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Gilded Serpent presents...
Carnival of Stars
Bellydance & Comic Book Convention & Costume Contest

Event Sponsors Alexandria and Latifa

November 11 & 12, 2006
Centennial Hall, Hayward, California

Sunday Morning Panel Discussion
Transcribed from video by Allyson
Panel Members (L-R): Jihan Jamal, Shareen el Safy, Dahlena, Debbie Lammam, Amina Goodyear, Edwina Nearing

Several of the most knowledgeable and articulate voices in the US belly dance community discuss
the growing trend of fusion impacting oriental dance worldwide today -- for better, or worse?

Moderator: To start our quiet Sunday morning off, we’re going to throw some gasoline onto the flames by discussing fusion and traditional dance forms…something we all talk about all the time… So, let’s start off with the question, “How has music contributed to the phenomenon of fusion in Middle Eastern Dance?”

Dahlena: Much of the music that’s coming from Egypt and the Middle East now has a lot of fusion with Spanish music, and so that encourages the dancer to make fusion between Flamenco, Rumba and Middle Eastern music. Actually, the Rumba was taken from the Moors when they came through Spain. You can go back to Saudi Arabia and find the counter clapping, which is common to Rumba and Flamenco music. Of course it took on a different feeling, because that music went a different way.

Another one is the Indian influence, which of course, now they call Bollywood. I kind of think of the Indian and Spanish dancing and music styles as being like cousins to Middle Eastern dancing. And so, when you hear music like that, I think it’s okay to fuse them together as long as they blend, and one doesn’t overpower the other, and you still know it’s Middle Eastern Music. Now, when they add this kind of techno and hip hop kind of thing, again, you want the Middle Eastern dance movements to be the dominating thing. I have seen several groups that have fused this together and one of the better ones, I think, is the Urban Tribal Dancers of San Diego. They do a really nice job.

It’s sort of like, you hear this music, and you want to do something new to it, because it’s more modernized music, and my feeling is, as long as you keep the felling of the Middle Eastern movements, that’s okay.

Some of the moves some of the dancers make are a little too aggressive, too harsh, and then it loses the characteristics of Middle Eastern dance. My friend Bobby used to call it the helwah. If you lose the helwah, which is the sweetness of the dance, then it is a different dance. And so as long as you can keep that sweetness and that softness and still be aggressive at the same time, which is a tricky thing to do, then you have performed fusion successfully.

The music has influenced the change in the dance a lot, but now I’ve noticed that musicians are going back and taking the older, more traditional music and giving it a modern sound so we, as dancers, can still have the old traditional music in a modern context.

Moderator: Thank you, Dahlena.

Debbie Lammam: Regarding music, I would just like to relate an anecdote. In 2004, I went to Dallas when Mona Said came to the U.S. to teach. I’m sure you all know that Mona Said is one of the great Oriental soloists. She’s pretty much retired now, but she’s known for her exquisite musicality. In her workshop, she used exclusively pop music- things that were heavily Spanish influenced, you name it, it was a very global mixture of Arabic pop.

One very well known workshop teacher, who had come all the way from Canada, raised her hand and said, “Mona, why don’t you use more traditional music anymore? Where are the qanoons? Where are the ouds?”

To which Mona replied, “This is the music of now. The music is faster. It has a beat like this [snapping fingers] and the dance has to become faster. This is now.” And the woman said, ”What about Om Kalsoum?” and Mona said, “That is the past. This is the music of the future.”

You know, sometimes we have this idea that in Egypt, the people are bound to preserve tradition. They’re not really the bearers of orthodoxy. A lot of times those of us in the United States are more tied to what is traditional and authentic, whereas in Egypt they’re completely unafraid to embrace new things, global things. In some sense, I’m not even sure I like to hear someone like Mona Said say that Om Kalsoum is the past, but it is a very revealing statement. And also the fact that she embraces pop music and works with it almost exclusively in her workshops speaks to the fact that in Egypt, Middle Eastern dance is not viewed as a static art form.

