2012? Hard to believe the year is so close to over! Anyway, Gina Gonzalez suggested taking up a challenge to set 12 goals to achieve by the end of the year, like New Years Resolutions but not. Since I was already looking at a few things I wanted to change in my life, I decided to use this chance to get a little support and a little accountability. I posted my goals on Gina's page and I'm also posting here! Please feel free to ask me how I am doing on them, at any time.
1. Practice dance for 1 hour every weekday, ideally from 3-4pm.
2. Do one thing every day to improve the state of my home.
3. Get some advice and set some goals for taking my dance career to the next level.
4. Get a quote on how much my orthodontic work will cost and develop a plan to pay for it.
5. Maintain at least 100 active listings in my Etsy shop.
6. Finish at least one currently unfinished beadweaving/bead embroidery project.
7. Make at least one project from one of the numerous beading books on my shelves.
8. Actually photograph and attempt to sell the costume pieces that I've already decided I need to get rid of.
9. Do one nice thing for just myself every week.
10. Take some yoga classes.
11. Finish reading Universe in a Nutshell.
12. Develop at least one solo that involves a prop.
 
Of course a lot of my goals are dance-specific or dance-related, but there's a few jewelry ones and a few general life ones. Let's see how I do!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

My Fully Fusion V Performance






I hope this YouTube embedding thing works! If so, you should be able to click and watch the video of my performance from Saturday. If not, click here to view it on YouTube. (Sorry about the weird sound issue, we're not sure what caused that)

Fully Fusion was so much fun! Rhythm Room was packed with an appreciative crowd, the performers brought a variety of dances to the floor, and Spirtchaser rocked the house with their music. I really enjoyed the chance to perform with live music and will be looking for more opportunities.

Big thanks to Mahin for hosting the event, TC for being such a competent stage manager, Spiritchaser for the chance to dance with them, Chris for filming, and everyone who came out to see the show.

My next performance is at the Sadie show here in Tucson, with Fire & Gold and Skirt Full of Fire. I'll post more about that next week, but in the meantime you can buy tickets from the handy link on the lefthand side of this blog.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Three in a row

Well, I'm 3 days in to my daily hour of practice. I was not feeling particularly enthusiastic about it today. That probably had something to do with my legs being exhausted from last night's class and my random shuffle playing a bunch of lackluster songs.

Tomorrow will be a bit challenging because I'll be touching up the henna on my head, which means by the time 3pm rolls around, I will probably be in the shower trying to rinse all the residue out of my hair. I don't think I can really practice while the dye is setting, because it makes my head SO heavy! Maybe I will move my practice to the evening tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Uhm, ow

So today I ran into the first obstacle to my daily hour of practice. I had to take my car in for service and it was expected to be done between 3 and 4! Shoot! That's my dance time! Not to be daunted, I moved my dance time from 1-2 and rushed through my housework before hand. I had a good hour of practice including nearly 10 minutes of chaine turns, and a few minutes of shimmies while petting Daisy the corgi, because she was scared of the thunderstorm.

Then I went to class and had the most physically difficult class ever -- nearly an hour of levels. Oh, my poor quads. By the end, my legs were shaking uncontrollably. And I still had another hour-long class to get through! I'm afraid of the pain tomorrow will bring. But I also feel good, because I love being able to rise to a physical challenge like that, and I did some things that I thought I wouldn't be able to.

Monday, September 10, 2012

An hour a day

About 1 3/4 years ago, I started this blog to chronicle my attempt to dance for half an hour a day for a year. After that year ended, I kept up daily practice for a while but eventually I fell off the wagon, and lately I have not been doing hardly any home practice at all. This is simply Not Acceptable. I work from home and I have plenty of time on my hands, time which I waste on the internet. I could be a much better dancer than I am, if I just practiced harder.

