Beginning of Journal Notes from Delilah: Caravan Blog
This project started on July 4th. . .8 weeks ago. Its a dance all its own.
It began when 5 sponsors emailed me and asked if I would come and teach on the East coast. I proposed if I came in the fall, on specific dates, with the live music of Sirocco, could they see it through and sponsor an event? A couple sponsors thought I meant next fall,but no, I meant to begin in 12 weeks and finish by the 18th week - plenty of time if one works hard. They said they would and I got my yellow pencil out and started planning a grand adventure.
(See my quote by Goethe, its what I live by!)
Delilah's Caravan Blog (Installments are made every few days)
To get things rolling, it was a matter of calling more sponsors and filling in the gaps of time and miles. I said I would do more than just come. I have placed ads and articles in Benu, Zagareet, WAMEDA, Jareeda, New England Journal, Chronicles, and Rakkasah. Then, Visionary Dance installed these Caravan Tour web pages detailing all events and linking all the sponsors together for additional support.
My sponsors have taken out ads in Caravan, New England Dance, WAMEDA, Awakenings, and, most likely, in even more local magazines before we are done. They all were mailing and emailing flyers, and making lots of phone calls, as well.
There are now 14 sponsors and many supportive helpers involved in this project. It is a true labor of love. The logistics of this project are staggering lots of money being spent and things to keep track of. We are traveling in two rented vans: myself and Laura Rose will be in one van. Halfway through our trip we will be joined by Justin Ruedebusch, an aspiring musician. In the other van will be Uncle Mafufo, his wonderful wife Hanya, and Sulyman El Coyote. Hanya adds to the percussion section and helps stage manage, road manage, drive, and keep books. Laura Rose is dancing, videotaping and managing sales and maps. Our trip will last seven weeks (47 days to be more exact), so other loved ones may join us on the trail from time to time. We are hoping for a reversal in the rising gas prices, because we will cover about 3,400 miles in 2 vans. We will stay in many homes and many hotels along the way. Eating out in restaurants all the time will be challenging. We will have instruments, costumes, laptop computers, cell phones, merchandise and other equipment which cant be left in the car unattended. Its a big responsibility. Numerous hours of planning and organizing are going into this. But what could we do? This is our life's work that we bring. We only go around once in this life, and we want to bring it to you in the form in which we do it BEST!
In Syracuse, we will shop and outfit our vans with things we cant easily bring on the plane. Lots of things will be shipped ahead: from costumes to creature comforts to promotional sport bras to weight belts, drums and zills.
We start in Syracuse and our final destination is Miami. In Miami, we plan to have a clearance sale. Most everything will go, even our VCR-TV set, garment racks, instruments, pots, pans, creature comforts and costumes. It should be interesting.
Each sponsor has a big networking job in front of them, too. They need to contact the press and the media. They need to focus on established artists as well as would-be drummers, musicians, and dancers.
Everyone is learning a lot and establishing good relations for future events and networks. Its awesome how many people are getting involved. Belly dance has never been more popular.
I say Everyone has belly dance on their mind these days, whether they know it or not. Next week they will have coins on their hips!. . . . more to come
September 17 "Preparing and Planning"
I can't believe I only have 13 more days until I fly into Syracuse with Laura Rose. We still have so much to do between now and then. Every minute of my waking day is in motion and there aren't too many of those non-waking moments either! We'll arrive a day early, pick up our van and secure supplies for our giant caravan road trip. Sol, Armando, and Hanya will arrive on October 2nd and pick up another van. Zajal offered to arrange a little party on Thursday night to just have fun with dancers in the area. Very nice of her.
All the details are coming along nicely ('cept the sports bras are late) and new elements are constantly in the works. A few women are bound and determined to have me teach in NY and are cooking up a plan for Saturday or Sunday for a few hours in the city, while Laura Rose watches my booth at Rakassah. I, myself, am sponsoring our finale celebration in Ft. Lauderdale/ Miami. It will be good to stay in a nice hotel. We will not have to lug our gear and costumes in and out of vehicles so much and can relax and unwind. Scheherazade, my first teacher, will join me in performance at that event. It is going to be one of the most endearing and meaningful shows of my life . I look very much forward to it. We will be joined by our daughters in this show also. Many of the sponsors on this Caravan are planning to attend the "End of the Caravan Trail" Event. It feels overwhelmingly supportive. I reserved a banquet room and a block of Hotel rooms for the weekend of November 14, 15, 16 at the Holiday Inn Ft Lauderdale. I had beautiful promotions designed and sent to Belly Dance Schools and customers from our database in the Florida area.I hope we have a good turnout for our Celebration. We put together a nice, all day music and dance workshop. . .as well as a sale.
I 've been sewing and repairing and adjusting costumes for the tour. I keep telling myself I 'll put some up for SALE in Miami. Some I probably won't part with, but I should - I have so many! All my costumes are filled with dance memories!
I've been preparing all the arrangements, the brochure and flyer designs for the Maui Retreat as well as many other elements of this tour all at once. It's wild. I also have a pending book contract as soon as I get off the tour. I need to sign the contract before I go. There are a few other exciting things in the works as well. I have no idea how I'm getting all this done, but there does seem to be a momentum that I'm caught in. I love it!
Steve and Laura Rose have been working night and day on the 3 new DVDs and it looks like they will be ready a day or two before our tour!!! Hooray! Uncle Mafufo is releasing a new Drum DVD too!
The Power Workout classes I've been teaching 3 nights a week are just the medicine I needed to get in shape for the tour and I love what it's doing for my students. We are just focusing on sweat and working out for 60-90 minutes with weight belts. Getting very strong!
I'm excited! I'm excited! Lots of loving support coming from all directions!
Just wish those sports bras would get here!
September 20th "Some Stress"
The tee shirts and sports bras are delayed and guess what? They were supposed to be on their way to their locations. Ha! What a fiasco!They weren't even printed yet! They don't even have the colors I ordered! They have most of them, but not the tropical colors. What a poor job of customer service! They are trying to make up for their mistakes and promise they will arrive on Tuesday this coming week! We shall see!
On other fronts . . . all good reports from all the sponsors. I've been repairing and preparing costumes and shipments of supplies to various locations. All is well at home.
September 27th " Disabled Out- of-Towner"
Oh dear. A dancer from South Florida called today. She was very confused by our "End of the Trail" event flyer I sent out. (Thank Goodness she called). Seems I made a mistake. I'm not too surprised, with as many details as I'm handling."
In July, August ,and September I had talked to many dancers and sponsors in the area of Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and Hollywood about sponsorship and our arrival. They were enthusiastic and supportive. However, I decided to sponsor the last event myself, because we wanted to celebrate and be comfortable in a hotel rather than in a studio situation. We will need to break down our caravan tents and prepare to fly back home during our stay. Having everything in one place seemed more relaxing.
Here is what lead to my mistake. From my perspective up here in Seattle, and looking ahead to the 4,000 plus miles of our Caravan Journey, I kept seeing the areas as interconnected because of the way people talked about them. I used city names fairly interchangeably and nobody blinked. To make matters even more confusing from our perspective, some of us are flying out of the Miami airport because that's where the best prices and schedules were. This didn't help us see the two cities as very separate. But, if you live there, you do. Sorry.
So on my flyer, I put the headline, "Meet me in Miami." Oops! It's really Ft. Lauderdale (doesn't have the same ring to it). All our events are taking place at the Holiday Inn Ft Lauderdale. It is located right by the Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood airport. The Miami airport is 30-40 minutes away. Of course, I put the address of the Holiday Inn Ft. Lauderdale on the flyer (thank God). And that is indeed where all events are taking place.
I can see how silly that must sound if I interchange my own local cities names. "Meet me in Bellevue at the Seattle Hilton" Oh dear! What a goof! I really need some help in rectifying this mistake. Maybe the belly dance community online could help talk it up. I'll have to have new flyers made and sent out. Not to the entire database but to the studios. Please pardon my out-of-towner's disadvantage. Bet I don't make this mistake again!
