Sunday, August 30, 2009

Report from the NE BD Competition Gala

Last night I had the pleasure of attending the Northeast Belly Dance Competition Gala to see a lovely array of performances and a decent selection of vendors. The entire event lasted approximately two hours including a brief intermission. The Grand Ballroom of the Best Western Lehigh Valley was the perfect space for the size of the event: the stage was set up on the far side of the room with ample seating and the vendors were set up at the rear. The event itself was on the smaller side, perhaps since it is the first time it was held, but that suited me just fine. Both the performances and vendors were almost exclusively Cabaret oriented, however I did actually manage to find a nice Kuchi metal belt at the table belonging to Salome's Tent that fit me well (it will serve as my "back up belt" in case I'm unable to finish the belt I'm working on making for the Faire).

It seemed to me as if the event organizers arranged the order of the performances to have the less-experienced dancers perform first, followed by the more seasoned performers after the intermission. I was pleased to find that virtually all of the dancers had a healthy sense of humor and were even willing to have a laugh at their own expense (it's good not to take yourself too seriously all the time).

Amartia danced first in a bedlah spangled with dozens of compact-sized round mirrors, sending spots of reflected light whirling around the room as she moved. At one point in her performance during a long section of shimmying, she withdrew a stick of lipstick from her costume and proceeded to apply it by looking in one of the large mirrors on her arm band. Afterwords she tossed the lipstick into the audience and continued dancing.

Tasha was not only very talented but also quite comical. The event program featured an advertisement for her classes, touting that she had been dancing professionally for more than thirty years which I found surprising since the photo was of a very youthful, dark-haired dancer. When she emerged from behind the stage curtain, she was still just as elegant but had long silver locks. She did an interesting technique with her zills which was akin to a roll on the drum that I want to figure out for myself (I think it involved slightly shaking or rapidly moving the thumb to achieve a quick, staccato sound). As she was dancing, she caught sight of an older man in the front row and sauntered toward him, planting a big kiss on his bare head and leaving her vivid red lipstick behind. My boyfriend and I thought it might be her husband and that it had been arranged beforehand, but a little later, she spotted another bald gentleman and approached him with same intent. When he hesitated she declared, "It will make your hair grow" and he allowed her to kiss him on the top of his head. During a veil segment, she found another male victim, only this time she wrapped the veil around his neck and while doing so questioned his wife if it was tight enough. She twisted it up and around his head to form a makeshift turban and headed back to the stage. The man with the new turban apparently loved the attention and stood up and started dancing too. When she caught sight of him wiggling around she quickly ran back, brought him foreword and danced with him on the stage.

Two dancers from Hipnosis were the only Tribal style representatives in the gala and as always I look foreword to their pieces. Unfortunately, there was a serious technical difficulty and for some reason the CD they brought with their music would not play on that particular sound system. There were evidently no drummers in the audience to accompany them, but determined to perform and with the help of some guests who had purchased some CDs from a vendor that very evening, they did a great dance to a song neither of them had probably heard before. The song wasn't even Middle Eastern in origin with familiar rhythms to rely on — it was an upbeat techno/R&B tune with several false endings. This my friends is the glory of improvisation.

My favorite dancers were actually the ones I wasn't familiar with before the show including Kalaa, Azhia, Tasha, Lotus Niraja, etc. although it was great seeing Neon of WDNY perform just a few yards away. I cannot wait for next year's competition as I would like to see the actual competition pieces too. I hope it will be held at the same venue.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Some Upcoming Events

The following event is actually tomorrow and Sunday (sorry for the late notice!):

Northeast Belly Dance Competition: Gala Show
Date & Time: Saturday August 29, 2009, starting at 8:00pm
Location: Best Western Lehigh Valley Hotel & Conference Center
Grand Ballroom
300 Gateway Dr
Bethlehem, PA 18017
Price: $15.00 (I'm checking to see if tickets can still be purchased at the door. They don't seem to be sold out, but I'm unable to select the tickets to still purchase them online at this point.)
For more information, visit their website: Northeast Belly Dance Competition

There are thirteen performers lined up for this event including the girls of Hipnosis Tribal, Neon and Tanna Valentine of World Dance New York, Lotus Niraja, and Embers & Emeralds. There will also be some vendors present both before and after the show as well as during intermission.

I also wanted to highlight a series of workshops in November featuring Washington DC area dancers Asharah and Belladonna (I believe Mavi was originally slated to participate too but that doesn't seem to be the case any longer):

Workshops with Asharah & Belladonna
Date & Time: Saturday November 14 and Sunday November 15, 2009, workshops begin at noon
Location: to be announced
Price: Single Class: $40.00, Full Day (Saturday or Sunday): $70.00, Entire Weekend: $120
For more detailed information on the workshops and registration, please visit the Events Calender.

