D's Blog

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

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

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

“I dreamed of dancers

long since dead

asleep in the tombs of kings, and queens.

I dreamed that they

rose from their shrouds

and once again assembled

the scattered liniments

of their long lithe bodies,

they move to effortless measures

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

Those dancers of an ancient past

slowly they moved among the long tables,

laden with fruits and wines,

trained in the rhythms of the east

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

In the sweet scented nights

under the low hanging stars

I saw you in my dreams,

dear dancers of the long since dead

and I wondered if if it might not be

that in this eternal now (which includes this hour)

that you might not still be moving

in the shadow of the temple aisles,

still weaving patterns of immemorial loveliness

as you did of old

and that kings and princes

bent upon you

eyes of desire

and raise you from your low obeisance

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


Ruth St Denis


Neighborhood Temple Priestesses are called NTP for short.


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

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

We take our name from these inspirations:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Basically 3 kinds of members

1. Active Core Members

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

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



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


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

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

This past year.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We have some workshops coming up.

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

  ♦   Comments Off on March Dance Event; Part 5, POWER BELLY #35

March Dance Events:

Part 5.

Power Belly Show Episode 35

with H.O.T.  Princess Farhana and me.

Continuing along our chain of dance events.. . .

Monday we shot some clips with Princess Farhana for the Power Belly Show

extra tutorial parts . Then at 6:30 we co taught an episode together with live music

provided by H.O.T. They all wore their Tuxedos in honor of our 35th episodes of

work! The music is fantastic and this episode demonstrates why we call it a show!

It’s a fund raising episode.

BUY IT HERE PLEASE! . . .Should be up end of March.

We need a new camera if we are going to continue to make these episodes available to folks in estudio land.We are far from paying our bills each week.

We need some faithful subscribers!

Thank you all how came out to support so much this entire weekend!!

Wow wow wow! The stars were perfectly perched!

Thanks universe! Things are definitely clicking around here lately!

love you madly,


PS There is more coming on Tuesday we have Freya from Los Angeles doing a ritual Trance Dance workshop.

Then Dahlia, Erik Amy and I will all be in Hawaii for the top of April!

Still room left (I think) call me! 206 632-2353




  ♦   Comments Off on March Dance Event: Part 4, More Farhana

March Dance Events:

Part 4

More Princess Farhana.

But that wasn’t the end of our crazy week.

Oh no! Sunday we did a Basic Burlesque workshop with Princess Farhana. She told the historic perspective, connection, and how belly dance and burlesque have  influenced the other . Burlesque and belly dance clubs used to be right next door to each other on the Sunset strip San Fran, NY, Chicago. . . The beaded burlesque costume was adapted by belly dancers. In the early days Harry Saroyan told me how the dancers in mid east clubs when he first came to NY all wore pasties. There have been many intersections where dancers meet and the issues of their sexual power come up. If you aren’t comfortable with your own body it’s hard to sit still and allow someone else who is to use their power. The workshop was a enlightening reality moment.

I am a feminist and I love burlesque!

I love the power demonstrated on stage in a good burlesque show. I have yet to be made uncomfortable. Am I going to do it? maybe. After watching burlesque shows where the audience is full of women hooting and hollering, screaming and clapping as their sisters of all shapes and sizes flaunt there stuff, bedazzle us with beauty and endless sparkle, I see their power, freedom, creativity and wit shine through full force.  It was so fun to give it a try in the privacy of our studio and strut around. This workshop felt like a healing of unclaimed body parts and psychic cultural denial. Alas. . . Next time she comes we are going to offer a beginning and an intermediate performance course.


The day ended with a wonderful dinner party celebrating the week end events at

Sallah’s house (the violin player in House of Tarab ). What great cooks they members of the band all are. They not only cook it HOT on stage but they are Hot in the kitchen and barbecue too.


PS Buy Princess Farhana’s Videos and mine. You will love them all.

The Power Belly Show Episode #35 has her co teaching with me. Up shortly.


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

March Dance Event

Part 3

Hathor Unveiled

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

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

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

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

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

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


Neighborhood Temple Prietess

at your service

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

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

PS Related story links

Experience of the Beautiful

Cane Dance of the Hatshepsut

Hathors Movement Meditation


  ♦   Comments Off on March Dance Event: Part 2. Noc Noc?

