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Extra Dance Footage Notes and Stories
found on the DVD version

from Delilah's Absolute Beginning Bellydance

On the DVD version of Absolute Beginning: If you click on 3 of the dances in the crystal ball (you can also access them from the performance menu) they will unfold into archival full dance performances. In addition to better picture quality, another advantage of DVD is that the medium has a lot more storage space than VHS video.

Rose Dance Program Notes

Rose Dance

Rose Dance

When Laura Rose edited the Crystal Ball intro for Absolutely Beginning Bellydance, we all realized how cool it would be if some of the entire dance could also be accessed as an extra bonus detail. So I had to pick three of the performances she used. However a little secret about the rose dance is that it isn’t the dance you see in the crystal ball. The rose dance was done at two different retreats on Maui and I actually liked the other performance better even though it was not technically as good. So you are seeing the full performance from a different time. I thought it instructive to present dances that offer the most variety of performance application. This is one of my most favorite performances but it has a few technical problems and was not likely to ever appear on a video, but as an extra why not?

Steve is playing the ney on the performance so no one is operating the camera. It was just set up and running. So it is a stationary far shot on a camera we weren’t too crazy about. What I like about this dance is the use of the chanters; Mirayah Delamar and Connie Star dancer. I love the way Armando is playing the tar to the delayed line of the hem of my gown. He is such an amazing artist! The camera is set in the corner of the room covering only a far-away shot and while there is not an up-close personal feel to the dance, I think the anonymous character is more in line with the Sufi inspirations of the dance.

This dance was inspired in part by dancer and poet Ruth St. Denis (1878-1968) who was called the Mother of the modern dance movement. Her dances were both exotic and spiritually imbued. In her later years she was very involved with Sufi practices. Throughout her career she was famous for the black and white portrait photographs that depicted her dances. Often posed in long gowns that went way past her feet leaving us to wonder how she managed to dance in these costumes. . . .In my Rose Dance the satin tenure I’m wearing is much longer than I am tall. It is patterned after a traditional garment worn by the whirling dervishes. My use of this garment is of my own device, however, it is fused with years of experience with the Mevlevi Order. The garment is weighted with curtain weight so that it swings out and effects a most dramatic delayed line. The dress is a mental partner and becomes an elemental partner in my dance.

The spinning is derived from the meditative practices of the whirling dervishes. The object is to go within ones being, and find union with the divine. The dervish is spinning around a still point on the threshold between worlds. The gestures are symbolic. One hand draws the light and energy of the sun into the heart, the other grounds it into the body of the Earth. Some gestures are about the ongoing practice of polishing the rust from the heart, addressing the chakras, and opening and closing the rose. The dervish offers the high pure fragrance of the heart to the world. The practice of surrender opens the door to ecstatic states.

In this dance I untie a sash from around my waist in a demonstration of release. The skirt gets longer and freer. I can feel the draw of the earthy realm of existence through the pull of the hem. At another point in the dance I raise the tenure up over my head and reveal my Rose-inspired costume underneath. My belly is bare and my hips and heart are swathed in soft rose patterned silk, dabbed with pure rose odo, said to be the highest frequency of scent there is.

This is an important moment in my career. In this dance I feel I have demonstrated the statement that there is no spiritual difference between the devotional practice of the whirling dance and my devotional practice of the bellydance. While you will find bellydancers in bars and cabarets, their temple is the body and there is plenty of communion going on inside!
Lighter now, my spirit flies.

Come dance with me!

Poem is by Shams-ud-din Muhammad Hafiz AKA Hafiz 1320-1389, Persian
Read By Steve Flynn

Cane Dance

The traditional dancing with canes comes from the workers in the field. When it was time to take a mid-day break, a swim in the blue-green Nile might be a refreshing welcome. In this natural and fertile environment the country folks would entertain themselves with their music and dance. The custom grew by the banks of the Nile to pluck a cane stick from the waters edge and make a dance with it.

It’s a folk dance element. It can be straight or crooked at the end like a regular cane, however, normally the dancer holds the non-crooked end. In a Egyptian dance ensemble you will often find men dancing with a cane or stick wearing a gelabea and hip or waist sash.

There is a custom where a man and woman dance the length of the cane apart. They hold the cane between them with their bellys and no hands. One night while I was floating down the Nile on a cruise ship, the Captain of the ship came down to the disco with his dancing cane. He whipped it out to dance with me in this fashion. The crew all knelt around the edge of the stage and clapped and sang just like the workers of the field.

This inherited stage prop makes its way to stages in Egypt and around the world. Featured bellydancers, folk dancers, to full complements of chorus lines brandish thin shiny mylar versions in front of stage lights.

This dance was done at our Maui retreat in 2000. I made the costume in 1976 and wore it the first time I ever met and danced with Sirocco.

The sand shovel is not a traditional dance that I’m aware of.

Cane Dance Costume Design
As seen on the Absolute Beginning Bellydance Video

The costume consists of a one piece dress with sleeves to the elbow that drape off the back of the arm. The front midriff area is cut away in front to frame the open tummy. The dress is tacked into a built in halter bra that hooks in the front at the sternum. Then the skirt of the dress also hooks in front and at the low skirt line. The skirt is a full circle attached with very little gathers into a tailored long line bodice. A pair of opaque pleated harem pants are worn underneath (see how to make them in the costume booklet that accompanies Delilah’s Costume Workshop Videos), a hip scarf is tied around the hips and topped with a heavy coined belt. The belly drape is hooked into place underneath the dress into the foundation of the bra. A heavy coined turban drape is pined into the head scarf. It was made from from two Indian bed spreads, originally purchased at Pier One Imports in the 70s.

Funny bit:

Dave Dhillon, a local tabla player in San Diego always called this costume affectionately Delilah’s Abnub Gawaz Costume. Arnub means bunny in Arabic and in his famous style of humor meant that it reminded him of Bugs Bunny cartoon. Hmmmm?

Blue Enchantress

I like this dance for three reasons. The costume is unique, the veil work is really stylistically energetic and the drum solo is very playful. The veil is a piece of very inexpensive lining material, $2.47 per yard.

see Costume Tips and Cut a dress in Half

Visionary Belly Dancing
4115 Fremont Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103 USA

A Companion to Absolute Beginning Bellydance with Delilah