Tori Types Thoughts
Tori's very average blog
A quickie thought as I head out to my first LA belly dance gig for New Years 2022. There are many first and last dualities in this one:
First dance troupe gig in LA
First gig with this particular troupe (the Sahlala dancers)
Last gig of 2021
First New Years gig since 2019
Last time I try to use a straightener to curl my hair (I suck at hair)
This move to LA has been filled with dualities, but I'm at the point where I want to create more dimension in my dance world. I hope to manifest more memories, more friends and more dance throughout 2022 and my deepest hope is that humanity will come together a be a bit more loving, understanding, and generous.
EDIT: This is the picture I snapped at midnight - just a typical midnight at my house! Happy New Year!
Now that Thanksgiving is over we can welcome Christmas with open arms. I made this last year to thank a Starbelly student for letting me borrow her Santa hat in my dire hour of need... I also wanted to show off my decorations. It is weird seeing my old house now!
During the end of September and the beginning of October I had the chance to dance at some WONDERFUL events with friends. As I get to know my new town and make new friends (AND GET GRAD SCHOOL STUFF DONE) my "gigs" are going to inevitably slow down. I am thrilled to capstone my "Idaho time" this year by traveling for two incredible events (described below).
Creativity, connection, cognizance - that is how I would describe my experience performing at @treefortfest. Everyone who we worked with was filled to the brim with vibrance and talent, thank you Sam and @thecolossalcollective for letting us start the dance party for Bitesy and Barry during their tumultuous dance of love! We are beyond grateful to the incredibly talented Daniel Ojeda for creating space for belly dancing bugs and being a fantastic friend to the arts. #Artfort was amazing and I was astounded by the level of fun alongside the safety accomodations. Of course, no event is complete without accordionist extraordinaire @matthewvorhies!
As always, thank you to @ceciliarinn for creating space for the satellite Starbellies to join in on all of the fun. While Cecilia and @chadrinncomics had to sit this one out, I think we did you proud with our buggy prowess. Also, thank you to the rest of the Starbelly family for always giving me time and energy, when I have creativity vomit all over you, when I am loopy from vestibular migraines, and when I hug you a little too long. I love you guys - @aly_shimmyshimmy_a @kiss.my.stardust @cassandrajoandance with special nod to accessories Phil and Tony who were very patient with me.
Back to LA. See you later, Idaho!
SANTA FE to Celebrate Myra
I am so flattered to be included in the celebration of/for @myramosaic and her 25 Years of Studio Ownership. Pomegranate Studios has touched so many individuals and I have been honored to have a small role in the story. The event itself featuring #BeatboxGuitar, #MosaicDanceCompany, and my girl crush @kaeshichai with the mesmerizing art of @acorso_dot_com was beautifully curated - the level of talent was astounding! It was fun to work the house with my new aesthetic muse @nicoledehavencalhoun and do rock and roll/hair/sink stuff with @list_pete and @rob_mastrianni - you are all so freaking cool.
âI had so much fun deepening my relationship with all of the stunning dancers and I cannot describe the gift that is performing to live music.The crowd was GREAT and, man oh man, Myra was channeling Terpsichore! The only sad spot on my whole experience was the lack of my dear friends in dance and life @ceciliarinn and @chadrinncomics. I will say, I finally got the fencing duel of my dreams with Myra's dashing and heroic partner, Roblair... Roblair thoroughly kicked my ass but I'll get him someday! I have so many amazing stories and fond memories of the past few days - if there is only one lesson I could impart from this trip it would be to reinforce the power that lies within human connection and creativity. Thanks for letting me bug you all and another congratulations to Myra!
Before I get to the dance part of this blog, I will say that I attended my first NFL game with my husband's parents and his aunt during the Rams season opener. The crowd was electric and the stadium was STUPENDOUS - the 5 billion dollars they spent on it were on full display and MAN was the game fun. The most fun part was seeing my husband walking around the field before the game - it was amazing to witness this catharsis. I am SO proud, and so were his parents!
Testimonial for Legends of Belly Dance
I have actually had the opportunity to freaking dance a bit with actual PEOPLE in this city - I took every freaking workshop during the Legends of LA event put up by Dance Garden LA this year. I knew that these two days were going to be jam packed and exhausting but I could NOT pass up an opportunity to fan girl over the teaching artists AND learn a bunch AND make a bunch of friends.