March Dance Events:

Part 2.

Noc Noc? Whose There? Princess Farhana!

On Thursday we picked Princess Farhana up from the air port. She is a world famous belly dancers as well as a neo burlequer who got her start with the Velvet Hammer in Los Angeles. That night she did a guest spot at the Nov Noc Club with Evilyn Sin Claire and the Sinner Saint Burlesque Revue, that has been enjoying a long run every Thursday night for the past 3 years. A ton of belly dancers came out to see the show( Princess would be featured in s strictly Belly Dance show on the next night so this was their chance to see her other side) It was standing room only. The theme of this 6 week run is “”Animalia””. Erik Brown was an an extra in Princess Farhana’s Dorothy of the wizard of Oz act. He played a flying monkey. Evilyn did her Miss Piggy and the Goat Girl May Pole dance. Very pretty, very sexy. It was a great show and a late night


The Friday night belly dance party at VDP Studio was packed; Line up; Princess Farhana, Delilah and the 6 piece Mid east band House of Tarab (and I truly think

it was one of our very best studio shows ever!)  We were all on! We were bathed in such a warm supportive audience from one side and the loving eyes and music playing hands of House of Tarab on the other ! Bliss! I felt like if I danced and died I would have been totally satisfied. The smiles from all our all our friends are etched in our minds. When a performer has that kind of rich supportive intimate environment every move becomes so effortless and so deliberate in expression. Thanks. We were all swimming in love.


The Saturday belly dance workshops were well attended and I learned a couple new movement perspectives from princess!

Dancers came from far away too! Awesome to have such support!



  ♦   Comments Off on March Dance Events; Part 1, The Porcelain Promenade

Evilyn and Bell

Evilyn and Bell

March Dance Events:

Part 1:

The Porcelain Promenade

This has been the most amazing string of dance events so I have entered them in parts.

I suppose it really began the weekend before when we went to Hales Moister Festival’s Burlesque show at the ACT Theater. My daughter who is known as Evilyn Sin Clare in the burlesque world (and Laura Rose in the belly dance world) did a fabulous duet with Belle Cozette in that show. It was called the “Porcelain Promenade”. The whole evening show was one of the best burly-circus shows I have ever seen! However the duet was definitely a spectacle in it’s own rite. It involved weeks of 20 volunteers spending 100’s of hours gluing 40,000 rhinestones on 2 toilets. They were then set on wheeled platforms and the two girls did a hysterically beautiful ballet with them. In the beginning hearing about their act raised a few eyebrows but the girls determination and vision succeeded to surprise everyone and win in the end result(you have to see it). They were in a sense burlesquing burlesque they claimed. They went on to perform it at the Triple Door as part of the Sin on Heels Revue on the next Wednesday night. It got favorable write ups all over town, including a feature bit in Jessica Prices Theater column in the stranger! She said they were the zenith of the show!

Article Here

Both girls have worked so hard on this act . Costumes, props and tons of sparkle!


They need your help!


Evilyn Sin Clare and Belle Cozette are entering the “Porcelain Promenade ” along with some solo works in this Junes Miss Exotic World Pageant. They have to send in video tapes and then be selected . I’m confident they will make the grade.

Miss Exotic World

They spend 100’s of dollars on each rhine stone toilet  and are really out of bucks.

They need a truck to get these props and them selves to Las Vegas in June.

I will post soon where and how you can donate!

Proud Stage Mom

See Photo here

Evilyn Sin Claire & Bell Cosette

Evilyn Sin Claire & Bell Cosette


March 10, 2010   ♦   3 Comments »

This past couple of weeks has been a chewy one for my mind. On different occasions in conversations I’ve heard these words spoken and then the snake chama controversy arose on the internet on different internet forums I belong to. I thought I would share these powerful adages and some thoughts I had that rose from reading comments and viewing the youtube snake chama video. I wrote this last week but re read it a bunch before I posted it.


“It takes little effort to criticize something,

and so much work to create something.”

( words of wisdom from Celeste)


“On the underbelly of judgement is longing”

(words spoken at a labyrinth school)


“Todays most valuable and sought after commodity is your focused attention”.

