D's Blog

I dreamed of dancers long since dead,

Asleep in the tombs of Kings and Queens.

I dreamed they rose from their shrouds and once again assembled

The scattered lineaments

Of their long lithe bodies

They mover in the effortless measures

To the drum beats and the lingering melodies of the harp.

Those dancers of an ancient past

Slowly they moved among the long tables

Ladened with fruits and wines,

Trained in the rhythms of the East

And made wise in the wisdom of love it’s self.

Beginning in slow measured steps

With promises of ecstasies to come.


In the sweet scented night under the low hanging stars

I saw you in my dreams

Dear dancers of the long since dead.

And I wondered if in this eternal now

(Which includes this hour)

You may still be moving

In the shadow of the temple isles.

Still weaving patterns of immemorial loveliness

As you did of old?

And that Kings and Princes

Still bent upon you

Their eyes of desire,

To raise you from your low obeisance

To find joy and honor, in their arms

In the passing of the scented night.

marlizaveil1

from the poem

“ Entertainment for the Beloved “

by Ruth St Denis.

Rossah Bendahmen is trying to raise $5000 to pay for the funeral expenses she took on for a dear dancer friend of ours. She recently departed on  May 2, 2011. Her name is the ledgendary Marliza Pons of Las Vegas.

Marliza danced for well over 4 decades. She was one of the well known established dancers when I was just cutting my teeth on my first pair of finger cymbals. She was a pioneer in the growth of American Belly Dance. She was a warm hearted charitable dancer. A mentor to all dancers coming up the pike. Today many that read this will not know her name because she retired long ago and never got around to writing her intended memoirs. But I, as many do, remember her.

If you can donate a little something to her memorial you will be honoring one of our dance elders and aiding to preserve her legacy and to keep her many contributions to the dance alive. Marliza will be placed into her final resting place in a glass niche at the Columbarium at the Palm Mortuary on Eastern Avenue in Las Vegas. Dancers and family and friends will be able to honor her memory, to leave a flower, see a beautiful display of her life, and to say words of gratitude all in a lovely location that is a controlled environment, any time, year round.

The donation is a demonstration of respect. As Rossah put it in her e mail; “Our Dancestors” Living and deceased for those whom we owe, we pay our karmic debt, we repay with interest.

Blessed be.

Your donation is tax deductible. This is made convenient to you by providing you several options:

1) You may walk into any Wells Fargo or Wachovia bank and ask to make a deposit into the “Marliza Dance Memorial”, Account # 3650002599.

2) If you wish, you may make a donation electronically by using the PayPal link above to transfer your funds, OR

3) You may email me for an address of where to send a check. Please make your check payable to the Marliza Dance Memorial.

Pay pal Link

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=BPZR22AXRKHBC


rossah1@hotmail.com

About Marliza

http://www.gildedserpent.com/articles12/marlizapons.htm

http://rossah.com/writings/archives/6

More  Delilah Blog;

Dedicating your life to the art of dance is a true labor of love. Yes, we get to do what we love doing. DANCE! Every blessed hour, day and year is wonderful. Originally from Chicago, Marliza spent her life performing, hosting concerts and events, and owning a dance studio in Las Vegas. She worked hard as all dancers know who try to make a life out of a dance career.

Oh, maybe some of you would say that it’s not wise to try. That one should always have a back up plan and do dance as just a hobby. After all, dance is not especially highly valued as arts go. Not since ancient times when it was unheard of for individuals not to dance. It was like you refused water or bread! Now a days we create low payed careers out dance as if it were only for specialists. I heard dance  called the Cinderella step child of the arts departments. Why? Because you have to come to the table with a healthy relationship to the human body or else you can’t really understand the expression of dance. Your mind won’t let you. Dance is not cookie cutter body shapes thrown at music . It’s humanly bound in flesh and soul poetry. Directly communicating to the brain you’ve had before you could talk with your mouth. Sex gets in the way of the immature or fundamentalist minds. Dancers endure shame and low wages. But that doesn’t stop them. Just what makes a dancer tick so she/he forgoes the perceived safety of a regular job and retirement benefits to put body to beat and melodies must be a powerful calling? She does it because she has to dance! It is an Aphrodite phenomenon. Ballerinas pay an even higher price. They ruin their bodies aspiring for their short lived ideals of moving in time and space. I have known women who deserted equitable careers in medicine and law because belly dance made them more truly happy. Dance is your main line connection to your maker. That’s why so many religions forbade it. It’s viewed as competition with the church.

Speaking for my self; I don’t know how I could have done my life any differently. I couldn’t have traveled if I was in school or committed to a day job. I don’t know how I could have gotten the 6 night a week experience that made me a really skilled dance artist and athlete. I am grateful that belly dance allowed me to be a stay at home Mom for my two daughters because my job was only 4 hours and after they were in bed. I couldn’t have created all those videos and inspired all those other dancers if I hadn’t dedicated my life full time to belly dance. And incidentally, those video investments where I cataloged my life’s work, were my back up plan for income and retirement. That plan fell apart with the advancement of the internet and technology. But then many of my friends who picked careers for monetarily gain have lost their jobs, their retirement and security too, so I guess you just can’t plan it. But I must admit I am always happy! And I am  grateful I have been dancing a long time. I am still very active with no end in sight. I feel I can dance circles round those young whipper snappers! LOL! No, I’m not done though I must admit it’s scary, and/or a little bit sad. Every day is more and more precious to me.  I used to think nothing of postponing a workshop date or show cause there was always time. Now I do not feel so sure when a date gets postponed. I realize others don’t have any clue how numbered the days of my career are because I manage to still transport my audience. But today I have let go of Turkish drops, coin flips and the cobra back bends. It is a bitter pill to perform less and see wages fall because of the combination of ageism, the economy and the cultural lack of responsibility for the financial support of non commercial arts.

Rossah met Marliza in the later years of her life and became her friend. She watched as her last winds of vitality of her life wore out as she became destitute and weakened by age. Rossah spent many days helping Marliza down size her life and sort though her costumes, props and memories. She sat at her feet and listen with bated breath to the wise mentor passing on her dance knowledge. I remember in 2006 Rossah held her arm and escorted Marliza to the International Belly Dance Convention where they awarded her a life time achievement award.. Alotta Love there. Now Rossah has taken it on to prepare her a resting place.

Thank you Rossah.

OMG! Egypt news;

These incredible discoveries made this month are giving me goose bumps about our Egypt Tour planned for April/May 2012!

You can sign up and join us.

