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 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


December 30, 2009   ♦   Comments Off on New Years Day Zaar Ritual

Dear Dancers,

I trust you all having a wondrous Holiday Season. We have been working hard for  months on our new web site and are scheduled to go live with this New Web site, tomorrow, under a full blue moon, lunar eclipse, it’s New Years Eve, (on my Birthday). Hope it all works. It’s been a huge job! We are so excited!

On NEW YEARS DAY we are having a Zaar Ritual at VDP Studios. I have been talking about it by word of mouth for months. This is not for the weak of heart or mind. A zaar, zahr, zar,  is a cathartic trance  dance ritual. This particular ritual is my own design and has been performed since 1994. Dancers find it very powerful. We are limiting it to 20 dancers because of time and space. We will teach some skills, give the the ritual outline then do it in 2 sets. Each person will be shown some exercises and given back ground and then will facilitate as a spotter for one set and dancer for  the second. Anyone who is interested is invited but we have limited space. Find out details here >>


The zar or zahr or zaar is known for being a trance dance. A  cathartic ritual performed in various areas of the middle east. It seems to take different forms depending on the local and time in history. It is a ritual of cleansing, a remedy for mental illness, a process of chasing away evil spirits, problems, depression and renewal. An ancient form of movement therapy really. Supposedly a zahr may be held for someone in particular who is ill at ease. An individual may seek out a location where open zahrs are held or independently heir musicians to perform the zahr rhythms as a service.  From out of my many years of trance dance experience my opinion is it all depends on your focus of intention how you want you use a movement trance. There is a universality that just takes on different cultural twists. Words, labels, descriptions, of experience are very subjective. There are many perspectives, superstitions and takes on what I think is a very common experience. Aspects of it have worked their way into belly dance routines. You may have seen where dancers start throwing their head and hair around in a circle to an ayoub rhythm.

I have had the opportunity to dance spontaneously to live music on stage for 45 -55 minute sets on a nightly basis I will tell you I was in trance for most of the time. During those trances I experience being able to do physically extreme gymnastics that I could not explain how I learned them or did them. I experience more endurance and energy reserves. The famous turkish drop was one of those kinds of events. I could never do that in a class or at the start of a routine. I had to be warmed up physically as well as psychically. Extreme neck gyrations are another thing people sometimes do in trance. Indian fakirs (and shaman all over the world for that matter) do extraordinary things with skewers and shisks.

The word Zahr is used in different ways and is ambiguous but it is connected with trance dance. Zahr rhythms, zahr house where musicians gather to play for participants, zahr woman, zar dance , zar exorcism. Trance is a loaded word for some religious people that connect it with demons and possession. For others it is treated more academically and scientifically. (You have to believe in demons to be effected by them, in my book, but be warned and decide for your self). The sufi ziker (dhikr), the tribal blessing dances of the Geudra, and healing trance dances of the Moroccan Jarjooka, Haitian voodoo dances with their Gods and Goddesses that originated from Africa, Indian fakirs,  American Indian pow wows, even the Christian Pentecostal and charismatic activities, Buddhist chanting and church hymns and are all dealing with and inducing a trance state. At least this is my point of view as I have experienced many of these things. Utilizing specific chants, repetitive prayers, rhythms, hand movements, body swaying are all methods to access cathartic conditions, and mind scapes. Repetition and focus are key. Doing the dishes and driving our car across town we all do in a trance state. Creating art is trance work. I do not find anything scary about these condition. I happen to like doing it in a physical capacity thus trance dance. It is powerful self exploration. Me? I come from a more scientific view of these states and view superstition and dogma as having blocked peoples access to their own internal mind scape. People should give it deep thought. I respect your feeling and experience if you feel differently.

The book Dancing in the Street by Barbara Ehrenreich I highly recommend. She explains the origins of dance as pure celebration. In ancient times dance was as necessary to the human spirit as water and bread. It was unheard of not to dance but it was nothing like ballet or performance on a stage. It was all about direct experience of actually dancing and giving thanks directly to the world at large for fully being in a body; bone, heart and soul.

My ritual has 3-4 distinct parts before the ayoub section. I’ll blog and let you know how this one turns out.

happy New Year 2010


A great way to start the new year of 2010.

Here are some great resources on Zaar Rituals:

Yours in Dance,