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2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 900 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 15 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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2015 is upon us and I sit in reflection on the past year. A significant part of my year was dance-related. Of course, as with all of our lives there are ups and downs, joy and pain and our dance practice takes place in the context of individual lives in a complicated world. Social media has a way of projecting a simplified and highly curated image, portrayed as an individual’s reality, into online communities, now such a big part of our ‘world.’

I’m not about posting every minute of my existence on social media (though I do enjoy staying connected online). I like to get to know people by asking them questions, by chance conversations and shared face-to-face experiences. That is most definitely how one finds out the details of my life.

That being said, I love writing about dance, almost as much as dancing. Translating a kinesthetic experience into words is fun for me. So if I do this with any level of skill, you will know some intimate details of my dance life through these posts.

2014 brought with it a variety of new dance experiences, most of which I have documented in previous posts. But some highlights:

1. The naming of a subsequently nameless duo with one of my favourite dance sisters and the longest standing collaboration in my dance journey this far. House of Shimmy became our name just before we danced with Random Order for their Black Lipstick Kiss release party at the beginning of 2014.

2. Being a priestess in the Ancient Rumblings production of Inanna at the Mod Club. It was the most elaborate dance project I’ve been involved with so far and was a truly valuable experience.

3. Completing the first ever Om Laila teacher training with Roula Said and beginning a foray into teaching other people bellydance. I did a flapper fusion series, which is close to my heart and I have put so much work into both bellydance AND charleston/vintage jazz over the past few years in order to fuse them, that it was a true labour of love to offer this series through Om Laila. Lesson learned: many people love to watch flapper fusion, few people want to know how to do it :) But those who do, man do they ever love it!

4. Performing with Serpentina North Ensemble at the Cues & Tattoos ATS/ITS weekend in Seattle. After attending the past few years, it was a treat to perfom on the Serpents Muse stage.

5. Dancing to Zephyr live (twice!) at the tail end of 2014. Beautiful live arabic music. I’m hungry for more!

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And in between all the ‘most memorable’ moments there are the day to day joys of dance that keep me going, keep me wanting more. Its incremental improvements, receiving guidance from and offering support to other dancers. Discipline and insecurity and pushing through discomfort. Being compelled to dance whether somoene is watching or not, and most of all its feeling music so intensely that listening just won’t cut it.

On a music tip, 2014 will always be remembered as the year I saw STEVIE WONDER live. Touching down in Toronto, with his Songs in the Key of Life tour, it was a truly once in a lifetime experience.  I will savour the experience of sitting 8 rows away from Stevie Wonder, with my love,  while Stevie performed an epic three hour show to an extraordinarily appreciative audience. Tears were shed, as we sat in awe.

These are the things I hope will continue into 2015, moving experiences big and small, mundane and extraordinary. I hope to keep a healthy body, solid in strength, unwavering in determination and flexible enough to bend, not break under life’s pressures. And music, always music, cause every life deserves a soundtrack. Happy 2015, I hope your soundtrack is as uplifting, melancholy, celebratory and complex as life itself.

Time has slowed down all of a sudden. Imagine that, just in time for December. Just in time for my body to say, “oh yea have a seat on that couch, drink some tea and read a book.”

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In dress rehearsal

The production of Inanna at Mod Club was a wonderful success, even with the surprize snow storm the day of the show. It was quite an experience to be on a stage with so many people: a full band, singer, other dancers and of course Inanna herself, played by Joanne Camilleri. The costumes by local designer Garnet Jones, were fantastic to perform in.

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Inanna: a Bellydance/Rock Spectacle. (me on the left)

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The buzz around the show is that people liked it and those who missed it wish it had run for more than one night. This has been an ongoing project of Ancient Rumblings so stay tuned, this is just the beginning for this production company. Being in the show makes it difficult to percieve how the show went from an audience perspective, so I look forward to viewing the production video.