DELILAH’s EGYPT TOURS

http://www.delilahs-belly-dance-retreat.com/Egypt2012/Egypt2012.html

I have been to Egypt 4 times in my life. I feel a familiarity that is uncanny in the pyramids, tombs and ancient cities. I danced in Hathor’s Temple in Denderra, at the temple of Isis at Phile, down the Nile, on the desert, and at lake Nasser, and in local villages. I know the power of this dance in my DNA. It is as old as the power that the ancients knew and cultivated to transform energy and move stone!

I rented the Great Pyramid and lead a private dance class for my tour participants last trip in the Queens chamber inside the Great Pyramid. So amazing. I can’t describe to you the experience of dancing in the Great Pyramid! You have to come with me! We are doing even more on this  coming trip. We will visit the city of Alexandria!

!

NEWS FLASH!

New marking inside Great Pyramid

New marking inside Great Pyramid

4500 YEAR OLD EGYPTIAN MARKINGS FOUND in GREAT PYRAMID MAY 2011

http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/africa/05/28/pyramid.markings/index.html

POSSIBLY 17 NEW PYRAMIDS DISCOVERED UNDER THE SANDS! May 2011

http://www.npr.org/2011/05/28/136718454/lost-egyptian-pyramids-discovered-from-space

WHERE? MANY IN THE NORTHEAST DELTA, NORTH OF CAIRO, EAST OF ALEXANDRIA, ANCIENT CITY OF TANIS

http://science.nationalgeographic.com/science/archaeology/tanis-egypt/

TREASURES OF TANIS, RIVAL TUTANKHAMUN IN 1939. MAYBE MUCH MORE IN STORE TO BE FOUND AGAIN!

http://www.archaeology.org/0505/abstracts/tanis.html

KING TUT’S WIFE’S TOMB IN VALLEY OF THE KINGS, 2011

http://news.discovery.com/archaeology/king-tuts-wifes-tomb-may-emerge-in-2011.html

MORE COLOSSAL STATUES DISCOVERED IN LUXOR, APRIL 2011

http://news.discovery.com/archaeology/colossal-statues-of-tuts-grandfather-resurface-110426.html

OMG! there has been so much in the air about Ancient Egypt these days! Synchronistically it’s falling right into place where my head has been these days. As I have been gearing up for this years 2011 Solstice Parade I have been reminiscing about another parade where we built our 16 foot tall Pyramid in Parade in 2007.   It was our amazing feat! It shows how anything is possible! The ancients understood how things are manifest. It lead to my leading a tour to Egypt in 2008 that was so so very amazing for everyone connected!

I wanted to go one more time to Egypt and see some sites I have never seen so we decided to create a return  Trip of a Life Time tour last year but because of the Arab Spring fell right as we were to depart, we thought it best to delay a year. The good news is; more can join us! It’s not until April and May 2012 (we have a payment plan so you can sign up now.)

We utilizing 200 dancers and musicians and extras in building our pyramid. There were so many synchronistic and magical lessons in that 6 month project. The math, the organization, the rallying to the cause, the fund raising, the community involvement, the mass moving and rehearsing in air plane hangers, the excitement in actualizing our dream. It was big and it was a testament to realizing dreams.

I feel magic brewing a foot again and this time the project is about building up our Dance Temple. (Thats what I personally call VDP Studios). There have been alot of positive energy generated in the past 9 months to build community and a feeling of return to some precious ideals that were getting lost because of the stress involved with trying to run the studio by our selves in a time of economic and technological change.

Belly dance is a magical dance that can teach us so much more than than our limited common views of dance. It’s free formed methods of embodiment unlock the magic in our lives. This important skill needs to be preserved by it’s physical enactment.

Join our Tour.

Your money goes toward an amazing adventure I promise! And it supports our dance temple.

January 13, 2011   ♦   Comments Off on Hypatia / AGORA/ A Movie Review

NOTE:  I submitted this piece to the Gilded Serpent online magazine but it’s been a while and they haven’t put it up. Thus I thought I would post it on my blog while it’s still current. If the G.S. puts it up, I’ll take this entry off my blog. The movie is now on DVD.

Movie Review: AGORA

On my way to my Hawaii retreat last January, I read  a magazine article that a new movie was coming

Hypatia is apprehended and brutally murdered

Hypatia is apprehended and brutally murdered

out about “Hypatia”. How exciting; I couldn’t wait! I love movies that take me back to ancient times and especially Ancient Egypt. This was perfect timing for inspiration because this coming spring, I am leading a tour to Egypt and the city of Alexandria is one of our prime destinations. This is where the historic tale takes place.

I suppose my entire inspiration for belly dance as a teenager was motivated by those old biblical-era movies like “Cleopatra”, “The Egyptian”, “Samson and Delilah”, and “The Robe”. . . The costumes and atmosphere completely captivated my imagination. There hasn’t been a good one in a long time, save for the HBO TV series “Rome” that was totally amazing (more on that another time).

So I was keeping an eye half peeled all year for the movie.  I occasionally asked people about if they had seen a movie called Hypatia, and they just shirked and said they hadn’t even heard of her.

Anyone interested in woman’s studies would, I hope, know Hypatia.

Hypatia (370-415 AD) was a famous Greek Philosopher, Astronomer and Mathematician from Alexandria, Egypt, who was famous for her eloquence and education. She was a teacher and advisor to many important pagans, Romans, Christians and Jews alike. The story that always follows her name throughout history is how she was brutally murderers by a rabid mob of Christians incited by Cyril, the bishop of Alexandria. In fiendish detail she was seized while riding in her chariot, stripped naked and then skinned alive by scraping the flesh from her bones with oyster shells and set afire. Yikes! What did she do? She was said to create religious turmoil by scientific reasoning. (Oh my Goddess, this could have been me!)

I came to find out the movie wasn’t called “Hypatia” but was in fact named “Agora”. Why they choose that name is unfortunate; I think more people would have seen the movie upon its release had it been called “Hypatia”. But it’s not too late! Check it out on Netflix. And it’s not the full story. Although the movie did very well in other countries, because of what was perceived as anti-Catholic overtones, it didn’t get an American distributor until just recently.

“Agora” is the Greek word meaning the center of the city where people meet. This movie is full of where things are meeting: science, religions, astronomy, and human history, tragedy and loss.

The movie takes place in around 370-415 AD. – many years after Jesus – during the rise of Christianity which causes complex tensions. From the accounts of people from many lands, Alexandria at this time in history had a reputation for public volatility. The people would apparently fly off the handle as the slightest thing and tear up the city (making any of us a bit agoraphobic). The city was originally founded by Alexander the Great and established as a place of great learning. The Alexandria Library was burned before this time. The library they are depicting in the movie is the “daughter library” in the temple of Serapis.

