A Belly Dance Diary 2003
Are these earrings cool or what? (11/14/03)
2001-2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024, 2025
Herein is chronicled Zorba's on-going voyage of discovery into the magical realm of Belly Dancing. Sometimes major events, more often just baby steps along the way. Presented here in reverse chronological order.
26 December 2003
Performance at Kalisa's. First one in weeks. I had to cancel a total of 3 Belly Dance performances, 1 Greek Dance performance, and about six dance classes (of all types) due to this cold/flu bug from Hell. And I barely made this one as this bug is STILL dragging at me.
Anyways, did "Veil-1" and "Solo-4", with my red and black tie-dye 4 yard silk "Dragon's Blood" veil. Small crowd due to being the day after Xmas. More like tiny - but enthusiastic! Got quite a bit of Zill time in during free dancing (Saroyan Tutankhamun)!
25 December 2003
I received a Shemadan for Christmas! Triple tier, 16 candles! Fortunately, it is scalable, I can set it up as 1 tier/6 candles, 2 tiers/11 candles, or all 3 tiers/16 candles. That way I can "work up" to the whole thing! Plus, as I'm tall, I can scale it down if headroom is an issue. I'd have problems with all 3 tiers at Kalisa's for instance.
Now I just have to get it all tightened up and decorate it! I want to embellish the crown portion with some "jewels", and I think I want to hang some "crystals" off of the branches, maybe off of the wax cups. We'll see!
5 December 2003
First Performance! Special birthday party at Kalisa's! One of Jamaica's students was celebrating her 88th birthday, and threw a party and invited all the Belly Dancers to come and dance! She even did a duette with her daughter, also a B.D. student. It was her first performance! She did really good, it was really cool!
As for myself, although I wanted to do "BellyGram 1", it was just too long for the conditions. In the very beginning I was the only dancer there so I opened the show with "Solo-4" (Mary Jane's Dance). When I finished that other dancers showed up and soon the place was packed with dancers. I did do "Veil-3" also. I was wearing my newest "Raffa" costume, and using my orange Chiffon veil. During Veil-3, I draped the veil around my neck and did some armwork. Upon removing the veil from my neck, it just was not totally cooperative. I then followed the fabulous Imzadi's advice for such situations, and got rid of it!
We also did Jamaica's troupe dances Tsiftetelli and the "Spanish Dance". The birthday girl joined us for the Tsiftetelli! My wife was there and danced as well.
For those who might be interested, Alan Messick, our "house photographer" has galleries of beautiful pix from various performances at Kalisa's. Many of the pictures on this site came from there. There are others of my dance sisters and myself at his Pbase Gallery! Link is also in the Links Page.
3 December 2003
Performance at, you DIDN'T guess it!, Epsilon Restaurant This takes a bit of explanation, so bear with me:
The Greek Dance troupe I belong to descends upon this, our local Greek Restaurant, the first Wednesday of the month to eat and (Greek) dance. This time we were also celebrating the recent birthday of our eldest member, Marialice who is now 94 (She actively performed Greek Dance until she was 91!)! I, along with the other Greek Dancers, thought a "Bellygram" by a male Belly Dancer (namely ME), would be really cool.
So I spent the entire day preparing - I had a vague idea what I wanted to do, and started by piecing together the music. I glued an upbeat Brothers of the Balady tune together with "Veil-3", "Solo-3" (Without veil prelude), and Saroyan's Aman Aman as a finale to get people up and dancing.
Burned it all onto a CD, practiced the "new" stuff a couple of times, worked on the quirky zill to veil to zill transitions, and called it good.
So, when the time came, I went into the bathroom at the restaurant to get the "rest of" my costume on, gave my CD (Yep, everything on ONE track) to my fellow Greek Dancer to get the sound system tuned up. He and the restaurant owner were turning up the volume and I STILL couldn't hear it very well. Finally, it seemed OK, so I started playing my Zills (Saroyan Tutankhamuns) "offstage" as it were, then danced into the main dining area. Several of the Greek Dancers, including my wife, started zaghareeting at the top of their lungs. I still couldn't hear the music that well. So while I was dancing in front of a rather surprised Marialice, I whispered in my co-hort's ear "LOUDER!" Finally, the music was loud enough to hear over all the ambient noise and my Zills!
Then the first part was over and it was time for "Veil-3". I had built-in a 2 second silent period between numbers so I'd have time to turn my Zills around backwards so veilwork would be easier. First time I've done this, it isn't perfect, but it helps. The veil piece worked well, I (once again) swiped my wife's multi-colored tie-dye veil because it is 3 yards and I didn't want to take a 4 yard veil into this (rather tight) restaurant. It took a brief moment to get the veil to float after I unwrapped it (this is the first time I've used a veil wrap since Solo-1!), I was still slightly clumsy with the Zills on my fingers. Anyways, this part went well. At one point I was able to wrap my veil around Marialice's head and do some nice slow Maias and other hipwork for her, then remove the veil and camel back away. She liked that!
Then it was time to do "Solo-3". For purposes of this routine (Which I've named "BellyGram-1"), I offed the veil at the end of the veil piece so I could use the 2 second silence between the music (and the first couple of bars of Solo-3) to turn my Zills back around. So I did Solo-3 without any veil in the intro part, a first. Otherwise, it was a "standard" Solo-3 performance and went well.
The last part, Aman Aman, I called for "everyone" to get up and dance with me. One of the Greek Dancers is an "ex" Belly Dancer, she got right up and started dancing with me, my wife did also. The (male) restaurant owner was watching from the kitchen door, I danced in his direction and beckoned to him to join us. No go! So I wrapped up the entire performance, a whole 14+ minutes, 3/4's of it playing Zills!
Am I pleased? Yea, I got a lot of compliments, even from the restaurant owner. I even got $6 in tips - a first as Kalisa's isn't a tipping environment. Naturally, I know what I could have done better, etc., etc., blah, blah, but Marialice liked it, my wife liked it, our leading Greek Dance lady liked it (she's been dancing "forever" and doesn't hand out compliments lightly), the other restaurant patrons liked it, so I'm content. I get to do the same routine (hopefully) in 48 hours at Kalisa's for a dance sister's birthday, I just hope I do better!
