Sunday, May 9, 2010

RAK 2010

This is my solo dance, which I only spent a few days practicing because of illness. There is also video of our group performance and my spoken word performance that I'm trying to track down. I had a great time despite being really depressed that none of my friends came out to the event.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

She's got the hippy hippy shake...

After tonight's dress rehearsal, I am unusually self-conscious about my luscious bosom bouncing all over the damn place through the abundance of shoulder shimmies and chest pops in our choreography. Front and center, too. Oh well. It's not as if there's really anything to be done for it.

Boobs ahoy!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Got our costumes at class last night. Bleck.

Though I'm really pleased at how quickly I'm picking up the choreography and can't help thinking how amazing I'd be if I actually practiced like I said I would. Speaking of, I should probably finish choreographing that thing I intend to perform in two weeks. Hmm. And stop eating donuts while I'm at it. Hahaha. One of these might happen.

And oh yeah, I have to learn a line dance and a drum solo, too. Maybe I'm taking on too much. But the drum solo is short, and I am confident in my abilities to, um... dance purdy? *Shrug* It's a dark club and I'll be in the middle of a group of 9 in a color that stands out, so no pressure. I wish I weren't so blasé about this whole thing; it's just that I spend so much energy stressing over work that nothing else can make its way onto my list of concerns.

And there's nothing like a little deadline pressure to improve the quality of my work. I think it's more time efficient anyway to crank out a 10-page paper in one five hour session than to spend weeks researching, writing, and revising. I pulled off a 3.0 GPA with that M.O.

I'll be getting together with my classmates for a Sunday rehearsal at least.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Costume ugh

I don't hate, but right now I hate my belly dance classmates. They chose this frilly travesty of a costume over a lovely two-tone skirt for our May performance. So now I'm spending 60,000 won on a costume that will be worn for about 10 minutes before being immediately chucked in the garbage. I am highly displeased.

Anyway, I chose white and will be performing in the perfect center of our formation.

I haven't had to put up with this crap since the horrible black marshmallow fairy costumes we wore in colorguard my sophomore year of high school. (I'll look for pictures later.)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


T minus 23 days. Song chosen. Freaking out because the other performers are more talented than I am. Seeking inspiration from YouTube (and Zuzanna). However the search seems to be reinforcing my fear that I cannot do this rockin' tune justice.

Monday, April 5, 2010


I answered the call for performers for a May 7 event. I've chosen my song and am starting on the choreography. Exciting.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Balkan Bonanza

Fundraiser event @ Club FF in Hongdae, 3/26/10, to buy instruments for Romani children. I'm usually more of a photo person, but I was on a video kick for this event.

Tim McManus: accordian, Myvanwy Birds: drum,

AMAZING guitar by Greg Hanford

More AMAZING guitar Greg Hanford

The dancers (Bobby & Aly)

More dancers (Belynda Azhaar & May Tribal-fusion)

"Bad Beer" by Tim McManus

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

March Hafla

A Middle Eastern food & dance party at Andalous in Itaewon, 3/20/10

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I took a shimmy-based conditioning class last night. My feet were killing me by the end, but it felt good. I wasn't so distracted by the same body issues as before because I came to understand that I'm just not used to not being the thinnest and most talented person in class by a long shot. But this is good.

My friends have always encouraged me and enjoyed watching me dance, applauding my skill. I have no skill. I'm not very good, but with no basis for comparison before now, my opinion is worth what, exactly? For the first time since I began belly dancing four years ago, I'm being challenged in class and shown up by better dancers. This is a good thing.

It means I can improve a lot.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


"Your clothes conceal much of your beauty, yet they hide not the unbeautiful.
And though you seek in garments the freedom of privacy, you may find in them a harness and a chain.
Would that you could meet the sun and the wind with more of your skin and less of your raiment.
For the breath of life is in the sunlight and the hand of life is in the wind.

Some of you say, 'It is the north wind who has woven the clothes we wear.'
And I say, Ay, it was the north wind
But shame was his loom, and the softening of the sinews was his thread.
And when his work was done he laughed in the forest.
Forget not that modesty is for a shield against the eye of the unclean.
And when the unclean shall be no more, what were modesty but a fetter and a fouling of the mind?
And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair."

