The Gilded Serpent
Table of Contents
Recently Posted Articles within the last 6-12 months
The International Oriental Dance Festival of Gijón, held every year in March, is organized by Fusión Oriental Group and Vanesa Moreno. Gijón is a small town on the north coast of Spain. Since its inception, the number of students was increasing and improved their attitudes about Oriental dance. That is the main reason why Fusión Oriental group decided to do something special to provide an outlet for all of these emotions and ideas. Many ideas emerged, but finally we decided that a festival was the best of them.
4-17-14 Zar: Trance Dancing with Yasmin, 2014 Workshop at Amina’s in San Francisco
Here in the Bay Area, so many excellent instructors make appearances that I always feel I need to choose carefully to make the most of my workshop budget. But when I heard that Yasmin Henkesh was coming to give a daylong workshop on zar, I knew right off that this was one I wouldn’t want to miss – how often do most of us get a chance for an in-depth look at this fascinating ritual?
As artists of an often misunderstood dance, we dancers understand that everything we present publicly reflects back upon us as individuals, upon bellydance as an art form, and by extension, the Middle Eastern culture. When presenting these facets in the most favorable light to other dancers or the general public, good design becomes paramount because it is the most unmistakable way to demonstrate our worth.
3-31-14 Beata Zadou in 1988, Winter Visit to Berlin's Snow Princess
It is rare that reality matches one’s fantasy, but in this case, in 1988, my expectations were surpassed by the reality of wish-fulfillment.
3-25-14 (reformatted) Music Copyright Law for Belly Dancers (or for any Performing Artist) (commenting now available on this article)
You are not going to like what you are about to read. But if you are performing publicly to music you do not own, for your own protection, please keep reading. Every professional dancer should know at least the basics of music publishing law, particularly if she wants to appear in an audio-visual production destined for commercial distribution.
3-25-14 Patient is a Bellydancer, Part 1, Irritable Bowel vs. the Dancer
Weeks later my doctor told me she had never seen it that high in anyone before. Something was very wrong.
3-17-14 Dangerous, Dirty and Dastardly, 17 ways to Avoid It by Samira Shuruk
Every day we go to places where we are surrounded by strangers!
2-7-14 Samrah's Legacy, Revisiting MECDA's First Fundraiser in Los Angeles, May 1978
However, THIS event was different due to the overwhelming support and participation from our dance community. The community I mention was primarily working nightclub dancers and musicians, and a few vendors. In fact, I had not seen so many musicians’ come together for a common cause before and certainly ever since.
1-20-14 Harnessing the Light Within, Outdoor Photography
Outdoors, the dancer can more easily release uncertainty by conjuring the feeling of limitlessness, pulling energy from the sky, swirling visualization, curiosity. She can come up and out of herself and become part of her surroundings, harnessing sunlight, a delicious breeze
Truthfully, I had never laid eyes on an authentic belly dancer, live or on film at that point, so I hardly knew what to expect.
1-3-14 Red Flags Before the Green Light, My Experience as a Club Bellydance Sponsor
For some reason I assumed my problem was an oddity. It was not.
12-19-13 From Obscurity to Mainstream The American Journey of the Afghani Dress
Interest in Afghani folk clothing and designs began in the late 1960s due to the influence of the hippie generation. As this fascination with folk arts developed, mainstream America took notice. Along with the granny dress, maxi dress, and peasant dress, the Afghani dress was a perfect addition to our wardrobes.
12-18-13 Bellydance & Baklava in Ohio, A Family Business Devoted to Great Food and Belly Dance for Over 40 Years!
“We have the longest-running weekly belly dance show in Canton”
Virginia talks about the recent belly dance boom and the increase in teachers and festivals, in Miami and around the world. " I was raised with ethics" she says. Currently she says the emphasis is on business.
11-20-13 Cairo Now, The Post Revolution Entertainment Scene in Egypt
As I watched the gorgeous rendition of the old folk tale “Ayoub wa Nassa” by the Opera’s Forsen el Shar’a Ensemble, I couldn’t help but think of how close Egypt came to going down a road where dance, secular literature and film may have become dinosaurs of the past.
11-19-13 Tarazade Brings the Bellydance World to Istanbul, Tarazade 2013, Intercontinental Dance Festival
The five workshops I attended over four days were challenging and fun, which is what I had hoped. I love workshopping. It's so much fun to dance to someone else's rhythm and it's hard to walk away not feeling inspired.
Part 3: In this segment she tells about her experience of working with the Bellydance Superstars and Jillina.
In this segment she tells about creating the festival and describes the categories and using live music. We need help adding the names of the musicians in the last clip.
--Part 5: Florida Community Issues
--Part 6: Future Plans
11-4-13 Exploring the Essence, Dancing to Live Music,
All the great dancers worked with live music because orchestras helped them reveal their deep-seated artistry.
They loved it, clapping, laughing and encouraging me to keep dancing that way!
10-20-13 Entering the Sufi Spiritual World of North Africa, Sufi Brotherhoods and Trance Ceremonies in the Maghreb
...the Maghreb consists of many Sufi-brotherhoods, often recognized and set through their Zawiyas and initiations. Sufis have always worked toward reform through advice and education of the individual and internal purification through providing a model and example of tolerance, solidarity, brotherhood and selflessness removed from anything that would give a bad image of Islam.
10-17-13 Our Rules: Beauty & Professionalism, Elena Ramazanova Speaks About the League of Bellydance Masters
We had the pleasure to meet with Elena Ramazanova, president of The League of Bellydance Masters in Russia, artistic director of “Ramiza Dance Group”, and a successful dancer and teacher at the open beach party of the Seventh International Belly Dance Festival titled “Expression of the East” in Berdyansk, Ukraine.
10-15-13 Defining Belly Dance Today, Definition by Presentation
For me, the bottom line is that there is no wrong way to present belly dance because what an individual loves in the dance is easy to find. Everything is so global today! The dance has morphed into so many forms that if you cannot find a belly dance teacher that makes you happy, perhaps you need to look for another dance.
10-12-13 Interviews with Saida and Yamil A Five Part Video Talk with Two Stars of Argentina, Part 5: The Dance Community of Argentina,
In this section they discuss how well the dance community gets along in Argentina. Hopefully this will help stimulate more talk in our larger worldwide community.
10-3-13 Desperately Seeking Shafiqa The Search for the Historical Shafiqa el Qibtiyya
Shafiqa el Qibtiyya (Shafiqa the Copt) is known to many practitioners and historians of Egyptian music and dance. She rose to fame as an entertainer in the salat (entertainment halls) of Cairo around the turn of the century. Popular dance lore posits that Shafiqa was an early pioneer (or perhaps the originator) of raqs shamadan, the candelabrum dance.
9-22-13 Interviews with Saida and Yamil A Five Part Video Talk with Two Stars of Argentina, Part 4: Receiving Critique,
Beyond giving critique to your students, how does a professional respond to feedback?
Part 2: She tells us of how she began to dance again after her move to Miami. She studied at the Middle Eastern Music Exchange with Tamalyn Dala, Bozenka, Jihan Jamal and a little with Virginia.
On August 31, 2013 we interview Virginia at the Alexander Hotel on Miami Beach. In this section of the interview she tells us about her RakStar festival and more of the the teachers they will have this year- Amir Thaleb, Mohamed Shahin, Issam, Aziza, Virginia.
9-22-13 Interviews with Saida and Yamil A Five Part Video Talk with Two Stars of Argentina, Part 3:Passion, Technique, Art, Entertianment,
What is more important,- technique or passion? How important is it to be an entertainer?
On August 31, 2013 we interview Virginia at the Alexander Hotel on Miami Beach. In this section of the interview she tells us about her RakStar festival and about 2 of the the teachers they will have this year- Mercedes Nieto and Wael Mansour. In the following sections of this interview we will cover the other teachers and get Virginia’s opinion on various community issues
On August 31, 2013 we interview Virginia at the Alexander Hotel on Miami Beach. In this section of the interview she tells us about her RakStar festival and about 2 of the the teachers they will have this year- Mercedes Nieto and Wael Mansour. In the following sections of this interview we will cover the other teachers and get Virginia’s opinion on various community issues
9-18-13 A Saturday in Sebastopol, a Few Photos from Tribal Fest 2013 on May 18, 2013
Hahbi'Ru, Sasha, Ahsa World, Les Petite Bonbon, Anahid Sofian, April Rose, Aubre, and more! (We need help with names!)
9-15-13 Interviews with Saida and Yamil A Five Part Video Talk with Two Stars of Argentina, Part 2:The Internet and Students,
We talk about the influence of the Internet and how much Yamil and Saida use it in their daily lives and with their students.
9-12-13 Interviews with Saida and Yamil A Five Part Video Talk with Two Stars of Argentina, Part 1: Response to Rosalba's Article,
In this first section, Saida objects to one point in a recent article about her teaching. Other portions of this interview will be coming soon.
We catch Mesmera and a student backstage at the Cairo Carnival 2013 on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California. She is getting ready to perform at the "World of Tomorrow" gala show. She hams it up showing us her Isis wings and her lipstick.
9-8-13 Dancing for Tourists in Istanbul, A Personal Impression
Additionally, their friendly and respectful relationship was highlighted when she finished her show, dancing to each instrument separately, and in this way she introduced each of the musicians. Such a relationship between dancer and musicians is not widely seen in today’s restaurant atmosphere… unfortunately.
