Friday, December 28, 2012

Write, or Wrong? (see what I did there? clever, huh!)

I hate writing. Ha! - the fact that I find myself writing so much is one of those funny jokes life plays...

But I'm chuckling to myself because in the last couple of write-ups I put together this week promoting our upcoming show on New Year's Eve, I tried to get out of my usual writing style by pretending to be a reporter. Now I love reporters, but every working bellydancer's had at least one experience with a - shall we say, "less than super" - newspaper article written by a professional reporter. And the headlines they think up... those could be a story in themselves.

Anyway I drug out some well-worn cliches for the two short "Press Release" articles I submitted, including desert Sheikhs, harems, tinkling bells, and Disney princesses. At least that makes a change from my usual facts-only descriptions of our shows. At the same time I'm inwardly rolling my eyes!

Sadly, these articles probably aren't as different from my regular style as I think, but it was kind of fun trying. And I'm "all written out" now, this being the second blog post I've done this week too. Really, I HATE writing!

If these links stay current after our event, you can see my "reporter style" here:


PRISM Brings the Belly Dance to First Night!

(I know. Compared to what newspapers think up for bellydance articles, the headlines are pretty boring!)

  Anthea / Kawakib
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Monday, November 26, 2012

Dancing in December...

   My PRISM Dancers have another couple of shows coming up in December, a short appearance in a Holiday Show (put on by MFA Studios, where I teach a mixed-level Bellydance Basics class), then one of our favorite events, First Night on New Year's Eve!

   In the Holiday Show we're only doing one Tribal Odyssey number, so I wrote about that here in my TOBD blog. The "First Night" show will be longer, and we're packing in a lot of bellydance variety! We'll be dancing with quite a few props this time - canes, swords, candles, veils, and fan veils. And of course, finger cymbasl! We've also got a couple of modern Raks Sharki solos in the lineup.

   Usually in these long shows I don't get much chance to dance since I'm producing as well as emceeing, but our wonderful drummer/roadie/Buugeng artist Jasif offered to emcee - so I'm looking forward to this! I've put myself in the show THREE times: a Sharki solo, in the Candle Dance trio, and of course the Tribal Odyssey set. Delegating is wonderful - I'm going to do that more often!
Prism flyer
New Year's Eve celebration (weather permitting!)
The last few years we've really been fortunate with the weather on New Year's Eve. It's always a gamble - I remember traveling to First Night in Leesburg years ago through horribly cold, snowy, icy conditions... let's hope for the best once again.

  Anthea / Kawakib
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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

...not so lonely anymore

Another busy bellydance weekend in the 'burg - and beyond!

 After much debate on dates, we finally had our Student Hafla this past Friday night, at TAJ Indian Cuisine, a brand new restaurant in town. TAJ is actually in the OLD 'Aladins' location, which is where I did my last gigs as a restaurant dancer, about four years ago (before my hip replacement). Since TAJ has redecorated inside, dancing there again did NOT bring back any memories! That's probably a good thing, because that last Aladin gig was pretty emotional since I knew it was my last.
 Happily, since then I've moved on mentally and emotionally, and don't miss those solo performing days. I always did feel lonely doing restaurant and party work by myself. Maybe someday I'll write about The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Bellydancer, which was the story of my life for twenty years. There were no social networks then either, so it was lonely in a way most dancers today don't experience.

bellydancing at the hafla
Getting the party started!
 Anyway, I danced a short Raks Sharki solo to get things started, then we enjoyed a handful of student solos and duets, including the lovely Souris who performed twice. After the performances we got Open Dancing going, and my students danced with their friends old and new. Even some guests joined in - notably, Richmond dancers Khalima and Heather, and the dynamic Ken Crampton, African drummer extraordinaire! Meanwhile, the TAJ staff seemed to enjoy our enjoyment, which is always a good thing at these restaurant events!

 What really pleased me about this Hafla was that it brought my students (and their families and friends) together not only from all class levels, but even from different towns. That is my real goal, creating community and sharing; taking away that lonely feeling I had as a dancer, I guess! And whenever we can get students and dancers past their inherent shyness in sharing their dance with others, it's a win. So I call this Hafla not only a wonderful social event, but a true success on that score.

 Then, up early Saturday for more! After a short ride on Jessie James, and the small beginner class I teach for my instructor at White Buffalo, it was off to the last Drum Session of the year in downtown Fredericksburg. PRISM Dancer Pixie and drummer/Buugeng artist Jasif turned up. Jasif is working on learning AND creating Drum Solos - with only about a year of drumming under his belt he's come far by studying all he can. I'm looking forward to having him play for us soon.

