Yasmina's Joy of Belly Dancing

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Belly Dance History
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Articles written by The Belly Dance Widower (my husband, John), students, friends and links to other sites.

Belly Flap - by Peter Gilstrap of the New Times (11/21/1996), article is about Yasmina and her TV show
Hi, I'm a Belly dance Widower -by John Parker
How to Choreograph a Belly Dance Routine
- by Yasmina
How to Clean Kuchi Jewelry - by Yasmina
Night in the Desert: the planning of a show
- John Parker
The Painting - by Naseem

Articles by other dancers

Business of Dance Costuming Dance Styles
Health History Instruction
International News Makeup Performance Skills
Props Tips About Dancing Various Articles


Because I'm Worth It! the perils of pricing - by Caitlyn
Calling All Professional Dancers! How Much do You Charge? - by Nanna Candelaria
Certifying the Certifiers - by Najia-El-Mouzayen
Color: graphic design for dancers, part 2 - by Lida
Dance Photography: 5 tips on how to pose for pictures - by Majnuun
Dancers on the Internet, part 2: #hashtags 101 - by Princess Farhana
Establishing Yourself as a Professional, part 2 - by Naajidah & Ashiya
Ethics and Standard Practices in Bellydance - by Anthea 
Four Mistakes Dancers Make on the Internet - by Pricess Farhana
How to Charge What You are Worth - by Michelle Joyce
Photography for Professional Dancers - by Alexandra King
Successful Art Entrepreneur or Belly Dance Dummy? by Melinda Melina Pavlata, Ph.D.
Takin' Care of Business: dance performance contracts - Princess Farhana
Things You Need To Know Before Booking a Show - by Princess Farhana
Typography: graphic design for dancers, part 1 - by Lida 


Bellydancing Fashionably - by Martha Duran
Best Foot Forward: belly dance footwear - by Princess Farhana
Cairo's Costume Disasters - by Leyla Lanty, from The Gilded Serpent website
Flash Dance: what's going on under that costume? - by Princes Farhana
Where Have all the Cover-ups Gone? by Ashyia and Naajidah

Dance Styles

Dancing Darkly: the phenomenon of Gothic belly dance - by Laura Tempest Schmidt
Fundamentals of Fusion - by Laura Tempest Schmidt
Gypsy Dance in America - by Caitlyn from The Gilded Serpent website 
An Intro to Tribal Fusion Belly Dance - Jasmine June
Learn Bellydance Styles: American Cabaret - by Lauren
Revisiting ďThe Trouble with Tribal (Fusion)Ē - from Bellydance Paladin
Tribal Fusion: an evolving dance form - by Jasmine June


Belly Dancing Good For Women's Health - by Dan Even
Belly Dancing Over the Age of 40, 50 & Beyond - by Valeria
Belly Dancing: swivel your way to fitness - by Stephanie Smith, CNN 
Eating For Belly Dancing - by Wendy Singh
Got Strength? buffing up for belly dance - by Aruna from The Gilded Serpent website
Healthy Body, Healthy Dancer: the benefits of Golden Milk - by Princess Farhana 
RX: Dance: a proactive approach to creating health - by Mesmera
Stretching Your Boundaries - by Princess Farhana
Sidelined! physical, mental and emotional recovery from dance injuries - by Princess Farhana


Cabaret or Tribal - Suhaila Salimpour
Dancing for Dowries - by Andrea Deagon
Dancing for Dowries, Pt. 2 - by Andrea Deagon
The Oldest Dance? - by Shira
Pre-17th Century Middle Eastern Dance - by Kimberly A. Minardi (aka Narah)
The Significance of Belly Dance - by Mimi Hathor
Who Really Gave Us This Dance? - by Sausan
When Victoria was Queen...and the Ghawazi Ruled - by Edwina Nearing


Get Over It! - by Najia Marlyz
Getting the Most out of Dance Classes: approaching learning with intention - by Princess Farhana
Learning to Perform Ab-driven Shimmies - by Mahsati Janan
Raqs Sharqi Improvisational Taqasim - by Ma*Shuqa Mira Murjah & Yosifah Rose Craver
Reflecting on Nadira Jamal's How to Build a Sustainable Practice Habit - by Atisheh
The Routine Roller Coaster - by Nadira Jamal
Seven Movements of Belly Dance - by Shemiran Ibrahim
Sohair Zaki Singing with Her Body - by Francesca Sullivan

