Monday, 10 October 2011

Quantum Entanglement, or Rapunzel's Lament

The Wind whips fingers through my hair,
Lifting random tendrils in the air.
I meant to plait it, but forgot
And now it's flying everywhere.
He plays with them until I've got
My tangled tresses tied in lovers' knots.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Dance Kit Check!

Off to Cardiff yesterday to perform at the Masquerade Belly Dance Ball with some of the lovely women who come to my Imago Belly Dance classes.  For two of them, this was their first belly dance performance; one has only had a couple of months of classes, and is feeling seriously challenged but resolutely goes for it. We must have danced the piece about 25 or 30 times, but there are still some sticky points, made worse by nerves, anxiety and frustration; everyone working so hard to get it right.  It's a relatively short, simple choreography with a lot of repetition, but it's slow and slinky, which needs muscles and control.  And we're wearing masks and using feather boas.  My workroom is adrift with white feathers and bits of glitter. At the end of rehearsals, the room looked like an explosion in a chicken plucking plant.  It's amazing there are any feathers left in the boas. (Admittedly they were cheap, but even so, seriously underwhelming in terms of quality.  Even doubled up, they are straggly and fluffy.  Both of my cats have also tried to kill them; they may be a heap of feathers, but they're obviously not dead enough yet!).
I'm an old hand at performance, but I still get anxious trying to remember all my kit. I packed a small suitcase for the Cardiff show, and received comments from the assembled company in the house at the time that they took less for a week's holiday (though I can't work out how!)  There are a few haflas coming up too, so here is my current and commented list for dance kit:

Body: Costume(s).  I wear everyday clothes for travelling in, with an extra coat or sweater for later. Check you have all the bits of the costume for all your pieces, clean, mended if necessary, admired from all angles in a mirror to ensure you're not unintentionally revealing anything, and rehearsed in to ensure there are no problems. Remember that beaded belts and skirts are designed for dancing, not sitting around in.   If you're wearing bedlah, you might want to take a galabeya to change into for sitting around and perhaps the dancing at the end, or if not, then a ...
Costume cover-up, even if it's only a large silk veil.  And a veil is also a nice prop to shimmy around with at the end, too.

Appropriate underwear!  Note; match knickers/boy shorts to the colour of the skirt.  I like to take a change of underwear, so that I can change into something fresh and dry to avoid getting chilly on the drive home. 
Props.  In this case, mask and boa, and a spare mask and boa in case someone forgets theirs. (I know, I'm just a mother hen!)
Sagat (aka zills, finger cymbals), if you like to play them while shimmying around with if there's a disco at the end.  (If you see me playing air sagat backstage, you know I'm having a few pre-performance nerves!)
Jewellery. Earrings, necklace, bracelets; something to max the bling which won't catch on the boa or mask.
Other bits like emery board, lip salve, moisturiser, body glitter and bindis.
Talcum powder, to try to stop the boa sticking to my sweaty hands!
Small towel and/or wet wipes or similar.
Feet: Dance shoes to match costume.  I might take two pairs, one ballet, one 'ballerina' flat.  I took only the latter to a hafla last year, and they were so grippy on the mucky tile dance floor, I could hardly move!
Face: Make-up and mirror.  For a local show, it's best to go ready made-up; there's seldom a dressing room with a mirror, reasonable light, space and time to do a good job.  We went up to Cardiff quite early and did our make-up in the canteen while we were waiting for our food to arrive.  Note, if you're travelling any distance in make-up, you'll probably still want to touch it up.  If you're in fantasy make-up, be prepared for some strange looks at motorway services when you wander in looking like Dr Who extras! 
Hair: brush, comb, hair clips (hair bands and so on just slip off my head), hair ties, flowers,braids, tikka, dreadfalls, whatever, etc.
Mending kit, with thread to match costume pieces, safety pins, scissors
And various 'handbag' bits such as:
Money, keys, business cards, diary and pen
Phone (with charged battery)
Camera (with charged battery and a spare SD card ... and spare battery in case the first goes dead.)
Music, spare copy on CD
Bottle of water
Address, directions and notes on parking
Tickets, if these have been sent in advance
A copy of the choreography notes (I often go blank!) and tech sheet.

Both my cats get rather upset when I pack to go somewhere, and start being a bit obstructive ...
I don't care if your sparkly galabeya is in here, this is currently my bed.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Recipe - Sweet Spicy & Quick Stir Fried ...

I seem to be very busy, if not terribly productive, at the moment and needed a very quick lunch the other day, also a bit of a ginger and chilli fix.  I had some leftover marrow (they seem to go on forever) and did a spicy hot, sweet and quick stir fry.  This works just as well with cucumber, if you have a summer glut, courgette or squash. I love it, so I thought I'd share it.   I had it as a main dish, but you could have it as a side dish instead.  The quantities are approximate - adjust to your needs and your taste.

Approx 4" length of marrow, peeled, deseeded and cut into roughly 2" sticks
An onion or rather large shallot, cut into wedges
An inch or so of fresh ginger and a couple of cloves of garlic, cut into strips
Sweet chilli sauce (or you could use finely sliced fresh chilli, or some chilli flakes) and mango chutney
A little vegetable oil

Heat the oil, add the onion/shallot and fry - I like mine starting to caramelise around the edges.
Add the ginger and garlic (and chilli if you're not using chilli sauce) and toss around a little, then add the marrow.
Stir fry until the marrow starts to cook through, and add a tablespoon or so each of chilli sauce (if you're not using fresh chillies) and mango chutney.
Stir around some more so that the flavours cook through into the marrow. Serve with some rice, noodles, flatbread .. whatever you like.
Spicy hot from the ginger and chilli, sweet from the mango chutney and very quick! Bon appetit!