So a lot of firsts tonite: First tip, First "BellyGram", First time dancing in a restaurant, First time making a "Zill entrance" (I've wanted to do that for a LONG time!), First time turning Zills around to accomodate veilwork, and definitely the First time Belly Dancing for 14+ minutes (Previous "record" was just over 8, "Solo-3 with veil prelude")! Also the very first time performing outside Kalisa's, performances for friends and family notwithstanding.
28 November 2003
Performance at, you guessed it!, Kalisa's!!! Yes, I finally did "Veil-3". I also did "Solo-4" or "Mary Jane's Dance" (I was wearing the costume she made) as I call it. Being the day after Thanksgiving, we only had 5 dancers and a smallish, but enthusiastic crowd. One of my co-workers, who just happens to be a Belly Dancer herself, was there!
Stolen Veil? Veil-3 was interesting to do - I didn't have a clue what I was going to do beforehand. Not even an opening. And I was actually calm about this! The music started, the intro played, and I swept onto the stage and just danced. This is a breakthrough for me. I also was able to drape the veil around my neck (I stole my wife's new multi-colored tie-dye veil that she bought at DDF), dance a bit, then cleanly recover the veil - a first!
I was complimented on my dancing by a male from the audience. I always appreciate compliments, but I REALLY appreciate compliments from males who are secure enough in themselves to enjoy my dancing.
23 November 2003
Not yet another vest!
My newest costume, made by the mighty Siwa! I call this a Raffa top, after the male dancer of Utah who wears similar ones. You can just see my orange Chiffon veil in the lower left. (11/21/03)
This is a particularly effective costume for a male. Its beautiful yet masculine (for those who care), doesn't cover the belly, and shows off hipwork and isolations VERY well! Maias look really cool!
21 November 2003
Yet another performance at Kalisa's! This one was memorable. Although I did the same two routines as last week, I did them in my BRAND NEW COSTUME!!! The newest one the mighty Siwa has been working on for quite a while now. I couldn't be more pleased with this costume - it was inspired by Utah male Belly Dancer Raffa, and shows plenty of torso skin, yet isn't yet another vest. It also shows hipwork and hip isolations like nothing else I've worn. The audience (GREAT crowd tonite!) went NUTS when I did things like Maias!
Also performed with my new four yard orange chiffon "fire" veil for the first time. Zills used: Saroyan Grecians. Did quite a bit of free dancing at the end also, even enticed a shy lady up to dance with me! Should have pix of this performance and all the new goodies in a few days.
Oh, nearly forgot: There was an older lady, very distinguished looking sitting to once side of the stage. She was obviously enjoying all the dancers, including me. So I dropped my veil in her lap when I was done with it, to the appreciation of the audience. Also had a group of "good old boys" sitting front center - much to my surprise they really liked my dancing!
A fun evening...
16 November 2003
First, a drum solo/choreography workshop with Kamaal! 3 hours worth! Wiggle Woman has been "after me" to put together a drum solo performance - I didn't have a clue how. This showed me, and also gave me a ready made choreography I can perform! Yea! Great for my first, I bought the music and video so I can practice and tweak it and make it my own! I actually grokked what Kamaal was teaching!
This was followed by a "Four Yard Veil Master Class" by Shoshanna. More mega-grok on my part - learned a number of way cool veil tricks and techniques!
Both these teachers are HIGHLY recommended even if, between the two of them, they DID manage to make every muscle in my body ache!
I also met another male Belly Dancer, who had driven down from Pleasanton for Kamaal's workshop. He's only been dancing for less than a year, but he's a far faster learner than I - he's at least my equal (such as I am), if not more so! He'll be hitting the pro circuit soon. Be on the lookout for Numa'ir!!
15 November 2003
Attended the second annual Luna Gitana festival in Santa Cruz. Saw a number of very good dancers, including our very own Wiggle Woman, Shoshanna, Sese, Vashti, and not leastly, Kamaal (Male Dancer from Southern California)!
14 November 2003
Performance at Kalisa's, first in quite a while! Smallish crowd, fairly quiet, but definitely not dead! I did Solo-4 "Mary Jane's Dance" and Solo-3 with the veil prelude (Black/Red tie dye veil & Saroyan Tutankhamun Zills). I didn't do the new "Veil-3", the energy just wasn't right. Perhaps next week.
My dance sisters tell me I continue to improve. So did "Wiggle Woman". I hope they're right! I did manage to do Oumies for the first time in performance, Oumies by themselves, Oumies while twisting from side to side, and even Oumies followed by rib cage circles! I'm very proud of my Oumies right now!
Once again, I managed to get something embedded in my foot, looked like a bit of glass when I finally dug it out of my big toe when I got home. Fortunately, I bled quite a bit so the wound should be cleaned out, but I dumped some alcohol into it to be sure. OUCH!
One of my dance sisters told me how much she likes this WebSite and my journal - she remembers many of the same occasions I recollect here! High praise - she's a wonderful dancer with fantastic hip-work. Thanx Chris!
13 November 2003
Thursday nite practice. Getting ready for performance at Kalisa's tomorrow nite. Practiced Solo-3 (with veil prelude) with the Zildjian Zills. I don't think so... Even I had problems getting the heavy Zildjians to move quick enough for the intense Solo-3. The Saroyan Grecians were much better. OTOH, I've been feeling very tired the last 2 or 3 days, possibly fighting off a sinus infection.
Also rehearsed Solo-4, and came up with a new veil number, Veil-3 which I'll try to do tomorrow nite.
5 November 2003
Wednesday nite class with Jamaica. I could tell the moment I walked in that we students were in trouble! Jamaica was full of energy, and proceeded to dance us, or at least ME, right into the ground. Then she stomped on me to make sure I was down for good!
It's been quite a while since I've been this sore from Belly Dance, but Jamaica can still wipe me out! "Tippie-toe shimmy torture" was the least of it, there was also the 3/4 shimmy exercise done at warp speed to the never ending drum solo from Hell. Not to mention what I call "Death by Maia", enough undulations to kill a Camel, and a deafening zill drill while doing basic Egyptian and other steps.
I wouldn't have it any other way. I LOVE being worked hard in class!
Oh, and I nearly neglected to mention that I then went to our local Greek restaurant to dance Greek with the Greek dancers for another hour...
24 October 2003
There are times when I think I'm getting this Belly Dance stuff, and times when I feel like the biggest klutz in the world. Today is one of the latter.
