Magnificent Fundraiser Part IV:
The Berkeley Fire Department and Act 3,
Bert and Najia's Duet
coding by Tammy
to parts 1, 2, 3 are at bottom of page
rehearsal for our magnificent 1975 fundraiser, I made the
fateful decision that we needed to add a lighter pink spot
as well as an amber spotlight to the stage lighting set
up. Knowing virtually nothing about stage safety and
potential dangers, we simply plugged in a couple of sidelights
and set about our mission. However, you know the old saying:
"If something can go wrong, it will!"
many people crowded in to see the show from backstage; someone
tripped over the light cord (which we had not thought to
duct tape to the floor) and moved the light until it was
touching the main stage curtain. Near the end of our
Second Act, the curtain began to smolder badly filling the
air with an acrid stench and blue smoke...
quick thinking photographer grabbed a vase full of flowers
in water and extinguished the problem…but not before
another, not-so-calm guest from the audience decided to
run and call the fire department.
the time the Berkeley Fire fighters arrived, we had aired
out the auditorium and had gone on with the Third Act of
our show. Sadly, this incident caused the revoking
of Ike Rekus’ business license for his Greek social
hall—not because of our ignorant infraction using
the portable light fixture, but because the Fire Chief discovered
a rear stage backdoor had a chain and lock around its door-bar,
and it was locked shut.
felt (at that time) that the department was over-zealous,
but since then, I have seen disco patrons have died in such
circumstances, and now I understand the amount of danger
all of us faced.
and I had only opened the Dancing Girl Studio a year before
and we were presenting our second annual show—a presentation
that had grown like a cactus in the desert. One day
a young man showed up at my studio with an oud slung over
his shoulder. He explained that he had been studying Middle
Eastern Music across San Francisco Bay in Marin county asked
if he could play for my class because his teachers said
that he needed to experience working with live dancers.
that is a twist." I thought, "Usually, we dancers
are told that we need experience dancing with live music
(and it was certainly true!)." I was always one
who looked for something new to add to the mix and said
"Sure; let's try it!"
young musician was Tim Stackpole, son of
the famous photographer for Life Magazine, Peter
Stackpole. He was well mannered, focused,
serious, and a fan of the Belly dance as well as Middle
Eastern music and a student of the Ali Akbar Khan School
of Music in Marin County (--oh, and he was seventeen
years old!). He played for several of my classes,
and when he heard about our fundraiser, he volunteered his
services for our show. Already, we had engaged two
bands for the occasion (Jazayer and Meraklithes),
but I wanted Tim's beautiful energy in our show; so I said,
"If you don’t mind: you will sit on a Cleopatra
bench at stage center will be featured playing only an Oud
taxim for my solo dance in the third act." Without
hesitation he said, "Wow! Let's do it!"
the actual performance took place, our free-lance photographer,
who was interested in creating moody and artistic photos
and was not in the business of photographing events per
se, captured what has always been one of my favorite
original was black and white, with me out-of-focus in the
foreground, floor dancing, and Tim, with his eyes closed,
playing his oud taxim, obviously lost in the private wonder
of his music and our stage moment. Here is that photo:
three years ago, I began to go through my old file of photo
contact sheets for many events and got the idea to save them
and clean them electronically. The
photo of Tim was so beautiful! I cleaned it first and
put it into my portfolio as an 8.5 by 11 photograph.
I thought I would find him over the Internet and send him
a copy of the photo with a note of thanks, but alas, what
I found was that he had died in 2003 of an accident on the
water. His ex-wife told me that Tim had loved his music all
through his life and still played the oud until the end.
She also said that she and he had had a son who is now (in
2006) 21! I sent the photo to his son along with a note,
telling him what little I knew of his dad.
feel honored and blessed because my career has brought me
into contact with so many creative and adventuresome performers
hope that other dancers will have lovely memories of their
dance careers similar to mine; that is part of the reason
I thought that sharing my thirty-one year old photos was worth
resurrecting them for my portfolio, this article, and the
following slide show:
and Najia before the dinner and
of San Mateo performed in the lounge, also danced
on stage. Here, she opens Act 1.
3- Our printed program for Act 3
4- Bert Balladine primps before
a mirror backstage.
5- a .Bert removes his massive cape on stage.
--- b. Bert removes Najia's crown as their duet
6 - Bert ensnares Najia in her veil.
7 - Tied together with her veil, Bert and Najia
8 - Najia completes this scenario and discards veil.
Music quickens and the duet moves in unison.
--- b. Lights enhance an eerie mood in their movements.
10 - Najia and Bert spin and make simultaneous Turkish
11 - Najia backbends over Bert's knee.
This becomes a signature move for many of Bert's
waits with Oud as duet finishes.
13-Duet finishes; Najia begins her solo removing
circular fringe shawl.
14-a. Tim biting his lip as he plays oud taxim
--- b. Najia dances with Oud on darkly lit stage.
15-Najia flying half-circle fringe shawl.
16-a. Standing taxim.
--- b. Sensual floor taxim.
presents Bert a rose from her bouquet.
----b.Bert amuses audience with the rose in his
and Bert exit quickly.
19 - An Robaire Nakashian, Khadija,
Bert, and Vince Delgado
20- Friend Kaethe hooks Najia back together
after the show.
21- Show review in the Berkeley Daily Gazette
a comment? Send us a
Check the "Letters to the Editor"
for other possible viewpoints!
The Magnificent Fundraiser,
Part Two- Police Barriers Surround Event by Najia Marlyz
coffee, we decided that our fundraiser would have to be an extraordinary
dance show rather than “just another student night”
or worse yet, a studio recital
The Magnificent Fundraiser
Part Three: Acts I and II by Najia Marlyz
dancers and producers sometimes write that they believe that large
stage shows with good sound and lighting, a Master of Ceremonies,
and live music are only now starting production ...
Dina Show! Photos by Catherine Barros, Slideshow coding by
sponsored by Little Egypt on May 28-30, 2005 at the Crowne Plaze
in Miami, Florida
Back to Basics by
Belly Dance is most meaningful when we define it as a
communication of mutually held emotional response and truths between
-Carnival of Stars
Bellydance & Comic Book Convention & Costume Contest
Photos by Michael Baxter
Event Sponsors Alexandria and Latifa November 11 &
12, 2006 Centennial Hall, Hayward, California (Costume contest,
panal discussion and Sunday photos yet to come...)
I Dance; You Follow by Leila
As Westerners interested in an Eastern dance form, we might want
to ask ourselves if we are missing certain critical aspects of
Raqs Sharki because we are not open to Eastern teaching methods.
Teaching at the 2006
Ahlan Wa Sahlan Cairo Festival by Leyla Lanty
Performing on teachers' night is a good way for new teachers
to attract more students to their classes.