Letters to the Editor

Email the Snake--editor@gildedserpent.com

May 2003 - November 2003


11-30-03 re:San Leandro Festival Photos
Dear Gilded Serpent-
I always enjoy the Gilded Serpent's photo and text coverage of Bay Area events. As I am not able to attend alot of events in the Bay Area viewing the postings on the website are really a pleasure. Upon viewing the photos from Tatseena's Fantasy Festival I clearly remember my first impression of Parri's photos. The backbend with the sword was a great moment captured on film. Regarding the photo in question, my interpretation of her expression was one of passion, and I felt that she was 'into' the inner strength of her own dancing for herself as well as for her audience. It saddens and shocks me that there is controversy and negativity swirling about these photos and the intent of the Gilded Serpent in publishing them. As for the other photos in the Fantasy Festival spread, I felt that they were a realistic representation of the artists and attendees pictured, depicting all ages, styles, and phases of the Festival. Generally speaking, throughout an artist's performance, facial and body expression changes rapidly and frequently, as a reflection of the dance itself, the music, and through that special moment in time experienced between the artist and the audience. Rather than skepticism and accusations, I feel thank you is in order to the Gilded Serpent for tireless effort, time and dedication to promoting the art of belly dance to the public.
Ellen Cruz,
Rose Productions


11-20-03 re:San Leandro Festival Photos
You did a great job of photography this time. I really liked how you included pictures of the workshops and the candids of Tatseena, the check in and the open floor. It made me feel like I was there. I was unable to go this year, but it sure looked like fun.


11-21-03 RE: San Leandro Festival Photos
Hello Lynette,
I have forwarded this email which was sent to be by "a concerned reader". This reader has brought it to my attention that you have posted an "unflattering picture" of me on your website. The picture is one in a series of pictures where I am performing with a sword. I have attached the picture, so there is no confusion of what picture is the subject. I don't understand why you would want to post such an "unflattering picture", and I am not going to try to figure it out. All I can say about this act is that it is very unprofessional and childish. In fact, it upsets your readers.
Please remove the picture,
I saw your picture on the Gilded Serpent website from the San Leandro event they had an article on. Are you going to let them keep that unflattering picture of you up there! You'd think that they would have had enough sense...you should make them take it off.
Just a concerned reader who found your website.
D. (danceabunch@yahoo.com/ D. Lady )
Hello Lynette,
This is the second request I am sending you regarding the publication of my image on your website. After serious thought, I have decided to request the removal of all the pictures you have published of me on your website. I did not give you the permission to take these photographs and/or publish them on your website, or in any other publication. If all the photos are not take off your website, I will start seeking legal advise.
I have concerns that you have published these negative pictures, to cause detriment to my professional dancing career.
Thank you,
Parri / Patricia Kahangi


11-17-03 re:letter below about Satrinya's articles,
"Reflections on North Beach" by Satrinya Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
To the Editor,
I should probably spend the time getting my own Part II together, (but) I did want to add a few points to the dispute of Satrinya by Zeyna. What's in the initial rememberances articles about Aida are actually pale to things I know or have heard. Most of the representations of Aida are fairly accurate, though having been on the inside of Bal Anat, I would definitely contest the conclusion that Meta and Aida were the top dancers. When I was "dismissed" in 1974, Niki, Sonya, Kismet, Karma, Mish Mish, Anzelle, Samra and many others were much better dancers. Within the following 2 year period you can add on several others. There is a huge difference between "knowing" moves and knowing how to move, saying one thing in a class in the afternoon and dancing totally differently on stage the same night, being stuck in your head and never being in touch with your heart. Real dancers can always dance whether they know what's going on or not. I always found Meta to be very nice though totally wired, I knew Aida's sister from outside the world of belly dancing and she was a really kind person, I only wish I had been closer to her. Aida was off in her own world and was busy reinventing herself and she could easily drive you nuts. (Why should this reflect negatively on other admirable personality traits?) If you are going to put yourself up as a queen or a diva or "master", then you must accept the flack you deserve.

But take heart Zeyna. I don't remember many of the things mentioned in the articles the same (which I think would come back to me in spite of post concussion syndrome). I am having trouble following some of Satrinya's timelines but, as I have said, I was rather tunnel visioned into my own trip. Some things that seem muddy are: The whole East Bay thing; George Dubai, yes, a very good drummer with an interesting attitude, started working at the Bagdad in the 2nd half of the 70's, and the movement of dancers and musicians in and out of the clubs seems skewed. And of course, Satrinya's premise that Aida was ever the top dancer whether for Bal Anat or at the Casbah is incorrect; also the dancer, Sonya, she mentions must have been a different Sonya.

This was all about 30 years ago and hopefully some of us have grown wiser.

Mark Bell


10-28-03 re:The Tale of Two Faires
I was really interested to find the Tale of Two Faires piece on your Web site recently.I've been going to the Renaissance Faires since the early '70s, and I have to say, I totally agree with Mark Bell's view that the Casa de Fruita faire was way too commercial and lacked the intimacy and ambiance of the original Black Point Faire. I ruled out going to the Casa de Fruita faire (put on by the Renaissance Entertainment Corporation) this year, because last year's faire at that location was a huge disappointment. It was the first time I've ever felt completely let down after attending a Ren faire. I took a 3-hour drive to the new Casa de Fruita location, only to find this: Rather than being an historic recreation of the Elizabethan era, the Casa de Fruita faire felt more like a Disneyland-style tourist attraction, clearly designed to bring in the crowds. The location seemed to attract a lot of passing tourists (as I think was the Corporation's reason for selecting that spot) . Very few of those attending were in costume and many were too busy with their cameras to participate. The booth keepers were constantly chasing out would-be photographers from their booths. There seemed to be no care taken to ensure the Elizabethan character of the event was preserved. There was a gift shop just inside the faire entrance where they had a stereo playing contemporary pop music, and further on in the faire there was a man with a ukelele playing 20th-century Hawaiian music! The joust, usually one of my favorite events, was completely out of character: Rather than a standoff between two knights, there were six jousters in the arena all at once, riding standard-sized saddle horses (rather than authentic draft horses), and pulling maneuvers you'd expect to see in a rodeo, not a joust (one rider even wore cowboy boots). Even worse, the announcers were using microphones and a loud speaker. The location for the joust was also terrible: most of the audience had to stand in the hot sun because seating was scarce, and the joust arena was located way at the very back of the faire grounds with only one very narrow passage leading to and from. This created a major bottleneck for those trying to enter or leave the joust area. Throughout the faire, the crowds were so thick that interaction with the entertainers or booth keepers was impossible. I couldn't see anything because the narrow paths were jammed with people. As a result many of the boothkeepers and street entertainers seemed tired and irritable -- a far cry from the jolly and conversant people I'd encountered at Black Point. Thanks to your Web site for informing me about the As You Like It Productions' faires. I'm overjoyed to find that As You Like It Productions is now restoring the true nature and meaning of the original Renaissance Faires with their faires in Marin and Santa Barbara. Apparently, their focus is on recreating the historic period for all to enjoy, rather than just making a lot of money. The Renaissance Entertainment Corporation's Casa de Fruita faire is an event I'll never want to revisit. But I'll make a point of attending the As You Like It Productions' Marin faire next June!