The  film stars Rachel Weisz as Hypatia. The movie was made by a Spanish film company with English speaking actors, and was directed by Alijandro Amenabar (born in Chile). The movie was made without CGI. All the sets were hand-built and installed in Malta, much like the making of HBO’s  “Rome”. Its budget was a mere 50 million dollars which in movie terms is a shoe string. Each scene is like stepping into an Orientalist painting. The lighting is especially heavenly. Everyone was committed to the project; they did a great job.

At the start, I was a bit repelled by the film because it’s kind of noisy, and I have to be in the mood for noise. However, I have watched it at least 5 times now. I understand the reason for my visceral response. Agora is very textural. It’s the noise of chaos during this time in history as viewed from the quiet cosmos. The population looks like ants crawling on the bones of the city. It takes us to the silence of space and the grandeur of our planet that is home to the passing clouds of history activity.

I love that the film takes us back and forth from aerial views of the Arabian Peninsula and drops us down into the time and place of Alexandria, Egypt 391 AD.  That beacon of light brought people from all lands to a city that was a pivotal point of historic change. The clash was between the fading past glory of intellectual thought which Alexandria represented, and the coming of the new faith allegiance to the One God. It was the end of a time and place where women like Hypatia and Cleopatra could write books and be philosophers, mathematicians, and scholars, and was the beginning of the long onslaught of human history where women would occupy a very subordinate role for centuries to come.

Other reviewers seem to like the movie but argue some historic points, which I think are pretty minimal (from what I read after seeing the movie). It is a movie after all. It is about a time none of us were around for but have stereotypic ideas blazoned into our minds without much question. Dare we question? This questioning is what Hypatia symbolizes in the movie over-all. The director chose to reverse some of these stereotypes and portray Christians as fanatics and more human and fallible than divine. The Jews stone the Christians…

I was surprised once more that this would be a film about science. Science moves me the same way as belly dance does. This was Hypatia’s unquenchable passion to know the answers which she chose to explore beyond love and family. I liked that she represents more options for women. I kind of wished I had gone into science as a career. Hypatia may still inspire me. One day I want to write a book called The Cosmology of Belly Dance because I see mirrored in our dance so much science and physics by the mere use of things like vibration, rotation and wave patterns (again more later).

When I saw the DVD extras about the making of this movie I was again deeply moved. It was created by a team of talented visionaries that all fell in love with Hypatia. I love what this director chos to do with the script. Rachel Weisz plays her well. When it comes to herstoric record, Hypatia deserves more meat on her bones. This movie is her tribute.

Now if they would just make a movie about the novel, ” THE RED TENT” !

TIMELINE BITS:

323 BC: Death of Alexander the Great and the beginning of the Hellenistic Age. During his lifetime he establishes the city of Alexandria as one of many towns he set up to establish Greek Culture.

320 BC: Sarapis is a syncretic Hellenistic -Egyptian God in Antiquity. Even though Sapapis is older this God comes into prominence after the death of Alexander the Great 320 BC. It is introduced to Alexandria as a patron deity to unite Egyptian and Greek populations. He combines attributes of both cultures’ past deities. On his head he has a grain measure, in his hand a staff. He is said to be Osiris in full but he looks like a Greek Zeus and Hades. Symbols are the Apis bull, serpent, and crescent moon.

280 BC: The famed Alexandrian light house is built.

260 BC” There were reported to be 500,000 scrolls in the library at Alexandria. The catalog is 120 scrolls. There are reports of what the library contained: cosmology, mathematics, physics, natural science, philosophy and more. It is said to house the original worksof AeschylusSophocles and Euripides.

69 BC: Cleopatra VII is born in Alexandria.

48 BC: Julius Caesar meets 21 year old Cleopatra and is said to have accidently burned the Great Library of Alexandria down when he set fire to ships in the harbor. Caesar gives Cleopatra 200,000 scrolls plundered from the library at Pargamum as a gift and put in the  “daughter library” which is the Serapheum; the temple of Serapis.

30 BC: Cleopatra dies 30 years before the birth of Jesus .

370-415 AD: The lifetime of Hypatia; philosopher, mathematician, astronomer.

390 AD: Christianity is made the official religion of Rome.

391 AD: The Serapheum is destroyed by a crowd of Christians or Roman Soldiers that were converting to Christianity.

415 AD Hypatia is murdered and becomes a martyr.

610 AD The Prophet Muhammad has his divine revelations and Islam is born.

www.visonarydance.com

www.delilas-belly-dance-retreat.com

December 31, 2010   ♦   Comments Off on New Years Eve

Hey Everyone!

Delilah

Delilah

Today is my Birthday! December 31st.
How about that, I’m an old year baby! Anyways it’s always a time where I reflect on the past year and plan for the future year. What went well, what south and what do I remember the most. This year sure went fast! If you don’t know by now my entire life is always about belly dance pretty much.

We did 2 Hawaii Retreats in 2010. One with the “Neighborhood Temple Priestess” studies and the second one with Amy Sigil and Dahlia with the main focus on “ Tribal Fusion” with a little bit of Egyptian, folkloric and Power Belly thrown in. It was an amazing retreat even though it was small. The airfare remained very high last Easter Time compared with January and so we got lots of regrets. (This January the airfare is reasonable and there is still room because a yoga retreat canceled so some space opened up that we can use. There will not be a late fee changed) .
Dates January 25-30 2011 with RUBY BEH!!!

Last years Summer Solstice Parade threatened to rain but in the end we managed just fine. It was a smooth one. I had made a plan to build a float and have live music for 2011 but I have changed my mind. Because we are leading a tour to EGYPT in March/ April (still room to jump on this amazing journey see details) I think we should not take on too ambitious a project that would take time fund raising as well as building and organizing. So I’ve decided to give you the color theme for 2011 Parade the color for this years parade is RED 85% and 15% BLACK. Probably everyone has stuff in there closets. Joanne’s Fabrics is having sales right now on alot of red fabric!

We did the Power Belly Online Show for 44 weeks last year! A huge achievement but it was too expensive to keep up with. Only a few dancers ever logged on. I think dancing from your lap top isn’t here yet. It sure was a hoot to do every week! We may bring it back again but for now back episodes are up.

