I love your website! The comics are especially close to my heart.
Please sign me up for the monthly notice. Namaste.
re: Mena in Iraq
it is sad that meena would become a benefactor of the war with iraq.
i always wonder when i see belly dancing events how their is a lack
of concern for the people who's dance they are emulating. To think
right now iraq people are starving and american corporations and their
employees are prospering. anyone interested in the truth should turn
to 94.1 kpfa.
re: Mena in Iraq
I am ok. A little shaken as we have had some mortars or rockets land
close enough to our living quarters to shake loose light fixtures
and leave us feeling a bit jumpy. No one has been hurt, thank heavens.
I am very touched and grateful for the support I have been getting
from total strangers and sisters in dance. My heartfelt thanks to
all! I do have another article almost finished. *fingers crossed*
Take care, thanks again
re:Day 9 @AWSF
in Cairo by Shira
It is with great delight I read and viewed the pictures from Shira's
report. After the negative and personally upsetting report
from Andrea. I found it great to re live one of the best nights
of the festival, a whole group of women who danced for sheer pleasure
no agenda's attached. Morocco
should be full of pride as all the women who danced that night were
fabulous. The festival is one of the few times in a dancers life that
they can achieve
the ambition of performing in Egypt to Egyptians. Thanks for sharing
re:Mystery Dancer #1: Iklas
Wow! I enjoy finding vintage photos of America's early Raks Sharqi
entertainers. What a treat the Iklas info was.
re: Desert Dance Festival 2004 report
by Nisima, photos by Monica
Nisima bemoans the lack of attendance here. It seems like that everywhere
there is ALOT going on. I think there is so much these days to choose
from on the coasts. Here in New England there are 2 or 3 events a
weekend within easy driving distance and more if you include ethnic
community events. Also, it seems that everybody is vending at events
and on-line. Most teachers vend too now. I know this hurts the long-time
vendors and drives prices down. So when the free-market forces engage,
it'll quiet down and there will be less available and more people
at fewer events.
Also, maybe belly-dancers
are tired of belly-dance events? Just speaking for myself, I have
cut way back. I am tired of student showcases and haflis with politically
motivated reasons for including dancers and events with too many dance
shows and not enough open dance time. On the economic front, my disposable
income is down because of the cost of living going up and income staying
flat or decreasing. Here, there is the cruel reality of competing
with a glut of new belly-dancers who dance for practically nothing.
I think working dancers who tend to self-support their dance habits
are really hurting not to mention the brave few who eke out their
existences on belly-dance income. When belly-dance goes back underground
maybe there will be more for all of us. Just my opinions.
re: Sunday Afternoon at the Desert Dance Festival '04, Report by Nisima,
Photos & Captions by Monica, Page 1
..isnt the key too the non attendance in gilded serpents past articles
i know its been discussed on bhuzz.com. ..from what i have read on
g s , is that people are tired of spending money on the entrance ticket
to see "student night"..their words now, ive never been
too this event..but i found it odd to read this, since the answer,
i read awhile back on the same site
blessed be, zamora s
re:God Belly Danced: Biblical
Accounts of Belly Dancing in the Ancient Near East Part 1 of 3 By
I just found your articles on Biblical References to Belly Dance and
must thank you for posting them. I am a devout Catholic and I have
a passion for Belly Dance. In my mind I have never seen a problem
because I feel that God put the passions in my heart and it gives
him great joy to see me dance. Which became even more pronounced to
me as I danced through my first pregnancy, labor, and birth. However,
when Catholic or Christian friends and acquaintances of mine hear
that I Belly Dance they are always shocked and I often get questions
about how I live my faith while participating in Belly Dance. I’ve
always stumbled around with my answers unable to put my feeling into
words. Now after reading the articles, not only do I feel added confidence
in my explanations but, I also have direct biblical references for
the skeptical. I am not on a quest for a dance name that reflects
re: Art, Activism &
Magic: Krissy Keefer In Her Own Words by Debbie Lammam
In response to this inspiring aticle and interview on the work of
the Dance Brigade, I must say that as director of Dancers of DeNile,
I have frequently, during the last 15 years, used M.E. Dance as a
vehicle for making political or spiritual statements with lots of
humor. Titles such as SnowWhite (the denial in people who are looking
for relationships in self defeating ways), or Rain Forest Crunch (destruction
of our environment), The Bottom Line (corporate control of our lives),
or Chocolate as a Spiritual Path (addiction) are examples of very
funny, very successful pieces we've performed using the belly dance
vocabulary to address serious issues. I always referenced Culture
Clash or Slick Rick's amusing, political raps as
my inspiration since humor reaches people easier than harangue.
