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.


Friday, July 7, 2017

Piscos and Pilgrimage in Peru

I'm blessed to have just returned from an amazing 16-day vacation in Peru. My days were filled with touring ancient ruins, sipping on pisco sours, experiencing exotic cultures, and one epic four-day Inca Trail hike. Here are some pictorial highlights from the trip!

Andean Highlands, Peru

Arequipa Cathedral, Peru

Arequipa, Peru

Caral, Peru

Caral, Peru

Colca Canyon, Peru

Colca Canyon, Peru

Santo Domingo Convent, Lima, Peru

Cusco, Peru

Cusco, Peru

Colca Valley, Peru

Inca Trail, Peru

Larco Museum, Lima, Peru

Huaca Pucllana, Lima, Peru

Machu Picchu, Peru

Ika, Peru

Nazca, Peru

Huacachina, Peru

Sacred Valley, Peru

Floating Islands, Puno, Peru

Uros Floating Island, Puno, Peru

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Unicorn Beauty Roundup

If you've been anywhere near the Internet lately, you know that unicorns are having a moment. Unicorn lattes, unicorn toast, unicorn headdresses. Pretty much unicorn everything. Which is certainly fine by me, since I'm pretty sure unicorns are my spirit animal. I'm also pretty sure that my favorite aspect of the unicorn trend is the rise of unicorn-inspired beauty products. Since they typically involved oodles of shimmer and sparkle, they make great additions to a dancer's beauty arsenal. Here's a roundup of some of my favorite unicorn beauty buys.

Milk Makeup Holographic Stick in Supernova

This highlighter in prismatic lavender is my to-go. I'm addicted to wearing it on my cheeks for both general everyday use and performances. It creates a beautiful shimmery sheen that can't be beat.

Too Faced La Creme Lipstick in Unicorn Tears
Another prismatic wonder. I love swiping this on over a deeper lipstick shade. Paired with the Milk Makeup holographic stick, it's a duo that has magical written all over it.

Nails, Inc. Unicorn Nail Polish Duo
Why stop at just your face for holographic makeup? Why not add holographic nails as well? This cute little nail polish duo can accomplish that for you in no time.

Tarte Magic Wands Brush Set
There's been a whole host of unicorn makeup brushes pop-up on the web recently. But Tarte gets my pick for quality. These brushes don't just look cute with their unicorn spiral handles and brightly-colored brushes; they also do a great job with makeup application. They are unfortunately sold out on Tarte and Sephora, but you might be able to snag a set on eBay!

Glow Cult Cosmetics Unicorn Oil
Because everybody could use a little more glow in their life. Use as a highlighter, or add a few drops to your moisturizer or foundation to get a lit from within look.

Lime Crime Chromatic Press-On Nails
I'm wearing these press-on nails right now as I type (yup, that bottom picture is me). These were simple to apply and so far have been durable (I'm a week in). You can file down the length to whatever size fits your style. Great for when you're short on time and don't have an hour or two to do a full-on manicure, followed by sitting around and waiting for paint to dry. Just glue and go!

Mod Bath and Body Unicorn Dreamer Sugar Scrub

If I had to guess what a unicorn smells like, this would be it. This sugar scrub starts out as a gentle exfoliant and melts its way into a heavenly lather.

Rose Garden Apothecary Magical Unicorn Whipped Soap
This is another lovely smelling product. I love the light-as-air soft texture of this soap. Every time I use it, it feels like an indulgence. Almost as good as eating dessert, only this indulgence is calorie-free!

Anni Pretty Unicorn Food Mac the Unicorn Bath Bomb
A warm bath is a great way to destress, restore tired muscles, and indulge in some self-care. So why not do it unicorn style with this macaroon inspired bath bomb?

Miss Violet Lace Mermaid Shimmer Oil
Okay, so this one is technically mermaid beauty. But hey, we are accepting of all magical creatures on this blog. I love applying this shimmer on my arms, legs and torso before performing. The brand does also carry some unicorn-inspired items as well, in case you're interested.

Any readers with a favorite unicorn beauty product? If so, let me know! I love discovering new beauty products!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Lunaria's Moon Over Manhattan

Back in March, the company I dance with, Lunaria Dance Theatre, put on our first full-length production, Moon Over Manhattan. It was pretty intense leading up to the show, with tons of both group and personal rehearsals. Additionally, we were also working on creating and prepping our costumes, sets, and props. But in the end, all that hard work paid off! Collectively, we feel pretty pleased with how the show turned out. We've received some great reviews and kudos from the audience and local dance community, which feels pretty darn good. Thus, this month's post is a photo celebration of our show. Photos by Greg Holloway.

P.S. Want to learn more about the Lunaria company members? Check out this post