Zorba, Male Belly Dancer

Henna Design A Belly Dance Diary 2007 Henna Design

New Shemadan!
Zorba with Shemadan (12/31/06)

2001-2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024, 2025

Herein is chronicled Zorba's on-going voyage of discovery into the magical realm of Belly Dancing. Sometimes major events, more often just baby steps along the way. Presented here in reverse chronological order.

31 December 2007

Three performances with Janette's troupe for the Link opens in new window First Nite Monterey New Year's Eve celebration.

First there was the "Twilight Parade". I ¾ shimmied my way down the street, playing my Zildjian Zills. What fun - I felt alive, proud, and free! The crowd really loved us! Dropped one of my Zills due to loose elastic - a helpful guy in the crowd handed it back to me.

Then we had two performances in the old Regency Theatre in downtown Monterey. Old, dusty, and apparently slated for demolition. Aside from both my wife and myself having allergy issues, the performances here were a bunch of fun. Huge enthusiastic audience. I did what was supposed to be a double veil solo (A'Kai silk veils): "Solo-5/Goddess Dance" to a slightly different recording than what I usually use. Same music, different band. Anyway, I ended up with an impromptu burqa early on in the dance - so I took my own advice, and went with it. I dropped the second veil and did some armwork, etc while leaving the first veil over my head where it had inadvertently ended up. I eventually peeled it off, tossed it aside and kept on dancing! Lost my bindi at some point, probably when the veil burqaed me...

As my lovely wife was also dancing, and we did the troupe cane choreography; both of Nadia's canes got a workout!

22 December 2007

A new entry in the Media page!

15 December 2007

Troupe performance at the Link opens in new window Tribal Fusion Faire in San Louis Obispo. What fun!

Now, I'm a Cabaret kind of a guy, but I can enjoy the various flavors of Tribal when its done well - and I like Rachel Brice, et al. Saw some good dancing, there was a soloist who had just gone on stage when we arrived who was fantastic!

We had a couple of hours to kill before our curtain call, so we watched dancers and did a bit of shopping. My wife and I bought each other one of those new fangled "veil fan" things that are all the rage right now. We had only first seen them on this year's ANAS cruise, but we saw several performances with them today. They're something no veil dancer can resist: "ooooooh PRETTY!". Mine's red/orange/yellow; hers is a varicolored blue..

Then my wife bought several feather "thingies" for the hair. I wouldn't want to say that I liked them, but by the time we went on stage, one of them had found its way into my hair! We later went back and bought some clip-in sparkly flowers from the same vendor.

We performed the Andalusian "Gypsy" (skirt) dance, the "Story Dance", then we shed our skirts to perform our cane choreography, and ended with the Talakik. This was a banner performance - for the first time in history (so far as I know), both of Nadia Gamal's dance canes were onstage at the same time as my wife did her VERY first cane performance. I used cane "#1", she used cane "#2". She's worked very hard on this dance as it requires her to twirl and handle her cane with her non-dominant hand, being that she's a lefty. I'm so proud of her!

I'm proud of my dance sisters and feel privileged to dance with them - the audience loved us, and the feedback I heard was that we were "the best troupe" seen so far today! And we're not even Tribal! I had several gals (and one guy) tell me that they loved our performance: "Good job!". What more could a dancer ask for?

12 December 2007

Empowerment. Was getting ready for a dress rehearsal and discovered one of the hooks on my top had come loose. Trotted in and fired up my sewing machine, and fixed that sucker! Granted, it took me about 10 minutes of fiddling with the machine to get it adjusted correctly, but it still beats hand sewing!

24 November 2007

Kalisa's Cabaret at the Vet's hall. Danced three of the class choreographies with my wife, Janette, and other dance sisters. We did the Karsilima (Played my Saroyan Tutankhamuns), the "Story Dance" and the skirt dance. After someone else performed a solo, we returned to perform our cane choreography (Nadia's cane #2). I could have killed the drummers who suddenly decided to join in, playing off the beat and a different rhythm, totally throwing all us dancers off, including Janette.

I also soloed "Solo-4/Mary Jane's Dance" with my "Dragon's Blood" four yard veil - it went pretty well if I say so myself. I was really projecting joy!

17 November 2007

Finally filled out the Media page. I had created it with the webpage revamp earlier this year; now it has my media citations in it.

10 November 2007

Link opens in new window Carnival of Stars, combination comic book convention and Belly Dance festival, put on by the incomparable Pepper Alexandria. I performed "Veil-5/Dark Fire" with my 4 yard A'Kai silk veil. A good thing too, as the troupe that performed just before my solo opened with the music I use for "Solo-4/Mary Jane's Dance"!!

It was WAAAY too early for my performance - its hard to feel exotic and glamorous at 10:42 in the morning to a hall that was still in the process of being setup and people had only started trickling in. This said, the performance went pretty well - I'm told I looked good, danced and projected well. It felt pretty good from the large stage - this is only about the fourth time I've performed in a large venue/stage, but am starting to get the hang of it. My usual cabaret environment is a lot easier! By coincidence I came home with a "stagecraft" instructional video which should help me with these large stage shows!

Cool festival, I highly recommend it! Very nicely organized for both audience/attendees as well as the performers. Separate troupe, solo women, and solo men's dressing rooms. Sound and announcing was well organized, nice stage, nice seating area for audience, you can see the stage from everywhere while shopping, etc.

27 October 2007

Zorba goes Tribal!

Zorba goes Tribal!
Zorba goes Tribal!

I've been threatening for years to do a "Rachel Brice Up-do". As tonite at Kalisa's Cabaret at the Vet's Hall was a Halloween show, I decided to go for it! With the assistance of Janette and the loan of some of the materials from Imzadi, we made it happen. My dance sisters just LOVED it, thought it was a very good style for me! It was cool, and I'm glad I did it and had a lot of fun with it; but I'm unlikely to do it again anytime soon. It took 20 minutes for Janette to put it up, at least 30 for me to get it taken back down after the show; and it sure changed the center of gravity of my head! Kudos to Rachel Brice and the other Tribal gals who do this all the time!

Anyway, I did "Solo-11/Cabaret" with my Wings of Isis. It went off very well, I received numerous compliments from the audience, dance sisters as well as Janette. I also did "Solo-9" with my Zildjian Zills. It went pretty well also even if that temperamental stereo cut out TWICE on me during this piece!

It felt good to get back on the stage - I would have been here two weeks ago except I came down with a bad case of food poisoning. frown!

28 September 2007

Did some minor updates to the Kalisa's Gallery, now retitled "The Last Nights of Kalisa's". As this gallery had made the contents of Gallery 4 redundant, I have replaced most of same with all new pictures! Enjoy.

