Archive for June, 2010

Who doesn’t love a bit of football? And who is the only person on the planet that can bring a little bellydancing into the World Cup arena?!? Shakira of course! You gotta love her (I do, and that probably ain’t healthy coming from a thirty-something year old woman – YIKES!). Yep, although technically it may be classified as African dance (Egypt = Africa…), to me it looks like a couple mayas (over the top figures of eight) with fancy hands and a bit of chest pop action on the top to the beat. Oh with some turning swerves, or twists in the middle. YAY. It looks fab, she looks fab, and the gals in my class tonight are gonna look fab when I teach them the Waka Waka. Why not!

and the Waka Waka Swerve!

Shakira does the Waka Waka Maya...

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I’m just spent a wonderful weekend with the gals in glorious, gorgeous Ljubljana, Slovenia. Rolling green mountains, a lazy winding river and beautiful old streets all covered in a light smattering of grey drizzle :s Amongst our adventures of sampling the local fare (Game Goulash with Bread Dumping), crazy cocktails in the Skeleton Bar (whose names I dare not mention..) and generally shopping shopping shopping (causing a spike in Slovenia’s economy…) we managed to pull off some serious dancing exploits. First up was a night of unashamed disco, going til 3 in the morning, with some local dancing talent, and then, with the second night performing our various dance talents in the wonderful Mateja (host for the weekend)’s flat. One “Roustabouter” and I got to give a sneaky peak on the Roustabout performance in the kitchen, and Mateja introduced us British girls to the wonderful world of Reggaetron.

Now, I would usually define this as some serious booty shaking by oiled up lithe young women in R&B music vids, NOT something that I would gravitate towards as an addition to the dance repetoire. In fact I even would go so far as to say often in my classes, I try to use this style of dancing as what happens if you do a bellydance move too violently or with your feet placed too far apart! But Mateja danced it beautifully – not in a bikini and it seemed to draw a lot of parallels with the upper body isolations that you get in bellydancing and lower body locks and pops. It looked fab! So now, we all want a go, and are on the look out for a reggaeton class nearby. However, it seems that it hasn’t quite reached the demure shores of Oxford yet… we’ll watch this space and practise our pumpin’ and humpin’ (ahem) in the privacy of our own living rooms…

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We are now just a few weeks away from the Summer Show Extravaganza at work and I am unleashing a fabulous troupe of new bellydancers onto the scene with our kooky, spooky, slow and slinky number, carefully choreographed to Beats Antique’s Roustabout.
This morning we were in the dance studio early and getting familiar with the full skirts that I have been able to cobble together (sending out my distress signal into the bellydance community to hoard together items) bright coloured circular skirts and some token, rather expectantly wonderful silver and gold blingery from Primark.

My vision is coming together! The ladies are starting to look like the band of merry exoticistas from the enticing and mystical east (this was the plan, being creatures of wonder dancing in a Victorian themed sketch show to add a little sparkle!).
I am particularly proud of the fact that my stick drawing that I rustled up in MS Paint one lunchtime is slowly but surely coming to life…

And what a great way to start the day, with the newly found joy of being able to swish a full skirt AND incorporate it into your forward and back hip hits (simple pleasures!) and being able to assist your hair do into becoming even bigger and wilder than real life with a simple bling-a-ling alice band, and finally starting to crack the double hip hit, snake arms combo, all is well with a quick 30 minute bellydance session before work.

Onwards and upwards – we are nearly there – a few final practices and tweaks and we’ll be stage ready and primed to take on Mr PipeSmith’s Summer Extravaganza and add that touch of spice to our colleagues lunch hours 😉

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If I ever were to burst onto the scene in Etsy, or even dare venture into the Dragon’s Den, I may well take my latest invention: Zill Mufflers. Please don’t tell me it’s been done before, or, even worse, will never be done again, but I decided to create these tasty little numbers to save the ears/sanity of my partner and up and downstairs flat neighbours, with Zill Mufflers. You only need one per pair to dampen the clang. I’m happy to make to order, every penny counts towards living the dream, and to one day say “oh, I made MY first million with my Zill Muffs….”.

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I am determined to crack this zills malarky. I am one of those unfortunates who was introduced to the lovely little finger clangers very late in my bellydance life and so now and struggling to coordinate my doum doum tek a teks with my step-and-a-hit-and-a-step-and-a-hit.
I have a pretty much annular attempt at learning the art of the finger symbols, usually after having seen a wonderful display of it and wishing that I too could do that!
My first major attempt was a few years back with the wonderfully fabulous Jim Boz, at the first International Bellydance Congress in Bognor Regis. All I can really remember is getting my fingers and hips in a right twist and coming out muttering “knick knack, paddy-whack, give a dog a bone” for hours on end, with a slight air of frustration carried about my person.

