Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Dreadlocks and a Spider, OH MY!

In my last entry I had mentioned that there were some dancers in my group who wanted me to do a tutorial on how to do dread falls. These are mainly used for bellydancing, Halloween and cosplay. For people who may not have heard of what a dread fall is, it is natural hair, synthetic hair, or yarn styled to look like dreadlocks that are placed in the hair to create a unique look. I have been asked by my dance instructor to do a workshop and I will be doing one at some point in the near future. We both decided it would be best to do one at a local Hafla event that would feature mini workshops. So if you are in the Central Valley area of California, keep an ear out for when this Hafla event will take place. It may not be until some time next year, but I will be posting about it as soon as it’s planned and finalized.

When you go looking through pictures of bellydancers online, most photos you find of dancers with dreadlocks are actually dancers who have dread falls placed in their hair to give them the look of having real dreadlocks. You will rarely find a dancer with real dreadlocks as there is a process one has to follow in using their real hair, not to mention the maintenance involved. Secondly, bellydancing does allow the option of doing something different with your hair and look for each performance. Which if you have dreadlocks, this does narrow down the options of hair styles you can achieve. A lot of the time, dancers will use different colors of these falls to create an unusual look and cover their natural hair color with decorative flowers, headbands and scarves. These decorations add an exotic look and create a more alluring image aside from hiding any natural hair that is exposed. It would be odd to have your natural hair color exposed when using a color of natural/synthetic hair that is different from your own. If you do not wish to go through the trouble of covering all of your natural hair with all these decorations, you also have the option of matching the color of your fall to the color of your hair so you can only wear a few decorated pieces to hide where the hair is attached.

In making these falls, it’s best to do research and understand what materials would work best to achieve the look and texture you want, not to mention what materials will be easier to work with. For me, it is best if natural hair or synthetic hair is used as opposed to yarn, especially if you want the fall to look real. I will not be covering how to do yarn falls in this tutorial as there are plenty of instructions out there. Not so much for hair. I had to pretty much do a nonstop search for natural or synthetic hair falls for about 3 weeks before I came across one video on one way these falls can be made. So after seeing how difficult it was to find simple instructions on making the falls, I decided to share one way in how to make them.

Once you understand the basics of making these dread falls, you can begin to style them in creative ways to make each piece unique. You may even come up with a more easier way to create these that you may want to share with others who are looking to make their own hair pieces without paying so much for them. Currently, the price range of these dread falls is anywhere from $50- $180 on average. Making your own will only cost you $10-15 dollars at the most and a few hours of work.

The time invested in making one piece will vary depending on how much hair you will use and if you are adding beads or ribbons. As you become more practiced and fall into a rhythm, the process speeds up. For now, when you first start it would be a good idea to expect this to take a few hours without adding any decorations to the dreadlocks.

Items needed:

1 Hair rubberband (A ribbon or elastic band can be used instead)
1 package of natural or synthetic hair
Spray bottle
Rat tail comb
Flat iron
Hand/Dish Towel (Optional)
Clear Nail Polish (Optional)


1) Take the package of hair and feed half of it through the rubberband. When you do this, be sure to have the rubberband centered in the middle of the hair.

2) Take a chunk of hair and braid the hair about an inch so that the rubberband is secured in this chunk that will be come your first dreadlock strand.

3) Once you have made a braid about an inch long, take the rat tail comb and start teasing the hair just below the braid. You will be teasing the hair in an upward motion towards the braid on all sides of the chunk of hair for the full length of hair. You will want to get this knotted so you can keep the braid in place.

4) When you are done teasing, start twisting the hair from top to bottom. While you are doing this, tuck some of the “rough” areas into the twist so you have as even of a twist as possible.

5) At this time, you can go about this next step in 2 ways:

You can spray the hair with water until it is damp, cover the hair with the towel and apply the flat iron along the towel where it is covering the hair. This helps protect some flat iron surfaces depending on the model you have and/or it helps protect the natural/synthetic hair if you want to prevent burning/melting the hair.

The other way is to spray the hair with water and directly apply the flat iron without the towel. Only do step if you don’t care about the flat iron you are using or the model you are using has a wet to dry feature. I apply the flat iron directly to the hair as my flat iron has a wet to dry feature.

You will hold the flat iron in place for about 10-30 seconds depending on if you covered the hair with a towel or not. You will do this the entire way down the length of hair. If you accidentally melt some places of the dread (if you are using synthetic hair), don’t worry about it as you can’t tell from far away and it will help hold the hair so it won’t come undone.