22 September 2007

Kalisa's Cabaret at the Vet's hall. Medium sized, medium enthused audience. This was a weird nite. Just about everyone was "off" one way or another, including the magician who opens for us dancers. Janette, the ever gorgeous and talented Lana, Maria, Tinah, Saphira, and myself (Zorba) were the luminaries performing tonite. We had major problems with the stereo, it kept cutting in and out on just about everyone.

As for my performance, I did "BellyGram 2". Let's start with what DIDN'T go wrong. I didn't fling a Zill (Zildjians) into the audience. I didn't expose myself. I didn't have a veil (red/orange four yard A'Kai silk) disaster, and I didn't drop my cane (Nadia Gamal's "Cane #2"). I didn't break anything or fall down. I didn't prang one of my earrings into the audience. Other than that, all bets were off...

I had multiple music drop outs - it screwed me up fairly badly on my cane routine. I pantomimed beating the heck out of the sound equipment (adjacent to the stage) with my cane, which got a good laugh from the audience. I managed to get my toes of my right foot tangled in the string skirt I was wearing. Obviously, the strings themselves were tangled and caught my toes. Great. The gal running the stereo turned it off at one point. At another point the stereo cut out AGAIN, so I pantomimed aiming a huge kick at it - and the music came back on at exactly the right point - another good chuckle out of the audience!

So all in all, I gave it a 6 out of 10; technical and other difficulties not withstanding. Still, Maria who hasn't seen me dance in a while, told me that it was the best she's ever seen me - and Janette told me I did good too, so I'm content. Thank Goddess that Nadia Gamal's cane takes care of itself, I was too busy getting my foot untangled and dealing with music drop outs. Nadia's energy is still in it, 17 years after her passing! Fortunately, my drum solo portion went well. The veil section did too, even if I did have some difficulty with Cory Zamora's veil wrap - I do fine with it in practice, but have problems onstage with it.

Is Mercury in retrograde or something? I just have to laugh...

14-17 September 2007

Arabian Nights at Sea 2007.

Our annual pilgrimage to the good ship "Paradise" out of Long Beach (California). I took a total of 5 classes this year, the first was Mahalia's henna class on Friday nite! I had been wanting to take this class every year since the first time we went on this cruise in 2004, but there was always another class I wanted more that conflicted with it. Not this time! Us students took turns doing henna on each other, this is what I came away with:

Henna on my hands

There is just something sacred about henna, and very bonding when you're with a group who are all doing it. I highly recommend it!

The next day, Saturday, I took three classes. First was "Cabaret Belly Dance" with Helena Vlahos. Helena is new to ANAS this year, and I *LOVE* this gal! What a wonderful teacher! I was also able to practice my bad Greek on her.

Next was Angelika Nemeth teaching Taqsim techniques. I can always use Taqsim help! Like Helena, Angelika is new to ANAS this year, and she's awesome! I'm not much on class handouts - but the one Angelika gave out in this class is a keeper!

Last was "Zills & Frills" with Paulina. Paulina has been teaching the last couple of years on ANAS, but this was the first time I've studied under her. She taught a whole new way of working with zills that I hadn't encountered before. She's a real sweetheart and a fun teacher. She's the gal who narrates the Recommended by Zorba! Link opens in new window Belly Dance Television (BD-TV) series (which I can recommend) and performs at the "Greek at the Harbor" in Ventura, California (which I can also recommend). She was also the one who was kind enough to relinquish her claim on the song "Dark Fire" two years ago at ANAS '05, so I could do a double veil performance to it.

Sunday, I only took one class - I slept in. But the class I took was great - it was another Paulina one - "Soul Dancing". Right now I'm really into the touch-feely aspect of the dance and this class hit the nail on the head. There was a lot of sharing and emotion, one dance sister was moved to tears telling her story - group hugs all around. It was a beautiful experience and I learned a lot too!

Yes, we're signed up next year - but I'm not staying up till 1:00 AM Saturday nite listening to the great piano player and missing my "other" Sunday class! The interesting thing I observed about myself this year is that I'm not quite as "lost" in these classes this year - I'm advancing! Indeed, some of it was "old hat"! Came away with 2 new videos also.

We stayed on board the might Queen Mary the night before the cruise - and the night afterwards. Saw the Russian "Scorpion" submarine, and explored the Mary. What a cool place full of history! Amazed one guy from the mid-west who just couldn't quite process the idea of a "man in a skirt"!

3 September 2007

More work on Piano

2 September 2007

A partial performance at the Monterey Bay Reggae Festival, with Janette's girls. I say "partial" as we never finished it. We did four dances, the Karsilima (With my Zildjian Zills), the "Skirt Dance" the "Story Dance", and the Sai'idi. After that, the sound system took a powder and couldn't be revived. We had two soloists that didn't get to perform at all!

We did, however, have a great time at the festival, mixing with the Rastafarians and enjoying the laid back Reggae music. However, there was a fair amount of smoke from, uh, "exotic imported tobacco" that caused me to get a headache - talk about bad effects from secondhand smoke! frown!

Still, shopping was good, my wife and I each scored skirts at a bargain price from a "Belly Dancer friendly" stall. As a matter of fact, most of the troupe did; we collectively cleaned this gal out of skirts.

1 September 2007

A Labor day parade in the nearby town of Marina with Janette's girls. We had a "float" made from a flat bed fifth-wheel trailer, so I danced on the back of same playing my Zildjian Zills the whole way. It was a TON of fun!

Note to self: Don't wear Hermes sandals on a carpeted float next time...

27 August 2007

New guest article: Men in the Dance by Amy Hoff. Enjoy!

26 August 2007

A performance with Janette's girls - very similar to the two performances for the fair last weekend. Used Nadia's cane "#1" for the cane dance, did the skirt dance, etc, etc. This was for an international fair at a local Catholic church! It was fun, even though I still managed to make a couple of mistakes. I also wore my Athena medallion, something I normally don't do for Belly Dance performances - but the costuming I chose allowed it and I figured I might need it considering the venue, dedicated Pagan that I am...

25 August 2007

Kalisa's Cabaret at the Vet's hall. Medium-large crowd, medium enthusiasm - although the "medium enthusiasm" may have been due to lack of dancers and a short show! We only had four dancers tonite for some strange reason.

Wings! I finally did Wings of Isis. "Solo-11/Cabaret" - this is loosely based on a choreography of Janette's, which she has taught us to do specifically as a launch point for our own solos. Her version starts with veil - I just adapted it (with some help from Janette) to the Wings.

For a new dance, and especially one with an all new prop, I think it went pretty well. It will, no doubt, improve some more as I perform it more. Christy, one of my dance sisters, told me it looked good and the Wings looked very good. She also thinks she got some good pictures - so hopefully I can post 'em soon!

