Upcoming events

Upcoming events in the South East:

Dark Britannia
Friday 28th of September: Show with Aepril Schaile, Galit Mersand, Ter’zim, and others
Saturday and Sunday: Workshops
More details at http://www.darkstardance.co.uk/dark-britannia-2012-with-aepril-schaile/

Orient Expressions Workshop and Hafla.
Sunday October 14th, 17:30 to 22:30
Egyptian Sha’abi with Nawarra
Hafla from  20:00
More details at https://www.facebook.com/events/180068938793847/

Tribal Cafe
Thursday October 18th, 8pm
Tribal and Tribal Fusion Belly Dance Showcase
8 Queens Road, Brighton
More details at http://www.hildebellydance.co.uk/about/tribalcafe.shtml

Saturday 15th & Sunday 16th of December
Plenty of workshops and  a Gala show
More details at http://www.jwaad.com/fantasia.htm


Review: Khaled Mahmoud’s Beledi Taqsim Workshop

On Saturday 22nd of September, I attended Khaled Mahmoud’s Beledi Taqsim workshop with live musicians, as part of the Shimmy in the City event. This was my first workshop with Khaled, although I am very familiar with his style. A disclaimer is in order here, as nearly all of the troupe I am in has studied in the past or currently studies with him, and we use a lot of his choreographies for our performances. This means I am not unbiased; I cannot be, as my whole time learning belly dance I’ve heard everybody singing Khaled’s praises. I am not sure whether that was a good or a bad thing, but my expectations were quite high. I was not disappointed.

We started with a light warm-up, which was fun but wasn’t too focused on stretches or particular groups to work more in preparation for what we would be doing. In his defense, a lot of people did come from previous workshops, and when he asked, most said they were warmed up already. He then divided us in two groups, left and right side of the room, and worked at teaching us at different points along this divide, and so we could see both his front and his back. I am not sure this approach worked *that* well for me, as I got distracted by trying to decode the left/right situation when seeing him perform in front, and a couple of my “problem areas” for the routine were definitely those where I had him in front and I copied him mirrored.

Having said that, the workshop was *not* about learning a routine, and he made this abundantly clear. The idea was to teach us about what  “makes” the Beledi Taqsim, what sort of movements to expect, how the execution differed from Oriental style and why, a bit about general Egyptian mentality and attitude, with even a little bit of body-positive attitude thrown in. There was so much information that my head was buzzing, and I worked so hard that my clothes were drenched by the end of it and I needed to towel-dry my hair. Khaled did explain the moves carefully, and watching him dance less than 2 metres away from me was an education in itself: I’d only seen videos of him on YouTube so far, and they just don’t do him justice: there’s a LOT of delicate, subtle movements that he adds while he dances that are just not captured properly on video. He also made sure to add information like what to do with our hair while dancing and why, and, in quite a funny turn, also feminising the routine to add those little extra touches we should aim for. He split the work between legs/big hips first, then adding the smaller hip details (shimmy shimmy shimmy), then arms and attitude.

Working with a live band was also quite interesting, although the band didn’t arrive on time. There were a couple of misunderstandings between Khaled’s instructions and the band’s execution (wrong parts picked up, for instance) that provided some confusion or comic relief, but overall, being able to notice the differences between the CD and the band playing live, and how that affects the dancing, was invaluable, and not something most of us have much of a chance to experience within a learning setting. I was expecting we would learn a bit more about the music itself, but this did not happen; I am not that bummed about this as it was a long shot, and I understand this is my own particular point for obsession at the moment. (as a side note, if anybody can recommend some books/videos/CDs that teach about Arabic and Egyptian music that go beyond “this is a beledi, this is a maqsoum” like Saida’s or Hossam Ramzy’s do, and explain more about scales, harmony, composition, history and styles, I would be extremely grateful).

The workshops were marked for intermediate/advanced students. I don’t consider myself anywhere near an “advanced” level, and I am not sure I could be “intermediate”, since I’m just brushing the 2 year mark. I found it challenging, sometimes bordering on difficult, but not impossible. I really liked Khaled’s teaching, he was fun and engaging, and a few of the things he said resonated with me quite deeply, in particular the reminder that this sort of dance is about the dancer, not the costume, not the show; and after his little speech about beauty and curves I could have kissed him.