Keep up the great work!
re: The North Beach Memories
I wrote to you about a year ago asking if you would still be making
additional stories for the North Beach Scene. I am Asmahan,
I was inspired by Bal Anat at the Renaissance Faire and studied
with Jamila Salimpour.
I first danced at the Greek
Taverna and then worked for two years at the
Casbah with Fadil
Shahin. I danced with Rhea,
Aida, Selwa, Safia, Princess Samia Nasser,
and Raina. I have some great photos.
I worked with Jalal
and Saleh Takesh as
well. I left San Francisco in 1976 to work in London. I have lived
in London ever since. I have danced extensively in Cairo and danced
in the most prestigious venues there.You may read my web page: asmahan.co.uk.
I would still like to contribute my memories of this wonderful period.
web page is a treasure. The vast information is amazing and the contributors
are very brave in their opinions.
re: Undercover Belly Dancer in
Iraq by Meena
I want to thank you for the article by Meena describing
what the situation is like in the Green Zone from a woman-contract
worker and former dancer's viewpoint. Mostly what appears on the news
is told from the (mostly) male reporter's perspective. It's good to
hear from a sister in dance about what her reaction has been to events
on the ground.
Meena is a courageous person, and I admire her frankness about the
sad deterioration of dance in Baghdad. I hope that she will continue
to relay further stories about the civilian side of the ongoing conflict
in GS. Inshallah.
Luise Perenne BFA
re: Raqia's Cash Cow by Andrea
Thank you for sharing Andrea's Egyptian experience with us as it was
well-written and I got a lot out of it. I know Andrea from years ago
when we were both taking classes from Amina
in San Francisco. I personally went to Egypt in 1997 and 1998 but
I was quite new to Raks Sharki so I was not able to express what I
saw very well to others when I returned. I also saw Dina
perform when in Egypt and was not highly impressed and also thought
her performance had more to do with 'sex' as Nagwa
put it. I saw Fifi Abdo perform and did very much
enjoy her dancing. I have thought about going to the Ahwlan Wa
Sahlan festival but I have been hesitant as I wondered about
how much I could get out of such large dance classes. I still prefer
Amina's small and cozy dance classes here in San Francisco (even though
I don't make it that often)! Lastly, I would love to encourage Andrea
to organize a future group trip to Egypt for dancers as I would be
interested and I think she would be a wonderful guide! I think the
biggest benefit of my trips to Egypt was seeing how regular Egyptians
dance which I had the wonderful opportunity to experience. I do believe
in the importance of keeping Raks Sharki alive and well.
re: Undercover Belly Dancer in
Iraq by Meena
About half an hour before seeing Meena's article posted on GS, I heard
on NPR that there had been bombing and several American deaths in
the Green Zone today...what was especially disconcerting was that
they mentioned the Green Zone Cafe by name, as Meena mentions it in
her article---and it was the location of one of the suicide bombers
an article on the blasts from CNN. It mentions that 4 DynCorp
contractors from the US were killed, and over 20 injured. I hope all
is well and safe with Meena, and my thoughts are with her.
9-29-04 re:BDSS concert in Berlin
Dear Gilded Serpent,
I wanted to send you a short report about the performance of the
Bellydance Superstars in Berlin last Monday evening September
27th, 2004. There has been a lot in the press about them and of course
here in Germany we have been waiting with anticipation to see the
performance. As Beata and I organize performances
and tours ourselves, we know what is behind such a production and
such a level of perfomance. Of course, it is very easy to crititzise
other dancers if you are sitting down in a chair watching a video
or having coffee with friends. It is another thing altogether to get
up and work hard in order to achieve what these dancers have.
I must honestly say that I was very impressed at the level of professionalism
that I saw on that stage on Monday. All dancers were in good shape,
showed strong dance training and a professional approach to oriental
dance which is something sometimes lacking in bellydance circles.
I was very happy to see bellydancing presented in such a venue and
I think that the tremendous effort from these women is beneficial
to all of us because we are now acknowledged from the general public
in a new way.
Regardless of the fact that my personal taste in music differs to
that of Mr. Miles Copeland, I felt that Jillina
did an excellent job in creating choreographies to that type of music.
Since Mr. Copeland is not a dancer himself, he cannot possibly understand
the essence of oriental dance, something that takes at least a few
trips to Cairo to achieve. Therefore, I felt, there were some fundamental
elements missing in the show. At the end of the performance I was
sorry that I didnt see a "solo oriental", a good solid "baladi"
and a dramatic song by Um Kalthoum danced by a woman
alone. I felt that Jillina was very diplomatic in the way that she
choreographed her position in the group dances, positioning herself
not always in the center although I think her place is in the center.