So over the weekend, I was struck with inspiration. It was time to be really strict with myself and set a time for dancing every weekday. Dancing right after I got up just wasn't working... there was too much "Ok, but first I need to..." because sometimes it is hard to dance when the floors need sweeping and the laundry needs doing and the dogs want their breakfast, and the next thing you know, it's two in the afternoon. So fine. I'll dance in the afternoon, from 3-4pm. That gives me plenty of time to get everything else out of the way -- housework, correspondence, listing items on Etsy. And anything that isn't done by 3pm is just going to have to wait.

Today I gave it a try. At 3pm I parked myself in front of my mirror with a glass of iced tea and an oven timer set for one hour. I set my iPod on shuffle and let the songs dictate what I was going to drill. Then I worked on some troupe choreo and my solo for this weekend, a little playtime to a song I'm in love with, and a quick shimmy drill, then spent the last 8 minutes stretching while I was nice and warm -- so, so warm.

As always, once I got started it was easy to keep going. I love to dance, after all! And I let myself play a bit between drilling, if a song didn't strike me as being appropriate for drilling.

Things I learned today:

1. I need a bigger glass of iced tea tomorrow.
2. Doing snake arms for a 6 minute long song really sucks when you spent the previous night doing arm work with fire fans. Ouch.
3. I am actually making progress with chaine turns. In fact, I kept doing them in the silence after the song ended, because I was on such a roll.

I'm looking forward tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

I am performing at Fully Fusion V!

That's right, I am performing at Fully Fusion V later this month! That's what yesterday's very special practice was for. And why did I need to drive to Phoenix for a special practice? Why, it's because I will be performing to a LIVE song by Spiritchaser! They kindly opened their home studio up for dancers to come practice with them yesterday, and I am so glad I decided to take them up on it. They're such a great couple, and it was an amazing experience to be able to practice to the music as it will be played, as opposed to the mp3.

I am really excited for this show. Not only is it my first time performing a solo to live music, but I am looking forward to watching all of the other performers, too! Kamrah has given me an idea of what she's going, and I know Divine Chaos will do something awesome (last year they fused belly dance and sign language into the most beautiful thing I've ever seen). Fully Fusion tends to be an event where people really stretch themselves as artists. I think it's going to be an awesome night.

Monday, September 3, 2012

So Busy!

I had a crazy busy dance weekend, and that's after paring down some of my plans because I couldn't do everything.

Today I drove all the way up to the Phoenix area for a very special practice, which I'll blog more about tomorrow when I am hopefully less exhausted. I also got to drop by Plaza real quick and see my Anaya friends. Every time I see them dance I miss being around them! Anaya Tribal really has some of the best ITS moves, they always look so polished, and their zilling sounds SO GOOD! If you are going to be at the Vegas Intensive, you should make sure to go see them on stage and in the vending area.

Then I got home and went to troupe practice, and only two of us showed up, so we got to spend the night drilling things that we needed to work on -- including 20 minutes of shimmy drills. Hence the exhaustion. I am now ready to eat a cookie and veg out for the rest of the night.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Working through it

Tonight I was feeling heavy-hearted and a little nauseated, but I went to class and practice anyway because I've missed too many lately. I started to feel better as soon as I got there, which I attribute to the healing power of awesome troupemates. There's such great energy in that group, everyone just seems to generally like each other and to love what we do.

And luckily, tonight was not too demanding. We revisited the choreography that Jolie did in Saturday's class, which I really like and did pretty well at. Then we went over some videos to see what we needed to work on, and did a moving meditation. It was good to just dance, without stressing over choreography.

Now to just get back into practicing at home! Today was all about my jewelry business (ok, and playing video games on my husband's lunch break), but tomorrow I should be able to tackle some chaines and work on some solos and maybe even do some prop work.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Better Day

I woke up today and it was raining! For some people, living in other places, maybe that would mean a bad day. For me it meant that it was not hideously hot today, and I got to dance without feeling gross. I worked on my solo, and practiced a couple of troupe choreos, and did some random improv to random songs, drilled my taxims and chaines, and felt OK about myself.

