Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Let me tell you a secret: I hate goodbyes. I hate to leave someone or something because of inevitable priorities. I am someone who's attached to the past and when I love someone or something, unless there's a turn of events, I'll stick to that someone or something until the death.

That explains why I almost invariably order vegetarian fried rice and either mineral water, iced tea, or iced lemon tea whenever possible.

When I resigned from my *ahem* 9 to 5 job of three and a half years in early 2009, I cried so hard at the end of the 15th year anniversary party of the company I worked for. The last event I helped organized.

I left my job to prepare my *ahem* studies abroad. During the preparation, I got so engrossed with dancing and the first The Dance Within that I missed the admittance deadline.

But this year, I was prepared. Or... rather *ahem* more prepared. I'm leaving for San Francisco on January 5th, 2011. It will either be for six months or more. I'll definitely be home for Christmas if everything goes well.

Going away for such a long time means leaving dear friends, colleagues, and students I've come to grow with over the past years. It's been such a privilege to be able to also learn from them.

When I return, I will not see some of them ever again. Some of my students are foreigners and they will have to come back to their respective countries when I'm gone. And one of my colleagues is getting married and staying abroad to settle down with her husband.

I have resigned from the studios I worked at, teaching Oriental dance. My last class will be on Thursday, 30 December 2010.

A little Christmas gift and several farewell presents, and that... that really makes me sad.

But somehow, though I feel emotionally down, there is also a hint of hope that I will come back and teach again. And there's also this little budding feeling that everything is on its perfect timing. I'm on that path, the path that will lead me to the place I want.

In San Francisco, I will become a full-time student. There's a zilch chance of me joining a troupe (student visa only, lack of time management skill, and most probably lack of talent).

And then, there's always another goodbye there. And hello again Jakarta, some time after.

And that... that hello makes me smile.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

room for improvement and the midas touch

I love dance and I love the stage. That's why I always try my best to watch dance performances.

And yes, that includes dance performances and events from other dance schools and institutions. There are always things that can be noted to be applied or avoided. Second-hand experiences are sometimes just as good and even better than first-hand.

First, the factors that are not related to the dancers: building (location, facilities such as toilets, parking, climate control), stage (stage floor, curtains, lightings, sound and sound system). Surveying a place is one thing (going to the backstage to see if the backstage capacity is enough to accommodate the cast and crew), but looking at the place in action is another.

Then the dancers: costumes, music, stylization, blocking, mood, stage presence.

I've only been dancing for three years. I still consider myself a baby dancer. And I learn from anything and everything. Youtube. DVDs... But a stage show is something that I always crave and covet. It's an opportunity to learn from someone else. To take the positive things and leave the negative things.

I had a chat the other day with Monique. Some of the things that we talked about included taking lessons from other teachers and seeing the shows. Monique has tons of dancing experiences, that's why she "had the nerve" to open a dance school along with Misya and Mifta. They have been dancing for years and decided to give it a go and created Dancewave Center.

But Dancewave Center is not the only dance institution in Jakarta. And the Western dance scene (Hip Hop, Jazz, Ballet) is also flourishing in big cities such as Palembang (West Sumatra), Bandung (West Java), and Surabaya (East Java). And so, it is really exciting to have dancers from other cities dancing with us, even as students.

These places offer dances and some are the same with Dancewave Center (Hip Hop, Burlesque, Bollywood, Oriental and Tribal Fusion bellydance). So why not also learn from those places as well? We encourage our students to always learn from anywhere.

And they do. They enthusiastically gobble up Youtube videos. They go to dance workshops. They attend dance recitals. They note down things that appeal to them and things that don't and they share them with their classmates and teachers.

When I was in school, our teachers also said the same thing: Do not just learn from books at school, but expand your horizons, learn from sources that are not given to you, seek your own sources of information.

Of course I didn't do that because I was not interested very much in learning things at school. I was always an average student.

But in dance, it suddenly makes sense.

Oh, and about seeing the shows from other dance schools, it doesn't matter if you're the owner or creative director or general manager or CEO or whatever from a dance institution or company, by attending a dance show, aside from the fact that you can learn a lot of things, it also shows your support to dance.

You see, it's not about competition. It's not about personal feelings or pride. It's about something bigger than that.

It's about dance.

If you want dance to be respected, you need to appreciate and support it. Do this by attending the show. Especially if you have nothing better to do.

If you're really creative and gifted, you can even take some of the negativity from the performance and turn it into something gold. Like Midas.

I know I still have a lot of things to improve. One of them being my posture. Balancing something on my head does great things to it, but years of slouching can only be fixed with making good posture a habit.

And I had a most unfortunate wardrobe malfunction. I have a love/hate relationship with safety pins. I know some great dancers do not endorse safety pins, but sometimes they greatly help.

And in dance, it's all about the posture, the stage presence, the PERSONA: Posture, Energy, Refinement, Stamina, Ornamentation, Nerve, and Attitude.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

a note to videographers and photographers

Dear Photographers and Videographers of dance recitals (or any event),

You are the last threshold of all dancers, cast and crew. It is your work that will be used as THE ONLY remembrance of that moment under the spotlight.

If the performance is only once, then it's not you that's screwed. It's the dancers. But if we're going down, we're taking you with us.

That great moment under the spotlight is shared by all dancers on stage: fat or thin, curvy or twiggy, male or female, physically blessed or challenged.

Everyone deserves to be photographed. Imagine if you are one of the dancers and there is no photo of you. And yet, you are the choreographer of the piece, or worse: you are the dancer who always shows up on every single, painful rehearsal without excuses.

If you are unsure about what kind of photos the other photographers take, ASK! It's more than irritating to see that all the photographs are taken from the same angle, and all close-ups. No full-frontal group shots. Or vice versa.

Show up during rehearsals. It's the best time to actually find out which moments are the best photo-moments. It will make your portfolio more interesting. Dance is the art of movements. And it gets better with props. It's one of the most challenging things to take picture of. So use it to enhance your photography skills. That's if you're serious. This is also applicable to videographers.

Videographers of dance... Ah, your skill is the most crucial as you will capture the motion itself and immortalize it for the dancers and everyone else interested in seeing the recording for whatever reason.

This is the ONLY RULE IN VIDEOTAPING DANCE: TAKE A FULL BODY SHOT. Dancers are interested in seeing everything to learn from mistakes (if any). To re-learn intricate steps and correct posture and body alignments (if wrong).

If there happens to be another video camera, then you can play around, WITH THE CONSENT OF THE CLIENT. I had the most unfortunate video where I had Lilith balanced snugly ON TOP OF MY HEAD and only MY FEET were shown.