All and all, it is not the fault of the dancers if there are some
essential oriental dance elements missing, after all they are hired
to fulfill a position which they do well. It would be the Job of Mr.
Copeland to either get information on the subject or trust someone
who does. I want to extend my congratulations to Jillina for her talent
as a dancer/choreographer and dancers as well as all the wonderful
performers of the Bellydance Superstars.
Miles Copeland's response
re:Raqia's Cash Cow
If you want to see a "Cash Cow" US style take a look at
Rakassah. Makes the Egyptians look like amateurs. Next time you are
at a workshop with "NAME" count the heads, multiply the
dollars and go figure.
re:Raqia's Cash Cow
Two thumbs up and a HUGE Zaghareet to Andrea for
this very candid article. This is EXACTLY what I have been saying
all along in everyone of the Yahoo! Groups I subscribe to as well
as in other Middle Eastern Dance Groups. Notice that Andrea stopped
after Lucy as have the real Raks Sharki. Actually,
I stop after Fifi Abdou and that includes Lucy. Up
to and including Fifi Abdou, what we had was real Raks Sharki. After
her, I see a deterioration of the dance. Although I recently met Andrea,
I only now read her article in Gilded Serpent and am so extremely
glad that she wrote candidly about the dance in Egypt. She took the
words right out of my mouth; I could not have nor have ever said it
better. And if you go through each and every one of my online posts,
she reiterates exactly what I say. Perhaps there is some hope for
this dance after all. And Andrea . . . when you get an answer from
let me know. I'd be interested in what she has to say.
Sausan Academy of Egyptian Dance
re:Belly Dance Comics, A Sour
Note by Alison McKellar
On "Sour Note" by Alyson, here's my comment:
NO MORE, PLEASE.
re:A Rug Story by Justine
In her fun article about finding the perfect rug, Justine says, "Since
we live with two cats and three Shelties, I knew a hand-knotted pile
rug was not practical, any handmade rug was not practical." Nonsense!
never underestimate the power of a good rug! my handmade, hand-knotted
pile rugs do just fine, and I live with two cats and two English Mastiffs
(130-150 pounds each).
Now, I don't deny that an occasional chewing session has caused damage,
but trust me, the damage would have been worse to a woven rug!
Anyhow, Justine, next time you go to Turkey, don't limit yourself!
thanks for the fun article.
re: Day 6 - The
I have been attending
all festivals from the very first one and I agree to everything stated
in the article.It is true that all the best places in shows are always
reserved to arabs and it is difficult to find a place and very difficult
too to see the dancers properly.
The second time that the Festival took place in the Sheraton I did
not arrive to eat neather in the openning nor in the closing gala.
I spoke to Raqia about it and she told me that "most of the people
served too much food and that was why other people had nothing left"
The following year I found that nothing had been changed as it was
the same fight to get a place and to get some food..Since then I take
something from home and I eat it in my room in the openning day, and
for the last one I also take care to dinner before the gala starts
or I avoid attending it and so saving 60 USD.
re:Day 8 - Side
Just to clarify that the travel agency in the Oberoi was Rocca Travel
(the same one than last year). Misr Travel was the Festival travel
agency when it took place in the Hilton Hotel in 2002.
re:Bellydancer of the Year 2004
Thanks for putting the photos up of the finals. Will there be more
photos from the other categories? I always enjoy the colorful and
"real" commentary that has always been posted with the Pageant
photos -- will we get to see any?
we only made it to the one event this year. Anyone interested in covering
events for GS, should contact
me! Thanks, l]
A big Hello! to you all at Gilded Serpent and to all other Oriental
dancers on this site.
I am always bowled over by your wonderful, informative, stimulating
articles and letters! The "Dina
in LA" article was really good, with some fantastic photos...aww,
guys, wish I could've been there. And I am really enjoying Shira's
article on the Ahlan
Wa Sahlan festival, again, fantastic photos of Cairo and dancers...I
CAN'T GET ENOUGH OF IT!!!!!!!
I will be sending you an article (it's been a long time comin'!) shortly,
I will be thrilled if you publish it.