I was going to go perform at Kalisa's tonite, but decided to stay home and practice. First, I practiced the first 2 minutes of my part in the Mural Dance - my solo part. Actually did pretty well, and even made considerable progress with my Oumies, doing the twist thing with them like Janette does. Did that for about an hour.
Then I made the mistake of ignoring my own advice and practiced too long. Tried, for the first time in about 2 months, to do double veil. The veils won, I lost. I'm still able to do what I've worked up to, get in and get out, and even break nicely. But I still have extreme problems putting them back together - MAJOR male moments. Darn things kept tangling up, going flat, and were just all around uncooperative. Tried this for about 1/2 hour, and got VERY frustrated. Finally threw the veils down in disgust and hit the hot tub for a 20 minute soak just to calm myself down.
The veils will be waiting for me another day...
18 October 2003
Went to a cane dance workshop with a gal named Rebekah. She did a very good job of teaching cane; I did better than I hoped I'd do! Oh, to be sure I blundered around a bit, but I grokked almost all of it. I find cane dancing a lot more attractive than the sword.
Also had a private session with the Great and Powerful Wiggle Woman (Janette) for the "Mural Dance". I think I understand the first two minutes well enough to practice. This isn't gonna be easy...
13 October 2003
It IS possible to corrupt the world! Just received word from friends (Husband and Wife) that they have started Belly Dance lessons. They came to watch me perform on 19 September - as they both had been talking about Belly Dance for some time, I guess my performance was just enough to push them over the edge. Belly Dance is like a disease, if you're exposed to it long enough, you'll catch the bug!
12 October 2003
Added 2 new pix from last nite's performance to the bottom of Gallery 5. Thanx Alan!
11 October 2003
Student nite. Student nite is now on Saturday, and can include Belly Dance students from neighboring cities, as well as dance students of other dance forms. This nite we had guest Belly Dancers from a nearby town, many of which performed for the very first time.
I did "Solo-4/Mary Jane's Dance", with the purple Organza veil. Did much better than the disastrous performance of 26 September, in fact the visiting teacher had very good things to say about me!
My wife and I also did the troupe dances - I played my new Zildjian Zills! My hand-sewn elastics actually held up to the performance! YAY!
10 October 2003
I spent 2 hours painstakingly sewing the elastics on those new Zildjian Zills! My wife showed me how to sew - although I still have problems knotting the thread (I've always had problems with knots, I'm lucky to be able to tie my shoes!). The vendor, BellyDanceShoppe.com included a pair of beads to ID the thumb Zills, bless them! I sewed those on as well.
As this is the very first time I've ever sewed anything in my life, it was an interesting experience. The first thing I learned? Most sewing tasks require matching thread - Zills are NOT among them! Black thread on black elastic doesn't cut it - I'm buying white or maybe red thread for next time!
As for the Zildjians, I said before that they were heavy - boy are they! They're NOT for inexperienced Zill players - I'm barely qualified to play them! I'm planning on using them tomorrow nite at student nite - BUT if I do "Solo-3", I'll either skip the veil prelude (just do the brief veil entrance), OR I won't use the Zildjians for this routine - I'm not ready to tackle veilwork while wearing them just yet. Regardless of which way I go, I will wear them for the troupe dances.
But WOW! Love that tone!
9 October 2003
First group rehearsal for Janette's "Mural Dance". I'm very excited, the entire production is going to be way cool! I think the part I'm in is the best, of course. If Janette can force feed me enough technique over the next six months, it'll be beautiful to behold.
I'm more than a bit overwhelmed by it all!
My Zildjian Zills arrived today! I have to get the elastics sewed in time for student nite, which is now on Saturday.
6 October 2003
Went to pay a visit to my costume lady, the mighty Siwa, about my latest costume (which is coming along nicely). As co-incidence would have it, she had just received a set of Zildjian Zills (Zildjian, is the Armenian family who has been making cymbals of all types literally for centuries.). I too had been considering a set of Zildjians.
So she let me play them! SWEET! I have to have a quad of these!
They're NOT for beginners. They are VERY heavy, easily twice the weight of my Saroyan Tutankhamuns. At 2-1/2 inches, they're not the smallest around either. They look rather un-impressive, a dull, rough finish devoid of any markings. They are NOT stamped metal, they are cast - but not the cheap castings found on in-expensive Zills. I have to find out more about their casting process, I suspect that they're cast out of powdered bronze.
Regardless, they have the sweetest note I've ever heard; and due to their considerable weight, a very long tonal persistence. I'm ordering a set tomorrow!
4 October 2003
Me and my big mouth! "Wiggle Woman" (Janette) had a wonderful mural painted in her studio, of a large number of Belly Dancers. Some with veils, others with Zills, all dancing. I good naturedly "complained" that there wasn't a male dancer depicted. Suddenly, one appeared! A cool looking dude playing Zills, and although he doesn't look anything like me, he just happens to be wearing a pair of MY earrings (This is because these particular earrings used to belong to the artist!)!
But wait, there's more! Janette has decided to put on a MAJOR production involving the mural. Dancers will assume the same poses as the dancers in the mural, and "dance out" of the mural. Thanx to my big mouth, there is now a male dancer in the mural - you can see where this is going... Yep, I've been drafted! So now, in addition to my twice a week lessons, I have two additional sessions with Janette, a general rehearsal and a training session. Janette told me she'll have me doing things I didn't know I could do, and I'd do them well. No more Ms. Nice BD teacher!
6 months of Belly Dance Boot Camp! I'll probably be hating life sometimes, but I think the results will kick my Belly Dance career into high gear. I can hardly wait!
26 September 2003
Performance at Kalisa's. This overall was only "Ok". Due to another Belly Dance event in town, we had very few dancers and a very small audience. As a result, the energy level in the room was very low, although the audience we did have were enthusiastic, and tried their best.
I did "Solo-4/Mary Jane's Dance" with the purple Organza veil. I've done better, but it wasn't bad - I was just off due to the low energy, I'm spoiled by the usual very high energy level at Kalisa's!
I also did "Veil-1" with the multicolored Chiffon veil. This too was sub optimal, I'd say only "Ok". I did try two veil tricks, one of which resulted in a tangled mess that took me longer than I would have liked to untangle (I know what went wrong, gonna have to practice this.). The other worked great (I had been practicing this one)!! Right at the end I wrapped the veil around my head Burqa style with a slit for my eyes!
