Tag Archives: Components

October Already?? New Orleans, Chilly Weather, Pagan Pride and Big News!

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I’m not quite sure how it’s been almost a month since I posted last! Wow, so much to catch up on. First is the awesome trip to New Orleans/ Baton Rouge I got to take the third weekend of September. We had a great time with one of our couple friends on the four day weekend and I got to meet Cyndi Cyreigna Elliott of Irie Tribal Dance Company and take a workshop with her as well as perform in the hafla afterwards, buy a new Bindi, drool over the rest of her costuming bits and pieces and see the wonderful place that is New Orleans. It was rainy for a lot of the trip and the day of the workshop, rain cozily pitter pattered down as we had class in the mst beautiful yoga studio. Cyndi is a masterful teacher and extremely fun to boot! I also got to enjoy a fun lunch with my sisters from Wild Sky Tribal and eat some yummy Jambalaya and Boudin Balls!

New Orleans was great, I fell in love with the French Quarter and some highlights included a trip to Beckham’s Bookshop where I got a giant bag full of old books about theatre (the neatest bookshop ever, very charming and old worldy!), I got to go to FOUR voodoo shops, have beignets and chicory at Cafe du Monde, wander about the French Quarter, on our last night found an adorable wine bar where Amber and I stopped for a refreshment, our friends having headed back to the hotel (which was great itself, just on the cusp of the warehouse disstrict, about a 10 minute walk to the French Quarter, it was a lovely place and if you need a hotel in New Orleans, I highly reccomend the Hyatt Place. We will return!)

It really was a great trip, I got to see swamps and LSU and the Saints were victorious in their respective games so I had a happy fiancee!

The next weekend, on the 28th my lovely friend and student Zahra organized a private group class in Savannah, TX that I went down and taught and I had a great time with some very fun ladies, and the studio was absolutely beautiful! On the 3rd floor of the fitness complex it was in a turrett and had lots of windows! We had a great time and afterwards went scrub shopping for the muggle job and for sushi and hibachi, where I had my first experience with Sake! It was actually pretty good!

This past weekend on Saturday was a performance I have been preparing for for awhile, Pagan Pride Day!! I was asked awhile ago by Wild Sky Tribal to come down and perform as a guest with them, which I of course said yes to! I had only danced with one of the girls before, but that’s the beauty of ATS, you can just jump right on in there and go after it!

I was awake at the ungodly hour of 8:30 geting dressed and my lovely bellydance wife drove to Dallas so I could get all my makeup on! And hair garden. And jewelry. I only wore 11 bracelets, 3 rings, 2 necklaces and earrings. Still could’ve had more on. 😉 I had my costume on, minus my bra and with a shirt over my choli and we were getting ready to leave as Amber asked what the temperature was like. I popped outside barefoot and with my short sleeve choli on and promptly scurried back inside for a sweatshirt! It was so cold! My choli being a loaner as I wait for my first custom one (by Cyndi!) I was cold! When we got down to Pagan Pride, I hopped out of the car to get my bra on and almost froze before I could get ym sweatshirt back on, plus my big heavy shawl! We were early and walked about for a bit, finding Zahra who was promoting the Witches Ball benefit that is being held November 1 and looking at a few of the vendors. We met uop with Taylor and one of the girls Stacy and wandered about a bit more, getting everything ready and ending up having Zahra save the day with a boombox for our music! We did a 50 minute set with a break in the middle. I danced a solo to Duma Sa Duma and got to do a duet with Taylor to Caravan plus, chorusing and dancing in the pod quite a bit. Afterwards Taylor gave a mini class to some of the spectators and they were very enthusiastic and cute!