And when you are combining footage from multiple cameras, please, DO NOT BE GENEROUS WITH THE COMBINATIONS. It is okay if the three minutes from a three-minute-thirty-second song is only from one angle, one camera. It might be boring for you, but YOU ARE NOT A DANCER. If you happen to be a dancer, you will know what I'm talking about.

If you don't, well this is why: Dancers are interested in seeing everything to learn from mistakes (if any). To re-learn intricate steps and correct posture and body alignments (if wrong).

Sounds familiar? Of course. It is cut and pasted from a paragraph a little before this.

That being said, I'm glad the photographers and videographers for this year's The Dance Within 2: Beyond the Dream are so much better and well-informed than last year. Well, especially the videographers.

Monique and I just learned why editing could be so costly today. We edited the two-hour show (and more, whatwith backstage preparation and the aftershow mingle shots) in eight hours. It is a very painful and tedious experience, but Mr. Wawan from OneStudio Jakarta was so very patient with all our whims and wishes (and downright madness).

20 pieces of chocolate biscuits. 10 digital video tapes. 9 hours of footage. 10 hours of nonstop editing. two crazy bitches. one depressed video-editor. one computer.

One final masterpiece umm... thing that we can really be proud of.

The DVD of "The Dance Within 2: Beyond the Dream" will be released soon right before Christmas 2010.

Friday, December 10, 2010

bollywood enchantment

Several months ago, I believe it was the beginning of 2010, I went to Nehru Center, the Indian cultural center, to fulfill my New Year's resolution: to study Kathak.

Nehru Center is ridiculously near my house. And I had always wanted to expand my dance repertoire. So away I went. I had been making phone calls earlier, but decided to just go. The registration fee was next to nothing and so I thought, "Wow, this is a great bargain!"

I told my friends from Dancewave Center and velvetRAQS to join, and finally, Monique, Mifta, and Yulia came on board.

Alas, work overwhelmed me and I missed lots of classes, and when I got in, it had become awfully hard for me to continue. I had to let it go.

In the end, only Yulia and Monique stayed. Yulia even got to perform with the teacher!

To tell you the truth, I've always been a fan of Bollywood movies ever since I was in primary school. Probably because of John Abraham. Okay, so I just spent fifteen minutes searching for the hottest, yet SFW (safe for work) pic of John Abraham, and I found so many that I'll just give you this link. And yeah, it's SFW, despite its warning.

But another more definite reason is because of the dancing and singing and the wide-angle shots and the gardens and the glitters and the sequines and the saris... When it's happy, it's bursting with colors and joy. When it's sad... It's dark and gloomy. Everything is full of drama.

Many of the best dance scenes aren't from Moulin Rouge or Chicago or Step Up series, but from Bollywood movies. (I'm not even going to mention Nine because everyone knows it's godawful.)

The real Bollywood dance, as the name suggests, is a blend of traditional Indian dances (I'm thinking the likes of Kathak, Bharata natyam, and Odissi), sometimes with the more modern Bhangra, and almost always with Hip Hop and Modern or Contemporary. It is either danced in a pair, or really epic.

For The Dance Within 2: Beyond the Dream, since the story revolves on dances around the world, Bollywood is on the list. I found a really neat song called "Aaja Nachle", one of the songs from a movie with the same title, starring the incomparable Madhuri Dixit. Just so you know, "Aaja Nachle" means "Let's Dance", so it's really apt for the show. Yulia then choreographed the dance and I could finally do one of my lifelong dreams: to dance Bollywood style.

There was a time when I got so depressed: I wanted to dance Bollywood, but I didn't know how. Everytime I tried, it looked too Oriental and I didn't want that. I wanted it to look Bollywood. I guess that night, our hard work was finally paid off.

The Dance Within 2: Beyond the Dream
"Aaja Nachle" piece in The Dance Within 2: Beyond the Dream.

Bollywood can be cheesy if the choreographer and the director demand it to be so. Bollywood can be over the top if needed. But I'm telling you, it takes more than that. In the show, the piece was danced by both Hip Hop and Oriental students and teachers of Dancewave Center. I heard one Hip Hop student said the dance we were learning was so damn hard that she would never look down on Bollywood movies ever again.

Amen to that.

The shoulder movements are different, the way we carry the movements are different, far different from Hip Hop and Oriental. I found myself trying hard to adjust to this new thing. But still, it is one of my favorite pieces of the show.

There's an Indian wedding gig coming up on the 26th. The client requests two Bollywood songs and one Oriental. Let's just hope we can really entertain those real Indians. One thing for sure: I wouldn't be wearing the dots above my eyebrows as usual when I'm dancing Oriental / Tribal Fusion.

Photo by Si Troy.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

creative juices

Call me an amateur in web-design. Call me whatever you want. I've been designing webs and blogging since 1998. That's been what? Twelve years? But I know we can't judge skills and abilities from the period of time wasted used on doing something.

Last night when I was sorting some four friggin' thousand (that's 4,000) photos from The Dance Within 2: Beyond the Dream, I found some really neat images I could play around and voila! In less than ten hours (yes, it was that long), the new Dancewave Center's website is up and running.

The screen shot.

I live in a house with somewhat little privacy. My parents never allow the children to have television in the bedroom. The TV (and dining) room is where we all meet and talk about the day's work. Sometimes it annoys me because I really want to just watch the television.

I have a laptop and my home is wi-fi enabled so I can bring my laptop to my room and do my stuff. But I really love working with my desktop since it's faster and the monitor is bigger. My desktop is situated in an area in the house with no partition whatsoever. So sometimes the noise from the other rooms reach my ears when I'm doing something.

After years of suffering adapting to the situation, I've become quite nocturnal. I appreciate the silence and stillness of midnights and early mornings or when my family is away. Don't get me wrong, I love their companionship. I'd go crazy without them. But I also like a time of my own when I can put on my headphone and create a choreography in 30 minutes (albeit a simple one).

Ah, Amr Diab... You sexy beast! I can't believe he's 47!
This is the song I'm talking about. It was sitting in my library for months and then one night,
I was listening to it and the inspiration hit me.
It left me sweaty and breathless and my juices running like the Japanese bullet train.

I rarely blog during the day, let alone write an essay or a poem. And since night is the only time I have for myself, to reflect and to think, I didn't have the time to blog about anything in November due to the rehearsals and practices and sewing.

No, I'm not trying to make an excuse as to why I've only written ten (eleven with this one) entries up until now and 2010 is almost over! And no, I'm not trying to write something random just to make it look like I'm being productive. *sigh*

It's really... I don't know... liberating to be able to write something that's almost not related to dance in this blog.

I think now that I can focus on other things in my life (more stressful than managing a dance performance), I can write more. Hopefully tomorrow evening.

