Belly Dance Life Drawing at the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Last month, we had the opportunity to participate in a very special event at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.  On April 11, as part of the “Drawing at Dusk” series of programming, Alizarin (with her visual artist hat on as Joanna Barnum) led a life drawing session with Amy Fae and Aubergine troupemate Kalindi as costumed belly dance models.

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The session began with a short choreographed dance to share the art form with the program participants.  Joanna gave a brief talk on the history and culture of belly dance and a series of demos on gesture drawing technique.  Amy and Kalindi took a variety of poses, including short warm up poses for gesture drawing, a series of flowing poses for progressive gesture drawing, and some longer poses for sustained drawing.

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The program was free and open to the public, and the participants ranged from curious beginners to experienced artists.  We met with rave reviews, and will be returning for a repeat performance on Friday, September 12, 2015 at 5pm.  Stay tuned for additional details as they are finalized.

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Artomatic@Frederick 2013

We here at Baba Ghanoush enjoy a variety of artistic endeavors besides belly dance. Amy Fae enjoys writing children’s stories and blogging, while Alizarin is an extremely talented illustrator and portrait painter by day (check out her work here) and keeps her eyes out for visual art events and venues. Two years ago, Alirazin displayed her naturalist portrait series at Frederick, MD’s first Artomatic event, and when the opportunity to participate in this year’s event arose, she signed up.

Alizarin in Frederick.  Photo courtesy of Yenra Photography.

Alizarin in Frederick. Photo courtesy of Yenra Photography.

Artomatic events have a lot going for them. They are non-juried displays of art in interesting, temporary locations. Basically, there’s a whole lot to look at, and their events are all free and open to the public. Besides visual art, they host music, theater, and dance acts, and even workshops. That’s right – dance acts! Two years ago, Alizarin secured a performance spot for our parent troupe Aubergine. This year, Baba Ghanoush applied to Artomatic for a spot of our own, and invited our favorite duet friends Cypress to join us.

Cypress.  Photo courtesy of Yenra Photography.

Cypress. Photo courtesy of Yenra Photography.

The evening started around 5:00 pm on September 25th, when the amazing Ken Morrill took us on a Frederick Photo Adventure Tour (or Photo Follow-along – we haven’t settled on an official term yet). We wandered from the Artomatic site, across the street, down some alleys, past the public library, stopping every few hundred feet for photos. We’ve included a couple of our favorites in this post.

Between photos, Ken told us about Frederick, past and present – like how George Washington, before he was even a general, laid down mile markers on the road west (Old Route 40, I believe), which are still standing along one of Frederick’s historic main streets, and how the city has planted a new water garden behind the library. If you need a photo shoot for any reason, Baba Ghanoush and Cypress both highly recommend booking a Frederick Photo Adventure Tour with Ken – he is full of energy, information, and takes magnificent photos all along the way!

Amy Fae. Photo courtesy of Yenra Photography.

Amy Fae. Photo courtesy of Yenra Photography.

When we finally made it back to Artomatic, we went to check out our space – and met with what could have been a belly dance nightmare. A smaller stage had been set up in front of the stage we thought we were going to be dancing on, and the larger stage was covered in ladders and band equipment. The small stage was carpeted, and a pretty big step up from the floor, and didn’t have any wings or backstage spaces for dramatic entrances. We didn’t let it throw us too much though – we’re all used to adapting our performances to the space available. When we found out that we didn’t have a dedicated sound person and sound system, though, we started to get a little worried. We were performing in what used to be a school gymnasium, and my little iPod speaker just wasn’t going to cut it. Fortunately, the instructor from the salsa dance workshop before our performance had stuck around, and was more than happy to lend us his boom box with iPod hook-up.

“Our show’s about an hour long,” we told him. He said he didn’t mind the excuse to stay and watch.

