The State of (My) Bellydance

It seems like since I moved I’ve been updating my blog approximately every 1-2 years. I enjoy writing, so I think I’m going to try to write more frequent but shorter posts.

At the moment I’m mostly solo. My dance partner and I are kind of on hiatus due to life in general, and that’s OK. But as I try to plan new solos I find that I have a hard time deciding on what I want to do, and then do little to nothing as a result. A couple weeks ago I danced at the Taj Palace performance salon (courtesy Farfesha and NMBD), and it was good because I was had a deadline and a theme (Mardi Gras). I seem to work best with limits. If I can choose to do anything in the world without parameters I get a bad case of indecision. I still had some choreo indecision problems, but I decided to embrace improvisation.

Taj Palace Performance Salon

Photo Courtesy Johanna James

It was about a year ago at this time that I was sitting in front of an application form thinking I might try to join a student troupe. I started to fill it out, and then didn’t. My gut kept reminding me how I hate being too busy so I finally decided it was not a good time for me. Back in Fargo when I was part of Bad Weather Burlesque, and for a while simultaneously Vixen Variety Shows, and teaching dance (and working my regular civilian job 40hrs a week), I was SO BUSY all the time. I was tired. I missed my hubs.

I’ve decided I’m going to focus on self-improvement and finding my personal style. I’m still going to classes at Sirena, and I am also cross-training with Star Barre and Pound classes. This does leave me very busy, but I’m enjoying it all.

I’m also progressing with my plans as an advisory board member with New Mexico Bellydance. I love it. My current project is mini-photoshoots for members. I’ve realized that finding a photographer is a lot like finding a building contractor. It’s so hard to get anyone to call you back! I’m very pleased that is coming to fruition, and that NMBD is doing a lot of cool things.

My other goals this year involves costumes. I really enjoy sewing and have so many things on the docket. I want to complete what I have started and use up the fabric I have already bought. That’s a lot. I also need to clean out my closet of what no longer fits or suits me.

So many goals for the year! If I get half of them done I’ll be thrilled. I’m going to be gentle with myself though.

Yaa Halla Y’all 2021

Ranee Alexandria and I took third place in the duet/trio category! Unfortunately, there were only trophies for first and second. But I’m still claiming it! I have witnesses! Here’s our performance, in case you missed it.

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. 🙂

Class schedule update!

Dec. 2015

To answer some scheduling questions, we will NOT have class Dec. 26, but we will have class Jan. 2 because you should be adequately recovered from your partying by then. 😉

New Session Fall 2015

Sept. 2015

Sept. 2015

Greetings, Lovelies! September is here and our next class session is starting on the 12th. I have moved to a 7 week format to allow for more opportunities for people to start a new session, and so we can wrap up by May as summers are always busy. See my FAQ tab above for more info.

Also Jasmin Jahal is coming back to teach us a bit about Saidi style dance! Kismet is really excited to be able to present this workshop. Please see the WORKSHOP tab above for more info. The early bird gets the discount, so don’t delay, whether it is just the Friday intro or both days. It is worth your time to check it out.

On Oct 3-4 I will be traveling to Minneapolis to participate in Karim Nagi’s workshops presented by Jawaahir. Check it out!

Hope to see you all soon!

Shimmy Mob Thanks

Fargo Shimmy Mob Team 2015

Fargo Shimmy Mob Team 2015

We did it! In spite of the cold weather we performed during the Fargo Marathon – we kept warm with our shimmies, but the hats, scarves and gloves helped too. Thank you to the whole team for braving the weather! Top row from left: Enchanting Erica, Ezma Siddiqah, Lisa, Yarah Rasheeda, Danika, Nixie, Amaya, Aremi, Annette; bottom row from left: Narda, Annakiya Seher, Karen.

Also special thank you to my assistant TL’s Ezma and Yarah, who helped so much with writing letters and rehearsing. You ladies rock! And thanks to Kevin for coming out to take pics of us as we perform!

Thanks also to the Fargo Marathon and Happy Joe’s for giving us a place to dance, and the Spirit Room for giving us a place to practice!

We raised $550 $750 for the YWCA of Cass Clay during the total campaign. If you missed out on Shimmy Mob please still donate to them – they do important work!

Video courtesy Nixie – thanks a million!

New Class Session Starts Feb. 28!

Classes start Feb. 28

Classes start Feb. 28

Come join us at the Spirit Room on Saturday, Feb. 28 at 10am for a brand new session!

New Class Session Begins Dec. 6!

Get ready for Dec. 6!

Get ready for Dec. 6!

Nov. 8 is the last class of Fall 2014 session so if you want to work on that choreo this is your last chance! I will also be bringing a printout of the steps so you can reference that when you are practicing at home. We’ll take a little break until after Turkey Day and start up again Dec. 6, when we will be doing something totally different, but equally, if not more fun.

Please note the change in cost for punch cards. Student punch cards are still $35.

Hope to see you there!

Core Strength Classic: Abs of Steel

A lot of people ask me if belly dance will get them in shape. The answer is yes, and no. If you practice intensely every day then yes, it probably will. If you come to class once a week and kind of practice a little during the week then no, sorry, it won’t. But even dancers who practice regularly can use a little help on core strength. My favorite cross-training exercise is Tamilee Webb’s Abs of Steel. The original video from years ago. It is the best, in my opinion. Why? It really works. The exercises are safe and comfortable, but challenging. Tamilee talks to you the entire time and explains what you are doing and why, which is a nice distraction so you don’t get bored. And she is encouraging without being a drill sergeant.

My husband and I first started the video back when we were in our mid-twenties and before I even started dancing. It was new on VHS if that gives you a hint. We were so out of shape that we were beat before we even finished with the warm up! But we kept with it, and after several months I could do all three 10-minute workouts in a row. This isn’t about getting skinny, mind you. This is about being strong and healthy. If you have seen me dance you know I don’t have a six pack (that you can see), but I can do belly rolls all day.

In case you are wondering, no, I am not getting any compensation for this endorsement. I just really love this video, and Abs of Steel 2. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Baby steps…

Mascara Report Part 1 – High End Mascaras Without Photoshop

I learned about mascara late in life. I did not have much instruction on makeup as a teen, and even now I am learning new techniques for application, and about new kinds of makeup. I’m a bit of a freak for the makeup these days. I often like to get the Sephora Lash Stash whenever a new one comes out, and I grab mascara samples whenever I can get them, just so I can see how they compare. I have documented five different kinds here, and this is what I determined.

This pic actually creeps me out a little

This pic actually creeps me out a little

Here’s the thing: as far as appearance, I don’t think they necessarily look all that different. Maybe when my face is three inches from the bathroom mirror I can tell, but upon reflection they all stack up about the same for show. And of course the commercials and print ads are all a huge load of BS, obviously. So it all comes down to wear and comfort.

Benefit Bad Gal Lash

  • Smooth application
  • Flakes a little bit

Bare Minerals Lash Domination

  • Slightly dryer application
  • Slight flaking after long wear

Marc Jacobs O!Mega Lash

  • My favorite of this group
  • goes on like buttah
  • very minimal flaking

Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes

  • Fine, but nothing special

Benefit They’re Real

  • Can be gunky, goes on very thick
  • Flakes more than the others

Bonus: DuWop Lash Venom – no picture, I threw it away after a couple days because I had serious panda eyes after only a couple hours. I have never had flaking that bad before or since! Do not use!

Over the next few months I plan to review drugstore brands and see how they stack up. Feel free to mention your favorite mascara in the comments!


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