International News

An Uncommon Woman Nagwa Fouad, Queen of Oriental Dance - by by Shareen El Safy
Belly Dancers Create World Record - from BBC News
Belly-dancing Makes Ripples Among Asian Women - from Dance News
Egyptian Belly Dance 'in Crisis' - by Malcolm Brabaut, BBC News, Cairo
Iran Court Slaps Ban on Dancer - by Jim Muir from BBC    News. Article is about Iranian dancer Mohammed Khordadian
The Kalbelia; the charming gypsies of Rajasthan - by Divya Venkat
Male Belly-dancers Dazzle Istanbul - by Chris Morris, BBC
Private Dancer: the benefits of private instruction - by Princess Farhana
Roots Raqs: an International Belly Dancer goes home to Macedonia - by Paola 
Sin Eaters: Sheiks condemn charity meals from bellydancers  - from Cairo Bureau Chief Gayle Young
Undercover Belly Dance in Irag: Thaawumpf - by Meena


Belly Dance Body Adornment - by Princess Farhana
Belly Dance Make-up for the Ultra Beginner - by Jade Belly Dance
Take it Off! a guide to removing stage makeup from your face, body & costumes - by Princess Farhana

Performance Skills

Connecting the Dots: making smooth transitions in your dance - by Princes Farhana
Developing Great Stage Presence - by Princess Farhana
Embrace the Spotlight!: overcoming stage fright - by Lida
Emotion Inspired by Song: interpreting Arabic orchestral music - by Alia Thabit
Establishing Yourself as a Professional, part 2 - by Naajidah & Ashiya
Ethics and Standard Practices in Bellydance - by Anthea 
Exploring the Essence: dancing to live music - by Safaa Farid
Expression and Sensuality - by Shira
Head Games: mental preparation for dance - by Princess Farhana
Leading the Dance, On Stage and Off: professional development through the lens of belly dance - by Wendy Meluch
Learning the Language of Belly Dance - by Shems
Performing: taking it to the next level - by Piper
The Quintessentail Performer: attitudes for the stage - by Najia Marlyz
Stage Fright is a Gift - from Deep Roots Dance 


Balancing Trays in North American Belly Dance - by Shira
Selecting, Using and Strong Balanced Props - by Princess Farhana

Tips About Dancing  

5 ways to learn choreography faster! - by Jade Belly Dance
The 10 Commandments of Dressing Room Etiquette - Princess Farhana
10ish Things You Do in Bellydance Workshops That Make You a Dick - by Bat Stork
Dancers and Body Image, Aging and Self-esteem - by Princess Farhana
Dancing to Live Music - by Valeria
Dancing Under the Sun - by Prices Farhana
A Durga Approach to Dance - by Tempest
Haters: a dancers guide to dealing with trolls, frenemies, under miners and stalkers - by Princes Farhana
How to Get Your Mojo Back - by Sophia Ravenna
How to Look Better Naked, or in Costume...without Exercising
- by Meleah
How Quickly Can We Become Better?: 3 tips to improve your dance - by Alayínya (Alianna J. Maren, Ph.D.)
The Joy (and Pain) of Collecting Tips - by Sandra
Know Your Venue: style and the savvy performance artist - by Laura Rose
Music Copyright Law for Belly Dancers (or for any Performing Artist) - by Yasmin
No sew finger cymbal elastic - from Bellydance Stuff website
Please Welcome to the Stage... - by Princess Farhana
Put Your Dance on a Pedestal - by Jania Marlyz
Ten Habits of Successful Dancers - by Princess Farhana
Tips for Becoming a More Dramatic Dancer - by Princess Farhana
Tips on Getting Tips - by Zaheea

