belly dance


Geri at practice, with some palm torches

My fingers are crossed for nice weather tomorrow… Lux Arati will be performing at the Rotunda as part of the Poet-tree EnMotion series. We did a gig for the series last year, and it was a lot of fun. The location is beautiful, and our set was nice and casual. We were supposed to have drummers, but there was some sort of family emergency, so a few people grabbed some things to bang on- it was a little bit all over the place and tough to dance to, but still fun.  This year we’re a bit more organized, and I’ve told pretty much everyone I know in the Philadelphia area about the show. Which means I’ll actually know quite a few people in the crowd. Eeeep! Time for stage fright to kick in! I’m really excited about it, though, because we have a nice line-up. Its a mix of fire and non-fire, solos, duets and group pieces. We’ve got our intensive practice tonight, so I hope the rain holds off. Another fun bonus? We get to use the new speaker thing that I bought for the troupe… its pretty awesome. Basically like a guitar amp on wheels, battery powered and iPod friendly. We’ll have to test how loud it gets tonight, but I think its going to be really great for our shows. Definitely relieves the “Where the hell is our music supposed to come from?” anxiety. Now we’ll always have a backup ready! So yeah, if you’re in Philadelphia, come on by! Its a free show, in West Philly at the Rotunda. We’re set to go on around 8:30 or 9. It’ll be fun!

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So glad that Lindsey got these photos. Its rare for us to all end up in the same costume at the end of the night, with a beautiful location, to boot! What’s not to like? (Click the link above or here to see the post over at our Lux Arati website.)

Of course it was raining. Of course the stage was slippery and our fuel dump was on stage, the spin off area directly behind the performers. Yes, also on stage. Still, the performance must go on! Here’s our whole-troupe fan finale. (The full set is here– fire fingers, hoop, staff and palm torches.)

Pouring rain at Cabin #1

Months of practice. Sewing costumes, organizing multiple acts, choreographing till brains went numb, multiple near-break downs… the girls all put their damnedest in. All for naught. That massive storm that took out the power for over 2.1 million people and took the lives of at least 15… yeah, it shut down our stage Friday night from about 9:30 on. We were all told to secure our camps and seek shelter. Our little camp (me, Michelle, Tim and Dave) hung out in Michelle’s car, watching the storm. I’ve never seen so much lightening. The rain wasn’t really that bad. It knocked down our tarp, but it was a fairly easy fix and our tents were well staked and stayed dry. Some other campers weren’t nearly so lucky. Its been a while since I’ve seen such incompetent pitching. One guy’s unstaked shade structure flipped completely over (surprise, surprise). Another never staked his rain fly, and half his tent crushed in, the poles bent. Overall though, I’d say damage at the campground was minimal. Our show though? Cancelled. There was a 30 minute slot on Sunday night, but Jen didn’t want to cut anyone for the show. So it was re-scheduled for Sunday night. Maybe. From looking at the schedule I’m not sure where it would fit. I still don’t know if they ran anything.

I never stay through Sunday. Two days is about all I can handle at this event, and this year was particularly rough. Like the rest of the East Coast, Darlington MD was experiencing a massive heat wave. 90 degrees at night. Humid, sticky, stagnant. Pounding music all night. “How’s your PEX?” and people partying… Tim, Dave and I are all reluctant PEXies for sure. Chris asks why I go. “The fun part is our performance on Friday night.” I respond. Without that, the whole weekend felt like a chore. Michelle and the rest of the girls performed an awesome dance before the effigy burn (as Setu Tribe) so that was good to see… but I just couldn’t even pretend that I was going to have fun at any of the DJ tents. Perhaps if I felt more comfortable free-form spinning I could’ve had some fun in the spin jams. I need to work on that, because it would give me a good way to participate in these events. As is, though, I know my choreography, and just kind of freeze up other than that. Watching some of the performers was interesting, and I’m inspired to work more on my stage presence. But I just couldn’t stay through Sunday night with only a possibility that we would be performing. I wanted to be home. Chris had a real rough week at work the past week, and I wanted to spend time with him. If I had stayed I wouldn’t have really seen him until Wednesday (work all day, Softball/dance after work… Wednesday would be the first night we’d get to spend time together).

Can’t get this at PEX

And I did have a lovely day with him. We went to the farmer’s market as soon as I got home (I felt like a dirty hippy… such filthy feet!), then the coffee shop and later ate ice cream and watched cheesy sci-fi movies. A really nice Sunday. I also ran into a colleague when we were getting lunch who talked about bringing me in on a really great project. If I hadn’t been in Philly, I wouldn’t have run into him and who knows if that connection would have been made. (I’m being vague because he hasn’t confirmed anything yet, and I don’t want to jinx it… and its a very exciting piece I can’t wait to work on!)

As great as my Sunday was, though, I’m heartbroken that I didn’t get to perform. Part of me wanted to stay through Sunday and finish off the show, but there was no guarantee it would actually run. We all worked so hard! I’m sure the folks who were in more than one act were even more sick over the whole thing. Tim built a huge roulette wheel that was tarped over for the storm and taken down Sunday morning. Some of the acts were from out of the country (we called them the “French Mafia”… I’m super disappointed I didn’t get to see their piece) and others from all over, so likely won’t be able to perform even if we can reschedule something in Philly. We’ve got to do something, though, even if the show line-up changes. Anyone have suggestions of where to perform a 45 minute or so multi-act fire show? Outside stages that we can rent or events looking for performers? Fire hoopers, double staff duets, a fan troupe, an awesome burlesque number and more… and hopefully before Burning Man becomes the focus and takes the majority of our performers out to the desert.

