Saturday, January 24, 2009

Family slide show

If you think about all the time we spend together as dancers, we really are an extended family, one that grew a lot last year. So, just pretend you came over for dinner, we've finished dessert and I'm bringing out slides of the family vacation. Thanks to Valerie for the lovely shots, and if you missed the show just know that we had wayyy too much fun without you, hah! We were missing Dana Winn this week (sigh), but she'll be back in February after finishing some work related training...remember, we are beautiful and smart and we have to work at both constantly! Without further ado, our first foray into the spring 2009 season:

Part of the troupe performing our opener (and yes, Eva Tennessee was feeling particularly fabulous!). We did this number (half choreo, half improv) last semester and decided to give it one more try. The goal is to look specific times. We're still working on that one though ;-)

The entire gang at the end of the number, and for the astute reader you'll notice that I did lose my veil wrap early on. For the creative ones in the group, just imagine hot pink, four-yard silk. It was stunning...and you should imagine it the same way.

The beautiful Katarina opened the show performing her first official 'duet' (wink, wink). She normally does very percussive, drum-solo pieces but was actually feeling much more lyrical last night. Hmmm...wonder why...could it be that fabulous glow she's sporting these days? We can't wait to meet the new kitten this spring and introduce her to the stage as well.

Zanjabil did a wonderful performance incorporating floor work (intentional this time), veil and some great combinations at the end. I can't believe it's just been one year since she joined the troupe...our baby has grown up (sniff, sniff) and looking so smokin' hot!

Then it was time for me, and I decided at the last minute to perform a cane number. What are some of the rules you shouldn't break when performing? Try dancing to a song you don't know really well, with a prop that is new, in a costume you haven't worn before. Well I 'went rogue' and just broke all of them in one fell swoop! Oddly enough this is the only pic where I'm not laughing out loud. Apparently the whole situation kept me amused while dancing. Can't wait to see this video!

Our first guest of the evening was one of my intermediate students (you'll probably recognize the veil). I was soooo proud of Tiffany because she decided on Sunday (yes, four days before the show) to perform...impromptu...and with veil. Major kudos because this was her second solo ever, and the first one was entirely choreographed. I think she was secretly waiting for the chance to try out her new turquoise holographic costume because that's not something you can pull off at work...or even cocktail parties.

Sherry brought out the sex kitten charm again, wearing one of her (and our) favorite costumes. Funny thing is, I remember when she joined the troupe and we all suggested she accessorize we can't stop the glitz and glam on her (and would not dare!). Who says engineers aren't hot????

Nisaba always charms the crowd with her enthusiasm (and usually zils). I'm loving her new hair style which is a little hard to see in this photo but very sassy and cute in person!

Alana Shea performed as our second guest, and it was appropriate since this was her second solo on our stage. Her style is a wonderful fusion of various dance forms combined with some really beautifully athletic and graceful movements. We'll certainly have to see her on our stage again soon!

The always beautiful Jeanette pulled out the charm and coquettish moves that she has really perfected in this dance form. And of course, no one does purple as well as she does!

Our last Mirage soloist of the evening was Eva Tennessee. She is also celebrating her one year anniversary of joining the troupe. I remember this time last year, she was so worried that her style wouldn't be traditional enough. It's taken a little coaxing (actually...not much) for her to just really do what she does best, which is 'modern belly dance'. This is what happens when someone with a modern dance background moves into belly dance, and it is pure art!

Our last guest of the evening was Rania. It's been quite a while since she joined us as a guest, because up until recently she's been a member of the troupe. It was a little bittersweet because we'll miss having her around. She's just spending more time on her dance practice and performances, and troupe practice was a tough commitment to work in. She'll still be back for more dancing and always has an open invitation to come perform at shows so don't be surprised if she pops up again (soon I hope!).