On another note . . .
Sports bras arrive! Black, red, white, teal (I would call it light turquoise) periwinkle (lilac). They look great and the dancers and I say the sizing is generously proportioned.
My favorite tee shirt man, Jim Sorensen, did a beautiful job on the 3-color printing for the men's tee shirt, camisoles, lady's tanks and long sleeve women's shirts. They are beautiful! I made these up to sell and celebrate the tour and raise revenue for the hefty vehicle expense we will be incurring on this trip. So,
BUY A SPORTS BRA, SUPPORT YOUR CRAZY BELLY DANCER!
It really means a lot to me when people show their support. We even had a guy buy one. We asked him what size and he said it didn't matter. That was before he knew we had tee shirts.
Oh yes! A new shipment arrived from Egypt yesterday. More than 200 hip scarves. These were all bead and coin a little fancier than I normally sell, but I want to have nice things on our tour. Some I will stow away to send direct to the "End of the Trail Sale" in Ft. Lauderdale so we are sure to have items at there.
4 more days to pack and prepare. . .so much to do!
THE DVD's ARE DONE!
YA HOO!They werent labeled and shrink wrapped yet, but they were at least in town. Steve drove to the plant and got 10 of Delilahs Bellydance Workshop Volume I, II, III so I would have something to take to our first destination early tomorrow morning. The rest will be shipped to us on the road.
When you have a DVD made you dont get a proof to OK. What you submit is what you get times 1,000. In our case, 3,000 because we had 3 programs done. If there is a mistake, they all go to the dump.
So, now the scary part. Putting them into the DVD player and hoping to God and Goddess there are no mistakes in the complex maze of navigation programing that went into these masterpieces. . .And they are perfect!!!! Champagne all around! Kiss, kiss, kiss! A full year's work comes to a beautiful completion and slides into the finish line not a second to late!
We are blessed.
. . . .Oh they are not completely finished. The companion Web Club #3 that will accompany the set will not be open online until January. Also Steve plans to write a little companion booklet on how to work your DVD for you folks easily intimidated by technology. He wants to make it absolutely easy!
Oct 1. . .
Still a few loose details trailing behind us as Laura Rose and I got to the airport at 4:30 am on October 1st. The plane left without a hitch and we arrived in sunny, but nippy, Cincinnati and then Syracuse. We picked up our van with remarkable ease. The airport seemed deserted. We filled it with baggage and encountered our first toll road (not something we deal with much on the West Coast. Guess I'll have to get used it)
Cool thing was, we were met an hour after arrival by 4 members and officers of the Syracuse Area Belly Dance Association (SABA) for dinner and drinks. Shelly, Hadia, Robin and Joanne. We had a really nice talk in the hotel cafe about belly dance.
When we checked in to an Express Doubletree Hotel, they had no elevators or anything on the ground floor so we had to lug our 8 bags up a flight of stairs and long corridors. Quite the project!
The airlines now allow you only 2 bags, 50 pounds per bag without tariff. (It had been 70 lbs. for years. This means if the average traveler fills a large Samsomite suitcase, they will most likely be overweight and get charged extra. Laura Rose and I each paid $40 extra for a third, 50 lb bag.) We had to take a lot of things: costumes, jewelry, merchandise, toiletries, video equipment, still cameras, lap top computer, interface cords, bookkeeping records, banking, and sound technology. We had to distribute things in ways not conducive to our trip, but based on weight distribution. We will also meet up with about 5 large boxes we had shipped to Ithaca in advance. Thus, as soon as we arrive, and in the first few days, we will need to redistribute everything in a more useful manor, so we could access things more easily. This will take time to get used to. Today we plan to go to Kmart, get supplies, then hightail it to Ithaca.
Opps! There is an entry for this day. . . .
It's on another computer program I can't reach at the moment. later. . .
We did our first Caravan show last night!
Zajal was a fabulous M.C. She spoke very eloquently to a modest audience and wore a lovely turquoise and gold balady dress in which she later did a quick cane dance in.
I began the show in my Pink Satin Rose tenure (dervish dress) and performed a dance to poetry written and spoken by Eric and Zajal, and musically sweetened by the ney, cymbulum, and tar.
Laura Rose did beautifully on her Caravan debut performance. Stunning with her combination goth and tribal costuming with black and the reddest rose framing her China white complexion. Very dramatic use of floorwork and veil and she was completely connecting with the audience. Look out!
June did a nice routine with a snappy Karshilamar section. I followed with a 7-part routine in my gold beads and leopard costume. This costume is fabulous, but it's always been too big for me. Now that I lost weight dancing in my weight belt all summer, it's really too big! So, it's FOR SALE! . . . at our "End of the Caravan Trail Sale" in Ft. Lauderdale/Miami.
Afterward, the band played for an open dance floor. Laura Rose and I came out in costume and posed for photos with folks in the audience and danced together. I wished I had a video of the performance, especially because of the novelty of Erik and Zajal's poetry and it being Laura Rose's first and very good performance. However, the room and lighing didn't warrant it. While we had a video camera we just couldn't manage it with all we were doing: setting up, vending, teaching, changing costumes, and talking to students and audience members. If we want to do any quality videotaping we will have to buy or borrow a tripod (perhaps an undersite in our packing list but our van is packed to the brim). If anyone who knows about videotaping wants to volunteer in the upcoming events, we are open. It's hard to dance and videotape ourselves. (If we buy a tripod, we'll have another item to sell at our Ft. Lauderdale workshop, show and SALE on Saturday NOVEMEBER 15th!)
See Sale Items listed so far
By the way, if anyone is reading this blog and is also on any e mail belly dance lists or chat rooms. Please talk up my Miami event! This is a challenge, promoting it from on the road. We need lots of lip service!!!!!
Nice workshops at CMSA. There were about 25 dancers.
Sirocco stayed the night in Ithaca and Laura Rose and I drove half way to Pittsburgh, since I would have an afternoon workshop. The band will follow in the early morning.
"American History, Cheese Steaks, and Nights of the Living Dead"
One of the side bar motivations for this tour is my love of American history and geneology. I am in search of the familial link between myself and the famous turn-of-the-century dancer Loie Fuller of the Art Nouveau era. My great Uncle was Louie Fuller and he left a letter with some fascinating clues in that direction. In the past 3 years I've come a long way in discovering my roots. It took me back to 17th-century German sword makers who were solicited by Napoleon to work for him in France. They escaped to the new world in the 1700s to become revolutionaries. Basically this geneology fascination taught me to use the computer (it was a foreign beast until this point) and cultivated my love for American history. Such adventure! So part of my agenda was to also do some genealogic exploration while on tour. But I see now, that I'll be way too busy teaching, lugging baggage, and driving to have much energy left for it outside of maybe two small stops.
We made good time on our way to Pittsburgh and so had time left over for a little off road excursion. We saw on the AAA book that we were coming up to the tiny town of Harmony, Pennsylvania. It has some pretty old history attached: the first Mennonite and Rabites church and settlement. It was a stunning, sun-shining Sunday morning. Hardly anyone on the streets. I'll let Laura Rose tell the story of what we found on our adventure in her web blog, since it's fitting as a bit Gothic and spooky adventure. . .
. . . Off we went to the city. We checked into a nice new Holiday Inn Express, right on the far end of the 10th Street Bridge, posed toward the city. Fab view of downtown. Debbie Antantis did a great job of planning. Everything was very close together. If we didn't have so much baggage all the time, we could have walked to almost everything. The workshop was in a yoga studio on the third floor with no elevator! Oh oh! Not to worry, Debbie had a fleet of volunteers ready to take all our vending stuff up the stairs for us. It was a piece of cake.
