Archive for the ‘Bellydancing’ Category

I seem to spend a lot of time doing “retros”, “reviews”, “post-match analysis” and “post-mortems” of projects at work. All in the hope of learning valuable lessons to take forward when I repeat it all again. So I think it’s time to turn to those lessons learnt in the better part of my life, the non-work variety! And this week is postively BURSTING with small but perfectly formed revelations πŸ™‚

Some lessons that I’ve learnt this week (and still a few days to go!)..

  1. Beautiful flowers, once picked, don’t last long

    I threw a big fabulous launch party last week in London for an online product we just launched at work. It was a huge success and one of the memories of the night was carrying one of the ginormous bouquets of flowers (that was a display piece) home on the underground, train and then taxi. It was HUGE. I then spent 45 minutes, WAY past midnight on a weeknight carefully deconstructing the bouquet into small vases that I could keep in my flat. The smell was delicious, the colours beautiful, my flat was adorned, the flowers breath-taking. But they’re all rather mouldy now. They didn’t last long. Beauty is fleeting, especially in picked flowers. It’s a good lesson in enjoying the beauty of the moment.

  2. I (and therefore anyone) can bake good deserts (even technical challenges)

    Tart au CitronSpurred on by my previous success with the coffee battenburg, I decided to really push the boat out and attempt a Tart au Citron. I invested in a flan dish with breathable holes from Lakeland. Bought a bag o lemons, eggs, sugar, cream. I even made my own pastry and chilled it first (and then blind baked it for Pete’s sake!). I did have to read the instructions a little more closely this time, but the good news is I DID IT. It didn’t take forever, it was reasonably straight forward and apart from a brief drama when the lemony liquid started coming through the breathable holes, it set just perfectly with that little wobble. HURRAH! Technical challenge two COMPLETE. I’m on a roll (that’s next, the chocolate roulard…)

  3. Wedding planning CAN (is starting to) be fun

    Wedding welliesSo I was starting to have a little breakdown when faced with the price of weddings. Β£40 a head and that’s just food, are you crazy?!? I was bobbling all over the place, Suffolk, Oxford, Las Vegas, Gretna Green, Costa Rica… It was becomming a bit much and luckily this Sunday we went for lunch with a group o pals and through frank conversations I decided that actually my simple idea of the local church close to Mum and Jimmy’s Farm would be a great idea. Just hearing someone else saying how much fun it would be made it all feel better again. Then I went online and found wedding wellies and realised that Jimmy’s have a bluebell meadow and it’s suddenly starting to feel doable and, yes, even enjoyable!!! It’s the National Wedding Show next week, let’s see how long the fun vibe continues πŸ˜‰

  4. Sometimes being angry is OK

    AngerSometimes I flip out. Often it’s in the morning (I am not a morning person) and inevitably the person who I care about most in the world is the person who gets it in the neck a)because he’s standing right there and b)because I try to contain my emotional outbursts infront of other people so they don’t think I’m a crazy person. Anyway, this morning I flipped out when a joke of his back-fired and it went straight to my insecurity zone and pressed all the red buttons on the flight deck. I was pretty mean in retaliation. Probably more hurtful than the comment which I misinterpreted in the first place. Anyway, the short version of this is that I caught myself and thought “Hmmm I’m feeling anger irrationally and I don’t want to”. I’ve always wondered whether I’m naturally an angry person, it doesn’t really fit with my personality, but I know I’m volatile. Usually I blame hormones, but that’s a cop out. Anyway, I quickly zipped over to the internet and found this site, which I read, and I felt better about having experienced anger. It’s OK. And it’s manageable. Next time, I count to 10…

  5. Say yes yes YES to creative pursuits!

    Djembe drumThis is something I feel particularly proud of, and I can feel instant happiness radiating into my life through saying YES! I’m slowly getting my pursuits count on the scales of my life tipping back in the direction of the creative. YAY! And I feel great about it. It started a couple of weeks ago, when I began African Drumming on a Monday night. This is amazing. It’s a meditation and a mental workout, and a release, and a lot of fun, and creative and a challenge! Then, this weekend I went back to Gwen’s monthly advanced bellydance classes and I learnt how to drive my bellydance moves from different parts of my body – so fun to relearn existing skills from a different angle. Then I had lunch with my lovely friend Aimee and we discussed starting up a hula hooping class in the new year, and THEN I had another chat with another dance friend and I decided to bring Shimmyshimmybangbang back on line as a small performance group, hoping to get a regular slot at an Open Mic night, starting out at Halloween! Just having these plans in place and regular dance opportunities has put a MASSIVE smile back on my face and I feel more balanced in life. Which is good timing as the dark nights are drawing in…

So all in all, a good week (so far) with lots planned. I think it’s partly with the “back to school” atmosphere at the moment – roads getting busy from the school run, freshers starting to turn up with their clothes horses and boxes of snacks from home. It’s good to make plans for the long, dark winter nights and sprinkle them with plenty of dancing, baking, self development, planning.. all the good things…

Read Full Post »

Yay! Tonight my bellydance classes start up again after a 5 month deep freeze over the winter. I’m crawling out of hibernation, throwing off my winter skin (euw) and dusting down the hip-scarves for a summer-session of classes a la Shimmy Shimmy Bang Bang style.

