D's Blog

November 7, 2011   ♦   Comments Off on Interview with Dr. Laurel Victoria Gray

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Interview by Delilah with Laurel Victoria Gray:Laurel Victoria Gray


Ladies and Gentleman


It is with great pleasure that on November, 25, 26, 27 Visionary Dance Productions is hosting one of America’s expert ethnic choreographers and dance historians here in Seattle to teach four exciting workshops. Her awards are truly outstanding and unprecedented in our dance community and this is an opportunity that should not be missed by any ethnic dance enthusiast.

You can see many of her works at,



About Laurel,

Laurel Victoria Gray is known as “the pioneer of Uzbek dance in America,” her efforts to preserve and present traditional Central Asian and Persian dance make her a true cultural diplomat.


2011, she was given the prestigious Arash Award by the Toronto’s Tirgan Iranian Festival for her contributions to Iranian culture.

2009, she was selected by Fulbright Association to deliver the Selma Jeanne Cohen International Dance Scholar Lecture at their annual conference

2007, she was awarded an honorary doctorate by Uzbekistan’s Ministry of Culture for her work in promoting and preserving Central Asian Dance not only in America but in world wide travels; Europe, Central Asia,Australia, and Canada.

2006 she was the recipient of the Metro DC dance award in excellence in Costuming Design.

2005 she was the recipient for the Distinguished Service Award by the Embassy of Uzbekistan.

2003 she own the Kennedy Center Local Dance Commissioning Project Award.

2003  she won the International Academy of Middle East Dance (IAMED) award for best Choreographer ,

1999 she won the International Academy of Middle East Dance (IAMED) award for Best Ethnic Dancer


Dr. Gray’s articles have appeared in publications including the Oxford University Press International Encyclopedia of Dance, the World Encyclopedia of Contemporary Theater, the Encyclopedia of Women in Islamic Cultures, the Encyclopedia of Modern Asia and Dance magazine as well as journals in Germany and Australia. She has written countless articles for regional and international Middle Eastern Dance magazines across the globe for many years including  Habibi, Arabesque, Jareeda,  and more.

She has traveled to Uzbekistan a dozen times, living there for two years and appearing on television dance programs many times. She was a member of the jury for the 1997 International Music Festival ‘Sharq Taronalari’ (Melodies of the East) which was held in Samarkand and for the 1993 Uzbekistan Puppet Theater Festival.


Laurel has been a guest instructor at the major Middle Eastern dance camps and retreats held annually in the United States, including the Mendocino Middle Eastern Music and Dance Camp, the Oasis Dance Camp, Delilah’s Visionary Retreat in Maui, Morocco’s week-long seminar in NYC, and the Central Asian Dance Camp. In 1999, she studied Egyptian folklore in Cairo. Laurel is also the founder and president of the Uzbek Dance and Culture Society, and has photographs on display in the Museum of Peace and Solidarity in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.


Dr. Gray has taught Russian and Soviet History at North Seattle Community College. She was an education outreach instructor for New York’s City Center Theater in 1990, introducing thousands of Middle School students to Georgian dance.


Currently she is the artistic director of Silk Road Dance Company. Dr. Gray teaches as Adjunct Faculty taught atGeorge Washington University and George Mason University. For several years she gave instruction in traditional Persian dance at the Iranian Community School in Vienna, Virginia; she currently teaches at the Joy of Motion Dance Center in Washington, DC as well as at Joe’s Movement Emporium in Mount Rainier, Maryland.





Your credentials are not only impressive but multifaceted. You couldn’t have accomplished so much without an absolute love and dedication for dance and cultural heritage. It shows you have worked hard and diligently and I might add from a very young age. You first traveled to the Soviet Union and Uzbekistan as a teenager when it was unheard of for Americans to go there correct?


Laurel: It was rare and difficult, but possible, especially for young student groups. We had the opportunity to travel throughout the USSR from Leningrad to Siberia, to Tashkent to Tbilisi and experience the immense cultural diversity of the country.



For two years, from 1992 to the end of 1993,  you lived in Uzbekistan during the turbulent time of its new independence. Your goal there was in effort to preserve the dance and traditions that were fast being pushed aside by modernization and the fall of the Soviet system of artistic support. What is it like today?


Laurel: Happily, the Uzbek government has decided to keep dance as an important expression of national identity. Celebrations of Independence Day and Navruz, the New Year celebration, all feature intricate dance performances.



