D's Blog

Delilah’s Visionary Belly Dance Retreat

April 2-9 2010

Location: Kalani Resort

Theme: Tribal-Hula-Fusion


Special Guests: Amy Sigil director of Unmata Sacramento, CA,

Dahlia from Seattle, WA

Musician: Erik Brown,

Your Host: Delilah

Hawaii Belly Dance Retreat, Easter Group 2010

Hawaii Belly Dance Retreat, Easter Group 2010

Letters from the Edge of the Volcano

Dear Dancers,


Every one of our retreats since 1991 have been unique and an in depth explorations into the art of belly dance. They all occupy special places in my memories and my heart. This frank day-to-day journal is a window into one such retreat. It is completely different from the theme and energy we explored 3 months ago in January with the Neighborhood Temple Priestesses. Thats the idea. To keep exploring, tasting, learning and to occupy different perspectives in our dance. To keep the art of it, alive from within.

Letter #1

We arrived in paradise on Friday afternoon. It’s Monday as I begin to write.

The retreat is going very well so far. We did 8 hours of full out dance on the first day! Not a lot of talking either. We put our efforts to learning a bunch of tribal improv body vocabulary first off, and were reduced to total sweat and minds of mush by end of Saturday night. Of course not everyone did all of it. After a certain point some of us had to sit and watch. Watching is just as important mind you, and often more important because while you are constantly moving, you often miss the totality of the movement and the underlying attitude that goes with it.

We had 2 Island dancers from the town of Hilo join us for just Saturday. Knowing this ahead of time, I rearranged the class schedule to give them a real bang for their buck since they could only join us for one day; (Sherry and Denise). We enjoyed connecting with them very much. I wish they could have stayed for the entire retreat because it just kept getting better. Next time!

We knew this retreat would be very challenging compared to other retreats. We were calling it “Unmata Boot Camp”. Of course that’s only if you choose to do everything we were offering. We always tell dancers they don’t have to do everything. On this particular session we were offering a large variety of belly dance classes. Each year we have dancers come who approach our retreats differently. Some want to dance 24/7 and others want to dance and relax by the pool or beach half the day. This retreat availed a special opportunity to really grok tribal styles in an accelerated few days if you had the energy. We learn and retain by daily doses, repetition and reinforcements. A retreat is a perfect vessel for this kind of work. When we retreat, we are cut away from usual life obligations, going into a different environment, where we can devout body and soul to our dance. Not like a workshop in the city.

I am learning a lot. I probably am not going to emerge a ” Tribal Girl” but I am learning signature moves and gaining a good appreciation for the different styles. It’s really great. I like the different way of moving and being in my body for a change. I think we all should experience different styles to stay fully engaged with dance and avoid becoming stale.

Crazy as it sounds tribal is not all we are doing either. Dahlia is teaching Egyptian and Folkloric, and I’m adding Power Belly and taking care of the Easter Sunday ritual element with a little dose of NTP style…

We are dreaming dance as we listen to the jungle sounds. We can hear the roar of the surf and either the rattle of hard tropical rain on the roof or an ubiquitous hiss that fills the air with spray. The Hawaiians have so many names for the different kinds of rain. My cottage is circled with open screened windows. It’s like we are sleeping under a banyon tree in the jungle. I lay listening to the bush and sway of palm frowns like slow hula hips in the night, partnered with the aftermath of rain drops plopping on jurassic park-sized leaves in the trees. Oh, and frogs. Lots of frogs singing “boo peep, boo peep!”


We had an anonymous donor make a gift of “TWO” week-long scholarship spots to out retreat this year! Wow! It happened every once in a while. It really is a testimony to the good work we do each year. It makes me proud. Women see, feel and know that the experience is so beneficial. They are inspired to GIFT other women! This is a powerful thing . . . . Mahalo. I love this universe.

It was up to me to choose who????

It was not easy, and it was last-minute so it had to be some one who could get off work and buy a plane ticket. I finally decided to choose 2 women who really wanted to come but couldn’t because of finances, would try their hardest, are very supportive of VDP, show the most potential in learning fast, and retaining concepts and choreography and then can bring it back to our studio. If it had been a different theme I would have chosen very differently. I knew this retreat would be very, very challenging.

More later, maybe, signing off for now. . .


Letter #2

Back again for more. . .

I forgot to mention, on the first day we did all that Tribal, we also did our first “Basics of Egyptian Styling” with Dahlia, a “Power Belly” with me and Erik, and I taught a couple moving meditations for us to greet the sunrise with on Easter morning. Ha! Most slept well after all this and then rose early. It’s the style of living in Hawaii, to go to bed early and wake up early. You find lots of people up at 6 AM walking the dog, jogging, swimming, and doing yoga.

Easter Sunday

We woke up a little before the sunrise and met at what they call ” The Point”.  It’s just across the street from the Kalani, on the one and a half lane jungle road that snakes along this edge of the South East side of the island. It’s a tranquil view spot with a fire pit and a meditation bench. It over looks the crashing surf and wide open ocean. Sometimes you can even see volcano glow as it pours into the ocean further South of us. But not now. Today it’s perfect for witnessing the moment of sunrise. The fire pit still had burning embers from the night before where some one must have enjoyed this post under the stars. It was all quiet, fairly still, the moist morning was colored by a thick gray light, the way mornings start out. I was the first to arrive. I wore a simple yet elegant, easy-to-pack, floor length Goddess gown.  I just love to wear them. They ad such grace to one’s day. They take me back to ancient origins. Remember when you were small and played dress up? It takes you to the creative place in your imagination and thats why I think a lot of women are attracted to belly dance.

