This gorgeous creature is my dance friend, Azhia. As Azhia, she is a bellydancer extraordinaire, having been named Belly Dancer of the Universe 2003. Being a wonderful make-up artist, as well as a dancer, Azhia decided to meld her love for the two arts together and created "Raq (Rock) the Camera", a unique event that offers bellydancers the chance to come in and be styled by a professional hair and make-up artist (Azhia) herself and then take some of the most flattering and glamorous pictures you'll find anywhere. Azhia has a special ability to find that which is most alluring about her subject and using just a few make-up techniques make that dancer recognize her own sexiness. You leave a Raq the Camera shoot brimming with confidence.
However, Azhia is not all she is. Like most bellydancers, Azhia has her "regular" life, as Christine Millan. Christine is not the bellydancer or bellydancer's make-up artist. She is the industry professional, who, in 2007, graduated first in her class from the Jean Madeline Aveda Institute in Philadelphia, PA. She has done make-up for brides, has worked with photographers and film directors, and styled dancers, actors and models. And in addition to all that, she has decided to share all the tips, tricks and techniques she has learned over the years in her DVD, Basic Makeup for Performance and Photography.
Don't let the title fool you! This DVD is not just for dancers, nor is it only for those who plan to perform onstage or have professional pictures taken. This DVD is chock-full of tips that you can use in your everyday make-up routine or if you just want to spice things up for a special night out. Basic Makeup for Performance and Photography is a bare bones effort and I mean that in the best way. There are no fancy schmancy graphics, but it is quite professionally done. There is chaptering for easy access to whichever topic you'd like to study. On the DVD, Christine doesn't use brand or product names - she only gives you tips that will allow you to achieve your desired effect.
I love that as a woman of color, a business owner and a dancer, Christine Azhia has a range of expertise that gives her a unique perspective in the beauty business. Christine is the narrator of the DVD and she has an extremely pleasant voice and manner. There is gentle, unobtrusive music in the background, which is soothing, but doesn't detract from the information being offered. The DVD is full to the gills with such varied information as using hairspray instead of brow wax, the best tip I've ever seen for achieving a perfect cat eye (I will not divulge - buy the DVD!), the correct techniques for contouring and highlighting and the various fun uses for glitter.
Christine Azhia uses models of many different skintones, ages, and ethnicities. She has both male and female models. Many of the close-ups are of Christine herself, applying make-up to her own face, so you can see the angle you would use to hold the brush when applying your own make-up. She is beautiful, but also looks approachable. As a make-up artist myself, I received tips and tricks that I can use immediately and not just in my dance life.
Of all the beauty instructional books and DVDs I have perused (and there have been many), Basic Makeup for Performance and Photography is right up there. This is definitely one to make sure you have in your beauty arsenal. I'm giving it the official status: Ding! Pick it up!
The DVD is $30 and to see a trailer and purchase, go to http://www.azhiadance.com/store.aspx.
Photo credits: Close-up - Cassandra Panek, Full-length - Danny Portieous