Assiut Belly Dance Costuming Book – The “Big Build” Begins

 “Assiut Belly Dance Costuming” – The Book Build Begins

Hello Gang!  I’m so excited that the world is opening back up again after the global hiatus. Here in Studio Davina, I’ve begun work on the next DIY costuming book.  Our current working title is “Assiut Belly Dance Costuming in Detail.”

When we published “The Cloth of Egypt” back in 2014, we edited out two entire chapters that didn’t seem to fit.  These lost sections introduced the main elements of belly dance costuming design and construction. During editing, we all agreed these chapters just seemed like an awkward departure from the history and technology focus of the rest of the book. 

Lost Belly Dance Costuming Sections

The last year gave us all lots of time for reflection during the global shutdown. Over the past year and a half, I spent time thinking about how to repurpose those two chapters.  My co-author, photographer Alisha Westerfeld and I had always hoped to release this material. But in the intervening years, we’ve decided to completely scrap that initial text. The original text was written in an explanatory overview style. However, we’ve decided to create a more in-depth and detailed book.

Belly Dance Costume Construction – Step-By-Step Instructions

So what will this book include that isn’t in other books I’ve published?  I’m going to use a similar format to what we did in the step-by-step guide “Embellished Bras.”  As I work on projects I will pause and take in-progress photos to capture the key steps in the process. Twelve full head-to-toe ensembles give me plenty of opportunities to demonstrate all of my favorite design approaches and sewing techniques.  In this book, I will move through each key step in the process of design, from the spark of inspiration to the completed look. 

Need some inspiration for an assiut costume now?  Check out my Three Day Assiut Costume Challenge blog series where I attempted (and failed) to make an assiut bra for a dance showcase.

Acquiring Assiut Fabric

Over the intervening years, I’ve spent time acquiring a fresh new batch of modern assiut cloth.  We need quite a bit of modern assiut fabric to meet our goal to make a dozen head-to-toe costume ensembles and document their construction!  We’ve used some of the proceeds of the Assiut Mask Project to fund these assiut fabric purchases. Fortunately, we’ve worked with a number of dealers on eBay, Etsy, and from the world of belly dance to acquire enough materials for the big build. 

If you purchased an assiut mask from me over the past year, thank you for supporting my next book!  While we still have some materials and supplies left to pick up, we’ve got enough to get started.  If funds get tight, we might pause to make some items to sell or to use as premiums for another Kickstarter campaign as we get a better idea of the size and scope of this new book.  We successfully funded two Kickstarter campaigns for Cloth of Egypt and our belly dance textbook Becoming a Belly Dancer: From Student to Stage which is now available on Amazon.  Of course, Cloth of Egypt is available both on Amazon or directly from me on my Etsy store

If you would like to follow my book development regularly, be sure to subscribe to my newsletter.  If you want more status reports and behind-the-scenes photos, come join the conversation over in my Facebook Studio Davina group.  Or come back here to catch a future blog.

Thank you for your continued interest in my ongoing projects.  Follow me here to watch the design process unfold for these next 12 assiut costumes.

Happy Costuming and Dance!
Dawn Devine ~ Davina

ps – Have you checked out the behind-the-scene magazine “Costumer’s Notes” that we put together to commemorate the creation of the book “The Cloth of Egypt?”  Loads of full-color photographs of dozens of belly dance costumes!  


DIY SEO for Belly Dance Businesses in 2021

DIY SEO Workshop for Belly Dancers, 2021SEO Seminar 2021 – For creative small businesses

Join me for another installment of my Seminar Series:
“Bootstrapping Your Business”
on the Beyond Dance Business Academy Website

Do you have a website for your independent creative business? If you have a website, you’ve probably heard of Search Engine Optimization. Throughout spring, I  brought myself up to date on the latest changes and updates in the world of SEO. What’s working today in 2021 to give website searchability a boost?  In this seminar, I’m going to share what I’ve learned.  I’ve curated a task list for small creative businesses.  You can pick and choose which methods and strategies will work with your time, skills, and budget.