I put a pink flower in my hair. There was no need for a sweater. The temperature was absolutely perfect even on the bluff in these early hours. It felt a bit surreall. The rest of the dancers showed up, two by two. I lead our NTP grounding and centering movement meditation. It gives us a little stretch and sends loving good will to all the dancers of the world in 4 separate directions.  Many dancers have done this with me all over the world at different events. Now it feels more powerful than ever before. Together we stood facing the East and watched as the golden egg of the sun was birthed, crowning face first through the clouds on the horizon. A new day was born. OMG, so beautiful.

After this we all hung around and talked about the different ways we have celebrated Easter Sunday throughout our lives; the rituals of Easter baskets, church services, family dinners, frilly dresses and bonnets, Easter egg decorating with those little store bought dye kits, chocolate and jelly bean eggs and Easter egg hunts.  (My goddess gown took the place of the frilly dress ritual I guess.) One dancer shared a story from her past. In Montana no one liked to eat those over-boiled colored eggs, so they got out their guns and ritually used them for target practice . . . . . . This was our 4th retreat we have done at Easter time in Hawaii. It’s really a perfect time to go be with your sister dancers. Away from the gunfire and religious fanatics. They all agreed today would stand out as a very in-tune Easter to remember for a long time to come.

Speaking of eggs. After breakfast everyone got a gift from the Easter Luna Hare. It was a plastic egg with a pair of uterus and ovary logo Power Belly panties tucked inside! Perfect Easter gift. We took a group photo with us all wearing Power Belly logo shirts and Amy and Dahlia posed wearing the panties over their black yoga pants. Too hysterical for words. OMG! Can’t wait to see the pictures!

It was also another big day of dance. We sure started early. We were happy to note our minds were retaining better today. Good food, sleep, clean air and the lack of cell phone reception, TV’s and the constant emailing we normally do is amazing for the dancer’s brain!

As you see I am keeping a short journal and I started it on day 4 looking back when my body has been tossed around – kind of like the rocks and sand in the frothy blue green surf out there. I feel clean.


If you have met her, you know what an exceptional women she is. She is very intensely engaged with her dance. It’s an addiction, she will admit. She prefers to dance every minute of the day. Personally she has the the ability to be very present with everyone she is with, in a way that makes each of us each feel very special. It must also be an addiction. Charisma is a powerful gift to be given. We would all probably follow her anywhere. We each become intoxicated and addicted to her magic . . .


She lead a wonderful “Shimmy Madness” work out. She has a particular method for cultivating that perfect shimmy of hers. Dahlia’s years of childhood ballet give her a signature grace. Her preference to improve keeps her emotionally near her audience instead of off and reserved. To watch her every day like this is to imbibe a lovely balance in her every step.

In the afternoon we did some island exploring. I took a few adventurous ones to the near by steam vents; Bring a bathing suit, towel and bug spray. Dahlia, Bevin, Amy, Bella and Erik and I went. We drove for 15 minutes and pulled off the road. I lead the merry band of trusting souls down a slippery slope, then down a narrow path cut through the tall wet grass that gobbles us from each others sight if we advance 10 paces ahead. Wild orchids appear here and there in the weave of brush. I luckily remember the correct forks in the maze of grasses, mud, and rock formations. We arrived at a small, low cave opening. It was  a little bit bigger than the size of a large pizza tray. I begin getting out of my shorts and shirt and piling them on top of my towel. “Here it is”  I announce, “climb on in”.  They were a bit apprehensive, but since I guaranteed it would be worth it,  they complied to my prompting. In we squeezed through the opening, that to their welcomed surprise, opened into a larger spacious chamber with a natural sky light high above so it was pleasantly light inside. Wood boards had been set into the cave to create a comfortable seating arrangement. In a matter of moments we began to get licked clean by the hot breath of the Mother as the steam rose out of the earth. Everyone was amazed at this supreme natural wonder of the earth and were glad they came with me.

Others in our group trekked to the Volcano Park in Latrelle’s car and even managed to get lost so that they missed dinner, yikes! We got a little worried, but they came in all aglow from their adventure. They managed to find a restaurant out there somewhere on a Sunday night. Others in the group hung out at the beach and pool by day.

On our way back from the steam vents, we took a drive and went into the near by town of Pahoa to shop. We stopped at the shop called “Jungle Love” owned by a nice belly dancer (forgot her name, sorry).  She wasn’t in the shop so we missed her. Left a note. “Amy, Erik, Dahlia, Delilah, Bevin and Bella were here!”  After it cooled down we were back to dance. We are doing well with the pace of the different classes. Some are hard, some review and some are easy now.

Who is on this retreat?

We are a group of 12. Four of us are instructors. Most from Seattle this time. (That’s actually rare.) Tessa, Erin, Bevin, Bella Jovan, Carolyn, and then Cindy from Wisconsin via Arkansas, Latrelle from Texas and Tina from Chicago. It was easy to learn everyone’s name fast.

Again, the jungle is crazy at night! So many stars in the sky. The moon was full before we arrived and is getting smaller. It shows it’s face in the wee hours of the morning so the nights are mostly black. The night hours seems to be divided so that different animals get a chance to lead the chorus. They influence our dreams I’m sure; birds, frogs, crickets, creatures and falling branches and coconuts. We can hear the surf and the occasional night rain showers hitting the roof and trees. We have ear plugs if we want but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Oh, and sometimes wild pigs can be heard walking around behind my cottage and making low grunting sounds.


We reminisced about some funny stories Katrina (of skin deep) told in the car the

year she came to my Hawaii Retreat in 2006. We are still laughing!!! We also laughed about Princess Farhana and Laura Rose who shared a cottage together at the  2009 retreat.  LR  did her famous MISS PIGGY routine in one of our shows. The wild pigs came and hung out at their cottage (knowing their was a famous pig celebrity sleeping there) and so Princess has affectionately named LR  “Pig” ever since. (Hope LR doesn’t get too mad about that story. It’s cute!)

