Friday, 27 May 2011

Body Image

I came home from class on Wednesday night feeling fat, uncoordinated and hopeless. I'd fucked up every move in class, even the simple ones (one leg shimmy, where are you?), eaten everything that stayed still long enough, and generally convinced myself that I was doomed to grow so fat and hopeless that they'd need to break down a wall of my house to remove my bloated corpse when i finally died of malnutrition caused by living on cookies and bacon crisps.

This evening, I signed up for a burlesque workshop that will teach the classic strip, from dress to drawers. 20 other women are going to watch me cavorting around in unflattering clothes with knickers worn over the top (which is slightly scarier, IMO, than being just in knickers. Underwear is sexy. Only superman could pull off the underwear as outerwear look).

I guess what I'm aiming at here are two things. One is that even the ugliest, fattest, spottiest heifer in the county looks and feels better after a cuddle and a good night's sleep. The second is that this is the only body you get, and waiting until it fits into some personal ideal of perfection is a good way to waste your life.

So come the eleventh of June, me and my fat will be slinking around in my little black dress, saucy stockings, sexy lingerie and, er, Primark leggings and vest. Because I might lose my fat in a few months, or it might still be dogging me until the day I die. Either way, I sure as hell don't want to be on my deathbed wishing I'd taken Fulya's workshop!

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Popping the Improv Cherry

Yesterday evening saw me performing my first ever improvised solo. Only problem was... it was meant to be choreographed.

I was almost the last dancer on, so I had the entire show to fret myself up good and proper whilst watching an array of unspeakably talented people strutting their stuff.

Then I got onstage and my carefully polished choreo flew out of my head, leaving me 'hedgehog in headlights' in front of a hundred people, doing endless camels and almost at the point of tears. I have never before had such paralysing stagefright, and I never want to experience it again!Then I dropped my veil, which is something I haven't done in years, and something in my head went 'ping!'

I twirled around until I was in a position to casually scoop up the misbehaving prop, and spent the rest of the song just dancing. Don't ask me what, I can't remember. The photo evidence suggests there were a lot of spins. I recall barrel turns, cones, veil changes, champagne flutes, half-flipped turns, and a few more camels. There appears to have been some floorwork, and there's a 'beautiful' photo of me being eaten by my veil, which I guess is just an occcupational hazard when you combine silk and sweat.

I have no idea whether it was any good or not. It felt good, in a sort of 'zaar trance' cathartic sort of way. I smiled occasionally, but it's a sad song, so I get a free pass for the pensive/petrified expression. I got a good audience response, but there had been a lot of beer drunk by then!

All in all, quite the learning experience. Harsher lessons include the discovery that I look really, really silly doing what my teacher refers to as a 'teabag' (see picture). On her, it looks sassy and slightly cheeky. On me, it looks like Caspar the Friendly Ghost.

I also had a costume malfunction that involved my left boob making a slow but determined break for freedom out from under my bra, which a couple of people commented on. (Let it be known, dancers, you should always, always warn each other of such things, even if it's after the show. Costumes get reused, and you can;t fix a fault if you don't know it's there). And after five hours in my bag, my carefully ironed veil looked like a dishrag.

On the plus side I'm delighted to know that I can just 'get up there and dance', and that my natural response to forgetting the moves is to default to a core vocabulary until my brain starts talking to my hips again. I'm really happy that the hours and hours of freedance practice have paid off, and I'm particularly glad that I took the oft repeated advice to KNOW YOUR MUSIC.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Glamming Up and Catching Up

Since I have recently had the good fortune to be pimped by not one but two fabulous fellow bloggers (the The Belly Whisperer and Foxy Roxy), I imagine it really does behove me to put down the sewing for a moment and update, in the hope that the flocks of adoring fans that rush over here (hahaha) will have something to read.

I'm typing very cautiously today, as I've just painted my nails. I'm also leaving a trail of brown dust wherever I go, as my talented troupe mate Ruth practised her henna skills on me last night. The jury is out as to whether mehndi is authentic for dancers (FWIW, I am a huge fan), but given the hafla we're performing at is called Henna and Spice, it seemed appropriate.

As usual, it wouldn't be the day of a hafla if i wasn't still mucking around with my costumes as the hours count down. I particularly wanted to revamp my tribal bra, as the original design (purple ruching to an inch below the nipple line, accentuated with a row of crystal fringe) looked both home made and unflattering. F cup boobs don't need any assistance in looking droopy!

The updated version is below. I added an extra swoop of the purple material to bring the interest back up to the cleavage, and cannibalised a charity shop necklace made of dull metal chain and haematite beads to add interest and movement to the top of the bra and as a belly dangle. Total sewing time, about an hour!

To do list for pre hafla preparation is roughly as follows:

Go to town and check Primark for spandex vests (I have a new purple skirt i want to wear, but no belly cover. I am the queen of last minute costuming!)
Wash previously dyed hair and do thorough check for dye splodges
Put on eyelashes (this is a battle I usually lose)
Eat something (the nerves are not improved by hunger)
Pack each costume separately, ticking off each item as I go
Iron veil
Put batteries in camera