The final act of the show was a trio consisting of myself, Sherry and Zanjabil. We wanted to perform the same choreography that gave me such grief last year. I love it dearly, but it was a difficult one to work out, and I am entranced by the final result. When we get it posted on YouTube, I'll let you know. This by the way, was the same number we performed in the Middle Eastern Troupe Competition last August and won second place (we barely missed first!). Elena Lentini was one of the judges and she told us "you have found the mystery, fabulous". I could have cried with those words...Elena is so amazing and talented and it was such an honor to hear her compliments.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Parallel worlds

We started our spring semester last night, and as usual I was more concerned with packing, prepping and loading the car versus dancing. In fact, when one of my co-workers said she was going home, taking a bath, changing into sweats and then eating dinner I thought 'how wonderful' that sounded. A little later in the evening I did wonder how many women that same night were sitting at home, in their sweats, eating dinner wishing that they could be off doing something more belly dancing. I guess exotic and exciting is in the eye of the beholder ;-)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Merry Christmas Baby!

It may be a little late for a holiday greeting, but not too late to watch some of the fun we had last December at our year end show. It's become a little tradition of ours to include a special holiday belly dance number, and to give it all the serious creative energy we can put into one performance. Here's our nod at a truly, 'American Cabaret' number.

Enjoy, and don't forget our Spring season starts this Thursday at 7:30 p.m.!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

If I must dance...

Here we are starting up a new year at Mirage. I think we're considering this the official 34th season. We don't know when in 1975 the first show was held but January seems a good time to turn the page and make it our anniversary. Each semester I'm in charge of booking guests at the show and normally do 2-4 guests in addition to the eight of us who perform regularly. We do about 8 shows each season, and have two official 'seasons' each year. Despite our long standing performance, it always seems that getting the first show booked is like pulling teeth, and despite my plans to have it take care of, I had one cancellation that I just couldn't seem to fill for our show this Thursday.

So tonight, I asked my intermediate students, if anyone was feeling brave enough to jump in and do an impromptu solo. Since they all love to have everything planned and choreographed in advance I wasn't surprised that no one took me up on the offer. It's nice to be prepared, but in my experience the ability to jump in with little or no notice is a great skill, and those who organize shows don't forget you! For example, for my second solo I was given a couple of hours of notice...really...not even time to wash my hair. I jumped at the opportunity because I was dying to be back on stage and it paid off in the end for me. A few months later I was asked to join Mirage and I really think my willingness paid off.

Fast forward to tonight, after I get home and open my emails. One of my students had sent me this (and she's only done one solo in her entire life...). For the record, I agreed with her first three conditions, and compromised on the fourth one. I told her she could have tap water with ice, and BBQ after the show...and she went for it. Now if all the other performers were only that easy to please!

OK, I've thought about it. If you really really really need another dancer on Thursday, I'll do it. It's 2009 - I need to take risks and do new things, right?? BUT! On the following conditions:

  1. You put me at the end of the list so if anybody else wants to do it, they can.

  2. I could dance to Lamma Bada, please? If I'm going to do some sort of improv, I know this song really well and would feel most comfortable with

  3. Maybe I can borrow one of your green or blue veils? Pretty please? OK, this is less of a condition than a request - I only have one veil and it doesn't go with my awesome turquoise outfit. But if you decline this condition, I'll be forced to buy another veil, and really, worse things have happened.

  4. My dressing room be filled with 200 white lilies, white pixie lights, 2 cases of premium champagne (no Korbel or anything like that), and a roasted camel stuffed with a roasted goat stuffed with a roasted pig stuffed with a roasted chicken stuffed with delicious oyster stuffing.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

No room for a dance room

It's such a balancing act being a belly dancer (no jokes about swords now...). Although it is a major part of my life, it is not my entire life. Although it influences many things around me, where I go, who I see, how I dress, and how I live, it does not influence all of me. And so, at home, I always have that quandary where I try to make room for my dance things without them taking over the space.

I swear that when I buy a house it will have a room I can dedicate solely to my dancing. So many of my friends do that now and it's an enviable arrangement. In this space, in this house, I simply cannot afford a room that doesn't serve a dual purpose. My living room doubles as a practice space (yes, you can use the windows at night as mock mirrors), as well as a dining room...let alone it's regular purpose for living and lounging. My bedroom doubles as linen storage (under the bed, in the tiny closet recess) and a laundry room with it's entry way to the utility room and garage. My study serves as a work space, and costume storage and staging.