Would I take another workshop with Khaled? Hell yes, I would happily take weekly classes if I could! Although next time I would probably do a more thorough warm-up on my own, as I know my body has some specific quirks that it needs addressed before starting something as demanding.
Would I take another workshop on beledi style? Probably, I find it suits my personality (and body shape!) better
Would I take another workshop at Shimmy in the City? Yes, definitely, and I am already lamenting not taking at least one or two more.

In closing: great workshop, I can now understand the excitement about Khaled; I feel I learnt a lot, and have material to improve my technique for quite a while.

Watch the choreography Khaled taught us; sadly, the low resolution video means that the more subtle moves are completely lost, but trust me, there were a LOT of tummy tucks and pushes and rolls and shimmies used as accents.

50% off offer from Belly Stockings

Belly Stockings is having a 50% off offer for a week. Their stockings are great if you’ve got a two-piece that you are not that sure about, or if you want to wear more traditional Tribal or fusion outfits but don’t want to show your tummy. They hold you in firmly, they show all your tiny abs work, and because of the materials use, they also keep you cool and dry quickly. They use really good power mesh, and the briefs are made of thick cotton. I’ve worn them twice now, once for a street party where I wore a 2-piece Samia set from Hanan, and once for a restaurant party with my tribal outfit.

I’m now ordering a second black stocking, this time matte, to better go with the tribal sets, and I’ll keep the black shiny option for the Egyptian costumes.

What a week!

This past week has made posting scarce simply because so much has been going on. On Tuesday I started learning ATS L1, on Saturday I attended Khaled Mahmoud’s Baladi Taqsim workshop at Shimmy in the City, following with the evening show that included Kazafy, Orit, Aziza, Khaled, Charlotte and of course Dina. I had a good look around the souk, saw fabrics, styles and finishes from several different vendors/designers, also paid attention to the costumes used on stage, couldn’t manage to stop drooling over the most beautiful costume by Eman Zaki, and had a good day out with friends. My head is still buzzing from it all, and as a result of it all, there’s tons of ideas that I want to put on (virtual) paper. Also, for the next 3 weeks I am teaching the Sunday class at The Silk Road, so I had to include some preparation for it. Basically, manic all around. Details to follow!

Reviews: Eye liners

Eye liner features heavily in Arabic make-up, and it’s the one cosmetic that nearly every belly dancer I know uses, even if they don’t use anything else. There’s loads of them in the market, at vastly different prices and styles. I often get complimented on my make up for performance, so I thought it would be a good idea to review a few of the items I’ve got or use.

I tend to have a very magpie approach to cosmetics and particularly make-up, and if I like it, I will generally give it at least a try. This means I can use vastly different brands, and have been known to use several different eye liners on a single make-up style. I tend to use winged style darker liner on the upper lid, a faint slightly smudged line done with eye shadow and a slanted brush on my lower lid, a “brightening” liner on the inside, and sometimes white liner on the lower waterline and black on the upper waterline. Why, yes, I *did* say I liked things complicated.

For some things (like waterlines) I prefer using the traditional style crayons/pencils, as they are the only ones suitable for this. I use L’óreal Studio Liner in white, for instance, and MAC’s Greasepaint for waterlines, and although I have picked up the product from the Greasepaint stick with a liner brush and used this as a standard liner before, I do not like the efffect I get with them, mainly because they are quite thick. I am big on careful application so they just don’t work well for me on that front.

Having said that, I want to focus on liquid eye liners, as these are the ones that tend to get everybody going “oooh” and “aaah” whenever I pull them out. So first, let’s start with a photo:

Eyeliners Swatches

Eye liners Swatches

From left to right:

  • Illamasqua Precision Ink Glister
  • Barry M Metallic #4 (silver)
  • Illamasqua Precision Ink Alchemy
  • MUA Glitter Shade 2
  • Illamasqua Precision Ink Havoc
  • Gosh Liner Pen 006 Black Brass
  • Gosh Liner Pen 004 Grey
  • Gosh Intense Eye Liner Pen 05 Purple
  • Sana Kyoto Geisha Maiko-han

Illamasqua Precision Ink in Glister is ideal if you are looking for a “barely there” delicate liner. There are some strong light-reflective prismatic pigments in it that add silver, gold and blue when the light hits it right, so it’s also ideal to add a hint of illumination without hitting the white or silver. Barry M released a pink metallic colour that has a similar feel to this, except that the pigments are mostly silverly, and the colour is *very* pink.