Various Articles

Aisha Ali & the Birth of the Ghawazee - by Sadira, from the Gilded Serpent website
Amara - from Amara's website on various topics
Are Strippers Our Enemies? - by Shira 
Articles and Tutorials - from Tribal Belly Dance.org
Articles on Dance - from Anthea's website  on various topics
Articles on Dance - interviews & articles by Mesmera
Back to Basics: a long over-due swing of the pendulum begins - by Najia Marlyz
Belly Dance as Art and Inspiration - by Jonatan Gomes Derbaq
Belly Dance - new life of an old dance - by Avorodisa
Belly Dance, Through the Eye of the Camera - by Ishtra
Beyond the Restaurant: how can we bring bellydance to a wider audience - by Charlotte Desorgher
Child Prodigy Grows Up, Reda D!: an interview with Reda Darwish - from the Gilded Serpent website
Competition Strategies - by Jillina and Lauren
Dance Education: bringing Middle Eastern Dance into the mainstream - by Trisha ďAshanaĒ Hanada-Rogers
Dance for Dancers - by Leila
A Dancer's Journal - by Shira
Dancers, Self Esteem and Body Image: attention...you are hot! - by Princess Farhana
Defining Belly Dance Today: definition by presentation - by Tasha Banat
Donít Come Whining to Me!: an open letter to aspiring young belly dancer - by Naajidah and Ashiya
Encore: my return to dance - by Baraka
Gaining Respect for Bellydance Artists - by Yasmina Ramzy
How I Started a Bellydance Club in High School - by Shazadi
How Old is To Old - by Leyla Najma
I'm a Belly Dancer, but...I don't like Middle Eastern music - by Asharah
Improvisation is Boring! - a thread by Palika of Heavy Hips
Is Bellydance on a Downward Sprial? - by Yasmina Ramzy
Is "Cabaret" a Dirty Word? - by Leyla Lanty
It Wasn't About the Trophy - by Salima
The Jamila Experience - an article by Yasmela from the Gilded Serpent
Joining a Belly Dance Troupe: is it right for you? - by Shira
Joy of Teaching - by Yasmela from The Gilded Serpent website
Learntobellydance.com - articles on various topics
Life was a Cabaret - by Noora-Aphrodite
Lost in Translation: fusion confusion - by Marion Nowak
Love Your Belly - posted by Princess Farhana
Low Self-Esteem and the Search for the Goddess Within - by Fiorin (pdf file)
The Magic of "The Grapeleaf" 1976-1997 - by Sausan
Middle Eastern Dance: a beautiful, ancient, yet misunderstood art - by Hala Fauzi
Morocco - articles written by Morocco
Music & Style - by Yasmela from The Gilded Serpent website
Music, Dance and Drama - article is about Moroccan music
My Vision of Belly Dance as an Alternative Spiritual Culture - by Ansuya
The Mystique of Belly Dancing - by Tom Verde from The Savvy Traveler
Not So Steampunk Belly Dance - by Jasmine June Cabanaw
The Original Mish Mish: the golden age of Tinseltown - by Kamala
Shira - articles on various topics by Shira 
Still More Dancing in the '70s - by Kalifa, from The Gilded Serpent website
The Taxim From a Dancer's Perspective - by Najia Marlyz
Ten Habits of Successful Dancers - by Princess Farhana
A Tip of the Hat to the Fez
- by Princess Farhana
Transformation of Beauty: inverting the gaze (pt.3) - by Shema
Tribal Fest Under Fire - by Gilded Serpent Staff
Tribal is Easy - by Sharon from Tribalbellydance.org
Tributes and Memorials - from Gilded Serpent
"Veiled Visions": how Belly Dance music was first brought to the United States - by Ray Rashid
The Vintage Fusion trend Ė Is it ďTribalĒ style? - from Bellydance Paladin
Western Dancer's Guilt - by Miles Copeland
What I Learned From Rachel Brice - by Demelza Fox
When Comparing & Contrasting - by Shira
When Pop Culture Meets Belly Dancing; here we go again! - by Shira
The White Punching Bags of Belly Dance - by Leyla Najma
Whose Dance is This Anyway? where do men fit into the belly dance world? - by Lara
Why it is Important to Know What The Lyrics Mean? - by Lennie Clark
You Say Zills, I Say Sagat - by Yasmin Henkesh

How to Clean Kuchi Jewelry
by Yasmina

To understand how to clean Kuchi jewelry you must understand what this jewelry is made with. 

