Letters to the Editor
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March 2000 - October 2000
I love reading you, serpent. Especially, I love reading about Middle Eastern music. I know there was recently in Oakland a concert by Googoosh the Iranian singer. There was an article on the front page of the San Francisco Examiner the Thursday before the concert. Do you know about her? Also, she is giving a concert in San Jose sometime soon. I heard something about her on public radio recently. It seems see stayed in Iran after the revolution and didn't sing. Recently, the government let her come to the west to sing. In Canada she performed to sold out crowds. Maybe there would be someone who could from time to time write articles about the history of the music. Especially the links between current popular music and past. So, I have lots of ideas and things to say. I know, why don't I research and write something. Maybe I will. Thanks again
Signed Nan a/k/a Pearl Foxx
ed- a review of the Googoosh concert in Oakland, CA, is posted!
Dear Najia, I read your article, "Entertainment or Art" in the Gilded Serpent with great interest. I also thoroughly enjoyed it! While I totally agree with you that belly dancing is definitely entertainment, I also feel it is an "art form", requiring a certain amount of skills, artistic interpretation of the music, understanding the music and its basic structure and various rhythms, etc. Also, let us not forget the playing of zills, which do require skill. So, I do not mind AT ALL saying I am an entertainer, but I also feel that belly dance is an art form too.
I do not shy away from telling people I am a belly dancer, and you should hear the gasps and horror from people in my community when I say I am a belly dancer. They are used to me now. When I got hired to teach at Dance West in Boulder, they wanted to call it Middle Eastern Dance, and I said no way, it is belly dance that I teach, I do not know sufi dance, etc., in which I can state that I am a Middle Eastern Dancer. They said, "Won't people be insulted", and I said, if they are insulted they shouldn't come to my class. (I live in a very PC area of the country). I also get a kick out of people who are other dancers in my class, (which is about 1/2 my class, because I teach at a Dance studio), who absolutely cannot believe how difficult they are finding belly dancing. They have that typical attitude, that "Gee, it must be easy". I suddenly find myself with a new-found respect from the dance community, and must confess, I am loving it. And you are right about the pettiness of the belly dance community. It is laughable, and I try to stay out of it all and worry about myself, I have a very busy life with 4 children, husband, performance schedule, teaching schedule, web site, etc., to be involved with petty business is not a priority!
I am also so happy to read that you do not do choreography. I HATE IT. But now, I have a dilemma, because some of my students wanted a troupe and now I find myself choreographing songs for my troupe of 5 ladies, myself making 6. They are loving it, but I inwardly hate it, because I NEVER EVER dance choreography. All you end up seeing is steps, NOT the dancer. Anyway, I am giving my students what they want and they are very happy. Although they know I never dance choreography, and know why, I am doing it for them, and they appreciate it. They are really not at the skill level to improvise at any rate, so they are happy, and I'm happy they're happy. And they are improving. They are a great group of women. Not everyone in my classes are in my troupe, however. I have people taking my belly dance classes for FUN, and FUN they are having, especially when my drum teacher comes and plays. Looking forward to more articles,
Although I found Leyla's article interesting, I guess one woman's trashy costume is another woman's best costume. It is easy to see that the dancers, especially Dina, just want to try something different than usual. Plus black spandex can look so sexy (although I have to admit the biker shorts weren't the most flattering, but we all know that Egyptian men love those hips.) Otherwise, I thought the costumes were pretty cool, kind of modern. I can only hope the costumes become more racy to counteract strict cultural codes. Sexuality and feminism have throughout history gone hand in hand and I say the more power to it. Plus it lends new meaning to the phrase "turn the other cheek".
Loved the article on tacky costumes. What a hoot! I KNOW that I am far from being "authentic" in my interpretation of dance and costuming. This article has me wondering what "authentic" really is! If the "real Egyptians" are wearing this stuff, what's to say what is "real?" Thanks for the info!