9-6-13 Gigbag Check #47 with Rosa Noreen on the CK
Rosa Noreen is a belly dancer from Portland Maine. We caught her backstage at the gala show at Cairo Caravan 2013 held on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, CA. She is the newly elected secretary for MECDA- the Middle Eastern Culture and Dance Association. She tells us about her costume-"FrankinHoda" and her MAC lipstick.
I immediately made new friends and was surprised to find the multi-national composure of our 200+ people crowd – I befriended a dancer from Holland and another from Columbia, although the majority of the dancers were from Japan and other far-east countries.
8-24-13 Because I'm Worth It! The Perils of Pricing
There is a difference between "daring" and "working for free, undercutting other dancers, and misunderstanding the economics of pricing whilst mindlessly genuflecting to celebrity culture."
8-21-13 My Belly Dance Dream, Studying with Saida in Argentina
I looked at different options to satisfy this need to improve my dance. I decided to travel to Argentina and train with someone whom I considered the best modern belly dancer, Saida Helou.
Have we have learned from our experiences incorporating the Raqs Sharqi into our lives and practice or is the Kawleeya fated to be yet another souvenir from a visit into our collective imaging of the exotic “Orient”?
8-17-13 Dancing Through Financial Crisis and Revolution An Interview with Luna of Cairo
As fearless as the Cairenes in her adopted home, she takes on the state of the art form and daily trials and tribulations with candidness and humor.
8-11-13 Alive and Well in Corvallis! Retired Drummer, Robaire
Robaire Bozeman, a.k.a. Robaire Nakashian, is a well-known and greatly loved dumbek and tabla musician who is known primarily on the west coast of the US. Robaire’s love for music and dance started when he was a young boy at the age of three. He began attending his family’s Armenian Summer Kef Time Festivities in Fresno, California, annually.
8-8-13 The Fez All-star Fundraising Show, Supporting Roxxanne's Documentary
Located on Sunset Boulevard in legendary Hollywood, The Fez was the first Arabic night club in Los Angeles. During its heyday, The Fez was a popular haunt of celebrities. Jayne Mansfield, Richard Boone, Danny Thomas were just a few who enjoyed the exotic ambience, and most of all, the beautiful belly dancers accompanied by Arabic music.
That new minister decided to try to ban ballet because it was “too naked for public viewing”. This sparked a round-the-clock sit-in by many artists who took turns performing their art each evening to show their defiance.
7-18-13 Photos from Zulu Lounge, May 3rd 2013 at the famous El Rey Theater in Los Angeles, California
Below are a few highlight photos by Rawtography.com from the Zulu Lounge show held May 3, 2013 in Los Angles, California. The show was produced by dancer Khani Zulu and her husband, tattoo artist Zulu, at the swanky El Rey theater. The show's theme was "La Nuit d'Absinthe" which inspired artists to be creative with their pieces.
Therefore, I reasoned, the use of ones extremities for dancing (beyond transporting one across the stage or making a movement appear finished) was to gather and distribute performance energy from the stage rather than simply wave arms about in the air with artistry and grace.
7-11-13 Venue Woes, Adventures in Event Production
My philosophy is that dance teachers should make a living wage, be well fed and rested, and then, they will give you a great product as a result. Attendees should have a place to stay that is near (or in) the venue of the event. Events should be reasonably priced, and affordable food should be available nearby. Simple, right?
7-3-13 A Carousel of Challenges, Bellydancing at the County Fair
Using correct terminology is important; belly dancers are community performers who are requesting to perform on a community stage.
7-1-13 Beauty Has Its Price, The Quest for Beauty, Part 4
Being involved with an art form that is all about beauty, I too feel the need to present myself as best and as beautiful as possible. Beauty costs in time, pain, and money; and as philosophers have pointed out for millennia: its only fleeting.
A week long immersion into Middle Eastern music and dance while camping in the Mendocino redwood forest. Expect live music every night and classes with many music and dance teachers each day. Many of the names are linked to video interviews we have conducted with individuals or to their bio pages here on Gilded Serpent.
Barcelona welcomed teachers and lucky participants for a festival that brought Egypt to Spain with well attended lectures, workshops, and galas during four days of fun and learning, January 31st until February 3rd, 2013. This event provided a unique opportunity to learn the art of Oriental dance from the best names in Egypt. span class=”artist”>Randa Kamel (Egypt), Mo Geddawi (Egypt), Gamal Seif (Egypt), Bozenka (Cuba/USA), Amar Gamal (Cuba/USA), Amaru Sabat (Spain), who together with Munique Neith ran workshops throughout an intensive weekend.
6-11-13 Changes in the Island Kingdom, The Bahrain Bellydance Scene
Returning to Bahrain to work after four years felt like going back to my roots. This little island kingdom is where I did my first Middle East contract, busted my bra on New Year’s Eve, and returned several times in the following year. Those were the days. Now it had been a while. Had Bahrain changed? You betcha.
6-10-13 At the Crossroads, Discovering Professional Belly Dance at the Dawn of the Twentieth Century,
The transition from awalem and ghawazee dance styles to theatrical raqs sharqi began during the last decades of the nineteenth century and the first decades of the twentieth in Egypt. Unfortunately, scant film footage exists of dancers from that period to reveal exactly what professional belly dance looked like during that critical moment in Egyptian dance history. However, still photos and travelers’ descriptions from the time do allow a few conclusions to be drawn about the nature of belly dance in Egypt at this important transition.
5-20-13 Soloists, Belly Dancer of the Year 2013 Photos
The goal of BDOY is to give qualified dancers a fair and equal opportunity to exhibit their skills, as well as promote and elevate the art of belly dance and support its amazing community. Khalilah wins!
5-20-13 Hafla Schmafla, Buidling Communithy in Our Dance World.
Per my understanding, a hafla, in its most basic sense, is a party. It can be a party centered around family events, a circumcision, birthday, engagement, promotion, whatever, and it is a term that comes from the Arabic speaking world.
5-13-13 Costuming Trends of 1987, At the Rakkasah Festival
Although the trend at Rakkasah ‘87 was definitely toward better dancing than we have seen in the past; the costuming I saw would be high on anyone’s list of worn-out ideas. Nowadays, we have more and more of almost everything; it is immediately apparent that there is more material in the skirts—such as double skirts, ruffles, tatters, tiers, beads, and even elaborate sequined patterns, and embroidery.
5-6-13 I'm Back in the U-S-S-A! Queen of Denial, Chapter 13
My first quarter at Cal-Poly wasn’t nearly as easy for me as finding work belly dancing. I had no idea what I was getting myself into academically when I registered as a business major.
5-1-13 Dreaming of the East, Orientalism in Early Modern Dance
As a belly dancer and a modern dance student at York University, my attention was captured by the fact that a number of early modern dancers performed variations on Oriental themes. I became interested in how they interpreted the Orient through their modern dance technique, and how they represented the Orient in their choreographies, since their performances could have been loosely associated with actual Middle-Eastern dances.
4-19-13 Thoughts on Teaching Belly Dance, Responsibility, Flexibility, Experience, Knowledge, Leadership and More,
Teaching belly dance can be extremely fulfilling and enjoyable. It’s lots of fun, and rewarding for the instructor and students alike. Unfortunately, in the belly dance community, perhaps more than in any other dance form, there will always be instructors who have absolutely no business teaching…at all.
4-17-13 Sold Out Mosaic of Dance in North Carolina!Raqs Layali 2013, Asheville, North Carolina,
A few pics from the Raqs Layali show held March 22-24, 2013 in Asheville, North Carolina. The show was a joint effort between artistic director and principal dancer Mahsati Janan, principal dancers Lisa Zahiya and Teejei Brigham, and the BeBe Theater. We sold out every night! The goal of the show was to introduce people to many of the different styles that are a part of belly dance, from the folkloric roots to modern fusions.
4-16-13 Tale of the Rat, Beginning to Teach, Part One
He warned me! My German speaking mentor and dance partner, Bert Balladine, told me one day that teaching would change my dance—not necessarily for the better.
4-9-13 The Third Annual San Jose Showcase for Gothic Dance, The Third Annual Lumen Obscura, April 5-6, 2013, Hoover Theater, San Jose, California
Here are some of my favorites from both the Mayhem Matinee (afternoon show) and the Shiver N Shake Showcase (evening show). "Lumen Obscura is a NorCal annual Dark Fusion & Theatrical belly dance event that showcases some of the best in the genre". Produced by Deidre Anaid.
4-4-2013 Old School Stardom Shines in a New Land, Tito's First Visit to Taiwan
No matter how much splendor and glamor is presented on stage, bellydance should always preserve the fundamental spirit and vision of the culture. So he prefers to create a homey atmosphere to remind the audience that dancing and singing at a family gathering is also an essential feature of Middle East performance arts.
As long as I can remember, the origins of the bedlah (the two piece costume of Middle Eastern dancers) has been widely controversial and debated among the artists of Raqs Sharqi (belly dance). The dance itself, along with the costume, has gone through many centuries of changes and name identifications in accord with period fashion as well as contact with outside influences.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, along with the multiple Arabic clubs in Hollywood, there was also a thriving Greek, Armenian and Persian nightclub presence in the Los Angeles area. Shira (Jane Padgett) was a popular dancer in those clubs and is still a popular working dancer in Southern California. In this business, there are the dancers with a presence in the dance community due to participation in showcases, competitions, teaching and self-promotion,and additionally, there are the "workhorses", those who slogged away at the clubs, entertaining the masses for years and years, flying under the radar.
