Archive for April, 2013

Celebrating Beltaine!

It’s still April 30th here – my mom’s birthday, too.

April’s showers have given way to rich and fertile earth, and as the land greens, there are few celebrations as representative of fertility as Beltane.
Observed on May 1st, festivities typically begin the evening before, on the last night of April. It’s a time to welcome the abundance of the fertile earth, and a day that has a long (and sometimes scandalous) history. Depending on your tradition, there are a number of ways you can celebrate this Sabbat.

*Go Maying. One traditional way to celebrate Beltane was called Maying, which meant to stay out late or all night gathering flowers in the woods and fields. Young people often met in the woods at this time and would bring back the flowers they found.

*Make May baskets. If you have fresh flowers, fill some baskets for festive decorations or to leave on the doorsteps of friends and neighbors.

*Build a May pole. While May pole dances can get quite complicated, the basic idea is to set up a tall pole (traditionally a tree trunk) with many long streamers attached near the top. Dancers hold these streamers and dance in both directions around the pole, interweaving with the dancers going the other way. This causes the streamers to get woven around the pole until they get quite short and the dance ends.

*Celebrate Beltane by feasting on fresh fruit, wine, chocolate, edible flowers, honey, spring greens and other indulgent foods. This is possibly the most appropriate day of the entire year to do so.

*Have a bonfire. In some areas, Beltane fires traditionally burn all night. There are also traditions of jumping over the fire, especially while holding the hand of a loved one, in order to ensure luck in the coming year.

Check out this page for great recipes!


A few weeks ago – three, actually –  we hashed out a schedule for rehearsals. Rehearsal being time – not in class – when the troupe members can dance together.
Rehearsal time is time to plan ahead – not just for the immediate future, but for the further-out performances. It’s time for troupe-mates to actually practice dancing together.

Rehearsal night, in my head, should be mandatory. We, as a troupe, need to be familiar enough with each others’ dancing that we can anticipate movements. It’s truly important that we not only know the songs we use, but also each other.

Our classes are Wednesday and Friday. I have my Orientale class on Thursday. Performances are usually Friday or Saturday.

I really wanted rehearsal  night to be Monday or Saturday. Unfortunately, due to the student troupe member’s family schedule, those days wouldn’t work. She wanted Thursday, but I already have class that night (plus, that’s one of hubby’s only nights off). So we picked Tuesday.
KCDC performance troupe would meet 530-630, Sohalia Tribal (the student troupe) would meet 7-8.

The first week, student was super late. She showed up at 7:30.
Last week, we called it, because she was out of town and I had hockey tickets.
Tonight, she just didn’t come.
Apparently, she wasn’t aware that we had a performance on Saturday. I know we talked about it in class. She got the Facebook invite (and selected “maybe”, which means that it has been on her calendar). And we talked about it when we made the schedule. She does’t recall any of that.

Fortunately, we’re going to be revising the student and troupe guidelines to make it very, very clear that rehearsals are required.  And that performers MUST be at the rehearsal the week of an event. You miss it, you don’t dance.

This behavior is pretty typical of her. She’s fairly indifferent about things.
She shows up to class late… and performances, too.
She hasn’t taken level one in months, and it’s important to keep taking it so that you can go back to basics and hone those skills.

I give her some lee-way, though, because she has kids and has to work around her hubby’s schedule. She has a part-time job repping chocolates, but that doesn’t really take her away from dance things.

Now… I get it.
Not everyone is dedicated to dance.
I am super-dedicated to dance.
Tasha is super-dedicated.
Student is not. And it’s frustrating.

When we get more students, it’s going to be frustrating for them. It’ll also be a distraction, and a bad example.

I have a feeling some shit is going to go down.
Tasha’s ready to boot her from the troupe. And I know she can tell that Tasha is upset.
I feel anxious about it, but change needs to happen.

A beautiful poem by Eleanor Farjeon.
Thanks, Elfkat, for posting this!



Adventures and Musings of an Arch Druidess

Saint Bridget

by Eleanor Farjeon

Part of a series of poems on saint’s lives and because I have been lax in my flamekeeping.

Saint Bridget she was beautiful
In feature and in deed
And she would give the world away
To anyone in need.
It was enough for her to know
Of beggars at her door
That women starved and babes were cold,
And ragged men were poor.

Saint Bridget gave the world away
And cut her golden hair
To dwell beneath the Holy Oak
Men speak of in Kildare.
The stick she put her lips upon
Broke straightway into flower,
The sunbeam in her greenwood cell
Lingered beyond its hour.

Saint Bridget laid her beauty by
That earth might leave her be,
And God bestowed it twice on her
Till angels leaned to see.
‘Look, look! There goes the loveliest one
In Ireland ever known,
Our Bride who gave…

View original post 9 more words

Friday nights at KCDC are “Immersion” nights. Tasha generally picks a handful (4-6) of movements, spanning the ATS® levels and spends about 3 hours working on them. There’s a lot of drilling, and it is wonderful.