19 August 2007

Essentially a re-run of yesterday, except I wore a different costume and used Nadia's cane "#2". I got screwed up at the beginning of the cane dance, and it took a minute or so for me to get with the program.

There was an (obviously) Egyptian woman in the audience that just loved us and couldn't stay still, dancing away in the audience; although she wouldn't come up and dance with us when invited. I had a good yak with her after the performance - and there was a group of 10-12 year olds, both genders, who told me I was a "great Belly Dancer"! Heartwarming, even if I did have them fooled! wink!

18 August 2007

Happy anniversary! My wife and I have been married 23 years today! So we celebrated by going out Belly Dancing at the county fair. Not too many couples can say that!

I'm not much on Belly Dancing in daylight, much less outside in daylight. My rather fair complexion (read: VERY white skin) doesn't like the sun, and beads, sequins and glamorous jewelry just don't look the same before 9 PM. This said, we had a blast! Danced the troupe dances with Janette's girls, including the Gypsy Skirt Dance (Goddess knows what the GP thought of that) and the cane choreography (Nadia's cane "#1").

The best part? We get to do it again tomorrow! Nothing more fun than a group of Belly Dancers out together!

17 August 2007

Something really cool added to The Backpage, but not particularly dial-up friendly. Enjoy!

11 August 2007

Kalisa's Cabaret at the Vet's hall.

Did pretty much a re-run of 28 July: "Solo-6a/Shemadan with short finale" (using my Saroyan Tutankhamun Zills) and "Veil-5" with my four yard red/orange A'Kai silk veil.

Went well. The Shemadan performance felt far more solid than last time, and I received compliments from much of the audience, including Jamaica, who told me my Zill playing was "phenomenal". As Jamaica doesn't exactly hand out compliments, this is a compliment indeed!

By the time I got home, I had that perennial Belly Dancer's complaint: "These earrings are KILLING me!"...

10 August 2007

A video clip is up, a rather dark representation of the Shemadan performance of 28 July...

4 August 2007

Another video mini-review done! The BellyDancers of Cairo.

Casbah Cabaret. The last one for at least the rest of the year. It was a good one - magic was in the air. Nice large and enthusiastic audience.

First, I performed the Andalusian Skirt dance with Janette and my wife. It went well enough even though there really isn't room for three dancers with huge skirts on that tiny stage. A group of women sitting stage left seemed quite intrigued by a man who dares a skirt... Then I performed "BellyGram 2" (sans skirt), all fifteen minutes of it using Nadia Gamal's cane "#2", my Saroyan Grecian Zills, and my four yard purple organza veil.

I had rehearsed ahead of time, and I could just tell I was "in the groove", I felt the kefi. The performance went very well if I say so myself - and Janette and several others told me it was the best they've seen me yet. I've been hearing that quite a bit lately, I guess this means I've broken through to another level. Good thing too, between this performance and the successful Shemadan performance last week, I'm feeling better about my dancing after having had several sub-optimal performances, veil disasters, etc, etc. It feels good to have some successes.

I put the credit for tonite's success squarely on Janette's shoulders - its that Wednesday nite performance skills class...

I tried using one of Cory Zamora's veil wraps, the first time I've done this. Although it went well during rehearsal, during the performance the veil somehow scrozzled itself when I went to un-wrap it. "Ok, don't panic", I told myself as I calmly did some undulations as I unfarkled this mess. I apparently did good as several people said "what veil problem?" when I asked if it looked too stupid. I'll be using this wrap again as I like it, and now I've trained myself on how to deal with it if it goes wrong!

My piano tuner, the "Piano Smith" and his wife were present at the show, as were some neighbors. All seemed to like the experience.

28 July 2007

Kalisa's Cabaret at the Vet's hall.

After an eight month hiatus, I finally danced with the (new) Shemadan again. That would be "Solo-6a/Shemadan with short finale" (using my Saroyan "Grecian" Zills). Nice, large, warm audience! I was a little shaky as it had been so long, but the performance went well. The audience loved it! A bit later, I performed "Veil-5" with "Greenie", a bright green 3 yard silk veil - my very first!

I hadn't performed with the new Shemadan since last New Year's Eve. During that performance, I found out the hard way that the Bobesches (wax cups) that came with the candelabrum I used to make it (the Shemadan) were WAAAAY too small. I had wax on my costume, on my arms, in my hair, on the floor - everywhere!

So I got the bright idea of retrofitting some larger Bobesches. I purchased some beautiful, antique cut crystal ones - the kind that fit over the candles. Bad idea. During a rehearsal in class, the Shemadan proved impossible to balance with this retrofit. I still don't understand why - yea the Bobesches were on the heavy side, but the weight was distributed evenly. So after wracking my brain as to what to do about this situation, I purchased some fairly large, stamped brass Bobesches and replaced the original ones with these. They're actually lighter in weight than the original small ones.

These are satisfactory in all respects, the Shemadan balances again, and I don't get wax all over me. This is a very good thing, as I recently sold my old Shemadan to a dance sister in Canada; so this new one is now my sole option.

In other news, my wife performed her Solos 2 and 4 back to back - and did veilwork for the first half of (her) "Solo-2". She surprised me, she hadn't told me that she was going to do veil, and she did very well with it - her very first time with one. I'm so very proud of her!

23 July 2007

Extremely minor update with Piano

21 July 2007

As promised, the Kalisa's La Ida Cafe Memorial Gallery. Anyone who has stories, additional pictures, or corrections is strongly encouraged to contact me so they can be included.

A few of the pictures came from Gallery 4 which will remain as-is for a bit, but will eventually be put to other use. I'll probably re-do the existing galleries to match the new Kalisa's gallery.

20 July 2007

A new venue! Lana has opened up a weekly gig in a micro-mall in downtown Monterey - on Friday nite! I sure like dancing on Friday nites better than Saturdays. It actually makes a far better dance venue than you would think, the "stage" area works very well, although there really isn't a backstage area. A set of hanging veils gives us a place to come from and go to though. It works!

I did the exact same pair of dances I did at Casbah Cabaret on 7 July - with the same veils, Zills, and even the same jewelry! The difference was that I didn't scrozzle the veil piece this time. smile! Not only that, but I was successful in doing Lynnette's back tuck technique so I could dance with the double veils as mini-wings! That's a first for me. The old "get back in the saddle" is always good advice. Actually, the entire evening was magical - I can't say I've had an evening like this since Kalisa's closed. Maybe it was just because it was on a Friday nite. Whatever - I'll be back!

16 July 2007

More work on Piano

15 July 2007

The scan doesn't do it justice, but Lana's painting can be seen here.