Even though I don’t live in Washington DC I have enjoyed watching Silk Road Dance Company online, especially the performances featured video archive of the Kennedy Center of website. Impressive. The costumes are outstanding and are an integral aspect of the overall beauty of the presentations. Since you choreograph the dances, are they dances you learned from artists over there or are they your own adaptations?



Laurel: Silk Road Dance Company performs traditional and contemporary choreographies. We have a Legacy Repertoire of famous, traditional dances that have been gifted to us by World Dance specialists from different countries. And we also present my own compositions that are based on traditional movements. Some of these pieces are traditional in flavor while others are more contemporary and interpretive.



I first became associated with your work in Seattle Washington when you were active in the Seattle Sister City Committee working with international artists exchanges. This was before and after the Good Will games in 1989. I certainly knew of your performances as a member of the Seattle based Tanavar Dance Ensemble as well. Would you care to walk down memory road a bit?


Laurel: To my knowledge, Tanavar Dance Ensemble was the first Uzbek dance group in the United States. Several of the choreographies and costumes created for Tanavar became the basis for Silk Road Dance Company.



You traveled extensively in Europe creating theatrical choreography for several dance troupes for a several years. This demanded you be on the road all the time. What was that like?


Laurel: Yes, I toured Europe ten times, teaching Persian, Central Asian, Russian Roma “Gypsy,” ancient Egyptian and Arabic dance. The dance groups for which I created choreographies were very motivated and worked to master the pieces I taught.


The rough part was that this was before DVDs, so I had heavy suitcases  filled with my dance videos that I had to drag around on the trains. Ah, the glamorous life!



You moved from the Seattle area to Washington DC, where you could be more active and plugged into the opportunities of international cultural art affairs. When did you create Silk Road Dance Company?


Laurel: I founded SRDC in 1995, but never guessed the kind of success we would have. We have traveled to 14 states and 3 foreign countries! SRDC has appeared at some of the most prestigious festivals and venues in DC, including the Kennedy Center and the Library of Congress. The ensemble has been featured at events for the Embassies of Egypt, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkey and Russia; we are often engaged by cultural organizations in the Turkish, Iranian, Afghan, Arab and Central Asian communities.



About Silk Road Dance Company? What dances do you represent?




Silk Road Dance Company is an ethnically diverse professional dance ensemble specializing in women’s dance of Silk Road cultures, Central Asia, the Caucasus, the Middle East and North Africa. This includes Afghani, Azerbaijani, Ancient Egyptian, Bollywood,  Crimean Tatar, Egyptian folklore, Arab Gulf States, Indian, Iranian, Kazakh, Kurdish, Mongolian, Moroccan, Persian, Russian Roma (Gypsy), Tajik, Turkmen, Uzbek, Uyghur, Urumchi and more!


We also performed at Warner Bros studio in California at a star-studded event promoting their television programming. Unforgettable!


When you come to Seattle you will be teaching four different workshops. Can you shed a little more light on the workshops, and who should attend?


Laurel: All of the workshops are suitable for dancers of all levels. Folks interested in pure technique will enjoy the “Silk Road Sampler” but there is also technique in the choreography classes. All of the pieces have a distinct movement vocabulary that can be adapted to other styles.


On Friday,  Nov 25, I will present a “Silk Road Sampler” from 2-4 pm to give dancers a taste of some of the beautiful movements and technique from different Silk Road cultures. These elements can be used in other forms, from elegant Egyptian styling to tribal bellydance.


“Vintage California Tribal, a legacy of the Bal Anat style that influenced West Coast dancers in the 1970s, will be presented on Saturday,  Nov 26, from 11-1 pm. The workshop includes an complete choreography to a Middle Eastern flavored version of “Paint it Black.” Dancers can explore the roots of American tribal forms by learning this vocabulary in a choreography. I will also share some of the earlier tribal costume styles that are a refreshing break from the usual tribal “uniform.” This workshop is inspired by my years in a California Tribal influenced dance troupe. I love being able to share this part of our dance heritage.


We go to Bollywood  later on Saturday, from  2-4 pm, when I will teach a playful choreography to “Ringa, Ringa”,  a charming piece of music from the film Slumdog Millionnaire.  My Bollywood style draws from Indian folkdance and classical dance. It is not just bellydance to Bollywood music, so it has a real Indian flair.