Don't forget to check out Dancewave Center's new website, guys!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

of dance and dreams (and manners in watching art performances)

First of all, let me just say that I thoroughly enjoyed Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Partly because of this scene below where Harry and Hermione dance to relieve the tension. That's such a propaganda coming from me, I know. But dance does things, and one of them is relieving stress.

harry potter hermione grange deathly hallows dance

And I almost cried three times during the movie, something that never happened during any of the Potter movies. And Beedle the Bard really makes me understand why many people think JK Rowling is a genius. I can't wait to see the conclusion!

Now, on to some notes regarding The Dance Within 2: Beyond the Dream that was finally wrapped on November 27th, 2010. The show took place in Gedung Kesenian Jakarta and was the culmination of the hard work of all cast and crew. More on that later.

One thing that I have to highlight is the fact that you have to be prepared for replacements (dancer, crew, etc). Our music technician got ill just a few days before the show and thank goodness the replacement did the whole thing just as well.

I know it would be another thing to replace a dancer, especially the lead dancer, but fortunately that didn't happen. It would be a lot harder because that means compromising many things, including artistic vision.

That being said, honestly, this year's recital leaves a somewhat different impression on me. Everything happened so fast. Last year, I had the opportunity to watch other numbers from the side when I was waiting for my turn. This year, it was all about costume changes. I danced seven numbers with different props that were new to me (cane and Isis wings). And I had to spend the last minutes before the end of the show as a blind-mute.

Honestly, I was worried about my sword routine. Lilith fell so many times during the rehearsal, and she even cut my fingers and palms at one time when I tried to catch her. But I guess I did an okay job as she didn't fall although I was practically blind when dancing in the show.

Unlike The Dance Within, The Dance Within 2: Beyond the Dream is a lot more gloomy and depressive. Yes, there were quite a few happy highlights like the Bollywood number, but in all, I felt gloomy. I played Azrael, the Angel of Death, and in the end I had to kill The Dreamer, the main character. Although the finale took place in Heaven (with "When Love Takes Over" by David Guetta feat. Kelly Rowland, no less), I still feel it was less festive than the first.

The Dance Within 2: Beyond the Dream
The cast, in the finale scene.

Gedung Kesenian Jakarta did a pretty good job with the lighting. We had positive reviews from the audience and from members of the media who attended the event. There are some inputs as well that we need to share during the post-mortem meeting.

But this is what got me on my nerves: the ticket was sold out a week before the show. We even decided to sell the tickets that were intended for the press when they said they wouldn't come. Some people were actually waiting to the very last minute to purchase the tickets. I even took the time to deliver the tickets myself and there was more than one time when I was ready to deliver and I didn't receive any confirmation message whatsoever. So I sold the tickets to someone else and got complaints from the person who was supposed to purchase them first.

I hope next year I won't have to deal with that.

The next thing I'd like to blog about is manners in watching art performances in theatres or art centers.

The first one is of course: do not be late. Dancewave Center has the habit of starting things (quite) on time. The Dance Within started 15 minutes late and The Dance Within 2: Beyond the Dream started 7 minutes late. That was an improvement. Whoever came in fifteen minutes after the first act had begun had to wait until the intermission to be allowed to enter.

The second one is taking photos and videos. Holly Hallelujah... We've specifically told the audience on the ticket, the flier, the playbill, and the voiceover that taking photos and videos are prohibited. We stated that IN TWO LANGUAGES! And yet I still saw people with handycams videotaping the event. We should've confiscated that. It was very, very rude. I promise you, next year, the security will be much more strict. When we say no video and no photo taking, that means no video and no photo taking.

The third one is: READ THE PLAYBILL!! It's theatrical, and sometimes it's not that easy to comprehend what's happening. The playbill helps you to understand the dances and the story-line. Come on, even in Ballet, the playbill serves as a guide to understand the story.

But apart from that, our audience was the loveliest. I sat sandwiched between two very talkative groups (in front of me and behind me) during Bellydance Jakarta's fifth annual recital. And to make matters worse, the woman in front of me kept leaning to the right to talk to her friend during the show, and she raised her hands to take photos of the dancers. Now that was downright rude and inconsiderate.

And oh, this is the best part: thank you, whoever brought small children and taught them to behave. I didn't hear any crying babies or children during my frightening dance.

Our audience dressed well. That was one highlight. Although I couldn't help but notice a foreigner, who happened to be a hip hop dance instructor from another dance institution in Jakarta, sitting with his CAP ON and his FOOT UP on the back of the chair in front of him. This was after the show ended, I know. And he has long legs and Gedung Kesenian Jakarta has little leg room, I know. But come on, Dude. I thought you knew better.

The Dance Within (1 & later 2) has always been about the culmination of hard work from everyone. I believe that's why we refuse to open (or end) the show with a speech and giving flowers or some other type of ego-fest. We were just glad everything was over and we did all the best we could. And the effort was everyone's.

I can't wait for The Dance Within 3.

Photo credits:
Lilith & me by Diana T. W.
Cast finale by Si Troy

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

the dance within 2: beyond the dream

It feels only like yesterday that Dancewave Center worked on our first annual recital: The Dance Within and garnered praises from audience and media alike. It feels only like yesterday that I could finally say I had done something worth while in my life (I co-originated the idea of The Dance Within and chaired the whole shebang... Of course I couldn't have done it without my team and the brilliant resources outside the team).

This year... Well, let me tell you about the whole thing. But before that, I gotta stuff my face with ice cream. We've been practicing at least 5 hours straight and my legs are on fire. I need happiness.

... After a few spoons of Chocolate Haagen-Dazs ... I feel so fresh and ready for... ADVENTURE!!!! Flapjack style. (Did you know that the amaaaazing Dan Cantrell writes and plays the music for The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack?? I think I'm in love...)

Now... In case you forgot, The Dance Within was shown on Saturday, November 21st, 2009. This year, we're going with the November tradition again and found an empty slot in the historical, vintage, and prestigious Gedung Kesenian Jakarta on Saturday, November 27th, 2010.

Dancing in Gedung Kesenian Jakarta has been my personal obsession. Well, I know that many people in our team also share the same obsession cum ambition. So this year, we're gonna do it. We're gonna follow the footsteps of great (and serious) artists before us and perform in the hopefully-not-haunted place *worried giggles*.

Dancewave Center aims to provide dance education to everyone, regardless of social background, race, age, sex, size, sex size, sexual orientation... We're like the utopia of dance! Not all kinds of dance, though. Dancewave Center specializes in Hip Hop (East Coast, West Coast, Korean, and derivations such as Krumpin' and Burlesque / Sexy Ladies), Oriental (Cabaret & Folkloric), Tribal Fusion, and just very recently, Bollywood.

