Gilded Serpent presents...
ADVENTURES OF THE DANCE GODDESS
- Part 2
for part 1 click here
For this episode of my travel,
adventures, and empowerment through belly dance, I will focus on the
teaching aspect of my career, especially the amazing opportunities
which appeared in every community where I performed.
It's no secret that we all
tend to teach what we need to learn - and teaching belly dance is
a very personal way of connecting, since so many core "issues"
and fears arise around how we relate to our bodies.
I consider my twenty-four plus years
of teaching the "perfect curriculum" the universe could have
provided for me. I am working on all of the above, especially learning
to be appreciative of other women and tolerant when we see things from
different perspectives. I sometimes seems to me that I have not been
blessed with natural diplomacy, but have slowly developed some, thanks
to the many situations working with students, troupes and other performers.
Since day one, I believe that I've been driven by a sense
of mission - to save the world by proselytizing the joys of our most
ancient form of movement. I have watched some profound transformations
over the years. Among the most vivid teaching experiences are the two
summer intensive workshops I gave at Holloway Women's Prison in London.
Their policy was to provide community art programs so that the women
incarcerated there could learn to work together towards a common goal.
From what I could gather, most of the women were doing time for theft
or drug offenses. (Sadly, one inmate was there for smuggling some white
powder onto a plane inside of a dead baby!) I gave a performance to
demonstrate the art of belly dancing. I included a sword-balancing
section and you can imagine making it through all the security gates
packing my two swords in their rifle case, explaining to all the dumbfounded
guards!. Only a few inmates opted to take my class, but those who attended
learned a simple routine and put together a costume. The women were
so proud of themselves and so thankful to me that I was more than gratified.
I often wonder if we could "infiltrate" our own local prisons
to help re-socialize women by boosting their sense of worth. I was
delighted to learn that Sabah of Berkeley, who graces
the cover of this issue of Gilded Serpent, has been involved in this
type of teaching also and has also performed in variety shows at San
Quentin Prison on the edge of San Francisco Bay.
I also taught one summer in Lisbon at a community dance studio
(in the Portuguese language!). This culminated with two of my Lisbon
students dancing with me at paid gigs, booked by my duly impressed
agent. We shared some performing experiences they'll be retelling to
A man with an antique
shop across from the venue loaned us the eight-foot boa he kept
there, so we devised a beautiful trio to support the serpent's massive
musculature! We discovered during rehearsal that this snake liked
to explore overhead greenery, so we choreographed into the dance
his rising up under the large fichus trees in the club
. For one tableau, I had the center
of the serpent draped over my head while the two girls knelt on each
side holding the head and tail around their necks. Next they spiraled
around me until the snake totally encircled me. The only problem we
had was when one audience member from Angola totally freaked out with
hysterical herpetophobic screams, upsetting the snake, causing him
to constrict around me. Needless to say, I cut short the act and exited
- stage left!
A stripper I met in
Greece took private classes and landed a contract in Baghdad. Once
there in Iran, she continued her studies and never stripped again.
Later she married and raised
a family in England, eventually bringing them to visit me in California
- where she performed a smashing cane dance for us all at the sorely
missed Cairo Café which was in Mill Valley, California.
I am now honored to be godmother to one of her girls.
After several years back in the U.S., gradually accepting the
fact that dancers here can't quit their day jobs, I tried scratching
out a living as a costume designer for Regional Theater. By the time
I was repeating the same shows twice (like "My Fair Lady")
and had won about all the awards my knick-knack shelves could hold,
my interest waned. It was no big leap to producing my own shows incorporating
what I know best. The "Goddess Show" series was conceived
as a way to use dance to portray feminine mythology pre-dating the patriarchal
I learned that in the
Hindu tradition we are entering what is called "Kali-Yuga"
times, or the return of feminine energy to the planet. This
energy enters, not as a dominant force, but as the true balance and
equally valid, if hugely threatening, intuitive and non-linear suppressed
We employ our dance/theater creativity
to bring to the community a sense of the sacred feminine. It expands
our own collective knowledge from a time when women's rituals were
regarded as necessary to the welfare of humanity. As women work with
other women in this creative process, we discover all of us are parts
of the enlarged mission of The Living Goddess. This year marks the
seventh annual Summer Solstice Event. Through it, I plan to continue
to learn more about diplomacy and true appreciation of our sisterhood
with each new exciting compendium of dancers and each stage of empowerment
we bring to each other.
comment? Send us a letter!
Check the "Letters to the Editor"
for other possible viewpoints!
Articles on Gilded
Serpent by Dhyanis
Fringe 2000 with Troupe Dhyanis "Where the Fringe Meets the Fringe"
Evening of Experimental Middle Eastern Dance Video Review
of a Goddess (Part One)
Adventures of a Goddess
Sausan's Saga at
The Grapeleaf Restaurant
12-24-03 Dancing Inside Out by
state of Oriental Dance in America, as it is most often seen today in
festivals and restaurants, is at a crossroads of change from which there
will be no way to return.
2003 by Zahraa
winner was also the worst dressed dancer. Her name is Ronda and she has
the reputation of being too cheap to invest in a quality costume.
dancing in cyberspace –
The LiveJournal Belly dancing Community by Lilly
It is analogous to keeping a public diary, and asking people
to comment on it.