-Nona Bird
Placerville, CA


10-28-03 re:Dancing on Broadway by Kalifa
i really enjyed the article by Kalifa who visits Carol Doda's place in SF!!
encore= thnx= dave


10-29-03 re:Al Bawaba steals Amaya's photo of Dina!
Dear Lynette,

Thank you for contacting Al Bawaba.
With regards to your comments, please note that this is the Internet and even though it may appear that we have taken this photo from your site, we have actually taken it from one of our affiliate sites (who may have taken from yours without your consent). Accordingly, please accept our apologies for any confusion this may have caused you.

On another note, I have visited your website and must congratulate you on the depth of the content available. Should you (or any of your editors) wish to contribute any material that you may find informative to our Middle Eastern audience, we would be happy to publish giving the editor and Gilded Serpent full attribution.

Kind regards,


10-29-03 Dancing on Broadway by Kalifa
To Whom it Concerns,
I am not a dancer and have in fact never been to a belly dancing performance. I wandered onto your site and read a few of the listed articles with surprising interest. I was impressed with the piece by Kailifa dancing with a Boa, drawn back to North beach in the early 70's. This writer writes with such innocent aplomb; she
might have claimed to have danced on a tightrope strung over the Grand Canyon and I would have been there, cringing, feeling it as I felt the Boa in this article.

Charles Prowell


10-29-03 re: letter below about Satrinya's articles
I read the "Real Zeyna's" letter that she submitted in criticism to Satrinya's 3-part "Reflections on North Beach". Touching indeed that she feels it necessary to spring to her friend Aida El-Adawi's defense, but Aida is a grown up, and it's time she told her own story! There are lessons to be learned from Satrinya's references about Aida and the mighty Jamila; it's important for newer dancers to know where to draw the line with a teacher/mentor who exerts way too much control over one's life. I stood up to Jamila once (gasp!) when she chose me for a slot in a show she was presenting, I said "thanks, but that dance just isn't me" and she cut me from another number I auditioned for in that show, even though I knew it stone-cold! Well, I have performed that number many times since then in my dance career, after all, when teachers "sell" their choreography in class, it belongs to the dancer from then on. Directors and teachers make decisions for whatever reasons, but dancers make decisions too, it's called "free will." Let's face it, we were performing in North Beach at a time, when, unlike the New York performing scene, dancers just did not have agents to protect our job rights, health insurance or even written dance contracts. So, given that, it should come as no surprise that dancers sometimes relied too heavily on their relationships in the dance world for support, and some got so burned out they either left the area or retired from dancing. I made sure that I never depended solely on dance for a living, so I could "exit stage left" if a performing venue was not (ahem) in my best interests!

So, I think Aida should tell her own story in her own way; she was one of my best teachers, and certainly such a talented, dedicated performer will have a lot of valuable insights for newer dancers in many areas. Aida introduced me and my best friend at the time, Marina (aka Ebbtisaam) to Fadil Shahin, as her students ready to audition to dance at the Casbah in North Beach. She told Fadil, "these are my teddy bear students, take good care of them". Marina and I worked at the Casbah, listened to Aida's advice, had a great time dancing to fabulous live music, and learned far more about performing than how to pin our belts to our skirts.

I hope Gilded Serpent will continue to publish articles like Satrinya's that reflect true life experiences of dancers careers, even if they are stories that are hard to hear sometimes, so that the next generation of dancers can see beyond the shimmies, glitz and fantasy so they won't get burned out of the belly dance art form they love so much.
Yours in dance and still dancing after twenty years,


10-20-03 re: Reflections on North Beach by Satrinya Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
A friend of mine mailed me a copy on your (Reflections on North Beach) and I have to tell you it angered me more then I have been in years. It was not enlightening or informative, it was in fact offensive. If Satrinya hasn't something nice to say she should close her big flapping mouth. If you want to write about dancing in a way that is constructive or just share a funny story about stage mishaps, that is great but half or whole truths about someone's dirty laundry is malicious and UN. called-for AND certainly doesn't belong on a web site. I have been a personal friend of Aida's for some 25 years or so, I haven't seen her in almost 20 but we still do talk, we worked together when I was dancing in Detroit. How about that she was and is a very loyal friend!!!!!!!!!! To ANYONE deserving of her friendship. (She groveled!!!) I would love to crunch up that article and shove it up Satrinyas ass. What ever her and Jamilas friendship was, that was between them. What about her TOTAL commitment to the art form and her dedication? Not to mention her enormous talent. Even the fact that you would print such garbage enrages me and may I NEVER see the name gilded serpent again. It is a gossip column that true artists should have nothing to do with, good luck to your vindictive bellyettes that will never in there wildest dreams touch Aida's class.

The real "Zeyna"

Editorial Reponse


10-19-03 re:Belly Dance and Healing from Sexual Trauma by Lucy Lipschitz
To the Gilded Serpent:
It has been an inspiration to read the article about Lucy's story and relationship with belly dance. I think Lucy may have many sisters who share similar stories of sexual healing. I know because I was molested by my step-father at the age of eight and the effects upon my personality have been far-reaching. I have been dancing for over 27 years and still find belly dance to continue to have a profound effect upon my healing journey.

In my early career, I found that the dance was a two-edged sword, being a source of intense joy and also discomfort because of the in-your-face confrontation of self-esteem issues that working in night clubs brought to me. I nearly quit when I was grossed-out by slimy customers or sometimes worse club owners.

I think the one thing that lingers from the trauma of my abuse (despite years of therapy) was the fear, distrust and overwhelming desire to hide from the world lest they see the shame and guilt. Yes, guilt, though I know it wasn't my fault. The joy and spirit of this dance still drives me on to use it as a conduit for expressing my true self......powerful, expressive and whole. I believe that belly dance allows us to be powerful and sexy in a healing way.

