Beautiful Dancer SAILS with Andalusian Horse

"When I dance, the sun sails safely through the night;
When I dance, the future is formed by my feet;
When I dance, the stars move through the heavens;
When I dance, Venus shimmers the desert;
When I dance, dust becomes silver, stones are made of gold!"
Cosi Fabian
 

This video was shot back in 2013. I am riding Rovandio (Andalusian/Lipizzan gelding) bitless with my good friend, and dancer, Lydia Rose Spencer. The footage is from Isaac Royal Farm in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine, a picturesque setting. The video was created by Alan Dillingham, the director I worked with on the indie film Essential Realism, Frost Bite and a short film called Invasion. It was a COLD and WINDY day but Rovandio was excellent. I was planning to ride Douwe but he wasn't quite himself so Rovy filled in and was superb. Only one day to practice with Lydia dancing and he figured it out in a snap. Make sure you see the part where Lydia defies gravity in her split leaps at the 2 minute mark! Enjoy!

Creative Process for "Wings of Isis" Bridleless Routine - Music, Costume, Choroegraphy, & More!

I absolutely love performing with my horse. It is such a satisfying experience to take an idea or be inspired to create something unique and make it a reality. My "Wings of Isis" routine with Douwe is one of those ideas that has taken years to develop. I wanted to share our journey to hopefully inspire you to pursue that creative freestyle  you have been dreaming of. It may take some time but in the end it is worth it!

Inspiration

I have always loved to dance! In 2007 I started taking bellydance classes and fell in love with the veil and fabric wings called the Wings of Isis. I taught classes for a few years and our local dance troupe performed locally. From the very beginning I wondered if I could ride a horse with the wings and began to experiment. I purchased my silver wings from www.moondancebellydance.com, they come in a variety of sizes and colors.

Costume

I went with a Pegasus/Greek goddess theme. I found a Greek goddess dress at the Halloween store for under $65 and have added a lot of details to it over time. I bought silver wings from www.moondancebellydance.com and also used an aqua blue petal skirt that I purchased from them as well to add in some color. The dress had gold trim on it so I covered it with a variety of silver sequin trim from Jo-Ann Fabric and added some aqua blue ribbon to match the petal skirt. I am wearing a white satin circle skirt underneath the dress to cover my legs/saddle. I had this made for me by a local seamstress. For the finishing touches I found a matching headband and some really sparkly diamond earrings at the mall. I braid my hair the night before to give it that wavy look. 

Music 

This was a difficult ride to find music for...I searched and searched on iTunes for something that would accent my arm movements with the wings, have a  walk entrance, a smooth ending (no sharp halts) and also be dramatic for the horse. The music I finally chose is called "Ulysses" from Cirque Du Soleil. The music lets me highlight the movement of the wings and has transitions that give me space to re-organize if the horse is getting quick or tense. 

Choreography

My routine is fairly simple and leaves a lot of wiggle room. Essentially, my only goal is to match the musical transitions (particularly to and from the canter), to show simple serpentines at the trot and flying changes at the canter. I want to match my arm movements to the music at the trot and try to remain quiet in my body and always smiling! 

From the Beginning

The first horse I performed with the fabric wings was Vienna, a Lipizzan mare owned by my close friend Lydia Spencer. After losing Max and Vanidor in 2008 she was very kind to let me ride Vienna for shows and performing. The first day I rode Vienna with the wings I had to have someone lead me around the ring at a walk. She was a little suspicious of the fabric tickling her flanks! It took about a week of walking and slow trot with a ground person until she was relaxed with the wings and after that she was wonderful. I steered Vienna by using very thin cables clipped to the bit that went through a "belt" on my dress and then out to my hands. When I turned my upper body I was able to cue her with the reins. She was very light and sensitive to the aids so this system worked really well for her. Douwe on the other hand is big and stiff in comparison so when I tried the same thing with him the cables/clips/belt kept falling apart! On the other hand he was very good with the wings from day 1...he never spooked or seemed bothered by the fabric floating on top of him.

Here is a video of me performing with Vienna in the Isaac Royal Equestrian Theater back in 2007. She was a really good girl, performing flying changes and prompt transitions. I made the simple bridle and sidereins with clothes line rope you can purchase at the hardware store.

Discovering a New Way...