 Sunday brought a road trip to Richmond, our Capital City. There's nothing more fun than a road trip with my peeps!
 The plan was for me and Souris to ride with Pixie and Jasif, but Souris decided not to chance the trip south because this was the weekend Hurricane Sandy came to town. East Coast, meet global warming! So just the three of us traveled to Brett's house for Rose Ravia's special class on dancing to live music.

Pixie freestyles
Pixie freestyle dancing in Ravia's class
 I have extensive experience in dancing to live music but I thoroughly enjoyed Ravia's approach; her teaching method is clear and dynamic, and she gave the students instant correction and feedback on their solos. Her class was exceptional, I'm so glad she offered it and invited me to bring my students.
 A fun bonus of Ravia's event was a free photo session with photographer Paul Murphy, of which we took full advantage, needless to say. Bellydancers love photographs of themselves almost as much as they love mirrors!

Brett at the piano
Brett in his element
 Partying at Brett's is always fun, he's the best host - and we got to visit with some of the Richmond bellydance community as well, they're such a warm and friendly group. And imagine my delight when I met Cozette, and found a new horseriding bellydancer to talk to - for me, that's the best of both worlds!

  Anthea / Kawakib
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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Staying on top is everything!!

Do I ALWAYS have to hurt myself before a show? NO (just sometimes it seems like it).

I'm not hurt badly, just a bit achy from the unexpected gymnastics I did on top of Reece Sunday. No smart-aleck remarks please!

Reecie's an adorable retired racehorse, a hidden gem in the school where I ride. We usually practise the canter going left, but Sunday we tried going right... and he sped up and zig-zagged because I gave him bad cues. I couldn't help it, since I was losing control and flopping around on top of him, having lost a stirrup as well. But at least he stopped quickly so I only ended up hugging his neck before I managed to get back in the saddle. Bless his heart. So I have some sore muscles in my left hip from that escapade, but it's way better than falling off!

Reece: "Are you done?"
When I'm riding, why does it take me so long to remember to do the things that I ALREADY KNOW from bellydancing? The same things I'm always telling my students before they perform, whether it's in class or at a show:
  • Relax
  • Breathe
  • FOCUS on what you're about to do
  • Enjoy the moment
That's "staying on top" of the situation. I did NONE of those things prior to our canter practise, and the result was almost a fall. And with my Student Hafla coming up this Friday, when I'm looking forward to dancing, that wouldn't be good.
LESSON LEARNED: Teacher, follow your own advice!

  Anthea / Kawakib
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Sunday, October 14, 2012

How to make the "Crafty Cuts" Tribal Bellydance Outfit

This is a fun outfit - big thanks to one of my Recital guest soloists, Yabani Cicek, for the original halter pattern, which gave me the idea! I call it "Crafty Cuts" since there's little sewing involved. This stretch velvet material doesn't really fray so it's not even hemmed.
easy tribal look
Quick and easy costume

The Halter Top is a rectangle with two triangles cut out; and those triangles went into my jazz pants as side flares. Here's the halter top laying flat:
tribal bellydance halter top
Halter, done! Finger cymbals show scale.
 And with the neck straps tied to show where it goes over the head:
no sew halter top
Halter neck straps tied.
For the matching Hip Scarf worn under the woven tribal belt, I cut another velvet square diagonally into two triangles:

So I flipped one triangle around and tied them at the sides:
Hip scarf - it ties at each side of hip. Done!
For the Pant Flares, these offcuts from the Halter Top were trimmed up and inserted into the bottom sides of my jazz pants. I cut lengthwise right up the outer seam of each pant leg, and sewed in the flares. Much better, those jazz pants are BORING!
Halter top offcuts are a perfect fit for the pant flares!
And that Shrug? It's just a long tube, left un-sewn where the arms go... SEW easy!
This is the outfit I mentioned in my previous post
Dancing at Via Colori
We can belly dance in small spaces!

comfortable bellydance costume
tribal belt, yarn hair tassels complete the look
I wore this at a street art festival, Via Colori, in Fredericksburg, VA. Ken of Everybody Drum allowed me and a couple of buddies to come drum and dance at his Drum Dome; it was a great afternoon.

Does the tutorial make sense? Try it; it's a quick and easy outfit for informal performances like drum jams and class haflas. You can't beat a comfy costume!

  Anthea / Kawakib
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Friday, September 28, 2012

Tired, sore... but HAPPY!

The last three weekends provided many happy belly dancing memories, not to mention three new costume looks! Not too shabby...