Good wishes, and keep up the good work on your wonderful site,
ps. Can I say Hi! to Aziza
(from Oregon) xx
re:Rhea's Travel to Syria - Part
Beirut may well have been know as the "Paris of the Middle East,"
but that was in the 1960's, before the Palestinian occupation and
war with Israel in the 1980's, and the recent Syrian occupation. For
a brief history and some photos, see this web page: http://www.lgic.org/english/eng-mainphotos2-beirut.htm
re: Susie's letter
Sweetie, did you read
the review? It is, for the most part, a positive one, while critiquing
two elements that you and other reviewers have addressed in the past
(and using language in far more respectful manner than the reviews
you've written when a performer or show did not meet your expectations):
* Did the performers engage the audience? Suhaila, yes, the background
* Did the show's presentation match the story the show advertised?
Nope - which seems to be a sticky wicket for belly dance shows in
general. So I'm glad I didn't exert the effort commuting from Modesto,
spending gas, S.F. parking, and ticket money on a show that failed
to deliver the story it promoted, as well as re-hashed past Rakkasah
performances. (Can you image what MY review would have been like?)
I concur that
Suhaila can be a spectacular dancer, and has made many contributions
to the performance community, and yes, there are those who don't appreciate
that. But in the end, she is a performer. She is subject to review
when she takes the stage. We all are, otherwise, it would not be art.
aka Za'Zahn the Dragon.
“Sheherezade” review by Perizad
I did not see Sheherezade. I did not go to see it because I have seen
several of Suhaila's performance in the past few years at both Rakkasah
and Desert Dance. I am not impressed.
I found her dancers technically good but devoid of any emotion either
about the dance or the music. The costumes can be described as skimpy
at best, and the choreography with women crawling around on the floor,
Suhaila crawling all over her violinist during a takseem, neither
uplift nor promote the good side of belly dancing. In fact, I found
them downright tacky! I am sure Suhaila is trying for something different.
And different is fine, as long as one respects the dance and the women
who do it. When I attend shows and festivals, I want to see good dancers
-- not acrobatics and a carnival.
Maureen Dixon (Neran)
re: Susie's letter below
I did not attend Suhaila’s “Sheherezade”
but I TRAINED 20 years ago with Jamila first and
then Suhaila, Aida and Rashid; it
was all “Salimpour Method”. There are early Suhaila choreographies
that I still enjoy performing because they are such joyful and classic
representations of Suhaila’s early style. Do I appreciate the
great syncopated hipwork and organized numerical zil technique that
was the hallmark of Salimpour technique and method at the time? Yes,
of course. Do I think that technique, reputation and hard work down
the years entitles Suhaila to rave reviews each and every time she
and her troupe steps on stage? No, of course not. Each live performance
has to stand on its own merits, past reputation is just that, PAST,
and irrelevant the split second the performer steps on stage, especially
for a live performance!
So, if Perizad,
as a dancer, had criticisms of Suhaila’s Sheherzade show she
attended, that is her right. It doesn’t mean she is “nitpicking”
as Susie Poulelis states in her letter. I also do take issue with
Susie’s statement that “negative people in the belly dance
community” are “trashing Suhaila”. Negative and
positive opinions are what make attendees an AUDIENCE! And, all performers
know, or should know, that taking the risk the audience simply will
not “like”” what they see on stage, however well-intentioned
and hard-rehearsed the performers may be, just goes with the territory;
it’s show biz, folks!
Yours in dance,
re:Leila An American Dancer
in Cairo by Catherine Barros, posted 7-21-04
I just wanted to say thank you for the very nicely written article
about Leila (formerly Lila.) She has been a friend of mine for several
years now and I was excited to finally see some good recognition in
the United States come her way. She's truly a beautiful, kind, wonderful
person, in addition to being a fantastic dancer. I'm so happy that
success has come to her.
re: Suhaila Salimpour’s
“Sheherezade” review by Perizad posted 8-6-04
Hi Lynette -
I think Perizad completely misses the fact that Sheherezade was an
historic event in the world of bellydance. The fact that the show
was loosely based on the story of Sheherezade was a disclaimer in
the program. It certainly was not the primary focus on my mind while
What WAS on my mind was the amount of practice, planning, effort and
passion that went into this program. Unlike the usual bellydance fanfare
(ie the Rakassahs, Desert Dances, Summer Caravans) that I have
painfully sat through for the good one shot in a hundred, these dancers
have taken themselves to a professional level of which the bellydancing
community should be proud, not nitpicky.
In my opinion, I have to say that this was THE event to bring bellydance
to the general public and be considered an artistic form in its own
right. So what that we've seen some of the pieces before! I say, bring
it on, I'd like to see it again! And I suspect I will be seeing it
again....in Las Vegas or Broadway. And by then, all the rest of the
negative bellydance community who talk trash of Suhaila can cash in
on her ability to bring customers to their own crappy hip wraps and
re:The Middle Eastern Music
and Dance Camp in Mendocino by Yasmela, posted 10-13-03
Dear Lynette and Gilded Serpent Readers,
Once again, it’s time for the annual Mendocino Middle Eastern
Music and Dance Camp.