(woods spoken at a labyrinth school)


“Envy is often indistinguishable from pride.” ( review of 7 deadly sins. This on deserved a lot of thought!).


“Know thyself”  (Delphic Oracle)



As some may be aware this video seems to have rumpled the feathers of many belly dancers. They have become very outspoken in the comment section underneath the clip (mostly negative) on  youtube, as well as in various belly dance forums, yahoo groups across the nation, and on bhuz. . .

Below I share some thoughts that some may not have thought about. I find throughout my career that we, as a sub culture of women, are very confused and need to continually take our blinders off. Blinders are something you put on a horse that prevents them from looking to the rear and/or side.

I feel like I should say something. I am a person who happens to have done a lot for belly dancing in my career. I‘ve been invited to attend the International Belly Dance Conference in Toronto as a representative of pioneering belly dance in America next month. That must mean something. Delilah Bios

I do not think the women involved in this video have ruined the reputation of belly dance as some of the commented.

I would ask the women throwing stones what they themselves have done to elevate belly dance. I don’t see a lot of large strides being made these  days. I see lots of hen pecking. Lots of internet self importance. I feel the actions of these comments is more offensive. Partly I blame the technology of the internet that often draws the worst of all our voices to the surface. Talking in person is way different. Just like dancing in person is. We have the circumstance, the atmosphere that surrounds us and how we are dressed. These thing make a difference in our thought processes and our behavior.

Most people are afraid to comment on the internet because of the  flaming. If you have ever been a victim of the flame war, you feel like few will come to your aid, mostly because they are afraid of the flame themselves. Enough about that for now, I don’t really want to talk in that direction today…

Thoughts about the Youtube clip with Sadie and Kaya snake chama


If a tap dancer or a salsa dancer danced suggestively to lewd hip hop lyrics on youtube do we feel all tap dancers or salsa dancers are at risk of being thought of as suggestive and lewd?

My answer: No, I wouldn’t think so.


Well, how come when a belly dancer dances suggestively to some lewd hip hop lyrics on youtube many other belly dancers feel their own reputation and the general reputation of all belly dancers is at stake somehow?

It touches a very real nerve. I ponder hard. . .

I hear, I feel, and I can smell fear . . . I see not power nor strength from either side.

This attitude is very stifling.

Ladies, does our sense of worth come from inside us, or outside us?

Do we respect ourselves and other women or do we still, deep inside, doubt that women have worth as fully embodied females, the way God made them. Is our better worth only as non sexual beings, neutered versions of women?

I would hope that your reputation is built on good deeds and work you have done. If you haven’t done any, than that may be more the problem then someone else’s mode of self expression. I see these dancers who have responded negatively on the youtube clip as well as other talk groups claim that they have lost some degree of respect that they have somehow earned. I am curious what  exactly they themselves did?

As a subculture of women, do we even have a sense of worth, or is it non existent? (I made more money for teaching and per performance in 1979 than they get today).

Is our worth so fragile that one persons voice of expression paints all the rest? Kind of pathetic to me. Maybe part of the reason that women are continually objectified is because it’s so easy to do to them. Our defensiveness turns us upside down and renders us powerless.

The way to not be objectified is to use your own power. I am not suggesting we ignore things that upset and effect us, but ask your self what can you do to create a desired positive change. I don’t think ridicule and throwing things at other dancers has accomplishing much.

Side bar:

Women’s power is the Power of Attraction. Thats why women in the middle east cover up. Men are powerless in the face of women’s power of attraction. Thats what they claim! In the western world men learn to behave (kind of), and women learn to pretend they don’t have it! It, being the power of attraction.

We have been taught wrongly that there is only so much love, beauty and resources to go around. It’s called poverty consciousness. Right now with the economy, it is at a record high. For women, the other two, beauty and love are as much at stake as money. When we see someone using those resources “we” think ,it’s unfair. (Envy or PRIDE) What we miss is those girls may be lovely, but all women have the power of attraction. It’s not a commodity, it is a power in the universe. Women have been fooled into NOT knowing they have it.  We have also been taught that only a narrow spectrum of life is attractive; the young, skinny, blonde and big boob parts.

Haven’t you ever met a girl you didn’t think was a looker by conventional standards and yet she gets all the attention form men. Well I sure have. The power of attraction is not what you think. It’s how you feel inside.