The Kuchi pieces Iím focusing on is the inexpensive pieces made with a brass base also known as ďgilletĒ metal. The base is about 75% Ė 80% brass with either copper, silver, iron or all these metals mixed in. Then a thick silver plating is buffed on the surface and can last for years. Once this plating starts to wear off your pieces start looking brassy.

Some of your jewelry will also contain glass jewels and beads. These items are held in place with beeswax and can come out easily with wearing and cleaning. Donít leave your jewelry out in the sun or in a hot vehicle or use hot water to clean your jewelry you will melt the wax. I normally replace these jewels using jewelry glue or a clear drying gloss medium like Glossy Accents that can be purchased at any craft store.

Since Kuchi jewelry is brass based you will see green oxidation in areas. It is difficult to get rid of this oxidation; using baking soda will help. Mix your baking soda with water into a paste and using a soft toothbrush to get into any crevices, this should remove the oxidation or most of it.

To clean your Kuchi jewelry use a mild dish soap and a soft toothbrush being careful around any glass jewels. Make sure you completely dry your pieces after cleaning.

For really dirty jewelry you might want to try other things like toothpaste, diluted lemon juice, ketchup or baking soda. Use a soft toothbrush or Q-tip to clean in those hard to reach areas.

There are cleaners on the market for cleaning silver and brass; I donít recommend these cleaners. Remember you are dealing with gillet metal which is a mixture of different metals. What will work on one piece may not work on another. Use a Q-tip and test an area of your piece to see how it will react you donít want to remove the silver buffing on your jewelry. 

When you have finished cleaning your jewelry use a jewelers cloth to buff your pieces. After wearing your jewelry use your cloth to keep your pieces nice and clean.

Hi, I am a Belly Dance Widower
by John Parker

That is what I would have said a few years ago. Being the husband of a busy dancer you feel abandoned. I mean I can not dance or play zills, so there is no place for me at the performances. So, what do you do? If you are like me and have two left feet and no rhythm, you can not learn to dance or play a musical instrument. Plus stage fright might be another reason. So I decided to become a part of what was going on. I was watching TV one day and saw a program about Public Access. I suggested this to my wife, Yasmina and we decided to look into it. Because Belly Dancing is so misunderstood, this would give her a chance to spread the word about how wonderful the dance is. This is how I became part of the dance community. I became the Director of "The Joy of Belly Dancing" TV show.

Now the TV program is going on to other things, video production. This is a whole other ball game. In video production there are so many other things to think about. Copyright laws, royalties, time limits, studio time (which costs a bundle), quality of reproduction to name a few. After the tape is finished, how to distribute and market it. Then making a profit. Just think, to make a half hour video, it will take you at least eighty hours of work. You have to plan the video, make sure the star practices, schedule studio time, contact the musicians for permission to use their music, find out fees, photo session for the front cover, film the video, edit to final product, the list goes on. The first time around seems endless. Remember ask for help. Most people in the video production business are very willing to help as long as you do not have an attitude. Remember sharing your experience is one of the best parts of doing this.

One thing I have learned is that the dance is a very versatile way to express yourself beautifully. As a viewer of a dance performance I look for the enthusiasm, beauty and enjoyment of the dancer and her dance. All this talk about some are not catering to the Middle Eastern Community seems backwards to me. These people have come to America to enjoy some change in their life. Change is the essences of what has to happen. Learn from the past, keep it, improve it, make people understand it. Make your audience, no matter who it is, love it. Let this dance spread. Lets get more people to enjoy it. The Dance community needs to work together and support each other. Everyone has something to give.

Being involved with the dance and its community has made Yasmina and my life together better. Hope to see you at some of our future endeavors.

John Parker
Seven Veils Production


How to Create a Choreographed Belly Dance Routine
by Yasmina

I recently taught a workshop called, "Putting it Altogether" on the topic of how to choreograph a dance routine.  When doing my research for my workshop I found there wasn't a lot of information on the topic which I thought rather sad.  I know so many dancers have a difficult time creating a dance routine, hence the reason for my workshop.