In the end, the show went swimmingly! BG and Cypress both presented a number of duets and solos, representing a wide variety of music and dance styles, including American cabaret, cabaret fusion, tribal fusion, and finishing with all four of us dancing a more traditional karsilama number from Aubergine. The crowd was intimate and supportive, and every time I looked at our new friend Louis in the audience (second row, center – he stuck around after the dance workshop), he was beaming at us or looking stunned by what we were doing, and I couldn’t help but smile back at him.  And Ken kept snapping photos – you can check out performance photos here!

So a huge thank you Artomatic for hosting us, to Cypress for joining us (we love collaborating with them!), to Ken for the amazing photos, to our dance workshop friends who saved our sound butts and stayed for the performance, and to everyone who came out to support us!

Baba Ghanoush.  Photo courtesy of Yenra Photography.

Baba Ghanoush. Photo courtesy of Yenra Photography.

You can next find Baba Ghanoush at the Delaware Drum and Dance Hafla on November 17. Amy Fae and Alizarin are also both soloing again at Kitchen of India in Parkville, MD – every Friday at 8pm, a dancer from Aubergine performs while you enjoy delicious Indian food. Check it out!

The Magpie Court

Baba Ghanoush proudly presents Queen Maggie and her lady-in-waiting, Pie:

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Queen Maggie (right) and her lady-in-waiting Pie of the Magpie Court visit the 2013 Maryland Faerie Festival. Photo Courtesy of Tawny Woodchucker.

Queen Maggie and Pie enjoyed a visit to the 2013 Maryland Faerie Festival, where they collected many wonderful shiny things for their nests and inducted new friends into the Magpie Court.  Members of the Magpie Court are welcomed by magpies everywhere, as well as by their corvid cousins: crows, ravens, jackdaws, choughs, nutcrackers, treepies, jays, and rooks.  Court herald and jester Cousin Squelch announced the arrival of the Queen and Pie as they wandered among the many shiny sights of the festival.  Her Majesty was excessively pleased with the Maryland Faerie Festival and particularly enjoyed liasing with Wedji Tucheeks, Eye of Isis, Maharal, and the Aubergine Faeries.

Meanwhile, Amy Fae and Alizarin were spotted with those same Aubergine Faeries, who delighted both Spoutwood and Maryland Faerie Festivals with dances from far-off lands, mundane and fae alike.  Amy Fae stole hearts young and old as she personified the rogue of the Bengali song Awara, while Alizarin’s playful saidi solo drew delighted sighs and smiles from the audience.

Aubergine Faeries dance at Spoutwood Farm's 2013 May Day Fairie Festival.  Photo courtesy of Willow Dower.

The Aubergine Faeries dance at Spoutwood Farm’s 2013 May Day Fairie Festival. Photo courtesy of Willow Dower.

The local Faerie Festival season may be wrapping up, but Baba Ghanoush is looking forward to other exciting, if not quite so winged, events.  We’ll be appearing as ourselves and with our fellow Aubergines at the All Seasons Hafla on Sunday, June 2nd.  And we are very pleased to announce the first ever Baba Ghanoush workshop: BG’s Belly Dance Duet Toolkit.  We’ll be co-teaching this exciting workshop at Halima’s in Westminster on Sunday, July 28, 1:00-3:00 pm.  Check out the Facebook event page for details!

Upcoming Events:

June 2, 3:00pm (Sunday) – All Seasons Hafla at 7 West Bistro in Towson, MD.  BG duet and also perform with troupe Aubergine at this local monthly hafla.  $10.

July 28, 1:00pm (Sunday) – Baba Ghanoush’s Belly Dance Duet Toolkit, workshop at Halima’s House on the Hill in Westminster, MD.  Come build your own toolkit of belly dance duet strategies!  $35/person; no partner necessary.

Look out, 2013! Here comes Baba Ghanoush!

