Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Special Request

I am captain of the Bellydancers Shimmy for the Cure team in the Komen Knoxville Race for the Cure. It would mean the world to me if you gave a donation. Even if it is only the cost of Venti Light Caramel Frappuccino ($5).

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Pardon my dust

Just ignore me, I am playing with my blog. Will be done in 24 hours...I hope.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Book Review: Dancing, The Pleasure, Power, and Art of Movement

I found this book at my local used book store. I make it a habit of quickly browsing the dance books and looking for anything that references Middle Eastern Dance.

This book is a really great primer on the evolution of dance. It starts with the Europeans discovery of dance in Polynesia, India and Greece. There are some very detailed sections on dance in Africa and Asia. A chapter called Lord of the Dance is an introduction to dance and religion including some of the very first dance stage shows depicting Salome (great photos). I especially liked the sections on dance and religion.

The largest section on Middle Eastern Dance is in the chapter on social dance. It is interesting to see how social dance differs from culture to culture. This chapter also details how MED was introduced to Europe and the Western World. In the chapter on modernizing dance, I loved the section on Ruth St. Denis. She is someone I would like to read more about.

Ruth St. Denis in 1904

In no way is this book just about ethnic dance, there are sections on modern dance and contemporaries such as Jerome Robbins and Twyla Tharp.

I am really glad I found this book. The pictures are incredible and it would make a good coffee table book just for photo flipping. I recommend this book to anyone with any interest in dance.

The very last photo in the whole book is Michael Jackson
from the Smooth Criminal video

Monday, July 20, 2009

Fun Photo

Somebody posted this on Bhuz. I love it too much not to share.

Costume Storage & Cleaning

How do you store your costumes?

Some things like skirts that hang are pretty easy. But want bout bedlahs, coin scarfs, errant choli tops and all those bits that get tied on to a Ghawazhee coat?

My house lacks closet space. My next house will have a walk in closet as opposed to my current walk in and back out closet. The closet in our home office is the sliding door type and my costumes share their space with our formal wear and random crafting supplies.

Everything that can hang does. I have a crate on the floor full of all my bits. Hip scarves, cholies, tie on scarves, tummy covers and a few other odds and ends. I would like to keep it organized but it stays a pile because I am always digging through it. I dug last night for a worn black bra I wear under my black dress costume.

As for bedlahs, I store them in a hanging shoe rack like this.
Each compartment holds one bra or belt. I can get both in one space if it is like my orange and pink one that really has no fringe or coins. I also shove my turquoise Lycra beledi dress into a compartment. The dress is stretchy and heavy and if I hang it up, it grows in length. I don't want anything else to get hooked on it so I fold it up nicely and push it into a compartment. This system is nice because you can keep the accessories with each costume. To keep them smelling fresh I fill an old sock with baking soda and place it in the back of each compartment.

And speaking of smelling fresh... How do you clean your costumes?

When I get home I make sure everything is hung up on the door and I lay bras and belts out on my sewing table on an old towel. I use vodka in a spray bottle to give things a refresher. It evaporates quickly and works like Febreze type fresheners without leaving a scent or residue. I am wondering what other methods dancers use on costumes that are not conducive to being laundered.

What about polishing dull coins? I am going to do a test on my American Icon to see if vinegar will shine up the coins.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Costume Alterations

So why haven't I been blogging? or reading the book I am writing my next review on? Because I have been sewing. Blech.

I know my profile says I love sewing, and I do. I like to make pillow, little crafty dodads, I make this rice bags that you can microwave and lay on your face for a sinus headache. I do not like costume alterations. Mostly because it stresses me out and I hunch my shoulders and then I have a headache.

But it is unavoidable. In my off the rack purchases, I have had one dress need nothing, one need shortening and two bedlahs that needed a small extension in the belt. I could custom order every costume. I admit my custom coin bedlah from Dahlal fit perfectly. There is just something about buying from a vendor. Touching it, seeing it, trying it on. I bought an awesome costume from Sadiia of Memphis.