I am still working out the best time for me to practice. Jolie suggested that I wake up in the morning and get it done right away, before I get distracted by Facebook and chores and such. But honestly, I need to eat my breakfast and maybe have a cup of tea, and wake up fully. And some days I have to do a little housework to get things tidy before I can dance. Maybe I need to do my housework before bed, and drink my tea while reading a book instead of sitting at my computer. Or maybe it will work best for me to dance in the afternoon, as long as I pick a time and stick with it. I definitely can't wait for the evening, that never works. Especially not on class nights.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Hard to stay sad

My husband often jokes that our little corgis, Daisy and Maggie, are the best investment he ever made because I can never stay upset with them around. This is an old picture, but this is pretty much the exact faces they were making at me when I came home from class today.

It's also hard to stay sad with so many good friends in my life. I hesitated to post last night because I didn't want to seem like a drama ball, rolling around and soaking up the drama and needing attention from my friends -- but I kind of did need it. Maybe not the ego boosts (which ARE nice), but I really, really needed to hear other dancers and artistic types saying that they have gone through the same thing. I needed to know that this is something that I need to push through, instead of letting it keep me down. I needed to know that I am not just being a drama llama, but that this is part of the normal growth of a dancer.

Anyway, I am still feeling down, but getting better. I danced this morning. I mean. really. f*cking. danced. (forgive my asterisked language, but it was that intense) I danced so hard that I was honest-to-gosh crying, and that doesn't really happen to me. I danced so hard that I'm amazed I didn't hurt myself. Most importantly, I danced so hard that I remembered why the hell I do this -- I do it because I love it. I do it because the music moves me, physically and emotionally, and while I still need to work on technique, I can dance up a storm and I can let everything I'm feeling come out, and share that with the audience (in this case, an audience of corgis).

And then I did some spot turns and some chaine turns. And they still sucked. But I am going to do them until they don't.

A big thank you to everyone who put up with my drama, and took the time to reassure me, or give me a pep talk, or tell me to just get through it. I love you all.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Sad Times

I'm in a bad head space right now. If there was any ice cream in my fridge, I'd be eating Ben & Jerry's and crying, but instead I am blogging.

I like to say that I'm a perfectionist, but I don't know if that's quite the right word for how I am. It's not like I deconstruct my jewelry because of tiny imaginary flaws. It's more like I expect myself to be more wonderful and amazing than I am.

As much as I love reading, I think books are to blame... specifically, the sort of books that I read growing up. I liked those little girl escapist books where a girl with a heart of gold finds an abused horse and nurses it to health and the horse ends up being amazing, and so does the girl, and they go on to win a race or a show or something. Or the humble young child in the fantasy world turns out to be the Chosen One who saves the world from the Big Bad Evil, despite being a nobody. Add that to the fact that I was relatively smart as a kid, and relatively tall, and I built this idea in my head that I was going to grow up to be tall and beautiful and a genius and really good at something. I just knew that I would find something that I would be amazing at, and it would make up for being socially awkward and wearing glasses and having buck teeth and spending all of my time reading books.

You may not know this about me, but I am 30 years old, I do not have a high school diploma, I still have buck teeth, and I have not done one amazing thing in my life. I have made a lot of jewelry that is nice, and I have written some stories that are nice, and I have done some dances that are nice. I am not amazing at any of those things, but as I have done each of those things, I've always had this stupid expectation that I would be amazing, and someone would notice, and I would finally have found my calling in life.

Real life, of course, does not work like the stupid books you read when you're a kid. In real life, most people are just good at things. I am just good at writing, making jewelry, and dancing. All of these things that I do make people happy, and they make me happy, but I am not the best at them and it DRIVES ME CRAZY.

I'm at a bad place right now where I am just not. getting. better at dancing. I am still having trouble with the same things I have been having trouble with. My chaine turns are sloppy. I can't spot. Sometimes I am on the wrong foot. I don't count naturally, though I am training myself. Everything is something that just sucks until it doesn't. There's not one thing where I can say "Oh, I'm not there yet but I can see that I'm getting better." And I'm tired of it. I just want to cry. I want to give up. I want to go back to safe, easy ITS where I already knew how to do everything and could be the superstar instead of the person who almost crashed into another dancer again doing chaines across the floor.