I have taught Egyptian dance at three of the Mendocino Camps. For
those of you who may be considering participating in the Camp in the
future, I highly recommend the experience for dancers and musicians
alike. The Camp offers an extensive array of Middle Eastern artistic
traditions and the priceless opportunity to study with masters of
the genre. Inspiration flows as teachers give without measure. A shared
camaraderie and mutual appreciation make the atmosphere electric.
As a teacher, performer and student myself, I highly value those frequent
“magical moments” at the Camp that have enriched my understanding,
and I treasure those experiences when music and dance seamlessly unite
in spontaneous and soulful expression! It’s awesome to witness
and participate in a heartfelt living art that reaches to our collective
Camp featured dancers Helene Ericksen, Amel
Tafsout, Ansuya Rathor, Robyn Friend,
Suzie Tekbelik, Hassan Harfouche,
myself, and Sahra C. Kent who substituted for me
during the second half of the week. (Personal circumstances required
that I teach for the first three days only, returning home to be near
my parents who were both ailing. My mother had had two heart procedures
in the last few months and my father had been recently hospitalized
with heart failure.) Thank you for stepping in for the remaining classes,
Sahra! And thanks to organizer Joshkun Tamer for
allowing this last minute change.
Intent on covering
a lot of material in three days, my classes focused on fundamentals
of Egyptian technique, sections of Oriental choreograpies, and drum
solo and taksim movements. At our last class we had the special treat
of live music during an excerise in improvisational methods. Students
gleefully danced to the richly textured music and I also demonstrated
the class routines. Because I needed to leave Camp early, the Lammam
brothers graciously arranged my unscheduled evening performance, sandwiched
between the concert and cabaret session. I want to express my gratitude
to George and Elias Lammam, Nasser
Musa, Salaheddin Takesh, Karim Nagi
Mohammed and Miles Jay for generously providing
out-of-this-world music within a Middle Eastern cultural context.
If I could comment
on the G.S. review of the August 17-24, 2003 Camp: the description
of my classes was oddly brief, although it’s understandable
with so many artists to cover. The reviewer felt that I had spent
too much time talking about the mechanics of movements and the dancers
who’ve created them. I suppose my approach could be somewhat
tedious for someone who wants to just get on with it and dance! Since
1985 I have made numerous trips to Egypt, working in Cairo as a dancer
for several summer seasons, and researching, interviewing and arranging
my Dance/Study Tours there. When teaching raks sharqi I try to be
as accurate as possible, feeling obliged to pass on what I have learned
there through private lessons and countless hours of observation.
I generally focus on what I find to be absorbing, the minutiae of
internal feeling and authentic movement. I am indebted to the Egyptian
artists who’ve generously shared their philosophy and technique.
Thanks for providing
this forum for dancers, Lynette!
Shareen el Safy
Santa Barbara, CA, USA
re: AWSF travel log
by Shira posted 6-24-04
I really enjoyed your description of the Ahlan wa sahlan-festival!
I was there myself, and I just agree to everything you write! I hope
you will write something about the rude russians and japanese girls
that were filming everything they could, classes, teachers, shows
etc, though it wasn´t allowed... More than one time did I see
a DV-camera pointing at me while I was repeating steps at classes,
of course without asking for permission (always a russian or japanese
girl).I did even see a russian girl, filming the teacher on his class,
hiding so that he couldn´t see her. (Nourhan
did a very good comment of this: "They are raping his class")
One thing is for
sure; I will never go to this festival again.Quality has became quantity,
and it´s all about making money.I really look forward to read
next chapter !
Lots of regards
Ann from Sweden
of the Nile XXI", video review by Sadira posted
You are correct.......Shoshanna is a doll! Having said that......your
critique of the video was VERY cold, and perhaps a wee bit ignorant!
Have you ever attended a live show? I attended that show, and after
reading your review, popped the video and watched it again. Guess
you had to be there, but it was wonderful all over again! You do understand
that this was a LIVE show.....NOT A INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEO! Don't know
how they "do" shows where you come from but down here we
(dancers and audience) are ALWAYS grateful when the videographer stays
up, back and out of the way......not distracting from the performance......and
the "star" always closes. I would like to invite you to
come down to Fla and attend Fest on the Nile (2 a year). Maybe you
can learn something.......from one of the best.