Bye now. More, maybe later, again, if I get a chance . . .


Letter #3

April 5th, yesterday, was Amy Sigil’s Birthday! The weekend before we left Seattle we helped Princess Farhana celebrate her Birthday and also Erik’s! It’s a very special time to be with people on these ritual days of their lives.

For her birthday, we gifted Amy one of my special “Veil Therapy” experiences. Only Bella Jovan and I knew how to actually deliver a Veil Therapy session, (AKA Veil Blessings). However, they all were quick studies. Kind of wonderful to have the opportunity arise where Amy would get to experience my Veil Therapy sessions. Can’t imagine it coming up in the course of our regular interactions on the mainland. We used her kind of crazy hard-pressing music for our session. Erik picked it out just for her. The experience lasted about 25 minutes. She was touched intensely, she cried like a baby when we were done. Good cry, caring, intimate, moved deeply kind of cry.

(I’ll explain what VT is, some other day.)

So far the dancers have had 12 hours of Improvisational Tribal Style now. OMG! They are totally getting it! They are going to walk out of the other side of this retreat as Tribal know-it-alls! LOL. A couple of us are daunted by the quick change choreography but are learning stuff and picking up a lot of nuances and certainly gaining a full  understanding between the differences of A.T.S.,  I.T.S. and Tribal Fusion!

Amy says she is really digging the chance to teach this straight out. It’s a rare opportunity. Usually she just gets a couple-hour workshop in every city and so ends up teaching a tribal fusion combo. This is way different. That’s why I set this up! I knew this. I just wished I could have been able to make it more clear to other dancers so they could have taken advantage of this incredible opportunity. All teachers are in this boat when they just drop into a city to teach to a bunch of new dancers for a few hours. A retreat is different! We all get stretched – teachers and students. Part of the problem is that my instructors don’t know what to expect before they come to my retreat so they don’t really know how to tell their students. I think a repeat of this retreat would be more successful.

I would love to repeat it, but it’s a lot of staff expense to have 4 teachers. I would have to know enough dancers would pony up the money to come.  -Improvisational Tribal Style with Amy Sigil and Egyptian Dances & Music Interpretation with Dahlia.



Got some quality sun time today. Laid out by the pool. It’s a beautiful pool in the shape of a tee with palm trees and tropical flowered landscaping. It is so relaxing and tranquil. A statute of the reclining Buddha languishes on the lawn. A lovely Ganesha sits where the diving board used to be. The board wasn’t removed because of an accident.  Just insurance policies forced them to take it out. (Don’t you love America? Other countries don’t act like this.) There are statues all around the grounds. Tons of fruit trees as well. Red, yellow and  blue birds flit all around while doves coo.  At the pool there are 2 hot tubs, a dry sauna, and showers. We are right next to a massage studio and a watsu pool. It’s a clothing optional pool. Nice. Who wants tan lines? Things are very relaxed.

This fact reminded me the 2 times musician Jeremiah Sotto of Solace came to my retreats! A bit surprised by the clothing optional pool status. We assured him being naked was not mandatory and giggled. Again, things are very relaxed.

Dahlia is the perfect compliment to all this tribal intensity. Her “Improvisation – Be Here Now” class came to us like a soothing salve after so much specific technique. Our emotional bodies got a opportunity to be a bit cathartic inside our browning skin. Oh yes, we are getting brown. The rains come mostly at night or by day for short intervals between the warm caress of the sun. Gotta have the rain to have all this beautiful jungle. Perfect temperatures accompany all this action we are displaying!

Me? So far I taught Power Belly, energy balance, veil therapy,  2 moving meditations; Grounding and Centering and Hathor. Oh and I added a few performance notes to Dahlia’s class. I am getting the chance to relax and recharge my batteries. Much needed.

This really is a nice balance of movement and personalities! They, we, me, are loving it! Oh, I got a massage this morning. Much enjoyed, and I heard everyone making appointments this morning.



Letter #4

Aloha again

More Tribal and it’s feeling more and more like home inside our neuro pathways.

Yesterday we experienced some amazing rain at 11:30 AM. So loud, I had to literally yell to be heard when teaching a dance. Very difficult. It was like we all were captured in a bubble of air inside a waterfall. We could feel the water in our mouth as we inhaled. Our body temperatures created a sauna aura environment around us. It was extreme, fascinating and exciting, actually. Dahlia let out a loud cathartic and ecstatic scream that could barely be heard. Luckily it didn’t last too long.

This afternoon Dahlia taught a lovely Egyptian Choreography in the afternoon to part of an Om Kolthum piece with a veil. Nice. I especially like the “jewel step”.

At night there was a big Hula Class with Richard Koob and friends that the gals all went to in the Emax studio. I went straight to bed after dinner at 7:30 and passed out. They reported back the next day all a glow from the wonderful experience. There were live musicians because it was special for the Merrie Monarch Festival taking place on the island. It was the 40th year celebration.

Early in the morning (on Day Six), before breakfast, Bevin and I drove to this place down the road called Coconut Beach. We walked out across the lava fields talking, when I looked over my shoulders after 10 minutes, and to our surprise, on the hillside far away, but behind us and to the South, was a long smoke-filled fire line marking the edge of the lava flow. We had heard there wasn’t much going on that one could see. Most of the Volcano park was closed because of crater off gas activity. Wow, this was impressive. Then a few minutes later a local Hawaiian guy met us on the path and confirmed, “ yes.”  The lava action just got bigger. Still no flow into the sea – just surface flow on the ridge and in the caldera higher up. He asked us if he could share a traditional morning Hawaiian chant with us to greet the sun. “Sure.” It was very beautiful. Then we shared our grounding and centering ritual with him. When we got to the part that says “We open our heart,” he jumped down and picked up a perfect heart-shaped rock and placed it beneath the rising sun in the east. Magic!