Who is calling who a Ho?

The mean spirited comments lobed at those girls are pretty nasty. Even more offensive to me than the video. There is not breasts exposed or frontal nudity in the video. No one calls them a ” ho ” in the video that I could pick out. However, they were called prostitutes and hos in comments by other belly dancers. I looked at the comments and I didn’t see anyone chiding the boys for their choice of artistic behavior. Just the girls. So I listened to the lyrics closer. They are adult, but not so bad. In fact it’s beginning to grow on me. A couple of get-your-attention rhymes but nothing worse than what one hears on South Park. (Not to say that condones anything. I’m just saying,  it points to larger society issues, and hypocrisy. Those throwing stones probably accept a lot of crap from society as cool).

I think those singers really likesbelly dancers! LOL

I went to the bands site I found they have a trailer where they verbal announced with pride who the dancers are on their video. That was positive in my book.(I was in the major motion picture China Syndrome and didn’t get my name on the credits. It was fun. It was just a role. but not especially doing anything for BD.)

Then I noticed another youtube clip by one of my favorite dancers, snake chama with Rachel Brice. Not a lot different save for the lyrics and the lack of blatant sexual suggestiveness. Yet, she is still sexy in a fashion model tribal way. We are looking just as closely at her sexy belly. The place where sex happens! Belly to belly. OMG!

So what’s the real difference for you ?


The song is a erotic love poem about snaky sexy belly dancing. Ahhh? Belly dancing isn’t always sexy. To me it can be  many things (some times it’s down right frumpy), but it sure can be pretty sexy, as these girls illustrate. Serpents have always been connected to this dance. Down deep? Is that not what attracts all of us to the dance if we were really honest?  Some sort of ancient symbolic feminine serpent wisdom . This is what I learned in women’s studies class 101. But then there is that garden, Adam and Eve and the serpent thing, so maybe all that Puritan stuff  triggers the defensive action in some dancers.

For crying out loud don’t let it! You know how beautiful and positive this dance is for women and don’t you forget it for one moment!


To deny our own sexuality is pretty hypocritical AND disempowering!

When we get all defensive especially with each other, the scorn feels so puritanical. I feel  the inquisition lurking around the corner. In the olden days free blacks owned slaves. Thats called wearing blinders. Slaves whipped other slaves. We don’t need belly dancers that don’t have their own sense of self esteem whipping other belly dancers. Better no whippings please.


I feel strongly belly dance empowers my life. That has been my message throughout my career. However, when I feel that there are boundaries set, telling me and others how to express my art; somehow I don’t feel very free. Especially if the boundary being set, even tap dancers can step over. Jeepers!

Truth is we are all free to express our art. . . and truth is, there may be consequences.

While I don’t choose to express myself in certain manners, morally I suppose I must value the freedom to do so. THATS BEING AMERICAN!


Over all I want to encourage dancers to do good work, good deeds and quit worrying about what others do with their artistic licenses. If you have a deep commitment to this dance, to the art, to the profession of belly dance. . . Then I encourage you to each make sure your own artistic license is getting lots of positive use!

Go create something beautiful!


  ♦   Comments Off on Belly Dance and the State of Gratitude

Dear Belly Dance Artists,

Happy Belated International Women’s Day (March 8)

Times are difficult and yet I have very good reason to feel gratitude in my life these days. Gratitude is a very healing state to be in.

I want to share this cool site with you. I happened on a long while back. It starts with a fascinating symbolic art video them opens out into an experiment you can take part in if you like. It’s a very pleasurable experiment.


Try drawing the go-gratitude symbol with your hips!



Special Thank you to “Arielle Dark”, as well as the Honolulu Chapter of the Neighborhood Temple Priestess.

March 7, 2010   ♦   Comments Off on Plain Jane’s Beneath a Veil

I ran across this yesterday and thought I’d post it on my blog.

