Letters to the Editor

Email the Snake--editor@gildedserpent.com

May 2004 up through November 2004


11-23-04 re:Comics
I love your website! The comics are especially close to my heart. Please sign me up for the monthly notice. Namaste.
Kathy Williams


11-19-04 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.


11-18-04 re: Mena in Iraq
Hi Lynette,
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* LOL
Take care, thanks again


11-16-04 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 Shira

United Kingdom


11-13-04 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.

Farida Gamal


11-11-04 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.



11-10-04 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 and letters?
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
fresno ca


11-15-04 re:God Belly Danced: Biblical Accounts of Belly Dancing in the Ancient Near East Part 1 of 3 By Qan-Tuppim
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 my passions.


10-17-04 re: Art, Activism & Magic: Krissy Keefer In Her Own Words by Debbie Lammam
Dear Editor,
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!


10-16-04 re: The North Beach Memories
Dear Editor,
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.

Your Gildedserpent web page is a treasure. The vast information is amazing and the contributors are very brave in their opinions.
Best Wishes,


10-16-04 re: Undercover Belly Dancer in Iraq by Meena
Hi there!
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
Asfoor al-Noor


10-16-04 re: Raqia's Cash Cow by Andrea
Dear Lynette,
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.
San Francisco


10-14-04 re: Undercover Belly Dancer in Iraq by Meena
Dear Lynette,
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 today. Here's 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.

Horacio Cifuentes

Miles Copeland's response


10-1-04 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.


9-29-04 re:Raqia's Cash Cow
Dear Editor:
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 Edwina Dearing, let me know. I'd be interested in what she has to say.

Sausan Academy of Egyptian Dance


9-27-4 re:Belly Dance Comics, A Sour Note by Alison McKellar
Dear Editor,
On "Sour Note" by Alyson, here's my comment: NO MORE, PLEASE.



9-17-04 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.


9-14-04 re: Day 6 - The Festival begins.
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" (sic).
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 Trips
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.
Bruxelles (Belgium)


9-7-04 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?

[ed-Sorry Sheryl, 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,
Love from
London, England
ps. Can I say Hi! to Aziza (from Oregon) xx


8-26-04 re:Rhea's Travel to Syria - Part I
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


8-24-04 re: Susie's letter below
Hi Suzie,
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 dancers, no.
* 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 Shayloe
aka Za'Zahn the Dragon.


8-17-04 Suhaila Salimpour’s “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)


8-17-04 re: Susie's letter below
Dear Lynette,
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,


8-12-04 re:Leila An American Dancer in Cairo by Catherine Barros, posted 7-21-04
Hi there,

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.

Thanks again!!
Jeanie Lewis
Seattle, WA


8-12-04 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 watching.

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 DVD's.



8-11-04 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 depths.

Last year’s 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


8-11-04 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


8-5-04 re:"Festival of the Nile XXI", video review by Sadira posted 5-23-02
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 Memories
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!



8-4-04 re:"Festival of the Nile XXI", video review by Sadira posted 5-23-02
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.



6-30-04 re:God Bellydanced part 1, part 2, part 3, posted 2-14-03
Dear Editor,
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 through!

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 God's principles).
Miryam Nahar


6-25-04 re:Saving 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!




6-21-04 re:Lace and My Muses Part 1: Egyptian Mummy Lace or “Assiute Cloth”
by Najia Marlyz
posted 6-15-04
Greetings --
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.
Southern Oregon


6-16-04 re:Dance 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 telephone roulette.

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 professional performers.


6-6-04 re:Dancing 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.
kim sakkara


6-6-04 re:Dance 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.


6-3-04 re:Class 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!


5-17-04 re:Belly 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.


5-19-04 re:The Myopic View of Bellydance by Sadira
Dear 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
Dear Kawakib:
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 conflict.
Sallamah Chimera
Gainesville, FL


5-7-04 re:The Myopic View of Bellydance by Sadira

"Let’s 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. " -Sadira

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.

Paul Delacroix
The Middlefaire Company


5-7-04 re:Belly 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 countrymen?
Toronto, Ontario


5-5-04 re:Belly 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 work there?