Joy in Dance, thank you


10-19-03 re:Belly Dance and Healing from Sexual Trauma by Lucy Lipschitz
Thank you so much for telling so clearly how dancing has helped you to heal from the terrible trauma you endured. Sharing such an intimate story only convinces me yet again that this form of expression is one that gives great power and strength to a person to not only maintain one's sanity but to prevail!
May heaven bless you and your students forever!
Luise Perenne aka Asfoor al Noor


10-18-03 re:The Critic; Real Critics Don’t Mince Words by Najia

While I agree with Najia's sentiment that no-one can grow as a dancer without criticism, I do take umbrage at her assumption that American Tribal Dance is a place for dancers with no training to dance in public and get accolades. She says:

"...However, we are unfortunate that they [ATS] have also led the public, and worse, each other to believe (falsely) that choreographed troupe dancing and follow-the-leader troupe dancing is automatically professional quality dancing-or even an art-just because it has been costumed and rehearsed."

This is so blatantly a biased statement that it can not even count as the criticism of which Najia is so fond. It is also false as well as biased -- Tribal dancing is not about "letting everyone participate". It is about growing in your dance through working with other like-minded individuals on a regular basis. Fusion dancing, which I would call a sister dance to Tribal, involves fusing classical belly dance moves with moves from other dance cultures, such as hip-hop, flamenco, or even jazz. Tribal and Fusion are very difficult and involve intense muscular control. You learn to dance in a precision group (like the Rockettes), which is much mroe difficult than it seems. This is not for everyone, and many professional Tribal or Fusion groups discourage "random" participants -- these troupes are dance companies with high expectations, not an open forum.

Najia says that we are training the public and ourselves to view someone as talented because they have the costume and some of the moves down. We are not blind. There is an enormous difference between a talented dancer, who is instantly recognizable as such, and an amateur or untalented dancer, who is also instantly recognizable. Najia's critique is of dancers who have received no criticism, and are therefore encouraged to step out on stage and "perform" as professionals. These dancers abound in any dance form. Leave tribal out of this.



10-17-03 re:Belly Dance and Healing from Sexual Trauma by Lucy Lipschitz
I loved your article! It was truly inspiring as I read how you have found joy and healing in belly dancing and in your family life. I began taking belly dancing lesson this past Summer and I, too, have found it to be such a joy, a celebration, a means to build self-confidence and feel more comfortable living within my own body, and yes, it has been a means of healing. For far, far too long I felt inferior concerning my body and appearance and sexuality, because although I have an attractive face and a good mind and a nice singing voice, I have struggled with my self-image because of a weight problem since I was a teen. It is very difficult to know you are smart, capable, creative, talented, and reasonably attractive, yet are told that you are short, fat, and ill proportioned. I have a smaller upper body, very curvy, with full breasts, large thighs and calves, and full, round hips and buttocks. It has taken me years to finally accept my healthy, strong, beautiful body for the gift that it is. Now I want to enjoy it and use it to move gracefully and creatively, to express my feelings, to celebrate the great gifts of music and dance. Belly dancing has brought me new and interesting friends and new, exciting experience. I'm so glad I found the courage and time to pursue this interest. Many people who have known me for years have noticed the difference my weight loss (30 lbs.) a year ago combined with my new dance interest has made in my personality, outlook, energy, and general attitude.

So, I celebrate with you in your strength, determination, and ability to find happiness after enduring the tragedy and health problems you've experienced. May God continue to bless your life as you teach and inspire others to find their true and joyous selves, and as you dance to heal your own soul.

--S. Collier / Huntsville, AL


10-15-03 re: Festival Fantasia in Sebastipol, California
Hi Lynette,
This weekend I participated in the "Tenth and Last" Festival Fantasia. It has been my pride and joy to have vended at every Festival Fantasia, since it's inception, and in many, many other "Rose Production" workshops, shows , and Flea Markets.
I thought Ellen made an astute observation when she once said, (in reference to another fair), that sometimes fairs "run their course", and then it becomes time to retire them. I don't know if this applies to Festival Fantasia .... I think it's "retirement" had to do with many factors, and I know it will be missed !
I wanted to say that, personally, I feel Ellen Cruz deserves a full-length "tribute" article on Gilded Serpent. She has done so much for the Belly Dance Community of Sonoma County!
She's the embodiment of charm, beauty, music, dance, tireless work and creative vision. And I know she's going to kick me in the pants for saying so, as, she's also unbelievably modest!
I treasure the friendship we've had for more than 20 years, and it's been my great honor to work with (and study with) her through so many of her visionary endeavors. I suspect there's more to come....
La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la ! (zaghareet),
Susie Gordon
Coin Belts by Susie


10-13-03 re: Orient House Istanbul by Justine Merrill
Dear Christina,

Just had to write and thank your for your article about Turkey on the Guilded Serpent site. I went on to www.dancechristina.net and read more about your visit. A very nice site, by the way! As a Turk (born and raised in the U.S.) I am always thrilled when people discover Turkey, and I am very grateful when visitors have a good time and say nice things about the country and the people. Turks are very big on family and I'm sure they were all pleased that you were there with your mother and sister. I hope you'll have more opportunities to go there again. Next time you might enjoy the Black Sea region. Not a popular destination even for the Turks, but it is rich in history and the people are especially gracious. They treat you like distinguished visitors and are truly delighted that you travelled all that way just to see them.

Leyla Konuk Matsueda


The REAL Nour
10-4-03 re:a front page news blurb about the Russian dancer Nour fighting to be able to dance in Cairo.
Hello dear editors...
I'm from Russia and a dear friend of a dancer Nour.... and also I'm just 3 days from Cairo
the information in your article is right as far as I know only the photo on the cover is not Nour who is actually fighting against that law... I'm putting Nour's photo here and if you wish you may place it instead the wrong one .... the situation with foreign dancers is really bad now already 3 dancers have been withdrawn now (actually not from Russia but i think from Norway, Brazil and some other countries) other dancers are urgently marrying Egyptian men to receive citizenship
Thanks a lot for your work
Ekaterina Egorova

so who's this?- ed


10-4-03 re: Belly Dance and Healing from Sexual Trauma by Lucy Lipschitz
Dear Lucy,
I am saddened to read about the unspeakable things that have been done to you through the unspeakable evil of others. I've always known you are a strong lady, but now I am even more certain that you are a tower of strength, toughened like a blacksmith forges metal in fire. To think that you have internalized this for so many years is mind boggling. Such events are like a hideous cancer that threatens to destroys ones mind and body, and it would have done so to many others. But you not only survived it, you are now my hero. You gathered your strength around you and found the means to heal yourself through music and dance, and also through gathering your true friends around you so that you can heal with laughter and joy. I am so proud of being part of your family. Your mother was wrong! I am part of your family and I would never turn against you. Instead, I would yell from the highest peak that I love you and I'm proud of you. I wish only that I would find the same courage to face down my demons with the courage that you have shown.