Something was definitely in the air, we had weird sound problems as well. The troupe dances went well though (even if the end-of-act bow turned into a mess!).
24 September 2003
Posted a Guest Article! Check it out!
23 September 2003
Several more pix caught up with me, so I stuck 'em in a new gallery, Gallery 5! Check out my DDF Henna job at the bottom!
21 September 2003
Desert Dance Festival. First time for both my wife and myself. I've tried for the last 3 years to get there, but one thing or another kept us away.
Just like Rakkasah, but smaller and more intimate feeling. As you'd expect, we saw lots of very good dancers, including the mighty Siwa with her Dancers of the Crescent Moon, Una, Mesmera, Dunia, FCBD, and many other favorites. "Wiggle Woman" (Janette) did a wonderful solo to live music, and the fabulous Imzadi performed with Sese's Troupe Byzantium.
All in all, a wonderful day for both my wife and myself. We both bought all kinds of "stuff", I picked up yet another 4 yard (orange chiffon) veil (making my total 7), a pair of sky blue harem pants, a fringe belt (or fringe skirt), blah, blah. I also got Henna on both hands! Hope to have a pix of that up in a day or two.
I also had the thrill of meeting the legendary male Belly Dancer, Jim Boz! He had performed yesterday, so I didn't get to see him in performance, but what a wonderful, warm human being. My wife and I both enjoyed talking to him - he even helped my wife select a new veil!
19 September 2003
Performance at Kalisa's. Wow! A whole month since I last performed Belly Dance, it felt like forever! This is also the 1 year anniversary of my very first solo performance! I did "Solo-3 with veil prelude", using the Saroyan Grecian Zills, and my red/black tie-dye 4 yard silk veil. As an encore, I did "Solo-4" (same veil). I had lots of friends and relatives in the audience!
Nothing particularly remarkable about this performance, no new ground, but no disasters either, veil or otherwise. I'm told that these dances are increasing in their refinement. Time to start pushing the envelope again!
18 September 2003
I did a serious practice tonite for my performance tomorrow. I'm "Just about ready" to glue "Solo-4" onto the front of "Solo-3 with veil prelude" to create a 3 part routine, my first. It'll take TWO veils to do this though, I'll have to figure out a veil wrap that works/I like. I haven't done a veil wrap since "Solo-1", and I'm unlikely to use that one here.
7 September 2003
Attended a pro football game. I'm not much on sports, but once in a while will watch football. A live game is interesting; the crowd is as much, if not more, entertainment than the game itself.
What does this have to do with Belly Dancing? I was impressed with the cheerleader's choreography. I still haven't figured out how they do everything in synch, spread out in 3 groups around various parts of the sidelines. Must be musical cues. The dancing itself was, of course, crude and vulgar by Belly Dance standards; but I did see a couple of Camels and quite a few hip drops mixed in there.
6 September 2003
Private session with "Wiggle Woman" (Janette) working on problems I've been having with a couple of double veil techniques. Janette can fix problems quicker than anyone I've ever seen - she can get to the root of a problem "like that", and tell you exactly what you need to do and work on to fix it.
30 August 2003
After a Greek Dance performance at the local Monterey Greek festival, I was up free dancing to the Greek band. They started playing the Greek Tsiftetelli. I, along with a couple of my (Belly) Dance sisters started Belly Dancing to it. I was able to do Maias and take them down low, something I normally have problems with. Probably because I was warmed up and there was good energy.
25 August 2003
Added two more galleries! Gallery 3, and Gallery 4! Check 'em out!
23 August 2003
Workshop with the fantastic Alexandra King!! Wonderful! My wife came too! Alexandra taught us a variety of steps, combos, and Zill patterns all to the 9/8 Kashilima pattern. Since we also do this dance in Greek dance class, my wife and I are familiar with the rather boring basic step. It won't be boring anymore!
22 August 2003
Performance at Kalisa's. Did "Solo-3" with veil prelude and Zills (Saroyan Tutankhamuns). Came "this close" to losing the veil (Red & Black Tie-dye), but all was OK. Was complimented by several (including members of Desert Desire who also performed), some saying it was the best yet. Interesting, I thought I did OK, but felt a couple of clumsy moments. The fantastic Alexandra King was there and performed!
Before the performance, I ran through my routine and managed to break the lamp globe in my library AGAIN!!!! I'm going to buy 2 of those globes this time... Can't believe I did it again!
16 August 2003
Attended "Marrakesh Express", a Belly Dance performance in the nearby town of Santa Cruz. This is the second one I've attended. The fabulous Imzadi performed her sword number (same music as my "Mary Jane's Dance"), as well as a new routine.
Several other very good dancers performed, including the incredible Sabiba! A group of 5 "Baby Dancers" performed their first ever performance, and received their dance names (This is customary in many parts of the U.S., including Santa Cruz, but not Monterey.).
The mighty Siwa was there too, I bought a pair of earrings she was selling - outrageous dangles, of course. I could tell that Siwa was sad to see them go. I told her that I will wear them in all honor (In fact, I'm wearing them next week in performance I've decided!)!
15 August 2003
Student nite at Kalisa's La Ida Cafe. I performed "Solo-4" or "Mary Jane's Dance" as I'm coming to think of it. Used the purple Organza veil for the veil intro part, went well and was well received.
First time to live music, what magic!
I also did "Veil-1" to LIVE MUSIC, as planned (Multi-colored Chiffon Veil). All I can say is WOW! It was MAGIC. Although it may be some time before I perform to live music again, I cannot recommend it highly enough. If you're a Belly Dancer who hasn't done this yet, start working towards it. You want to do this!
Lastly, my lovely wife danced with the troupes, as did I. AND our friend, who just might be taking the dance name of Zoe did her first performance dancing with us! My wife and I are very glad for her!
9 August 2003
PANIC!!! Oh Goddess Mother, what have I gotten myself into now?
I've been planning to do my "Veil-1" routine at student nite next week. It turns out that the lady who performs the music I use for this routine is going to be there! Somehow, Janette managed to maneuver me into doing the routine to the music performed live! I'm still not sure how this happened... Can I panic now?
28 July 2003
Regular Monday nite practice. Worked on double veil, I now can spin while getting "in" and "out" of them; PLUS I'm getting better at doing the "break" (Separating the veils ending up with one in each hand). I'm starting to dig for music to practice this to. It's too early to say that I'm working on an actual double veil routine, but this is moving along!
