I'd Like to
I'd like to introduce myself. My pen/stage
name is Najia El-Mouzayen. For approximately
seven or eight years of my career in Middle-eastern dance I used
the name "Najia Marlyz". When I married Mr.
El-Mouzayen, I took on that surname with my stage name
and kept the real-life surname I already had. That should have
been my first clue that the marriage was based firmly in fantasy
and that the adventure had only just begun. My capacity for creative
reasoning seems boundless. During the next eight years I learned
more about the Middle-eastern culture than I really wanted to
know, but along with the marriage came the opportunity to travel
repeatedly to the Middle East. I found answers to questions I
had not yet posed about the language, the customs, the music
and the dance.
One would think that all this newly gained knowledge would enhance my dancing,
and in some respects I can say that it did, but not in the way I would have
wished if I had had my 'druthers. You see, I had begun my career and had done
quite nicely for myself as Najia Marlyz. I created one of the first few dance
studios in the East Bay Area of San Francisco in which I proudly featured one
of the top two popular and initial teachers on the West Coast of the US, Bert
Balladine. Occasionally, luminaries of whom you may have heard
stepped in to teach a lesson such as: Mary Ellen Donald, Vince
Delgato, Sabah Miller and Rhea
Marsh (now in Greece for many years). Many well-known dancers
of the time came in for workshops, events, and lessons and it was a time when
what is now common place was all new and full of adventure.
After evening lessons, my more dedicated, and perhaps more foolhardy students
and I crossed the bridge into San Francisco by about 10 o'clock at night, heading
directly to Broadway where
we sat, first at the Casbah
Cabaret, and then the Baghdad
Cabaret. Sometimes we added the Minerva Taverna, the Greek Taverna,
and Plaka Taverna. We loved the Casbah and Baghdad because
they did not serve food and each featured three dancers with live music every
night. Often we were invited to the stage to dance in our street-clothes and
learned to dance with live music in this fashion. The Greek places had louder
live music and featured only one dancer but one could get away with out dinner
by ordering a glass of retsina wine which was difficult to drink too quickly,
thereby ruining our evening of cheap thrills. We learned to love the Middle
Eastern music and food, ignoring the obvious impression our all-female presence
presented to the Middle-Eastern families and single men we encountered in these
places. Oh, my dear, do I have stories for you!
When I, silly me, married Mr. El-Mouzayen, I thought he was drawn to me by
my excellent dancing, which he had profusely praised, and that he would continue
to support me in my dance studio business. When I took him to an immigration
attorney, he pointed at the receptionist and gazing at me with his beautiful
gray-green eyes sincerely he said to me, "There is the respectable job
I would wish for you!" I was annoyed. I was hurt. I was a University graduate
with a Master's degree and I owned my own business. I held a teaching certificate
from the University. I was a regular staff-writer for a dance publication.
He wanted me to have a minimum-wage job working for a mob of downtown attorneys.
I was "clueless in Berkeley".
After the dissolution of our marriage,
I was free again to pursue my dance undaunted, but the onus of
disrespect had so tainted the pursuit that it has been a long
trip back to find what it was about Middle Eastern music and
dance that so enchanted me. During the next few months, I would
like to disclose some of my questionable adventures in Middle
Eastern dance, and peripheral subjects at this location to give
you a laugh-or possibly, something to think about.
Najia Marlyz El-Mouzayen,
A native Californian and great grand daughter of American pioneers, December
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other possible viewpoints!
Sacred Surprise of Tribal Fest 3 by Shahana Cartahi
I now understand, in retrospect, that I had been really drawn to
Tribal Fest 3 for another reason.
+ Cooperation = A Problem Solved By Janie "Jenee" Midgley
upon a time, two events were created in two different states.
in the '70s at O Aitos Taverna by Kalifa
someone yelled, “FIRE!”
Belly Danced, Part III: Biblical Accounts of Belly Dance
in the Ancient Near East by Qan-Tuppim
character in the Bible has been so misunderstood as Salome. Critics
condemn her as a wanton slut. Supporters embrace her as a symbol
of oppressed female sensuality. Neither is true.
Evening of Experimental Middle Eastern Dance Video Review
...this genre encourages performers to intermingle other
dance forms with belly dance, to develop a theme or make a statement.