8-4-04 re: ad
for Reyna's workshop also mentioned in North Beach
It is SO good to finally see Reyna on the Gilded Serpent pages. She
was one of the most unforgettable dancers on Broadway in the '70s.
Those eyes! That hair! A Zefferelli film tucked into her belt!! How
lucky I am to be in NYC where Reyna teaches BD at Hunter College.
Perhaps in a year or two I will work up the courage to take a series
of classes. Viva Reyna!
of the Nile XXI", video review by Sadira posted
I really don't know who you think you are. The video is a good representation
of what Festival on The Nile is all about. Talented people performing
for a live audience and everyone having a good time. Obviously you
do not know talent when you see it
Who died and made you an expert on Belly Dance? Who are you to say
I cannot dance. Were you there?
Making negative comments on someones performance is really the LOW
especially when you don't know these people.
The video work is excellent. Bobby has won awards from the AAMED for
the Best Entertainment Video in 1997. The AAMED knows quality work
when they see it.
Obviously, you must not like these people to write such a negative
review. It certainly shows that you are unprofessional. Why hurt the
dancers feelings. Are you jealous or just hurtful.
Bellydanced part 1, part 2, part 3,
I found your articles after typing in ''Is Belly dance a Christian
thing to do.'' Wow there is so much on the internet, I am slowly ploughing
I think like every other aspect of our walk with Jesus I just have
to ask the question does belly dance come in line with the Word of
God. Erotic belly dancing , Well it is a sexual act isn't it? Is it?
And the bible is very clear where, with whom, and when any sexual
act is to be done!
I think Jewish Yemenite dance uses belly movements to express emotions
coming from deep within, but when I dance a dance such as a well known
Jewish Yemenite dance called '' Da'ase '' (adaptation by Moshiko Halevy)
I feel a link with childbirth and I think the song is to do with God's
creation, but I do not feel God is Linking it to erotic belly dance.
I am thinking this erotic belly dance is a counterfeit .I think it
seeks to counterfeit dance which comes from deep within our souls,
our very guts.
A Jewish lady once descibed Jewish Yemenite dance to me as ''The purest
form of Indian dance without the idolatory.'' She was not a believer
yet I do think she had a deep understanding. Even today Jewish Yemenite
choreographers will use Indian music for dances. Any how, that was
side tracking a little.
Yes the words used for dance and linked to the belly in the Bible
I think suggest a dance form linked to Ancient Jewish styles retained
today in Jewish Yemenite styles, and not erotic belly dance which
does not come under biblical principles ( biblical as in following
Grace, Belly Dance comic by Alexandria posted 6-24-04
Alexandria’s “Saving Grace at a Festival” cartoon
is not only funny; it’s extremely appropo. I was recently trampled
by “Squidarella” at Tribal Fest as she clambered across
three people, waving her tentacles around without so much as an “excuse
me”, declaring shrilly that she needed the seats for friends
“who were coming soon.” There is just no excuse for bad
manners; it was also disruptive to the audience trying to enjoy the
performance onstage! And oh yes, the announcements from the loudspeakers
were entreating people to be aware of limited seating and not reserve
seats! So, Squidarella, my curse on you: may your big head burst into
flame and your tentacles fall off if you ever do this again! Yes,
we do not like you, Squidarella!
and My Muses Part 1: Egyptian Mummy Lace or “Assiute Cloth”
by Najia Marlyz posted 6-15-04
Thank you for your informative page. I recently purchased a very simply
patterned Assuite dress in white, but which is marred by streaky,
old cigarette smoke. A friend forwarded your page, and now I feel
confident about making it as beautiful as possible.Thanks, again.
Festival or Shop-a-thon? by Nisima
I love the use of the photo of the skeleton lying next to the telephone
as illustration for Nisima's opinion piece about the Rakkasah call-in
process! It certainly represents how I feel after a marathon of hitting
"redial" for several hours straight! The call-in process
is admittedly painful, and in many years I've consciously decided
NOT to try for a spot just because I wasn't in the mood to deal with
But it's Shukriya's
festival, and she has the right to handle enrollment as she sees fit.
I support her decision to have the festival remain participatory in
nature rather than an elitist "audition-based" event as
many people have proposed over the years. There are other events out
there for those who prefer line-ups consisting solely of hand-picked
Darkly by Tempest
hello and oh my goddess!!!! thanks you SO MUCH for the gothic belly
dance article. in short, i've been a goth for years, a belly dancer
for over 10, and the two aspects are always meeting in the middle.
it is absolutely wonderful to read that i'm not the only one out there,
and that more people understand it than i thought. i was never tempted
to give up being myself, but at times i sure felt alienated for not
conforming to the sometimes fluffy standard of the cabaret style belly
dance. yay! thanks again.
