Wednesday, March 1, 2017

4th Annual Beauty Awards

Typically, each fall I like to put together a post on my favorite beauty discoveries. However, last fall came and went without such a post because I hadn't uncovered any new beauty finds that felt worth writing about. Then suddenly, all the great beauty products I'd been looking for seemed to find me all at once. Thus, I present the 4th (almost) annual belly dance beauty awards.

Note: I am not paid or compensated in any way to write about the products I pick. I haven't even received free samples of any of these items. I just include 'em cuz I love 'em.

Kayo Concentrated Slimming Serum

In my day job, I sit at a desk 8+ hours a day. And like most other Americans, when I'm not at a computer, I'm still frequently looking at my phone, Kindle, iPod, Fitbit, or other electronic device. Whih means a lot of looking down. And what does that translate into? Tech-neck wrinkles. Yup, horizontal lines on your neck that have developed from the frequent and prolonged head position of looking down. I have them. I purchased this product after reading multiple reviews that other users weren't using it as intended for cellulite, but instead were using it for neck wrinkles to great effect. I was hesitant about spending the money on this item, but finally decided it was worth a try. So glad I took that leap. Are my tech-neck wrinkles gone? No, it's not magic, people. But are they greatly reduced? Yes. Was the money worth it? Absolutely.

Cosrx Acne Pimple Master Patch
These are a game changer. Despite being in my 30s, I still get the occasional breakout. And like everyone of any age, if I have a zit, I want it gone as fast as possible. Enter the Cosrx patch. You just place the patch over the blemish before you go to sleep, take it off in the morning, and ta-da! Your unslightly pimple is either gone or greatly reduced. If it was a larger blemish, it might take more than one application. The patch acts as a small hydrocolloid bandage and literally pulls the gunk out of your zit (which you will see in the patch when you pull it off). When my husband recently had a zit, I gave him a patch to try and he was surprised to see how well it had worked by the next morning and gave them his stamp of approval. My recommendation: keep these stocked in your medicine cabinet.

Aveda Tulasara Wedding Masque Eye Overnight 

It doesn't matter how much sleep I get, I have dark circles under my eyes. I'm sure that I could pull a Sleeping Beauty, sleep for 100 years, and still wake up with dark circles. It's just genetic. Thus it been my lifelong battle to try and diminish the look of those circles. Enter Aveda's Tulasara eye treatment. They call it a masque, but to me it doesn't feel any different than putting on eye cream. However, the result is very much different. Are my dark circles completely gone? No, pretty sure I'd need a fairy godmother for that one. But they are drastically reduced, to the point that I'd even consider going to the gym or grocery story without undereye concealer on, something I never would have done before.

Verb Blow Dry Brush

I've been a Mason Pearson user for a long-time, so I was a bit surprised that I went from liking a $100+ brush, to loving a $14 brush. When I blow dry out my hair using this brush, it ends up shinier and smoother than I can recall it being in a long-time. I also like that the bristles have just the right balance of firmness and flexibility, as well as being long enough to reach and massage the scalp while brushing (which promotes hair growth). Winner.

Christophe Robin Cleansing Mask with Lemon

I've been coloring my hair purple for about a year now. To get a vibrant shade of purple, I have to unfortunately bleach the hair shaft first. As can be expected, my hair is not that pleased about having such a harsh chemical applied and I can see more damage and frizziness than I used to see. Which is why I love this hair mask. It fixes hair color, while promoting shine and restoring the scalp. It hydrates hair while cleansing, exfoliating, and nourishing the scalp. It's your ultimate hair and scalp multitasker. Now I can have my proverbial purple cake and it it too.

Hum Nutrition

Beauty starts on the inside. I'm a fairly big proponent of using vitamins to help supplement a healthy diet and lifestyle. In our fast-paced modern lifestyle, it can be hard to consume all the nutrients we need. Or some of us may have environment factors working against us (hello, lack of sun in Seattle!). Or perhaps an illness or disease where the body has increased nutritional needs. I've been taking vitamin supplements pretty much my whole life. But it wasn't until recently that vitamins have turned over a new "glamorous" leaf and become chic and sophisticated.

Enter brands like Ritual, Care/of, and Inner Me. However, my favorite of the new wave of vitamin manufacturers is Hum. From what I can tell, Hum maintains high quality in their products, while making it fun and chic to take your daily pills. You can take their 3-minute quiz and go with their selections, or go with your own choices. Two choices that I like (and are also on the cheaper side of their options) are Killer Nails (Biotin) and Here Comes the Sun (Vitamin D). I take these two daily and can tell the difference when I don't. You can buy items individually through Hum or Sephora, or you can can sign up for a Hum monthly subscription to reduce the cost.

Want to check out the beauty archives? You can also read the 1st Annual Awards, 2nd Annual Awards, and 3rd Annual Awards.

Photo Credits: Good Housekeeping (top image), all other photos via manufacturers websites

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Lunaria Presents Moon Over Manhattan

Last year I joined Lunaria Dance Theatre, a Seattle-based dance company that performs a fusion of cabaret dance theatre and belly dance. Since joining the group we've been working on getting together our first ever production of our unique full-length show Moon Over Manhattan

While I've been performing for many years now, I can certainly say I've never been in a show like this one. We are going all out for this one. The show is going to transport the audience through a moon-lit night in Manhattan, complete with mermaids and genies and showgirls. Oh my! While backstage, us performers will be making a mad dash through numerous costume changes, complete with hairpieces and swords and crystal balls. Oh my!

