Sequins and Shimmies
HomeBioShowsHireClassesMy BookPictures & VideoShopBlogContact

Lunaria's Moon Over Manhattan

by Alessandra on 05/01/17

Back in March, the company I dance with, Lunaria Dance Theatre, put on our first full-length production, Moon Over Manhattan. It was pretty intense leading up to the show, with tons of both group and personal rehearsals. Additionally, we were also working on creating and prepping our costumes, sets, and props. But in the end, all that hard work paid off! Collectively, we feel pretty pleased with how the show turned out. We've received some great reviews and kudos from the audience and local dance community, which feels pretty darn good. Thus, this month's post is a photo celebration of our show. Photos by Greg Holloway.

P.S. Want to learn more about the Lunaria company members? Check out this post

Shahrzad Superstar & Egyptian Stylization

by Alessandra on 04/03/17

Back in January, I had the opportunity to study with the lovely Shahrzad. Shahrzad is an American dancer, currently based in Egypt. An in-demand performer and teacher, she travels around the world to share her gifts, and one such stop was Seattle. I won't say much more about her and just let one of her videos and her dancing speak for itself:

With striking features, her face and figure remind me of a cross between Dita Von Teese and Elizabeth Taylor. I thought for sure someone so pretty and talented must surely be a bit distant and aloof. Not the case. Not even close. From the moment she started teaching, you could tell she was fun, friendly, and down to earth. Despite being one of the current superstars in the belly dance arena, she didn't talk down to any of the workshop participants or otherwise make anyone feel "small". She was happy to share her expertise, and secrets to some of her fabulous technique, like her big juicy shimmies. Her friendly attitude made me want to share a girls night with her; drinking wine, eating popcorn, and sharing beauty tips and gig stories. I didn't quite get that opportunity, but I did at least ask her for an after-show photo op.

I highly recommend studying with her if you have the opportunity. To tide you over in the meantime, here's a few tips from her Egyptian-stylization workshop:
  1. Want to look more Egyptian in your dance style? Key characteristics of Egyptian style dancers are (a) bending at the knees; (b) low center of gravity; and (c) moving the knees, hips, chest, and shoulders outside of the shoulder column.
  2. Try moving from the wrists and elbows when performing arm work, rather than the hands and palms, which is more American.
  3. Don't think about moves as one dimensional. Focus on changing your position and shape in your entire body to create more curve and dynamic movement. 
  4. The attitude of an Egyptian performer has two key characteristics: femininity and humor.
  5. Keep the feet closer together to create curvier, bigger and more vertical hips. For Soheir Zaki hips, move the knees in toward each other to create a more elegant look.
  6. Remember: A native dancer changes her vocabulary as the rhythm changes and changes her style as the song changes, so listen and let the music guide you. 
To learn more about Shahrzad, you can check out her website, or watch her dancing light up the stage on her Youtube channel. Shahrzad also has a number of great DVDs available that you can use to practice with at home, available on Amazon and other sites:

Photo Credit (Top): 

4th Annual Beauty Awards

by Alessandra on 03/01/17

Typically, each fall I like to put together a post on my favorite beauty discoveries. However, last fall came and went without such a post because I hadn't uncovered any new beauty finds that felt worth writing about. Then suddenly, all the great beauty products I'd been looking for seemed to find me all at once. Thus, I present the 4th (almost) annual belly dance beauty awards.

Note: I am not paid or compensated in any way to write about the products I pick. I haven't even received free samples of any of these items. I just include 'em cuz I love 'em.

Kayo Concentrated Slimming Serum

In my day job, I sit at a desk 8+ hours a day. And like most other Americans, when I'm not at a computer, I'm still frequently looking at my phone, Kindle, iPod, Fitbit, or other electronic device. Whih means a lot of looking down. And what does that translate into? Tech-neck wrinkles. Yup, horizontal lines on your neck that have developed from the frequent and prolonged head position of looking down. I have them. I purchased this product after reading multiple reviews that other users weren't using it as intended for cellulite, but instead were using it for neck wrinkles to great effect. I was hesitant about spending the money on this item, but finally decided it was worth a try. So glad I took that leap. Are my tech-neck wrinkles gone? No, it's not magic, people. But are they greatly reduced? Yes. Was the money worth it? Absolutely.

