Spiral Skies Bellydance

Bringing Bellydance to the Big Sky!

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Crafting A Costume Bra

Posted by Tessa Thompson on November 12, 2014 at 2:10 AM Comments comments (15)

Do u belong to the itty bitty committee or was the song do your boobs hang low written for you?

Well I have the solution to all our bra woes from the small to the busty, the perky to the low hangers....the one wonder bra for all! Let's admit it we all want bigger boobs, perkier boobs, fuller boobs and for a few of you smaller boobs (if this is the case this bra may not be for you)

What magical thing is this you wonder? Well....The incredible Uplift Bra...you know the ones that increase your chest by 2 sizes? I know some of you are like wait no i don't want bigger breasts! Well the thing with this bra is it is very sturdy for all your decorations...has pretty good coverage and makes your chest perkier.

I for one wear about a 32A yea try finding a pretty bellydance bra to fit a child! HA

For those that are on the smaller side you can buy one that is just slightly too big but i would advise a size bigger....for those that are chestier you will want one that is a size bigger than you wear. What? Yes as the bra will become smaller as you start crafting it into the most awesome bellydance bra ever! (often you can find them on clearance....maybe grab a couple so you can practice if you find them on sale.)

First: Find the bra....Target, Kmart, Walmart all carry them around 20.00-40.00 (this one is a whole size too big for me picked up at Kmart for 2.99)

Second: Stitch your bra together in the center (this will make the bra smaller and snugger for those not so blessed and will add more support and coverage for all breast sizes and shapes....yep it is true.....see this bra is already much smaller.

Third: Decide what kind of straps you want....either a halter or criss cross back and if you plan on covering the bra in material.

Four: Add your straps unless you are cutting the band and adding rings you will need to cover the bra first.

Five: Cover the bra (google tutorials for this part and try on before adding any embellishments....you want to make sure you have the right fit and coverage with no gaps revealing too much.

Now....embellish away!!!

The shape of this particular bra is completely changed and is a very snug bra with full coverage.


~ Kelley

Get to know "Natalie"

Posted by Tessa Thompson on July 1, 2013 at 12:15 PM Comments comments (1)

When I was 15 I saw my first Belly Dance performance and I was immediately hooked on the beauty and passion that those women brought to the stage. At this time I was living in Flagstaff, Arizona where the arts and dance were heavily embraced so I knew that Belly Dance could be my little addition to the artistic beauty of Flagstaff. Soon after the performance I had seen, I began learning from the beautiful Holly Luky (whom later turned into one of the biggest life inspirations to me). Holly’s teaching is what made me fall in love with Belly Dance; with everything she taught she brought beauty, confidence, and passion. I soon found out that what I loved most about Belly Dance wasn't the costumes or the movements but how it made me feel! Belly Dance brought me a confidence that I had never had and it allowed me to embrace my body and learn to love my body!

My favorite Belly Dance moves have always been the slow and mushy moves! I've always loved a good Maya or Taxeem and almost nothing can beat a well performed Omi! Slow and slinky movements have always grabbed hold of me and transfixed me.

To say that I find inspiration for Belly Dance in a specific thing or a few things would be the understatement of a lifetime! I find inspiration for my dance, teaching, and costuming in everything from movies and music to the people and places I see every day. My biggest inspirations though include Rachel Brice (I will forever love her!) and anything eclectic and our of the ordinary. When it comes to costuming I enjoy finding inspiration through subcultures in society and my favorite component of costuming would be the little embellishments that add flare to my costume! I hand make almost all of my costumes so I enjoy intricate bead work and making little additions to everything. I enjoy costuming the most when I can fuse two styles of Belly Dance into one outfit; most commonly I enjoy fusing Cabaret Belly Dance with Tribal Fusion not only into most of my costumes but also in my dance.

I never have a time in my dance life when I don’t have a goal so they are ever growing and changing. My goal in dance has always been to better myself in every way I can. There is a quote that I always remember when it comes to my goals in dance - "I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself." ~ Mikhail Baryshnikov. My goal in dance is to always be surpassing what I can do right now. Currently for myself and my dance I am focusing on Yoga to strengthen myself for more dance ability and also to bring for flexibility into my dance. Next December my husband will be finishing up his service in the Air Force and we will be moving to Seattle, Washington so my long term goals would be to find a dance community within a troupe in Seattle where I can continue to dance and maybe start teaching again once we settle down. But as always my biggest goals are reserved for my troupe, The Valhalla Vixens; we have a lot ahead of us this summer and we all have many troupe specific goals to reach. But to be honest, it always seems that there are so many goals and such little time!

