D's Blog

November 15, 2010   ♦   Comments Off on VDP Scholarship/Belly Dance Stimulus Program

Scholarship with VDP STUDIO

. . . AKA Visionary Dance Productions

4128 Fremont Ave North, Wa 98103

Main Office 206 632-2353, Studio and Shipping office 206 632-1906

Belly Dance Stimulus Program

(Offering since Nov 2009)

Here’s the deal

The economy has taken it’s toll on many of us. We believe fervently that Belly Dance empowers our lives! It builds confidence, self esteem and self reliance. It keeps us together as women body, mind, and soul. It’s deep yoga and moves our chi. It recharges our batteries and an opportunity for wordless self expression that is important for our interior world. We know belly dance heals and builds stronger women.

Got a Job ?

If you have a job, FANTASTIC! Come take classes at VDP and pay us for them. We thank you! We are having our own challenges as a small business and our dancers derive their livelihoods through teaching. Most important we all need to stay fit, empowered and in balance during these challenging times. What better than doing something that celebrates being a life in a woman’s body! We have lots of wonderful and exciting instructors, classes, music and dance events for you to enjoy!

NO Job or minimally employed?

If you DO NOT have a job or a source of support right now, we feel you need belly dance more than ever! And I bet you have the time now more than ever before!

Come to class!

We’ll figure it out with you.

Maybe you can trade something. We actually need many services so please do not feel you are imposing on us. It can be a win win situation for everyone!

Office tasks, distributing flyers, cleaning, sorting the studio stuff, raking leaves, painting, making signs, designing flyers, cooking, answering phones, internet management, costume repair, massage, beauty services, writing, video review . . . Maybe you just remember us when times are better later on up the road.

For now let’s belly dance.

Life is too short to postpone that which we need and love.

How it works?

We are reserving spaces in these classes for you.

Please if someone you know is depressed and suffering because of this economy and you can see they need belly dance class then please pass this message on! They need to fill out a form and apply. We have 2-4 positions reserved in each class. We want to fill them by women who really want to belly dance! We are offering classes on every day of the week!

All they do is fill out a simple application.

Privacy observed.


Other opportunities:


We want to encourage documentation. We have a standing offer.  If our dancers in our community write an article with photos about their experience at VDP studio, or sponsored event, class series, performance experience, personal growth experience with belly dance, retreat, Egypt tour, video review, interview of instructors or musicians. . . and it gets printed in any of the magazines we will gift them a workshop or class series, or if they are far away some sort of valuable perk.

Retreat Scholarships:

We have over the years been able to offer scholarships because persons who know how valuable belly dance is in women’s lives have stepped forward to put up the funding. So Awesome! It warms all out hearts to have such positive demonstrations in out society. True Patrons of the Arts!

2010 year we had 2 full Hawaii Retreat scholarships.


Our internship programs are where dancers come to Seattle and live and under goes intensive study are not free or an exchange for labor. We offer our expertise and take you under our wing. This is avery valuable opportunity to women of any age. Each situation is a personally designed contract. The cost depends on budget and other factors like time of year, live in, goals, hours, . . . . We try to be reasonable and worthy.

Reasons: Some want to grow as professional dancers or instructors, some just want to increase their life’s adventure and the process is therapeutic and retreat oriented. Lots of options.

see more in the next blog entry

October 26, 2010   ♦   4 Comments »


Elisa Gamal

Elisa Gamal

Elisa Gamal is a master performer.

She is currently a guest instructor for the next 8 weeks.

This is an important class to take!!!

It’s not too late to join us.

Tuesdays at 7:45-9:00

Started Oct 27. . .

(There is still room. It’s a small class.)

• It’s open to all levels of belly dance experience because it’s not like the rest of belly dance. Some belly dancers have not had a veil class, ever.

Reasons to take a veil dance course:

• IF any of you are interested in performing? You should take this class.  (Since it’s an 8 week class, you can divide this class into 2 payments if you want. Please make sure we know we want to attend even if you have to miss a couple.)

• This is a skill and an adventure into powerful archetypal creative process as I will discus below. . .

• If you want to take an entertaining class, take this class.

Elisa is very fun!

Please help us with the success of this class:

IF you have friends interested in performing, do them a favor. They may not know about this class opportunity. (who can read all the email these days).

Please e mail them personally, send my little talk below as well as the and link this class so they can read the details and tell them it comes highly recommended!


NOTE: While our student out reach is mostly belly dancers, I feel all serious burlesque dancers should take a professionally delivered belly dance veil class. There are great skills here for you to use that many belly dancers are experts in. Please tell any burlesque dancers you may know.




Level of difficulty:

I  have had low attendance in my specialty “Veil Dance” classes and workshops. In fact I have been noticing over the past couple years that the importance of “Veil Dance” seems to be being avoided by students in relationship to other class offerings for some reason! What’s the deal? I ponder, why are belly dancers avoiding this course ? It is a great stretching exercise and has great aerobic benefits in a different way than Power Belly classes. It’s more like flying!

• Is it because it demands your arms get over your head?

If this is hard for you, maybe you need this class more than you will admit. A little bit of physical challenge is a good thing. To get aerobic benefit you have to get your arms over your heart. I know this can be hard at first, but if you try a little bit harder you will see more physical development. I know you can do it.

• Is it the spinning that detours you?

The secret is to do a few spins every day. Learning to spin grows better balance and core strength. Eat ginger to quell and queasiness (we always have it in the dressing room). Keep your glance at eye level, don’t blink nervously and relax your mind. Too much left brain thinking gets in the way of balance. Good spins are the mark of a good dancer.

Delilah Spins

Delilah Spins

If you have an inner ear problem can you still hope to dance well?

Yes, but you will have a small disadvantage of not being able to use the centrifugal force and momentum of a spin. You can approach it a little differently. You will have to work harder. Developing good body extension is key and learn to do half turns that are not really spins. One of our instructors has this problem.




This is a very mature talk. The veil’s esoterica is about female empowerment.

The veil dance is a part of the traditional belly dance routine as we’ve known it in America for the past 50 years and more. It’s an American innovation. It takes freedom and standing in ones own power to explore it and perform it effectively.

It is related to vaudeville and burlesque. How so? Both delve into the powerful esoteric’s of the art of revealing. It is a powerful mystery (even though it’s usually not discussed or taught this way very often). Non the less, if something catches our attention there is always something powerful behind it. Burlesque is very popular in todays culture there is no denying. Many women are deeply drawn to exploring it like moths to a flame although many would be hard pressed to explain why. “If they could explain it they wouldn’t need to dance”  said Isadora Duncan.

Veil dance was always a healthy part of the belly dance curriculum I studied and have passed on. The avoidance of veil dance I’m sensing in some of todays belly dance students is partly related to the fear of over exposure I’m guessing. Belly dance culture is made many more average women seeking simple means of self expression than extreme exhibitionists. Across the board women have plenty to feel vulnerable about these days; economy, politics, technology racing forward, and terrorism.  However, if you are find these these pressures of the day intimidation, I encourage you to resist standing still! Find the strength and courage to explore this powerful medium. Thus I want to explain more deeply about the power behind the veil dance.

It is related to vaudeville and burlesque. How so? The esoterics behind the art of revealing is to delve into a powerful mystery (even though it’s usually not told or taught this way). Non the less, if something strongly catches our attention there is always something powerful behind it. Burlesque is very popular in todays culture. Many women are deeply drawn to exploring burlesque.

The fear of veil dance I’m sensing in relationship to belly dance students is directly related to the fear of exposure. We have plenty to feel vulnerable about these days.  However, Ladies I encourage you not be a timid! You will find strength and power from being in expert control of this powerful medium.







Delilah by Chris Yetter

Delilah by Chris Yetter

As this art has developed in recent times, it’s become a high skill.  The act of veil dance is more than simply “dance”. The skills demanded are thoroughly dance ingredients; grace, balance, spins, extension, aerobic stamina, lots of arm passes and core work.

