Assiut Costuming & Studio Davina

Happy Holidays! It’s the season when I begin to conduct an end of the year review for my business. This year, I was involved with a whole bunch of new projects and I rediscovered some old loves. The review process takes a couple of weeks, and I generally gather together all of the data, the metrics that help me understand how my business worked over the past 12 months. Then I sift through these numbers and analyze it. What was successful, what didn’t work, what could work if given more time, information, or skill development. This year, in a nutshell, was a whopping success!

Aqua Assiut Swing Dress from Studio Davina

Studio Davina

In 2017, I reopened my sewing business with a new name, rebranding as Studio Davina. A few years back, we moved into a large enough home for me to have a fairly big multipurpose workroom. My vision was to do practically everything in this one large space.  So we installed mirrors along one wall, shelves for my research library on another, and brought in two folding tables. Within minutes, this room can have a cutting table, ironing board, and sewing station, or be reconfigured into a small photo-studio with lights and backdrop paper. The result?  A multi-functional space where I can work on diverse projects from sewing to model photography, teach mini-workshops and shoot product pictures for publication.

Right:  Final Assiut Project of the Year – Finishing up an aqua tone assiut swing dress. 

Assiut Sewing Projects

One of my goals for 2017 was to work on more assiut costuming projects. The bulk of 2016 was spent working on two book projects, Becoming a Belly Dancer: From Student to Stage, and Zills: Music on Your Fingertips.  But what I really wanted to do this year was to make more costumes, designing custom clothing, and working with my favorite textile, assiut. So over the past year, I reached out to my clients and customers and asked if anyone wanted assiut costumes. The resounding answer was yes!  I made several bras, a garden of hair flowers, and a few head-to-toe ensembles like this one worn by Bay Area instructor and event producer Sudeep who brings us the annual event Bay Area Belly.

Dance with Davina

Davina's drop-in troupe - Swirl - trio includes Davina, redvelvet, and Zemira, Dec. 2017

One of the new discoveries in I made in 2017 was so simple it was shocking. I really enjoy teaching dance! Although my space is small by dance studio terms, Studio Davina is big enough for a few friends to dance together. Midway through the year, I started teaching more private lessons. By August, I had a regular weekly class going of my coaching students, and we began performing together in October. Teaching again is an unexpected surprise and so much fun! Of course, it doesn’t hurt that my little troupe loves wearing assiut almost as much as I do!

My drop-in troupe collaborative group is composed of myself and current students and coaching partners. Our name is Swirl and we perform in the greater San Jose/Penninsula area of California.  Here we are on Dec. 2017 as a little trio, including Zemira aka photographer Alisha Westerfeld, and redvelvet. There was much assiut-clad swirling happening!

If you are interested in having a custom costume made or if you’re interested in dancing with me, and are within easy drive of Sunnyvale, CA drop me a line and let’s make plans!

I am looking forward to making a lot of assiut costumes and performing more in 2018!
Dawn Devine ~ Davina
Dec. 12, 2017


“5 Layers” class on The Belly Dance Business Academy

This fall has been such an exciting time in Studio Davina!  The past three months have been a flurry of activity.  I’ve been working on  lots of new projects, publications, and a few  beautiful costumes on my workbench!  It’s been a productive and exciting fall.  Today, I’m so glad to finally tell you about one of the projects I’ve been working on behind the scenes.

I’ve joined the faculty of the Belly Dance Business Academy
and will be offering my classes and workshops through their site.

“5 Layers of Belly Dance Appearance” – FREE CLASS

Belly Dance Business Academy My first digital class is now available at the Belly Dance Business Academy!   “5 Layers of Belly Dance Appearance” is a free seminar that presents my signature framework for discussion appearance from the inside out.  When we step on stage, our audience sees more than just our costume.  The 5 Layers is a way of teasing apart the dancer’s overall appearance working in layers from the inside out.

This systematic breakdown of  belly dance appearance makes it easier to communicate about costuming with students, teachers, troupes, and designers.  This system helps you to focus on individual components making projects more manageable and less overwhelming. I had fun putting this seminar together and it’s totally free!

More than Just Business – A Learning Platform for All Belly Dancers

By the way, don’t let the word “business” in the Belly Dance Business Academy fool you.  There is tons of great content on the site that is useful to dancers of all levels of their dance journey.  Every instructor on the site has one or more free classes as well, so you can take a free introductory class to see if you like their style and content. There is a wealth of information waiting for you.

Visit the Belly Dance Business Academy
Take My Class, “5 Layers of Belly Dance Appearance.”

5 Layers of Belly Dance Appearance Class with Davina at the Belly Dance Business Academy

“Think Like a Designer” Course – Coming in 2018

When I used to teach at the community college level, my favorite class had the boring title of “Introduction to Fashion Design.”  Over the past 20 years, I’ve toured the world presenting seminars, classes and demonstrations of this information focussing on belly dance.  Now that I’ve joined the faculty at the Belly Dance Business Academy, I can offer this entire 15 week collegiate course as an affordable  series of lecture/demos.

