Raqs Alba 2019: A Belly Dance Extravaganza

Hello lovelies! I just had to share this video from Raqs Alba, which is Sirena World Dance Studio’s student and troupe showcase. This choreography is by Adriana Sandoval, and I think it looks pretty amazing. Not just because I’m in it. 😀 But seriously, we had such a great time learning it and performing! ❤

Why I Support Shimmy Mob

CW: stalking, emotional abuse

I was first introduced to Shimmy Mob by Natasha from The Lovely Dozen Bellydance in Grand Forks, ND, back in 2013. I loved the idea of dancing for a cause. In 2014 and 2015 I took over Team Leader duties. Since we moved to Albuquerque I have missed being a part of that, and I am very happy to be the team leader for 2019.

I have been pretty lucky in my life – great family, loving husband, good friends – but I know that a lot of other people have not. My wish is for everyone in the world to share my good fortune. To be safe, secure, and supported.

There were a few years when I was not so lucky. I started dating a boy I met in church when I was fifteen. It probably should have lasted for about 3 months, but it dragged on for five years. I believed that if two people loved each other enough and were willing to work hard they could make it work. What I was failing to realize was that I was the only one doing any work.

It’s very embarrassing for a strong person to admit that they were foolish, and that’s why I have not talked about this with very many people. I won’t go into too much detail, but some highlights of those five years include:

  • Him being so habitually late for dates my friends dubbed it “pulling a Mikey.” We’re talking 1-2 hours.
  • Telling me it was my fault I was upset because I should have known he would be late.
  • Telling me that I made him feel guilty when he wanted to spend time away from me, even though I told him repeatedly that if he wanted to spend time with his friends to just tell me and I would find some other way to occupy my time (I also have friends!).
  • Tricking me into asking my parents to help with his phone bill so he could call me (much of this relationship was long distance). He called me for approximately 5 minutes twice a week, always after 11pm, but had phone bills over $70. Hmmm…
  • Compulsively lied about things that were totally unnecessary.
  • Told me his mother didn’t like me because she though I was “holding him back.”
  • Told two of his college teachers that he had been missing class because his girlfriend (me!) had been in a car accident and was in a coma, or dead, depending on which teacher he was talking to. One of these classes was beginning typing, and he was using the class for an easy A. He barely passed with a D, out of pity.
  • Told me he would stop doing drugs if I asked. I asked. He was later arrested on drugs charges and spent time in prison. I dutifully visited.
  • Cheated at least twice (that I know of). Brought his second girlfriend to meet our mutual friend and seemed to think that it wouldn’t get back to me.
  • “It’s not fair that you withhold sex just because you’re mad at me!”
  • “Dumped” me three times as a means of control.

That third “dumping” is the critical one, because that was my rock bottom moment. He dumped me over the phone at 2am. At this point I was supposed to beg him to take me back as per the usual script, but I was over it. I was just angry. I went to see him that weekend, as we had planned to see each other anyway. I demanded he dump me to my face. He hid. When I finally tracked him down he made a big drama out of it. I said “fine, bye.” He got angry that I was done. He then looked at me like he was changing tack. He started talking about “remember when” and wouldn’t stop until he made me cry. Then he smiled. Clearly pleased that he thought he could still manipulate my feelings. He then asked me to get my parents to pay his phone bill (I did not). What a dirtbag.

After that I saw him a couple times “as friends,” trying to do the civil thing everyone tells you is right. But it’s not. I was barely tolerating him. Now that I was over him he suddenly paid more attention to me. I ignored him and started dating other people. People who are decent human beings. I relented during the next fall break and agreed to meet him for dinner for the sake of “civility.” He said he always thought we’d get back together. I was enraged. He tried to make me feel guilty for moving on with my life. It had the opposite effect.

I stopped returning his calls. I met a super guy who I am still happily married to today. I continued to move on with my life. Awesome! I felt so stupid because I realized I could have just walked away at any time. Right?

Wrong. I shouldn’t even be writing this blog post. This should be a distant memory that I rarely even revisit. I should never even think about it. But.

Sometime around 1995 he started calling me at work. He tried unsuccessfully to trick the receptionist into giving him my home number. He would call twice, then stop for a while. He knew that the third call would mean I could file an official complaint. Stable people don’t do this. A few years passed, I relaxed. Then he started calling me at work again! I hung up on him, he called back and demanded I listen to him. I made him swear that if I did he would never contact me in any way again. He agreed. But he’s a liar. By coincidence that was my last week on the job. He tried to call me at home just a couple weeks later. This was 1999.