ADD deep personal soul access. It takes individual power from within to deliver a dramatic performance.

You utilize character, and the archetypal symbolic action of veiling and re-veiling and revealing. You learn to fortify and stand in your power. Mistress at the helm.


In the Middle East women live under a veil. Their culture says; women are too powerful, and men too weak to behave once that power is revealed. This belief gives them permission to separate men and women. A lame excuse in my book and  clearly a disempowering power play.  I think plenty of cultures prove that men can behave themselves.

So this cultural back story brings us to a major crossroads where Middle Eastern and American belly dancers differer in style. The evolution of belly dance in America developed veil dance techniques to a supreme degree.

All  arts are made of responses to the cultural environment they exist in. Thus belly dancers in the Middle East have not taken to do much veil dancing  like their American sisters do. We are the for runners of dancing with the veil. We received our inspirations from other sources; modern dancer’s like Loie Fuller (1890’s. . .) or ancient greece, or dramatic general stage craft. In the Mid East I think the relationship is psychologically taboo territory because they have a different relationship with the veil than we do. They do include a veil as a accessory with store bought Egyptian costumes but they sew bead on all the edges making it heavy and not designed with any aerodynamic  intention. It is just meant to cover up the dancer’s body while she is waiting to perform.


I’m sure the first time the light weight fabric came off the loom it was dances with. How could anyone resist? Give a child a veil and they get it immediately. It’s light and liberating. It involved the air that we breathe for existence. Thoughts and spirits ride the wind. It’s medium is transcendent in nature.


We veil things to keep the POWER contained; ritual objects get veiled,  we veil and close doors for privacy, the bread gets veiled so it will rise. Women wear a veil to morn the dead and for seclusion.

In the case of the art of belly dance what gets veiled and revealed is a deeper YOU.

As we unveil, the action or process causes us to deliver a power and essence that moments ago in the dance were covered up.

You meet your audience in intimate dance mode and with a deeper personal expression. Then, what they see is this spirited essence that unfurls and lifts into the air space and the ethers around them.




Maji by Freeman Mester

Maji by Freeman Mester


You are using your innate female life regenerating power of the Goddess. Your female body is a vessel for life, it represents the earth, our world.




We are all made of both male and female attributes. The feminine side attracts, contains, incubates, draws in. The male side expands, pushes out, challenges.

By nature of being woman we do possess the universal power of attraction within us. Without it, the universe would fall apart. However, we have a bastardized sense of what this power really is in todays society. We are taught it’s comes in a small pink package called  “pretty”. Ha! Pretty does not sustain life.

So the power behind the veil must be more mature. More powerful! It is far from superficial idea of pretty. The power is in it’s containment and it’s revelation. In it’s knowingness. Trouble is we do not know it very well in today’s world.

If you/ me/ we, want the power of the feminine to have meaning then more of us need to go there and both meet and explore this power head on! I suppose this challenges you to accept your own body. Duh! How else can we fight the stereotyping? We have to accept our own bodies first. Your body is a gift! You never loose this power. However you can ignore it, loose sight of it or simply not believe in it.

The power of the veil is not in the physical noun. The power is within the action of covering and revealing.

Many women today are afraid to use their power. Afraid they don’t know what it is, don’t have any power,  or it’s not good enough. I beg to differ. It’s only that  we are all busy subscribing to the commercial propaganda and adding to the collective fear. The power of attraction is a female quality, yes but it is a universal constant, not a commodity.

Confusion with the issues is good enough to lose strength. Thus we have no control. I tell you it is not about “pretty”.

Control of the veil is an exercise in demonstrates this power from within! The mystery is revealed. When we are lead to believe that it’s all about “pretty”; we as women are dissempowered by our culture this way. This is a daily message pumped out in media so we will stay occupied with superficial issues and keep buying things. We remain busy chasing the wrong goal and are disempowered.

Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty

Exploring your self though movement and self expression in real time is a valuable effort . It’s vital life force you are accessing and utilizing.


What lays behind the veil could be an impassioned lover, a nurturing mother,  a playful child, a wise crone, a hungry cat, a delicate butterfly, an owl, a sprite. It could be an archetypal embodiment; Athena, Aphrodite, Isis, Kali the Medusa, Themis Mother of justice, the vagina dentata, or the gaping maw. It could be the raw power of seduction reminding us that it is essential to the workings of nature, not evil.

The personal expression could come in all flavors of emotional tones; tenderness, vulnerability, sadness or loss. It could be mischievous, dark, light, comforting, passionate, angry, lyrical, or chaotic- you get to creatively choose your muse.

Delilah at he High Dive

Delilah at he High Dive


The veil is usually 3 yards of silk or chiffon. It is learned to be smartly wrapped around the body of a dancer and then masterfully controlled as adeptly as a magician, who  mesmerizes the audience. It graces the air with color and shape shifting designs that are as fleeting as the smoke of incense.

The fabric is made of threads that pick up the vibration from the dancers emotional center. The dynamics comes from her core and reverberates outward from our hearts center into the threads. The veil becomes our wings; it is the closest you will come to flying.


The moon hides and then re-veils it’s self. A butter fly erupts into a glorious creature. The anticipation of the opening of a beautifully wrapped gift.

Lulu's Birthday veil dance

Lulu's Birthday veil dance

  ♦   Comments Off on Helen’s Dance; October 20th 2010


I’d like to share my profound story ofthis past weekend:

I arrived in the four corners area of the states. Durango CO. airport and then off to Farmington NM. First time here. Wow to the grand landscape.!  Very beautiful sunny afternoon. The trees are an intense yellow and a lizard green against a milky brown. I am amazed how the terrain changes the second I crossed into New Mexico. Not very many trees just land, sky and tumble weeds as far as one can see. I like this high desert. Reminds me of when I was small and lived in the desert of California at the Saltan Sea for a year. (I know this is different. We didn’t ever get snow there).

I came to visit my friend Sarah, a mentor of mine who taught me so much about art and the true creative process, and ritual community celebration. She truly was a huge influence on me in the mid 80’s. We even did collaborative art together in the North West and in the Soviet Union; I danced, she made my art props and some of my costume pieces; Steve composed music for these works we did in theaters and galleries. We also share a big EGYPT connection together. Both of us are totally fascinated with the life styles, art, ritual of ancient Egypt. . .I haven’t seen her in years and I felt called to go now. This time in particular was important for us to touch bases. I needed another dose of her hard edged wisdom and compassion lessons.

I also told her. “Tonight we have a dance to do on the desert for a dear dancer friend of mine whose time is coming to an end here on earth”.

Sarah took a deep breath, exhaled and knodded.

I am here to be re inspired and take time out to slow my wheels down a bit and just remember things. While here I look forward to teaching in Durango on Saturday and I will also visit Chaco Canyon. If you don’t know about the Pueblo Indian ruins at Chaco canyon, let me tell you they are as mysterious as the Great Pyramid in Egypt. No one knows why they were really built. Little is known about the culture. They’re gigantic complexes some with 800 rooms and round rooms called kivas. They were constructed over a 250 years! The first ideas about there use are changing fast as they investigate and use special infra red cameras and such. They are strange because they were probably were never lived in. There is no archaeological evidence that points to housing very many people (food, water, garbage, burials, stuff). You can’t even sustain a fire in most of them. It gets very cold part of the year. Fire would be essential. Current ideas point to the complex being a Astrological theatrical monument to the Sun, moon, seasons, time and space.  They must have been something in their day. Now an impressive skeleton of what they once were silently holds the secret of their time. Connected to the complexes is a long road that leads due north off a cliff; similar to the Nazca lines in Peru. Perhaps the road are for their souls to tread to the heavens. The structures maybe more about the external effect than internal uses. Like the Great Pyramid. Much of these new Ideas have been developed from discoveries made in the past 15 years. Fascinating.


Here I am in the presence of mysterious wonder that set the stage for the this afternoon.


