Saturday, October 25, 2008

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Stage makeup for middle eastern dance

Q: Help - I need to do stage makeup for a middle eastern dance performance but I don't know where to start!

A: Questions you should think about when selecting your makeup: What style of belly dance do you do? How far from your audience will you be? Are you performing more than one set or just a single dance? Will you sweat alot? Under lights?

I teach Modern Egyptian and have worked as a professional costumer/makeup designer. In my experience the type of makeup and the colours that you need can vary with different performance types.

The discount cosmetics place in civic - coscut - is a good start. The Revlon counter at DJs is also good. Napoleon perdis are good but I find that they don’t know much about performance makeup and that they often suggest colours that are not suitable for use under stage lights. Blochs and Taps dancewear both stock pro lines for dancers.

For basic theatrical makeup for MED I usually suggest that my students invest in:

* Good quality foundation 1-2 shades darker than your natural skin tone (for STAGE performances - where you get washed out under lights. For close up performances go closer to your skin tone.) Revlon makes a good basic pancake formula. Check out coscut/priceline.
* A true matt lipstick and a matching lip liner. No brown or frosting - it goes funny on stage/under lights.
* A true reddish pink blush. Matt. No brown, no sparkles!!!
* Dark brown or black waterproof liquid eyeliner. (I like the kind that comes in a pot and that you apply with an angled brush.)
* A chocolate brown eye shadow.
* A white eye shadow for highlighting.
* Dark brown or black mascara - waterproof.
* Translucent powder for setting the makeup.
* Hypoallergenic makeup remover suitable for removing eye makeup. Most of my students also like to use moist towelettes are they are easy to use and make for a quick cleanup.
Once you have these add:
* a tube of vaseline - so your lips don’t stick when you get a dry mouth; and
* An eyelash curler is really useful.
Then you can add:
* colored eye shadow (neutral brown, gold, pink, plum etc);
* a second darker foundation for contouring;
* glitter etc…

If you are ready to invest in proper stage makeup I highly recommend that next time you are in Sydney that you go to Mac for a makeover. I use them for all my stage makeup. They actually started out as a pro/stage makeup company and their makeup artists are taught about stage makeup!!!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Friday, June 27, 2008

Review: Body by Bellydancing: Guest blogger - Jejune

Body by Bellydancing, by Michelle Joyce
Music by Mary Ellen Donald and Farah Ibrihim.
$14.95 US
74 minutes
Reviewed by Jejune You can find Jejune's blog here!

This is a fitness program based on bellydancing moves, focussed on hips, abs, and buns. Michelle Joyce is an award-winning bellydancer and fitness instructor (and lovely person!). Not only does she feature in this DVD, but she oversees all the production of her DVDs as well (and she's a web designer as well). The DVD menus are easy to navigate and clear.

The video / camera work is excellent, and the music and sound are clear. Sometimes Michelle speaks as she's doing the exercises, and at other times she does voice overs. I thought she explained the moves and sequences clearly, and in a very friendly manner. She speaks well to the camera, and the camera angle shows her working to a mirror, so it's easy to see both sides of all the moves. There are plenty of repetitions to help you learn the moves.

This DVD starts with an Introduction, Warm Up, and Explanation of some basic bellydance moves (hip circles, hip figure-8s, mayas, hip bumps/hits, and posture).

After the Warm Up, you can move on to the three Exercise Sessions :

The first one is based on hip bumps, and is a cardio workout. In this session, and throughout the DVD, she encourages beginners to work at a simpler level until they're more experienced and stronger. The exercises include hip bumps flat footed, on tip toes, and even while doing choo-choos!

The second Session is slow moves, focusing on strength and endurance. It features hip circles and arm movements, to nice slow music.

The third Session is floor work, with a focus on strength and flexibility. I must admit that most of this session was beyond me at the moment! It uses some yoga poses, and you need to be pretty flexible and strong to start with - I felt it was pretty advanced. But since it's on a DVD, you can practice and work up to the exercises.

