Monday, 30 January 2012

Crafty Tribal 1 : Zill Muffs

Do you love your zills? We do! Some of you may know already that we have pretty strong feelings about those devilish wee discs of metal that lurk tantalisingly on your fingers, doing their best to clank inappropriately at key moments .... if not, then check out our earlier post, 'Don't Be Zilly', right here.

Now, as any would-be ziller knows, the key to competent zilling- as with anything worthwhile - is quite simply Practice, Practice, Practice. Sorry folks, you may not want to hear it, but it's true. Little and often - daily if possible - you need to get out those little metal minxes and have a good old clatter (which will hopefully not be half as clattery by the time you've finished!). One big advantage of zills is that they're small and easily transportable so you can literally take 'em anywhere. So there are NO EXCUSES!  'Aaah', some of you may cry triumphantly, 'But my husband / children / neighbours / cat / dog / Great Aunt Betty can't stand the sound of my zilling! So I CAN'T practice!' Sorry my loves, that won't wash! Firstly - you obviously just need to educate your husband / children / neighbours / cat / dog / Great Aunt Betty about the joys of the humble finger cymbal, and get them all zilling along with you. And if that doesn't work then we have the solution, right here, right now!

Zill Muffs!

Yes, it's really quite simple! All you need to do is to cover your zills with some type of fabric - old baby socks are a tried and tested means - and hey presto! The sound is muffled and you can clank away quite happily whilst the rest of your family heave sighs of relief! However, if you love your zills as much as we do, you may want to pamper them and take a bit of time to make something really special ...... in their own special colours!!! And so here you have it - a pattern for your very own crocheted zill muffs.  Get those hooks out girls and boys - ready, steady ... GO!

Woah! I know you're all desperate to get started, but first of all, can you crochet? Do you have the materials you need? Do you have the pattern? Fear not .... everything is right here on one of our pages. You can get to it by clicking on the relevant page on the right hand side of this blog --- it's under 'Dance Articles By Us', quite a way down --- or more simply by just clicking here. Yes, I know, I'm so good to you all! This pattern was adapted by our friend Jo from one on Shira's site,  http://www.shira.net/advice/menu-zills.htm - which, incidentally is an excellent resource site for all things bellydance (you can also see photos on there of how your zill muffs should look when you've finished. No, not SHOULD look, but WILL look!). Jo has explained all the different stitches you will need but, like the rest of the pattern on our page, these are all UK descriptions, as is the hook size. If you're in America then use the pattern on Shira's site as otherwise your finished muffs won't fit your zills. 

Yes, I know - it's all most complicated! If you're quite new to crochet then I would wholeheartedly recommend the book 'The Happy Hooker'  by Debbie Stoller. It's readily available on sites like Amazon and The Book Depository and apart from being quite funny and an easy read it also gives really clear step by step instructions of the various stitches, hooks, yarns and so on. There are also some great patterns in there, and lots of photos and diagrams. This book uses the American stitch descriptions so just be aware of that .... remember, UK pattern is on our page, American equivalent is on Shira's site. Yes, I know, I know .... whose bright idea was it to make them all different? Sigh .... But honestly, once you get your head round it, it's fine!

Now all this American/UK difference thing may have put some of you off completely. Don't despair. Bellydancers are a crafty lot and you'll probably be able to find a friend to make you your very own set, in exchange for chocolate/wine/Kuchi. If not, you can sometimes buy them ready made. Our very own Gingerbread Bunny, Sarah, has sold them before now and has made a few custom sets - you can contact her via her Gingerbread Bunny Facebook page here or through her blog here if you're interested.

Well, that's about it for the old zill muffs. If you decide to go for it, do let us know how you get on!

Later this week we'll have another 'Guest Blog' from our friend Jo (you may remember she wrote here about the Wendy Allen workshops in Devon last summer). She had a fab time at Pauline Qu's 'Close Encounters of the Tribal Kind' in Haxby this weekend, and is going to tell us all about it!

Until then, happy dancing!  

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Tribal Collaborations!

Well, this week brought my second exciting transatlantic delivery ...... my new 'Tribal Collaborations' CD from WildCard Bellydance and Arcane Dimension! To say that it's already been well played would be an understatement - its funky Middle Eastern beats have been flooding the house for several days now, so that even the dogs can now bob their heads in time with the rhythms! I love it!
The music on the cd was especially created with tribal improv in mind and all of the tracks, whether fast or slow, reflect this. As such it's great for drilling to or indeed for performance. The fabulous WildCard girls have already performed to some of the tracks, and we have the You Tubes to prove it! Here's one of them dancing firstly to 'Forbidden Fruit' (my very favourite track from the CD!) and then at the end of the performance to 'Sunset'. Enjoy!


Beautiful dancing AND fantastic music! Check out more about WildCard Bellydance on on of our earlier blogs here.

As you'll hear, the music very much mirrors the whole vibe of tribal bellydance. It is strongly rooted in the sounds and traditions of the past, and yet it has a modern, funky twist that shouts out '2012'. There are echoes of times long ago but the music also resounds with the flavours of today. The whole CD just drwas you inexorably, irresistibly, into the dance. And of course that's what it's all about; Sakura have already been gettin' their groove on to some of the tracks at practice this week!