Sarah picked me up at the airport, drove me to her house, shows me around a little and points in one direction. Over there in the distance is Chaco Canyon. She leaves me to run some  errands while I relaxed.

By the late afternoon/evening the storms came in and surrounded the high mesa I am staying on. Sheets and jags of soundless lightning lit up walls of clouds all around me, but the sky was blue with a few cotton puffs over head. I love the wilderness and I am reminded of some reading I did along time ago by Father Matthew Fox about the power of deserts. . . Wind followed me where I went like a constant companion as I explored the property. The view was breath taking. I could feel the city shuffle falling away from me with each exhale. Burned away by electric fizzle. The altitude is over a mile above sea level and my boots feel a bit heavy. The moon was an ever so pale green that hung medium in the sky. It was shinning down on me like a stage light as it got darker. . . Some how the moon felt closer to me than those surrounding clouds that walled off the ends of the horizons in all directions. Even though it wasn’t night yet, I could not tell for sure where West was or a sun should set. The moon was locked inside this cloud corral with me.

Sarah has a rock labyrinth on her property and I planned to do my dance later on for Helen around 7:00 PM when the other dancers were with her but the atmosphere was so unusual I decided to proceed now, in this moment. I’ll do a run through to mark out the space I thought. So I did a little dance as the lighting flashed and veils of rain could be seen in the distance. You could see the heavy gray bottomed clouds pouring out water but the bottom edge of the showers didn’t always touch the ground but hung like layers of veils. When I reached the center of the labyrinth I came to a rock with the words carved on it, “REMEMBER”. I smiled. I spent 7 good years with the sufis and the ritual we practiced was called Ziker and it literally means “remember”. It’s a moving dance of arm passes, spinning and chanting; surprising memories always find you when you practice it.

Then a flood of particular memories pass across my mind.

I was thinking of Helen . As I said the dancers were to gathering by the side of her bed tonight. I couldn’t be there but I asked Kalara to read a dance description I wrote before I left. I told her I would do a dance for her out on the mesa on Sarah’s land. Just ask Helen to close her eyes and use her imagination to come dance with me. I planned to dance in the labyrinth with a different colored veil in each direction. Red was Helen’s favorite color, Yellow for morning sunlight (it just happens to be the same color as the leaves that met me when I got off the plane), Brown silk for the earth she new so well since she was a farm girl and last a Turquoise transparent chiffon for the reminder of the 2 times she came to Hawaii with me and loved to swim in the tropical blue waters.

I thought of her smile, soft cheek, long arms, expressive hands and hardy laugh. As I slowly spun in the middle of the labyrinth, I could see her dancing in the sky, her veils flashing of yellow, pink and amber. As I spun I looked up into the vault above me clear blue and out of my peripheral awareness it was like I was in the center of a chorused circle of dancers with veils. Their silks touching me gently in the air like a silk kaleidoscope. The wind came in gusts and I heard a voice for just an instant! Don’t know where it came from as I looked out in all directions. Any houses were too far away. The voice must have snagged a ride from the wind for a second. I smiled and wondered if it was Helen.

This was my dance for Helen.

I came inside and called Seattle.

Kalara said,

Sadly and bravely she passed away today.

Bless her soul.

Dear Sister we will think of you always.

I will remember.






  ♦   Comments Off on Meet Ruby Beh

Meet Ruby Beh

Introduced to you by Delilah


Ruby Beh

Ruby Beh

As a grand dame in the dance I thoroughly enjoy watching dancers come up the dance pike; it’s a special position that long time instructors occupy as they witness students first shimmies and hip lifts, then see them get hooked and become native speakers in the language of belly dance. Each dancer evolves with her unique constellation of stars and planets. A metamorphic transformation takes place and they unfurl into a beautiful butterfly one way or another; some as super stars of the dance, others as quiet torch bearers to the importance this dance has been in their lives and those around them.


Today I want to talk about Ruby Beh.

My first vivid experience meeting Ruby was at Indigos Emerald Rain Sanctuary Camp held at the end of August 2004 near the Grand Coulee Dam. The topography out there is breath taking. The deep gorge cuts through the earth leaving far reaching cliffs and flat top mesa above the winding river of sausage linked lakes. This annual camp is a three day rustic get together under a really big sky. Everyone cooked their own food in a big camp kitchen. They sleep in barrack style cabins, tents or campers.  Large sized classes were held during the days in the sizable lodge until it gets too hot. Then everyone goes for a swim in a near by lake.

This event is very casual and earthy and I am drawn to describe it here because there is something about that first encounter that is connected to who Ruby is, that is not so obvious on the surface. An ecologist and a sturdy farm girl. So I  have a vision of Ruby in the out back of Gods country in jeans as much as in a Turkish costume.

I came with Erik Brown who was teaching drum classes and he and Stephen Elaimy on oud played for dancers at night on Friday and Saturday. A bit of wine and beer was shared, long talks and singing in the moon light. I love to sing and Ruby indulged me. Not that I have a voice, but I have great enthusiasm for singing chants and songs. We were in tune. So I got to know her pretty well that night. We sang, talked about all sorts of lofty ideals, laughed alot, and I liked her. She lived in Bellingham Washington then. At that point in her life she wasn’t so sure what direction she was going to go. She was in School studying Environmental Chemistry at Huxley. She began belly dancing on the side in 1999. Both Ruby and Indigo started a belly dance club on the campus and began sponsoring events featuring the teachers they were learning from on videos as well as bringing live music ensembles up to the campus to perform. Dahlia Carella Elisa Gamal, Delilah, Brothers of the Balady, Ek Balam, and years later, Ruby would bring House of Tarab, a 6 piece band up to Bellingham all on her own on multiple events. These two young girls were showing the dance off in style, early in their dance experience. I admire that.

As the years went by, my self and the members of the bands I worked with recognized this young woman’s lion sized heart and fortitude. She is genuinely supportive to other artists, and passionate about the dance. She is a very self possessed and independent. She has the ability to keenly focus on her goals once she sees them. Her students hold her in great regard. It is no secret she is an exceptionally talented performer.

But during the summer of 2004 at Emerald Sanctuary Retreat, Ruby was standing the stillest I would ever see her in regard to belly dancing. She had mostly studied with DVD’s for the past couple years. She was working hard as as a waitress and school was taking precedent. Her first performance to live music had only been a few months earlier with Ek Balam. I will always remember this night as a turning point as she was standing at a major cross roads. I could hear in her restless words she was trying to reconcile her discontent with the direction she was heading in school and the insistent siren’s call of the belly dance inside her, asking her to take a different fork. She was striving to find the courage. Soon after she recalls.


“ I was sitting outside the Analytical Chemistry lab at school when I had an amazing epiphany: I didn’t have to be a scientist, I could actually be a belly dancer!  It was then that I started taking things more seriously, going to workshops, taking many private lessons.”

Back to D:

She decided she wanted to focus on Turkish style because at the time, it seemed there were only a few dancers in the US doing it compared to Tribal, Modern Egyptian and Fusion.  She loved the high energy and she felt it fit her body and personality!!!! She graduated from College in fall of 2005 and took off to Istanbul to study.

The Turkish Experience…


“Over all I spent 10 weeks in Turkey, 8 of which were spent in Istanbul studying.  I went on folk tours, run by Tayyar Akdeniz and Artemis Mourat.  Classes were about 7 hours a day. I studied with: Hale Sultan, Semra Su, Artemis, Eva Cernik, Nourhan Sharif, Serpil, Tayyar, Reyhan (roman style), Sema Yildez, Bulent and Sheynaz.

I took lessons, practiced and went out to see bands and dancers almost every day.  I studied Turkish Romani dances as well as other regional folk dances but mostly I studied Turkish Oriental.  I love the dancing of Asena, Didem and Burgul.”

Back to D;

She returned enthusiastic to share everything she had learned, so she started teaching weekly classes.  She practiced by her self, sometimes for even 8 hours in a day!  She really wanted to develop her own style. While many dancers preferred slim cut skirts she went for double layer full skirts. She took more private lessons and workshops, watched lots of performance DVD’s and practiced her finger cymbals religiously.