Contests by Yasmela
Dear Gilded Serpent,
My comments are on Yamela's article on dance contests. She seems bewildered
as to the purpose of dance contests. Indeed I think it was strange
that she was even requested to be a judge at such events. Her perspective
seems to come from being that of non-judgementalism. That pursuit
is futile. We are all being judged once we walk out the door. The
point of contests is to give the individual some recognition for their
accomplishments towards some ideal. Of course we all have our own
ideals but contests are to reward the endeavors towards pursuing that
ideal. Among dancers and audiences there must be some common ideals
by which they evaluate them. The job of the judges is to determine
how well that dancer has accomplished them. If excellence is not rewarded
then there will be no excellence in dance. I agree there are all sorts
of biasness, subjectiveness , prejudice on part of the audience as
well as the judges but that always is the case in life anyway. As
a contestant , I cannot say I haven't experienced enough of it. The
judges role is to free themselves as much as possible from those biases
and evaluate the dancer on their abilities solely. Yes, judges can
be wrong but in the end it is always the public that determines your
success or failure.
War-Fair by Alexandria
Wow, as a "new" student and dancer I am surprised to see
that a teacher would feel that way! I often talk with dancers after
seeing them in a show and have run across a lot of attitude! I am
an eager student and I do want to soak up everything I can learn not
to take over the world but to understand and improve myself!
This is my first
visit to the guided serpent (great site btw) and I am a little put
off by the seemingly "catty" comments made often in the
articles. Well, I guess I learned in high school - get more than 3
women together and the fur will fly. I was hoping to find something
else when I discovered the dance! And yes I know it was a cartoon!
Dance in Israel by Orit Maftsir
Very informative and enjoyable article on the bely dance scene in
Israel, which I knew was just exploding in popularity. I have dance
for many Israeli audiences here , and they truly love the music and
dance, both Arabic and European alike.
As for the two ill-informed and highly prejudiced Mark and Kat, sorry
to be so "diplomatic" but I see no kinder way to put, let
me ask them" Are you of Arab descent?" If not, how can you
POSSIBLY steal and legitimately perform an art form that is not yours?
Or any non-Arab for that matter. How can you possibly understand it,
as you are not Arab and therefore, not entitled to its enjoyment.
I am being sarcastic, of course. I don`t care about their political
views (start by reading real history and not PLO propoganda), they
are too ridiculous to give any more mention. But stealing a dance
that does not belong to them, who is the colonizer? And since Israelis
prefer life over suicide and death, it is only natural that they would
be attracted to a dance that celebrates life rather than crushes it
or drowns it in black hoods and blood. Sorry to be so melodramatic.
Myopic View of Bellydance by Sadira
Thank you for your wonderful article. As a 50+ dancer I am experiencing
some of these prejudices. I run a dance studio in a college town and
the "oh so beautiful and body perfect" college girls often
turn their noses up to me and my other older instructors. They prefer
to go to a beginning student for classes rather than take classes
from an experienced, professional dancer. Their decison is based on
looks, not talent or formal dance training or experience.
However, I am
happy to say that most of the students who come into my studio realize
that with age, comes experience and knowledge. I have a wonderful
relationship with many of my high school and college age students
and they look up to me and marvel that I can still dance and teach.
They watch the students of the younger dancers/teachers and realize
how lucky they were to have found a highly trained professional to
learn from. I treat them like adults and individuals. Unlike younger
teachers who are struggling to find their stardom, these girls are
not my competitors and they can rely on my support and sound advice.
I don't let my ego or their egos interfere with the learning process.
Once a person's ego gets swelled, the learning process stops.
When judging other
dancers, I find it best to use professional criteria such as the person's
ability to understand the music, how well they execute their dance
technique, their posture, the way they hold their arms, and how their
dancing makes me feel. While the person's physical features and body
language are instantly recognized, I like to judge these by how the
person has worked to accent their positive attributes and how they
have tried to conceal the negative aspects of their person. The dancer
who has paid attention to all aspects of her/his performance gets
my full attention and respect.
I sincerely hope
that these "oh so beautiful and body perfect" students/dancers
read your article as well as some of the men who hire dancers. They
could use some enlightenment.
more from the same writer re:Dynamic
Relationships by Anthea Poole
Great article! You hit the nail on the head with what happens
in group relationships. I have printed out a copy of your article
and will keep it where I can reference it the next time there is a
Myopic View of Bellydance by Sadira
be truly honest here: in our dance field there is a great prejudice
against overweight dancers, older dancers, or average-looking dancers.
