D's Blog

August 14, 2010   ♦   1 Comment »

Delilah in early years featured in the "Harem Caravan Review" 1975

Delilah in early years featured in the "Harem Caravan Review" 1975

I wrote this piece a few weeks ago and shared it with one of my yahoo groups. it has been requested to be reprinted in various news letters and e-zines and blogs. Yes it needs editing I hope they do it I am dyslexic so I can’t do it. I’m still writing it and on my compute it’s actually getting alot bigger but here is todays medium version.

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My early days were spent in San Diego and Hollywood. I danced with George Kayat at the Ali Baba Club, Maroon Saba at the Fez, Aziz Katra, John Bilezikjian at the Apadonna in New Port Beach, Raja Zahr in LA and Las Vegas, Harry Saroyan various places, Antwoine Hage at Haji Baba, , the Greek Chicago bands at Athens West in La Jolla, and the Harem Caravan* Review at the Ramada Inn.

I moved to Seattle in 1977.  I dance with who ever was playing at the Lebanon Restaurant and over 10 years with Takis Doties at The Grecian Corner followed by The MB Orchestra at George’s Bar & Grill and David Said at Kolbeh’s Persian. I toured and danced with all sorts of bands across the country during my career; Brothers of the Baladi, Transarabian Sound, Ibraheim Turman, Oasis, Doug Adams of Light Rain, Steven Flynn . . . Then in 1992 I began a very close relationship with Sirocco from Santa Cruise. They came to 15 of my Hawaii Retreats and we made many DVD’s together.  Currently I perform mostly with the full 6 piece music arabian music ensemble called House of Tarab. Last night I enjoyed dancing to Naseem Band!

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Wow, that was fun to recall all that history!

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Delilah at the High Dive 2008

Delilah at the High Dive 2008

Un Choreographed:

The way I learned to perform the old fashion belly dance, was not by rote of choreography. It was be experiencing it LIVE in-the-moment, in a cabaret environment. The belly dance performance was a anticipated ritual in the night club every night. It was composed of 5-7 distinct parts; the introduction, the veil dance, a fast more technical part, a floor-work gymnastic section made of slow cheftitelli and taxseems, followed by another short fast section, into the drum solo, ending with a merry fast section, taking bows , accepting applause and saying good bye, but promising to return. The sections were like a map. The party atmosphere made things come up spontaneously that rendered choreography not very realistic. Sometimes the dance would stay on the stage and other times it was someone’s birthday and the dance moved around the room. Audience members made song requests and sometimes would sing low yearning poems into the microphones during my dance. Either about love or often about people in the audience.  The audience loved when the dancer came out into the audience and interacted with them. Collecting tips, wrapping scarves into turbins around the heads of members of the audience and  saying “Good Evening”

Most of the parties and restaurants I danced in hosted families and little kids were encouraged to put tips in my waist band. Many performances were sacred sacraments of divine grace under a mirror ball and some down right rowdy and profane with Greek sailors showering dancers with hundreds of dollar bills. The Greeks also broke dinner plates. It was a ritual of releasing the attachment to possessions and embracing LIFE in-the-moment!  In the 70s I danced for 45 minutes per show. There was not one hair on my head that was not soaked in sweat. My stamina was incredible and I felt like a cosmic astronaut rocketing into out of this world trance spaces.

I deffinetly enter zones and trance states when I perform. In ancient, tribal and current society the trance is a big part to the dance. The trance state is a means of communion from the beginning of time. The average Arab knows ” tarab” as the divine ecstasy the listener gets into as part of the experience of focused listening to the music. The dancer is a vessel; a container of the human interface.  In the Haitian/African  Voudoun religion the trance state is a means of divine contact and interaction. In the Turkish (Mid Eastern) dervishes ecstatic spin she/he stands on the threshold between worlds; the mundane and greater whole. The zar as practiced in Egypt and parts of the Mid East is a similar cathartic experience and is often used in belly dance routines. The Guedra  of North Africa uses repetitive hand gestures and chanting to attain trance states. Am I praying or worshipping? Not in my mind. I am more of an explorer.

This being-in-the-moment with your physical dance experience is valuable and transfers something vital and essential to our souls. You, your body, your emotions, the cosmic vibrations of music, time, space, spirit and accelerate rise in body heat and blood flow. It’s healing for the body. It’s especially important to us in these days where we are leaving the body behind more and more. Todays technical world is sadly lacking these opportunities as we sit daily addicted to our physically passive computer screens. However, we do become  unwittingly vulnerable to internet trance states where the influences are not divine links but rather mediums for commercial gods and goddesses to commune with us.