So - favourite tracks? Well, I actually love them all - but my very, very favourite has to be 'Forbidden Fruit' (which you've heard on the You Tube clip above). I think that what really sells that track to me is the chanty singing. It's weird, but it reminds me a bit of a much more tuneful version of the chanting that goes on in the temple scenes in 'Young Sherlock' (one of my favourite films ever). I say 'it's weird' because those particular scenes do freak me out a bit and I usually have to watch them with the sound turned down - and yet, although this track puts me in mind of those scenes, I actually adore it! I also love 'The Flight of Morrigan' with its Celtic feel and the funky grooves of 'Dates & Spices'. Not to mention the deliciously Greek-y 'Feast of Dionysus'. I have to say I had not heard of Arcane Dimension before this project - but I'm certainly going to check out more of their music now!

How can you get hold of your own copy, you ask? Well, it's available as a cd from both the WildCard Bellydance site here and from the Arcane Dimension site here. You can listen to samples of all the tracks on these sites, so that you know what you're buying, and also find out more about both the dancers and musicians. The album is also available for download on Amazon. If you want to keep updated with all the current news then also check out Facebook - Arcane Dimension are here and you'll find the WildCard ladies here.

Really all that's left for me to say now is a huge 'thank you' to both WildCard Bellydance and Arcane Dimension for giving us tribal dancers more fabulously funky music for strutting our stuff to! Hopefully there will be more such collaborations to come in the future!

Until next time, happy dancing!

Thanks to WildCard Bellydance and Arcane Dimension for images in this post.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Taking Tribal Global!

Ok, so what's the definition of complete and utter frustration? Yes, it's your brand new Gypsy Caravan DVD landing on your doormat five minutes before you have to head out to the hairdressers! And yes, this  happened to me today! Arrrrrrrgh! As you can imagine, I've been all of a flutter this afternoon, just desperate to get back home and cast my beady eyes over it .....

However, all is well now. Actually, all is far more than well. I'm back home, snuggled up on the couch out of the damp, gloomy evening air and I've just taken my headphones off having had my first good look (on my laptop!) at 'Tribal Technique 9 : Tribal Grooves and Combos'. I fear that my poor husband has been totally bemused by my alternating beaming smiles and dewy eyes, not to mention the intermittent hip jiggles and arm flourishes that inevitably accompany sedentary watching of a totally grooving dance DVD!

And totally grooving it certainly is! Now, where on earth do I start to tell you about it? If you've read earlier posts on here then you will know that Paulette shot this DVD in Milan last year, in collaboration with Cinzia Di Cioccio and Les Soeurs Tribales. It's a partnership that works really well, and the joy and smiles of all of these lovely dancing ladies are infectious. The DVD starts with a good old warm up before moving on to the technique section, where Paulette teaches variations on familiar moves as well as some beautiful new combos. As this DVD is aimed at intermediate & advanced dancers basic moves aren't broken down (if you're not familiar with these then get yourself some of her earlier DVDs or, better still, get thee to a workshop or two with her - she's a fabulous teacher!). However, the new moves are explained and demonstrated really clearly by Paulette and Cinzia, on both left and right, and are shown from the back as well as the front. The soundtrack is from Gypsy Caravan's ReMarkably ReMixed CD, and your hips just can't help but respond to the powerful rhythms and grooves - even if you're sitting comfortably on your couch!

The next part of the DVD is the practice section, where Paulette hands over to Les Soeurs Tribales -Cinzia, Denise and Samantha. They go through all of the moves and combos  several times, so there's lots of opportunity to let them soak into your body!
What was really good about watching the DVD through once without dancing along was that I noticed all sorts of little extras , such as the smiles between the dancers and Paulette, and the look of pride on Paulette's face as she watched them representing her format so beautifully.

What follows is something that is an inspired addition to Paulette's DVDs. It's a discussion between her and Cinzia about what tribal means to them ..... about Paulette's philosophy, about creating that magic together, about truly becoming YOURSELF as a dancer. Cinzia talks about her own journey within and beyond the Gypsy Caravan format, and Paulette emphasises the organic nature of the dance. As she says, it is both evolution and revolution! Paulette also talks about 'Taking Tribal Global' and uniting dancers everywhere within this amazing dance. I have to confess that this part did bring a bit of a tear to my eye; it took me right back to August 2010, when we were sitting in her gorgeous living room, all 'Talking Tribal' together. Oh, and apart from the tears I must admit that I had some serious necklace envy going on during this part of the DVD!

The DVD closes with a slide show of photographs of Paulette and her dancers, including many familiar Gypsy Caravan faces from both America and across the world. And once again, what they all have in common is that look of sheer happiness and joy - love of the dance, the music and of one another.  Fabulous!

So, would I recommend this DVD? You bet I would! It's a great instructional DVD with clear, well demonstrated explanations. But it's so much more than that. This DVD really gets to the heart of tribal in so many ways ... not just in what's said but also in what's apparent in the looks, smiles, encouragement and the way in which the dancers respond to one another. It's completely inspiring! Thank you so much to Paulette and all the dancers for sharing this with us.

To get your copy check out the Gypsy Caravan Dance Company International page on Facebook - the link is right here. Order it now and you too could be enthusing over it this time next week!

Well, it's time for me to go now. My hips are just itching to dance, so I'm off to stick that DVD into the player and get my tribal groove on!

Until next time, happy dancing!

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Happy New Year!

Hey - I'm actually blogging this from my phone, which is very exciting and technological! Anyway, I just wanted to say that I hope you've all had a good start to 2012 and that the coming months are packed with dance, friendship and joy! We'll be back soon with our regular blog and new year plans.
Until then lots of love from all the Sakura girls - and happy dancing!