To put it in a nutshell, the Legends of LA event was a hugely successful multi-modal display of incredible skill. Lauren, who co-owns DGLA with her business partner Heather, was 8.5 month pregnant during the weekend. Her expertise with administration, her patience with confused attendees (namely ME), her friendly demeanor, and her professionalism were definitely on display during the event. I didn't get to meet Heather in person, but I'm sure this dynamic duo will proceed to administer some incredible dance events during my tenure in LA - I am completely impressed.
The workshops themselves were for the most part excellent. And I mean excellent. If you know me, if something is average I will call it that - there is nothing wrong with average, and I'm not afraid to air this opinion. I truly mean it when I call most of the workshops EXCELLENT. Putting aside how generous the instructors were and how I have been fans of them for, um, ever, the quality of instruction and caliber of information was mind blowing. With many of the instructors, every comment was filled with information backed with years of effort and experience. I'm sure I'll look back onto a few of the workshops down the road and continue to find new revelations and nuggets from the day. I am grateful that I had the time and resources to take every single one. I even got to help in Sahra Kent's workshop by showing some sumbati moves with her coaching (yay practicing the splitz every day)! My narcissism aside, I came away inspired to continue on my journey as a student of this incredible art form - it is SO COOL that there are so many shining stars relatively near where I live that I can learn lessons from.
I cannot let this review slide without mentioning the BRILLIANT hafla that featured the workshop instructors and a few at-large LA dance troupes. Lauren told me that this year was particularly stellar - parts of my jaw are still dragging on the floor from a few of the performances.
Finally, I MUST remark on how friendly the fellow participants were to me - a total dork who talked almost the ENTIRE time. Thank you new friends for being so nice to me! I hope to get to know people more and become a part of the lovely community in LA that I got a peak of during the weekend.
I'm excited to continue to learn more, make new friends, and discover new professional and learning opportunities. How did I get this amazing life?
The Starbelly Arabic Folkloric Celebration in one minute or less!
The ever so talented Cecilia and Chad Rinn put together this awesome gratitude clip about the Starbelly Arabic Folkloric Celebration! At least watch the first 5 seconds where I am obviously pleased with my cane bangin' skills, haha!
âFor more information about how that went, check out my previous blog post!
Special thank you to @boiseartsandhistory for granting @starbellydanceschool the opportunity to hold this day for free to the public. With a twisting and turning world (in general and in my person world) the ability to hold this event filled with family and community value is a treasure. Thank you!
Thank you to @saeed_alazzawi for all of your guidance and for sharing choobi and debke with the Starbelly Dancers before the event. I'm so jealous that I didn't get to dance with you at the park for the news article! You are amazing!
Also thank you to Summer Altieri at @boiseparksandrecreation for quickly finding us an amazing outdoor location to hold the event, when we decided that in order to better ensure safety we'd better head outside.
This whole thing wouldn't be possible without the amazing duo @ceciliarinn and @chadrinncomics, who created this lovely community based off of love, friendship and dance. With an incredible assist from @kiss.my.stardust and @cassandrajoandance, the Starbelly Dancers always create the highest quality productions and I am so honored to be a part of the family.
Thank you to everyone who was a part of the fun day your energy manifested - I am so grateful.
Group pic from @the_dark_lovely
Pic of me from @cheshire.sc
#bellydancersofinstagram #bellydancer #starbellyparty #thisisboise #idahoarts #bridgingdifferences #culturalexchange #familyfriendly #familydance #dance #dancerlife #dancersofinstagram #saidi
A few weeks ago (aka a lifetime ago at this point) I took a modern dance class for the first time in about 15 years from the Limon Dance Foundation. I have always admired the style of modern dance that emerged from Jose Limon's choreographies but I never had the opportunity to give myself the luxury of specific study. I paid for two classes but only took one (the life of a gigging artist) and I was struck by the feelings of joy and generosity the movement released from my body.
Hindsight is 2020... or 2021? Eh whatever, these years sorta blow. I digress - the timing could NOT have been worse as it coincided with the final week of my summer intensive for my MFA and the biggest move of my adult life.
Of course I signed up.
Of course I didn't quit once I learned about my pending move.
Of course I had to shuffle everything in my life around to fit this dang week in.
This training was unbelievably worth it.
The instructors, Kurt Douglas and Kristen Foote, are just amazing. I wish we could have been in person so they could better absorb my deep admiration for their knowledge, talent, and teaching styles. I typed and backspaced the private message "Can we be friends?" so many times - I had to try and keep up with the incredible cohort of students so I had to focus! Kurt and Kristen shared Limon's philosophy and movement vocabulary with precision and authenticity - I think Limon would have loved to see the attention to detail and the attention to JOY both of them portrayed. I have a deep gratitude... can we be friends?!
