Gilded Serpent presents...
Sumaya's Chicago South
dance scene on the south side of Chicago is a bit more
sparse than the dancers in that area would prefer. There
aren't as many workshops, haflas, and
other events as in other parts of town. Sumaya
recognized this. Deciding to make her own contribution to building
a sense of community among south side dancers, Sumaya
has begun to organize a series of informal haflas
for dancers in the area. These photos show the dancers who performed
in one she held January 21, 2005, at a bar called Tommy's Place.
shows Sumaya kneeling in front of the
dancers who performed. From left to right, they are Lauren,
Jade, and Kimahri.
Two performers, Na'ama
Rose and Erika, needed to leave before
the end of the show and therefore were unable to appear in this
to the Midwest, I thought it would be fun to attend one of Sumaya's
haflas and meet other members of the greater Midwestern dance
community. At first I hesitated to make the 200-mile drive, but
then two things changed my mind. One was the realization that
driving to a dance event in Chicago from my new home in Iowa City
is really no farther than driving to dance events in Reno, Nevada
from my former home in Sunnyvale, California, which I used to
do. The other was the discovery that Tahira,
who currently lives in Lincoln, Nebraska was planning to go, and
there was an opportunity to carpool with her.
was quite surprised when people from four states (Illinois, Wisconsin,
Iowa, and Nebraska) came to town for what she intended to be a
low-key, casual event. For some of us, that's exactly what made
line-up of dancers consisted of volunteers who signed up in advance.
About half were from the immediate Chicago area, and the rest
came from farther afield. The majority
were either experienced intermediates or professional dancers.
Sumaya told me that beginning performers hesitate to sign
up for her haflas because they are intimidated
at the thought of appearing among so many experienced dancers.
The most pervasive dance style represented was Egyptian, but there
was sufficient variety to maintain an enjoyable show.
Many of the
performers who appeared in this show are active on the Internet
discussion boards. For those who are, I'll indicate their Internet
forum names as well as their dance names.
Chicago, Illinois. Known
online as "chicagobellydance".
who has studied with Jasmin Jahal and Jehan
Kamal, opened the show. This performance reflected
the Egyptian styling she has learned from her work with
Jasmin. Later in the evening, she did a second performance
which was a more meditative piece using some of Jehan's
Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Known
online as "laura 2".
slim-line skirt flattered her figure beautifully. She did
two performances, one early in the show, and another near
the end. Her stage personality came through as sweet and
Elmhurst, Illinois. Known
online as "kikib1".
brilliant smile throughout both of her performances showed
how much she loves to dance.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Known
online as "chessurecat".
danced twice. One was a powerful interpretive sword piece,
and the other a fun-loving dance to the song "Brick House".
Although she has her own individual style of moving, the
sense of feminine power that she exuded in her sword dance
reminded me of Rachel Brice.
Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. Known
online as "jiimaanikwe".
Aliyah, formerly from Monterey, California and now based in Illinois, danced
with a shamadan. It was wonderful to see shamadan
presented in an environment where live fire could be used
instead of battery-operated candles.
elegant performance included veil work and floor work. Her
graceful style was a joy to watch.
Belleville, Illinois. Known
online as "lauren".
entered in a swirl of lovely silk veils and enjoyed experiencing
how a Chicago-area hafla differed from those in her own
dance community near St. Louis, Missouri. She experienced
the dubious pleasure of driving home the next day in a Midwestern
Lincoln, Nebraska. Known
online as "tahiradancer".
relocated in fall of 2004 from the Los Angeles area to Lincoln,
Nebraska. Like me, she saw this hafla as an opportunity
to connect with fellow Midwestern dancers. She selected
non-Middle Eastern music for her segment, which provided
an enjoyable change of pace.
afraid I became so absorbed in Na'ama
Rose's graceful performance that I failed to take any photos
of her myself on my own camera! This photo of her has graciously
been provided by Kimahri.
Chicago, Illinois. Known
online as "sonora_rose".
Organizer of the event.
was the final dancer of the evening, and she was a living
example of how it is possible to throw a party that is fun
for the guests and hostess alike.
her performance, the dancers gathered together for a series
of group photos.
The Event as a Whole
this hafla to various California haflas
and dancer showcases I have attended over the past 20 years, I
was very impressed at how well organized Sumaya's
hafla was. She decided the order of dancing in advance and notified
the performers so they could plan their preparations accordingly.
Last-minute changes were minimal. Sumaya
had asked the dancers to stay within a 5-minute time limit, which
everyone honored. This ensured that even with the large number
of performers, the show was still a reasonable length to hold
audience attention throughout. The show started a little later
than advertised, but I was actually happy about this because it
allowed me time to chat with the other attendees.
glitch was that three different dancers all used the song
Warda. Of course, each interpreted it in her own individual
reminded me that for a performer it can be helpful to take a
couple of different CD's to this type of event, so if someone
earlier in the show uses the same music as the first-choice
CD it's possible to switch to the other.
inserted periodically into the show, allowing audience members
to get up and stretch their legs dancing to entertaining music
such as Baila Habibi.
A group of
tables was reserved for the performers and their companions, providing
a safe place to leave their belongings while they were backstage.
Printed programs identified the performers and the order in which
they would be dancing, making it easy for audience members to
follow. The only snag here was that Na'ama
Rose's name was inadvertently omitted from the line-up
in the printed program. Sumaya served as announcer, introducing each
dancer with a bit of background about her and identifying the
music she would be using.
for the hafla was a bar, so the audience included an interesting
mix of dance community and regular bar-goers. The bar-goers seemed
to be quite fascinated by the entertainment! Attendees who wished
to eat could order assorted typical bar food meals such as hamburgers
and pizza, at affordable prices.
joins the group for a final pose!
The only thing
I didn't enjoy about the evening was driving back to my motel
in the winter storm that had moved in while the show was in progress.
One of the fans who came to support the dancers was involved in
a car accident on the way home that totaled his car. Kaela
from Milwaukee reported that the drive home which normally would
take about 90 minutes instead took over 3 hours. Thankfully, the
siping on the snow tires I had purchased
in November gripped the road securely and the drive back to the
motel was only a couple of miles. Tahira
and I made it safely with large, sticky white flakes falling all
it was worth the 200-mile drive. The event was exactly what I
had hoped it would be, a fun-loving party.
I'm already thinking about performing myself in one of Sumaya's
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for other possible viewpoints!
more from Shira-
Ahlan Wa Sahlan
Festival 2004-Intro Travel Journal by Shira
Eastern dance artists and students from throughout the world attend
this event to immerse themselves in instruction by leading Egyptian
instructors, shop for costumes and other supplies offered by Egyptian
vendors, and enjoy the gala shows featuring top Egyptian dancers.
Check back for regular updates!
Day 9: The
Day 10: Classes and the
Intruder, BEWARE! comic
dare they pollute our pond!"
BDSS Auditions January 14-15, 2005,
North Hollywood, CA
-Inside the Bellydance Superstars Final Auditions by Michelle
-"What have I got to lose?" by Zaheea
-Photos by Lynette
Photos from The Luna Gitana Festival,
Santa Cruz, California photos by Monica Berini
produced by Vashti on November 13, 2004