25 July 2003
Brothers of the Balady were playing at a local venue, so naturally all the Belly Dancers turned up! As I have virtually zero experience Belly Dancing to live music, I was not one of the performers.
Troupe Diva (Jamaica's advanced students), did a performance - part of which I knew, most of which I didn't. But I sure wanted to be up on stage with them! Some day...
18 July 2003
Student nite at Kalisa's. Introduced Solo-4. Like all my premiers, not as good now as it will be later! This said, it was definitely my best premier to date. The veil intro went off without a hitch (purple Organza veil), and the dance was well received. People really liked the music, something they'd never heard before (Afro-Celt Sound System)!
I had the MC dedicate my dance to my first costume lady, whose costume I was wearing. She passed on suddenly one year ago today. R.I.P. dear Mary Jane!
14 July 2003
Regular Monday nite practice. Poor Solo-2! I keep putting it off - I'm doing Solo-4 this Friday at Student Nite! I've been waiting about 3 years (since before I started Belly Dancing), to dance to this music; suddenly I find I can dance to it, rather passionately!
Of course it includes a bit of veil - like Solo-3, it has a veil intro. It wouldn't be a genuine Zorba dance without at least a small amount of veilwork! I'm so stoked!!
11 July 2003
Performance at Kalisa's (where else?). I keep saying this, but this one was probably my best yet (Athena was with me, obviously!). Actually managed to pull off wearing Zills (Saroyan Tutankhamuns) while doing veilwork - Solo-3 with veil prelude. Only one minor mishap with the veil (multi-colored chiffon), not really a problem. Crowd went NUTS! I thought they were going to blow the windows right out of the place! Very gratifying!
Just to keep my head from swelling too much, "Wiggle Woman" told me (after some prodding) that one spot near the end had bad arms. I'll have to work on that - I was doing chest and pelvic pops - it took quite a bit of concentration to do that and play the Zills, so my arms went without attention.
10 July 2003
Well, that stage outline turned out to be useful far faster than I had originally thought. Thursday nite practice session. Rehearsed Solo-3 with Zills a couple of times in my library, which is where I usually practice. Then I decided to attempt gluing the veil prelude back onto it - I have to hold the veil, and dance with it while wearing my Zills. Ok, so I figure out a way to hold the veil that seemed to work pretty well, did a few turns, spins and toreadors, then pleased with my newfound skill, I proceeded to swish the veil over my head.
CRASH!!!! Followed by tinkling glass! While passing the veil overhead, I hit the overhead light fixture - no big deal normally, happens all the time. BUT - this time I was wearing Zills. Wrong!
So I moved the entire operation out to the garage, where I have a studio setup with built-in stereo and mirrors along one wall - as well as the newly painted stage outline. Just moved one of the cars out, and was ready to go!
Call me crazy, but I practiced the entire "Solo-3 with veil prelude" about 6 times, while wearing Zills - I'm going to do it in performance tomorrow nite! Goddess Athena, please help me not to screw up!
A more experienced dancer probably has more options, but in my case, if I lose control of the veil, I'm going to have to dump it; recovery while wearing Zills just isn't an option right now!
I haven't at all forgotten about Solo-2, it just isn't ready yet. It is proving harder than I had anticipated (big surprise!).
9 July 2003
Painted a stage outline of the stage at Kalisa's in my garage/dance studio! As a dance sister and I are attempting to put together a veil duet, this will come in handy...
26 June 2003
My regular Thursday nite practice. Started hammering on "Solo-2", and discovered I need to learn some new techniques in order to accomplish what I want to do with this one. I need to do a slowish 3/4 shimmy and other hipwork while doing even slower (1/4 speed) armwork. So I spent an hour and a half practicing this, with hip circles, step hips, and slow 3/4 shimmy while doing my armwork at full speed (easy), half speed (harder), and quarter speed (Major Male Moments!). However, I made progress. This technique will also come in handy in a couple of spots in "Solo-4", which I'm starting to think about also. The music for Solo-4 was picked out even before I started B.D. - I might be able to do it quasi-justice soon. If not, it can always be "Solo-5"!
23 June 2003
The second part of Caroleena's workshop. I don't really have names for what she taught us, but I grokked most of it, even if I was a bit clumsy. I retained enough to be able to practice it.
20 June 2003
Student nite at Kalisa's. No real new ground dancewise - did the 'Circle Dance' and the little Tsiftetelli with "Troupe Diva" (Jamaica's troupe) as did my wife (Her second performance!!). Then did "Solo-3" as I did last week, with Zills (Soroyan "Grecian")!
Solo-3 went well, very enthusiastic reception by the audience, and my dance sisters. My veil (My red/black tie dye 4 yard silk) even landed at the rear of the stage, the way it is supposed to. Of course, it always helps to back up far enough to help it out - unlike last week where I was so excited about the Zills that I didn't back up far enough!
Now I need to figure out how to do more than just a veil entrance while wearing Zills so I can glue the veil prelude back onto Solo-3. First however, I think it is time to resurrect the never performed "Solo-2" for July's student nite. I want to take what I've learned from Solo-3 and apply it to Solo-2!
Also added several tips to the Dancing Tips page.
16 June 2003
Another 2 part workshop with Caroleena! Tonite was part 1. Reviewed everything from the last one, then went on to practice Zills and advanced techniques. I think poor Caroleena was sorry she had a room full of enthusiastic Zill players! And her warmup is an exercise in its own right! Bless her, she was recovering from a protracted illness, and came down to teach us!
13 June 2003
Performed "Solo-3" tonite - with Zills (Saroyan Tutankhamuns)!! First time playing Zills in a solo situation. Overall, it went very well. I didn't do the veil prelude, just the veil entrance (Stole my wife's "dark turquoise" 3 yard silk veil) which ended up with the veil in the middle of the stage - AGAIN!
Regardless, I didn't make any mistakes with the Zills or my dancing - although my dancing was somewhat simpler. At one point I was doing simple step-hips while doing armwork playing the Zills - the crowd really liked that - I was surprised!
Speaking of arms, my arms were FINALLY halfway decent, the Zill playing somehow forced my arms to improve. YAY!! Now if I can "keep" the good arms when I'm NOT playing Zills...
All my dance sisters lavished me with praise! Said it was the best yet. I was very flattered.
