Friday, September 27, 2013

One of my favorite eyeshadows!

 This may come as a huge surprise to most of you, but I actually have a favorite eyeshadow color that isn't green! In fact, I probably wear this shade more often than any other color in my collection, because it's such a good versatile neutral. It's Legendary Black from MAC's Pro Longwear eye shadow line, and the website describes it as a "warm almost black" which is a pretty good description but fails to mention the lovely golden sheen.

This is my go-to shade when I want to do a smoky eye. I like it because it's softer than a true black and the warm tones pair well with the olivey greens colors that I use so often. It's also easy to build it from a light color to a really deep blackish shade, depending on how intense I want to be. I've worn it numerous times for all sorts of dance events and it's held up perfectly.
 Not the most impressive hand swatch, my skin is pretty dry and I literally misplaced my primer potion (as in I took it out of my train case and 5 minutes later I had no idea where it was), but it gives you the general idea.
By the way, if you have the Urban Decay Book of Shadows Volume IV, "Cobra" is pretty similar to this shade and actually looks better as a hand swatch (it's on the left in the above image), so I might give it a try the next time I do a smoky eye.
You can see how versatile Legendary Black is in these two photos. In the top image I've used it lightly to add just a touch of smoke to this woodlands-faerie inspired look for my photo shoot with Liora K. Whereas in the second image, I went really dark for my performance at the LVBDI. These images show just two of the many, many times I've used this great color, so it was about time I reviewed it!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

SFOF Class Card Sale -- Come Dance With Us!

Now is a really good time to start taking classes with Jolie Roberson of Skirt Full of Fire. Let me give you two really good reasons to come to class (assuming that you're local to Tucson, otherwise you're off the hook for this one):

1. Starting in October, Fire & Gold student troupe rehearsals will be open to everyone as we learn a group choreography to be performed at the holiday showcase. That's right, you'll get a performance opportunity without having to commit to being in a troupe. Our rehearsals are conveniently held right after the Wednesday night Choreography & Combinations class.

2. Until the 30th, Skirt Full of Fire is having a class card sale! You can save on 5 and 10 class cards, or really treat yourself and get a 30 day unlimited pass. Or if you're not sure whether you're ready to take the plunge, you can get two-for-one drop-ins. Check out the newsletter for complete details and links to purchase your cards.

Oh, ok, I lied, I'm going to give you THREE good reasons:

3. If you've followed my progress over the past few years, you may have noticed a steady increase in my skills, emotionality, confidence, good attitude, makeup and costuming. Now granted, some of that is due to my own hard work and dedication, but that wouldn't have been nearly as effective without a great teacher directing my work in the right direction. Jolie helps her students grow as dancers with great instruction, firm but gentle correction, and lots of encouragement. I can't recommend her highly enough and I'd really love to see more people in class growing alongside the current core group of students. Join us!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I met Hakan!

This is Hakan, and I am going to assume that he's holding the grand tassel, since he is on The Grand Tassel Tour. What does that mean? It means that he's doing what many of us would love to do, driving from Pennsylvania to the west coast and back, meeting dancers along the way, teaching workshops, taking classes, performing, and drinking tea. Well, I don't know if the tea part is everyone's dream, but when you come to my town and you say you like tea, you go to Seven Cups Teahouse and spend the afternoon sipping Oolong and Pu'erh and talking about dance.

Hakan's about 2/3 of the way through his tour, heading back towards PA, so he had lots of great stories about where he's been and who he's met so far. But I think one of the best things about our meeting was finding out about up-and-coming East Coast dancers and musicians who have a pretty good following in their area but haven't made a splash on the national scene yet. I'm looking forward to sitting down with the long list of names he gave me and familiarizing myself with some new artists!

There's really nothing better than getting to spend a couple of hours talking with someone who is really passionate about the dance, knowledgeable about who's-who, and also into coming up with crazy themed dance numbers (apparently themed shows are really big in and around PA. I hope that catches on out here sometime soon, because I have IDEAS). You should definitely go visit Hakan's FB page (linked at the top here) to see where he's stopping on his way home and meet up with him if you can... and if you missed your chance, you can always book him to teach workshops!

Monday, September 23, 2013

100 Days Challenge 2013

I grabbed Gina's graphic for this challenge so you would know to go to and get in on it!

Today marks the start of the last 100 days of 2013. Wow! How is the year already almost over? It's flown by. Anyway, for the second year in a row, Gina is hosting a 100 Day Challenge to end the year on a powerful note, and I'm once again participating.

In case you didn't go read Gina's post, I'll do a quick summation: The 100 day challenge is where you set a certain number of goals (Gina recommends 10) that you want to hit by the end of the year. It could be developing a new habit, breaking a bad habit, or getting certain tasks done. It's kind of like New Years Resolutions, but with a time limit. It can be a little difficult, of course, because Halloween, Thanksgiving and WinterHolidayOfYourChoice all fall within that 100 days, which can throw off your mojo on whatever you're trying to do, but over all I found it pretty helpful last year.