In addition to this, the workshop had accompaniment and MAN OH MAN was that a joy, a treat, and a delight. We had a chance to ask accompanist (and PHD) Allen Fogelsanger a bit and his ENCYCLOPEDIC knowledge only bested by his love and understanding music and dance's relationship. What a cool person - if you ever see this I'm already using the playlist!
The fellow students in the cohort were knowledgeable, playful, deadly serious about dance but also amazing in their artistry. If there was a moment where I MIGHT feel imposter syndrome - that would have been it. However, I never felt out of place with all of these friendly artists.
I took pages and pages of notes, but I'm going to give myself a minute to digest them before I start organizing them into my final thoughts and create the connections between what I learned and my teaching practices. I will say this - Limon's philosophies and the tenants of his modern dance style loan perfectly to traditional and modern belly dance. It is amazing how things in our universe are so connected.
All in all I think I gave myself a few very nice gifts with the cost of this workshop - a bunch of new friends (they may not know it yet, but I do), invigorated teaching ideas, refreshed look at modern dance, and a slew of artistic inspiration. If you haven't guessed it already, I highly recommend everything about this course.
This is my heart
Singing to you
In colors of teal, brown, and blue
These are my hands
Touching the ground,
Up to the walls, up to the down
This is my mind
This there which – where’s the fucking cat
Listening deep to the sounds of this house
The breathing AV -The grumbling walls
The ants in the boards continue their toil
I’m leaving things here, as best as they be
The concept of home is coming with me
The title of this looong blog is inspired by the the amazing Malala Yousafzai.
“One child, one teacher, one pen, and one book can change the world” -Malala Yousafzai
I have some announcements, thoughts, admissions, and hopes!
I am entwined with a story - a story about a little boy with a HUGE dream. This child became my husband. I'm being vague so SEO won't associate him with all of the sappy love I'm about to pour out, but if you know me you know that my husband has fought against all odds to attain his dreams in the NFL. Ever since he was 2 years old, he knew he wanted to be a part of football: since that time he's published books, worked in the media, and made some incredible friends along the way. During the pandemic, he went from being a beloved "football outsider" to an "insider" and began his journey working directly for teams. On Monday the 21st he got a call that he would be working with some of his greatest allies...and some of the most fabulous football minds out there.
After the experience that was 2020, I witnessed both incredible feats of human resilience and instances where man has come up short. Working for Big Brothers Big Sisters and on the Advisory Board for Jesse Tree, a non profit that prevents homelessness in the Treasure Valley, I had a front row seat to a lot of stuff. I have heard horror stories from my coworkers working directly with children and families during this time. I just can't believe that so many vibrant children, filled with potential, want to die.
A recent news briefing from the Kaiser Family Foundation shared these conclusions (click here for the source on this one)
There is talk about classifying the pandemic as an Adverse Childhood Experience or ACEs (click for some reading). With my work at Big Brothers Big Sisters, I know that the predominant way to reverse the ill effects of ACEs within youths are strong and healthy mentoring relationships (more reading for the click happy). After delving into several trainings like QPR and Mental Health First Aid, and from my lived experience as someone with ACEs who had to figure out things as I went along, I decided that the most important thing I could do to help and heal my community was to take Myra Krien's Pomegranate SEEDs teacher training.
Honestly, SEEDs perfectly combines so many incredible tools. I've included a link for your information that details all of the incredible qualities of this program for young people.
Myra has lovingly created an experience with the Pomegranate SEEDs training. For long time readers of my blog, you've seen me gush about the generous and talented human being that is Myra Krein. Needless to say, I had high expectations for the training and the 5-day event totally left my imagination in the dust. The training itself is a flash of what the young people who partake in the SEEDs program will experience, but I invite you to understand that it is not a mere intensive. This sort of work is personal and requires an extraordinary amount of skill and tact to manifest results in the SEEDs program... let alone in a week with adults who will potentially teach it. The fact that Myra customizes the experience of the teacher training to those in the room and guided us through charged and powerful topics is a testament to the depths of her knowledge and compassion. I laughed, I cried (embarrassingly quickly I might add), I made new friends and gained skills that will help me in my career and as a person who wants to make a positive impact for young people in my community. I will say anything to make you believe that this program works - it is a cure we so desperately need. I am so grateful that it exists.
Here are some highlights - aka pictures of me with my friends.
Considering my pending move, my plans to assist Starbelly with bringing SEEDs back into the Treasure Valley are a bit loosie goosy (Cecilia used to administer it until circumstances prevented her from continuing). I will offer my expertise and heart to Cecilia, Cassandra and Bayla, but my personal foray into the program itself is to be determined... However, I know that I will as quickly as possible implement all of the incredible tools I have gathered over the training. I can hardly freaking wait.