Unfortunately, the baby is very sick. He’s at Children’s Hospital right now with pneumonia. But he does seem to be doing better.

It’s also St. Paul Art Crawl weekend. So it’s important, though not required, for us to be in the studio.
Tasha sent me a text yesterday morning asking if I could take over the class for the evening. Of course I said yes. Why wouldn’t I? Um, well… probably because I’ve never taught a class. But, we selected movements that she knew I would be comfortable with; things that I could probably explain well enough to get the students to understand.

We did:
Circle Step
Reverse Turn
Sahra Turn
Turkish Shimmy
Ghawazee Shimmy w/combo

Of those, the circle step and sahra turn are the most complicated – to do and explain. The circle step is a bit of a misnomer, because you’re not actually creating a circle with your hips; it’s more of a “D” shape. And the Sahra turn is actually very easy. It’s only kind of complicated because it’s a series of turns put together. One of the students (and a friend of mine)  was having some issues separating the Sahra from the Reverse turn. They are fairly similar, so we drilled those together.

For me, the basic shimmy is second nature. It wasn’t always that way; it took me months to learn how to control the bounce of my hips. There’s a way of teaching it, in some ATS® classes, that you’re just taking a step and letting the natural jiggle happen. But, in my head, that’s wrong. That seems like you’re putting too much emphasis on a snap-action that could potentially strain your low-back. It’s a three quarter shimmy. It can be done softly (as well as being done as a sharp movement). I tried to break it down several ways, so make sure the students understood. I even busted out some Oriental, as that is how I learned it.

The Ghawazee Shimmy Combo is my FAVORITE movement. Ever.
It’s earthy and grounded and folkloric.
It also takes 48 counts, so there is time in there to think of more movements.

Turkish shimmy…. meh…. I’m not great at it. It’s a shimmy in demi-releve, I think I may have explained the half-turn wrong; I need to clarify if the half turns are done to flat walls, or to corners.

One gal, R, takes the level one and two classes on Wednesday night. She’s student troupe performer – well, was until she got sick and needed time off. She’s slowly getting back into the swing of things and is super eager to learn. She was great with questions and pushed for us to dance longer and harder. She’s an amazing person.

The other gal, an older woman, takes the level one class on Saturday morning. She has years of dance experience, but not belly dance. That can be helpful in some cases. She wants to learn… but I don’t think I really connected with her. I tried to explain certain movements – propeller and corkscrew turns – but she only seemed to “get” about half of what I said. It could have been because we were dancing for 2 hours, but her right arm kept dropping below the table (ATS® term regarding arm placement). I watched her for a while, which is sort of hard to do while teaching, and noticed her turns were fast and overly “floaty”. I had to tell her, it’s a bit more staccato, but not super-sharp. There are clear stops in the movement. After that, she went to the other extreme and it became a jerky movement. I think, by the end, she finally got it, but she was feeling a bit worn out by the end.

It was nice to be complimented by the students. They let me know that I explained things well and and they felt comfortable asking questions of me.  They appreciated that I kept the format loose, which was sort of a necessity with all the Art Crawl gawkers wandering around the building.

So, we’ll be back at it again tonight. I’ll be focusing more on Q&A and, hopefully, doing some mini-performances.
Baby will probably be in the hospital one more night, so I don’t know what the schedule will be yet.

**Side note:

I am working toward my General Skill certification, with the hopes that I’ll be Teacher Trained. GS is still a ways off.
I really hope I wasn’t breaking any rules by subbing last night, but it was really an honor to do it.

If ya’ll could send good juju to Little Boy Blue, it would be much appreciated.

Just Dance

Another full moon…

It’s a full moon tonight, and I’m feeling pretty low, energy-wise.
I blame that, in part, on the weather. We’ve had on and off rain, snow, and drab for the last two months.
I am really, really tired of gray.

It rained a bit this evening, while I was in class, making it difficult to focus and keep up.
I am heavily affected by the weather, rain especially.

When it rains, my body just wants to shut down. I just want a warm blanket and a nap with my kittens.

3 hours of  dance class made me tired, too. So now I’m huddled under a throw, laptop and Banshee-cat on my lap, and a Schell’s Schmaltz’s Alt.
I kind of wish we had junk food in the house; I’m hungry, but I don’t have the drive to actually make food.

I can feel the next rain storm creeping in.
It’s supposed to be “thunder sleet”.
That’s just ducky.

I’ll probably call it an early night; I just don’t have any “oomph” left in me.

Good night, all.
Happy full moon.