My 10 goals for the last 100 days of 2013:

1. Write in my dance journal every day, even on days that I don't dance.

2. Build up to practicing 2 hours per day 4 days a week at a minimum, plus classes.

3. Make the sparkly bra and belt set for my next troupe costume.

4. Create and post a video tutorial for wood elf makeup.

5. Build a database for tracking my bead collection.

6. Make at least one fabulous beaded holiday gift for somebody (I know what I want to make and for who, but I can't say in case they read this post!).

7. Make plans to host/organize at least one small dance event here in Tucson (I've started getting event ideas, and I've been encouraged to make them happen).

8. Get braces on my face. It's gonna happen.

9. Stretch every day, even days that I don't dance.

10. Reorganize the costume closet. *gulp* I might not survive that last one!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Shampoo and Conditioner from Lush

 Next week we'll get back to regular cosmetics reviews, but since I can't build up a good dance-sweat to stress test face makeup and this new nail product I have needs to be subjected to a week of wear to determine its durability, we're going to talk about shampoo and conditioner!

So even though I have long, gorgeous hair that I really love, I've always been a bit of a cheapskate when it comes to shampoo and conditioner. I usually use some $3/bottle stuff from Trader Joe's. Every now and then I go through a stage of using bar shampoo (as in, it's in the form of a bar like soap, not I get it at the pub), but since we have hard water here I have to do a vinegar rinse and that is not. fun. Anyway, I went to Lush to have the professionals do my henna (so much easier!) and they of course talked up some of their hair products and I decided, well, why not, my hair is worth it, I'll buy some fancy, expensive products and see how I like them.

Well, I love them! The Jasmine and Henna Fluff-Eaze is a pre-wash conditioner that is ideal for brown or red hair. It also smells amazing! Because my hair isn't actually very fluffy or frizzy, just kind of dry on the ends, I only use it every week to ten days. It has a creamy texture like mayo or yogurt, and it's easy to apply it just as far up as you want it, then leave it in for 20 minutes while doing dance practice or browsing Pinterest.

Cynthia Sylvia Stout is a shampoo made with beer. BEER. I was pretty skeptical about the scent but it was supposed to be ideal for my hair type and color, so I decided to buy the smallest bottle. It also has balsamic vinegar and lemon in it, so my husband says it sounds like a salad dressing (kind of looks like one, too). Although it has a beery smell straight from the bottle, it rinses out and leaves my hair with a fresh lemon-herbal scent that I find very clean and appealing. And the results of these two products?

I used them both the day before this photo was taken. What do you think? Clean, vibrant, shiny hair! It's also VERY soft and fragrant, but of course you can't tell that from the photo. I'm very happy with the results and I have a feeling I'll have to go buy a bigger bottle of the shampoo soon.

I can definitely recommend these products for anyone with hair similar to mine (long, red, and wavy, with a oily scalp and dry ends). They're especially nice for if you want to wear your hair down for a performance. I probably wouldn't use the conditioner any time I was going to tease my hair or do something else where I wouldn't want it to be too silky and thus slippery. Both of these products are also recommended for women with curly hair, but obviously I can't speak for that personally.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

At long last, my tattoo is complete!

 Guess what I did yesterday?!? That's right, I finally got my right hip tattooed! My plan all along was to have the tattoo wrap around both hips, but my artist Muriel Zao went on maternity leave so she could have a really cute baby, and then she came back right before Tribal Fest and I was like "nope, no money for a tattoo now!" and then when I finally made an appointment she was booked months out, because she's in demand.

So when I first started my tattoo, I thought long and hard about it, found a beetle species I liked, researched the heck out of it. But beyond that I was a little unsure what I wanted. I knew I wanted vines, but what sort of vines? And should they have some sort of decoration on them? So when I showed up for that appointment, Muriel had a book full of vine borders to look through, and I chose a style I liked and she used it as the inspiration for the pattern that would go over my left hip.

The original plan was to do a "same but different" vine over my right hip. Then I toyed with the idea of a peacock feather worked into the vine, but discarded it. But I still felt like I wanted something other than just a vine, because after all, it's my RIGHT hip and I'm pretty right-dominant in my dance, so it's going to be in pictures a lot. So then I thought maybe a cactus flower, because cactus grow in the desert and they're pretty, but it would have looked weird on a vine, because cacti aren't vines. Then my brilliant friend Jen suggested passionflower, because it grows on a vine, grows in the desert, and is beautiful.