As the focus is on an exercise regime, not all the moves are dance movements, but they are fantastic exercises and preparation for bellydancing. What makes some of the exercises not dance moves is they are done in non-dance stances, such as with the legs apart, or staggered (one leg to the front, one to the back). Michelle also includes some dance tips through the DVD, such as moves to help learn how to do better belly undulations.

After the three Exercise Sessions there is an Abs Workout, with a fair few Pilates moves. I felt this was pretty advanced, with moves such as doing the Plank with knee bends, and side to side. I must admit I just watched these!

Finally there is a Cool Down session with good stretches. There are also reasonably long excerpts from Belly Dancing Basics, and Secrets of the Stage 2, to whet your appetite further!

If you're wanting to get fitter, and are a bellydancer, then this DVD will definitely get you working!

Thanks Jejune!!!

Arabesque Dance Co. - Layali Nour

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Orit Maftsir of Israel - Saidi

Shukran Warda-Mariam - great find!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Road Blog Ahead

I thought that I would just take a minute to feature one of my favourite blogs:
Road Blog Ahead

Lena and Joy are originally from Oakland/Bay Area, they now live in Rewalsar, India and run the Tso Pema Medical Emergency Fund. At the moment they have $340 US dollars out of the $10,000 they are aiming for. They are expecting an influx of Tibetan refugees - it is going to be a VERY tough year.

"During our time here, we have started an emergency fund and free medical clinic to provide help to Tibetan refugees. Most of the people we see are monks and nuns, the very elderly and the children. Most of them have walked out of occupied Tibet to be free to practice according to their tradition and culture. Almost all of those who actually make it out (we lose hundreds every year. This year’s count is 300+ missing somewhere in the Himalayas) are malnourished, sick and badly traumatized by the time they get here. In our makeshift clinic we see nuns and teenaged girls who have been raped and beaten by Chinese soldiers. This is… commonplace. We see groups of little kids who walked out through the snow mountains without their parents and old people who saw their children die. We see monks who were once strong and sure who were captured, beaten and tortured until they are emaciated and frail and flinching. They come here and they try to make a life for themselves."

Please read their blog! If you can, please donate.

Saida in Moscow with Yasser Al-Swery

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Bellydance – the next level with Jenna - mini review

Bellydance – the next level with Jenna. Transitions, Turns and Layers. World Dance New York. 105 minutes.

This DVD commences with a warm up. Some elements of this warm up may not be safe for all dancers. I would recommend doing 5-10 minutes of cardiovascular activity before commencing the warm up. Some of the movements that she uses for the neck and head are now considered contraindicated – for example in head circles it is not recommended to drop the head right back. Figure 8 head rolls need to be performed very carefully.

The DVD then continues with hip work and upper body layering sections. These do not include a movement breakdown and move quite fast. Excellent for an advanced dancer with a good vocabulary wanting a fun follow along drill. They are done facing into a mirror. However, this might prove quite a challenge for an intermediate dancer! The DVD then contains a brief breakdown of 3 step turns, a simplified barrel turn without torso tilt, a 2 step turn with accent, a hip circle turn, a compass turn, a character (paddle) turn, a cross over turn, a turn with a twist, and spotting. This is followed by a turn drill.

This DVD contains two choreographies:
1 – a very cute intermediate to advanced short Saidi piece with a drum solo. Lot’s of variety and room to add your own flavours. Uses Celebration of Rhythm – Jehan – Goddess Dance..
2 – a lovely advanced level Egyptian choreography to Raks Bedeya – Yousry Sharif and Raqia Hassan -Wash Ya Wash 2. 7:53 minutes. This choreography has 27 combinations and would definitely increase most people’s skill. Advanced dancers will enjoy the variety it presents. This would be a good transition for dancers hoping to work with Raqia Hassan or other advanced Egyptian choreographers.

Both choreographies are broken down into combinations, and are presented in demonstration form for drilling. The choreographies are also performed in costume by Jenna. Her technique is clean and precise.

