Saturday, 30 July 2011

Tribal Fusion ~ Costuming Inspiration

Tribal Fusion costuming is an artform - not unlike any dancers costume. However, fusion always seems to take a step over the edge. Often busy, ornate, and less colourful than other dance costumes, the performer has less boundaries and is able to fully inject her own style into the outfit.

 Cascading fabrics, layers and layers of jewels and chain, feathers and cowries - and don't even get me started on the dramatic make-up that seems so perfect with this look - that will be another post. ;)

Be inspired...


Thursday, 28 July 2011

The Power of Rejection

   I'm not talking about the kind of rejection you're thinking of - when we're turned down by something we want. I'm talking about how we can use the power of rejecting negativity to our advantage.

   You know that inner banter that can sometimes turn so negative? The critic within starts telling us that we're not good enough, not beautiful, not worthy. How many times a day do you struggle with this? How many times a day do you hear some backwards phrase whispered into your ears - by yourself? Sometimes we just need to stand up and shout:


   If you don't stand up for yourself, who will? Sometimes we really need to be our own best friend, defend ourselves, and reject negativity. Don't even give that inner critic a second to start tearing you down - reject it immediately. Remind yourself, 'Actually, self, I AM a great person, I AM beautiful, I AM loveable, and everything is going to be OKAY. So SHUT IT!' Get tough! You'll find your confidence grows by sticking up for yourself - even though it's only against you. 

   Some people might think that it sounds crazy to speak to yourself like that, that the only words that can hurt are the ones spoken by other people. That's not true! Often the most harmful lies are the ones we tell ourselves. Our biggest enemy can be our own mind - or we can be our biggest advocate.

   It's up to you. Listen to the lies, the critiques, the twisting of reality - and let yourself crumble into despair. Or, reject your inner critic. Reject the negativity. Reject your self-doubt. Stand up for yourself and choose a new thought, a positive idea, a thankful attitude.

   Whether it's in dancing or your personal life, please remember today that you are beautiful. You are worthy. You are going to be okay, and if something truly negative is happening, let it make you stronger.

Here are some encouraging quotes:

Whatever a person's mind dwells on intensely and with firm resolve, that is exactly what he becomes.
 - Shankaracharya

You are never given a dream without also being given the ability to make it come true.
- Unknown

Stop and appreciate what you have today. Look at what you have with wider eyes, with more compassion and more gratitude for the things that you do have.
 - M. Imperioli

Accept who you are; and revel in it.
- M. Albom

Thoughts are boomerangs, returning with precision to their source. Choose wisely which ones you throw.
- Unknown

If we understood the power of our thoughts, we would guard them more closely.
If we understood the awesome power of our words, we would prefer silence to almost anything negative.
In our thoughts and words we create our own weaknesses and our own strengths.
Our limitations and joys begin in our hearts.We can always replace negative with positive.
 -  B. Eadie

Peace and love to all of you xo

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

The Basic American Tribal Style (ATS) Costume

   For people starting out in belly dance, you might not be required to wear anything fancy to your classes. My teacher allowed us to wear yoga/excercise clothes until we were comfortable wearing a skirt and choli. However as you dance longer, you want to wear the beautiful costumes! The question is, what to get?

   Here are the facets of the basic ATS costume:

~ The Skirt ~

   These full skirts range from 10-16 yards for practice, and 25 yards for performances. They are commonly made from cotton, rayon, silk, and other fabrics. They are sewn in tiers, usually between 3 and 5, and the yardage is increased in each tier. They come in a range of colours, patterns and types (padma, jaipur,etc).

   Popular vendors* include: Flying Skirts, Wendy Balisle, and Tribe Nawaar

   You can also make your own skirt, which I have not yet attempted, but you can find tutorials online.

~ The Pantaloons ~

*Striped pantaloons in the middle by Painted Lady Clothiers*

   Pantaloons are a very full, loose pant, gathered at the top and at the ankles. They often have slits down the outside of the leg, however in ATS these slits normally aren't very long. Tribal Bazaar* sells a great range of pantaloons, and they are also quite easy to make yourself - so I am told. I'll link a tutorial here when I make my own!