Now she needed 2 things if she was going to make a career out of dance (and this was her intention). First, she needed to be challenged, so she entered her first contest in 2007 called  Emerald Rain Competition out side Seattle. Second, she needed to show people she could dance. Contests are one way to be noticed plus document ones accomplishments and prowess.


“I didn’t place in pro (didn’t even have a professional costume yet ;0) but I won the “Gypsy” category, I was so excited to be surrounded by all these amazing dancers at once, everyone bringing their best to the stage that I got hooked on competitions.  It was a great way for me to be seen, get feedback and meet tons of amazing dancers.  I entered Bellydancer USA that same year and took a peoples choice award in Professional.  After that I went back to Turkey for another month studied like crazy and bought several custom made costumes.”

Back to D;

Two new elements entered her dance in 2006. Pilates and Celiacs disease. She discovered she had been fighting a debilitating disease all her life that made her battle weight gain, get tired easily and have skin problems. Celiac disease is a genetic disorder that makes it so that you can’t digest gluten containing grains. She has have sub-clinical celiac disease, meaning she’s allergic to Gliaden which is contained in all gluten containing grains plus quinoa, amaranth and oats.  Even a trace amount of this substance she found would through her system way off.  Her life style has changed quite a bit because she has to carry particular food she can eat everywhere she goes now. She is much healthier and happier since discovering this problem. I watched her dance evolve another couple notches. Her present stamina is through the roof!

The other major ingredient in Ruby’s development was discovering pilates. She became a certified pilates instructor. Pilates revolutionized the way she danced. She found it necessary to keep up her pilates practice in conjunction with the fast and hard Turkish style she was developing. Sometimes Ruby moves faster than lightning, and this takes incredible core strength.

When she got back back from Turkey she went to Double Crown Belly Dance contest where she won the “Gypsy” category and made it to finals in the Pro category!  In spring of 2008 she returned to Emerald Rain and won the Professional category followed shortly after with winning the East Coast Belly Dance Classic and then back to Belly Dancer USA again where she placed 1st runner up.  Last year Ruby won Belly Dancer USA 2009.

Growing up….


“ I was born in a small apple farming town in Upstate NY to a family of mechanics and drivers on one side and artists on the other. I’m the youngest of three, with one brother, one sister and 9 nieces and nephews! As a kid I spent a lot of time in the orchards and woods, climbing trees and generally being a tomboy.  I spent a lot of summers with my grandparents who lived on a secluded 80 acre sustainable living farm where I learned how to live off the land and enjoy nature.  Early on I was extremely independent and started working my first jobs when I was 8 years old, as soon as it was legal I got an over the table job and when I reached into my teens worked three jobs at a time so I could get more hours in.  I did everything from food service to gardening, floristry and taking care of the elderly.  I moved out on my own when I was 16 and as soon as I finished high school I drove away and traveled the country, eventually settling on the west coast.”

Back to D;

Her story does not surprise me knowing what I have observed about her in the past 7 years.

Delilah: “What do you like to see in a dancer?””


“When I watch a belly dancer, I want to see belly dance.  I want to see someone dancing from the heart and exposing themselves emotionally to the audience.  I love all of the creative fusions and forms of expression that have been born from this dance but I feel like fusion has become a crutch for so many dancers who are afraid to expose themselves.  When you’re on stage, you can’t hide your true self, you have to be honest.  I also want to see good technique, energy, creativity and I want to see a dancer having a good time! My advise is to practice, spend time dancing by yourself, get feedback at every opportunity and practice some more.”

Delilah: “What do you want to achieve in the next 5 years”.

Ruby: I want to travel everywhere and share what I’ve developed with dancers all over the world.  I want to keep fine tuning my styling and push to learn more about Turkish culture as well as American Classic Belly Dance movement history.  I have a few ideas for more DVD’s that I’d love to do and I intend to spend a lot more time in Turkey.

Delilah: “ Your costumes are always fantastic and different every-time I see you. May I ask, where do you get them?”

Ruby: “ 95% of my costumes come from Bella, a Turkish and Belgian based designer with an amazing gift for creating one of kind and extremely well made costumes.”

List of Awards:

2007 Emerald Rain Gypsy stylist

2007 Double Crown Gypsy stylist

2008 Emerald Rain Champion

2008 East Coast Belly Dance Classic Champion

2009 Belly Dancer USA

Ruby’s Instructional DVD’s:

Flawless Floorwork, by Cheekygirls Productions.

Totally Turkish, by Cheekygirls Productions.

In a few weeks she goes to compete in the Belly Dancer of the World in Germany.

Good Luck Ruby!




Learn more about Ruby at

www.devinebelly.com .

Come study with  her at Delilah’s Belly Dance Retreat in Hawaii January 25-30 2011. www.delilas-belly-dance-retreat.com


September 28, 2010   ♦   Comments Off on #2 Zombie Belly Dance; Training Manual

Note: This is not my usual kind of blog entry; We are getting geared up to be in character so we are getting a little over the top. It’s meant to be dark humor. Do not read the following while eating.



Zombies are dead. A virus has entered their brains and reanimated the primal operating systems so they vaguely remember being a live. They eat flesh, but don’t need to eat since they are dead. Apparently they are on auto pilot. Given this, I realize that they also hold some vague memories of the belly dancing they did every day when they were alive. This is why they can zombies belly dance .

Zombies can not talk, laugh or cry.

Delilah on Zombie Walk

Delilah on Zombie Walk

They groan and grunt. However body language (dance) is a primal means of communication pre speech . It is heavily wired into body and brain. Some neural pathways remember belly dance like the way a zombie can remember how to walk, grab you and eat you brains . . . and belly dance.


They lack juiciness as everything is coagulating, drying and rotting. So all the juicy and curvy moves found in living belly dance are out. Curves are transformed into angles. Textures like shimmy, swivels and locks, become twitches and jerks. Gasses are occasionally expelled that create popping sounds and movement releases.  Shaking occurs because of decay and short circuiting. It is more convulsive in appearance.

Arms dangle, flop and fall to the sides. If the torso jerks to one side, they may swing out by syntrifical force. When in pursuit of food or in the proximity of certain rhythm patterns they may lift arms in a pattern known as Exotic Zombie Arms. Watch out though, they bite.

Control to turn and look a different direction is minimal. Thus head and torso move as one and can unexpectedly jerk around and fall at the waist. Perhaps they miss belly dancing like they miss eating and that’s why they persist.

There is no self composer in a belly dance zombie. The torso is often bloated and so the chest and thorax pitch forward. Head lacks control and never has an inkling of thought.

Face and eyes remain blank to grimacing, depending on the circumstances of their demise or damage done when they were being eaten.

Hands are open and fingers extend stiffly like a 4 pronged dinner fork (handy),. . . while thumbs fold in to the palm in the classic death pose position.


Destroy the brain. Or wait 2-3 years for them to corrode enough that they stop dancing and there is nothing left to feast on. Watch zombie movies for extermination inspiration. The messier the kill method the more zombie belly dancers you may attract.

In general just remember folks, kill the brain and no more belly dancing.

  ♦   Comments Off on #1 Zombie Belly Dance Project


Zombie Belly Dance Project



I live in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle Washington. We have Zombie walks  a few time a year. It’s a bit weird. They just mop around in alleys back yards, on street corners, in front of businesses, and in parks. The folks around here are are way into zombies and it doesn’t even need to be Halloween. In Fremont we call it “Trolloween” after our famous giant troll statue who lives under the Aurora bridge and every once in a while eats Volts Wagon bugs for breakfast. On Trolloween there will be some sort of happening we will take part in with our Zombie Belly Dance.

A couple weekends a go a hand full of members of our studio were sitting around a table brain storming projects for VDP Dance Studio to take on and all of a sudden I exclaimed Eureka. “Lets be Zombies and create a new fusion belly dance vocabulary for it,  and thus a performance group. We can do all sorts of events;  Zombie Walks, Trolloween and ZomBcon coming to Seattle at the end of October.! “ OMG! We all started laughing and getting charges up!



