Fire in the Dance; Finding our Passion
Delilah's Belly Dance Caravan Retreat

Dear Dancing Caravanners,

Wow! We did it! The FIRST Visionary Bellydance Caravan Retreat on the Big Island!

We began our journey together on the eastern shore of the Big Island in the sleepy town of Hilo. We watched the sun rise out of the ocean on the first morning of our retreat. We ventured to the edge of the volcano and the depths of the Waipio. We danced and danced and danced some more. We ended our retreat on the western shore and watched the sun set back into the sea at the day’s end. What a beautiful completion.

I only wish it were longer. I have talked to a few of you on the phone and your voices take me straight back there. Thank you for coming and being so very passionate about dance!

I hope you all enjoyed yourselves, learned a few things and made some new friends. It was a fabulously energetic group for sure.

Yours in dance,

Delilah

A BIG THANK YOU!

To my staff who did an extra terrific job this year: Nikki Conti is an amazing instructor and she's really funny too! Wish all of you reading this could have been there! . . . Next time.

The Big IslandWhere we went?

What we did:

Well, what I did was get everyone's last minute details and arrangements together around Christmas time and then finish packing my bags on my Birthday (December 31st, New Year’s Eve). Then I jumped on the plane at 6 a.m., New Year’s Day, just in time to be one of the first to experience the new security baggage check rules. Everything gets looked at — leave all your bags unlocked. I had to rearrange a few things because one of my bags weighed 85 pounds when I got to the check-in scales. It was quickly rectified when I took my weight belt and my coin belt out of my suitcase and just wore them on the plane.

For my birthday, my present to myself was a few days private R&R before the retreat began. Steve had a gig with his rock band Jr Cadillac*. He caught up with me on the 5th. It was a fabulous birthday treat. I got a room at the Royal Kona on the second floor, maybe 80 feet from the pounding surf. Wow!

While I was in Kona I had a little homework with a choreography I was working on. It was a little hard to do by myself so I hooked up with a local dancer there by the name of Brigitte, along with her 10-year-old daughter Charlie. They came over to the hotel one afternoon and helped me work on it out on the lawn. Charlie had something pretty fabulous to show me. She had been working on the horizontal belly roll from my “Absolute Beginning Bellydance” instructional video and had totally mastered it better than anyone I have ever seen in my life! Not only did she perform it effortlessly, but she did fast repetitions! Round and round her little belly swished! Wow! When the group gets to Kona they have to meet Charlie!

January 5

Hilo; checked into the Nanailoa a little early. Staff and many of the Eastcoast dancers were coming in a day early too.Nice to catch up on rest after a long flight, use the pool and see the sights. Most of us had rooms on the 9th floor overlooking the ocean and the town of Hilo.

Claire on lanai

Claire on lanai

by the pool
Armando and Hanya near the pool

DAY 1, January 6

Dancers started arriving in the afternoon. We were all to meet in the Coconut Room downstairs at 8:00 p.m. One by one, the dancers arrived and the long awaited reception was really fun. I always ask for bios and photos and am always surprised to meet everyone in the flesh. A great group! . . .and almost everyone had arrived. I decided we would teach a simple dance choreography straight off to help work out the kinks from sitting in planes. That was a good opener and this group loved it. Then we went around and introduced ourselves and discussed our exciting plans. There were some parties that night. Some folks had a lot of excited energy to work off. Most of us slept with the windows open, listening to gentle surf and cradled by tropical breezes.

Coastline DAY 2, January 7

The drivers went to the car agency early and we loaded the vans with no problems. And off we went to Kalani Hanua Resort, located in a tropical forest bordered by dramatic views of the Pacific Ocean.

We checked in and immediately did a warm up and a class in the spacious, mirrored dance studio called the Rainbow Room. A drum class followed the dance class, and then dinner. The food was vegetarian with a fish option. Really, really tasty! Everyone was happy and stuffed.

That night Nikki taught a fabulous Zambra Class and we all went for a dip in the pool and the hot tubs.

Zambra Class


circle baladi Belly dancing Baladi
Circle Baladi in the Rainbow Room

DAY 3, January 8

The morning was beautiful. We were up at the crack of dawn for Steve's Elemental Breath Class before breakfast. Then we did veil work all morning.

Zajal

Veil play in the Rainbow Room: Zajal

veils in rainbow room veil play
Angela, Joyce and Cathy
Lucia, Annette, Amy

We had a big lunch and then were free to explore the eastern part of the island. Each carpool driver would list what they would do and dancers signed up to go along. I went to the steam vents and then squeezed in a dip at the hot pool before it was time for Armando's Drum Class. Steve went to the hot lagoon to snorkel.

Amy

Amy relaxing in the lagoon



amy

tropical fish

Dinner, then more Zambra followed by a champagne birthday party for June Craven and an open dance floor with Sirocco.

zambra
Zambra in action
zambra
belly dance birthday
June's Birthday Party!

DAY 4, January 9

sunrise
Steve's Breath Class at sunrise
Steve took his Breathing Class to watch the sun rise over the water. It was a glorious sunrise. Breakfast and dance classes ensued, followed by some field trip time, a little longer than the day before. Many of the dancers chose to stay at Kalani Hanua and get a massage, rest, or sun bathe at the pool. After dinner, Uncle Mafufo led another class that parlayed into a drum solo by your’s truly and a round robin drum solo exercise. The grounds at Kalani were enchanting at night. Strings of white Christmas trees lit the paths and created a wonderland. The mosquitoes weren’t at all bad. The temperature was warm .