I started to write a handout for this workshop and it turned into an article.  Below are the steps I use to choreograph a routine for personal performances and dances I teach my students.

1) Selecting Your Music

Sometimes this is easier said than done J  On occasion I will hear a piece of music and I know immediately thatís the song for me!  The song gives me chills; it makes me feel good and I want to get up and dance.   

Most often Iím creating a dance for class and I know the style or prop Iím going to teach so I know the type of song Iím looking for.  It needs to be short, slow or fast, it needs a certain flare since Iím doing a fusion piece and the culture needs to be present in the song, etc.   

So how do find this perfect song?  I start listening to music while Iím working, driving in the car, Iíll bring a CD to class for warm ups, put something on to just dance around the house; whatever Iím doing Iíll put on music and listen.  Bring out those old CDs you havenít listened to in ages you just might find that right piece.  Sometimes I have students that let me know of a song, a group or CD they like and Iíll find that right piece with their suggestions.  

2) How to Create Your Masterpiece

When I find that wonderful song that moves me; you know the one that gives you goose bumps the dance will fall into place.  It puts itself together and boom 20 minutes you have a dance!  Okay in the real world this doesnít happen that often; so how do you go about creating this fantastic dance?  

Once you find that great piece of music the fun begins!!!  I first listen to the song to get the feel of it and start thinking of moves to incorporate; than Iíll start dancing to the song playing with it.  Turn the lights off and just dance youíll be surprised how creative you are in the dark. With paper and pencil in hand Iíll jot down moves that I like in certain areas.  A lot of time the music lets you know what to do.  For example: when to travel, when to shimmy, accents to hit, when to put in a favorite move or combo; these are the easy parts of the dance.   

Some dancers like to dissect their music and write down the time and what they hear before starting to choreograph.  At a certain section the song will go into a different feel or rhythm.  It might go from instrumental to a singer or a change in instruments if the song has no vocals or it may go from rhythm into melody.  I have dissected a piece of music on occasion when Iím really having a difficult time putting a dance together.   

Below is a sample of what Iím talking about:
Song is Ballad E by Pete List  

:00 Ė :15 Ė guitar only
:16 - :29 Ė guitar and drum (dumbec)
:30 - :43 Ė guitar, bass, drum & voice
:44 - :57 Ė guitar, bass, drum, voice and drum set
:58 Ė 1:12 Ė all of the above
1:13 Ė 1:26 Ė all of the above
1:27 Ė 1:40 Ė all of the above
1:41 Ė 1:54 Ė voice, drum, drum set, bass
1:55 Ė 2:08 Ė voice drum, bass
2:09 Ė 2:22 Ė voice & bass
2:23 Ė end Ė voice only  

This song started out with one instrument than added various instruments until the middle of the song and started eliminating instruments until the end where it ended with voice only.  

I choreographed a sword dance to this piece of music and it came together rather quickly do to the structure of the song with all its changes.  What made this dance so easy to create I knew the sword moves I wanted to put into this dance.  The various balance points and positions of the sword and the moves fell into place.  

When you dissect your music you may put other notations like, chorus (repeated section), singing starts here, mood change, song break, baladi rhythm, tempo change, etc.  Use terminology that works for you.  

3) Entrance

Now the work begins; the beginning of the dance!   

To me this is one part that is the most difficult to create; the ending is the other part.  You want to capture your audience right off the bat; grab their attention.  Your entrance and ending is the most important part of your dance.  Your audience remembers your entrance and the end of your dance.  You donít want to throw all your special tricks or fantastic moves right up front you want to save them for later in your dance.   

Listen to the first 20 seconds or so to figure out your opening.  You might ask yourself do I make an entrance or start on stage.  Depending on what this performance is for, a show, restaurant gig, belly gram, etc. and how the music starts will answer these questions.  Some pieces of music just start so you have no choice but to start on stage.  Unfortunately these days when you are asked to be in a show you only get 5 minutes to shine so we need to be creative in how we edit our music.  The song you pick my have a beautiful entrance piece but the song is 6 minutes long so there goes the entrance left on the editing floor.  

When you enter you want to use your area be it a stage, someoneís living room, restaurant floor, etc.  You are making an entrance, be confident and remember your posture.   