I thought about it that evening, I realized this maybe a perfect class to relive the tension of the days we are currently living in. It may well be the answer for many of our dancers working on performance issues right now. For the past few months we have been emphasizing more performance classes, shows and opportunities for dancers to grow as performers. We have been coaching students lately on character development and stage presence.  I’ve been carefully observing and pondering all dancers efforts, successes and failures. If I could bottle what I know I would give it to them. It struck me that one thing that may be getting in the way for some dancers is the issue women face deep inside, is in regard to their personal beauty image. This is different from a performance stage image.

Anerie plays dead

Anerie plays dead

A zombie is a character that does not care about pretty.

When I watch a dancer who needs help with stage presence this is what I often see; a smile, then a hesitation, then another smile, and then the shopping list of steps in the back of their mind, then a smile, followed by blinking, another hesitation and smile. This scenario lacks a feeling of self confidence. It also lacks any character dimension or dynamics. Dance performance is both physical movement and drama.  As a member of the audience all I want to do is get on board with them and ride the wave of their dance. I don’t care if their nose is crooked. I probably don’t even notice. The dancers job is to be a living bridge between me the audience and the music. Can you see if the baggage isn’t there taking up space, how much freer and clearer the bridge is. leave your personal stuff in the dressing room and devote full attention to the music and being the bridge.

I thought about the best comment I ever had from a dance I did, “Not pretty Delilah”. The dance I did was called “Calling up the Oracle for Peace” and it involved a zahr ritual. It was theater style dance. When I heard the comment I knew what he meant. The beauty issue was not in the way. I also knew that it never was even if I was doing a cheese cake sort of dance. “ I”  was not the object. It was my dance character that I have crafted and developed that took responsibility.

So my thinking is this Zombie Belly Dance idea as a dance and character exercise could be not only a kick in the carcass, but also a great lesson in practicing and developing a dance persona (that is as long as it’s a temporary dance character). No one has to think about being pretty. Wow, thats kind of liberating, isn’t it?

And I bet all the twitching and tension will be great cross training for Power Belly!

On Sunday right after the wonderful celebration of life at Veronika’s baby shower I spent some time coming up with the new fusion dance vocabulary for the living dead.

(talk about juxtaposition).


I put on some slow repetitive rhythms and drone music. I figure zombie musicians probably can’t play anything lively or happy. The music needs to come from the void.  They are going to have to be in character as well. Erik and I frequent Zombie walks. We are both amazed at how people can get all dressed up that way and not be in character. “What’s the deal with that” he scoffs? I

Most people are timid unless they have been given absolute permission. You would think the mire attendance at a Zombie walk would give them permission, but . . . Then it’s just not easy . It does take energy and some people don’t grok how much effort is involved in acting. They think when they see someone do it well then it’s effortless and comes with the territory. It doesn’t. It’s a skill and a craft.

Erik is a very scary Zombie, so watch out.


We need dead beat drummers and musicians and we need them to be in serious character as much as the dancers. So if any drummers are reading this, get your dead ass carcass over to Erik on Monday nights at 6:40. He will direct, teach the rhythms and you all will practice the character while playing the rhythms as well. Cost? He is doing it on a sliding scale please pay what you can, the studio needs support and Erik is the director. We want your participation and we want to hold on to our studio.

More the deadlier!


Thorax Shimmy Walk

Dead Pan Turn

Mummy Walk

Death Spiral Turn with Bob and Twitch

Dead Zombie Stuffed with Fire Crackers

Regurgitating Body Locks

Crazy Eights

My heart, my heart

Cobra of the Living Dead

Decapitation Head Slides

Zombie Arms

Zombie Cha Cha

Hip Twitch with Dead Arms

3/4 Zombie

Zombie Lunge

Zombie Pyramid Step

Three Twitch Turn

Eat Your Heart Step

Belly Dance Intesta-vine Step

Rib Cage Zombie Box



Ominous Masmuti

Eat You Ayub

Tasty Turk 9/8


First nights class;

To get in the mood, I brought black grease paint for our faces.

I introduced the original living belly dance moves and then introduced the adapted dead versions. It was hard to keep from laughing. Lots of wise cracks. (It’s interesting but in this sort of backward way, I bet that dancers learn the original moves better as a side effect of this project.”

First Zombie Belly Dance Class

First Zombie Belly Dance Class


“How you doing there Diana?”, “ Stiff”  “That a girl!”

“Elizabeth, you look horrific! “, “Thank You!”

“ I think I’ll pass on the make up tonight Delilah.”, “Ok , but that means we will have to eat you!”

“ Oh I get it, so this is the class for dancers who have no rhythm and and are stiff?”

“ Come on now, NO JUICINESS!”

“Hey what do you know? Dead Can Dance!”

Join us next week.


In reality the dead moves were hard to maintain and really made us appreciate the living belly dance. We just did 1 hour of twitching and jerking around and we are going to be sore tomorrow I can tell. Regular belly dance celebrates life and in reverse we are definitely hating being dead. Yeowie!

  ♦   Comments Off on Belly Dance Baby Shower



Today the NTP  hosted a baby shower at Visionary Dance Studio. (The NTP is short for your friendly Neighborhood Temple Priestess)

We have developed a line of specialty dances for different occasions. Which ones we do depends on who in our group is available. The other members set up and serve different aspects of the event. This is just one of the things  we mean when we talk about  belly dance as community service. Our intention is not just to entertain, but to facilitate in making moments in peoples lives deeply meaningful.

Our expectant Mother today was Veronika. This was the second shower we have hosted for her. Her first son is almost two years old and, surprise! Here comes baby number two. The first shower we hosted for her meant so much to her that she wanted another us to help celebrate this baby too. Of course! However this shower was very different.

Daddy, baby and friends with their kids were present and Veronika danced for us first! VERONIKA’S DANCE: She danced to 3 songs and changed costumes in between! fantastic! She was so relaxed and expressive! Every dance was sharing a different stage of the story of her family. It was so special. There were 6 NTP present and we stood in the back dressed in our soft white belly dance bedlah and teared up. No, actually we sobbed and huddled together arm and arm. We were so moved! I wish all women could have seen this today.

Then three of the NTP took turns like three good fairies gifting Veronika with short dances. Kalaura did an ARTEMIS BLESSING DANCE with bear ears (Artemis is the Goddess of Easy Delivery) Roxy did a very sweet and joyous SISTER DANCE that Veronika had requested. I (Delilah ) did a ROSE DANCE with a rose print veil and essential rose oil . Then it was time for everyone to dance with the children. Fun ! We shared food and did a body painting with the children on Veronika’s belly.

So beautiful. I just love doing these events. It gives life meaning to us as well as the guests.

*** More about Belly Dance and Pregnancy

We have pregnant women in our belly dance classes all the time. It enriches everyones belly dance class experience to dance with pregnant women next to them. We have tried to have BELLY DANCE especially aimed for PREGNANT women. But it’s impossible to get a gang of them together at the same night it seems. Plus they go through phases of varying energy. I have a beautiful class plan where each Mother would create her very own birth dance in her last trimester for her family friends and fellow dancers. I supposed if we advertised with a Women’s medicine clinic near by we would have more success, but I’ve never been sure how to do that. We would need the support of a birth care providers endorsement to help point pregnant women in our direction. So far non have stepped forward even though they think it’s cool they probably feel it’s not a professional mix and worry about liability issues. So what we do instead is just incorporate them into our regular class and give extra guidance.

Any of our students that participate in classes while they are pregnant get to have us gift them with a special baby shower by the NTP if they like. We do baby showers for women who are not belly dancers as well. Our service are sliding $150-$200 (in our studio) and these fees go towards supporting our beautiful dance space. When we charge a fee I or another at least one professional dancer is guaranteed to be present as a performer and then the different levels of NTP dancers donate their time and learning how to facilitate events and fill in with side line dances. Each shower is custom designed to the wishes of each honored Mother.