We were met by Bill Tricomi, who has been very helpful correcting my spelling and punctuation on this sight from time to time. He came in from Madison, Wisconsin, to see the show and do the music classes and also volunteered to be my vending assistant. It was a pleasure to meet him and he was an absolute lifesaver. . . very fun to hang out with. He found out something I think maybe I should post on my web site! Airfare from Madison, WI, to Ft. lauderdale in November 15 was $200. So he's going to come and lend us a hand there too! BUT it follows that airfares are cheap all over the country at the moment!!! Check it out and meet us in Miami. . Oop! I mean Ft. Lauderdale
There were just more than 30 dancers in the workshop and afterward we had the show right in the yoga studio. Sirocco pulled in at about 5 PM and all was aflutter. Sol had lost his wallet with a lot of important stuff in it and he had caught a terrible cold. Luckily, the wallet was found before show time and all were relieved. No zorna today given the state of his lungs. The show was a more delicate mix as he played cymbulum, camanche and a little ney. Laura Rose really liked the songs they played for her: Bir Gemet and Zeina. It was a lovely show, and while we were dancing, more fireworks than I have ever seen in my life were going off in the sky above the building. Apparently it had something to do with a big sporting event . We would really feel the energy of this later at our hotel room as our next-door neighbors were in a fighting good mood. We hoped they didn't have guns!
The next day (Monday) we had some music and dance classes. They were small workshops, but dancers came from far away and it may have been well worth their drive and effort, because it was a much more intimate experience than some of the huge weekend workshops I've taught. (In Iowa last spring, there were 104 dancers in the workshop!). For dinner Debbie treated us to Pittsburgh's famous sandwiches: cheese steak with French fries and coleslaw, all piled on top between the 2 slices of bread. Very good and very messy! The drum workshop was held at Gems of the World. While Uncle Mafufo taught his class in the back room, Laura Rose and I were offered complementary back adjustments by Mark, and rock healings by John, the shop's proprietor. The shop was really cool and we bought lots of pretties!
Debbie was a champ as a sponsor and did a great job with flyers and coordinating everything. John also drives a cab part-time and together they drove all over and postered the local dance and yoga schools.
We were off at the crack of dawn . . .
In Somerset, PA, I had a rendezvous with my genes. Out in the country, next to the communities of Salisbury and Elk Lick, was the site of my old Engle family grist mill (originally built in the late 1700s, but parts were rebuilt in 1998 after 3 tornados hit). The houses and most of the mill are still standing as well the house my great, great, great, great, grandfather Clement Engle built. A family graveyard was tucked a ways off the road on the property. I had a map and I wanted to go visit, but Laura Rose was ill and I didn't want to trespass on private property, especially while I was with some one who looked like death warmed over and an actress from the Rocky Horror picture show. (These country folk might not understand and I wouldn't want to scare them.) No one was around to ask and we were running out of time on our schedule to Philadelphia anyway, so I had to be content with just the drive out there, a few photographs and the simple satisfaction of being there. I will definitely make time one day to come and explore the libraries and historic sites out there. The day was very lovely and Pennsylvania is really a beautiful state. On a peaceful day like this, it's hard to imagine the area being terrorized by tornados.
We are a funny pair of tourists. Belly dance mom and Goth girl traveling and dancing around the countrysides looking for graveyards and American roots.
OCTOBER 8 The "Philly"
The Sirocco van beat us to Nagia's house. We had time to refresh and then we were off to the Casablanca Restaurant only a mile away. Great food, nice place! It was a Tuesday night and the restaurant was filled with welcoming faces! This was gig #3 and now we have heard ourselves being introduced as the Caravan Tour on all occasions. It's getting exciting! The momentum is building!
Nagia hosted a belly dance workshop in her pretty little studio and afterward a potluck lunch. We hit the road and made it to Norwalk, Connecticut for a night in a hotel.
Off we go early this morning. . .
News Alert for my Seattle Class!
Garfurfield is back ! ? !
Who is Garfurfield? A bossie cat who has become my studio mascot. Seatlle dancer Zaphara and I are his Aunties. He dissapeared for the last month and all my students and I missed him dearly. Zaphara sent word to me he's back, but I haven't heard the details yet.
Onward with the Caravan . . . October 8-12
At dusk we crossed the George Washington Bridge. The full moon hung like an Oriental lantern to the left in a steel blue sky. Striking to the eye, our jaws dropped in awe as we fumbled to find our camera. The cords of the bridge unfolded in front of us as the moon danced. Everything glistened in silver.With each dip in the road it was as if she (the moon) bent down to kiss the buildings and overpasses and then soared up high in the sky again. It was a moment etched in our minds only, for the camera was packed in the back somewhere out of reach. Oh, well.
We stopped at AAA on the way to Boston to pick up all the rest of the travel books for all the states we'll pass through. Reading about every town and landmark adds a great dimension to our adventure. It was about 2:30 in the afternoon when we pulled in to Lareina's in the Medford, MA., area. Sirocco was close behind. We were escorted to our host families houses in Caravan Style through the winding streets at rush hour. A bit exhilarating. Sirocco (Armando Hanya and Sulyman) stayed with Stephanie. Laura Rose and I stayed with the Carr family: Mark, Cecile and their 3 adorable children, Juliette, 3, Samuel, 6, and Emilie, 8. We arrived and were greeted by the children who were very excited. They told all their classmates that the "Famous Belly Dancers" were coming to stay at their house! For the first while, that is what we were called. When we entered, Emilie was dancing to "Lila My Love," by George Abdo. Soon after we moved our bags in, the children showed us everything in their beautiful house and soon began to dance and parade before us in their costumes. Laura Rose was in good form as an enchanting playmate and during our stay with the Carrs she would play and dance with them. She dressed Samuel up with a turban and studded belt from her own wardrobe. She fixed the girls' hair with flowers and veils. Sinse they were too small to be out late and see the show on Saturday night, on Sunday morning Laura and I did a command performance in the Carr's livingroom for the children. (photos coming: Caravan Photos!)
The workshops were well attended and we covered a lot of material in 3 days. On Saturday we began with the Hathor Meditation, then a bit of hip and rhythm coordination, followed by a live in-the-flow workout with Sirocco and a discussion about dancing to live music. Armando followed with drum solo advice and had the drummers from his workshops holding the basic maksoom while he played accents over the top for the dancers to catch with thier hips.
There was a point we tried to make, but by looking around the room at the group free styling to Armando's playing I feel like I should make it again for the benefit of instruction. You don't have to dance to all the beats. Relaxing the space surrounding drum phrases is very important. When dancers move too much, they exhaust the audience.
I think this is an important opportunity for dancers to enter into discussion with musicians. It demystifies, builds confidence, makes the art more available to the average dancer. It's just as important for the aspiring drum student to participate in this discussion as well, because a dance to live music is a cooperative effort.
. . .Communication is important and always a challenge. As fate would have it, later in the show I had a miscommunication with the musicians. I said we were doing a short show because we only had a few soloists. I meant the guests should be short because we had soloist after soloist. I didn't mean my show was going to be short. I had intended to do a 7 part routine. They thought I was only going to do a 3 part. When they played short I thought it was because the stage was extremely hot and there was no air. This was true, but being troupers they would have played more but they were under a different impression about my needs. So it was a shorter than usual show, unfortunately. I think we have the misunderstanding straightened out now, but I feel a little bad because many comments came back to me that they thought I would dance longer (me too).
Sunday, Lisa hosted a lovely brunch for supporters and performers. It rained and was impressive even by Seattle standards. We had planned to yank everything out of the van to do an inventory and repack, but we couldn't because of the rain. So we relaxed instead. Nice.
I got up early on Monday (3:00 am) while things were quiet to realign my energies and catch up on the e mail. Looks like there is lots of interest in Maui in April for the Blue Horizon. Some dancers are waiting for me to come through their town, but they better send in their deposits now, because I need to know who is really serious and block out those few rooms for them. They are best set aside for couples, I think.
Short interview with Caravan:
Delilah: How are you doing so far?
Sol : OK
Delilah: How about you Armando?
