Thursday, April 29, 2010

Barely home!

Feels like I've been on the go for the past week... From my weekend in Phoenix, to the gym and errands, to taking my brother to the MVD, to starting my new job, to dance classes tonight and then my fun dancing birthday weekend coming up, I've barely been home at all. Housework and beading are both suffering, but should hopefully return to normal next week.

Tonight is a very exciting one for classes, the first evening of a new session in which I will not only be continuing my education in the Anaya Tribal style, but I will also learn tribal-style sword, and palm flames. Swords! And Fire! Two of my favorite things combined with dancing, which is one of my other favorite things. Add a beaded costume with some malachite and faeries and that's pretty much all of my favorite inanimate things.

Assuming we can get the music issue ironed out, my classmate Marlene and I will be performing the drum solo choreo that we learned on Friday, since we were unable to at the recital on Sunday. This means that I will probably be performing twice at the hafla*. I hope I'll be able to get to see a lot of the other performers as well, even if I have to peak out through the back-stage door ;)

I'll try to post a quick update tomorrow before I take off for Phoenix, to let you know how awesome tonight's classes are, then I'll be quiet all weekend again.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Recital Number Two

So, the recital this weekend was fun but crazy. The drum solo performance was canceled last-minute, so I only danced with two classes, which was actually better for me in a way because it meant one less costume change. We had several people just not show up, which threw off our formations, and there was some confusion on exactly what we were doing for zill class... but in the end, it all more or less came together, and if any mistakes were made, well, we all made the same mistake, so only we know that it wasn't supposed to be that way :)

Even though there was a bit of stress involved, I found myself feeling really refreshed as I drove home to Tucson. There's something about spending the entire weekend with my dancing friends and classmates that just makes me happy. I get a real sense of community, especially as we all help each other get ready and congratulate each other on a job well-done (and convince each other that the audience didn't notice that little misstep).

Video is forthcoming. My parents loaned us their nice camcorder, which should have taken some nice footage, it just needs to be transferred to the computer and such.

Monday, April 26, 2010

My BFAC necklace is finally up!

If you've been waiting anxiously to get your hands on Psychedelic Jellyfish, now is your chance! You can also check out the other auctions, because there are some very nice items waiting for your bids. Don't forget that there's only one week of Layne's Legacy -- Beading For A Cure auctions left after this one! You don't want to miss your chance to win a nice piece of beadwork and help a good cause all at the same time (for those who are new to my blog and the whole BFAC thing, we are raising money for the National Colorectal Cancer Research Association).

Of course, you're probably sitting there saying "But AJ, what about the new car? What about your recital?" Well, in the interest of not writing novel-length blog posts, I'm trying to stick to one subject at the time. The short version is that the car is awesome, I had a safe drive up to my friend's birthday party, and the recital was chaotic but fun. More details as time allows this week.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Gone for the weekend

I'll be up in Phoenix all weekend, for a friend's birthday party and the Plaza de Anaya Spring Student recital. I am not taking my laptop with me because I want to focus on friends and dancing. I will also be gone all of next weekend, so I should probably just give up on weekend blogging, since I'm always gone or busy.

Today was exciting because we bought a new car, a 2010 VW Jetta TDI. I would love to gush about it, but I need to finish packing for my weekend away, so gushing will be postponed until next week.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Strangely Cold

It's cold and rainy and windy today, which is very odd for late April in Tucson. I don't know if it's remnants of El Nino, or freaky weather patterns caused by the Iceland volcano, or something else entirely. All I know is that it is NOT going to stop me from going to class tonight, because I need to be there to practice for this weekend's recital.

My Egg Moon pendant is almost done, now I just need to decide what to hang it from, and hope that the weather is nice enough for some photography.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Check out the BFAC auctions!

It's been a while since I've reminded you all to check out the wonderful Layne's Legacy -- Beading For A Cure auctions! We have some great items this week, including Dot Lewallen's hippo doll, Gertrude's New Hat (shown above), which is bringing in some high bids already. The other items could use a little love, though, so if Gertrude is already out of your budget, don't despair! Everything else is just as lovely.

My necklace goes up on Sunday, though, so make sure you save a little money for that :)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Short and Sweet

Well, since I gushed all over yesterday's post, I'll keep today a little shorter!

Sometime this week, I'll be listing my Grass Moon challenge necklace. I finished it on Saturday, but haven't had a chance to take photos (it's strangely cloudy today). I'm also hoping to make an Egg Moon necklace, but I'd have to be fast, as the deadline for the challenge is Sunday, and I'll be in Phoenix all weekend.

I'll be in Phoenix, because I'm going to a friend's birthday party, spending the night, and then my recital is the next day! I'll be dancing twice this time, with the zill class and the tribal class.

