Gilded Serpent presents...
7: Putting it together
by Zaharr A. Hayatti
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.
I was seeing
my teacher [Ed- this teacher has requested that her name not
be revealed] more often and finally became a cautious friend
of her snake. I tried not to think about what had happened to
the mice, but one day, as we passed beside his warm cage, she
showed me. “See that big lump in his middle? He swallows
the mice whole, and then afterward he has to sleep for a long
time while his ‘dinner ‘ is digested.” This
was so much more information than I ever wanted to have, but part
of my teacher‘s warmth and charm was her down-to-earthiness!
It was one of the things that I grew to love about her.
my daily practice sessions, which were becoming around four hours
or so with extra time for playing the finger cymbals, and she
told me it was great that I had worked so hard. “Pretty
soon you can become professional if you keep up this pace!”
she said. That thought had never even crossed my mind! I was studying
this art form simply because something inside of me compelled
me to move forward into it.
was also my impression that to become a professional dancer
required years of study, and I had been at it less than a
month. “Really Zaharr, I’m not kidding.”
she said with a serious look on her face. “It is as
if you are just ‘remembering’ the steps and the
moves, and not doing them for the first time.”
quite certain that I had heard her correctly, and so I just continued
complaining: “But I still cannot coordinate my feet with
the rest of my body movements AND the finger cymbal rhythms.”
I was feeling frustrated by this since it really had become easy
to do the moves but not all of them at the same time. “
Well, I planned a little treat for you today,” she confided,
“let’s see how this works.”
I watched her as she went over to her stereo and took out a recording
I had not seen or heard before. Next, she slipped
into the kitchen for a few moments, and returned with two glasses
and a cool bottle of German wine, “liebefräumilch”.
“ I can’t drink of course, but you’re old enough,”
she laughed softly. She poured a little bit for herself, just
a tiny sip, actually, and a pretty generous one for me. We shared
a ritual toast to the success of my new career, and I drained
we are going to position ourselves differently than we have been
doing so far,” she told me. I had been dancing beside her
and copying her movements. Now she wanted me to imagine that we
were dancing in a large circle, on one of the lovely oriental
rugs that were scattered around our practice room. I was to follow
her and do the best that I could to imitate her moves. She refilled
my glass, helped me to attach the little chain of coins around
my hips, and then she put the music on. It was totally different
than the music to which we had been dancing. She said that it
was Turkish, and the other one had been much more sedate Arabic
music was so different! It was a lot faster and the sound somewhat
“brighter” with heavy rhythmic undertones. By the
time she turned the record over, I was right there, behind her,
doing every move! I was smiling, relaxed, flowing along right
behind her, with my finger cymbals steady on the different rhythms.
twirled together, we accented the beats with our hips, our
toes, our shoulders, and coordinated the total with our finger
cymbals. We had made it to that special place for which we
had been searching, to bring the whole picture together!
dancing to the second side of the album and collapsed together,
giggling. She poured me another glass of wine, and we relaxed
for a while in the soft afternoon sunshine, which flooded the
room and dappled the soft, oriental rugs.
got it now, Zaharr, this is how it is supposed to feel. You are
learning how to dance from your heart, because the wine has helped
you to forget just enough to let you relax! I predict that we
will be working on your costumes soon, and you will be a paid
professional before this month is out!” I was feeling awfully
giddy and pretty silly by this time, and yet I still could not
even imagine that what she was saying could possibly be true.
from the day I first knocked on my teacher’s door, I was
dancing to the live Greek Band at “The Café Minerva”
on Eddy Street, Friday and Saturday nights. Within six months,
I was dancing six nights a week at “The
Bagdad” on Broadway, in North Beach, with my photograph
in Yousef’s window, where it stayed for far too many years!
there are a few more adventures to share with you about how my
very own magic flying carpet got me there…
for previous chapters of her memoir
a comment? Send us a
Check the "Letters to the Editor"
for other possible viewpoints!
Belly dancing in cyberspace – The
LiveJournal Belly dancing Community by Lilly
It is analogous to keeping a public diary, and asking people to
comment on it.
Miles Copeland Responds to Questions
from GS Readers
we are to dominate the world let’s try to understand and
appreciate the good in other cultures as we are trying to mitigate
Report of the Eastern U.S.
Middle Eastern and Balkan Music and Dance Camp October
report by Tahya
The camaraderie of a camp - bunking with
strangers who soon become friends, "breaking bread"
together, learning new dance steps, songs, and drum rhythms -
has all the ingredients for a treasured experience, and this camp
lived up to that potential.