As I dance I create my dance in the moment. I have seen dancers do this effectively with only knowing 5 moves. Knowing 5 moves or 500 moves does not necessarily make the dancer better.  It’s all about what you do with what you know.  I feel this wildness and openness of spirit is something exceptional belly dance avails to us. It should berevered and held on high. Not that it negates choreography. It is just that at this point in society we have many dances that are contained and choreographed . We have fewer options that are un choreographed and free. Improvisational dance holds essential skills that benefit our life experience in important ways. Do you live a choreographed life day to day? Maybe so. I don’t.

Improvisational dance does not mean you do not study rhythms, music, learn moves, develop your skill set, practice combos, condition the body and work to increase flexibility and endurance. It does not mean you do not have an intended destination either. You just navigate differently. Your moves become your paints. When we watch an improvisational belly dance, we are witnessing the painter painting. The dancer shares the live, active creative process with you. She listens carefully to the music and opens her heart and soul to be like a tuning fork and resonate with the vibrations in the air using time and space. With each breath she is inspired to unfold the next movement in time. The spirit provided the force behind the motion. We call this dynamics. We all are individuals and this is an opportunity for individuality to shine. The challenge is to be relaxed enough to allow the exhibitionist to step forward. There lies the hitch. We are told at an early age not to show off. Do not indulge your self. This comes from our old puritan roots. However, all artists are indulging the stuff that makes up their lives. We call this expression. Teachers tell their students, never do this or that. The “ don’t touch your own body”  policy is just a stupid lack of appreciation for the marvelous gift of life you have been given. Hello! It’s your body touch it if you want to! So check to see if that is in the back of your brain and get rid of that pilgrim it if you want to really dance. Whether you are dancing for your self or for an audience or both, you must be open, know your body and accessible to your emotions. Available, vulnerable and shameless.

I often think about the stewardess directives to put the oxygen mask on yourself first before the child next to her. This is because if Mom dose not take care of her self first she will not be any use to that child that is dependent on the adult. If we do not invest in our internal life experience and take care of ourselves first, we will not have much to say. I cannot share any of my cookies with you if I have not baked any.  An authentic dance comes from an authentic life. I think this is one of the best kernels this dance has to offer all of us. It is the metaphor that life is one long dance from birth to death. To choreograph or to live in the moment is worth thought. Who choreographs your life? You, your mother, father, brother, husband, church . . .?

The fear of not having anything to say is what often drives us to want a choreography. The fear that what we have to offer is not any good. The notion that yours is better than mine, so teach me your dance. So sad when self esteem is so poor that we would rather do the dance of someone else. Or that we could only have one idea and we cling to it and keep using it over and over again in repetition instead of taking a risk and trying something new. The new is our growth.

Some of us can dream up dances and have others implement them. I think the desire to save dances as original choreographies is a kin to video taping them. The memorization that goes into a paint by number dance is very left brained. The right brain synthesizes things. The left brain sequences things. The left brain judges (and leads to self criticisms) and the right brain is metaphoric and sees likeness. To make a choreography work it must move from analytical left brain to the right. Some humans are skilled at this others can quickly synthesize intuitively. Often we have learned to feel more secure when things are organized and set. I say learned because children do not usually mind disorganization. It is adults that require and maintain order. If we learn skills for being comfortable in chaos we have a skill for life. The universe supports chaos, if not more, than organization. Organization comes out of chaos. (I studied with Gabriel Roth and she taught me about chaos). If everything is tightly organized there is little room for creativity. I don’t mean for it to be a contest here. I am only trying to illuminate some factors that may limit our personal growth.

If you liked your self and the picture you create with your beautiful box of crayons, then you carry a sense of pride. We recognize a child’s sweet sense of accomplishment and pride about creating his/her picture.  That experience of drawing, is full of lines, color, space, time, rhythm, design, breath and heart beats. We come away from these experiences liking our selves and our lives (or well we should). I think to ignore, devalue, not see the merit of your own creative process is a contributing factor to all the depression and loneliness people feel these days. Pride coupled with compassion leads to strength and greatness. The lack of pride leads to not even finding compassion for ones self.

Choreography teaches us about process and transition. It allows us to put our best tricks forward in the shortest amount of time I suppose. In a sound bite. Since we are all so busy and there are so many of us now a days, that a sound bite is all we have time for it seems. However sound bites leave out plateaus and thresholds to new zones of physical and psychic trance expression only attained though longer durations of time. Real breath, real heart beats and body heat are necessary ingredients. This is where dance crosses over and can become prayer or communion with ones maker of some sort, and this is what has some religious folks scared. I do not what they are so afraid of, but I think it boils down to putting the clergy out of a job if people realized they can contact god all by them selves without the need of a clergy man/woman.

