Monday, March 31, 2014

I'm on TV!

Yes, it's public access.  Yes, it's a ten-second portion of a 2 1/2 minute segment.  Yes, I do not say anything, nor am I credited.


During the last segment, my fantastic teacher Grace and Eastern Fire Belly Dance are featured... and there's me, in my green skirt, purple tank top, and pretentious hand knit open toe dancin' socks! YIP!

Our debut has not been posted yet... we have to get releases back to the videographer.  I am kind of freaking out about seeing myself on video, because I know how I look when I'm looking in the mirror. I know how I look when I put my clothes on. But I do not know how I look in full costume, dancing with my sisters, with my man lookin' straight at me. He made it easy to smile, bless him.

Until then, my feets are on Naperville Public Access.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014



My dance sisters and I had our debut last night, and it went AWESOME.

Awesome, of course, is a word which means "Nobody died, nobody dropped a zill, nobody got lost, nobody ditched."  My man was all compliments... he said I looked great (I felt okay about it), I looked really comfortable, I danced really well, and "no, honey, you didn't swear. I would have heard you." I got a little shaky in the middle, but at least I didn't show it on the face. And by the time the last part of the music hit, I was comfortable enough to actually have fun.

It didn't hurt that he was RIGHT THERE in front of me and grinning the whole time. It's easy to smile and loosen up a little in front of the person that tends you when you're ill.

Anyway.  One of the things I like about Belly Dance Tuesdays in Bolingbrook is that there is such a range of dancers. There are ATS tribes, Tribal Fusion troupes, and Egyptian Cabaret soloists.  Also, the group of dancers we had last night was particularly diverse... dancers of all ethnicities, shapes, sizes, ages, all coming together to watch and perform (and get a little tipsy). White dancers, black dancers, Asian dancers, Latino dancers, Christian dancers, Jewish dancers (mazel tov!), Muslim dancers, dancers in their twenties, dancers in their sixties, tiny dancers, voluptuous dancers, dancers with round bellies and narrow hips, dancers with flat bellies and big hips, tall dancers, short dancers, all kinds of dancers! One of the best acts (in my opinion) was Mahira... not only was she zilling while holding a veil (and she accompanied the live drummers at the end with her zills, WOW), she worked the crowd and got everyone fired up. Stage presence... she has it.

The night was not without its snags... some of the food took awhile to get out, for the spectators, and there was one dancer whose ADD-riddled backside lost her zills. Yep, I have no idea where they are. They might be in the house somewhere, they might have sprouted legs and gotten the heck outta Dodge. I don't know. Fortunately, my dance sister Melissa tossed me her spares and got me out of the fire. Phew! I don't know what I would have done if she hadn't thought ahead. Probably just went up there and pretended I had zills on or something, I'm good at that.

All in all, a good time was had by most, there was drinking and dancing and carousing and "Holy shit, Katrina, you have a ton of makeup on!" "I KNOW I'm a hot tranny mess!" I'm so glad I did it. I can't wait for the next one.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Performing tomorrow!

Eeek!  What did I get myself into?


I haven't yet started to prep yet... well, I do have most of my costume separated from the rest of the clothes and hung up (instead of on the floor!  Adulting, yay!), and I'm going to find my zills soon (meh, maybe ten minutes before I have to leave, who cares). I've run the music a couple times, and I'm feeling kind of okay.

Let's see how this goes on the Day Of.

Anyway... here's something more substantial than just "Yay, performing tomorrow! Oh noes!"  One of the things I have always struggled with is looking stupid.  I am not a stupid woman. I am very comfortable in my identity as a Smart Person. I am well-read, well-educated, and I have a lot to say on a variety of topics. I can do fractions. I can speak languages other than my native tongue. I understand Science.

But I hate hate hate hate looking stupid. Not knowing where to go, who to speak to, what to say, or how to begin. I once ducked out of a store because I accidentally addressed a customer as an associate, and I was too embarrassed to keep shopping. I avoid social situations where I don't know how things will go. I didn't dance.

Fortunately, because of my Meetup group experience (explicitly for nerds, by nerds, welcoming to any and all Awkward Turtles as long as they don't remind us why we Can't Have Nice Things), I am far more comfortable with admitting that there are Things that I Need To Be Told, and it may be mildly awkward to tell me, I am much happier dealing with 5 awkward points for having to be told, versus 67 awkward points for Fucking It Up in the moment.  After a long discussion with our dear Grace, here are the things you (may) need to be told!

1) There will be a Dancer's Call at any and all haflas, events, etc. It might not even be an explicit Thing, but the time you may need to arrive could well be different than the time that the event will start. It doesn't matter if the event starts at 8 and you're not going on until 9:30, if the master of ceremonies (dance sisters/etc) wants you there at 7:30, your happy ass better be there at 7:30 or you might not be asked back.

2)  If you are dancing, wear a cover-up. Something. Anything. Try to make it look nice, i.e. a scarf, veil, fancy robe, Ghawazee coat, etc. No matter how lovely, it will look Awkward As Hell to stop dancing and put on a pink angora cardigan with mother-of-pearl buttons, especially when you're in full tribal kit. Or a Bears jersey. You cover up before and after your performance. Grace mentioned that having street clothes or removing portions of one's costume after a performance is de rigeur, but I'm not going to be the one that codifies this as fact.