Love from your cousin, Iris.


9-30-03 re:The New Age Adage for Performing Dancers by Najia
I just wanted to say that I loved Najia's article and totally agree with her. She has put her finger on the pulse of dance and real dancers. And she is such a skilled writer, too. Thanks for bringing really important issues to the Gilded Serpent.



9-25-03 re:Delightful Dina in Dallas by Amaya
Dear Amaya & Gilded Serpent Readers

I'm glad to read I was missed. Wish I could've been there, dancing with you: I'm sure it was a really great show because of who was in it. However, HOW could I be "missing", since I *never* had a completed contract, the sponsors & all you dancers knew Aug. 7 I would not be there Sept. 5 *&* I was never mentioned on their website as being in that show???

That sort of implies I was a "no-show", which would *never* happen. When I give my word to do something in return for specific promises/ terms & considerations or have a contract, I am there, dead or alive.

As to the "public dispute", it was, first, very unpublic & only to you fellow dancers, as cautionary info. Only *after* the rumor mill started working overtime + I got over 40 e-mails asking if I was going to be there & if not, why not, that I told the true, gory story outside of that small, pertinent circle.

Yours in mutual dance dementia,


9-22-05 re: Una's retirement
Dear Lynette,

At Desert Dance Festival during the Saturday Extravaganza Show, Dunia announced a surprise performance from Una, who has decided to retire from dancing. I just want to say that I have always thoroughly enjoyed each and every of Una's performances over the years, and I learned a lot from her veil workshops that I carried into my club performances. So, it was with a HUGE lump in my throat that I watched this gifted performer "one last time" take control of the stage with her elegant and fiery style, melting the audience with her genuine warmth. Una, you will be seriously missed but never forgotten, enjoy your gardening and know that you have made a lasting impression in the dance community, and God bless!

Yours in dance,



9-20-03 re:Delightful Dina in Dallas
Dear Editors,

Thanks to you and Amaya for this review of what was a most fabulous night! Some of your readers may find their pictures in my small online scrapbook of this event:


I'd like to thank Ahmad & Dee Dee Asad of LittleEgypt.com once more for bringing such a shining star to the US. Come back again soon, Dina!

Be Well,


9-18-03 re: letter from reader below regarding Fred's article
Dear ed,
what an appalling reply that reader made to fred glick's fine article. I would like to remind HIM that Israel is in contravention of many UN resolutions, and may I add, what is the sole reason for the war there, between Israel and Palestinians? It is this, Israel has ILLEGALLY been in occupation of land that DOES NOT BELONG TO ISRAEL. (ie, west bank and gaza), and despite being asked to stop building more and more settlements it keeps on building on land that does not belong to Israel, but is Palestinian land. I would say to that reader, you should get your facts right before attacking someone who is trying to tell the TRUTH.
Yours sincerely, Dolores
(an Oriental Dancer from London, England!!)


9-17-03 re: letter below in June and The 30th Annual Belly Dancer of the Year Pageant photos by Susie
I am surprised a little dismayed by the tone and demeanor of the both the reviews and the letters regarding this competition. Expectations for professional demeanor of reviewers include technical knowledge and the ability to make assessments without the color of nastiness.

Note that vague and improper labels such as "inappropriate" (especially next to a picture) is a subjective term and would lead the reader to make a judgements out of line with the intent of the article.



9-17-03 re: “Searching for Your New Dance Teacher, The First Interview” by Najia El-Mouzayen
I am a dance instructor and have been in the belly dancing business for 25 years. I know many people who have traveled and even studied in the Middle East who I would not recommend because they aren't good dancers or teachers. While I have not been able to get to the Middle East, I have studied with many credible teachers who have and I have also studied with well known Middle Eastern dancers/choregraphers who have been sponsored for seminars in this country. The actual travel to a country is important, but so is extensive research and interviews with people who have been there, knowing the country's history, past and present, learning about a people's culture, the climate, etc. These things you don't necessarily have to travel someplace to learn about and they certainly won't make you any better of a dancer or a teacher.

Better yet, instead of galavanting around the world, why not spend some time learning how to be a teacher.
...edited for length...

Also, look for a teacher who has been belly dancing for no less than 10 years. Don't think that someone with an extensive background in jazz, modern or ballet is going to know what they are doing.

...edited for length...

Sallamah Chimera
Director, Ethnic Dance Expressions Studio
Gainesville, FL


9-17-03 re: Dance Journey to Nepal part 2 by Daleela
hi.....my name is victoria, i would like to know what animals are native to nepal? Are elephants? yaks? snakes?please reply asap


9-17-03 re:“Searching for Your New Dance Teacher, The First Interview” by Najia El-Mouzayen

Many thanks and zagareets for your article, Najia!

The deep inner joy of dancing, sharing of graceful and emotional energy with an audience and earning their enthusiastic response is that main reason why I've kept wiggling away all these many years. The flamencos have a saying: "bailar es vivir y vivir es bailar"
To dance is to live and to live is to dance!

...same reader continues below ...

re:Eradicating Female Genital Mutilation My Journey in the Process by Lilly

Thank you for including this thought-provoking article in your publication.It's an emotionally painful thing to read. It tells of the darker aspects of the cultural world from which such beautiful dance forms have sprung.

My first reaction when I first heard of this practice (many years ago) was to curl up into fetal position and sob. I cannot imagine what such an operation must feel like to the frightened young girl. That such mutilation still continues to occur into the 21st Century is terrifying and abhorrent.

It is reassuring that there are those like the author of this article and many others who are working to teach and guide the practitioners of this cruel cutting to give them alternative ways to attend and care for young girls entering womanhood without such brutal trauma.

The idea of butchering a girl to "keep her chaste for marriage" (and all the other traditional excuses for FGM) seems to cut out the very heart of a woman's physical being before she even has a chance to become whole and complete within her sexuality. Perhaps that's why the practice started from the fear of female "power" and threat.

One can't help but wonder why they ever thought it even necessary to reduce women folk to sensually-amputated baby factories? The thought still gives me chills.

The struggle must continue!

