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Belly Dance Blog Posts 2011

Highlights from 2011 from Bellydance By Jennifer Inc.

Belly Dance New Years Resolutions…

belly dancer in Orlando resolutions
belly dancer in Orlando resolutions2011 is not yet over, but what a fantastic year it was for my belly dance company in Orlando. From launching a website, to a new featured billboard, to more bookings, and meeting some amazing and kind people, this year was truly spectacular. If you know me personally, you know that I never stop working on my craft or juggling the multiple roles that I play. As I look back on 2011 there were so many lessons learned, and I look forward to making 2012 not just better, but out of this world! I like any one else have my set of new years resolutions that I am determined to accomplish. I am determined more than ever to see my dreams come true, and step by step, I hope to get there. Here are my New Years Resolution in terms of a belly dancer 🙂 What are yours? Feel free to share them on my fanpage.

2012 Belly Dance New Years Resolutions

1. Improve my health! 2011 was not the best for my health, between chalazion surgeries, allergies, a sprained back and what not, 2012 I will do everything it takes to strengthen my immune sytem and body. I booked a swim suit shoot to motivate myself to do it fast too!

2. Surround Myself with Positive People– The vast majority of dancers and industry pro’s I have met are fabulous but 2011 marked the year of heightened jealousy amongst rivals, and also an unfortunate event where someone took advantage of my kindness. This year I will strive to be less oblivious to evil and more wary of who I surround myself with in my circle.

3. Bulk Up My Marketing– Last Years success fuels this years new and improved marketing strategy which will feature a newsletter to stay in touch with all my friends, fans, and clients. Some website upgrades will also be coming about, as well as some secret weapons I cannot disclose lol. So spread the word about Orlando belly dancer Jennifer or Bellydance By Jennifer Inc.!

4. Refine my Financial Goals– running a business, getting a Masters, and then technical school by day can really take a toll. Thankfully 2011 was very successful and not only was I able to churn profits, but thankfully I am credit card debt free for the first time in 4 years woo hoo! This year I want to save save save, and begin planning for the rest of my life, starting with a refined cashflow statement and maybe even open up a retirement fund.

5. Better Myself- No one is perfect and it is important to always analyze yourself inwardly from time to time. This year I hope to be more trusting, to become a better person, to do more for the less fortunate, to make more time for loved ones, and to continue to try and unite the area I live in.

6. Girls Days!– I want to make it a point to make a once a month fun day with my circle of gals. It is soo needed and such a rare treat in 2011, but in 2012 I want to make it into a bonafied “holiday” that is celebrated once a month.

Have a Happy New Years everyone and here’s to a more successful and happy New Year to us all in 2012!

 
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Belly Dancer for Parties in Orlando and Beyond…

December is here and thankfully it is busy as usual. Lot’s of inquiries have come my way for individuals looking for an Orlando belly dancer for holiday parties and I thought, why not blog about it? Holiday parties are so fun and full of surprises. I just performed at another spectacular birthday party tonight and had the family dog jump into my isis wings routine lol! If you are wondering what to add to your holiday party, hiring a professional and charismatic belly dancer is the way to go! Many times holiday events involve the gathering of many families, and an icebreaker can really help get the party started. My belly dance style is elegant, beautiful, and family friendly, as well as funny as I always try to add some comdeic moments during songs.

I would say that some things to know when looking for a belly dancer in Orlando to dance at your holiday party are:

– This is our busiest season (along with wedding season) so the sooner you give us notice the better the chances of being able to squueze in your fabulous event.

– No matter what your beliefs, belly dancers still fit into most holiday parties.

– Make sure you look at videos and choose the absolute best performer. Your friends and family are here, choose the best to impress them.

Have a fantastic Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanza, and etc… Hope to belly dance at your party soon and get the whole family dancing along with me!

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Random Belly Dance Health Tips…

So over the years I have had my bouts with  health/beauty products and have met some really knowledgeable and amazing people who have given me some good tips along the way so I thought I would share them as many of my friends are fellow belly dancers. If you are not a belly dancer these tips can still apply to you too, so keep reading lol!

#1: All serious dancers should take glucosamine. It is a supplement that is great for your bones, and we all need that with all the bending, and crazy movements we do. This can be found pretty much everywhere (wal-mart, publix, walgreens) and is inexpensive.

#2: Teeth whitening strips are terrible for your teeth. They mess up your natural tooth shield and leave white stains on your teeth..not good.

#3: Dove has this fantastic new deoderant (I have been on it for 3 months) that reduces hair growth and helps nourish underarm skin. I am notorious for dry shaving right before I gig, so this has been great and although slow to work, is finally giving me results, so heck why not try it ladies.