Like last year, the challenge is to put all these dances in a show, but not just a mesh of dances, they have to flow and follow a storyline. These dances have to become an integral part of the plot. What makes The Dance Within unique was the fact that it was presented theatrically with a strong message: nothing can stop us from dancing (external forces).

After feeling lost for a few months and desperately trying to come up with a story, I thought about someone who actually loves dancing but can no longer dance. The first drafts consisted of a gypsy fortune teller and a genie, but we scraped those off. The later drafts (that were approved) simplified the whole plot. I worked with Monique Chai to finalize the story. This year, the dancers will deal with the internal forces, the things that stop them from dancing (or whatever their passion is). And thus, The Dance Within 2: Beyond the Dream is born.

The Dance Within 2: Beyond the Dream

Here's the offical story:

The Dance Within 2: Beyond the Dream tells the story of an ailing dancer who lies in comatose, suspended between dream world and limbo. In the dream, the dancer travels the world and sees dances from different cultures, even dancing in some of the dances. Will the dancer wake up, recover, and dance once again? Or will death embrace the dancer?

With The Dance Within 2: Beyond the Dream, the dancers wish to remind the audience that sometimes we have to stop and evaluate ourselves and do what we are really passionate about, before everything is too late.

Scary, isn't it?

Yours truly here will not, I repeat: NOT, be playing the main character (The Dreamer). We had an audition for the part, all students and members of Dancewave Center were welcome to audition, and we chose Pasha Praz with his wicked contemporary number to dance. It was... needless to say, heartwrenching. He's our Dreamer, with dashed dreams.

Not only will this dance-theatrical show present a myriad of dances from around the globe (Dancewave Center will be collaborating with guest stars to bring the art of Indonesian Traditional Dances such as Jaipong and Papuan dance, Capoeira, and Wushu), it will also feature a vast of songs. I'm mentioning the likes of Michael Jackson, Beyonce, Elissa, Cheb Mami, Saltillo, Filastine, Lady Gaga, and loads others.

Tickets are only Rp. 120,000 (VVIP), Rp. 100,000 (VIP), and Rp. 85,000 (Balcony). Part of profit will go to charity (like we did last year). Early bird discount is 10% (ends October 24th, 2010) and bulk purchase (3 tickets or more) gets 20% discount. Click here for further information and seating arrangement. Call / send a message to 0811 93 99 06 if you have questions or ready to order.

As of this entry is written, the tickets are selling fast. LIKE HOT CAKES!!

Friday, September 24, 2010


I love jewelry. I really do. Ever since I was a child, I'd whine and whine and whine until Mom (or Dad) would buy me a certain ring or a brooch. I was in love with Amethyst and purple stones mostly because of the short-lived action comic.

Ironically, I never thought that my fingers could be decorated with rings. I could never wear brooches to school (not to an all-male Catholic school!). And so, many pieces were lost, long long time ago. Although, I've retained two pieces: Two Amethyst-tinted glass brooches from Smithsonian (it was the age of paper catalogue. Yes, I am ancient).

From July 25th, 2010, I've decided that I would wear black nail polish and my fingernails and black eyeliner & eyeshadow whenever I go out (except to dance classes). My boyfriend supports this look, although Mom said by wearing make-up everyday, it would make my stage make-up look not special.

This new look, combined with the heavy influences I get from FCBD-ATS and Tribal Fusion in general and Gothic Fusion in particular (although I think I'm more drawn onto ATS), allows me to wear my costume jewelry (rings, some of my bracelets and cuffs) whenever I go out lately.

In FCBD's 20 years of performance DVD that I got last year, in the commentary by Carolena Nericcio, she mentioned the pair of monstrous spike cuffs that she'd found and wore to all kinds of performances. At that time, I didn't feel moved by the spike cuff. I was satisfied with my collection of mostly ethnic / silver-colored cuffs and bangles. I wear these to performances everytime I do Tribal Fusion pieces.

About two months ago, I didn't exactly know why, but I was browsing TribalLine again after a long while since Lilith and decided I was rich enough (yay!) to purchase more cuffs. And I fell in love with a gorgeous spiked cuff. I e-mailed Merilyn, the owner of TribalLine, and she replied saying that it was already out of stock. I was... I had mixed feelings about this, just as I usually have when I failed making a purchase or a concert of someone I truly anticipate is cancelled. I got disappointed, but I was happy that I could still save the money for something else.

But something kept telling me that I needed spike cuffs! I just gotta gotta get, at least one cuff!

And so I did. I did my research and finally decided to order from
Tribaltique.nl. The price they offered for a spike cuff was USD 20 LESS than other stores. And that was significant. Besides, the shipping fee cost almost next to nothing, and so I ordered one.

Waiting was of course the hardest part, but I finally got it. Because I was worried that the Eid would mean no one and nothing worked in Jakarta, I had it sent to Bali to my boyfriend's house. I became quite a nuissance because I kept pestering him, asking if it had arrived or not. It took forever to arrive and it finally got there just the day before he left for Jakarta.

My Collection of Tribal Bellydance Jewelry
My very modest collection of Tribal Jewelry. I think I missed a ring here.

While I was looking for the right bracelet and the right price, I stumbled upon several sites that talked about the history of spike bracelets. Mine (in the picture, it's the one with green stones, interlaced with the white big shell armlet) is Pakistani (or so I found out) and is made out of metal, most probably gillit (brass, nickel, mixed with old coins). The inside is hollow, so although it looks big, it is actually not that heavy.

I found something that made me struck out, "Of course!" and duly commented on how stupid I was (as usual). Spike bracelets were first worn by ethnic tribes (Berber, Kuchi, Pakistani, Rajasthani, Afghani, even Indonesian tribes such as the Batak in North Sumatra) for self-defence purposes. Women wore these to protect themselves. That also explains the spike rings or any kinds of heavy rings, with or without stone. Now that would pack a mean punch! Ouch.

But another thing is... When laid flat, a spike bracelet or cuff will resemble the sun (the spikes being the sun rays). How cool is that?

Some tribes, such as the Ouled Nail tribe, sew coins on their clothings. This is not only to display their wealth, but to make it easier for trade purposes (imagine going through all of those coins in your purse). Same thing with jewelry: they're not just intended for decorational purposes, but also practical. And in the case of heavy, solid, or spiked cuffs: self defence.

You just gotta love history.

For further reading, please click here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

can you really do bellydance at the gym?

"Bellydance is a strenuous activity. FatChanceBellyDance and their associates will not be held liable for any injuries that may occur from use of this video. We thank you for using common sense and suggest that you consult a physician regarding any concerns you have."

That important piece of disclaimer always greets me whenever I open up FCBD Tribal Basics vol. 1, 4, 5, 6, and 7 to drill on ATS. Buy the videos here.

