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How to Prep for a Photo Shoot

by Alessandra on 04/02/19

Not to #humblebrag or anything, but back in January I was signed by a modeling agency here in Seattle; Northwest Model Management. Of course, getting signed by an agency is a lot about having the "look" they are going for. But it's also about the culmination of, well, taking a lot of photos. I've had all kinds of shoots: some good, some bad, some seamless, some awkward. Reflecting on this was making me think about what tips and prep-work can go into ensuring that a photo shoot turns out the way you want it to: you have fun and you look f@%king awesome in your pics.

If you have a photo shoot coming up, dance or otherwise, to ensure that your face and your heart really light up when you get your pictures back, here are a few tips I would recommend to make your shoot as successful and smooth as possible.
  1. Banish Bloat: This is not about weight loss, but it's about feeling comfortable and sexy in your own skin. I have yet to meet anyone that likes the feeling of being bloated. Bleh! So let's nix that feeling for the day of your shoot. Everyone's body is different, but common culprits of bloat are dairy, gluten, sugar, and alcohol. I would recommend cutting whatever foods bring on the bloat for you a week in advance. On top of that, let water become your new bestie!
  2. Practice Your Poses: For most people, posing isn't natural. It takes some serious practice. I highly recommend getting on Instagram or Pinterest and finding photos that you like and then studying them. Practice replicating poses that you like in front of the mirror. Yes, really examine yourself in the mirror and make corrections until you like what you see. If you need something to quickly refer to during the shoot, have them easily accessible on your phone for review right before you start. Also, most posing requires serious engagement. You should be contracting all your muscles: back, arms, leg, and abs. And that's without letting your face get tense, which is a tricky one! But muscle engagement will so pay off. Your photos look elegant, refined, and poised instead of pedestrian, limp, and lifeless. If you find pictures that you like, you can also send a few to your photographer in advance so you can have some shared inspo for what you're collectively trying to create during the shoot. I do this pretty much every time I shoot. 
  3. Head Angle is Everything: This one of the easiest things to mess up in a photo, but also one of the simplest to fix. Unless you are doing a pose where you are intentionally looking up or down, when looking at the camera, think of sticking your chin both slightly out and slightly down. It should feel a bit like being a turtle and it should feel like it's not actually that pretty. But trust me, this is the most flattering angle for your face in relation to the camera. 
  4. Put Your Clothes On: Beforehand that is. Try on all your clothing or costumes prior to the shoot. Check that everything is fitting right and nothing needs repairs or alterations. Try to check the outfit in lighting as close to what you'll be shooting in, inside or out, and make sure that you are happy with the look. I also really recommend a trial run of hair and makeup so you can test what you like and what you don't like, and then you can nail it day of the shoot.  
  5. Pack Your Bag: Don't just pack your wardrobe for the shoot. Pack everything that you might need to be comfortable and ensure good pictures. Definitely pack makeup for touch-ups, as well as anything you might need for hair-styling. If shooting outside, consider bringing a full length mirror so you can check your appearance. I always bring water and snacks so that I know I can stay hydrated and energized. By the way, I don't think I've ever done a shoot that was less than two hours. Good pictures take time, so plan on being there for awhile! If outside and it's sunny, make sure you have on sunblock, and easy shoes to slip on and off to protect bare feet against hot sand or pavement. Outdoor shoots also have the added consideration of where you will change if there's no public buildings / restrooms and you're doing multiple outfits. I've changed in the my backseat before, but shoots where I've had a pop-up tent have been so much easier. Make sure you have safety pins if something breaks last minute. Stash your floss in your bag, in case that snack gets stuck in your teeth. Deodorant and / or a towel for battling sweat can come in handy. And setting powder or bloating papers, as a hot sun or hot lights can cause you to lose your dewy matte look fast. 
  6. Don't Be Afraid to Ask: Photographers can come in all different flavors. I worked with one that choreographed the tilt of my head down to what felt like the millimeter, compared to others that barely said a word for three hours. If you have a photographer that's on the quieter side, don't be afraid to break the ice. Ask them how the pose looks. Ask if they have any suggestions. Ask if you can take a quick peek into the camera (just not after every single shot please). You two are a team, so the more you can work together, the more the two of you will be happy with the end product. 

