Since summer 2010, I’ve been sporadically dancing in ballet slippers. Although barefoot is my favorite, I like them sometimes, for when I don’t want my feet to get dirty or when it’s cold or just when we’re doing a bunch of turns. Once broken in, they are remarkably comfortable and I love how my particular pair (a split-sole with a lycra middle) conforms to my foot. However, I don’t think they’re attractive. My efforts to dye them close to my skin tone has been fruitless, and they just plain aren’t cute as is. I’ve coming around to seeing that shoes are sometimes necessary, but I want to dance in shoes that match whatever I’m wearing. One of my goals is to learn how to do Middle Eastern dance in heels. They’re much more elegant looking than any other dance shoe option I’ve seen (half-soles, Hermes sandals, etc.), and even though some of the shoe options would probably be pretty invisible, I’d rather know my footwear is attractive.

One small caveat is that I really don’t wear heels anymore. For about 8-9 years or so of my life, I wore heels, high heels. I don’t think you would’ve seen me in anything shorter than 3 inch heels, unless it was raining and galoshes were needed. However, when I was 23, I noticed my toes were having issues. They were becoming crooked and stiffer; my shoe choices were what I decided needed to change in order to avoid exacerbating the problem and possibly needing surgery. I converted to flats and have basically worn flats or wedges with very small angles since. My toes have improved, so I think the footwear was the culprit.

Last night, I put on a pair of character shoes I own from when I tried Flamenco. Not the most attractive shoes, and I don’t think I’d wear them for performance, unless it was folkloric, but they certainly have their benefits. The heel is about 2 inches, so not sky-high but certainly nothing trivial. They have a thicker heel, which is easier for balance. And most importantly, they’re here so I don’t have to spend extra money on something I’m not sure if I like.

After adjusting to wearing the shoes by just walking around my apartment in them, I tried some drills and light dancing. The verdict is mixed. Turns, which are not my forte, were much harder. The bottoms of the character shoes are much slicker than my ballet slippers or my bare feet, so it is easier to get around but harder to know how much force is needed to make the turn. Other moves were not bad. My weight placement felt weird, but it wasn’t as dramatic of change as turns were.

Heels still seem like the best option for me if/when I perform in a place where the floor isn’t good, but it’ll be a long time before I feel really comfortable dancing in them and probably even longer time before I really feel comfortable doing any kind of spins or fast turns in them.


I realized yesterday that we have roughly a month until the performance for Meiver’s recital. While I have enjoyed the training and think it was good to be taken out of my comfort zone, learning 4 choreographies for her and 2 for Bharatanatyam has left little time for my own personal things. I’ll still need to work on the two choreographies, but going from 6 to 2 is going to be a huge break. When I have my “down time”, I plan on working on the followings:

  • Zills. Zills are far from my comfort zone, but I’d like to get better at them.
  • Working with DVDs. I have stack of DVDs I have not gotten the full use out of.
  • Ballet. I’ve been meaning to attend ballet again, but with attending dance class and/or practicing 4-5 times a week, it doesn’t allow for me to attend ballet. I feel that it will be so helpful with footwork. I’m not sure why Middle Eastern dance footwork trips me up but not Bharatanatyam; I suspect it has something to do with not having an emphasis on footwork in most of my earlier classes.

Since I’m committed to my apartment for another year and I’m garden level (meaning I can move around without worrying about the neighbors below), I’ve decided to to start thinking about how to decorate the room that’ll serve as my dance studio. The room is private and a decent size.

I have been using it as a dance studio, but it isn’t ideal. There are no mirrors. I am not sure if it’s the best floor. I’ve been looking for ideas online and scouring Craig’s List for free/cheap things. Here’s what I’m thinking on investing in:

  • Mirrors
  • Place to sit if I have a guest to watch
  • Decorative tapestry for walls
  • iPod speakers

On my maybe list is flooring. I’ve been looking at cheap flooring options that won’t damage the floor I already have. When I finally get to it, I’ll start taking pics.

Does anyone have pics of their own home studio to share?

By sort of, I mean I’m going to try to maintain a constant practice. Keeping myself motivated to practice that much daily was difficult. I skirted it a few times (practicing mudras instead of really dancing), but I think I overall did a good job of maintaining a practice.

I discovered that I can’t be terribly structured with my practice, like plan it out weeks in advance. I do best when I make decisions that day.

My body is physically stronger and a bit more flexible. I feel less stress after practicing, despite having to find a summer job, and I have managed to stave off some illnesses with exercise. All good things.

What would be most helpful in maintaining my practice would be having something to work towards, like a performance. While I don’t believe performance is the end all, be all purpose for dancing, I realize I was practicing diligently before the Halfi for Haiti or that I practice the choreography for Bharatanatyam because there will be a performance.

Dedicating myself to dance definitely helped improve my dance and gain further insight into where I am and what I need to work on.

Despite my hectic week, I did indeed manage to sift through all my dance music (over 1000 songs) and pick something suitable. I was initially going to pick something very slow, but I found a mix of “Move Your Belly” on the “Belly Dancer’s Odyssey” CD. If you are unfamiliar with the song, here’s a YouTube clip with it.

I’m thinking about light choreography. I haven’t choreographed much lately, and although I think of myself as more of an improv dancer, I’d like a back up plan should my mind blank. I haven’t done any performance-y stuff in about 3 years, and I haven’t done any solo work in 4 years. That’s what grad school and trying to stay afloat did to me; I had no time to really plan out a performance or seek gigs.

Despite the hafla being so soon, I’m very excited now that I have a song.

For those not in the know, a hafla in the US is a smallish, informal party where there is a combination of open floor dancing and performances. I signed up to perform.

I’ve been crazy busy lately (three jobs is rough), but I figure that I can either make excuses or just freakin’ do it. I chose the latter, despite

  • My perfectionist tendencies. One of the reasons I hesitate to perform often is because I want to be perfect.
  • I’m struggling to pick music. I decided against drum solo-y stuff, because that’s my default.
  • I have nothing to wear. I have one pair of LRose glitter velvet pants and some random Melodia tops. Nothing really looks that amazing together. Being broke most of the time meant I could buy costumes or pay for lessons. Lessons won out. I don’t regret it, but I’m having trouble matching stuff. LRose Designs takes about 3 weeks or so; I imagine that it may be longer, since Rakassah is coming up. Troupes often rely on LRose Designs for costumes, since they are ridiculously good quality and custom-made.

I’ve made the following decisions: no veil (if I’m wearing velvet, the silk will cling), no zills (out of practice), not “pure” Egyptian (costuming isn’t really appropriate), and slowish music.

Any suggestions? Good wishes?

The holiday season messed with my time management to practice and really partake in the 90 Days of Dance Dedication Challenge. I began officially (at least in my brain) on Tuesday, starting back up with Middle Eastern dance. I went to ballet yesterday. What did I learn, so far, about the challenge?

  • Going to classes is easier than structuring your own practice. It’s nice to be told what to do sometimes, even though what you’re told to do makes your brain shut down.
  • Once you get started dancing, it’s hard to stop. After both dance classes, I went home to practice more. An hour and a half wasn’t enough. Strange.
  • Putting the practice on your calendar makes it harder to skip. I’m religious about keeping a calendar (mine is on my computer). I typically get everything done on my calendar, when it’s written there. I write anything on it- when I work, when I go to dance class, blog post ideas for specific dates. Strangely enough, scheduling in practice hadn’t occurred to me.

Anyone else doing a dance challenge or other kind of practice challenge? I’d love to hear how that’s working out.

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