I tell my students when their shoulders are locked to think of something they love to do. The shoulders are about passion and our sensibility. I direct them to practice rolling their shoulders while eating a chocolate dove bar or relaxing in a hot tub. When you learn that that story is in those body parts the stories begin to unfold.

I often say to a new performer that if you step on stage you are accepting a responsibility to perform. A contract. The only way you let that responsibility down is by not understanding and accepting the rules of the contract by performing. You must be an exhibitionist. Some dancers appear to have stepped on stage and left themselves at home. It is really simple; tell me a story. In the case of dance, it is with your body language this story unfolds. There are millions of stories that can be told with the accompanying music. Our bodies can express more than spoken words. It not linear. It is multilayered, way more complicated than spoken or written words. If we are comfortable with the human body, we know it innately because we share the experience of being human. We know it with out a translator.

So what story do you need, desire to share? Do tell it with out a choreography sometimes?

Delilah

* WHOse WHO in  Harim Caravan Photo at the top;

?, Dave Dhillon, Delilah, Richard Barham, Deseree, Tony Karasak

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August 12, 2010   ♦   Comments Off on Lorraine Lafata; Healing Belly Dance
About Lorraine and belly dance.
Lorraine was one of the founders of the “Goddess Dancing” in Boston.
It was from a short period of time when the word “Goddess” wasn’t a dirty word.
It is a dance co operative still to this day in Boston. They are very dedicated to teaching and inspiring women to belly dance from a place of health and happiness and personal growth.
All ladies after my own heart.
Lorraine is a therapist, social worker, feminist, belly dancer and mother. She worked in women’s prisons teaching women to access forgotten parts of themselves through this wordless dance. Profound experiences. She is dedicated to healing women’s wounded self esteem. She helps them find and express their inner stories.
Neither her nor I worship Goddesses in our workshops, as the unacquainted often pass on as gossip. We use archetypes to access parts of our psyche. Our psyche is where the craft or creative dance comes from. dance is not just cookie cutter body shaping thrown into space on a dance floor. Archetypes are matrixes. Things that get repeated over and over again so they are universally known in symbolic representation. Imbued with meaning. They can be found in myths, fairy tales, nursery rhymes, God and  Goddess, hero and villain representations, astrology, tarot cards, and modern narratives of books, movies, and yes our dance. With out meaning or dance is only flesh flipping vulgarly into the air.
HERstory
I met her on the phone first.
We hit it off and would talk for hours about non typical belly dance teachings. In 1994 she came to one of my Hawaii Retreats and we met in person. In 1995 she came with me on my Costa Rican Caravan exploring dancing in nature. We were a small band of poets, drummers and dancers on a enchanting journey all over Costa Rica with a naturalist guide. She came with her husband and explained they were on their reverse honeymoon. They were celebrating their marriage that they were in agreement would dissolve. It was an interesting event to share with her and the group energy in Costa Rica.
When we returned we decided we needed to work together and Lorraine Kajira Djoumahna (Tribal Fest Producer) and my self put on 2 California workshops in 96, 97. They were called” Inanna, Solome and the 7 Part Cabaret Belly Dance Routine” A big mouthful. We worked with archetypal journey through our belly dance. These retreats were very amazing processes of discovering greater meaning behind our dance. We had Sirocco as our guest musicians the first year and the second we had John Bilejikian and his drummer.
Lorraine has a busy counciling practice in Boston and a small dance studio with dedicated students where she develops her work. I brought Lorraine to Seattle to do a lecture, all day workshop and 3 hour Workshop called “Healing our Sexuality in 98”. It was popularly attended and the group of 45 ladies applauded, and yelled! Imploring me to promise to bring her back to Seattle!!
Then in 2002 I hosted Lorraine as my guest Hawaii Retreat Instructor in Maui. The course was called “Embracing Aphrodite” and it was one of the largest most powerful retreats I have ever attended. It was the January right after 9/11/01. It was booked up before that horrible event that has changed all our lives for ever but it was a point of transition for everyone that made this retreat very very important. We looked at power, strength, fear and true beauty. There is a good documentary of it, on my Live and  Wild DVD as an extra feature (Sale right now).
After 9/11 things started changing alot for belly dance. The Belly Dance Super stars got popular and started touring around the world. Tribal belly dance broke away from the festivals and formed it’s own independent events. I opened my studio in 04 and belly dance was peeking in it’s popularity and yet splintering in many directions. Middle Eastern music wasn’t necessary to the dance any more, costume and work out attire changed big time. All of a sudden I felt the stabbing attacks of women against the Goddess. Hmmm? It Wa Ok in the 90’s but now it’s called “woo woo”. Dancers confuse worship with Jungian Psychology and creative association. Sad because if you don’t envision something powerful inside (and Goddess imagery is hot and powerful image in my mind) then what is inside?Tough girl? Naughty girl? Ballet girl? Pirate girl? A man explained to me the image is often “Aloof Girl. The message was you can dare to look at me dance but then you better f*?K off and die.
Or are dancers dancing as empty vessels? Hmmm? Andrea Deagon just wrote an interesting article on gilded serpent that has me thinking. She says we are like swiss coo coo clocks. LOL!
In the past few years ballet entered the picture very distinctly, demand for choreography or belly dance as “just exercise”  seems to be what women want. Exercise is important and I sure think belly dance makes your weekly exercise requirements fun and easy but to me it’s more. I notice that studying real ethnic dance forms is down in popular interest and no one wants to invest in costumes at the moment. Alot of confusion dressed up as fusion if you ask me. I never wanted to see the day ballet became part of belly dance. If it was a big part of belly dance when I began dancing I wouldn’t be a belly dancer today. Ballet teaches many more people to sit and watch than to dance and actually participate. When competition is high it’s a good way to force people out of the pool. Just like blaming other dancers as being Goddess Worshippers. The fear and insecurity contributes to our ignorance and we stop our selves from growing.
For the past few year Christine Hamby has been going and doing an internship program with Lorraine. She has also been sponsoring  her out here in Seattle the past 3 Augusts.
OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS
Lorraine Lafata will be teaching an all day unique experiential workshop.
BELLY DANCE AS HEALING DANCE; WORKING WITH TRAUMA
Saturday AUGUST 14th
VDP STUDIO
4128 Fremont Ave n
Sea wa 98103
http://visionarydance.com/seattle-studio/class-info/lafata/
Call to reserve please.
Delilah 206-632-2353