Dahlena: I want to say one more really short thing. If you’re dancing for a Middle Eastern audience, like if you’re doing a function, or going into their home, and you use all modern music, they’ll say, “Well, why didn’t you use some Abdel Halim Hafez or some Om Kalsoum?” If you use all old music, they’ll say, “Why didn’t you use some modern music?” The best thing to do, in a performance for Middle Eastern people, to please them, is to do some of each. Do some of the traditional music and some of the modern music, because actually, they like both. You know, they have a sentimental attachment to the older music. I mean, I’ve been in clubs in Chicago, and when they start playing “Gana al Hawa,” everybody goes crazy, you know, and way more crazy than they do for the modern hip hop stuff.

Moderator: So you’re saying they want a fusion between modern music and old music?

Dahlena: Yes, but you have to know your audience. That’s what we’re here for, to please the audience.

Amina: As long as we’ve had modern Middle Eastern music, we’ve had fusion. The father of modern Arabic music Said Darwish, and Abdel Wehab and Farid El Atrache, they all had to fuse their music. They use Latin music, they use European music…they’ve used Russian music. I think, in fact, some of the songs, if you listen to them, sound like they’re just lifted off of other pieces. And if you look at Arabic, and especially Egyptian movies, you’ll see the dancers from the old fusing their traditional dance with this fusion music. They’ll be doing Spanish, they’ll be doing Russian, they’ll be doing African… they’ll do anything, and not necessarily in traditional Middle Eastern costumes. They like to innovate. If we do, we have to be careful what we do and let the audience still know that we know what the roots are so that we don’t look like we’re just playing with and dancing to music we don’t know. We have to preserve a certain amount of traditional dance roots, so that our audience will know that we are actually doing Middle Eastern dance. But in the Middle East, they like to fuse.

Edwina Nearing: Yes. I would say that in the U.S., at least, fusion music has been the norm for at least 100 years. We haven’t had real Middle Eastern orchestras generally. We’ve occasionally had mixed groups, especially on the East Coast, say a kanoum player from Syria, an oud player whose father came from Palestine, and who learned some folkloric songs off records his father brought form the homeland, working with a doumbek player from Turkey, et cetera, et cetera. That’s fusion music right there. A traditional Egyptian dancer would have had a very difficult time working with an orchestra like that, and many orchestras here have been American. Either second generation American of Middle Eastern extraction, subjected to American culture from birth with Western influences, or Americans who have learned Middle Eastern music as adults and learned from various traditions; everything from music composed for Egyptian movies of the 1940s, which was often heavily westernized, to that famous old bit [she starts singing an “Egyptian” tune everyone knows from childhood].

The main venue for Belly Dance in the ‘10s, ‘20s, and ‘30s was vaudeville. Often those orchestras, if they had a live orchestra, were for playing something on the organ along the lines of “Miserlou”, or, you know, anything that sounded vaguely Middle Eastern to them, or whatever had been identified with some film with a Middle Eastern setting. We’ve had fusion music from the beginning. Very few actual Middle Eastern dancers come here with a Middle Eastern orchestra from their country, performing to their music. Americans, in general, I’d have to say, don’t appreciate real Middle Eastern music. Even many people in the Belly Dance Community, as much as they like some belly dance music, even on recordings from the Middle East, they don’t like classical Middle Eastern music, or real Middle Eastern folkloric music, or anything except for pieces that were actually composed as belly dance pieces for specific belly dancers.

So we’ve had a tremendous mixture of music here; probably driven by public demand for the American public for Hollywood movie producers, et cetera, that often means music with virtually no Middle Eastern traditional musical content whatsoever. So, we’ve always had fusion music. The question is, where to draw the line. That’s a question in Belly Dance in general. What is Belly Dance?  What can we include under the umbrella of Belly Dance? Can Schikhatt dancing be called Belly Dance? Or Ghawazee dancing? Even though 100 years ago all belly dancers in Egypt were called Ghawazee. If Dina and Lucy were alive 150 years ago, they would have been called Ghawazee.