It has a chiffon panel skirt alternating black and turquoise and the top (belt area) is ruched lycra. It is very flattering on my shape. I am usually a bedlah girl because skirt costumes accentuate my belly.
The skirt fits perfectly except for needing to be shortened which is part of life when you are 5'4" and I don't even count that as an alteration anymore.

Here is the bra laid out on my "work table".
The bra needed some work. The cups are a tad too small and need to be reoriented. I first decided I would attached a stretch black Turkish vest. I like my back covered. I used simplicity pattern 4484. I laid the pattern out on brown craft paper, traced it in pencil and then altered it to be more like what I wanted. I made it smaller because I intended it to stretch and I cut it shorter because I only wanted an inch below the bra. I made the vest. It was still too big. I cut down the pattern again. I made the vest. The fit was great but the arm holes were too big. I recut the pattern with smaller armholes. I made the vest. It fit!
I removed the halter strap from the bra and used it to trim the bottom of the back of the vest. I put it on and....I didn't like it. The vest is super cute! but not with this costume.

So, I sewed the halter strap to the underarm side of the cups. I always have side boob issues. I also pulled the cups together. I did this by cutting a piece of lining and sewing it to both cups so they fell in the angle I wanted, now the point on the cups where the strap is attached is directly up. Doing this also changes the angle the sides come out and get rid of the side boob problem. I am pleased with this. All thats left is to add and "upper wire". I am going to put a piece of wire similar to the under wire across the tops of the cups to form them to round shape. Otherwise they flatten and I get a boob roll.

Once I got my vision down (i.e. stopped making the vest over and over), I did all this in a few hours. I still need to add the wire and then start on the skirt. It will be easy but tedious. The fringe is sewn between the ruched belt and the chiffon. In order to take the chiffon off and shorten it I have to first go through and sew the fringe on to the belt so I can cut the stitching. This is not complicated to me because hand sewing it my thing. I will post some pictures when I get started so you can see what I mean.

For more tips and tricks see Carrara Nour's post here.

And finally I leave you with my favorite picture ever. This is my cat Snoopy aka Fat Boogas reading the directions on my pattern to make sure I am doing it right. Cats make excellent Quality Assurance Consultants.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Do you like blogs?

If you like blogs about bellydance and use google reader you can add my Middle Eastern Dance Bundle. It includes all the MED related blogs I read. If I find anymore cool ones and add them they will automatically be added.

"Middle Eastern Dance" bundle created by 'Azraa
Description: Blogs about belly dance
A bundle is a collection of blogs and websites hand-selected by your friend on a particular topic or interest. You can keep up to date with them all in one place by subscribing in Google Reader.
There are
15 feeds included in this bundle (as of posting date)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Book Review: Ancient Egyptian Dances

Ancient Egyptian Dances by Irena Lexova

Because Amazon and other vendors list the publication date of the English translation (1999), many people don't realize this book was actually published in 1935. It is a true academic treatise on Ancient Egyptian Dance.
The book started out really dry but if you can get past the academic writing style there are some very interesting descriptions of how and why dancing was done. I particularly liked the explanation of how movement was performed. One of the first descriptions of leg movement describes the Saidii style of kicking up one leg into a 90 degree angle as the weight bearing foot bounces off the heel.
The illustrations are reproductions of actual ancient art. The most difficult thing about reading this book is that the illustrations are all appended at the end of the book and you spend a lot of time flipping back and forth.
This book, even though thin, is by no means a light read. I had to sit down with great intent to make it all the way through. I think any dancer interested in the ancient history of the dance should add this book to his/her bookshelf.

Contest Voting

The polls are open over at the Bellydancing Diva. I am honored for everyone to read my submission and both and awesome. Head over there and vote (in the right side bar).

So whats your inspirational belly dancing story. Leave a comment.