Belly Dancers in the Wild

Image

I absolutely love this photo from ronscubadiver.wordpress.com and just wanted to add it to my blog feed. The colors are beyond vibrant… there must be a word for that, but I don’t know what it is. It makes me remember the feeling of dancing with my belly dance troupe and how good it felt for fabric and coins to move around all of us in wild unison, hair swishing on my back.

In this photo you can see the energy shooting from the earth, through the dancers bodies and right out their fingertips. Just look at their gorgeous delicate fingers. I can almost hear their zills and coins… i must dance today.

xo skyblue

Thank you Ron Scuba Diver for sharing this lovely photo! Check out more lovely creatures and adventures on his WordPress blog.

When the Gypsy first got all Zen. (and other gypsies!)

If you would like to know who won the Yoga Gypsy calendar, please have a look over at the Skyblue Facebook Page!  (you can go straight to the announcement post here.  You’ll enjoy my goofy video.)

…That whole contest thing was a little stressful.  Any time I do something new or outside of my comfort zone, I pretty much freak out.  Hives, burning ulcer, sleepless nights… it’s not easy being me.  But how terrifying, to put my art out for everyone to see, offering it for free! … and knowing only like 2 people would care.  But those are the type of thing I must do.  Hopefully you will be a witness from my humble beginnings to my wild success!  LOL

And art is one of the many things I do to combat the paralyzing anxiety i can get.  Anxiety, depression, blah, blah blah.  There… now you all know.  I’m a hot mess.  Besides the yoga, dance and all that jazz…the art has been some of my best medicine.  It’s helped me on my darkest days, and it definitely beats any prescriptions they put me on.

I’ve always been drawn to gypsies… specifically what I imagined they would wear, or what I would wear if I could be a gypsy of some sort. Coins, hip-scarves, long flowing skirts… and then I got to drawing these awkward figures, with their quirky belly dancer outfits and dangly jewelry, and well… the only thing I could think of that they were gypsies.  Anyway, I just found some photos of the original Yoga Gypsy drawing… before she got glued and painted into the painting seen on the December page of the calendar.

YG December

Also you’ll find some of the other gypsies from my sketchbooks.  I hope to get some of my other drawings out there and available for your collection.  🙂

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What would we find in your sketchbooks?

xo skyblue

Even if you are a delicate flower you can be a bad ass about it.

Always Beautiful RightHalf - CroppedMake your creative dreams happen… let’s do this together!

You might as well start with this lovely 2014 calendar.  Fans of my Facebook page will have a chance to win one later this month, or you might decide to buy one for someone you love.

2014 Yoga gypsy Calendar Image

xo skyblue

Come Dance with Me. The Story of Little Orange Studio

Exhilaration is…what happens when i come home from work, go straight to little orange studio, crank up my Pandora, forget about work and responsibility, and just go wherever the music takes me.  Literally!  This is how i exercise.

Will I do some belly dancing? or lift some weights? or do some step aerobics?  How about some Yoga?  Ballet?  Maybe some Pilates?  Maybe I feel like just putting on a pretty skirt and dancing like I was on stage again (is that wierd? oh well.)

And my husband?  What does he think of his wife in the other room practicing torso undulations and snake arms… busting out in hour long dance routines? It used to freak him out when I first started doing it no doubt… but it doesn’t seem to phase him anymore.  he usually can’t help sneaking into the studio to come stand beside me in the mirror and do his special guy-version of a hip shimmy… or he likes to tip toe up behind me and make inappropriate gestures when i’m doing yoga (hello? Downward Dog? we all know some of those poses clearly invite innocent spousal butt grabs).