So we’ve had fusion here. It’s been driven by the public, usually the younger public, the less sophisticated public. Americans are conservative in their tastes. They generally don’t like Middle Eastern food. They like to call it “Mediterranean”. They like to call the bread “pee-tah”. The restaurants can’t serve things like sayadea or moussaka or makloova . They have to serve kabob, which is basically truck stop food in the Middle East.

So my point is, we’ve basically had fusion music and fusion dance in this country because we’ve had mostly American audiences. Even Middle Eastern audiences have been from all over the Middle East, not just from one country. Each area has it’s own tradition. Not only each country, but various parts of each country. Saiidi music is nothing like Cairo Belly Dance music. Professional Saiidi female dancers’ music is nothing like the music used by professional female dancers in Cairo.

Moderator: Thank you Edwina. That does actually bring us to our next question. “How much fusion works? When does it cross the line and become another form?  some of us claim to be dancing one style to one type of music, then we start mixing forms with different music, so when does it cross the line and become another form?”

Jihan Jamal: I’ll take this one. I totally agree with Edwina, and I believe that it has already. As she said, we didn’t really have that originality here, so everything we do is really fusion. To me, the real, real Arabic dancing is represented by Khayriyya from the Maazin family. That, to me, is the real, real Belly Dance in Egypt. I’m not familiar with Belly Dance in Turkey or other countries. To me, Samia Gamal and Tahia Carioka did a form of fusion. I mean, Tahia Carioka used to do Samba, hence the name. She used to do a lot of fusion herself, or she would make an attempt at what she thought Latin dances were all about. So this is not anything new. You create fusion , and we have every right in the United States to have what I call “American Belly Dance”. It’s more showgirl. It’s more glitz. It’s more stage production. It’s a lot different from some of the stuff I’ve seen in Egypt. But time, the purest form of the dance is what the Ghawazee do in Egypt. That is my opinion. It’s not gospel, but this is how I perceive it.

Souhair Zaki, who is my ultimate queen of Belly Dance, is part of that Arabic gypsy, not the tribal gypsy that we see here nowadays, or the gypsy that we see here which is a mix of many other forms. And to tell you the truth, the Arabs were in Spain for 800 years. I mean, hello, we have washahat. Washahat, which was created right there in the Middle East and Egypt. Washahat is the basis for rap music today. The format in Washahat is what they call Andalusian, which has nothing to do with Flamenco dancing, but has added so much to the music we have today. I embrace all those things.

I like to think I’m a traditional dancer, but I also know that I also like to mix things from my other backgrounds to my being. To me, the real, real dancer is the mother who’s at home cooking and Om Kalsoum comes on and she starts swaying to the music and she will maybe go into another room by herself, where she’s not seen, put on a hip sash and dance by herself. To me, that is pure tradition. Just the same as the woman in Miami putting on Salsa music form Cuba and all of a sudden that feeling comes up, and she puts on the music and dances…. That’s traditional. Once we are embracing another culture and creating our own art form, to me, that is fusion.

Dahlena: I want to say something regarding what Jihan was saying. All of us have experienced different things in different parts of the country, and what a lot of people don’t know…. a lot of Americans think that Belly Dancing came from teachers at the YMCA and videos from Egypt.

Belly Dancing in this country started in the Syrian neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Massachusetts. The music was pure and the dancers were pure. There was not the mixture that everyone’s talking about now.