Pagan Pride was a fascinating experience for me. It was beautiful at the venue, a misty, dark, gray morning. The first thing we saw was a circle and drumming, some type of ritual was happening and veryone was just so happy, it made me happy. We danced on the circle stage which was made of concrete and was so cold my feet went numb during my solo! It was a great time and I had a blast getting to dance with my new sisters. I also, of course, had to peruse all of the shinies, and ended up buying a crystal, a ring with a beautiful big crystal in it and Amber bought me a necklace and earring set with a pink carved full moon on all three items. I met some lovely people and just generally had a blast. It was my first big ATS performance and solo and I was so pleased with how it went. I am working on getting the video uploaded soon!

And the last bit of news. I have started two new companies. One is a fusion group named Avalouna which is comprised of Zahra Johnson, Cassandra Campbell and me. We will be doing a lot of experimental, fun stuff and just generally having fun in all different ways. Our first piece is a Voodoo/Witchy themed piece to premiere at Monster’s Ball, October 27. The second troupe is Callidora Tribal which is an ATS duet Cassandra and I have formed. We will also be premiering at Monster’s Ball and are very excited to finally officially be dancing together!

Well, I guess that’s all for now! I will have pictures and videos up soon from at least some of my adventures! Smiles and shimmies! 🙂 E

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Weekend Craziness and Dance Adventures!

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Wow! I actually had to take a day to process this weekend before I could write this post. This weekend was amazing and crazy and fun and exhausting and inspiring! It was pretty much one of the best weekends ever!

Saturday it started with getting ready to head to Dallas to perform at The Event. I had been looking forward to this show for months and even though I was very sad to be unable to take the workshops, I was so happy when the lovely Aiyah Bree told me to go ahead, come on down and perform!!! I danced a brand new piece to “Bedroom Hymns” by Florence and the Machine, got to see some amazing performances and meet April Rose (who is such a sweetheart and I have a giant girl-bellydancer-crush on!) as well as see her and Edenia Archuleta perform. There were so many amazing performances and I only got to see the first half of the show! I was I could have stayed, but during intermission after a little milling about, talking to people and perusing the vendors wares (and sucking down some GLORIOUS lemon flavored water and buying an April Rose poster!) I had to leave to get back to Denison for my next show which was………..

AT A DRAG SHOW!!!!! I don’t know why, but I’ve always wanted to dance in a drag show and I finally got the chance for my good friend, the lovely Abbi Lee’s birthday drag show at The Goodtime Lounge. I got to see some lovely, talented queens and I danced to (wait for it!) Jump by Rihanna!!! I figured, how often do you get the opportunity to dance to a song like that and what better place than a gay bar?!?! (I wanted to dance to Applause by Lady Gaga, but one of the other lovely ladies had already claimed it!) Heehee! It was so fun!

Ok, so I finally got home, scrubbed my face, at some leftover enchiladas and PASSED out! Got up Sunday, went and taught class and ran home to get half my face on before getting in the car to head to “Dalida and Friends” hafla. I love, love, love being a part of this show!!!!!! Dalida is one of the most amazing dancers I have ever met and the shows are so fun! I danced two pieces, one with a wine bottle as my dance partner and one very emotional, then fun piece to a song by Dikanda (one of my favorite groups at the moment!) and a song from the first Sherlock Holmes movie. The show was amazing! Badrawn, a middle eastern musical group from the Dallas area was there and kicked things off with Dalida dancing a wonderful Saiidi piece. Saiidi in a live band is a magical thing and I had chills so many times from their playing! I also got to meet an amzing drummer, El Lobo and we had a fun chat about tribal dancing and the connection between drummer and dancer.

My lovely friend Zahra came to the hafla to see me dance and afterwards we had a fun dinner at Steak and Shake and celebrated me finishing my four performances with cheeseburgers and fries (but no shakes, sadly enough!). Home again and SLEEP!!!

It was such a fun, fun weekend, so inspiring, seeing so many great dancers and getting to perform so much! I will post pictures and video as I get them uploaded! Whew! This weekend I only have one performance, but it’s for A Sunday Soiree and the theme is Golden Age!! I wonder what this tribal fusion girl will pull out for that?! If you want to find out come see me at Mango’s in Richardson, doors at 6:30, show at 7!Smiles and shimmies!! 🙂 E

Pins, Pins, Pins!

