D's Blog

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!


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.

February 23, 2010   ♦   Comments Off on Kitty Love / Valentine Cat Food

Kitty Love / Valentine Cat Food

This is a weird entry to find on a belly dancers blog but I know so many belly dancers have cats (dogs too, I know). My favorite Goddess statue is from Crete 1600 B. C..  She has a snake in each hand and a house cat on her head!


What did Erik and I do on Valentines Day?

We looked for a used meet grinder!  What? We decided to give a little extra special love to our beloved kitty cats. We aim to change their diet over to raw food. We are so pissst off at Purina!  Enough already! more later. . .


We had been thinking about this idea for a while and Valentine weekend seemed perfect. We began by looking up recipes and directions online. We’ll need a food scale, a meat grinder (that will do bone), meat sheers, freezer containers and a devoted cutting board. We see one must be careful, clean and dedicated. We realize this is going to be a commitment. One of love! Next, we went to a raw pet food store in Burien, WA to get more information. We bought some of their raw prepared Chicken and Turkey Cat food to bring home and see if our cats would eat it. Three out of the 4 cats loved it! They are not vomiting or having diarrhea problems either. We’ll have to work on Miss Tia it looks like. She wouldn’t try it. We found we can make batches for the month and freeze it. Hopefully that will cute down on the cost. We will buy it as a meal supplement until we get set up for production. It’s our Valentine to our cat family. OXOX.


We are looking for a USED MEAT GRINDER and a FOOD SCALE.

Anyone got one they want to get rid of 206 632-2353 Call us! D&Erik


WHY we are against Purina:

I have had cats all my life. For the past 15 years my cats would not eat anything but Purina Cat Chow. They wouldn’t eat eggs or turkey gizzards at Thanksgiving like the cats I grew up with. I thought this a bit weird. I suspected the kibble had something addictive in it. They were Cat Chow Junkies. I figured cats know something about our adulterated hormone infused food chain, thus they wouldn’t even touch eggs or turkey heart and liver. Strange.

I grew up in California with lots of cats. We knew what fleas were. In Washington it wasn’t until a few years ago our cats skin started getting horrible skin problems and the vet insisted it was fleas! So they all got put on Frontline. Even in the winter? I never see these fleas (maybe Washington fleas are a smaller variety). My cats sleep with me. I’m not getting bit. We did Frontline and the minute the date passed their hair would all fall out on their back side.  Well so, we got suspicious of Frontline too. I have a ton a stories about vets miss diagnosis of pets. Frontline is not cheap either! I had 4 indoor cats. I can see taking action in the summer months but the winter too? The other problem is that my cats all barf now. All the time! They didn’t used to. They started a few years ago. They even projectile vomit after eating Purina cat food. They were starving , poor dears! Finally they wouldn’t eat it at all. I tried others and changed to canned food. But I rather clean up vomited kibble than canned food! One day I talked to my friend named  Kitty who happens to raise Prussian cats. She said she feeds then raw food and they are happy, healthy and winning all the prize ribbons. They sure are soft I agreed! Then I started researching. AH HA! Purina moved all it’s cat food operations to China by 2007. Now it made since. This isn’t the same product it was years ago. There are no ethics in China as far as I can see. China is taking over America and making everything under the sun. They use old computer junk and make it  to resemble products we are familiar with. But no, no no! They are not the same products! Every belly dancers must have noticed that safety pins for instance lately. They melt in your hands. They are worthless, Dry wall from China came into this country to meet the demand of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation and tons of buildings have to be rebuilt! Roofing nails are trash. Cold medicine had antifreeze in it. In 2007 Pet food Scandal cat food had melamine in it and was recalled. Melamine can boost the protein count in laboratory read outs! Purina Cat Chow was not on the recall lists that I could find but I don’t have faith in that. I imagine money changed hands to save reputations. The reality is something has changed about this product in my personal observation. China then fed the recalled pet food to fisheries for human consumption. Great.

Hello? China was making this stuff at the companies direction don’t you think? But China is not capable of controlling it’s water quality of food supply consistency. Wheat, corn, potatoes and soy do not belong in our cats food.  So I’m done with China! We are going to stock our freezer full of home made cat food.