Armado: 34 more days !. . . We're settling in. I liked Pittsburgh a lot. . . .How about this? It's not easy. No pictures, no autographs please. We have to dress in sunglasses and disguise ourselves to escape the paparazzi !
Rhode Island / October 13th
It's Columbus Day. Easy traffic. I shipped some packages home Fed X. Too much stuff in these vans!
We arrived in Tiverton, Rhode Island, on a beautiful sunny day! Glory, glory, glory! Barb and her family hosted a party. Armando and Sol did a drum and zill class and we danced and hung out.
The next day (Tuesday) we taught a small workshop and hosted a small show in a cute little community center. It had wood floors, a wood stove and warm lighting. It was very cozy. I wore my fa mous white gauss costumes from the Fire at the Iao DVD. I always feel good in that costume and I felt I did a good show. Laura Rose wore my gold and leapard costume. It was spectacular with her red and black hair and big black earrings. I would have taken a photo of her but we left our battery recharger in Ithaca (it will rejoin us at Rakassah with an Ithaca dancer). Barb wore a pretty black, pink and blue costume. She made part of it, but her sister Lizzy, made the skirt and hand painted it. Barb's son videotaped the performance but even though the lighting was nice for the live presentation, the camera was pulled too far back for any facial expression. That's why it's nice to have two cameras. Dance is a living experience and the dancer's face, eyes and personality are very important.
The show was nice, even though we were under much duress and worry. 10 minutes before we went on, Armandos wife, Hanya, tripped on the doorsill and fell down a step. She put her hand out to break her fall and it snapped. Mark, Barb's cool, calm, and collected husband took Hanya to the emergency room. It was a bad break, maybe two. She may need surgery. We all feel so sad. Hanya has been so much a part of all the plans and excitement and important to the managing of this caravan. What a bummer!
Today she flew to San Francisco and her daughter Nina will help her with doctors, surgery and healing. When she's feeling better she will rejoin us in Georgia, we figure.
Even though Hanya is gravely disappointed, through all of this she remained in good spirits. She's an amazing trouper and so is everyone on this Caravan. The show must go on!
A wind kicked up and leaves swirled everywhere. Barb and Mark's kids, Isabel and Jake had soccer games that Laura Rose went to watch. Afterwards, the Donahues threw us a fabulous lobster dinner party before we left Rhode Island. Joya brought sushi, Sol played and taught us a few Gypsy songs and we all sang around the table as the Red Sox and Yankies game played in the other room. The kitchen table was stacked high with orange lobster shells on blue plates. Yummy!
We were in good hands in Rhode Island and if an accident was bound to happen it was good it happened there. Okay, but from now on out, no more! We will all be mindfull of our need for rest and care.
HELP! VENDING ASSISTANCE NEEDED:
I will e-mail the rest of the sponsors on the tour to try to find a good volunteer at each location to help Sol and Anmando vend, now that they will not have Hanya. Vending is how we are all making this work financially on this tour. It is very important. So please come shop! We have lots of cool things and the band and I are gladly willing to autograph CDs and videos and DVDs. Don't be shy
We set out around 10 A.M. for Somerset, New Jersey. On the way we stopped in a little town called Guilford in Connecticut, that hosts one of the oldest houses in America. We pulled off the highway, drove through the town, and found the museum next to the old stone house. It was not typical of the houses built in the early days of the country. Most houses were made of wood and thatch and were more temporary and vulnerable to the ages. There were a few of these stone houses in the town that served as fortresses for the entire village during inclement weather, as well as offering other sorts of protection. These were folks that had escaped religious persecution, so they were afraid of other white men as much as Indians. The Indians did not really pose a threat in this area, since their populations had been decimated by the viruses the people of Europe brought with them.
Everywhere signs were posted telling how they had to lay all the staff off, reduce visiting hours and stop the historic restoration projects because of budget cuts. It was sad to think American history has such low status in our culture. This country is so big, strong and powerful, but has so many messed up priorities. You would think it would have more pride. Cities all over America (Seattle being one of them) have had no problem passing bills and tax hikes to sponsor huge sporting stadiums for games that strangle traffic downtown and are very expensive for the average family to afford. I cant imagine kids even getting an opportunity to see a live game very often. I heard an NPR report that said black baseball players are dwindling in numbers. Its not a game accessible to them anymore. There arent many sports fields left in the cities for people to play on. They should have spent the money on local neighborhood playing fields, so the public could actually get some desperately needed exercise and actually play the game opposed to passively sitting in front of the TV, or in the stands with binocular, or even in a box seat eating pizza and drinking beer. Its out of control! My real issue is with how hard it is to find quality, affordable space for dance, an even bigger dilemma than a baseball diamond.
We checked into the Marriott across the street from the location of Rakkasah of the East Festival sponsored by Shukriya, of California. She sponsors three big events now I believe; Rakkasah West in Richmond California, Summer in Oakland and East in Somerset. They last a week and host belly dance teachers from all over and then wrap up with a 2 1/2 day performance and vending festival on the weekend. We decided to go at the last minute, so we are just vending and saying hello to folks. I like the set up of having the hotel right across the street. I find it easier than Rakkasah of the West. The Marriot has great beds and room service The food is great!). It makes it easier to vend. Some venders dont even need to rent a car. They just schlep their stuff across the street. If you are driving, the area is a bit confusing. The Rakkassah web site provides good directions, but there are many stories of people getting terribly lost who venture out for supplies in the area. The AAA book is a good thing to have. However, the state of New Jersey doesn't think its important to put street signs up very often, so it isnt easy, even with a map.
The difficult part for venders is the long hours. This is because Shukriya tries to accommodate all the dancers who want to dance on the stage whether student or professional. A common complaint for venders is the length of the festival. The hot tubs always close at 9 or 10 and venders really could use a soak after standing for 12 hours. After all, we are paying for the amenities, but rarely get to use them. At the Rakkasah of the West, the bars and restaurants are usualy closed, so there really isnt an after-hours scene for vendors to unwind. But this year at the Marriott there was quite the party in the evening after Rakkasah closed. The hotel was fine with it, and other guests popped their heads in to watch and smile. Sol was down there instigating a gypsy scene for the dancers with his Jimbey and guitar!
The band played a couple of sets on stage at the festival, but on Sunday I had plans to zip up to New York City and teach a workshop hosted by Nadia Mousa and Laura Lee. It was a 45 minute drive but we allowed 90 minutes to get there. Adding to our aggravation, New Jersey was tarring the road on Sunday and so Laura Lee got stuck in a huge traffic jam, and we were still 30 minutes late. As we came into the city she looked at me and said, "I think you should get out and run 6 blocks. Youll get there faster."
Nadia had started the workshop and had them all working out and warmed up. My jaunt down the streets of New York got me hyped and I barged into the room with a dishevelled, out-of-breath entrance. The were very forgiving. We added another hour on to the workshop and subtracted the break. It was lucky we could do that, the studio was very busy.
When we arrived to set up our booth at Rakkasah, Shukriya said a spot opened up on Sunday if I wanted to dance. I couldnt because of my New York commitment, however, Laura Rose could if we could find a vender assistant to watch the booth.
Zorina from New Jersey (bless her heart) stepped in for a couple hours between her performances to make it possible.
So, while I was teaching my workshop in NYC, Laura Rose was dancing her first dance at Rakkasah with the live music of Sirocco. A moment to be proud of, yet sadly disappointing at the start because of an unfortunate mix up by the stage management. The original dancer who had the spot but canceled was Pheadra Rose. She is the daughter of a dancer in Boston by the name of Za-Beth, who is known as the Grand Dame of Boston Belly Dance (she had been one of George Abdo's dancers back in the 70s).