Lorraine LafataAbout Lorraine and belly dancing.

Lorraine was one of the founders of the “Goddess Dancing” in Boston.

It was formed during  a short period of time when the word “Goddess” wasn’t a dirty word around the belly dance world.

It is a dance co operative still to this day in Boston. They are very dedicated to teaching and inspiring women to belly dance from a place of health and happiness and personal growth. Instead of calling it belly dance they call it Goddess Dance. I think partly they didn’t feel comfortable taking the dance that was recognized as coming from a Middle Eastern origin and blossoming it out in new enpowering directions with their explorations. It’s simple to see the  ME culture wouldn’t recognize these progressions for various reasons. It’s very much American.

These are all ladies after my own heart.

Lorraine is a therapist, social worker, feminist, belly dancer and mother. She worked in women’s prisons teaching women to access forgotten parts of themselves through this wordless dance. Profound experiences. She is dedicated to healing women’s wounded self esteem. She helps them find and express their inner stories. Often we call this fantasy but just where do our fantasys come from? What are they can we work with them and find something very meaningful?

Neither she nor I worship Goddesses in our workshops, as the unacquainted often pass on as un experienced lip serve. We use archetypes to access parts of our psyche. Develop our sense of character. Our psyche is where the craft or creative dance comes from. Dance is not just cookie cutter body shaping thrown into space on a dance floor. Archetypes are matrixes. Things that get repeated over and over again so they are universally known in symbolic representation. Imbued with meaning.   They can be found in myths, fairy tales, nursery rhymes, God and  Goddess, hero and villain representations, astrology, tarot cards, and modern narratives of books, movies, and yes our dance. With out meaning or dance is only flesh flipping vulgarly into the air.

Our bodies are full of symbols.

Lorraine Lafata  will be teaching an all day workshop

Belly Dance as Healing Dance; Working with Trauma

Saturday August 14th

HERstory

I met her on the phone first.

We hit it off and would talk for hours about non typical belly dance teachings. In 1994 she came to one of my Hawaii Retreats and we met in person. In 1995 she came with me on my Costa Rican Caravan exploring dancing in nature. We were a small band of poets, drummers and dancers on a enchanting journey all over Costa Rica with a naturalist guide. She came with her husband and explained they were on their reverse honeymoon. They were celebrating their marriage that they were in agreement would dissolve. It was an interesting event to share with her and the group energy in Costa Rica.