Study with me from Anywhere at your Own Pace

If you wanted to study with me, but aren’t in the Silicon Valley area of California, it’s been difficult. Now you have the opportunity to take classes with me from the comfort of you home at your own pace.  The first course, “Think Like a Designer” will present the tools and techniques that designers use to plan their ensembles and collections.  So you can really “Think Like a Designer” when you are planning your next ensemble, building your wardrobe, buying new costume pieces, or hand crafting your costumes.

I will roll out the classes over the course of 2018, so if you are interested in being alerted when new courses are available, sign up for my mailing list to receive notifications for class releases.

Thank you for joining me on this epic new phase of my teaching career. 
Dawn Devine ~ Davina
December 6, 2017


PS:  Regarding the newsletter.  I only send every other month, and I never share my contacts!
Watch for the next “Costumer’s Notes” in your inbox after Christmas.



Turning Minutes into Makeup

I’d like to take a moment to share with you a trick that I use for several years to turn free time minutes into makeup.  Every performing dancer knows that makeup plays a very important roll in their overall look. Cosmetics make the features more visible from a distance, creates an enhanced illusion of beauty and perfection, and helps to define the character of the dancer as an entertainer.

Makeup is Essential for Performance

If you’ve ever taken a workshop with me, you’ve probably heard me talk about the “Five Layers” system that I use when discussing a belly dancer’s personal appearance.  But, if you haven’t heard about it, let me quickly break it down.

5 Layers of Belly Dance Appearance

• The Body
• Makeup & Grooming
• Costume
• Jewelry & Accessories
• Props

For more information about the 5 layers and how to use this system when planning your performance appearance, check out our book “Becoming a Belly Dancer: From Student to Stage.”   

At left, my co-author Poppy Maya models a modern style ensemble using all five layers.  Her body, of course, performance makeup, classic 2-piece belly dance costume, jewelry and sleeves, and a veil prop.

Makeup Goes Bad

Like food and beverages, makeup can go bad.  Today, nearly all makeup and cosmetics are marked with a use-by date or a good after opening mark.  You will find this marked either on the packaging or on the container itself.  Look for an icon similar to this jar with a number and an M that represents the months.  The example here on the left indicates that a product should be used up within 12 months of opening.

It’s good to keep an eye on your makeup dates so you know when to replace a mascara (good for 3-6 mo after opening) or a foundation (6mo – 2 years depending on the formulation.)  I like to take a sharpie and write the day I open a product on the outside of the packaging. That way, there is no guessing how old something is. It’s good to be vigilant with dates for a variety of reasons, but you don’t want to open your self to infections by using outdated makeup.

Makeup is Expensive

Unfortunately, when putting on a performance you might use as many as 20 or even 30 different products to create a dynamite stage-worthy look. The cost of makeup will add up over time.  Even when buying more affordable drugstore brands, to have all the products you need, you will rack up a bill.  If you like mid-quality, professional grade, or luxury brands, the cost of putting together a basic kit will add up!

Minutes for Makeup

While looking for sources and methods for saving money on the products I buy regularly, like makeup. A friend referred me to the MyPoints website.  On this site, I discovered that I could spend some time every day or week to answer some surveys, to use their search tool, watch a few videos and other simple and easy tasks.  Over time you accumulate points which you can turn into gift cards at a variety of stores and restaurants.

Here are just a few of the cards available to me on the day I wrote this blog post.  Notice that I have the opportunity to either turn “my points”  a Target gift card, where I regularly shop for beauty products and life essentials. Alternately, I could trade them in for an Ulta card which I could use for both drugstore level and premium makeup brands that I love. The cards available do change and the number of points it takes to trade in varies as well. But if you go to the MyPoints website, you can explore what’s available on any given

Practice Dance While Earning Makeup?

Once I realized the potential of this site, I worked visiting the page into my daily ritual.  I put my current practice music on to remind me of my ultimate goal – building and restocking my performance makeup kit.  I use my music as my guide, putting on a 7-10 minute set, and then I simply “work” on my makeup-earning projects. Listening to my music becomes ingrained in my mind, helping me to hear and understand the nuances of the piece.

It’s not quick, but the time adds up

This is not a quick-fix for getting your kit together this week.  But I do find that I make between $50 and $75 a year in gift cards that cover my makeup and beauty expenses each year.  When you explore the MyPoints website, you can figure out what activities you enjoy most.  I find that I make a lot of points doing research activities, while other friends who use the service take surveys or watch more videos.

Here in the US, we just celebrated our national Thanksgiving. If you decide to visit MyPoints to explore the possibilities, I want to say thank you for using this MyPoints affiliate link.  Your support makes it possible for me to take the time to make helpful and informative content!

I wish you the best of luck earning some free makeup!
Dawn Devine ~ Davina
November 26, 2017