~ The Choli ~

   Choli's are a backless cropped top, usually with a deep 'V-neck'.  They can be various sleeve lengths, and other details such as a sweetheart neckline (middle photo above), no sleeves, or cut out shoulders.

~ Hip Scarves/Tassel Belts/Fringe ~

   Oh, the fun to be had! These are not required for practice but how pretty are they! There is such a  variety of colour, texture, pattern and length that you can really begin to find your personal style with these items.

Check out more tassel belts >Here< and a tutorial on tassel making >Here< :)

~ The Coin Bra ~

   Coin bras are not needed for practice either, but are a must have when you perform in ATS. They can be purchased or made, but if you have even an ounce of crafty-ness in you (and maybe a helpful friend) I think it makes much more sense to make these yourself. Not only will you save money, but you can ensure the bra fits you perfectly and you can tailor the bra to your exact tastes.
   One warning though is that it should be covered enough that it is obviously a costume and no longer an 'intimate' item.
  If you want more inspiration, have a look at the photos >Here< or check out my coin bra >Here<.

~ Hair ~

   Turbans or headscarves used to be standard in ATS, (Headwrap tutorial here) however most dancers now wear what is called a Hair Garden, where silk flowers are fixed into the hair. Hair falls and sticks with feather or jewel adornment are also popular.

To give you an idea of what the progression might be, my very first item was a long purple fringe that i wore over my yoga pants. Then I got a skirt, and more scarves. I didn't start wearing a choli until level two. Now I have skirts, choli's, scarves, one tassel belt and one in the works. I still actually don't have any pantaloons so that will definetly be my next purchase! I hope this post helps you get an idea of what items you might need - and with all these links i'm sure you have some shopping to do!* Enjoy :)

   You can also buy the pattern for the skirt, choli, pantaloons, and advice on the other facets as well, from Fat Chance Belly Dance and Folkwear* >HERE<

* I am not affiliated with or paid by any of the above linked companies, they are just places I like to shop. :)

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Costume Organization

   Close your eyes and think for a moment - you have all the belly dance costuming you could dream of. You have a huge closet to hang it all 'just so'. Chandeliers, Moroccan tapestries, whatever decor you prefer.  Floor to ceiling mirrors to try on different combinations, chairs for friends who've come to help you pick out what to wear for your next performance. 
   Don't forget the handsome, shirtless man to clean it all up for you when you've made a mess.

   Now wake up! Back to reality. (Aww...) Are your costumes stashed at the back of your closet?  Do you forget about certain pieces because they've been lost in laundry? Are there items that have needed repair for months but you haven't gotten around to it? It's time for some organization.

First off, take inventory. Find all the belly dance costuming you own. If you wear it as everyday clothing, leave it with your everyday clothes.

Secondly, categorise. First make three piles - 'To Keep', "To Sell/Give away' and 'To Repair'

*You might also have a 'To Store' pile - items that you will no longer use but cannot bear to give away or sell.

For the 'To Repair' pile, take stock of what you need to fix - and what supplies you might need. Put these items on your grocery list, or in your phone or agenda so you can pick them up next time you're out. Then find a box, crate, bin, plastic storage unit - whatever works for you - to hold these items. Put this somewhere easily accessible so that when you get your supplies and have time you can fix them up.

For the 'To Sell/Giveaway' pile, first off giveaway anything you can to friends, or do swaps. You can even organize a swap night where you invite other dancers and instruct them to each bring a few things they are willing to trade. Then list or advertise what you want to sell. Keep these items packaged or kept safe for the potential buyer.