And you can see that type of advice coming from all over the place: from instructional DVDs by the likes of Bellydance Superstars, IAMED, Suhaila Salimpour, Sadie, and Veena & Neena to workshops (at least those I've been).

A muscular and join stretches and warm-up follow after that.

Apparently, bellydance can be quite challenging activity that it needs a disclaimer and a session of stretches and warm-up (Sharon Kihara used no less than 45 minutes to drill us with warm-up yoga poses and glute work to improve our technique).

Sharon was a student of Suhaila Salimpour. Suhaila's a lifelong endorser of using your glutes for a lot of benefits such as sharper isolations and better shimmies. It works for me!

The gym was the first place where I got tangibly introduced to bellydance. At first it was hard to even master camels and mayas, but I eventually got the hang of it. And after two years, I could share the very basic steps at the gym, by being an instructor.

And through my teaching experience that's well over a year and my own gym and fitness experience (ugh! I really hate to call it that, but yeah, I've had my gym-freak days), I managed to find a way to make an hour class become survivable. I may not be the greatest teacher and I've had my share of both boosted-ego and humility regarding the sizes of my class.

My longtime teacher and now dance partner, Ms. Miftahul Jannah, has a very good stamina and a loyal fanbase. She can teach up to three classes at the gym in one day (where it's indeed more exhausting) and on Saturdays, she drills all of three levels (Introduction, Beginner, Intermediate) at Dancewave Center.

And as for the fanbase at the gym, well... It surprised me to know that she actually knew what a certain class wants and it can be totally different to another class. She caters to the want of the majority of the group and the group loves it.

As she's gone away for two weeks, I'm substituting her, and I almost fainted. Going from class to class, fighting the godawful traffic jams, sweating and getting muscleaches sometimes feel unworthy of the sweet, sweet paycheck at the end of the month. But again, after a while, I kind of got the hang of it and now I feel so much healthier when I have to wake up at 5:30 in the morning to susbtitute her early class.

Bellydance, like other physical activities, have both benefits and dangers. It can benefit our body if done correctly, and if not done correctly, it can cause permanent damage. One of the ladies in Ms. Mifta's class suffered from skoliosis. Ten years ago, she could not even wear high heels. After dabbling with Pilates and then Yoga, she said she felt a lot healthier, "corrected", even, although still far from normal.

She also said that whenever she does the lateral figure eights, she had to elongate her spine more to not feel the pain.

Ah yes, the beauty of meeting and teaching people is actually not the things you can teach them, but what you can learn from them. And this lady, a dentist, has taught me another valuable tip that I can keep in my tip jar to distribute to my fellow dancers and students along my dancing life.

Another thing that she pointed out was the fact that I always tried to remind them to use the muscles, never the joints, to do the movements. For example, when doing hip bumps (or hips on the ups, hip hits, whatever the terminology) let the glutes and the obliques do the work, not the knees and let the muscles take control. Putting too much strain and pressure on the joints can be really bad. The muscles should be conditioned to help the joints work, and honestly, bellydancing can be a somewhat mild (and uplifting) exercice to condition them.

My shool of thought is definitely not the classic Egyptian (read: Raqia Hassan and the likes). In Sonia's (of BDSS) Drum Solo DVD with Issam Houshan, there's a short documentary about her travel to Egypt where she took private courses with local teachers, one of them was Ms. Hassan. Sonia said that she was not used to the hip shimmy where the movement originates from the knees. I didn't quite get it at the moment, but it all made sense to me now that I am able to hip-shimmy while sitting down and driving: my type of hip-shimmy comes from the hips and glutes.

To tell you the truth, my hip-shimmy is definitely much better when it comes from the hips and glutes, not the knees. How else can I kneel while shimmying if the movement comes from the knees? But then again, I think to each his/her own.

But let me tell you something, contrary to the belief that somehow gets popular, bellydance does not require pot belly to dance to. Some people prefer the dancers petite and curvy, some wiry, some fit and muscular, some voluptuous. As long as they are healthy and can do bellydance (Oriental, Tribal, a good fusion will blow me away), why not?

And contrary to another contradicting belief, bellydance will not burn away your tummy fat. The flab will still be there if you only do bellydance for your physical activity. You will not achieve flat and gorgeous tummy without a proper diet, a proper sleeping pattern, and a hell lot of proper activities. And that's a bunch of sacrifices. Cameron Diaz has an enviable set of abs and I don't think she bellydances. Shakira's fit but doesn't exactly have the six packs and yet she dances. And don't get me started on Brad Pitt's washboards.

But can you really do bellydance at the gym? Well, yeah. It is a physical activity that offers a way to trim down a bit of the calories, tone your muscles, work on your flexibility (that, by the way, depends very much on muscular awareness and conditioning), work on your body coordination (head, hands, feet movements, etc). If you're lucky the instructor can give you an insight or two about Oriental (or Tribal) bellydance.

Then again, it's the gym. Some classes prefer to have sweaty work out, some classes prefer to do in details, some classes prefer to have a choreography in the end. And there are gym instructors who are willing to explain things without worrying about being labeled as boring, willing to sweat off with the members just to show you the right movements and go all the way with them, willing to share you tips to make the end choreography look much classier and more Oriental instead of Burlesque, and what to do with your arms when you turn, and share the meaning of the lyrics of the song you're dancing to.

Some instructors at the gym will not teach you how to achieve the Tarab, but come to think of it, neither will some dance instructors at respectable Oriental instutions.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

drunk dancing doorglass dork & cool husbands/boyfriends/fiances of bellydancers

Things have been going on quite nonstop this past week. We had "1001 Nights", our second annual hafla last Sunday at Club O1, that featured not only Dancewave Center Jakarta's students of Oriental classes but also Desi of the Orchid and Aiza of Malaysia, bringing drum solo number and crazy-isolation-wicked-layback-drop-precise-with-every-beat-drum-solo-Tribal-Fusion respectively. The show was opened by Dancewave Center Jakarta's students of hip hop and sexy ladies classes who totally rocked the night.

I created and taught a choreography to students of beginner class. It was a veil number to "Tamally Maak" by Amr Diab. You know, these girls learned fast. Veil can look good but it's also not that easy to master, and these girls did it in less than two months and I'm rarely proud of anyone, but I have to say, I almost cried with joy when they did the dance sooo gracefully (and ALMOST flawlessly... HAHA).

Beginner Class - Veil Number
Asih, Inez, Tari, Yuka - Dancewave Center Jakarta's Beginner Oriental class students,
dancing with American Oriental with veil to "Tamally Maak" by Amr Diab.

And then the continuous general and private classes. One private class got postponed and frankly I was quite relieved because had it not been cancelled, I would've spent a long day driving from one place to another.