Back to Kalani .

We had a talking circle a bit before class. Dahlia was feeling overwhelmed – experiencing the magic of the retreat process. It’s something that cannot be relayed to another person very well. When they experience it, there is this special “ah ha” knowingness. She said it’s a bit like the culture shock you get by leaving the country for the first time. She had traveled a lot before she had children, but this was the first big isolation from her kids and family that felt so far away. Not just in miles but inside /outside of time. It’s the quality of time being spent on something you love and the freedom from responsibilities. No one is doing dishes and picking anyone up from school. It’s a big open space in our lives to retreat. It will change our life and shift our perspective. Often people refer to their lives as “before the retreat,” and “after the retreat.” I have done it over and over, seen it unfold in so many dancers’ lives. The underlying theme to this time of year, Easter, is REBIRTH. Welcome to the club, Dahlia.

This morning’s class was on “Saidi Style” with Dahlia. She is so fluid in changing her style of movement. She really does have one of the best shimmies I have ever seen. It’s so even and precise.

After lunch we had free time before our performance night. We caravanned down the scenic road 20 minutes to a mild adventure to a place known as the Hot Pools. It’s the size of a municipal public pool. Nestled in a grove of palms in a beach front park. It’s a nice, large, clean pool made from masoned lava stones and cement. It has steps and hand rails for easy access, with a mostly sandy bottom. It’s no more than 5 1/2 deep at the deepest and protected from the high surf by a sea wall . It’s very relaxing and therapeutic to soak or just sit in the park and enjoy the scenery. Someone built it intending to create a spa center many decades ago. The bathtub warm water is fed by underground fresh water hot springs and mixes with the salt water ocean. Little fishes nibble at us a bit.

Show Time

We invited a yoga retreat and a few Kalani staff members to come to our little show in the Rainbow room.

The line up was ;

• Bevin . . . danced a wild, visceral fusion to a heavy metal Norwegian rock song.

• Cindy . . . did a piece called Rouge Infusion

• Dahlia . . . danced some stellar Egyptian to some Beledi and Shik Shak Shok

• Delilah and Erik. . .Ya Aziz Aini and a drum Solo

• TRIBAL GROUP DANCE . . .6 dancers and Amy did a stellar tribal improv that blew the audience away! Good job ladies! So proud of this weeks work. It looks like VDP STUDIO will be adding a new class to the schedule in the very near future!

• Carolyn . . . followed with a clever choice in music and a steam punkish kind of costume

• Bella Jovan . . . danced a lovely cabaret dance

• Amy Sigil . . . did a solo that was very slow and made out of American Sign language enhanced by deep emotional and movement interpretation. Very very moving. Then Dahlia joined her on stage and they did an “Unmata” style choreography together. Superb!

The audience loved it. Afterwards the dancers were giddy with themselves and insisted in continuing to practice their new found Tribal Improv dance with each other until the sound system had to be turned off so people could sleep.

This retreat was truly everything I had hoped it would be.

Today we review and some are leaving early this morning due to schedules. The retreat is officially over on Friday at 1:00PM. This afternoon and tomorrow morning are free to practice, relax, get some body work done, catch up on sleep, eat and return home rejuvenated.


Next Hawaii retreat is in the end of January.

Details soon!


February 11, 2010   ♦   Comments Off on PART TWO: Dancing Journey; Retreat January 2010


Dancing Journey with NTP; Retreat January  24-3, 2010

8 days 7 Nights

Before I continue this story about our past Neighborhood Temple Priestess Belly Dance Retreat, let me remind readers that not all our retreats are like this one. Each is unique. You may wonder how that could be true. I see the art as a jewel. I assure you I love belly dance in all it’s facets. Check out the list of dancers I have worked with. They are all apart of my dance experience I am proud to say

For instance next retreat is April 2-9 2010 Tribal Hula Fusion

Amy Sigil of UNMATA, the award winning Dahlia Moon and Delilah and Erik of HOT.

It’s on the very physical dance plane. See the details . Hurry up!

Story begins again:

Now we are at mid way of our retreat.

On day four I introduced some breathing and relaxation techniques. These were a series of gestalt awareness exercises. In a relaxed trancy state we moved to mirror dances and then instructed to stay centered and quiet. No talking and put on your shoes. Slowly I lead them on a dance adventure into nature. They were instructed to be free to move with, in contrast, in reaction to, what ever they came across. Listen, see, feel, smell, with internal awareness and external awareness. Lose your self consciousness and be like a child of the universe. Get inside the moment. Remember. I was so pleased at this groups full participation. They went very far into the moment. We all feel into a timeless reality. Some of us danced with tears in our eyes to these pink petaled flowers with green leaves that shared the top of a thick gray spiky menacing stock. The birds repeated phrases like a drum rhytm rif. Voices murmured occasionally from far away. The sun made shadows on the lawn and the dancers interacted with them. Some found spider webs and spiders. others were inspired and effected but the energetic direction of the patterns found in nature. Unexplainable things, yet when we stopped to share our discoveries with one another the words flooded in with glee. These thing all came vivid to the surface of our being because of the preface of this work with the gestalt exercises. Know this; You did not need to take your self out side to meet with nature. Everything we have done out here today is totally applicable to any stage and all performance. Stay plugged in to the moment. The truth that followed was immediately seconded by the call of a gecko. Nothing but the truth!