Bollywood is also the the theme of my Sunday November 27th workshop from noon to 2 pm. The choreography is set to a great Punjabi song, Gur Nala ishq Mitha , and has a energetic Bhangra feel. This piece is a real crowd pleaser and will be an excellent addition to troupe repertoires.



On Friday Night November  25



Open Invitation:

Pot Luck and Talk by Dr. Laurel Victoria Gray

Subject ;

“The Challenges of Saving these Dances Authentically”

Bring a dish to share and enjoy the evening with this very knowledgable and funny speaker. We All dancer and interested folks are invited to attend


VDP STudio

4128 Fremont Ave North.

Sea. Wa 98103

206 632-2353


August 19, 2011   ♦   Comments Off on Delilah’s Trip to Egypt in 2012 & The Pyramid Code

Delilah at Abu Semble

Our next tour to Egypt is set for April 2012.

We were suppose to go this past  March but given the events of this year, we got derailed because of the Arab Spring and had to re due our itinerary. The events that transpired this year in Egypt were a big surprise and I hope the Egyptian people benefit from it all. I feel it is a positive effort.

Whose going on Delilah’s Egypt Tour? Belly Dancers, family friends and anyone interested in Egypt who wants to see it from a magical point of view. Our new itinerary is  all on line and about half of our group is still on board. We lost a few travelers because they couldn’t get all the time off for 2012. Darn! However 2 new people are signing up because they can get the time off in 2012 so, there you go, never can tell what’s going to work out.

Things are turning around again and tourism is returning slowly. I have talk to friends who have gone and they said they were glad they went at such a historic time. All reports are pretty fantastic because the sights are not at all crowded . That is the preferred way to visit them (especially ifwe want to do some movement meditations in these sacred spots and not bother anyone.

Victoria at Abydos

Victoria at Abydos

We are still a long way out from April 2012.

However If you are thinking you might like to join us Let me know, save your money aside and I will let you know when I will accept new registrations. I may make a few tiny changes to the itinerary before then. Most likely I will accept new registrations in Dec/Jan. That will give you a good 5-6 months to plan. We are not going until April 24 2012

See all current Egypt Tour details

I’m getting inspired these days! I’m starting to see some cosmic energy lining up.

Recently I’ve been totally addicted to all the Egypt documentaries I can watch on net flix on my computer. One set is the 5 part documentary series “Pyramid Code”. OMG! How Fascinating. . . .A bit controversial, but very exciting.

You can The Pyramid Code it on YouTube but it’s best on DVD.

I got some very excited news that Velaria (who came on my last trip to Egypt in 2008). She is signing up to come on the next one in 2012. She’s been visiting me this week in Seattle and I turned her on to the “Pyramid Code” documentaries. We were both taken by a speaker on the program; an Egyptian man named Dr. Abd’el Hakim Awyan. He was noted as a Mystical Wisdom Keeper. He grew up on the Giza plateau and is a descendent from the Awyan tribe that claim to be the indigenous keeper of the ancient Al Khemitian (Egyptian) wisdom tradition. They claim to have been the guardians of area for centuries. Unfortunately he passed on recently. I would love to have met him. I understand his daughter and a son are following in his foot steps.  THUS it is my intention to see if I can add her to our itinerary. Maybe she can come and give us a talk at some point on our journey in 2012. Yes!

Over coffee this morning Veleria and I  have been reminiscing about our last trip and coming up with ideas for this coming trip. She explained she was saddened by the amount of garbage in some of the more remote sacred sites. She said she wished we could help in some sort of way by maybe becoming a volunteer clean up crew. If we had some sort of pool nets we could get the plastic water bottles left (most likely by tourists from all over the world out of the spring at the temple of Abydos. If we had gloves and garbage bags we could cart litter out of and improve the sites. Hmm? I thought for a few moments and 2 things occurred to me. I would hate to make the Egyptians feel insulted by our demonstration. Like we were making a comment on the Egyptians not having a clean house. Hmmm? We cannot hope to make a very big difference really. But then I think for each of us personally it would mean something profound as a ritual of recognizing the sacred value of these sights from the perspective of our global humanity. A ritual of cleansing, humbling and compassion. We leave our footsteps and our breaths there that little by little erode these monuments and the least we can do is make an effort to undue a little of the tourist impact.These monuments are our world human heritage. On a cosmic consciousness scale this would mean a lot energetically. It couldn’t hurt for anyone to  see a few Americans get down and humbly pick up some trash either.