If your music starts right into your dance this also takes planning.  Do I start with my back to the audience or face them.  Do I start in the middle of the stage or start stage right or left and work my way onto the stage when my music changes to a traveling section.  If Iím using a prop do I start with it or have it placed on stage, have someone hand it to you or hidden (tucked) in your costume or on your body.  There is a lot of planning before we even start to choreograph.  

4) Body of Dance

Congratulation you have your entrance!!! 

Now for the body of your dance; work in small sections.  If your sections are time codes or phrasing with the music itís much easier to work on smaller pieces than the entire song all at once.  

You may have sections already done when you first listened to your music.  Now itís just filling in the in between areas.  I like to add a new combination I just learned or created into my dances.  I find I remember these combos when I use them in choreography since I drill them when Iím learning a new routine.  Use moves that you have in your dancerís tool belt.  Your favorite moves you always fall back on are great but change them up a little bit.  This works great with a song that has a chorus that repeats several times.  You can use the same moves during these sections just change the direction or angle, layer a shimmy or another move on top, change the arms or add a level change.

When choreographing the body of your dance incorporate the use of stage.  No matter how small or large your dance area is use every inch!  Even if you are dancing on a postage stamp stage you can still move forward and back, side to side and angles.  This is where level changes can really add spice to your dance when you canít travel a lot.

Also use your dance space around you to add more flavor to your performance.  Front, back, sides along with up and down.  Start planning in your strengths, those trick moves to build your dance and keep the audience attention. 

Remember you are in planning mode here the fine tuning comes once your dance is on paper and you start practicing and putting the dance to memory.  You want to get your ideas down on paper first.

5) Ending

Now you are at the end of your song and how are you going to end your piece.  Does the music just stop where you can end in a pose or does it fade out?  

It is always nice to have an exit to your dance, something to get you off stage or out of the room if you donít have a stage.  This can be short you just need a little music to exit with.   

If you canít exit to music remember you are still ďonĒ even though the music has stopped.  The audience still sees you and they are watching until you are out of sight.   

Please what ever you do donít bend over and pick up your veil, props or anything you may have left on stage with your back side to the audience.  Do you really want to audience to remember your ďbuttĒ as the last thing they see?  Have someone pick your items up for you after you have left or dip down so your side is facing the audience to pick up your things.  

I know Iíve said this before, your audience remembers your entrance and exit.  Yes they do remember the highlights of your dance but the main thing is your entrance and exit.  Make sure your entrance and exit is powerful and what you want them to remember J  

6) Your Notes

Once Iíve finished my choreography, my notes are all over the place.  I use short hand, I have arrows in the margins when Iíve miscounted and I had to add another 8 counts or phrase; my pages are a mess!   

I go to my computer and put my choreography in Word.  You can use any software you like you just need to put it some where for safe keeping.  Once Iíve entered my notes I print it out for my classes if itís for a class routine along with the name of the song, CD and artist.  I do this incase I run across this dance years later and remember the dance and how fun it was but what was the song I used?   

This brings up another tool I use; video!  I will video tape the dance which really helps me remember it.  Sometimes its years or months later when I find the routine and I want to perform it again; I find the video and amazing how quickly I remember the dance.  I love video itís a great tool to use not only to critique yourself but to help in remembering your dances.  

7) Adding Flavor and Spice

Now you have your dance on paper; itís all planned out, now what?   

This is where you add all the details, your arms, use of dancer space, drama & emotion, half time the music, etc.  

To me arms are the most difficult part of your dance.  You donít just want them at your side they can add so much to your dance.  Create arm paths on your moves to add to your dance.  

Dancer space I touched on earlier.  Use your area that is in front and behind you, side to side and up & down.  Add drops, level changes, lunges, torso stretches, back bends etc. to your dance to spice it up.  

Drama and emotion really adds flavor to your performance.  Your music really helps you convey emotion.  Get lost in your music when you perform and you will add even more emotion to your performance.  Donít over do facial expressions add drama in other ways like in your moves.  A simple walk across the stage can be very dramatic.  

Half time your music when you perform this will add variety.  You donít want to dance the same speed from start to finish believe me the audience will get really bored and stop watching.  Half timing your music, you slow it down in areas moving half the time of the music.  Add poses or stay still for a few seconds to add variety also.  

