Monday, April 21, 2008

Catching Up

Suffiya with Fan Veils
There have been lots of upheavals and a handful of pleasant things to occur in my personal life over the past year or so, notably a tattoo apprenticeship that sadly had to be left by the wayside (not of my own choosing), moving into my first apartment, taking lessons on the Celtic harp, seeing my artwork appear on a book cover, and a very hectic few months at my full-time day job. I've already modified my profile to reflect some of these changes. My physical appearance has also been altered in that time. I now have a large tattoo of a traditional Japanese woodblock print depicting a geisha reading a scroll on my left lower leg, a cherry blossom on my right ankle which I tattooed on myself, and I have had my septum, navel, and upper cartilage pierced (I have had my left nostril pierced since 2002).

In that time I was unable to continue with my belly dance classes as my schedule was already brimming with other obligations, and my body and soul missed them sorely. I continued to study on my own, of course, but as one of the few things in my life that fills me with such delight, it deserves a more significant part of my life. Thankfully, I now have the time to devote to taking classes again and I jumped back in as soon as I was able. I had been taking classes with Simone at Cloud Hands in Ottsville for at least six months straight in 2006. A few months prior to that I was learning on my own with the aid of DVDs, books, and the internet. I used to live within a ten minute drive of Cloud Hands, but two months ago I moved from the Quakertown area to Sellersville, so I was looking for something a bit closer. Fitness Plus in Perkasie seemed to be the answer. Their website indicates that Simone would be teaching classes there, but when I called to register, apparently this is no longer the case (their website still hasn't been appropriately updated). So I signed up for classes with Shoaleh, and started two weeks ago.

It's interesting to compare the way two different teachers approach similar movements. Actually, I think it is beneficial to see their different modes of teaching snake arms among other things. The class I am taking currently is for beginners, so there is going to be a great deal of review for me, but it's always good to brush up on the basics again. I was a bit embarrassed during the first class when Shoaleh had me demonstrate some of the techniques in front of the class though, but since I'm pretty serious about belly dancing, I guess I'll have to get over dancing in front of others!

I really want to take some classes in American Tribal Style, but the closest place I can find, Hipnosis Studio, to learn is a good 45 minute drive away, and I would have to wait for their new sessions to start which I think will be early May. If they offer classes in their next session which would coincide with my days off, I think I'm going to take the plunge and sign up for them, despite obscene gas prices and my dislike of commuting. FatChanceBellyDance offers some DVDs, but I find that it's preferable to learn from a teacher directly if at all possible.

On to the Halfa!
Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending a halfa hosted by Suffiya of Dancers' Oasis at Casablanca Restaurant in Warrington, PA. I had a great time, and it's been so long since I've eaten there. The food, as usual, was delicious (my favorite courses are the first three: hummus, baba ganouj, the salads, and the B'stilla. I think those constitute whole meal!), and we were entertained by five different dancers instead of the usual single dancer. Suffiya herself performed both before and after the meal. She danced with various props including zils, Isis wings, and a saber. I've included a photo of Suffiya dancing with these awesome fan/veil thingies which I covet. They moved like liquid fire and were really expressive. Must get a pair for myself! I generally am not a huge fan (no pun intended!) of props, but those fan/veils were fantastic (again, no pun intended).

In between, four of the dancers of the Dancers' Oasis troupe did solos and a group performance (I didn't keep the program, so unfortunately I do not have their names offhand). I was only able to get photos of Suffiya since I was too occupied stuffing my face to grab a camera for the other performances! Three of the other four dancers danced to some interesting contemporary American music including selections from Fleetwood Mac, Justin Timberlake, and the Violent Femmes. The Fleetwood Mac piece was a veil number which was okay as far as veil dances go. The dancer really looked the Steve Nick's part though. The Justin Timberlake piece was actually really well done, and I enjoyed it enough for it to offset my internal cringe at the subject of Justin Timberlake ;-) The fourth dancer used a more traditional, Middle Eastern music selection, and despite encountering some technical difficulties at first with the sound system, she did a beautiful, slower piece. All in all, it was a fun time. I look foreword to returning to Casablanca for a girls' night out with Shoaleh! I have two more photos from this halfa at this location.