I’d like to put some of the music from Syria on now, because it’s some of the purest music. It’s called Halab music. It’s from Halab [ed- Aleppo]. But when you watch the women do the home style dancing and that type of thing, you pick up the characteristics of what we call the people’s dance. When I first started working in the clubs, we sat on chairs in front of the orchestra, and the orchestra was behind us. The audience was all Middle Eastern; this was before we started dancing for Americans and so the dance took on an evolution when we started dancing for Americans. It had to become more stylized and more showy to present to Americans. But there were places in Massachusetts, especially in Boston, there were two or three clubs that were basically mixed. They did mix them with Armenians, and the Armenians in Massachusetts don’t object to playing Turkish music. So they did play some Turkish music, but they played a lot of music from Syria, because they have large communities of both. And so their music was not mixed so much at the time, and that was in the late ’50s and early ‘60s. When it started mixing into American nightclubs is when more of this fusion thing started happening.

Edwina Nearing: One bad example of fusion music in one word: Turkey. How many of you have bought a Turkish video tape lately? And what do you think of what you’re seeing on it? I bet you don’t have a lot of Turkish tapes in your video collections. I was in Turkey in the ‘70s. Turkish dancers were using mainly live music, mainly Turkish music. In the ‘80s, they were starting to go to taped music, and some of the taped music was Egyptian performed by Turkish orchestras in a kind of watered down dead Egyptian. They didn’t have quite the feeling for streta effects for the dynamics for the percussion and so forth. But the Turks were dancing to Egyptian music. Then Karsilama started getting thrown out of a lot of Turkish acts, because it doesn’t go in with Egyptian very well. And then in the ‘90s, we had Turkish dancers dancing not only to mostly taped music, but even Western music. Some of you who really collect videos may have some videos with Burcon Orhan on them, even Karina Barana and even Carol Burke’s classical redo of a Medieval European suite of songs, and other Western pieces. And now you see what we’ve got in the 2000s. What do they call them now?… not go-go dancers, but most of it doesn’t look much like Belly Dance and the music… they’re not relating to the music.

The Turks seem to have lost the willingness, or the impetus, or whatever to demand that the dancer work with the music and that the dancer and the music and the audience all work together.

Something gets lost there, and whatever it is that gets lost there, seems to be what comes in with fusion. It’s gone beyond the limits of what most of us in the Belly Dance Community, which is not the dance Community in America, are able to tolerate. We are a limited community, and we have to realize that we’re not speaking for dancers in general, and there are different Belly Dance Communities in the Belly Dance Community; so that gets very complicated. But, Turkey is a really good example of what happens when a lot of techno and modern and foreign music and Western music inundates whatever has traditionally been the native form of music used for Belly Dance in a given country.

There are still good Turkish Belly Dancers in Turkey working to Turkish music, but they’re very, very hard to find. It’s changed very much, and that’s documentable on video tape, and thus there are dancers in this country working to pure forms of music, such as a dancer from a certain area of the Middle East working with musicians form her area. I’m certain that there have been, in various times and various places, by luck, where you have a community of Middle Easterners from a certain part of a certain Middle Eastern area, getting together and wanting to see their dance to their music. You have that. On the other hand, in 1889, you have Fatua the American West, whose life-sized oil painting is in the Bird Cage Theatre in Tombstone,

Arizona, working, if I remember right, to piano music. So, like I’ve said, we’ve got everything.

Shareen el Safy: Just a quick agreement, basically, on every point Edwina was saying.

I think that we do have a problem when it comes to so much fusion, and especially the techno/rap sound, in that by adopting Middle Eastern movements to these pieces, not only are we forsaking the culture that the dance came from and all of its subtleties and complexities, is that the movement we can do to that music is very limited, and we’re not really able to dig in deep to express the emotional content of the music, to express the subtleties and complexities of the thinking of the Middle East, the culture itself and all the art forms from the Middle East.

Being able to pull out of ourselves the real truth, the real embodied response to the music. The [techno/rap] music doesn’t give you enough to respond to. Not to say that it’s not entertaining or dramatic or flashy or any of those things. In fact, a lot of it is, kind of, I feel, digitally inspired. A lot of the movement that comes out of that kind of music is more digital. It looks more like what you would see technically produced.

