Le Serpent Rouge In Tucson

Last night Le Serpent Rouge was in Tucson. I was stunned that something so cool would land in Tucson for an evening; how atypical. I’m still trying to figure out how to describe what I saw. It was such a stunning performance of live music and belly dance with a definite feeling of the 1920s, flappers, swing and silent movies.

No videos or cameras were allowed; though this didn’t stop many with smart-phones from recording non-stop. I really can’t take a photo if it’s against the wishes of the performer, though. There’s a few video clips on Youtube that give an idea of the show; click here to watch.

Some Midwestern Bellydance Practice

I’m  in Madison, Wisconsin for a few days to visit with my nephews aged 5 and 12. I’ve always really liked it in Madiso and have thought about moving here; but I’m not convinced I could cope with the long winter . Tomorrow I’m going to a broadcast of the off-beat radio show Whaddya Know and then back home the following day.

Photos of my trip will be posted when I get home. But I will leave you with this link to a bellydance costume site; because my latest investment has been in the turquoise costume–it’s on the bottom row–for a December bellydance class recital. Yes. It’s true. One thing I’ve learned is that practicing bellydance is hard work, and it makes you warm up pretty quick; which is handy in this climate, because Madison WI in late-October is like Tucson on the coldest winter day! I’ve been practicing here during my visit just to feel warm!!

Clearly, if I think this is cold, I may find myself in Tucson for a long time. Yesterday, it was in the mid-40s (not including the wind-chill) and folks were out running in shorts. Geez. I was out on the running path bundled up in hat, gloves and a winter coat!

If It’s Tuesday, It Must Be Applique

Recently, I’ve been hobbled by plantar fasciitis, due to bellydance practice (working on my 3/4 shimmy). Ouch. Then, my sewing machine conked out last week. I was so depressed.

But I did listen to the call of needle and thread, and pulled out the old overhead projector:

I magnified a simple drawing on transparency plastic of a desert poppy: then I traced the image from the overhead projector with a sharpie onto some Pellon Tru-Grid to make a pattern; this “pattern” for an applique will have 4 parts (not including the stem):

So, this is hard to see below, but the master pattern is on the left, and in red on the right I made 4 individual pieces for the poppy:

Then I picked out the right fabric. My photos of poppies in my yard seem to all have darker colors on the background petals. Here, I have my first piece of fabric, water soluble marker, scissors:

I traced the pattern onto the fabric, carefully selecting the bias, because there are curves in all the pieces, and it’s easier to manipulate the appliques with curves when they’re cut on the bias…and then I cut it out, adding a 3/8 inch (give or take) seam allowance to the drawn line…

…and then I spritzed some water on my counter top, and gently dampened and folded and squeezed the seam allowance fabric under the drawn line. I also alternated some pinching with a hot iron. Notice that the bottom part is unfinished; that’s just extra fabric I left on so that the other 3 pieces will have something to attach to.

Here are all 4 finished pieces, all pressed:

And, once I put them all together with a few straight pins, they looked like this:

That’s close enough for me to the pattern I made. I basted the seams of each piece. I’ll baste it all together, and eventually this will be one of several poppy appliques on my new art quilt; I’ll topstitch them down to the quilt top. I’ll add some water soluble crayon shading to the applique, too, to create the illusion of depth. But the appliques will be machine sewn to the quilt top, when the time comes; it’s just sturdier, and, there’s only so much hand applique I can take!

Making My Own Belly Dance Pants

Lately, I’ve been getting more out of my belly dance classes; something finally clicked and I’m getting the hang of some of the basic moves, and in class–instead of twitching and looking like I’m having a seizure–I actually look pretty good, for a beginner.

So, my after-work-week-night project this past week was to decorate some old pants to make a low-cost belly dance outfit.

I wanted the pants to coordinate with a red and gold scarf with a flower motif I’ve had for many years; I drew the flower-shape from the scarf onto some paper, and traced the outline onto old rayon pants I got from Dharma Trading several years ago. Then, the pants were white; I dyed them light purple and wore them to work.  When they got too shabby, I dyed them a darker purple to try and give them more life.