Part of it is that I have not been practicing enough lately. I'm still not feeling 100% after my laryngitis/throat virus/chronic cough that comes to visit every damn time I get sick, and I've been using that as an excuse to be lazy at home. No more. Tomorrow I am going to practice until I can't practice anymore, because I am sick of not being amazing. I've set myself the goal of being a professional dancer, and I've foolishly decided not to let my late start, or my overbite, or my lack of natural amazingness stand in my way.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Lullaby

Blurry hands, but I love the expression on my face in this photo that Annalisa took at Amy's baby shower today!

Normally I am not a baby shower person -- I don't like babies, I don't plan to have any children, and I'm not into cutesy shower games. However, this was a hafla to celebrate one of our local dancer's soon-to-be-born baby daughter, and it was all about dancing, eating Middle Eastern food, and having fun. Besides, when else was I going to have a chance to dance to one of the beautiful lullabies off of Azam Ali's album "From Night to the Edge of Day"?

I had a great time! Sinbad's is a little small, but really beautiful (look at those blue rafters!) and we had the place to ourselves for most of the party. There were about a dozen dancers there, half of whom performed a variety of numbers. The mother-to-be did a great Saidi cane dance, the same one that she performed before the birth of her son. What a sweet tradition!

And I got to wear my new belt! It's hard to tell in the picture, but it's two ropes of green seed beads with coins and kuchi dangles! I think I need to sit down and figure out exactly how many belts I have.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Hello out there!

Well, I have been spectacularly bad about blogging! I didn't realize that it had been well over a month since I updated. Time to dust off my communication skills and get back into the habit of regular updates.

So. Hello! I hope I still have readers out there someplace.

I've been quite busy while I've been quiet. The troupes were invited up to Mijana's in Tempe again, which required learning a lot of new choreos, developing a new solo, and sewing a new bra. There was lots and lots of practicing, of course.

Then I had laryngitis for the first time in my life, which was not fun. I had to text or IM my husband any time I wanted to talk to him, and I had to forgo all dance classes and troupe practices due to being contagious.

Then I went on vacation to Seattle, which was absolutely fun! I had never been to the Pacific Northwest before, so it was very exciting to see a new-to-me part of the world, and of course it was great to get away from Tucson's August heat and enjoy perfect weather in Washington. We chose Seattle because Dead Can Dance and Niyaz were both on tour and happened to have concerts there on the same weekend. What an epic experience! I cannot even begin to describe how amazing it was to hear some of my favorite singers live. We had front row seats for Niyaz, but it didn't matter for me because I spent most of the show dancing in the aisle. That evening was made particularly perfect by meeting up with a FB (now real life) friend and her SO for Persian food before hand and staying up late talking afterwards.

An unexpected bonus to our trip was that Tempest, a dancer who I really admire, had just recently moved to Seattle! I didn't get to attend her class because it was the night I got into town, but she did invite me to a world dance festival in Bothell (which I decided was pronounced Bot-hell), where I got to see her dance to live music by Nathaniel Johnstone. Awesome! We got to hang out and talk with them, and they are really nice people. Hopefully they'll bring their workshops to AZ soon! I saw a lot of other belly dancers and a bit of flamenco as well, and did a little shopping too (NEW BELT!). The Seattle-area dance community seemed well-rounded and everyone I encountered was friendly (actually, that goes for non-dance people too. I suspect there is something in the water there that makes people extra-nice).

Now I am back home, catching back up on all I missed. Tomorrow there are new classes to take, and a belly dance baby shower to attend (and dance at!), and then it's back into the swing of Monday rehearsal and after-practice drinks with the girls. I love my life.

Monday, July 16, 2012

From the Photo Shoot

I recently had a photo shoot with Dina Farmer Photography. It was a really fun experience, despite the fact that it was outdoors on a hot, windy day. I was worried about it, but the wind actually added a fun element to a lot of the images -- I particularly like this one, it makes me feel like a fae creature who has just walked up out of the lake, bringing the storm with me.

