Thursday, April 26, 2007

Click

I've been dancing my butt off the past few weeks. In all honesty, the song I selected for my belly dance solo was the shortest one on the cds I bought that didn't have a zill track. (That was before the teacher insisted we use zills in our solos. Drat!) I liked the song well enough. Heck, I've danced to music I would never buy in a million years so this song wasn't bad at all.

I've been dancing and dancing and dancing to this song, waiting for a breakthrough. My movements in both dance classes have felt a little flat, like there was something missing. Don't get me wrong. I love my dance classes. I've just been disconnected from the music. Even when I took off my clothes in class last week, I didn't feel like I was giving my all. I hate calling it in.

Tonight I had my breakthrough. After dancing my solo three times in a row, I felt totally comfortable. I wasn't worried about what came next. The belly dance solo finally started to flow. I did my cutesy poses and spins and shimmies. I was drenched in sweat but ready to dance it again and again. I was happy to do the solo, and I was happy to dance to the music I selected. Felicity enjoyed my encores so much that she licked the sweat off my face.

There's no telling how this will effect my pole dancing. Breakthroughs tend to spread. Maybe it will even help me with my tissu.

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Wow.

I found this video through my new internet mentor, Jo "Boobs" Weldon. It's a public service announcement. You can tell that the reporter has a lot of experience with the material in the PSA to have a collection like that.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Best . . . E-book . . . Ever!

With about a week until my belly dance solo performance for tips and compliments, I needed to make my routine more interesting. I started with a handful of moves that I really enjoyed and thought I did well. My teacher suggested I do some spins and I found myself spinning most of the time. My classmates suggested some other cute moves since I chose a very cutesy song. Of course, with my "Egyptian headache pose" ending, I needed to spice up the middle a bit.

I've been reading Burlesque for Beginners by Jo "Boobs" Weldon. I paid just under $6 for this e-book that explains how to make the tassels twirl and how to make your own tassels. I bought it just to find out how tassels spin like they do, and I've gotten so much more out of it. In fact, there was a tip that I'm applying to my belly dance solo.

I spent one play of my song just posing so I could work out all the possible (and impossible) posing choices I could make. I still found myself dancing but I did have to move from place to place to accommodate new poses. I then ran through the song three more times with full choreography. I found places to incorporate my classmates' advice, my teacher's advice, and a handful of cutesy poses. The poses are an awesome chance to catch my breath. I found myself less dizzy and I think I'll be more able to entertain each table in my three minutes and forty-four seconds. This was the breakthrough I needed. Huzzah!

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Get a Grip

Last night I attended my third tissu class. I thought, 'This is going to go so well. I'm going to climb to the ceiling. I'm going higher than before, Gilbert.' I took the time to shave my legs below the knees as a courtesy to my instructor. (I hadn't shaved since Thursday, and I know the instructors touch your feet and legs to help you maneuver the tissu.)

Yeah, no. I could not climb very high and stay on the tissu. I kept sliding back down. I used some rosin and I still slipped. I had a shower and I usually don't use lotion (we can't before doing pole), so that wasn't it. Why did I keep slipping? The good news is that I was able to wrap up and flip myself over without the teacher's help.

All the slipping made me a bit unstable. I iced my right foot when I got home and covered it in arnica gel since it was bright red. I put arnica on both my hands because I knew they would hurt as soon as the feeling returned. My right hand and foot are still sore this morning, but that is to be expected.

And the mystery of the slipping -- Andrew suspects it was the shaving lotion I used in the shower. That all-natural mango coconut stuff may be a little more moisturizing than I thought.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

U-Turn for My Ta-Tas

I was busting my tail to get my belly dance bra finished for the showcase next Tuesday. I'd collected up the best advice and patterns the internet had to offer (for free) and hacked apart a clearance bra from Frederick's. As I continued to alter it per the instructions, the bra became more uncomfortable and less covering. Each direction I followed made it less of a bra and more of a sequined torture device. I wore it to rehearsal last week on Sunday and almost spilled out the sides. Argh!

The skirt is a relatively simple cycle. I installed an invisible zipper Saturday morning, hemmed the slits and the bottom. I have to add some elastic at the waist since it's a little loose on my lower abs. Once I tack trim to the top, the skirt is done. I need to dance in it, but I have the skirt I wore in December if I need it.