3)  If there is alcohol at the event, it would probably be embarrassing or annoying to the other dancers for you to get pissed before (or even after) your performance. Same with any other drugs save for prescriptions. If you need to get baked, some venues may frown on that.

4)  Zaghareeting, yipping, and hissing are all ways to show your appreciation. For those of us in the non-bellydance community, applauding politely is always welcome.

5) Along with #1, arrive 75% done, if not completely done. That is, costume on, makeup done, hair done, accessories on, cover on... all of it. You may not have a place to do your hair. You may not have a place to dress, or a mirror to put your face on.

6)  This is one that even my awkward ass doesn't need to be told... Don't be a diva, a bitch, a stage parent, or a Wacko Meanie. Be nice, say hi, smile, compliment others' performances. If you have to say something nasty, do it in your car by yourself. Until then, greet and talk to other dancers. You never know... you might make a friend, find a new mentor, get inspired for a costume idea, or at least have a good story to tell over your next craft circle meeting.

I'm sure there will be more as I perform more, but that's a good place to start!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A Pleasing Contour

T-minus 4 days.

Our last run-through went really well.  At first, I thought my class was just going to be in the chorus, zilling and looking appreciatively towards the student troupe. Then, it expanded to two minutes of slow choreography, which then went to two-and-a-half. I'm down with that... we've been running our song for the last few weeks, feeling kind of awesome, smiling and performing (and trying not to watch the damn mirror for cues!), and learning a few new tricks to make our performance at least 20% cooler.

Of course, the three of us in Grace's Thursday class are nerds, and what do nerds do when we're nervous and about to do something new?  We ask questions! Lots of questions, from "What should we wear?" to "how is it going to go?" to "when in the music are we supposed to head up and do the Ghawazee shimmy with the rest of the girls?" Fortunately, Grace is cool with questions (see the post I wrote about my boobs, ferchrissake) and was totally down to answer them all.

I feel good. I'm nervous, of course, but I've made sure that I've loaded the audience with at least a few friendly faces, and I'm pretty sure I remember everything I want to do.

There is one more issue I've got, though, and it has to do with photographs.  I hate being photographed, and it's not because I don't think I'm pretty/hot/etc.  It has to do with the fact that no matter what weight I am at, from a narrow little size 4 (at 14, mind you, but still) to a curvy and fabulous 16, I have this awkward double-chin. I've got a small chin structurally, and there's this little fat pad that's always been there. It bugs me enough to want plastic surgery on it, but affording that is going to take a looooong time.  Nosirree, Bob, I'm not going to be able to get a vacuum to suck out my double-chin.

So, inspired by the inimitable Princess Farhana, I experimented with contouring.  I looked in my Bag O' Makeup Fun, and found a lovely Smashbox cream eyeliner of some kind.  Probably came from a Sephora goody bag. It's dark enough that it doesn't just look dirty, and it blends nicely.  I actually tried it on this evening, and once I figured out where to put the contour, WOW. I even took a picture, and it looks like I have a CHIN!

Washing it off is going to be a nightmare, but at least I'm not worried about sticking my chin up in the air, a la high school color guard competitions, so nobody accidentally snaps me with a pelican pouch.

Friday, March 7, 2014

My Boogie Shoes!

Barefoot dancing is great. It's all about being connected to the earth, being in full contact with the dance surface, using the natural strength in your feet to manage turns, power shimmies, and create your lines.

Not for me!

The second-most-fucked-up parts of my body are my feet (you don't want to know what the first is). My mother used to have a saying... "Italian shoes do not agree with my German feet!" I inherited her width, but I also got my father's inverted arches, and I have my own problems with callouses.  YAY! Couple that with plantar fasciitis and a propensity towards plantar's warts, and there will be no dancing barefoot for me. Bad, bad plan.

I am stupidly jealous of ballerinas in their pointe shoes. I know for a fact that the feet IN those shoes are fucked, but the shoes make their feet look so elegant and delicate. The same cannot be said for me, sadly. I dance in a pair of Leo's jazz sandals. They are... not cute. In fact, they look downright geriatric.

Fortunately, I dance ATS. As our dear Grace says, "You're wearing two skirts and a pair of pantaloons. Nobody's going to be looking at your feet."  Thank goodness, because the friggin' sandals make my feet look like duck flippers. Long, wide, and really dorky.

However, as aesthetically challenged as these poor shoes are, GODDAMN do they work great for me! The heel keeps me elevated off of my crappy arches, but not so much that exacerbates the plantar fasc. The elastic gore stretches to accommodate the wideness. Even the little elastic tab connecting sole to heel has a purpose for me... it hits me in the exact spot where the adductor muscle bulges out, so it gets to chill out in open air and not be constricted.

(For those of you who are wondering what the last bit means... basically, where most people have the arch of their foot, my feet are completely flush to the ground. I make bigass footprints. And the part where you all have arches? My muscle bulges outward. I've told them that feet don't go like that. They haven't listened.)