There are many aspects of this house that I love, with it's quirky floor plan and original hard wood floors. It's close to work and to downtown, I have a wonderful landlady, the rent is cheap (for this area), and it is quiet and quaint. The down side is the lack of room, closet and otherwise. The house was built in the 20's and the closets reflect that. On a scale of 1 to 10 on usable storage space, this house rates a 2-3, and for someone like myself who has such an active life it just sucks!

Each year I fight a constant battle of trying to clean out and reorganize my space to make everything fit. I go back and forth between the need for less things and the need for more space. This year, I've come to the conclusion that I need more things for storage and actually decided it may be time to buy another dresser for the bedroom. It may be a tight fit, but well worth the drawer space.

I'll have to find something small, yet roomy enough for all my fitness clothing. Clothing for workouts, yoga, martial arts and of course, belly dance (and I'm not talking costumes!). They all have different purposes and last night I felt like I had an epiphany when I realized that my biggest problem was not enough dedicated space for each grouping of clothing. If I do find a dresser that works, it will be the first time I have allowed the belly dance stuff to creep into another room of the house...and in this case a room with a decidedly Asian theme. We may be looking at breaking international boundaries (or at least design ones) when East meets East meets West.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Belly dance beats the c@#$ out of allergies

I know that I had willingly offered to teach class this past weekend, despite my original plans. However, I was quite a grump in the afternoon when I realized I wouldn't have a relaxing evening, but had to get up and off the couch and go teach. To say that I was less than enthused doesn't even hit the mark. I'll blame it mainly on my allergies which are really driving me crazy this past weekend. Never mind that I've been cleaning out closets and the utility room (double yuck), vacuuming rugs out on the driveway and all the while forgetting to take my allergy medicine. It couldn't be my fault that my nose is congested, running, itchy and sneezing. It wasn't my fault that I just wanted to lay on the couch all evening, right?

I grudgingly packed up my dance bag and headed out, trying all the while to mentally map out what I wanted to work on. I thought we may have a small class, but I wasn't completely sure. I've talked before about how much effort it is at times to go do dance events, but once you're there it is all worth it. Well, teaching is no exception to that rule. The closer I got to the studio the more uplifted I felt. Even if I had only one student out that night, I was excited and ready to start the year off.

This time last year, I had just started up my intermediate classes on a regular basis. We had a space to dance in that had many disadvantages and never really felt that warm and welcoming. I had picked that spot based on availability and proximity alone. After that location closed I had to look elsewhere and found the perfect new home. We have a beautiful, warm and charming dance space that is often filled with the excitement and enthusiasm of young girls and teenagers taking ballet, jazz and cheerleader classes. It's as girly as girly can get. And, on Sunday evenings we have the space all to ourselves, to behave more, hmmm womanly perhaps!

I had a nice full class, with one new student and one returning student that I haven't seen for months. We worked on incorporating breath and movement, improvisational dance, and a short choreography. We stretched, we shimmied, we butt-bounced and all the while, my nose and allergies behaved. Really, it was like Cinderella at the ball, except in my case I didn't lose the glass slipper at midnight but I did regain the stuffy nose after the evening ended. My prince may not be waiting tonight, but the Benadryl is!

Announcing "Miss January"

And the winner is...#2! She won me over with her talent portion of the competition, so yes January goal is blogging! And, so far, so good. I'll admit the bar is a little low right now, and it would be easy to just match or beat the number of posts from last year in one fell swoop. I spent so much time last year thinking about blogging, planning to blog and just not doing it.

One primary reason was that the intent of this blog was to talk exclusively about belly dancing in Austin, and focus on Mirage in general. I hesitated on many occasions to post because I wanted to talk about other things, other interests and other ideas. It didn't seem appropriate to use this blog as the vehicle for my thoughts and ideas even though I've been the sole source of information for the troupe. So, my solution? Two blogs.

