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! ❤

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!

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!

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!

Costume Report: Pink and Silver Snakeskin

From Queerfest 2014, Courtesy Douglas Klettke

From Queerfest 2014, Photo courtesy Douglas Klettke

Today I’m going to share with you the story of my latest costume, this pink and silver snakeskin Lycra number you see above. In the interest of helping you with your costumes I’m going to tell you the tale of how this costume and routine came into being, what I did and what I would have done differently and plan to change.

It started with inspiration

It started with inspiration

This all started with jewelry. My lovely sister gave me a silver and pink plate mail necklace and earring set last year. I love it to bits, and since this is a statement piece for sure it needed to see the stage. I figured I would make a pink costume based on the color combination but all we have in the local store is some pink Lycra, plain and uninteresting. One day, a few months ago, I was in the Twin Cities at SR Harris looking for stretch lace for an entirely different costume when I happened down the dance wear aisle and I ran right into the fabric you see in the pictures. Hot pink and silver snakeskin with a black background. I knew this was the one, even though I did not have a design plan yet. I got 4 yards because I knew I had a skirt pattern already that I could work with.

So now I had the fabric and the accessories, I had to put it all together into something wearable. I went to my standby bra technique, so that wasn’t too hard. At least the base part wasn’t.

As per instructions in a previous post

As per instructions in a previous post

Unlike earlier versions I am now using overlapping bands and a halter for stability

Unlike earlier versions I am now using overlapping bands and a halter for stability

I wanted to do something flashier with the skirt. I found the Madame X Mermaid Skirt pattern and decided to give it a try. This was a little trickier. The skirt pattern is the type where you make a sleeve for the elastic so it bunches at the top. Presumably you would put a belt over it to hide the bunching. I did not want to do that. This would be my first attempt at making a dance skirt that would have decorations directly on it.

I started with making the pattern as-is. This is a one-size pattern that gives you instructions on how to measure yourself for fit. It’s not as hard as I thought it would be. I was able to make it in 3 panels so that part was super easy to put together. It would not remain easy. I decided that I would make darts in the back and install a zipper so the skirt would be form fitting. The darts were hard (understatement!) but ultimately I was happy with the fit. The zipper was a complete waste of time. The fabric is so stretchy there was no reason to bother with it. I still had to add elastic so the skirt would not fall down because frankly it is rather heavy.

Photo Courtesy Douglas Klettke

Photo Courtesy Douglas Klettke

I’m not sure if you can tell from this pic, but there is a heck of a lot of fabric below the knee. It makes 1 1/2 circles; it is very full. Each pattern piece is like a rounded “T.” This also makes for the issue of sort of points where the seams meet. I had to hem this so that the points were cut off smooth because it hung longer at the seams and turned out so you could see the back side of the fabric. Once I hemmed it the whole thing was even with the floor and looked much better.

Early experiments with draping the netting

Early experiments with draping the netting

Then we have decoration. That fabric pattern is pretty overwhelming, so I wanted to break it up with something else. I came across this pink crinkle netting at JoAnn Fabrics. I tried laying it across in various ways but I found I needed something else to ground it. So I went back to the store and got some black crinkle netting and I was happy with the combination of the two. In the photos it is a little hard to tell though. My plan was to balance out the pink and black diagonal top to bottom. I eventually got kind of stuck and just made that poofy thing on the skirt. That won’t stay though.

I should mention here that I normally put beaded fringe on my costumes, but since I was going to be whipping around a prop I wanted to make sure nothing got caught or tangled. I have a tiny amount of fringe on a couple parts but I think that will come off too. It does not add anything to the piece.

The elbow gloves are super simple: measure the top part of your arm, the bottom part, length, cut a trapezoid, sew it together – bam, you got elbow gloves.

I am going to make some changes. I was on vacation for a week before Queerfest so I ended up pressed for time to finish. What I plan to do is add a bunch of sparklies over the netting, especially the black part, to give it more depth. I am also going to re-do the skirt decoration so I have a black triangle rather than the wimpy little poof. I will add sparklies diagonally from the black part of the bra to be consistent. I am going to remove the zipper so I can fully cover the back side and make it consistent with the front. I am also going to re-install the elastic with a proper x-casing instead of the quick-n-dirty zigzag stitch (I was in a hurry).

I'll be making some changes

I’ll be making some changes

Bling to be added

Bling to be added

For those of you who saw the show and said to yourself “where the heck did THAT come from ?!” I needed a special song for this costume vision and it came to me one day when I was driving with my husband. He hooked his iPhone up to the stereo and the first song on the shuffle was Britney Spears’ Work Bitch. I knew instantly that was the song and upon arriving at home I watched the video several times for inspiration. In the video there is a scene where she is whipping people and I remembered seeing a video for an LED whip. I consulted with Bender !Flames!, who is a flow artist as well as an amazing boylesque artist, and he directed me to a web site where he got some of his LED supplies. They are not cheap so you better believe this act will see the stage again and again. It was pretty boss if I do say so myself.

Pretty lights make everything better!

Pretty lights make everything better!

I hope that helps you, my fellow costumers. I will post updated pics when I get everything fixed the way I want it.

Special thanks to Doug Klettke for taking pics during Queerfest – you rock!

New Class Session Starts Sept. 6!

Are you ready?

Are you ready?

Fall session is upon us in ONE MONTH! Are you ready to shimmy? I think we will be doing some veil work this time around so bring ’em if you got ’em! I will have spares for students who do not have veils.

Remember: Saturday, Sept. 6, 10am-11am; The Spirit Room, 111 Broadway, Fargo, ND.