Plain Jane’s Beneath a Veil

An Article By Delilah,  April 2009

We all have a certain number of relationships in our lives. On average, we have our parents and siblings, maybe a spouse or two, and a couple of kids. We have a handful of close friends we will know throughout our lifetimes; many acquaintances that come and go; maybe a couple of disgruntled neighbors over the years. It may seem like a lot of connections to maintain. However, when people become public figures, the number of those connections grows exponentially. They may have more close friends, they have many more acquaintances, and in addition they have thousands of folks who know something about them, but they don’t know them at all. What they do, say, and wear becomes dinner conversation for complete strangers across the world. Well-meaning people become emotionally demanding of their heroes. For the newly famous (or infamous, as the case may be), this takes getting used to. The public expects things from those they deem their demigods and -goddesses.

It takes a while before it dawns on you that you have become an icon instead of mere mortal. One day I was buzzing around the country on a string of airplanes and I realized there were probably folks in the airports who knew who I was…yet I didn’t know them. Then I realized there probably wasn’t a state in America where someone didn’t have one of my instructional DVD’s; then I realized that it was true for every city in America; and for every country in the world, since I’ve been producing them since 1985, selling my DVD’s internationally and they have been pirated in Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Russia, and China. I have inspired many women to belly dance, that’s for sure. The letters I receive are personal and heartfelt. Making those connections with other dancers are the true rewards of service and dedication to the art. I wouldn’t trade those encounters for the world. As I contemplated all this I guess it makes me feel a warm sense of pride.

I really am very social and love people. I care very much for the welfare of the human condition. I am passionate about turning women on to the art of belly dance because I think it’s rejuvenating at any age and can help change the world. Most belly dancers don’t think much about changing the world: they just dance. I work hard mixing altruistic ideals with my belly dance, and I am sincere and tireless in my messages. I am sure it confuses people because the people I touch are touched at such a distance there can be no real knowing. (I believe it is what inspires me to write more articles) .

However, just as much as the good, . . . the bad and the ugly raise their heads too. The percentages go up the more people you touch. Have one bad encounter and it hurts. Have two bad experiences and it hurts twice as much. That’s why famous folks shield themselves and wrap themselves in a veil of privacy. No one likes unpleasant encounters: celebrities, or the average Joe and Jane. When people’s expectations are shattered and they feel slighted, it’s painful, and when people react in turn with scorn and spite, it’s painful too. I hope this story sheds some light and understanding so we all can be kinder to our demigods and -goddesses and learn to get along more realistically as a global family.

First Story

I have a lot on my mind sometimes, because I wear a lot of hats. I’m a teacher, director, producer and promoter. One day, while I was busy juggling several of those hats, a gal dropped off a guest at my Hawaii retreat. She wanted to meet me, because I had been a large influence on her dance. I did not know this young woman, and to make matters worse, apparently a gift — a special veil she had made– had come my way through other hands, but sent by her, many years ago, and I simply could not recall it even after it was described to me later on. I don’t know if I ever even received it. It sounds just dreadful of me, doesn’t it? It made my heart hurt.

The young woman came up to me as I was trying to take care of some business and introduced herself. I said, “Hello, thank you for delivering my guest to the retreat,” and excused myself immediately to continue my business…and this young gal was devastated. The next day she emailed me and told me how she felt, and that she would never recommend any of my retreats or DVD’s ever again. Things got completely blown out of proportion. I felt very bad and I thought about her often over the next few months. I thought that I was just being human and so was she. Our ability to build our heroes into demigods is great: our persona lives different lives while our true consciousness lives only inside our own boots.

After some time had passed I contacted this person again and shared a shorter version of the following experience. We feel we are friends today.

Second Story

In 1977, I got the opportunity to be in a scene in the movie The China Syndrome, starring Michael Douglas, Jack Lemmon and Jane Fonda, because of my involvement in the development of the “Belly Gram” concept.

My friend Joshua Leeds owned “Live Wires”, the Singing Telegram Company. I worked for him for a while during the holiday season singing to folks over the phone. It was a fun and creative little enterprise he had going, with offices in San Francisco, Newport Beach, Los Angeles, and San Diego.

One day I was talking to Joshua and I ran the idea past him of doing a “Belly Gram”. He said, “I’m listening. How would you do it?”

