The Sound of Music: Fast Class Music

by Sunday, January 30, 2011
You have asked for it, and I am happy to be sharing with you more music suggestions for dancing and listening. This month we're looking at the common music we use in classes each week. The more familiar you are with these songs, the better you will be able to respond to it in the moment, and the better dancer you will be. Especially in the lead, timing your transitions thoughtfully around changes in the music is a key to gently bringing your followers along with you, making everyone look synchronous and confident.

And the more you listen to Middle Eastern music in general, the more you will begin to recognize common themes and patterns. Eventually, you develop an ear that can anticipate changes, even in music you may have never heard before, and be able to respond to them spontaneously. That's when the real magic strikes...and opens doors to dancing joyfully to live musicians!

So here is a list of fast songs we use in class, which has links to the album on either Amazon or iTunes where you can purchase the individual songs, or the entire album!


Baladi Unplugged (our zilling tune!) / Helm / Itneen
Saidi Festival / Upper Egypt Ensemble / Egypt-A Musical Voyage
Mazamir / BodyShock / The Bellydance Project
Sout With Spice / FatChance Belly Dance / Itneen
Wuh Ya Booy (Oh Father) / Hossam Ramzy / Sabla Tolo III
Entah / Helm /Itneen
*This is a legal, free download of this entire album. Just click "Slow Download" to start the transfer.

Roast Butterflied Chicken w/ Potatoes

by Saturday, January 15, 2011
We accidentally double-ordered whole chickens this week, and we planned to try out two new recipes. Instead, we cooked this twice this week it was so yummy, with minor variations the second time for fun. With the two of us, there is enough for dinner and some leftovers (some I had for lunch, some we cooked into a quick chicken fettucine later in the week)

  • 1 whole chicken (3-4 lbs ideal, but anything over 2.5 lbs will be fine)
  • 2-3 yukon gold potatoes (or 1-2 baking potatoes of your choice--you will want lots of these, so don't skimp!) 
  • 1.5 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Any dry herbs of your choice. We used classic Italian spices, since we prefer it - oregano, basil, garlic salt, onion powder, and rosemary. A tsp of each is probably enough, or whatever you eyeball to get decent coverage on your chicken

 Pre-heat oven to 500 degrees, and put rack one below your oven's center.

Line the broiler rack tray with foil. If you like, also foil the rack, for easier clean up, but punch holes in key places near the center to make sure the fat from the chicken is able to drip down into tray below.

Cut potatoes into 1.5'-2" pieces, whatever you like for roast potatoes. Toss in 1.5 Tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper. Put into roasting pan, sprinkle with some rosemary if you like.

Butterfly your chicken - if you have never done this before, don't be afraid! It's super easy! See a video here to see how easy it is. Don't be afraid to be rough with your chicken to get it set up how you like, it can take it. I hadn't done this before this week, and now I already feel like an old hand at it.

Slide your fingers under the skin of the breast and thighs, making room for flavorful goodness to get under there. Try not to perforate the skin or break through the other side, so you create a little "pocket" instead of a sheath open at both ends, if that makes sense.

Combine your herbs in a bowl. If you like, you can grind together with a mortar and pestle to get if nice and fine and well-blended.

Melt your butter in the microwave, then throw in the herbs and stir up.

Spoon the butter and herb mixture under the skin of the bird. This is kinda messy, but worth it. Use the spoon to spread it around (or if you were a mud-pie kinda kid, use your fingers!).

Put rack on top of roasting pan with potatoes in it, and place the chicken on the rack. Arrange legs to partly cover the breasts, and make sure the skin is covering the meat (exposed skinless meat can dry out).

Cook at 500 degrees for 20 minutes, then rotate pan 180 and cook another 20 minutes.

Remove from oven, set chicken aside to rest 5 minutes. Pat your potatoes with paper towels to remove excess oils. They will have been soaking up the drippings from the chicken down there, which is great for flavor, but without some paper towel action they can be greasy, so don't skip this step if you want good crunchy potatoes. Some may stick to the foil; just scrape them up as much as you can.

For the two of us, I cut the chicken in half with a sharp kitchen knife. I put a pile of roast potatoes on the plate, and arranged the half chicken leaning against the potato-mountain. Then a veggie on the side if you planned for that. Note: heating some corn or peas on the stove during the last 10 minutes is easy enough, and you make your Mom proud eating your veggies. If you like, putting some carrots in with your potatoes in the roasting pan is another veggie option.

Enjoy!

A classic interview with Paulette Rees-Denis

by Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I wanted to share this interview/article from several years ago in which Paulette was interviewed by a local NW dancer, Oberon, on iShimmy.com


There was always a fateful connection for me with Paulette...a reason why I was drawn to her, that was not simply geographical proximity. And those who know me will see how much we speak with the same voice on so many issues. I have always been inspired by how she has found such articulate, positive ways to channel her passion for bellydance, and all the nuances of artistic ethics and community building. She has always been, and continues to be, a mentor to me on so many levels, and I loved re-visiting this article and be reminded again why I am so proud to call her my original tribal bellydance "Momma". I hope you enjoy it, too!

