Leonie and Alpen Sukan
I met Leonie
when I decided to host her for our annual !BELLYDANCE! workshop
and concert series in Maryborough, Queensland, in January of 2005.
I knew a few of her choreographies and originally contacted her
to seek her permission to teach them to our students so we could
perform them. A few emails back and forth and I fell hopelessly
in love with Leonie’s warmth. Leonie’s husband, Alpen,
a percussionist whom Leonie referred to as capable of teaching
basic rhythms so that workshop attendants will come out with a
sound knowledge of the rhythms, was also invited.
was going to be another dance choreography workshop weekend
turned into a weekend of dancing and drumming. It is now over
year later, and people are still talking about that weekend.
Murphy’s Law was popping in every now and then, and I won’t even
mention the shocking MC (me, who hates microphones of any size!).
a long way from Maryborough Queensland…over 1000 kilometers away.
We had planned for Leonie and Alpen to arrive in Brisbane by plane,
and my husband Darryl would drive down and pick them up, bring
them to quickly meet me then take them straight to their motel
so they could rest and refresh before the concert. Brisbane to
Maryborough is a three hour drive.
Friday 21 January
Murphy’s law 1: The caretaker of City Hall was
given specific instructions in how I wanted the venue to look
in regards to seating. Tables and chairs were to be set up like
a restaurant with dance space in the middle of a circle. I arrived
at City Hall to find that I needed helpers to quickly arrange
seating for about 100 people, and because we couldn’t find the
tables we had to settle for normal theatre seating. Murphy’s law
2: Someone was supposed to go over the lighting system with me.
Yep, it happened—for all of two minutes, “these switches are for
here and here and these are for here and here. Oh and don’t use”…what
switch was that?
I was running
around like a chicken with its head cut off when my husband tapped
me on the shoulder and said, “they’re here.” I looked up and saw
the most beautiful smile. Actually I should rephrase that…the
most beautiful smile with a hint of cheekiness, then a pair of
sparkling laughing eyes. This is Leonie, and as I found out over
the course of the weekend, this IS Leonie. I can only describe
her in one word. Beautiful. Inside and out. Alpen also seems to
have cheekiness to him, and he has a wonderful sense of humour.
I didn’t have time to set up all the fabric I had bought for the
stage setting…I will make costumes out of it later. That will
be my revenge!
21 January 2005.
The concert is over. It went ok; a few hitches,
and I’ve certainly learnt that my MC skills suck. Ha…next time
I will record introductions onto the CD before each dancer’s song
and go out in a camel suit or something! Leonie and Alpen’s performance
together was great. Leonie performed to “Shik Shak Shok,” and
we finally saw “Mona,” the choreography we will be learning tomorrow.
It’s gorgeous, and as usual Leonie makes good use of the music.
is a trait of Leonie’s. The dance fits the music so well that
it flows seamlessly. Can’t wait until morning!
an improvisation based on Dondi’s
Marilyn and heard giggles throughout the hall. I’m an ugly
blonde! My mother, fellow Flaming Sands (dance troupe) AMED teacher,
Evelyne, performed to Yanni's "Aria"
with a set of wings I adapted for her from a pleated skirt
22 January 2005.
again. Wow, what a day. In between running around and trying to
learn the song "Mona" at the same time, missing bits,
catching up then off again somewhere, I was glad for the lunch
break. Leonie and I went for a walk downtown and had a good yak
along the way. I feel like I’ve known her for years. In the course
of the workshop I learnt a few things and wonder if other dancers
We tend to
favor one side in our dancing. In doing flamingoes with veils,
I’ve always brought it over my head from the right. In Mona,
it’s opposite, and so are a few other movements. So after this
weekend I will be doing a lot more concentration on opposites.
can do opposites, but it seems that it is during performing
that one side is favored. I’ve noticed this in many dancers
I’ve seen, so it has to be a subconscious thing.
I need to
make some ‘dance notes’ from the choreography notes and my notes
here. Leonie is a brilliant teacher. She explains things effortlessly
and breaks down movements really well, which was fantastic because
eight of our beginner students were there and they were learning
what we would term an intermediate choreography without having
problems with moves they had not learnt yet. It was a full workshop
with dancers and teachers coming from as far as four hours away
to support us and to support Leonie and Alpen being here. What
a wonderful dance community we have!
the Mona workshop Alpen was next door with his group
drumming away. Being a drummer as well as a dancer, I was a bit
torn between the two workshops, and at one stage I think I was
doing the choreography to the drummers! I could hear Alpen’s broken
down rhythms, then the group following, then all of them going
at it at tempo. During the break one student came to me and said,
and I quote, “This is better than Hossam Ramzy’s
workshop” (we hosted Hossam and Serena in August
2003). That was not a reaction that I expected, and I made sure
that I mentioned it to Alpen, who seemed surprised. Now I laugh
at Leonie’s description of Alpen being ‘capable’. He is more than
capable; he is excellent.
happy hour…..what fun that was with the drumming group joining
us so that Leonie could go over some steps to drums. It was easy
for beginners who were there, and I joined in anyway because,
well….where there’s a drummer there’s me, unless I’m the drummer.
Alpen Sukan, Darryl Bullen, Leonie Sukan and Samiya
23rd January 2005.
Do we have to take them home?
See, I am a sook* ! I cried
after we left but we got a nice photo of us together. We went
and had a nice lunch in Brisbane. Leonie and I gasbagged all the
way to Brisbane….over two hours of talking, and before we knew
it we were 25 kilometers out of Brissie. I really didn’t want
this weekend to finish. Spending this weekend in the company of
two of the most lovely and supportive people you could ever meet
has been amazing. I will have them back again for sure.
going to a really sad movie. It gets to the sad part and all your
friends are dry eyed but you are in tears because it was just
sooooo sad and emotional. Your friends would laugh at you and
lovingly call you a 'sook' to tease you about being teary eyed
at something that didn't affect them. It can be used for animals.....say
you're cat is outside crying to be let in and you're ignoring
it? It's being a 'sook' because it wants to come in and you won't
let it. This is an Aussie term that I haven't heard anywhere else
in the world. Love Samiya
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Check the "Letters to the Editor"
for other possible viewpoints!
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photos provided by Hossam and Serena
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and a good ear for the music she should “just dance.”
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and Dance by Keti Sharif
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guided by intuition rather than rules. There are no 'principles'
as such in both circumstances – it’s the organic-ness
of Egyptian life that creates order in chaos.
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Egypt, if a woman is only going to wear one item of make-up, it
will be black eyeliner.