Promoting Diversity Through Public Access TV
Interview by Anniitra
I met Parveneh in
2005, when Jessica Martinez (of “Nubian
Divas”) and I started producing showcases in Inglewood, California.
Parveneh had the wonderful idea of starting her “Hafla World
Dance” for cable access TV, and she made it happen! At present,
“Hafla World Dance” appears on cable access stations in the
San Fernando Valley, Long Beach, Orange County, Compton,
Lynwood, and other areas throughout the greater Los Angeles
founder of “Hafla World Dance”, is a versatile and talented
woman! She has earned a Master’s Degree in Business
Administration, is the owner of the Bellydancers’ Swapmeet,
and is well traveled. Parveneh offers clothing and jewelry she
finds on her travels to Yemen, where she has family. She hand
dyes her own silk veils and designs harem pants that are
particularly geared towards the more voluptuous dancer. Currently,
she is designing and creating a Ghawazee styled costume for
the larger dancer as well.
did you come into Belly dance?
I started Belly dancing about 6
years ago—after wanting to do it for forever—and after watching Helen
Vlahos dance on a TV show where she rolled the quarters
down her belly! The time and the desire came together, so
I got into it, and I enjoy it very much. It is a combination
of the freedom of movement and being in touch with ones self
as a feminine being. It is very “freeing”.
Where did you learn?
I have studied long term with a
couple of teachers and also, I’ve taken seminars and workshops
with well known visiting dance instructors just to get their
different aspects on the dance. I have performed at
local showcases and events.
Why and how did you get started
with the Hafla show?
I have always thought of Belly dance as a woman's dance (especially a voluptuous
woman's dance) and lo and behold, being in close proximity to Hollywood, I
find that there are restrictions on who can perform!
find this exclusionary attitude prevalent amongst many
of the local teachers. They have gone so far as to insult
their students who are of color, older, and heavier. However,
they will consistently accept their money for classes even
while trying to make them feel bad about themselves!
is one young lady in the Midwest, who, when she wanted to
out and dance publicly, was told by her instructor that she
was "too dark" and because of that, no one would
hire her! However, it turned out to be a huge falsehood—as
she has done quite well. In the Southern California area,
there have been showcases held in which a stipulation for performing
was age and size and that if you did not fall within certain
parameters, you were welcome to patronize the facility—but
not to dance there!
have friends, and probably you do, too, who have quit dancing
because a teacher has made them feel insecure about themselves. For one person in particular, the instructor kept pointing
out her physical "flaws" to the point that she became
insecure, and she did quit. I
have found venues that are so
tightly closed to the ladies in these classifications that
the instructors have told them they were not even welcome to
dance at local showcases. I am not saying that
everybody has done this because there are some wonderful women
who run showcases in which all dancers are welcome to participate.
had always wanted to do something with Public Access. So,
the Belly dance and public access came together and “Hafla”
born! Although I have found some attitudes to be exclusive,
I decided I wanted to be inclusive; so my show has featured
diversity. I have presented larger, smaller, older
and younger dancers (and, especially, women of color) who
excluded here in our local area. I have been expanding
to include musicians and a variety of dance, and I have
a show coming
up that will feature some dancers of South Indian heritage
who will be performing dances from India as well as some
male dancers who will be performing Raqs Assaya (the cane
the show, we have discussed costuming, the history of dance,
issues, the growth of Tribal styled Belly dance, and more. Also,
I am getting the opportunity to feature different dances that
are connected to Belly dance (such as Indian styles and flamenco). Public
access has given me an arena that is not controlled by anyone
else, and therefore, I can reach far more people than at the
usual Belly dance event or showcase. Many of the people watching
television have never been to a Belly dance show of any sort,
and Public Access is where I can present the diversity
that is in the art and show to the public at large the beauty
of all who perform it.
What are your plans for the
want to keep dancing and to continue doing my show. I am
hoping to expand to location shows and not solely producing
them in the studio, but we will see...
is the producer and host of “Hafla World Dance”, a
local cable television show that features world dance
and musicians. Her show appears on various local
cable access channels as well as on YouTube and she
has been producing the show for 3 years. At present,
Hafla World Dance appears on cable stations in the
San Fernando Valley, Long Beach, Orange County, Compton,
Lynwood, and other areas throughout the greater Los
offer my salute to Parveneh for bringing our beautiful
dance into the homes of so many families in the Los
Angeles area, and around the world. She has received
compliments from men and women from Turkey, New
Zealand, Egypt, and Japan, praising
her shows. So far, to date, she has counted over 140,000
views on YouTube. Parveneh's show can be seen on local cable access channels
at different times. Parveneh may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can catch
clips from the shows on www.youtube.com/parveneh.
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