Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Another Year Closes

Wow, here we are again already! Another trip around the sun, another year almost closed and done. If you've been reading the blog for awhile now, you know that I always do a year in review post for December. So here we go again.

Overall, I have to say, I feel pretty blessed and lucky with how 2017 turned out for me. It was a year jam-packed with fun and friends, pleasure and pleasant memories.

Here are some highlights from my year:

As usual, I went to a TON of shows (in large part, thank you to my employer, STG). Let's see if I can even begin to remember them all: Rent, Cabaret, Aladdin, The King and I, Beauty and the Beast, The Bodyguard, The Sound of Music, Tash Sultana, Damian Marley, Matisyahu, Alice Merton, Two Cellos, Brene Brown, Sheryl Sandberg and Cheryl Strayed, Elizabeth Gilbert, The National Theatre of Scotland's production of Let the Right One In, Portugal the Man, Melissa Etheridge, Trevor Noah, Bassem Youssef, Moisture Festival Burlesque, Seawheeze Cabaret, Le Faux, Terror at Gaylord Manor, Shakespeare in Love, Henry IV Part One, Odysseus, and of course a wide smattering of belly dance shows. I'm sure there's a few more that I'm forgetting about. 

January started out with studying belly dance with Mercedes Nieto and Shahrazad, as well as performing in the showcase while they were in town. You can read about some of my takeaways from studying with Shahrazad here.

In February, we adopted a rescue malti-poo. He's the smartest, sweetest little guy and we are so blessed to have him in our family. And he gets to come to work with me!

In March, I performed in Lunaria Dance Theatre's first full-length production, Moon Over Manhattan. We performed to a sold out crowd and received some pretty awesome reviews afterward.

To see more pictures from the 2017 show, check out this post.

And to snag your seat at our sure to be sold out 2018 show, Oh My Goldness!, you can purchase your tickets here.

In April, I died by hair purple and immediately fell in love with it. I feel more like myself and may never go back!

In May, I headed to Denver to celebrate a friend's 40th birthday and hang with two of my best friends. We cemented our friendship bond in our early days of public accounting in Big Four.

In June, I had the opportunity to travel to Peru and spend 2.5 weeks touring various parts of the country, and finally culminating in the three-day Inca Trail hike that ends at Machu Picchu. Definitely the highlight of the trip and a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

To see more pictures from my Peruvian overseas adventures, check out this post.

In July, I did an amazing beach belly dance photo shoot with the talented photographer Chris Yetter.

To see more pictures from the shoot, check out this post.

August was the month of road trips. First, it was a weekend spent in Ashland, Oregon with family taking in the performances of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

And then two weeks later, it was back to Oregon, but this time to Corvalis to watch the total solar eclipse. And yes, it was completely worth the 10.5 hours it took to get back to Seattle!

September was back to settling down, focusing on fitness and fall routines. I ran a 5K and ended up getting 6th place overall. I also went to the Tone It Up tour event, with my fitness icons Katrina and Karena and Jillian Michaels. FYI, it's thanks to K&K that I lost 1.5 inches off my waist this year. If you been thinking about upping your fitness game, their program really works!

October was photo shoots and a month-long celebration of Halloween, my hands-down favorite holiday.

Photo by Marice Goodson

Two portrait photos by Cliff Lenderman

To see additional pics of Halloween festivities, you can check out this post

In November, I debuted my new belly dance skill: dancing while balanced on a drum. I also joined the Board of Directors at Velocity Dance.

And for December, it looks like between the time I post this blog and the time the clock strikes midnight on December 31st, I will have finally finished writing my novel! All 20 chapters and approximately 65,000 words! Yasss! Only one more chapter left to go, so it's looking completely doable. I've also already done two photo shoots this month, two more to go if things go as planned, so will have some fun new pictures to share in the near future, both belly dance as well as some other fun, creative concepts.

In general, 2017 was a year of fun. It was filled with good times spent with friends. I'll be taking lots of happy memories with me into 2018. I'm so blessed to have so many kind, talented, smart, and generally bad-ass women to call friends!

Overall, this last year was focused on a lot of fun and festivities. I'm usually a bit more goal-oriented and ambitious. I guess I needed a break from being so responsible and some more time to socialize and enjoy life! For 2018, I think I will need to get back to being a bit more focused. Or better yet, finding the balance between the two.

I hope 2017 was as good to you as it was to me. See you in 2018!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Happy Halloween!

I had another intended topic in mind for this month's post. But then I had so much fun with Halloween this year, which is hands-down my favorite holiday, that I decided to hold off on my original idea, and instead this month's post is dedicated to presenting a photo montage of this year's Halloween festivities. Our Lunaria ladies crew and friends had fun partying at Emerald City Trapeze's Carnevolar show. Hope you enjoy the pictures!

Photo Credits - Marice Goodson (top), Emerald City Trapeze photo booth, and members of Lunaria

Monday, October 2, 2017

It's All In the Details

Sometimes it's the small things that can make your dance go from good to great, so this month I want to share a couple tips for small changes that will make your dance instantly more polished and professional looking.