Next I introduced the magical concept of labyrinths(cool photos of one of the NTP’s labyrinths). It is astounding how this seemly complicated pattern can be so culturally universal. It is mathematic and psychic. It  totally is related to the circular figure eight and spiral patterns we draw with our hips. The thing about labyrinths is they are not meant to confuse you like a maze, but lead you to the center. A focal point. This was in preparation for the evenings ritual labyrinth christine would lead us through. Read more about Labyrinths .

Off to lunch and then back to class wearing our Sea Faring and Nature Honoring Goddess Costumes we made for our little contest. We thought it would be fun to dance in them during Hula class taught by Richard.  Verna won the grand Prize. She was the Moon and the Starry Sky Goddess! The prize was a cowry shell basket with cowry shell jewelry and Koa wood beads. Richard taught us a powerful dance to Pele and urged us to be more savage! I loved that we were all decked out in Goddess costumes learning this dance for Pele.

Ok, so these students are not average belly dancers by any means now. They have pounded their feet to the rhythms of the earth and swayed their hips to the pulse of the surf. Reached up to the sky and gathered the gifts into their hearts and sent it into the cosmos. They have connected with the internal and the external. They have experienced freedom and play and the natural spontaneity of life. We have danced to music drum, word play, rosters crowing, taste, scent, shadow, light, wind, sound of surf. Now comes a transformative event. The dance of the labyrinth. We began before dinner laying out the grid, wrapping electric candles in tissue paper and setting them out onto the lawn. There were about 600 and it would measure about 48-50 feet across. As soon as it got dark the pattern was revealed in the dark grass and the moon rose full as ordered in the sky above. Some staff at Kalani walked the labyrinth during the dinner hour and sat and quietly watched us as we appeared after diner in our NTP whites dance attire. Clouds stood back and did a veil dance around the giant opalescent rainbow moon straight over our heads. It illuminated our crown chakras.  We grounded and centered and one by one we began our journey into the labyrinth. John played his sax and Erik played drum. Some of us danced with veils some brought instruments like drum and chimes. The dancing journey was intense and enchanting. I went first and when I arrived in the center I spun until I  collapsed in the center. I was a pile of white., with my veil made of what I call ghost silk (because it is so light). I lay there on the soft bed of grass cocooned in my silk and surrounded by concentric winding rings of candle light and the gently stepping of dancers and the delicate touch of omnipresent moon beams in the air. When I arose to dance out of the labyrinth I met each dancer one by one upon the path. We embraced each other so tenderly. We cried, and exchanged the knowing of our knowing.  This place, this time, this life

“Your beauty is my beauty

and my beauty is your beauty

only in relationship to each other

do we know beauty.”

As I left the labyrinth I picked up a drum and joined Erik and watched the dancers meet and part at different junctures along their way. It’s always so interested to note that the center of the labyrinth is only 10-14 feet away from where I observe but as I see the person in the center I know their journey was much longer so they seemed a world away. Yet I know we are in the same world.

NOTE:The entire retreat was profound this way.

Up early before the sun for the next amazing event. We all jumped into cars and walked out upon another path that twisted through the lava beds to a brand new virgin beach. Three of us put on our Sea Faring costumes and the rest came to watch us dance into the sea at new Kapana beach at dawn; Laura Rose Christine and Me. We walked a path out across the lava field to the beach. Just like the labyrinth with the ocean of life at the center.  Her tide was way in leaving little room for beach dancing. Laura Rose set up the camera and she went first. Dressed in feathers, fur and seeds and with silver bits and a moon on her forehead. White drapes of fabric hugged her thighs and red laced sandals scrolled up to her knees.

Christine wore a fantastic Grecian Costume fitted for Aphrodite. On a base of white drapes gold brackets of metal clasped the fabric and deep red roses. Very beautiful. She did a dance with a mirror where she showed the ocean her own reflection in the morning sun break. So beautiful.

I wore my very first sea faring costume from 1991. Green and fuchsia. I charges down the beach as the surf was out so I could start my dance around a bend of rock and dance toward the water the observers and the eye of the camera.

Afterward everyone got in the warm water. Some were a bit surprised to find it so warm. It’s a bit of illusion. The water does not change temperature at night but the sand does. The contrast makes the water feel like a bath tub in the early hours and chilled in the middle of the day.

Wow. next was some good old fashion Power Belly workout after breakfast and a talk about Goddess Archetypes. How do these Psychological profiles of Greek and Roman mythical figures influence our western minds. What can we learn about our selves by exploring them creatively as dance inspiration?  Artemis, Athena, Hestia, Hera Demeter, Persephone, and Aphrodite. Everyone was encouraged to read the book by Jean Shinoda Bolen, and  before or during the retreat.

The Goddesses in Every Woman

The Goddesses in Older Women

The Goddesses in Every Man

Urgent Message From Mother

It was Lori’s birthday today, so we gave her a royal Goddess veil blessing treatment today!

After dinner we would do my community Zaar ritual. It’s simple and the group has been very physical for the past 48 hours so it would not be a long zaar I figured. I though it was time to show them some skinner releasing exercises. This is how you can begin to dance coming from a a totally deep relaxed body. It will come in handy for tomorrows guided movement meditation to meet the Goddesses as well. The zaar went well. And I think we all fell into a deep sleep that night.

On day 6 week retreated to nature in our own way. A bit of private space and time. Nice. Erik and I went to a secluded beach we found behind a Hawaiian burial ground we found up the road a piece. It was very beautiful, peaceful and rejuvenating. Some went to the volcano park but it was partially closed because of vog.

