Bay Area Belly Dancer Invades Modesto Mall with Sword

Well, it wasn’t that dramatic, but you should have seen the looks on the mall security officer’s faces when I showed up at the Vintage Faire Mall in Modesto, California with my giant scimitar (sword).

I was there to promote my business, Belly Dance Brilliance Event and Wedding Entertainment, at the Party and Wedding Faire along with DJs, wedding dress shops, florists, photographers, wedding planners, and more.

One particularly interesting booth featured custom made bibs for the wedding party. The last thing you want happening at your wedding is spilling all over your beautiful white dress!  The owner, Sandi, of Bib 4 Brides provides a pretty solution to that problem.

Bib 4 Brides

Bib 4 Brides owner Sandi

Although the mall was alive with commerce,  many people were just passing by to quickly collect information (or free candy) before continuing on their shopping expeditions. I was a little concerned that no one would stay long enough to see my live belly dance demo.

I feel the best way to tell someone that belly dance is great entertainment for all ages is to show them! Many people (Americans especially) have only seen belly dance in a seductive context in movies like Continue Reading »

Wedding Entertainment: A Belly Dance Show for Conservative Guests

Vinasa Winery: An Italian Dream

If you haven’t visited Vinasa Winery in Sonoma, CA, you should definitely include it in your next trip to the Napa and Sonoma wine country. Seated on top of a hill looking the Sonoma valley, Vinasa Winery is constructed and decorated with a strong Tuscan theme that makes you feel like you are in Italy.

The Barrel Room, where Ali and Tara held their marriage ceremony, was beautifully romantic with soft candlelight reflecting off the textured walls. It was hard not to wander around the gorgeous winery when I first arrived, but I managed to enjoy the scenery as much as I could before meeting with the coordinator to prepare for the show.

Custom Belly Dance Performance Considerations

Combining families of Turkish and Scottish descent, the couple wanted to showcase authentic Turkish belly dance wedding entertainment that would be enjoyed also by the Scottish and American guests. With this mixed group of cultures and religions, Tara and Ali were a little nervous of possibly offending some of the more conservative guests, but after reading my customer reviews and watching some of my performance videos, they were comforted in their decision to incorporate the cultural experience and trusted me to put on a tasteful and professional show.

Sonoma wedding entertainment

Conservative belly dance costume for a wedding.

With the costuming being one of the biggest factors, I talked to Tara about options ranging from full coverage dresses to modest two piece costumes. To satisfy the conservative crowd as well as the Continue Reading »

How to Belly Dance in the Cold

Winter is coming and outdoor shows can provide interesting challenges for performing belly dancers. While it never gets too far below freezing here for Bay Area belly dancers, dancing during a northern California winter does require special consideration. Outdoor performances are popular for holiday parties and usually allow for the most space so everyone can see the belly dance show.

1. Always warm up
You should be warming up before shows anyway, but when the temperature drops, it is even more important to get your muscles warm before performing. If you are a surprise performer hired for a birthday party, make sure to let your host know that you will arrive a little early to spend some extra time warming up. Jumping jacks, shimmies, running in place, and some dynamic stretching are all great ways to warm up. If your are a surprise performer, make sure to put your belt on last if if has coins or tie your veil around the coins to dampen the sound. You don’t want guests outside wondering what that “jingling” noise is! For ideas on dynamic stretching, check this video out:

2. Dress for warmth

Coordinate a bolero top with your costume.

Even with your stomach exposed, you can dress warmly for an outdoor belly dance performance.

  • Wear layers of harem pants with multiple skirts to keep your legs warm. If you harem pants are opaque, you can even wear tights or long johns under them!
  • Wear shoes! Dancing on cold concrete is terrible for your foot muscles. Wearing shoes will keep your toes nice and warm, allowing for better balance.
  • Wear your hair down. Long hair has its advantage in the winter by keeping heat on your back. Have short hair? Wear a wig or tie a scarf around your head, letting the tails hang down your back for warmth.
  • Wear long arm bands. Stretch velvet is very warm. Better yet, a bolero type top you can wear over your bra is another great way to keep your back, shoulders, and arms warm.
  • Wear a body stocking or stomach cover. Mostly made of sheer stretch material, they keep a little heat on your bellyCoordinate a bolero top with your costume.
  • Wear a baladi dress for even more warmth. Opt for stretch velvet over thin spandex.   
    Special tip: Avoid wearing costumes with coin drapes on your bare stomach. The metal coins keep very cold and will be constantly on your skin. brrrr!

3. Use zills with caution
Have you ever played finger cymbals with cold, numb fingers? Loss of finger control leads to off tempo and terrible zill playing. If you plan to play zills, make sure to use them within the first one two songs while your hands are still warm. Bring a hand warmer pack (sold at many outdoor stores) to super heat your hands right before starting your show.

cold belly dancer
Brrrrr! It is cold out here!

4. Re-think your props
Swords will be very cold to touch. Make sure you are at least aware of that before doing a balance trick on your stomach or hip! Maybe tossing around a thick veil isn’t such a great idea in the cold as it stirs up more cold air to remove the heated air layer around your body.  Consider your audience too. They might be in coats, but might not appreciate being fanned by your veil. Tone down your veil use or at least direct your air disturbances away from yourself and the audience.
Special tip: Some outdoor performances will have tall space heaters in the way. Make sure to not let your veil touch one of the lanterns or you will soon be warmed by your flaming veil.

5. Know your limits
Keep your sets short. Breathing cold air is hard on the lungs and keeping your muscles warm will tire you out more quickly. Your audience will also appreciate not having to stand motionless in the cold for long periods of time. Instead of admiring your dance skills, they may start to wonder just how blue you are going to turn!

Have you had a cold belly dance performance experience? What did you learn? Share it below in the comment box!