These three techniques are ones that we work on constantly in the company I dance with, Lunaria Dance Theatre. They are all items that I was a bit lax about before joining the company, but our Artistic Director, Mellilah, has really emphasized them and they have slowly and surely been getting drilled into my body and become my defacto dance habits. As you practice and perform, keep these tips in mind and you will definitely see positive change in your dance. Although warning, small doesn't mean easy. And in fact, it's often the small details that can easily get lost and overlooked, especially when performance nerves and excitement take over. Just like any other aspect of dance, there's only one way to achieve it: practice, practice, practice!

  1. Engage your back muscles. Focus on engaging your lats, or more formally your latissimus dorsi, the muscles in your mid-back, just below your shoulders, as well as your traps, or trapezius, the muscles running vertically from along the spine in the upper back. By really engaging through these muscles you'll stand taller, open up the chest, and broaden the shoulders, instantly improving your posture and giving you a more strong, proud, and confident carriage. One of the most important aspects of performing is confidence: a performer must be confident so that the audience can feel at ease and will want to come along on the artistic journey. Confidence starts with posture. You want to be larger than life on stage; expansive and broad, not contracted and small. You want to clearly portray the message that the stage is yours and you belong there. Additionally, engaging the back muscles will greatly help with any arm movements you make, as the work will come from the center of the body and the energy will start in the center of the body and extend out through the fingertips, making for more elegant, controlled, and beautiful arm movements.
  2. Pull in the abdominals. Relaxing my abs was unfortunately a bad habit that I developed early on in dance. It's been a challenge trying to undo this bad habit. So don't be me and drill bad habits into your body! By engaging in the abdominals, especially the lower abs below the belly button,  you will look again look stronger and overall appear more polished and experienced. In addition, you'll look slimmer and your whole overall posture and carriage will be improved. Maintaining a strong core is the best and most effective foundation from which to create your isolations and traveling steps. Also, engaging the abdominals will help protect the lower back, especially in moves like the Maya and figure 8's with the hips.
  3. Always perform. No matter what you're doing on stage, you're performing. If you're standing, you're standing like a dancer. If you're walking, you're walking like a dancer. Nothing should ever be pedestrian or how you would walk or stand in normal life. Your posture is always lifted and energy is extending out the fingertips. If you are standing, you're finding a beautiful S-shape pose, showgirl stance, asymmetrical pose with foot popped, or other pose that matches with your musical selection. If you are walking, you are pointing the toes, prancing, swinging the hips, runway model walking, strutting, or whatever walk conveys the the artistic nature of your piece. But you are never walking like you would just walk down the sidewalk. (Unless perhaps you just happen to be super fabulous in your everyday life. Hey, you do you!). From the moment you step onto the stage until you get off, you are working it head to toe.

Master these tips, in addition to your belly dance technique and musicality, and you will own any stage you step onto. 

Photo Credit:

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Star Power: The Dynamic Diva Darina

I love gaining inspiration from belly dancers across the world. One dancer who's been a fairly recent rise to fame is the Ukrainian dancer, Darina Konstantinova, or as known on stage, Diva Darina. Darina has certainly been making a name for herself in the international belly dance scene, although I feel perhaps she's still not that well known in the Pacific Northwest. Well, no better way to get to know a dancer than to watch her dance, so let's just jump right in!

First video. I love this performance because it highlights Darina's dramatic style, superb technique, and strong stage presence. Her choreography keeps it interesting, textured, and nuanced by layering sensual fluid movement with sharp, crisp accents. She tops it off with with unique turns, poses, and head/hair movements. As she gets into her drum solo (starts at 4:05), you can really see the power and control behind her hip shimmies. And man, can that girl pop and lock (see 4:25)! Really, watch the drum solo. Just do it. I know as belly dancers we've seen probably thousands at this point, but this one is worth it. I promise.

Here's another one highlighting many of her signature moves; sharp accents, controlled turns, and hair flips. As well as what seems to have become sexy, signature costuming for her. (Anyone know who the designer is?)

And finally, this one, which is actually my favorite. It's not a performance, it's just her playing around in the studio, but man, I could watch this all day! I think this is probably the best belly dance fusion I've ever seen.

You can follow along with Darina at her YouTube Channel or on Instagram

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Belly Dance Beach Photo Shoot

Time to get glam! Last month I had a new set of belly dance pictures done. Since I have some new costumes and a new hair color (hello purple!), I decided it was time to acquire some photo documentation on both aspects. I grabbed my costumes, my makeup, and the talented photographer, Chris Yetter, and we headed to Sunrise Beach in Gig Harbor, Washington. It was really fun to shoot on the beach, and especially appropriate for the mermaid costume. As we were shooting, we were acquiring some bystanders, but the more the merrier. Although, it was definitely hot outside! Hopefully, I was able to pull off looking fancy and fabulous, rather than hot and sweaty. But I'll let you be the judge of that. Below are some of my favorite shots from the shoot.