Veronika has been doing Power Belly in our studio for 4 years or so along with other kinds of exercise during the week. She is very accustomed to doing Power Belly so it was not a new exercise regime and she is very conscious of her bodies needs and limits. Every women is different. However the participation in a belly dance class during this time in a woman’s life can be very empowering. Of course they abbreviate the dance to fit comfort and ease. That’s what is so cool about belly dance is it can be folded into individual capabilities. If some one has never belly danced before and they just became pregnant we are not going to suggest they do alot of strenuous endurance training but the softer approach of belly dance will bring a women’s awareness into her body so she becomes more aware of her bodies changes and can truly be present with this special time in her life. We encourage the story line in dance like veronika demonstrated today. This makes it a rite of passage and a vivification of life experience and our connections we share to each other. Dance is story. My  “Dance to the Great Mother” performance I did in my last trimester with my second daughter is available on DVD in our studio shop and online.  I choose to use an Ancient Egyptian Theme and personify ISIS the GREAT MOTHER. As a professional dancer I was able to perform my birth dance publicly on many theatrical stages during my entire pregnancy and it was an incredibly powerful position to occupy in my life and in our culture. Every women should feel the presence of the goddess within her at this special time in her life..

Alex is another of my students who just did a birth dance while in labor and put it on You Tube the other day. Makes me so proud that this is happening in our world today.


Mirayah Delamar  DIVINE MOTHER 1992

mirayah DelamarPG_4

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August 14, 2010   ♦   1 Comment »

Delilah in early years featured in the "Harem Caravan Review" 1975

Delilah in early years featured in the "Harem Caravan Review" 1975

I wrote this piece a few weeks ago and shared it with one of my yahoo groups. it has been requested to be reprinted in various news letters and e-zines and blogs. Yes it needs editing I hope they do it I am dyslexic so I can’t do it. I’m still writing it and on my compute it’s actually getting alot bigger but here is todays medium version.


My early days were spent in San Diego and Hollywood. I danced with George Kayat at the Ali Baba Club, Maroon Saba at the Fez, Aziz Katra, John Bilezikjian at the Apadonna in New Port Beach, Raja Zahr in LA and Las Vegas, Harry Saroyan various places, Antwoine Hage at Haji Baba, , the Greek Chicago bands at Athens West in La Jolla, and the Harem Caravan* Review at the Ramada Inn.

I moved to Seattle in 1977.  I dance with who ever was playing at the Lebanon Restaurant and over 10 years with Takis Doties at The Grecian Corner followed by The MB Orchestra at George’s Bar & Grill and David Said at Kolbeh’s Persian. I toured and danced with all sorts of bands across the country during my career; Brothers of the Baladi, Transarabian Sound, Ibraheim Turman, Oasis, Doug Adams of Light Rain, Steven Flynn . . . Then in 1992 I began a very close relationship with Sirocco from Santa Cruise. They came to 15 of my Hawaii Retreats and we made many DVD’s together.  Currently I perform mostly with the full 6 piece music arabian music ensemble called House of Tarab. Last night I enjoyed dancing to Naseem Band!


Wow, that was fun to recall all that history!


Delilah at the High Dive 2008

Delilah at the High Dive 2008

Un Choreographed:

The way I learned to perform the old fashion belly dance, was not by rote of choreography. It was be experiencing it LIVE in-the-moment, in a cabaret environment. The belly dance performance was a anticipated ritual in the night club every night. It was composed of 5-7 distinct parts; the introduction, the veil dance, a fast more technical part, a floor-work gymnastic section made of slow cheftitelli and taxseems, followed by another short fast section, into the drum solo, ending with a merry fast section, taking bows , accepting applause and saying good bye, but promising to return. The sections were like a map. The party atmosphere made things come up spontaneously that rendered choreography not very realistic. Sometimes the dance would stay on the stage and other times it was someone’s birthday and the dance moved around the room. Audience members made song requests and sometimes would sing low yearning poems into the microphones during my dance. Either about love or often about people in the audience.  The audience loved when the dancer came out into the audience and interacted with them. Collecting tips, wrapping scarves into turbins around the heads of members of the audience and  saying “Good Evening”

Most of the parties and restaurants I danced in hosted families and little kids were encouraged to put tips in my waist band. Many performances were sacred sacraments of divine grace under a mirror ball and some down right rowdy and profane with Greek sailors showering dancers with hundreds of dollar bills. The Greeks also broke dinner plates. It was a ritual of releasing the attachment to possessions and embracing LIFE in-the-moment!  In the 70s I danced for 45 minutes per show. There was not one hair on my head that was not soaked in sweat. My stamina was incredible and I felt like a cosmic astronaut rocketing into out of this world trance spaces.

I deffinetly enter zones and trance states when I perform. In ancient, tribal and current society the trance is a big part to the dance. The trance state is a means of communion from the beginning of time. The average Arab knows ” tarab” as the divine ecstasy the listener gets into as part of the experience of focused listening to the music. The dancer is a vessel; a container of the human interface.  In the Haitian/African  Voudoun religion the trance state is a means of divine contact and interaction. In the Turkish (Mid Eastern) dervishes ecstatic spin she/he stands on the threshold between worlds; the mundane and greater whole. The zar as practiced in Egypt and parts of the Mid East is a similar cathartic experience and is often used in belly dance routines. The Guedra  of North Africa uses repetitive hand gestures and chanting to attain trance states. Am I praying or worshipping? Not in my mind. I am more of an explorer.

This being-in-the-moment with your physical dance experience is valuable and transfers something vital and essential to our souls. You, your body, your emotions, the cosmic vibrations of music, time, space, spirit and accelerate rise in body heat and blood flow. It’s healing for the body. It’s especially important to us in these days where we are leaving the body behind more and more. Todays technical world is sadly lacking these opportunities as we sit daily addicted to our physically passive computer screens. However, we do become  unwittingly vulnerable to internet trance states where the influences are not divine links but rather mediums for commercial gods and goddesses to commune with us.

As I dance I create my dance in the moment. I have seen dancers do this effectively with only knowing 5 moves. Knowing 5 moves or 500 moves does not necessarily make the dancer better.  It’s all about what you do with what you know.  I feel this wildness and openness of spirit is something exceptional belly dance avails to us. It should berevered and held on high. Not that it negates choreography. It is just that at this point in society we have many dances that are contained and choreographed . We have fewer options that are un choreographed and free. Improvisational dance holds essential skills that benefit our life experience in important ways. Do you live a choreographed life day to day? Maybe so. I don’t.

Improvisational dance does not mean you do not study rhythms, music, learn moves, develop your skill set, practice combos, condition the body and work to increase flexibility and endurance. It does not mean you do not have an intended destination either. You just navigate differently. Your moves become your paints. When we watch an improvisational belly dance, we are witnessing the painter painting. The dancer shares the live, active creative process with you. She listens carefully to the music and opens her heart and soul to be like a tuning fork and resonate with the vibrations in the air using time and space. With each breath she is inspired to unfold the next movement in time. The spirit provided the force behind the motion. We call this dynamics. We all are individuals and this is an opportunity for individuality to shine. The challenge is to be relaxed enough to allow the exhibitionist to step forward. There lies the hitch. We are told at an early age not to show off. Do not indulge your self. This comes from our old puritan roots. However, all artists are indulging the stuff that makes up their lives. We call this expression. Teachers tell their students, never do this or that. The “ don’t touch your own body”  policy is just a stupid lack of appreciation for the marvelous gift of life you have been given. Hello! It’s your body touch it if you want to! So check to see if that is in the back of your brain and get rid of that pilgrim it if you want to really dance. Whether you are dancing for your self or for an audience or both, you must be open, know your body and accessible to your emotions. Available, vulnerable and shameless.