I substituted my teacher, Ms. Mifta today, teaching three classes at Dancewave Center Jakarta, all new choreographies for our end-year recital on Saturday, November 27th, 2010 in Gedung Kesenian Jakarta. Yes, we've paid for the building, so it's ours. Make sure you come!

Ms. Mifta had an afternoon show today at a birthday party. And we met later in my house to go together for an evening performance. It was a housewarming party.

The really nice hostess offered us drinks, you know, wine and champagne and all, and I said I didn't drink. She jokingly said, "You don't drink? Wow, you're such a no-fun!"

I got drunk once when I was still a wee lad (19 years old, which was... quite a long time ago). And I hated the feeling. I got sleepy but my mouth didn't stop talking and I kept doing stupid things. I didn't fall on the floor and couldn't get up, though. But I just slurred and babbled.

And then I became the designated driver whenever my friends and I went clubbing (I rarely club anymore because of the smoke and, ahem, old age), so I don't drink because 1) I get drunk easily and 2) OMFG, do you know how much a tequila shot costs? Or any booze costs?? And it doesn't even taste good!

They dilute the sweet wine during eucharists at church, and even I get drunk on that small dose of diluted wine!!

And so we danced. First a duet, then continued with me doing veil solo, Ms. Mifta with her drum solo, and lastly us, with zills, freestyling and getting the crowd up to dance. And tonight, the tip was so good. Yeah! I can use some to fix my desktop's broken monitor.

We danced at the poolside and after the last dance, we... Well, I hurriedly went inside to change. I was sweating like hell. And I was almost running that I didn't see the glassdoor and my head met the glass with a loud bang.

Yep, my forehead and my upper right lip just crashed into the glass. Thank goodness it was a thick one (the glass that is) so it didn't shatter. Imagine, a dancer breaking a glass door, A NEW GLASS DOOR, after dancing for a HOUSEWARMING PARTY.

Everyone laughed, I laughed, and just said loud, "Oh, wow, it was sooo clear that I didn't even see it. You guys must have really good maid!"

So much for diva moment.

And so Ms. Mifta went home with full belly (they didn't provide vegetarian meal so I had to be content with my iced tea) while I came home with a bloated right forehead. Well, not forehead, I hit my right brow bone.

And I still have an early class in the morning and an evening solo performance at the Four Seasons Jakarta for a wedding. I could sure need a break.

And an assistant.

Mr. Udin, Ms. Mita's fiance (and all around cool husband-to-be of a bellydancer) almost always comes with us to help with our shows - well, that is whenever Ms. Mifta is dancing too. And he gladly accompanies her to watch haflas and recitals from other institutions, giving objective and valuable feedback from an "outsider" and "client" point of view.

He helps with carrying the costumes and our make-up compartments, sets up the music, giving the cues, handing props (he handed my zills this evening), and takes pictures.

Well, this entry is also meant for the guys - the male significant others of ours - who have helped and supported us a lot: Mr. Anton Ireng - the fabulous photographer, Mr. Udin - the all-around-guy, Mr. Danang Joko Panuntun - MY all-around-guy, and Ms. Inez Kath's husband (?) who always supports her and comes to every one of her performances.

Oh, and "1001 Nights", Dancewave Center Jakarta and the velvetRAQS were featured on Jakarta Globe's Saturday/Sunday, June 12/13, 2010 edition. Go here to read the details.

Good God, I could sure use some rest, right now. Well, laterz!!

Monday, May 10, 2010

make-up forever

I can understand why there's a brand of maquillage by that name. For some people, it's like an obsession. For me, well... I'm a dancer! Make-up is like our second nature. The problem is, I have a feeling that I'm going to take it even further and start wearing it on everyday basis, using a more subtle look, of course.

Of course you know that the only problem I'm talking about begins with an "f". Yes, it's "financially". However, I've managed to sneak-in a few splurging tips for you guys. This will be really helpful if you live in Indonesia.

Eye-shadow base: instead of MAC Cosmetics, use La Tulipe. It's way cheaper (Only Rp. 20,000 or around USD 2.00) and works great with eyeshadows of all brands. MAC's eyeshadow fails to bring out NYX's colors.

Eye-shadow: instead of MAC Cosmetics, use NYX (available in La Piazza Kelapa Gading and eX Plaza Indonesia). It's much cheaper (Only Rp. 80,000 or around USD 8.00 for a single eye-shadow), the color really pops out (especially when you use La Tulipe's base) and it does not do animal-test.

If you're not allergic, you can use PAC by Martha Tilaar. "PAC" sounds like a rip-off from "MAC", but it actually means "Professional Artist Cosmetics", and it lives up to its name. It's way cheaper than MAC and yet the colors really show.

Youtube channel of danalajeunesse - the Mama of Make-Up.
I subscribed to her channel and swore by her look (and awesomeness!!)

I am not allergic to The Face Shop products, so I use its blemish-free foundation, concealer stick, eyeliner (brush tip only, though. They don't have felt-tip), some eyeshadows (really, really shy colors, very street-look. But the colors pop up a bit when I used La Tulipe's eyeshadow base), lipstick, facial soap, cleanser, make-up cleansers (for face and eyes+lips), and hair gel. It's not too pricey.

As for brushes, I'm more of a sponge person, so I don't normally use brushes except to do blushes and shades. You can find great (and original) brushes from a store called "Arwani" in Pasar Baru Harco, Central Jakarta. They also carry an impressive line of cosmetics, from false eyelashes (even the "creative" ones) to basic skincare products.

When you're in Arwani (or Pasar Baru), try to find products by "Nonna". It has a good line for blush colors, but that's it. If you want to do colors for your eye areas, use NYX.

Now, some advice. For the sake of being politically correct, I have to remind you that you might have heard some of the advice, and I'm just a newbie in all this, but take this with a grain of salt. I mean, we learn everyday from plants, animals, and people we consider naive anyway.

The first thing I look when buying cosmetics is their stance in animal testing and animal cruelty. Most of the times, I'm a huge supporter of PETA (although I sometimes think they can be sexist in their campaigns), so before going to the mall / market to buy things I need, I will do some research that includes going to CaringConsumer.com. If the brand name is not on the list of companies that do not test on animals, then I will google it up.

The second thing is that I prefer local / Indonesian products to international products. Not just because of the price, but also because I know it is important to buy the products of your own country. For example, the La Tulipe. And then many of my friends recommend eyebrow pencil and face-cream by Viva Cosmetics. I'm seriously not a big fan of the Indonesian Batik, so I do my own part in another way.

The third thing is of course, your skin. Love your skin! Cosmetics can hide your flaws, but it's nice to look good even without maquillage. Not to mention a lot healthier. I mean, let's face it. Make-up is chemical, whether you like it or not. Except if you pinch your cheeks and rouge it up that way. That's natural, but you can also get skin problems. See a list of dangerous ingredients here.