PS. Frontline is made in France, but many of it’s suppliers are in China so I don’t trust it either.


Our Belly Dance Cat Family History:

I’ve had cats all my life . Samia Gamal lived to be  24 years old. She died just before her belly dance name sake died.  We lost Metropolis (the 16 year old) a few months ago from a mysterious eye injury. She was my daughter Laura Rose’s kitty. We all loved her so much.

Currently our 3 cats are all between 13 and 15 years old. We have a cat that we have adopted last Sumer. She chooses to live outside. Burrr! She won’t let us touch her, but we feed her. We posted a lost kitty announcement in the neighborhood but we think she was most likely abandoned  by maybe a collage student who moved away. She looks very healthy but freaked out for some reason. We named her Outdoor Kitty. We suspect she is actually related to our cats since our cats father does live in the neighborhood at one time. She won’t let us touch her, but she looks at us kindly when we come with the chow wagon and will sit with me on the back deck. Erik’s cat’s are Sophia Isadora Duncurl and Tiamat. Sofie is an X show girl. She is a calico American Curl and is the sweet heart of the family. She acts more like a dog actually. Amazing creature. Tia is a female orange (very rare). She is sweet but not the kind of cat you can pick up.

Neighborhood Temple Priestess

Priestess Tiamut’s Magic Sponge:

When we started selling the dry sponges as a fund raiser for the studio, we needed a photo of a cat for the label. Allison came over and chased all my cats around the house and the back yard trying to get a good pose. We figured that the X show girl Sofie would be the best bet, however she kept her sun glasses on and demanded we talk to her agent. Low and behold the cat that was the most skittish, loved the camera lens and became our poster girl  “PRIESTESS TIAMATS MAGIC PET HAIR REMOVER” Ok, so thats our Feline family.


The Dry Sponge is an amazing item, every cat owner should have a few. I can’t live with out them! Purchasing them from us help our studio stay in business at the same time it makes your life with cats or dogs so much easier!

February 22, 2010   ♦   1 Comment »

This blog entry is not just about Hawaii. It’s a frank talk about the state of things as I am involved and witnessing them from my artist and busness perspective.

First a bit about Hawaii.


Student roster for Visionary Hawaii Retreat

April 2 2010

1. Carolyn

2. Latrell

3. Cindy

4. Tina

5. Erin

6. Tessa



Unmata dance partner





Can you imagine adding your name to this very small class ? These are amazing belly dance instructors and really nice people. This years value is unsurpassed!

Study, dance get to know each other for 7 days and 8 nights in Paradise? We will all be friends for life! There is a staff member for each student just about as this moment! LOL. The dance space is beautiful, huge 2100 sq feet, with suspended wood floors and mirrors. This opportunity to study with this combination of dancers is not coming around again. Every retreat is very different as many of you know who follow what we have been doing since 1991.

We need 5-6 more dancers is all (to not loose our harem pants!)

Come join us!

I gotta say we are devoted to Kalani. They began chopping back the jungle with a machete and doing the construction in 1975, but it’s grand opening was in 1982. We have watched them grow and become better and better each year. They do so much good intentional work on this planet it is our pleasure to be affiliated with such genuine caring and committed organization. It was begun by Richard Koob. He is very respected and beloved by the island community . Richard is a master hula dancer. He’s a visionary like me. He’s in incredible shape, he swims in the ocean every day, dances, lifts weights  and plays volley ball. He lives well and so does everyone on his large staff. (Kalani History). It’s situated on 19 acres across from the ocean on a country road. The location is built on the ruins of an ancient native Hawaiian school . We are near the volcano but the trade winds keep it out of the Vog and actually they have the cleanest air in the world. Crazy. At night the Koki frogs serenade us to the rhythms of the surf. Moon light and strings of ferry lights lead the way through the night palace to hob tubs, massage studios, saunas and 25 meter pool. It’s enchanting.

So GO CHECK IT OUT www.delilah-belly-dance-retreat .com


The state of Money

I know many dancers would like to come but finances are out of reach for many. Believe me we are struggling in the face of this economy as well, but we believe Belly Dance keeps all women sane and we are offering a valuable service with our art.

What IF there was no belly dance in our lives?