I'm really looking foreword to these workshops. I've met Belladonna before and she seemed like a very warm, outgoing person and a great dancer, not to mention her amazing sword-wielding skills. I've been wanting to take classes from Asharah too as I've been admiring her dancing and writing for some time, although I will admit that I do find the prospect of meeting her more than a little intimidating.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Experimenting with Tribal Makeup

I finally added a profile photo, a larger version is shown above. After a productive trip to Target (pronounced Tar·zhay for the uninitiated) I played around with some makeup ideas to use for the performance. I still need to work on what to do with my hair. I'm not skilled in that department at all.

I picked up some brown kohl in the HIP line made by L'Oreal which came in a lovely little bottle reminiscent of a perfume vial. I've used kohl before, but I just recently learned to apply it in the Middle Eastern fashion and although it was awkward, the first time it worked perfectly and got the look I've been striving for with liquid and pencil eyeliners for some time. It rims the inner eye, including the waterlines, perfectly and stays there. The only issue I've had so far — and I've been wearing it for hours while sweating in a hot apartment — is that some of it tends to gather near the tearduct and when I tried to wipe the excess off the lining tended to come off with it. It was expensive for such a little bottle (even the cashier commented on the price), but I'm tempted to buy more in different colors because I adore how it looks. I also picked up some ColorStay Overtime lipstick by Revlon in Relentless Raisin which really lives up to its title. It consists of a color stain and a clear, moisturizing topcoat that can re re-applied as desired to make it look more like a lip gloss. The topcoat wears off fairly quickly but the stain won't budge. You obviously cannot tell in the photo but in addition to the kohl I used some earthy, shimmery colors from my Shimmer Cube palette made by The Body Shop applied with Ecotools brushes on the lid and out from the edges of my eye. I really had to compensate with my brows with an eyebrow pencil so they weren't visually washed out by my eyes. I added some small faux facial tattoos near my eyes with liquid eyeliner and wore my Big Ass Bindi for the first time too. I think this was more makeup than I ever worn in my lifetime, except perhaps for Halloween.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Adventures in Belt-Making

The costume components for our upcoming performance include: banjara choli halter top (aka the Hipno-Halter), black 10 yard skirt, long fringe, pantaloons, "bits belt," and of course various accessories. What has been termed the "bits belt" is essentially a basic, long rectangle embellished with shisha mirrorwork, some traditional Tribal jewelry, and/or other odds and ends. All but one of the components I either own or have arranged to borrow. The piece I lack is an appropriate belt which of course is one of the most fundamental items in a good tribal costume.

I looked at buying or borrowing a suitable one from the studio, but most of the belt bases available are much too short and yet two of them linked together end up being too long. I've always wanted a two panel belt so I figure now would be a good time to try to make one. The vision in my head was of a dual piece belt which secures on either side by long ties looped through metal rings — something like this awesome belt worn by Molly Mitchell or Sara Beaman's belt although I'm sure mine won't be quite the degree of awesome as either of those examples.

The first thing I obtained was some mirror trim to serve as the central focal point, and I was lucky enough to scavenge some scraps of nicely coordinating fabric from the "free stuff" bin at the studio. Then it was off to the fabric store to find a sturdy base fabric and some large O rings. I found some fabric that works well and picks up on the peculiar golden color of the fringe belt I'll be wearing beneath it, but I had no luck finding O rings with a large enough diameter (there were plenty of D rings though, but even they were on the smaller side). I had to venture to the Tandy Leather Factory in Allentown to find the O rings I wanted, and find them I did: hefty, solid, 3" diameter rings that are practically bangles.

My mom was kind enough to assist me with the basic machine sewing as I have no machine currently, and even if I did, sewing a straight line is something of a challenge for me (actually drawing a straight line without a ruler or triangle is a challenge for me which is why you'll notice I really don't do much drawing involving architecture!). We discussed the pattern and the first step in actually making the belt involved me hemming the edges of the mirror trim by hand, and that certainly won't be the end of the handiwork on this belt despite having access to a machine. We were able to get the basic skeleton sewn together on the machine and now I'm working on sewing some Turkman buttons near the upper and lower borders. The use of a curved needle helps but they are still a pain in the ass to securely sew to the base, but I think it will be worth it in the end. The Faire is less than a month away, so I hope I can finish it by then!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Tribal Fusionista - ACEO

This ACEO features a feisty tribal fusion bellydancer. She's adorned her arms with fishnet gauntlets and kuchi cuffs and her hair with a peacock feather and a vibrant poppy. Her burgundy hair and costume forms a striking combination with the teal background, and her figure is accented with a bright shade of lime green. I do not encounter too many fusion dancers who play zills in their performances, but I love zills and have a habit of incorporating them into my work.