14 July 2007

After Belly Dance class today, I went to meet with dance sister Lana, who is also an utterly astounding artist, to pick up a painting I had commissioned over six months ago - in fact she and I first discussed it at Kalisa's before it closed! The painting turned out to be everything I had hoped for and more - I hope to have a photo of it in a day or two, it isn't the easiest thing to photograph.

I went to Santa Cruz to attend a "Marrakesh Express" Belly Dance performance. This is the first time in quite a while I've been able to attend one as they usually coincide with a performance in Monterey. Imzadi did a great pair of performances here.

Lastly, I finally finished the mini-review for the video Belly Dance SuperStars Live in Paris at the Folies Bergére. Three more to go before I'm actually caught up!

7 July 2007

The much ballyhooed 07/07/07. I'm glad its over, it wasn't exactly good luck for me...

Performed at Casbah Cabaret, two numbers. The first was "Solo-9", a traditional number I play Zills with (Tutankhamun). I think it went pretty well, I had fun playing with Janette who was sitting in the audience.

Then I went back on to do "Solo-5/Goddess Dance" with my A'Kai double silk veils. Its been awhile since I've performed double veil - I've been working on all kinds of other stuff. I had high hopes for this performance as first off I had been practicing the back tuck technique Lynette had taught during our co-teaching double veil a couple of weeks ago. Secondly, all three of our students in that double veil class were present - I wanted to "show 'em how its done".

I promptly had one of the worst veil disasters in my dance career, and the first one I've had in years! I was trying to "get into" the veils - when you do this, you can tell when its just not going to work - the veils "talk" to you. I could tell it was not going to work - so I went ahead and did it anyway! A boneheaded move if there ever was one - I promptly ended up with an instant Burqa over my head. I couldn't even extricate myself from this mess gracefully as my hands were tangled into the veils.

Sigh! So I did the only thing I could do - cut my losses and got rid of the blasted things and continued dancing without them. "Well, that didn't work!" I quipped to the audience.

But wait, it gets better. Earlier in the day, I had re-assembled my "new" Shemadan with new and larger Bobesches (wax cups), and re-installed the candles. Both myself and the Shemadan were sitting on the floor as I lit all nine candles on it as a test - and hung my hair into an already lit candle which of course promptly caught fire!

I batted it out immediately, no harm done and practiced with the Shemadan a couple of times successfully. I really had wanted to perform with it at tonite's show - but all things considered, I'm glad I didn't. I had practiced my double veil successfully also and it turned into a disaster - far better that than a disaster with a lit candelabrum balanced on one's head! grin!

I had even decked myself out with my latest acquisitions from my favorite jewelry vendor, Link opens in new window Eyescream Jewelry, as well as a pair of side slit harem pants I'd never had the guts to wear before. Pride before a fall and all that jazz... I just have to laugh at myself, its the nature of showbiz. I can comfort myself in that Janette told me I handled the situation well. Plus I received some feedback from the Hafla Santa Cruz performance from no less than the great Imzadi who told me it was the best performance she's ever seen me do!

3 July 2007

Yet another mini-review! The IAMED video Belly Dance Live! Took me quite a while to review this one, there's a LOT of material!

27 June 2007

Got another mini-review knocked out! The IAMED video Spins and Turns with Marguerite by Marguerite. I think I only have five more videos to review before I'm caught up! grin! I've only had this one for a year and a half!

My stomach muscles STILL hurt from teaching/demonstrating "camels" to the beginners two nites ago!

25 June 2007

I'm SO glad Janette will be back tomorrow. Emily and I taught another beginner's class - Emily is by far a better teacher than I although I'm good for one-on-one help and demonstrations. Then we led the intermediate class in doing a couple of the troupe choreographies. I don't know how Janette does this EVERY SINGLE DAY! grin! I'm BEAT!

And like I figured, I could have gone to the Monterey Vet's hall Saturday nite as the show went until 10 - the way its supposed to. So much for "reliable" sources! frown!

In other news I tried and died getting a spot in yesterday's DDF call-in. I tried for 2-½ hours until the battery in my phone went dead... frown!

23 June 2007

An interesting and fun day. The day started with dance sister Emily and myself teaching Janette's Beginner class. For my part, it wasn't quite the success the veil class was two nites ago - I can teach Greek Dance, and I can teach veil; but I'm not quite there with teaching basic Belly Dance moves. I did "Ok", but Emily put me to shame with better organized explanations. I'm best at demonstrating, not talking! Regardless, it was fun. The students had an easier time following Emily with some of the moves as my narrow hips can be hard to see. Have I mentioned recently that having narrow hips SUCKS in this dance form? smile!

Then I went over to the Vet's hall in Santa Cruz to dance in their annual "Hafla Santa Cruz". I did "Veil-5" as I hoped the passion I put into it would carry to the audience - this venue has a stage, which while small, is quite a bit larger and farther away from the audience than I'm used to. Good practice. I "think" I did OK, but am waiting to hear some feedback.

Sharif was there, and danced two slots ahead of me - and did a good job. I ran into two of my sometime teachers, Sahar (How I miss her!), and Ma*Shuqa, as well as countless dance sisters whom I know or am on a nodding acquaintance with. A lot of fun.

The original plan was for me to dance there, then whip around the bay to the Vet's hall in Monterey for a Kalisa's show. Unfortunately, I had heard from a reliable source that that show was going to end at 9 PM (Why so darned early? frown!), and I didn't get back to the car in Santa Cruz until quarter til 8, which would have put me into Monterey at quarter til 9.

Now watch: I'll find out that the Monterey gig went till half past 10 and would have had plenty of time to show up, get my costume back together and perform. But with diesel fuel at $3.09/gal, I didn't want to take risk.

Also, some updates to Piano

21 June 2007

Happy Solstice!

Tonite, my esteemed dance sister Lynette and myself taught our first Belly Dance class! We taught double veil to three eager students. I wouldn't want to say that we were as good or as organized as Alyne, but we didn't do half bad if I say so myself.

We taught:

We sort of traded off demonstrating, and then going to each student in turn and helping individually. The sheer joy one student showed when she successfully "got in" the veils was heartwarming! Lynette demonstrated the back tuck, something I had never been able to get. I don't know where/how I learned how to do what I was doing that didn't work - but Lynn's technique works! And I was able to get a first hand experience of her teaching skills as she walked me through it. She'll probably get a big head when she reads this... grin!

I've taught (Greek) dance before, but never Belly Dance of any kind. All three students did very well, and were obviously having fun learning this stuff. I even was able to teach one gal how to spot turn - using the exact same "trick" that Janette used years back to teach me! She was so amazed at herself! That reaction in a student is what it (teaching) is all about.

I think all three students went away with enough to get them started.

18 June 2007

Yet another mini-review! I love Turkish Belly Dance by Sarah Skinner. Enjoy!

