Notes from the festival:
Belly dance is really becoming more of a dance for women-by women than the nightclub cabaret dance it used to be. It has truly evolved into many different forms. I like that it is a dance that any and all women can feel comfortable engaging in. With that said:
Some women really embrace their size and show it off. My hat is off to them. It can be a little shocking at first to see a very large woman dancing and showing her bare mid-drift, but then when you see them dance with confidence and skill it changes your whole perspective. And it also helps me be kinder to myself. If a 200+ woman can be confident and happy in her skin, then I shouldn't be picking my minor flaws apart and feeling bad about myself.
I should've used self-tanner, but if I take the above paragraph to heart, I can embrace my blindingly white skin that is devoid of any pigment whatsoever and show it off and be proud of it. (But next time I'm using self-tanner.)
As a former cosmetologist (I wish I would've kept my license current, dumb, dumb, but I digress...) it bothered me that so many people put so much effort into their make-up and costumes but didn't do anything with their hair. There seems to be a stereotype that belly dancers have to have long flowing hair, and I saw a majority of women with the long flowing hair who put it in braids, then brushed it out right before performing so that they had long flowing frizz. I think just simply leaving it straight (or straightening it) or putting some big loose curls in it would've been much more flattering and up to date. There were a couple women who had naturally tight ringlet type hair and this is the exception. Their hair was beautiful left in it's natural kinda frizzy state.
On the other hand, the true tribal girls had hair that was more like a work of art than a hair-do.
Costuming is an art in and of itself. One tribal group came out and I swear they were wearing their entire costume closets all at once. They had harem pants under several skirts, several belts and sashes layered over that, then coin belts, several tops with a fancy costume bra on top, layers of necklaces, earrings, then whatever was left over they used to wrap in and around their hair. I can't even imagine what all that weighs, let alone how long it takes to assemble! Truly remarkable. (The photo below shows a typical troupe's costuming, not necessarily the one I'm referring to).
I'm really getting to know a lot of women in the greater belly dance community, from vendors to dancers to teachers. It's really neat.
The festival was just a wonderful mixture of sights and sounds and people and I'm still digesting and absorbing it all. I can't wait to do it again next year.