Belly Rolls

June 3, 2011

Belly rolls are an impressive part of a bellydancer’s repertoire (as well as being a neat party trick). Most often, I layer them with a shimmy or a camel, but they’re nice on their own too. I’ve always been able to do them well, owing to having done them as a child (I didn’t know they were part of belly dancing or even what belly dance was; I just thought they looked and felt cool), but even if you have never done one before you can build up to doing them well with some training and conditioning.

If you are just starting out with belly rolls, here is the method I use to teach my students:

1. Lie on your back and place your hands on your upper and lower abdomen. This will make it easier to feel the movement.

2. Begin by pushing your abdominal muscles out, then pulling them in. You may find one direction easier than the other, and if you aren’t in the habit of using your abs a lot you might find that you get fatigued easily. Build up to it until you can easily push and pull the muscles and notice a discernible difference in the level of your belly while doing so.

3. The next step is to work on separating the upper and lower abdominals. Try to push the upper abdominals out and pull them in. Now try the same with the lower abdominals. Once you have learned to do that (and it may take awhile), try simultaneously pushing your upper belly while pulling your lower belly, and vice versa. Alternate until you can do it with ease.

4. Almost there – the next step is to add that roll. Start with your upper belly pushed out and your lower belly pulled in, and try rolling the muscles up through the abdomen so that your lower belly ends pushed out and your upper belly ends pushed in. Roll continuously. Try the roll going both ways (bottom to top and top to bottom). You will likely find one way easier than the other.

5. Now practice, practice, practice! It may take awhile to get the hang of it, but you’ll get there. Try it a little every day and you’ll be doing fantastic belly rolls in no time!

Makeup replacement

May 26, 2011

Some of my makeup is getting pretty old. I’ve started going through it and tossing out anything that smells funny or has been around too long. Then I’ll replace what I need to. This is long overdue!

I’ve been thinking a lot about the type of makeup that I buy, and I’ve decided to no longer support cosmetics companies that test on animals. I don’t wear a lot of makeup on a day-to-day basis, but I sure pile it on for shows (see below), and it makes more sense to me to use ethical products – I have been a vegetarian for over 20 years, so it seems a natural extension of that. It’s kind of surprising to me that I haven’t looked at my makeup buying habits before.

Anyway, I will use up the stuff I have that’s still good, but when I replace things I’ll have to seek replacements for some of the things I’ve been using. Happily, MAC, Gosh and Wet ‘n’ Wild don’t test on animals – three of my favourite brands! I also have a weakness for Bonne Belle Lip Smackers, and they’re ok too. 🙂 I’ll have to find replacements for two of my usual products – Maybelline Great Lash clear mascara and Vichy Dermablend coverup. I like those two products a lot, but I’m sure I can find a reasonable replacement.

Glop it on! This is about the minimum I would wear for a stage performance.

I’m still here!

March 1, 2011

Here I am! It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged – sorry about that. Here are some of the things that have happened in the last month:

– Bottoms Up put on a very successful Valentine’s Day show at the German Club – approximately 150 audience members attended, and the performances were spectacular! All that hard work really paid off.

– This past weekend my Level 3 bellydancers performed their Saidi cane piece at Azura’s Shiver and Shimmy show. They did a fabulous job despite the challenge of a small stage. The best part – during the balancing portion every single cane stayed on every single head!!

– I am preparing to apply for RAMED certification and to study for the SPRA fitness exam. The RAMED certification review is at the end of this month and my study materials for SPRA will be arriving this week, after which I have a year to complete (but hoping to be done by June).

– Alan and I have booked a vacation to Korea for the first two weeks in April! My students will be getting substitute teachers then. We’ll be staying with friends on Jeju island. Exciting!

Getting healthy

January 26, 2011

Well, classes are back in full swing now. The burlesque crew is hard at work preparing for our Valentine show on February 5th, and my Level 3 bellydancers are readying themselves for a February 26th performance. The beginners are making great progress, as are the hula hoopers, and the Take It All Off boot camp that Beve and I are co-teaching is one heck of a workout – it sure kicked my butt last week!

Speaking of butt-kicking, I’m on a healthy eating and exercise plan after the excesses of December. I have a couple of pounds to lose and need to tighten and tone generally. I do spend quite a bit of time exercising because of my teaching schedule, but my body gets used to that quickly and I don’t tend to get a great workout from it (except from the exercise based classes like Take It All Off and Bellydance Strength & Technique). I’m taking an extra Flamenco class this semester and a climbing class on Sundays (hello, upper body. I haven’t paid as much attention to you as I should have!), and am doing some extra strength training work at home. I’d like to start running again after awhile, but I like to get into the swing of classes again before tackling too many new things.