My dance habits although a bit strange to others, are my most regular and effective form of exercise, and an endless source and outlet for creativity.  I go through constant ups and downs with regards to my commitment of keeping up a regular schedule.  I’ll start to feel really flexible and strong, and toned, and then i lose my steam.  I get lazy.  I procrastinate.  But ultimately, besides fair weather walking,  this is my main source of exercise. To understand this slightly odd hobby – dancing for hours in a special room of my house- and to understand why i do it and what it means to me, one must know some of my background.

image: First Lesson at Truempy Ballet School by Alfred Eisenstaedt

A brief (although wordy) history of my significant, but very humble, experiences in dance, movement, and fitness…

  • 1977 (I was 7, sure go ahead do the math).  I had known for “years” that i wanted to be a ballerina.  I had not learned yet that i was destined to suck at all sports and athletics.  I started going to ballet classes at a little school in Manchester. I Loved it, but I hated it.  I was addicted to the beauty of it and to the feeling of moving my body to music, but so incredibly challenged by the intensity of it all… so much pain…so competitive.  I couldn’t live without it, but I dreaded every muscle throbbing-toe bleeding class and rehearsal.  [How I loved you, Ms. Priscilla, even when you made me cry and made me do it 37 times, until it was perfect . I truly loved you despite the oozing blisters.]
  • My bedroom at the time becomes, part little girl’s room, part Grand Stage where my early “choreographies” are rehearsed, and performed for unsuspecting aunts and uncles.  I think I charged them each like one dollar.
  •  I did primarily ballet at my dance school, but i also did lot’s of jazz, and tap until I was about 22.  Tap and jazz were where i had the most fun (Who’s not having fun slinking around to Smooth Criminal, and tap dancing your heart out to 42nd Street!)… but ballet was still my first love.  The satin toe-shoes, the delicate tutu’s, the perfect pirouettes , the graceful arms and hands.  I was never the best in my class, and i only ever got a few solo parts, but i kept up with it…always knowing it was my foundation for being able to do any of the other stuff.  I spent many years performing in recitals and small town productions with my beloved first dance school.  My mom and dad were there for every performance, every class, every accomplishment, every smile, every tear.  My mom sewed my costumes.  My dad helped backstage… assembling Santa’s sleigh…he even helped tie up the unraveled ballet shoes of tiny sugarplums in the wings.
  • I went to college and joined the dance company there, which is the first time i was exposed to any other types of dance.  During this time I learned a little modern, and contemporary.  Performed a few times, tried some choreography.  Got a surprise marriage proposal from my dance partner, on stage, during a show, in front of our families and my entire college campus. (that wedding never did happen, but a very memorable “dance” moment!  and great man that i hope is living a happy, healthy life with a beautiful family somewhere. i didn’t deserve him.)
  • My mid-twenties…started dabbling in some step aerobics and learning to do light weight lifting, etc.
  • After college ended, I danced here and there until i was about 26 and then stopped.  I was too old for dance recitals, and didn’t know of any options other than traditional ballet and tap schools where i could continue dancing.
  • Started going to gyms more, learning how to use fitness equipment and taking group classes… aerobics, kickboxing, and the occasional yoga class [a little too new age and misunderstood by me at that time, but i was slightly and subconsciously intrigued].  My body looked and felt great, but I never loved going to the gym.  “What? No pretty costumes?  No beautiful music?  No fun choreographies? “Waahh… grown up exercise… yuck!”
  • Stopped moving altogether for a few years, besides some pretty steady nightclub dancing and the occasionally date on roller blades.
  • Mid-late 90’s, found a tiny little classified posting in the Advocate, for a belly dance class held in a used book store.  “Belly Dance? A Book Store? Interesting…”
  • 5 minutes into my first class…Hooked…I was going to be a dancer again.

  • Gradually found some more classes to take.  One of my early classes was a fusion of belly dance and yoga.  Hmmm… i was liking this yoga thing more and more… especially if i can do it while i’m belly dancing!
  • Started taking lots of belly dance classes and traveling for workshops… and performing a bit.  Hip Scarves! Silk Veils! Sparkly Costumes!  Fake Eyelashes! Exciting Music!  Classes with famous experts!  Dance camp with professionals and famous musicians! THIS WAS LIVING!
  • created a special exercise/belly dance area in my apartment at the time, doing more independent practice and study of belly dance, yoga, pilates, and fitness in general as I slowly and modestly transformed the space into my “dance room”.
  • I spent a few years doing local belly dance performances with other students for fun, for fundraisers, in restaurants… I met so many lovely, creative women.
  • Learned a bit more Yoga and Pilates with books, classes and workshops. Both feel very complimentary to my belly dancing.
  • Got a little stagnant with belly dance after a while.  Tried my hips at some Polynesian and Hula, knowing the music and movements would be equally as thrilling and beautiful.  The costumes were interesting too… I performed at a handful of gigs and parties … got to wear a few grass skirts, and yes… i had my own pair of coconuts.  I had a great time, met more lovely, creative women.
  • Decided to focus my efforts solely on belly dance once again… some classes, a workshop or two, another few performances… did a little teaching for beginners. Only stayed involved with the belly dance community for another year or so.  Life got in the way, as they say.  A few dear friends remain.