After dinner we came back for the Journey with in our minds to meet the goddesses each in their richly described symbolic environment. Each Goddess gives you a gift. The gift could be absolutely anything and at the end you lay them all out around you and we dance our gratitude. Christine made a lovely sound scape for us. Figuring out why certain gifts were given to you is a process of creative inner exploration.

Next a belly dance obstacle course. It rained during the night and the atmosphere was sucking up the water in every article of clothing wow. Our luggage was weighing more for sure. Everyone was instructed to wear a bathing suit to class. The rain was welcome and our obstacle course made good use of it. I set a course in the studio that everyone would do 3 runs of. Then they were instructed to dance out the door and meet with nature. Stay engaged with the natural world and it’s offerings as well as follow the path past the office and into the shower then into the pool where you were to engage your belly dance arms and mermaid bodies. Then out toward the reclining Buddha to follow a new spiral designed labyrinth Chris had made with bamboo and banana leaves!  We jumped into the pool and labyrinth in the rain yippee! What a conquest. They have learned to journey through the dance!

Our last class was with Christine. Fire! Not as a thing to dangerously fling around our bodies, but as inspiration on how to harness the energy that is inside of us. The heat that burns. The fuse of life. Flicker as ecstatic chaotic undulation consuming oxygen. These exercises were followed by using the smoke of incense as it passes in the air. This was a fantastic class and I am always inspired to see and experience something new, challenging and thought provoking. I got to pair up and do some very creative contact dancing with Laura Rose. So good!

In the evening we held our final performance on the dinning lanai for the staff to enjoy. Alexandra made a fantastic MC. Now that we know she has such talents. . . Wayne, Malina, Christine, Laura Rose and me with everyone drumming for me. Sweet!

This retreat felt so incredibly successful. We came many more miles that air planes and rental cars could carry us. Because of our presence there is no place we cannot go with our dance. belly dance is not just a universal body language it’s a how our cosmic space ship is powered. I love this universe!

After dinner and wine we met at the banana leaf labyrinth for a final candle night ceremony. with real candles and real flames and parting remarks and blessings.

Merry meet,

Merry part and Merry meet again.

Blessed be!


your Neighborhood Temple Priestess at your service

PS. I know I gotta get some photos up to go with it but it’s funny I really live in the moment and I’m off to the next shiny thing.

  ♦   Comments Off on PART ONE: Dancing Journey; Retreat January 2010


Dancing Journey with the Neighborhood Temple Priestesses;

Retreat January 2010

8 days 7 nights

I have been home since Feb 2nd and my suit case is still not unpacked. Soon as I came home I had 3 crazy cats to attend to. Bevin was looking after them while we were gone but they were not very happy to have us gone for 10 days. Kinko camped out in our bedroom for the time we were gone only coming down for duties. She would not purr for the first hour we were home. Tiamat was her usual evasive self and I could tell she slept on the living room couch. Sophie stayed in the kitchen the whole time on a pillow. I have a stack of mail and phone messages to deal with and a ton of e mail of course. Now my butt hurts from too much sitting at the computer. It’s tax time and so book keeping to do now. I have been trying to write a blog entry since before Hawaii . I thought I would even write from there. Usually I have lots to say and write but this retreat has kind of blown me away a bit. Yikes, I have no editor either. Please so for give any typos.

First of all I imagine you might want to know what the Neighborhood Temple Priestess are? Well it’s a committed bunch of dancers with a little bit different focus than other groups. Yes, we feel belly dance empowers our life but not only. It also empowers the lives of our family and greater community if we know how. The way of how is what I teach and mentor. If what we are doing is different then it means what you know already is not it, so keep an open mind and let the difference in. An important part of the NTP is being able to think out of the box, be a leader, strive to be a good dancer, an artist and a Temple Priestess.

Story begins:

We should have called this retreat Belly Dancing Journey through Inner and Outer space for that is what we managed to do. I know that any of these words cannot adequately describe or substitute the actual experience. Hopefully that is what these experiences do over all. They serve to remind people that life is for living not just twittering tweetering about.

In Hawaii we stayed in a room they call the Tree House. It’s not really a tree house but it’s their deluxe rustic accommodation. We loved it! The entry was in the west and the east side was completely glass and screens open to a lush meadow that hugged the country road an acer a way. We got to witness the rising sun and sleep to the sound of the ocean surf. Fuchsia bougainvillea an occasional orchid and lush green tangle of jungle vines framed our view. In the center of the room was a vertical post that supported a 14 foot high ceiling that sloped toward 3 separate alcove rooms. Around the center post was a rectangular tiles table and a lamp in front of that facing the view was a wicker couch and a divan and a kitschy floor lamp that was in the shape of a palm tree. We had a refrigerator, microwave and a coffee pot with coffee and milk in the frig. The bathroom was spacious with lots of staging area for changing clothes, make up and  toiletries. Wow I could live here for a while!

I did try to post a blog entry while I was in Hawaii but the retreat was so rich and my mind got so expanded it couldn’t find it’s way into the lap top key pad. Words would fall helter skelter out of my head but they kept running across the the table to play with the with the Geckos that lived on the table post. Geckos are suppose to bring good luck. There is a belief that when one is heard making their long sustained clicking noise, then what ever has been spoken last in the vicinity is to be known as the honest truth. We had many geckos living with us. They keep the mosquitoes down, so they make good room mates. We had a boy and a girl who lived behind the bathroom mirror and would catch bugs attracted to the light. We had the one who lived on the table post where another lamp kept the bug supply coming. Then we had the prankster gecko who would hang his little back legs and tale off the edge of a crack in a board in the ceiling and poop! It was so funny to see. “Hey you?” we would yell and laugh. Luckily it was over the floor and not our bed or heads. House keeping in the jungle is a daily task needless to say. Kalani are experts at it (no worries.) In the jungle you can expect to find bugs, mongoose, wild boar, goats, rats, cats, giant snails, wild turkeys, beautiful birds of all colors, a few dogs. . . We saw all of them. In the water you can see dolphin, sail fish, hump back whales, sea turtles, millions of fish and coral. We saw some of them too even though we didn’t go snorkeling this trip.