Catching up from my last post:
  • MidSummer Magic, my student recital, went well and now I'm working on getting the DVD done for the performers. I only danced in the group improv set with my advanced students, which was fine. Not only were there SEVEN other soloists, but I always forget how much work is it to produce the show, which leaves me low on energy.
  • Two days later(!) I packed the truck and drove to Pennsic in lovely PA for a mini-vacation with my groovy Orluk Oasis family - PRICELESS. While there I enjoyed visiting with camp-mate Rajni (of Qamar), another Tribal Odyssey Bellydance™ teacher from Georgia; she taught several "Intro to TOBD" classes which was a great lead-in to my class on using finger cymbals in the format. Then I had several lovely lazy days in camp to recharge.
  • Home again home again, to continue with our regular weekly classes and rehearsals right away. Yes, that trip to Pennsic was a "vacation"! My PRISM Dancers had a couple of weekend events coming right up, so it was back to work in a hurry.
The Creative Spirit gave me a blast of energy and I pulled some new looks together for these performances. You know how sometimes you want something new to wear but don't want to go shopping? That's me! Actually I've been thinking about the Skirt Panels and the Slashed Tees projects for some time, but they all came together for the September shows. Here's what I ended up with:
SKIRT PANELS - for our TOBD skirt combos when we're not wearing skirts!
Side "Skirt Panels", worn with bellydance pants

We wore this tribal look for Art Attack Fredericksburg, doing impromptu belly dance performances up and down Caroline Street. I wrote about it here: tribal bellydance at downtown art event. I'll do a tutorial on the Skirt Panels on my Tribal Odyssey blog.

SLASHED TEES - what bellydancer doesn't love fringe, and lots of it?
Pat and I in our Slashed Tee outfits (also wearing Skirt Panels over our pants)
PRISM and I were more than happy to travel to the Lynchburg (VA) Tribal Hafla to dance again, this time with lots of colorful fringe flying about! The dancers worked hard to get their outfits done,and making them together was part of the fun for me.

Finally, CRAFTY CUTS - works best with non-fraying fabric.
Almost no-sew!
 I'll do a Tutorial on this outfit too (for this blog), because the blue velvet top, belt, pant flares and shrug only took a few hours to create. In fact, I only found out about Ken's Drum Dome event at the Via Colori a couple of days prior, and decided I wanted a new outfit! At last, something to do with the crushed blue velvet I've had forever!

I love it when things come together like that. It was a gorgeous day to dance outside; drumming with Ken (of Everybody Drum) was a blast, and a couple of my peeps showed up: bellydance buddy Janet, one of my Locust Grove (Va) students; and the amazing Jasif who not only drums fantastically, but also performs with Buugeng.

On each of these Saturdays, I'd taught a horse riding lesson in the morning so was already a bit tired. And after the third Saturday dance trip in a row I was bushed when I got home that evening. Plus I'd had another "horse-related injury" the previous Monday, falling hard in the stall when big old Jessie James pinned my foot to the floor. Oh my poor tailbone... among other things! So yes, I was "whupped" and pretty much played dead in my recliner Saturday night.

But I know one thing: at my age and after what I've been through, I'm going to stay active and do whatever I can. I'm not going to pass up dancing at festivals and art events, horseback riding, or what have you, even though they're quite wearing on me physically. We paid enough for this durn hip replacement, and now I'm going to use it!

 Anthea / Kawakib
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Friday, August 3, 2012

Making the cut...

My annual student recital is tomorrow and I'm looking forward to it, but sad as well because I had to cut it down to shave a little time off. I absolutely HATE sitting through long shows myself - I don't care what kind of chairs there are - but to sit in these metal folding chairs at the library for a couple of hours is pretty uncomfortable.

It turns out we'll have three guest dancers from out of town, which brings the total number of solo performers to seven, in addition to nine group numbers, plus a live drumming and dancing set! Something had to go.
So of course the numbers I cut out were mine: 1. my solo, and 2. advanced Tribal Odyssey. Waaaah! Oh well... it's for the best.
What's super fun though, is that for the first time I'll have students from two different locations dancing together. Two lovely ladies from the Locust Grove classes are performing, in the Beginner's Dance choreography, and as a Duet in Level One Tribal Odyssey, along with students from Fredericksburg Parks and Rec classes. That is wonderful!
So it'll be a memorable event, even if I don't get to perform as much as I wanted - we always have a great time seeing everyone having fun and making new friends (not to mention SHOPPING!).

