Zaharr in 1968 just before she began dancing at the Minerva
Zaharr shares her struggles and her triumphs as a dancer from
1966 to the present. “For many of us, it was a hard road
that led to North Beach and beyond.” she writes. Return
to read her story as it unfolds here in the Gilded Serpent.
Previous parts to this story are listed on
that night at the Café Minerva changed my life. Yes, perhaps
I managed a credible “show". But certainly the musicians
saw me and knew right away that I wasn't capable of much at this
point, so they only played a short time. But my performance did
get a lot of attention, and applause. Possibly just for having
the nerve to get up in front of everyone and making the attempt!
While I changed
back into my street-performer’s clothes, I thought about what
had just happened out on the dance floor.
was closer to my dream than I had ever been and I was shaking
with the happiness it brought me.
I knew I
wasn't dancing like one of the pretty dancers I had seen in 1966,
but now it was 1968, and it was time to focus on my own goal of
learning more. I wanted to feel that joy inside when the music
flowed into me and became the movements of my body. Just a glimmer
had touched me, but what a happy thing it was.
As I emerged
from the dressing room, Vasilios came up to me
and took me aside. “Listen”, he said, “Why don't you come here
and dance for a while. Come in on Fridays and Saturday nights.
I’ll feed you as much as you can eat and carry home, bring you
all the wine you want to drink, and you can keep all of your tips.”
You don’t need to bring the Bagpiper.”
this an offer for a gig? Since my teacher was too young to be
professional, I didn’t know who to ask for advice. So I told
him I would think it over and call him back.
When I saw
my teacher next time, she suggested it was time for me to go down
and take a look at the girls in the Casbah.
Maybe I could get some ideas there. She couldn't go in, because
she was just sixteen, but I could. I was old enough now, just
having had my 21st birthday. Maybe one of the dancers could tell
me how much a beginning dancer could ask for. So I made my way
to San Francisco from Berkeley by hitchhiking. It wasn't yet dangerous
in those days. It seemed like a lot of people used it as a way
to get around and there had been no crimes committed yet by the
hitchers or the drivers. In some ways, we were so innocent in
those days. Everyone feeling safe and wandering anywhere, even
late in the night.
I got to Broadway, I would stand outside the door of the Casbah
and listen to the music and catch a glimpse of the dancers from
time to time. After several trips like this, one night I was invited
inside. My face was beginning to be familiar by now to the doorman.
(Probably the awful eye make up!) Since I was all alone, I sat
as far away in the dark corner by the door as I could. All night,
I was enthralled by the dancers, the music, the energy of the
audience who were mostly Arab at that time, and very expressive
and enthusiastic! This was not at all what I had seen at the Minerva.
was a bigger problem now though: the dancers looked so unapproachable
that I couldn't think of asking any of them how much they were
I called Vasilios and told him that his offer was just fine, and
I would be there on the following Friday. This was the beginning
of my tutelage about how to be a good performer.
soon!- Part 13- The Nitty Gritty About Customers…
Zaharr's Memoir, Part
11- The Minerva
do Greeks know about Belly Dancing anyway?” He just grabbed
my hand and we headed toward the door. Grumbling, I followed him
inside and I was startled to see a big stage with a large wooden
dance floor right in front of it.
My Retirement by Zaharr
years of feeling special, of dressing up night after night and
of being “The Sultan’s Favourite Kadin” ended
with such a quiet whisper that even I was surprised.
An Interview with MARLIZA
PONS, by Robyn ("Maya") Hallmark
a tiny bikini, I'd dive into a lighted pool outside the restaurant,
and come up with a pearl in my mouth!
1-20-05 Amani “Around
the World” DVD Report by Katya Faris
has put her dancing on stage and has created numerous theatre
productions in the past 10 years and this show is the first one
1-17-06 Bellydance Superstars, Our
Plans for 2006 by Miles Copeland, 2005 Photos by Monica Berini
is nothing like consistency and constant pressure to deliver at
your best each night to weld a group or troupe together.
and Reason Series, Article 8, Leadership
Mary Ellen Donald
you lead people, you take certain risks. One such risk is that
Return to India – This Time
it’s Personal! by Michelle and Sandra
thought that the misfortunes associated with our previous performance
tours of India were simply anomalies in the blissful and glamorous
world of dancing overseas.
The Zar by Yasmin
do know that today thousands of women in Africa and the Middle
East use this music to cure all kinds of illnesses. They literally
dance until they drop.
Traveling with the Touareg
by Linda Grondahl
was my 5th trip to Algeria since 2000 and I have been amazed at
the rapid economic development. The government is working very
hard to make Algeria a very popular tourist destination once again.