But we’re talking about an emotional dance, a richness in the music that has some 300 maqams in it so each of those maqams, each of those scales, helps to create sensation and chemical changes in the body, and experience in the body of the dancer. That’s why I feel it’s so beautiful, is that it has great depth, great complexity, and it’s got layer upon layer of life. You can’t squeeze that much feeling out of some of this new music.

Moderator: The increasing commercialism of the dance has changed our sensuality into a marketable sexuality. has this influence led to a more competitive art form?

Jihan Jamal: I see a lot of this now. I believe I am a sensual dancer. I’m a very sensual woman by nature, no matter how big or small I am, but what I see in the dance now is the competitiveness to see who can wear the less clothing, who can show off more of their body, and you know, you work so hard, and there’s so much plastic surgery and stuff like that, and yes, you should be able to show it off, but that’s not what I learned from Middle Eastern Dance, where you can be very sensuous, very feminine, but not have to give everything visually. Leave something to the imagination too. The changes in the music, as Shareen was saying, the new music doesn’t allow for those nuances that we’re used to with older music. So it becomes more jerky movements, and stuff like that, and this visually can be very exciting, but it also takes away form what I love about my style of dancing. And trust me, I can do that too. I can put on the hip hop music, warm up my class, and it’s fun. Why not do it? But once I’m on the stage, I feel like I have a certain responsibility to represent the dance as I know it to be. I believe there’s a lot of competitiveness out there among the dancers.

I was saying something before about my queen Souhair Zaki. She’s a wonderful traditional dancer, but even in her own styling, she has also adopted things from the modern world. I adore Dina from Egypt. Everyone out there familiar with Dina?… in the mini skirts? Dina, to me, is a great technician, and she has a great feeling. I don’t necessarily agree with the way she dresses on the stage, but that’s my personal thing. I think she’s a wonderful dancer, she’s also a “traditional” dancer, but she has gone beyond that. Souhair Zaki once said, “Remember when we all looked like Queens and Princesses on the stage?”

This is what I feel now with a lot of the costuming. It’s not about the dance anymore, it’s about a particular look. Like if you go to into some clubs in Miami, not that I do clubs, but you have to have a certain look, or they won’t let you in the door.

I don’t care how much money you pay up front, and I’m sure you experience the same thing here. But this has become more a sexual performance, you know, on the stage, it has more to do with your look than with the dance itself, and that is when it starts to lose it for me.

Dahlena: I want to make a quick comment to add to what happened to the Turkish dance. The second year I was dancing, I moved into other areas, and we danced with a lot of Turkish dancers from Turkey… again they brought their own musicians with them. That’s where I first experienced the commune, and they had their drummers, and so it was a different feeling. It was sharper, and they had that Asia Minor sound. A great and soulful feeling, and the dancers at that time were very energetic dancers, wonderful dancers. But what happened to the Turkish dancers that they were popular in this country. Marak Soume brought a lot of dancers here from Turkey, and placed them in different places here after they learned to speak a little bit of English.

But after that generation of dancers faded away, what happened in the Middle East is that the good Turkish dancers learned to dance to Arabic music so they could dance in the Emirates and different places like that, because Turkey did not fully accept Belly Dancing as part of their folklore or culture, like the Egyptians did. They still looked down at it like it was really low class, so the better dancers started wearing Egyptian costumes and learning Egyptian music, so they could dance in the Arab Emirates and Egypt.

So, that form of dancing, the Turkish dancing in the ‘60s,is almost non-existent. I will say though, I’ve watched some of the better Lebanese dancers on video, and some of the old Turkish steps will show up in some of the Lebanese dancers. The rest of it is gone. The fear that I have is that the same thing may happen to the Egyptian dance, and not because of the Americans, but because the Americans follow what the Egyptians do. Now if the Egyptians go too far the other way, the American girls are going to say, “Well, I saw this in Egypt and this is it.” So, I don’t know how we can keep that from happening, but there it is.