  • 2006, I moved.  I started creating a new space, a new room in my new house, where i could practice, play music, be comfortable, and feel inspired – and where I could paint the walls any color of the rainbow without losing a security deposit.
  • Today, I’m dancing again.  I get in an occasional funk with the seasons, my moods, or a temporary obstacle.  But I am dancing.

***

Little Orange Studio is where,

even though I am no longer formally involved in dance…

I am still a dancer. 

There are magical forces at work here.

This is where i get the movement and exercise my body craves.

This is where i am still able to be creative with choreography and improvisation. 

This is where I am the artist I have always wanted to be.

This is where I am the writer I never thought I could be.

This is where I heal, ease pain, and get stronger after the cancer.

This is where I am still a dancer.

This is where I will forever be…

ballerina, belly dance goddess…

dancer.

***

My life of dance and movement gave me the vision to create these spaces where i live.  The space I have now is where i dance, exercise, and make artwork in harmony.  One inspires the other… inspires the other….they are not separate. Since having little orange studio, I have experienced the power it has over my creativity, inspiration, and motivation.  At any moment… early in the morning, or by the flicker of candle light and a full moon… you might find me in there making a necklace, doing sun salutations,  painting a canvas, dancing to middle eastern, acoustic or club music.  sometimes I’m wearing yoga pants and a hip scarf… other times i am decked head to toe in belly dance attire with swirling skirts, jingling coins, lipstick, and flowers in my hair.  No matter what you find me doing in there, there will be music playing, candles glowing, and incense burning.  No matter what you find me doing in there, i am being the most “me” I could ever be.

What inspires me about the sunny studio by the woods?  The warm colors… the delicate sunlight… the magical lamps… the shaggy rugs… the shelves of lovely books and treasures from my past… the whimsical paintings… the meticulously organized art supplies… my gorgeous [hand-made-by-hubby] table and flea market furniture… my cat sleeping in a basket of pretty scarves…the late-morning light that beams onto the colors and my skin.

One might agree, It’s not always easy to find motivation for exercise, or the recipe for creativity, or the wisdom to stop and listen to birds from a yoga mat.  “Real life” always seems to trump.  But putting petty excuses aside, there are no valid reasons for me not to want to go into this room and be creative, exercise, write, dance.  This is where i feel whole and strong. This is where my soul longs to spend its days.

Little OS is my story.  Here I can dance until i am 80 and create until earth’s journey ends.  I never have to retire my sparkly hip scarves or jingly coin belts!  I realize i may want to think twice about the sequin bra’s and coconut shells in a few years, although perky is no longer an issue for me, so who knows! (this can be further clarified for you by Dancing Rapunzel if curiosity now has the best of you)

ALLLLL this being said, I have secretly wished i could help other people create spaces like this for themselves, for whatever it is they want do do.  I don’t think i will have my little orange studio interior design company any time soon, but maybe someone will read this and try it for themselves.  and then poof.  it happens for them…  the magic.

My space happens to be a spare room in the back of my house tucked near the woods.  A cozy corner, a large closet, a patch of grass under a tree can work too.  Your space might be waiting, right before your eyes.  Give it some love.  Give it some You.

Let’s say you had an extra room or spare corner in your home…what would yours look like?  What would you do there?

Maybe you already have a space, that is your story, and you’ve just never told it.

My hope is that at least one kindred blogger or reader will find this post, and be inspired to create their own space to dance (or meditate, do situps, sew dresses, do yoga, make art…  ).

Exhilaration, Bliss, Spiritual Perfection, might be waiting for you there.

love, skyblue. xo.