Ok so how was the retreat?

Well one should know first that every retreat we do has it’s own theme and schedule of classes and guest instructors, musicians and events. This one was on Neighborhood Temple Priestess Training retreat. The goal was to dance and sweat so we got a good dose of exercise but then diverge into the more esoteric, artsy, touchy, feely realm of belly dance that has been cultivated by the visionary belly dance water mark. These are teachings that are not ordinary fare in my classes and retreat but are very dear to my heart. We delved into our minds, our hearts and our humanity as dancers.

This retreat was small. This means of course that those that signed up for this retreat get a lot of individual undivided attention from me, Erik, and  Laura Rose. We get to know the members of our retreat  very up close and personal. I can even write about them individually with out it becoming a huge book.

Jane was brand new to belly dance, who had some health issues and was going to approch things slowly and as she felt comfortable each day. She also brought her Mother whose name was Dola. She had recently recovered from a bout with cancer. They were sharing some good Mother /Daughter time together. The thing about Jane was she was very knowledgeable about the the feminine jungian psychology aspects and the ritual and other things we were going to explore on this retreat. It’s what attracted her. She ha been watching the retreats come and go on line for years and finally decided it was time! She was good natured and enthusiastic to try most anything.

Malina was from Japan. She didn’t speak a lot of English but she had a little machine translator thingy. She missed some of the wordy explanations but she felt everything deeply. One of her teachers is the amazing Mishaal from Japan. I love Mishaal. Everyone loves Mishaal. I knew if Mishaal was sending her, she would love this retreat and that even with language barrier. Malina would be well seasoned.

Alexandra is from Seattle via Canada. She is a new member the Neighborhood Temple Priestess group in Seattle. She comes when she can but she needed to know more about belly dance as well as the under pinning of what holds the NTP together. This retreat was an opportunity to go catch her up on a lot of the work and an opportunity for us all to get to know her better. She packed light. She just found out she was pregnant and so thats about all she could think about . The homework things like reading certain books, making a sea faring costumes would have to be done some other time. She would come and be as present as possible.

Lori Green was a last minute sign up. She is also a member of the NTP in Seattle. It was her birthday during our retreat. In addition to being a celebration of life, this retreat was a very transformational experience for her. The retreat was a chance to stop the clock and contemplate deep issues in her life. All retreats have that aspect for guests and participants alike. Depending on what’s going on in our lives they register differently on the Richter scale! We got to know and witness Lori’s deep work.

Verna AKA Eden Nadirah, came to last years retreat as well and was my a measuring rod to the reality that each retreat is so different. She came from frigid temperatures and loads of snow to the beauty of the rich green and passionate island. She felt comfortable with me, Erik and Laura Rose and we all carry an affection for her amazing hips!

Wayne AKA Assiyah is an acupuncturist. He’s been belly dancing for 4 or 5 years now. He loves that he can do something that most men don’t know how to do. It makes him feel unique and he gets to hang out with women he announced proudly. He says to his male friends. You just don’t get what I know. Wayne is a very special person. He has come to 3 of my retreats and we see marked improvement each year. he is a very genuine and sensitive person great for the Temple Priestess movement. The Kalani staff loved seeing him come back each year and love watching him in our performance nights. Funny; Wayne has an identical twin brother we would love to meet sometime!

Christine and John are an amazing couple. Christine is my right arm in planning and brain storming NTP events. John helps out in so many ways with the NTP events  but her likes to be kind of anonymous. When it came to introductions I asked John if he wanted to tell us about himself and he said. “How long have you known me Delilah? Have I ever told you about my self? Well I’m not going to start today.” and thats totally all right with me, I’m just glad John came. Christine is an amazing artist and waters run deep. She makes many of the banners for our events and activities. She is very well read, a wealth of information and inspiration. She has amazing music collection and I rely on her tastes and choosing of music for many of our activities. She does not spend time on e mail, watching TV or dealing with cell phones. I admire that. She lives life fuller than most people and she reminds me by her beingness that there is a way to resist all this electronic culture. However batteries come in handy. Christine offered to bring her electric candles and build a labyrinth on the grounds of the retreat and if I got tired she would love to teach a class she was into practicing all about fire and smoke being an influential element in our dance.  I said wonderful I’ll build it into our revised schedule. Since the schedule was arranged to work with the usual 30 participants with performance time, I think we will have some extra time available.

Laura Rose of course is staff but I was secretly very pleased that I could bring her to this particular retreat. She has been involved in a few NTP things this past year but she is a very in demand performer in Seattle and has lots of rehearsals and shows that keep her busy. I sent her home one day around the winter holidays with my copy of the book, “Goddesses in Every Women” and said I know you read this book years ago, but read it again for inspiration. She read some of it and continued at the retreat. She related partly to Artemis and made her sea faring costume a sea version of Artemis. Laura Rose would get up early each morning and run 5 miles . She had her own room and was not used to staying alone. She read about the virginal Goddesses that Hestia, Athena and Artemis. “What do you think Mom?” She asked me.  “I think there is a healthy dose of Persephone and Aphrodite in you as well my dear, but when I see you Mother your troupe members, friends, students, boy friend and burning man family I see Demeter and once in a while even Hera. We use all these archetypes at different times and seasons of our lives dear daughter.” Laura Rose got a lot of personal growth inspiration out of this retreat. This makes me very happy because while all the glitz and performance art is a skill and vocation, DANCE has another influence in our lives that has nothing to do with performance. It’s about praising the sacred, self exploration and giving thanks for being alive. This is the work of the Neighborhood Temple Priestess (NTP). She got to become very close to Christine and really responded to the exercises she taught. This made me very happy.