3-19-13 Photos from Carnival of Stars 2012, Page 2: A-K
Ahava, Alanna, AMany, Amina, Andrea, Annette, Aswan Dancers, Atlantis, Black Diamond, Badia, Basinah, Birute, Cathy Guthrie, Ciranoush, Cory Zamora, Crystal Silmi Dance Co...
The name “El Dorado” conjures up images of a fruitless quest for an unattainable, even mythical, goal. The El Dorado in this discussion, however, is neither myth nor fantasy. El Dorado was a sala or café chantant, an entertainment hall, located in the heart of Cairo’s Ezbekiyah entertainment district.
3-12-13 Photos from Carnival of Stars 2012, Page 1: L-Z
56 goergeous photos! ...Latifa, Linah, Lulu, LUna, Mahsati, Malia, MaShuqa, Melina, Migracia, Monica, Mystique, Maiya, Namira, Nancy, Nanna, Natika, Nisima, Nyla, Parri, Princess Farhana....
3-11-13 The One-of-a-kind Costume Still Fascinates:Re-envision, Recycle, Renew, and Remember
Sometimes, perhaps more often than not, those people whom we love, and those things that we enjoy doing, introduce new facets into our lives that change our perspective of what becomes important to us in the long run.
At Academia de Danza del Vientre Munique Neith on 29th and 30th of September 2012, two workshops took place with Munique Neith (the sponsor), Wael Mansour and young talents of Oriental dance from Spain, Italy, Portugal and France. Tradition and modernity merged together on this warm weekend.
2-19-13 What Lies Beneath Part 2, The Morocco Tourists Don't See, Suspicion, Lifestyle, Wedding, & Rescue
What’s depressing about Laayoune is the idea of it: what it represents, not the city itself. Buildings, painted in salmon color like Marrakech, palm trees planted in pretty town squares, clean streets, restaurants and cafes, busy market places and a gorgeous plaza where people stroll at night. If you didn’t know any better, you would love this place! In reality, you are inside an enormous military base, while the city is a mere facade.
Remember that you are your own person and you can use your talents any way you want. Nobody owns anybody else. And nobody owns Belly Dance. Belly Dance is an exciting world that gives women and men many artistic and entrepreneurial opportunities.
2-15-13 Emotion Inspired by Song, Interpreting Arabic Orchestral Music
What’s most important is the feeling. Listen to lots of music, and let yourself be moved. Even if you don’t know the words, you can still access the feelings. When you get on stage, express these feelings honestly to the audience. They will love you for it.
2-12-13 Everyone's Uncle, In Celebration of the Life of Drummer Armando Mafufo
In fact, so many artists wanted to perform in his honor that many had to be turned down or else we might have had to stay all night.
After living in the Middle East for 25 years and continuing to work in the region for music and dance, I have a pretty good idea of what talent and creative ideas exist in the region.
1-31-13 The Evolution of Jillina, An Interview Regarding Change, Flexibility and Lessons Learned, Posted 4-11-13- Español!
Working with Jillina for the last six years or so, I’ve been a fly on the wall for a lot of this transition. I’ve been there for marathon rehearsal weeks, brainstorming sessions, the stress of taking a show on the road, the flops, and the standing ovations.
1-29-13 Have I Left Yet? Queen of Denial, Chapter 12
Baghdad was the first place I had worked in where a complete communication blackout was ordered (no post, no newspapers, no telegrams, and no telephone access to the general public), and a mere two weeks after my arrival. For the very first time since I started traveling and dancing abroad, I was unable to call my parents (and vice versa) to assure them that I was fine regardless of what they were reading in the local newspapers.
1-20-13 Behind the Scenes, 3rd Coast Tribal Festival
I had never been to a tribal dance convention before, even though I have been a professional (Egyptian style) belly dancer for 40 years. From my “glitz and tits” perspective, this belly dance offshoot wasn’t something I recognized as mine.
Originally written for Caravan Magazine 1992- The one thing on which you depend about dance in Egypt from year to year is that everything slowly changes. I’ve returned to Cairo each year now for nine consecutive years, and last year my visit was just before the short war we had with Iraq in which Egypt was our US ally. Cairenes seemed sad last year, because Cairo had lost most of its income from tourism, and many Egyptian nationals were returning from Iraq and Kuwait, where they no longer had employment. I did not know what to expect this year, except the inevitable fact of surprising, yet subtle, change.
1-18-13 Fabulous Hip Drops in 30 Seconds or Less!
A principle is a single unifying and guiding idea that when we apply it to our alignment or movement, helps us move more effectively. An advantage of using a principles-based approach to dance or martial arts mastery is that it lets us use a single visualization or body sense to achieve a desired result, instead of having to remember lots of little details.
A vibrant dance community affords benefits to all of its members. In a healthy dance community, each and every person is relevant. For learning purposes or gathering a certain show cast, there is a large pool of talent from which to choose. Those with specialties and unique areas of expertise can share their knowledge, enriching the individual skill sets of everyone.
1-15-13 Diamonds in the Rough & Polished Perfection, 2012 Berlin SomerFestival-Thursday Competition,
Produced by Beata and Horacio Cifuentes, Held in September, 2012. The costumes were innovative and personalized with many of the competitors from the Ukraine, Russia, and Asia. Many of whom are also ballroom competitors. As a result, the costumes were visually striking and elegant. The trend in costuming is floral with tribal going towards more colorful stylized burlesque (ala Chicago musical).
1-14-13 A Journey to Fuse the World, Aubre Hill’s Second Asia Tour and Great China Visit
Aubre Hill earned respect for her teaching and dancing styles at the 2011 events in Taiwan. But when Kelli Li, the event sponsor, told me that she would sponsor Aubre Hill again in 2012 and with longer hours, I had my doubts about the feasibility of the project.
1-11-13 Whirling, Meditation in Motion or Spectacular Show?
A dance could not be any more contradictory. The Whirling dance lingers between spectacular showmanship and meditation in motion; it combines trance and technique. It is a surprising paradox, unified like lovers within the dance.
1-10-13 From Café Chantant to Casino Opera, Evolution of Theatrical Performance Space for Belly Dance,
Most students of Egyptian belly dance are aware of Badia Masabni and her famous nightclubs, and many believe Badia’s clubs to be the birthplace of theatrical belly dance, or raqs sharqi. However, fewer are aware that Badia’s clubs were neither the first nor the only venues of their kind.
1-2-2013 Halloween Treat, Silvia Salamanca & Haflaween,
There has been more interaction recently between the dancers in my current home of Augusta, Georgia, and in Columbia, the state capitol and largest city in South Carolina, which is approximately an hour and a half away. Some of the Columbia dancers have come down to dance with us at haflas and at our First Friday celebrations.
12-7-12 Memorial to Armando Mafufo, Drummer, Teacher, Friend
Armando Mafufo, known to most of us in the music and dance community as "Uncle Mafufo" was, as someone posted today, "a man everyone loved." He was a person who could light up the room with his smile and radiated love.
10-31-12 Making Superstars out of Top Dancers, BDSS Tour 2012
From the beginning, the Bellydance Superstars troupe has had the great fortune to attract the top dancers in the field even though, at first, we were criticized within the bellydance community for “having no stars”; so how dare we call the troupe the Bellydance Superstars?
10-27-12 In Sharp Contrast, Dancing in Lebanon and the US
Lebanon has something called “super night clubs" which are, basically, strip bars or cabarets. The term “nightclub” can be misunderstood easily–so it is best to tell them that you work at a 5-star place and not a cabaret.
10-17-12 Kajira and Chuck Interview, Cultural Appropriation or Artistic Freedom? Part 6: Separate Community? Burlesque?
Kajira believes that the Tribal community is bigger and more successful than the rest of the belly dance community. "We wish we could be accepted as a sister dancer form... As Artemis said, if you don't like it, you don't have to look." Burlesque is a separate art form.
10-17-12 Kajira and Chuck Interview, Cultural Appropriation or Artistic Freedom? Part 5: Term Tribal
Using the Term “Tribal”, The Modern Primitive Movement. Artists will fuse anything which is ok. What if we said “American Style Flamenco”? Morocco made this name up. Middle Eastern people get a feeling of “home” when they see tribal style. This is because we use authentic textiles and don’t use Hollywood fantasy. Doesn’t American Tribal sound like Native American? Modern Primitive Movement included tattoos, piercings, colored hair, alternative lifestyles. The hippy movement started the look of anything exotic being cool. Salimpour…
10-16-12 Kajira and Chuck Interview, Cultural Appropriation or Artistic Freedom? Part 4: Rise of Tribal Fusion ,
The Rise of Tribal Fusion. New terms- Spontaneous Group Improvisation, International or Improvisation Tribal Style. "Tribal Fest chronicles the rise of Tribal Fusion." Tribaret. No codification in our dances. Big difference betweem Tribal Fusion and Cabaret– Isolations, torso, arm movements. Kajira became certified in Rachel Brice’s format. ATS is a subset of Spontanteous Group Improv.
10-16-12 Kajira and Chuck Interview, Cultural Appropriation or Artistic Freedom? Part 3: Not MED
Not MED, Misappropriation of the Rom culture, Ostracizing of Tribal. Find reference in Tribal Bible for time stamp 2:30. We found it- Page 215 at the top, "The parallels between the struggle of the Roma and that of bellydancers is undeniable. Both groups are fighting to gain respect and move away from social prejudice." This point is addressed in the review of the book.