6) When you come to the end, you can do 2 things to make sure the ends of the hair do not unravel. If you are using synthetic hair, you can melt the ends with the flat iron. If you have issues melting the ends, you can use the clear nail polish on the tips. You can also use the nail polish on the ends of the natural hair as well if the heat from the flat iron doesn’t keep the hair styled.

** Please note that you will have to do occasional touch ups on the ends, but for
the most part, the hair stays very well.

You will repeat the above steps for each dreadlock strand you work on until all of the hair is secured and styled on the rubberband. If you choose to use a ribbon or an elastic band instead of a rubberband, these will allow you to tie the dread falls to your hair. The only down side is that it makes it a little more difficult to work with the hair and making sure it stays on either the ribbon or elastic band. You’ll have open ends and if the falls slip off, you’ll have to work to get them back on, not to mention, you will also have the ends to hide once the fall is tied on. But you’ll need to go with what will work best for you.

Later on, after you get the hang of making dread falls, you can add beads to a few dread strands to dress up the piece or you can use ribbons to wrap and braid around a few strands as well (great look for renaissance faires, especially if you use leather straps/thongs).

I do plan on making a video tutorial at some point to post on this blog so you can see each step of the process and to show some of the dread falls that I had already made as examples. I just need to make sure I have enough space and a good setup so you can see what I am doing without obstruction of view.

And now for a Halloween treat. I've had the pleasure of seeing this awesome dancer at festival in Bakersfield CA for a bellydance festival. This dance has been requested by many and I wish to share it with you. Please enjoy Marjahni's Itsy Bitsy Spider!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

New Projects, Poor Judgements and Inner Determination

I honestly haven't forgotten this blog. Things have been a little busy with both dancing and life that have my full attention right now. Tribal classes have been going very well and I began learning my first choreography under the new instructor. It's a fun piece and one that I have seen performed by the group I'm with in the past. It's a very slow and graceful piece. It's something I look forward to performing come the formal and nonformal student recitals. Looks like the nonformal recital may be sometime at the beginning of the year where the formal will be some time in the spring. Regardless, I am excited to present my first learned choreography when the time comes.

I've been working on costuming ideas and a new solo choreography that times out to about 6 minutes. It's a fun piece that I hope to perform sometime next year or the year after depending on the venue. The hair falls that I have been working on have been coming along nicely as well. I already have a few people asking me to do a tutorial and/or a mini workshop at a future hafla event, including my instructor. I can't tell you how much that made my day.

This last Sunday some of the local dancers met in Hanford to do a drum circle where the renaissance faire was to be held this last weekend. It was cancelled due to a vendor issue along with financial reasons. So about 12 of us showed to drum while a few danced. It was a lot of fun and we had a few groups of people hang out near us to enjoy the circle while other groups came and went. Overall it was a fun day and I was thanked for orchestrating the event. I never really thought of myself being in charge. I mainly thought it was a cool idea to get together and drum. So to have people thank me afterward for organizing the event caught me off guard and touched me. It was a wonderful feeling and a great experience.

I've also begun prepping for the Kearney Renaissance Faire that will be taking place November 10-11th. Currently, renaissance faires are the only performances that I can participate in until my knowledge of the tribal style is firmly under by belt. I'm actually happy with that arrangement as it will allow me time to learn the style thoroughly before being expected to perform at the yearly Rogue show in town as well as other events throughout the year that will get my drumming and zill skills honed. The only few events I would be expected to perform at would be for renaissance faires for the improv dancing and drumming, not to mention the formal and nonformal student recitals that were brought up earlier.

I've been spending the last few weeks reflecting how I got to where I am. Some of it was help from unknown forces, some of it was strength to do what needed to be done from past experiences, and some was inspired by someone who urged me to go above and beyond. I'm hearing every now and then that I am being brought up in conversation, and most of the time it is in a negative way. Am I hurt by this? Not at all, just a little disappointed that people are being childish in their ways, but it's actually flattering as it shows that people have no life and they feel they have to talk about someone who is no longer in the picture. Rumors are starting to go around about the situation that happened 4 months ago and the more they spread the more they become further from the truth. I've had people come up to me who don't know about this blog to ask me what happened. They ask because they don't believe the rumors and because they have gotten to know who I am. They know that I am not the kind of person to take attention away from others or be out for myself. I do what is best for me just like everyone else does when situations arise that make things difficult. I told these people the truth without dropping names or going into detail because they really don't need to know all my reasons or thoughts on matters. I was unhappy with things and I had hit a point where I wanted to learn something new under the advice I was given by a friend who meant a lot to me prior to their passing. I left under my own decision. It's true that I have been banned from ever returning to the previous group I was with, but that ban came a month after I decided to leave. The only thing that had changed after I made the decision was that someone just came to lock the door after I had left. But I am not sad about that. It's not something I wanted to see happen, but I'm not sad.