The final dumping was in 1993. I have never been kind or polite, never given a glimmer of hope. I told him to leave me alone. We were never friends. But he sent me a friend request on Facebook. In 2015. And when I blocked him he waited a few months. Then he added me to his circles on G+. Blocked again. My feelings should be clear, right?

He has contributed to my last two Shimmy Mob campaigns in 2015 and 2019.

He has moved into a house a couple blocks from my parents. He has stopped by to offer them homemade preserves.

As a performer I live my life in public, so I can’t avoid this sort of thing 100%. This makes me feel creeped out and unsafe. Even though I moved to the other side of the country. No matter what I do I can’t get away. I do not want anyone else to feel unsafe. It is very stressful to know that a creeper is watching you. How many stories have we read about some entitled dude murdering a woman who has rejected him?

That is my story, but unfortunately it is not over. Please read up on the signs of emotional abuse here, and look for local resources to help you leave abusive relationships. You don’t have to experience all the signs for it to be valid.

If you see a friend who is being abused, please say something to them. I wish someone had for me. I wish I had known what to do when I was young, for the sake of another good friend who was also going through relationship abuse at that same time. Here’s a script:

“Hey friend. I know that you care about his person a lot, but you always seem sad and stressed out about them. They are hurting you and it makes me sad too. I would like to help you when you are ready.”

I do not like talking about this part of my life, but if it can help someone else it will be worth it.

Mystery in Morocco

morocco cast

Mystery in Morocco full cast

Hey peeps! I’ve been pretty bad about updating my blog lately, so I’m going to make more of an effort from here on out. We just got done with Ranee Lovato’s fabulous original production Mystery in Morocco. It was amazing fun and a wonderful showcase of local talent (there is SO MUCH TALENT around here!). I’m always astonished, and very grateful to be here. It has only been a couple days so not all of the video is available but here is one of the pieces I worked on with Sara’s choreo class. I also worked with Dani’s group on a tray balancing piece, that video should be coming soon. Enjoy!

Hello ABQ!

Isalang

ABQ HS STEAM Fundraiser featuring students from Isalang Studio

It’s been a while! We’re getting settled down in New Mexico. I’m actually a student for the first time in years (apart from workshops), and it has been wonderful. There’s such a great community down here, and so many things to do! I can’t even decide which events to go and what I have to miss! I started out with one of Mahin‘s workshops when we first arrived, and then signed up for classes with Sirena Studio. They rock, and I’m learning a lot. I’m also taking classes at Isalang Studios – so fun and challenging!

I’ve started performing at haflas too. If you’re in the area I’m performing at events on March 24 AND 25. It’s nice to sit back and let someone else do the organizing for a change. 😀

At the Taaj on March 24

At Anasazi Fields Winery on March 25

I continue to collect makeup so my next blog will probably be on this topic. Until then my lovelies…

Later, Tater!

Shimmy Mob 2015

Fortuitous Photo!

Some of you may know, and some of you may not know, that my husband and I will be moving to New Mexico this summer. Saturday, April 2, 2016 will be the last class I teach at the Spirit Room in Fargo. It makes me very sad to be leaving my students and friends, especially since there are very limited options in our area.

To my students who may be seeking a new teacher, my advice is this: If you can’t make Danika‘s class, or if ATS® just isn’t your bag look for these qualities in your next instructor.

Your teacher should:

  • be able to tell you what style of belly dance he/she teaches (Raks Sharki, AmCab, ATS®, etc – “belly dance” isn’t a style, per se)
  • display a good sense of ethics
  • recognize that this is a cultural art form and be respectful of that
  • be mindful of posture and movement, making sure to keep you safe and free of injury
  • be patient and encouraging, never belittling
  • encourage you to go to workshops and try out other classes
  • encourage you to be part of a larger community
  • continue her/his education too through workshops and higher level classes

If you are a belly dancer in the Red River Valley and you are on Facebook, go to the Red River Raks group and say “hi.” There may be a bunch of lone dancers who want to meet up and form a troupe. (Dancers only, sorry!)

I’m not gone yet, I still have my last show with Bad Weather Burlesque on April 28, the hafla and Shimmy Mob on May 14, the Daughters of Atlas stage show in Grand Forks on May 21, and Mistryl Shimmy Guard at CoreCon the weekend of June 9-12. Hope to see you there!