Our third FRI CABARET NIGHTS in our studio have been the best shows I’ve seen in my life. House of Tarab playing live with 2 different professional dancers doing full routines! OMG!, Artemisia, Khalida, Elisa Gamal, Princess Farhana, Lisa Yasmeen, Suzanna, Kitiera, Laura Rose , Ruby Beh, Zulaika, Nadira, Dahlia, Aubre, Bella Jovan, Hasani, Sabura, Tito Seif plus a concert featuring Omar Ait Vimoum and Moez M’rabat. . . So very proud to be hosting such amazing artists in an intimate setting. (we will be in Hawaii on 3rd Fri in Jan. so no show).
I was invited to be a special guest presenter at the International Belly Dance Conference of Canada in Toronto. I was representing Belly Dance Pioneer in America. I taught large classes and sat on discussion panels. It was a fabulous event put on by Yasmina Ramzy of Toronto. Erik and I hung out with Cassandra alot so when she came to Seattle to do her camp in the fall we decided to all do a show together. We had an amazing show at the South Seattle Community College with H.O.T. Cassandra and Ava Fleming and myself, Delilah. Very fond memories.
One of my favorite events to attend this year was Suzanna’s Belly Dance Off! Very fun to be a judge and an audience member. Bravo to all who participated and to Suzanna for putting it together!

For the Summer we had Amel Tafsout do a wonderful workshop on Magreb style dance. We also had Moria Chappell of the Belly Dance Super Stars in our studio. (This coming February 2011 we will have Petite Jamilia and drummer Issam in conjunction with the BDSS)

We did some “Student, Staff and Experimental” shows that were very fun and got more of our students performing. Then in the fall we had a “Zombie Belly Dance” troupe for Trolloween. This class was really challenging and thought provoking. We took regular belly dance moves and took the life out of it and created a new vocabulary. It was an amazing exercise in character development . No one was focused on being pretty. It was very cathartic!

Our dear dancing friend Helen Nicholiasen left the planet on October 20th. Bless her soul. She new her time was near. I was in New Mexico doing a dance for her in a desert labyrinth in the middle of fantastic thunderstorm on all horizons when she past. Very spiritual landscape and energy there.

Our annual Thanksgiving morning workshop was awesome! The Winter Solstice Event was really very wonderful. I wished more attended. It really is a moving thing we do every year. Don’t miss it next time!

The Neighborhood Temple Priestess group did some lovely dance labyrinths under the guidance of Christine Hamby. They also worked hard on the Golden Patrons; A Philanthropic group in support of women’s dance. We have 10 members so far. We need 21 and will be still recruiting members in January. It’s a hard thing to explain and we need to ask folks to go to our web pages and take a look so you are informed about our efforts at least. It doesn’t mean you need to become a member. It is important that our idea gets into the cosmos! The more people that are in the know about it the better! What we are trying to do is a bit different for belly dance world. We are trying to take responsibility for supporting this art form “WE” the dancers, KNOW AND LOVE. By taking responsibility we can help it grow and be understood so it continues to grow and develop. This is our big goal for the New Year 2011!!!

Thank You to the GP commitee!

Major restructuring of how we can keep the studio alive and being used by more of the community is my goal. I really want to leave something behind that will benefit community long after my dance is done. Some new teachers are coming to VDP. Tayissa Blue is introducing TRIBAL BASICS on Sunday afternoon, and a Nia class on Fridays.

I have some ideas for some experimental themes shows this year. Plus I’m doing a bit of custom garment manufacturing (details soon to be revealed.I am wearing one in the photo above.)

In the fall I sent out a few grant applications. Didn’t receive any but it was a very good exercise in visualization. So today I am thinking about this question as I walk to the nearest Lottery stand. I hear Mega Millions is over 200 million!

“If I won the lottery what would I do for belly dance world ?
1. I would launch an ad campaign across the nation and beyond of the physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological benefits this dance has for women of all ages. I would even aim this intent at Middle Eastern countries that often do not know what a jew this dance form is for women. If young girls and women universally learned early and practiced it regularly like many of us do, then belly dance would truly be a benefit for things like pregnancy, birth, bone density and staying fit for a life time! Not only that but it gives women a sense of personal control of their own body and person. It provides a means for creativity and expression for wordless things. Tomorrows future depends on women that are whole body, mind and hearts.
2. I would build a bigger studio with fountains, statues and gardens, an indoor and out door theater and a belly dance museum!
3. I would build a belly dance retreat in Hawaii that was all year long and featured different teachers from all over the world of all styles and had scholarships.
4. I would build a Middle Eastern music school.
5. I would put together a Belly Dance Tour group that was diverse in age, weight and style that was fantastic and served to educate the public as well as entertain.
6. I would build an retirement facility for aged belly dancers and musicians that would be funded by another enterprise so it would be free.
7. I would build a school for beaded costume design.
8. I would have a large belly dance grant foundation.
9. I would have the Billion Belly March gather in Washington DC and make  political humanitarian demands for clean air, water, food, education, health care and corporate reform!
10. I would create a magazine that featured my picture on the cover each month in a different color costume  and call it  OPA ! . . . . LOL, well?

Ok I’ll keep dreaming and buying lottery tickets. Mean while a reminder
Tomorrow, New Years Day
We are doing a Zar. See our calendar for info.Come join us!
And
Get off your computer and come belly dance
for our LUNCH TIME BELLY DANCE
Wednesday and Fridays! Noon to 1:15

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Cheers
Delilah

December 3, 2010   ♦   Comments Off on Golden Patrons Introduction

Dear Dancers,
We need your help in finding 21 Golden Patrons!

This is supremely important so please read to understand the details. There is no financial obligation to helping us. There are many ways to assist us!
VDP STUDIOS is at risk of closing. If we close our doors they will not be reopened.
Let’s not allow that to happen!
This is the first step in revealing a new model of doing belly dance business. Please read our PDF brochure and pass it on to other dancers. More details and future plans will be revealed on my blog.
Please print this Golden Patron detailed brochure and distribute where ever you can.

IMPORTANT:
We do not mean to pester or pressure anyone. On the contrary we only want people who can afford the role of “Golden Patron” to participate in specified ways. We want everyone who loves belly dance and wants to be supportive to us and the art of belly dance, to jump in and help us find these 21 Golden Patrons! Thus we have cast a large net! We have found 9 Patrons already. Maybe all we need is one big one!

Even more notes about the
GOLDEN PATRON PROJECT:
A Philanthropic Group Supporting Women’s Dance.

Read our Golden Patron brochure first, then these additional notes will make more sense.