In order to keep contact with all of you, I decided to start and try and maintain an Instagram. I have a LOT of content but what I really want to do is keep a line open to my friends all over as well as become better friends with people in my new city. Right now my handle is @toritori.bobori (banana fanna fo fori). I'm not trying to needlessly gain followers, but if you're on this blog or seeing this message - odds are I want to stay in touch with you somehow. Add me or something? I'll add you back? WHAT ARE THE RULES OF ENGAGEMENT?
PS: This section was also going to be a long section but this blog post is already unreal. Enjoy the book, class.
I mentioned it before but I'll mention it again, please keep your calendar wide open for the up and coming Starbelly Folkloric Celebration!
More info coming soon, but check out the facebook event by [[clicking here]]!
Who gets the reference? Here is a hint - I just reread the anime post from Cassandra and this was the opening song from a show featuring a famous electric rodent. :-)
As out dated as that tune is, I still relate to Ash Ketchum. Instead of pocket monsters, I am catching trainings. This month the vast majority of the Starbelly Dancers are headed to Santa Fe to take part in the SEEDs training held by the fabulously talented and generous human being Myra Krien (link). Referring to previous blog posts about healing the world through dance, taking a part of this training is a part of this mission. Young people are suffering and through COVID, mental health in young people has deteriorated to dangerous levels. Bringing the SEEDs program back to the Treasure Valley will make a huge impact for young women - a population particularly at risk for depression, suicide, and other tragic outcomes.
Another training I am looking forward to is the Home Edition II training (link) from the Limon Dance Company. I have long admired Limon style Modern Dance and after this training, which will also focus on inclusive language in the classroom, I will be able to use many of the principals and philosophies from this dance style to create dance training and ensure the spaces I create are equitable. I'm also eager to brush up on my modern technique! Limon not lemon guys.
Another fun way I'm enriching my life (AKA spending all my money) is that I'm headed into my second year of my MFA program! I can't even begin to describe how incredible this experience has been for me. From the first day I could already feel myself becoming a better artist, a wiser dancer, and a more thoughtful person. I believe the fruits of my labors will be on display soon in the Big Badass Belly dance Show 2022 edition: The House of Secrets. More to come guys.
A few years ago I wrote a post about "what is fusion dance" and I still stand by much of what I said, though I do believe that I have evolved more since then. In an effort to truly "fuse" dance forms I believe that fusion or transnational artists need to always be students and continue to hone their skills within all of the modalities of dance they find themselves in... and then add a few more. Mostly because it is FUN.
Last month I took my first modern dance class in 15 years - while I have continued to practice modern dance and study it's history and take a small part in today's modern/post-modern dance culture, the body I found myself in during class was intriguing. Dancers of all genres and practices NEED to put their bodies into different contexts - it is amazing to dance the steps from other cultures/dance cultures and to understand the hearts of your fellow artists. I also had the opportunity to take a Butoh class through BellyQueen. Um - amazing?!? Perhaps everything comes back around to my secret otaku identity.
Is there a job where I can just learn dances forever? Is that the job I'm doing right now? Am I the luckiest person on the planet?
Anime and manga are highly important in my life – as a young person I did not find many reprieves from the trial and tribulations of my youth until the fateful day I tuned into Toonami on Cartoon Network and was introduced to Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z. Thursday nights became my oasis from bullying and the strict schedule maintained by a young, pre-professional ballet dancer. Usagi (pictued), Goku, and all their friends set my imagination ablaze and firmed my love of this genre for all of eternity. I still look to anime and manga in my daily life as one of the only hobbies I can maintain juggling my life as a dance artist, a graduate student, and a non-profit professional. Isekai is my guilty pleasure and I have become a tea connoisseur thanks to 50 Tea Recipes from the Duchess. This form of media and entertainment has only enriched my days and the days of my fellow weebs.
Through my lens as both a dance professional and my job in a non-profit that provides children with mentors, I have witnessed the impact that meaningful connections (or lack thereof) have on individuals of all ages. I believe that entertainment media is an incredible tool during hard times, not in the form of escape but in the form of inspiration. I have witnessed how manga, anime, webtoons, and print comics soothe people and bring them together at a meaningful level. Just the other day I observed a young person who calls herself painfully shy, become vibrant during a conversation about Demon Slayer – I also think that she was surprised that an “adult” shares her interests.