Now we can move on to the real work! The rest of your items are 'Keepers'. So how do we keep them organized and accessible?
  • Find a place in your home that can be designated for costuming. Whether this is an entire closet, part of a closet or a shelf, your things deserve a 'home'.
  • Categorise your items by type, and/or size. For instance, if you have lots of big skirts, you're going to need an area with some height so they don't have to be bunched up.
  • Give everything a place - each skirt, bedleh, choli, top - if it earned a place in your wardrobe it deserves its own hanger. Get creative, there are many styles out there. (Also remember not everything is best on a hanger though - for instance 25 yard skrits are too heavy and the fabric can stretch if it is hung.)

Velvet hangers are a great investment as the texture prevents tops from moving around (and falling off) and the flattened hanger preserves space. (Great for all your clothes really...)

  • Use storage for items that don't have to be hung. Plastic bins, weaved baskets, hat boxes on shelves, whatever works. Organise by category again, but remember to keep the things you use the most accessible.
Here are more tips for you:
  • When decluttering, here are some helpful questions to ask: "Will I need this in 6 months? 1 year?" "If I need this in the future but don't have it, will a replacement be difficult or costly to acquire?"
  • General rule of thumb - if you haven't worn in a year, you're not likely to.
  • If there is an item you're bored with, think if there is any way you could repurpose it. If so, add it to the 'To Repair' box and note supplies needed.
  • Use ziplock bags for small items that might be lost on their own.
  • Hang items by length.
  • Use baskets, bins, plastic drawer units - any storage can help you contain your costumes.
Of course, you can always just wear your costumes every day and mix them all in with your clothing! In that case, these organisation tips will have to be applied to your normal closet!

Thanks to twitter friends @DawnSehar @KaleenaRivera @Oonai and @erthefae for their suggestions :)

Please comment below and share tricks you use for organization!

Much luck with your organising!  :)

Friday, 22 July 2011

Mixing up Your Practice

Do you ever get in a bit of a rut with your practice? Maybe you're bored, maybe you feel like you're not improving - or worse - you feel like you've gotten worse! It happens to all of us. But what do we do?

I heard a quote once that said, 'To change all aspects of the spin, you must change only one thing'. There was a photo of a spiral and you could imagine if just one thing interrupted the perfect cylindrical waves, the entire pattern would be changed.  Like a pebble dropped into a puddle changes the entire surface of water, one ripple at a time.

So what one thing can you change? Here are some ideas for spicing up your practice:

- New music
- New environment - try dancing outside and see if you aren't inspired!
- Watch performances of dancing online and on DVD's
- Go to a workshop, seminar or class
- If you usually have very structured practice times, let loose. Put on music and just have fun.
- Sometimes persistence pays off - if it is one specific move that is defeating you, do it over and over at different speeds until you conquer it. You will! It's only a matter of time!
- Make a goal for yourself - one hour of practice per day/perfect a certain move/ whatever it may be, and reward yourself at the end of the week when you have done it.
- Find someone you can teach some of what you know to. Sometimes explaining things to another helps you see them in a different light.
- Pretend you are your own teacher. What advice would you give yourself?
- Try dancing in a completely different costume than usual.
- Get a dance video - latin, ballroom, zumba, something you have never tried before.
- Write about it.
- Remember why you love this dance and all the things you have accomplished so far. Make LISTS!
- If the problem is boredom, maybe you need to be challenged. Ask your teacher for a private lesson where she can push you a bit harder and teach you more.

It's fine to be discouraged or have off days - or weeks -  but we don't want to stay there. We want to keep growing and improving! This takes action so brainstorm your own ideas or use something from my list that might help you. Above all - do something. Take action, and change the spin.

