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Sirens In Sanity
Gilded Serpent presents...
Sunday Afternoon at the
Desert Dance Festival '04
Report by Nisima
Photos & Captions by Monica
Page 1

I attended the Desert Dance Festival on Saturday, September 18, 2004. It was produced by Dunia, and was held again this year at the San Jose Civic Auditorium. The auditorium is a large attractive building, with plenty of parking available nearby, and has good stage and dressing room facilities. The level of dance performances and workshops was adequate; and there was a variety of dance styles performed on stage. The finale show, “Moon Over Egypt” that began at 9 p.m. was well-produced. In fact, in my opinion, it was the best finale in the past three years at Desert Dance.

So, what was wrong with this picture? Well, there was a noticeable lack of actual people in the audience all through the day, Saturday, and even during the evening show. There were so many empty seats! There was no "Squidarella" in sight trying to reserve seats because there were plenty of seats available. Consequently, I was a very popular girl all day as vendors called out to me to visit and talk. After all, I was a bona-fide Actual Audience Member. The vendors out in the front of the hall who couldn’t even view the stage were particularly lonely.

I’ve attended Desert Dance for many years and performed several times as soloist, troupe, and duet dancer, but this year’s low attendance struck me as unusual. I’ve heard from people who attended Desert Dance on Sunday that attendance was poor that day too. Apparently, workshops and performances such as Suhaila’s just weren’t enough to draw crowds to buy obligatory hip wraps from vendors. I remember workshops in years past at Desert Dance having 20 or so students in each and every one instead of only five or six! Lack of attendance is very discouraging for well-qualified teachers who give up a lot of time to organize and teach their workshop at festivals. I’m also truly concerned about vendors who have booth space as well as travel expenses to meet. Many of them told me they barely broke even because sales were practically nonexistent. Well, there were hardly any people there to look at, much less buy -anything. One vendor told me that half the people walking around were other vendors!

This is not a healthy situation for festivals in general if it persists; so I will get back to you all after I attend a few more upcoming festivals in the San Francisco Bay Area over the next few months……

Your roving festival reporter,


Ghawazi Dance by
Alexandria's Near Eastern Dance Company


Kathy Trewin



Saideh of Siren In Sanity

Yasmine of Siren In Sanity


Jim Boz

Suhaila Dance Company

M'shisha al-Foawi
of the Sahara Mascara troupe
in banana belt

member of
Suhaila Dance Company

Audrena's bazaar

Raks Jenna


Andrea Donderi

Claudia S'hiri

Dancers of Amara (thanks Tempest!)





Leyla, Masouma, and Andrea Donderi



Page 2
(Sorry we weren't there on Saturday!-Ed)

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