Cosrx Acne Pimple Master Patch
These are a game changer. Despite being in my 30s, I still get the occasional breakout. And like everyone of any age, if I have a zit, I want it gone as fast as possible. Enter the Cosrx patch. You just place the patch over the blemish before you go to sleep, take it off in the morning, and ta-da! Your unslightly pimple is either gone or greatly reduced. If it was a larger blemish, it might take more than one application. The patch acts as a small hydrocolloid bandage and literally pulls the gunk out of your zit (which you will see in the patch when you pull it off). When my husband recently had a zit, I gave him a patch to try and he was surprised to see how well it had worked by the next morning and gave them his stamp of approval. My recommendation: keep these stocked in your medicine cabinet.

Aveda Tulasara Wedding Masque Eye Overnight 

It doesn't matter how much sleep I get, I have dark circles under my eyes. I'm sure that I could pull a Sleeping Beauty, sleep for 100 years, and still wake up with dark circles. It's just genetic. Thus it been my lifelong battle to try and diminish the look of those circles. Enter Aveda's Tulasara eye treatment. They call it a masque, but to me it doesn't feel any different than putting on eye cream. However, the result is very much different. Are my dark circles completely gone? No, pretty sure I'd need a fairy godmother for that one. But they are drastically reduced, to the point that I'd even consider going to the gym or grocery story without undereye concealer on, something I never would have done before.

Verb Blow Dry Brush

I've been a Mason Pearson user for a long-time, so I was a bit surprised that I went from liking a $100+ brush, to loving a $14 brush. When I blow dry out my hair using this brush, it ends up shinier and smoother than I can recall it being in a long-time. I also like that the bristles have just the right balance of firmness and flexibility, as well as being long enough to reach and massage the scalp while brushing (which promotes hair growth). Winner.

Christophe Robin Cleansing Mask with Lemon

I've been coloring my hair purple for about a year now. To get a vibrant shade of purple, I have to unfortunately bleach the hair shaft first. As can be expected, my hair is not that pleased about having such a harsh chemical applied and I can see more damage and frizziness than I used to see. Which is why I love this hair mask. It fixes hair color, while promoting shine and restoring the scalp. It hydrates hair while cleansing, exfoliating, and nourishing the scalp. It's your ultimate hair and scalp multitasker. Now I can have my proverbial purple cake and it it too.

Hum Nutrition

Beauty starts on the inside. I'm a fairly big proponent of using vitamins to help supplement a healthy diet and lifestyle. In our fast-paced modern lifestyle, it can be hard to consume all the nutrients we need. Or some of us may have environment factors working against us (hello, lack of sun in Seattle!). Or perhaps an illness or disease where the body has increased nutritional needs. I've been taking vitamin supplements pretty much my whole life. But it wasn't until recently that vitamins have turned over a new "glamorous" leaf and become chic and sophisticated.

Enter brands like Ritual, Care/of, and Inner Me. However, my favorite of the new wave of vitamin manufacturers is Hum. From what I can tell, Hum maintains high quality in their products, while making it fun and chic to take your daily pills. You can take their 3-minute quiz and go with their selections, or go with your own choices. Two choices that I like (and are also on the cheaper side of their options) are Killer Nails (Biotin) and Here Comes the Sun (Vitamin D). I take these two daily and can tell the difference when I don't. You can buy items individually through Hum or Sephora, or you can can sign up for a Hum monthly subscription to reduce the cost.

Want to check out the beauty archives? You can also read the 1st Annual Awards2nd Annual Awards, and 3rd Annual Awards.

Photo Credits: Good Housekeeping (top image), all other photos via manufacturers websites

Follow AlessandraRaqs on Twitter
Ways To Connect

Subscribe in a Reader

Follow on Twitter

Like on Facebook

Follow Me on Pinterest