Luise Perenne BFA
aka Luise of the Phoenix


9-16-03 re:And Back in the Holy Land... by Fred Glick
Dear Fred,

You are either pathetically ignorant or incredibly feeble minded. Last thing I checked, Israel has been in and out of war with the wonderfully, open minded and embracing Arabs for the past some odd 50 years. So when you talk about what Israel has done to plunder the rights of the Palestinians. I can only cringe at your naivete. When the Palestinians and their Arab brethren cherish their children’s lives more than they seek the destruction and murder of their Jewish counterparts then their will be peace.

Mark P. Feinberg DMD


9-6-03 Eradicating Female Genital Mutilation My Journey in the Process by Lilly
Keep up your wonderful work which fights against useless pain and illness without being moralizing or culturally insensitive!



9-3-03 re:The First Presentation in the New Symposium Series, by World Arts West "What is Belly Dance?" by Sadira

Dear editor-

Thank you for covering so thoroughly the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival 's symposium, "What is Belly Dance, Anyway?" on June 10th this year which was held in conjunction with our 25th anniversary season. I think it was important to start the dialogue and hopefully bring together artists who find such power and expression in the genre of Middle East dance.

The Festival over the years has struggled with the many forms of belly dance that have proliferated. It has been a learning process for all involved: producers, audiences and artists. I hope that those artists who continue their study and performance of the art form will respect source material while adding their own individuality. My comments regarding the dance form as an evolving hybrid can be true of any other cultural dance form as well. Dance evolves and changes.

We live in a marvelously "open" enviornment where expression can be limitless. It is not always appropriate to portray oneself as a middle eastern dancer without some real soul searching about the messages we communicate. My cautiousness comes from how we may sprinkle the form with our own " fantasies" which ultimately can be insulting to the indigenous dancers themselves.

There are so many wonderful exponents of the form and I hope that the Ethnic Dance Festival can expose Bay Area audiences to more! Please check our website to find out about auditions in January 2004!

Lily Kharrazi
Festival Director
San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival


9-2-03 re:The First Presentation in the New Symposium Series, by World Arts West "What is Belly Dance?" by Sadira
hi i read your letter and here are my comments. first i admire fat chance for calling it american unlike alot of other belly dance teachers who take these stage names (this i find to be a turn off) Belly dancing itself is not a pure middle eastern art as most arabs are misgenated. I often find the african influences of belly dance are often left out as arabs were invaders into egypt and other african countrys. The western influence on the dance was done a long time ago early 1900's with the style of dress, the veil ect....recently i saw a young lady doing a persian performance she said they had no hip movement in there dance until there contact with africans??? so ME dance is mixed...... i do wish to see some politacalization at the festival obout the issues of our current occupation...that info should be on this web site as well..

sincerely marlese ramirez-carroll


9-2-03 Photos from the Ahlan Wa Sahlan Festival June 10-17, Cairo, Egypt. The Opening Night Gala

Dear all at gilded serpent, I am waiting with bated breath for more photos from the ahlan wa sahlan dance fest 2003, will there be any more, as promised? Please let me know if u get a moment. I LOVE YOUR WEBSITE. Best wishes, Dolores.


8-16-03 re: Act Your Age? NOTES FROM A MIDDLE AGED BELLY DANCER by Karen Andes
I just wanted to comment on the "Act Your Age" article by Karen Andes. I, too, am shocked sometimes when I realize my age (just turned 42)...I still feel like a 20-year-old!...those extra pounds that have crept up on me (decided to have another baby at 38, and it's tough getting rid of all the weight I gained!) sometimes make me feel self-conscious...especially when being compared to my gorgeous, perfect-body, almost 19 year old daughter (who happens to be a fabulous dancer). I chuckled to myself looking at the photos of the slender, toned body of Karen, who at 47, has the physique of a young woman...I am impressed with her, thoroughly enjoyed reading her article and found her photos positively inspiring! I have a friend in her mid-seventies who began bellydancing in her forties, and she only looks like a woman in her mid-forties today! She attributes this to the exercise, joy, and fulfillment found in bellydance! Sadly, another dancer I know who is in her sixties, and is beautiful, with a sexy, wonderful body, and who dances with grace and elegance, now feels she is too "old" to perform and should restrict herself to teaching. What a loss!

Babs "Noora" Flowers


Hi there.

Just wanted to say two things. One, I've been really enjoying your website. What a great deal of work has gone into it! So much for me to learn from it. Two, the one thing that would make it so much more valuable (to me, at
least) would be to have links to some actual soundclips of the musicians, where possible. Or links to other sites that might have sound clips.

In any case, thanks for hosting such a neat site!

Mark M.


7-31-03Dear Editor,
Your recent news articles have been fascinating and refreshing. I read every word, and am amazed to see the articles coming from everywhere around the globe. Your article on women's parties in Iran took me completely by
surprise. I was fascinated to hear of the Canadian film-maker using her humor to enlighten non-Moslems about her culture in a quirky way. And Argentinean men belly dancing? Ahhh, how delightful.

Keep up the excellant work!
Zaharr A. Hayatti
---your devoted fan---


Hi Gilded Serpent,

I've posted a link to your site, and a bit of info for my flamenco readers to learn about you. I'm very impressed with you operation and it's infrastructure. Perhaps my site will evolve in similar ways (but for now, i'm a one man operation.)

Jason Engelund
SF Flamenco


7-11-03 The 30th Annual Belly Dancer of the Year Pageant photos by Susie
Thank you for showing my belly-beads in most interesting view!!! My "beads" were costume made for me by one of my students', and she'll go to her grave with the secret! They are glass beads of differnt sizes. I love the responces when I start to "roll them. A long story how they came to be......later.
dancingly yours


Baraka has always impressed me as a lovely dancer and a gracious person. Her courage and strength in the face of misfortune is phenomenal. Whatever comes to her in the future is bound to be positive and in harmony with who she is in present time. What an inspiration!


Hi Lynette,

I truly enjoyed the article, "Dance Journey to Nepal". What a fabulous trip! I thought it fascinating how Daleela connected to belly dance in a deep way through her travel to Nepal. I would have never thought.

