Thursday, March 11, 2010

Running on steam...

I'm so excited for my upcoming steampunk workshop at the Northland Bellydance Forum the the Twin Cities, MN that I have broken my usual pattern of procrastination!  I've been downright organized and ahead of the game with this one, unlike many of my workshops, which are planned and choreographed in the car, madly typed up right before and then sent to the printers without minutes to spare!  It is usually very stressful.

However, this time I'm running on pure excitement.  Today I'm going to officially email the rest of my performance music to the organizers and next week I hope to finish the flier for the workshop, including the choreography. 

What I posted yesterday is the informational section of the flier that I want to hand out and talk through during warm ups.  I figure there will be a lot of people there who don't know what steampunk is, so I need to teach them about that before we get into a fusion of bellydance and steampunk! 

Well, off to send choreography notes to my dance partner Seana, and then perhaps some morning yoga...?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Steampunk Workshop Information


Reimagined History, Science Fiction, Nostalgia, Victorian Aesthetics, Steampower, Clockwork, Gears

“Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction… frequently featuring elements of fantasy…The term denotes works set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used” (Wikipedia. 2010.

“What is Steampunk? I usually start out my explanation with this: Imagine if 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea [by Jules Verne] were history, and not fiction…A culture stuck in the Victorian Era, where electricity never took over the world, and technology is still steam-driven…Coal fires boil water, producing steam, which fuels the technology that motors your vehicles, on earth or water, or better yet, gliding through the air in the form of graceful dirigibles [air ships]” (Designs by Victoria. 2010. Etsy Steamteam.

“Steampunk is an anachronistic mixture of Victorian styles and mechanical steam-powered fantasy technology, originating with such authors as Jules Verne and H.G. Wells…[it] exemplifies this blend of history and invention. Steampunk…includes common themes (discovery, bricolage, invention, et al.) and objects (dirigibles, clockworks, engines, et al.), [and] generates a sense of Victorian nostalgia or re-imagined history” (Steamteam, 2010 Email correspondence).

Rebellion, H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Speculative Fiction into Science Fiction. Retrofuturism

Steampunk is the modern imitation of actual Victorian speculative fiction. It fits into the genre of science fiction along with cyber punk and other forms of imaginative futures, and stemapunk is also a form of retrofuturism or revisionist history. According to Wikipedia (2010), the term “Steampunk” was coined in 1979 by science fiction author K. W. Jeter, who was trying describe literature that imitated conventions of actual Victorian speculative fiction such as H. G. Wells's The Time Machine (1895).

What does Steampunk have to do with Bellydance anyway?

Speculative fiction works from the Victorian period, by authors such as H.G. Wells and Jules Verne, have been built off of by contemporary writers, directors, artists, musicians, and now – dancers!

Check Out:

· “Sleepy Hollow” Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci. Director: Tim Burton (1999)

· “The Brothers Grimm” Matt Damon, Heath Leger, Monica Belluci. Director: Terry Gilliam (2005)

· “Lemony Snickets’ A Series of Unfortunate Events” Jim Carrey, Jude Law, Meryl Streep. Director: Brad Silberling (2004)

· “Return to Oz” Fairuza Balk. Director: Walter Murch (1985)

· “12 Monkeys” Brad Pitt, Bruce Willis. Director: Terry Gilliam (1995)


· Abney Park – Industrial electronic music about steampunk themes

· Attrition – gothic industrial

· Beats Antique – made-for-bellydancing electronic music with gears and clockwork sounds

· Beat Circus – circus-y danceable music with a steampunk edge

· Circus Contraption – circus, Balkan music with a burlesque edge

· Deadly Nightshade Botanical Society – Victorian fusion

· The Decemberists – circus rock

· Dr. Steel – industrial steampunk themed music with circus edge

· David Lynch & Jocelyn Montgomery – weird industrial music with female vocals

· James Fisher – spooky circus

· Jill Tracy – gothic female vocals with circus / burlesque feel

· Life Toward Twilight – music box and record player sounds (nice intros)

· The Peculiar Pretzelman – “Undertaker” is an eclectic, circus-polka song

· Pentaphobe – gothic industrial with circus sounds

· Vernian Process – industrial, traditional soundtrack steampunk (FREE! Check out their website)

Artists, Designers, and More:

· Etsy’s Steamteam

· GypsyKiss (Amy Danielson)

· Ayperi Bellydancer’s Souk (me)

· Geisha Moth

· Tempest

· Black Lotus clothing

· Velvet Mechanism

· Opal Moon Designs

· Urban Heirlooms

· Bonzie

· Lulu Splendor

· Boiler Goth

· Wildthymeboutique

What if every day were Valentine's Day?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

"Monday Monday, Can't trust that day..."