I was wondering, since you do such wonderful reviews, are you going to do more, like for DDF, or The Ren. Faire belly dancers, or Festival Fantasia, etc. There are many events going on right now, that could use your wonderful reviewing talents. Just wondering. :)Tammi
Greetings: I just read Susie's reviews of the belly dance competition 2000 and saw the photos. I really enjoyed the candid way she reviewed the dancing. It was interesting to read instead of the usual "all the beautiful dancers had a wonderful time". I think her critiques can help dancers improve the next performance. Thanks for the great online zine! I look forward to reading more when I get a chance. Bye - Debbe
Hello. I just wanted to let you know how FABULOS!!!! your website is! My longtime teacher/friend Alia Saleem needs to get a website started and your is probably the best I have seen yet. I am also very interested in dancing with snakes....I have a fondness for creatures like snakes and spiders ( I own a very large mouse eating tarantula) and think that I could get into this aspect of dance. I plan to further investigate your site and any other info I can get on the subject. If you have any helpful reading material as how to train/work with a snake on the dance frontier-please let me know. Keep shimming!
I have read all the new articles on GS. I like them all, that of the Boa Constrictor and especially that of the Infidel Emperor. At this last regard, I need absolutely to write to Kirk Templeton to congratulate for his article on Emperor Frederick II Hoenstaufen. I can't but find an email address for him. His article is fantastic. You know Lyn, I was born in Palermo, Sicily. I lived in that atmpsphere, of Palace of the Norman and the Hall of King Roger and its oriental mosaics, the tomb of Costanza d'Altavilla in the Cathedral, the still Arabic alleys and open markets of the old city ...And I read much about Frederick and his wonderful mixed and tolerant court and reign. And I hated the Popes of Rome.
Kirk Templeton is not forgetting anything in his articles, and adds with the beautiful story of the meeting with S.Francesco d'Assisi, and the fascinating dancer to tempt him. I need to write to Kirk to tell him this, or maybe you can publish this letter on Gilded Serpent if he reads it. His articles, his words, gave
me strong emotions. And at the end he writes:
"Have you ever noticed, O dancer, how many superb bellydancers there are in our modern times who are of Sicilian descent and heritage? Perhaps you are one yourself."
As a Sicilian I say THANK YOU for saying so, it makes me happy and fills my eyes with tears.
"Who knows, but that in becoming a bellydancer you were answering a call in your blood?"
YES, IT WAS SO FOR ME, I KNOW THIS. And I always wondered what was inside me. When I was 11 and I was occasionally alone at home (parents out) , I took off all my clothes and wrapped some veil around my hips and tried to dance. To bellydance I would say, no doubt. And I knew nothing of it. Where did it come from? Oh so many times I have fantacised over this, struggling to understand where this strong wish, this need, came to me from. What can I do to reach Kirk's ears? To express him these feelings and to thank him.
I was in Palermo this Summer. I spent a day and a night with a Sicilian dancer there. Maybe in a separate post I can tell about the Cafe' d'Oriente, by the Mosquee, in the old city. And how Tiziana and I
danced at Shaharazade open restaurant, in a dark narrow alley in the Kalsa quarter ... at the loud Arabic music.Thank you for publishing this letter.
Wow! This is a magnificent experience. I'm glad that we, bellydancers, have such a place to get informed of all the events regarding this beautiful Art. Is a complete site, well distributed with interesting themes. I usually tell my friends about gildedserpent news and invite them to join
it. Keep doing such a great work.
This is Yasmine from Sirens In Sanity. Thank you so much for putting our picture and the wonderful comments on your web page under Leea's B.D. Pageant of the Year 2000. One of our students saw it to me, so the word is definitely out. THANKS AGAIN!!!!
Sirens In Sanity
Hello...I just found this site....after looking for "Rhea" hoping she may be online. By sheer luck, I found a dancer online who directed me to the "Gilded Serpent" and all of the wonderful articles written by everyone in the dance world. Lo and behold...I found Rhea's articles and they warmed my heart. I was in Egypt a few years ago and can picture what she was talking about to a T.
She was a teacher of mine...many years ago...when we danced in Walnut Creek at the Greek Parthenon. What fun it was....25 years ago. And yes, I palled around North Beach more than one night with her dancing at the Bagdad and Casbah and Greek Taverna as well. She was a great teacher.
I would love to read more about Rhea's adventures...how could she have so many in one lifetime? Also fill in the blanks about what she did after leaving Walnut Creek. I know she will probably have more articles and I don't want to miss them, or anyone elses for that matter. I've got to hear about "Dancing on the Nile" I was there too...on a cruise...dancing!