So, so tired…

KCDC danced at the Women’s Drum Center Red Tent event last night, then we had 3 hours of classes.
The event was a really empowering thing to be at. The space was warm and welcoming, the ladies were really good at drumming. The only kick is that… well, as dancers, we feed off the music. But as drummers, they were feeding off of us. It lead to a rather dramatic super-fast drumming session – too fast me me to keep up.

Still, it was really great to be a part of that.


Thankfully, hubby simmered down and apologized (with tacos!)

He admitted that he was being irrational, but was very good about letting me know that he has boundaries regarding our home. I totally respect that.
We made a deal that I would not have *a* friend (meaning one, regardless of gender, but parties are ok) that late at night. I can definitely handle that. He’s cool with me hanging out with individuals, but he needs our home to be his haven.

Communication is a huge problem for us. Really, I’d say it was our only problem.
When he gets frustrated or angry, he shuts down.
I, however, need a good cry and then “together” time.

We just process differently.
But we’re working on it.

4 am tacos are great. 4 am apology tacos are better.
But… I was up at 4 am to eat tacos, then we watched Scream 3 and went to bed around 7.
I was up at 12.
I have to dance tonight.

Oh, and I shoveled the sidewalks yesterday, so my back hurts.


Power nap it is!

Good Day/Bad Day

I have had a rough past couple of days.

Hubby’s pissed at me because… well, I’m not entirely sure what his reason is.
Realistically, I guess he could be mad that I was hanging out my a friend super late (though, we were at the house, and not out at a bar).
Is he mad because this is a male friend?
Because we hung out until 2 am?
Because we were alone in the house until hubby got home?

I don’t know if it’s one, or all, or what.

This friend has been a friend for years… but, please note, there’s no romantic relationship. Ever.
He has a girlfriend, who I like a lot. She’s really sweet.
And, get this, he likes her, too. Not me. He doesn’t have a thing for me.
We are friends, and only that.

But I can’t get hubby to see that.
Maybe I just haven’t given him reason enough to trust me?

Is that it?
Have I wronged him so badly, that I am undeserving of trust?

On the lighter side of things, KCDC danced at the Women’s Drum Center Red Tent event. It was an hour of free-style drumming and dancing. There was a woman there who recited an original poem – very spoken word style – that was powerful. She had beautiful stage presence.
And there was a bit of hippy-drum-jam-dancing. You know what I mean: The flail about slowly, like a rag doll in water kind of dancing. I’ve been told that it’s called “tofu ballet”.

We had three hours of immersion class, too, tonight. And there was a pretty good turn out. There were four of us, plus Tasha.
On gal has, thus far, only learned belly dance via video. Another had years of different dance classes – flamenco, ballet, tap, jazz. The third was one of our regular students, getting back into the swing of things post-illness.

So, it was a pretty good night, but my body needs a break… at least until tomorrow when we dance at The Gathering.

Recently, a Dove campaign video has been going around. The up-front message is one of hope.
But, as this Tumblr points out, there’s still an underlying message that beauty is all that matters.

This is probably one of the most well-written articles I have read regarding the Dove campaign.

d1 pic 1 photo See? Classy!Gathering of the Gypsies 1.19.2013 makeup

These are all me.
Some are old, some new, some are “altered”, some are naturally me.
All of them are beautiful.
But I am more than that.

I am a dancer, an activist, a hard-worker.
I laugh and cry and sing and get angry.
I play video games and read books. I cuddle with my kittens.
I love my husband.

It shouldn’t be about my face and body.
I am more than the physical.

Well, well… 200 blog posts.

I guess I didn’t have anything planned, per se. Frankly, I didn’t think I would write so many.

It’s been a crazy year since I began blogging.
Peanut’s death, lots of dancing  (joining first the student troupe, then the performance troupe), on-and-off illnesses, weird dreams, trying to find my path.
It’s been overwhelming at times.

Overall, though, I feel like it was a good year. I certainly hope, however, that this next year is better.


Here’s to 2013.
May it go well for you and me and those we love.

I had another trippy dream last night – though this one is far less bizaar.

My troupe was at a gig. This was an outdoor, festival-type, tent party; it reminded my a lot of renaissance faires.
The “stage” area was just an open space between several tents, with loads of people walking by.

I don’t actually recall the music… if it was live or recorded.

I do know that the first song was a slow one.
Keep in mind that the movements for slow, in the ATS (r) vocabulary are very specific.
One of our dancers, who was up in lead position, wasn’t doing anything. Then, the movements she made weren’t right. It was awkward and frusterating. My troupe leader and I kept looking at each other and trying to get her to step off stage or reliquish the lead, but she wouldn’t.

It was like she was in a trance-y daze.

When, finally, she got off stage, the two of us finished our set as if nothing happened.
People started asking us what happened, but before either of us could reply, I woke up.

Just weird.