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Hi there, my name is Elena and I am a Pinterestaholic. “Hi, Elena”

No, but really. I love Pinterest. Now of course I have the regular “Dream House”, “Food” and “I Really Do Love Muggle Knitting Patterns” boards just like the rest of the world, but I also pin A LOT of Bellydance stuff, from pretty pictures of awesome dancers to stretches to costuming ideas and makeup.

I was going to add a Pinterest widget, but I am obviously NOT technologically advanced to do so, so I’m just posting a post (posting a post? and the winner for best use of the English language is obviously me… 😉 with a link to my Pinterest page with the invitation to come on over and give me a follow! Do you post neat stuff? I’ll probably follow you back! 🙂

Smiles and Happy Pinning! 🙂 E

I’m Back!

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Well, I feel like it’s been ages since I was on here. I’ve had a cold for a week now and have been doing a generally large amount of nothing! I have been working on stuff in my head and things are about to get exciting!!! I will be making an announcement either late Sunday the 8th or on Monday the 9th! I am super excited about it!!! My class members get to hear it first though, so you have to be patient! Want to hear it first? Come to class! 🙂

For the month of September in celebration of my Amber’s birthday I have decided to run a special on class cards- 6 weeks for $50!! That’s a savings of $10 from the regular price and a savings of $40 if you drop in! You can purchase one and wait to use it until your current session expires or go ahead and start punching now!

I have decided to move to a punch card system. You want to save? Buy a 6 week punch card for $60 (regularly, $50 if purchased in September) and everytime you come to class I punch a hole in it. When you run out of punches, buy a new one! That means you can join at anytime and still get the savings if you commit to buying. Your card also only gets punched when you come to class, so if you have to miss one week- you don’t loose your money. I don’t like that, cause money’s tight for all of us and I don’t want to cheat no body, ya hear? Plus with punch cards I don’t have to try to keep up with all this different stuff! Now, this will change a bit once I add more advanced classes, but for now with only my Beginners I think this will work well for everyone! And of course you can still drop in for $15 a class! 🙂

This weekend is going to be crazy busy and if you live anywhere around me, I hope you come out to one of the THREE opportunities and see me dance a lil! On Saturday at 8pm I will be performing a piece at The Event in Dallas! You can see details on my calendar page! After The Event I will be hitting the road back to Sherman to perform at The Goodtime Lounge in Abbie Lee’s Birthday drag show with special guest peroformers (one of which is me!) Abbie is a good friend of mine and I am honored to have been asked to perform! Goodtimes is a fun venue and I am so looking forward to it!

Sunday I will teach class at 3, then hit the road to Plano to perform TWO pieces at the September “Dalida and Friends” Hafla!! I’ll be bringing a more traditional Tribal piece and some fun fusion, so come see me and a whole slew of awesome dancers perform!

It’s going to be a fun, busy weekend and I hope to see some of you out there! :)) I’m going to continue drinking a lot of tea and get over my cold for tip top shape! (And no hacking up lungs during performances! heehee!)Smiles and shimmies! 🙂 E

The Body of A Bellydancer

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So now that I have your attention with that title (I know, pretty awesome, right?) I would like to talk a little bit about body issues. First and foremost, let me start of by saying that I personally know bellydancers with all types and sizes of body. Tall, thin, short, medium, goddess size, skinny, fit, not so fit, used to to be fit and man! look at her!. I think you all rock!!!! You’re all beautiful!!!

Now, everyone has their own body issues, but this post isn’t for whether you think your thighs are fat, have cankles or small boobs. I want to talk about how we view OTHER bellydancers. I read an article lately that upset me a great deal. It insinuated that all that “thinspiration” stuff on Pinterest and the like is awful and that we as dancers may not be looking up to some of the best bellydancers in the world because they ARE some of the best bellydancers in the world, but because they are thin/fit. So I want to talk about it. Because this is my blog and I can. *insert dastardly giggling* Ok, ok I’m good.