Turkish vest back patch

I’ve been meaning to make more patches for a while. I made the original one pretty easily. I wanted the letters to be green, so used the inside part of the stencils. I’m pretty happy with how it came out. So were the rest of the girls. Cue- more patch requests! Its been on my to-do list, and the theme of this week is cross-off, cross-off. After some website coding this morning (sent out some cover letters with a link that changed when I updated my site… OOPS!) and some work emailing, off to make patches. Hours later… still making patches. So here’s the thing. The first patch was done with fresh stencils that lay quite nicely against the fabric. Not so much the second time around. I did two rounds of not-so-great results before I decided to cut the letters out of tape. Yup, cause I use my skills in the best way possible. Let me tell you, cutting some packing tape with kitchen scissors is probably not the most clever way to do this project. Perhaps contact paper? Or laminate stencils with some spray glue? Lately I’m all about using what is on hand, though, and I wanted to bring the patches with me to practice tonight.

An absurd amount of patches

So, stencils done, and I have at least one good patch for each girl, plus a few dodgy extras. Now, off to pick up some extra lamp oil before practice and to the b-ball courts I go!

Well, that’s not really true, we ran errands all day. But I felt like being lazy, so does that count? Not without cause, though…. I didn’t get home until almost 4 am last night. Hello nap time……

Ferris Wheel in the rain

Friday was our performance at the PEX Heartburn party.  The party took over the Electric Factory, complete with a heated outside tent and Ferris wheel. Members of West Philadelphia Orchestra were there, playing in the hallways and outside, basically wherever they could fit.  There were some bagpipe players (with a drum) wandering around as well. They were pretty funny to watch on their breaks, lots of looking around and “How on earth did we end up here?” on their faces. Inside were a bunch of different themed areas, with DJs and aerialists and other general party happenings. The fire spinning area was outside, near the Ferris wheel, with a small open area to watch from inside the tent.

hiding from the rain, under the truck

Originally scheduled at 11, our performance slot got moved to 1:30 in the morning. The weather report didn’t look very good. Alternating between freezing rain and snow, yippee! Sure enough, it was raining the whole night. And very very cold. Our fuel dump area was underneath a big truck, and we had to be careful to make sure all the props stayed nice and dry-ish. The one good thing about the rain and cold? It turned everything into such confusion that the performance was completely low stress. Cause when everything is already going wrong, how bad could it possibly be? It was the first time I wasn’t shaky going “on stage”. Perhaps because there was not stage…. it felt just like our rehearsals, with a bit more hooting and clapping. And the fan bit that I’ve been crazy anxious about?? I didn’t drop them!! They were super hot, perhaps because of the humidity, but I still ran through the whole routine without freaking out. Yay! Tim got some video of it, so once he gives it to me I’ll be able to see how well I did with the actual choreography, but as far as the performance… felt pretty solid to me. Or, as solid as fire spinning in a wet parking lot in front of a huge truck in the freezing rain can be.

Aerialist in the main room

rainbows on the ground, anxious look on my face

We have a performance coming up. With fire fans. Which I’ve practiced with on fire a total of three times. Yeah, I’m more than a little anxious about this. The tough thing is that it is difficult to practice privately with them on fire. Despite my performance history and the fact that I’m in a dance troupe that, well, performs, I’m actually incredibly shy. And hate Hate HATE being watched while I do something I’m anxious about. Add to the fact that when I hold the fans my mind totally goes blank and all my dance auto-pilot moves seem to escape me… very tough to practice.

I was planning on heading to NJ last weekend to celebrate Tom’s birthday and see Jen & Andrew’s new place. The snow & ice put that plan on hold, but thankfully so. When I got the news early this week that we’d be performing, I knew I had to practice, on fire, in as much solitary as one can practice fire. What better place to wave fans of flame in the air than the sticks of Jersey? I got some fuel (lamp oil), and asked my Mom if she’d help. All we needed was some duvetyne and we’d be set. After some back-and-forthing of schedules, I finally managed to get some from Chip- awesome. He gave me some great pieces that are perfect. Too small to really use on set, just right for putting out flames. (Chip, once again, you’re my hero!) Meanwhile, Mom borrowed a bag of it from the prop-shop. I really consider myself lucky to have so many friends and family members who are resourceful!

fire fingers

Mom and I ventured outside, with a fair amount of trepidation. I think she was really worried that she’d have to put out big flames, and concerned about doing her job as safety well. After lighting up in the backyard, we both took a look at all the leaves by my feet and decided moving to the driveway would be a much smarter idea. So move we did, and I waved the fans around, not quite sure what to do, and still absolutely terrified of spinning them. A few burns later, once we were both much calmer, Mom started helping me with dance form, and soon I was spinning… not quite like a pro, but not nearly as scared as before. Arms out in dance posture, elbows bent. Shoulders back. Don’t lean forward into the flames, stand up straight. Don’t look at the fans. Shoulders back. Arms out.  I dropped them many times, but Mom never had to rush forward with her duvetyne. Tom got anxious about the trees, but the whole practice proceeded without incident. I even lit up the fire fingers… amazing how they are so tame in comparison! Smaller wicks, sure…. but the whole idea of not having to spin them and not worrying about dropping makes them easy-peasy next to the fans!

Oh, and the birthday dinner that was re-scheduled? Not too shabby! We went to Riley and Jake’s, a recently re-opened spot near their house. Much better than the decor would lead you to believe!

Mom's seared tuna salad

 

 

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