My heart in full color

I often wonder what it must be like to not love art… to not love creating.  I can’t even imagine it.  People seem to think i am part yoga hippie,part crazy cat lady, and part health nut.  I have no idea why people think I’m a health nut. I had a raspberry danish, two cups of coffee, a glass of root beer, and a large handful of m&ms today.  The other descriptions are pretty accurate i would say.  A day of fun for me would be a few hours at the flea market, another few hours painting in my studio, and another hour or two doing yoga and belly dance.

I was thrilled to spend a few hours in my studio this weekend.  As I worked on a couple of paintings, I found myself asking,  “Why do I love art so much?  Why do i long to spend all the hours of daylight in my studio, sketching, gluing, painting…

I haven’t figured out exactly how to answer that question.  But i decided (for once) I would not judge every stroke, and second guess every color choice, and worry if my paintings would be good enough, or if they would have anything worthwhile to say… I would instead simply enjoy each stroke, and notice the juxtaposition of colors and shapes.  I would just get lost in my paint and let my brushes speak what is in my heart.

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These are some close-ups of the series i’m working on for my living room.  I love the way paint and canvas unite to make the most interesting patterns and textures from the close-up perspective.  More to come i hope.  Happy Monday!

e.j.l. xo

Supakitch & Koralie on littlecommas.wordpress.com

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Mine was fantastic, thanks!

Since I’m having trouble uploading pics this week, I will just share a post found on this great blog littlecommas@wordpress in case you missed it on Freshly Pressed.  (Besides, I wanted to try the Press This function.  What great fun!)  I love all the content on this site and I am now a follower… but this post I found to be particularly inspiring.  One more thing for me to be grateful for…getting to see this video.  This is a lovely dance if I’ve ever seen one. Thank you, thank you!!

Enjoy!

e.j.l. xo

Supakitch & Koralie.

p.s. Congrats littlecommas getting Freshly Pressed!

the music sounds sweeter these days…

The calm has set in.  I feel like I can breathe.  The past month or so has been a little jarring to my spirit, but it has not been without many of the sweetest moments.  Besides dealing with the Great Power Outage of 2011, which most of us in Connecticut are finally recovering from… I was sent in for a wee bit of surgery… again… just to make sure I am still paying attention I suppose.

Since October 2009, when my life was so rudely interrupted with the Breast Cancer diagnosis, there have been what seems to be an endless number of surgeries and medical challenges.   I had never had surgery before this time.  The thought of it made me shudder.  But I have been poked, sliced, stitched, injected and infused more in the past two years than I would like to admit.  Most of my treatments and surgeries had wrapped up earlier this year and I was moving on.

Life was getting better, but it was an adjustment.  I was feeling like one of Picasso’s lovely nudes…  my body felt so disjointed and awkward, but I knew I was of a new strength.  I knew I was somehow more beautiful, even with all my jagged scars, and without my long hair. It was a sad beauty… a beautiful sadness…  Yet I was a stronger, more powerful, more beautiful woman.  I became one of the women for whom all the pink fuss was about.

As things were returning to normal, I had no intention of dwelling on this pothole in the road.  Life was going good for us in 2011.  The economy still sucking… The weather still usually sucking… but I was all patched up, i had some peach fuzz on my head, i was alive, and life was going very good.

Then we get another shot of “Oh Jesus!” juice.  Early last month I found out I had a cyst on my ovary… which is typically not that alarming and very common apparently… but because of “my history” they immediately sent me back into the OR to get the whole ovary removed.   It is likely nothing… but if it is something… we will just remove your other ovary and your uterus… and if it is still something you will have some more chemo… and then you should be fine…  You are over 40 so you must have had your children already… (no, thanks for assuming though).

It was hard to keep the thoughts at bay… to not revisit my dark thoughts of pain and mortality…further departure from my femininity… but I managed to stay positive for the most part.

Today my new set of scars are starting to heal, I can sit up on my own again, and test results all came back good.  Now that storm Alfred, and my own personal little power outage, are over… I am back in the swing and all “lights” are back on!  Fist bumps all around.

