So I’ve been out of the Belly Dance loop for a loooooong time.
I was with the Araby Belly Dance Academy for a few years in QLD – which was fantastic, and we danced at festivals, shopping centres and our big end of year concerts. But when I moved to Melbourne in 1998, I obviously couldn’t go there any more. So I needed to find a new school. I tried the Seventh Veil but I could only do a day class and there were only 3 people in the class, so didn’t like it. Then I tried one I saw advertised at the local library, run by a former jazz ballet teacher…. (and lets just say that when the teacher suggested we dance to Aqua’s “Barbie girl” wearing pink bikinis and blond wigs – I made a hasty retreat). I even tried my hand at teaching a few friends – but it was harder than I thought to work out how to teach someone else to do the movements I knew how to do.
So then I figured maybe my Belly Dancing days were over. I couldn’t find anywhere else close by to go to, and my knees were bad anyway. So I gave up.
Even back when I danced in QLD, I’d often have to come home and put ice on my knees, because they would be red and swollen from classes or performances. I’ve seen several knee specialists and they have given me several different opinions of what’s wrong with my knees – ranging from my kneecap not sitting where it’s supposed to – so it’s rubbed off all the cartilage and the pain is from bone rubbing against bone…… to them saying I have cartilage but it must be spongy, damaged or cracked, which causes the pain. Because I’ve always had to go through the public health system – nobody has been willing to actually have a look to see what the problem is – just telling me to take pain killers and lose weight.
But I’ve still done the (very) occasional thing over the years. I’ve gone to Fire in the Belly a couple of times, danced out the front of a friend’s shop that was opening. Being in the SCA, with friends who are also into “Middle Eastern Dance”, I’ve had the opportunity to do the occasional thing…..
My “beaded door curtain” bra 😀 and a cool metallic dress I bought at an op shop 😀
This is the outfit I made for an SCA Ottoman feast.
So….. then recently I decided I wanted to get back into Belly Dancing. I searched for classes in my area and I found only 2 that looked like they could be suitable. Happy Hips and Red Earth Ghawazee. I wasn’t sure Tribal was for me – being a style I’d never done before and the fact it was all improv didn’t sound like something I’d like. But I was concerned that the Happy Hips wasn’t going to be challenging enough, and my friend was going to come with me, which created the problem with the classes because I was going to need an intermediate/advanced class and she would need a beginner’s class since she hadn’t danced before. Neither of us wanted to go alone (especially to the first class), but it made no sense for us to do different classes (especially since I pretty much drive past her house to get there – so we go in the same car). So the advantage of Tribal was that we’d both be in the beginner’s class. We decided that since it was the end of term, we’d try a class of each, and could then pick which one we thought was better.
The Happy Hips one didn’t work well for my friend and I – because of the beginner/intermediate thing, but the Tribal one did work, since it’s a whole new dance language I am definitely a beginner there. But I didn’t want to give up on the other dance. So I decided that I’d continue going to both – which has worked out well. The Happy Hips one is a more “Cabaret” style that I’m familiar with – but some of the ladies in the class are still quite novice, and we don’t get dressed up much to perform. So I do find it’s a bit more basic than I would like. Though it does give me the opportunity to work on my technique, and we’re doing double veil at the moment which I’d never done before, so that’s awesome. The Tribal I find is slower and less “fun” in many ways, but it’s got a bit more of a challenge and also more opportunity to get all frocked up (and I do love costuming!). So together I’m getting a bit of both worlds which is good, and frankly the exercise of doing 2 classes a week is something I need 😀
So back in September I got the first chance to perform for MANY years – Happy Hips did a performance at the Kizmet Bazaar. So that was good to get back on stage.
Posing for photos afterwards 🙂
And we danced at a nursing home (the residents seemed to love it!)
With the Tribal class, there is no choreography, so it’s just a case of learning the movements and being able to copy the person in front, so that makes things easier in some ways (no choreography to learn/forget), but also harder in some ways (because you have no idea what will be coming next). So I’ve done about a term and a half of that now, and I’m actually enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would.
We’ve been working towards a performance at the “Divine Dancing Cafe” in Warrandtye (which we’ve just done on Sat) and our end of year concert next month. So we had the opportunity to get all dressed up! My friend and I got together to get costumed up and take some photos before we left.
Slightly different costuming to the Happy Hips performances 😀
I have Harem pants, a teal paisley skirt (made from buying 2 matching tiered skirts at op shops, opening the side seam in both and sewing them together to make one wider skirt) and a black “25 yard skirt”, with a fringed belt/skirt over the top (that I bought cheaply from my teacher) and my hip belt. Since I have a sleeved body suit on, I didn’t need a choli – though I like the cut out one my friend is wearing, so I might make one. I managed to finish the bra the morning of the performance 😀 On my head I have a turban made from scarves I happened to have, and some bits and pieces. The shell things were a necklace I cut in half. The metal thing I bought from my teacher (and putting it there means no metal touching my skin – yay!)
So I was lucky enough to buy a cheap base belt from my teacher (she sometimes brings old costume bits to class for us to buy, which is cool – like a mini market :D), and I added some shells and things to it and some ties (to tie it on)
(Before & after)
My bra was an old black bra I had, which I painstakingly sewed stuff too – I think it took 13 hours of sewing all up! It should all be nice and secure though, the beads and coins are sewn on with dental floss to make sure they don’t fall off, and everything is sewn on with lots of thread and knotted after each one (or each few ones). I ended up deciding to cut down the loops on the coins as they were huge, and making smaller ones (in future I’ll look for coins with holes instead).
The fringing I made by pulling apart an old necklace I had that I’d bought from an op shop to use the beads 🙂 I like that the beads are all random and don’t have any pattern to them. Mixed with some chain that I tarnished with boiled egg. I also ended up getting a similar beaded necklace in blue beads from my friend, which I mixed through the green beads to give it a more teal look to match my skirt and the bra straps.