It’s been a while since I was regularly hip dropping and figure eighting, so I’m planning tonight’s intro class to be mostly about waking up the body after the long break and getting back into our groove.

I’ve been inspired by Jilina’s “Shape up n’hip out” DVD to bring some sections of that into a moving warm up – I’ve been doing this myself on morning when I need to move to wake up, but yoga has been too demanding – it’s a great way to uncreak the bones…

I also have started (2/3 completed) a new choreography to “Whatever Lola Wants” (Natascha Atlas version), which I’m excited to teach and hoping that we will be able to secure a performance gig for some point over the summer.. Festival season beckons!

It feels good to be getting back onto the bellydance scene, I’ve had a few months without routine and I’m ready to get some new dances learnt and some rocking costumes at the ready – time to get this show on the road! Charles Street, if you’re nearby (and interested…)!

P.s. Check Gwen Verdon’s version of WLW – not what we’re doing but amazing inspiration nether-the-less!

Read Full Post »

After years of longing for an “Advanced” bellydance course to come to Oxford – one has arrived! After a little gentle persuasion, the wonderful Gwen a.k.a. Minnie Cerise has brought her wonderful “Advance your Dance” series of monthly workshops to a little studio in a far flung corner of Oxford. Yay!

I’ve been looking forward to this class for AGES and Gwen, aka Minnie, did not disappoint. The sold out class assembled on Sunday and did a wonderful long warm up, reacquainting ourselves with our muscle groups, including some suspiciously aerobic reminiscent side leg raises, stomach crunches, and the hilarious, but difficult, buttock squeeze exercise. Yes, it was hard work, but as we were told – one difference between Advanced dancing and just having done it for ages, is the ability to add muscle quality movements into the dance – not just waggling your skeleton around (eee…).

Minnie Cerise Bellydancing and BurlesqueMinnie was hilarious, helping us get to grips with concepts with numerous side splitting analogies, such as “through the serving hatch” and “stirring with the wooden spoon”… I leave the translation into moves to your imagination! Brilliant. Much laughing, face pulling, ab crunching, rib isolating and shoulder blade sinching later, we were all well-worked and smiling and hungry for more!
What a great couple of hours – spent in good company, all working on our wonky flexibility, wobbly balance on toes, and crazy claw hands when concentrating (or maybe that was just me). I really feel it’s precious to have the time to focus on the basic technique again, but really focusing on specifics- challenging, informative and fun (and plenty to work on ahead of next class, next month!)

Now we just need to persuade Minnie to make this a regular gig πŸ˜‰

Read Full Post »

Artists and Entourage wristbandWow, so this summer has been BUSY and it has zipped by and I now seem to be staring down the barrel towards autumn – what happened?!?! Hmmm work me feels. BUT I haven’t let that get in the way of a creative summer, continuing on from Cowley Carnival exploits to attend our first FESTIVAL!!Getting ready in the portaloo
We were lucky enough to be invited onto stage at the cabaret tent at Truck festival for 3 acts HURRAH. And all of us fully-fledged owners of our spangly wristbands with “Artists and Entourage” emblazened across it. Oh, the glamour!!

Roustabout at Truck as steam punk gypsiesWe paraded as pirates, with our Pirates of the Caribbean entrance, followed by my pirate version of Spell on you – dancing around my skull stick (don’t ask), then a quick prowl around the site to locate some tasty festival food, and back for a change in the port-a-loos πŸ™‚ We made our sencond entrance shimmying as steam punk gypsies, and then for a final change to lord as leopards, with an adapted version of Ooo La La, in our new exciting leopard print outfits with our owl masks whooooo! It was brilliant – and the later it got, the more the crowd responded (hmmm), as we walked around the festival site in our outfits, we got loads of fab attention πŸ˜€ nice!

Leopards oo la laSo, what else, I started a zills class in London with the wonderful Galit Mersand – someone who I have been desperate to have teach me for ages, and after two false starts (being in Slovenia and then avoiding London because of the riots…) I FINALLY got to class last week to bang those finger symbols together – it’s SO MUCH FUN. Although I’m pretty intimidated – despite dancing for over 12 years, I never really learnt how to use the zills – and you are supposed to learn from the start so it’s easy to dance and clang at the same time! Yikes… still, I’m getting there, and thanks to my zill-muffs, not driving the other half to complete distraction yet. Well, the zills are still on the table and not thrown out the window… yet!