The Rakkasah announcer got her names all messed up and announced her as Laura Rose from Boston All afternoon the Grand Dame was fielding complements for her daughter's performance (Hey, wait a minute!). We laughed about it together because our daughters were co incidentally of similar ages, names, and, apparently, dress and attitude, but I have yet to meet Pheadra Rose. Shes in Florida somewhere so maybe we will. Anyway. . . .I saw the videotape of the performance. Laura Rose did very well. It looked like she and the band had a good time being spontaneous. They stood up and came to the front of the stage and played the big drum and the Zorna. Sol sang Minnie the Moocher for her with a road-kill Cab Callaway voice. A thing to be proud of. There were a ton of venders and dancers from the west who knew she was Laura Rose from Seattle, daughter of Delilah. She had their attention alright.
(We will try to get a clip of the show on the web site soon)
We have too much stuff in this van. We need to bail! Next day, we FedXed 200 pounds of Egyptian Hip scarfs delivered to us at Rakkasah from Egypt back to Seattle and sent another box of sale items to Miami for the finale show! We made our way to New York City.
We booked a place on the Internet for $145 with free parking only 3 blocks from Time Square and across from the NYPD (some said the area we were in was the old Hells Kitchen).
After we arrived, we drug everything in from the car and into our hotel room. We rearranged our stuff and scrambled to get dressed up.We wanted to try to crash the Daily Show with Jon Stuart, but to no avail. For months we had tried to get tickets, but still had the wrong address and the wrong time from the Internet. A young, aspiring actor with the same story arrived just a few minutes before us. Apparently, Henry Kissinger was Jon's guest for the evening and he had just walked in. The young actor managed to get his autograph!
We had dinner and cruised the square. Wow! So Disney, big and bright and tinselly. The clock bells chime and all of a sudden, 6 hook and latter fire trucks arrive on the scene. Their lights flashing but still dwarfed by the enormous billboards and normally flashing lights. The firemen were in the subway for a few minutes and then came up and took off. We had no clue what was going on and turned toward our hotel, and all of a sudden ran straight into the smiling faces of Mezdulene, editor of Jareeda Magazine and her husband Don. We chatted for awhile and then moseyed off to our hotel for a good night's rest.
THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM
No one would believe how fast we toured the Metropolitan Museum! By the time we got there on buses and on foot, we had very little time. Darn!
THE LAFAYETTE BAR AND GRILL
Dino is the owner and he is a fabulously generous, genuine and hospitable host. He made us feel so appreciated and welcomed. The restaurant was small but warm. All the tables had white table cloths. The food and service was very good. The dance floor had nice lighting and we did an especially good show that night. It felt like being with family. Sirocco was supportively met by an oud player by the name of Dick Barsamian.
Neon was our lovely Mistress of Ceremonies. Amy opened the show with a vivacious dance with lots of spins and energy. She surprised us by dancing to a song my husband Steve Flynn wrote called Spin and Shout that was rerecorded by Bassam Yasbek of Lebanon who called it Serpent Dance (not exactly legal, by the way). Kind of a backward complement from the Arabic world, one could say. At least they liked an American composer's work well enough to (well?) record it in Lebanon! She did a good job dancing and I didn't get a chance to tell her about the song. The next dancer went by the name of Viktoria (yes, witha "K"). She wore a beautiful turquoise and chartreuse beaded costume. Laura Rose opened the live music portion of the show and ended her set with pizaaz (Ill let her tell you about that),. Nadia did a lovely dance balancing a tray of candles on her head! I wore a new hot pink costume I bought from Adreena. Very pretty but needs some more adjustments. I was lucky it didnt fall off! The audience was fabulous! My favorite dancer, Dalia Carella came to see the show. Natasha Sands the sword swallowing belly dancers was there, too! A very fun night!
Thank you Nadia Mousa and Laura Lee for organizing the show and workshop!
Rania came after it was over. Late, but a welcomed suprise! She gave me a ride home to my hotel. We stopped by ground-zero for a sobering end to the evening. The Lafayette Bar and Grill is about 8 blocks away. I like New York and I like New Yorkers. I have to admit that everywhere I've gone I have become aware of the common tragedy they all lived through. Such a collection of energy, spirit and humanity.
Wednesday I spent on the phone tending to business. Lots to catch up on! Try to crash the Daily Show again later on in the afternoon.
THE POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING? VISUALIZATION
Laura Rose can tell you about The Daily Show and Jon Stewart. . .
see Laura Rose Caravan Blog October 22
We began our Journey to DC at 5 am. As I checked out I found that every call had an 80 cent to $1.00 charge to it. Even if I used my own credit card! Well that cancelled out the free parking. My phone bill was $158 just for the 3 days! My cell phone, that I hardly ever use, has come to a little over $70 per week with the roaming charges. It's terrible! I even get charged to listen to messages. I have to do business from on the road but who would have guessed at what expense. EEEK! I'm ready to throw it out the car window! We have had to hook up to a remote access number to get online and many places it just hasn't worked or we haven't had time.Another note: I've had to do all the driving. National would charge us $6.00 per day to add a driver (times 47 days!)
UPDATING THIS WEB
You may have noticed I can't spell, and because I'm in a hurry all the time, my punctuation is a bit off. I don't have al ot of editors standing by, and so I put it up as is. Forgive me. I'm not a web master either and am relying on instructions given to me from afar when I can get online and get assistance. I am learning a bit but still truly know ZIP and run into lots of problems I cannot figure out because I know nothing. I hear some of the photos are not coming up and the links fall down. I don't get it. How can a link fall down that was installed a while back. Tricky, this web stuff. I think I'd rather dance. Anyway, I just thought I'd share a little of my other trials and tribulations. I miss my web masters. Corinne, Steve, Candra, Christine, Fran!
Thank you for your assistance Bill!
Laura Rose and I are staying at Laurel Gray's home while she is teaching in Montreal, Canada. We are cat-sitting two very interesting cats. Rosco is a big boy that looks like the Cheshire Cat from "Alice and Wonderland", except with the addition of one very long snaggle tooth fang on the left that gives him an asymmetrical distinction. He's pretty friendly but has very unusual eating habits. He reaches into his bowl with his paw and puts the food in his mouth. This I have seen before because my cat Kinko does it, but my cat does it with dry food. Rosco does it with wet food! He makes a terrible mess of the walls and floor. Annoying, but fascinating. Esther is more elusive. It took her a couple of days before she would come out from under the bed, but we've made friends now. She darts around the house leaving a trace calaco streak across one's eyeballs. If we sit still, she comes up to nudge us and we give her some love scratchs. We love kitties!
I taught a small two-hour workshop that Mina pulled together at the last minute. It was fun. Mina is great! Then we drove the 20-minute drive back to our pad, rearranged our car, suitcases and boxes to get ready to go to Joy of Motion for the performance. We set up tables with our vending supplies, but we were in a room at the end of the hall. After much work lugging and setting up, there really wasn't much time available for selling or talking to folks. People wanted to get a good seat and not lose their place in line. The intermission was real quick and afterward it was crowded and we had no vender helpers. EEK! There is so much I could tell about our DVDs, weight belts, CDs and all
. . . .Well folks, everything is available on our web site (except some of the beaded items and the last of the dresses) and we do appreciate the Caravan Sports Bras and Tee shirt sales to help offset our tour expenses.
Danaise showed us a place we could store everything. Laura Rose and I broke it all down again and would have to set it up again between the workshop and show and it was so much work last night we are wondering if it's even worth doing it all again today. We are getting pooped out. If we get 10 students each to carry one thing into the vending room, we could setup pretty fast,but by ourselves, after teaching and needing to get ready to perform, it seems a bit much. We shall see. . .
Laurel Gray's class and some of the members of her Silk Road Dance Company provided dances for the first part of the show. The dances were all Laurel Gray's choreographies in beautiful costumes. The theater is a black box. It's very intimate with nice lighting. The staff is very cordial and professional. Doug Yuel introduced the dancers.
I wore my new hot Pink costume. I love the way it moves and makes me feel, but I can't easily do floorwork in it. It has too many sharp beads in the skirt. I will wear a different costume tonight and do more floorwork.