Get to know "Valeria"

Posted by Tessa Thompson on June 2, 2013 at 1:25 PM Comments comments (2)

I studied ballet as a child. During college, I studied modern and jazz. After that, my only dancing was at the gym for the most part. Thankfully, I began my lifelong journey into the ancient art of “belly dance” as it is known in the USA, at a workshop taught by Sonya Alarcon in 2002. A friend from my work as an RN for Dr. Margaret Beeson danced regularly with The Troupe. Thank you for the rest of my days, Cheri Smith, for inspiring me to enter the dance! I took classes and workshops with Sonja regularly. Professional performers would sometimes come to our area to teach and perform. When Suhaila Salimpour came to teach a two day workshop in Bozeman in 2005, I was absolutely mesmerized by her Egyptian costumes and stylization. It just seemed so pure to me. I immediately signed up to take a five day workshop with her at her studio in California. Over the years, I studied on retreat with other professional dancers, namely Delilah Flynn and Princess Farhana. I always attended The Yellowstone Valley Bellydance Festival and others large festivals for professional exposure. I have a massive DVD collection. I have learned so much that I can’t remember but a fraction at times and work to apply what I know on the stage, which is the greatest challenge really. I went to Egypt with Delilah in 2008 and hope to return someday…...

I like the endless opportunity for artistic expression in the movements themselves, the costuming, the raw potential of THE DANCE. I love the audience interaction the most really because at heart, I am a huge flirt! I flirt with babies, old people, cats and dogs, certain trees. I study Qi Gong with Chris Fernie and am convinced that someday I will be Jedi Belly Dancer!

My favorite movement is the one that matches the music, the mood, the moment I am in. That said, my “go to” movement is almost always a maya or a goosh (either direction vertical eight’s with the hips). My favorite traveling movement is a double maya, just for consistency.

I strive for the music to inspire the moves and the costume to complement the whole performance and help to create mood/emotional atmosphere. Music is usually my most difficult decision and I often agonize for hours (keeping our playlist manager waiting and changing my choices). I choose to dance to the most “Eastern” music that I can usually. I rarely choose a song that most people wouldn’t automatically label as belly dance music. Sometimes, I just want a certain costume or prop and that can be a fun way to find inspiration too. I know a lot of people watch you tube and stuff for inspiration. I just don’t do that much but I love to see live shows.

Anymore, I love the task of collaborative costuming for larger groups, bigger stages, more massive projects. I recently helped a friend do several photo shoots with local dancers for a calendar, a Sirens of the Zodiac project. The headpieces were incredible. The energy of the ladies involved in the project fed off of each other as we grew more and more excited. I find similar pleasure in putting glitter and/or rhinestones, sequins, fringe or feather onto almost any given object that one could place on a dancer or a stage. I have always loved to sew and am now immersed in thobes and Steam Punk street cross-over stuff, oh and leather. I have lots of new fire dance props and need lots of leather!

My one and only goal is to have Princess Farhana confer upon me the royal status of Lady Valeria. OK, I also have the goal of maintaining myself so that I can keep dancing with my cane instead of leaning on it to walk. Some days I wonder. I always try to warm up well before rehearsals and performances. Besides, Princess Farhana says warming up is, “The Law” and who am I but some peasant to argue.


Get to know "Eryn"

Posted by Tessa Thompson on May 1, 2013 at 11:55 AM Comments comments (1)

Belly dancing has always called to my soul.  I remember seeing belly dancers when I was little at events like the Strawberry Festival that my mom took me to.  I watched them and knew I wanted to become a belly dancer.  Before I was 21, I took a few classes here and there, but I finally committed myself to it 100% spring semester 2011 when I heard it was being offered at MSUB.  I was so eager to learn everything I could and couldn’t wait for class to start.  Julie Hrubes is the instructor at MSUB and my first real teacher.  I absolutely adore her; her personality is very much reflected in her teaching style-she’s fun, silly, and ridiculous in the best possible way, but also teaches the material with great skill and clarity.  I have taken her class every semester since and have grown close with her and the other girls in the class.  I also started taking classes from Tessa and Kyla at Urban Sands Bellydance about a year ago and love them as well.  They work great as a team and they incorporate many different styles of belly dance into their classes.  If I had time to take more classes I would.  Belly dancing is my biggest passion so I try to get as much learning in as I can.

I love belly dance for so many reasons.  I love the way that self-discipline is reflected in the way you move your body and I love feeling my muscles work in synchronicity to create something so beautiful.  I love how I am able to express my grace, beauty, talent, and creativity; I feel powerful and strong when I dance, very connected to my inner divinity and femininity and that feeling is addictive to me.  I don’t think I’ll ever stop dancing because of it.