At the temple of Isis

At the temple of Isis

So I am going to have a list of things for Mohammad to have on our bus. A pool scoop, trash bags and I’ll bring a box of plastic gloves. Anyone who feel inclined can fill a bag of garbage and feel they made a difference even if it is very small.

I am going to also have him contact the daughter of Dr Awyan. If she is living in Egypt maybe she can come give us a talk!

I love to hear from those who are Ancient Egypt buffs like me.



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.


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



About Marliza



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.



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!



New marking inside Great Pyramid

New marking inside Great Pyramid













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” !


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.



January 4, 2011   ♦   1 Comment »

DelilahDress Red BlackPants&Belt99Dear Ladies,

Some of you may remember years ago I found a dress I was really crazy about and thus I shared my find with all my women friends. It was called the “Enchantress Dress” and it sure made alot of us very happy! Well, for 2011 I have another style I am very enamored with and would like to share it with all my friends out there.

It’s an essential piece of retro clothing for the woman on the go. This one I’m making myself! It is completely different in style from the Enchantress Dress, so let me tell you about it.

Delilah’s Shape Shifter Dresses

A Custom Made Garment


I originally found this simple dress in the 80’s when I was looking for clothing easy to travel with. They were sold in major department stores under the name Units, Elements, and Multiples, as well as in pattern books. I bought a few designs but one in particular became an integral piece of my wardrobe. You know how we all have those well loved pieces of clothing that gets worn for years until they are worn to death and there’s nothing left?

My dress was red, had long sleeves, split on the sides and mid length. It was made of a soft tee shirt knit and the sleeves could easily be pushed up to the elbow. I wore it out to dinner and shows with belts over longer skirts, pants or leggings. I wore it beltless to the beach, to bed as a night shirt and as a costume cover up. I often wore it camping with jeans, and I definitely wore it all over the world on my travels. I loved this piece! It folded easily, didn’t wrinkle and was so comfortable.

Then one day in the 90’s, it was stolen off a clothes line to cover up a camera that was being lifted off a picnic table. I mourned the dress more than the camera! It was at least 6-7 years old by then, so I searched thrift stores trying to find a replacement with no luck. I recently read on the Internet that other people loved them too. One note claimed a women would have to be crazy to get rid of one because it would fit you at any shape and size you shape shifted into during your lifetime. No wonder I couldn’t find one. Then, the other day, I was rummaging through my sewing cupboard and I found some fabric and decided to get out my sewing machine and make one.

Long story short:

I have developed a pattern very similar to those dresses from the 80’s. I have added a few of my own design innovations.

1. Adding an extra long cuff to the sleeves gives a more graceful contemporary style to the sleeve.

2. A soft gather piece to the tube that allows it to become

a) a hip hugger belt. Perfect for belly dancing

b) to be worn as a soft scarf that won’t get blown away and looks great with jackets

c) a bra top or empire belt over the dress

3. The Three Split Over Dress (as I call it) looks great layered

with pants, shirts and leggings.

4. Instead of the one size fits all deal they had in the 80’s, I will custom make them,

so there is a little more individual tailoring to my designs.

5.The fabric you get to choose. There are some wonderful stretch jersey knits out there as well as soft cottons.

Delilah Dress AnimationPhotos

• On Monday night I asked a couple dancers if they would model their dresses. Freeman Mester took the photos. It’s amazing how different they look on everyone. They can be worn so many different ways. Sometimes these dresses shape shift into characteristic from different ethnic back grounds; Turkish, Indian, African, Spanish, Tunisia. Ideal for travel. They work for pregnant women for sure. They can be very sexy with a pair of heels or cozy with a pair of boots. Head bands and body tubes give them added character. The tubes can also be worn as tube tops in the summer time or if you travel to warm climates in the winter time. They are so versatile!

• Next I am going to get a couple gals to model the tube top variation and put them up one day soon.

• I’m asking everyone I made one for so far to send me a photo of them selves wearing it if they can. Soon as they get around to it I’ll start a separate scrapbook page.

