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Helm’s Musical Adventures, Part 3

Helm's Musical Adventure in Europe!

by Ling
posted October 28, 2011
Part 1: India, Part 2: Tribal Forum in Rome

Last winter my husband, Mark Bell, and I were hosted in Paris and Slovenia to teach Middle Eastern rhythms and present Tribal Belly Dance with live music. The following are photos from our adventures.


Anchored at the Bassin de la Villette, the Peniche Anako is a special barge, run by Virginie and Amar Kerovpian, an Armenian couple whose vision is to preserve the endangered ethnic cultures of the world with concerts, photos and art exhibits, storytelling and singing and dance classes.

Barge ramp
Ling accessing the Peniche Anako

We were thrilled to be hosted by the Kerovpians for a concert of traditional Turkish and Egyptian music, also presenting for the first time in Paris traditional classic ATS performed by Urban Shamans, a troupe formed by Julie de Saint Blanquat.


Ling poses with Urban Shamans
Urban Shamans

bottom: Aurélie, Irène, Fifi, top: Angelica, Ling Shien and Julie

To close the evening, my brother Henri Gohin, who plays in a Tango band, joined us with his bandoneon.

Ling's brother Henri
Henri Gohin playing Armenian tango

He played an Armenian tango like line dance with Mark while Virginie and I led the audience into this fun dance, commonly called Miser Lou. Virginie remembered it from her youth with the East coast Armenian community in the suburbs of Washington DC.

Miser Lou with Ling’s sister, nephews and friends
Miser Lou with Ling’s sister, nephews and friends
Virginie ( on left ) remembering her youth, Henri play accordian behind
Virginie (on left ) remembering her youth, Henri play accordian behind>

The line is spreading! Ling and her sister and nephews…
After the show,Mark playing with some Berbers on the banks of the Bassin de la Villette
After the show, Mark playing with some Berbers on the banks of the Bassin de la Villette

Earlier that day, we taught a drum solo composed by Mark and I, where dancers learned sajat patterns to fit traditional drum solo progressions.

Class in Paris, click for enlargement
Mark, Ling and the dancers, feeling good that they got it!
Click photo for larger view


The next day I taught a choreography to Waqt al Aseel, an original composition in the beautiful sama’i rhythm.

Ling teaches in Paris
Ling teaching the Sama’i rhythm

Left:Mark and Ling Shien getting ready to play for Urban Shaman. Right: French queen in a Rachel Brice posture at the Parc Luxembourg


Logo for Sheisha Zahir


Our hosts in Slovenia, Ksenija and her husband Tomas, run a sheisha cafe in Maribor, a charming town in the wine country that was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. The terrace overlooks the Drava river, where swans gracefully invite you to slow down and enjoy the moment.

Ling Shien plays on the terrace
Ling Shien plays on the terrace
Swans on the Drava river
Swans on the Drava river
Helping in the kitchen
Ling and Ksenija in the kitchen

The region’s best feature, along with the grapevines and hearty wines, are the beautifully built basements, arched structures with great acoustics.

Hillside vineyard
It is a nice hike to the top of these vineyards in the center of Maribor
Oldest vine
300 year old vine

In the neighboring town of Ptuj ( pronounced Ptuey), the Kulturni Dom Musikafe hosted the Tribal Meeting. We went back in time playing Amel for the Susan Frankovich’s Ting Tribe in the 400 year old basement.

Ling Shien, Mark, and Ksenija
Ling Shien, Mark, and Ksenija
Tomas was the MC at the Ptuj Tribal MeetingKsenija
Left: Tomas was the MC at the Ptuj Tribal Meeting. Right: Ksenija
Ting Tribe dancerTing Tribe dancer
Ting Tribe dancers

Ting Tribe dancerSusan Frankovich
Left: Ting Tribe dancer. Right : Susan Frankovich

The shipment of finger cymbals from the US was stranded in customs, where the mafia was asking some absurd amount to clear it, but according ot Susan Frankovich, they would have asked 3 times that amount in Croatia, which is why she didn’t bother trying. We have since heard from Suzan that the shipment finally cleared under reasonable conditions, thanks to Ksenija’s know how, and the Ting Tribe will be able to live up to it’s name.  

Maribor’s deepest basement  houses the KGB, Kulturni Glasbeni Brlog, or a cave for culture and music. In this fun bar  you can listen to a nice selection of lesser known American rock and roll while tasting local micro brewery beers.

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Ready for more?

  • Roma Tribal Forum, More of Helm’s Musical Adventures
    The growing interest for both styles of Tribal Dance inspired them to hold a Tribal Meeting in this ancient city.

  • We were delighted when Colleena Shakti invited us to teach classes concerning Musicality for Dancers at the Colleena Shakti School of Dance in Pushkar, Rajastan. Last January, we made the trek over water and mountains to reach this fascinating land. Pushkar holds the only temple dedicated to Brahma, the creator, as well as many other temples.
  • Ling Shien demonstrates the Accordion
    She came to the Gilded Serpent studio to tell us how she has modified a standard western made accordion to be able to play the quarter tones required in many of the Arabic modes.
  • Solstice Festival in Catalunia, Spain
    For the third year in a row, Maria Cresswell produced a dance and music festival honoring the Summer Soltice. This year’s three day event took place high up in the Catalunian Pyrenees, in a rustic hostel fed by fresh springs and bordered by a rushing river.
  • Making New Musical Inroads in Luxembourg 2005
    Helm takes Rhythm Diatribes Workshops to Europe. It was extremely educational for us to watch the learning process in three very diverse regions.
  • Adventure Amid the Tempest: The Biloxi Fest’s Near Brush with Hurricane Katrina,
    Consequently, we did not allow Hurricane Katrina stop us from driving 450 miles to immerse ourselves in and perform with Mark and Ling Shien Bell of Helm! MORE PHOTOS ADDED!
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  • Why I Went to Camp This Summer, A Report of Bahaia’s 2010 Camparet
    Before much time had elapsed, I found myself dancing while bound mid thigh with a hot pink velvet stretchy band and a drinking straw inserted between my teeth. Crazy? Yeah, like a small red fox.
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  • Belly Dance Costuming Evolves, Photos and Commentary from a Rising Star of Costume Design
    Video interview with author. "Because our colorful dance form is still living, changing, and evolving day-by-day, the costume designers will inspire us endlessly. This movement is a never-ending energy flow full of elegance and ferocity, sensuality and femininity. I hope that I will be a part of this wonderful Oriental dance life for a long time."
  • A Month in Cairo, Egypt, Report No. 2: Housekeeping, Internet, Costume Shopping, Reconnecting with More Friends
    When I think of my first trip here in 1977, I can see what amazing changes have occurred since then – most of them for the better.
  • Sunday Photos from Rakkasah East- October 2010
    Barakat, Basema, Dena Shazadi, Fatima, Fire Blossoms, Ghada Girls, Habiba, Laura, Leila, Rega, Saiedah, Shadia, Tempest, Willow, Yuliya, Zenaiede

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