#4: My latest obsession is gel nail polish. I hate fake nails and the harmful effects they have on natural nails so I, like most women, had slaved away every few days painting my nails, to only have them chip a day later after sewing or washing. Opi has a line of gel polishes that are softer, more maleable, and light than the gel you use for fake nails. This gel polish is harmless to your nail, has no odor, and get this…lasts up to 30 days!! I was skeptical at first, but am now on my third full manicure and it truly lasts. Best thing is my natural nails are strong, long, and look amazing and I have to put no effort woo hoo!

#5: Sore after a hard night of gigging? Instead of the usual pain pills, take a fish oil tablet. It won’t kill your liver, it is natural, and acts as a anti-flamatory.

Ok will cut it off here. Hope this helps 🙂

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Body Image and Shape…Belly Dance Style

body-shapes-belly dance
body-shapesYesterday I had a great convo with a friend of mine about weight, health, and body image. As a performer, I have met tons of women in all shapes and sizes, and with all sorts of outlooks about beauty and weight (which is a popular topic in this industry). In America a lot of emphasis is placed on looks. It is a multibillion dollar industry and we have all been conditioned to think that the ideal beauty is someone that is tall, skinny, and etc… As belly dancers and performers, these ideals have really caused a lot of pressure on women who just do not fit into this mold.  So deeply rooted is this ideal that some women go to dangerous lengths to try to reach this “look” even if it means destroying their health. Which brings me to two cases.

  1) The first is a beautiful, tall, blond I met who is super skinny. It happens that this woman, believes that she is “fat” as she calls herself. This woman I would guess probably weighs no more than 115 pounds despite her tall stature, and refuses to eat correctly because she feels she is not skinny enough! This girl is beautiful naturally, but unfortunately she does not see it anymore and is ruining her body/health.

2) My friend brought up the case of a woman she knows who is obese. Rather than accepting her curves, she overly praises herself and tells everyone she has the best figure in town even though behind all the humor she is severely unhappy and eating poorly. Some woman are large and proud but she is not, and pretends that she is proud only when in front of people.

Moral of the two cases? Women 1 is unhealthily skinny but tells everyone she is fat. Woman 2 is morbidly obese and tells everyone she is skinny. Both women refuse to really look at the issue here and accept the way they look. Their perceptions are quite distorted.

As women we strive to look our best, that does not mean that we should strive to look like someone else who is of a super different and incomparable shape. If I had paid any attention to what someone ELSE thought I should strive to look like I would probably be quite unhealthy and unhappy as the “ideal” that we have been fed to strive to look like is physically impossible for me to ever attain.

It worries me when I hear women who are full figured say that they are too heavy and want to drop down to x size because that is what they are “supposed’ to fit into. I have met some gorgeous full figured women, and the pressure to fit into a size zero breaks their spirit. Some things are physically not healthy, and your height, genes, bone structure and etc… should be the determining factor of your healthy size range, not some magazine cover with a woman who comes from a completely different make up. It is not healthy! The opposite is true. I have met a woman who was “flat as a board” as she called herself, got butt implants, breast implants, fat transfers, and now looks drastically different and is in terrible health and on her 6th surgery because she got an infection on her skin!

Weight is a sensitive issue here but generally, make sure you are healthy, make sure to eat well, and that if you are dancer you give your body the fuel it needs. I used to beat myself up because I was not tall enough to fit into costumes, and too skinny to fill them out. Then I just realized, I am never going to be 6ft tall, I am never going to gain the amount of weight to suit that type of size, and you know what?…that is alright, I just need to be happy with my physical/inner self and be the best that I can be.

Hello, my name is Jennifer and I am 5’2″, short torsoed, muscular build, and proud. Some say I am too skinny, I don’t care! Some say I am too short, I don’t care! I am who I am, and I make sure to stay healthy and take care of myself. Now go look in the mirror and love who you are! “Beauty” is what you make of it.

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What I am Thankful For…Belly Dance Style

belly dancer thanks giving orlando
I336727_241993022529911_102044009858147_725073_813292850_ot is already November and being that tomorrow is Thanksgiving, it is only appropriate to write a little something to share my appreciation. This year has been magical to say the least. It began with my new website redesign that I put a lot of love into and has really broadened my client base and allowed me to connect with so many dancers across the world.

1. I am thankful for the amazing belly dance community I am a part of. I have met some inspiring, classy, and sincere individuals this year and it is a pleasure to be able to call you girls my friends.

