Saturday, 19 March 2011

Unleashing the Inner Marilyn

Last weekend saw me heading down (well, up, across and then down) to Northampton for two workshops with Gwen Booth, who is not only a noted belly dance teacher and performer but also performs burlesque under the stage name Miss Minnie Cerise.

This was the first time I'd actually tried burlesque other than a brief intro at Gothla last year, so I was a little worried about whether I'd enjoy it or whether I'd stick out like a sore thumb.

I shouldn't have been concerned. There was a wide range of women there, some with no dance experience at all, and Gwen was a very welcoming teacher with an excellent line in praise. We were learning a 'chorus line' style choreography, very much in the Hollywood Golden Age style, and to break the ice she had us all tottering around in a circle pretending to be Marilyn Monroe. We were running to catch an imaginary train whilst wearing imaginary pencil skirts, carrying very heavy imaginary suitcases, and luring an unsuspecting porter over to carry said suitcase!

Needless to say by the end of all that rigmarole all nerves and selfconsciousness had evaporated and the rest of the workshop was a glorious confusion of posturing, posing and generally unleashing our inner silver screen divas. We all got a printed copy of the choreography at the end, which is something I was really pleased about as I'm not good at taking notes in class, and I definitely wanted to mine this workshop for ideas!

The second workshop was all about veil work, concentrating more on overall ambience than any particular tricks. This class was much more rooted in belly dance, and all the women there were intermediate dancers. I was pretty much average, which was a nice feeling, I'm used to being the slow one at the back!

Gwen took us through a series of combinations, all of which had a bit of an art deco feel. Lots of beautiful shapes and graceful transitions, and a bit of a pep talk on how to get to know your individual veil and learn to work with it. She also broke down barrel turns, which I've never had the hang of, and I left feeling if not quite the Art Deco goddes that was intended, at least less inclined to believe that my veil was out to get me.

All in all a very inspiring weekend, and I can't recommend Gwen (or Belly Dance and Burlesque, who organised the weekend) highly enough!

Thursday, 10 March 2011

The Costume Pile

This is my local crack den, also known as Pat's Sewing Basket, a stall in the (in)famous Birmingham Rag Market. Fortunately for the parlous state of my wallet, I no longer work fifteen minutes away from the myriad temptations hidden in all those boxes.

Less fortunately for my overflowing stash of half-finished and not-yet-started costumes, it means I can't just pop out in my lunch hour and come back with ten quids worth of beads, sequins and random sparkly trim that I didn't really need but couldn't leave behind.

Fortunately, I stocked up before moving to a new office, and my craft room overflowing with haberdashery in all the colours of the rainbow.

Good job too. I have two costumes of my own on the go and am currently incubating plans for a tartan corset belt and a nebulous vintage concept involving pearls and chiffon. I also volunteered to make bedlah for my troupe, in a probably futile attempt to wean them over to the sparkly side (cabaret costumes are fun!).

And somewhere in between all that I'm trying to squeeze in 30 minutes of practice a day. Life is rather full right now!