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

Monday, April 3, 2017

Shahrzad Superstar & Egyptian Stylization

Back in January, I had the opportunity to study with the lovely Shahrzad. Shahrzad is an American dancer, currently based in Egypt. An in-demand performer and teacher, she travels around the world to share her gifts, and one such stop was Seattle. I won't say much more about her and just let one of her videos and her dancing speak for itself:

With striking features, her face and figure remind me of a cross between Dita Von Teese and Elizabeth Taylor. I thought for sure someone so pretty and talented must surely be a bit distant and aloof. Not the case. Not even close. From the moment she started teaching, you could tell she was fun, friendly, and down to earth. Despite being one of the current superstars in the belly dance arena, she didn't talk down to any of the workshop participants or otherwise make anyone feel "small". She was happy to share her expertise, and secrets to some of her fabulous technique, like her big juicy shimmies. Her friendly attitude made me want to share a girls night with her; drinking wine, eating popcorn, and sharing beauty tips and gig stories. I didn't quite get that opportunity, but I did at least ask her for an after-show photo op.

I highly recommend studying with her if you have the opportunity. To tide you over in the meantime, here's a few tips from her Egyptian-stylization workshop:
  1. Want to look more Egyptian in your dance style? Key characteristics of Egyptian style dancers are (a) bending at the knees; (b) low center of gravity; and (c) moving the knees, hips, chest, and shoulders outside of the shoulder column.
  2. Try moving from the wrists and elbows when performing arm work, rather than the hands and palms, which is more American.
  3. Don't think about moves as one dimensional. Focus on changing your position and shape in your entire body to create more curve and dynamic movement. 
  4. The attitude of an Egyptian performer has two key characteristics: femininity and humor.
  5. Keep the feet closer together to create curvier, bigger and more vertical hips. For Soheir Zaki hips, move the knees in toward each other to create a more elegant look.
  6. Remember: A native dancer changes her vocabulary as the rhythm changes and changes her style as the song changes, so listen and let the music guide you. 
To learn more about Shahrzad, you can check out her website, or watch her dancing light up the stage on her Youtube channel. Shahrzad also has a number of great DVDs available that you can use to practice with at home, available on Amazon and other sites:

Photo Credit (Top): 

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!