I especially enjoyed her sharing her wonderful adventures in the jungle and Kathmandu.
It was inspiring to read about her desire to spread her love for the dance in her travels. I was tickled reading about Daleela's attempts to teach Santa, the Nepalese guide how to belly dance. Thanks for publishing such great stories.

an aspiring belly dancer,


Thank you so much for the article on Baraka. I have been a fan of hers ever since I saw her interpretation of Raks Dina on her video, The Best of Baraka--So Far. A couple of days prior to reading her article, I watched her dance the routine on video again, as I do every so often when I want to inspire myself to excel with the wonderful dance form, and I decided to search the net for her to see if she had any instructional videos. Of course, I could find nothing. Then, the article appeared, and I was so devastated to learn about all she has been through. I am sure I speak for all of us in the dance community when I say all our good thoughts and love go with her.
Dianne Adams


Thank you for the wonderful photos of the SF Ethnic Dance Festival! It's wonderful to see all the many types of music/dance/culture being preserved in this remarkable way.
It reminds me of the Concerts at the Band Rotunda in Golden Gate Park in which I participated as a dancer in Jose Ramon's Spanish Flamenco Troupe.
Thank you for bringing back the thoughts of such wonderful times.

Luise Perenne BFA


7-14-03 re: previous letters refering to the review of the Belly Dancer of the Year contest
Gosh, what's with the Sarrayah defense group? Have all her friends started a letter writing campaign? It is obvious just from the photo that her upper body stance, as well as her
hands and arms, are not professional enough to 'place' her in a contest. She's a beautiful girl who looks great in a costume...

-- Sunni


Just read "A Problem Solved" and so happy about it for a number of reasons. Not only is it a blessing for Bay Area/West Coast dancers and vendors that we can attend both events, but a wonderful model for positive communication, and a head's up to other event holders. It is so important to be conscious of your event's timing and take the time to do the research, network, and plan accordingly! Thanks so much for posting this!
Tempest & Keith of MedDevi Ink


I just read your story about Zorbas in Walnut Creek, and I saw Ulysses & Useless on there. Ulysses (Sam Stamas who died in a truck accident) was my uncle and Useless (Manuel Stamas) is my dad. I remember my dad telling me about them dancing at Zorbas in Walnut
Creek. I remember my dad saying how Zorbas was the first place where they danced the table dance. It first started with Ulysses. Then Useless came in the picture. My Grandmothers Father was the one to teach them how to do it. I think it was that my great grandfather did it in Greece.

Gus Stamatopolos


Thank you for publishing Daleela's wonderful article. Her vivid and descriptive account of this trip to Nepal made me feel like I was right there with her! Her appreciation of the Nepalese people and the the land itself was heartwarming, and her strong devotion to belly dancing was apparent, as always.
Daleela, thanks for sharing your story, and next time you plan a trip to Nepal, take me with you!!!

Sacramento, CA


Dear Editor,
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Daleelah's article on her travels in Asia. I am also inspired not only to travel to the orient, but also to explore the spiritual link dance provides to nature.
Daleelah has taught belly-dancing to my daughter Freya, so I am well aware of her talent in this realm. It is a new discovery, however, to learn of her ability to communicate so beautifully through words. Thank you so much for publishing this article.
Darya Callihan
in Sacramento, California


I greatly enjoyed the recent article on Salome and dancing in the Bible. I have done some research on the subject on my own, and have found similar evidence for the argument Qan-Tuppim presents in her piece. If scholarly articles such as this one find heir way outside of
our little belly dance community, it may be possible for us to finally find the respect that we seek as dancers.

Thank you again,


Hi, I attended this show last September, and I have to wonder how other ethnic groups would feel if Amara produced the same type show, but called it by another ethnic group? i.e. an a evening of Expiramental Latin Dance , Evening of Expiramental Celtic Dance, or an Evening of Expiramental Asian Dance, etc . etc. Why is it ok that she choose the ethnic group of Middle Eastern people,? I am Greek and Albanian , I was raised with Middle Eastern music, it's my passion, and there was nothing "Middle Eastern" about the show! I've studied Middle Eastern dance for a couple of years now with teachers in Los Angeles, brilliant dancers that have dedicated years and their lives to the dance and music of the Middle East. In honor of all the dancers and musicians that have dedicated their lives to this beautiful and ancient art form, I strongly feel the words "Middle Eastern" should be removed from this show, Nadia Gamal will live forever!
thank you


My friends and I attended the BDY pageant, hoping to see some really good belly dancers at the top of their craft. But instead we left disappointed, scratching our heads and wanting our money back. There where some mediocre, good and downright "wow!" performances, and the most professional "WOW!" performance of the day didnt even place! If this was supposed to be a 'dance' competition why did the best dancers not place and the mediocre ones win? Would love to see an article on the politics involved for these 'pageants', because after watching what happened at the BDY I dont think I want attend anymore of these superficial events. Myra 'Mystikal'


Hello dear editor,
Hello from Russia
Thank you very much for the work you're doing with your magazine. It was very curious to read your old article on Cairo's Festival "Raqia Hassan's Dance Festival (Ahlan Wa Sahlan 2000)" by Latifa. We were very pleased to read your kind words about our Nour - Russian dancer in Cairo who is by the way sitting right near me.
But maybe it'll be interesting for you to know that Nour was never a pupil of Raqia Hassan. For Nour it wasn't difficult to enter belly dance because she has a very reach background of ballet, stage folk dance, Uzbek Tajik Azerbaijan and even Indian classic and folkloric dances. So it was a real pleasure for Nour to enter the "free style" of belly dance.
But of course Raqia Hassan did a great job with this festival and Nour always admires her as a teacher and choreographer and always advertises Raqia Hassan in Russia. Thank you very much for the interesting information you give on your site. Best regards and sorry for my English
Ekaterina and Nour.


Dear Editor,

I enjoyed the article on the Belly Dancer of the Year Pageant, however, I did feel that some of the comments that accompanied the photos were not professional. All the dancers who performed were beautiful whether the writer felt moves were inappropriate or the performance was exhausting or not, it should not have been noted next to the pictures of dancer themselves. If the writer wanted to write comments in general regarding their point of view on the show, then a paragraph or two preceding the photos would have been sufficient.



Dear all at gildedserpent, greetings from an oriental dancer in London, uk, I just have to say what a fantastic site you have, with excellent articles in particular I have enjoyed najia's pieces enormously, and it's a thrill looking at all the rakkasah photos. An excellent piece on ahlan wa sahlan , I just wish I had the money to go there. I'm writing this quickly to let you know how impressed I am with some of the American sites, when I have more time would like to contribute some articles and pix. Good wishes to all,


I attended the pageant and enjoyed it tremendously but thought the comments under the contestants were a little harsh. I thought that Sarayyah looked very classy and ladylike and not looking like a cheerleader. She had a lot of class which some contestants lack.
Demara V Williams


Can I just say how much I enjoy Aziza's columns? What great memories and what great stories!


hi Shelley and Lynette,

just a note to thank you both for the review of my book on the Gilded Serpent site! I finally found it, don't know how I missed it when I first looked.... (Lynette's right, I'm pretty "disconnected from the online world!" LOL!)