I wish I could reliably wear a pair of shoes that felt great and looked fierce, but I've always had to choose between style and substance. I'm finally at a point in my life that substance is starting to feel a fuckton better than style, and as long as nobody can see them, I'm not embarrassed to wear grandma jazz shoes instead of a pair of bedazzled foot panties. And so long as they make yoga socks, nobody else has to see them either.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Crisis Averted!

Rokedet is going to be fine.

She had some loose beads on one of the big lovely beaded panels, and I had a momentary freakout.

The thing about writers and artists (of which I am both) is that they can be incredibly dramatic freaky-outy Shakespearean-level tragedians about relatively minor setbacks.

The thing about costumers (of which I am one) is that they tend to roll with stuff pretty well.

The thing about me is, as both, I am continually torn between two tigers, one that is all "OH MY GOD WHAT ARE WE GONNA DO!" and "EVERYBODY CHILL THE FUCK OUT ALREADY AND GET A NEEDLE."

If you read the last post, guess who won.  Yeah. Awesome.

Rokedet and I have a very close relationship, I suppose.  I put her on and I feel like everything's going to be okay, because she will tell me if things are weird. If I have no power in a shimmy or pivot bump, she'll say so. If I'm moving too much during a body wave or torso twist, she'll let me know. She might be the whole fairytale of the "Magic Shoes," but it WORKS, at least for my confidence. So, when I saw some beading coming loose, I pooped a little.

It was Artax dying in the Swamps of Sadness. It was Frodo being unable to continue on the quest to destroy the One Ring. It was Snape killing Dumbledore. Anakin Skywalker screaming "NOOOOOOOOOOOOO" and succumbing to Darth Vader when Padme died. Okay, bad example. Bane breaking Batman's back? Mordin Solus sacrificing himself to stop the krogan genophage? Sephiroth killing Aeris? Captain America plunging into Arctic ice?  Loki "dying" at the hands of the Kursed?

Rokedet would only grow weaker, lose more of herself, as I grew stronger. She had a death sentence, and it was only a matter of time.  The hero of the tale would someday be alone.

Maybe someday, but that day was not to be today.

After I wound myself up into a frenzy a little bit more, I found some Coats Extra Strong thread and a needle, and I set to work.  I have never repaired beadwork before in my life, but goddamnit, I was going to.  So, I went back to the source of the fray, and anchored the thread, stitching Rokedet up as best as possible. I tested it a little, to make sure it would hold, and then immediately returned her to her place of honor. Now I can rest easy, knowing that Artax would reunite with Atreyu, that Samwise would carry Frodo to his destination, Snape would turn out to be the hero of the piece, Batman would rise again, "Mordin" would be remembered as the hero of Tuchanka, Aeris returned to the lifestream, Cap fished out of the ice, Loki faked his death. Rokedet and I are going to be fine.


...for now.

T-minus Two Weeks and Counting.

I'm starting to get a little nervous about the even that I'm dancing in. Granted, it's only two and a half minutes, and I'm only leading for a minute fifteen, approximately, and the rest of the time, I'll be in the chorus and doing some backup-dancing for the rest of the performance, AND we get to close the show, so at least it's not "LOL FIRST".

I know, it's not a big deal, and I've invited a bunch of people for support. Though I haven't performed in front of an audience since my senior year of high school, I've put myself out there artistically. I've gotten paintings in shows, and I've published two novels.

Perhaps it's because dance is an active medium.  No art is created until the dancers move, and the audience is watching a piece of art being created, from inception to completion. The dancers are vulnerable, open, and in the moment. Whereas, the process of creating something visual or textual is largely hidden, and the audience is presented with the final result.

I guess I'm just mentally masturbating for a bit, to get past the fact that I am FUCKING EXCITED AND TERRIFIED.  Excitified?  Tercited? Something. I don't know.

Eight months ago, I could not dance. I could not fathom dancing in front of people, showing my stomach, being vulnerable in front of a crowd, opening myself for judgment. I did not want to perform. I did not want to show my belly in class. I didn't get the Egyptian, my hips wouldn't shimmy or taksim (because of tight hip flexors and plantar fasciitis, which got diagnosed after I started dancing), my body waves and Arabics looked dumb. I could pivot bump, because I have hips, but that was the only move I could reasonably do, but not for too long, because my left leg did not like having all the weight on it.

Now... I may not be an expert dancer (it's only been eight months!), but I have a pair of pantaloons that are my go-to comfy pants for around the house. I'm the proud owner of one choli, a coin bra, another set of pantaloons, two turkish vests, a panel skirt, and two 25 yard skirts, a pair of Sorayan Nefertiti Zills, my dance shoes, and Rokedet, the One Belt. Not to mention the hair flowers, accessories, and jewelry I've been repurposing from my collection. I do my body waves in the car at stoplights, I shimmy at work and at the grocery store, I practice arm undulations while waiting for customer orders to print out... I'm a dancer. It's changed me, bit by bit, and I wonder what else I might end up challenging.