Gilded Serpent presents...
original photo by The Photographer's Guild
by Karen Roberts
I dragged my
weary bones out of bed at 5:30 yesterday morning, March 5, 2005, grabbed some coffee and
headed east toward Sedalia, Missouri, for Judy Cunningham’s Belly Dance Workshop
and Bazaar with Margo
Abdo O’ Dell of Minneapolis. I found the hotel with no problem
and trotted up the stairs. I entered the hall and my “sparkle-ometer” went wild. I had a flashback to my childhood, the
one where I’m going through my grandmother’s jewelry chest, putting
on all of her jewelry and admiring myself in the mirror. Tables
and racks full of costumes and costume fixings were laid out.
was a sumptuous banquet of sequins, beads, and coins. Just like
at an all-you-can-eat-buffet, I bellied up to the trough.
everything that was too short or too small which was about three-fourths
of the wares (they don’t call me the Amazon for nothing) and focused
on the accessories. A beaded poncho top and burn-out velvet hip
scarf later, I took my place on the dance floor and listened intently
to Margo. She looked like a cross between a goddess and a rock
star. I made a mental note of her shortie-bead-skirt-thingy
(so Josephine Baker) and tried to decipher the combination
she was teaching.
I glanced over
to my right—oh, my goddess, it was Zaina Ali,
famed dancer extraordinaire at Tasso’s Greek Restaurant
in Kansas City.
I untangled my two left feet, I felt panicky. Why do I always
have to stand by the gorgeous fabulous dancers? Couldn’t
I stand next to someone who is recovering from a foot surgery
before I hyperventilated or left in shame, I remembered that Zaina
was exceptionally sweet and gracious and I was sure that if I
actually fell or injured myself in some way, perhaps flailing
my arms while I dislocated a hip doing a layered shimmy or something,
she would come to my rescue. I imagined her kneeling beside me,
murmuring reassurances and patting my arm, saying,
“That hip articulation was really happening, it looked so good.”
I fell, you mean?” She
would simply smile, reassuringly.
I didn’t fall
and even managed to absorb a little of the instruction. Margo
was a great teacher. She was so humorous, supportive, and down-to-earth.
As one of only a few beginners (at least that’s how it seemed
by the dancing I witnessed), I felt welcome and embraced by her
methods. She had a dynamic choreography worked up for a drum solo
and broke it down into manageable bits for us.
energetic instruction mixed with her matter-of-fact, “I’m just
your average gal who happens to be an incredibly talented and
beautiful dancer, what about you?” demeanor was enormously enjoyable.
She sat with
us at lunch and talked kids, work, schedules, dance and life.
I did more shopping! This is my first year of dancing, so naturally
my dance costume inventory is in direct inverse proportion to
my dance expertise. This is what happens when you allow 40-year-old
professional women with stable salaries into an art form that
involves costumes. To my credit, though, I put back that deliciously
swingy pewter hip belt, planning instead to purchase some more
music this month. Not that this was easy. Judy has fabulous stuff
and she will alter it for you. When you are over six feet tall,
those are magic words. I walked into the bathroom/dressing room
several times to find a dancer and Judy pinning and tucking breathtaking
bedlah. However – and I had to repeat
this to myself sternly several times, however – this is
an investment I need to make only if I am performing in public.
For now, I only have one audience. So, I must consider:
said bedlah impress my dog, Katy? Unless the bra is festooned with
bacon and it has a cheese belt, I think not. Restraint was the
watchword of the day, that day, anyway.
session was a bit of a blur for me. My beginner brain had reached
its saturation point, and stuff was starting to fall out the other
side. Still, I picked up some new ideas and moves, which I will
try to re-create for my class, if asked. Margo retained her energy
and charm late into the day, and organized sort of a dance-off,
not like the Sharks and the Jetts or
anything (West Side Story, anyone?) but just the two side of the
room doing the choreography so we could see what it looked like
and offer positive feedback. It was very helpful and no one commented
on my flailing. By the time we cooled down, I was tired but relaxed.
I was unable
to stay for the evening performance, which was a shame. But the
workshop was great fun, and also the first one I’ve ever attended
by myself. In order to grow as a dancer, I want to take advantage
of all the events around me.
one asks, “Where’s a great place to learn about belly dancing?”
few people immediately shout out “Kansas!”
but I picked
up at least six flyers for workshops with well-known dancers,
all taking place within five hours drive in the next few months,
lucky for me. If I continue with this, I will not only have a
closet full of sparkly stuff but I’ll be on my way to becoming
a real dancer. A dancer who glances to her right and sees Zaina and just casually says “Oh, hi! Great to see you again.”
a comment? Send us a
Check the "Letters to the Editor"
for other possible viewpoints!
Book Review: "Also Known as Sadzia! The Belly Dancer"
written by Merrill Joan Gerber,
review by Karen Roberts
dance information portrayed in the book is, largely, sound, (although
Sandy’s instant success as a “natural belly dancer”
is a bit unbelievable!) and Sandy’s growing self-acceptance
and brightening future are compelling.
Belly Dance in Israel
by Orit Maftsir
Belly dancers are the hottest trend at the moment, unlike the totally
frozen attitudes towards the Arab culture in Israel.
Comments On American
Bellydancer Film Review by Gregory Burke
documentary film or video is made up of "real" images constructed in such a way to reflect the point of view of its
maker. So a documentary film is a fiction, especially when financed
by its key subject.
Farida Fahmy Workshop review by Perizad
you know, leave at the front desk in a little bag.
Rhythm and Reason Series,
Article 3, Community Warfare by Mary Ellen Donald
and again I hear dancers deplore the fact that in many parts of
the country there are warring camps among dancers; that is, groups
that openly oppose each other and that try to keep all useful
information and all jobs to themselves.
Cairo Carnival 2005 Page 1
June 11-12, 2005, Glendale,
California photos by Lynette
help us identify faces. Thanks!