10-15-12 Memorial to John Compton
Please add your comments and send in your photos for posting on this page. Thanks!
10-14-12 Kajira and Chuck Interview, Cultural Appropriation or Artistic Freedom? Part 2: Quote in Question
One of the common issues that the community has had with Kajira’s philosophy and with tribal dance in general is with the issue of cultural appropriation. In this series of videos we discuss different issues and how Kajira feels about them. Part 2 talks about using the term "belly dance"
10-14-12 Kajira and Chuck Interview, Cultural Appropriation or Artistic Freedom? Part 1:Intro
One of the common issues that the community has had with Kajira’s philosophy and with tribal dance in general is with the issue of cultural appropriation. In this series of videos we discuss different issues and how Kajira feels about them.
10-13-12 Rakkasah West 2012 Photos, Page 2:M-Z
Malika, Maria, MaShuqa, Masha, Masouma, Michelle, Moon Dance, Mountian Gypsies, Nabeela, Nadika, Nadira, Naheda, Namira, Narantuya, Onyx, Oreet, Pangia, Park Ave, Rachel, RaksAl Khlil, Raks the Casbah, Rasa, Reda, Renya, Rockin the Cradle, Ruby, Saqra....
10-6-12 Rakkasah West 2012 Photos, Page 1:A-L
Adira, Adriana, Aizubra, Aki, Alexandria, Alfredo, Alnisa, Amel, Ariel, Ava, Ayesha, Badia, Bal Anat, Blue Diamond, Chelly, Dancers of the Desert, Devi, El Asaab, Eve, Fahtiem, Goddess Force, Good Vibs, Habibi, Hannah, Kashmir, Isabella, Jewels, Joweh, Justina, Khalilah, Leila
10-1-12 Photos from Ahlan Wa Sahlan 2012 – Cairo, Egypt, Page 2: July 1- 3, 2012, Cairo, Egypt
Once more, Raqia Hassan, the sponsor of the Ahlan Wa Sahlan Festival welcomes her guests from all over the world at the Mena House Hotel, the antique mystical palace beside the pyramids of Giza for the 12th annual of this worldwide party.
9-27-12 Ahlan Wa Sahlan 2012 – Cairo, Egypt, Page 1: June 27-29
Once more, Raqia Hassan, the sponsor of the Ahlan Wa Sahlan Festival welcomes her guests from all over the world at the Mena House Hotel, the antique mystical palace beside the pyramids of Giza for the 12th annual of this worldwide party.
9-25-12 Sharpening Your Dancer’s Edge: Performing Without Choreography
The idea of dance governed by choreography is more a western notion that was not inherent originally a part of the Middle Eastern dance solo
I left Cairo on September 9th, 2012, after a three-week visit to research the zar. I wrote the following article on my flight home – two days before the Libyan tragedy* and the violence outside Cairo’s US Embassy. As my plane circled the pyramids I had no idea Egypt would once again become the center of world attention.
9-18-12 The Glamorous Early Years of London Bellydancing:How Elaine Okba Became Fatin Shaukat in the 1960s!
Adel’s father was the person who modified the accordion by putting in quarter tones so that the instrument could play Oriental music, and he played in Nahit Sabri’s orchestra. When she came to London on a shopping spree she called us to have a meal with her.
9-18-12 Video sample #3 of Carolena! on the Community Kaleidoscope,
Carolena talks about coming up with the name of her troupe by talking with a clown. Her troupe members hated the name but the phone company loved it!
9-16-12 Gigbag Check #46 with Angelika on the CK
Angelika Nemeth lives and teaches in Southern California. She teaches at 3 colleges and also takes tours to Cairo, Turkey, and other countries. She mentions 2 costumes designers in Egypt who she buys her costumes from. This video was taken in February 2011 around the time of the revolution in Egypt and many of the tours sponsors were not sure if they were going to be able to go on their tours this year because of the unrest.
9-14-12 Video sample #2 of John Compton! on the Community Kaleidoscope,
John Compton talks about his introduction to Troupe Bal Anat at the Northern California Renn Faire in the early 1970s.
9-12-12 Gigbag Check #45 with Zahira
Conducted at IBCC in May 2012, Zahira is a scholar as well as a dancer who in this interview was fusing steampunk and pirate style with her bellydance.
9-10-12 From the Big Apple to the Peach State
In Augusta, options are much more limited, and dancers are more influenced by the Bellydance Superstars. My teaching experience at Serena Studios opened doors for me in Manhattan, but people in this area had never heard of Serena. I was trained to present a five-part cabaret show with live music, but here tribal improv prevailed.
9-7-12 Attending Workshops, 7 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Them
Sure, it was worth it to just soak in the presence of a Belly dance master for a few hours, get a good workout, and network with your Belly dance friends, but how can you make that time and money spent upon a workshop with a master teacher benefit you in the long run?
9-7-12 Video sample #1 of Nakish! on the Community Kaleidoscope,
Don't miss this video! Nakish talks about joining Bal Anat and the race issues. This is a sample of the film that is being made by Black Dog Productions.
9-6-12 My Perfect Hiding Place, Queen of Denial, Chapter 11
Funny as it sounds, the incredible amounts of money we were earning nightly eventually became a burden.
9-2-12 --in Spanish and English!
The Palestinians immigrants began arriving at the end of the 19th century; additionally, a great wave of immigration was registered between 1910 and 1920, and it has kept growing until even our current days.
8-27-12 A Dance Challenge in an Ancient Land, Farha Festival 2012 in Luxor, Egypt,
Besides, I needed a personal challenge this year and dancing an improvisation solo for the final night performance with the musicians seemed to fit the bill for me.
8-25-12 Regina Raks! Canadian Dance Community Flourishes on the Prairies
The increasing professionalization of dance has been the second major change over the past decade. There is more competition for students and paid performance opportunities, which has affected attendance at shows and may have reduced the cohesiveness of the dance community to some extent.
8-23-12 Going Bi-Coastal, "A Night in the Oasis"
Our event evolved from a tiny community happening into a popular quarterly event, growing each year. When I migrated to Atlanta, Georgia, the one thing I knew I wanted to do was continue the tradition of producing “A Night in the Oasis.”
8-16-12 Judging the Judges, Training Judges for Competitions
These are fine scoring points, but there are usually no detailed guidelines for each scoring section in each category, nor strict regulations for judges, which seem to cause some grey areas. Contestants have rules and regulations, why not the judges?
8-14-12 The Influence of Tarab on Raqs Sharqi, Improvisational Taqasim For Raqs Sharqi Part 2
On the other hand, performance style should sparingly mirror mordent notes and grace notes. Performing movements to all the mordent note variations and also hitting every grace note is inappropriate; too much of a good thing spoils the dance style.
8-12-12 Sashar Zarif, An Azerbaijani Gem at IBCC 2012
At this year’s IBCC I had the pleasure of attending two workshops with Sashar Zarif, who teaches and dances different styles of the Near Eastern and Central Asian regions.
8-9-12 What Lies Beneath, Part 1, The Morocco & Western Sahara Tourists Don’t See
When you say you are going to travel around in Morocco, usually, the response you get can be summarized with one word: "Marrakech". Sure, Marrakech might be the "best of Morocco", but it also wasn’t going anywhere.Some other places, however, may not always remain as accessible, and I had a few questions on my mind.
8-7-12 Balkanic Eruption, Fiery Fusion Flavors for Oriental, Tribal, and Gypsy Dance!
The Balkan spirit brings Mediterranean fire to Slavic earthiness to Byzantine mystery. Balkan music and dance weaves these elements together in the strong and purposeful rhythms and steps of the circles
8-2-12 Gigbag Check #44 with Courtney
Courtney is an award-winning bellydancer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She dances solo, in a duet and a troupe. She participates in many of the bellydance competitions in the community. She is also a musician! Don't miss the bonus footage at the end with Courtney and her teacher Sandra!.
8-1-12 Gigbag Check #43 with Sa'diyya, part 2
Sa'diyya is a professional belly dancer from Texas. In this video she discusses how she put together this beautiful costume and the secrets to her lovely hair. This video was also filmed at the Belly Dancer of the Universe Competition 2011 held in Long Beach, CA. In this video she shows us another costume and the secrets behind her beautiful hair! Sa'diyya won the Universal division in 2011. Sa'diyya is also a contributor to GildedSerpent.com.
7-31-12 Özel Türkbas Turkish Bellydance Trailblazer
She also discovered the pleasure in dancing for other women. As she would later write in her book, “When women liked me and applauded my performance, I knew it was going to be all right. …that I would have a career that would do more than bring attention to myself.”
7-30-12 Video Interview with Raqia Hassan
In July 2012, Raqia Hassan was sponsored to Redwood City, CA, by Hala for workshops. Along with the workshops, Hala presented a Saturday Evening Show honoring Raqia. Gilded Serpent interviewed Raqia, Hala, Baheyya and Gamal after the show. Raqia Hassan produces the June festival in Cairo called "Ahlan wa Sahlan".
7-23-12 Gigbag Check #42 with Lara
Lara is from Redwood City, California. Lara's teacher is Sandra. Although Lara typically performs solo, she also dances in several groups- The Duet Sassafras, Troupe Khamsin, and a trio called Seshata. Lara has a doctorate in Computer Science from Stanford and also works as a software engineer. This video was filmed at the Belly Dancer of the Universe Competition in Long Beach in 2011.