2. I am thankful for the ability to finally have incorporated my business. I have been in business 6 years and going strong, and so much more to come in 2012 I can barely contain my excitement.

3. I am thankful for the ability to dance full time and make a living off of my passion for so many years and the fact that my business is growing and growing. There are many great friends of mine who were not so lucky due to the recession.

4. I am thankful for all the wonderful people who believe in me, support me, fans, teachers, mentors, organizers, etc… for giving me the opportunity to teach workshops,  perform for beautiful gala events, and share my dance.

5. I am thankful for all the bumps in the road. They make me stronger.I have a tougher skin because of them, and it has helped me realize who I can truly trust, and that hard work pays off.

6. I am thankful for my health. I do not have the most balanced system and can get very sick at times and this year was no different, but I am always grateful that I have never had to experience worse and that thankfully I do have my health.

7. I am thankful for  my family and loved ones. We all need those people in our lives who are there for us no matter what and keep us sane. I cannot begin to thank you all enough for your love.

The list can go on and on, but this is a blog not a thesis so I will try to cut it here.  It feels like a dream sometimes, all the great moments this year… workshops with my idols, shows across Florida, Jamaica, sewing costumes,  magazines, billboards, radio, t.v., I really have much to be thankful for and it can all go away at any moment so I truly from the bottom of my heart will never take it for granted. It is a lot of hard work, and would not be possible without the support of everyone involved. Thank you , gracias, and good night. Now let’s stuff ourselves with turkey! 336932_304338686252201_100000282163843_1179606_252384553_o   

Photo at top right by: Carrie Mullins LLC.

Photo on left: Enjoying a great night with friends

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Too Much Sexy!!

  
 Last night I was surfing the web looking for the latest video uploads form my favorite dancers and i am heart broken by one of the videos I found. Let me begin by saying that I in no way mean to bash this dancers accomplishments as a performer nor her ridiculously amazing dance skills, she is after all someone I consider to be one of the best in the world right now and gorgeous to boot. That being said I am going to make the point using this video I am about to post, that I as a fan of ladies such as her, am extremely disappointed when I find that such inspiring dancers cross over to the dark side and display themselves scantily clad, overtly sexualized, and just “too much sex” in their presentations in order to try to “get ahead”. 

      I feel that as professional belly dancers, it is our responsibility to conserve the true nature of belly dance. This is a dance style that is supposed to be enjoyed by all ages, and is at most sensual, NOT sexual. There are enough negative stereotypes associated with this dance and finding videos such as these, and even worse performed by amazingly talented and beautiful ladies who do not need to go down this level, is even more infuriating and hard for me to comprehend I must admit. So without further adue, here is the video..

http://youtu.be/N–Tk3aswKk

Again if you have ever seen this dancer before you cannot deny her talent, but why did she have to ruin the image she had and go over board on the sexuality? We have all met or seen things like this at one time or another and it worries me. How are we supposed to help elevate this dance when every blue moon some of the biggest names end up utilizing sex to promote their popularity? Do dancers feel that the only way to “make it” is to display themselves in a sexual fashion?  I worry when I see things like this, and it makes fans like me just feel so saddened because I place dancers such as Alla Kushnir on such a high pedastool, and after seeing this I must admit I feel completely let down. 

I hope this is not the route this dancer continues to take. I believe everyone makes mistakes, no one is perfect, and i just hope with all my heart this does not happen again with any belly dancer. There is so much talent and beauty already there that honestly nothing like this was needed. Ok stepping down form the soap box. 

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Important Announcement….

Since the creation of the internet the government has tried and tried to continually regulate and impose control over the way we view and use it. In essence they have tried (and with many successes) reduced our freedoms in this platform and are now pushing more than ever to take control. For a couple years now I have read articles upon articles talking about this and finally I have had enough! The internet is free for any one to use, and the what you choose to see is entirely up to you and should not be regulated by the government. The EFF is the foremost organization that has battled to keep us from ending up like China on this subject and I for one have donated and feel passionately about continually supporting their cause in protecting our rights and freedoms. If you have never heard of this organizations before, please follow the link to EFF.org They fight for us in court and cannot continue without our support and donations. Many belly dancers like me spend hundreds and thousands a year buying costumes. Why not give $10 to this organization and keep the internet as free of this negative trend as we can.

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12 Things I Wish I Would Have Known….

