Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Finally a New Belly Dance Post

Yesterday, I returned a phone call and answered a Face Book message from two separate people interested in belly dance lessons in two different parts of estWay irginiaVay (I'm using pig latin so I don't come up in more searches). I used to have a directory on my website to help people help themselves (and give me a less cluttered inbox) when looking for Belly Dance teachers. When we moved, I took that down, but I still get many many messages and phone calls from people looking for belly dance lessons in places I don't, nor have I ever lived. Pre-baby, I spent a lot of time putting my information out on the web for belly dance instruction and performance, so when people search for belly dance in my former state, my info usually comes up, even if it's about 10 years old.

In an effort to change that, I took my "down time" (down with a cold, that is) yesterday to try to update and clean up as much as I could to reflect that I am a belly dancer living in Pittsburgh, PA. This sort of thing inevitably leads to a website clean up too, since the site is extensive and it's easy to miss some details that may lead people astray. This led to a more thorough re-write of my "about Narah" page on my website and it really got me thinking about how much more I could have written in it years ago. I probably left it out because I talked so much about the "new details" so much in class, with friends and in my introductions for belly dance shows, as well as because the page was already so long to begin with. Keeping up with all the "about me" stuff, advertising, organizing, etc. was overwhelming enough before I had Angelo, so afterwards, I certainly have neglected quite a bit.

Using that Oh-so-clear hide sight and thinking about some of the frustrations I've experienced along the way, I am wondering if having it in writing at least one more place would have helped me and the belly dance community in general at least a little bit more. For example, one of the things I added to the "about Narah" page was that I performed "with the encouragement of my teacher". I didn't decide it was time to perform. My [future] teacher (and troupe mate) invited me to join them in an upcoming stage performance when she saw me dance. Then she sent me out on gigs on my own later. I did not approach her or decide to do that on my own. I also added that I started teaching belly dance "as the only belly dancer in town". There was no one else and I wanted people to dance with. I also had had plenty of experience with performing (with my teacher's guidance and encouragement) on my own and already had a diverse education in belly dance. I bring up these two points because issues with students performing and teaching before they are properly trained and actually executing the necessary skills of said training has been a sore spot in the belly dance community in this country for ... I honestly don't know how long. Probably always- look at all the dancers who called themselves "Little Egypt" after the Chicago's World Fair featured Belly Dance and made such a stir that others wanted to be just like her, but only imitated what they saw.

Because so many of us cherish this dance form and know that it requires integrity for the general public to truly appreciate it rather than continue holding onto stereotypes, we have searched for ways to encourage people to dance and appreciate themselves without "going professional" before they are qualified to properly present themselves in mind, body and spirit. It may be more of a concern these days because so much of life is set up to be instantly gratifying, more intense, more sexy.

I've had such lovely and wonderful students who clearly "get it". They have made me so proud and excited that they are "inside" this dance and drawing out the joy it can give to both dancer and observer! These students make teaching joyful. The times when I run into students who are missing ... something... I wonder what to do. I am human and I am a belly dancer who loves the art form dearly and hopes for the best for belly dancers and the Dance itself, which, to me, often seems a living breathing Goddess we should pay homage and respect to.

Clearly, each case is individual because we are all unique in our backgrounds and natural abilities. But, there would certainly be no harm in everyone taking more time to enjoy the dance, immersing themselves, knowing that "family living room party dancing" before taking on the role of professional performer and teacher. Enjoy student haflas and dancing around the kitchen. I personally am thoroughly enjoying taking classes, dancing at home and am really looking forward to this weekend's Social Hafla at Sterling Yoga (no performances, just hanging out and dancin'. :) So, all you young gals thinking this is the most awesome thing in the world and wanting to take it further, I don't blame you, but trust me, there's plenty of time. Soak up the opportunities to "just be" with it. There will be time later for stage and class room. Boy, do I sound like a Mother Hen or what? ;)

Another piece of information I added was the variety of styles I've studied and venues I've performed at. Again, I've talked with students and friends at length about this and had the details in my introductions at belly dance shows, so I'm sure I thought that was enough. However, I have encountered instances where people assume that Tribal belly dancers don't know the roots of belly dance or that if they are studying Oriental style belly dance that it is some new thing they are getting into. I identify with Tribal and Tribal Fusion. I think Oriental/Cabaret style belly dance is beautiful. I fuse the two because I am an artist, not because I don't know enough about either. I could add quite a bit more here, but I think that's enough.

I do hope that this opens the door to at least some people thinking differently about these issues. I know that the art form will speak for itself, so I'll put my drop in the bucket and let go. :)

Thanks for listening! If you would like to read the new "about Narah" page, go to http://www.tribalbellydance.net/about.htm

Monday, March 28, 2011

Hand Made Birthday Card

My Mom's birthday was Friday and I made this card for her. The image is from my personal collection of antique photos. This little girl looks uncannily like my niece, Annie, so I thought my Mom would like a collage with her in it. (Post card images from Luna Girl)

I also hand made her gifts, and my baby sister's gifts and cards for her birthday and baby shower, but I don't have pictures for them. Hopefully, I can get pictures next time I'm in or they can send me some...

It was nice seeing family this weekend, even as exhausting as the long trip and work keeping up with a toddler away from home is. Hard to believe it's Monday already! Enjoy yours!