On "the Bellydance Police"

by Sunday, January 09, 2011
On Shira's tribe over on tribe.net (no, tribe isn't dead!), she referenced an article on Gilded Serpent in which another dancer wrote with a fair amount of disdain about those who rally behind the idea of retaining historical and cultural elements of bellydance (what is often termed "The Bellydance Police"). You can see the discussion, and link to the article, HERE. Shira follows it up with a great analogy, which I thought would be nice to share over here. So without further ado, I give you Shira's take:

"Let's say I write a 17-line poem with each line containing somewhere between 8 and 34 syllables and call it haiku. Now, the "poetry police" killjoys would tell you that such a poem does not conform to the properties of haiku (3 lines in length, with 5 syllables in line 1, 7 syllables in line 2, 5 syllables in line 3) and therefore is not haiku. Now, this poem may well convey my vision, my passion, my joy, and a completeness in my quest for beauty. These things would certainly qualify it as "poetry", but they don't qualify it as haiku.

But if I enter that poem in a haiku writing contest, should I expect to win? Should I expect journals that specialize in haiku to publish it, simply because I have chosen to declare that it is haiku, even though it does not contain the properties that people well-versed in the form would recognize as haiku?

If I start teaching classes in how to write haiku, should it be okay that I encourage my students to write any poem of any structure they please, all in the name of their vision, their passion, their joy, and a completeness in their quest for beauty while still calling the end result haiku? 

I would argue that no, it may all still be POETRY, and it all may all be worthy of being read, but there is a certain basic set of properties that must be met before you identify it as a specific genre of poetry. It still deserves to be written, and shared if the poet wishes to share it, but ultimately there should be truth in labeling."

Busy Busy Season!

by Thursday, January 06, 2011
Sorry things have been so slow around here lately. I am sure you all have been experiencing the same thing--that holiday hectic...ness? -icity? Whatever, it's just been really busy. So I haven't had a lot of time to share my thoughts here.

The biggest change has been that shortly before Thanksgiving, I took a contract job with The Purple Store.  What is it, you ask? Why, a store that sells purple things of course.  Yep, that is the business model.  If you or someone you know loves purple, they need to check out this shop. The site isn't fancy, but it's chock full of purpley goodness.

As you might imagine, being any kind of retailer around the holidays meant that my training was trial-by-fire, as we leapt from a manageable chunk or orders each day to OMGWTFXMAS in just over a week after I started. Luckily, the people I work with are smart, funny, motivated people, and we worked hard as a team to kick out the orders, answer customer service queries, and even put up a small retail space for last minute Christmas shoppers to get their gift on. To say it was a crazy busy time would be an understatement, but it was a joy to get to flex some different mental and physical muscles.

Classes have been small since I returned from hiatus, but it is made up of a dedicated bunch of women.

It's been a lot of fun to be able to give more personal attention to each individual student. It reminds me of the first year I taught, and how it felt to be able to really see each student fully and personally.  

It's been an interesting contrast to more recent years where, while I have always endeavored  to give each student the attention they deserved, I wasn't always able to key in to some of the details I can when groups are smaller.  It has given me a lot to think about as a teacher, and kind of re-prioritize what my eye should train on when in larger groups.  Good for larger classes and workshops both.

On the web design front things have been picking up at the end of the year/start of the new year.  It's been really fun digging into some of the new CS3 capabilities, allowing me to make tweaks here and there that are both cosmetically pleasing AND performance boosting. Who knew the two could go hand-in-hand? My latest project that is live is http://www.buddhakittyglass.com which is the business of our good friend Steena Fullmer. She turned her beloved hobby of fused glass into a tidy little online business, and has been growing with each year in both her skills and her customer demand. I was thrilled to get my hands on her website and fix it up so not only was it lovely and reflected her aesthetic, but was something she can easily edit and update herself. Now that's design I can get excited about!

At home, this new three-job life has been keeping me from my beloved home-care routine.  Dishes are not getting done every day, the bed is rarely made, and don't talk to me about vacuuming and dusting. Chris has been a rock star doing his best to help pick up the slack, but with the the many holiday obligations, it's been a challenge to find the energy.  But part of it is feeling a little cabin-fevery and longing for a little sunshine and warmth--grey and cold sucks the motivation right out of me, and all I wanna do is watch TV and drink tea! I feel confident I am not alone in this.

The thought that spring is around the corner (well, enough for me) is exciting. I am eager to get back out in the garden and make everything pretty again. We have a pile of unfinished projects from last year, plus the dream of starting our veggie garden to go with our successful herb garden from 2010. And more fresh herbs and veggies means more COOKING to be done!  We started our "Moore Family Cooking Compendium" last year--a folder where we keep our favorite recipes in little plastic sleeves for frequent use--and I intend to see a multi-volume set developing by the end of 2011.

I am pretty sure that catches us up for now. I can't say I am at all sad to see 2010 behind me. It started so amazingly, and then somewhere in the first third, shit hit the fan so hard, it was easy to imagine never recovering. We are still licking our wounds here in the Moore house, but we are a scrappy bunch and won't let anything keep us down for long. Besides, one of my Christmas gifts from Chris was a big ol' gift card from Fluevog, and with shiny new 'vogs on the horizon, how could the new year go anywhere but up?

PLEASE VISIT MY DANCE BLOG!


On this blog I share my personal posts about cooking and knitting, travel and other musings; while I will blog about dance-specific topics over on the Deep Roots Dance blog:
http://www.deeprootsdance.com

I hope you will enjoy both my sites. Thanks for visiting!
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