What if because we just can’t afford to run studios, make DVD’s, have festivals, concerts, workshops and retreats, belly dance just dried up. No longer something available to women. What if there were no dance leaders to mentor, guide, develop and support the recognition of this art? How sad this would be. Those of you who dance know that this dance is so very important to women of all ages. It’s important enough to us to pass it down to our daughters and our grand daughters. Even sons have gotten into it as dancers and as supporters of their mothers passion about belly dance!

If we didn’t have those brave enough to sponsor events and keep the sub culture going. . .? Well, I think it would fall into the den of iniquity that befalls women in 3rd world countries when they have no rights, no public voice, or leadership. Women become vulnerable and Dance becomes prostitution and exploitation at it’s worst. When we do not respect the art of women dancing, we do not respect life.


It takes a lot of work and financial risk for a small business to exist in the arts. Belly dance does not provide a large income job for anybody I know. Maybe for a couple years out of the life of a top dancer if she markets her self well. But we aren’t talking even long enough for a stable retirement plan.


We at VDP are bravely weathering this current storm and continuing to bring belly dance to women.  We are spending our personal savings doing so at the moment. We have hopes that  things will improve. If we stop and break down our tents, . . . it’s not likely we are going to build it again (not at this point in my career) thus we are hold on tight and continuing.

The letters, calls and e mails from folks knowing and receiving value from our works goes very far in inspiring us on! Thank You!



AND  we know, not everyone is being hurt by the economy. Some people have gifted VDP very generously because they can know how we are working hard, on a shoe string at the moment. We in turn have given a lot of classes away this year to women who expressed sincere interest. See our BELLY DANCE STIMULUS PROGRAM we started in the fall. Our  NTP group have helped organizations raise money as well as help the studio out with the RED VEIL SALE. In May they will have a GREEN VEIL SALE in celebration of the Solstice Parade. Hooray!

I have friends who are remodeling house projects and working good jobs and are unaffected by the economy. These demonstrations of positive energy flow are what we try to keep focusing on to keep us in a positive mind state.


Then, we note some people have large saving and are caught reacting to the air of fear and following the negative flow and are simply not spending when they could. Holding on tight to purse strings. This effects the economy of course big time. Fear is a powerful thing and women have every right to be fearful. I totally understand. Most likely belly fear made you come to class. However fear can eat up your life. Our lives are going to be over sooner than you think! It’s a battle to not let fear take over our lives. We have to realize that life is for living. Who knows how much time any of us might have left. The only story is so true. We save for retirement and then we are too sick to travel or enjoy the fruits of our labors. Reminder that all you really have is the present moment.



We have been doing retreats since 1991 and we have seen all sorts of acts of generosity. Aunts have gifted nieces with the retreats. One father sent one of his twin daughters to our retreat for her graduation from high school! One was a dancer and the other went to Outward Bound. Another women got sick and so she sent a friend but before she sent her, she took her shopping and bought her costumes and a belly dance wardrobe! One man arranged to take time off work to stay home and watch the kids while he sent his Mother in law and his wife to our retreat. Then came with his wife and son on the next one! One women just signed up and said give it to someone you think needs to come! Wow! We gave a way an entire retreat package in a promotional drawing as well as a fund raising raffle prize for a women who had been in a terrible car accident.


Lately, a deep concern:

I want to mention a phenomena I have been witnessing lately in our daily lives of the women I teach and meet. I have talked with other instructors in various fields noticing the same thing. The phenomena of people just not being present in their body and/or able to focus or make a decision. Have you felt it? Women don’t want to talk or show their cards. Fear! A dance class gives you opportunity for non verbal expression but I am noticing as well the lack of non verbal expression. Scary! We are loosing touch with our mind- body connection.

It’s not something easy to retrieve in later years. You need to do it NOW. Keep those neural pathways active.

General reasons for this loss may be our electronic technologies. Our brains are scattered by constant cell phone interruptions. E mail lacks emotional tone and are constantly miss understood. We see little social justice and change in the media and that renders us silent and motionless. Our resources are at risk and so we hold tight on the reins. We have no personal rights in airports and as humans feel be-based. You cannot object, you will go to jail. We cannot talk to a customer service person for many businesses now. Just a maze of electronic prompts.  Texting and twettering  seems fun but in the long run it’s just keeping you from dancing. So many individuals are pretty lonely if you ask me.