My teacher suggested I add more padding to the sides to jam my ta-tas in the bra real good. Of course, this meant I'd be absolutely heaving out the front. I hunted through my house Saturday morning for some random bra parts or padding to apply her solution. I pulled off the bra restrained myself from tossing it across the room. I didn't like how my ta-tas looked in this almighty belly dance bra made according to the internet advice. I went through my bras to see if I had something that did what I wanted. I needed straps I could easily alter so they wouldn't slide off my narrow shoulders. I also needed the stretch that a normal bra provides so I wouldn't be stuck with a band that is too small or too large.

That's when I found it. My Frederick's bra that I bought for an audition. It was cozy, uplifting and supportive. The straps can be moved around, so I tried it with a cross in back. Perfect! An hour later we got another stamp on my frequent buyer card and a black Hollywood Extreme Cleavage bra. Huzzah! I danced in it Saturday (undecorated) and it felt fantastic. Nothing was popping out of that sucker. I've since commenced the decorating so it matches my skirt. I'll post photos and an update soon.

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

I Just Wanna Dance!

Thursday night was my burlesque pole final. I entertained the dog with some of the techniques I learned over the six week session prior to the last class. The movements were surprisingly natural. I was totally comfortable about what I was doing. I loved doing this master session.

After class we went out to see burlesque dancing in the field. I'd never been to a strippy show before Thursday night. We went to El Cid in Silverlake for the Super Burlesque Show starring the Hollywood Pin Up Girls. They perform the first and third Thursday nights of the month.

We were right next to the stage so we got a close-up view of the girls in action. It was a very cute show with oodles of costume changes and lots of cute dancing. The music selection was great and the girls were very sassy. They even had a hoop for aerial tricks, which I'm sure takes as much skill as tissu but is even more challenging to do in heels. In the second act they danced in towels. You could almost see something but not quite. It was a masterful tease.

As we watched the girls dance, I was all ready to quit my day job and join them to make a living. I know the stripper moves. I know some of the stylized burlesque moves. I like dancing around in my underwear. If I work out a decent schedule for tissu, then there's another asset I'd have to offer. It's very fun to dance like that, and you could tell they were having a blast. I guess I'll have to settle for a strippy class recital for now.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

String Around the Finger

I realized yesterday that sometimes all it takes is a "string tied around the finger" -- a little reminder of sorts -- and remembering something comes with ease.

I've been doing some special calls to clients of my company's branches around the country. I have to listen each call to transcribe it, and I noticed that sometimes my questions didn't sound like questions. Now, it's a convention to use question words but not give the inflection of a question. Ever hear "What do you want for dinner." We say these things as statements a lot of the time, which is why a mate may say "Don't get testy with me because you're hungry." Without making these questions sound like questions, people can get confused. Question words turn into accusations or assumptions for the listener.

How do I know this? I've experienced it for myself and I studied it in my Scientology courses. There's a large body of information on communication, and there was one reference I studied years ago that covered this exact thing. When I was listening to some of my calls, I noticed I wasn't always asking questions with my questions. That was the string around my finger for the communication reference about questions. That little reminder kept me asking real questions yesterday. I'm sure the people I was questioning felt more at ease.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Finale

I've been spending so much time working on my belly dancing that my burlesque pole final fell by the wayside. I purchased gloves and fishnet thigh highs when I started the class last month. I picked up maribou slippers and an easy-to-peel top a couple weeks ago. I needed to complete the outfit for Thursday night. I went through my closet and nabbed one of the bubble skirts I got from Old Navy for about $2 and a plain black bra from Fredericks. Outfit complete.

I hadn't selected a song, and I wanted something appropriate to the heyday of burlesque. I went on Rhapsody to find something, then I went to iTunes to buy it. I'll be stripping to "Slow Walk" by Sil Austin. I was really worried about the music part since it took me a while to find a belly dance song the right length. I should remember that this is an entirely different breed of cat.

I also hadn't worked on my moves specifically for the final solo. Gabrielle said we didn't have to do a solo, but come on. This is me we're talking about. I have to do a solo for my own gratification. So I improvised it through twice in my living room last night. This style comes so much more natural to me than belly dancing. I feel totally comfortable with the music, and I'm not worried about the finale now.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

My Music Video Debut

Last summer I did an Omarion video. I could only get the ghetto version (someone's copy of the original that skips) from YouTube for embedding. You can see me at 2:01 next to a black girl in an orange dress, 2:18 right in the middle of the screen, 2:41 acting like a fan on the right of the screen, and 3:47 in the same place. Keep your mouse on the pause button.