So….thin/fitspiration…. Well, here are my thoughts. Some go way too far. Collarbones or cake? Oh please, I totally used to eat cake and still had a nice set of collarbones. I also worked out a minimum of 2 hours 4x a week. Yeah. I was a crazy actress back then. I guess the collarbones or cake one pops up to me because the pictures on it are of these teeny, tiny women. Are those women gorgeous? Yes. If you naturally look like that is there something wrong with you? Umm, no. If you starve yourself to look like that is it an issue? Yeah. So moderation! But let’s not just condemn all that stuff! What about the pictures of “fit/thinspiration” that are of a woman who has worked her butt off to be fit and in great health. Why on earth would we condemn that? Just because she doesn’t sit on the couch eating potato chips? I don’t care what you eat as long as you’re healthy. Just because you don’t look like or even want to look like the women in those pictures, lets not condemn them for looking like they do.

So are we making fitspiration out of top bellydancers? Yes they are smaller and in better shape than the average bellydancer who also has a 40 hour a week job, plus dancing. Guess what?!?!?!? Dancing is their job! Pro dancers can dance for up to 8 hours in rehearsals in a day. (This goes for all types of dance) add on to that Yoga/Pilates which is very popular for stretching and strengthening the muscles so you don’t injure yourself while doing all that dancing, strength training, cardio or the chosen cross trainer of choice PLUS teaching classes and performing. That’s ALOT of exercise! If I danced that much I’d be much smaller too! That’s their job. Not necessarily to be thin, but think about how many calories the average pro dancer would burn in a day with that kind of schedule. Bunches! And yeah, I guess I do make fitspiration out of top bellydancers. I want to be fit enough to do this move or that one. I want my muscles to work like hers, so I’m going to train like her.

So! Why is it assumed that just because you may love the way the big Pro dancers dance, you only do so because they are thin, not because they are spectacular dancers? Honestly, I don’t know. But unfortunately, I see a lot of smaller women being condemned right along with bigger ones. You’re not “too skinny” the same way she’s not “too fat”. Personally, I admire a lot of smaller dancers, but not because of their size, but because they are really, really good. I also admire bigger dancers not because of their size, but because they are awesome dancers. Quality of technique, showmanship, entertainment value and passion is really what matters to me in a performer not what size their costume is. The simple fact is that many of those qualities show up in Pro dancers who have worked so hard to attain those and the careers they have as well.

So, in closing, I don’t care what size you are. I care that you are healthy or trying to get healthy. And guess what you can be skinny and not be healthy or fit. I love that bellydance can make women feel good about their bodies. Maybe they feel too skinny and Bellydance helps them appreicate that they are still beautiful and look great as a tiny person. Maybe they feel fat and Bellydance helps them appreciate their curves and embrace their size. Maybe they’re shy and Bellydance gives them a way to open up to not only others, but themselves. Yes, I want to encourage you if you’re larger to feel confident and happy dancing. But I want to do the same with everyone no matter what your size is.

Smiles and shimmies. 🙂 E

New Classes Start August 15!!

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Beginning in August!!! Elena makes her return to teaching at Kristina’s Studio of Dance in Sherman, TX!! Two classes will be offered per week and these two classes are the basis to advancing further in Elena’s program.

Both classes will give you a solid foundation upon which to build your Bellydance technique and are unique in that they feature Elena’s own syllabus and format of moves. Elena incorporates not only over 12 years of Bellydance and World dance training, but the principles she learned as a classically trained ballet dancer and actress. For more information please email Elena at elewis4507@yahoo.com.

Classes are open to EVERYONE regardless of shape , size, age, physical limitations or gender! Come dance with us!