Then we have invested time in  these social internet networks. All it is is a game of rearranging buttons and photo furniture in “your space”, and with “”your face” on a “your tube”. People have started to think they really live there and their friends live at their wall. OMG what a crazy world.  Which would YOU rather have? A real flesh and blood life or an internet life? People are going to forget how to have a real life. This scares me more than the economy.


I predict we are about to forget how to dance. No Please!

Why because we are loosing our body language.


In dance classes my staff and I notice that dancers come to dance but even making a decision to put on their dance attitude is lacking. Woh! What is this? We can’t make anyone dance. It looks like a sort of psychic paralysis across the board effecting young and old. Is it our  societal political atmosphere. I went to Women of Wisdom Conference and noticed a similar thing going on. I talked with people who lead groups and they knew what I was talking about. It’s been happening a lot  just lately



This dear  friend of mine always said eventually was going to come to one of my workshops in Hawaii.  But first she had to work on her career, then she had to raise her kids, then she had to take care of her Mother, now she has a terrible diseased and can’t walk and she’s 58. I have been anxiously awaiting every year for her to make the time for herself in her life but she just postponed it into oblivion. Life is so fleeting. If you want something you have to set your sites on it. Only you can make things happen. Then it will come to you .

Need some Simple Belly Empowerment Inspiration ? (Especially read the Goethe quote near the end)


We only need to find  5-6 more students and this will be a really great retreat! .



206 632-2353

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!

January 11, 2010   ♦   Comments Off on 2010, Look Back 70’s, 80’s, 90, 2000’s

2010, Look back 70’s, 80’s, 90, 2000’s
I’m usually pretty positive but actually I do worry these days.
The state of belly dance is turning into a ghetto my friend says. She says she’s lived in ghettos and she’s seen other subcultures turn into ghettos.  She says the signs are here.
My stomach tightens up. I have been in belly dance for 35 years. I am protective of it. It’s my family and I want to see it grow healthy and thrive! As belly dance has demonstrated time and again for me and thousands of other dancers it has shaped my core belief that the potential is great. If channeled correctly it can benefit women in so many ways. It can make us self reliant, strong and able to express ourselves more openly and exercise our goddess given right to creativity. I don’t see these benefits as the end result either. When women are strong and healthy these benefits radiate out into benefiting family and community. To hear her say these words is painful to me. I contemplate them as we passed the blue moon eclipse on Dec 31st 2009 and meet the new year 2010.
In a ghetto everyone is suspicious of their neighbor. Things get run down. No money for up keep. Things degenerate. Gotta have bars on all the doors and window so even if you aren’t in jail, it feels like it. People are on the dole and stop thinking for them selves. Smart people act stupid. Despair and poverty and violence against women dominate. Folks get disenfranchised. They resort to crime and gang mentality. Poverty consciousness is a viral infection. A pair of tennis shoes become status symbols and meanness and profanity becomes a way of deflection, thus self protection.
Oh my Goddess! Belly dance ? No !
Everything has it’s dark side. We dance in and out of shadow, yin and yang and it is all a part of the universe. Of course I like to dwell on the light side but one cannot ignore the dark. It gives brilliance to the light. It’s foolish not to embrace wholeness.

I think hard. I think about the past 38 years I have witnesses belly dance and how our dance (as is all art) is  a product of our social and political environment. Our bodies are vessels moving through this stew. How we feel is wordlessly reflected back.
The signs. The internet chat groups are painful much of the time. Often it feels like people are lining up for their chance to through stones. They say things they would never say face to face or in public. They have no social editing alone with our key boards. They activly crave the next bruhaha! It’s fear based insecure and sometimes very dangerous. Words can murder people.
All I can say is I look forward to it’s passing.
As I was saying the art of belly dance is always shaped by the culture that surround it. Of course, all art is. This is a life dance and what you know and experience is what your dance is made of weather you know it or not. Course if you just do some one else’s choreography, then it’s not even your life, your dance is made of (think on that).
I have been in belly dance for 35 plus years. I have seen all sorts of climate changes. A talk with Audreena who has been in belly dancing a lot longer than me was enlightening. “This too will pass” she said wisely. “The strong will survive, I’ve seen it more than once come around”.