It is time for women who know the value of the art form of belly dance in our lives to give their support in a very big way. No one else is responsible but us.

I often wondered why any retired belly dancers (that I know of) have not left a foundation or a grant to this art form they know has benefited so many women’s lives behind them?

I have blazed many new trails in my long career and it’s time for another new one. I want to create a foundation. I realize that in this day and age many do not even know what the role of Patron of the Arts is anymore.

WHAT IS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND THE GOLDEN PATRONS?

It is simple;
Since June I have been giving alot of thought to the summation of my years of dedication to the art of belly dance ( 38 years). I have been an active part in its evolution in America. I have been a recipient in its life transforming power as well as been a mid wife to so many women’s re-birthing of themselves through this dance art. I feel even more enthusiastic as the day I started. I still have alot I want to give to belly dance. However, today my maturity has brought me to a different position in thought. I want to build something to leave behind me when my dance is done.

Thus a committee was formed of dedicated dancers and friends who liked my idea. They have rallied around me to support me in this effort to broaden the studios goals.

Brigitte, Lisa, Laura Rose, Kalaura, Dahlia, Erik, Stephen, Anne, Roxi, Elizabeth, Chris and John . . .

We sent out only 150 packets after Thanksgiving holiday to a random sample of students, teachers, friends local and far. There are another 50 packets in the studio. We only had a small budget and we wanted to send as many as we could in the real mail. The dancers really did a beautiful job of creating a nice brochure and I wish everyone could have one however I am going to have to ask you to read it on a PDF.  Our hopes is to get lots of dancers talking about it, so please talk it up. The committee has put much love and work into this initial phase. Facebook it!

OTHER WAYS YOU CAN HELP AND BE SUPPORTIVE:
• Come to class regularly! You know it’s good for you.

• Give a friend a gift certificate to come to a class or a workshop. It can change their life!

• Come to our Hawaii retreats or Egypt tours. They are ventures to bring in revenue as well as be incredible life and dance adventures. Know that is a great support and you benefit in un definable ways.

•Come to our studio shows with House of Tarab.

• Buy a VDP product, hip scarf, or weight belt.
Your every dollar is a VOTE to support us in this tough economy.

WHAT THE GOLDEN PATRONS CAN DO BY THEIR PATRONAGE
The Golden Patron is not a nonprofit yet. It does not make any sense to set one up until we know we have a dedicated foundation beneath us. Since it’s not tax deductable we offer you the package of benefits that keep you dancing as well! It’s a win win and now or never. We are trying to keep the studio afloat. We are excited about how it can re-energize the art of belly dance and get more women learning about the lifelong rewards it brings. The economic situation is hard but also brings us different ways of thinking that may be better in the long run.
The studio is a wonderful space. Don’t you think? If not please tell s how we can improve it! It’s beautiful, in a safe and artistically friendly neighborhood. So many amazing artists have graced the dance floor in performance and as instructors. However it should be getting used more. At this point in my life I cannot run it alone. It need more bodies more creative energy. I want more projects and energy in there. I want more instructors not less. I want to have time to write my book. I want the space to provide a laboratory for the dance to grow as well as the dancers to develop. The Golden Patronage will support this and more!
I want the consciousness in our community to understand the values of belly dance more thoroughly.

I asked my Thankgiving class if they had the feeling that the real story of belly dance was like the best kept secret from the rest of society?

YES, THEY ALL AGREED!

Interesting but it’s felt that way for 38 years! So often belly dance is trying to fit its round little body in square peg whole over and over again. It’s because the greater community doesn’t understand it and it has such large stereotypes that we get left out of much of the funding. We need to create our own campaign of educating the public towards BELLY DANCE APPRECIATION.

It’s performance, yes. It’s self satisfying and enjoyable, yes! It’s good exercise and fitness, yes! It increases awareness physically mentally and emotionally, yes!, It lifts depression, builds bone density and manages weight, yes! It’s friendly to all sizes and ages of women, yes! It’s a supportive community of women that gets cultivated, yes! It’s a tool for women’s personal development, yes! It utilizes crafts, stage art, music, and drama, yes! Women pass the art down to their daughters, yes! It’s culturally stimulating, yes! It’s a place where we are not alone!
YES!

I have a dream of how this dance can be so much more.

More later keep tuning in. We are being very visionary here!

October 26, 2010   ♦   4 Comments »

NOTES ABOUT THE VEIL DANCE

Elisa Gamal

Elisa Gamal

Elisa Gamal is a master performer.

She is currently a guest instructor for the next 8 weeks.

This is an important class to take!!!

It’s not too late to join us.

Tuesdays at 7:45-9:00

Started Oct 27. . .

(There is still room. It’s a small class.)

• It’s open to all levels of belly dance experience because it’s not like the rest of belly dance. Some belly dancers have not had a veil class, ever.

Reasons to take a veil dance course:

• IF any of you are interested in performing? You should take this class.  (Since it’s an 8 week class, you can divide this class into 2 payments if you want. Please make sure we know we want to attend even if you have to miss a couple.)

• This is a skill and an adventure into powerful archetypal creative process as I will discus below. . .

• If you want to take an entertaining class, take this class.

Elisa is very fun!

Please help us with the success of this class:

IF you have friends interested in performing, do them a favor. They may not know about this class opportunity. (who can read all the email these days).

Please e mail them personally, send my little talk below as well as the and link this class so they can read the details and tell them it comes highly recommended!

http://visionarydance.com/seattle-studio/class-info/elisa-veil/

NOTE: While our student out reach is mostly belly dancers, I feel all serious burlesque dancers should take a professionally delivered belly dance veil class. There are great skills here for you to use that many belly dancers are experts in. Please tell any burlesque dancers you may know.

Delilah

Delilah

 

Level of difficulty:

I  have had low attendance in my specialty “Veil Dance” classes and workshops. In fact I have been noticing over the past couple years that the importance of “Veil Dance” seems to be being avoided by students in relationship to other class offerings for some reason! What’s the deal? I ponder, why are belly dancers avoiding this course ? It is a great stretching exercise and has great aerobic benefits in a different way than Power Belly classes. It’s more like flying!

• Is it because it demands your arms get over your head?

If this is hard for you, maybe you need this class more than you will admit. A little bit of physical challenge is a good thing. To get aerobic benefit you have to get your arms over your heart. I know this can be hard at first, but if you try a little bit harder you will see more physical development. I know you can do it.

• Is it the spinning that detours you?