I now have new opportunities opening up to me that were not really available before. I found several people who wish to promote a healthy bellydance community and they encourage students to attend workshops and additional classes without anyone taking offense or allowing hate to be generated because someone wanted to be more involved in things. I've had a few of my ideas tossed around on some creative possibilities by others and asked to post tutorials on some costuming and hair falls. My ideas on things matter with the people I am now with and it's a great feeling to feel wanted and welcomed. I partially regret that things happened the way that they did because no one did the adult thing and approached me once my blog was found, but that is on those people, not me. I don't regret it because this blog is about me and my decisions on how to handle this part of my life, including my experience that someone may learn something from for their own reference guide. Students will always come and go, but it's no ones place to judge someone for wanting to expand their skills and get away from something that doesn't feel right anymore or stay around the negativity that was brewing under the surface. Bottom line is, I am much happier where I am now because I feel like I belong.

One thing that some people will never accept, based on their own assumptions, is that I am not out to undermine anyone. People undermine themselves without any help from others and I only step back and allow them to do so without being brought down with them. Only the insecure will attack those who are confident in themselves. I don't care what plans are being made for shows in a group that I am no longer a part of. It doesn't concern me nor do I care to know. If something slips, I don't pass it along. I never shared info when things did pop out into the open when I was with the previous group if I overheard or saw something, so why would that change now?

For those who are from that group that are spreading lies and reading this, you should know that your ugly side is showing and people are noticing. I have never shoved anyone out of the way during a performance or rehearsal to be front and center on stage. I thought this would be clear by the fact that I was never quick to take the front stage. I was placed there most of the time by the instructor, not because I felt I deserved to be there. I have never pressured anyone to do anything against their will. I have advised people to bring up their concerns to the person it involved because of the continued complaints, but I never pushed anyone to do so. I do not seek to undermine a student or instructor (past or present), never have and never will. I don't think I am better than anyone else and I do not claim to be other than stating that I do take responsibility for my short comings and do what I can to improve those mistakes without blaming others for something that I was fully responsible of, especially when it's something that is brought to my attention that I was at fault for. There are very few people in that dance group who really know me and I can guarantee that no one in the class that I was in is considered part of the few. I kept to myself most of the time so no one really knows me in that class.

So a warning to those who are spreading rumors or lies about me, people who have gotten to know me already know you are lying as your lies conflict with what people already understand about me. You are only shooting yourself in the foot because when the time comes for you to try another group, those people would be less likely to trust you because you have placed yourself in the middle of something that you never belonged in regarding my decision.

My advice to you is mind your own business and pull your nose out of what I had decided or what I am currently doing. It's not your place to judge nor does my decision to leave affect/concern you in any way save for having one less person in your group. Focus on yourself for once and work on your flaws instead of focusing on someone who is no longer around. If you honestly have a problem with me, then approach me to discuss whatever problem you have. But understand that you are being a coward by not coming up to me to deal with your issue and choose to try to make matters worse by trying to turn people against me by fabricating something that never happened or a matter that doesn't concern them. I don't need to explain myself to anyone and the only person I answer to is me. So get off your high horse and leave me out of your conversations because you don't have anything better to do.

With that being said, I hope those who are in a similar situation that I am in understands that you have a right to do what is best for you regardless of what others my think or feel. You only answer to yourself and you don't need to be brought down by people who feel threatened by you or want to bring you down to make themselves feel like they are worth more than they are. You are the only person who is pushing yourself to continue learning a beautiful art. You are the one who makes the decision on where you want to go and when it's time to try something knew. If you are in an atmosphere that isn't agreeing with your personal growth, go someplace else that you feel you will flourish without feeling guilty about it. You are learning bellydancing for you and you alone. You are not there to impress anyone. You are there to encourage something you have inside of you that shouldn't be dampened by anything or anyone. Embrace your strength and pity those who only know how to stir up drama because they are the ones who are missing out on something that inspires someone to be more than what they are. You are there to learn for your benefit, not someone else's.