Shooting outdoors in the Summer is tricky -- our original scheduled shoot had to be postponed when the first monsoon of the season blew into town and dumped a bunch of rain on the city. But I like the natural backdrop.

Dina was really nice to work with, she has a great attitude and some wonderful ideas of poses. She got some very cute shots of me with my parasol, and some of my feathers blowing in the wind. She's also captured some beautiful images of other local dancers -- you should really go visit her Facebook fan page to see them.

I'm really happy to have some nice photos to use for promotional materials, blog posts, and my Facebook page. So many of my current images have the door to The Luxor's kitchen as the background, which is a little distracting!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

New costume!

This is a horrible picture, but hey look, I have a new costume!!! It's a hundred times prettier in person, the green is so rich and both the black and the green have gold sparkles. It's going to shimmer wonderfully under the stage lights at -- oh wait, I can't tell you yet what performance I intend to debut it at. Official announcement later ;)

I have been wanting some new costumes for the last month or so. A local photographer was offering free sessions because she had a special project to work on (more on that later, too), so I took her up on it, but then I realized I had NO idea what to wear! Most of my costuming has been for troupes, and the rest is a rather mismatched jumble. Not only that, but most of what I have is student-quality. Nice student quality, but not flashy. As I am working towards becoming a professional dancer, I need to have professional costumes. Especially now that the trend in tribal fusion is moving more and more towards luxurious layers with vintage touches. I was able to put together one nice look, but I wanted more.

However, I couldn't really justify spending a lot of money on costuming right now. I already spend a lot on classes, and on things required for my troupe costume, and on new makeup so I look good on stage. So I shelved my plans, but figured if my jewelry business picked up, I could start buying some things. Then a funny thing happened -- my jewelry business picked up! So I ordered this lovely, and if sales keep up at their current pace, I'll be ordering a custom skirt next, and then maybe a new, nicer skirt for my troupe costume. I'm so excited!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Loving what I do

Duke Standberry snapped this picture of the ladies of Skirt Full of Fire and Fire & Gold Belly Dance* after filming for Walk on the Wild Side with Cat, a show that airs on the local Access TV channel. We're not sure yet when it will air, and then when it will be available on-line, but I'll keep you all updated on that.

Saturday was a hugely busy day. First I went to the Community Class, then my husband and I grabbed a delicious lunch (this is my usual Saturday now, as I really want to support the merchants on 4th Avenue during the construction that is going on downtown). Once we got home I had to get ready for my outdoor photo shoot! It was 100+ degrees and windy, so it was challenging to stay glamorous. Then I had to change into my troupe costume in the park bathroom (yuck!) and touch up my makeup and hair in the car (don't worry, my husband was driving) so I could be ready to be on TV with the troupe! The whole TV filming thing took a couple of hours. All told, I put in the equivalent of a full day's work into my dance career!

It was a great day, though. I am excited about the photos and the show, I had a wonderful time working with SFOF and F&G (as always), and I got to wear some exciting new makeup and hair accessories. I'm feeling more and more like a professional. I may not be making a living at this, but I treat it like my job and do my best to present a professional image, and demonstrate an admirable work ethic. Dance is one of those things where you get back what you put into it. I am pouring my heart, soul, and hours of my time into it, and in return I am gaining respect, happiness, and new opportunities.

*I personally feel that when we work together, we should be called Skirt Full of Fire and Gold. I'm pretty sure such a skirt would have to be made of Kevlar.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Feeling Pretty

Well, the bra may still need work, and I may still have complicated feelings about the whole issue of bras as costuming, but over all I am pretty happy with how I looked last night! Thank you to my friend Cynthia for snapping this picture. And also for coming to the Open Stage and cheering the dancers.

I have to admit that a big part of me did not want to go out and dance last night. It was a hot, humid day and it seemed like way too much effort to put on a costume and makeup and do my hair. As it is, I took some short-cuts -- I kept my makeup a little more simple than I had planned, and I went for a headband from The Gypsy Kiss as a really quick and easy way to do my hair. What a lifesaver! That reminds me, I'm really overdue to do a post gushing about my collection of Amy's work.