Anyway, I thought it was fair and will probably use a quote or two from it in future promo, with proper credits of course.

I think it says a lot when one gets an overall positive review from a publication with a rep for being as tough and honest as yours, so I'm pleased in general.

However, I was surprised that Shelley had a difficult time interpreting the "'Gypsy' This and 'Gypsy' That" chapter, as it wasn't about misconceptions by the public, it was about mislabeling by the dance community. What struck me as funny about this one comment that I think you two ladies could also appreciate when you think about it, is that was the only chapter I had outside editors for (wouldn't ya know it?), and two of 'em at that. Just in hopes of clarity! LOL!!!! Oh well!

But thanks again. I appreciate the overall positiveness and the thoughtfulness in regards to things like cost of publication and the work involved in getting the photos and quotes.

You guys rock! (pretty much!!! ;-D)
Kajira Djoumahna


6-24-03 re:BDY Pageant
Frankly, I think, while your opinion on Saryyah's performance is of course your opinion. I think it was mean spirited to praise almost, without exception, everyone else and put her down. Having seen both days of competition, I believe that she was utterly theatrical and entertaining. Perhaps her use of the cane during a drum solo was "traditionally" inappropriate but if you recall correctly she was the only (and I stress only) person in the competition to use a cane for the solo BDY competition. What she brought to this competition was life, vitality, and spirit. You comment on her cheerleader like moves and yet the girl who won the competition pranced around like a pony and prodded the audience to clap and applaud. Sarrayah's performance was classy innovative and entertaining. I feel that you have singled her out and posted this comment in an extremely irresponsible fashion. Quite frankly I'm disgusted that you would take something that is supposed to be entertaining and fun as well as a learning experience and turn it into what seems to be a completely unwarranted personal attack.

And I guess in the long run, a good enough number of judges don't agree with you anyway so...
You should consider being a little more graceful in your opinions.

Ryan Montgomery


Dear Gilded Serpent,

Thank you so much for Shira's thoughtful article on venders in the Belly Dance Community. Many may not be aware of the time, effort, costs and heart that go into these businesses. As owner of Urban Nomad, I know firsthand what hours and hard work goes into providing our customers with enjoyable and useful products. I remember the sadness I felt when I discovered an elaborately adorned antique Bedouin veil I had found in the Egyptian Desert from an elderly Bedouin woman, was shoplifted at Rakkasah once. A piece like this is not easily found and one does feel violated to have it secretly taken.
I would like to add that the great majority of cusotmers are fabulous, and wonderful people, which keeps us coming!
Thank you again for your article.
Candice Turner


Love the photos, but have to disagree with your critique. Although all of the finalist's performances
were credible, some better than others, the 'Belly Dancer of the Year' title should have gone to Shabnam.
Her dancing abilities had us in awe and for the judges to exclude such an amazing performance was outrageous.



Hi Thania,
I was surprised to find your article! My name in dance has also been Shahrazad for about 23 years. I am from Holland originally and living in Cologne Germany. Maybe you want to check my web page a little and I hope we`ll meet some day.

Best wishes,


Thank you for posting Susie’s pictures as well as the comments regarding the various performances in the 2003 Belly Dancer of the Year Pageant. While I agree with just about all of your insights, I feel the need to share my thoughts about your comment regarding Sarayyah’s performance.

Artists draw from life experiences, as well as other disciplines, when creating new work or extending existing boundaries. Sarayyah’s performance did just this, and I found her dance to be bold and interesting, and very much enjoyed her departure from the expected competition routine. I was delighted the judges felt she deserved to place in the top three.

Sincerely, Cathy Larripa


Hi everyone! I just want to thank you for having this picture of Grace and I included in your page of Tribal Fest III. We definitely had a great time there. This is the first time I get to take a look of this site and it is just wow!. Congratulations on all you published here. I will sure save it under my favorites.
Lots of love,
AnaMilena Ayala.


Hi Susie and Lynette,
Hey, thank you so much for the great pictures of our trio on the web site! I do agree that that the trio and duet catagory this year was fierce!

We had a very positive pagent experience meeting other contestants and seeing different dancer's interpretations of music and costuming. (its always interesting)

Again, thanks to you for the coverage!
Patrisha/Director Troupe Shamilla


Wow! I very much enjoyed seeing Ginger's Art and reading the various artist's statements accompanying the examples. Being an artist/costumier/dancer myself I appreciate her particular talents being used so well. The drawings of her daughter dancing are exquisite.

Thank you for a wonderful issue!
Luise Perenne aka
Asfoor al Noor

PS-Brava, Najia!
Well-said, one of my dearest of teachers ! It's great to read your feelings and realizations and know again how privileged I was to study dance with both you and Bert away back when. They are some of my fondest memories, and I cherish them.


Dear Gilded Serpent,

I left the United States in 1981 and returned in 1997. It was a shock to me to discover that "Belly Dance" had become such big business, but not as shocking as the idea of dancers competing against each other for titles such as "Belly Dancer of the Year'", "Belly Dancer of the Universe", etc. When I was dancing on Broadway in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, all the dancers worked together and a feeling of sister hood generally prevailed.

Why this idea now, of competing against each other? I cannot imagine that it fosters a sense of sister hood among the dancers who compete against each other, and it truly makes me sad to see so much energy and excitement generated around these competitions.

As one dancer told me, when trying to explain it, "This is an opportunity for dancers to get together who don't normally see each other during the year." Well then, why not have a "Belly Dancers Festival" or a "Belly Dancers Extravaganza" if people want to get together and do something fun and exciting?

Somehow, the news of these competitions, which I will NEVER attend, makes me feel very sad for the girls who tried and lost. No one should "Lose" as a dancer. And how is one dancer judged better than another? We are all different and unique and have something to contribute FOR each other and not against each other.I am extremely disappointed to see that this kind of event exists. My only question is "Why"?

with loving grace for all dancers, all over the world,
Zaharr Anastasia Hayatti



I am one of Rhea's OLD students from the Bay area. I had a student in those days that didn't want to shave her armpits either. She, as had many others of the time, thought that the natural state of the pit was the way that it would be done in the middle east. When Rhea brought Aisha Ali to San Francisco she cleared that up real fast by telling the story about how the Gawhazee couldn't even stand her hairy arms so they held her down and removed ALL of her body hair, even her eyebrows. One of my favorite stories.




