Wednesday, 20 July 2011


If you listen to conversations you aren't meant to hear, you might hear things you don't like!

This week I taught a taster session at a community World Fun Day - it turned out to be for mostly (enthusiastic) toddlers. Getting changed in the loos after I overheard...

"Yeah, bellydancing is amazing!" (I smile!)
"Yes, it's so womanly." (I grin!)
"Yes, and what they wear - it's not too revealing, is it? Just fancy and nice." (I nod, I'm in quite a modest bra & belt set after all...)
"It must be so nice, having a night out and getting dressed up like that, I mean, it's not like everyday life." (Yeah...)
"And when they all move together, it's lovely." (Hmm? But I was all alone...)
"And those swords!!" (oh, hang on a minute...)
"And when they danced at the Kirkgate at the opening of the Leith Festival, that was just *amazing*!!" (oh. right. I'll get my coat.)

I am getting used to being usurped by The Twisted Tails! And now, even when they're not actually *there*!! And if they weren't such nice ladies and such spectacular performers, I might get annoyed about it.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Fancy pants: costuming

"[Gasp] - where do you get your costumes?"

Most bellydancers get that question quite a lot!

I'm fortunate enough to have a very good friend in Cairo who helps me a lot to find lovely things that work for me. In my opinion Cairo has the very best costumiers for bellydancers, and quite right too since it's the home of the dance! Eman Zaki's Golden Lotus label produces gorgeous, fasionable costumes; everybody loves Sahar at the moment; Amera Kattan runs Pharaonix of Egypt. I have a blue Pharaonix costume which always attracts a huge number of comments. One day I'm going to let it go out there and dance on it's own, because nobody notices how I dance when I wear it!

But this year I've been visiting Celia Buchan in the slightly-less-sunny Penicuik, and she's been working on a very beautiful costume for me. The trip to the Edinburgh suburbs is less arduous than getting to Cairo, and there are DVDs and chocolate biscuits for my children to enjoy while I'm there! I got my costume a couple of weeks ago and I love it. With a bit of help from Caroline Rose too, we came up with a design that would suit my shape (IBTC member, not much of a waist but muscley in the tummy). Celia made the costume and her skill and taste in bling are as good as her sewing and design work!

I feel great in this costume. It fits me perfectly and I love it. It's beautiful, it doesn't overshadow me, it's designed for my body, and nobody in the world has anything like it. What more could I ask for?

However, I have also been dancing with my wonderful students, the Helwa Hurdies. One of the Hurdies, Ruthie, was getting married in July, and asked us to perform at her wedding. It was an honour, a priviledge, and a very exciting occassion! We worked all term on the choreography and Ruthie and Kenny kindly bought us skirts, veils and coin belts. All that was left was the oft-thorny question of tops.

It was back to Celia Buchan who taught us all how to make our own. How to take a common-or-garden structured bra, chop it up, and make it look fabulous for stagewear. We spent a lengthy evening in Celia's house, tea and biscuits ahoy, measuring elastic, learning about buttresses and stabbing ourselves in the fingers.

I can't pretend I found it easy. I can't pretend I enjoyed the experience. There's a reason why Celia can produce gorgeous costumes - she can sew. I can't. Well, I suppose I can do the stitching, and I didn't fail needlework at school, but it's safe to say that there's a reason why, in my 14 years of bellydance, I've never made my own costume. But nonetheless, I managed to do it (although there are still a good few safety pins involved in it.) And what's more, all the other Hurdies did it too, and looked utterly amazing.

So, in short - If you want to feel like a million dollars on stage, don't buy guff from some unknown source. Save your pennies and get something made for you. It's soooo worth it. But if you want to look like a great troupe, get sewing. As long as you can all get together, preferably with wine, and enjoy the experience!