Pro tip: Don't ever get a passionflower tattooed on your hip unless you actually like pain. It hurt a lot. I have still maintained my record of not cursing or crying while getting tattooed, but those little white details all over the flower were the closest I've come.

Second pro tip: Always work with an awesome artist. I told Muriel that I wanted a passionflower and sent her a couple pics I'd found on Google, then when I arrived she pulled up an image search on her iPad and we worked together to choose a couple flowers to combine to get the ideal shape/angle and the colors that would compliment the red-purple accents already in my vine, which makes it look like we planned this all along.
And here's the original beetle, the vine from the second appointment, and the vine from yesterday. It's fun to see how the colors mellow as it heals!

I'm pretty excited because the timing worked out perfectly, I don't have a performance until Open Stage at the start of October, and this beautiful flower will be just freshly healed then, ready for me to show it off! Yay! Thank you Muriel!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

LVBDI Performance Video

I have to tell you all, I am really excited about this video! My first out of state performance, my first solo at a bellydance festival, and my first time investing in a professional video! It makes me feel really good about where I am in my dance journey.

I always hesitate to say that I feel good about my dance, because I worry that people will see it as bragging and use it as an excuse to try to tear me down. Believe me, I know I have room for improvement, there are a couple of things in this video that I wish I hadn't done. But I feel like I am where I should be right now. I am neither lagging behind, nor rushing ahead blindly. I am making clear progress, and that is a really good feeling.

Oh yeah, and I made my bra and belt! I'm pretty happy about that too :) I used pre-made beaded fringe because doing that much fringe manually would drive me crazy, but I added some extra fringe dangles made from genuine freshwater pearls, Swarovski crystals, and Czech glass beads. It's nice to be able to raid my bead stash to add some special touches to my costuming.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Things I learned in Vegas

Professional photos coming soon, for now you have to settle for my pre-show selfie.
I am back from Vegas and hopefully back to a normal blogging schedule! I'll be writing about the Las Vegas Bellydance Intensive in a couple of places, so to save myself from repeating myself too much, here on my personal blog I'll share some helpful tips for surviving in Vegas, some LVBDI-specific and some not:
1. Don't drive up to Vegas on the same day that you are performing. I was stiff and sore and it took a lot of makeup to cover up the marks that my sunglasses left on my nose. Plus I was stressed about getting checked in and touched up and changed into my costume on time!
2. Hotels in Vegas are huge mazes, as are their parking garages. Leave yourself plenty of time to get to wherever you are going.
3. If at all possible, go off the Strip to eat. The food will be more affordable, tastier, and you will have a shorter wait time and better service.
4. If you have to go someplace off the Strip (for instance, over to Target to buy some things you forgot to pack), go as early in the day as you can, because there will be almost no traffic and you'll find a better parking spot in the Flamingo's garage when you come back.
5. If you're a tea addict, pack your own electric kettle, tea and mug. You'll save a ton of time and money by not having to get your fix from the coffee shop in the hotel. Bonus tip: You can also bring Cup o Noodle or some other "just add hot water" soup options for quick lunches. Hey, it's important to save money to shop, gamble, or go to an expensive buffet.
6. Go to the evening pro shows at LVBDI! Yeah, the tickets were $30 each this year and I'm guessing they'll be around the same next year, but the shows feature a lot of top-notch talent and are held in a beautiful theater with great sound and lighting and stadium seating so everyone gets a good view. And where is this theater? IN THE LIBRARY! Way to go Vegas, putting your tax money to good use!
7. Can't afford those show tickets, or the workshops you want to take? Volunteer! I did a volunteer shift at the merchandise booth on Saturday afternoon. It was really easy! I sold things to people, but mostly I told people where the bathroom was, or sent them down to Information or Registration if they wanted to swap workshops or buy tickets or register for 2014 or whatever. You can also volunteer to be a workshop helper and check people in and help the instructor with the sound system and whatever else they need, and you get to be in that workshop for FREE. Plus volunteering is a nice way to meet people.
8. If you can wake up early in the morning, it's totally worth it to take a workshop at 8:30 on Sunday morning. I found I was waking up early, so I signed up for one while I was there, and since I was the first person to show up, I was able to actually sit and chat with the instructor (Paige Lawrence) for a few minutes. Then we had a small group, which made for a really intimate experience where everyone got to interact, ask any questions they had, and discuss the exercises we were doing.
9. Vegas apparently exists in some sort of timewarp to the 1960s where men think it is OK to call a woman "baby" and "hun" and waiters think it is ok to snuggle up to you when taking your order. And that's not even getting into the bro-dudes. Make sure you have someone you can vent to when you get hit by a wave of sexism.
10. Don't over-indulge! Be mindful of any morning workshops or performance slots you have, and act accordingly. It's tempting to stay out late drinking and partying, but then you miss out on the LVBDI experience because you got caught up in the standard Vegas experience!