The secret is to do a few spins every day. Learning to spin grows better balance and core strength. Eat ginger to quell and queasiness (we always have it in the dressing room). Keep your glance at eye level, don’t blink nervously and relax your mind. Too much left brain thinking gets in the way of balance. Good spins are the mark of a good dancer.


Delilah Spins

Delilah Spins

If you have an inner ear problem can you still hope to dance well?

Yes, but you will have a small disadvantage of not being able to use the centrifugal force and momentum of a spin. You can approach it a little differently. You will have to work harder. Developing good body extension is key and learn to do half turns that are not really spins. One of our instructors has this problem.

.

***

VEIL ESOTERICA:

This is a very mature talk. The veil’s esoterica is about female empowerment.

The veil dance is a part of the traditional belly dance routine as we’ve known it in America for the past 50 years and more. It’s an American innovation. It takes freedom and standing in ones own power to explore it and perform it effectively.

It is related to vaudeville and burlesque. How so? Both delve into the powerful esoteric’s of the art of revealing. It is a powerful mystery (even though it’s usually not discussed or taught this way very often). Non the less, if something catches our attention there is always something powerful behind it. Burlesque is very popular in todays culture there is no denying. Many women are deeply drawn to exploring it like moths to a flame although many would be hard pressed to explain why. “If they could explain it they wouldn’t need to dance”  said Isadora Duncan.

Veil dance was always a healthy part of the belly dance curriculum I studied and have passed on. The avoidance of veil dance I’m sensing in some of todays belly dance students is partly related to the fear of over exposure I’m guessing. Belly dance culture is made many more average women seeking simple means of self expression than extreme exhibitionists. Across the board women have plenty to feel vulnerable about these days; economy, politics, technology racing forward, and terrorism.  However, if you are find these these pressures of the day intimidation, I encourage you to resist standing still! Find the strength and courage to explore this powerful medium. Thus I want to explain more deeply about the power behind the veil dance.

It is related to vaudeville and burlesque. How so? The esoterics behind the art of revealing is to delve into a powerful mystery (even though it’s usually not told or taught this way). Non the less, if something strongly catches our attention there is always something powerful behind it. Burlesque is very popular in todays culture. Many women are deeply drawn to exploring burlesque.

The fear of veil dance I’m sensing in relationship to belly dance students is directly related to the fear of exposure. We have plenty to feel vulnerable about these days.  However, Ladies I encourage you not be a timid! You will find strength and power from being in expert control of this powerful medium.

***

THE POWER BEHIND THE VEIL

 

 

 

 

Delilah by Chris Yetter

Delilah by Chris Yetter


As this art has developed in recent times, it’s become a high skill.  The act of veil dance is more than simply “dance”. The skills demanded are thoroughly dance ingredients; grace, balance, spins, extension, aerobic stamina, lots of arm passes and core work.

ADD deep personal soul access. It takes individual power from within to deliver a dramatic performance.

You utilize character, and the archetypal symbolic action of veiling and re-veiling and revealing. You learn to fortify and stand in your power. Mistress at the helm.

A MAJOR DIFFERENCE IN PERSPECTIVE

In the Middle East women live under a veil. Their culture says; women are too powerful, and men too weak to behave once that power is revealed. This belief gives them permission to separate men and women. A lame excuse in my book and  clearly a disempowering power play.  I think plenty of cultures prove that men can behave themselves.

So this cultural back story brings us to a major crossroads where Middle Eastern and American belly dancers differer in style. The evolution of belly dance in America developed veil dance techniques to a supreme degree.

All  arts are made of responses to the cultural environment they exist in. Thus belly dancers in the Middle East have not taken to do much veil dancing  like their American sisters do. We are the for runners of dancing with the veil. We received our inspirations from other sources; modern dancer’s like Loie Fuller (1890’s. . .) or ancient greece, or dramatic general stage craft. In the Mid East I think the relationship is psychologically taboo territory because they have a different relationship with the veil than we do. They do include a veil as a accessory with store bought Egyptian costumes but they sew bead on all the edges making it heavy and not designed with any aerodynamic  intention. It is just meant to cover up the dancer’s body while she is waiting to perform.

THE VEILS SIMPLE NATURE

I’m sure the first time the light weight fabric came off the loom it was dances with. How could anyone resist? Give a child a veil and they get it immediately. It’s light and liberating. It involved the air that we breathe for existence. Thoughts and spirits ride the wind. It’s medium is transcendent in nature.


THE VEIL AS A POWERFUL SYMBOL:

We veil things to keep the POWER contained; ritual objects get veiled,  we veil and close doors for privacy, the bread gets veiled so it will rise. Women wear a veil to morn the dead and for seclusion.

In the case of the art of belly dance what gets veiled and revealed is a deeper YOU.

As we unveil, the action or process causes us to deliver a power and essence that moments ago in the dance were covered up.

You meet your audience in intimate dance mode and with a deeper personal expression. Then, what they see is this spirited essence that unfurls and lifts into the air space and the ethers around them.

 

 

 

Maji by Freeman Mester

Maji by Freeman Mester

THE BODY IS REVEALED:

You are using your innate female life regenerating power of the Goddess. Your female body is a vessel for life, it represents the earth, our world.

Reveal

Reveal

MALE / FEMALE ENERGY: .

We are all made of both male and female attributes. The feminine side attracts, contains, incubates, draws in. The male side expands, pushes out, challenges.

By nature of being woman we do possess the universal power of attraction within us. Without it, the universe would fall apart. However, we have a bastardized sense of what this power really is in todays society. We are taught it’s comes in a small pink package called  “pretty”. Ha! Pretty does not sustain life.

So the power behind the veil must be more mature. More powerful! It is far from superficial idea of pretty. The power is in it’s containment and it’s revelation. In it’s knowingness. Trouble is we do not know it very well in today’s world.

If you/ me/ we, want the power of the feminine to have meaning then more of us need to go there and both meet and explore this power head on! I suppose this challenges you to accept your own body. Duh! How else can we fight the stereotyping? We have to accept our own bodies first. Your body is a gift! You never loose this power. However you can ignore it, loose sight of it or simply not believe in it.

The power of the veil is not in the physical noun. The power is within the action of covering and revealing.

Many women today are afraid to use their power. Afraid they don’t know what it is, don’t have any power,  or it’s not good enough. I beg to differ. It’s only that  we are all busy subscribing to the commercial propaganda and adding to the collective fear. The power of attraction is a female quality, yes but it is a universal constant, not a commodity.

Confusion with the issues is good enough to lose strength. Thus we have no control. I tell you it is not about “pretty”.