In October I completed the ATS Modern Skills certification,  with Carolena Nericcio –the grandmother of American Tribal Style bellydance. We learned modern combos that have expanded out of the Fat Chance style of group improvised bellydance. Having studied ATS/ITS the past few years, I was reminded of how much I’ve learned since beginnging to explore tribal fusion and ATS, a few years into my bellydance journey, going to San Francisco to see what this was all about, attending my first SF Mecca Immersion. I did ok in the tribal fusion workshops but oh man did I feel over my head in the group improv stuff. In a workshop led by Carolena, I was one of maybe three dancers completely new to this practice and I stumbled my way through, still so excited to learn from this woman and knowing I didn’t travel all that way to half ass anything.  It was all so new, beginners mind was competely present.

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With the mother of ATS herself and Fat Chance dancer/teacher Mega

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Completion of ATS Modern Skills intensive with Carolena Nericcio!

And now maybe six years later, I have delved deeper into tribal fusion vocabulary, and enjoy exploring my own representation within music and movement. I have and continue to dance with Serpentina North Ensemble, and am engaged in the ATS/ITS community built in Toronto and beyond.

And now that the whirlwind  of autumn is done, a long awaited pause. An exhale in preparation for a new year. A nod to another year come and gone, and visioning what has yet to come in 2015.

 

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Its been a couple of months at least since my last post. Most of my creative energy has been focused on dancing as one of the priestesses in the upcoming production of Inanna: the Goddess Ascent from the Underworld. This is definitely thee most involved performance I’ve been involved in –other than of course the production of life itself. Since last January I have been learning the choreographies, studying the music and more recently figuring out how to dance in the beautiful custom costumes that are unlike anything I’ve ever performed in. And rehearsals, many hours of rehearsals each week…! But alas Inanna: a Bellydance/Rock Spectacle is only one week away. Get your tickets here. One night only people!

With only Inanna on the mind, I have taken a hiatus from other projects in the past couple of months (Serpentina, Sugar Shakers, House of Shimmy) to be fully engaged with and consumed by this show. I know this music in my sleep, and to the live band and vocals dancing is a pleasure. I’ve become more comfortable with a veil, isis wings, cane and heels during this process and of course learning the melodic, sultry choreographies of Joanne Camilleri has been a new experience for me. Guaranteed you

Everyone is working so hard right now and I’m looking forward to the dress rehearsal where we will get to run the show in the beautifully designed costumes!

MADAME SANDY PREDICTS YOU WILL BE AT MOD CLUB ON WED NOV 19th FOR THE PREMIERE OF           INANNA… SEE *you* THERE!

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My Flapper/Bellydance Fusion classes will be part of the upcoming specialty classes at Om Laila studio! The first class is Saturday Sept 13th at 2pm. More info at  www.omlaila.com.

This Saturday specialty class will feature Flapper/Bellydance Fusion. During this 6 week session, Sandy will share with you her passion for vintage jazz and Charleston and explore ways in which it fuses with bellydance. Marrying boisterous flapper footwork with the sinewy spirals of bellydance to a speakeasy soundtrack of vintage jazz music and electroswing, its a swell way for any sassy jane to spend a Saturday!

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In order to understand the dance one must be still. And in order to be still, one must dance. (Rumi)

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(Andre M. photography)

My favourite kind of sweat happens on a dance floor.  My second favourite kind of sweat is in a dance studio. Working on a choreography or drilling moves and combos in a workshop. Sweat  makes you feel like you’re really working on something, taking effort, pushing limits. On the late night dance floor, the experience is often more transcendent, cleansing and desperate. That point in the night where you no longer have a choice… a process has been put in motion and it simply must carry through for reasons not  entirely understood by the mind. But the body, yes.

The summer has been eventful, and the nice whether so savoured that I rarely want to sit at the computer long enough to write a post. Sugar Shakers performed at one of our favourite annual gigs: the Spadina Museum’s Great Gatsby Garden Party. We had a super enthusiastic crowd for our Charleston lesson, everyone dressed to the nine as usual.

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Toronto was the home to World Pride this past June and I was proud to perform once again with Serpentina at one of the local stages on the Sunday, as part of the annual ‘Bellydancers with Pride’ show. Here are the three of us who performed, donning our new harem pants. On the Thursday of Pride week, Serpentina was also a part of the Dorothy’s Walk west end pride celebration put on by Lakeshore LGBTQ, where we performed as part of a variety show. A few shots of us sweating our bindis off in the blazing hot sun.