7-21-12 Gigbag Check #41 with Badia
Badia of Sacramento show us whats in her bag! We filmed her at the Belly Dancer of the Year Pageant 2012 in El Cerrito, California. Her team is producing a documentary called "Becoming Farasha". She talks about eyelid appliques, her '40s hairstyle, combining Turkish and Egyptian costuming, tatoo's, usingnail polish to glue rhinestones. She is also an actress trained in North Carolina.
7-19-12 Dancing One’s Fortune: Told in Tarot Cards, Photos from Mariona’s "Book of Thoth" Production
Each dance of Mariona’s 2012 show was an interpretation from one of the Tarot cards with their specific stories, characterizations and magical spells. The show begins by presenting a circus titled "Habibirot" that was formed by artists from many parts of the world.
7-16-12 Hollywood and Assiut, Onstage and Off, by Dawn Devine Davina
Throughout the history of motion pictures, the costume designers of Hollywood, and the stars they dress, have had their own love affair with this gorgeous cloth. Assiut fabric was used initially to breathe life into an ancient past and later to provide a connective link to the 20's when the popularity of assiut was at it's zenith.
7-15-12 Raqs Sharqi Improvisational Taqasim, Part I :The Musical Intersection of Raqs Sharqi and Tarab by MaShuqa and Yosefa
The Oriental dancer (as an improvisational artist) performed in collaboration with live musicians, and the shared goal of both dancer and musicians was to create authentic shared emotional experiences (known as “tarab”) both for themselves and the audience.
7-14-12 How to get to Mahmoud's Old Costume Shop, Part 2 of 1991 Cairo footage
Another portion of our Cairo 1991 street footage. At the time that this was shot, it was difficult to find Mahmoud's costume shop in Khan El-Khalili. We recorded this for the benefit of the dance community. Now Mahmoud has a fancy new shop that is easier to find. This is presented now for historical purposes. More annotations will be added soon.
7-13-12 Dance in Palma De Mallorca, Helwa's Studio, photos by Gabriel Monserrat Lopez
Helwa, Belly dance teacher and director of Academia Helwa de Danza del Vientre pioneer of teaching this art for more than 12 years in Palma de Mallorca, Balears Island, Spain
7-11-12 Living a Life Uncommon, A Mediterranean Tour with Rhea of Athens
Rhea is like Socrates incarnate. Completely true to herself and a wealth of insight, she loves engaging the people she meets in conversations on history, society, and human nature.
Aside from Ahmet’s satisfying performance and the professional live music, the local Romany festival-goers were quite proud and eager to show off their own dancing skills. Their enthusiasm was contagious so the locals invited one of our dancers to dance with them in front of the stage, a highlight for any dancer.
7-9-12 Successful Art Entrepreneur or Belly Dance Dummy?
Here it was, the pivotal moment, the moment where what you say determines what happens, or what doesn’t happen, the moment of which you are either proud in retrospect or in which you feel defeated and ashamed, covering it up with the sands of time and silence and try to forget about it.
7-8-12 Mendocino Camp Photos Page 3: Thursday Fire Dances! Middle Eastern Music and Dance Camp 2011 by Carl Sermon, Text by Shoshanna
Rebecca Firestone shines! We need help with names for the other dancers in these lovely photos!
7-3-12 Superstars: What Sets Them Apart? by Jhavia Nayeli
After a brief intermission, it was time for the BDSS half of the show. Could this extravaganza get any better? I assumed so, because the Bellydance Superstars were in the building; my expectations were sky high!
7-2-12 Leaving Space for Others Opinions, Thoughts while Attending IBCC 2012
In these moments, I find it challenging to remember that my responses are a reflection of my own belief systems, which may overlap, counter, or side-step someone else’s.
6-28-12 Mendocino Camp Photos Page 2:Monday, Joshkun and Company are Back Playing in the Woods! Middle Eastern Music and Dance Camp 2011
The air is rich with music everywhere you go, and even in the lines for lunch or dinner there will be spontaneous drumming jams and improv dance sessions.
My agent found me extremely upset, and I was adamant that I couldn’t possibly stay in Baghdad for another six weeks. I desperately wanted out of Iraq, and cried and pleaded with my agent to make it so.
6-26-12 Video Interview with Princess Farhana and Surreyya, Part 2
This series of interviews was filmed April 26, 2012. Surreyya and Princess Farhana came to the Gilded Serpent office for a visit. This part discusses current trends in our community involving the crossover between cabaret and tribal.
6-22-12 Cairo in 1991-Snake Dancer Tapestry
This is a revision of footage taken on a dancers trip to Egypt. This portion was taken while shopping. We found a applique tapestry of a snake dancer!
6-18-12 Drawing Together: Discussion, Discoveries, Diversity, IBCC 2012: International Bellydance Conference of Canada
I made some unexpected discoveries about our dance and my place in it. I was aware of how far the dance has come since I started out in 1972, how much it has changed and how much it is changing still. I finally put the whole tribal/fusion dilemma into a place in which I feel comfortable. So much of what holds me back from accepting change is fear, fear that what I know will change and will no longer be acceptable.
6-17-12 Joshkun and Company Create Community and Art in the Redwoods, Mendocino Middle Eastern Music and Dance Camp 2011 Photos, Page 1 The Mendocino Middle Eastern Music and Dance Camp has been a community tradition since 1991. Joshkun says that several of the teachers first came as students.
6-16-12 Gigbag Check #40 with Khalilah!
Filmed at the Belly Dancer of the Universe Competition 2011, Khalilah competes in 3 categories in one day while sick with the flu including a high fever! This event was held in Long Beach, California. Khalilah is a student of Najia Marlyz. Khalilah gives us a tour of a few items that she takes with her to her performances.
6-15-12 My First Day at IBCC 2012, The International Bellydance Conference of Canada held in Toronto
The first day of IBCC is always exciting – participants are full of pep, hungry to learn, and ready to try it all! Selecting which of the tempting workshops, lectures, discussion panels, and shows to attend is daunting. Like many others, I found it really difficult to decide what to go to and what I’d have to miss; with so many things happening at the same – and overlapping times – not being able to take in everything you want is unfortunately inevitable.
6-14-12 Gigbag Check #39 with Troupe Intizar
Sese directs Troupe Intisar based in Santa Cruz California. According to their site at bellydancebasics.com, troupe members include: Samira, Desma, Adara, Alexa, Caliana, Saffana, Kamala. This lively troupe was interviewed back stage at the Belly Dancer of the Year 2012 Competition held in El Cerrito, CA.
When we arrived, we found that the residents weren’t really sure about all things Bellydance, save for the touristy performance posters seen in highly traveled areas. Many vendors have offices with tours; so Bellydance, Sufi/Dervish performances, and boat tours are all lumped together as commodity-like offerings. Still, we had some leads
All of us want our dance to be beautiful and captivating. Yet often, especially when we are new, we see a great distance between our own movements and the expressive power of our teachers or the favorites whom we watch on YouTube clips and DVDs. Is there a way to accelerate the process of becoming better? If so, what are the secrets?
6-3-12 Onstage In Search Of Our Dream: Historical American Dance Evolution
Nonetheless, sometimes, what gives me an inner pang of pain is our self-imposed “sin of omission” in honest reportage. Sometime what is not said is more important than what actually makes it into print or into the report.
Adriane is currently from Sacramento, CA. She teaches and sponsors events in the area. She has written for GildedSerpent.com and volunteers on occasion also. Thanks Adriane! This video was filmed backstage at Belly Dancer of the Universe 2011 in Long Beach.
5-31-12 GigBag Check #37 with April Rose
April Rose is at this moment, June 2012, finishing her Masters program at UCLA. She worked with Unmata, and will tour internationally with the Bellydance Superstars in the Fall of 2012. This video was shot at the Internationally Bellydance Conference of Canada in May of 2012. Along with her Gigbag tour are snippits of her teaching and performing at IBCC.
5-30-12 The Kalbelia, The Charming Gypsies of Rajasthan
The snake dance was derived from the practice of men bringing snakes to the doors of people and entertaining them by making the snake dance to music and the money collected from people is a source of income. This dance incorporates subtle dance moves that are meant to represent the movements of a cobra as it slithers on the ground
MaShuqa, known for her beautful make up, shows us a few secrets! MaShuqa is a well known bellydancer in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is also the wife of Carl Sermon, whose photos you will see frequently on GildedSerpent.com. This video was filmed back stage at the Belly Dancer of the Universe Competition in February 2011
5-24-12 , in Spanish- Espanol
No part of me can say that it has been an easy ride! Setting forth alone in a new country, speaking a new language with no one to vouch for you is a daring adventure, not to mention a lonely one.
5-17-12 Meet the Neighbors, Chapter 2 of Veiling in the Desert
I sit here in my Bedouin house with a cup of green tea and some helawa (halva) and I can still hear the women laughing outside. Although my focus here is to learn the dance, I always feel that in order to understand a traditional dance form, I need also to understand the culture.
5-16-12 Queen of Denial Chapter 9: Memories of Baghdad Part 2: Bombs, Bodies, and Baby?
As the war escalated in favor of Iran, our living conditions declined. The borders and post offices were closed, the newspapers were censored, and then one day the running water just stopped without warning. My friends and I hailed a taxi and literally went from store to store buying as much bottled water as we could lay our hands on. We paid from too high priced to absolutely ridiculous prices for cases of drinking water.