17 June 2007

Added a mini-review of Neon's "Stellar Body: Belly Dance with Fire". This was, by far, the hardest review I've ever written; even though the video is only 35 minutes long!

9 June 2007

Kalisa's Cabaret at the Vet's hall. I did "Solo-8/Serpentina".

This was NOT a good nite for me. First off, for what ever crazy reason, my mood fell off a cliff, or more like ran into one in the dressing room just before curtain call. I suddenly dropped into a VERY bad, grumpy mood - for the life of me I still don't know why. At least I recognized it, and took steps to deal with it. I used Janette's techniques I've recently learned in the Wednesday nite class to summon better emotion - and it worked! I was in a pretty good mood by the time I came cameling out to my music...

Unfortunately, there was an apparently "fresh off the boat" middle eastern woman in the audience who had already been extremely rude to one of my dance sisters while said sister was performing. This woman took one look at me, and got up and left, very noisily and rudely - dragging two or three younger males with her.

Most middle easterners seem to at least like me, some really seem to genuinely love my performances - especially the younger ones like this woman was. I've had a few older ones, especially older men either quietly leave the room (and come back later) or just not watch. I'm sorry for that, but I'm OK with it - and I've even managed to "convert" a few of them. But this woman's utter rudeness really hurt. I'm trying not to take it too awfully personally as I'm not the only one she was rude to, and you can't please all the people all of the time - especially when you're doing something as "out there" as I do. But it was just the wrong nite for something like this to happen. I'll be better in the morning! smile! Goddess only knows what would have happened if I had joined my dance sisters in doing the skirt dance - now I wish I had...

In other, more cheerful news, a shot of "revision 2" of this costume - I get a LOT of compliments on it (from a recent Casbah Cabaret):

Zorba's pink costume!

But my dear wife Zarah had a good nite - she received her VERY first tip! Now we have to get a frame to put it in next to mine (Framing your first tip is a hallowed Belly Dancer tradition!).

3 June 2007

The Cory Zamora workshop!

Being an old school dancer like Janette, Cory underlined a lot of the same things that Janette has been teaching, particularly the emotive stuff that we've been learning in Janette's Wednesday nite "Performance Skills" class. Its always good to hear the same thing a different way.

We also went through one of Cory's veil wraps (she calls them "Veil Ties"), the "Scarf tie" as presented in her video reviewed elsewhere on this site. As Cory is an old school dancer, she wears Zills all the time, including when she's doing veil work. For myself, this was a two edged sword. I've been interested in this technique for a long time (having done it a little bit) - and was very glad to improve my skills doing it.

I figured out I could do more than I ever dreamed possible with a veil while wearing Zills. That's the good news. The bad news is that Cory's tie is complex enough for ol' klutzy me to make a "Major Male Moment" out of it! I definitely would have done much better without the Zills - I ended up in a hopeless tangle every time we went through it. However I can now do both this veil tie - as well as veil with Zills (on a better level than ever before) - just not both at the same time. Yet. I'll break it down and do simpler veil stuff with Zills, and this veil tie thing without them, and "meet in the middle" so to speak.

She also demonstrated how she could pop a sword off her head onto her stomach - an impressive trick. When I tried it myself, I kinda scared Link opens in new window Sharif who was also in attendance! He seemed concerned that I was trying to violate the laws of physics by attempting to make my sword occupy the same space at the same time as his foot! grin! Fortunately, we were trying this lying almost prone, so the amount of potential energy was low! Sword just isn't my thing.

Then we got to do cane! YAY! Cane is much more my thing. I've been to a number of cane workshops over the years - probably more cane workshops than any other one subject (except veil). Each one has always been very different from all the others - including the cane portion of this workshop! I saw some steps and movements I've never seen before - I'll definitely be showing them to Janette!

I measure a workshop's success by the amount of blundering I do. If I'm not blundering, I'm not learning. I blundered quite a bit in this one - that means I actually learned something!

2 June 2007

Performance in Santa Cruz - I opened the show for Cory Zamora! What an honor! Cory put on quite the show, and will be teaching a workshop tomorrow - yes I'll be there.

Cory was sponsored by Janelle, who unfortunately didn't perform; but the mighty Siwa did as well as Rebekah, Helené, Lana, Vashti, and Janelle's troupe.

Before tonite, I've only seen the legendary "Turkish Drop" done twice, once by Karri Duke, and once by male dancer Ganapati, both years ago. Tonite the total was brought to four, both Cory and Rebekah performed one! Wow!

I did "Solo-3 with veil prelude" in honor of Cory as this is my only number where I do veil (A'Kai 4 yard orange/red silk) while wearing Zills (King Tuts) - Cory's big on that! Looking forward to the workshop tomorrow.

In other news, I repaired my Isis wings with my new Sewing machine (with the help of a recently purchased copy of - you guessed it! - Sewing for Dummies.)! I probably made about 15 beginner's mistakes - this isn't something I'd want to show off to anyone, but nonetheless its adequate for the job. After I did the initial repair, I even ran over the entire section where the wings attach to the neckband with a zig-zag stitch. I figured it was time to do it before I ran out of the small amount of yellow thread the machine came with by playing around with it...

I also went down to a local craft store and bought a bunch of sewing "stuff", paid more for the "stuff" than I did for the machine!

This picture just in:

Zorba and wife in skirts
Zorba & Wife in Skirts.

From 21 April's "Good Old Days" performance, my wife and myself in the "Story Dance", which we performed (with the rest of the troupe) immediately after the "Gypsy Skirt Dance". Skirtwork in the "Story Dance" is optional; but skirtwork in the "Gypsy Skirt Dance" is the whole idea - so since I already had a skirt on anyways, I got to do skirtwork in two dances in a row! smile!

19 May 2007

Private performance for a graduation party. Did "BellyGram-2" (short version) with the Tutankhamun Zills and four yard red/orange A'Kai veil - with an encore of "Solo-4/Mary Jane's Dance" (same veil). Very responsive, enthusiastic audience!

One gal in particular - I don't know what she was expecting, but it sure wasn't me! Her jaw was on the floor - and her eyes were HUGE! She obviously loved me.

Lotsa fun!

16 May 2007

Big news!

I've become sick and tired of not being able to do simple costume and clothing repairs. I lent my (el-cheapo) Isis wings out to a dance sister, and they came back with minor damage - one of the seams holding the neckband onto the wings had partially let go. I don't think it was her fault - in fact I don't think she even knew about it. A very simple repair - if you can sew!