Re: http://www.gildedserpent.com/articles21/shelleyaziza.htm

You've only *just* discovered what an amazing dancer Aziza is? Yasmela, I think it's time for you come out of your cave and reconnect with the Pacific Northwest dance scene. I don't understand how someone can consider herself a critical authority on bellydance when she does not even keep current on what's happening in her own backyard, much less on a national level.

Renee Drellishak


Najia El-Mouzayen's article made me think about a pet peeve of mine. When you go to a performance of any other dance form, if there is introduction, it's about the dance which is about to be preformed, but most belly dancer's introductions are only about how wonderful they are.
Roberta Ridgley


I LOVED YOUR ARTICLE OF BD DISASTERS... all i have to say is amen sister!
i went to a winterfestival here in maryland, usa and was all excited to see a belly dancer, she had on an ok outfit, but for her performance she changed into jeans and a fishnet shirt . i wanted to go grab her and beat her for such an act. a total disaster. i was in utter disbelief.. bd costumes are so awesome why sabatoge them!
so great artile i enjoyed it alot because i can relate ;)


Hi Lynette,
I am really enjoying The Gilded Serpent. I recently enjoyed Dancing with Shelties; I like to dance around the kitchen while I cook, too, and the animals and kids watch and think I'm loco. That's where I find time to practice without even thinking about it as "practice" because I'm just having my fun. Miren, who is now 6, sometimes likes to come in and show me her stuff, but usually says, "Stop Mom, you're embarrassing me!".
I'm heading up to Portland in a couple weeks for business and fun, and I found a couple of clubs I want to check out while we're there to see some dancers.
Thanks for the web-'zine. It keeps me in touch with this wonderful art.
Clare Burger


5-21-03 article on snowboarding/belly dancing

I read your article about snowboarding and belly dancing with complete astonishment! And I have to say... YAHOO! I was an competing snowboarder long before I ever became a belly dancer. During the summer of 1993, I decided to "try" belly dancing for the first time to fill up my "sans snow" days. I instantly fell in love with this ancient art but even more to my surprise... I couldn't believe how much my snowboarding had improved by the next season. My body and every movement felt great; totally in sync with what the ground and my board was doing. I was flying through those hills and half-pipe with complete ease. It is very rare for me to come across another women who does both. I applaude you and your article... as I have met with some skepticism that we can do both. I now tell my students how much belly dancing compliments other physical activities... even the more rugged sports... and their general ability and stamina will greatly improve. Thank you!

Karima Helou


5-16-03 Welcome to Fusion Dance!
Well, it's about time!
Ages ago I began performing a combination of Flamenco and Middle Eastern styles, sort of an Andalusian version of the traditional Dance Oriental to take advantage of the many years of Spanish Dance I'd done, of which my specialty was the Zambra or Danza Mora, a dance I could envision being performed in the gardens of La Alhambra in Granada before the Moors were driven from southern Spain. I received a lot of criticism from "purists" about the integration of the two dance forms. In fact, I still do whenever I perform solos for the Dance Classes I attend.

Now that there is an official category for such combinations of styles in the competition, I sincerely hope that such carping about whether such fusion techniques are acceptable, will be reduced to a minimum in the future. Such narrow-mindedness reminds me of the uproar heard in the world of Irish Step Dance when Michael Flattely incorporated arm gestures into his choreography for "RiverDance", which finally meant Irish Dancers could do something more expressive with their arms than keeping them glued to their sides! Yours for greater freedom of dance expression and joy!

Luise Perenne aka Asfoor al Noor/Asfoor al Nar

More from Luis
Reaction to Rhea's Article
She said what I've been thinking and feeling as I'm approaching what some misguided persons call "the dreaded six-ohh" birthdate. I agree with her wholeheartedly! Why should only the youngsters have all the fun?!? Although I haven't danced professionally in a long while, I'm still dancing and currently studying with Angelika Nemeth. Because one is never too old to dance and to learn, but mostly I greatly enjoy being in the company of dancers of any age.
I say keep on dancing until the music stops!

Luise Perenne aka Asfoor al Noor (Bird of Light)
or Asfoor el Nar (Bird of Hell


I am so inspired by Rhea, the mother of my teacher, Piper. I began bellydancing at 40 to satisfy the inner yearning of my soul to dance - not the dance of my youth, ballet, but one more spiritual and fulfilling. I learned quickly, but about a year later I began to wonder, how much longer can I do this? What will people say about a 50 year old dancer? Then I met Rhea and my doubts were blown away. I dance to rejoice in and feed my own internal feminine rhythm and try not to worry about what others think. And for that, I have quite a cheering section in my own family and my circle of women friends.

I am grateful to know such wonderful women as Rhea and Piper, who have inspired and motivated me beyond any place I ever thought I'd be at 42.

Laura Neidlinger
Columbia, Maryland


Hi Lynette,
Interesting responses to the critiquing articles - especially about Najia's article. I knew there would be strong reaction to her statements, and I agree with the writer who expressed a high level of disappointment with Najia's view that "overweight" dancers should not perform in public! I don't however, agree with the "shame on you for publishing" comment; seems to me that Gilded Serpent is providing a valuable service to the belly dance community by allowing differing opinions to be expressed. That is the only way that change happens, we are thankfully in a free society where it is a basic premise that dissenting opinions result in healthy change and growth. To blame a journalistic venue for providing the means for this process is highly innappropriate; it is up to the dance community ourselves to be vocal and be "change agents" about issues we care about!

Yours in dance,
P.S. You may publish this if you like or not - I just had to express it!


Ah, Rhea, you have soul in spades and more. Thank you so much for the reminder of who I am!
Shelley Muzzy/Yasmela


I read your article "Critic." I agree with everything you said in that article, but one thing stood out and really rang true for me.

One dancer in the troupe who stands out. Don't get attached to her, etc.

That paragraph really hit home for me. I feel it so strongly right now. It is so frustrating. You walk in, and it's like you are not there, or you are at a show, and people are crowding around to talk to or get pictures with you, and there aren't as many people talking to the others or none at all. The looks you get because of that are terrible. I sometimes feel like hiding in the back so no one will come and talk to me, or telling people to go away.

Please, tell me, how would you handle this situation? Do you just leave, and go start your own classes, etc., or do you stay, and deal with it?

Thank you so much for your time, and have a great day.

Sincerely; Ebony


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
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 you are here
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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