Baba Ghanoush isn’t big on making resolutions, especially not the kind that get lost in an embarrassed tumble of excuses or life-as-usual.  We do, however, enjoy making lists and dreaming up future projects.  So while we’ve spent most of January welcoming in the New Year with music, dance, and friends, we’ve also been planning our adventures for 2013.  For starters, we’ve applied to some local festivals and haflas. We’ve been discussing what to choreograph next: a new drum solo, a sword dance, or perhaps a new candle dance?  There may even be a Delicious Duets workshop percolating.  Meanwhile, we will continue to develop our own dance techniques and personal styles in the coming year, and you can continue to see us solo once or twice a month at Kitchen of India in Parkville, Md.

What will 2013 hold?

A new veil dance? (Photo by Stereovision.)

A new veil dance? (Photo by Stereovision.)

Or perhaps some pink fluffy unicorns? (Photo by Triformis Photography.)

Or perhaps some pink fluffy unicorns? (Photo by Triformis Photography.)

Perhaps a fierce new sword dance.

Perhaps a fierce new sword dance. (Photo by Triformis Photography.)

Maybe a faerie festival or two.

Maybe a faerie festival or two. (Photo by Triformis Photography.)

If you’re hankering to see us in action sooner rather than later, check out our Upcoming Performances below.  In particular, we are very excited about Ishtar’s visit to Baltimore on March 2-3, 2013.  This will be a weekend of workshops and Ishtar performances including both open dancing and scheduled performers.  Amy Fae will be co-teaching a Theatrical Bellydance Workshop with Nina Amaya on March 3, and both Amy Fae and Alizarin will have solo performances with the band at the hafla later that day. Check out the Facebook event page for more information regarding the weekend’s events.

Upcoming Performances:

January 25, 7:00pm (Friday) – Java Hafla at Birdie’s Café in Westminster, Md.  Westminster’s monthly friendly, free hafla.  BG will likely be performing both duets and solos.

February 9, 5:00pm (Saturday)- Alizarin at Cupid’s Heart Hafla at Typhrodisia’s Bellydance and Beyond Studio in Severna Park, Md.

February 10, 7:00pm (Sunday) – Alizarin at Kitchen of India in Parkville, Md.

February 24, 7:00pm (Sunday) – Amy Fae at Kitchen of India in Parkville, Md.

March 3, 5:00 – 7:00pm (Sunday) – Hafla w/ Ishtar at Kitchen of India in Parkville, Md.  Amy Fae and Alizarin will each solo to live music.

March 17, 7:00pm (Sunday) – Alizarin at Kitchen of India in Parkville, Md. St. Patrick’s Day Special!

March 23, 1:28pm (Saturday) – Alizarin performs at Art of the Belly at The Carousel hotel in Ocean City, Md.

March 24, 7:00pm (Sunday) – Amy Fae at Kitchen of India in Parkville, Md.

BG’s Holiday List

In the midst of this tumultuous holiday season, Baba Ghanoush would like to take a moment to share some of the things we are grateful for in our dance lives.  So here is our list, not of what we wish for, but of what we’re so very thankful for:

  • A strong Baltimore dance community that maintains high standards of professional conduct and local dancers that are willing to share advice and experiences.
  • Our Aubergine troupe family of fun-loving, interesting, wise women of diverse life experiences.
  • Each other: Baba Ghanoush dance partners with compatible communication and working styles, and complimentary dance skills.
  • Local events like the Inappropriate Halfa, Dance Your Heart Out, the Java Hafla, Goblins & Gears.
  • Our duet sisters, Cypress, who helped us put on an amazing show while raising money for House of Ruth, Maryland.
  • Supportive significant others, parents, friends, and fans.
  • Glitter and sequins.  And more glitter.

Celebrate the season with us at our upcoming solo performances at Kitchen of India on Joppa Road in Parkville, MD:

December 30: “New Years Eve Eve” with triple headliners Nina Amaya, Alizarin, and Amy Fae, $20 buffet, 6:30

January 13: Alizarin

January 20: Amy Fae

More Baba Ghanoush performance dates to follow.  Until then, here’s the video of our October performance at Mariza’s Belly Dance Showcase: