The Sleeve Wrap for Veil – Instructional Video Clip!

Mahin & Rosa at the Las Vegas Belly Dance Intensive 2014

Mahin & Rosa at the Las Vegas Belly Dance Intensive 2014

Last month I attended the wonderful Las Vegas Belly Dance Intensive for the fourth year in a row. I was lucky enough to be a featured instructor at the LVBDI in 2011 and I have gone back every year because it is an exceptionally well-organized and fun event!

This year, Mahin of the Daily Bellydance Quickies asked me to film a short instructional clip for her awesome daily email series. Each day of the week has a different theme on the DBQ… Monday Musicality, Tuesday Technique, etc. So, we found a quiet corner at the festival and set up the camera!

I decided to share a unique veil wrap that I like to use  in my performances, which I call the Sleeve Wrap. This wrap allows for a lot of versatility… it frees up one arm, it allows you to play with just half your veil, it give you framing options…

Here you go! If you enjoy this, I highly recommend subscribing to the Daily Bellydance Quickies (click here). It’s totally free and immensely valuable. Mahin rocks!

Keeping Your Body Happy in Cool Weather

Autumn has arrived in Maine! After a few days of 50s and rainy, we’re getting a little reprieve, but we’re clearly on track for the change in seasons.

For dancers, the way cold weather affects our bodies can come as a rude surprise. Here are a few ways to minimize the potential negatives.

  • Winter photo shoot with Leigh Kelly

    Winter photo shoot with Leigh Kelly of Image Catcher

    Warm outdoor clothing: In nice weather, we often come and go from class in our practice clothes. When the weather cools, it’s important to wear warmer outdoor clothing, and change into–and out of–your practice wear *at the studio.* We usually sweat in class, and if you go outside into cold weather in your practice clothes, that dampness cools you down in an unpleasant way.

  • Layers in the studio: Be sure to wear layers during class–and put them back on when you stop moving! Close-fitting is best since they’ll keep the body heat right on you while allowing your teacher to still see your movements clearly. I’ll often wear a sports bra, tank top, waffle-knit shirt and sometimes a zip-up slim sweatshirt or fleece. Hips, legs, ankles and feet need layers, too! Leg warmers are your friend.
  • Warm up your body: Arrive at class 10 minutes earlier than you normally would and go through your typical warm-up routine before class begins! That way, your body will be more ready to move–and, if your teacher leads a warm-up as I hope they do, you’ll get two! Happy body, happy dancer.
  • Keep moving: If the pace of class slows or takes a break for corrections, lecture, etc., don’t just stand there–keep moving! Practice your shimmies, stretch out your muscles, practice your snake arms. Stop-and-go pacing is not great for the body as it causes you to cool down and then jump back into it essentially without warning. So don’t let the dead stops happen. You don’t have to do jumping jacks all class long… just keep moving in one way or another. Bonus–you will probably notice improvement in your technique, too!
  • Be mindful of your injuries or weak spots: If you have a prior injury like a pulled muscle, or spots in your body that just tend to get grumpy, take special care to keep those areas warm. Wear an extra layer on that body part. Spend some extra time getting that area moving.
  • Cozy socks in the studio

    Cozy socks in the studio

    Don’t stretch cold: Be sure that your body is warm before you work on your flexibility. Your muscles will thank you!

  • Keep breathing: The cold tends to make us all tense up. And when muscles are unconsciously tense, our technique suffers and we’re more prone to injury. Use your breath to help you relax and move. Consciously breathe through your warm-ups to get in the habit for class.
  • Drink water: No matter what the season, your body needs to stay hydrated to work at its best. I like to add a piece of star anise to my water bottle each day. It keeps the water lightly and naturally flavored but not sweet. Yum!

Take good care of your body and winter won’t be such an obstacle. Everything takes a little longer in the winter… bundling up, warming up, sweeping off your car or your sidewalk. Know this going into the season and things will be easier!

Making the Most Out of a Photo Shoot

Rosa Noreen by Rebecca Waldron

Rosa Noreen by Rebecca Waldron

It’s so exciting to get the results of a photo shoot–especially when you’re happy with the pics! I had the pleasure of working with Rebecca Waldron of RAW Art Photography when I was at Bellydance Masters in Orlando, FL in August. Not only is she a skilled photographer–she is also fantastic at directing dancers and putting us at ease. She KNOWS belly dance and that is a huge plus!

While it’s awesome to work with someone like Rebecca, you can take some steps to prepare for your shoot to make the most of it–no matter who your photographer is!

  • POSES. Prepare a few different poses BEFORE you come in. Look through photographs of other dancers to get some ideas. Go through your videos and take screenshots of specific moments you like. Then, PRACTICE these photos in the mirror! If possible, have a friend take cell phone pictures of your poses. The lighting won’t be fancy but you’ll be able to see your lines… chin up or down, shoulders hunched or open, hip up or down, etc. Also practice MOVING into the poses. Static shots are so much less fun than a moment of movement caught by the camera!
  • COSTUME. Practice in costume so you are comfortable with the skirt slit or what angles are caused by different straps. Be sure to iron or steam your skirt and veil before the shoot!  You’ll be glad you did.
  • SLEEP. The best thing you can do for your overall look is to get enough sleep. For me, this means at least TWO nights of 8 hours to banish the dark circles.
  • SKIN CARE. Follow your favorite beauty routine. I don’t recommend trying any NEW products prior to your shoot. If you happen to have an allergic reaction, that will be super disappointing! Do drink LOTS OF WATER so you are well hydrated. It’s best to start doing that a few days before your photo shoot.
  • The importance of eyebrows and false eyelashes

    The importance of eyebrows and false eyelashes

    MAKE-UP. Do some trial runs, keeping your costume in mind, a few days prior to your shoot. Take notes so your remember what products you like! While face powder is great for stage, I don’t recommend using it for a photo shoot as it tends to enhance any lines in your face. Lip gloss is also not recommended as you don’t want your lips to look wet. Instead, pat a bit of concealer on the center of your bottom lip and blend to get a plumped look. DEFINITELY fill in your brows and wear false eyelashes for the most finished look! If you’re not comfortable doing your own make-up, go to your local Sephora or MAC store. They will do your face in exchange for a minimum product purchase (usually $50ish). Check out Princess Farhana’s blog for more excellent make-up and photo shoot tips! She even has a post about contouring your BODY with make-up!

  • ARRIVAL. On the day of your shoot, wear something loose, like a maxi dress, that does not mark your skin with elastic waistbands or shoulder straps. Yes, those marks can be Photoshopped out, but it’s much easier when that’s not necessary!
  • Rosa Noreen by Rebecca Waldron

    Rosa Noreen by Rebecca Waldron

    NERVES. What puts you at ease? No matter how comfortable you are on stage (or not) being in a photo shoot can stir up some anxiety. It’s a great idea to bring some MUSIC that you enjoy to play in the background. If you have a FRIEND who makes you laugh or makes you feel especially confident, bring her or him along! Sometimes a glass of WINE can do the trick. While I don’t condone drinking during a performances, sometimes this can be helpful during a photo shoot as long as you don’t overdo it. 🙂

  • BREATHE. Really, truly. Deep breaths will help your nerves as well as helping your poses come alive. Delicious Pauses techniques come in hand here!
  • EMBRACE THE MISTAKES. Sometimes the shots you like best are the ones that were never meant to happen. For instance, the veil got caught on my head but because I was laughing, the photo above turned out to be my favorite one of the bunch!