Erik Brown is my mate and our music man. He brought his chimbus and his base guitar as well as drums and played his POWER BELLY music. He also used his computers to be our DJ and create music sound scapes for our poetry and guided meditation dances. On this retreat he taught frame drums primarily instead of dumbeks and it was a pleasant change. We walked the garden playing drums. In the end the students all accompanied Erik playing frame drum for my final performance!

The courses we planned were sticky. They fit perfectly together. One lead to the next in the most amazing ways. It was a journey we took together of inner awakening.

We began with a social orientation and Power Belly to get the blood flowing and review and see how we all fit together and what our physical dance needs were. The next day I taught my circle dance choreographies and we turned them into duet dances and added spins. We left open time for beach sun and pool or massages and naps and came back in the late afternoon to talk about NTP pride focus and history. Malina from Japan had a hard time following but Laura Rose sat by her and tried to explain. I’m sure some of the words she heard took her by surprised in a belly dance class. Things about women’s rights, empowerment, the effect on our dance by the events of  9/11, community resources, activism, political art, sexism, exploitation belly dance history, women’s culture. A bit of a montage of subjects. OMG I can imagine how this could get scrambled but she kept seeing my face and eyes and knowing my passion for the beauty and truth that some how she gets it. I know her teacher in Japan well and she can straighten anything out. Why would these subjects have any place in a belly dance class you might wonder? Well, because I am not a simple belly dancer. I think deeply and look at the world around us as it influences the cosmic unconscious of our dance culture. I think belly dance is especially an interesting meter to read in relationship to the psyche of women. How our belly dance styles have evolved in the past 40 years in relationship to our social environment should be looked at.  An blog article in the future no doubt. I feel belly dance empowered my life? Do you? Why do you want to belly dance? Is it just for exercise? Women have been belly dancing in America for 3 powerful generations. Just for exercise? No, not exactly.

We prepared a student note book to hand out to everyone but I can’t write the whole week down so I have another set of my own teachers notes. I gave them to Malina at the end of the retreat so she could study more.

Everyday we had time to relax, sun bath, go to the beach, hot pools or take a nap. We had a drum class before dinner. This helped to steady the pace of our journey together I think. The second night we set up a shadow screen and everyone brought poetry. We did improve dances to poetry and drum in front of and behind the screen. We traded off reading the poems. Everyone was very enthusiastic and it was a good class. We were energetic, comfortable and well oiled. What I mean is everyone seemed able to be very self expressive. I taught them how to deliver my famous veil blessings AKA Veil Therapy as well this night. I explained we could do this at any point during the retreat for each other. The veils would be here in the rainbow room studio.

The next morning we met at the view point, just across the road from Kalani. We did our grounding and centering movement ritual. We gathered the energies into our hearts and sent our love out to dancers all over the planet. The sun rose into the majesty of grand clouds on the horizon. The air was warm the breeze gentle and the waves caressed the rocky island belt line of Pele’s hips.

It was day three and now time to introduce the power of the dance expressed through eyes, arms, hands and heart. We opened up the acute awareness of our body and how it is viewed in space. How does our body feel in the space of the room, world, planet and how does the space inside us feel? What impression do we bring to space as we move into what we know as dance? How do we move in relationship to each other. Can we turn up the volume to our empathetic sensitivity toward each other? We practiced many awareness exercises. beautiful morning.

We left time open in the heat of the day and came back for a hot hips class and drum in the later day. Then dinner on the dinning lanai with a glass of wine or two.

On this night we had a rather eclectic mid week performance night that the staff at Kalani all were rearing to come and be entertained. Well, this a was loose based evening since we were a small group there were no time constraints on performing really.(nice for a change). Basically we wanted to demonstrate aspects of how we incorporate belly dance into rites of passage celebrations in community NTP style; baby showers, weddings, blessings, wakes. . . . As well as share our deep artistic inspirations in engaging performance art. So we asked the Kalani staff to participate in a ritual with us. We asked each member to stand in a circle and one by one recite their lineage on their mothers side as we had our pregnant participant in the seat of honor. I began;  I am Delilah mother of Laura Rose and Victoria, I am daughter of Marilyn who is daughter of Berty who is Daughter of Lucy who is daughter of Marie. As each member adds the names of the women who came before them we the  space begins to fill up with the presence of all the ancestral women / Mothers who have come before us to make our life possible. With this comes a powerful presence. Usually this ritual is done with mostly women but here there were alot of men in the audience. Interesting was the note that most men did not know who their Great Grand mothers names were. Hmmmm? Lori noted it and decided when she got home she was going to make sure her teen age son knew these names in her family.

We dressed up Laura Rose as a bride and pampered and washed her feet. It’s actually a humbling ritual. It’s very caring and brings people together in a special way. I danced to a Nubian folk song called 2000 Blessings fro your wedding day. Next we introduced the concept of taste and scents as muse for dances. Before each solo we fed the audience chocolate, ginger and exotic fragrances. Christine did a very exotic candle dance in complete darkness and Laura Rose  did a concept dance of experiencing raw savage stress and it being cured by the soothing relief of camomile. Lori and Malina danced solos with heavenly scents and I did the chocolate dance. It was a very eclectic show.

Continued in Part Two

or see April 2-9 2010 retreat details!

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