Anthea / Kawakib
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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Concrete - not a dancer's friend

   Our latest show was for the local college, the University of Mary Washington. They have a wonderful focus on the arts and on Multiculturalism, producing a Fair each year with vendors, food, entertainment, and other activities. When the weather's nice enough the Fair is held outside on the beautiful campus. What that means for us is dancing on concrete - cement.
   I was really happy to do a lot of dancing in this show though, including in two of our more energetic routines, the Tambourine Dance, and the 9/8 Skirt Dance. Both these numbers are inspired by Dalia Carella's Dunyavi Gypsy style and add a lot of flash to our shows. Check out the photo of me doing a hopping turn - that's something you won't see me do very often!
A hopping, skirt-flaring turn!
   PRISM is a real melting pot of influences in the Middle Eastern dance department. We included a few Egyptian numbers too - one dance inspired by the Reda Troupe in their heyday, when Farida Fahmy was their principal dancer; as well as a classic Raks Sharki drum solo; and I also did my modern Egyptian pop number, "Layali" (radio edit), sung by Angham. My dancers love their basket dance so we threw that one in too, as it represents North African dancing. We finished with a short set of American Tribal Odyssey bellydancing (follow the leader) with finger cymbals and veils.
   It was quite a fast-paced show, with high group participation in many of the numbers and very little emceeing on my part so we had to keep costume changes to a minimum. Some shows are like that! After all that dancing on cement though, it took my body several days to recover - I'm glad I have an inversion table to get the kinks out! Other than that, it was super fun!
We like to squeeze together even when there's plenty of room!
   The university's James Farmer Multicultural Center is a great asset to the community. I'm thrilled and honored to have been a part of their activities (this was the seventh year PRISM danced at the Fair, I think), and so grateful my dancers are dedicated and reliable. I really enjoy them - they're not divas or show-offs; they bring a great spirit and energy to our shows, and seem to sincerely wish to simply share the beauty of belly dance with others. -hugs-

Anthea / Kawakib
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Monday, April 2, 2012

Spring time Dance time!

This past weekend I hosted the first Fredericksburg Belly Dance Club Meet & Greet Hafla, along with some of my lovely students from the two locations where I teach. Sadly, the date was already a busy one with workshops happening both north and south of us so many dancers were out of town, but I hope our next community social event will draw out more local bellydancers.
Hafla dancers!
What I love about my students is how warm and friendly they are, which the bellydance community needs so much. I try to put an emphasis on being tolerant and accepting, and of supporting other dancers - that's something I hope gets across in class. So many belly dancers are afraid of what other dancers will think of them, or how other dancers will act toward them - that it keeps them from reaching out.
When Fredericksburg began growing as a bellydance community, I created the Fxbg BD Club (a yahoo group) as a place to connect online and post events. That was in 2006, and this was the first face-to-face event! So my Fredericksburg people got to meet my Locust Grove people, and dance together! (How I LOVE having Tribal Odyssey as a way to dance together). Former student Souris (in white) also shared her dancing with us; and thanks to her mom, we have photos!.
Tribal draws dancers together!

Many of us don't connect outside of our little circle because there's a little voice in our head saying be wary, watch out, be careful - but we need to overcome that voice with the knowledge that reaching out is the right thing to do. When you do reach out, someone will most like take your hand in friendship!
So I celebrate our community and look forward to meeting more explorers in our little world of bellydance!

If you're a Fredericksburg - area belly dancer, whether a pro, student, or someone who just loves to dance at home, contact me about joining the Club. ...And surrounding areas like Culpeper, Orange, Thornburg, Stafford etc. are okay too!

Anthea / Kawakib
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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Teach, rest... Perform!

Another milestone: this past weekend was my first out-of-town workshop and show since my hip replacement. It's been a long four years!

I love how this photo from the show Saturday (in Charlottesville VA) captures how I feel when I'm dancing - special thanks to Kathleen for sharing it with me.

Doing it Old School!

One of my former Charlottesville belly dance students (I taught down there for 10 years before moving to Fredericksburg) swooped in after my morning class and carried me off to her lovely studio oasis so I could rest in between teaching and performing in the evening show. We ate, chatted, and napped! Yabani Cicek (Lou) is well-known locally for her classic American bellydance, the style that prevailed here prior to the "Egyptian invasion" of the 1980's. She battles Parkinsons with bellydancing, keeping active, fit, and busy in the community by performing in local shows in Charlottesville and the nearby capital city of Richmond. Kisses to Lou!

Another "blast from the past" is the costume I decided to wear, a lace jumpsuit I made at least 20 years ago. It's the only piece I have left from a 1940's-style costume I made that was inspired by photos of Tahia Carioca. I'm surprised it's holding up after so long - AND that it fits!