This is not only a stigmatization that our own fellow dancers continue
to perpetuate, but it is the main image demanded by the audiences.
I am not here to argue otherwise, but I would like to point out that
as a male fan of belly dancing and a future renaissance faire coordinator,
I am very much pleased and enchanted by heavier dancers and older
dancers. I personally have little desire to watch a belly dancer with
a 'Britney Spears look' of plasticene youth and slimness.
In particular, I love to see a plump dancer do the shimmy--or whatever
that rapid jiggling motion is called, that belly dancers do. (I'm
not an expert on the finer points of the dancing.) I believe many
audience members feel the same way I do about full-figured dancers
with less-than-rippling abs. Many people like them. So I do not believe
the desire for a toothpick-slim Barbie doll is universal.
I am also decidedly of the school of thought that "a good belly
dancer should first have a belly".
Middlefaire will be looking for belly dancers for its first season,
in summer 2005. We are interested in finding fuller-figured, softer-looking
dancers. If dancers of that body description would like to forward
me web page links or booking information, I would love to see them,
as that is the specific look I would present on stage.
The Middlefaire Company
Dance in Israel by Orit Maftsir and previous letters below-
Regardless of your opinions on the conflict in Israel and Palestine,
Israel is in the Middle East, and approximately 60% of the Jewish
population there are Arab or Eastern Jews. Jews lived (and some still
live) for countless centuries in Arabic, Persian, and Berber lands.To
respond to Belinda's question, "as Belly Dancing
is an Arab art form, and as the Arabs and Isralis have been fighting
for years and years, how is it that Belly Dancing does so well in
the land they call Israel?", bellydancing appeals to the Jews
of Israel because Bellydance IS part of their Arabic culture. As Orit
writes that in her article, "On my tour, the majority of the
crowds are Arabs or Israelis who are originally from Arab countries,
and it is a delight for me to dance for such audiences." So,
in response to Mark, "Isrealis steal Arab land
and then they steal Arab culture like belly dancing.", the Israelis
from Arabic countries are of Arabic culture, and Bellydancing is part
of thier culture. Would you say that the Christian Arabs who bellydance
or enjoy watching bellydance are stealing Arabic culture? Probably
not. Thus, for the huge percentage of the Jewish Israeli population
that are from Arabic countries, why not allow them also to celebrate
the beautiful things that they share with thier neighbors and former
Dance in Israel by Orit Maftsir
Israel or Palestine? I fully expected to read this article and learn
some of the life of Palestinians as well as Isralis, it seems that
you cannot have one without a view of the other. It did not make sense
to me, as Belly Dancing is an Arab art form, and as the Arabs and
Isralis have been fighting for years and years, how is it that Belly
Dancing does so well in the land they call Israel? Does it also do
well in the occupied territories? Does it ever spark political fire?
This view of
belly dance was written as if it was from an idyllic place, not from
a place continually attacked and attacking, a somber fact that we
read about everyday. I would truly like to be enlightened on these
important issues: why does an Arabic Art form not provoke rage amongst
Isralis? How do the Palestinians view it? Do they have the freedom
and financial ability to hire a fine Bellydancer for their weddings?
What is the Dancers point of view on this? Is it not dangerous to
Thank you! Open to all views and very curious.....
of Sacramento, CA, USA
Dance in Israel by Orit Maftsir
Great article from Orit! Sounds like she's really
energized the dance scene over there! I find it interesting that she's
seeing the same problem with beginners launching into performance
and undercutting legit dancers. This is definitely a problem here
in the US, and I wish they would fade away as quickly as Orit
says happens in Israel. For some people the fee really is the "bottom
line", but it's so true that you get what you pay for. I've just
been through an interesting experience dancing for an Indian Restaurant.
When we were negotiating the deal for a one month trial run they balked
at my suggested fee, stating that they had previously signed up a
duo for $20 a night (both of them together!! Why were they talking
to me? Well, the girls never showed up for the gig! :D Some bargain...
Dance in Israel by Orit Maftsir
I am highly offended at an article about belly dance in Isreal. Isrealis
steal Arab land and then they steal Arab culture like belly dancing.
I agree with Kat that it must be very hard to celebrate
life with dancing when your human rights are repeatedly violated by
the Isreali government. I am certainly not supporting suicide bombing
but I find it appalling when I see Isrealis promoting a dance form
that comes from a group of people they are opressing at the same time.
Does this make any sense? I think not!