If you want to see the non-ghetto version, go to here. You can see me at 1:48, 2:05, 2:27, 4:23, and Andrew says it's me at 4:38.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Big Bra Adventure: Part Four

At last writing I had covered the straps with fabric. I covered the cups with pieces of fabric much bigger than each cup, and I used yellow thread to tack the fabric in place. I wanted to be sure the entire cup was covered with minimal fabric wrinkling, and I didn't cut any darts into the fabric to make it rest better against the cup. I trimmed the fabric around each cup and left about 1/2" seam allowance. I stitch most of the fabric around the edges before removing the yellow thread. It looked great.

I was going to take more time with each step until I got an email from my teacher that she wants us to dance in our costumes for her today. I've worked my hand into a claw trying to get the bra in shape to be viewed. I put on the recommended trouser hook for the back last night. The fabric that overlaps to cover the hook won't stay in place with a snap, so I'll probably have to attach a tiny hook and eye. The trouser hook is very secure. The straps are a little uncomfortable and aren't really designed for any weight gain or loss since there's no stretch. I think next time I'll leave the bra in one piece and cover it from there.

We picked up some trim yesterday so I could finish my bra. I tried the bra on with some trim draped across the top. This was my first fitting of the bra with all the straps secure. Wow. My boobs looked huge. I was spilling out the top and sides. One wrong shimmy and a nipple would pop out for a visit. This was problematic. I grabbed the wide trim we picked up for my skirt waistband and stitched it around the top and sides of the cups. It looks much better, and I feel a little more covered. I bought plenty of the other trim to do the bottom of the cups if I want, and I have enough to do the waistband of the skirt. My lesson there was to buy a D-cup next time so there's some place for my boobs to hide or to buy a bra with less padding and stuff it myself for cleavage.

I started applying some dangling trim to the bottom of the bra. It has tiny chains with rings hanging from them. Andrew said they looked like little handcuffs. I have to finish stitching it along the bottom. After rehearsal today I may add a few more stitches to secure it.

My next step is figuring out exactly how I want to attach the smaller trim and what to do with the tiny silver chain I bought. Then I have to finish the skirt.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Jesus Smells Like Strawberries, or How We Survived a Blackout

Yesterday was a busy day for me at work. It was very windy outside, so windy that the power was off at Andrew's workplace from noon until he left for the day. Our power flickered once at the office but the power quickly recovered. We were in such a hurry to get home after work so I could get ready for my pole class that we didn't even stop to get groceries. I figured we'd finish of the greens we had in the refrigerator and I'd send Andrew out for chicken while I took a shower.

We got home and the power was off. Brandon, a cute kid from up the block, came by on his bicycle and announced to Mr. Andrew that the power was off. Crap. I worked out a plan of action in the event the power stayed off for more than an hour, then I jumped in the shower while Andrew went out for the chicken. We were going with the original plan, but he added batteries, ice and candles to his list. The house was really quiet since we didn't have the television or radio going. The dogs didn't know how to react.

I cleaned and sewed and cooked and watched the portable television with a scaredy dog curled in my lap and another at my feet. The last time the power went off and the house was dark, we came home and Piper had wagged her tail into a bloody pulp. I decided it was easier to stay home with them and make sure they didn't knock over any of the saints candles Andrew bought (long lasting and inexpensive). The followed us through the house when we would creep from room to room by candlelight. We put the Jesus candle in the bathroom. It smelled like strawberries.

Close to 100,000 homes are still without power in Los Angeles this morning. We're in one of those homes. We're hoping that we have power tonight because the house was just too quiet.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Chaplin School

The date of the Write Act vaudeville/cabaret/gala has been moved. I think the plan is now late May. An arrangement was made with another theatre company that needed a space to rent our space for a nice fee. Of course, this meant that we couldn't get into the space for any gala rehearsals so it made it tough throwing together a fantastic fundraiser.

Nonetheless, some of us are still working on pieces for the show so we're nicely prepared when the date is announced. This week I've been rehearsing a Chaplin piece that involves the Tramp dressing up as a bug exterminator to win the Daughter's (my) affection. It's very cute, and our Tramp really has the mannerisms of Chaplin down. He did another Chaplin piece at the last fundraiser from what I'm told. The piece we're doing is very fun.