Barry M Metallic #4 (silver) is part of Barry M’s metallic line. The colour is nice, but the application is very difficult to do precisely. I’ve found that it also needs very short strokes reloading the brush with colour to get proper coverage. Love the colour, but I’m just not too keen on the formula.

Illamasqua Precision Ink in Alchemy is by far the best metallic liner I’ve used. The colour stays on and just shines, and it does feel like you’ve gilded your eyes, and the pigment is lovely. Illamasqua has now added an antique gold variant, I just wish they did a silver, as gold does not work that well with my skin.

MUA Glitter Shade 2 was picked at Superdrug for £1. The pigments are a bit more scarce, you can clearly see this on the swatch above, so you do need to go over the line several times. However, the colour is quite nice for those of us that don’t wear the warmer shades of gold that well. For the price, really you can’t complain.

Illamasqua Precision Ink in Havoc is, by far, my favourite liner. It’s a very unusual aubergine/dark brown that is dark enough to add an edge but soft enough to work a treat as a day liner. The formula is similar to those of Glister and Alchemy, so very easy to work with, with superb staying power.

Gosh Liner Pen 006 Black Brass is a metallic black with some hints of gold. The applicator on this line is not a pen as suggested by the name, but a pointed spongy brush, very similar to the Illamasqua ones, and, as Illamasqua, is also made in Germany. The formula is *slightly* less pigmented, and the applicator a hint thicker, which means you will not be able to do such fine work, but the difference is minimal. The colour is great for that extra shine and gets double points for being a slightly more unusual shade.

Gosh Liner Pen 004 Grey is similar in application and formula to Black Brass. The colour is a lovely shiny pewter, which, again, works really well for day make-up too, and adds that extra glitter for the evening. My one complain with these Gosh Liner Pens is that removing them requires a bit of extra rubbing to get rid of it all. There are other colours in this line, including metallic Black, metallic Turoquoise, and Brown, which is particularly nice and a much lighter and softer tone that most browns are normally.

Gosh Intense Eye Liner Pen 05 Purple is a proper “pen” with a little felt-tip point at the end. As is quite clear from the photograph, the liner ends quite sheer unless you go over it several times, and smudges like nobody’s business. It just won’t stay put on my skin, and after several hours it had migrated from a well-delineated line on my upper eyelid to my lower eyelid and turned the wing on the outside of my eye into a smudge. You also have to be careful that you don’t accidentally loose the cap in your make-up box or bag, as it will be a goner. Takes ages to remove fully, even with specialised remover. I would not buy again.

Sana Kyoto Geisha Maiko-han is japanese, from a whole line of make-up inspired by geishas. Unlike nearly every other “pen” style liner, this one has proper bristles in the brush, and therefore gives you superb control, allowing very thin lines without risking poking your eye out. It also stays put, but the dissadvantages are that it also takes a while to remove, and the color is not that intense unless you go over it several times. It’s also very difficult to find, some surface on eBay every now and then. They do it in black and red, but I haven’t been able to find the red anywhere, and the person who bought it for me in Hong Kong couldn’t find it either, sadly.

Overall, the Illamasqua liners win hands down, and they are the ones that I reach for again and again, whether it’s for day, night or performance. They can withstand a sprinkling of water, sweat, or even some light rain without running or turning me into a demented raccoon, and therefore are ideal for performance, but unlike others that have staying power, they wash away very easily with make-up remover without needing to scrub the delicate skin of the eyelids. Having said that, “you get what you paid for” is doubly true in this case, and Illamasqua’s products, brilliant as they are, can be pricey. They do run deeply discounted sales a couple of times a year, though, so if you wait for the right time you might be able to pick up what you want without paying that much.

Legal Disclosure: I was not paid for writing this review, nor I received any free service or product.

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