If you miss the first class you can easily catch up in week 2 or 3. Contact me if you have any questions at all. Hope to see you all soon!

World Bellydance Day

Wow, did we have a blast last weekend! First we had a little hafla on Friday night (OK, I was late but I still caught some good stuff).

Improv drumming with Gaia, Lauren Boldt, Natasha, Kelly and Amanda

Improv drumming with Gaia, Lauren Boldt, Natasha, Kelly and Amanda

On Saturday morning we did body conditioning for bellydancers with Lauren Boldt – it was hard, but fun!

Then Shimmy Mob at the Grand Cities Mall!

Then after lunch back to work as we practiced drumming and dancing during the “Insane in the Membrane” workshop. I pooped out after a while because I was not feeling well. But the rest of the class were real troopers.

Drumming and Dancing!

Drumming and Dancing!

And finally in the evening we performed at the UND Burtness Theatre – so many super talented ladies!

Kismet!

Kismet!

And after we all went out to eat I collapsed because my head cold finally got to me. But, as quick as the weekend went it was a great time! Special thanks to Lauren Boldt, who is a fabulous dancer and teacher, and just a delightful person; Natasha and the Lovely Dozen for hosting and doing most of the heavy lifting (especially Natasha for her Shimmy Mob organizational help!); my Kismet ladies who get me through each week; and everyone who participated in the show and contributed to CVIC. Love you all!

Antler Headpiece How-To

At Dr. Sketchy in my reindeer costume. Photo courtesy Sabrina Hornung

At Dr. Sketchy in my reindeer costume. Photo courtesy Sabrina Hornung

I had an itch to make an antler headdress for the holidays, but I had no idea where to start. So, I just looked around my craft room and this is what I came up with.

Materials:

  • carpenter’s fabric (can be purchase at a hardware store by the foot)
  • wire
  • felt
  • thread
  • sewing needle
  • decorative fabric to cover
  • mostly-matching horns (found shed antlers on Etsy.com for $26 for 4 pieces)
  • Decorations of your choosing
  • tin snips (about $17) or other heavy-duty cutting implement

You do not require very large quantities of any of the above.

I started out measuring my head around where I wanted this crown to sit. I wanted the finished product to be 22 inches around and 2 inches wide. I ended up cutting a piece of carpenter’s fabric 4 inches x 23 1/2 inches. I wanted some extra play because I knew I would probably be lining it and that adds some bulk. To make it extra sturdy I folded the piece long-ways so it was double-thickness, so the 4 inches became 2 inches. I then pulled it into a circle, overlapping 1/2 inch on each side and I basically whip-stitched that closed with wire. Do not go by my measurements – measure your own head!

Cutting with the tin snips

Cutting with the tin snips

Fold it with the straight edge

Fold it with the straight edge

wire it all together

wire it all together

When working with carpenter’s fabric make sure to WEAR GLOVES. It is all wire so it is very pokey. I used tin snips to cut it (do not attempt with ordinary scissors). Because I am a craft freak I just happened to have 2 different sizes of tin snips in my craft room. I used a metal straight-edge to help me fold the sections evenly.

Next I made a piece to go over the top of my head for extra stability. I only wanted a 1 inch width on that so I made a 2 inch x 10 inch piece out of carpenter’s fabric, folded in half like I did the larger piece. I overlapped the very ends of that top section with the round section I just made, making sure it was evenly placed, and whip-stitched it with more wire.

Because the carpenter’s fabric is very textured I covered the base with felt. I wish that I had folded over the top, so I recommend you do that. I just wasn’t thinking on that. Sew the felt on with a thread and needle. It’s really easy to go through the carpenter’s fabric since it is just a wire mesh.

cover it with felt

cover it with felt

Next I added the horns. I had already drilled tiny holes in the base from a previously less-successful attempt to make a horn headdress. I placed the horns at the points where I had added the top band for extra stability. I wrapped the wire through the holes in the horns, but then just ended up wrapping it around the outside also for even more stability. I thought originally that I could poke the wire through the felt, but that did not work so well so I ended up cutting out sections of felt where the horns were placed.

wire on the horns

wire the horns

For the fabric cover I used stretch velvet. I would recommend this over a non-stretch fabric because it is very forgiving. I cut a single strip long enough to cover all the way around and also wide enough to fold and stitch in the back. Basically 23 inches x 4 inches. I went over the top of the horn section so I needed a little more play in the fabric. But I stretched it a little tight when whip stitching together around the inside of the base. It was a little awkward at the horn sections so I folded the fabric around the bottom and tacked it at the top to conceal the wire. I covered the top support in a similar manner, and blind stitched where the top met the sides. The illustration may do a better job of explaining this.

cover with fabric

cover with fabric

This leaves a diamond shape of exposed wire. I stitched in felt on both sides to cover.

At this point you are pretty much done. I am a big advocate for sewing on your decorations whenever possible so you can reuse them if you change your mind later. I had some square jewelry components, originally meant for a bracelet that I decided to use. I didn’t feel they were big enough though so I cut out 3 diamond shapes out of buckram, covered them with a contrasting burnt gold fabric and sewed the jewelry onto them. I happened to have some left over gold beaded fringe so I added a couple pieces to the side decorations. And there you have it!

I do the decorative stuff in my comfy chair in the living room

I do the decorative stuff in my comfy chair in the living room

Apart from the cost of the horns and the tin snips this is a $10 or less project. If I were to do this again (and I will!) I would make the main band 1.5 inches instead of 2. It is a tiny bit more wide than I would like. Also, I would make sure to wrap the felt all the way around the top and bottom of the main headband. Other than that I’m pretty happy with it. Please feel free to ask questions or comment below.

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