Degas’s Dancers at the Barre: Point and Counterpoint

I am super jealous of art gallery visitors in Washington, D.C., who can see the “Degas’s Dancers at the Barre: Point and Counterpoint” exhibit.

From NPR:

The last gallery even includes two mirrors and a real ballet barre, mounted at hip height along one mirror. When a dancer from the Washington Ballet reached the end of the exhibit, she couldn’t resist stretching one leg on the barre.

“You can’t just walk past it,” says Morgann Rose, a principal dancer with the Washington Ballet. “I see a ballet barre, and I have to do something — [it’s] kind of an addiction,” she laughs.

Rose recognizes herself in the painting that is the focus of the exhibition, Degas’ Dancers at the Barre. “Every day begins at the barre — stretching, slowly moving your body, warming yourself up,” she explains.

These morning rituals are familiar to every dancer. Septime Webre, dancer, choreographer and artistic director of the Washington Ballet, describes the start of the day with veneration. “The studio is a temple,” he says.

I don’t know if I could pick a favourite ballet-inspired Degas work if I tried.  Maybe this one:

"Ballet School", oil on canvas, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

But I’ve always liked “Four Dancers” too:

"Four Dancers", 1899, Oil on Canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington

“Degas Dancers at the Barre:  Point and Counterpoint” is on display from October 1 to January 8 at the Phillips Collection.


Finding my Zaghareet

Dance is probably the thing that I pursue the most pro-actively (for sure what I’m most likely to register for workshops for and not miss regularly scheduled session for), and the thing I’ve blogged about the least here. While I study a variety of dance styles (ballet, African, belly) belly dance is the one I have most of my heart in right now. There are a lot of belly dance moves that I need to practice more regularly if I’d like to improve: hip shimmies, shoulder shimmies, belly flutters. But the thing that I’ve been making the most progress with is my zaghareet.

I tried to pull a definition for zaghareet from Wikipedia but Wiki’s no fun, it re-directs to a page about ululations.  So I turned to Shira, knower of all belly dance knowledge.  From her belly dance glossary:

(Pronounced “zah guh REET”.) The zaghareet is a high-pitched ululation done with the tongue. It is a sound of celebration associated with weddings, parties, and other joyful occasions. Within the context of belly dancing, it is a favorite tool for expressing approval for whatever the dancer is doing at the time, and sometimes dancers themselves will zaghareet to express how much fun they’re having at the moment.

Halifax is a very tribal and tribal fusion-friendly belly dance community, so there’s a lot of hissing and yipping too, but I always felt a little silly cheering in tribal styles for Egyptiain/Oriental/Turkish/Cabaret acts.

At the end of a dance class, it is good class etiquette to applaud to your instructor (and to the musical accompaniment, if there’s a pianist/drummer/a person who isn’t a tape deck, basically).  I studied with the Uberwench for a few years, and at the end of her class, we always worked on our zaghareet.  Uberwench is a BEAST at the zaghareet, it’s fast, loud, and high-pitched.  And though it was super fun to try, I always found there to be a bit of stress in the context of our zaghareet practice- everybody was quiet, the cd player was off, it was just the sound of us zaghareeting!

I think it’s African dance that has really provided me the opportunity to really make progress on my zaghareet.  I go to the African Dance is for Everybody dance class fairly regularly.  After warm-up, we learn a “choreography” (a traditional dance, and she shows us a set number of moves which we cycle through when the drummer plays the call- we don’t dance as fast, long, or hard as I presume these dances are traditionally done).  We do it once or twice as a group, then split into two groups and perform the routine for each other. Susan, the instructor, encourages us to make a lot of noise for one another.  This noisy environment, with loud live drumming, is the best place in the world to practice zaghareeting.  If I muck it up, nobody can really hear it that clearly *anyway*.  It’s the perfect safe space!

I’ve been zaghareeting for a few weeks now, and I can’t wait for my current belly dance studio’s Student Showcase so I can practice Zaghareeting at some awesome live belly dancing.

TEDx Talk: Terri Roberts “Is it so wrong to run like a girl”

So, I’ve been painfully lazy about updating this blog, but you know who updated theirs with something awesome?  My sometimes-belly dance instructor Terri Roberts, who recently did a TEDx Talk about being fit and female (and the challenges involved).  Watching  the video (embedded below, or on YouTube), I can tell that Terri was working on this talk while I was researching fitness instruction as a potential part time career (per her suggestion that I might like to consider it), I recognize a lot of what she says here in the video.

Check out Terri’s blog where she writes about fitness and dance:  I Move To Music

from Air Force News: Last Terry Fox Run in Kandahar

I’m a sucker for stories about the Terry Fox Run (somebody very close to me being a cancer survivor) and for stories about Kandahar (from working at an air base for a couple of years now).  Here’s a story about both of these things from the RCAF Public Affairs news feed.

