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Hello lovely readers,

Over the summer I will be continuing my Wednesday evening classes at The Yoga Room (beginners from 7.30pm, intermediates from 8.30pm). Both sets of classes cost £40 (£36 concession) for an 8 week block (June 30th – Aug 25th, not Aug 4th).

As usual I’ve got paypal set up so you can go to my site http://www.shelleyskipper.com/classes.html to book classes and/or workshops there. And if you don’t fancy paypal cheques, bank transfer and cash are all fine. There’s more details about payment on the website.

And just so you’re aware this will be the last term of regular classes that I’ll be teaching for a while. My counselling training will be stepping up it’s intensity in September and I’ve had the increased time commitment required highlighted to me on a number of occasions, as well as the emotional drain it will be. So I’ve decided to take a step back from teaching bellydance once Uni starts back. Some of my current students suggested a night out to mark the end this era and I think that’s a smashing idea!

I don’t plan on dropping out of the community, I will still be at haflas, hopefully attending workshops as a student and maybe running one or two myself as time permits. And the classes at the Yoga Room should continue – I’ll put up more information about that as I have it.

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I had a couple of performances recently where the floor played a role in influencing what I could and could not do. Up until this point it’s either not been an issue as I’ve been improvising and so can adapt to the situation easily, or I’ve not done any moving floor-work in the routine or the floor has been fine for whatever I had planned. Recently, however, I was faced with two flooring situations that made my choreographed routine a little difficult to follow.

The first one, carpet – it wasn’t a huge deal for most of the performance – it wasn’t fluffy enough to give my feet friction burns from spinning. That said it did have enough friction to stop me being able to slide my legs smoothly back in a floor-work move I had planned. Oddly it had worked okay in my dress rehearsal so I wonder if I had caught the ‘grain’ of the carpet just right during the rehearsal. This experience did remind me to double-check the next venue I was performing at. Happily that had a lovely smooth floor for dancing on. Or so I thought…

The other one – the floor obviously wasn’t supposed to be damp, but that’s what happens when the performance area is in a mingling space (that was cleared for the performances) near the venue entrance and there is a heavy downpour that night… The staff did the best they could, so it wasn’t ‘wet’ just ‘damp’ when I danced. I had worn little black flat-soled shoes to get to the venue and they had nice rubber soles that meant I didn’t have to risk slipping with my bare feet on the damp floor. The bottom half of my outfit was black and floor length so it was okay costume-wise to wear the shoes. I ended up leaving out the main part of floor-work that I had planned as didn’t want to get my trousers wet and that worked out fine too.

Had I been improvising neither situation would have been any real trouble at all, but I’m going through a choreographing phase so it was a little bit awkward. That said all it meant was that I had to improvise a little bit, which was no major hassle. Keeps me sharp!

Well, because Nierika asked… 🙂

The below image taken by freelance photographer Kate Hogg who works out of Kaleidoscope Studios captures my ‘vampy hair’ really well.  It’s not back-combed traditional goth hair, as that’s really not ‘me’, but it’s a bit more dramatic than normal, which is what I was shooting for.

And here’s a (slightly blurry) shot of it from the side taken while I was getting dressed up for the performance:

And lastly, one shot of the back (again slightly blurry):

I’m feeling terribly squeamish about putting these pictures up, so nice comments would be very much appreciated 😉

Recently I went looking for inspiration to vamp/goth-up a bellydance routine and I thought I’d share some of the performers that I came across in my search.

Read the rest of this entry »

So I have very long hair.  Right now it ranges from 24-27″ in length depending on where I measure it (that’s 61-69cm in metric).  And not only that but it’s naturally wavy and reasonably thick.  I love it, I love it being long, but sometimes trying to style is can be a pain in the ying yang.

But because I love it I persevere.  I want to have it looking nice for performance, which is easy enough for my more cabaret performances, but for my tribal fusion and anything gothic it takes a bit more doing.  I want it dramatic but able to stay that way through spins and laybacks.  This is not easy, let me tell you!

So a few weekends ago, frustrated with the stylistic possibilities my current crop of clips, combs and bands presented I went to Claire’s looking for something better.

What I found was amazing…

The “bandette comb” claims to be “so comfortable you’ll forget you’re wearing it!”  Yeah, right, I thought, but bought it anyway because it looked like it had potential and was only £4.50 (Claire’s).

I adapted the directions to make it work for the dramatic hair-all-over-the-place-but-in-an-artful-way sort of a look that I was going for and, amazingly, it worked. It stayed in place all night, through windy travel to the venue, through the spins and laybacks and the socialising afterwards and it actually was so comfortable it didn’t feel like I had anything in my hair. And when it was time to take it out it came out quite easily and didn’t take any of my hair with it.

So like I said, it’s an amazing hair thing of amazingness!

The annual Leith Festival will run from the 11th to the 20th of June.

The brochure for all the events in the festival was launched on Tuesday and I was there, with an outfit and choreography created to fit their themes of ‘red’, ‘edgy’ and ‘alternative’. With that in mind I performed a gothic/tribal inspired piece with spooky choral music followed by Emily Autumn in a red & black costume.

It was a very mixed crowd with a wide range of ages and backgrounds. I was hopeful – but in no way certain – that they would get behind such an alternative performance. But they did! And I was even asked later if I’d had ribs removed 🙂

I missed the live music and magic show, but did manage to catch a bit of the banter of the comedian, Susan Morrison (who was hilarious in regular conversation too, and a really, really lovely person). Proving what a small world this is, the DJ turned out to be the step-son of a friend of mine and the festival volunteer press officer is a colleague!

…And if you’re free next Thursday (May 13th) there’s a ‘Vintage Fashion Show’ fundraiser for the Leith Festival at Ocean Terminal. Tickets are £5/£10 (normal/access all areas). There will be fashions from Vi Nouveau, We Love Pumpkin, Kinloch Anderson and a variety of charity shops. There’s also going to be upcycled & recycled arts and crafts stalls and live music.

And finally (and totally off topic) if you’re in the UK, eligible, and haven’t done so already please remember to go vote today.

Bellydance has a range of physical and mental health benefits common to many forms of exercise, as well as specifically strengthening muscles in the lower back and pelvic regions which can be problematic for women. So practiced carefully (and by that I mean paying attention to your own body, not pushing yourself to the point of injury) it’s definitely good for you.

Something else that’s good for you is laughter, and I’ve been aware recently of how much of that goes on in my classes. I like to try to have a jovial atmosphere when I teach, I think it helps ease a discipline can sometimes be experienced as frustrating or, particularly for the body conscious, embarrassing. And I like to have a giggle myself!

Laughter’s good for the body too. It helps increase your blood flow, which in turn reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease (which can lead to strokes, heart disease and peripheral arterial damage). It can also help control diabetes, boost your immune system and fight infections; it can ease pain and even reduce allergic responses including relieving hay fever!

And in light of the benefits of laughter, here’s a (non bellydance) video that makes me laugh a lot – feel free to share your ‘funnies’ with me. (Oh – be aware that there’s a bit of strong language in this video)

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