Class Schedule Beginning August 15, 2013

•Thursdays 12:30-1:30 pm Traditional Bellydance for Beginners
Learn the basic moves of this ancient art form and gain a solid foundation in how to move your body while exploring all aspects of Middle Eastern Dance. In this class we will cover basic technique, become familiar with Middle Eastern music and by the end of the six week session have learned to put the moves we learn together into a short combination.
•Sundays 3-4 pm Tribal Fusion Bellydance for Beginners
The “little sister” of Traditional Bellydance, Tribal Fusion draws inspiration from a variety of dance forms from Arabic nomadic tribes, to Flamenco, to Indian stylization, to the Jazz Age, fusing all these inspirations with Middle Eastern Dance. This fun, diverse style has something for everyone as the sky is the limit on what can be created in Fusion. We will learn the basics of Bellydance and how changing the moves and music makes them “Fusion”, gain a solid technique and by the end of the six weeks have built a short combination from the moves we have learned.
Class Prices and Packages

•6 Week Class Series- Pre- Registration July 24- August 14
•1 class per week- $60, 2 classes per week- $120
•Classes are ongoing and Drop ins are always welcome! $15 per class
Elena is available for 1 hour private and semi private lessons. Private/ semi privates can be utilized to work intensively on technique, focus on choreography, explore props or a specific style of dance or for those who prefer to learn in a one on one atmosphere. Elena is also available for Skype lessons! All you need is the internet and your webcam!

•1 dancer- $35
•2 or more dancers- $30 per dancer
Private lessons are currently offered from Elena’s home studio in Sherman, TX.

The Skeleton

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On Friday I mentioned “skeletonizing” my performance materials, so I thought I would break down what I meant and how I find it useful in my creative process.

One thing you should know about me is that a large majority of the time when I perform I am improving. When I was a younger dancer I thought that to create a piece and have it be really good it must be choreographed to the millisecond and muscle memory must be intact for it all or it would be sloppy. That was the ex- ballerina in me talking. As I performed more and learned more and even through my own practices, I found myself getting bored with this. I would be in the moment and moving to the music and feeling the music- both in rehearsal and performance and while I knew my choreography at that moment I would find that this move made more sense than the move I had planned would. Then it would spiral off and I’d be lost in a improv whirlwind, once again. I stressed about this for a long time. Now, I can choreograph. I choreographed combos and choreographies for my classes all the time. Pretty ones! I’ve even choreographed solos for other dancers! So why was it so hard for me to do so for myself?

Then one day I realised something. I could choregraph so easily for my classes or fellow dancers because that’s what they needed and wanted. It worked for them. It didn’t have to work for me. So I began anew. But I felt sloppy only doing improv. And then I realised something else. My previous “improvs” had felt good because they had direction. Then I stopped thinking about it for awhile.

Awhile later I attended a workshop with Sa’Diyya and one of the things she talked about was finding the skeleton of your music. Visually (she used her mirror and a dry erase marker) separate your counts, mark where your accents are. Well, that made sense, of course, I had done that when choreographing. Then she talked about how she did that even and especially when working on improv pieces. That way you have direction, you know what’s happening when and after that you can go anyway you want.

That was it!! I took it home and started trying it immediately, just for fun. It absolutely worked. By creating my skeleton, like I had in the past, but leaving it unadorned with moves I had the freedom to do different moves each time with the same feeling. I adorned my skeleton instead with colors, shapes, visual stimuli (I think of sunsets and trees a lot. No clue why. I’m weird.). I found by doing this I not only felt I had direction with my improv pieces, but I was learning my music better and really connecting with it on a level I hadn’t found outside of choreography.

Now, I still love a good “get your butt out there, I’ve never even heard this song, let’s just dance” experience. That’s probably one reason I enjoy drum circles and the ATS format so much. It’s hard to do improv with a group unless you’re doing ATS or ITS. But personally in my solo pieces, this has been one of the most invaluable tools I have found.

I hope if you haven’t tried this and you give it a shot and it helps you, you will let me know! Also if you have any methods you use to improve your improv leave me a comment, I would love to hear them! I am always looking for new ideas and new methods to try for growth!

Smiles and shimmies! E :)What does your skeleton look like?

Image from louiseblack.etsy.com