I often think about the stewardess directives to put the oxygen mask on yourself first before the child next to her. This is because if Mom dose not take care of her self first she will not be any use to that child that is dependent on the adult. If we do not invest in our internal life experience and take care of ourselves first, we will not have much to say. I cannot share any of my cookies with you if I have not baked any.  An authentic dance comes from an authentic life. I think this is one of the best kernels this dance has to offer all of us. It is the metaphor that life is one long dance from birth to death. To choreograph or to live in the moment is worth thought. Who choreographs your life? You, your mother, father, brother, husband, church . . .?

The fear of not having anything to say is what often drives us to want a choreography. The fear that what we have to offer is not any good. The notion that yours is better than mine, so teach me your dance. So sad when self esteem is so poor that we would rather do the dance of someone else. Or that we could only have one idea and we cling to it and keep using it over and over again in repetition instead of taking a risk and trying something new. The new is our growth.

Some of us can dream up dances and have others implement them. I think the desire to save dances as original choreographies is a kin to video taping them. The memorization that goes into a paint by number dance is very left brained. The right brain synthesizes things. The left brain sequences things. The left brain judges (and leads to self criticisms) and the right brain is metaphoric and sees likeness. To make a choreography work it must move from analytical left brain to the right. Some humans are skilled at this others can quickly synthesize intuitively. Often we have learned to feel more secure when things are organized and set. I say learned because children do not usually mind disorganization. It is adults that require and maintain order. If we learn skills for being comfortable in chaos we have a skill for life. The universe supports chaos, if not more, than organization. Organization comes out of chaos. (I studied with Gabriel Roth and she taught me about chaos). If everything is tightly organized there is little room for creativity. I don’t mean for it to be a contest here. I am only trying to illuminate some factors that may limit our personal growth.

If you liked your self and the picture you create with your beautiful box of crayons, then you carry a sense of pride. We recognize a child’s sweet sense of accomplishment and pride about creating his/her picture.  That experience of drawing, is full of lines, color, space, time, rhythm, design, breath and heart beats. We come away from these experiences liking our selves and our lives (or well we should). I think to ignore, devalue, not see the merit of your own creative process is a contributing factor to all the depression and loneliness people feel these days. Pride coupled with compassion leads to strength and greatness. The lack of pride leads to not even finding compassion for ones self.

Choreography teaches us about process and transition. It allows us to put our best tricks forward in the shortest amount of time I suppose. In a sound bite. Since we are all so busy and there are so many of us now a days, that a sound bite is all we have time for it seems. However sound bites leave out plateaus and thresholds to new zones of physical and psychic trance expression only attained though longer durations of time. Real breath, real heart beats and body heat are necessary ingredients. This is where dance crosses over and can become prayer or communion with ones maker of some sort, and this is what has some religious folks scared. I do not what they are so afraid of, but I think it boils down to putting the clergy out of a job if people realized they can contact god all by them selves without the need of a clergy man/woman.

I tell my students when their shoulders are locked to think of something they love to do. The shoulders are about passion and our sensibility. I direct them to practice rolling their shoulders while eating a chocolate dove bar or relaxing in a hot tub. When you learn that that story is in those body parts the stories begin to unfold.

I often say to a new performer that if you step on stage you are accepting a responsibility to perform. A contract. The only way you let that responsibility down is by not understanding and accepting the rules of the contract by performing. You must be an exhibitionist. Some dancers appear to have stepped on stage and left themselves at home. It is really simple; tell me a story. In the case of dance, it is with your body language this story unfolds. There are millions of stories that can be told with the accompanying music. Our bodies can express more than spoken words. It not linear. It is multilayered, way more complicated than spoken or written words. If we are comfortable with the human body, we know it innately because we share the experience of being human. We know it with out a translator.

So what story do you need, desire to share? Do tell it with out a choreography sometimes?


* WHOse WHO in  Harim Caravan Photo at the top;

?, Dave Dhillon, Delilah, Richard Barham, Deseree, Tony Karasak




August 12, 2010   ♦   Comments Off on Lorraine Lafata; Healing Belly Dance
About Lorraine and belly dance.
Lorraine was one of the founders of the “Goddess Dancing” in Boston.
It was from a short period of time when the word “Goddess” wasn’t a dirty word.
It is a dance co operative still to this day in Boston. They are very dedicated to teaching and inspiring women to belly dance from a place of health and happiness and personal growth.
All ladies after my own heart.
Lorraine is a therapist, social worker, feminist, belly dancer and mother. She worked in women’s prisons teaching women to access forgotten parts of themselves through this wordless dance. Profound experiences. She is dedicated to healing women’s wounded self esteem. She helps them find and express their inner stories.
Neither her nor I worship Goddesses in our workshops, as the unacquainted often pass on as gossip. We use archetypes to access parts of our psyche. Our psyche is where the craft or creative dance comes from. dance is not just cookie cutter body shaping thrown into space on a dance floor. Archetypes are matrixes. Things that get repeated over and over again so they are universally known in symbolic representation. Imbued with meaning. They can be found in myths, fairy tales, nursery rhymes, God and  Goddess, hero and villain representations, astrology, tarot cards, and modern narratives of books, movies, and yes our dance. With out meaning or dance is only flesh flipping vulgarly into the air.
I met her on the phone first.
We hit it off and would talk for hours about non typical belly dance teachings. In 1994 she came to one of my Hawaii Retreats and we met in person. In 1995 she came with me on my Costa Rican Caravan exploring dancing in nature. We were a small band of poets, drummers and dancers on a enchanting journey all over Costa Rica with a naturalist guide. She came with her husband and explained they were on their reverse honeymoon. They were celebrating their marriage that they were in agreement would dissolve. It was an interesting event to share with her and the group energy in Costa Rica.
When we returned we decided we needed to work together and Lorraine Kajira Djoumahna (Tribal Fest Producer) and my self put on 2 California workshops in 96, 97. They were called” Inanna, Solome and the 7 Part Cabaret Belly Dance Routine” A big mouthful. We worked with archetypal journey through our belly dance. These retreats were very amazing processes of discovering greater meaning behind our dance. We had Sirocco as our guest musicians the first year and the second we had John Bilejikian and his drummer.
Lorraine has a busy counciling practice in Boston and a small dance studio with dedicated students where she develops her work. I brought Lorraine to Seattle to do a lecture, all day workshop and 3 hour Workshop called “Healing our Sexuality in 98”. It was popularly attended and the group of 45 ladies applauded, and yelled! Imploring me to promise to bring her back to Seattle!!
Then in 2002 I hosted Lorraine as my guest Hawaii Retreat Instructor in Maui. The course was called “Embracing Aphrodite” and it was one of the largest most powerful retreats I have ever attended. It was the January right after 9/11/01. It was booked up before that horrible event that has changed all our lives for ever but it was a point of transition for everyone that made this retreat very very important. We looked at power, strength, fear and true beauty. There is a good documentary of it, on my Live and  Wild DVD as an extra feature (Sale right now).
After 9/11 things started changing alot for belly dance. The Belly Dance Super stars got popular and started touring around the world. Tribal belly dance broke away from the festivals and formed it’s own independent events. I opened my studio in 04 and belly dance was peeking in it’s popularity and yet splintering in many directions. Middle Eastern music wasn’t necessary to the dance any more, costume and work out attire changed big time. All of a sudden I felt the stabbing attacks of women against the Goddess. Hmmm? It Wa Ok in the 90’s but now it’s called “woo woo”. Dancers confuse worship with Jungian Psychology and creative association. Sad because if you don’t envision something powerful inside (and Goddess imagery is hot and powerful image in my mind) then what is inside?Tough girl? Naughty girl? Ballet girl? Pirate girl? A man explained to me the image is often “Aloof Girl. The message was you can dare to look at me dance but then you better f*?K off and die.
Or are dancers dancing as empty vessels? Hmmm? Andrea Deagon just wrote an interesting article on gilded serpent that has me thinking. She says we are like swiss coo coo clocks. LOL!
In the past few years ballet entered the picture very distinctly, demand for choreography or belly dance as “just exercise”  seems to be what women want. Exercise is important and I sure think belly dance makes your weekly exercise requirements fun and easy but to me it’s more. I notice that studying real ethnic dance forms is down in popular interest and no one wants to invest in costumes at the moment. Alot of confusion dressed up as fusion if you ask me. I never wanted to see the day ballet became part of belly dance. If it was a big part of belly dance when I began dancing I wouldn’t be a belly dancer today. Ballet teaches many more people to sit and watch than to dance and actually participate. When competition is high it’s a good way to force people out of the pool. Just like blaming other dancers as being Goddess Worshippers. The fear and insecurity contributes to our ignorance and we stop our selves from growing.
For the past few year Christine Hamby has been going and doing an internship program with Lorraine. She has also been sponsoring  her out here in Seattle the past 3 Augusts.
Lorraine Lafata will be teaching an all day unique experiential workshop.
Saturday AUGUST 14th
4128 Fremont Ave n
Sea wa 98103
Call to reserve please.
Delilah 206-632-2353

Lorraine LafataAbout Lorraine and belly dancing.