Afterwards, I even got up and spontaneous danced to live music - the very first time I've done this also. I actually felt comfortable.
I'll do it again next week for Student Nite so Jamaica can see it - it was Janette's nite tonite.
Also added a New Article!
11 June 2003
My wife & I had a Greek Dance performance today, which went very well. There were two Belly Dancers scheduled to dance right after we finished our Greek Dancing. The two Belly Dancers were from one of my classes, but only one of them showed up (the other was sick). Guess who got drafted to dance the finale with her? This makes it twice that I've Belly Danced in a Foustanella, the traditional Greek male skirt. Not the best costume for Belly Dancing, but I gave it my best. Did some "twist Egyptians" while beckoning to a couple of the little ol' ladies with "come hither" arms! A lot of fun. This was the first time I've ever performed outside of Kalisa's! Even if it was a kind of "fake" performance, I'll take it!
6 June 2003
Performance at Kalisa's. "Solo-3" again with the veil prelude. Probably my best performance yet. I told myself before going on stage that if I managed to remember half of what I'd been practicing, I'd be happy. That's about what I managed. Caroleena was there! She complimented my dancing - coming from a dancer of her caliber, compliments mean a lot!
I did manage to have (yet another) veil disaster - probably my worst one. I suddenly found myself wearing a Burqa! I managed to get out from under it without looking too bad - this is an occupational hazard of veilwork of any kind. Still, what I probably should have done was let it stay as a Burqa for a bit and done some snake arms and undulations and incorporated it into my routine. Maybe next time!
There were a number of middle-eastern men in the audience. Although I've had compliments from middle-eastern men in the past, most of these ignored my dancing - which I've heard can be typical. They cannot "process" the idea of a man Belly Dancing, even though it's actually more accurate in their culture! Historically, the only PUBLIC Belly Dancers were men! Women never danced in public and certainly not in front of strange men! Male Belly Dancers (usually, but not always, in drag), performed publicly. Isn't human psychology interesting?
Despite this, I still had a very good reception from the audience!
31 May 2003
Private session with "Wiggle Woman" (Janette)!! Worked on "Solo-3", this time with Zills! She says my Zills are great, my hips are great, but those arms, those arms! However, the Zills make the arms better, just not "that much" better! She wants me to do Solo-3 with Zills in a couple of weeks at Kalisa's. She also wants me to dance at the restaurant referenced in the diary entry for 24 August 2002! I very much want to do this, but am also very nervous.
I also discovered that I "suddenly" have a very good shoulder shimmy, even if it isn't as isolated from my hips as I'd like. All that shoulder twitching at stoplights and other practice paid off!
29 May 2003
My weekly Thursday nite practice session. Worked those half-circle veils! Trying to get "into" them - if done correctly you end up with a "skirt" of the two veils. If you don't do it correctly, you usually end up with a Burqa!
I think I finally am beginning to "get" what Alyne was showing us in the workshop, you need a hole to be able to cross your hands. Once you have that, the rest is easy, if not necessarily graceful! Getting "out" of the double veils is easy enough, I guess to compensate.
The other double veil trick I worked on is the "break", where you go from holding both veils with both hands to holding one veil in each. I made progress, but had a few hilarious "male moments"!
Then I worked on integrating Zills into Solo-3. Made some progress there too. I'm biting off quite a bit trying all this at once, but hey! It's fun. Suddenly it was a sweat soaked hour and a half later!
Also posted some new pix in gallery 2.
24 May 2003
Double Veil workshop with Alyne!! I've made little secret of my double veil ambitions, and now I have the tools necessary to start practicing towards that end. Alyne was WONDERFUL, she made a 3 hour workshop go by in what felt like 15 minutes! More importantly, I was able to grok everything she was teaching (despite several "male moments" of blundering around)!
There was a lady selling Tissue Lamé half circle veils (Tissue Lamé seems to be the material of choice for double veil work) for $25 each! Rats! I only brought one check (to pay the teacher), and the veil lady didn't do credit cards! Hmmm, so I wrote the teacher a larger check, and she paid the veil lady and I came home with two of those veils! Was NOT going to let a deal like that slip me by, I've paid more than $50 for ONE veil - and this was TWO! One is a really neat shimmery kind of blue that manages to match virtually anything it comes against, and the other is COPPER colored to match all my copper jewelry!
16 May 2003
Student nite. Did kinda the same veil routine (with my chiffon veil) as I did at the last student nite - only this time with improvements either suggested by Janette, or inspired by her. Started out completely folded up on the floor, music started, and I rose to an upright kneeling position, still hidden behind my veil. A few kneeling undulations while I slowly opened the veil wide, then rose to my feet for the rest of the routine. At the end, I folded back down on the floor again.
I got a lot of compliments, including some from some young, middle eastern looking males in the audience.
I also wore Kohl for the first time. I'll add something about it in the tips section soon, but it really makes my eyes stand out. My dance sisters and instructors all really liked it. So did my wife, who unfortunately was unable to attend or dance this evening.
I wish she had! I had to endure what most belly dancers do, from time to time. An overly "friendly" audience member of the opposite sex who left little doubt as to what was on her mind. I think it was the Kohl, she kept on about my eyes. Made me more than slightly uncomfortable, I beat as hasty a retreat as I could! Not good.
I'm going to have to develop a weather eye for such situations so I can better avoid them in the future.
10 May 2003
An epiphany. During last week's Saturday morning class with Wiggle Woman (Janette), she started teaching us a new choreography. Rather complex, like most of Janette's choreographies are, and I was more than a little frustrated. Surprise.
Fast forward to today. Janette was drilling us on Zills, then Zills and step combos, then suddenly she had us dancing her new choreography while Zilling. Suddenly it all made sense - the music, the movements and the Zills suddenly "clicked". This is the first time this has ever happened to me on this level - and is one of the things that initially attracted me to this dance form (Not that I was dancing the choreography well mind, but it all just made sense on a level that it had never had before.)!
Janette also told me that I would be able to do paid gigs someday! I said "Like I'm good enough!". She replied "But you will be...". Wow, I had never even considered such a thing - but it would be neat and sounds like a lot of fun! Another goal...