Queen of the Weebs - Guest Post from Cassandra
As the weather gets hotter and more consistently sunny, I am seeing more and more people eagerly emerging from their homes and spending as much time outside as they can.
While Idahoans are still adjusting to the post-COVID-vaccine landscape, and masks are becoming less integral to public safety in outdoor spaces, I'm seeing more people rocking their anime T-shirts or sporting merch from their favorite streamers/YouTubers/content creators as they carry on with their day-to-day endeavors.
It's this time of year that brings out some of my favorite types of people: my fellow weebs.
Like many subcultures, the anime/manga-loving community has developed its own slang words to describe its members. "Weeb" is loosely defined as someone who is interested in Japan and Japan-produced content, such as anime, manga, music, etc. While these individuals, like myself, are not die-hards who are determined to completely assimilate into Japanese culture and eat, sleep and breathe Japanese content (individuals that have this mindset within the community are commonly known by the derogatory term "weeaboo"), our prevailing interests in anime/manga/etc. can often make it difficult for us to find common interests with the everyday citizen. It is due to this lack of common interests that many weebs are considered social outcasts, which can often--especially in youths--lead to stunted social skills.
It is due to this exclusion in many social settings that many weebs hide their love for anime/manga/etc. and only make sly, subtle references to their hobbies in social settings as though fishing to see if anyone else in their social group will latch onto the bait. Tori King and I became fast friends when we realized we had a lot more than dance in common--we both are weebs!
Back to the point, what does summer have to do with weebs? Anime conventions, my friend! And what is one of the best things about anime conventions you may ask? Cosplay!
Cosplay is its own type of performance art in which individuals dress up as a character from any form of media, most popularly anime, manga, or videogames. That's not to say you won't also spot cosplayers representing popular characters from books--there's an entire world of book-related cosplay as well!
Cosplayers go all-out as summer anime conventions abound throughout the United States, paying homage to their beloved characters in animes, movies, and even video games with amazing technical skill and creative ingenuity. All body types, all genders, all ages are represented in this simplistic hobby of embodying a single character that means so much to so many avid fans of a series. This is a hugely important and meaningful aspect of weeb culture for many reasons, but to draw on the point I made earlier, it's the best place for weebs to be able to network and socialize with other people that have the same interests and hobbies! Yay for the development of social skills!
While I myself have never cosplayed anime characters (only original characters I've made for festivals) I marvel at the sheer dedication and skill so many cosplayers practice and perfect in their representation of a single (or multiple) character. I find myself inspired to also embody some of my favorite animated characters in ways I haven't seen before--through fusion belly dance!
There have been some absolutely iconic anime/manga characters in my life that I feel would be thrilling to breathe some fusion belly dance into, especially with a partner in crime like fellow weeb Tori King.
As many fans of the community know, K-pop (Korean Pop) and J-pop (Japanese Pop) are immensely popular dance and choreography styles in animes, mangas, and even live-action dramas.
Even people who have no interest in anime or manga have had some level of exposure to K-pop dance thanks to viral hits like GANGNAM STYLE by artists like PSY.
As any TikTok-er can tell you, there are a million different trends of any style of dance, some of which can truly lend to emoting comedy, tragedy, or joy in dance.
Incorporating elements of K-pop into any style of dance sounds thrilling, but belly dance especially sounds fun because there is already some overlap with tricky muscle isolation, articulation, facial emoting, and overall grace & fluidity!
While it's easy for me to make a very long list of my favorite anime/manga characters I feel deserve some live-action time in the limelight, more than anything I would love to choose a pair of characters that line up with Tori and I's own personalities and even movement styles. While we definitely have a million ideas, and we're not at all restricted on the amount of anime-related duets we can release, it can be difficult to nail downtime to workshop and choreograph something that only a very specific community would appreciate.
In between working on Starbelly projects, Tori and I are determined to create an otaku duet together for the laughs, the weeb pride, and the thrill of being able to highlight some of our favorite characters on a stage in true DBZ fusion style as professional performing artists!
My fellow weebs, I ask you now: do you have any characters in mind that you think we'd rock?
You can catch the Starbelly Student Salon until May 30th on demand, which features a choreography with the Starbelly Dancers. Also, Myra Kreins annual show, Invaders of the Heart, is entitled Epoch. The Starbelly Dancers will have a short set in this incredible show, which I highly encourage you to watch! I'll be watching as a fan of Mosaic and my Starbelly fam! Click the links below to get the deets on these wonderful shows.
Tori King is a belly dance artist, culture enthusiast and general weirdo. Is this a good biography? Do you like me yet? :-)