A Northern California Community Event
Text by Katherine Goldsby
Photos by Carl Sermon
posted January 30, 2011
Deborah Bennett and TerriAnne Gutierrez co-produced the third North Bay Bellydance Bazaar (NBBB) which was held on September 18 & 19, 2010 at the Sebastopol Community Center in Sonoma County, California. This is the same location as the very popular TribalFest produced by Kajira Djoumahna and friends. The ‘NBBB’ is reminiscent of Festival Fantasia from years past that was produced by Ellen Cruz and she also gave a rare performance in a lovely pallet dress.
Ellen is well known within the dance community for her highly professional dumbek style on stage as well as in the classroom as an instructor of both dumbek and authentic Egyptian dance.
In my eighteen or so years of attending events, as well as being one of her students in the past, this was only the second time I’d ever seen her take the stage in costume as a dancer. Many friends welcomed her back from a bit of a break and she is once again teaching dance in Santa Rosa.
On Saturday Troupe Ala Nar, one of three troupes headed by Sherry Briar, spun red veils passionately and wore lovely all-red costumes with billowing paneled harem pants that looked terrific as they spun. Earlier in the day, one of Sherry’s students Diana Helmuth soloed a well-crafted Latin Fusion piece that helped set the energy tone for the rest of the day. Clearly she had no shyness as the mesmerized audience captured her essences evoked from the modern yet classic music.
On Saturday, DJ Chango B wowed the crowd by spinning Gypsy/Balkan/World music in between sets of performances, and on both days Ron of Sonoma Magic presented some truly amazing illusions. When interviewed Ron claimed that he brings a great deal of potential material along and never knows how his shows will turn it out. Usually performing for adults prompted him to tone down the gore and keep the kids and the young-at-heart happy with endless ribbons, amazing card work, and lots of silk butterflies that just kept appearing out of thin air. My Roma performance on Saturday was some fun story telling with a less exciting ending than planned due to my skirt sliding down a bit too far. So it’s a good reminder that last minute blouse changes aren’t wise without a test run! At least, my authentic Gypsy style can be modified to ‘hands on hips.’
Closing Saturday evening was the Dancers of Janan, under the direction of TerriAnne Gutierrez with percussion by Susu Pampanin and a young student. To make a point about the longevity of this art in out lives, it was announced as a troupe of women all over forty including special guest Eva Stein. Modern fusion costumes are certainly in this year and this playful ensemble touched the crowd rhythmically with an array of zills, canes, and frame drums, as well as two dancing dumbeks.
TerriAnne’s Troupe Joweh was preparing to leave for a series of performances in Guatemala, and this event took place a week before the Desert Dance Festival in San Jose. On that same weekend, there was The GlendiFestival in Santa Rosa, which offers food and dance from Middle Eastern to Russian, Eritrean, and Greece; not to mention the popular Much Ado About Sebastopol Renaissance Faire taking place in nearby Ives Park. The timing of the Bellydance Bazaar may have affected attendance and though the festival attracted well known vendors like Artemis Imports, L.Rose Design and much more; there was no outdoor souk as advertised on the website.
Perhaps the vendors and patrons were saving their energy for the coming weekend at Desert Dance in San Jose or they chose to attend the other fun events happening around the area. Despite the high level of instruction available both days; class attendance for every instructor was lower than expected. A wide variety of classes were available including Elana Quihuis with Shimmies 101, I taught my light hearted Zilly Boot Camp, and Jodi Waseca inspired Contemporary Fusion Choreography. Ellen Cruz was back teaching Bellydance Basics and the troupe WildCard Bellydance shared Tribal Combinations and Transitions.
On Sunday, Jodette’s Belly Dance Academy dancers from Sacramento were just beautiful in every way. From opening with veils, balancing candles on trays, and snappy choreography, no one could deny them attention. Vendor and performer Hassan Yousef Deeb wowed us with classic yet modern male belly dance, including fabulous veil work. Ziva gave a dynamic, well rounded cabaret style performance in slinky costume with gauntlets that gained great applause. The developing Troupe Park Avenue came up from Monterey and did a wonderful job. I hope to see more of them at future festivals and they are named after the studio where they rehearse under the instruction and choreography of Janette Benedon-Brenner.
The live music portion from Boudicca on Sunday was good and varied but many festival attendees chose to leave early which was unfortunate for the final performers who came on after the band. Overall, the event felt like old home week with a few new friends and younger dancers, but in general, it was a reunion of North Bay and other local dance community friends coming together as we have for the last twenty year.
For more information on this event see
Ready for more?
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