8) Closing Notes

When I choreograph a dance I also phrase with the music instead of doing 8 counts here, 8 counts there; to me it adds more depth to your dance.   

I think of the song having many changes throughout just as our dance does and we as dancers are a layer on top of the music.  Our layer is how we interpret the music we are dancing to in our emotion, costume and that time in space we are performing.  Even though our dance maybe choreographed when we perform it itís always different.  So many factors play into each performance you never know what will happen.  

I hope you find this information helpful when you go to choreograph your routine.  You donít need to choreograph your entire dance leave areas for improvisation if you like.  The most important thing is to have fun when you perform.  Project this when you dance and the audience will love it and you will enjoy performing even more.


A Night in the Desert: the planning of a show
by John Parker

After our show in May at Tasty Kabobs Restaurant, Yasmina and I talked about how well it went. We had such a good time, I thought it would be nice to do something else. We should do a show case, something special. We talked more and more about it. We compared shows that we had seen before and talked about what we liked and disliked about them. Then we decided on a live band. Something that has not been done much. Then the fun really began. Where do we hold it, what dancers to ask and where do we find a band.

The first step was where to hold the show. This was not easy. After many calls, either the places were to small, to expensive or already booked. We finally found a room with a great stage. Yasmina was unable to look at it, so I got to go. I inspected it and was impressed, but I am not a dancer. So with my recommendation she said OK. We have the place, now for the dancers.

We sat down and talked about who we would like in the show. We made a list consisting of what I thought would be nice, and what she wanted. Than came the confrontation. I told her what I disliked about other shows. To long, boring and lack of variation. We finally came to an agreement on the dancers. I think each had something to give the show. Luckily everyone could do it. Now for the band.

We asked a lot of people about musicians they knew or had heard play before. After contacting some of them we thought this might be hopeless. We thought that rooms were expensive. But Morgiana was the one who came through for us. She told Yasmina about a group she had worked with several years ago, but was not sure if they were still together. She hunted for the phone number and got back with us. Yasmina called and spoke with one of the brothers. The Nights of Athens was a Greek band and was use to working with belly dancers. This was perfect. We had a place, dancers and a band.

Now the work really began. We decided on a two hour show. Anything more than that would start to get boring. We wanted to leave the audience wanting more. We decided on 8 dancers, so time would have to be limited. Yasmina talked to each dancer about what they would like to do. Some of the dancers had specialties that we wanted to show case. Then the line up, who will be first and so on. This line up was changed a few times over the months from June to August. We asked for bio's, not an easy task for anybody to write about yourself. One bio we received was more like a feature article for a belly dance magazine. It was very important, but to long for the program. Soon we had received all the bio's. We made a few programs sending to the dancers for proof reading, which we were glad we did. We made a few mistakes. Yasmina kept in contact with the dancers by mail and the band by FAX machine. We wanted to keep everyone informed. We sent maps, room and stage dimension and how the room would be setup for that nights performance. Trying to keep any questions answered and surprises to minimum. Trying to call people is difficult and the band was very difficult to get a hold of, so Faxing was the easiest way to communicate.

Advertising was something else to consider. We wanted more than just the dance community to experience this night. We made hundreds of fliers and passed them out at events, dance classes, restaurants, college campuses, every place we could think of. We sent and gave them to friends and co-workers. We submitted news releases to the newspapers and the New Times. We made about 800-900 fliers. If only 20% of them showed up we would have been very happy.

If you came to the show you know the stage was huge. So we attempted to build some props. The camel and pyramid turned out great. The moon and palm tree never made to the stage. Everything is done. Dancers and band are ready, props are made, programs and tickets are printed. Everything is piled in the spare bedroom ready to go. Now we wait for Saturday night. Four days before the show only, 45 tickets have been sold. We were sweating it a bit. But what the heck, if it doesn't pay, we will have one hell of a party.