Nothing worth doing is ever easy. - Unknown
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. -Albert Einstein

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Shopping Spotlight: Fat Chance Belly Dance

   You knew you could watch their beautiful performances, be inspired by their costumes and grace, and be mesmerized by their technique. But did you know you can shop with them? Yes, it's true - for those who did not know, Fat Chance Belly Dance has a shop! And guess what else? Until August 31, most things are

They carry everything from hip scarves to music to training DVDs to patterns to jewelry. Here is a sampling! (Click on the picture for the link)

Jaipur Skirt - Click Image to Close
TribalTalk-just the new cover - Click Image to Close

FCBD Signature Zils - Click Image to Close
Tribal Dance Tribal Drums - Click Image to Close
Miao Earrings - 133 - Click Image to Close
So much fun stuff I can't even decide what I want. Now I've never ordered from them before, but I mean c'mon - it's FCBD. I'd expect nothing but the best!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Tutorial: Shisha Stitch

She sews shisha by the seashore... say that ten times fast... I dare you! :)

Shisha is a stitch that is used to fix mirrors onto fabric. We see this a lot in belly dance costumes and accessories, so I thought it might be nice to have a tutorial for the DIYers out there! The mirror catches light and adds a shimmering sparkle, and the thread adds a nice pop of colour. It can be used on belts, coin bras - anything that needs a flickering decoration!

Here is an example of shisha on a belt I'm working on:

Let's get started! You will need:
  • Mirrors (I got a little bag of 3 different sizes from Michaels)
  • Thread and sewing needle
  • Fabric to practice on

Step One - Six:

Here you are making the first rectangle over the mirror. You will have to hold the mirror in place while you do so. Try to make these tight, and fairly close to each other, as they will form the first part of the base for the entire stitch. When you create the frame going around the mirror, the stitches will fall right off the mirror if these first base stitches are too loose.

This part is probably the most finicky and difficult as the mirror wants to slip away, so hold it tight in place (or use glue it if it won't ruin the fabric) and be patient with yourself!

Steps Seven - Eight:

Create a second perpendicular rectangle over top of the other. Again keep the stitches fairly tight and try to have these base stitches match up evenly.

Steps Nine - Twelve:

Now with our base stitches in place (as in picture 8), we will create the frame of colour around the mirror. Your needle should be at the back of the fabric. Start by threading the needle up through the fabric a few millimeters away from the mirror. Overlap the base stitches, pulling the needle through underneath and back into the fabric. This will determine the width of the frame around the mirror, and you will want to keep this distance the same around the circumference of the mirror.

Continue this around the entire mirror, making sure to put the stitches very close together so the frame is full and vibrant - not sparse with holes. There you have it! You have completed your shisha stitch and framed a shimmering little mirror on your dance costume!

(The cowries are just sewn on by their ends - a few loops on each and knotted off on the back securely.)

It's difficult to show where the threads and needle is going so I hope the pictures and description were clear enough. Good luck!

Monday, 18 July 2011

Colourful Costumes

Just some eye candy this afternoon, enjoy these beautifully vibrant costumes and be inspired!

I'm sure you have noticed I'm a bit partial to the ATS costume, being an ATS student myself. If you have any links to a beautiful bedlah or other costuming you've been lusting after lately please comment below or email me at and I will add your pictures! Thanks :)

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Videos: FCBD and Carolena

Here is a weekend treat for you! Some recent Fat Chance Belly Dance and Carolena performances! Enjoy :)

Friday, 15 July 2011

Tutorial: Feather Earrings

Now that we have an earring holder it only makes sense to add some stylish earrings to it don't you think? Feather earrings are all the rage this summer, so I'm going to show you how it's done! Simple but so pretty!

  • Feathers (I got mine from the Michaels, feather picks in the garland section)
  • Earring backings
  • Cord crimps/end caps
  • Scissors
  • Pliers
Step one: Pick two feathers that look similar in size. Cut them down.

Step Two: Cut them down a bit more and strip the top end.

Step Three: Get your end caps/cord crimps and put them using pliers. Press them securely closed.

Step Four: Using the pliers, attach the earring backing to the end cap.

Step 4 (Optional): Now you can leave the feathers like this if you like the length. I chose to cut mine so they were a bit smaller and more tailored looking. Which do you like better? I made some for a friend and she preferred them long.

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial, if you want to see how to make any other earrings please send a link to and I will do my best ;)

Have an awesome weekend!!