Most of my inspiration for belly dance comes from Rachel Brice.  I had been dancing for about a year when I discovered her and after watching her I felt like I found “my style” of dance-tribal fusion.  I love how she has trained her body to do such difficult moves, like the Turkish drop, which she does so flawlessly.  She executes her moves with such perfection and beauty; it takes my breath away every time I watch her.  I love that she dances to such unique music and I love the originality of her costumes.  I also love Zoe Jakes; the way she performs is hauntingly beautiful.  I love the way she throws herself into spins and how captivating her expression is.  I love the way both her and Rachel match each movement of their bodies to the music; it's like their bodies become the instrument and it really captures their level of skill. 

My favorite moves are the harder ones - belly rolls, miyas, flutters, shimmies.  I also like to layer them, but that takes a lot of practice!  I always love to challenge myself because when I accomplish a move or combination that is difficult I feel amazing.  It helps me see my true strength and dedication. 

Like most dancers, I love costuming.  Since I was sewing long before I was dancing, I started making my own costumes right away.  I like to make my own costumes because I love to sew and I like things that are unique and original, true expressions of myself.  I also like that I put so much of myself into belly dance, not just the dancing part but the costume part as well.  I feel that costume choice really reflects the mood of your dance and your personality and I am just as passionate about it as I am about dancing.

I am graduating from MSUB this spring with a bachelors degree in Environmental Studies and am not quite sure where that will take me just yet.  Environmental issues are another major passion of mine so I hope to get involved with an organization that helps to rectify the state of our natural world.  My goals for belly dance are to improve-always.  I believe that even though I am good, I can always be better and that there is always something new to learn.  I want to keep performing at every opportunity and to continue to discover myself through dancing.  It connects me to myself, it empowers me and gives me confidence, and it shows me that I truly am beautiful and strong.  And that is the best gift I could ever imagine.

~ Eryn

Boosting Audience Engagement

Posted by Tessa Thompson on April 1, 2013 at 1:25 PM Comments comments (1)

Spiral Skies Bellydance presents…

More than entertainment: Engagement techniques to enhance audience satisfaction

As a performing artist, what are your fears?  Perhaps an audience responding with stark silence. Maybe an audience more interested in conversation and cell phones than the performance.  Or worse yet, an empty house.

In an effort to attract and retain audiences, dancers are experimenting with a range of innovative audience engagement activities.  The following techniques are tools you, or an emcee, can use to draw an audience in, then send them away with positive word-of-mouth.

Introduce yourself.  It seems like a no-brainer, but dancers often forget to tell their audiences who they are.  This is your elevator speech, a short summary used to quickly and simply define a dancer, your training or background, and the genre or specialty presented in the performance.  If you perform multiple pieces, discuss the meaning of or inspiration for the work.

Give them something to do.  Belly dance embraces audience participation.  At the opening of the show, teach the audience appropriate responses to what they see.  How to zaghareet, when to hiss, practicing a few Arabic phrases, or a room-wide “Opa!” will energize an audience before the dancer takes the stage.

Enlighten and educate. Prior to a performance with a prop, teach your audience about that special element.  Let’s take zills as an example.  Demonstrate the different sounds zills can make.  Discuss how zills are different from finger cymbals.  Then give your audience a task: Tell them to look for something specific to the prop, i.e., “Can you spot those in our troupe who are right-handed or left-handed zillers?”

Mind your body language.  Dancers use their bodies to communicate. Still, in the heat of the spotlight, it’s easy to forget the fundamentals.  Maintain proper dance posture with shoulders back and chest proud. Lift the chin, exposing the neck.  Smile with a slightly open mouth.  This stance is confident and open, and commands attention.  A closed body posture — hunched shoulders, caved chest, chin and eyes downcast, a pursed mouth — says “Don’t look at me.”  Your audience will take the hint and oblige.

Put your audience at ease.  Exposed skin is still socially taboo, especially in close proximity to others and in public spaces.  When mingling with the audience before and after a show (a great way to network and meet prospective students and clients), drape yourself with a veil or ghawazee coat.  This protects the dancer from people who might leer, and makes the dancer less intimidating because she is covered.  A semi-transparent veil or cut-away ghawazee coat effectively walks the line between social propriety and maintaining exoticism through costuming.

Kudos all around.  Always, always publicly thank your sponsors, venue, host, collaborators, and audience for their contribution to the show.  Mention them by name, if possible.  Make this announcement prior to the last performance while you still have butts in the seats.

By helping audience members understand the artist’s process and ideas, they can begin to interpret the meaning and relate to what they are seeing.  Once that connection occurs, the consumer is more likely to return for more.

Do you want more?  Then click on the tabs above for more blog posts, plus class schedules and registration for the Yellowstone Belly Dance Festival, Aug. 16-18.