This DVD is excellent value. It is well structured for the experienced dancer, with minimal repletion - it assumes a lot of knowledge. It doesn’t really discuss Egyptian styling. It contains a huge amount of material very clearly presented. Highly recommended for dancers with a solid grasp of technique, particularly those with some experience in Egyptian styling. This is a nice DVD to practice along with. Both choreographies are cute enough to perform publicly. This DVD may be overwhelming for beginners or low intermediates.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

DVD recommendations

Hi folks

This week I’ve had two requests from readers for recommendations.

1. Suzanna Del Vecchio's Precision Motion Workout. The classic! When I ordered my first Suzanna Del Vecchi video it cost me $118 dollars AU with shipping. Ouch. (Thank goodness the dollar has now improved). But worth every penny. Practicing with it took me from a first term beginner to intermediate level very quickly. I actually recived comments from my teacher and other students on the speed I was progressing.
2. Hadia of Canada's Instructional Series Raqs Es Sharqi Volumes one to three.
Bear in mind the level of production is lower in independantly produced videos like Hadia's. Hers are also dubbed into English. They are a good into for beginner/intermediate students. They are instructional rather than a workout. Vol 3 which is on possible ways of interpreting rhythms is very popular and the combinations are a good challenge for the intermediate student. It could be used as a workout.
3. Delilah’s Absolute Beginning Belly Dance
4. Fat Chance Bellydance – Vol 1- 3
5. Keti Sharif’s Secrets of the Centre - focuses on the core moves of bellydance - important base techniques you need for arms, hands, belly, hips and feet. An additional section on veil and how to play finger cymbals included. Suits beginners and continuing students. Keti's video's are beautifully produced, the teaching is very, very clear. She is a very sincere and friendly instructor and a talented dancer.
6. Jenna’s Bellydance basics and beyond -World Dance New York.
7. Jenna’s Heart beat of Bellydance –World Dance New York. A fun intro into drum solo technique. Begginner - intermediate
8. Michelle Joyce’s Belly Dance Basics -
Instruction and Choreography for Beginners– Cheeky Girl Productions
9. Instructional Belly Dance with Jillina: Level 1 and 2

Intermediate (All of these also suitable for advanced dancers who wish to embed and consolidate their skills. Some of these will stretch advanced dancers but are accessible to intermediates due to the quality of the instruction! )
1. Egyptian Pop Choreography with Jillina – A well taught challenging choreography
2. Any thing by Keti Sharif - I have her 5 part series and A-Z tapes and they are pretty good. (Instructional/educational not workouts. Vol 1 with the musicians is great, and the classical bellydance Vol 2 has some great dancing).
3. Ali by Sahira. See my review below.
4. Sensual Bellydance By Blanca -World Dance New York. See my review below.
5. Secrets of the Stage Volume 1 
A performance course for belly dancers by Michelle Joyce – Cheeky Girl Productions
6. Pop, Lock and Shimmy
Drum Solo Technique and Choreography
For Intermediate and Advanced Belly Dancers by Michelle Joyce – Cheeky Girl Productions
7. Drills! Drills! Drills! by Michelle Joyce – Cheeky Girl Productions 
A complete workout for belly dancers of all levels.
Includes a choreography and finger cymbal drills
8. Anything by Zahra Zuhair
9. Mastering the Dance with Amar Gamal.
10. Magnificent Moves with Zahra Zuhair: Egyptian Technique, Combinations & Styling IAMED
11. Sonia & Issam - The Art of the Drum Solo
12. Aziza’s Ultimate Bellydance Practice Companion
13. Ava Fleming -Dynamic Combinations IAMED
14. Leyla Jouvana’s 21 Shimmies and 1001 Variations IAMED
15. Saroyan presents How To Play Finger Cymbals with Mesmera
16. Sizzlin' Hips and Sizzlin' Torso by Ava Fleming IAMED
17. Hadia - Red Hot Drum Solo