For now, the brands that I use are: La Tulipe, PAC, MAC, NYX, The Face Shop, and Revlon. I'm not even certain that I'll continue using The Body Shop now that it is owned by L'Oreal. I've checked and double-checked Revlon and still found that it's on both lists that is against and pro animal testing.

If you have any information of La Tulipe, PAC, and The Face Shop regarding their animal-testing policy, do let me know!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

on taking workshops (and being stupid)

One thing that most people hate about taking workshops is that they will look stupid in front of other people. Again, for most people, it's okay to be stupid in front of classmates (except for me. I'm *that* competitive). But workshops, especially a regional one like the Bellydance Festival Asia that I recently took, could be challenging in that you get to learn to dance with other dancers with varying degrees of intelligence.

I'm a bottom-feeder, nuff said. And by saying that, I mean to tell you that I am reallly stupid in classes, especially when doing steps and all.

Sharon Kihara corrected my "tribal" posture. I HATE doing ATS postures (because my muscles would burn!!) but after awhile, I kind of get used to it. I took three classes with her (the killer SharK as I called her because she made us all do a one-hour of yoga for warm-up and that nearly killed all of us... but I found neat stuff!).

She said something that I will cherish for the rest of my life, "We are bellydancers, that means we're athletes, and dorks." Hear, hear (especially on the dork part)!!!

I took two classes with one of my heroes, Elizabeth Strong. Bwaaaaaaa... She's just so... I really wish I had her toned arms and abs and attitude! We learned the Turkish Rom fusion (so cool!!!) and she added gorgeous jazz steps and postures to it. Something that I normally wouldn't do, but okay if I find a flirty song that I can dance to. And the Traveling Tribal class was so neat (I could finally do the Suzy Q with maya stuff that SharK taught in the class the day before).

The Haremqueen dancers (the organizer of the Bellydance Festival Asia) did a "Road to Bellydance Festival Asia" pre-event, the velvetRAQS danced there and we got a free two-hour class. I chose Bollywood Fusion with Heather Aued. OMYGOD. That could most certainly be one of the most fun classes I've taken in years! Deer hands! Lotus hands! Steps and positions! I gotta start taking Kathak class at the Indian Cultural Center near home.

With Elizabeth Strong
With Elizabeth Strong after the Traveling Tribal class. Picture taken by Flory (an Oriental teacher from the Philippines)

For the closing night on Sunday, we were treated with outdoor buffet-style dinner and a dance-theatrical show by the Bellydance Evolution. It rained just before the show ended... *sigh*. It could be more gorgeous, though. I didn't move when I watched Elizabeth Strong dancing with her scimitar, Sharon and Kaeshi working it out Tribal fusion style, and Kaeshi dancing with a tray of candles on her head, and doing floorworks on wet dancefloor (yes, the rain got there too).

After the Bellydance Evolution show
Soaked-wet after the Gala Dinner & Show.

But the most fun night was the Saturday night we all went to Khaima, a middle-eastern eatery in Seminyak. I asked my boyfriend about it and initially, it was only going to be the two of us, but I asked the other girls if they wanted to join, and they all tagged along.

It turned out to be one of the best nights of our lives. We danced with the Yamina, the Australian Oriental dancer who also took the workshops at the Bellydance Festival Asia and won 2nd prize on her Bellysamba Fusion at the Gala Dinner. Yeah! We also danced with Ika (?) the house dancer of Khaima (who also took the workshops). They were so fab. We got two free drinks and two desserts for dancing along.

With Yamina at Khaima, Bali
At Khaima, picture taken by... was it my boyfriend?

During the Gala Dinner, the emcee announced that there will be World Bellydance Festival next year. So... I guess I'll be coming back to Bali, huh?


Shout-outs to: Deasy (Indonesia), Yamina (Australia/France), Sahara Dancers (Indonesia), Crystal & Flory (The Philippines), Allison (Australia).

That's one of the best things about taking workshops. You get to meet other dancers and be friends with them.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

velvetRAQS: the professional bellydancers

This entry marks the cyber birthdate of the velvetRAQS and this blog having a new label post: velvetraqs (doh, what else?). Okay, so the second one is probably a lot less important than the first one. *rolls eyes*

Now let me tell you a bit about the velvetRAQS.

The velvetRAQS is the one and only Jakarta-based bellydance troupe that specializes in American Oriental and Tribal Fusion bellydance styles.

Our repertoires include flashy usage of veils, Isis wings, zills, and scimitar, with very distinct floorworks (yes, I'm proud of our floorworks) and theatrical presentation.

Another thing that makes us stand apart than most other bellydance troupes is that we actually know what we're doing, we have (quite) an extensive knowledge of songs and range of movements. As for the costume and our dance styles, well... You be the judge.

The website itself will feature a one-of-a-kind on-line store that will ship to anywhere in the world, but especially all around Jakarta and Indonesia. Plus there will be a resource center with articles that will hopefully be helpful to other dancers and those looking for enlightenment to the dance.

I'm sooo excited! Yeah!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

cowries, cases, and creative chaos

Oh, whoa... I'm doing two posts in one day! In less than one hour after the earlier one was posted! How unthinkable.

Anyway, yeah. About a year ago when I was really new to the whole Tribal thing, I found a really cool link at LiveJournal. It was a cowrie-shell hairfall tutorial. I was in love with cowrie shells. I mean, there's something that's just so... Shaman-y of them that draws me. Not to mention that somehow, when being strung together, they look like a spine. Pretty creepy, huh?

But the tutorial seemed so hard and I kind of forgot about it.

A few weeks ago, I remembered that I had bought cowrie shells like a long time ago and remembered the tutorial and went to search for it. I mean, I didn't want my cowrie shells to go to waste. They'd been sitting there for almost a year then.

I found the tutorial again (click here... but omigod I don't know what happened but the pictures are gone!! Maybe I should notify the girl, huh?) and tried doing it and now I'm officially addicted to weaving cowrie shells, both for hair falls or other adornments. I even made one (well, two) for Lilith.

Oh geez, you know what, I'm still thinking how lucky I am to have found the tutorial just in time before the pictures went off!

Anyway, finding cowrie shells in Jakarta is rather hard. I mean, I used to get really nice big ones from a store in ITC Kuningan called Violetta. The store also sells really cool beads. I'm now friends with the salesgirls and the owner and they always give me good bargain! Violetta is on the fourth floor.

So one day I went to Pasar Pagi Mangga Dua with Alex. Half of the third floor sells beads and steel clasps for shoes and belts, and oh my god, more beads and paillettes and shiny stuffs!! I found a really good bargain for cowrie shells here (I forgot the name of the store, I'll need to get back to you on that). It's like a whole bag of cowrie shells and it only cost USD 4. Neat, huh??? Too bad the sizes of the shells really vary so I need to pick the shells and arrange them based on the size.