Debbie Lammam: I’d like to say that something about that because I think there’s something only we can do. We can’t control the migration of popular culture across global boundaries anymore thanks to satelite TV, Christina Aguilera, and Shakira, but what we can do as dancers is be as educated as we can about the historical record. I mean listening to Edwina and Dahlena talk about the history of the dance in this country starting form Syrian neighborhoods, and you know, Tombstone, Arizona, that’s one aspect of it, dance in Egypt in the modern era is another aspect of it, there are so many ways we can be educated as dancer, and that way, at least, we know what kind of context we’re innovating against. And so I take that responsibility very seriously, because otherwise we’ll lose a sort of baseline understanding.

Souhair Zaki, to me, is the exemplar of a fine Oriental soloist. She has the emotional nuance, the technical control, the eternal femininity the the dance represents at its best. So, as long as we keep Souhair Zaki in our minds, then no matter how far we go into Gothic Belly Dance or Rhonda Kamal doing a Brazilian shimmy, we’ll remember that, and that’s our responsibility. It’s all we can do to be as educated as we can about the historical record.

Amina: I agree. Souhair Zaki was my queen in the ‘80s, and I still look back to her.

Dahlena: Egyptian dancers were the first ones to be on film, so they’re the ones that people saw the most, but there were some wonderful dancers who came out of Syria. In Syria, they have a gypsy culture. They play music, they dance… In fact, the Saudi singers would come to Syria to pick up dancers to dance on the stage with them to do the Gulf Dances, because their own women could not do that. There is a whole culture of Syrian gypsies that are wonderful performers and musicians. There are some of them on a video called “The Great Unknowns”, and I look at them and know they’re from Syria, because I can tell by their movements.

Shareen el Safy: I just want to say that as much as we know about the Middle East, we need to tell other people how wonderful the culture is, because here in the United States, we seem to forget that the Middle East is some place to be enjoyed instead of being feared.

Moderator: These ladies have left us all with a lot of food for thought. Thank you all.     

Panel member bios- Many have more information and links to their sites on their "GS bio pages"