Although preparations began very early, by the time the last runner finished, the temperature had climbed to 36 degrees Celsius. Thanks to the hard work of the volunteer organizers, the event proceeded without a hitch.

“The fact that [troops in Kandahar] organize and participate in the Terry Fox Run in circumstances that are less than ideal is reason enough to celebrate this unique and memorable fundraising effort,” said Breeda McClew, the interim international director of the Terry Fox Foundation. “It is the spirit in which our Canadian troops come together, with other nations, in order to contribute to Terry’s dream that reminds us all of the lasting influence of his Marathon of Hope.”

Well done, chaps!  Can’t wait until you’re all out of Afghanistan.

MEC haul for Saturday 24 September

I won’t lie.  I love MEC and I love spending money there.  Here’s a modest haul from my shopping trip this weekend:


MEC Haul, 24 September 2011

MEC Turbo Turtle LED Rear Light.   I like that these are cheap, because apparently I destroy bicycle lights.

Specialized Big Mouth 620ml Cycling Water Bottle.  Actually, I needed a water bottle to replace the one that came with my Nathan Quickdraw (I have it in green).  So off I went to MEC to wiggle water bottles into it to make sure something fit.  I hope I like this bottle as well as the one that came with the Nathan system in the first place.

“Trails of Halifax Regional Municipality” by Michael Haynes.  (Sorry no link to buy at MEC, couldn’t find it online on their website- figured Mr. Haynes website would be a fine stand-in) When I first started running, I spent a lot of time on the Salt Marsh trail with the Salt Marsh Trail Running Club.  My life has changed and it’s no longer possible for me to join then on Saturdays, and I’m now hanging out with the Heart & Sole club, who mostly does road running.  I’d like to spend more time on trails though- I had no idea there were enough trails in Halifax to write a book 160 pages long.  Can’t wait to spend more time on trails, either on foot or on my bicycle.  The Dartmouth Waterfront Trail is lovely for commuting, but doesn’t feel that trail-ish.

Not Pictured: Registration Fee for Inaugural MEC Annual Trail Run in November.  I signed up for the 5K.  Why not put my money where my mouth is on my last point about wanting to spend more time on trails?  Have no idea if I’ll barefoot it or not (probably not, or at least, not entirely).  This run is in Shubie Park, where I’ve still never had the chance to run.

My fitness Goals


This is kind of a boring first post, but you gotta start somewhere! I have a couple of fitness goals that in some ways, support each other, and in other ways, branch away. Ultimately I think all these things are great cross-training for the other things.


I’d like to become a more advanced belly dancer. I recently switched styles to Egyptian (from Cabaret and Tribal Fusion) after a workshop with my pretend-boyfriend Nath Keo*. I don’t think that Tribal and Tribal Fusion are good styles for me (Tribal is an educational one, as it is 100% improvisational, and you learn a cueing system in order to dance in a group), Egyptian and Oriental feel more “right”. I’m looking forward to my switch to Egyptian, I’m studying with Laura Selenzi. I’m currently using ballet and African dance to cross-train.

look how white my belly is

Me with Nath Keo at the Oriental Bliss workshop at Dartmouth Sportsplex Spring 2011

*I love my husband very much, I think he appreciates what I mean when I say that Nath Keo is my belly dance boyfriend 😉


I used to run a lot. I did a Couch to 5K-type training programme while I lived in England and was frustrated that I couldn’t legally work there any longer. When I got back, I joined the Salt Marsh Trail Running Club and increased my mileage like WHOAH. I also hurt myself running too fast and hard over the MacDonald Bridge.

Graffiti on the bridge

I’m now a little more researched, experienced, and as a result, wiser about running.  I had a few false starts re-starting to get into running but I think it’ll stick this time- I’m currently using adidas miCoach, barefoot running, and running with the Heart and Sole running club based here in downtown Dartmouth.

Fitness Instructor Certification.

One of my past belly dance instructors suggested I would be a good Bellyfit instructor.  This has me on a colision course with fitness instruction- the more I researched it, the better and idea it seemed, and I’ve got so much good feedback from people about fitness as a career generally, and about me working in group fitness specifically.  I start my programme in October.  I should be certified in time for the new year. Whoooo Nova Scotia Fitness Association!

I don't have any relevant photos so enjoy this snapshot of Larry the Lobster working on his abs


I cyclo-commute, but I’m a fair-weather cyclo-commuter.  I’d like to cycle later in the fall this year.  Last year, I dropped cycling like a hot potato after we put the  clocks back (“too dark!” I moaned.  My poor bike stayed at work until spring!).

I was in the Halifax Metro!  :D

Me in the Tweed Ride