My sincerest hope is that all my dance sisters and brothers will keep the community alive and love and support each other. All my best to you!

EDIT: I am deeply saddened to have to update this post due to the Danika’s untimely death.

Costume Report – Harley Quinn

Harley Quinn Raks al Assaya

Harley Quinn Raks al Assaya

As a belly dancer, a nerd, and a crafter/seamstress, my interests tend to intersect a lot. In this post I will show you the costume I made for Bad Weather Burlesque’s FAN-tastic show in December. It was FAN-tastic indeed! If you’d like to see how I made my prop mallet you can see it on my craft-cosplay blog here.

Harley has had a number of different costumes since she debuted on the Batman: The Animated Series in 1993. I’ve noticed that as the years have gone by she has lost a lot of her clothing, but that’s another discussion all together. I’m currently hooked on Harley Quinn’s Little Black Book. I was looking for something a bit in between classic Harley Quinn and her modern costume, with a belly dance twist.

Classic Harley

Harley with less clothing

Here’s the complete costume:

Ignore the craft room mess please.

Ignore the craft room mess please.

From the top, I did my hair in high pigtails like she does in the current comic, but my hair is all red and I wasn’t going to bother with a wig or dye my hair so there you have it.

I made the collar pattern just measuring a circle that would fit comfortably around my neck and adding several triangles.

Collar pattern

Collar pattern

Finished collar

Finished collar

I cut a base out of white felt and the fabric on top is a scrap I had leftover from another project. I used heavy duty Heat n’ Bond to hold them together. I just cut out the center circle, and securely pinned the back, but you could add a snap or Velcro® or what have you.

For the shrug I just traced out a shrug I already had and like a lot but was the wrong color. It’s only 4 pieces to stitch together, no problem. I used the black and red striped fabric because I already had it. If you have a favorite shrug you love try making your own pattern. It’s easier than you think.

The bra was made using the basic bra covering technique that I’ve blogged about before. I made appliqués by creating a square with a felt base and covered with my bra and pants fabric and bonded with Heat n’ Bond just like the collar. From there I traced out square patterns with a pen and beaded and beaded and beaded. I cut out the empty space, since Harley typically has a three-diamond pattern on her costume. I then used beads and sequins in between the beaded diamonds and over the edges to secure the applique. I’m not going to go over the technique here, because that would be a whole other post, and Davina can explain it better than I. I made a smaller appliqué for the bra and a larger one for the pants.

Applique detail

Applique detail

Bra with applique

Bra with applique

The hip scarf is super simple – triangle with long rectangles to tie it on. It is lined with black fabric and covered in a sparkly black sheer fabric, which I chose because it was just lying around my craft room. I was pretty sure there was a free pattern somewhere online for this, but for the life of me I cannot find it. I may do another post on that. In the meantime, Simplicity™ has one. Special thanks to my friend Brenda, who just happened to have a whole bag of really nice tassels and was kind enough to let me have some.

Hip scarf

Hip scarf

The pants were a little extra challenge to figure out, but easy in the end. I don’t believe in reinventing the wheel. I picked up McCalls pattern M7198 for yoga pants and embellished the bottom part of the legs. I looked at some flare pants I already had and noticed that there is about a 30° angle on the flares from the hem. This is so the flares don’t become longer than the center part of the hem and drag on the ground. If you angle up everything will settle at the same hem line. So I measured out some triangles starting from my knee to the hem, and then measured out how much flare I wanted. I left the outer seam open from the knee to the hem so you can see a little leg when I kick. That is totally optional of course. This fabric was a spandex blend and therefore won’t fray, so I didn’t actually have to finish the edges. It was pretty easy in the end, and I’ll probably reuse this pattern a lot.

Altered Yoga pants pattern

Altered Yoga pants pattern

Unembellished pants

Pants with flair

My shoes are just black ballet flats. I never dance without shoes, especially in a club. There is just too much risk of injury.

So that’s it! I hope this may be helpful to your own costume plans. Let me know in the comments if you love Harley Quinn. 🙂

Bellydance Class Update

Class Starts Feb. 6!

Class Starts Feb. 6!

Hello lovelies! New class session starts Feb. 6. Please note, there is a chance this could be my last class in Fargo, as my husband and I might be moving to New Mexico this summer. Nothing set in stone yet but it might be your last chance to take a class from me. I hope you can make it!

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