Next week will be a big week, too. I'm starting a new job, spending a few hours a week working as an assistant for a friend of mine, plus I'll be practicing to dance a solo on the 30th. Two very exciting things in one week! Not to mention that I'm taking a hula workshop on the 1st... which happens to be my 28th birthday :)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Bad week followed by a day of Pure Awesomeness!

Image shamelessly stolen from Levant al Sonora's Facebook page.

If you're wondering why I've been so quiet for the past week, it's because all I would have been able to blog about was the tedious list of annoying things that happened to me. None of it was truly awful on its own, just the little trials and tribulations that an adult must deal with in life, but they came all together in one week and piled on top of each other until I felt quite irritated by it all, paranoid about what would happen next.

But then I had two wonderful days. The first was Thursday, the blissful retreat of my evening full of belly dance classes. I delivered a custom octopus necklace to one of my classmates (unfortunately, I didn't have time to photograph it before I gave it to her), had a good time in all of my classes, and got some much needed ego-boosting compliments from my teachers.

The big blast of refreshing happiness was yesterday, however. Our local chapter of the Middle Eastern Culture and Dance Association (MECDA) brought workshops and a showcase down to Tucson (they're of course based in Phoenix, which has an unfairly high concentration of amazing dancers). The rundown:

Warning! Belly dance nerd content ahead!

I started the day learning American Tribal Style moves from Lenay of Kamalah (Arizona's only true ATS troupe), and then Shannon of Divine Chaos turned them into tribal fusion combos, complete with cues, so that any troupe could add them to their repertoire. I really liked the dual-teacher system here, and Shannon's combos were really cool.

What struck me as I thought about this class today is how different the belly dance world is from the beading world. At one point, Shannon said (I'm paraphrasing) "So, if you take this back to your troupe and teach it to them, you could do it this way or this way..." There was a clear expectation that dancers would want to share these moves with people who did not take the workshop, and that was OK. In the bead world, it's a big faux pas to take a class and then use the handout to teach your friends who didn't take the class... and that's just fine, I don't blame a teacher for wanting people to pay for the fruit of their labors.

Next was zill class with Mahin, a dancer that I admire very much because she sends out these great "belly dance quickie" e-mails every day, with a new tip or technique or inspirational video. I love people who give to their community like that. We learned three new-to-me zill rhythms, and she taught combinations to practice them with. I had some trouble with the moves and combos because they were pretty alien to my world of 4-count tribal moves, but I look forward to practicing the rhythms.

After a lunch break, Shannon came back and taught a short bonus workshop on double fans! This free class was actually my favorite, because I've always wanted to learn fans. Shannon taught us how to open and close paired fans with natural movements of the arm and wrist, and a few tribal-fusion style combos that look really pretty with paired fans. She even covered dramatic ways to come on stage with the fans. Afterwords, we all posed with our diverse fans for the photo above. Isn't it pretty?

Later in the evening was the Spring Showcase, featuring the teachers from the workshops and other talented Arizona dancers. It was being held at a shop called People's Imports, which seemed like an odd choice to me... dancing in a store? Would there be enough room for the dancers to move? Ample seating? Turns out it was awesome. The shop itself is old brick, decorated with imported rugs and furniture and cool stuff, and they even had a raised stage which the musicians occupied. The dancers performed in a wide open space, half-surrounded by low seats.

I loved seeing a lot of the tribal troupes that I know from the Phoenix area actually performing -- so far I'd only seen them on video, or in informal party-type settings. It was also fun to see some local Tucson dancers that I didn't know putting on some great shows! And Mahin gave a show-stopping glitzy cabaret-style performance in a costume that I'm pretty sure had aurum 2x Swarovski crystals all up in its fringe (there's a little something for my beaders!). After the performers, Divine Chaos's live band played a number for the audience to get up and dance, the perfect cap to the night.

The only bad part is knowing that this won't happen again until NEXT year! Oh sure, I can travel to workshops, but having MECDA bring the fun to me (and my fellow Tucson dancers) was a nice treat!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

We have nothing to fear but fear itself. And drums.

I'm sure I've mentioned here before that Daisy is my crazy dog. Last week, she had to go to the vet because she broke a toenail while freaking out in the bathtub (OHMIGAWD! WATER! I'M GOING TO DIE! RUN AWAY!). Today, my brother came over with his new gigantic truck, and she fearlessly ran under the truck (because there were people on the other side), and then jumped up into the cab (because an open vehicle door is a clear indication that it's time for a ride, even if she's never seen the vehicle before). I'm always amused by the things that do and do not scare her. She'll lovingly lick the vet and the letter carrier on the face, but she's terrified of the Furminator brush.