I've been working on my cute faces for this thing. Everything has to be very theatrical, and I usually do realism. I have to find specific characteristics for this spoiled young lady that contribute to the piece. For research, we watched some Chaplin films and I watched Chaplin again. I'm enjoying the change from the kind of pieces I normally do. It's freeing.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Big Bra Adventure: Part Three

Last week I attached the cotton webbing as straps on my belly dance bra. They aren't the most comfortable things in the world, but I'm also used to having a lot more stretch in my bra straps. I think next time I'll buy a convertible bra, stitch the straps in place and cover them. Of course, it's too late to change that now. This bra isn't too bad.

Last night I covered the straps with the fabric I got on sale at JoAnn's Fabrics. The fabric I selected has glittery designs glued to it, so pieces of glitter get all over the place as I work. I think I filled part of my sewing machine with the tiny black pieces as I stitched the fabric to the straps. I left some of the cotton webbing exposed on the inside to help prevent skin irritation from the glitter and to help the straps grip my skin. I didn't cut the fabric to fit the bra sides and straps. Instead, I machine stitched one end of a scrap adjacent to the underwire. Then I pinned the fabric along the length of the side and strap. I stitched the top down, trimmed the fabric on the top and bottom of the strap on that side, then stitched the bottom. I also stitched the end of the cotton webbing so it wouldn't fray.

I also took some time machine stitching my skirt. I have to insert a zipper but the zipper foot for the machine got lost in some move or another. I'll have to pick up a new one. It's a bias-cut skirt (made without a pattern) with leg slits. We'll see how it turns out. If it totally sucks, I can always cut a hip belt from the fabric and buy a skirt.

The next step is to cover the cups with fabric, attach the other end of the halter strap and put a fastener on the back straps. I may also create some coverage for the side of my boobs and the cleavage so I don't heave so much after these alterations.

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Monday, April 09, 2007

Huzz . . . eh?

Last year we had a great time at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire. We had limited funds but we hadn't been to a ren faire in a while so we loved every minute. This year was not so good. The day started with the parking attendant demanding exact change when the signs said "We appreciate exact change." 'Appreciate' does not mean the same thing as 'require.' We had to drive back down the road from the damn to break a bill at a liquor store on Easter since most places were closed. Bad start.

We stopped by the Jack FM booth before we entered the faire. They weren't engaging at all, and they weren't offering any of the stuff on their table of goodies. I took a key chain and left. We went into the maze which is the faire in search of food. I was already cranky from the parking jerk and Jack FM. I had a tasty shepherd's pie and Andrew got his turkey leg with mead. We forgot that you pay $6.75 for nearly ten ounces of mead. Then we started exploring.

We saw a couple neat shows. I'm not going to take up space hear blogging about them. I did find some great zills and a silver belly dance hip belt at a good price, so I picked those up. I also got a cute little dragon and a doll that looks like Felicity. We bought some awesome soap and sweets and headed home.

I'm glad we had a two-for-the-price-of-one coupon, because this year's experience didn't feel like it was worth $25 each. I could probably skip a year or two and have a better time when I return, unless that parking jerk is still there.

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Peer Pressure

I had to have my belly dance solo ready for presentation yesterday. Yikes! I feel better doing an impromptu pole dance or even choreographing pole. For the longest time I felt like I didn't know enough about belly dancing to come up with something good. I've spent the past few weeks trying to fill the void. I read articles about hand movements and articles on choreography. I've watched more belly dance performances in search of moves I could steal. I bought a few CDs and I've been listening to them and working on my improvisation. I spent a chunk of time Tuesday night working on the group pieces and my solo, and I spent a few hours yesterday morning putting my solo together.

Since it's Easter weekend, the only students in class yesterday were me and Charlene (also in the troupe). We used the class time as an opportunity to perform for one another. I went first since I prefer to go first. I forgot part of my choreography about halfway through but I kept smiling. It went well. Then Charlene did hers. She moves like she was born to belly dance. She was awesome. Jamilla gave us some constructive criticism which was really helpful. It was nice to have someone look at my dance and validate my work but also give me some hints to make it more interesting for the audience. I may work on incorporating spins later this evening.

It's funny performing a new skill. I can do the group stuff easily, but it really was a test of my ability as a dancer to hold my own and hold it alone. I'm glad we performed for each other so I don't have to go through that first solo experience on the night of the showcase and get bored with my own dance. Jamilla said it's good to perform at every opportunity so you get used to performing. I totally agree.

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Friday, April 06, 2007

My Own Personal Belly Dance

I'm working on a solo for the upcoming show at Dar Maghreb. I had a great "out" last time since I was nearly six months into my belly dance studies and had two numbers to learn for the pole dance part of the Holiday Shake in addition to the belly dance group number. Of course, I promised that I would do a solo at the next show.