9 May 2003
The fabulous Imzadi has loaned me a pair of beautiful Tissue Lamé half circle veils for a DOUBLE VEIL WORKSHOP that I'll be attending in a couple of weeks. Another step towards "the dream". It occurred to me, that I have 4 veils, my wife has 1, and now I've borrowed 2 more for a total of seven veils! I now have enough veils in the house to actually do a "Dance of the Seven Veils" - even if I don't yet have the knowledge!
My home with the wonderful Artists-in-Residence web host is no more. Due to circumstances beyond her control, the "Landlady", Randye Jones, has been forced to shut down. So I now have a new (paid) web host...
4 May 2003
Photo shoot! Had a professional photographer take my picture in full costume. I found out to my mild surprise and vast amusement that Belly Dancers all have the same idea when it comes to pictures - every dancer at the photo shoot had her veil - including me (Ok, so I'm not a 'her', but you get the idea.)!
Also added a new article under the 'articles' menu!
3 May 2003
Private session with "Wiggle Woman" (Janette), working on veils. Nothing wrong with what I've been doing, but need to start slower, and build to a climax to keep audience interest. And of course, there is the ever present issue of arms! Poor Janette, I'll probably drive her batty with my lousy arms!
She did say that at 2+ years of Belly Dance experience, that I'm far better than she was at that point. It is very kind of her to say that - BLESS HER!, but I'm not sure I believe her - she's the great Wiggle Woman after all! Seriously, there may be hope for this old boy yet!
26 April 2003
Promoted! Janette invited me into her intermediate class. Like Jamaica's, it's quite a workout, but lotsa fun. Also attended a 2 hour workshop on Moroccan dance, taught by a guy named Mohammed. Mohammed can really dance and he has shoulder shimmies to die for!
25 April 2003
Performed at Kalisa's (non student nite), did "Solo 3", but preceded it with a veil routine. It felt like my best performance yet - I really concentrated on arm position, shoulders and facials. The mighty Siwa as well as the fabulous Caroleena joined us - a fun nite! The crowd was on the lite side, rather unusual for Kalisa's.
Oh, lest I forget - I have been growing weary of Bindis that fall off, sweat off, or otherwise don't stay in place. Eyelash glue is the trick - I actually came home with my Bindi this time!
18 April 2003
Oh, what a nite! My lovely wife did her first ever Belly Dance performance (at Kalisa's, of course!)!! Like myself, she did the little Tsiftetelli with Jamaica's class; and then did the "Fish dance" with Janette's! She looked so totally cute in her costume! She did well, and had many compliments on her costume to boot!
As for myself, I did the Tsiftetelli, and the Circle dance. I didn't dance with Janette's troupe this time - I'm rusty on the Fish dance and its a bit on the complex side besides. But I did do a new veil routine (with the varicolored chiffon veil I bought at Rakkasah), and I did a duet as part of a dance we call the "Chorus line".
The veil routine went pretty well, I love veil and thus relate well to veilwork - plus the music I chose was very inspirational. I did have my first on-stage veil disaster (big surprise!). Fortunately, my training and practice took over and I recovered well from it, if I say so myself. The only negative? My wife reported I was scowling at my veil when it first decided to tangle up . But seeing my wife with her best "SMILE!" look on her face reminded me to do just that!
But the main highlight of my evening was the Chorus line dance and what happened afterwards. Similar to the "Diva Dance", we stand in a semi-circle following a leader while pairs take turns doing duets mid-stage. One of my very talented dance sisters was my partner for our duet, which was the last one so we ended the dance. The duet itself was fun, although I was slightly behind the curve (we had only rehearsed it twice), but it got the notice of my instructor in a big way!
She was very impressed with the way I danced and my ability to follow a leader, and told me so afterwards!
I don't think I need to elaborate on how happy this makes me - my instructor does NOT hand out compliments lightly! Oh happy day!
The only thing marring the evening was a bit of glass in my big toe!
5 April 2003
Caroleena's workshop #2! As good as the first one! Picked up a "Glide" technique that should be useful - particularly for veilwork. Also practiced the "Turkish Drop". I have about as much grace doing this as a tree falling, but its a beginning.
4 April 2003
Solo 3 at Kalisa's yet again - non student nite. It was so loud that I could barely hear the music, which caused me to make a couple of minor mistakes - however I feel that I'm getting better at this. No veil disasters ("Greenie", my iridescent green silk veil this time), AND I got a "Woo-Hoo" from Jamaica!
29 March 2003
Caroleena's workshop #1! This was a good one! Unlike most other workshops I've attended in the past, I was actually able to learn and do most of what was taught right in class. Good pairing of subject matter with "where I am right now". Learned a really neat arm motion, and the "duck walk". The latter I've seen but didn't know how to do, the former is brand new to me. I think both will be incorporated into my upcoming veil routine.
I also heard some feedback from a co-worker who saw me dance on the 21st. Not only did he like it, but his wife paid me one of the highest compliments a male Belly Dancer can receive: "I didn't know men's hips could move like that!"
28 March 2003
Did Solo 3 at Kalisa's again (non-student nite). "Wiggle Woman" (Janette) says that it was much better than last week, more relaxed and smoother. Several of my dance sisters told me the same thing - and I felt that it went better too. Plus I dropped my veil (the purple Organza) the same way I saw a gal at Rakkasah drop her's - worked much better!
The fabulous Imzadi was there to see me perform! She was the gal who first got me interested in Belly Dancing.
Also met Caroleena, whose workshops I'll be in the next two Saturdays!
23 March 2003
Rakkasah! This is the third year I've attended this huge Belly Dance festival. Saw no less than 4 male Belly Dancers, one was "Ok", two were very good, and one was outstanding - but masculinized the dance too much for my taste. Nice costumes on all of them.
Bought lots of "stuff": 2 hip scarves, a new coin scarf, a four yard chiffon veil, Saroyan's Zill video, and a jar of glitter makeup.
Both of my Belly Dance teachers were there, as were several of my dance sisters.
Last, but certainly not least, my wife bought her very first Belly Dance costume! Looks like a duet performance is in our future!
21 March 2003
Student nite. SOLO!!!! Did "Solo 3" for the first time. Despite a number of technical errors (that apparently weren't noticed by the audience), it came off well. Very well. The audience loved it, were clapping, zaghareeting, cheering, etc. And that was before I was finished!
Despite Janette's exhortations and my own rehearsing, that dratted mis-behaving veil still managed to land in the middle of the stage instead of at one side. So I just scooped it out of the way with my foot at the first opportunity. That veil and I are going to have a "discussion" about behavior in public!