Over All Description:

A highly versatile and comfortable garment. Triple stitched seams make it durable and add style. It’s simple, chic and loose fitting with a wide boat neck line that may fall to reveal a shoulder if you like. It is long sleeved with an under arm vent that keeps you cool and warm; useful at all times of the year. It can be made supper sexy with the use of slinky and stretchy tubular accessories that can be worn in a multitude of ways; as a cowl neck scarf, hooded head scarf, waist cincher, hip hugging belt, waistline belt, empire belt. The design has extended shoulders and long sleeves with the choice of regular or extra long cuffs. The sleeves can be pushed up on the forearm or elbow. This lovingly hand made garment can be tailored to various lengths and design features to choose from. The fabric you choose can make it more casual or dressy feeling.

Given the ways of air port security and our modern life style, these dresses will be in style for ever and become an integral part of your all our wardrobes for years to come!

I look forward to making you one of these comfy garments!

Pattern Drawings: Click Here>>

• The simple drawings show the different styles of garments so far.

Handmade in the USA

and of course, buying one helps to finance the creativity we deliver through dance and music at VDP STUDIOS each and every day!

HOW TO GET ONE, or two or three . . .

Print PDF Delilah’s Dress Order Form and sent in with fabric and thread.

Yardage details below. Keep reading.

Buyer supplies:

1. fabric in specifies yardage, 2. matching thread and 3. An order form with measurements.

Cost of custom made garment is as follows:
Click Here for an Order Form PDF>>


$75 Over Dress, Regular Dress, Coat/Robe with 1 Tube accessory

$65 Shirt, Tunic, Jacket with 1 Tube accessory,

$15 Extra Tubes (may need 27 inches more material)

$  5 Head Band (may need 13 inches more material)

$10 Shipping in USA


I can pick fabric out for you and add cost on to the bill plus $10 for time.

Fabric needed:

58-60 inch wide knit fabric only.

NOTE: If you have never bought fabric before it comes in different widths. 35 inch, 45 inch or 58-60 inch, and 120 inch (very rare). Look on the end of the bolt for width as well as recommended washing instructions. Two popular mixes are 60% Cotton 40% polly, (machine wash delicate) and 95% rayon and 5% spandex (hand wash).

Cotton or cotton blended jersey, cotton interlock or synthetic jersey, solids and prints best. Stripes *might*work, but I’m not sure. Not suited for obvious diagonal designs.

SAVE: There are usually printable 40%-50% coupons online for Joann’s Fabrics. My daughter had them even scan her i phone in the store for the coupon code! You might have to google Joanne Coupons cause they move around alot. You can buy fabric online too. IMPORTANT 58-60 inch wide remember. Two popular mixes are 60% Cotton 40% polly, (machine wash delicate) and 95% rayon and 5% spandex (hand wash).


Over Dress, Regular Dress, Coat/Robe with Tube accessory  3 1/2 yards

Shirt, Tunic, Jacket with Tube accessory  2 1/2 yards

Thread: Match as close as possible or one shade darker. Dual Duty 250 yard spool.


Petite – may need more information to be custom made. Be prepared to talk on phone.

Small/ Medium – may be made slightly narrower.

Medium, Large, X large – are usually the same unless shoulders are extremely wide or narrow. Make a notation under special notes.

XXL, XXXL – may require different style and more fabric. Totally doable but will need more information to advise according to style.

So call Delilah! 206 632-2353

I am working on new design too, so check back again!

December 27, 2010   ♦   Comments Off on Visionary Winter Solstice Feast 2010

(I record this musing for posterity so we can look back from the future and remember )

Visionary Winter Solstice Feast 2010

Sunday, December 19th (on the approach of the Winter Solstice).

At the close of the Winter Solstice Event, Taiya dances

At the close of the Winter Solstice Event,

Taiya dances.


Events of the Night:

6:00 P.M. doors open.

Participants were welcomed by a greeter and anointed with essential oils called Abundance. The room was dark save for 1 lone candle hip high on a candle stick holder in the center of the room. On the floor was a black light spiral with stars on the floor. The room was devoid of chairs. Just open darkness. At the East end of the room was hung a Sun King Effigy with some votive lights so you could write prayers and wishes on little prayer papers and twist them into the art work made by Freeman and Elizabeth Mester.

6:30 the musicians entered and took their places. 6:40 Delilah entered and took a hand of a near by participant and one by one everyone linked dances and followed her in a spiral dance in the dark. It wove in and out and around and around for 10 minutes and then everyone settled into a circle with Delilah near the candle so she could address the group and read the following welcoming.