Thank you! Open to all views and very curious.....
of Sacramento, CA, USA


5-4-04 Belly Dance in Israel by Orit Maftsir
Dear Serpent;
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...
Stockton, CA


5-4-04 Belly 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!
Burke, Virginia

Older Letters  

Archives Pg 17- January through December 2007!
What's in a name, self acceptance, Men in Belly dance, Yasmina's new column, MECDA Ellections, Tajikistan, AWS fest, Arabic Idioms, Professional Presence, Suhaila in Phoenix, Music recording, Vegas IBDC, Egyptian Code, Jodette, Journey to Womanhood, New York Dance Scene, Amy Sigil, Tito Seif, Arab Defamation, Gothla, Neon's Keeping your mouth shut, Valizan Ozgen, Toronto IBCC, Burlesque, DVD purchasing, God Bellydanced, North Beach Memories, Princess Farhana fan article, Cabaret to DJ by Nina, Raqia Hassan, Serpentessa, Cover-ups, Criticism, John Bilezikjian, Certificaation, BDSS, East too West?, Vendor's View, Lynn Zalot & Habibi,

Archives Pg 16 -June 2007 through December 2007
Tatseena's Belly Bully piece, Amina's writing, IBCC coverage, Review on Tirbal DVD's, Barbary Coast and Bellyqueen, Cover-ups, Non-Profits, lifting the Veil by Yasmina,
Mona Said's letter, Music Copyrights, Ethics of Fusion, Egyptians being too Western?

Archives Pg 15- December 2006 through June 2007
Interview with Nakish, Sashi-kabob, How to charge what yo'ure worth,Tribute to Rhonda, Marliza Pons, Party booking, George Elias, "I dance you follow". Ethics of Fusion
Archives Pg 14- June 2006 through December 2006
Ethics of Fusion, Queen of the Bay, Territorialism Undermines Event Sponsor's Efforts, Greek Flavor, What ME Audiences Expect , Taxsim, Gothic Dance, Gyspy Dance, Sashi Kabob, Wierd Rituals

Archives Pg 13- November 2005 through May 2006
BDSS, Burlesque, Gig rates, Sashi's piercings, Sex shows on Rakkasah Fest stage, God Bellydanced, Sima Bina, Devi Ja's passing, Jamie Miller's Passing, BDSS reviews and Mile's reponse, Michelle and Sandra's Adventures, Turkish Baths, Muslim Cartoons, Working together, Review of Shareen El Safy's DVD, Spokane's Festival Coverage, Articles by Keti, Michael Baxter, Zar article and racism, WHEW!

Archives Pg 12- May 2005 up through October 2005
BDSS, Burlesque, Gig rates, Competing Cairo Fests, Israel Fest, Untaught Teacher

Archives Pg 11- December 2004 up through April 2005
Copeland, BDSS film and auditions, GS kicked out of Rakkasah, Zaheea's dancing for the blind, Christian dancer, the THONG, Luxor club review, Miles vs Horacio

Archives Pg 10- May 2004 through November 2004 you are here
Mena in Iraq, AWSF, Desert Dance Festival 2004, Biblical Accounts of Bellydance in Ancient Near East, Bellydance in Israel, Festival of the Nile review, Suhaila’s Sheherezade review


Archives Pg 9- December 2003 Through April 2004
Myopic view of BD by Sadira, Belly Bus, Queen of Dance Contest, Rakkasah West photo teaser, Comparing and Contrasting, Jillina DVD review, Dancing inside out

Archives Pg 8- May 2003 - November 2003
San Leandro Fest photos, Reflections on North Beach, BD and healing from sexual trauma, Dina in Dallas, Searching for your new dance teacher, BDY pageant

Archives Pg 7- October 2002 - April 2003
Najia’s Real Critic article, Back in the Holy Land, Glass dancing, Casbah and Bagdad Club, Reflections on North Beach

Archives Pg 6- March 2002 to September 2002
Vendors, Dance certification, BD and strippers, Jamila Al Wahid video review

Archives Pg 5- March 2001 - March 2002
My uncle Yousef, BDY pagent 2001, Dancer attitudes - BD gossip and back biting

Archives Pg 4- November 2000 - March 2001
Criticizing and reviewing events, “Where’s the hook when we need it?” Desert Dance Festival review

Archives Pg 3- March 2000 - October 2000
Entertainment or art? Sicilian bellydancers, Rhea, Review of Giza Academy Awards

Archives Pg 2- November 1999 - Febuary 2000
Living Goddess review, Fred Glick travel, Fanana of Bellydance

Archives Pg 1- Febuary 1999- September 1999
Shira’s advice to “Offended”, North Beach memory, George Elias & Bagdad Cafe


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