Breaks Its Silence
MECDA Belly Dance Carnival Director
note- The following article was a result of a request by the
editor to current MECDA president Janet Thomas that
the organization should let the community know the status of
the organization, clarify the events of the last year, and
confirm whether the annual MECDA festival in June is happening.
Rachel Soto responded with the following article]
proved to be a trying year for MECDA’s Central Board, the
New Year promises a great "old" event with a new name and new
ideas, and new plans to refocus itself on its members. As many
MECDA members may know, its long time leader and recent Vice
Schill, resigned from MECDA’s Central Board
November of last year. This marked the final blow in a string
events that caused confusion for MECDA’s members and grief
for the board.
the fall of 2006, after several complaints about vending at Cairo
Carnivale, two long time MECDA members launched a personal campaign
to persecute Marta Schill for their grievances. They attended
a Central Board meeting insisting that she had misappropriated
funds from MECDA’s account for her own personal use, and called
for her resignation.
were without proof and baseless, as Schill had no access to
MECDA’s accounts as the
vice president, and all spending must be approved by the Central
Board, with checks being written by the treasurer.
a committee of “Concerned MECDA members" sent out a
letter to MECDA members requesting that the members
give this committee permission to proxy their votes in the
upcoming Central Board elections. Many who received the letter
were confused, upset, and well, further concerned.
also some question as to how individual MECDA member’s personal
information was obtained so that this letter could be sent
A few of
the “Concerned” were nominated for office of MECDA’s Central
none of the "Concerned MECDA Members" were
voted into office. The newly elected board members, all of whom
have served MECDA in the past, continued to recieve correspondance
from certain "Concerned members", bordering on harrassment.
This began a rift not only with the "Concerned MECDA Members" and
other Southern California members, but also a rift within the
Central Board itself.
2007, Schill (then MECDA’s Central Board Vice President, and
director of Cairo Carnivale) discussed with MECDA President Janet
Thomas, the possibility of MECDA having its annual
event, Cairo Carnivale, trademarked.
agreed that this was a good idea, and Schill volunteered
to do the paperwork, presumably on the behalf of MECDA.
August 2007, Schill presented a proposal to the Central
Board asking permission of MECDA to obtain the Cairo Carnivale
for her own personal endeavor. The board refused the
that it could not afford to lose the amount of revenue
the event generated for the organization.
were further shocked when a
letter from Schill, dated November 5, 2007, circulated to previous Cairo
Carnivale vendors, telling them not to send their vending fees
to MECDA as there was no guarantee that the annual Cairo Carnivale
event would happen. She also sent documentation to Thomas showing
that she had trademarked Cairo Carnivale to herself as an individual.
At this time it was agreed that Ms. Schill would be removed
from office at the next board meeting to be held November 11,
2007. Schill resigned from office as Vice President of the
Central Board on November 7, 2007. At that time MECDA’s web
mistress also resigned.
episode stunned MECDA’s Central Board, and sent them scrambling
to ensure their dates with the Santa Anita venue (requiring
that MECDA use a different name for its event, not wishing
to be involved in any legal dispute for the Cairo Carnivale
name), to find a new web master, and to regroup regarding the
carnival and its name. Many of the board members had been friends
with Schill for many years, and were personally wounded by
her unexpected actions.
all of this going on in the last 12 months, its no wonder
our members are confused about whose running MECDA, wondering
if there will be a Cairo Carnivale, and what the heck is
going on in general! Well, MECDA has recovered, is moving
is excited to have new leadership for its Annual Belly
About Cairo Carnivale
many have fond memories of Cairo Carnivale, MECDA has decided
to leave the name behind! In addition to the potential financial
expenditure for legal fees for having the name Cairo Carnivale
returned to MECDA, the board feels that MECDA needs to sever
its ties to the dramatics of the last year, and move forward
in a positive light.
Part of the
new direction of MECDA is to put its members back in the driver’s
this process, MECDA is having a “Name This Event” contest. Any member can submit their suggested name(s)
for the annual event (deadline Mar 1). There is no limit to
the number of submissions a member can make. Once submissions
are in, MECDA will post the proposed names for the membership
to vote on. Until a new name is chosen,
the event will be referred to it as “MECDA’s Belly Dance Carnival”.