Hula hoopingSo my final news is today’s exicting activity – hula hooping! I have been dying to get to a hooping class for the past 2 years – ever since my London lass Eva introduced me to the hoop at Secret Garden Party a few years back, but of course, nothing cool like that comes to Oxford (everywhere else, it seems), so I bit the bullet, found a wonderful teacher online (Emma Kerr of Hooping Mad) and invited her to Oxford YAY. We got good numbers and learnt some fab tricks and moves, spinning the hoops round our bodies, in all directions, jumping, flicking, rolling. Have a few minor bumps and bruises from all the over excited hoop throwing, but LOVED IT of course. So now… starting up a Oxford Hooping group – to all those lost souls who are hooping in their back gardens – come out and play!! Now, just gotta work out some kind of bellydancing, zill clanging, hula hooping fusion, and all in the leopard print outfits – PERFECT. Next stop, Goa.(please)…

Read Full Post »

July is here again. The sun is high in the sky, so it must be time to head underground to eek out the curious and creative souls of all things dark and devious.. So, that means one return ticket to Leceister, throw some threads in my case and head for the Midlands! It seems that I am no longer gatecrashing the party in black. I’ve tasted it once and now I want more! This year Gothla was like coming home, it has moved venues but still offers a wonderful treat of tasty performers at the Friday night showcase, with some opera singing, some zombie gypsies, and some rather fabulous pvc clad, high kicking Matrix dancers YOWSERS! And of course, now our habitual visit to the Mosh club after hours, for a little more hair twirling and whiplash building activities. This year Nancy bought tigerbalm…

Sabrina bellydancer I managed to spread the love around this year, taking two workshops with the wonderful Sabrina – first a fast and furious drum solo – she taught us 6 minutes worth of drum solo in 2 hours WOWOWOW that was crazy, but amazing. A little later we met again in her second workshop to pack a punch into our performance. Learnt tonnes about entrances with veils, walking with emotion giving good “performance face” and generally delving into what makes someone incredible as a performer – really insightful stuff – and she gave us our word – SHINE – to focus on in performance. She was amazing. I came away ladden with CDs πŸ˜€
The Saturday night was a feast for the senses again as the Redeemer nightclub held the open-stage performances – I actually prefer these to the Friday night ones as the real pick and mix comes out here – my favourites were a some twirling scandanavian dancers who were completely spellbinding and a new group out of Manchester – Rockit! High energy bellydance aerobics to rock music! Awesome!
After a long day (and night) on Saturday, Sunday was supposed to be restful, I ducked into the first hour of the Morgana workshop, Morgana was teaching Matrix-esque pops, locks and kicks, but the energy was too much for me, I just wanted to chill, so I hung up my sequins a little early and let the hard core carry on!
Another fabulous weekend exploring some interesting takes on performance and bellydance styles, a great opportunity to check out new interpretations and see what dancers are doing with alternative music – and of course, a great time to meet with my angels from the darker side, Tamsin, Nadia and Nancy. Rock on gals, back again next year πŸ™‚

Read Full Post »

Rehearsing before the carnival

It must be carnival time!

Two things always happen on a certain weekend in July, one, the Men’s finals at Wimbledon, but two, and more importantly, it’s the Cowley Road Carnival. Despite no longer being on “the road”, the Carnival is an important landmark in the year, as the colourful people of Oxford descend on my local park and engage in all manner of creative activity, plus you can usually buy a top notch curry from one of the stands. AND every year, I somehow manage to weedle my way onto a random stage/dance space/tree shade patch for a spot of shimmy.

Pirates in the Park

Getting ready for the procession - shimmy-me-timbers

This year was the best so far in terms of numbers of minutes shaking our thang. Shimmy Shimmy Bang Bang, now extended out to 12 members, was lucky enough to be included in the procession – an hour long snake of banging drums, stilted dancers, mobile solar systems and bubbling teapots, oh and pirate bellydancers of course! The gals did me proud, parading, shaking, snake arming and generally “giving it large, bellydance style” for the long procession zig zagging down the park and into the masses of people that lay in wait for us at the bottom!

Then, completely exhausted by the sheer numbers of shimmy per square park footage, we finally made it backstage for a quick collapse on the grass and glug of water, then BAM onto the huge main stage for our 1.5 knees up to the theme tune of The Pirates of the Caribbean. YeeeeeeOW! We were great! Well, I think so, and adrenalin was high after that fast and furious performance!

