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Live Belly Dancing Performance from the Iao Theater, Wailuku Maui. Starring Sulyman, El Coyote & Nikki Conti, Delilah & Sirocco.

"This is the best show I have ever done that has been captured on video."

This beautifully edited 2 camera shoot is strong and entertaining dance and music. It is also a great study piece for all dancers striving to understand and harmonize their own spirit of performance with the application of techniques. Flamenco and the Bellydance, sisters in dance!

This article is about the power of the Iao and why Delilah's video is called Fire at the Iao. On February 26, 2000, Delilah and Nikki Conti were featured in a live performance together with the musical accompaniment of Sirocco: the Bellydance and the Flamenco. The show was held at the Iao Theater in Wailuku (in Hawaii on the island of Maui) at the foot of the valley that leads to the Iao Needle. Every year Delilah has been hosting a 10-day Visionary Bellydance Retreat on the island of Maui. During that time she has made many pilgrimages to the sacred stone monolith known as the Iao Needle. The natural rock landmark is named by the Hawaiians in honor of the most supreme of all beings. Iao or Io came to Hawaii with the ancestral Moari tribes.

Delilah has come to know by personal experience that the Iao Needle has special psychic properties. She sees this tall rock pistil nestled in the middle of a lush, wet, and green valley surrounded by the West Maui Mountains as resembling a phallus and yoni. Her personal experiences of this place lead her to believe that it is a transmitter and receiver for psychic energies. No, I don't think she's delusional, as in this tale, she will be explaining the details. The firey breath of Iao inspired all its players, and by divine intercept committed it to videotape.

Everyday, from all over the world, tourists come by the busloads to see this sight. Their ritual begins by driving the winding road to the end of the valley. With cameras swinging from their necks, in shorts, hula shirts, sunglasses and sun hats, they get out and walk a quarter mile to the observation point. They look up, stand there for a few minutes, take a picture or two and then turn around and walk back to the bus. It's a seemingly simple affair, unimpeded with any formal sacred sentimentality. I wonder why they all come and if they didn't miss some important point? Nevertheless, the steady flow of pilgrims keeps on coming and the ritual is repeated again and again. The beauty of the place is quite alluring, one would agree. It is always peaceful, and the water running over the rapids serves to ionize your body. I've sat there and watched tourist after tourist do exactly the same thing. I don���t see them fall to their knees at the base of this sacred altar. I don���t see faces lit with awe-inspired grins. There are no offerings left behind in tiny bundles of tarro leaves. I don't see them stay for long, or even step off the cement sidewalks to stroll unobstructed on the sacred ground. I understand how it is because I did none of these things the first time I came there.

But then one day, there were seven of us women who came to the Iao. We stayed awhile at the needle. We got off the path and explored. We bathed in the chilly river and sunned ourselves on the flat rocks. We fell into daydreams. It was a very pleasant and lazy day. As we got up to leave, I began to notice a vibration in my feet. I asked Claire if she could feel it. She stood very still for a couple minutes and then with an excited look in her face acknowledged she could indeed feel it! We bent our knees and relaxed into our bodies and the vibration intensified. I had a sense of allowing it in from the soles of my feet. At first it was a dull, fizzy sensation but, as if it somehow grew closer, it intensified into a simmer. Like a bubbling hot spring it rose into the pelvis. I could feel it in my bones, my bowels, my chest and eventually my skull. We were impressed as we all stood still on the dirt path, trembling in delight with the earth.

So, the next year I instructed students at my retreat to try to duplicate the experience when they visited the Iao. They came back equally impressed. We surmised the rivers that ran around the base of the needle and down into the valley were crossing over volcanic rock. Perhaps the pumas and lava stone were reverberating the sound and vibration to an overt degree.

After the retreat was over, Steve and I went alone to the needle. We were exhausted and gently debriefing our experience of the retreat. We stepped off the path and sat on a rock. Nearby was a woman with a young boy. We said nothing for a while but gazed into the river and its pools. We were not eager to get into conversations at the moment. After a while, I smiled and said hello. It turned out the woman was from Seattle, used to live with the brother of one of my first bellydance teachers, Marta Schill, in Los Angeles AND knew Sulyman and Sirocco! What really was weird, at that very moment, in Seattle, Marta was calling me on the phone and leaving a message. I know exactly because my house sitter was writing down the date and time of every call. At this time, Marta and I were not accustomed to talking on the phone so this phone call was quite remarkable. There were about five to six other wild synchronicities that lined up and connected to that day. I won���t go into them right at the moment but suffice it to say, we were mystified. All I could think was the needle had something to do with it.