So (no pun), time to take a deep breath and take the plunge - time to buy a sewing machine! After discussing options with a number of my dance sisters on Link opens in new window Bhuz.com, further discussions with Imzadi (Who is a very accomplished sew-er), and Janette (ditto), who recommended a store, I came home with:

White 690 Sewing Machine

Everyone agreed: Get a good, solid, basic machine made of all metal, an older White or Singer. This one was waiting for me - it was exactly what the Doctor ordered, and was the only one meeting this spec in the store. And it was only $75! Its called a "White 690". It sure beats the brand new all-plastic Brother I saw for $89 at Costco!

Now, I don't know much about running a sewing machine, other than what I remember from watching my mother when I was a kid. But hey, its a machine - I'm a guy, I grok machinery. The lady showed me what all the dials and gizmos on it do, it actually looks like this is gonna be a bunch of fun! I'll just blunder my way through it like I do everything else and figure it out. I wonder if there's a "Sewing for Dummies" book?

But I'm thrilled that I'll soon be able to make simple repairs at the very least - and as a bonus the machine came pre-loaded with the right colored thread to repair the Isis wings! smile! Although sewing is something I thought I'd never do - it is appropriate for me to do so. Not just because I'm a Belly Dancer (reason enough), but also because my patron Goddess is Athena - Goddess of weaving and handicrafts, among other things. smile!

In other news, Janette's Wednesday nite "Performance Skills" class is an absolute kick-a$$ class! I'm getting *so* much out of it - even though its VERY hard stuff.

An astute regular visitor to this site noticed the WebRings are gone. Yes they're gone - I was probably getting less than 10 hits a YEAR from them, people don't use them like they did in the old days. Besides, they took up a lot of space, and were ugly - so they're history.

13 May 2007

As you've no doubt noticed, a MAJOR site revamp. Many months of planning, and about a week of nite and weekend hacking have brought the site to this new state. This should make the site a bit easier for me to maintain, make it more expandable, and most importantly, make it easier to navigate. I've found that most people do not navigate a WebSite the same way I do (!), so hopefully neuro-typicals will find it easier to find things and get around. wink!

Not much new in the way of content - yet, but this paves the way for some new features I've been putting off till after I accomplished this - such as the Kalisa's gallery among others.

The guestbook is gone. Partially because guestbooks are "so 1990s", but more because I've grown tired of fighting the SPAMbots, as well as a certain relation of mine who feels the guestbook is the place to post inappropriate personal comments. So between locking this person out, locking SPAMbots out, and hacking the guestbook to make it harder for SPAMbots to post in it in the first place; it became too hard for actual guests to use, plus I was checking it EVERY time I logged into the site in order to delete anything I didn't want there. sad!

Any bug reports would be appreciated! Between hand editing, and using sed to accomplish much of the grunt work, I'm sure something somewhere is broken. A great deal of effort went into retaining the site's search-engine friendliness despite it using frames. I think I've succeeded...

The site seems to work fine in Internet Exploder, FireFox, and NetScape - although I have yet to check it with the PC version of Exploder. More obscure browsers may have obscure problems, Safari for one. Safari seems to work OK, but does weird things under certain circumstances. I would think that Konqueror would have similar issues as Safari is derived from the former. I do, of course, design primarily for FireFox - why use anything else? smile!

The Piano page remains outside the frameset, as it is a semi-autonomous entity.

Look for more tweaks and content filling over the next few months!

5 May 2007

Casbah Cabaret. This will be the last CC for awhile as Janette has decided to do it quarterly instead of monthly due to declining attendance - the closure of Kalisa's has really screwed up the Monterey Belly Dance scene.

Anyways, I did "BellyGram-2" with my Tutankhamun Zills and red/orange four yard A'Kai silk veil. A sub optimal performance in some regards as the CD player started to skip, plus Janette pulled the CD before it was finished cutting off my exit number. There is a 15 second pause before the exit number to allow applause, bowing, etc - then the music starts again for another 30 seconds or so to get me off the stage. Janette was confused - as the darn thing was skipping anyway, it was probably no great loss...

My wife tells me the routine looked good except for my arms in the drum solo - it was the first time she'd seen this routine. I'm not terribly surprised by this news, and will endeavor to fix the problem!

2 May 2007

An eventful day. First, I woke up at 0630 to get ready for a modeling gig! Seems that a local artist friend of Lana's is putting together an "Artistic Photo" book of local Belly Dancers and wanted me to be in it (the ONLY male!). She'll be adding in exotic backgrounds, cleaning up the photos, etc. in photoshop.

So at 0830 off I go all made up and dressed in the first of three costumes. The car was loaded up with jewelry, the other two costumes, one of Nadia's canes, the "new" Shemadan, my Isis wings, three statues of various Goddesses and one angel statue (for ambiance), a set of Zills, my yellow Gypsy skirt, two string "skirts", and any number of veils!

The photographer used almost everything I brought at one point or another (plus a Spanish fan she had laying about) - she really liked everything, but especially the Shemadan and Nadia's cane. Although I had come prepared to do so, I didn't have to re-apply makeup or toenail polish with each costume change - she'll take care of that in photoshop.

It'll be interesting how the pictures come out once she has applied her artistry to them - I'm very proud and flattered to be included in this project. I know and trust her aesthetic sense.

Two interesting points: 1) With only ONE exception, EVERY dancer she's photographed has brought something that was passed down to them by Lana (including me); and 2) Most dancers brought Isis wings (including me) - Belly Dancers just cannot resist wings!

The other exciting news is Janette's new Wednesday nite performance skills class - it got off to a great start tonite! I think it will be a great class, but some of the stuff she's teaching is NOT easy to learn - or to teach!

29 April 2007

Link opens in new window Masala Imports semi-regular hafla in Santa Cruz! As always, a nice, relaxing time. I did "Solo-10/Om Kalsoum" again for the 2nd time. Better than last time, although I still think I had a case of "repeat-itis"; this tune isn't easy to dance convincingly to. However, I was told by a dance sister that her husband had said something to the effect of "How does he move his hips like that? I'd break mine just trying!", so it wasn't all bad either. smile!

Janette, Janelle, Sahar, Rebekah, et al were all in attendance and performed nicely. In fact, I had to follow Janelle onstage - NOT an easy prospect. I joked with her beforehand that she was supposed to mess up so I wouldn't look so bad following her! A fun day.

Zorba @ Hafla

25 April 2007

Goodbye and farewell to Sahar - at least for now. Janette started a new solo performance skills and stagecraft class on Wednesday nites. Although the first class was tonite, I was paid up with Sahar so I went to say "Goodbye for now". Sahar has really helped my shimmy and is a sweetheart too. I'll miss her smile and her class - but I'll probably be able to go back eventually. We'll see how Janette's new class pans out - hopefully she can get enough people to make it worth her while. This is a class that should really benefit me...

22 April 2007

I finally got Cory Zamora's "Scarf Tie" video review completed. Enjoy!