Welcome every body to our Winter Solstice celebration.

It is our custom at VDP STUDIOS to use the seasonal changes as cause for celebrating with our community and sharing our music, dance and instigating acts of love and creativity.













Candle Light Ceremony, Delilah, Kalara, Faren, Elizabeth

Candle Light Ceremony, Delilah, Kalara, Faren, Elizabeth


We are gathered together here as we approach the longest night and the shortest day; which is officially on December 21st .  Juxtaposition of the Winter Solstice is the Summer Solstice, which is the time of the shortest night and longest day. And as most of you know we celebrate with a big Parade!

A little bit of Science:

The reason we have a winter and summer solstice is because the EARTH not only rotates around the SUN but on it’s journey it also is tilted  23.5 degrees causing the Northern and Southern hemispheres to be closer or further from the sun for half the year thus resulting in the seasons. This particular Winter Solstice is also accompanied with unusual event of full lunar eclipse!

Age Old Holiday Times

Over the centuries of human experience and because of the darkness and the gloom that accompanies much of our western hemisphere during this time of the year, a natural need arises in us to counter this doldrums. Many myths, symbols, religious beliefs, traditions and community celebrations have naturally evolved in different cultures at this time of year.











Ed Sullivan, Drummer, musician and friend

Ed Sullivan, Drummer, musician and friend


Hanukka, Christmas, Winter Solstice, New Years Eve and New Years day. . .

Another celebration unknown to many in America is December 17th. Known a Rumi’s Wedding day. It is the anniversary of his death. The Dervishes celebrate in a special 4 part Sema ritual. In a meditation festival for the eyes and hearts the room is illuminated by light of the unfolding twirling of the semazen’s white skirts revealed from under black hurka robes. They spin around the sun to the voicing of the ney flute and drum.

Rumi is a popular Afghan scholar, poet and mystic who spent most of his life in Konya Turkey (1273 AD).


The winter in many places has been a time of dread with good reason. With it food and heat maybe in scarce supply and the human spirit is in dire need of a kindling inside the heart; Light, warmth and plenty are the means of celebration.










Delilah Dances

Delilah Dances

Kaori Dances

Kaori Dances

Elizabeth and the Sun King

Elizabeth and the Sun King


Candles, yule logs, christmas trees, Menorahs, and electric strings of light bring us the necessary light that reassures us, enchants us and chases away the fear from our children’s hearts and are replaced with hope and cheer towards fellow man. Feasts are made from brews and peoples food stores for this moment.

In age old Pagan traditions mankind’s view was that they were being watched over by a family of gods and goddess. Symbolically is seen as the reign of the Goddess . She who rules from Summers fullness, Falls harvest, up to the cold dead introspection and stillness of winter. Then things switch upon the Winter Solstice and the Fire and phallus of procreative powers of the Sun begin again to be re-ignited /reborn and now the God begins his reign from Winters waning, Springs new beginnings and new fertility until Summer when his seed has been spent into the earth and the cycles of fruition are called once again.

I know it’s hard to believe that the first day of winter has not technically happened yet. But the good news is after the 21st we are on our journey to longer days meaning  more light, and with that the hope and new beginnings spring brings.

We celebrate the darkness toward the light!

Tonight is very different from our other kinds of performances here at VDP this is a participatory event.

About Ritual

RITUAL provides us with opportunities to become more vividly aware.

More present to the moment we share together.

Tonight we have a couple of simple rituals for us all to participate in, that is if you like.

1. We have joined in spiral dance together in the dark like also many of our ancient ancestors have don before us.

2.  We have prepared a sun King Effigy and invite you each to tie into it, your wishes, prayers, and hopes FOR ourselves, each other, and our world.  Then later on at around 10 Pm we will burn it in my back yard and symbolically release them into the night sky.

3 .A gift give away ritual.

Some read the web page or got the memo about our gift give away and many did not. Not to worry. Please if you brought one, when we go over to my house for the pot luck feast please place your give away gift on the gifting table on the porch at my house where we will hang the Sun King Effigy that will await it’s burning glory. The give away is a exercise in anonymous giving. It does not mater if you brought a gift or not. Sound with in your self and ask do you need a gift? This is a ritual about receiving as well as giving. Trust in the moment and ask. before you leave take a gift.