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Recently I had the pleasure of being part of the audience for the Om Laila Steamy Summer Celebration at May Cafe. . With that special  blend of dance, zylls and arabic singing, like only Om Laila does it. Featuring a number of local dancers  and live music by Nomadica, the night couldn’t have ended better. A zaar, led by Roula. Oh man it had been a while but when the audience was invited to throw down, I kicked off my shoes and took off my rings (learned that lesson the hard way –so long delicate amber ring!) and got lost in the rhythm, hair shaking like life depended on it. Catharsis.

zaar 2014 may cafe

Updates on my current projects coming really very soon…til then, here are some things about town this weekend. Not all related to shows, just some neat stuff for summer(ish) city living.

Serpentina North Ensemble with live electronic set by Jim Boz and guitar by Justin of Amy’s Arms. This Friday at Neutral!

Info here.

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Hip Hip Hooray Cabaret –a new monthly belly dance and world fusion event. First one is this Saturday. Details here.

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Tiki Lani Lanai (tiki gods heavenly patio). Hosted by Toronto Vintage Society. I know you love this kind of kitsch as much as I do!

Details here

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Brunch at Lipstick & Dynamite. The new go-to place, its kitschy/vintage decor, good people and a new  Sat/Sun brunch menu…perfect  for a relaxing afternoon after a night on the town. Oh and pinball. Vegan-friendly menu, yes!

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Being barefoot is good for our health and good for our soul. Barefoot dancing rejuvenates the dancer in a way that dancing with shoes does not. There is a lot of talk these days about the benefits of being barefoot, commonly referred to as ‘earthing’ in a therapeutic context. If you don’t believe me, ask the internet. Even better, just take off your shoes and go for a walk…be your own expert!

Since I last posted, I have completed the first portion of teacher training with Roula Said at Om Laila in her wonderful  little studio that you can only get to through an enchanted little garden in the heart of downtown. Next I’ve moved into the practicum and have started with a small group of students who have so kindly been offering me feedback on my teaching. While I have taught some classes here and there over the years, I have never ventured into the world of teaching ongoing classes and its not specifically a goal of mine to ‘get into’ teaching. But over time more people ask me if I teach –often after a performance or during a conversation about dance –and I would like to develop these skills should opportunities arise. I have a particular interest in the therapeutic effects of dance, and am dreaming up ways to merge movement with some of my other interests in community-based healing work.

Being in teacher training with Roula Said is a special thing, we are the first group she has trained in her Seven Waves style and while all of us will have our own take on it and bring it differently into our practices, all of us are Om Laila devotees and there was no much love and engagement in this process, and though it was a small group, it was an attentive and inspiring one. And the practicum hours continue, as I reach out to groups and people who have stuck in my memory as expressing a love for dance or needing a movement practice of some sort as a way to remember fluidity in this hard world.

In other dance news, Serpentina has a new site and even some swag with the new logo. We have been selling the tank tops out and about, just message me if you want more info on that (various colours and only $15). Last weekend, Serpentina performed at the Lavish Project Gala Show, debuting our new kathak-inspired choreography. Under the guidance of Orkideh, our leader who has been studying kathak for years, we delved into fusions of bellydance and kathak –newer territory for those of us with minimal Indian dance background. The angles and mudras marry so beautifully to ATS, it was a lovely piece to work on with the troupe and as always so much fun to perform at the Darkside Studio.

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Since January, I have been part of the production Inanna, created, directed and choreographed by the beautifully sultry Joanne Camilleri. We rehearse our asses off every Sunday and that is soon to ramp up as we move closer to show time. Stay tuned here for more info, this show promises to be like no other, a sort of modern, psychedelic multi-sensory adventure into the story of Inanna –the Sumerian Goddess of Love. Here are a few shots of the dancers from the past couple of months…a super cool crew to work with that’s for sure.

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Dancing is such a deeply fulfilling and exhausting thing. Pleasure and pain, can’t have one without the other.

 

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