Over the Pop: A Cabaret

by Alessandra on 03/07/19

Lunaria Dance Theatre is at it again for the third year in a row! Join the company for two nights of sexy and sassy musical theatre fun as they perform in Over the Pop: A Cabaret, produced by Mellilah.

Check out the recent pics of the company below, including a sneak peak of some of the show costuming. And be sure to visit here for more info on the show to purchase your tickets! Photos by David Horvitz of Vitz Photos.

The show sells out every year, so get your tickets before it's too late!

Traveling for Dance

by Alessandra on 02/01/19

Two of my loves in life: travel and belly dance. So what could be better than putting them together and traveling for belly dance, am I right? But before you grab your hip scarf and zills, and run out to sign up for the next out of town dance workshop or retreat, it’s best to make sure you know exactly what you’re signing up. That way you can ensure that you have the best possible experience.

I’ve traveled twice out of the country for week-long belly dance retreats. One was great: well-managed, organized, and excellent instruction. The other was not so great: disorganized, failed to provide all elements paid for, and overall left a great deal to be desired.

So how can you avoid the pitfalls of poorly managed and executed dance retreats and instead find your way to the retreat of your dreams? Research. Yup, I’d say your number one key to secure a great experience is investing the time up front to investigate what you’re getting into. The data you are able to gather in advance will be a great indicator of what kind of experience you’re signing up for.

Here are my recommendations of what to check out and what questions to ask before you hit that submit payment button:

  • What is the reputation of the instructor? Is she well-known within the dance community? A good instructor should have strong ties and be on “good terms” with the dance community at large. Things to check out is whether or not the instructor is a member of popular dance related Facebook groups and if she is friends with a majority of other well-known dancers. Check out her teaching schedule and see if she is sponsored by other dancers and travels regularly for teaching gigs. Also try searching the discussion threads of online forums and groups to see if any complaints or negative feedback have been shared.
  •  Can the person actually teach? Just because someone is a good dancer doesn’t necessarily mean they can teach. If possible, check out the instructor’s DVDs (if she has them), try to attend a local workshop, or check out any instructional YouTube videos she might have uploaded and see if her teaching style is coherent, logical, and appealing to you.
  • Read and solicit reviews. Are there any online reviews posted about the event? Or have you had any friends that have attended in the past? Word of mouth and reviews from past attendees will be one of the strongest indicators of how enjoyable the experience will end up being.
  •  How long has the camp / workshop been running? A successfully run camp will have a good history and will run annually. Newer events might be a bit more iffy, as they have not yet stood the test of time.
  • What does the website look like? If the instructor is running a professional operation, they will also invest time and money into the website. A cheap website might be an indicator that the instructor is just trying to make a quick profit and not really investing anything into the experience. Additionally, how well organized and laid out the website is may also be an indicator of how well organized and laid out the retreat will be.
  • What is the response time on emails? Try sending an email asking some questions about the retreat and see how long it takes to receive a response. An organized event organizer should get back to you within 24 hours, or I’d say 48 hours tops. Longer response times might indicator poor service both now and during the event.
  •  Make sure you understand what’s included. Read the fine print. Maybe the price is cheap because you will be expected to pay for your own meals. Or maybe you won’t have a private room (if that’s important to you). So be sure you know what you are paying for.
  • Can they accommodate any special needs? If you have food allergies or intolerances, can they cater to this? If there are any other special health needs or accommodations will need make sure you inquire about these in advance.
Okay, there you have it! Those are my top items to look for and investigate before signing up.

Hope you have a marvelous, fabulous, and magical time on your journeys. Bon voyage and break a zill!

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