1. Bellydance - The Next Level: Transitions, Turns & Layers Jenna -World Dance New York. Will review soon!
2. Drum Solo Technique & Choreography with Sadie – IAMED.
3. Leyla Jouvana’s More Shimmies and 1000s of Variations – IAMED.
4. An Advanced Oriental Dance Class with Zahra Zuhair
5. Anything by Raqia Hassan eg her Technique Video Vol. VIII
6. Anything by Mo Geddawi
7. Anything by Farida Fahmy eg 2005. Farida Style 1: Advanced Technique.
8. Anything by Shareen El Safy
9. Anything by Aida Nour
10. Anything by Beata and Horacia Cifuentes

Videos that I wouldn’t recommend
(Not necessarily bad, but not to my taste or to my standards…)
1. Neena and Veena
2. Dolphina
3. Raqia
4. Amira Mor
I'm not a big fan of these DVDs - they don't teach some really important aspects of dance, including safe dance. I feel that they show some poor technique, and often have odd musical interpretation.
Check out some of the other great ones on offer.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Blanca - Sensual Belly Dance DVD

Mini review:

A lovely experienced beginner to intermediate plus DVD which is 120 minutes long. I had avoided this one for a while due to it's title - fearing that it was yet another 'amateur, dance a sexy dance for your boyfriend' DVD. On the contrary - this focuses how how to be 'in' your body and to move with grace and ease. The dancing and teaching is high quality. It has a breakdown of the movement vocabulary followed by a 40 minute 'sensual belly dance' flow designed to drill movements then a step by step break down and demonstration of a modern american style choreography with a slight 'new age flavour'. The flow can also be used with just music - no voice over. This is a well thought out DVD. The camera work is excellent. There are sections that focus on refining the upper body and lower body movements, one that tells the 'story' of the choreography, one that looks at sensual movements. Music is fully credited. Two performances are included. Great value for money - excellent for refining your approach to taxim. (Don't let the slight new age flavour of the choreography put you off - it is really only evident in the 'story' section. I have a very low tolerance for such things and I didn't find it at all irritating. Having said that, this may not be the best DVD for the modern Egyptian purist who is not interested in other styles!) Highly recommended. Great for teachers too - lots of ideas for drills and choreographic elements. Another great production from World Dance New York!

Friday, March 07, 2008

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


I don't tend to post personal stuff or political stuff on this blog, but this issue means so much to me for a wide variety of reasons.

Today Australia's new Prime Minister Mr Kevin Rudd and Australia's 42nd Parliament moved:

"That today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history.
We reflect on their past mistreatment.

We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were Stolen Generations—this blemished chapter in our nation’s history.

The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia’s history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.

We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.

We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.

For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.

To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.

And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.

We the Parliament of Australia respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered as part of the healing of the nation.

For the future we take heart; resolving that this new page in the history of our great continent can now be written.
We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians.
A future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again.

A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity.

A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have failed.
A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility.

A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country, Australia. "

You can read the full text here: PM's speech

My heart goes out to all those who suffer. I am sorry.

Reconciliation involves justice, recognition and healing.

Reconciliation involves recognition of the history and culture of the first Australians, as well as practical measures to address the disadvantage experienced by Indigenous people in health, employment, education and general opportunity.

For more information please see Reconciliation Australia and the
Bringing Them Home Report

I'm sorry that it took us so long as a country. Thank you Mr Rudd. Bravo. I wish my mother had lived to see this day, She would be proud. And I hope that the families that she helped to reunite find healing.

Monday, January 21, 2008

We shall overcome

"I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history.

I refuse to accept the idea that the "isness" of man's present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal "oughtness" that forever confronts him.

I refuse to accept the idea that man is mere flotsam and jetsom in the river of life unable to influence the unfolding events which surround him.

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.

I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of thermonuclear destruction. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant.

I believe that even amid today's motor bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow. I believe that wounded justice, lying prostrate on the blood-flowing streets of our nations, can be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men.

I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits.

I believe that what self-centered men have torn down, men other-centered can build up. . . .

I still believe that we shall overcome."

Martin Luther King Jr. [1964]