And speaking of awesome things that I am wearing, my necklace is really amazing! It was custom made as a holiday present from one of my Etsy friends, Gypsy Moon Art Studio. The team that we're both part of does an annual secret swap for the holidays and Shannon made me this amazing necklace which is the perfect match for the bra!

Where was I before I started waxing poetic about wonderful, creative people? Oh yes! Open Stage! It was a great time and I'm glad I went. We had a really small crowd, but everyone had a very good time. It was a very intimate vibe, with a couple of dancers spontaneously deciding to perform in their street clothes to fill out the roster, borrowing coin scarves and veils from fellow dancers.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The problem with bras

Belly dancers wear bras. Everyone knows that. It was decided way back in the day, when someone decided to paint a dancer in a bra, or cast a dancer in a movie and had her wear a bra. I could probably do some research and track it back to the exact time when someone decided that this was what belly dancers cover their chests with, but I'm writing a blog post, not an academic article, so I'm going to be lazy.

So. Bras. We wear them. It's a thing now.

I have a love-hate relationship with the whole bra thing. I love choosing adornments to put on my bras, layering this and that, dangling baubles here and there. I even enjoy the stitching, except when I stab myself in the fingers (which admittedly, happens pretty often). I love draping embellished chains across my belly to emphasize my rolls and flutters. But... I hate bras.

Bras are underwear. We do not want our costumes to look like underwear, however, because that is tacky. So we buy a bra and we cover it with fabric (even though bras are available in lots of beautiful fabrics, the bra Must Be Covered otherwise you are Cheapening Bellydance or something). Then there's the whole strap issue. You can't just use the existing straps and fasteners because then people can tell you're wearing lingerie. Because for some reason, we've decided to base one of our main costuming items on a piece of lingerie.

I LOVE the bra above. I've been working on it off and on since Decemberish, when I wore it for the holiday show. It's covered with a beautiful embroidered brown fabric, accented with lovely green trim which I purchased in NYC, which is in turn embellished with Swarovski crystals and dangles from a necklace I cut apart. There's a vintage chandelier crystal, a vintage winding key, chain, real coins, the straps are velveteen ribbon embellished with a silver and citrine necklace. It's luxurious.

I HATE the bra above. Ever since I decided that I wanted to be able to wear it without a tie-top or vest over it, I've been in a battle to properly cover the straps and back. The fabric and ribbon are not stretchy, which means carefully trying to tailor things to fit perfectly. Last night I finally got the back to fit without sagging... Now it's uncomfortable. Forget lifting with my diaphragm, I'm pretty sure that will pop some stitches.

I've been planning a bra adorned with beetle elytra, but now I'm second-guessing myself after the struggles of making this bra. Maybe it's time to try an embellished halter top or choli.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Get in your Glom

Glom is totally the technical name for the formation we're doing in our new choreography.

Fun times! We are working on a choreo that we will actually do the majority of the work on, with Jolie guiding us to help us make the best decisions. I have never choreographed anything before, so I am a little intimidated.

We have a couple up-and-coming members of the troupe, too. We're growing!

More gigs are lined up, too. I'll add them to the list on the side as I get more details.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Troupe Love!

I love this picture from our Mijana's show! I think it's a beautiful illustration of how dancing with Fire & Gold makes me feel. I've danced with a lot of great ladies, but this is definitely the troupe where I've felt the most at home.

At Monday night's practice, we talked about what the future holds -- more choreos, more performances, more costumes, a photo shoot. It's all very exciting! I'm glad that we're not really slowing down for the Summer, because honestly, there's nothing non-dance-related to do during these hot months, I might as well keep busy with my troupe!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Pictures, videos, and blog improvements, oh my!

Remember before when I mentioned how cool it is to have a professional photographer in our troupe? In between dancing in the group pieces, Liora snapped shots of all of our solos and duets! She also had friends operating her camera during the group choreos, so we have amazing pictures from every piece of the show. Check out the Gallery of Images. Also like Liora K Photography on Facebook to see what else she is up to!