It's funny how bellydance goes through stylistic phases... we used to complain about shows being one "cabaret" dancer after another. But this past weekend my Egyptian oriental number ("Layal"), a traditional Raks Sharki entrance piece, stood out as the oddball in the show's lineup of Tribal Fusion, American Interpretive, and Vaudeville! Although some might think of my style as the "safe" choice, the same-old same-old bellydancing, all I can say is: THAT dancing is ME; that's the music I like, that's how it makes me feel, and that's how it makes me dance. And I think audiences probably enjoy seeing a variety of styles and hearing different kinds of music... at least, I hope so!

Anthea / Kawakib
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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Foot, don't fail me now

My approach to my solo for the Charlottesville show this weekend is: keep the dancing small and controlled...
With less muscle strength and a wonky foot to deal with, my style has to adapt. No longer am I comfortable relying on my body to "just do it" - whatever "it" happened to be at the moment. My wonderful dancer's body was strong and reliable for many years and many shows, allowing me to whirl away with the music however I wanted... Now my body needs more careful use.

That's okay, I'm fine with that - aging is not a freak-out issue for me for some reason; I've never felt bad about getting older. Although of course I did used to hide my age when I performed professionally, as most dancers do. Feels so nice not to do that anymore!

I've edited my music (the gorgeous "Layal" by Hassim Saleh-Eddine) to about 7 minutes. It's a lovely Oriental piece one of my former students, Adara Janaani, gave me; it's hard to find online so I'm lucky to have it. During the opening I've been doing a bunch of spins, now my knees and the THR-hip are telling me to take it easy when rehearsing! So I'm only doing a few run-throughs at a time. No chance that it'll be "over-rehearsed"!

What I do wonder is how slippery the stage will be. The foot I broke a few years ago demands to be coddled in dance slippers; dancing barefoot is not an option. A couple of my youtube videos show me dancing on a super slippery stage, in fact, they're the videos from my last seminar show before I retired due to hip pain. Double whammy! But I feel pretty confident even about a slippery stage. I'm looking forward to seeing old friends and enjoying a wonderful night in the beautiful "Haven" of Charlottesville.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Dancing my butt off!

My dancing activities seem to've kicked into high gear lately - I've actually lost a few pounds without meaning to! And I really tired myself out this week teaching seven hours in 3 days... but it's all good. So it looks like I'll be using my "days off" to rehearse for the Charlottesville show on March 3... but I haven't yet decided which number to do. I really like my "Layali" pop, but also love the music I used in December, "Layal". Two very different songs! I'll try them both and see which speaks to me more, but I'm leaning toward the Oriental piece.

PRISM's latest shows are balls-to-the-wall dancing, with heavy engagement from the core dancers throughout the entire show; but according to the gal's feedback they are digging it. The show we have lined up for next Friday is only 30 minutes, but everyone will be onstage the entire time, unusual for us up to now. Makes for a seamless show though!

Here we are at the Culpeper Country Club after the show (photo courtesy of B&K Photography):
The Culpeper show - with the two numbers that had me going up and down from a kneeling position - went really well; and those two numbers are in this week's show too. If I can make that look effortless at our late rehearsals it should look okay in the actual show - that's my goal! It's shocking how fast muscle goes away when you don't use it, and it does NOT come back as quickly.

Recently Cassandra of MN was fundraising to pay for a hip replacement; she's one of the few professional bellydancers I've seen going public with this procedure. I'm glad she's raising awareness and also that she met her goal (around $15,000 for the deductible). I hope her recovery goes well - I'll be following with interest: Get Cassandra Dancing

Anthea / Kawakib
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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

each dance is a further step to recovery

So for our New Year's Eve show in Fredericksburg this year my performing group PRISM did a number called Ich Inta. This dance is like one of those old Mahmoud Reda Troupe choreographies where the group is on their knees in a circle while Farida Fahmy dances in the middle. I eschew putting myself in the "star spot" when dancing with my group, so I typically assign the soloist part to one of my students, this time to Nashida who dances very prettily in Egyptian style. That meant I (along with the rest of the group) had to get up and down from the kneeling position during the dance.

Well, it was really difficult for me to get up from the kneeling position when we started rehearsing, and I was worried about how awkward it looked; but with some practise several times a week (using a cane to help) I did finally work up the leg strength to do creditably well on stage when we performed on New Year's eve. That's a relief!

Now we're working up another choreography with several up-and-downs to do! So this is great for my leg muscles; and wouldn't you know, it turns out I have to use my non-favorite kneeling leg too. I always love it when bellydance itself provides the exercise my body needs.

I'm a big believer using real belly dance moves for body conditioning whenever possible... now on to the next show!

Anthea / Kawakib
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