4. Candle Light Ritual


Each guest was give a candle and in groups of 3’s walk the spiral to the center and light their candle and then return to the circle. Little by little the room became a beautiful glow around the spiral.

Each of the 4 performances entered the spiral path and shared their performances with us.

NTP dance Solstice Feast 2010n

Kaori Oto did a mesmerizing energy dance

Delilah did a dervish spinning dance into a Hot Drum solo

Three member of the Neighborhood Temple Priestess dance collective did

A Dance of Light; Jeanette, Elizabeth & Kalara

Dahlia danced to a Rumi Poem that Delilah read, as David Mc Grath played the ney.Then she belly danced and got the audience to join her in the light!


Title: Where Everything Is Music






Dahlia dances

Dahlia dances


Don’t worry about saving these songs!

And if one of our instruments breaks,
it doesn’t matter.

We have fallen into the place
where everything is music.

The strumming and the flute notes
rise into the atmosphere,
and even if the whole world’s harp
should burn up, there will still be
hidden instruments playing.

So the candle flickers and goes out.
We have a piece of flint, and a spark.Dahlia Solstice Feast 2010 _n

This singing art is sea foam.
The graceful movements come from a pearl
somewhere on the ocean floor.

Poems reach up like spendthrift and the edge
of driftwood along the beach, wanting!

They derive
from a slow and powerful root
that we can’t see.

Stop the words now!
Open the window in the center of your chest,
and let the spirits fly in and out.


The Sun King was paraded across the street and placed on the porch sancuary for late comers to participate in adding wishes. The table filled with enchanting gifts.

The doors were opened

“Let the Feast begin!”

People brought in their foods and drinks to share.

10 PM  Winter Solstice Fire Ritual.

Erik roped up a tent so folks could stand in the rain and witness the event and stay dry.

Taiya from Vancouver Island danced in the rain steaming off the fire with a sword on her

Burning prayers and wishes into the night!

Burning prayers and wishes into the night!

head and 10 fire fingers! OMG!  The Sun King was raised over the bon fire and slowly lowered to everyones cheers, drumming and a saxophone and clarinet melody! Sparks and embers flew into the night and the Sun Kings face came into focus and then dissolved. Then women began passing out play money and everyone through it into the fire (very cathartic) singing and dancing.

Everyone came back in and more drumming and dancing took place in the livingroom with George Sadat ,Erik Brown and Ed Sullivan. It was an amazing night!

Special Thanks to Maria Lafrance, josie, Laura Legere and Erik who helped do most of the decorating this year! oxox

Photos by Freeman Mester.


1985 I learned about Winter Solstice Rituals and celebrations from two sources. One was my women’s drumming circle and one of it’s main component artists Michelle Saville and  Sarah Teofanov. The other one was the Fremont Arts Council, led by Denise Folgelman and Peter Toms. I participated in  their amazing Solstice Feasts as honored priestess of the torch for about 15 years (1988-2003). I danced a  voodoo belly dance with Afro Cuban drummers until I was drenched with sweat and torched the Sun King! Raw, sexy and yet completely family oriented (just like life!) Those events were so rich for my family, friends and community. I learned alot from the Arts Councils guidance for which I am very thankful. I always consider myself very fortunate to have such an incredible resource in my neighborhood.  Things always change however.

Delilah in 1999 (est)

Delilah in 1999 (est)

In 2004 with the opening of my dance studio up the street from the Fremont Arts Councils Power House, we  expanded to umbrella our dance studio participants. Our participation in the Summer Solstice Parade was in the hundreds of participants,  so our participation in the Solstice Feast changed accordingly. We focused our attention in participation by creating our own arty stage installations. The main ritual became more about pageantry and less earth in scope. It was growing and more people wanted to participate and they wanted it tamer and more officially organized. The Afro Cuban drum circles even lost focus. The city was becoming more conservative with safety issues and the idea of candles did not sit well with the new fire chief. This was too bad because the old world charm of having it all candle it and electricity prohibited was very special.