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Artful Attic

My husband took some photos of the "before before" pictures, but I still don't have them, so I thought I'd just go ahead and show my bad phone photos of some Creative Space progress. Eventually, this will be my dance/sewing/mixed media space. It is much needed. Art supplies taking over my kitchen is nice and all, but .... ok, it just isn't working any more. This is the attic in it's primed and half piled state. So, the photos don't reflect the actual current progress, but I'll get to that.
This part will hold my supplies and we'll be building a false wall opposite the shelves to hold dance mirrors.

This side will hold the sewing and mixed media work tables. It really will. I even have a corner of this stuff moved over to the other side so I can start priming... hopefully Monday...

So, quick update on that... and if you wonder how you can possibly fit in art making, yoga classes or anything else that is important to you, check out these tips Shona Cole has over at Crescendo. I actually have read "Sink Reflections" by the Fly Lady and it, along with "Make your Creative Dreams Real" by SARK, "Simplify Your Life" and "Learn to Manage Your Time" really made a difference in fitting in what was important to me. It is still something I re-adjust all the time, especially since I'm trying to take more belly dance and yoga classes, so the fundamental methods are really good go-to techniques.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Rajasthani Dance

I've been fortunate enough to take a couple or so Rajasthani Kalbelia dance workshops with Christine Andrews of the Zafira Dance Company over the years. Christine is a wonderful lady and this really comes through when she teaches. I've found myself drawn to this dance form so much that I actually modeled my wedding dress (10 years ago) and my bridesmaids' dresses after the clothing in this clip below. I had to miss the first couple classes in the series, but tonight and last Monday were fantastic- I'm so so glad Christine is teaching this series again and am so happy I am actually living in Pittsburgh now and can take the weekly classes. This week we did spins and I had such fun in my huge bandhini skirt. I'll explain a little more about my Indian obsession when I post about my attic. In the mean time, enjoy and be inspired by this clip from Latcho Drom:

Monday, March 14, 2011

More Art From the Retreat

This one is an Artist Trading Card using an image from my collection. I covered the background with decorative paper, adhered the image and painted a thin layer of gesso over top.

Cardboard substrate, gesso, music sheet, antique lace and Art Chix image from their "Lovliness" collage sheet.

Another ATC using an Art Chix image. Also used my own mica sprayed wax paper, shell buttons and Aleene's paper glaze.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sharing Some Video Tutorials and a Book Link

To further confuse the people I have to tell I don't do much scrap booking, some of these sites are scrap booking sites. But, mixed media collage is different, trust me. Just trust me. :)

Claudine Hellmuth’s book on Amazon. Check out the Elmer’s glue crackle and plastic wrap crinkle in the “look inside” feature.


Hallowed out book video (interesting approach to adding collage to the niche. Not the way I do it, but proof there’s more than one way to skin a cat! ;) http://www.diynetwork.com/videos/books-into-display-boxes/5045.html

A couple video tutorials for Tim Holtz paint dabbers:



Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Settling Back In

Angelo, Dana and I returned from Charleston last night. I taught a workshop there Sunday and it was lots of fun!! I found this when I was unloading the car. It was supposed to be a stocking stuffer, but since we moved in a week before Christmas, it got lost in the shuffle. Maybe for the Spring Celebration/Oester basket, then. Just as many of the hand made gifts will be shifted to that basket because my attic space is still not set up.

Though I was sure with all the work I put into the Altered Book workshop, I'd be ready to take a break from mixed media art for at least a couple of days, I just couldn't help but put something together from the things left on the island that I didn't pack up. I'll try scanning and posting that soon. Guess I just can't help myself. :)

I also spent a lot of time cleaning up and trying to re-claim the kitchen after taking over with so many art supplies (all in between running in to see what amazing train thing Angelo wanted to show me and our daily routine). Just for good measure, the dining room and living room got some attention too. I think I needed to feel more settled here again and for Angelo to experience some more order. The trip was confusing for him and I'm sure for Dana too. I packed so much for this trip/workshop (I'm sure it made it look similar to the move) and then we stayed at my in-laws, who are on vacation (moved said stuff into an unoccupied house). He had some trouble adjusting to coming back and leaving Daddy, who had to work in the Charleston office. He was quite upset by us leaving and Daddy staying. Some investigation revealed that he thought Daddy was going to _live_ there and we were going back to live at our new home without him. After a lot of explanation and train track building, he started relaxing a bit, but still asked "we're going to live here again?" before we went to bed. He is also very happy living here, but any change is hard, especially on little ones, no matter how good it is. He is doing quite well now. :)

So, with more order and some good Mama-and-Angelo art projects planned, we are ready to enjoy our wonderful home again.

Also, I enjoyed this post on Shona Cole's blog. :)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Sweetheart ATCs

I can't believe I got it all done with what I'm working on for the workshop I'm teaching Sunday (which you should take if you are in or willing to travel to Charleston!! Collage and altered books!), but I made these Sweetheart Artist Trading Cards for the latest Art Chix Swap. This will be my first official swap. I will get 6 cards from other artists and also get a chance to win $50 in Art Chix products (whoo Hoo!!). So, be sure to vote for me at Art Chix. I'll post again when they have official voting up.