Friday, May 13, 2011


My articles on identifying the many styles of belly dance got stopped short , because I am in a frenzy of preparing for my May And June gigs at Tribal Fest 11, Fes-Tribale in Quebec, and ABS-Fest in North Carolina. The articles will return soon, I promise!

Meanwhile, I am furiously working on finishing my costume for a fantasy number based upon Art Nouveau images, done a little Noire and with a hint of the dangerous. I have always been attracted to the work of artists from this time period, even as a child. I have based many of my costumes upon this aesthetic, and love the work of Leon Bakst, who was the costume and set designer for The Ballet Russes De Monte Carlo, and the better-known artists Erte, and Alphonse Mucha. As I was working on this costume, my mind wandered to the work of these three incredible talents, for their un-ending inspiration.

This costume is all black covered in gold lace, with rhinestone and turquoise accents. Some of the turquoise stones are actually milky blue antique Peking Glass. The beads are long, tear-drop shaped, and have ornate brass bead-caps, which originally were covered with REAL turquoise peacock feathers! Most of the peacock feathers have worn off, but the beads are still amazing. i could totally see them sewn onto a costume for Nijinsky or Tamara Karsavina of The Ballets Russes.

I have hoarded them for over 25 years... just waiting to use them. In the 1980's, I was exploring what was left of Howard Hughes' movie studio, after the demolition ball had done it's job. In the wreckage, there was a chest of drawers. When I opened a drawer, I found lots of these beads, in various colors- the milky blue, a mauve pink, cobalt blue, and a clear, see-through olive green. They were sewn in rows onto yellowed, decomposing paper. I think they may have been beads for lamp-fringe, I'm not sure if they were used in costuming but they are stunning. Of course, I stuffed my purse full of them, and high-tailed it out of there before I got popped for trespassing!

I am glad they have found a home on my costume, which pays tribute to the time period- The Edwardian Age- when these beads were made. This costume has taken countless hours of work, but it's been so worth it. I hope the spirits of Bakst, Erte and Mucha will smile when they see it.

And now if you will excuse me, I need to get back to sewing and affixing rhinestones!

The bra, belt & Edwardian-style tiara of my costume
A costume sketch by Leon Bakst


  1. That costume is shaping up beautifully and I am totally jealous of your illicit bead finds ;)

  2. woman of so many talents, i will b reading other articles over again during wait, anything 4 the princess, have fun, happy dancin,gypsy