  • Amina began dance classes soon after she had started her family, back in the ‘60s. She was taught by a dancer at the Bagdad Nightclub in North Beach and remembers the music as being incredible. What changed her dance style, and her understanding of the dance, was seeing an Egyptian dancer, Fatima Akef, perform. She began to see the differences in the styles, and studied with Fatima. Amina has visited Egypt many times, and she studies not only the songs and music, but the language, which has a direct bearing on the understanding of the dance subtleties. Amina refers to herself as an Egyptian style dancer.
  • Shareen El Safy, has taught and performed on five continents in sixty major cities throughout the U.S. She has been honored with many awards. Shareen was invited to present a workshop and performance of Egyptian Dance at the ICHPER World Conference in Cairo in 2000. During the 1988-92 summer seasons, Shareen performed in Cairo’s nightclubs. She has also led numerous Dance/Study Tours to Egypt. She co-produced the 1st and 2nd International Conferences on Middle Eastern Dance, in 1997 and 2001. Shareen was Publisher/Editor of Habibi Magazine. She continues to teach, present her weeklong retreats, perform, research, produce instructional videos, and lead her Dance/Study Tours to the Middle East.
  • Dahlena Master Instructor , Choreographer and Performer   Dahlena's dance teaching methods, professional performances, and artistic attitude toward Middle Eastern dancing have been widely acknowledged from coast to coast during the past thirty years. Her early ballet training in Portland, Oregon resulted in engagements that took her to Boston and New York where she met the Middle Eastern dancers, Princess Yasmina from Algeria and the Jamal Twins from Egypt. She was attracted by the slow, sinuous, and beautiful movements and by the mood-setting music. Although she is an American, her unusual ability to perform the Middle Eastern dance earned her a reputation in many cities - including Las Vegas where she was asked to choreograph a show. Dahlena has taught master classes and been a guest teacher at numerous colleges and universities. She divides her time between touring and stays in Chicago, Illinois and Yuma, Arizona. In 1975, Dahlena authored the instruction books, recordings and numerous videos. Before her teaching career, Dahlena danced for many years in ethnic night clubs all across the country. She lived and performed in the Middle East and parts of Europe, and directed and choreographed for three different dance companies. Dahlena met Ibrahim Farrah while working in a Sacramento, California night club in 1964. Soon thereafter, they began performing as a dance duo throughout California and Oregon. The Friendship they formed lasted until Bobby's death in February 1998.
  • Debbie Lammam is originally from Austin, Texas, but now makes her home in San Francisco. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. In her senior year, she received the Rappoport-King Fellowship to conduct research for a senior thesis project analyzing the aesthetic relationship between Arabic music and dance. She has performed in numerous theatrical venues and seminars throughout the country.
    Debbie has held the position of program manager for Dance Brigade’s Dance Mission Theater, a multicultural dance school and theater in San Francisco’s Mission district, since August 2001. . An active member of the San Francisco arts community, she recently joined the nominations committee of the Isadora Duncan Dance Awards (Izzies), and continues to read and study widely in the fields of dance ethnography, dance history, and ethnomusicology.
  • Jihan Jamal is an internationally respected dance master who has been performing and teaching Near and Middle Eastern dance styles throughout the United States, U. S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Egypt and the Czech Republic, nearing 28 years.  In 2002, Jihan achieved one career-long dream, performing for the first time in Cairo, Egypt at Raqia Hassan’s “Ahlan Wa Sahlan” Dance Festival. Since, she returned to Cairo in 2005, fulfilling another career-long dream, teaching as well as perform, at the “AWS” 6th Annual International Dance Festival.  Mrs. Jamal will be returning, as teacher and artist, to the AWS in June, 2006. Jihan's constant goal as a performer and teacher is to represent the beauty of the Arabic dance culture with dignity, elegance and pride.
  • Orientalist/Journalist, Edwina Nearing majored in Near-Eastern Studies at University of California Berkeley & American University of Beirut, and has lived and traveled extensively in the Middle East since 1968. Past Middle Eastern Affairs Editor for Habibi Magazine, writing under the name, "Qamar El-Mulouk" , her book length series, "The Mystery of the Ghawazi" is considered an important contribution to the body of knowledge on Middle Eastern Dance.
  • Moderator: Heather Jordan-Wellman


Have a comment? Send us a letter!
Check the "Letters to the Editor" for other possible viewpoints!

Ready for more?
5-5-05 Initiating Dance Dialogue: Current Trends, The Panel Discussion at Carnivals of Stars Festival, transcribed from video by Andrea, Panel members included: Heather as moderator, Monica Berini, Shira, Barbara Bolan, Amina Goodyear, Debbie Lammam.

5-5-05 Carnival of Stars Holiday Dance Festival and Comic Book Convention Photos by GS Staff
A new festival held on Nov 14, '04 produced by's at Centennial Hall, in Hayward, California, which included a panel discussion, raffle, costume contest, and famous comic artists, along with the usual dancing and vendors.

12-30-06 I Dance; You Follow by Leila
As Westerners interested in an Eastern dance form, we might want to ask ourselves if we are missing certain critical aspects of Raqs Sharki because we are not open to Eastern teaching methods.

12-26-06 Teaching at the 2006 Ahlan Wa Sahlan Cairo Festival by Leyla Lanty
Performing on teachers' night is a good way for new teachers to attract more students to their classes.

12-18-06 My Moment with Nagwa by Ahava
While dancing I kept eye contact with the judges and guests of honor. I still remember their mannerisms and what I perceived to be their glares. Randa and Dr. Mo were conversing and smiling contently, Faten and Zahra were clapping. Also, there sat Nagwa Fouad, “Queen of Cairo!”

12-15-06 Queen of the Bay Bellydance show and Competition June 17, 2006 Photos by Michael Baxter,
Event Sponsored by Shabnam and Maurice in Oakland, California.

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