The show is happening one night, and one night only, on Saturday, March 11, 2017 at Hale's Palladium in Ballard. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased here

With the show fast approaching in only a few weeks, I thought it would be fun to get to know the Lunaria ladies, as well as the show, a bit more. Thus, I asked each member of the company the same two questions:

1. What is a funny, interesting, or lesser known fact about your dancing, dance experiences, or dance background?
2. What piece in the Moon Over Manhattan show are you looking forward to the most and why?

Here's what they (and me) had to say:


Fact: I almost missed my discovering my passion and love for belly dance. I had signed up for my first ever belly dance class series, and through a series of unfortunate events, missed the first class in the series. I was planning on cancelling the whole thing because I figured I'd be too far behind, but the instructor, the lovely Mish Mish, called me and talked me into coming to the second class and reassured me that I would be able to get caught. The rest is history. Pretty sure I'm caught up now!

Piece: I'm really looking forward to our Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend piece from the Marilyn Monroe movie of the same title. It has all the elements you want in a performance: classy and sassy, sexy and sweet. Each dancer has been developing her own diamond-loving character and I think it's going to put a smile on everyone's face when it all comes together in the show.


Fact: "I performed in an episode of Kitchen Nightmares, in which world famous Chef, Gordon Ramsay, was so “embarrassed” by our belly dancing that he forever banned belly dancing at the restaurant. When he came back to revisit the restaurant for a follow up episode we had a t-shirt made for him that said “BELLY DANCING IS NOT A CRIME”. It was awesome!"

Piece: "I’m really excited about our Hey Big Spender piece. I think the 60’s themed costuming, and big, fun wigs will be really entertaining. The choreography features such a contrasting spectrum of energy, from very still and intense, to wild and over the top. I think the audience will get a kick out of it."


Fact: "When Thomas Dolby of She Blinded me With Science fame in the US played a show in Seattle at The Showbox he hired a group of us to belly dance for one of his new songs. His song "Spice Train" was inspired by Belly dancers so he was including them all over the world in his shows.  It was fun to feel like a rock star backstage for the show!" 

Piece: "I'm really excited to perform the doll duet with Alessandra. I choreographed the piece and had fun balancing the inhuman quality of dolls with the pretty aesthetic we associate with them. It's fun to do and I can't wait to share it with our audience!"


Fact: "I'm the only dancer in a family of musicians. I guess I just had to be different! But I think it has affected my dancing style, and I still love dancing improv to live music."

Piece: "I'm most looking forward to our chair dance. It is such a fun and sexy mix of cabaret, belly dance, and cha cha. Mellilah did a great job on the choreography and we've worked really hard getting all the pieces perfected." 


Fact: "My first dance experience was in the high school show choir. It was at that time that I fell in love with performing. However, in those early days, I thought of myself as a singer, actress, and musician rather than a dancer.  At university, I was required to take dance credits and one of my instructors told me that I had a great voice but that I should never audition for parts requiring dance. I wish that instructor could see me now!"

Piece: "I’m really looking forward to Heatwave from There’s No Business Like Show Business sung by Marilyn Monroe!  It was the toughest piece for me to choreograph as the music is challenging and I had to get really creative in how to incorporate the parasols with seven dancers on a small stage! I’m really looking forward to seeing how it turns out."


Fact: "I think I have got away with it so far, but if there is nobody in the public restroom and there is a mirror, I am always practicing my dancing until someone walks in and then I play it cool like nothing was ever happening!"

Piece: "I'm really looking forward to the chair choreography because we have worked so hard on getting it in sync it will be great to see it finally come together!"


Fact: "I think my belly dance/dance life was born from a moment of fear of public humiliation. When one of my very early teachers announced we were having a student recital and I didn't see any way of getting out of it, I actually started practicing (OTHER PEOPLE were going to be there!!). As I practiced, I, not so surprisingly, got better and started to enjoy myself and dancing a lot more. I credit that first recital with really pushing me out there and jump starting my love for dance."

Piece: "It's hard to choose which piece I'm most looking forward to – each one is great! I'm particularly excited for the audience to see our new material, like our full New York, New York piece and Heatwave since it's so different from the traditional belly dance that we also perform. I'm also excited about the individual dancers' solo creations. It will be fun to see their creativity in those pieces. I'm looking forward to sharing my mermaid solo as well, since it's really different from any performance I've done previously. Too bad I can't split myself and enjoy the show from the audience's perspective at the same time as enjoying presenting our creations from the stage!"


Fact: "I knew I loved dancing since I was very little, but didn't start taking dance lessons until 2007. I grew up in a very small town in Japan and there were no dance studios/classes in my town! I remember I got Flash Dance on VHS when it came out and I watched it over and over again! And that was probably my very first dance inspiration. My very first dance lesson happened to be a belly dance class and I immediately fell in love with it!"   

Piece: "Our bad girl cat trio, because it's got attitude and involves a bit more acting, which is totally new to me!"

Intrigued? Join us for this spectacular spectacle on March 11th. Don't hesitate, buy your tickets today before they sellout!