Excerpt from "The Prophet" by Kahlil Gibran

Putting on a shirt is generally the most disappointing part of my day. I like underpants well enough, but certainly not bras or shirts. My fears of what other people will think are about my only motivation for wearing bras. But these fears don't stop me from often going without in the summertime. I oscillate between not wanting to look trashy and thinking, "My breasts are magnificent and screw anyone who takes offense to them."

Covered head to toe in a feeble attempt to stay warm in the winter, I feel least like myself and most like I'm hiding something. I've chosen my winter garb with care- sweaters and slacks in attractive colors and cuts- yet I tire of them in less than a month and dressing becomes drudgery for months on end. Where are you, Spring?

I feel freer and more like 'me' in my summer clothes, but still not quite there. I delight in buying and creating costumes for performance and for amtgard, but I can never stick with just one. Dozens later, I still haven't found one (or even a few) that feels like the precise expression of who I am.

I can't say that nudist communities appeal to me whatsoever, but I still feel most comfortable at home in nothing more than my own skin. My skin and my body are the only constant of 'me'-ness. Though they change every day, every hour, so do I. I am not at all the same person I was a year ago, or even last week. My clothes can't keep up.

My weight fluctuates and I never seem to have pants that fit right. Hm, wouldn't that be an interesting metaphor for everything imbalanced in my life?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Self image prompt

How did you relate to your classmates? Were you comparing yourself to them? If so, why did you do that and what did you learn? prompt

I attended my first ever tribal belly dance class today at the Well Being Studio in Itaewon. Man, it was hard. I've been sick in bed for two weeks, so I'm physically weak. Plus this brand new posture and style to learn and so many little things I had to concentrate on that had become automatic for me in Oriental style dance classes. Whew.

Add to that my being distracted by the teacher's and other student's long, lithe bodies in the mirror, mine looking round and plump by comparison, they showing off slender tummies and dance pants that accentuate their movements better while I was covered in workout gear. And I wondered if I could ever look so slim and graceful. It doesn't help that I typically barely glance at myself in the studio mirrors, preferring instead to carefully watch and emulate the instructor.

Anyway, I left feeling particularly "blah" about myself. But I stopped by What the Book? and chanced upon a memoir about food and sex and sensuality. The author is brilliant and her book laugh-out-loud funny. ("Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses" by Isabel Allende) See the poem from the post below this. She begins by stating at age 50, "I repent of my diets, the delicious dishes rejected out of vanity, as much as I lament the opportunities for making love that I let go by because of pressing tasks or puritancal virtue."

It's cheered me up a bit.

It's not so much seasonal affective disorder as I need to exercise almost daily to keep from feeling depressed and crazy-like, but the weather and illness have trapped me indoors, trapped me in my bed and my head, increasingly insane. I'm sure, with patience, the weather will improve and I can start working out and feeling happy again.

"Hymn to Cellulite" excerpt

O avidity
for the elaphantine leg,
pillowy with fat!
O majesty
of the divine thigh
of jelly-like liquidity!
...Long live the adipose
idolators of idleness,
those of the class who leave the
odious scutwork to the mule
and eat everything that fattens the ass.

-Enrique Serna

Monday, March 1, 2010

History lesson

Betty Page 1950s fetish film

Bad form doesn't bother me so much, but what is up with her facial expressions? This was considered playful and teasing back then, though it just looks weird today. What do you think?

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Dance & art

I doodle for fun.

My favorite to date:

I took an intro to watercolor class and was assigned "shaped painting in guache" shortly after a New Mexico camping trip.:

Halloween 2009:

The gal on the left has a sword visible in daylight.