I must admit, the night of the performance was great. The dancer's were in great moods, really looking forward to performing. The band was a little late, but when they started playing the place came alive. Everybody was excited, really excited. I have never seen an audience so interested in what was going on. Hardly anyone talked. They moved around so they could see better. Every dancer was on top of things. I have never seen so much energy. I felt by the end of the night, it was a success. Then counting the ticket stubs and finding out we had sold enough, was an added bonus.

We had such a good response from this show, we decided to do it all over again. We located a theater for the next show, which was much better for filming, and had 4 cameras at this performance. This night was even bigger and better then our first attempt. Both shows are now available on video, see our ad in this issue for ordering information.

Thank you for your support.
The Belly Dance Widower
John Parker


The Painting
by Naseem

I do not know the name of the painting, nor do I know who painted it. Small children do not let their minds be cluttered by such mundane things. I do know the place where the painting hangs is somewhere in Dayton Art Institute.

My family took me there often when I was small, and this painting captured my attention. I would stare at it for what seemed like ages, transported to another world. I would find myself standing on a dark street somewhere in the Middle East. Drab dirty buildings rise up around me. A crowd of onlookers surround the most beautiful woman I had ever laid eyes on. Her skin is creamy white, and her moves sinuous. She is a belly dancer. Her head is thrown back, hair cascading down behind her, and her eyes focus upwards, towards the heavens. The light converges on her, especially her rounded pale belly.

I want to be like her. She seems so strong, to stand before such a crowd and dance alone. Every eye focuses on her, the epitome of beauty. Hence, my mind equated her beauty and strength with the ancient dance she performed, and it became my goal to learn this dance.

I tried to copy the moves of the belly dancers I had seen. It wasn't until I started high school, however, that I really learned the dance. I signed up for classes and found a wonderful teacher. I studied and progressed, practicing for hours at a time, and began performing.

When I dance, nothing is planned. I often dance to live music, but even when I dance to taped music there is no choreography. Whirling and twirling, my hips move to the music. I feel beautiful. I become strong. All eyes are focused on me, and I dance for the joy of living.

Being alone on stage has given me courage to come out of my shell. This ancient dance has completely changed my outlook. I now feel as if I can take on the world. I used to be afraid to speak out in class, fearing the attention, but now I am willing. Presentations in front of people no longer fill me with dread. I am outgoing where I was once quiet and shy.

Belly dance has also allowed me to immerse myself in a culture. I play Mid-Eastern music on a drum called a doumbek. I perform in Mid-Eastern restaurants and sample the food. I know the long history of the oldest dance on Earth, an ancient history that is passed down from dancer to dancer.

The community of belly dancers is diverse. We are all ages, and come from many occupations. We have different levels of involvement; some dance every once in a while, others are completely immersed. All are welcome, however, in this great network, and all are valued. The seasoned dancer who has been performing for years has a wealth of knowledge and experience to impart, while new dancers bring a freshness. Belly dance provides a camaraderie for all who love and understand it.

There is a mystery to the dance I cannot put on paper. Words cannot describe it. Anyone who watches the dance, however, sees it. It comes from the ancients, from the sacredness of the dance so many women have performed through the ages. It is the spiritual aspect of the dance that only another dancer can come close to understanding, although it is different for each individual.

I have become the woman in the painting. I am strong and beautiful. The eyes of the world are upon me. I know her movements, perform those same movements. I cast my eyes upward to the heavens. I am part of something greater than myself.


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What's Happening!

Check out the events page for happenings around the State.

Music from the Movies Belly Dance Style
Saturday, October 5, 2019
Moonlight Sirens Tribal presents an evening of belly dancing to music from some of your beloved movies by some of your favorite troupes and soloist from around the State.

Belly Dancing with 

Cabaret Classes
Tuesday Nights 
Beg. Basic 5:30 - 6:30
Beg. 2 6:30 - 7:30
Intermediate 7:30 - 8:30

Tribal Classes
Wednesday Nights
Beg. Basic 5:30 - 6:30
Beg. 2 6:30 - 7:30
Intermediate 7:30 - 8:30

Fall Session Starts
8/27/19 - 10/9/19
10/29/19 - 12/18/19

Classes in:
American Cabaret 
and Tribal 

Mesa Arts Center
1 East Main St.
Mesa, AZ 85201

for more information

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Last Updated: 03/01/19

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