Dancer with zillsOf course it all looks so effortless to the casual observer (as these things often do). But inside the non-casual observer is the frustrated bellydancer, with years of hip action, but less of finger dexterity, oh how I boil with envy inside!
So, my most recent attempt to tame this beast and start myself on the road to recovery (despite being told by the YouTube tutorials that the only time you can ever really learn zills is when you start to learn bellydancing in the first place…. grrrr) has been smoothed by my recent love affair with technology (geek alert), downloading my Finger Symbols with Ansuya DVD to my iTouch, popping it in my handbag and then strolling to work (45 minutes through Oxford city centre), doing my best crab claw impression (air-zills) attempting to follow Ansuya’s instructions.

Straight four rhythm – doum tek-a-doum-tek-a, doum tek-a-doum-tek-a
Beledi rhythm – doum doum tek-a-tek doum tek-a-tek tek-a
Chifitelli rhythm – doum-tek-a-tek-tek-tek-a-tek-tek-tek-a-doum tek-a-douom, tek-a-doum (and-hold-and)
Bolero rhythm – doum-tek-a-tek-tek, tek-a-doum, tek-a-doum

I think.

So I’m walking to work, clanging out these rhythms on my hands, hoping people won’t notice my overactive hands, or the fact that my walking pace is a little… unusual. And I’m hoping it’ll go into a place in my brain where these things should be stored. So watch this space, I fully intend, which all good intentions, to be the Phil Collins of finger zills by, erm.. this time next year. As long as Ansuya stays safely tucked in my handbag and I don’t get my doums mixed up with my teks, all will be well. I just then have to match up the beats to my moves. Yikes….

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I covered a class for Caitlyn a couple of weeks ago whilst she was off in Cairo and we came to an arrangement where I could take her classes for a few weeks in return as payment (I am loving this bartering system WAY better than exchanging the shiny stuff..). So I went to a couple of her classes yesterday – her beginners as a warmup and then her class “Bellydance Rocks” to see what was going on with her latest concept of bellydancing to Rock/Metal music.
First of all I learnt loads in the first lesson, aside from familiarising myself with the Chiftitelli and Turkish Roman rhythms, I also learnt how to walk again.
We started off walking round in a circle, heel toe, heel toe, just like normal, to the beat of the music, throwing in some arms. Then we switched, pushed our weight forward over our feet more, and went toe heel, toe heel for a while. Check the difference. It was really different but we couldn’t verbalise what was changing. Basically, as Caitlyn explained, with the normal heel toe walk we were bouncing a little to the beat, it’s more earthy, more stompy and something you may chose to do to a piece of music that has a strong, clear rhythm and beat.
When we switched to the toe heel, the movement was softer, smoother, and we seemed to glide without that bob, across the floor. So something to use where the music has a much less obvious beat.
It was a bit of a breakthrough for me, being a heel-toe kinda gal, I have walked the “other” way before but never really was able to work out why and when I may want to select one over the other.
So, with the new joy of having the choice of walking in two very different ways, we then tipped over into the second of Caitlyn’s classes – Bellydance Rocks.

Bellydance Rocks was a lot of fun, we started out with a lot of shimmies, on the spot, moving around, in circles, eights, big and small. Entering into my 3rd hour of dancing for the evening, this was proving to be quite the challenge (but a good challenge). The rest of the session was spent on the floor, exploring moves on the floor, stretches, leaning back from a kneel doing bicycle hips to stretch out and experimenting with backbends. Going into a backbend from a camel and then getting up off the floor (and all the ways you can disguise slightly ungraceful stagger patterns on the way up!!) We listened to a piece of Japanese/English rock music and each practiced and performed our experimental improvisation to the intro (starting on the floor and working up to standing).
It was challenging, expressive and fun (I’m a rock chick at heart) and definitely another avenue to explore, another creative channel to wander down.

Caitlyn’s off next week to do a show in Cambridge and I’m stepping up to the fray to cover her beginner’s class. Bellydance Rocks will be back on from the 21st June, at 7.30pm, with the beginner’s class at 6.30pm, at the West Oxford Community Centre, if you’re in the area and want to rock out…

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I was thinking, last night, after once more being in an environment where it’s pretty safe to say, along with diamonds, sequins and the ever present ‘body tape’, safety pins really are a girl’s (or at least bellydancer’s) best friend. So it occured to me that, if Batman were a bellydancer, surely his utility belt would be packed with safety pins (probably held onto his moulded plastic bodysuit with extra strong safetypins…).

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