New name aside, it’s still the same great event
that MECDA’s Central Board has been hosting for over 23 years.
of the event, the Santa Anita Race Track, and its dates, June
7-8, are correct as advertised. While the new name will take
time to settle, the event planning is in full swing. MECDA
is working diligently to meet the changing needs of its membership
by including two Orientale based workshop instructors, and
two Tribal based instructors. Just booked are workshop instructors Sadie of
Farhana of Hollywood, Heather Stants,
director of Urban Tribal Dance Company from
San Diego, and Kassar, a
tribal duo from New Jersey. MECDA hopes
to continue to support the diversity of Belly dance by featuring
the latest and greatest instructors available.
vendors will be happy to know that the Annual Belly Dance Carnival
board has identified some areas to improve and is working towards
creating a pleasurable experience for both vendors and patrons. Rosemary
Humbert is the vendor chair this year, and she is
currently accepting vendor applications.
workshops, event pre-registration, and volunteer applications
will all be handled on-line using the EventBrite service. Performers
can contact Janet Chiapetta for a performance
spot. Its MECDA’s hope this will create a cohesive solution
for people who are Internet savvy. Of course, for people who
prefer to mail in their registrations, we will continue to
accept registrations and volunteer applications at our new
post office box.
MECDA's New Direction
MECDA is just getting started with its annual Belly Dance Carnival,
MECDA is keeping its eyes on the future. The board is aware that
a new direction is required for MECDA as an organization.
was no longer serving the original intent of the association,
and so MECDA must look for a new direction, one which is relevant
to the current needs of our membership.
begin by creating a membership budget which will outline the
expenses of member
mailings and benefits. MECDA is also taking a look at what
it can do to better serve its members. Suggestions such as
health insurance for members, teacher certification, and
a professional level of membership including business seminars,
and an annual conference are all being considered. With so
many changes and possibilities on the horizon, it’s an exciting
to be involved with MECDA.
a comment? Send us a
Check the "Letters to the Editor"
for other possible viewpoints! including-
Harry, Marta, and Anniitra Ravenmoon
for Middle Eastern Belly Dancers, Is a 501c3 Right for You? by
understanding the nature of non-profits, how they are organized
and run, you can see their potential for developing successful
arts organization, performance space, dance company or troupe.
Adventure " Prop til ya Drop" The San Francisco
Chapter of MECDA Gala Concert Dec 3, 2006 Reviewed
by Renee of Australia
A stage presentation is totally different from dancing
at a restaurant, party entertainment, school concerts, haflas and
At these venues you do not necessarily expect all of the above. The stage gives
dancers the opportunity to strut their stuff in an entirely different light.
First 30 Years , The Middle Eastern Culture and Dance
Association's Changing Role in our Community by Marta
however, often leads to dissention, and controversy flew regarding
the perception of the rather strict parameters of the Egyptian
Undermines Event Sponsor's Efforts, Interview with Dee
Dee Asad by Lynette
Open discussions of such issues will help dancers, musicians
and those people who surround and support them, to recognize similar
patterns in their own local environments.
Belly Dance:MECDA's Beginnings, Part 3:Tying Up Loose Ends,
by Samra /Sherifa,
The problem was that after the first strike, where the
issues were so clear cut –no one had been paid since the
owner gambled away our money, tip-sharing had just been instituted
-- people were unwilling to continue with strikes for getting contracts
all over town.
MECDA Began Part II, To Whom It May Concern by
Mish Mish El-Atrash
was very curious to hear what Fairuz had to say about how M.E.C.D.A.
began, as I was one of the original dancers to organize it.
MECDA Began by Feiruz Aram
(Middle Eastern Culture and Dance Association) is a nationwide
organization which began in 1977 for the purpose of organizing
working dancers, sharing information between teachers...
Vendor's View by Artemis
need to respect their vendors, not just for fees that they have
given them, but because without the vendors lining the room, where
is the color (other than on the stage), and where is the “bazaar”atmosphere
of the event?
Devil's Details, Show
Ethics for Professionals Part
5 - Beauty by
new dancers, mastering the art of glamour can be daunting. But take heart,
while internal sensuality requires character work, external beauty is easier
In The Streets; A History of Collective Joy”Authored
by Barbara Ehrenreich, A Book Recommendation by
her book, Barbara Ehrenreich takes one back to the original motivations
of dance along a historic journey of how human impetus to dance,
has been repressed by societal hierarchy, and religious zealots.