At our next Maui retreat, I held an experiment in psychic linking. Different people went different directions on the island during our field trip day. We all agreed to stop at 2:00pm and meditate for 15 minutes and see what might pop up on our visual mind screens. I went with a group to the Iao and we stood there and meditated and danced a bit. We felt the vibrations again and I got some pictures in my head. The next morning we shared them with one another. In my mind I saw halvah, a sweet middle eastern dessert, made of honey, tahini, pistachios and resembling agate or sand stone. I saw an earthquake and was frightened because I knew some of our members were in the volcano at the time. I also saw Jean Graham- a dancer from LA. There were a couple other things but I can't remember now. When I said halvah, I remember Armando lighting up and said he recognized the halava image as the rock formation at the cinder cone beach that he was admiring the day before! There were other little synchronistic lineups as well with other participants, but the wildest connection came to me days after the retreat was over: a big earthquake occurred in LA and Jean Graham was at the epicenter!

A few months later I went to the Costa Rican rain forest (I think it was 1995) on a dancing in nature expedition. It's another story that you can read about in Alexandra's Library which has yet another big cosmic chunk of synchronicity. The short of it is, I won a contest on National Public Radio that gave birth to a new project. The idea for the contest entry was inspired by a dance we did on Maui in the bamboo forest, as well as my ritual warm uproutine where I channel the earth's vibrations up through the feet and into my body!

So here I am in the rain forest dancing with nature and this young woman named Margauritta is our naturalist guide. During our stay she tells us all about everything we are seeing and experiencing. It's as if nature is talking to us through her. She becomes very personally moved by what we are doing in her rain forest: dancing, drumming, singing, and reciting poetry. For the first time, she has a group that understands the sacred mystery of it all. Instead of being just passive onlookers with cameras and silly hats, we were interacting and celebrating with the forest! We became good friends. Then all of a sudden, it hits me in the middle of the night. Oh my God! I wonder where she was when we were last at the Iao Needle. In the morning this is my first question to her. With out hesitation she knew exactly where she was at that time. She was very sad. Her father had died and there is always a long process of mourning all deaths in her family. She was supposed to stay with her family, but that was not the consolation she found fulfilling. She left even though her family did not approve. She went to a place in the jungle; she had discovered herself. She had even cut her own path through the jungle with a machete. She found a huge rock that had two rivers running around it, connecting at its base! This cinched it! What would be the chances of us both being in places that matched the same basic description on the same day. The Iao is a psychic transmitter and receiver of some sort. No wonder those Egyptians built obelisks! Divine telephone systems!

So, I have this reverent association with the Iao. Now the year is 2000 and we had just finished a retreat dedicated to Healing and Rejuvenation through Dance! with special guests Rita and John Compton from San Fransisco. Sirocco and I always stay a few days longer. Anita Hallard was a Flamenco student of Nikki Conte (Sulyman's wife) and she, along with Meriyah Del Mar (a protege of mine), asked if we would all perform a show for the local population of Maui at the Iao Theater. The theater was charming, intimate, warm and had great acoustics. We were all game. The first half of the show featured local performers and the second half was just Sirocco, Delilah and Nikki.

We were all very laid back having just completed a 10-day very energetic retreat with 35 dancers. Before the show, Armando said to me "It's our night, our show. Let���s just go out there and do it for us!" He meant to crawl inside the moment and see where it led us. There was no preplanned choreography. I remember a magic in his eyes and in his words. A calming protective energy set up its tent around us - all four of us. When I think back to those hours just before the show, during and afterward, I feel a warm glow. We just went out there and went crazy. Sol played his guitar for Nikki like a mad man. I could have literally danced all night! Energy was moving up the soles of my feet. My hips were on fire. We all felt so solidly aligned. It was like we kept opening doors and dancing into new spaces.

After the performance I felt very quiet. That's pretty unusual for me. The audience was quiet too. Many came up to us and solemnly thanked us for our performance in such a heartfelt manner. No one could say it, but it had something to do with the pregnant pause in the middle of the floor dance section. Divinity was present. Iao. You can see something. Watch for it when I extend my arm and I turn around my hand as it hovers over a stationary spot on the floor. An energy vortex opens up in the middle of the stage and I drop right in! Communion takes place. Sol, Armando, I and the whole audience experienced it together. I look at this video tape and I have no idea where I went. Only that I have to go back.

Steve had set up his video camera at mid-level to the right side of the stage. Stewart Geltner set up to the left, and Blu set up at the center. No one was seriously filming the entire show, though the equipment and the operators were all very good. Oddly, what happened in the end was Steve video taped Delilah and Nikki, Stewart accidentally filmed Delilah instead of Nikki and Blu's camera failed. Nevertheless, our post-retreat blissed-out states payed no mind to the mixed up recordings.

We were given the videotape Stewart shot, and Steve had Nikki's dance on tape and made her a copy. We all went our ways and fell back into the swing of our ordinary lives. It wasn't until the summer that I discovered the tiny tapes marked "Iao Needle". I put them on the player and was astounded. These tapes had captured one of the best shows of my life from two different angles (by mysterious accident) and with great acoustics for the music. The partnering of Flamenco and Mideastern bellydance and music together on one stage was perfect. These are ingredients necessary for the display of passion and soul fire! The spiritual stew that sits simmering on divine cook tops is the creative cauldron of life unchoreographed! The copy on the back of the video is about artistic rendering. A melting, a giving and a surrender to the Gods. Fire at the Iao.

To think it was sitting in the can for all those months!

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