I have made some interesting observations recently.  Each time I come out of this ever more familiar post-surgery storm… I seem to know myself a little better.  There seems to be a noticeable light shining upon my surroundings… a tangible sharpening of my senses.  The colors of the trees and the horizons are so much more vibrant.  The flavors of a home cooked meal are so much more delightful. The voice of a friend is so much more relished.  My dance music makes me feel so much more emotional.  Songs on the radio are so much more fun… I can’t stop car dancing!  I’ve seriously got moves like Jagger lately.

I am not taking these observations lightly.  It should not take being injected with toxic chemicals or winning a one-sided, unarmed fight with a scalpel-wielding professional to make me notice a sunset or make time for a friend.  I always notice sunsets, and i always love my friends,  but maybe this is why we must go through rough times.  Just to make sure we are still paying attention – really paying attention.

Are you there God?  It’s me, erica.  Please no more surgeries this year… I’m listening!!!  (-:

ejl x.o.

PabloPicasso-Girl-with-Mandolin-Fanny-Tellier-1910

Images: Les Demoiselles d’Avignon – Pablo Picasso, e.j.l.’s sketch book, Girl With a Mandolin – Pablo Picasso

Angel

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” 

Michelangelo

______________________________________

I had this piece of wood.  I knew i wanted to paint a picture on it. it took me about two years to figure out just what i wanted to paint on it…

It was the best part of the morning, when the sun starts beaming warmth into my studio.  It was a Saturday, my favorite day.  I grabbed the piece of wood, sanded it for a while, and made a decision.  There i was, with all my best shades of purple, red, orange, and blue, ready to paint some random abstract sketch i found in one of my art journals…

And then i saw her out of the corner of my eye, right in the swirls of wood.  she was twirling around and around, her hair flowing, wearing the prettiest skirt.  i honestly couldn’t believe what i was seeing.  i looked away for a minute, but when i looked again she was still there.  i left the room to get some water, came back, and there she still was, kind of sad, twirling and twirling.  at that moment, i knew the abstract “whatever” could wait.  I quickly traced her silhouette with my graphite, before she could vanish.  then i just started painting.   When she emerged, I was her.  She was me… the dancer inside me.  She was so lovely and happy to be dancing, and a much better dancer than i ever was.  But there was some sadness in her eyes.   i named her Daisy.

i have danced on and off my whole life.  Ballet, tap, jazz, modern… In my late twenties i thought i was done for good.  I stopped altogether, and it went on that way for a few years, but i always felt the void.  In my 30’s i discovered belly dance, and thought i would be doing it until i was 80.  For many reasons in 2009, i stopped belly dancing and life went on with all its usual ups and downs…  just no dancing.  I was surely never going to dance again.  i was tired, my bones were creaky, i couldn’t even do a grand plie without groaning.

It seems Daisy came into my life just in time.  She reminded me how good it feels to dance…and that i was not yet finished dancing.  I realized that i don’t need to go to classes, or perform with a troupe, in order to continue to be a dancer.  i could dance right there at home, in my little orange studio, and i could do it my way.  Each plie, at my own pace.  Every hip shimmy, as gentle or as intense as i chose.   I could do ballet, belly dance, even yoga and aerobics, whatever the music made me feel like doing.  it would heal my body.  it would heal my spirit.  and i might even wear a bikini again!

Well, I didn’t wear any bikinis this summer, almost two years later, but to this day I dance and do yoga with Daisy.  My body is finally starting to feel stronger and the movement finally feels good again.  I intend to be dancing with her until i am 80, or more.   Daisy has been hanging on the wall there now since the first day i found her, another unfinished painting, another project procrastinated.  Someday I will take her down off the wall, and give her the attention she needs and deserves.  But it doesn’t really matter when, or if, i finish her.  What matters is that she was there, just when i needed her.  And now she is free.  Still a little sad sometimes, but free.

e.j.l. xo

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p.s. before the comment is posted… i am of course aware that my Daisy is not even in the same universe as Michelangelo’s angels.  I just liked the quote. (-:

Have you ever seen an “angel in the marble”?  Did it effect your life in some way?