Food is hard to come by on the road. We don't want to eat before performing. It was a long day. Lucky for us there are restaurants open late in D.C. We walked in to a bar and grill at 11:55 PM, bushed and hungry. We had dinner and drove back to Laurel's and pored ourselves into bed!
The crew at Joy of Motion jumped in to make our setup easy. The workshop was wonderful. There were 75 dancers all smiling and undulating. The show was sold out again! Joy of Motion made a beautiful videotape of the show. Laura Rose hasn't seen her dance yet, but I think she will be surprised. Laurel Gray's dancers stayed to help us break down all our vending and get out the door. This time no restaurants were open, so we had to go for a cup of noodles from 7/11.
Delilah: What is that instrument, Sol?
Sulyman: It's called a Cumbus.
It's from Turkey. One day about 75 years ago this guy wanted to make a Yalli Tamboor (a classical Turkish instrument), but he couldn't afford one, so he got out one of his mother's old cooking pot, covered the top with goat skin and fixed a neck and 6 stings to it. This is how he started up one of the biggest music companies in Turkey Zaynel ABiDen Cumbus. It's very inexpensive ($50 ) and is considered the poor man's musical axe. Gypsys love them. You can take it apart easily so it fits in a suitcase. This one has a plastic head so temperature doesn't mess with it, but they sound better if they are goat. More on Cumbus
We just got forwarded some Fan Mail and a Washington Post Review of the D.C. show
WINCHESTER VIRGINIA October 26-29. . .
We drove through the thickest rain from Washington D.C. to Cross Road Junction, VA (just outside of Winchester). I could barely see the cars in front of me. It was very fatiguing on the eyes. It took us about 3 hours. Armando and Sol had arrived much earlier but Laura Rose and I had to take care of a bunch of business, so got a later start. We arrived at Miramar's and Michael Albright's house just in time for a glass of wine around the fire before dinner. Miramar is a fabulous hostess and cook. She had made a full Arabic dinner for us all to enjoy.
Many days, weeks, and months have past since we first bridged the idea of this Caravan Tour. This moment was now and would forever forward be clearly emblazoned in my mind, along with Miramar's smiling face. Many phone call conversations, e-mails, dreams, arrangements and plans had come to pass to bring us all together. We all toasted its arrival. Here we all sit, half-way through our Caravan journey, having this fabulous and much-dreamed about dinner together around her dinning room table by candlelight. It was a peak moment.
The next day we had a great turn out for the drum, zill and belly dance classes. Miramar gets a prize for her efforts of pulling this workshop together so well and so professionally (there were about 35 dancers in the dance class). It was a challenge, Im sure. Shes out in the country and this is a Tuesday event and yet it was very well attended by the dance community from many miles around. Bravo! The dance energy in Virginia rocks!
Afterward, around 10 P.M., we went to dinner at the Italian place across the street. There were about 12 of us. Donado, the owner, kept it open just for our group. Italian music played and Miramar danced to this cute little song for us and Donado came out to throw pizza dough into the air for us. We all had fun!
The next day Miramar had a surprise for us! She arranged for Dawn to come over and give each of us an hour long massage! Oh my Goddess! What a treat this was. The day was spent in R & R. We enjoyed our stay at Miramar's so much it was hard to leave!
We are getting spoiled, and that's OK by us!!
We headed south early in the day. We stopped by Fredericksburg, MD. Its the birth place of my great , great, great, Grandfather John Fuller. Im in pursuit of his geneological records (my hobby is trying to prove Im related to Loie Fuller, the great dancer of the Art Nouveau era another story). We didnt have much time to spend there, but it was fun to walk down the avenue and see the houses. I bought some old books with historic records in them and had them shipped home. I dearly want to come back just to go through museums and and bookstores someday, when I dont have such a heavy agenda. I really enjoy Arerican history!
We had an appointment to pick up Justin, Laura Rose's boyfriend, at the Raleigh Airport at 4:30 PM. He arranged to take some vacation time and jump on this Caravan with us. We have been looking forward to this. We could also really use his help. He's not only got muscle, but he's a professional driver for DHL. YES! We luckily sold some stuff on our tour, so we have room for him!
Justin arrived on time! Next stop, Winston Salem!
WINSTON SALEM NORTH CAROLINA
Pretty crazy scene in Winston Salem. We are basically sitting on the campus of Wake University. There's not a hotel room to be found in this town because there is some kind of Homecoming Weekend going on as well as it being Halloween. The atmosphere is pure Fall; leaves blowing, Halloween yard decorations line the streets, people scurry from door-to-door with party plans, it's warmer than in Seattle. Laura Rose is disappointed there isn't a Goth Scene in this town to plug into on Halloween.
Our lead sponsor, Paula Stump dresses up like "Elvira". In Winchester, Miramar gave me her Elvira costume (minus the wig), so I went as "Delvira"; Elvira's sister. The party got underway early. Good food and $1,000 worth of prizes contributed by Middle East Manufacturers, Magic Circle, Roseworks, Visionary Dance, . . .
The show was to the point. This is the way I like them.
Featuring music by Sirocco Laura Rose, Gypsy (Paula Stump) and yours truly. It felt really in the pocket too. . . .On a personal note; It's often very difficult to feel like you do your best job performing when you have to follow too many other dancers. Can you imagine the pressure of being a headliner and dancing after 20 dancers in a 3 hour show and you step on the stage at 11:30. It's not good for quality performing. The way Paula arranged it was much better. Our show was on Halloween and the guest recital/ Hafla was on Saturday night. I like it!
However, a few folks came late figuring (as experience has taught them) it would be a drawn out affair with lots of student performers preceding the featured acts. They almost missed us! Justin got to see Laura Rose dance for the first time! He was impressed! She did a fabulous job with a special Halloween dance costume. She made it out of Vinyle and studs with a spidery design. She used a new purple silk veil and wore a leather mask she bought in Boston at the Man Ray Club.
Saturday the workshops were very well attended! We went off to bed early so we could hit the road at 6 A.M. to make it to Atlanta by around noon. Just outside of Atlanta, in Covington, Georgia, we would spend Sunday with Laura Rose's Uncle Lance and Aunt Sue.
Hooray! Hanya flew in and rejoined our Caravan Monday morning in Atlanta! Her left paw is in a cast, but she has a smile on her face and so does Armando! All our spirits are high to have her back!
Ramona had extra dry champagne waiting for us! She has done a terrific job of organizing a very professional event. She's been very attentive to every detail and there are lots of them in this 3 day series of dance and music workshops and a concert performance! The facility is the Knights of Columbus Hall . They are very friendly and she says they have been really wonderful to deal with every step of the way.
The dance workshop went well . However, Sol's zill classes keep getting bigger and bigger as we travel. The Zill (finger cymbals) are really a wonderful and a rare opportunity for dancers! If you are attending any of our Caravan Tour events, don't miss this opportunity to take the zill workshop!!
The show was good! A very warm audience with lots of familiar faces. "Caravan Magazine" was there in living color! Dancers came by plane and car from the far reaches to attend the workshops and see the show; Ohio, Tennessee, South and North Carolina, Florida,. Good to meet everyone!
The workshops were well attended and Ramona is an absoulute gem of a sponsor. While she is totally exhausted at the moment I hope when the dust settles she continues to sponsor events in the Atlanta area because she is well suited to the job. To sponsor an event takes a detailed, friendly and diplomatic mind.
Laura Rose, Justin, and I stayed with Lance and Sue Flynn (relatives) in Covington. We had about a 45 minute drive back and forth to the events each day, but it was a treat to visit with family. Wish we could have spent more time!