21 April 2007

The veil thief has been caught! grin! It was indeed Wiggle Woman who grabbed it by mistake last nite. I asked her if she knew what happened to veil thieves in the old west? smile! Anyway, the veil is back home, safe and sound. Thumbs Up!

My wife and I performed at Pacific Grove's "Good Old Days" street fair with Janette and her girls, doing the troupe choreographies (I played my Tutankhamun Zills). The performance went off very well; nice enthusiastic audience and everyone danced well. LOTS of fun! And yes, I wore my gypsy skirt for the first half of the performance as we did our gypsy skirt dance, removing it along with everyone else for the second half.

20 April 2007

A Friday nite performance at the Vet's hall with Kalisa. A fund raiser to purchase lites for the stage - we raised $300!

I first did "Solo-3 with veil prelude", using my wife's sage green silk veil (3-yard) as it was the only thing that would go with the new costume I was wearing. As this venue is large, I played my Zildjian Zills. It went pretty well, Wiggle Woman said I did good, as did numerous others of my dance sisters - even if one of my Zills did manage to turn itself around the wrong way, time for new elastics.

I was going to go on again. My (wife's) veil suddenly disappeared. Both myself, and Crystal (a dancer/instructor from Santa Cruz) remembered my placing it on top of my dance bag - but no veil. After some detective work, we think Wiggle Woman inadvertently stole it as her stuff was right next to mine. I hope that's where it is, I'll ask her tomorrow.

Anyway, I went ahead and did my beloved "Solo-4/Mary Jane's Dance" with a borrowed black chiffon veil. First time in this venue for that dance. Medium sized (by the old Kalisa's standards) and very enthusiastic crowd. We had one guy yelling OPA! at the top of his lungs about once every 30 seconds. He got louder and more frequent as the evening wore on. He also didn't let the sudden appearance of a male Belly Dancer phase him one bit; I got just as many OPAs! as everyone else, plus a couple of geia sous as well!

The dressing room situation has improved with the addition of two large mirrors and a barricade by the door so we have a place to come FROM when we're going on stage, plus a place to watch out of site of the audience. The stage now has a draped background similar to the pre-mural days at Kalisa's.

13 April 2007

I hurt. My shoulders are sore, and my calves HURT! Janette, myself, and two dance sisters went to Aziza's workshop tonite: "Quality of Motion". What she taught dovetailed nicely with Janette's own teachings - but boy do I hurt! Good teacher, good class, and she's a sweetheart! I first saw her at the Luna Gitana festival a couple of years ago where she did a wonderful veil number.

Famed Goth Belly Dancer "Tempest" was in the workshop! WOW! See my review of her video elsewhere on this site. I really enjoyed yakking with her - I've taken lots of workshops FROM star dancers, this is the first time I've been in a workshop WITH a star dancer!

8 April 2007

A minor, but urgent job completed on Piano

7 April 2007

Casbah Cabaret. New routine, "Solo-10/Om Kalsoum". For a new routine, it went very well. However, I knew I was sticking my neck out with this one. Om Kalsoum is a very well known, classic Belly Dance piece (I used the Yazbek version) and Wiggle Woman dances to it frequently. She said my facials were good, I was "very musical" and hit all the accents correctly, etc. BUT (I *finally* have gotten her to give me critique!) I was apparently dancing in 4/4 time - a big "no-no" (which is why we don't dance to rock music). News to me - so I scheduled a private with her.

I also performed the new Gypsy Skirt Dance choreography at last, taking my 21 yard Gypsy skirt to the stage for the first time. The stage at Casbah is small, 8' X 8'. Three of us trying to do a vigorous skirt dance with the huge skirts is interesting in such a small space. Talk about "flying skirts"! I made a couple or three mistakes, but all in all it went pretty well for Zorba doing a choreography - especially for the first time. Haven't a clue what the audience though about the 6 foot tall, bearded guy in the bright yellow skirt - but was well received when I did my solo later (sans skirt) so it mustn't have fried their brains too bad. smile!

4 April 2007

Major work on Piano Three pages worth!

Also, a quick shot of my new tambourine I picked up at Rakkasah!

25 March 2007

Happy Greek Independence Day! smile!

As promised, I fast tracked the Nadia Gamal Workshop DVD review. Enjoy!

I also received some VERY heavy glass sherbet goblets I ordered a while back, I'm going to give goblet dancing a try! Its been on my mind for some time, I ordered them just before Rakkasah which was a good thing as I saw a gal there do a VERY impressive goblet dance. All I've done so far is make sure they support my weight. Another challenge!

I've been invited to perform at a Belly Dance festival this fall. I'm honored of course, and I accepted. Its apparently an invitation only affair. More when its all a "done deal"!

19 March 2007

Two short news pieces about the closure of Kalisa's. I've known about them for a couple of weeks, but wasn't sure they were going to stay around for any length of time. Still not sure, but as they're still there, they'll probably be with us for a bit. Added 'em to my links page as well.

These links are somewhat problematic. They blow up FireFox, at least on the Mac. They work fine with Safari. Probably OK with Internet Exploder, but I haven't checked. You're first presented with a short commercial, then the main video loads. Afterwards, another, unrelated video loads. Just close the darn thing when you're done, otherwise it might run forever!

Link opens in new window A news video - About the closure of Kalisa's. Brief footage of Zorba and his teacher Jamaica.

Link opens in new window A sister station's version - Of the above, but different editing so its slightly different.

17 March 2007

Rakkasah. Bought a bunch of stuff. A beautiful, hand painted tambourine. A pair of blue Bell Bottomed dance pants for my blue costume. A second pair custom ordered to go with that weird sequined top I have. A stunning blue earring/necklace/headpiece set from my favorite jewelry vendor, Link opens in new window Eyescream Jewelry. A bunch of bindis. The new Nadia Gamal instructional video - look for a mini-review soon, I'll fast track it.

Saw some fine dancing. No disgusting "Coffee Table" incidents this year. Suhaila brought Bal Anat to the stage, a vast improvement over last year - my wife and I enjoyed the show. I'm REALLY hoping the trend towards sleaze in Belly Dancing is reversing or at least nullifying itself - Rakkasah made it clear after last year that sleaze wouldn't be tolerated (as they should have), the result was MUCH better dancing overall this year.

Sese of Santa Cruz did a great show, as did Ansuya and many others. Someone did a "Pirates of the Caribbean" routine to the soundtrack - unfortunately I didn't see much of it as my wife and I were on the floor buying bindis at the time. It looked "OK" from what little I was able to see of it from my vantage point, but a couple of dance sisters we had carpooled with didn't care for it for what ever reason. I'm much rather have this kind of controversy!

Link opens in new window Sharif had managed to get a performance spot in the "Cabaret room", he did his "Batman meets Belly Dance" veil/cape routine, he looked good!