Dancing Rapunzel has a new dress…

and new boobs.  You see, DR never dreamed she would be getting a new size 34C pair for her 40th birthday (should she have gone bigger? hmmm, maybe something to contemplate at a later date), but that’s exactly what she got, like it or not.  One would have to read another blog, about that dancing rapunzel girl, to get the entire background, but long story short for now, she did get new boobs, saline actually, very real feeling… so she’s been told.  But first she underwent a bilateral mastectomy. She was pretty bummed when she got a stage 2b breast cancer diagnosis as a sort of belated 39th birthday gift… October 30th, 2009.  Well maybe she was not bummed so much as freaking out and hysterical.  You know, crying for days, planning how to spend her last days, thinking about how embarrassing it will be when people read her journals, looked in her sketchbooks… you would think a fairly common reaction to “you’ve got cancer, we might be able to save your life, and we’ll be chopping your breasts off in order to do so”.  This is somewhat dramatic, maybe way too graphic, and the doctor was much kinder about it. but it was kind of like that, in her own head. And her family came right along for the ride, making sure she never felt alone.

This is where i admit, it would be terribly exhausting (for you and me) if I were to continue writing my own story in the 3rd person, so yes, hiii, that’s me, rapunzel.  Not my real name of course, but again, the other blog explains a bit about that if i recall. as i write going forward, my intent will be to document my creative journey, share what inspires me, and hopefully grow as a person.  I have probably gathered much of my recent inspiration from having breast cancer, and i guess it has been a huge wake up call for me to get serious about taking care of some things, i’ve been putting off, or entirely put aside for the last 5, 10, 35 years.  Specifically, things, goals, and people, that are really important to me.  i haven’t always been the best daughter, or grand daughter, friend, cousin, wife, kitty mama, coworker…and so on, so i hope i can really get my act together in that area of my life. And my rockin belly dancer bod (maybe just to my husband), well it’s not so rockin anymore.  more like blockin [out the sun] no, i’m totally kidding, i just start rhyming sometimes.  what was i saying?… oh yes, so i would like to make a few changes in my life basically.  Kind of like new boob resolutions, or something.  Is it Brian Tracy? or was it that 7 Habits guy?…well one or both of them said something about making To Do lists to make positive changes in your life, or was it to become successful?  Well whatever it was, i’m sure it can’t hurt my life or my success.  So I guess here’s my list:

To Do.

1. be a better daughter, wife, auntie, etc…

2. get in shape, eat healthier . maybe do a little more belly dancing  (-:

3. paint more, create more, take lots and lots of pictures.

There’s definitely more to this list, i just probably won’t blog about it.   By the way, in case you were wondering why Dancing Rapunzel ends her blog abruptly on May 19th 2010, and why there’s a stupid square thing embedded in the middle of all the text… it’s because my password got hijacked, or something, and after about 35 hours of trying to get back in or get some type of account support, i gave up and was never able to get back in it.  I don’t exactly know why that square is there, but IF I COULD GET IN, I COULD FIGURE OUT HOW TO GET RID OF IT.  well, i don’t think anyone at the other blog hosting site cares or is listening, but i’ve decided i’m very happy this happened because it is a brand new beginning for me.  I can still go back and read some of my old posts, as a guest.  But for now it’s new boobs, new job, new life, new blog.  whoa… my blogging is like mirroring my real life.  trippy.

anyway, about that new dress.  it’s sky blue, with daisies all over it. It’s the one i wear in my most beautiful dream… the dream where i make art and take photos all day, every day… where David Bromstad, Antonio Ballitore & Chewy have all collaborated to design my home, where I like myself and i love my body (rockin or not), and where i’m surrounded by the people i love.  oh and there’s cupcakes, lots of perfectly delicious cupcakes.

here is a sketch in my journal.  i started making these portraits a few months ago. some are self-portraits, some are portraits of other women i’ve known, and most are a combination of both.  Sometimes i do get bummed because i’ve gained some weight, or because the chemo claimed my long pretty hair.   i draw the portraits when i just want to feel pretty again, and lipstick isn’t helping.

e.j.l. xo

picking daisies in the rain

picking daisies in the rain

p.s. please self exam and get a mammogram! … and don’t forget to ask the doc if you’re dense!