Fingers on fire - cooling down with fan veils

I then had about an hour to, erm “relax” before getting changed behind a van and then going onto the Pegasus dance stage (smaller, but just right for my duet with Soleil d’Egypte buddy Gill) to carry out my first ever fan dance. YIKES I was nervous that the darned things wouldn’t open on command (although I did take them to New Orleans on a recent business trip and was whipping them out every evening in the hotel room for a quick flutter…). Anyway, we pulled it off almost to perfection – even getting my barrel turns in time with Gill – yay! It looked like our hands were on fire (in a good way), flame like fans flicking in the light breeze.
Once the fans were done, we transitioned into our cheeky pop number, jumping and springing about the stage in the humidity. Phew.

Back behind the van for a quick change back into the pirate get-up and I had to find the very elusive “community dance area” to meet the pirates again for our double run of the Roustabout and Skelebobs choreography – which was received well both times – with two crowds of happy campers (despite having a very quiet boombox tweeting out our music).

THEN, home to collapse, shower, rub my feet and watch the end of the Men’s final.
A great day all round πŸ™‚

Our fan veil performance
Part of Roustabout performance

Read Full Post »

I know it’s a cliche, but time does rocket by, I can’t believe it’s been a year since I was last in the audience of the Hathor Hafla snapping (camera) and clapping away with the riot of wondrous bellydance acts that the annual Summer Hafla brings along to Kiddo (that’s Kidlington to the rest of the world). Last night was a lot of fun. Gill and I had decided, only a few weeks ago at the Bellydance Bonanza that we NEEDED to get back up on stage and resurrect Soleil d’Egypte – and we were lucky enough to be in the first third (it’s a show of three thirds!) – so we could then sit back, relax and enjoy the rest of the show.

So we were the opening guest act – performing straight after Hathor (always a challenge!) and I did my usual thing of being terrified, waiting in the wings, practising the moves in my head and throwing a sudden blank as we are introduced and skip out, in the darkness, into centre stage… BUT I am pleased to say that we pulled it off (Jilina, of Bellydance Superstars’ choreography to La Azon by Mohammed Fouad) without a hitch – I really enjoyed dancing this one, with all its spins and jumps and the wagging no no no no finger move πŸ™‚ YAY! Loved being back on stage as well – it feels like AGES (not performed since last Halloween). Then, all hot and breathless, I was able to scuttle back to my front row seat to admire the other performers from close up!

So needless to say, as ever at Hathor, there is a rainbow of performers, from solists, to groups, of all shapes, sizes and bellydance styles – from sultry veil numbers to full on carnivale affairs – and this year the thirds seemed pretty short and snappy – so the night motored through at quite a pace, with the wonderful MC/comedey from the compare, the wonderful drumming from John Sleiman in the breaks and shop shop shopping!

So my highlights were… from Part 1, it has to be Nikki Livermore with an impentrable drum solo which turned into a battle of the sexes – man versus woman, drum versus hips – and I think Nikki won! She can shimmy for Britain – infact the world (and I heard she recently got back from Brazil, which explains a few of those insane bottom shaking moves that had us all shouting for more at the end of a very exhausting set!

My Part 2 highlights were Ashnah (actually my favourite dance of the evening), doing a steampunk come can can performance, all killer boots, bustly skirts and attitude. LOVED it – and what great facial expressions MORE MORE MORE!
From a pure spectacular, choreographical marval and just “I can’t take enough photos but want to watch without my camera” front, hats off to Negoum El Leyl’s dance – a riot of colour with Isis wings, fluffy peacock fans, silk veils, fan veils, candles, all, somehow moving and spinning and whirling and twirling in UNISON. Wonderful, spectacular, and completely and utterly prop-tastic!

So with Part 3 comes my new bellydance crush – Sundara ATS – I LOVE these girls – doing American Tribal Style dancing with their fierce makeup and amazing hair and costumes, just a feast to look at and that’s before they start dancing. Their movements were sublime, they melted into the floor and moved with real style and grace, I was completed bewitched and just was thinking the whole way through “I want to dance like this, I need to dance like this”.. and so, I need to get some tribal in my life.. any suggestions gratefully received! (I quite fancy Tribal Fest in Cali..). Not only did they execute a hipnotising dance, they then rocked out to Personal Jesus, which nearly bought the house down (or the front row, at least!) Great stuff… And then, to close the show, Hathor pulled one of their usual crowd-pleasers out of the bag – putting more energy than I thought was possible into the Flo-Rida track Club Can’t Handle Me – the front row was literally jumping out of their seats with excitement!!

I’ve been going to Hathor now since 2004, and it’s amazing these days just how much variety and creativity the dancers put into their acts, which is something that seems to increase each year – back when Soleil d’Egypte started performing, there weren’t many times in a Hafla when dancers did something unexpected, but these days each time a group/dancer comes on stage, you don’t quite know what to expect and I think that the Hathor Hafla really embraces that, which I personally love and encourage. Another great vintage Hathor – lalalallalallalalallla! (my online version of the zaghareet).

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »