I’m very excited to be presenting a new piece at the upcoming Anti-Valentine Hafla, Feb. 7 2015, to Marilyn Monroe’s iconic “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend”. Other than dancing to a great song, what thrills me most is getting the chance to not just perform, but really design the piece from scratch. Here’s a sneak preview of what has been going on:
I listened to a LOT of different versions of the song; from Marilyn to Eartha Kitt, from Moulin Rouge and Burlesque to a lesser known bollywood remix. I wanted something with a good rhythm, upbeat but sensual, and a really memorable ending. I ended up choosing the original Marilyn version, from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. It had two out of three, and so the challenge of practicing with music that had no real “backbeat” began.
I started playing with the song about a month ago, using practice fans. There was a lot of figuring out how best to use them, when to snap them open or closed, and working in a variety of moves without the fans distracting from the actual dancing. I looked at clips from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, as well as work of other belly dancers for inspiration. I wanted to not just dance to the music, but really capture the lyrics and heart of the song.
Like most performers who make their livings performing, I didn’t have a lot to spend on props for this. So I put my propping skills to the test. I found a pair of cheap fan veils on Amazon, and made one of them into a left hand fan by switching the ribs around. Then I trimmed off the excess veil (some of which I would later use as a hip wrap) and added some lovely silver lame that I found in the scrap bins at work.
Then I blinged them out, using some pretty chandelier beads to hide my seams, and adding in some gems. I had to be careful not to go overboard or use too much glue, as that effects the flutter of the fan as well as how well it opens and closes. I finished with a dry brush of silver on the ribbing.
As gems go, I must admit I am much more of a pearl girl than a diamond diva. To paraphrase Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, “Oh, I think diamonds are devine, on older women, but not so much for me…don’t you agree?” As such, I didn’t have much in the outright bling department, and again, didn’t have a whole lot to spend. Back to prop skills. I found a great pair of earrings on clearance at Target and married the posts with a broken pair I already had. Then I took the leftover bits and worked them into a choker with a few pearls and a little gold. Perfect!
Now, back to practicing!