And I did it in my new costume - dark red and black tie-dye Harem pants (with matching veil), my new black and red vest the mighty Siwa made for me, and about 40 pounds of "stuff" on my hips. It was way cool! It was also way hot - I managed to sweat so much that my Bindi came off, fortunately backstage after I was finished.
Several folks from my work came - including my boss!
18 March 2003
Rakkasah WorkShops! I took two! The first was 'Finger Cymbals, Steps, and Combos' with Rakkasah organizer, Shukriya. Nice lady, nice class. She really knows her Zills! I picked up a couple of neat steps/combos that I think I can use.
The second was 'Veil, Projections of Emotion' by the legendary Bert Balladine. Parts of this were, frankly, over my head. The actual time we spent on veil was great, I got a lot out of it. But then we went on to some very complicated steps that I didn't grok at all!! My slow learning just doesn't allow me to pick up complex stuff in an environment like this - I have to have repetition over a period of weeks. All in all, a worthwhile time; Bert is an interesting person!
15 March 2003
A second private session with Janette - more work on "Solo 3" (Actually my second solo, not my third...). Lots better says she - still have some posture problems that will probably linger for some time. But definitely ready for student nite, now less than a week away!
Also picked up my new vest from the seamstress - the mighty Siwa of Dancers of the Crescent Moon. Absolutely beautiful, can hardly wait to show the whole thing off next week! The matching harem pants and veil make a dynamite costume!
8 March 2003
Attended a workshop today with the fabulous Valeria! Learned several new moves and combinations, as well as instruction on how to make an entrance. "Solo 3" is going to change a bit as a result! Had a TON of fun!
25 February 2003
I learned that a very well known dancer/instructor (whom I won't reveal just yet as this was advance info) is going to be giving a 2 day workshop locally - on double veil!!! I am so there!!!
21 February 2003
Student nite. Did the 'circle dance' with the troupe, which turned out to be "interesting"! Let's just say the choreography came out a bit different than normal! We all had fun, and were laughing. I think I was the only one playing Zills besides our instructor too.
Also performed the "Fish Dance" with Janette's troupe. I only did so-so; this choreography is rather complex although the moves themselves are well within my capability. Having only practiced it 4 times or so wasn't enough. But it was fun, all the same!
Met the gal whose workshop I'll be attending in a couple of weeks - a very good dancer; her workshop should be terrific!
15 February 2003
Over the last 2 weeks, I've changed my mind. "Solo 2" is put on hold, I'm working on "Solo 3" instead! Solo 3 is pure improv - basically no choreography at all - I'm trying to "break the bonds" of choreography. This will be a big step.
So, partially to get help with this, and partially for help in general Belly Dance technique - I have started once-a-month private lessons with Janette (My first B.D. Teacher). She gave me a lot of tips, techniques, help, coaching and encouragement - Solo 3 will be incredible! At this late date I'll have to scrap the original idea of doing a new solo for student nite in Feb., but it will be ready in March for sure!
1 February 2003
Full circle. 2 years ago in February, I started belly dance classes with Janette, my first teacher, whom I had to leave due to scheduling conflicts. Now, she has classes on Saturdays so I'm back in her class as well as continuing with Jamaica (my second teacher)! Two teachers should help quite a bit!
In addition, there is another male in this class - a beginner who is quite elderly - hurray for him!
Lastly, not only is this month the 2nd anniversary for my beginnings in Belly Dance, it is the 1st anniversary of my first terrified troupe performance!
25 January 2003
And if the success last night wasn't enough, today in the mail arrived my new red & black tie-dye harem pants from L. Rose Designs with matching tie-dye four yard China silk veil!! I'm in love all over again! Soon I'll have a new vest to go with the ensemble, coupled with some other goodies I've recently acquired, I'll have a really "knock 'em dead" costume!
24 January 2003
After saying on 5 January that it would be a while before I performed with a four yard veil - I went and did "the solo" at Kalisa's on a non-student nite with the "big girls" once again; and I danced with my new four yard purple Organza veil! I'm either getting more confidence, or I'm getting cocky. I hope it's not the latter! Of course I did practice the routine (in costume) several times before the performance.
Oh, and yes I did wear a bindi - I bought a bunch of them.
I cannot close this entry without mentioning a sister dancer's routine. An obviously very experienced dancer did a wonderful, wonderful routine. She had a blue/turquoise/aqua tie-dye veil (and an exquisite costume to go with it!), and did a veil number that was so beautiful that it made you want to cry. I told Jamaica (my instructor) who was standing next to me: "Remind me to breath when she is finished dancing!". This is going to give me the impetus to put together a "full length" veil routine of my own.
17 January 2003
Student nite. No new ground dance wise, although there was apparently another insecure idiot in the audience who was silenced by glares from others. As always, perhaps the experience educated him.
Danced the tsiftetelli and the 'Circle dance' with the troupe - it was the first performance for a couple of the gals - boy were they enthusiastic!
One of the senior (as in experienced) dancers was passing out bindis before the show - even put one on me! I'll have to get some more - lots of fun!
05 January 2003
I think I'm in LOVE!!! While shopping at a crafts/fabric store for some jump rings to make some upper arm bracelets with, I happened upon some purple chiffon like fabric (I'm told its called "Organza"), and came home with 4 yards of it for a new veil!! This stuff is a bit heavier than chiffon (I still want a "real" chiffon veil), but handles like a dream. Still quite floaty, almost as much as my silk veil, but very well behaved. My experiences with silk and chiffon is they can be over powered if you put too much power into a move, especially chiffon. This stuff you can put as much power into it as you like, and it will still look beautiful and it won't collapse or look flustered - yet it doesn't take a lot of power to float it.
4 yards is a lot of veil to handle, it's going to be a bit before I perform with this one! A friend is hemming it for me.
Worked on Solo 2 quite a bit yesterday. Its coming along...
01 January 2003
I now have a preliminary choreography worked up for the second solo, practiced about the first third of it over and over, committing it to "muscle memory". Then tried out my new sword (Just back from the engravers)! It's both easier and harder to work with the sword than I had imagined (Once in class hardly counts!). It's heavy too! Leaves a dent in the top of my head! I saw a favorable review of a sword video on Shira's site - probably would be a good investment...