After some experimentation I found out that Douwe is really good at whip-steering. I started using the wings for steering, the same way you would train a horse to steer by using whips (not by hitting them of course but by holding the whip out to the side so they can see it peripherally and turn away from it). In the beginning I rode Douwe with a regular bridle and handmade sidereins (the same clothes line but spray painted black to blend in). 

The Power of a Dream

When I had the idea to ride with the dancing wings my dream was to eventually ride bridleless.
It took 7 years from the first ride on Vienna (summer 2008), training Douwe in Florida (winter 2010) and then performing bridleless in the summer of 2014.

I wanted to give you an idea of the timeline to help inspire you to keep plugging away at your goals...if you are persistent they really can come true!
 
I encourage you to follow your dreams no matter what they are...being creative is one of the most satisfying things you can do. This video was taken at Elysium Sport Ponies in Atkinson, ME at their open house. This was the first time I performed with Douwe bridleless and he was super! His flying changes need more work but overall he was relaxed, focused and I really enjoyed our ride together.

I would love to hear from you about what inspires you...maybe you have an idea for a freestyle or exhibition ride that you have begun to work on. If you have any questions or comments please post them down below or email me at beginthedance@gmail.com Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and watch the videos!

Royal Vanidor, Lipizzan/Thoroughbred Performs with Bellydancer - 2008 Isaac Royal Equestrian Theater

"Forget your troubles and dance!"
                   -Bob Marley

I have fond memories of this routine- it was the first time that I performed with a dancer! My best friend, Lydia Rose Spencer is dancing. Lydia is also an amazing dressage rider and equine artist. I am riding Royal Vanidor, a Lipizzan/Thoroughbred cross gelding that was born and raised at Isaac Royal Farm in Dover-Foxcroft, ME. I started working with him as a weanling and trained him up through the dressage levels to Pre St. Georges before he died in 2008 due to a tragic vet error. It was devastating but at least I have some wonderful memories of the times we performed together. RIP sweet Vanidor, maybe someday we will dance together again!

Who are some inspiring horses from your past? Leave a comment below!

First Day Filiming with Horses for FALCYYR

We finally had our first day of filming at Isaac Royal Farm for the independent film Falcyyr. This was the first time that the director, Ahura Z. Diliiza, his wife Sinari, and the other actors have visited with the horses. The first scene that he wanted to work on was having my character, Artemis, introduce the Falcyyr to the herd of horses. The weather was up and down all day and ended up being SOOOO cold and windy when we headed out to the pasture. Our teeth were chattering and our hands were freezing but the show must go on! :) We had a hard time getting the herd to come to us at first, even though they usually gallop over to anyone that calls them. It was one of those crazy weather days and the horses were a bit spooky and hyper. And it didn't help that we suddenly appeared at the top of the hill in funny costumes! But the horses had a lot of fun galloping around us and showing off for the camera. Eventually, they came right up over the hill and approached us perfectly, lining up so that there was one horse per person. The sun came through the clouds and created a magical setting. It couldn't have been planned more perfectly! The horses obviously knew what would look the best on camera! :) We will be filming scenes with Douwe and Rovandio in the coming weeks and hopefully finish filming before it gets too cold!! My costume isn't meant for freezing temperatures!

Make sure to like Falcyyr on Facebook to see more photos & updates:
https://www.facebook.com/falcyyr

Thank you to Aanstadt-Das for donating my gorgeous breeches for this film. Please visit their website to view their amazing selection of custom deerskin breeches.
http://www.aanstadtdasbreeches.com/

My character, Artemis, introduces the Falcyyr to the herd of horses. This is Shen, a Lipizzan/TB gelding taking the role as the herd leader.

My character, Artemis, introduces the Falcyyr to the herd of horses. This is Shen, a Lipizzan/TB gelding taking the role as the herd leader.

My character calling the horses to us. We were in the beautiful fields of Isaac Royal Farm where I keep my horse Douwe. The views are spectacular!

My character calling the horses to us. We were in the beautiful fields of Isaac Royal Farm where I keep my horse Douwe. The views are spectacular!

The weather was touch and go but the sunrays that came through the clouds were gorgeous!

The weather was touch and go but the sunrays that came through the clouds were gorgeous!

Filming us at the top of the field overlooking the herd of horses below. The clouds were so beautiful!

Filming us at the top of the field overlooking the herd of horses below. The clouds were so beautiful!

In the beginning the director, Ahura Diliiza, had us run to the top of the hill before we called over the horses.

In the beginning the director, Ahura Diliiza, had us run to the top of the hill before we called over the horses.