It's an interesting process. I had to first get used to putting on the music at home and trying to figure out what to do next. That's going better. I selected a song that would be great for veil work, but I'm so fickle I may ditch the veil. I almost ditched the song while I was trying to work things out Tuesday night. It's a cute song and it's under four minutes, but I was too frustrated. However, I did work out the "chorus" (if you'd call it that when there are no words). I have an idea about where I'm going to take the rest of it, but nothing is certain. Nothing, that is, besides the fact I have to present it to my teacher and classmates Saturday. Eek!

Maybe I'll be so busy vamping for tips that I won't have to worry about most of the dance.

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Surviving Tissu

My tissu class was Monday night. My first tissu class was pretty painful. This one wasn't as bad. I didn't feel like I was going to barf, and I only winced from the pain half the time. Sure, the teacher had to shove my butt over my head so I would get all the way upside-down, but it was my second class.

Tuesday I was a little sore. Last time I was so wiped out and in pain that I had a combination of Tiger Balm and ice take over my weekend plans. I slept most of the time because nothing I could do was comfortable. Tuesday was different. I felt stretched. My right foot was a little sore, but it wasn't too bad. I was able to work on my belly dance choreography.

Wednesday was a little worse than Tuesday. The tops of my shoulders felt really stretched out, and I had a hard time with some lifting. My groin also hurt. I wanted to put an ice pack on it for the day, but I had to work. I was able to walk but I looked like I had something stuck in my butt. I had a little cal mag before bed just in case.

Today I feel much better. I understand why some of these articles advise a 48 hour healing period for muscles after a heavy workout. Depending on my rehearsal schedule, I figure I can do tissu again next week.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

I Am Totally Freaking Out

Seriously. My theatre company has a vaudeville show planned in just under three weeks. We knew it was coming for a while, but at the last minute it changed from being a gala with scenes from upcoming productions to a vaudeville show. The plus point is that small groups of people can get together to rehearse little bits for the show. The problem is that when you try to get together more than two people on short notice, scheduling becomes more difficult.

So far, I'm involved in three numbers. I'm playing the spoiled daughter in a Chaplain sketch. I'm also choreographing the opening and closing numbers. Then I'm singing and dancing (and choreographing) a song about pole dancing. These are all very fun things. I just don't know where we'll all find the time to get together and get it all done.

In addition, I have my own little projects outside of the theatre. I have to finish making my belly dance costume, finish my choreography for my solo and promote for the Dar Maghreb show. I also need a serious refresher of the first group number we're doing and a little refresher on parts of the other group number. I still haven't picked a song or outfit for my burlesque final, much less choreographed it. This doesn't even take into account the silly little things I need to do around the house.

I dropped out of the fight class I was taking at the theatre so I could squeeze out some rehearsal time.

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Lovelies

I did my second tissu class this evening. The first one was a total butt kicker. The second class was a bit easier but still very challenging. I think I have more flexibility than strength, so it's still a major workout.

I started out climbing and I did a candy cane (the thing I almost threw up doing last time). I later did the splits, and I topped off the evening by going upside-down. w00+!

I'm tired but I feel good. I look forward to the next class. I know that it will get easier as I get stronger. I remember back when I couldn't do an easy spin in pole class. I'm sure I'll have the skills necessary under my belt for the show in the fall. I plan to return to tissu class as soon as I have a rehearsal schedule for an upcoming Write Act show.

Don't I look awesome?

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The Big Bra Adventure: Part Two

After a very busy week, I finally skipped by the fabric store to get some supplies for my bra project. Last time I cut off the straps and closure on the back so I could replace them with something sturdier. I got black 1" cotton twill tape to replace the back and turn the bra into a halter. I stitched it with my sewing machine since I'll have plenty of hand sewing to do later.

The biggest challenge on this part was getting the halter strap just the right length. An error of 1/4" could have my cookies sliding out the bottom or sagging into the cups. I have to take it up slightly. I prefer shoulder straps, but I have narrow shoulders so I don't want the straps to slide off while I'm dancing. The halter is the most recommended style.

For my next act, I have to cover the bra. I bought some great black mesh fabric with black glitter designs for a great bargain. I've cut a skirt from the same fabric. I need more black thread first, and I'll need a zipper for the skirt. I'm concerned about covering the inside of the cotton twill straps because the glitter could irritate my skin when I'm dancing. I'll have to come up with a solution for that. After I cover the bra and attach the new hook and eye on the back, it's decorating time.

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