Friday, 21 November 2014

How to Combat the Bellydance Blues

It's gotten to that time of year, where it's dark, it's damp, it's cold, and it's miserable! (Well, here in the UK that is!) If there is going to be a period of time where you feel like hanging up your hip belts and packing away your dance paws in favour of snuggly jumpers and eating chocolate it's now!

Sometimes however, it's not just the weather and seasonal shifts that can impact our dancing.

Sometimes we just get a bout of the blues, where our choreographies seem muddled and not up to par, we perhaps lose confidence in our abilities as a dancer, and we let our inner critic come out to play and stamp all over our hard work.

I'm a sensitive person. I really care about my dancing and really invest a lot of time, and emotional effort into creating and performing. And this really does take it's toll, on not only my social life, but also, my creative life. Surprisingly, you'd think that trying to practice every day and working hard will encourage results, and yes, it does... but it can also leave you feeling frustrated, burnt out, and fed up!

I wanted to share with you my tips for coping with, and combating the bellydance blues!

  • Take a Break - This is the toughest to follow through! You may feel like perhaps sitting and taking notes in your dance class when you or your body is tired and fatigued is lazy, or that by skipping a class because you feel poorly (whether mentally or physically) is letting people down - Don't. I have pushed myself so hard before that I had to miss a workshop that I really wanted to attend because I was experiencing a really severe panic attack, that probably could have been avoided by taking a break when I needed it, and not feeling like I was "letting other people down". Sometimes it's hard to take a step back and say - "You know what? I feel really anxious, and stressed and unhappy today, and really need a break." 
  • Give yourself some "Me" time - Sometimes if we are working on other people's choreographies, or learning routines for shows, it can become really easy to lose sight of who we are as dancers. Take time out to just dance for fun, making up your own routines or improvisations that are just for you, and not for anyone else. Feed your inner creative artist and allow yourself to have a play - it's not shirking off, as you are still dancing!
  • Learn Something New - If you are feeling uninspired or feeling like you are at a loss with your dancing and not sure which way to go, learn a new skill! Whether it's a different style of dance, a new prop, learning from a new teacher, it can all help to jog your creative juices and get things flowing again. 
  • Talk to Someone - Its important to have a chat with colleagues, dance troupe members, teachers, about how you are feeling. Firstly because you realise that you are not alone as a dancer, and that other people are going through these feelings too! Secondly, if people know you are feeling down about your dancing, they will want to support you, and be ready with lots of advice, and help you to feel back on cloud nine about your belly dance abilities!
I would like to leave you with this Native American Indian Story:
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
Final Note for the Day:
In this cold weather, make sure to take in lots of fluids and eat plenty if you are exercising! Your body is only as good as the fuel you supply it with, so over this winter, look after yourself! 

If you want to use this post in your e-zine, blog or newsletter, please go ahead! But make sure that you credit Louise Brooks -

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Getting into the Mood... Pre-Performance Rituals, and Make-up Must Haves! Part 2

I have been very lucky to be able to interview two gorgeous Tribal and Tribal Fusion Bellydance Stars about their performance rituals and how they prepare for the stage! Both Hilde and Charlotte are big inspirations for me, and to be able to chat to them about how they prepare to perform, it's a real treat!

Hilde Canoodt

Hi Hilde! Really great to chat to you. Your performances are so varied, and I know you are working a lot with Contemporary Dance and Fusing that with your Bellydance. How do you prepare for these performances and do you have any rituals to help ground you before a performance?
I'm in a weird transitional fase at the moment as a dancer. I used to wear a lot of stage make up, headdresses,... to add to the theatricality of my performance. But in the last few years a lot has shifted: I've been 'digging deep' and been trying to find my voice as a dancer. This goes together with lots of travelling and not having a home for about 2 years now. I feel quite nomadic. So I haven't got access to many of my costumes at the moment, and I've noticed that I started to 'shed' the layers of theatricality like make up, hair and costuming and when for more simple, natural look. Sometimes I hardly wear any make up, as I'm trying to find ways to dance from the inside out, wearing thick layers of make up seems to be contradicting that idea. I have a feeling once I have a home again and stop travelling so much, my pretty dresses will come out of the storage cupboard and I will bring more focus to my make up/hair/costuming rituals. I find it interesting how you can see dancers whole life on the stage, following their development as a dancer usually goes hand in hand with their personal life. For me: I feel I used to be much more of an entertainer and felt my performance was to please the crowd. Now, I want to dance from the inside out: more bare, and I think it shows in my aesthetic.
Wow, that is a really powerful idea. I love how you are really expressing yourself now as a performer. If you do wear make-up during performances, what is your cosmetic bag must have? I really do like my MAC eye liner: it's this little pot of black paint with the consistency of shoe polish it doesn't smudge and gives clear lines with a mat look. Even if I wear nothing else, I like to enhance the eyes as the eyes are so expressive in a dancer, I think it's important to enhance them.

Definately - The eyes are the window to the soul! Where do you get your inspiration from for costuming and makeup?
My inspiration comes from a number of sources: I will see someone's look on stage and go: oh that's beautiful and often have a chat with them to ask about their aesthetic choices. I like a more natural look often, but I do enjoy a bold lip colour too.

Where can dancers find out more about you and your performing?
I run a festival every year: Tribal Remix in Brighton, UK - I teach and perform in the UK and abroad - please visit my website or find me on facebook (Hilde Cannoodt)

Charlotte Wassell

Hi Charlotte! You are such a Tribal Rockstar - how do you like to prepare for your performances?
Ideally the day of a performance I like to have a good workout of some kind, even if it is much earlier in the day, so I feel warmed-up to be able to perform my best. If I have time, I really like to go to town with my make-up – plenty of shading and lots of glitter and stick-on Swarovski accents in addition to the obligatory bindi. Usually I’m listening to my performance music in order to “brainwash” myself and get in the zone.

That's a great idea! Listening to your music before performing really helps ground you and get you in the "zone". What cosmetic item can you not live without in your gig bag?
Ok so this is not a make-up item, but I totally panic if I don’t have tictacs in my gig bag! I got this tip from the stunning Kathleen Pearlson (look her up) and as I really suffer from dry mouth when performing it totally changed things for me. Stick one or two under your tongue just before you go on and it stimulates your saliva so voilĂ ! No dry mouth and a beautiful smile! 

Awesome tip! Who inspires you when it comes to your own personal bellydance look?
At the moment I don’t have a particular person who inspires me, but I really like the dark heavy eyes common in Tribal belly dance. I rarely wear much make-up on a day-to-day basis so it’s fun to go to the other end of the spectrum when I perform!

Where can dancers find out more about you and your performing?

Images courtesy of J. Christos Photography

Final Note for the Day:
Explore different styles of dance. Bellydance is a fantastic and diverse dance form, but don't be afraid to peek out of the box and have a look into Odissi, Russian Folk Dances, Ballet, Contemporary, Jazz... You may find it benefits your Bellydance in ways you never imagined! Take a leap of faith and see what you can discover!

Want to catch up on my 100 day Belly Dance Challenge? Don't forget to check out my YouTube playlist here.

If you want to use this post in your e-zine, blog or newsletter, please go ahead! But make sure that you credit Louise Brooks -