By 2008 we decided it had become too big an event and we also heard that the arts council was encouraging some branching off to take place. They were talking about taking the entire event out of the city which would not make it practical for local community participation in the days leading up to the event. Thus 2008 was the first year we did our own Winter Feast event in Fremont. That was the year of the big snow. The arts council planned their event on Saturday night. We planned ours for Sunday. There was a ton of ice and snow and the Sandpoint airplane hanger where they planned to hold the event was too big and cold. It was the first time they canceled the Solstice Feast. By the time Sunday came, people were eager to get out and about so our event was richly attended even though people couldn’t get on a flight out of town. They came on foot with turkey and lazagna in back packs. We had luminare candles in the snow leading people across the street to the sun king sanctuary and a snow flake bond fire in the back. Live music, food and performers. It was amazing. Strangers were invited to participate.

There are other reports over the years I made and put on line. If anyone ever writes a book about these events I hope these essays are helpful.

There are cool photos on these pages as well.

Winter Solstice Feast 2002

Winter Solstice Feast 1998:

Winter Solstice Archieve

Table of contents of other inspiring  events

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.

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
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.


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!

• 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.

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?


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!

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

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

November 15, 2010   ♦   Comments Off on VDP Scholarship/Belly Dance Stimulus Program

Scholarship with VDP STUDIO

. . . AKA Visionary Dance Productions

4128 Fremont Ave North, Wa 98103

Main Office 206 632-2353, Studio and Shipping office 206 632-1906

Belly Dance Stimulus Program

(Offering since Nov 2009)

Here’s the deal

The economy has taken it’s toll on many of us. We believe fervently that Belly Dance empowers our lives! It builds confidence, self esteem and self reliance. It keeps us together as women body, mind, and soul. It’s deep yoga and moves our chi. It recharges our batteries and an opportunity for wordless self expression that is important for our interior world. We know belly dance heals and builds stronger women.

Got a Job ?

If you have a job, FANTASTIC! Come take classes at VDP and pay us for them. We thank you! We are having our own challenges as a small business and our dancers derive their livelihoods through teaching. Most important we all need to stay fit, empowered and in balance during these challenging times. What better than doing something that celebrates being a life in a woman’s body! We have lots of wonderful and exciting instructors, classes, music and dance events for you to enjoy!

NO Job or minimally employed?

If you DO NOT have a job or a source of support right now, we feel you need belly dance more than ever! And I bet you have the time now more than ever before!

Come to class!

We’ll figure it out with you.

Maybe you can trade something. We actually need many services so please do not feel you are imposing on us. It can be a win win situation for everyone!

Office tasks, distributing flyers, cleaning, sorting the studio stuff, raking leaves, painting, making signs, designing flyers, cooking, answering phones, internet management, costume repair, massage, beauty services, writing, video review . . . Maybe you just remember us when times are better later on up the road.

For now let’s belly dance.

Life is too short to postpone that which we need and love.

How it works?

We are reserving spaces in these classes for you.

Please if someone you know is depressed and suffering because of this economy and you can see they need belly dance class then please pass this message on! They need to fill out a form and apply. We have 2-4 positions reserved in each class. We want to fill them by women who really want to belly dance! We are offering classes on every day of the week!

All they do is fill out a simple application.

Privacy observed.


Other opportunities:


We want to encourage documentation. We have a standing offer.  If our dancers in our community write an article with photos about their experience at VDP studio, or sponsored event, class series, performance experience, personal growth experience with belly dance, retreat, Egypt tour, video review, interview of instructors or musicians. . . and it gets printed in any of the magazines we will gift them a workshop or class series, or if they are far away some sort of valuable perk.

Retreat Scholarships:

We have over the years been able to offer scholarships because persons who know how valuable belly dance is in women’s lives have stepped forward to put up the funding. So Awesome! It warms all out hearts to have such positive demonstrations in out society. True Patrons of the Arts!

2010 year we had 2 full Hawaii Retreat scholarships.


Our internship programs are where dancers come to Seattle and live and under goes intensive study are not free or an exchange for labor. We offer our expertise and take you under our wing. This is avery valuable opportunity to women of any age. Each situation is a personally designed contract. The cost depends on budget and other factors like time of year, live in, goals, hours, . . . . We try to be reasonable and worthy.

Reasons: Some want to grow as professional dancers or instructors, some just want to increase their life’s adventure and the process is therapeutic and retreat oriented. Lots of options.

see more in the next blog entry

October 26, 2010   ♦   4 Comments »


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!


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.




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.




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.







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.


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.


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.


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


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.




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 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


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.


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

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