This Saturday, the Flapper Bellydance Fusion performance series started at Dragonfly Bellydance. The studio filled with flappers ready for action, I could feel the enthusiasm and focus of the group. I love connecting with other vintage dance lovers and am super looking forward to sharing this fusion choreography with this bunch. Oh there will be more reminders but for now just save the date: Sunday May 26th is the Dragonfly Spring Showcase where the flappers will be taking the stage alongside many other fabulous dancers from the studio. This event usually sells out, so get your tickets in advance. You’ve been warned.
In April, the Sugar Shakers added some flapper love to the festivities at the Circus Side Show edition of the Bazaar of the Bizarre. Checking out the handmade goods in between our sets, there are so many strange and wonderful makers of things at this bazaar.
In May, I had the pleasure of performing to a DJ set by Adham Shaikh at the Royal Ontario Museum for the Rock the Caravan edition of their regular Friday Night Live events. I wish I would have had time to check out some of the exhibits afterward, but by the time I finished they were herding people away from exhibits. It was a great concept, with international market place food, several floors of live music, drinks and access to some exhibits. My first time dancing with the dinosaurs was a blast and the crowd was atttentive and enthusiastic. I shared the stage with another Toronto-based dancer Ananda Franco, and considering we met only that night, I think we had some good chemistry on stage together. The show was truly a mulit-sensory experience, with live visuals mixed by Jax-a-Muse.
In the charming coach house Om Laila studio, my studies with Roula continue. This term we have been working on big drama/intention/character with refined moves, intricate travelling hip work with layers of upper body movement. Jack and the bean stock spirals and ovary muscles, for those who speak the language of Roula Said. Digging deep into the foundational architecture of the movements that are bellydance. Lifetimes of material to learn, soaking in as much as I can…
A couple of events coming up, mostly of the flapper variety! Including a workshop at Dragonfly studio in July. I’m pretty excited to bring charleston to even more bellydancers…check the Upcoming Shows section for details.
And last but not least, the annual Great Gatsby Garden Party at the Spadina Museum, is less than two weeks away. This event has gained in popularity each summer and this year its exploded. The people demanded advance tickets and after an initial online scramble for the pocket-friendly admission fee, the event is SOLD OUT. In response, there will be another Gatsby themed event, guerilla styles, for those who didn’t get a ticket but still want to get down with a 20’s garden jam.
As summer solstice approaches Toronto is in full summertime mode. The city is vibrant this time of year, see you around town.
Oh yes March is upon us, and summertime can’t get here fast enough –this winter is relentless and merciless. I have had a few shows to focus on here and there throughout the dreariest months. Turns out, this city knows a few things about winter survival: music, movement and celebration are just what we need to pull through.
Jan and Feb have been mostly spent planning and practicing. Being back in class at Om Laila and learning advanced technique has been wonderful. Working on new moves with Serpentina and continuing to build our repertoire alongside the original electronic music of Jim Boz continues to be fun and rewarding.
This day of specialty workshops, on Sat March 14th, is hosted by myself and Orkideh of Serpentina North. I will be bringing back the flapper fusion workshop for those interested in vintage fusion. Many people are intrigued by this fusion and ask me a lot of questions about it…while its not common, there are other people doing it. Not so much here in Toronto but worldwide, yes, its a thing! So here’s a little background on how I got into this unique fusion. Some years back, maybe 2009 or 2010, I was inspired by videos I saw of Rosanna McGuire, a local bellydancer also known as Cleoflaptra (wicked name!) in her flapper fusion persona and was instantly drawn to Unfortunately for me, by the time I found out about her she had moved to San Fransisco. Yet I randomly ran into her in a lineup for a show when I was visiting for SF Mecca Immersion and we discovered many mutual friends and some subcultural connections.
Here she is at Funkabelly in 2010:
When she returned to Toronto, I took some of her workshops and felt serious about this fusion business so began taking the ‘Shake that Sugar Flapper’ classes with Sugar Shakers, to get some charleston and vintage solo jazz under my dance belt. I worked my ass off in those classes, determined to join the Sugar Shakers and that I did. It was different posture, new footwork, and completely unique energy and esthetic from bellydance, but I had already seen the possibilites for fusion…where the two worlds meet. And I was hungry for more.
The flapper stuff in Toronto grew out of the lindy hop community and most of the other women who do vintage jazz and charleston also do lindy hop. Then there was me, always the one who doesn’t quite fit. I tend to come into my interests from places off the beaten path. So a bellydancer walks into a lindy hop jam…
Many of the Sugar Shakers shows were at lindy hop events, where typically there’s a lindy hop dancefloor after the performances. Its super fun — Only thing was I couldn’t…um…partner dance. So I stepped on toes, gave disclaimers when being asked to dance and eventually took some classes. After performing a while with Sugar Shakers, I usually felt a bit silly explaining my lack of lindy hop skills. But what the hell, they were all beginners once, I told myself. And I had fun.
