Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Zill maintenance
Time has been moving forward, although I feel as I've accomplished nothing of late. No progress. Just backtracking. It has been abundantly clear in my dance. At least it feels that way. I noticed this past month that my shimmies seem to be regressing in endurance and strength. I get flashes from my beginner days when shimmies where a challenge and I had to practice them often. I haven't spent much time on them in a while. And I'm noticing. They feel, well a little sad really. Which means they've probably been petering out for a while before the thought crossed my mind.

I started drilling shimmies on top of my zill drills in order to maximize my dance time. I find this terribly boring, stripping my dance down to nothing but exercise, killing the fun. I know it's part of being a dancer and maintaining your technique, etc. I'm just put out by the fact I'm having to backtrack and the cause is my own doing.

Which leads to the unpleasant matter of a recent injury to my neck/shoulder area. Doing head slides of all things. I was doing one of my zill + shimmy drills, incorporating a head-to-hip combo on top of it all. Trying to really challenge myself. Get my brain firing. I've never had an issue with head slides as a quick accent here and there or as part of a warm-up. But apparently, my zealous overconfidence of layering a combo and shimmies and zills was too much. Head slides, over and over, through 2-3 songs of the same drill broke the camel's back. Pun intended. Not sure which is more bruised. My ego or my neck.

The first 2 weeks after straining my neck/shoulder upper body drills where out of the question. I also slept like crap using my horseshoe shaped neck pillow flat on my back at night. After almost 4 weeks it is still stiff but I can at least do warm-ups and stretching in that area to some benefit.

The beginnings of another belt.

Now we come to costuming.

Ah, costuming. The reason why my shimmies are suffering and why MAKING costumes are the reason why no costumes are getting MADE.

To state the obvious, making dance costumes take a long time. It's no wonder why halfway though (aka 6 months into) a project I get side tracked with new ideas. I had 3 costumes in the works when I decided to make a new silver and gold bedlah just because I want another one. I have 3 of Sa'dia's costumes for alterations.  I also made it my business to help a new dancer expand his costume options and began experimenting with a fusion style silver fringe belt. And not 2 days ago I decided I wanted to make a Saidi dress. I don't even need a Saidi dress. Meanwhile, I have been working on a costuming class idea as requested by some my local dance friends.

I finally decided NO MORE NEW PROJECTS! I went back to work on "Tar Berries" and tried to grind my way over the hump and get it done. It could have been done, soonish. Then I decided to add a long row of bead work along the skirt. That decision has probably set me back another 2 months.

Belt detail.

Silver fringe belt experiment.

Awesome texture.

Soaping out the design along the bottom of the Tar Berries skirt.

Lime (or lemon) juice + salt = chemical free zill bath.

I decided this evening I could at least clean my zills. Maintain them before they turn into a mess like my shimmies. That is at least some progress against the constant feel of backtracking. I figured I could also post a real post. Not just re-post some dance video or a generic, "Hey I'm still here! Look at my blog!" post.

On a side note, my zill playing is improving, in tiny tiny baby steps. And I'm ok with that. I finally resigned myself to the fact it wasn't easy. It never was going to be easy. And while I'd hate doing the work I would have to put into learning, the end result will be quite gratifying.

This is my 661st post and the 12th year, 5th month of bellydance in my life. Guess that's a little bit of progress after all.



Kis said...

How does the lemon+salt thing for zills work? That sounds rather interesting...

I really need to get to finishing the bra I started for the sew-a-long and do the belt, but I'm filling my spare time with more dance stuff (like I said in the letter which hopefully has turned up)... Really need to put my foot down too I think.

Naima said...

Vinegar and salt work too. You can search online for exact measurements but I just dump some in a bowel until it works. Sometimes I add a little water if I need to submerge them for a while. Then I buff them with a cloth or old toothbrush depending on how cruddy the etched designs are. Dry and they're good to go. And yes, got your letter safe and sound =)
I recently had a crash course in ITS. Wow! Made my cabaret head spin.

Kis said...

Looks like I'll be having one in an ATS variant (Red Belly Black Style) soon... It'll likely do the same to me.

Trade you info for info if you'd like (ATS or burlesque!)...

Naima said...

I've had a little ATS (Fat Chance style) in the past but don't know the difference with Red Belly Black. I don't remember much of it at all. We should totally do a private video exchange. No one else would want to see me stumble through any kind of tribal style dance. I also know some Suhaila Salimpour style although I haven't done it regularly in 4-5 years. It's very technical.

Kis said...

That sounds like an awesome idea :) You can watch me forget my choreo over and over and over and Rast-a-cat get under my feet mid way through something!
I've looked at the Suhaila Salimpour stye and it looks interesting...

LeMava said...

Great idea about cleaning zills (I should tell my dance friends about it). In what proportions you made this solution and how log did you held zills in it?

Naima said...

Most recipes say 50/50. I usually just added enough salt that is doesn't completely dissolve (still floating around the bottom of the mix) but not so much as to make a paste. Some people do prefer a paste. I've let the zills soak anywhere from 15 minutes to overnight depending on how tarnished they are. You can also use vinegar and salt with the same effect. You can use an old toothbrush or super super fine pot scrubber to clean any designs areas.

LeMava said...

Thank you!

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