Remember how in the movie Cleopatra, her faithful servant goes to Caesar’s palace and has a special message for Caesar’s ears and eyes only. Then he rolls Cleopatra out of a carpet at his feet. Well, similarly I would have my tall handsome drummer arrive. I would be concealed in a large red velvet bag. As the drummer announced our presence to the recipient of the Belly Gram and began to play, I would slither out of the bag and do a mesmerizing dance as the audience oohed and aahed. I had a small veil with the addressee’s name in glitter on it, which I would present to them as a token. Next we would do a short drum solo and we would end with a power shimmy, a pop and a mutual bow! Then he would throw me over his shoulder and quickly leave. That was the original Belly Gram. Joshua loved it and he started hiring dancers in all the offices. It actually opened the door for all sorts of short vignettes of performance to be delivered to door steps. A story I’ll save for another day…

This idea hit Hollywood by storm. It was the perfect gift for the rich and famous who already had everything. Movie producers, actors, rock stars and millionaires were all passing Live Wire messages back and forth. Thus it got written into the script of The China Syndrome to have Live Wires in the movie as one of the fluffy stories that Jane Fonda, in her role as a human-interest reporter, would cover in the film.

I auditioned for the part with fifty different acts, and was chosen to appear in the film, complete with my signature gift of a glitter-embellished veil. While they were appreciated by the recipients, those veils were becoming a pain in the ass for me to make all the time (I have terrible handwriting). The film company asked me to make one with the TV Station Channel call letters on it. I felt somewhat out of my department for something like that. For a belly gram it’s okay, but for the film? I thought they should have their prop department make it. I painstakingly did it anyway.

When I arrived at the location, Jane Fonda was in the elevator with me. I noted how she was so small and skinny. I shook her tiny, frail hand in amazement. She barely acknowledged me. I felt a bit snubbed but was still in awe. Her hairdresser was tagging alongside her, combing and spaying her hair.

I was preparing for the scene, so I got out the stupid veil and tried to present it to the director and stage manager. Suddenly, Jane stepped towards me, looked me straight in the face and curtly said, “That won’t be necessary, dear.” My feelings got so hurt. I was shaken and frustrated that I was even in the position to have to present that stupid veil at all. I fought back a tear or two right before I had to do the scene. I was crushed. For many years, every time her name came up I probably made a derogatory comment, spurred by my brief yet painful memory. I held it against Jane Fonda for years.

For years, that is, until I was in her shoes (sorry Jane, I truly forgive you). She simply had a lot on her mind. That was all there was to it. She had lines, blocking, makeup to do . . . she didn’t walk around with a scepter thinking she was a goddess to everyone she meets any more than I do. Like Ms. Fonda, we are all each just plain Janes in the everyday roles of our lives. We have no control of our roles and personalities as they are projected into other folks’ lives. Our admiration deifies people and puts them on pedestals, but we are shocked when they don’t abide by the confines of those pedestals, or fulfill our expectations. We might even feel superior to our mentors that inspired us and led us up the road to greatness. This can lead us to act with jealousy, and spears of rivalry if it is not in check.. It’s so sad when the cord is cut, and so happy when that cut can be healed.

End Note:

In telling this tale I personally gleaned good insight. I told it so others might too. However when I look at the entirety of the 2 stories. The gal in Hawaii had tied to give me a veil. I had a veil for the movie scene. Both went unappreciated until this story made me contemplate the power behind veiling which is related to celebrity.

While the veil gets a bad wrap when it seems forced upon a woman. However, there is a power in the veil that should be known by every woman. To veil is to empower that which is within. We empower or imbue with mystical insights from behind the veil. We veil bread so it will rise, we veil alters and sacred objects, women veil for anonymity and as a signal for much needed privacy. Personally I am an open book. Perhaps this story is trying to tell me I need to be more private. Or perhaps by writing, I metaphorically wore these veils , went with in, found deep insight and was empowered to share it with you.. I love this universe!

More Notes

The award winning movie was released in 1979. It’s working title was “Power”. It’s about a nuclear power plant accident. It was released right before Three Mile Island incident. There were articles in the cult new papers on how all the players were drawn together by a psychic forces. Jane Fonda went on to make exercise videos and Delilah made belly dance videos. Jane and Delilah are both fellow Capricorns. The veil incident in the story also holds symbolic resonance because the girl at the retreat was also a veil maker. The gift in question was a veil. The belly gram prop was a veil made by Delilah.

Fact is stranger than fiction.