When we returned we decided we needed to work together and Lorraine Kajira Djoumahna (Tribal Fest Producer) and my self put on 2 California workshops in 96, 97. They were called” Inanna, Solome and the 7 Part Cabaret Belly Dance Routine” A big mouthful. We worked with archetypal journey through our belly dance. These retreats were very amazing processes of discovering greater meaning behind our dance. We had Sirocco as our guest musicians the first year and the second we had John Bilejikian and his drummer.

Lorraine has a busy counciling practice in Boston and a small dance studio with dedicated students where she develops her work. I brought Lorraine to Seattle to do a lecture, all day workshop and 3 hour Workshop called “Healing our Sexuality in 98”. It was popularly attended and the group of 45 ladies applauded, and yelled! Imploring me to promise to bring her back to Seattle!!

Then in 2002 I hosted Lorraine as my guest Hawaii Retreat Instructor in Maui. The course was called “Embracing Aphrodite” and it was one of the largest most powerful retreats I have ever attended. It was the January right after 9/11/01. It was booked up before that horrible event that has changed all our lives for ever but it was a point of transition for everyone that made this retreat very very important. We looked at power, strength, fear and true beauty. There is a good documentary of it, on my Live and  Wild DVD as an extra feature (Sale right now).

Introduced to Lorraine through the Seattle workshops, Christine Hamby was inspired to do an internship program with Lorraine on the East Coast. She has also been sponsoring  her out here in Seattle the past 3 Augusts.

OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS

Lorraine Lafata will be teaching an all day unique experiential workshop.

BELLY DANCE AS HEALING DANCE; WORKING WITH TRAUMA

Saturday AUGUST 14th

VDP STUDIO

4128 Fremont Ave n

Sea wa 98103

http://visionarydance.com/seattle-studio/class-info/lafata/

Call to reserve please.

Delilah 206-632-2353

Belly Dance into the Sea

Belly Dance into the Sea

Integrity and value

I try very hard my entire career. I am very dedicated to this dance, this art and the women who pursue it. I suppose I am driven by some sort of urge to make a difference and improve our station in life as dancers, as women, as artists . . . . I think we do this by becoming more whole. In belly dance we reclaim all the physical parts of our selves and learn to express our selves though them. I find this magically transformative. I see this dance as offering us more than a folk art or a stage performance. It’s much more meaningful than a borrowed ethnic cultural experience to it’s participants.

It occasionally comes back to me that other dancers I professionally respect and admire make fun and talk down about my Hawaii Retreats to their students and colleagues. The point they choose to poke fun of is our dancing into the sea at sun rise . It’s an event I hosted as an annual ritual belly dance event on Maui for 10 years. LOL . . . even though it kind of hurts a bit to hear dancers dissing on me. If they have been to my retreats, well so be it. But the comments that are made are by dancers who know nothing about my retreats. Simply because they have not been. It’s sad that they choose something so beautiful to stick a wedge to prop them selves up to feel a bit superior.  The only reason has to be jealousy and insecurity.  I hope the novice students they are bending the ear of can see this clearly for what it is.

(Do me a favor and if you do hear a comment from someone like that send them to this blog post.)

If we do any belly dancing in to the sea these days it is rare simply because the Big Island where I do my retreats (these days) doesn’t have a dependable, safe beach for this particular dance where our retreat facility is situated. There is a nice beach across the street but the surf is harder and the black sand more gritty. Dancers have to be very strong and water savvy. We have to drive for hours to do it on white fine sand. If I teach a belly dancing in nature class it’s not for the entire retreat either. It gives such a nice contrast to the studio classes. Hawaii is perfect for this. The class helps people become more aware in their dance as well as their daily life. I have worked hard to plan retreats that delve into many styles and subjects of belly dance. I have hosted so many quality teachers that have made successful achievements in their careers. I have gone past the call of the average event host to sponsor live music again and again. It is also very important to me to walk the talk. “Belly Dance IS for everyone”. Not just the cool people as one person said to me. No just the young, trim, unusually talented and beautiful people but all of us! Our retreats are about furthering our understanding of what true beauty is opposed to our capitalistic commercialized idea we are all fed. This is what gives our retreats the healing women’s self esteem reputation.

If it make you laugh to think we dance into the sea in the early morning at sun rise. My goodness then you aren’t living fully if it makes you nervous, because it’s really a beautiful experience.  It’s not with out a high purpose as well. It teaches you many lessons as an artist. Lessons that are not imbibed by e mail, books or choreography. Do you not see it by example of my dance?  The power, strength and depth of attention to the moment in hand? Well the best way I can show it to you is by experiential lessons, but you got to come to the well to drink. Not just think you already know what I’m doing or talking about, but actually come and learn something new.

Next January I’m feature Ruby at my Belly Dance retreat 2011.


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