I've also mentioned that neither dog approves of my zill playing. They'll fold their ears back, look at me with accusing eyes, and slink off to the bedroom to hide. Well, apparently they just hate percussion instruments in general, because Chris was playing a drum tonight and there was Daisy, sitting in the bedroom doorway giving me that sad look that asked "When is the scary drum going to go away?"

That's my Daisy, a dog of extremes.

Friday, April 09, 2010

I made bindis!

I took a break from beading on Wednesday to delve into the world of super-fancy bindis. These are especially popular with tribal and tribal fusion belly dancers, as we have a "too much is probably not quite enough" approach to costuming and accessorization. In fact, I got tips on how to make these from The Gypsy Kiss, a tribal fusion dancer and costumer of whom I am a big fan. If you'd like a bindi of your own, please click that link and shop with her!

My foray into bindi-craft was inspired by the fact that my friend and dance classmate Meghan recently had a birthday, and had mentioned wanting a bindi with a bird skull on it. When going through my supplies, I found a polymer clay bird skull that was sort of small enough to be a bindi, so I knew I had to do it! It's attached to a repurposed filligree earring, accented with an onyx or sardonyx or some other black stone with bits of brown and white.

But first I had to experiement with proper gluing, so I made myself one with the other earring, a long malachite cab, and a tiny vintage green class cab. Pretty! I think it will look great with the striped skirt that I wore to the Renaissance Festival back in February.
You can see from this side view that the skull has a pretty high profile. Hopefully it won't be too big and heavy to stay attached. Meghan loves it, and I think it will look pretty cool with her rat skull hair clip. (yes, we tribal dancers can be a little macabre, too!)

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Spring Break at the Beach

When invited me to pick out a selection of beads that reminded me of Spring, my first thought was to go for something leafy or flowery... but then I saw this octopus and had to have it, so my theme became Spring Break at the Beach! I eschewed dainty pastels in favor of the brighter colors that come out as Spring fades into Summer, the colors of tropical water and growing plants and my favorite warm-weather clothes!

Once I'd picked out the Sterling and Resin Pendant by Taina Hartman, I thought of CRYSTALLIZED - Swarovski Elements, specifically stars and fish! The bright peridot stars were the perfect accent for the octopus. I added turquoise AB 2x crystals and variegated Czech glass as well as chain and a clasp from my own stash to make this simple but adorable necklace that perfectly matches my favorite peridot green t-shirt. You can see the full-length view in yesterday's blog post.

The octopus focal is quite nice, the resin is perfectly smooth, the image shows clearly, and the silver frame/cup gives it a professional finish. However, it's also very tiny, so it's hard to use it as a necklace focal, unless you go really dainty like I did. I think it would be really well-suited to use in a charm bracelet, and other styles would make cute earrings.
My original plan had been to use these clear fish crystals and the Sterling fish clasp to round out the necklace, but they proved to be too big for the octopus focal. Instead, I'm setting them aside to go with this sea faerie lampworked figure from Giggling Grizzly, which I have had forever. There are some Bali fish and Czech pressed glass fish waiting to go with her, too. I'm thinking I might need some medium-weight silver chain, and I'll just dangle all of the fish and hang her in the center.

The fish clasp is just perfect, a hook and eye, with the head and body being separate pieces. It hooks and unhooks very smoothly, and looks nearly seamless when it's connected. It seems like it should be large and sturdy enough to balance out the heavy lampworked focal.

All of my crystals came nestled in the little white compartment trays that Swarovski packages them in, for safe travels and safe storage. As you can see from the photos, both shapes are cut for lots of sparkle. I envisioned the stars as sea stars for this piece, but they'd be just as perfect for a celestial theme.

FTC Disclaimer: As was clearly indicated in the above post, some of the beads in these projects were provided for free by for promotional consideration. In return, I have posted my honest reviews of them.

Monday, April 05, 2010

I got bored

I don't know what it was, but I just did not feel particularly engaged by the internet last week. I checked things, but I didn't feel particularly motivated to post on this blog, Facebook, or Twitter, nor did I participate on the FAE Team Etsy forum thread, or do as much e-mail as I usually do. I'm trying to get back into the swing of things now.

The above necklace is my latest Artbeads blogging project. I'll do a real post about it tomorrow, after I've photographed the other items I received.

I've also received the crystals for my BFAC project, but I don't know if it will be the next thing I work on. I'm still beading away on my Grass Moon project, Egg Moon awaits, and there are a few other focals I'd like to play with. Clearly, I need to dedicate more hours of my day to beading.

But there's dancing, too! I have so much to practice, so many things that I need and want to drill so I can get really good at them. So I need to spend more time on that, too!

So internet, as much as I love you, I think we may have to spend a little more time apart!