When I began dancing at restaurants full time many years ago I wish I would have known what I know now in order to have prevented some pretty dumb mistakes. Here are some tips that I think would definitely be a big help for newbies joining the scene:

1. Have a contract ( I wish I would have done this form the start) and have the owner sign it. This contract should include duration of employment, payment info, how to be paid, provisions for starting late, basic needs such as capable system and speakers, etc…

I cannot tell you how many times I stupidly went to an audition for a restaurant gig I was interested in only to find I wasted my time because the owner/entertainment coordinator started me half an hour late and then took forever to pay. If I would have just contracted them form the getgo that could have been avoided.

2. Do not assume your bud is charging the correct rate. I am sorry but $50 for half an hour is garbage! Restaurant rates on average run anywhere from $75-$150 per night. If you are a beginner your rate will be different from a professional of course, but it should still fall into the appropriate range. Ask other pro’s in the area what they charge to get a good idea of where you fit.

Another thing to add is that dancing at a low rate with the perk of free food is garbage! If you are dancing at a discounted rate you better be getting some worthwhile perks to make up for it.

3. When you work at a restaurant do not ever feel like you HAVE to be body tipped. If you are not comfortable with the idea (like me) always put your foot in the ground and stand by your decision.

4. There will be dumb, drunk, annoying people every once in a while, it is life…. do not let it get to you. The venue you work at will greatly dictate the type of crowd. I for example stopped working restaurants on weekends because the rowdy crowd is just not my cup of tea. I like family style venues, but I keep one hip and non-traditional venue to keep things fresh. Know your audience and know what you are comfortable with (i.e. do you want to dance mostly with kids, retirees, college kids, business class, etc…)

5. Do NOT be afraid to talk to or give your opinion to your venue manager. This is a pet peeve of mine. I did not get raises and a bunch of other perks by hoping and wishing they would come along, I asked for them! In addition when I do not like something be it music, attitude, or anything else that affects my happiness/show at a venue I always voice it. I am not a big complainer by any means but when there is something that should be addressed it needs to be addressed. It is your job as an entertainer to entertain, and anything that hinders your ability or makes you feel undervalued should be fixed. If you are unhappy, say something! Chances are it can be fixed; if not then find another restaurant. So many dancers are fearful of losing their venue, but you have to stand up for yourself because no one else will!

6. If you’re dancing at a small venue the best props to use are 3yd veil, fanveils, tray, and zills. If it is a space where you are literally less than five feet away on all sides then please for the love of bajeezus do not use wings or sword. I know often times we can get bored using the same props, but that is where showmanship and passion becomes uber important.

7. Always keep your cool in bad situations. No matter how much a manager, co-worker, visitor, or other dancer can get on your nerves at moments, always be courteous, smile, and keep the negative comments to yourself. I had to work once with the meanest woman I ever met, and the best thing I ever did was just steer clear and not talk to the person. You do not have to be best friends with everyone, that is ok, but be courteous and stay out of drama.

8. Working a restaurant is completely different than stage shows. If you are big on choreography, you will not find working a restaurant easy. There are two big things with dancing at a restaurant venue: 1. Showmanship (this is the biggest and most important factor), 2. Ability (not that important to most owners but you should strive to portray this art form in the correct light).

-fact: 95% of owners will not know a thing about correct belly dance.

-fact: it is up to you to make yourself valuable and stand out from other dancers if you want to last

-fact: you will probably end up working with other “dancers” who dance completely unrelated and at times vulgar styles. In Orlando you see this too much, do not be shocked, expect it, and choose your shift wisely. It is better to work alone in those types of venues.

9. Carry a belly dance emergency kit in your car! I am sooo guilty of not doing this and boy have I had some close ones. The emergency kit should include in a box the following: extra light weight costume, necklace, shoes, comb, razor, deodorant, extra liner, lipstick, shadow with applicator and pins galore). Seriously this will come in handy because we all at one time at another have left our costume at home and it is sooo not fun!

10. Be Patient. There are tons of undercutters out there, do not get discourage when one lands the venue you wanted. The majority of the time they work at places where employment is not steady, they get paid peanuts, and feel they are the best because no one that fantastic works there. If you are a talented dancer with lots of charisma, opportunities will come, I promise you. Just be patient.

11. Do not dance for money. I say this because we see it all the time in the business…dancers who are struggling financially and do this just to pay bills and are totally unhappy dancing at their restaurant. If you are going to take the step to dance full time you truly and utterly must LOVE what you do. The harsh reality of dancing at some venues is that you might dance to the same tracks every day all year for years, or you might get really bogged down in the great expenses it takes to belly dance full time, or you might have to deal with people day in and day out that annoy you. If you don’t dance with sincere joy in you every time, people will sense it trust me, and it will show.