Yesterday it felt like nothing was working out!  I got to work, only to find out that my gourd that the students and I use as a maraka in our poetry jams at the end of class broke and fell on the floor before I came in this morning.  Then during staff meeting a teacher and I got into a conflict that completely blindsided me!  It really, really stressed me out.  Then, when I went to the gym, all of the eliptical machines were being using for the first 30 minutes.  I decided to do weight training, until one opened up, but then when one did, I was already in the middle of weight training and felt like I should finish that first.  When I finished weight training, the elipticals were all full, so I just went home.  :(  Booo!

However, today is already starting out better.  Birds are calling outside my window.  I am going to stop at the bank before work to cash 3 checks, which will fix some financial headaches, and then I am going to continue my job search online by stopping by EPCS to pay to reactivate my job search account and pick up a copy of my credentials.  In general, things are looking up.

AND, I am going to start my day out with yoga and crafting.  Before even leaving my bedroom I found a tight red tshirt that I wanted to finger crochet.  I cut tiny slits in the shirt, crocheted a line down the front of the shirt, and two wider lines down the shoulders.  It looks great, and I can't wait to wear it for some yoga! 

Monday, March 8, 2010


Bad day at work. 

Recharging my job search batteries

After a whole weekend spent away from dance, crafting, teaching, and Madison in general - I'm feeling really recharged.  So much so in fact that I spent this early morning time applying for full time jobs online!  Whew!  I hope that this year I reap more rewards from this work that I did last year... though last year I was entirely lazy and idealistic about the job prospects coming to me.  :(  Hopefully being more on top of the process and more realistic about Madison School District's ability to get me full time employment will help.  :P

Friday, March 5, 2010

Mourning work

In therapy, we uncovered the fact that creating art is a major way that I connect with my Grandma's memory.  I continue to struggle with her passing... it makes me question the very foundations of my aetheism-- where did her spirit go?  Where will her legacy reside? 

I am told that this questioning is a normal (and healthy) part of the grieving process, but regardless, it leaves me shaken and stirs up all sorts of uncertainties in me.  Gram's soul must be somewhere, right?  Or am I just weak - allowing mysticism and loneliness to get the best of my rationality? 

Today, I work up early, hungry after a late night and early dinner working at the security office.  I wandered out to my kitchen, started coffee, did my morning weigh-in (1 lb down!), and called my Dad to tell him the good news about my weight loss.  Dad is also on a weight loss journey - he is perpetually fighting aging, high cholesterol, and retirement.  He attacks weight loss, bike racing, and healthy living with the passion and fervor of a professional - like it is his job!  :)  He constantly inspires me to pursue my goals with the same vivacity.

Dad and I chatted about the good weather (spring almost appears to be coming early!), the way our diets are going, and politics.  I ended the conversation with the intention of going into a new morning ritual - a yoga DVD that had been collecting dust on my shelf.  However, I found myself opening up my bead bins, and I ended up popping in "The Truth Behind the DaVinci Code", which I recently got from Netflix, to watch while working. 

I ended up making beautiful, romantic designs - perfect for a bride or maid (or maybe mother of the bride?). 
Now, to work on listing these items!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Revised Artist's Statement and new Biography for

My first memory of crafting is with my grandma.  She was quilting by hand with an elegant sewing hoop.  I remember the rhythm of her arms, the glint of the needle in the afternoon sun in her den in front of the picture window, while I played with a piece of thread and a stray downy feather at her feet. 

Grandma took me in her lap and carefully showed me how to use a needle and thread - how to knot the end so that the knot stops the thread from escaping the union of the needle and fabric, how to gently push the needle through the fabric without poking yourself.  My very first creation turned out to be a Xmas ornament on her tree - a ball of wadded up felt with zig zags of colored thread running through it. 

Now, just as then, I love to play with color, lines, thread tension, and gathering fabric.  Although Grandma has passed, and we can no longer craft together, in her old age she was very proud of my creations that I brought to show her in the nursing home. 

In my souk, I continue to celebrate the way that crafting connects me to the feminine spirit.  I celebrate the whimsical, the elegant, the extravagant that I find inherent in femininity.  I want to create fashions, accents, accessories that bring out eclectic juxtapositions: the "Gypsy" dancer with Victorian frivolity; a wild spirit with structured steampunk elements.

All in all, I've just always loved to play with thread and feathers, and now is no exception. 

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Validated by the Technorati

Dear Technorati,

Secret societies are hard to join!  I'm attempting to join the your elite listing of blogs, and you just are not letting me in.  This is frustrating me.  Please stop this behavior immediately. 

Here is my proof of validation, Technorati.  Check it out and let me in!  I'm no spambot, I promise.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Potential Website Graphic Design

This is my most recent draft of the Ashar Dance Company website.  What do you think?