Control of the veil is an exercise in demonstrates this power from within! The mystery is revealed. When we are lead to believe that it’s all about “pretty”; we as women are dissempowered by our culture this way. This is a daily message pumped out in media so we will stay occupied with superficial issues and keep buying things. We remain busy chasing the wrong goal and are disempowered.

Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty

Exploring your self though movement and self expression in real time is a valuable effort . It’s vital life force you are accessing and utilizing.


WHAT MORE IS REVEALED?

What lays behind the veil could be an impassioned lover, a nurturing mother,  a playful child, a wise crone, a hungry cat, a delicate butterfly, an owl, a sprite. It could be an archetypal embodiment; Athena, Aphrodite, Isis, Kali the Medusa, Themis Mother of justice, the vagina dentata, or the gaping maw. It could be the raw power of seduction reminding us that it is essential to the workings of nature, not evil.

The personal expression could come in all flavors of emotional tones; tenderness, vulnerability, sadness or loss. It could be mischievous, dark, light, comforting, passionate, angry, lyrical, or chaotic- you get to creatively choose your muse.

Delilah at he High Dive

Delilah at he High Dive

PRACTICAL USE:

The veil is usually 3 yards of silk or chiffon. It is learned to be smartly wrapped around the body of a dancer and then masterfully controlled as adeptly as a magician, who  mesmerizes the audience. It graces the air with color and shape shifting designs that are as fleeting as the smoke of incense.

The fabric is made of threads that pick up the vibration from the dancers emotional center. The dynamics comes from her core and reverberates outward from our hearts center into the threads. The veil becomes our wings; it is the closest you will come to flying.

FEEL THE POWER.

The moon hides and then re-veils it’s self. A butter fly erupts into a glorious creature. The anticipation of the opening of a beautifully wrapped gift.

Lulu's Birthday veil dance

Lulu's Birthday veil dance

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

Lorraine LafataAbout Lorraine and belly dancing.

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

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

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

These are all ladies after my own heart.

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

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

Our bodies are full of symbols.

Lorraine Lafata  will be teaching an all day workshop

Belly Dance as Healing Dance; Working with Trauma

Saturday August 14th

HERstory

I met her on the phone first.

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

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

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

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

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

OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS

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

BELLY DANCE AS HEALING DANCE; WORKING WITH TRAUMA

Saturday AUGUST 14th

VDP STUDIO

4128 Fremont Ave n

Sea wa 98103

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

Call to reserve please.

Delilah 206-632-2353

Belly Dance into the Sea

Belly Dance into the Sea

Integrity and value

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 26, 2010   ♦   Comments Off on Neighborhood Temple Priestess / Not a religion

In the past year the Neighborhood Temple Priestesses have done a ton of good work. I want to share below, but first an introduction.

This is an excerpt from Ruth St Denis Poem called “ Entertainment for the Beloved “ , I glean my life long inspiration from this and a few other poems. An autographed copy of this poem was given to me as a girl by my grandmother and I have used in my dances on many occasions.

“I dreamed of dancers

long since dead

asleep in the tombs of kings, and queens.

I dreamed that they

rose from their shrouds

and once again assembled

the scattered liniments

of their long lithe bodies,

they move to effortless measures

to the  drum beats and the lingering melodies of the harp.

Those dancers of an ancient past

slowly they moved among the long tables,

laden with fruits and wines,

trained in the rhythms of the east

and made wise in the rhythms of love it’s self.

In the sweet scented nights

under the low hanging stars

I saw you in my dreams,

dear dancers of the long since dead

and I wondered if if it might not be

that in this eternal now (which includes this hour)

that you might not still be moving

in the shadow of the temple aisles,

still weaving patterns of immemorial loveliness

as you did of old

and that kings and princes

bent upon you

eyes of desire

and raise you from your low obeisance

to find joy and honor in their arms in the passing of the scented nights.

by

Ruth St Denis

***

Neighborhood Temple Priestesses are called NTP for short.

NO. . . WE ARE NOT A RELIGION! . . . L.O.L

Our dancers are from all different walks of life. We are a dance collective.

However, we do view belly dance as food for the soul and supremely value it in our lives. We see belly dance as older and drawing from roots deeper than todays modern cultures . This gives us much freedom and artistic license.

We take our name from these inspirations:

NEIGHBORHOOD. . . a greater community than just ourselves but that surrounds us and we are a conscious and participating member of.

TEMPLE. . . Our body is a temple. Our dance feeds our soul, Our studio space a house for the dance we hold high. The space that allows us to do the good work in community. The temple gives us physical and metaphysical foundation.

PRIESTESS . . . A women who leads rituals. In America belly dance has always drawn inspirations from ancient times. This female station makes us think back to a time when women danced in temples as priestesses, stewards, mentors, healers, councilors and leaders in community. In ancient times “dance” held more importance to everyones life than than just gym class of stage performance. This word priestess denotes a high place women once occupied more vividly. We feel belly dance needs a lift in status and ego identification. We know it’s value in our lives as well as how it touches those around us. Priestess sounds more serious and I suppose we take our dance more seriously than the unaquainted with belly dance would guess. The word “Performer” sounds less personal, like a circus act and while we have fun we bring beauty and sensitivity to the things we do. Our work effects us as much as it does those around us.


All belly dancers dance for everyday rituals like birthdays, anniversaries and weddings showers. Do they realize the importance rituals play in our lives? Or do we all get so busy and used to things that we loose the significant meaning ritual plays in our lives. Instead of taking a passive performance role we aim to step up and facilitate the significance of these gatherings a bit more directly. We do birthdays and the like, as well as take it a step further than most and do wakes, memorials, house blessings, ground breaking, healing support gatherings, coming of age. We create new rituals, build public and private art installations utilizing belly dance. Examples;  dance labyrinths, shadow plays,  solstice feasts, luminaria walks, parades, nature dances. . . we use creative and intuitive energy to bring us all closer to the present moment in our lives. As a dance group we aim to share these acts of grace with those around us. The work we do feeds our hearts and rewards our soul. We leave them crying often. In a good way.

We feel that the average Joe on the street has lost a connection of original dance. Dance in ancient times was not for show so much as it was a way for each individual to participate in direct commune with powers that are bigger and more beautiful than can be comprehended. The first dances were around camp fires,  joining hands and dancing in circle, and dancing from house to house and village to village in celebration of the cycles of nature and the gift that is life. In it’s basic form the drums immitatie our heart beats. As it quickens it intensifies our energy and compel us to jump, turn, shake, stomp, skip and reach levels of ecstatic movement. These occurrences are unspeakable for there are no words that capture that feeling. In ancient times dance was something everyone did because it was as essential to life as food,  water, shelter and air.


