Gilded Serpent presents...
The Greek goddesses of destiny. In Greek mythology, the
three goddesses, Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos,, were believed
to decree the events in and duration of someone’s life.
The Greeks believed that Clotho spun the thread that represented
a person’s life, Lachesis decided the extent (or length)
of it, and Atropos was the one who cut it at the determined
span of time.
and Reason Series, Article 6
by Mary Ellen Donald
published in Bellydancer Magazine in 1978 as part of an ongoing
column. This magazine was published by Yasmine Samra in Palo Alto,
you like to make exciting things happen in your life, pushing
hard to make things turn out just right – first class?
Do you put a lot of energy into planning and organizing to ensure
such results? “Yes!” you answer proudly. Well, then
maybe you are like me: that which is out of your control, the
unforeseen, drives you nuts.
an earlier article, I remember stating that I had grown up a
bit because I had begun to ask myself before a planned
event: What are the things that possibly could go wrong, psychologically
preparing myself for the unexpected and readying myself to improvise?
Looking back at 1979, I’m presumptuous enough to think that
the gods were testing me because of that slight boast.
At the moment of a mishap, certainly, I do not philosophize.
However, hours, days, or sometimes weeks later, I certainly
do have a good laugh about Fate’s trickery. Perhaps the
challenge lies in bringing the laughter closer to the mishap.
Maybe one could even learn to laugh before something
invite you to chuckle with me as I retell several gems
of last year. I wouldn’t dare to boast of any lesson you
must learn from all of this, and discovery of a meaning is up
story is about the time that Mahmoud Reda was here (in the S. F. Bay Area).
We had worked for months on our music and dance to show off
to our Egyptian guest. We musicians arrived on stage two
hours before show time. Having learned from difficulties
in the past, I had planned this early gathering so we could
have an elaborate sound check and rehearse much of the music
for the show. While the sound equipment was assembled
for us, we patiently waited, but it proved to be a wait somewhat
longer than anyone had anticipated. Then came the news...
hour before our designated show time, someone informed me
that we had no amplification. The inputs on the public
address system that we rented did not fit the connectors on
that’s not a problem because adaptors can be purchased at any
electronics store for less than two dollars. Nevertheless,
this particular PA system was so ancient that adaptors were
no longer available for it, and the place that rented us the
equipment had closed for the night. We frantically called
around and found one rental place open that was not too far
away. A half an hour before show time, I received a call
from our sound man (my husband) from the rental place, saying
that they wouldn’t rent him the necessary equipment because
he didn’t have a credit card with him. However, they consented
to rent the system if someone with me would give his credit
card number to the sales person over the phone. We raced
around and finally came up with someone with such a magic number.
Ten minutes before show time, the sound system was ready!
Our sound check was brief, and our rehearsal was even briefer.
ironic part of this story is that as it turned out, Mahmoud Reda might not even have noticed our
lack of amplification. He arrived in San Francisco only
hours before the show after the sleepless night and day traveling
in a motor home. Therefore, understandably, he could hardly
keep his eyes open during our dazzling production.
story happened toward the end of March of the same year. I had just spent two lovely days in
New York providing drum accompaniment for dance classes and
sitting in with Middle Eastern bands at the clubs, oblivious
to the outside world.
arrived at the airport on a Friday morning, eager for
the next leg of my journey, to Pennsylvania. I went to
check my bags and was startled to find out that the flight,
on which I was supposedly booked, didn’t exist… and hadn’t existed
learned that my travel would have to be re-routed through Pittsburgh, and I would
have to re-arrange my afternoon plan. “Oh well,” I thought.
A seasoned traveler like me could digest easily such an unexpected
shift! I would only have to call Jadaya
and let her know my new flight plans.
I found out the big news. Whether I was coming
from New York, Pittsburgh, or the moon did not matter: the
Harrisburg Airport had closed. Yes, the Three Mile Island nuclear
reactor disaster had taken place several days before only twelve
miles from where I was on the schedule to give a two-day seminar—along
with the Egyptian percussionist, Sayed Anany.
one hundred people had registered for the seminar!
Approximately twenty appeared. Nevertheless,
we actually taught the seminar, and improvisation was
the watchword of our weekend. (I must comment that the
gods went a little bit overboard on that one!)
resist telling you one final story that happened in the fall of the year: I was eating dinner
at an ethnic restaurant owned by an acquaintance of mine.
The food was great, but there were no other diners in the restaurant.
There on the spot, good old helpful Mary Ellen hatched a splendid
plan! I told the owner I would like to organize a belly
dance show for his place to bring him some business, to give
my band an opportunity to perform, and to spotlight the talents
of local dance instructors and performers. I assured the
owner that we would be able to sell out the place, one hundred
paying guests, for dinner and a show, and we did.
of the embarrassing service provided by an inebriated chef at
a previous banquet that I had sponsored also, I had vowed
never again to rave about the food that guests should expect.
This time, I had experienced the food myself. I knew the
owner prided himself on his gourmet meals, so I put aside my
vow and told everyone that they could count on excellent food.
However, as it turned out, that night there were not enough
tables, chairs, or dishes for the guests. There was only
one waiter. Many people didn’t even have a drop of water
while they waited for one hour. The food was fair but
scant. I asked myself in private: “Is the world simply
full of bunglers, or could it be that I have a special knack
for finding them? Am I the biggest bungler of them all?"
I wondered. (No comment is necessary.) Even considering all
of this, the show we put on that night everyone declared to
be among our best.
So I ask
you: what is the lesson one could learn from these stories?
Perhaps, it is that whatever can go wrong may;
so remember that entertainers must be not only prepared, but
flexible, and that the show must go on!
a comment? Send us a
Check the "Letters to the Editor"
for other possible viewpoints!
Rhythm and Reason
Series, Article 5, Cymbals & the Music by Mary Ellen Donald
that’s not the rhythm. As I say at the beginning of each
workshop, “Rhythm is the patterned arrangement of sound
Rhythm and Reason Series,
Article 4, For Whom Do You Dance? by Mary Ellen Donald, Who
do you dance for – your audience or yourself?
My Adventure Begins! by Asmahan
last, another North Beach Memory! "I was creating my life
as an adventure, I was making my own destiny; this was Kismet!"
The Divine & Fusion Categories
of The Belly Dancer of the Universe Competition, report by
February 19-20, 2005 in Long Beach, California, photos by GS staff
with Mahmoud Reda Part 3: Film & Future by Morocco
you know about photography, then it will help performing for the
movies or for television because usually the choreographer stands
beside the director of the movie.
How MECDA Began by Feiruz Aram
(Middle Eastern Culture and Dance Association) is a nationwide
organization which began in 1977 for the purpose of organizing
working dancers, sharing information between teachers...