Barefoot Dancer : The Story of Isadora Duncan
by Barbara O'Connor
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Ages 9-12, 95 pages
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When I think of my father,
George Elias
by Nadia Elias

...many images come to mind. Of course, one of the first pictures that come to my mind is from my childhood memory. I remember as a very young child going to see my dad at our club, The Bagdad Cabaret. I used to sit right in the front of the stage and eagerly wait for the next show.

The room was very dark, and it was lit with candles and incense all around. I remember my father being high up on the raised stage, with the oud in his lap and microphone by his side. My father's music and his voice would fill up the room with such wonderful harmony! Most exciting of all, I eagerly waited to see the next belly dancer. After all the waiting, my father introduced the dancer, "The Lovely----!" My heart would race and I was so anxious to see their fancy and beautiful costumes. As I rose on tiptoe trying to take a peek, standing up and looking all around, the dancer finally descended the stairs and then up onto the stage. The beautiful sequins and shining beads of her costume reflected the light and the mirrored walls, and her perfume filled my senses. I deeply enjoyed listening to my father sing and play the oud; it was like a lullaby for me. Somehow, it made me feel that everything would always be okay whenever he sang. What a beautiful voice my father had! I don't want to appear biased in any way, but until this day, I think my father had the best voice I have ever heard. It definitely had a "warm" sound. Somehow, his voice seemed to carry the warmth of his heart.

When it was time to close the club for the night, it was time for me to begin to play. I would get up on stage and grab the microphone and would start to sing anything! All the dancers, musicians as well as the bartender chuckled, trying not to offend me. I would pick up the sequins and beads left on the floor and save them with my collection. It was time to go home.

I remember my father would sit down in our living room and play the oud and sing for us. Music was very important in his life; he had a real passion for it. He insisted that my sisters and I take piano lessons, which, at the time we dreaded, and now we are so thankful. He was a very strict father and always wanted us to do our best. I can remember a time that I had done something to disappoint him, and I had told him that I had very good intentions. He replied to me, "Sweetheart, good intentions are not enough." He was a very hardworking, caring, passionate man. He always gave whole-heartedly. Unfortunately, I believe a lot of people had taken advantage of his kindness.

Today, I like to dance with these memories in my mind. Every move I make, I think of my father. Every song I hear, whether it is the tape I am dancing to, or it is Amina and Jacque's band at El Valenciano, I hear his voice through the music and that is where my dancing passion comes from: the memories of my father and his lessons and beautiful words of wisdom.

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