New Year’s Resolutions

January 5, 2011

I’m a big fan of making new year’s resolutions. Even if I don’t keep them, I find it helpful to evaluate the things I’d like to work on in life. I’ve made some personal resolutions (such as remembering to floss my teeth!) but I’ve also made some dance related ones this year. Here they are:

1. Videotape myself dancing and watch with a critical eye – I think it would really help me to improve my skills and figure out what I need to work on. This is a little nerve wracking though – I hate watching myself on video!

2. Practice improv regularly – I used to do this a lot and I’ve fallen off it a bit lately. Knowing how to improv is really important especially when gigging – sometimes the stage just isn’t big enough to do what you’ve planned!

3. Keep my office area tidy – being a pack rat and artist-type, I tend to pile things up. I do need to keep a lot of supplies around, but I want to be able to have a clean (even attractive!) workspace.

4. Improve my promotional skills – I don’t really like doing the promotional stuff, but it’s necessary in order to have a successful business. This includes getting some nice business cards printed, increasing my brochure distribution, updating this site regularly, and looking into print advertising.

5. Take a few ballet classes – I’ve wanted to do this for awhile. I think it would help my technique.

Five is enough for now, I think! Happy 2011 everyone.

I FOUND IT!

December 14, 2010

Remember the Digi/Dike/Dikey song I was looking for? I finally found the version I wanted. I was looking for the wrong title – although many versions of the song are called Diki diki etc. this one is called “Lalaee” and it’s by the Iranian singer Sandy.

My day is now complete 🙂

Jingle bells, jingle hips!

December 13, 2010

Last night Aschera Rose and I hosted our annual holiday party / recital for our students. This is a more casual event than the shows we usually put on – it’s for friends and family and it gives the students a chance to show what they’ve learned in a low-pressure environment. Everyone performed fabulously! I was so proud of my only beginner student that decided to perform – she was bang on – and my continuing bellydancers rocked their cane routine. My men were a huge hit as always, and the can-can ladies did their routine the best I’ve ever seen them do it! I was stoked! Aschera Rose’s groups were great too, and the solos were fantastic. And…

I received an early Christmas gift from my two hula hoop students – their class finished several weeks ago and they had told me in no uncertain terms that they would attend the party, but they were NOT performing the routine. That was fine – I don’t like to pressure students to perform – but I was secretly disappointed because they had learned it SO well. Well – last night, to my surprise and delight, they showed up toting their hula hoops, ready to perform! I was so happy, and they did so well. A dance instructor couldn’t ask for a better gift!

Diki Deke Dige

December 7, 2010

Sometime I REALLY wish I spoke Arabic or at least could read it. I’ve been interested in a certain song for a little while, and I’m looking for the version of it that I like best. There are a LOT of versions because it’s a folk song. My problem is that, of course, the lyrics are in Arabic, which means that there’s no one way to spell it in our alphabet. When I first heard the song on Youtube, it was called “Dikey dikey dikey”, meaning “Play play play”. The word can also be spelled:

Diki

Deke

Dikki

Digi

Dige

Diggy

Degi

Deqi

…and so on. It’s proving quite the challenge. Add to that the song can also be called “Dige Ya Rababa” (play the rababa) (or a billion spelling variations thereof).

Clackity Clunk…

December 2, 2010

Well, castanets are very, very hard. I don’t think I’ll be performing with them anytime soon! At least I know how one is supposed to play them now, even if I can’t do it myself.

Interesting things I learned about castanets:

– There is a “male” and a “female” castanet. The female one has a higher tone and is played in your dominant hand, the male one has a lower tone and is playd in your non-dominant hand.

– Just like in bellydance, there are certain words that go with certain beats of the music (we use doum and tak).

Ta = male hand golpe (one clack with middle and ring finger)

Pi = female hand golpe

Ria = roll with female hand

– In Flamenco, castanets are most often played in a Sevillianas. I’ll be taking a Sevillianas course in January so who knows, maybe I can practice.

(apologies for my poor Spanish spelling)

Clickity clack!

November 29, 2010

Tonight I am attending a castanet class at Flamenco Diaz. I’ve been taking regular Flamenco classes for about three years now, but I’ve never done anything with castanets before. I don’t even know if the ones I have (souvenir-of-Spain-type ones) will work. I’m looking forward to it! It’s a 4 day workshop but unfortunately I can only attend today and tomorrow because my regular classes aren’t done for the winter yet. Hopefully I can learn at least a little bit in those two hours.