So here’s the starting point:

I  traced the outline using a white pen with ink that easily washes off fabric; these are available at any fabric store:

Then, I gently squeezed Jones Foil Glue over the traced design:

The glue is sticky and takes 1–8 hours to dry. I glued the front of the pants one night, and the back the next:

Then, once dry, I took a sheet of Jones Tones Gold Foil and rubbed the foil–using the back of a spoon–over the glue. Presto, the glue is no longer sticky and tacky; it’s covered with gold foil. It looks cool!

I pinned my new pants up on my wall, with the scarf; this, plus a black sports-bra, is my new outfit. There’s no belly dance class for a few weeks, but when there is, I’ll get a photo of me in this outfit to prove I’m actually going to wear it!

Tucson Belly Dance Recital

As I’ve disclosed here before, I’ve been taking belly dance classes since January. It’s been great for reducing my back pain. But it’s been a challenge to show up for class, despite the very obvious gains I’ve experienced, because I’m not in my early 20s anymore, and even when I was, I didn’t have the kind of lithe, toned and curvy body that makes for some hot-looking dance moves.

This, for example, is a photo from a recent belly dance recital–where my class performed as one of the acts: this is Lindsay, in her solo number, who looks absolutely fabulous:

Now, you have to admit, that looks like some hot dancing. It was!!

Here she is in the center, with my instructor, Jessica, on the left. Sadly, Heidi, who had a very lovely green costume, is hidden:

This is Josie, I hope I’m spelling her name right, who’s in my class but who is way more advanced; she had the most consistent smile and she genuinely looked like she was enjoying herself, which I admire:

In addition to never having been the skinny-type, I’m also very much an endomorph; that–combined with age and gravity– is a set up for a lot of sag over time and space. My friend Danielle took photos of my class performance: in 1/3 of them, I’m pleased to say, there is not a lot of obvious sag-factor.

Not surprisingly, I probably am looking my best here during the last move of our act:

I was quite relieved to have survived! I practiced an awful lot for this–it may not look that way!–and in the end it was hard, but fun.

Here I am mid-way through the number, clearly a half-beat behind everyone else, and my farmer’s tan from working out in my yard is very evident:

Here’s one last shot.

You’ll know if I didn’t chicken out if I post photos next time there’s a class recital!

Belly Dance Hip Scarf

I’m still going to my belly dance class. I think it’s helping my low and mid-back pain. I’m feeling in better shape. It’s hard work!

In a move that has me flashing back to my kindergarten ballet recital, I agreed to participate in my belly dance class performance. At least I won’t need a tutu. But I will need a hip scarf; this is the one I’ve picked; it’s sparkly, but it doesn’t make my hips look smaller, and no, you don’t need to see how it looks on me. At least, not yet!

Belly Dance Believe It Or Not

Dogged by back pain this past week, I really didn’t get much sewing done; it was hard enough to get in my car. I’ve looked into, practiced and paid good money for all kinds of old (such as yoga) and new (such as The Egoscue Method) approaches to healing-of-the-back; I have all kinds of braces, supports, heating pads; I have a battery-powered electrostimulation pack that looks like an old Sony Walkman, and it’s NOT used for anything naughty. Nothing has worked for very long; any attempt to do the obvious strengthening of core muscles just winds up hurting my low back, which has a bit of degeneration in the sacro-illiac joint, you can see it on an x-ray.

At a complete loss, I decided to try something really old, and very unlikely (for me): belly dance.

Though, I have yet to channel my inner Barbara Eden.

The first belly dance class I went to was really really bad. It was at a local fitness club which will remain unnamed. The class was a nightmare of belly-dance-meets-zumba: the kinesthic equivalent of combining baconnaise and chocolate.  My favorite line of the class was when the instructor did one demo of a wild hip swinging move and then said something like, “now, this can be either really good for your back or really bad for your back” without explaining how one could avoid injury. It was at that point that I walked out.

This didn’t put me off. I tried a different class a few days ago at a different location with a different instructor, and it was great! I’m actually optimistic that this very ancient dance could really help me heal my back pain. I’m very excited, though it’s been a long time since I’ve felt so uncoordinated!