Now that I am venturing into teaching bellydance here and there, I am further exploring my interest in flapper fusion to share with others of the vintage curious or conneseur variety. My upcoming workshop will explore the fusion of flapper and bellydance, with attention to technique as well as fun moves to bust out on a jazz or electroswing dance floor. Toronto has a booming electroswing community and with this a resurgence of fancy footwork from the bygone speakeasy era. And there is so many interesting ways to fuse with bellydance. Thanks Rosanna, to introducing me to this fusion and inspiring me to delve deeper into the crossroads of these dances!
Shaila and I backstage after dancing with Zephyr live at the Free Times cafe in January. Did you know this lovely creature teaches bellydance classes at Om Laila on Saturdays?
House of Shimmy performed at Hip Hip Hooray, Cabaret this past Saturday, and busted out a new number merging improv and choreography. We work dilligently in the shadows, dreaming and scheming. And though are shows are few and far between, when we dance, you remember. Stay tuned for more. (photos by PDV Photography)
With the holiday season and all, I had a bit of a break from rehearsals. I welcomed the rest from choreography and technique, to move into the quiet reflective space that winter brings. Lots of stretching, yoga, meditation –and yes sleeping in. The pleasure of discipline taking a backseat to the discipline of pleasure.
But there’s always time for a show. A few of us Sugar Shakers and guests entertained a crowd of over 600 for New Years Eve at the Seneca Casino events centre in Salamanca New York. It was a Roaring 20’s theme, with an extravagant set-up, including a photo set with an old Ford model-t. The dancers did some swing and Charleston, with everyone in fine form and threads. At the stroke of midnight hundreds of balloons and streamers were released from the ceiling while we danced. It was a late night after the show filled with much silliness and laughter –which I intend to extend into 2013.
My top three dance ‘a-ha’ moments ‘s of 2012:
Sometimes you need rest over rehearsal: you know when you’re busting your ass for a show or to get that one combo straight and its after work and rehearsal on a Wednesday night –and you’re just exhausted. While mind over matter is often called for in a dance discipline, sometimes the matter — that is to say your mortal coil — just needs some goddamn sleep. The body will tell you when you’re not letting it rest and if you don’t listen it will talk louder –I don’t wait til it screams its protest against my go go go inclinations, with twists and spasms.
The importance of posture and alignment:
This year I have learned a lot about my posture, alignment and re-patterning my movement in ways that will enhance my dance as well as prevent injuries. For the first time I have worked with a physiotherapist, who has given my insight into deeply rooted patterns of holding and locomotion and has done myofascial release as well as re-patterning body and breath. On some days the body resists but overall I see more clearly where strengths, weaknesses and compensations lay and my body is relieved of stressful holding patterns. If anyone has an opportunity to go to a physiotherapist, go straight to Nam Do, she is a lovely person and a highly knowledgeable practitioner –guaranteed you will leave each session understanding your body a little better. This focus on fundamental movement patterns has already helped me in my dance goals around increased strength and flexibility and it will be an underlying awareness in all of my movement this year.
The beauty of dance friendships: Recently I’ve been reflecting on my dance friends and appreciating the nature of dance friendships. Usually, you come together through a teacher, studio or workshop and the way paths cross and creative bonds form is really beautiful. The way we move together, hone our skills together, sweat, stumble and strive for our own personal best together. Sometimes we are so focused on ourselves in our journey and meeting our goals that we don’t always think of how lucky we are to dance with others. I can say in the past couple of years I feel tied into a dance community of very talented creative people and I can also say I’ve made some truly good friends through dance. Incredibly genuine, unique and fearless people dedicated to exploration of life through movement. Dancing ATS/ITS with Serpentina North Ensemble has been a particular growing experience as the group improv structure of the dance requires so many levels of communication. A strong bond is the wonderful result and with that synergy comes a particularly magic layer to movement.
Memorable dance moments of 2012:
Sugar Shakers competition at Followlogie in Montreal
Cues & Tattoos in Seattle (going back for more this March!)
Rachel Brice intensive in Toronto and the honour of performing in the gala show with Serpentina North Ensemble
Sugar Shakers road trips/out of town gigs
dancing at Funkabelly uptown, at the gorgeous Capitol Theatre as part of a trio to live music by Nomadica
Favourite radio shows of 2012 (actually of several years in a row):
Yes folks radio is alive and well and has nothing to do with the mindless top 40 drivel. I’m talking community radio like 88.1 FM and 89.5 FM, truly grassroots forms of art and media. Personally my radio at home is always tuned into 89.5 and their programming is amazing, the variety of music, the genre and topic specific shows are a music nerds wet dream. My absolute favourites (music-wise) are:
For more vintage photos of women and their records check this out. Or this.
Now that I have reflected on the year, I am ready to move onto the next. New years resolutions are fine, but cultivating resolve year round can be a more sustainable path to reaching your goals. Here’s a full year of reaching beyond our comfort zones!
We’ve all managed to survive a stressful time of year (ironically still referred to as “the holidays”), bombarded by capitalist pressures (aka. the accumulation of stuff and things). I hope you have kept this in mind throughout: Never let the things you WANT make you forget about the things you HAVE.