My goal is always to help people do it themselves on a budget.  If you’re interested in learning more, join us live on Sunday, July 25, or as a replay after August 1, 2021.

SEO: Improve Web Search Visibility

with Dawn Devine of Ibexa Press
Sunday, July 25, 2021, Noon Pacific
$15 – includes 45 min slide-talk, Q&A, Handout
Live Seminar via Zoom – Replay available in Aug.
Hosted by Sara Shrapnell of the
Beyond Dance Business Academy
Click here to save your spot

SEO: Techniques

From updating basic content to the strategic use of keywords, activating location services, authority building strategies, and key metadata methods.  During this talk, I explain how search engines work, so you can understand the reason behind what can feel like arbitrary tasks.  In addition, I try to cut through the marketing jargon, defining the most important terms and breaking strategies down into smaller, actionable steps. 

Seminar Handout with SEO task list

Because my goal is to help my friends in dance and costuming succeed in business, I’ve built a targeted SEO task list. We will go over this list in the course of the talk.  Later, you can pick and choose what tasks fit your business goals and available time.  I’ve also included a list of key elements that Google is looking for when ranking websites.  So you can create your own informed SEO strategies that fit the goals of your unique business.

RIGHT: My websites through the ages from 1996-2010

I’m not a Marketing Guru

I’ve been a webmaster, site manager, and content creator since the early days of the web.  My interest in SEO comes from my work on my own businesses.  I’m not trying to sell marketing services or manage other people’s websites.  Instead, I’m sharing the research and knowledge that I’ve gained as part of my own ongoing business education.  Websites are a process of evolution, and over the years, my site has had many looks.  But I’ve always kept on top of the latest SEO methods to help me stay on top of my business game. 

Perhaps I will see you at the talk?
Dawn Devine ~ Davina
July 2, 2021





“Doing” Belly Dance History – Post-Workshop Update

“‘Doing’ Belly Dance History” was such a fun seminar back in March!  I just want to thank all of the folks who attended. The replay is now available on the BDBA website.  If you missed this workshop, and want to check it out in replay, click here for more details Attendees to the “Doing” seminar got to peer “behind the curtain.” In this workshop, I shared all of my research processes, organization tricks, and digital tools.

Salomania: A Quest for Ephemera

During that workshop, I made an announcement. A portion of the proceeds is going directly towards the production costs of a future book. My current archival research focuses on the period between 1875 and 1925.  I’m looking forward to publishing a future book on the Salomania phenomenon.

Armed with this influx of funds, I’m now officially on the hunt for ephemera related to Salome in the first decade of the 20th century.  My goal is to find images of the Salomé character during the last quarter of the 19th century through the pop culture phenomenon we now call “Salomania.”  

La Bellincioni Dans “Salomé”

This lovely page pulled from an unknown French magazine of Italian opera singer Gemma Bellincioni is my latest acquisition.  In 1911, she performed in the title role of Salomé at the l’Opéra-Comique in Paris. This is an illustration/photo hybrid. Lean in and look closely. Can you identify the classic costuming features associated with the character Salomé?

Maud Allan, the Most Famous Salomé Dancer

Does this image look familiar?  This is due, in large part, to the costume. The top worn by La Bellincioni bears a striking resemblance to dancer Maud Allan’s in the same role. Is it possible the designer of this Salomé opera copied Maud Allan’s look?

If we compare these two tops, we can see the striking resemblance between these two ensembles. From construction details like the mesh base and beaded roundels to the pearl sags and bejeweled medallions, it’s clear that these costumes are iconic to the character Salomé.  For the early 20th century theatrical audience, the uniformity of the looks makes it easy to read who the character is from a distance.

I’m so excited to be digitally shopping from ephemera dealers and image-rights management companies.  I’m looking forward to investing in photos and illustrations to make this future book as lavishly illustrated as “Cloth of Egypt: All About Assiut.”

Now it’s time to head into the studio and get some sewing done!
Dawn Devine ~ Davina
May 22, 2021