Belly Love

A rockin' article I found online:

Fire in the Belly: Self-Love and Navel Gazing
February 08, 2010

Excerpt: My lover made up a modern proverb: “A woman who loves her belly loves her body.” I don’t think it will catch on. It’s true that women, particularly modern women in Western culture, have a love-hate (or even a hate-hate) relationship with their bellies. Why? What did that sweet bump of skin (located as it is under the two much glamorized and beloved fat-bags) do to deserve such scorn?
...An important part of self-love is surrounding myself with good mirrors. Love is the best mirror. I don’t accept lovers who don’t love me big and delicious as I am. It’s impossible to watch your lover trace your scars or wide curves with pleasure and fascination and not catch some of his/her enthusiasm. How can you scorn something someone you love worships?
Read the full story here.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Things I want to learn

And learn to do well:

~Belly rolls
~A good back bend
~Tribal fusion style
~Floor work
~Layered shimmies

I'm off to YouTube to get myself started.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tribal cutey

Super cute tribal belly dancer whose style I'm really diggin'.

Belly Dance Evolution Asia 2010

Sunday night I went to the Belly Dance Evolution show. It's an international show and competition featuring the best performers from around the world.

(No filming allowed, so I had to hide my LCD screen. Sorry for the poor quality.)

Aside from the little kid occupying the $60 seat in front of me flashing his Nintendo DS screen in my face throughout the performance, and despite having to pinch my nose against the kimchi halitosis FROM HELL sitting next to me for a 3 hour show, my seat was really great- about 7 rows back and maybe 10 seats left of center.

The dancers and choreography were also great.

The production values were worse than a high school talent show. I think they let the special kids run sound and lighting. It's not a fucking rock concert; spare my ear drums please. The music was unnecessarily, even painfully loud. Seriously, when I enjoy your show better with earplugs in, someone is a little "deet-de-dee." And the spotlight consistently missed performers' entrances. My friends who worked in the Collin County Community College theater department would be appalled.

Let me repeat, the dancers and the choreography were really good. Like, my jaw on the floor throughout the tribal parts, good.

And I got to meet and chat with other dancers. So I'm not too disappointed in what I paid for the show. In the future, I'd rather see the production in another country that has its act together.

Swingin' these hips like nunchuks

Because I know you're wondering.

"Shakira swing them hips like nunchuks."

5/13 addition: That's all; I just liked the lyric a lot. And no matter how many new skills I learn, my hips remain my favorite skill toys. Even if that makes me the only gal among the circus crowd without a prop. I can shimmy and hoop a little, but I kinda hate hooping.

When did you start dancing?

I took ballet and tap when I was 3 or 4, ice skating at 8, jazz at 11, ballet at 12, did colorguard in high school, and tore up the dance floor at every school dance while my peers stood self-consciously to the side.

In the summer of 2005, after my freshman year of college, I saw my first belly dancer at a campfire in New Mexico. The people all around me whispered disparagements regarding her weight and body, but I was enthralled by her skill and presence and made a point of complimenting her when she finished. I thought to myself, "I wanna do that!"

About six months later, I heard about belly dance classes available across the street from campus. Immediately I signed up. I was reeling from a breakup, and this class gave me back a sense of happiness and confidence in myself and my desirability. Cathy Barton taught the class and was a delight to learn from. She taught all her classes choreography, (the amazing Shakira in mine) and even we beginners got to perform at the end of semester hafla!

After that, a tight class schedule and limited income kept me from lessons for four years, but I performed at every campfire I could find a drummer and a few arts competitions hosted by the local medieval recreation group, Amtgard.

In November 2009, I packed up my life to move to South Korea to teach English and put my costumes and scarves into storage, figuring I'd have to wait a year to belly dance. But I was so wrong! On a lark, I Googled "belly dance korea" and found a thriving belly dance community and multitude of teachers in and near Seoul.

My first lesson was with Belynda Azhaar, a darling redhead with an incredible gift for teaching. I learned more about different belly dance styles in my one hour class with her than I ever could have imagined. This was the first class that ever challenged me (Holy crap, zills are hard!) and made my body sore after (because I simply lack any veil experience and arm muscles). And finally, a teacher who would correct me and help me become a better dancer!

I later took an oriental belly dance class at The Well Being Studio in Itaewon but didn't care much for the choreography. I saw the tail end of the tribal class, though, and am dying to go back and give it a shot.

For now, I'm just waiting to sign a contract with a new school and get my first paycheck before I commit to regularly attending lessons. I can't wait!