ON TO FLORIDA
Thursday Morning . . . we hit the road early to Orlando. People gave us all sorts of estimates on how long the drive was; 6-14 hours. Yikes! Armando, Hanya and Sol planned to visit with friends in Gainsville, FL, and devide the drive in half. We wanted to do it in one day. We left at 6:20 AM, stopped for coffee and gas, took an hour long break to do some business and eat lunch, and got in at 4:00 P.M( actual drive time from Covington, GA, was 8.5 hours). The drive went fast and Sherry McDonnald met us at the hotel to get us settled in. We dined with room service, watched a movie (never mind which one), and rested up for our plans to spend the next day at Epcot Centert!
Lots of walking and site seeing. It wasn't crowded and it didn't rain. We enjoyed the electric Moroccan belly dance on the outdoor stage.The dancer wore ruby purple bell bottom pants with silver coins and trim. They asked Laura Rose to come up on stage and dance with them and later Amir Ali (lead) caught up with us in the marketplace and introduced himself and gave us his card. He didn't know who I was, nor did he seem to catch what I was saying about our Caravan Tour with a live band called Sirocco. That's OK, I didn't know who he was either. Our encounter was brief and he rushed off. A bit later we caught the show with the oud player and dancer in the in-door Moroccan restaurant. It was a beautiful place to dance and the food was quite tasty.Love to have a living room like that! The dancer was lovely, straight out of Aladin! She recognized us in the audience, knew about the workshop and show. She dropped by to say a quick hello at our table. I would have loved to hear how it was to be a belly dancer at Disney! We got the feeling that the corporation frowned on too much customer contact.
The next day we went to Sherry's Blue Lotus Dance music and art studio for the Sat. workshop and show. Oh my goodness, you would not believe the fabulous building the Blue Lotus is in. In the historic block of the old Church Street Station, upstairs above the game room. Lots of amazing woodwork, mirrors and antiques. The block is undergoing a major restoration. The large studio room was up a couple flights of stairs, mirrored and carpeted with lots of other adjoining rooms (I would love to have a space like this!). One end of the studio was arranged as a performance area with professional lights mounted on the ceiling. A follow spot sat at the other end of the room.
The show would coincide with the lunar eclipse, so before the show, Sherry planned a meditation and presentation about the astrological signifacants of this day. New-Agers are calling this time the Harmonic Concordance. Sherry had food and refreshments laid out and a few venders in the back of the room. The first part of the show featured many talented and guest performers. The audience could sit in chairs or on the floor on huge cozy pillows. By the windows were marble-top tables and votive candles. Everything was very beautiful and comfortable.
The second part of the show was just Sirocco, Laura Rose and myself. Laura Rose was especially frisky. Sol has been playing gypsy music for her shows and has been telling her that the Gypsy dancers he's met in Spain and Turkey do cartwheels and are known to sometimes bark like little dogs when enthusiastic. On this night, particularly drivern by the lunar references, Laura Rose took this to heart and finished her dance with a livly skip and frenzied release of yips and barks with and a wild wolf howl for the moon.
We were staying only a few blocks from the studio at the Marriot. I drove home, but Laura Rose and Justin met with a good friend named Nate from Laura's college and walked home to the hotel much later.
We are coming to the finish line of our Caravan Tour. Today is the 40th day. Our Tour is really 47 days long if anyone has counted. We just left it at 40 for our slogan because it's easier to say! By the time I get home it will be 50! This has been a huge and amazing undertaking. So many folks have lent a hand and gotten involved. Our hearts have been moved, and in turn, I think we have moved a few hearts ourselves. Laura Rose is realizing she only has TWO more performances left on the tour! She's got the belly dance bug bad now! She's grown so much as a dancer during this tour! She's playing finger cymbals in the car! We are very thankful everything has run fairly smoothly so far.
It's almost time for me to begin to plan out the order of my book that I am contracted to write as soon as I get back to Seattle. The companion resource Web Club #303 that will go with Volumes I, II, & III, will need to go up in January. Winter Solstice project in December. . .Stop! Don't think about all that now!
Wow! Some amazing e mail letters from dancers have come in!
Meanwhile back in California at the International Awards of Middle Eastern Dance Ceremony (I.A.M.E.D)
A RetroChoreography/Fire at the Iao
"Best Instructional Video Program/IAMED AWARDS
Crystal River/Dancing with Manatees!
I rode in the band's van to Crystal River while Justin and Laura Rose went to Disneyland for the majority of the day. I was more concerned with laundry and the fact Sherry is a expert hair dresser and has a shop in town called "Sizors"! I wanted to take advantage of her talants after having been on the road a while! So we pulled in early. Sherry and Robert showed us the famous Ancient Egytian marble-floored dance studio and then Sherry and D. J. (also a dancer who came to a Maui retreat) treated Hanya and I to a shampoo, color, and cut! We had a great dinner back at the Steven's and then she suprised me with a massage in her lovely dance studio from a talanted body worker named Tammy. I was reduced to pleasant puddy! Justin and Laura Rose pulled in later that night after an ordeal with loosing the car keys in a ride at Disneyland. Good thing they had AAA. The guy made a key for them right on the spot! I was so relaxed by the massage that I couldn't freak out. They handled it well.
I stayed the night with Doloras Stark, Sherry's mom (who had come to 2 of our belly dance retreats in Maui with Sherry). She lived in a big house across the street with 2 horses, 2 dogs and a very fat cat. We had a nice visit. The morning was so beautiful on her property. I walked over to Sherry's and Robert had my favorite breakfast of oatmeal waiting for me.
We checked into the Plantation Inn and got ready for the first day's events and concert. It was an elegant and cozy banquet room for the show and dance class while the drum and finger cymbal class was held outside on the veranda. The show was effortless. Sherry, Laura Rose and I. Nice and sweet. I felt like I did a good show, but didn't feel I even sweated much. A sign how in-the-pocket and tuned-up Sirocco and I have gotten working together. It feels great!
The next day, we had a full course of classes, but in the morning we had time for a quick sample boat ride and swim with the Manatees! Robert and Sherry pulled up at the dock at the Plantation Inn and picked us up. How cool! And wow, how gracefull and peacefull the manatee's are. Some say they are like cows, but they reminded me of my cats.
The next day there were no classes. We planned a whole day of R&R with a boat excursion and picnic. We ventured to Shell Island, the Gulf of Mexico, and perused the canals, and swam upstream to the famous turquoise springs of Crystal River. We saw dolphins, birds of all kinds such as cranes, eagles, buzzards, and pelicans. We saw an alligator, mallot and other fish jumping. D. J. sat in front, and like a seasoned naturalist guide, spotted all the wildlife a head so we wouldn't miss anything. She told us there are bears and panthers in the swamps, too. Of course you don't see them until twilight or early dawn, if ever. The area was teaming with animal life and yet it wasn't anything like it used to be before all the developmental. It was November and in the summertime the canals would be full of noisy boats and people. The locals considered the water too cold this time of year.We saw scuba divers and swimmers in wet suits and yet we couldn't believe how warm the water was. The day was serene and relaxing and we enjoyed it so much! Laura Rose and Justin thought they died and went to heaven.Thank you Robert and Sherry! I wished Sirocco had come with us, but they choose down time instead. That's important too.
End of the Caravan Trail
Home Again , Home Again, Jiggidy Blog
We left the beautiful Crystal River Plantation Inn at the break of dawn and began our last stretch of caravan miles toward Ft. Lauderdale. The temperature was a chilly 40 degrees. Unusual for this area, and a big contrast to the warm temperatures, and easy going atmosphere of our previous days in Crystal River.
Armando, Hanya, and Sol would leave much later in their van, but I wanted to get to Ft. Lauderdale as early as possible to get ready for our final event. I wanted to check into the Holiday Inn and still have the rest of the afternoon to run errands and deal with last minute details.