12. Music is everything. You want music that gets everyone wanting to dance themselves or feel an emotional reaction to. You DO NOT want people to just stare and wish the darn song would end. This is not a stage show, most people at restaurants do not know the artistry behind belly dance, and they just want to be entertained. Do not play a super dramatic stage piece at a venue. I am sorry but they just do not work in most situations. Leave the dramatic songs for stage shows. Finding music is HARD but never stop looking, and build up an awesome collection as it pays off!

 

 
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Belly Dance Competition Adventures…

belly dance competition
belly dance competitionSo this year I entered and gained a lot of wisdom in competitions. Last month I wrote a blog about the Miami Bellydance Convention, and this month I am going to tell you about my adventures at Rakstar in Miami. Rakstar is a huge event held in Miami every year by the talented Virginia Mendez. It comprises of four days of workshops, shows, fashion shows, competitions, and of course belly dance shopping and mayhem. I did not plan on competing as the competition is not fitting with my style of dance but at the last minute I was given encouragement from a very wonderful dancer and went to have fun, show Miami who I was, and learn more about this side of the belly dance business as I am still very much a newbie to belly dance competitions. To make a long story short I ended up placing fourth and danced with everything I had. I felt naked as I laid out all my emotions on the table in my routine and with that, felt like a winner for pushing my abilities a little higher. It was great seeing some old friends, hanging out with some new ones such as the fabulous Andrea from Stellar Advantage, and of course making new friends along the way. Not just that, but I left miami having gained new fans and supporters which is a wonderful feeling. The workshops were fabulous. Tito was my favorite of the bunch with his sassy style and fun personality. All the instructors were ridiculously talented and amazing in general though. Yousry of course is a legend and I had a blast learning his choreo, and Carmelia danced beautifully! I look forward to coming back again soon and all in all, this was another fabulously well done event that is ideal for the egyptian style dancer and of course is still great for dancers with different styles such as myself. Keep Rakin on, and I hope to see you again soon Rakstar!
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Mineral Makeup Findings…

mineral makeup for belly dancers
So it has been nine long months of using mineral makeup and I am happy to say that the chalazions and styes I suffered from for about a year and a half have finally stopped occurring and even have reduced in size! The surprising parts of this blog are the negative side effects that mineral makeup had on my skin that I did not foresee…

 mineral makeup for belly dancersFor the first eight months I used purely bare minerals brand loose powder minerals and found out a few interesting things. First of all, if you are going to wear the foundation, you MUST wear it with the primer. I wore it for the first few months without the primer and due to how much I dance and thus sweat, I ended up breaking out all over my face 🙁 Bare minerals foundation covered blemishes wonderfully, but for really hot summer days when I had to go to workshops all day or be outside for too long, streaks would develop from where I sweat. This aspect of the foundation really turned me off. So time passed and I continued to break out even though I was using what I thought was the most harmless makeup. Thankfully a couple of weeks ago I finally had enough and went to see a specialist where I got the low down. You see, Bare Minerals foundation is nice, but it still has a few not so great ingredients that still clog pores if you don’t wear your primer or sweat it off (like me). I was advised to switch to Studio Gears  great new line of mineral makeup called Dual Identity Mineral. This mineral makeup takes the refinement process a step further than bare essentials and is about the same price. The only downside is that their primer is expensive at about $24-$30 (I can’t remember at the moment). The upside is that the primer is some really high quality stuff but you must make sure to apply it after you moisturize your face as it dries it out a tiny bit. I have been using it for only a short period of time but my face has cleared up quite a bit already which makes me very happy.

My next finding dealt with eyeshadow. I still use bare mineral eyeshadow and ALWAYS from day one, have applied it over the eyeshadow primer which is great ( I just wish it were cheaper). So first fun fact is the application. I always swirl, tapped, and brushed on my eyeshadow….wrong! For eyeshadow, you waste half the powder off the brush on the first stroke that way. Instead opt to gently dab all over the eye with the color and THEN brush it all together on your lid. This will save you tons of product over time which frankly at the price these little shadows cost, is a big help.

Second thing I found out was that if you have crazy sensitive eyes such as myself, do not use the metallic shadows that come in the tube thing (Bare Minerals). Only use powder please. Why? Frankly because those will definitely not help your pores because they carry more chemicals that people like me do not want hitting our eyes. Although I use a primer, even having one pore exposed by accident is a big deal as this type of metallic stuff needs to just fill the pore one time to cause a stye. So basically, do not use it if you deal with my eye issues.

I hope this wasn’t too long, but I hope it helps other women out there or performers who are dealing with this issue. I hope I continue to keep clear lids and good night!

 
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