Lorraine was one of the founders of the “Goddess Dancing” in Boston.

It was formed during  a short period of time when the word “Goddess” wasn’t a dirty word around the belly dance world.

It is a dance co operative still to this day in Boston. They are very dedicated to teaching and inspiring women to belly dance from a place of health and happiness and personal growth. Instead of calling it belly dance they call it Goddess Dance. I think partly they didn’t feel comfortable taking the dance that was recognized as coming from a Middle Eastern origin and blossoming it out in new enpowering directions with their explorations. It’s simple to see the  ME culture wouldn’t recognize these progressions for various reasons. It’s very much American.

These are all ladies after my own heart.

Lorraine is a therapist, social worker, feminist, belly dancer and mother. She worked in women’s prisons teaching women to access forgotten parts of themselves through this wordless dance. Profound experiences. She is dedicated to healing women’s wounded self esteem. She helps them find and express their inner stories. Often we call this fantasy but just where do our fantasys come from? What are they can we work with them and find something very meaningful?

Neither she nor I worship Goddesses in our workshops, as the unacquainted often pass on as un experienced lip serve. We use archetypes to access parts of our psyche. Develop our sense of character. Our psyche is where the craft or creative dance comes from. Dance is not just cookie cutter body shaping thrown into space on a dance floor. Archetypes are matrixes. Things that get repeated over and over again so they are universally known in symbolic representation. Imbued with meaning.   They can be found in myths, fairy tales, nursery rhymes, God and  Goddess, hero and villain representations, astrology, tarot cards, and modern narratives of books, movies, and yes our dance. With out meaning or dance is only flesh flipping vulgarly into the air.

Our bodies are full of symbols.

Lorraine Lafata  will be teaching an all day workshop

Belly Dance as Healing Dance; Working with Trauma

Saturday August 14th


I met her on the phone first.

We hit it off and would talk for hours about non typical belly dance teachings. In 1994 she came to one of my Hawaii Retreats and we met in person. In 1995 she came with me on my Costa Rican Caravan exploring dancing in nature. We were a small band of poets, drummers and dancers on a enchanting journey all over Costa Rica with a naturalist guide. She came with her husband and explained they were on their reverse honeymoon. They were celebrating their marriage that they were in agreement would dissolve. It was an interesting event to share with her and the group energy in Costa Rica.

When we returned we decided we needed to work together and Lorraine Kajira Djoumahna (Tribal Fest Producer) and my self put on 2 California workshops in 96, 97. They were called” Inanna, Solome and the 7 Part Cabaret Belly Dance Routine” A big mouthful. We worked with archetypal journey through our belly dance. These retreats were very amazing processes of discovering greater meaning behind our dance. We had Sirocco as our guest musicians the first year and the second we had John Bilejikian and his drummer.

Lorraine has a busy counciling practice in Boston and a small dance studio with dedicated students where she develops her work. I brought Lorraine to Seattle to do a lecture, all day workshop and 3 hour Workshop called “Healing our Sexuality in 98”. It was popularly attended and the group of 45 ladies applauded, and yelled! Imploring me to promise to bring her back to Seattle!!

Then in 2002 I hosted Lorraine as my guest Hawaii Retreat Instructor in Maui. The course was called “Embracing Aphrodite” and it was one of the largest most powerful retreats I have ever attended. It was the January right after 9/11/01. It was booked up before that horrible event that has changed all our lives for ever but it was a point of transition for everyone that made this retreat very very important. We looked at power, strength, fear and true beauty. There is a good documentary of it, on my Live and  Wild DVD as an extra feature (Sale right now).

Introduced to Lorraine through the Seattle workshops, Christine Hamby was inspired to do an internship program with Lorraine on the East Coast. She has also been sponsoring  her out here in Seattle the past 3 Augusts.


Lorraine Lafata will be teaching an all day unique experiential workshop.


Saturday AUGUST 14th


4128 Fremont Ave n

Sea wa 98103

Belly Dance as Healing Dance:

Call to reserve please.

Delilah 206-632-2353

Belly Dance into the Sea

Belly Dance into the Sea

Integrity and value

I try very hard my entire career. I am very dedicated to this dance, this art and the women who pursue it. I suppose I am driven by some sort of urge to make a difference and improve our station in life as dancers, as women, as artists . . . . I think we do this by becoming more whole. In belly dance we reclaim all the physical parts of our selves and learn to express our selves though them. I find this magically transformative. I see this dance as offering us more than a folk art or a stage performance. It’s much more meaningful than a borrowed ethnic cultural experience to it’s participants.

It occasionally comes back to me that other dancers I professionally respect and admire make fun and talk down about my Hawaii Retreats to their students and colleagues. The point they choose to poke fun of is our dancing into the sea at sun rise . It’s an event I hosted as an annual ritual belly dance event on Maui for 10 years. LOL . . . even though it kind of hurts a bit to hear dancers dissing on me. If they have been to my retreats, well so be it. But the comments that are made are by dancers who know nothing about my retreats. Simply because they have not been. It’s sad that they choose something so beautiful to stick a wedge to prop them selves up to feel a bit superior.  The only reason has to be jealousy and insecurity.  I hope the novice students they are bending the ear of can see this clearly for what it is.

(Do me a favor and if you do hear a comment from someone like that send them to this blog post.)

If we do any belly dancing in to the sea these days it is rare simply because the Big Island where I do my retreats (these days) doesn’t have a dependable, safe beach for this particular dance where our retreat facility is situated. There is a nice beach across the street but the surf is harder and the black sand more gritty. Dancers have to be very strong and water savvy. We have to drive for hours to do it on white fine sand. If I teach a belly dancing in nature class it’s not for the entire retreat either. It gives such a nice contrast to the studio classes. Hawaii is perfect for this. The class helps people become more aware in their dance as well as their daily life. I have worked hard to plan retreats that delve into many styles and subjects of belly dance. I have hosted so many quality teachers that have made successful achievements in their careers. I have gone past the call of the average event host to sponsor live music again and again. It is also very important to me to walk the talk. “Belly Dance IS for everyone”. Not just the cool people as one person said to me. No just the young, trim, unusually talented and beautiful people but all of us! Our retreats are about furthering our understanding of what true beauty is opposed to our capitalistic commercialized idea we are all fed. This is what gives our retreats the healing women’s self esteem reputation.

If it make you laugh to think we dance into the sea in the early morning at sun rise. My goodness then you aren’t living fully if it makes you nervous, because it’s really a beautiful experience.  It’s not with out a high purpose as well. It teaches you many lessons as an artist. Lessons that are not imbibed by e mail, books or choreography. Do you not see it by example of my dance?  The power, strength and depth of attention to the moment in hand? Well the best way I can show it to you is by experiential lessons, but you got to come to the well to drink. Not just think you already know what I’m doing or talking about, but actually come and learn something new.

Next January I’m feature Ruby at my Belly Dance retreat 2011.