Today we have a very distant association of what dance is. So many people do not know what I’m really talking about. Dance has become something you need a partner to do. Only for certain talented people or something studied and learned instead of a basic necessity. Our traditional dance academies teach people not to dance more than too dance. We are brain washed to think of dance as for the young skinny children. How many men in our culture say ” sorry I don’t dance”? We are dedicated to dissolving that myth.

The NTP is all ages and walks of life and levels of dance experience. We are not limited to just dancers. We have artists and other supporters who have joined.

We do traditional belly dance, creative dance, ritual dance, trance dance, pharaonic dance and dancing in nature. What defines the dance for us in not one ethnic culture but the culture of women. Women hear the call to belly dance and associated expressions that come from our feminine being. We feel the would needs more of this.


Basically 3 kinds of members

1. Active Core Members

2. Auxiliary   Members who are very busy and get called in when we need them or they have time and interest.

3. Members from inside and out side the Seattle area that belong to our yahoogroup. Online we share the progress of our creative projects in hopes to educate and inspire like action as well as learn from our mistakes. We read books together, hold good thoughts for each other, and other positive acts. Membership is always open.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Neighborhood-Temple-Priestess

Chapters;

We have a Honolulu Chapter that has just started up and similar interest evolving, in Alabama a couple other places have expressed mild  interest. We have members from other countries too.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Neighborhood-Temple-Priestess

In Seattle we hold three kinds of get togethers. Meetings, Workshops and combinations. Workshops are where skills are shared projects or developed. Meetings are about planning new projects, scheduling and taking care of business. NTP is not suppose to take the place of ones sole dance instruction but add to it. Fees are flexible. No one is turned away. Call and come to a meeting. They are listed on the VDP Calendar.

The way the group works is simple. Not a lot of rules. No dancer has to do anything she’s not interested in. If a member has an idea and a project she wants to move forward with there is nothing we can’t do if there are members interest and available in the group. In 2009 we have done many fund raisers, baby and wedding showers and other women’s gathering in the past year in addition to these larger community projects listed below.

This past year.

2010 January; Kalani Hanua Non Profit Arts Retreat, Hawaii. Installation of a 48 foot wide dance labyrinth using 650 electric candles and flowers. This was set under a full moon for participating dancers as well as the local community, and was followed the next day by a smaller, spiral-style, organic dance labyrinth made of bamboo leaves.

2009 December; Open House Winter Solstice celebration, VDP Studios. 22 foot wide indoor dance labyrinth with 400 electric candles. out takes are on one of the Power belly Show episodes.

2009 December; Pathway of Lights, Greenlake Park. Moving dance installation with both dancers and musicians.

2009 October; Trolloween, Fremont Arts Council. Outdoor 3-D shadow dance performance and installation.

2009 October; Autumn Meditation, Greenlake Park. 800 Candle Dance Labyrinth

2009 September; Arts-A-Glow Outdoor Festival, Burien City Parks. Performed a 3-D Shadow Dance

2009 August; A Dance for Celeste, Luther Burbank Park, Mercer Island. Neighborhood Temple Priestesses outdoor dance memorial celebration held at dusk. Used 300 electric candles along with white veils.

2009 January; Mommy Muse, Hugo House. Featured dance performances in conjunction with a presentation by Christy Cuellar-Wentz, MA on postpartum depression.

2009-08 July; Annual Mediterranean Fantasy Festival, Seattle Parks & Recreation,

We have a yahoo group you can join and follow along with our work. dancers belong in all different cities. Neighborhood-Temple-Priestess Yahoogroup

We have some workshops coming up.

The fee is by donation upon ability. See our calendar page.


  ♦   Comments Off on March Dance Events: Part 3, HATHOR UNVEILED

March Dance Event

Part 3

Hathor Unveiled


Then the Hathor Show  was Saturday night. . . .OMG what a wonderful project to be a part of. Suzanna and Malia are such good girls. To honor their belly dance forbearers in such style! Hopefully some day they shall know the same privilege to be honored in ones community. Beautiful job, beautiful job! I choose not to do the kind of dance I am known for ( I did that so deeply the night before). Instead i took the opportunity to add to the Hathor theme of the whole event with a deeper tone . Dancers often miss the opportunity to be in contrast. It’s not always easy to leave what you know people expected to see you do. Since Hathor is my favorite mythological archetype I choose to dig that dance out of my dance closet. I this dance has a long history. It was originally commissioned as part of Laurel Victoria Grays EGPTA Show in Germany. That and a dance called “The Death of Cleopatra”. I also danced it in Hathor’s Temple in Denderra Egypt, in California at a retreat at a place called Isis Oasis, on Easter Sun rise at my Maui belly dance retreat with Mezmera. I teach it as a movement meditation often in workshops.

It is very calming and sooting to do with it’s specific movement passes and spacial design. The moves lead to a deeply trance inducing meditation. Often a tear appears from my left eye. I have no idea why, it just happens, and it happens often.

The full dance with costume was not easy to resurrect. The wig was made in 1975 . We fought for hours trying to stabilize the brass and copper moon piece on top of the head dress that was made by Lenny of Magic Circle in 1997. We finally figuring it out with the help of Christine and Erik right before the show. Yikes! Hathor’s mirror is an amazing art piece with carnelian and amethyst jewels, 7 knots of cane as well as the vertebra of a cow set into the handle. It was made by Uncle Mafufo and it was taken and used in the temples and pyramids of Egypt on 3 separate trips. The music is by my X husband Steve from his , Rapture Rumi Cd but it’s a special edited version. The blue and gold jewelry pieces were given to me at a workshop in New York in 1988 and just happened to go with the peal beaded dress I magically found in 1997. Laura Rose and Christine were my mirror and aunk attendants.

Hathor’s Mirror represents reflection, beauty, and mystery. The aunk is the life symbol. The ancient Egyptian Goddess Hathor represents women, birth music, dance and drunkenness. It felt so good to be able to share this piece with the belly dance community.

My wish to Hathor is for the power and strength of our belly dance community to

continue grow in the feminine ways of women’s innate wisdom.

Your

Neighborhood Temple Prietess

at your service

PS I am planning a Tour to Egypt in April of 2011

Email me your name phone and street address and I’ll send you the brochure soon as it”s ready.

PS Related story links

Experience of the Beautiful

Cane Dance of the Hatshepsut

Hathors Movement Meditation

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