By the way, if you see an image that you want to have for your very own, you can purchase a high-res version for only $15. A portion of the proceeds will go back to the troupe to help fund our ventures.

In other news, I have been busy today, working on my internet presence. You can now view a few of my performances on my YouTube Channel (which now also has a link on my sidebar). I also have a Dance Inspiration playlist on there, which is worth checking out. While I was updating the sidebar, I also added a list of my upcoming performances! I will keep it up to date, and when possible I will link to a Facebook event page or other site for the event.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Still kicking

I have really fallen off of the blogging wagon. Between my recent house-sitting adventures, my hatred of Blogger's new design, and the total lack of interaction from my readers (yeah, I said it!), I have not really felt a lot of enthusiasm for blogging lately. Don't worry, it's not just you guys, my jewelry blog hasn't been updated in over 3 weeks.

Anyway, I'm still keeping a really busy class and troupe practice schedule. I actually had to skip the second class tonight because I was just too worn out. Hopefully I'll sleep well tonight, because I really need to practice for my two upcoming shows. I've barely worked on my solo for the Open Stage on Thurs. Of course, I also haven't received confirmation that I have a spot in the show, so there's that.

In the meantime, I'm daydreaming about future solos, new costumes, and going to Tribal Fest next year. I have $40 in my Tribal Fest fund, hooray!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

So much dancing!

Well, I've been quite the busy dancer. On Saturday we had a 2-hour dress rehearsal for the show. Sunday was the show itself, which went really well. I'll hopefully post some pictures and video next week. Let's just say that it is really awesome having a professional photographer in our troupe!

You might think that after a big show we would take it easy, but no! Members of Fire & Gold Belly Dance and our big sister troupe Skirt Full of Fire Dance Company will be banding together to perform an awesome choreography at the BreakOut Studios feature night on June 2nd. It's probably my favorite choreography so far.

Between now and then, I will also be performing a solo at the Open Stage night at the Luxor Cafe, hosted by the Safar Dance Co. That's on May 31st.

After that... who knows? I don't think the troupe has any more gigs lined up yet, as Summer tends to be pretty slow here in Tucson. Given that it's usually still around 100 degrees when I drive to class at 7pm, it's easy to understand why everyone either leaves town if they can, or hides in air conditioned buildings.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sunday Sunday Sunday!

You know all of those troupe choreographies I've been working so hard at learning? And the glow fan solo I've been talking so much about? You can come see all of that and more this Sunday! Skirt Full of Fire and Fire & Gold will both be performing at Mijana's in Tempe this weekend, starting at 7pm. Visit the Event Page on Facebook for more details!

I got a preview of what everyone else is working on for their solos and duets on Monday, and it was some pretty fabulous stuff! Our troupe members come from a wide variety of dance backgrounds and you can see that reflected in their individual dance styles. It's going to be a varied show with a great assortment of music and dance. Also, we're going to be dressed quite beautifully and colorfully!

There are more performances coming up as well... I think I need to add an "Upcoming Performances" sidebar to this blog so you all can keep track of me!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

National Belly Dance Day!


Today was National Belly Dance Day! I had some free time this afternoon, so I decided to make a treasury of some beautiful dancey-dance Etsy items.

Because it's a Saturday, I also went to the Community Class! It was just three of us from Fire & Gold, so Jolie turned it into an extra troupe practice. We finished our third choreo (and good thing too, since we have to perform it a week from tomorrow), so when the normal practice rolls around on Monday, it will be all figured out and the rest of the troupe can learn it and we can drill the heck out of it and be awesome. I actually feel more comfortable with this piece than with the second one, even though it's been done for longer. This last piece uses a lot of ITS-style moves, so the vocabulary is really familiar to me. There's not as many small accents to keep track of. Plus it's a fun song and a saucy choreo.

I'm really excited for our show next weekend, but also a little nervous. I have to admit I am not really loving my glow fan solo. I am kind of tired of my fans. I actually have a small scar on my inner elbow from where I hit myself with one while demoing for the rest of the troupe. I think I might have to wear sleeves when I perform.