5-15-12 Meeting Tahia and Samia in 1977, The First Belly Dance Tour to Cairo, Part 2
To her, true danse oriental is not teachable. Either you have it or you don’t; either you are born with it or you are not.
5-14-12 Egyptian Stars Shine in Los Angeles, Stars of Spring, March 9–11, 2012 in Los Angeles, Featuring Aida Nour, Khaled Mahmoud and Camelia
When I decided to attend Stars of Spring, it wasn’t just to support my friend, Dee Dee Asad. I know this will appear to make me a bit biased in some people’s eyes if I am writing a review of a friend’s event. How can a person be a good reviewer if they are viewed as giving a slanted review in support of a friend?
5-1-12 IBCC video reports
This is the fourth, and we hear, the last International Bellydance Conference of Canada held May 2-6, 2012 in Toronto Canada, produced by Yasmina Ramzy and staff. As in past years, we will be reporting on this page as internet coverage and time allows. Video reports will be added when possible. Expect interviews, performance clips, demonstrations, and more.
4-30-12Teaching Down Under in 1988, A Bert Balladine Reminiscence: Australia & New Zealand
International seminars make you do more than you think you can when you see the dedication and sacrifices people make just to attend.
Performers for this show included Murat's band "Native Brew"-Janus-Bhargav-Corey, Surreyya, Princess Farhana, Teresa, Nyla Crystal, Farasha, Terrianne, Dusty, Susu, and Talia with her partner.
4-28-12 Video Interview with Princess Farhana and Surreyya, Part 1
This series of interviews was filmed April 26, 2012. Surreyya and Princess Farhana came to the Gilded Serpent office for a visit. This is the first of 3 parts. Discussion of their current show called "Dangerous Beauties, and working with their "virtual" troupe members and costumers around the world using the various tools of the web.
4-26-12 Helm Istanbul'da Making Music in Turkey
We discovered Turkish classical music through our friend Sinan Erdemsel. To the dellight of many music lovers, he has been coming to teach at Lark Camp in Mendocino, California, for the past 10 years.
4-22-12 Packin' up and Moving! Moroccan Dance Festival Relocated Under Pressure,
She is moving her festival in time and place due to the threats she has received from certain Islamic factions because of the involvement of Israeli dancers. It was to be held in just a couple of weeks from now in Marrakech.
But I’m under no illusions. That audience wouldn’t be present if wives, daughters or friends weren’t performing. And despite people saying we’ve opened their eyes to the beauty and spectacle of bellydance, the truth is that ours is still very much a niche and hobbyist dance genre.
4-18-12 Dollars to Donuts: Thoughts about Proper Compensation
I want to demonstrate a different perspective of compensation that one does not often hear these days. I dance because I love to dance.
4-17-12 Is Bellydance in a Downward Spiral? Ask Yasmina #18
When compiling the information for the programme, some of the dance artists in the company asked us not to use their real name for fear of complications with their main employment.
4-16-12 When Victoria was Queen — And the Ghawazi Ruled, Amusing, Illuminating, and Disturbing Tales of 19th-Century Encounters with the Ghawazi
The first dancing of all ghawazi is simply moving about to the music and undulating the body. Then waves of motion are made to run from head to foot, and over these waves pass with incredible rapidity the ripples and thrills, as you have seen a great billow in a breeze look like a smaller sea ribbed with a thousand wavelets. All is done in perfect time with the music.
4-12-12 Dancing on Stemmed Glassware! A Dangerous Specialty for the Stage
The highlight of my performance was sliding the glass out from under my heel with my hand and going into a backbend.
4-10-12 Video Interview with Natalie Becker of St Petersburg, Russia,
Interviewed in Marrakech, Morocco at the Mediterranean Delight Festival produced by Simona Guzman in June 2011. Natalie and her daughter, Natalie (nickname- Ebru), are from St Petersburg, Russia. Natalie tells about her start and first mentors. She tells of her daughter's launch into bellydance as a career. We have more videos coming with Natalie also talking more about the Russian style of Bellydance. Anna Borisova assists.
4-7-12 The Festivals That Could Have Been, From the Point of View of an Organizer
Finally, I started again, alone. I sold my car and my apartment, and I booked the five star Beach Resort with that money, including supplies, the gala room, training rooms, and a whole floor for the exhibitors.
4-6-12 Queen of Denial Chapter 8: Memories of Baghdad Part 1: Miss America, NOT!
I had been performing as the featured “Miss America of Belly Dance” in an elite restaurant supper club for about two weeks when Saddam Hussein announced to his country that he was being betrayed by his number one ally in the war against Iran, the USA!
4-5-12 El Balie Arabie, Dancing in Chile
I discovered finding a teacher was going to be a lot harder than I originally intended.
4-2-12 Raqs LA Photos, Page 2: H-Z
Glendale Civic Auditorium, California, April 16 & 17, 2011, produced by Bellydance Superstars and Miles Copeland
3-30-12 Revisiting “A Belly Dancer’s Dream Come True”, The First Ground-breaking Belly Dance Tour to Cairo of September 1977
Missing Tahia’s warm welcome got the tour off to a disappointing start. Her huge red smile would have reassured us that the promise of this tour was on track. It was but the first of many hiccups and unfulfilled promises that was to characterize this tour and reveal essential truths about Egyptian culture and society.
3-25-12 Gigbag Check # 35 with Hala
Backstage with Hala, she shows us what she carries to performances in her bag. This interview was conducted in October 2011. Tito Sief is also in the room.
3-22-12 Sohayr Zaki, The People's Dancer
"When Sohayr Zaki Jumped in Front of President Nixon, American Security Men Moved In," ran the title of the June 1974 article in Al-Shabaka. The popular Middle Eastern magazine continues...
3-16-12 The Stars Converge in Barcelona, El Festival Internacional de Danza Oriental 2012,
Munique Neith is Brazilian of Arabic descent. She is the prestigious and well traveled organizer of the International Oriental Dance Festival in Barcelona. More than 1500 people take part every year in the 2 gala shows, the competitions, and in different workshops with the best international master teachers.
3-16-12 The Sisterhood of South African Belly Dancers, Australian Finds Community
I saw that dancers should take criticism well and learn from it (I definitely needed to improve my arm posture and hands) and additionally, it showed me that I had progressed a long way.
Glendale Civic Auditorium, California, April 16 & 17, 2011, produced by Bellydance Superstars and Miles Copeland
3-9-12 The Golden Era of the Arabic Nightclubs in London Part 2:" A New Era
A new era in the club business started with the arrival of two important nightclub characters from Pyramid Street in Cairo (an area where dozens of night clubs line the street and all compete with each other for talent). Ahmed Whardany and Samir Sabot brought a great energy and expertise to London.
3-7-12 Tribal & Textile Arts Show 2012, IPhone Photos of Pretty Stuff from a Trade Show
On February 12, 2012, at Fort Mason in San Francisco, my husband George and I made a quick visit to an annual folk arts show. This visit soon turned into a report for Gilded Serpent!
3-6-12 1st Annual Shimmy in the City, How I Organized an International Festival and Survived (just!)
He literally woke her up at 5am, asked for her help and she immediately dropped everything and got straight on a plane to London! What a star indeed!
3-5-12 Photos from the Performance of “Dangerous Beauties”, February 18, 2012,
Dark Room Theater, San Francisco, California. Adrianna, Dusty, Terry Del Giorno, Princess Farhana, Surreyya, Nyla Crystal, Rose Harden...
3-1-12 Touching the Clouds: Impossible Bridge in Yemen
I needed a place where I felt safe, had some friends, and knew my way around: a place like Yemen! Besides, there was a bridge there that I wanted to check out.
2-29-12 How I Met the Tuzsuz Family in Istanbul
As for taking lessons with her – her teaching has improved over the years and her repertoire has expanded (although her large movement base was what attracted me to her as a teacher in the first place, so it has always been extensive).
2-21-12 Veiling in the Desert, Moving to Egypt to Study Bedouin Dance, Culture, and Language …and Maybe to Buy a Camel!
I was a little nervous about dancing in front of the Bedouin musicians. Although I had been itching to get up and dance all evening, a fear of causing offense or of behaving inappropriately in some way had stopped me from asking.
2-17-12 The End of the Banat Mazin? Struggles with Religious Fanatics, Real Estate Management , and Other Ghawazi
Yusuf Mazin, a Nawari Gypsy, had wandered the land dealing in livestock, entertaining the villagers with stories, delivering messages and generally making himself useful until his non-Gypsy wife blessed him with five beautiful daughters. Beautiful, talented daughters who could master singing and dancing — the arts of the ghawazi, as such women were traditionally called in the countryside — were the best hope for the prosperity of a Nawari family in Egypt.
2-13-12 Organic Cycle Enters Taiwan’s BD Community: 2 “Unusual” Taipei Workshops Demonstrate New Trend , Traditional Chinese Translation here
Taiwan, as one of Belly dance communities in the Asian region where Belly dance has been blooming in the past decade, is no exception from a heavily choreography-oriented mainline trend.
2-12-12 The Mystery of Tulle bi Telli, Assuit Shawls, a Research Paper from 1979
The romance that surrounds these shawls harkens back to a different era, when handicrafts were valued for their own sake, and intricate decoration of everyday objects was part of everyone’s life.
2-11-12 Amani Oriental Festival Photos, October 25-29, 2011, Beirut, Lebanon
As a professional performer, I was impressed with the high caliber of dance instructors. The majority of instructors were Lebanese and offered a diverse repertoire of Lebanese Oriental and folkloric technique with emphasis in dramatic moves, staging and communication through movement with modern dance components.