When I first began belly dance in the 70’s it was the end of the Vietnam war, we ousted a U.S. president for wrong doings. We had a sense of social justice, a climate of free love, the birth control pill which meant so much freedom to women, thus women’s lib and bra burning. I was free to choose a career and postpone a family. In contrast my Mother’s generation was all about kids, family and station wagons. In the 70’s belly dance in American got it’s foot hold big time. It grew out of this culture of freedom and hope.

In the 80’s. Bingo! We got the aids epidemic.  So many famous faces in show business fell.  By the late 80’s many people decided to marry and settle down. Many changed their politics and went from hippy to corporate. Fear of aids changed peoples attitudes about love and relationships. This became the generation that was afraid to kiss and exchange liquids. This played hard on the psyche of young people born and growing up. My daughter for instance. It was dark, bleak and insulating.  Home video came in. People became conscientious about drinking and driving. Laws became much stricter. Folks stayed home to watched videos and did their drinking.  These two factors were a big change on the live entertainment industry that was dependent on alcohol sales. Clubs didn’t have the income to pay for live music like they used to. Wages did not keep up for performers. Interestingly another thing was women’s studies departments began to get stronger. (I have a theory on this but I will save it for some other post). I remember people investing in art more. Many of my friends sold art in galleries. Drum circles and goddess imagery was everywhere. I started my family in these years and got my first home computer. In the 80’s woman heard the call of the goddess to belly dance.

By the 90’s we were visionary. Creative visualization, meditation, yoga and Buddhist teachings. The dot com age came about. The end of the cold era and the birth of the internet was growing. People set up their own camps on line. To many womens regret they found that their birthing opportunity years had passed them buy. Antidepressants were on the rise like candy and high school shooting began. We went back to war. Belly dance grew steadily. Tribal style came into being out of the insulation that was birthed in the 80’s. It felt safe to dance in groups. Skin clothed in tattoos with prickly looking piercing were were imitations of natures warning signs; beware here. Women became more openly gay and exploration was accepted in more circles. Anorexia was on the rise for men. Transgender ideas draw to the surface.

In the 2000’s we got 9/11 terrorist attacks that changed everything. Fear not freedom would be the new over riding activation of belly energy. Belly dance didn’t suffer from 9/11, it grew faster! However it grew as fusion. No longer dependent on middle eastern music. Tribal belly dance set up their own festivals and belly dance grew and divided. Our constitutional rights have been eroded. We all got cell phones. Air travel became a night mare. We are kept pretty distracted on computers around the clock with internet social networks, computer games, you tube, wiki pedia, text messaging and twitter. Old established newspapers died. Things are changing at the rate of nanoseconds. By the end of this era we vote in social change and Omaba is President but we are soon  constricted by economic factors we are helpless to fix. Those responsible for huge social injustices seem to keep going . We feel helpless and that there is no justice. This is a very bad situation for women right now when compared with the 70’s. It’s hard to feel strong, self reliant and focused. We need to constantly wake each other up. When women feel scared and with out resources they get very competitive thus contests have risen in popularity, and stone throwing behavior on the internet forums. Ladies ladies ladies!
The disease of poverty consciousness is attached to money, love and beauty. Women get so many signs from popular culture. Such as: It’s money that makes you secure and gives you value. Love is finite, thus jealousy takes hold. You are only loved if beautiful, only beautiful  if young, blonde buxom, skinny. . . OMG what bull shit! So many movies depict women as men’s masterbation devices. Ugh!
Today many women are desperately seeking permission from outside. From perceived higher authority. They crave credentials and discipline so they will know their own value. Sadly because they do not know their own value. Women are right to fear. The world situation and power base has not changed for women like they hoped in the 70’s. I just think we gotta stay wake and work harder to change the world and no one is saying its going to be easy. We gotta keep dancing. The hope for the world as the Dalai Lama said in Oct. 2009 is in the hands of Western women.
Please, beware of sitting on the internet all day and still believing you are a dancer. Stay clear make sure you dance every day!