I don't see anywhere in your magazine how often it comes out...is it online weekly, monthly? ....can I get on the online mailing list?? This is truly wonderful. Not only do I get to find out about Rhea, but about everyone else in the dancing world. I had no idea there was so much belly dancing online to remind me of my passion of the past.
Rhea should write a bio....I will never forget her car.. "licence plate held on by McDonalds straw and slicks for tires" as the cop put it. My friend and I held the distintion at that time of being the only gals who tracked her down for a private lesson at home...in her kitchen. I later took classes from her...$2 bucks a class. Ah, the good old days.
April (Phaedra) of yesteryear..
Thanks for sending me the link to The Gilded Serpent. It definitely provided some interesting reading. I will not only be checking back but will have things to add to it having been on Broadway for almost 10 years in the BD clubs. I believe it was 1972 when I first danced at the Casbah. Wow, does that seem a long time ago!
Do I know you? God, my memory is not great for names but works well for faces. How did you get my info?
Thanks again for the communication,
Loved Fred Glick's article "Dining in Cairo". He has everything right about Felfela and the shops on Champollion Street, but I need to take issue with one thing he says. In the eighth paragraph he says "Fresh raw vegetables are generally safe to eat in Cairo." Maybe they're safe to eat at Felfela. I wouldn't count on it even though I think Felfela is a great place to eat and has wonderful food. Fresh raw vegetables are not really safe to eat in public places anywhere in Egypt. Even the Egyptians say this. My Egyptian friends, who live in Cairo, don't eat any raw salads concocted outside their own homes. At home they know that the veggies are prepared and cleaned carefully but they don't count
on that being true in restaurants and other public food service places. Raw *anything* in Egypt should be avoided, especially if you're there for a short visit. One can never be certain that those raw veggies have been washed carefully, or even at all, before they are chopped and tossed. This is the main source of "King Tut's Revenge", especially for first-timers. It's best to stick to thoroughly cooked food. I speak
from personal experience. Oh, and another thing, most people, Egyptians and foreigners alike, prefer to drink bottled water.
Leyla Lanty (aka Lois White)
Regarding Aileen review of the Giza Academy Awards and her lack of comment on "the virtues of video": Aileen mentioned Gregory discussing the virtues of video, but we would like them to be known.
Without video the audience would be deprived of the knowledge of at least 50% of Middle Eastern performers and their available work. Video plays such an important part of the record of our dance culture it is like water in the ocean. There is no holding it back and no denying it's importance. When I was a "young" dancer at the Bagdad 30 years ago we did not have video and we had to rely on Samir Khoury's (Samiramis) once a month rented movie theater to see Arabic movies and HOPE that there would be music or a dancer. People do not realize how privileged they are now to have video as a resource.
Also, apparently you didn't have the official list of winners-you listed Cheri Berens video as <title unknown>.
Here it is.
Following is the official Giza Academy awards winners for 1999 The Giza Academy honors.
The 1999 Academy Award Recipients
Documentary Gary Conklin/Mystic Fire - Paul Bowles in Morocco
Documentary Cara Currie (work in progress) - Egyptian Dance
Outstanding Choreog. Katia for Raqia Hassan - Raqia Hassan III
Instructional Shahrzad Khorsandi - Classical Persian Dance - I
Instructional Cheri Berens - Belly Dance Basics Beg. - Int. I
Live Dance - Troupe Gypsy Caravan - Caravan Trails
Live Dance - Solo (Interpr) Delilah - Suzy Evans' IAMED 2nd Ann. Awards of B.D.
Live Dance - Solo (trad) Jillina (sharqi) - Suzy Evans' IAMED 2nd Ann.
Awards of B.D.
If anyone has a video to submit to the awards committee call or write to Amina Goodyear, Gamal
Dance/The Giza Academy, 829 Elizabeth St. S.F. CA 94114 or (415)282-7910 - Aminajune @aol.com. Remember, it doesn't have to be a professional retail video!
We hope next year's Giza Academy Awards Gala will benefit from our experiences and mistakes to make this event even a better one!
Director, Giza Academy Awards Committee
I really enjoyed North Beach Memories. Since I was a part of that scene. It brought back many memories, of what I call the good old days. And they were the good old days of middle-eastern dance.
I really wish the today dancers could have experianced it. It was the best time of my life. I have many warm memories, and fun memories of those times.Thank you for the article. Please give your audiance more about those days.
Thank you again,
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
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 you are here
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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