Another stand-out store in Pasar Pagi Mangga Dua is Istana Payette (Paillette Palace). Everytime I went there, I always splurged! It's not my fault! They have really cool Indian (although modern) accessories that you can use to adorn your belt, bra, etc.

For the wool, I went to Lenny's, a really neat store also in ITC Kuningan, 2nd floor if I'm not mistaken. They have all kinds of wool. Glittery(I bought gold), synthetic, etc. I got a big bundle of wool for USD 2.

If you're looking for peacock feathers, pheasant feathers, boa, etc, I think it's best to spend your money in Toko Renda (available in Plaza Indonesia and Senayan City). A peacock feather costs only USD 1 in Toko Renda yet costs USD 1.5 in stores in Pasar Pagi Mangga Dua. UPDATE (December 17, 2010): Toko Renda (at least the one in Plaza Senayan) somehow stops selling the big, big peacock feather. Only the small, blade-like ones are available. So if you want nice, big peacock feathers, go to Pasar Pagi Mangga Dua.

So here they are, the results. I'm really addicted to making them that I might do this for a living!

Photobucket Photobucket
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(From up left to bottom left, clockwise or up to down: a blue-gold cowrie fall for a wristlet, a red-black cowrie fall for Lilith, and long black cowrie hair falls)

Now everyone who's been to my house will notice that in every place I spend a long time in, there'll be a mess. When I was still working in a cubicle, my cubicle was the messiest, most chaotic place in the whole office. And I was working in a hotel.

I needed boxes and cases to store my needles, whole and cut-out-don't-throw-me-out-just-yet fabrics, scissors, beads, clasps, cowrie shells, tweezers, etc, and luckily, Alex and his mate gave me a nice can of chocolates. And what's so nice about it is that there's not only the tin can, but also two bags used as the package for the tin can. Neato!!

So here it is, my being cheap and recycling.

Photobucket PhotobucketPhotobucket Photobucket
(From up left to bottom left, clockwise or up to down: The chocolate package, the peacock-feathered hairfalls go into the tin can, the little and not-so-delicate beads go into the tulle bag, and everything is stuffed within the black cotton bag for easy and safe travel)

Mom gave me a really cute shoe box (is glittery pink) and she told me to store away all those beads and lead a cleaner life.


a shiny sword is a happy sword

Oh, man, this was supposed to be done in JUNE!!! As in, June 2009. Oh, and happppy new year!! I wish you all the best for this whole year of 2010.

But yeah, maybe I should wait a little (as in more than 6 months) to actually write something like this.

I met Lilith almost a year ago through Triballine.com and I'm going to share with you the way I clean and dance with her. I've been doing this for almost 8 months now and she's still in good condition. So I think whatever I'm doing actually works for her and me.

I'm really new when it comes to dancing with a sword and there're things that I think are really helpful to keep the scimitar balanced.

Tip #1: Don't get a haircut too close to the performance.
Or if you do get a haircut, don't cut your hair too short. I love a clean, spike-haired look, and it works for me. One time I got a crew-cut and Lilith tended to fall off when I balanced her on my head and did the spins. The hair, even without hair wax, really hold the sword.

Tip #2: Smooth and silky hair is... smooth and silky.
And steel (or metal... or almost anything else in the world) tends to slip more easily on smooth and silky surfaces. How to not get smooth and silky hair? Easy. Don't rinse your hair for at least two days. Again, I've the advantage of being a guy so it doesn't matter. Some of my dancing sisters have really long hair so I know that'd be really inconvenient for them if they had to give up shampoo for two days.

Tip #3: Wax.
So you just washed your hair and suddenly a friend of yours called you right when you were just drying off. He wants you to do a sword dance to entertain his clients in a posh middle-eastern eatery. Don't fret, don't panic. Just wax the balancing part of the blade. Rub a candle on that part or, for a better grip, get the wax used by surfers to rub on the surfboards. I don't find this in stores in Jakarta, but if you happen to be in Bali or in other surfing paradise in Indonesia, go buy two. One wax can last for at least 5 years, though. Or so I think. I recommend a brand called Sex Wax.

Sex Wax
My boyfriend bought two of this for me. The copy on the packaging is just sooo cheesy!

Tip #4: Work those muscles!
I've been doing crunches, push-ups, back-ups, balancing poses with Lilith on my head. The exercises not only form a deeper tsahaylu (I can't help myself... I'm such a James Cameron's "Avatar" freak. Tsahaylu is "bond" in Na'Vi language) between Lilith and me, but she also acts as a weight, therefore creating a more challenging routine. And of course, what's a crunch, push-up, or back-up but a form of floor work? Oh, and balancing a sword on your head is child's play once you master the isolation techniques. Try balancing it on your hip, palm, or fingers, chest, shoulder, of course while manipulating the scimitar and doing movements at the same time.

Like this video here.

Okay, so I know she's doing a double sword routine, but oh my God, did you see how she handles those things? Amazing! I mean, she's not just balancing them, but she's also making those scimitars as the extension of her body. I notice twirling the sword like a cane, I notice spinning and doing barrel turns with the swords like doing double veil, and other powerful stuff.

Now that's sick.

Tip #5: Leather makes rust.
Lilith came with a leather scabbard. Never put a scimitar in the leather scabbard and store it that way. It'll rust faster. The scabbard is good to carry the sword (it covers the sharp edge and the pointy end). I'm saving my paycheck to make Lilith a really nice velvet carrier.

Great. We've that one covered. Let's move on to how to clean your scimitar.

Lilith is a Balady Sword, a smaller version of the Cas Iberia Sword. The blade is stainless steel while the hilt is of brass with a wooden grip. It is shiny and it grips really well. It is rather heavy, though, like 1.3 kg (try putting that on your head), so it's a good work out.

Here's what I do to her.

Step #1: Take off all adornments.
I embellish Lilith with two shelled opals, back to back. And there's a hole on the end brass knob on the hilt that I use to tie in short cowrie shell accessory (I'll put up the picture in my next entry). Take off whatever adornments you put on the scimitar to get a more thorough cleaning.

Dark Opal

Step #2: Spread metal cleanser.
I use KIT Metal Polish Cream. I spread them on the blade and later on the brass hilt and knob.

Metal Cleanser

Step #3: Wipe clean.
A soft towel will do. A harsher towel will help clean off harder stains such as wax residue. I use a really soft cloth to make sure I don't scratch the blade when wiping it.

Soft Cloth

And there you have it! Three simple steps to clean your scimitar! Happy dancing!
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