Justin drove, Laura Rose was his sleepy co-pilot in the front seat. I spaced out at the scenery through the tinted glass window of the back passengers seat. The natural landscape was swampy, dark and intriguing. It was spotlighted with breaks of morning sunlight. It slipped by my eyes like a movie as our van cut over to join the Florida Turn Pike. We somehow missed our turn for highway 44 and took highway 41 instead. Oh well, the drive was nice and traffic was light. School busses made their usual roadside stops, and the road reached forward in front of us like a vein or tunnel through the steamy forest as it was warming up. The way was canopied by large oak-like trees that reached up and intertwined their branches overhead to support large drapes of Spanish moss. The moss hung down from the ceiling like dull tinsel. It was very grand and southern feeling. The architecture along the roadside didnt match up to the corridors inspiration. It left you with something to be desired. I wondered who lived here inside those structures. The abodes were low to the ground, low ceiling, simple and functional and lacked any external concern with outside appearances. Probably too hot much of the year to be concerned. But it would seem to me that a bit of headspace would ease the sweltering confinements. It was a sharp contrast to our New England impressions (of which I personally prefer), or the big and small tidy houses on the canal back at the Crystal River. Every once in a while there was a cool house with a bit of endearing character but mostly the abodes were mobile homes or stucco houses that looked like doublewide mobile homes. My eye is not accustom to seeing so many mobile homes, which is definitely a trait of Florida.
Once we met up with the Florida Turn Pike the topography was flat, open, slushy and basically boring all the way to Ft. Lauderdale. I thought about the canals, ponds, sink wholes, underground rivers and surfacing springs and got this picture in my head that much of Florida is like a spongy appendage off the mainland of the U.S. Interesting.
After 6 hours, we arrived, checked in. It was a piece of cake. I discovered everything I needed was pretty close by; restaurants, grocery stores, Office Max, Kinkos, post office, Fed Ex. As the afternoon progressed guests arrived: Bill Tricomi (our supporter from Wisconsin), Barbara Donahue (our sponsor from Rhode Island), Sherry McDonald (our sponsor from Orlando, Gil and Marilyn Munson (my Mom and Dad), Lenny and Ginger (of Magic Circle in California), Sherry and Robert Stevens (our sponsor from Crystal River) and a handfull of out-of-town dancers.
We got into the banquet room to get a head start in setting things up at 10:30 P.M. We needed to arrange the room best we could because the sale would begin at 9:00 A.M.
The Saturday workshop went well. The show was warmly attended by about 90 folks, venders and show participants; Ansuya and Jeneenie, Miriam and Jo Zatoonian, Carmen of the Goddess Store and others.
The afternoon and evening went very fast. Kind of a blur in my memory. I think it speaks to the level of exhaustion we have come to on these final days. It was so wonderful to have the support of others waiting and arriving, minute by minute. I dont know how we would have pulled this off without everyones help.
Maja and her Gypsy Tribe opened the show with a very beautiful choreographed dance. Maja is a lovely dancer and promoter in the area. She sponsors a huge event each year called Sprit of the Tribes each spring. http://www.majanile.com/spirit04.html
Dancers attend from all over the country!
Following the gypsys, was Scheherazade (my first teacher) in a sexy black velvet and gold trimmed costume. It was so good to see her onstage, bringing back memories of the days of King Louie's in San Diego. She is such a sexy woman in the most sincere sort of way! Her daughter Carla followed with a fabulous dance in a turquoise costume complete with a crown on her faire hair. She looked like a beautiful princess from out of 1001 nights. There was no mistaking those hips as being passed down from one generation to the next! Laura Rose followed but I was upstairs getting dressed so I cant describe her dance except she choose to wear her tribal costume. However, before she went on stage she asked me if I thought it would be appropriate for her to do another cartwheel. She demonstrated a few practice ones in the hotel room and each time came up upon their completion with a double hip lift. Go for it, little darling! Nothing to be afraid of. I think we are all about demonstrating support for creativity and originality with every generative dancing step here. No one in this show is riding sidecar with the ethnic police here. Go ahead, turn things upside down if you want to.
Time flew by in an extraordinary and curious fashion for all of us. We must be ready to go home, because all of us kept loosing things every time we turned around. They were always things that were quickly refound again. It did seem like an extraordinary phenomena. It even manifested as a bit of missing time. I went upstairs to slip into my costume, (it takes me about 8 minutes) Carla was in the middle of her dance and Laura Rose was just going down to follow Carla. I felt like I got dressed in record speed and even took the stairs instead of waiting for the busy elevator and when I arrived at the door of the banquet room I discovered that I was a bit tardy on my arrival. The band even had time to take a bathroom brake. I asked, Did Laura Rose do an exceptionally short show? But everyone said not really. I was very confused. My father pointed out that just off the coastline was the infamous Bermuda/ Devils Triangle. Maybe that accounted for it.
By Sunday morning brunch, it didnt get much better. My brain was remembering things in odd snap shots. It must be time to go home. It may also have been a result of the Champagne party, complements of Maya, AKA Candace Jean. Bless her heart for thinking of that detail! It was the perfect ending to our Caravan Tour. So was the 2 dozen long stemmed red roses! Thank you Maya!
I didnt get a lot of sleep Saturday night by the time we ate dinner it was after 2 A.M. Then, we sent Laura Rose and Justin to the Miami airport at 3:30 with a hurried and frantic good bye. Not the exit any of us would have wished for, but we needed to get Justin to work on Monday morning.
On Sunday morning at 9 A.M. I met my dear friends in the lobby for breakfast on the patio. Everyone who woke up that early, that is. We took a lot of cool photos by the pool. The rest of the day was spent sorting things out for airplane baggage and Fed Ex shipping, and saying final goodbyes. I took my folks to the beach for an afternoon walk and later we met for dinner. Kind of pooped out, so we had room service in their room and watched a couple detective shows together. It felt good to relax.
Monday we shipped stuff home at the Fed Ex office. I said my goodbyes to my fellow caravaniers and I parted to the airport just before noon by myself. The day seemed strange and quiet. I gassed up the van and effortlessly found the National Car rental drop-off point and turned in the car. The car was due in by Noon but my flight wasnt until 5:15 PM. Made for a long day. I fell dead asleep like a homeless person on a bench in the airport. Waking an hour before take off I reflected on the energy of the Ft. Lauderdale area (as I often do at the conclusion of spending time in an area and this would be my 3rd experience). I have mixed feelings. It begins early in the day with a feeling of tropical splender similar to Maui but without that recognizable island consciousness. Im somehow always aware of the sprawling metropolis it is, and an underlying decadence beneath it's veneer.I do not experience a similar sense in Maui or on the big Island of Hawaii (however, probably like all big cities it exists more in Oahu, though I have not spent much time there). Dealing with the local hotel employees, Fed Ex, Kinko's, etc. . . was challenging. They were nice, but a bit foggy minded. I think its indicative of tropical air. In my experience the Northwest is conducive to a crisper clarity I would not trade. I must be homesick to even mention this.
The flight was 3 hours to Cincinnati with an hour layover and then 3-4 hours to Seattle. I did have an entire row of seats to my selfand peeked over the arm rest at Jonny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean in between naps. I must admit I patterned my hair this caravan trip after his inspiration (minus the beads that would have slapped me in the eye).
Steve was waiting by the curb with the car as I stepped out the door of the airport. It was cool (not cold) and, of course, rainy. It was much like the day we left Seattle 49 days earlier. Steve was all bundled up and his chestnut shining hair was soft, and flowing over his shoulders. Good to see him again. Coming home was surreal. The house was quiet, clean, warm and familiar. It lacked the calamity of the last weeks to get the new DVDs finished and see Laura Rose and I out the door to our first Caravan stop in Saracuse NY. 50 days earlier. It felt like I hadnt ever left, but instead had been upstairs in a deep sleep entertaining this incredible dream. In the dream, all these smiling faces kept walking in and out of rooms, many I knew and many I have come to know. We had been to so many locations and were greeted by so many people. Many showed up for more than one event on our Caravan Tour. Sometimes they traveled many miles to get there, too. The support, affection and love was very overwhelming. It was indeed an incredible journey.
Now the journey back home really begins.
DECEMBER / LETTER TO CARAVANIERS