2-9-12 Group or Troupe Division of the Belly Dancer of the Universe Competition Photos and Video,
The Belly Dancer of the Universe Competition is produced by Tonya and Atlantis in mid February each year in the Long Beach Convention Center. Most photos are linked to enlargements.
2-4-12 Nelly, Beloved Star of Egypt, An Interview with Nelly Fouad
I asked Nelly if there was any comparison to the Awalim of Mohamed Ali street and she said no, they were different; the Alexandrian Awalim had a real school for teaching the arts — they were strict and corrected your mistakes.
2-2-12 Last Round of Visits, Family Dinner Party and Wrap Up, A Month In Cairo, Report #6 by Leyla Lanty
I’ve seen this often here, that men and boys will readily play with the little ones in an involved and endearing way.
I have observed a cycle in which, periodically, emerging dancers who have obtained slightly more prominence in the craft begin to make recycled attempts to regulate it through instructional devices in order to control it to their own personal ends.
“Sabri worked everywhere, especially the Nile Hilton. He did a lot of weddings, so we worked at all the hotels. We subbed for Nagwa Fouad at the Meridien hotel on her night off. We went all over Cairo and Alex too, so it was a good way to get around and know the area.
1-23-12 Gigbag Check #33 with Sa'diyya of Texas!
Gilded Serpent catches Sa'diyya backstage at the Belly Dancer of the Universe Competition in February 2011. She shows us her tools of the trade, including:safety pins (of course), mirror, curling iron, carpet tape, and all of her jewelry organized in a binder full of zip lock bags. She also tell us about using a fedora in a modern folk dance from Iran or Persia. Her mother helps her with her costumes.
1-20-12 Sahra's Drum Solo Class with Amir Sofi at the Bellydancer of the Universe Competition in 2011,
Sahra is also given the lifetime achievement award. Lovina gives testimonial to how much she enjoyed the class
Sometimes the dirty facts of dancing in Cairo can be more interesting than the pristine Oriental fantasy… at least, it is when you tell the story later! PHOTOS!
Lou Shelby had told me to begin that Friday night. (The Fez only had entertainment on the weekends at that time.) An Egyptian dancer, Maya, and a Las Vegas dancer, Cozette, were working there; so I was the third dancer on the program. I came in early for a rehearsal; Lou’s idea was to have a real Hollywood-like production: I was to emerge in a flood of colored lights amidst smoke from a smoke machine and open his show.
It was stimulating to talk about a wide range of topics, Egyptian politics and societal issues included, such as the continuing trend for Muslim women and girls to wear scarves – many, if not most, to make a fashion statement, others because of family, husband, or peer pressure, and some to make a political statement.
The ten o’clock dinner show featured music, three dancers, and one singer. The real show started at midnight. In the audience were mostly Arabs, dressed in the most expensive designer clothes with diamond watches and jewelry flashing in the stage light. There was a scent of expensive perfume mixed with cigarette smoke. The tables were covered with flower arrangements and lavish silver platters of fruit.
1-12-12 Nightclub and Restaurant Gigs, Paid Auditions or Justified Entitlement
Belly dancing in any public venue, like a nightclub or a restaurant, for compensation is a privilege.
1-10-12 Gigbag Check #32- Emma of Japan at the BDUC 2011
She shares with use her favorite music to help her calm down before the contest. She also shows us her favorite costume that she bought in Cairo.
1-9-2012 The Many Faces of "Baladi"
Baladi is an Arabic word that literally means “my country” or “of the country”. However, it has come to mean, refer to, and imply, many different things, depending on the context in which it is used. Below we discuss the most common uses of the word...
1-5-12 Susu shows us her Tomtoms!
We caught Susu, Terrianne and Amina between gigs at their house in Petaluma. Susu had just gotten out of the shower. They demonstrated the tomtom, bendir, and darbukah for us in their beautiful studio. Rocky and the other dog, Mochi, were there to help. Sorry about cutting the heads out of the shots. Are not the tom toms beautiful?
He kept reassuring me that everything was okay, and finally, the second time that I made for the exit, he pinned me against the wall in the darkened hallway and gave me a long, luscious kiss that made my head spin!
This grouping of DVDs was enjoyable to review, as it dealt with many things that I personally enjoy and find graceful and useful, such as veil work, and Western dance technique, such as Ballet and Jazz.
1-9-14 From Evolution to Revolution, A Review of "Dark Side of the Crown"
Jillina’s character is mean and abusive which makes us think that she may be the killer!
Deep Study of Dance with Culture for 20 Hours! Yasmina Ramzy's Crash Course, August 2013
Check your ego at the door and be prepared to learn true Egyptian technique and correct what you’ve been doing incorrectly for years.
Egypt through a Rear-View Mirror, Middle East Journal: A Woman’s Journey into the Heart of the Arab World by Laila Abou-Saif
It is easy to recommend this book with a four-zill rating and I do. I applaud ground truth data–here, in the form of interviews–diligently gathered by someone qualified to interpret it.
Thoughtful Technique in a Beautiful Package, Jo Wise’s "The JWAAD Book of Belly Dance"
Fortunately, this beautiful book can be opened at any time, to any page, for any length of time you can spare, and it will offer you concise instruction, illustrative photos, inclusive models, creative costuming, witty sayings, insightful technique and imaginative choreographic notes!
6-27-13 Tradition, Passion, and Fusion, “Ro-He, Classical Egyptian Dance” 2003, and “Egyptian Rai” 2006 by Hossam Ramzy
In this review I am critiquing two CD’s by Hossam Ramzy. I write in detail about each CD, it’s interesting parts, or special interests as well as critique. I then compare the two at the conclusion of this article. Enjoy…the incredible talents of Hossam Ramzy!
In conclusion, and personally being a purist with a lot of my Bellydance music, I like Hossam Ramzy’s “Best of the Best”; in my opinion, it’s hard to improve on that collection. However, I would recommend giving all of these albums a try, as they are all high-quality music. If you are a World-music fan, and love music that jams with a bit of rock thrown in, you’ll like “Rock the Tabla”!
3-10-13 Beyond DVDs - Try Live Streaming! Online Dance Instruction: Ansuya, Sadie, and Cera Byer
Oh, Technology! You’ve brought us so many new ways of advancing our dancing skills: instructional DVDs, belly skypes, Raqs TV rentals, recorded classes online–and now–live, interactive classes online. Just how helpful are these cyberlearning tools? Let’s talk about the “Powhow” classes.
2-18-13 Luscious: The Bellydance Workout, a DVD Review
If you are looking for something that is a mix of dance practice and a workout, then I think you will enjoy this DVD. It is a perfect selection of moves that are combined to work on your stamina, polishing your technique for choreography.
The two DVDs that I received for review and comparison for Gilded Serpent were by a group and individual with whom I was unfamiliar. In fact, I had never heard of either one. Both had their strong points, but in my opinion, were fraught with significant problems also.
1-20-13 Bellydance in the Real World-
Bellydance Superstars ¨The Art of Bellydance ¨Live from Shanghai DVD, VIII International Oasis Festival Show Harem Saint-Petersburg Russia DVD
Many new performances can open your mind to interesting, fun fusions from around the world and help you to prove how stylization can vary–country to country.
12-17-12 Heads-up for a Daughter-Mom Fun Op i-Dressup.com: Interactive Digital Paper-doll Experience
Wanna fun belly dance diversion for you and the favorite little girl in your life? Check out i-Dressup.com! In a nutshell, this site offers an interactive digital paper-doll experience. The interface is easy to use. Simply click on the wardrobe component your are interested in using and it appears on the accompanying doll.
Fairies are enchanting magical beings that many mortals would like to have the gift of seeing, and while I haven’t seen any fairies personally, I felt that I was one of the luckiest of mortals recently when I had the opportunity to become enchanted by two new DVDs from skilled, talented, and perhaps enchanting, dancers.
9-18-12 Layers and Levels, “Layers with Leyla”, “5-Layers from the Ground Up” with Nadira
If you are a dancer who loves dancing with the guidance of a choreography involving complex moves and intricate combinations (like me, for instance), then you are always on the lookout for the release of new DVDs about layering–in search of fresh new combinations that can enhance and advance your performances.
9-17-12 Goth Fantastique, Fantasy Bellydance: Magic DVD" by World Dance New York DVD Review by Martha Duran
This DVD is a good choice for dancers who are more into ritual, sacred, experimental, and related fusion forms of belly dance
8-16-12 Shahrazad at Large, Then, Now and…Forever?
I didn’t want belly dance to change. I used to be stuck on issues of authenticity and historical integrity but I think I’m not now. There are so many possible modern re-readings of belly dance, and there are no reasons why there shouldn’t be. But in any case, there’s no stopping things when they go viral.
8-15-12 Market Yourself with Michelle Joyce, RaqsTV.com Exclusive Content Streams to Your Screen-"Insider Secrets"
Unlike so many dance DVDs produced these days, the audience for Insider Secrets is not just any dancer. The information is aimed directly at the professional (and almost-professional) performer. Here Michelle Joyce acts as your personal mentor and guide to marketing topics, and she clearly knows a lot about the subject.