Yes, let that sink in for a moment. Crazy you may say to the woman who has been unsuccessful with one blog...well, I laugh at that, and you...and myself. So, if you want to hear more about my other life, my other new year's goals and just general stuff, you'll have to join me here. Otherwise, you can stay with me here and I'll do my best to let you in on more belly dance secrets. Of course, you can read both if you really love me ;-)

By the way, if you're wondering why I don't have any belly dance items on my list of goals. That's simple...I don't need a list for the things I'm already doing. For example, I get to practice dance four days a week...for a minimum of 8 hours a week. I am so fortunate to have multiple performance opportunities, and opportunities for workshops and seminars. I also have a wonderful community of belly dance friends, performers, and students to keep me actively engaged, creatively inspired, and delightfully amused. So here's to a wonderful new year of dance and exploration!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

The Plan

I wouldn't be human this time of the year if I didn't sit down and reflect upon the past year and make resolutions for the new one. Personally I've never really liked resolutions, I prefer the term 'goals'. A resolution seems very definitive, with no room for alterations whereas a goal can be modified, changed, and updated. I actually started coming up a with a list of goals in December and had a wonderful pipe dream of posting my equivalent of the '12 days of Christmas' which included my 12 goals and focus for the new year. For those of you who've checked this blog, you'll notice that they never materialized in 2008.

However, here they are, in no particular order. The plan is to work on one thing each month with the hope that it will be a habit, an integral part of my life...or just something I can check off the list. I haven't made a final decision on which one will be the poster child for January, but I have some strong front-runners for that award. I'll keep you posted on which one I choose, along with my explanations for why I chose each of these items for this year. For now, just wish me luck or let me live in my happy oblivion for just a little while longer, that is until the work and chores get the best of me!

  1. Meditate.
  2. Blog.
  3. Do the dishes (more consistently).
  4. Practice my martial arts.
  5. Put up the laundry.
  6. Make my bed.
  7. Take better care of my skin.
  8. Take better care of my feet.
  9. Clean my desk off regularly at work.
  10. Keep in touch with friends and family.
  11. Pack my lunch 1-2 times a week, and cook at home more often.
  12. Manage all my receipts.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Belly dancing makes everything better

One of my biggest accomplishments this last year was setting up a regular teaching schedule. Although I've been teaching since 2001 through Informal Classes (at the University of Texas), their schedule runs in six-week sessions. It's a great way to introduce a number of people to this dance form, but I've always wanted a place to call my own, a schedule to set on my own, and students to nurture on my own time. Despite a rocky beginning, I'm now looking forward to four classes a week...including my regular informal ones. I'm excited, but at times a little overwhelmed by the amount of work and effort it takes to really work with so many students, at different levels and varying skills.

My original plans was to take some time to regroup over the holidays, work on some new lesson plans, re-design my warm up and drills for the intermediate students and get a lot of marketing out of the way. All that, along with cleaning my house and some R&R before January hits.

However, I received this email today from one of my most dedicated students, who wasn't able to come in December due to a major car accident and subsequent injury. I knew she would be ready again this month to start dancing...but it seems like she needs this more than I need a rest. I'm not sure I can justify waiting another week, especially since I just convinced my martial arts teacher to meet me Saturday morning for some extra practicing in the park, despite his original plan to take another week off! I'm sure it's all a part of some compulsive, obsessive behavior on all our parts...or maybe just plain old fashioned passion.
"When do classes start up again? I've had a horrible holiday and I need to get some belly dancing in to fix everything. Belly dancing makes everything better!"

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Dear Internet...

I know you think that by now, I've forgotten you...moved on, and found another. Well, I'm here to say that you've always been on my mind even if I haven't shown that by my actions. It's been a busy year, and I admit that I have been busy 'doing' versus 'blogging' and that you've been left behind in the process.

On this first day of the new year, I suggest that we forget past indiscretions and focus on a more fulfilling relationship in 2009. I realize that you've been the victim here, just waiting with nothing else to do...but I promise to make it up to you, invite more people over, I even redecorated a little. So, can we give it another try...pretty please?