DAY 5, January 10

Today was our volcano field trip day and we wanted to time things so we would witness the lava flow at night. So, in the morning Ron, of Kalani Hanua, taught everyone a Hula Class. They did so well with the dance that all the belly dancers performed for the entire retreat center. Very well done! Off we went to the Volcano. Everyone was encouraged to wear their entry for the costume contest if they wanted. (The contest had an elemental theme this year with a heavy emphasis on Fire!).Some of us did, and some of us didn’t, but the costumes really made it extra fun!

My costume this year was inspired by my passion to teach belly dance to all women of all ages, and, as part of that quest, to connect the dance’s origins to nature. So I thought about other natural, physical, out bound organizations and realized there must be a reason for the similarity in their uniforms. Exploring that idea led me to come up with my own version of Mama Scout Leader of the Goddess Scouts of America!

belly dancing costumes

My funniest memory was of Nikki in her Indian dance costume with bright green sea fins on her feet, waddling around the Volcano Visitor Center parking lots pretending she was a Nene bird! Somebody has to have gotten a picture of that!

Nikki into the crater

Looking into the crater.

Nikki as Nene bird — Thanks Hanya!

We stopped at a couple of places and looked into the volcano. Unbelievable! We did circle baladi above the crater rim and then we drove down the long road to where the lava meets the sea. We walked into the twilight, and at the end of the trail we did a simple dance ritual. It was exciting to feel the orange red glow come out of the darkness as the sun set. It was hard to believe the sign posted on the road that told us the lava had poured across the street only last September. The lava flow looked ancient.

Volcano Sunset

Sunset from the Volcano.


Belly dancing at the Volcano

Delilah

Dancers at the Volcano.

Delilah

• QuickTime coming soon

We headed back to Kalani for a fabulous latenight supper waiting for us.

DAY 6, January 11

Breath Class and Breakfast . . .

A little Zambra and then off we went to see the sights around Hilo and make our way to Hamakua Ecology Center. I took my carpool to the Akai cave and we sat by candle light in what appeared to be a giant earth vulva.

We arrived in the late afternoon, in time for a belly dance class followed by a drum class. After dinner I brought out all my veils and had an evening of veil therapy
Waipio Coast
Steve took this photo from the cliff above Waipio

DAY 7, January 12

We had a nice leisurely Techniques Class
Then my carpool went over the hill through a rainy Wiamea to the beach at the luxury Mana Loa Hotel. The surf was unusually high due to a big storm somewhere out at sea. A few in the group hiked down to the Waipio Valley while others shopped in the unique local thrift stores and gift shops.

The day was hot and sunny on the west side and rainy and misty on the east side of the island. All was beautiful. We came back just in time for Armando's Drum Class then after dinner we held our costume contest. Everyone who entered a costume in the costest danced in front of our staff of judges to the accompaniment of Sirocco. There was amazing creativity in this group. Everyone got a prize!

9:30-10:30 — another Zambra Class.

belly dancing costumes
The Visionary Dance Caravan Belly Dance Costume Contest
Click on the photo for the names of these dancers

DAY 8, January 13

Today’s class was on Performance Exercises designed to coax and develop a sensitivity of the artist within.

blindfolded belly dancing blindfold bellydancing
Sam and Amy in the blindfold belly dancing exercise


Rotating Workshop and Kona show planning night

show plans

DAY 9, January 14

Judilyn and Delilah
Judilyn and Delilah

A last review of of our Zambra course and then we packed up and caravanned to Kona

A short stop at the beach along the way and then we checked in to the Royal Kona

Post card of the Royal Kona coming soon . . .

Boom Boom Deck planning the show
On the Boom Boom Deck

The show was in the Windjammer Room, a semi outdoor lounge right on the edge of the ocean. The hula show was right before us. It was equipped with a stage and sound system. It usually works just fine for nightly entertainments, unfortunately the wind was jamming unusually hard on the night of our show. It caused a bit of consternation during set up. Finally, we had sound. The band played their opening song and the first dancer made her appearance. All at once, I took a deep breath and a sigh of relief and gratitude as Sharon Fetter, AKA Layla, in her award-winner Volcanic inspired costume hoisted the sail of her fiery veil. She utilized the wind to her perfect advantage. The show was underway and was working beautifully. The wind lasted for one more dancer then died down just long enough for our entire show and resumed again upon our finish.

My new friends Charlie and Brigitte came to the show and I introduced Charlie to my dancers and asked her to show off her horizontal belly roll accomplishment. Lots of oohs! and ahhs! The audience was us, hotel guests and about 15 other belly dancers from the island who came with friends to enjoy our show. Nice night . . .

Kona Full Moon DAY 10, Jan 15

My only regret about this retreat was our hurried farewells after spending such leisurely days together. Some of us had early planes and some were staying longer. So we all met early in the Windjammer for coffee for our final good-byes and the signing of our dance certificates. Each participant received a certificate of completion of extended study in belly dance, zambra and drumming at the end of our 10 day program.

For those of us staying longer, we made plans to attend the famous Luau Show that the Royal Kona features twice a week. Alas, the show not only got rained out but the electricity went out in all of Kona and we all ran up to Mama Goddess Scout Leader of America’s room, who was prepared with candles, cocktails and big jars of Costco mixed nuts. Always be prepared! Rained out, no electricity, and we didn’t seem to mind all that much. We were in paradise, and it’s hard not to have fun there!
Steve Flynn
After everyone left, Steve and I spent another 4 days of R&R together


* see more about Steve’s rock and roll career in the Web Book; The Steven Flynn Story





Visionary Belly Dancing

PO Box 30797, Seattle, WA 98103

206-632-2353 . . .



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