5-17-12 Fun with Fabric, Three DVDs for those with Fabric Festish Affliction, Kaishi Chai’s Expressive Belly Dance Veil, Jrisi and Devi’s Fan Veil Combinations, Veil with Aziza
If you’re like me, you have tubs of fabric and always see the “need” for more. But our love of fabric is NOT just manifested in our stashes and projects, it’s also reflected in our dance, our beautiful veil dance and more recently the fan veil dance. Each of these three DVDs offers something positive for different dance goals.
5-16-12 Gypsy Flair Romani Party! 2 DVDs with Fun and Energy in Mind! Ansuya's Istanbul Nights and Liz Strong's Turkish Roman Dance
I reviewed two very pleasant, fun DVDs, Istanbul Nights by Ansuya, and Turkish Roman Dance with Elizabeth Strong. Both DVDs have much to offer, and are surprisingly different from each other in their interpretation of Romani Dance and teaching styles.
4-4-12 Fire and Ice, Sugar and Spice! Mystic Moves With Ava Fleming and Hip-Notic Bellydance With Kaya
I have had the pleasure of reviewing two very good DVDs: Mystic Moves with Ava Fleming and Hip-Notic Bellydance with Kaya. Both dancers adhere to different styles of Cabaret or Oriental Bellydance, and I found their approaches both engaging and refreshing!
3-5-12 High Concept – High Style “Dangerous Beauties”, February 18, 2012, A Show Review
The entire production was moody, dark and intense; just the way a Dangerous Beauty would like it.
Rhythms of the Nile is one of the most important CDs in my library. While I have lots of instructional rhythm CDs, this is one of my top three – all the others are just collecting dust.
2-3-12 Conditioning and Floor work; Two Strong Strengtheners! Cassandra’s Conditioning Class, Ruby’s Flawless Floorwork,
It was with a bit of concern that I agreed to review these DVDs, as I have an extensive background in these topics.
1-19-12 Two Musical Sundaes with Dancers on Top, “Babelesque Live in Tokyo 2009”, Bellydance Superstars Series, “Dancers for Dancers, Volume 5”, produced by Cheeky Girls,
Two DVD’s. Two live shows. Two very different productions! It is hard to stand them side by side.
Honestly, I hadn’t expected to like this album (noodling has not been to my taste in the past), but I found it refreshing and rather healing, as the relaxation and delight shifted my state of mind every time I danced to it.
12-19-11 Ramzy's Take on Egyptian Classics for Dancers, “Best of Om Kolthoum and Mohammed Abdul Wahab”, “Best of Abdul Halim Hafiz, Hossam Ramzy and his Egyptian Ensemble” ,
I find this to be the best of all possible worlds, if you have a short workshop performance or an Arab event there is a selection suitable for you.
12-19-11 Are These the Droids You've Been Looking For? Two Pop & Lock Fusion DVDs Reviewed
I’ve seen some very groundbreaking, mindblowing blends of belly dance with modern, hip hop and world dances. But more often than not, I see dancers in an easily definable costume, dancing to easily definable music, without stylized movement. I believe it takes a balance of all three elements to achieve good fusion, with stylized movement being the strongest ingredient in any form of dance.
12-19-11 Learning to Dance the U.K. Way,
Hillary’s "Beginners’ Egyptian Dance" and Charlotte’s "Learn to Bellydance"
Strange names for movements used in the U.K. such as “snaky arms”, and the most repeated “wobbly walk” and “wobbly movement” in describing shimmies, as well as “quiver in your bellybutton” are off-putting.
The saxophone was popularized in beledi music starting in the 1970s. Although I wasn’t introduced to Middle Eastern music until the ‘80s, I believe the first recordings I happened upon featured Samir Sourour.
Through the process of comparing and contrasting these two DVDs, I learned that in our technical age, although there are many people out there that have knowledge that can and should be shared, production value really does count for something.
This caused me wonder: she states she improvises 99.9% of the time she performs, but how does she improvise her work while she performs on stage (if she likes it, she memorizes it?) and teaches it later in her workshops?
10-11-11 And Here’s a Work from…the Lovely Jenna DVD: "Bellydance, The Next Level"
When I’ve gone to Jenna’s classes, I noticed she had a knack for making the students comfortable with themselves while learning new steps. This persona still comes across on DVD.
9-18-11 Three CDs: Movie Music! "Domtekastan" The Darbuki Kings, "Cairo Blue" Sands of Time, "Cinematic" Zikrayat
In the case of their inserts, however, all three leave a little something to be desired. It often occurs to me that I’d like to know more about the artists and also would like more information about the music and songs they are playing.
Reviewers of Cory’s other DVDs have often complained that the quality of filming and lighting were not good. I didn’t find this to be a problem with Learn Belly Dancing. Although it’s not a slick production, you can see and hear everything you need to perfectly well. Cory has a clear, pleasant manner of speaking that is easy on the ear.
5-27-11 Listening with the Arabs, ASWAT's February 2011 Concert
The concert consolidated a much needed expression of hope, excitement, and pride. I felt lucky to be in the audience, to share solidarity, and to be exposed to songs novel to me.
4-29-11 A True Arabic Experience, November 2010 Arab Dance Seminar in New York City
His seminar emphasizes the cultural roots and context of this dance form; it is a form that is experiencing a disconnect as more dancers are entering the community through fusion and often not developing an understanding of its historical origins. Each seminar is themed to focus on a variety of elements within the culture, dance, and music of the Arab world.
4-17-11 Global Glances, Homage to Mahmoud Reda: A Life for Dancing, Full-Tilt Boogie presents: Belly – Sensual, Scarred, Sacred
As Unmata’s Amy Sigil observes, the dance is taking place in a kind of self-supportive bubble to which the general public is really irrelevant.
4-4-2011 Beginnings Made Easy: Basics, Improv, First Shows!
Cassandra, Tanna Valentine, and Nadira Jamal. While all three are classified as "basic" level videos, one is geared to the absolute beginner, another to the newer dancer ready to perform, and the third to the performer who is ready to graduate from choreography to improvisation; a dancer should take care to choose the correct one for her current developmental stage.
3-22-11 Taiwan Bellydance: 2 Events Are Perfect Ending for 2010, Nefertiti Bellydance Carnival & Bellydance Evolution
I admire those dancers participating in the production for their talents, skills, and artistic qualities, however, I feel the framework of story-telling compromises dancers from better expressing their love for this dance (or through it). They are acting through dance rather than dancing to the music.
3-16-11 Amera's Dina DVD Reviewed An evening of Arabic Dance and Music featuring World Renowned Belly Dance Artist DINA
Nonetheless, we need to move beyond her expressions. Her dance is Dina. She is agile, melodic, rhythmic, and her movements are so intertwined with the lyrics and the music that she exists as the music–always reaching out to us and, thereby, bridging the gap.
3-9-11 Off the Beaten Path Cory Zamora's "Belly Dancing for Seniors" & "Learn the Art of Male Belly Dancing"
However, I have a couple of issues with this DVD. One of my issues is that, other than stating the ages of the students (60, 63, 75) and making a fleeting mention of a few physical issues they have (problems with feet, back, etc.), there is not a great deal of material specific to senior dancers.
3-6-11 A Day of Middle Eastern Rhythms Taught by Adriane & Tezrah
The two workshops combined a brief tutorial in the history of rhythms, practicing skills, and learning new combinations. I received a solid foundation in identifying and developing a familiarity with Middle Eastern rhythms.
2-15-11 Turkish Dance DVDs: For the Birds? Danceuse by Asena" and "Sema Yildiz: Turkish Belly and Gypsy Dance"
I enjoyed her Roma dancing the most and felt that it would be amazing to watch Sema in person to experience all the facial and tiny pelvic movements.
2-11-11 Egyptian Classical Music: Entertainment or Education?
The Art of the Early Egyptian Qanun Vol. 1 & 2, performed byThe Traditional Arabic Music Ensemble & Egyptian Taqasim: Produced and distributed by Nesma
1-17-11 Get Down to the Root of it! Yasmina Ramzy's Asala I & II,
Ramsey's ability to show movements of grace and femininity comes across strongly by presenting the dance as respectable and as a valid form of dance expression.
Check our Review Archives for more!
9-7-10 Cult or Bellydance Class? Cartoon
"Pity those who do not study on our path, for they know not what they do not know!"
4-21-08 Strained Relations
Hi! Remember me? I'm your long lost cousin!
10-27-05 Gilded Serpent Awards or CERTIFICATE for Self Promotion!
Get your own Gilded Serpent award in any field you choose!
1-25-05 Intruder, BEWARE!
"How dare they pollute our pond!"
1-11-05 Romancing the Stonewall
"Hi, dear, can you send me a payment?"
10-30-04 Fill-'Er Up!
"I'm so glad you came to help me Theify!", Alexandria's Belly Dance Comicstm
8-2-04 A Whole Latte' Shaking Going On,
"Ok, I think we can stop now!"
6-24-04 Saving Grace,
"Could I sit here for a few moments?"
4-26-04 Class War-fair?
"I sprang from the forehead of Isis!"
2-29-04 You've Got Mail!
Female Clones from Zayda III are being killed and robbed of their family jewelry!
8-11-00-Yasmina's First Club Gig
"You're so beautiful! Wouldn't you like to audition to dance for us?"
10-19-99 Belly Dancer Paper Doll
Print this paper doll. Then color, cut her out and PLAY!
2-99 Fabulous Fritz's Adventures in Show Biz. Adventure #1
"I'm just a photographer, I don't know these women!"
? -99 Fabulous Fritz's Adventures in Show Biz #2
"I have just enough time to drive back..."