10 March 2007

Kalisa's. Well, sort of. Actually a brand new venue - the Monterey Veteran's Memorial Hall - overseen by the Queen of Cannery Row herself, Kalisa!

This was a sort of "try it and see if it fits" nite. The crowd, if it had been at Kalisa's, was medium sized but on the low side energy-wise. Being that it was all new, etc, etc, blah, blah - it was a bit disorganized.

When I arrived, Janette directed me to the room being used as a dressing room. Nice sized room, full of RPGs, grenades, bayonets, swords, old army uniforms, and even a bazooka! What it doesn't have is a mirror - otherwise it superior in every way to the one at Kalisa's! Jamaica was eyeballing the bazooka, thinking it would make a great substitute for her sword in her sword dance. Here, balance this!!

Janette told me to get ready for the skirt dance. Yep, I was going to actually perform in a skirt at long last - the short but fun Gypsy skirt routine we've been working on in class for the past couple of months. So I get my gypsy skirt on, and am ready to go - and Janette's CD wouldn't play in the hall's apparently somewhat quirky CD player. So nix the skirt dance.

I go and lose the skirt, and get into (one of) my regular costumes - and did "BellyGram-2" - long version just as I had on 28 Feb. Same veil, same cane, same zills. Yea, same veil - the one I swore I wouldn't dance with until it was hemmed - fortunately it didn't give me any problems this time. More importantly, Janette took it home with her tonite - she's going to hem it for me. YAY! I didn't escape unscathed however, the quirky CD player decided to stop playing my CD right after the end of my routine, but before the exit piece started playing!

We all agreed that this venue has potential - they even have on site food service at $6/plate! Stage is very nice, about 3 times the size of the one at Kalisa's. I "think" I'll be able to use my new, taller, Shemadan on this stage - but I'll have to check it to be sure. I definitely will be able to use Isis wings - so now I actually have a reason to work up a routine with them!

Zorba onstage.
The stage could stand a good rug shampooing!

2 March 2007

For the first time in almost 50 years, Kalisa's is cold, dark, and empty on a Friday evening. The last time this happened was before I was born... sad!

28 February 2007

Armageddon. The end of all things. Gotterdämmerung. Twilight of the Gods. The last turn of the wheel. The closure of Kalisa's. It is done. sad!

Janette, Isabella, and myself performed tonite. My performance was an exact duplicate of last nite's: same routine, same music, same Zills, same veil - but different cane. I used Nadia Gamal's "Cane #2" instead of the "#1" I used last nite. I also had (minor) problems with that blasted veil, it isn't hemmed and I haven't gotten it fixed yet. Its officially on hiatus until it gets hemmed, I can't find the edges when I'm dancing with it! To crown the whole thing, I had a thumb Zill fall off and clatter on the stage - a new flub for me. I picked it up, put it back on, and "scolded" it by wagging my finger at it. The crowd chuckled good naturedly.

The crowd was very different tonite from last nite. Janette went on first, I told Isabella "We've got to get this crowd warmed up. They act like they're at the symphony!". We managed to get them warmed up to about lukewarm. They seemed more into the mono-tonic singer who came on after the three of us.

As we were leaving, Jamaica and several other dancers came in (we were expecting them) - hopefully they had better luck than we did!

I'm very glad and proud that I was able to be part of this final nite - "turning out the lites" so to speak. And I can honestly say that while I certainly wasn't the FIRST male Belly Dancer to dance there (not by a long shot!), Goddess knows I definitely was the LAST...

No hail tonite - just a cold, stiff wind. I almost left Nadia's cane there, I had to go back and get it. Urk - that would NOT have been good...

I have taken a boatload of pictures of the old place over the last several weeks - look for them to appear in a new gallery "soon"...

27 February 2007

The last annual Cannery Row John Steinbeck birthday party - at Kalisa's, of course. Catered dinner party; with Steinbeck readings, poetry, live music, and lots of Belly Dancing! Place was packed with tables from Goddess only knows where, and it was still standing room only.

I did "BellyGram-2" (Long version), the first time I've performed the whole thing. Just like the short version I performed on the 9th, but with a cane routine between the veil and taksim portions (I used Nadia Gamal's "cane #1"). I used my new four yard silk orange/red veil, along with - a first at Kalisa's - my Zildjian Zills. I've never used the Zildjians at Kalisa's before as they are VERY powerful; but I figured as full as the house has been, that they wouldn't be overpowering and I wanted to play them there at least once. I was right, they were fine.

A totally different crowd than the norm, of course. They seemed to like me - its hard to read a crowd of "normal" folks as they aren't like dancing for middle easterners, other Belly Dancers, and those familiar with the Belly Dance "scene". They weren't nearly as loud or visibly enthusiastic - but they didn't act like they were at the symphony either! There were several women who were obviously eating up my performance!

It hailed a bit just before I went on. The upstairs landing outside the stage door suddenly was pelted with little hailstones. Came home and found unmelted hail bunched up under the eaves of the house on the deck that my wife and I built last year...

24 February 2007

Kalisa's. Huge crowd, standing room only - I couldn't even get up and down the stairs there were so many people. Us dancers had to sneak up and down the back staircase where the public isn't allowed. Rank hath its privileges!

As this was the very LAST Belly Dance showcase ever, I did "Solo-4/Mary Jane's Dance" one more time. Using my ultra-diaphanous green 3 yard chiffon veil, and I was wearing the costume Mary Jane made for me. It was magic. This dance means so much to me on several levels, its always a joy to perform. But tonite I felt it as I had never felt it before. Even though its only a medium energy piece, audiences don't usually clap along with it, they did tonite. I felt like I was dancing on clouds.

We had lots of dancers, of course. Of particular note, Valeria did a routine that she performed the very first time she ever performed at Kalisa's. In 1987. That's right - 20 years ago, and she was an accomplished dancer far before that. She even performed it from the original cassette she used in '87! You remember cassettes?

Jamaica, who is STILL my #1 Belly Dance idol had no less than FOUR "Chickadees" - dancers doing their very first (troupe) performance. I just LOVE seeing Chickadees dance! Their mix of stage fright and enthusiasm is SO infectious - and I remember oh so well my very first performance when I was a Chickadee myself! And of course Jamaica did a wonderful performance herself. I'll always be jealous of her "three foot" Maias! smile!

We're not quite dead yet - there is at least one more nite with Belly Dancing at the old La-Ida. It won't be a showcase, but a show with mixed talent. Stay tuned, February isn't over yet!

23 February 2007

Kalisa's. Huge crowd, standing room only - even more swamped than last week. This was the very LAST Friday nite Belly Dance showcase at the La-Ida, a tradition going back almost 50 years.

I did "BellyGram-1" (short version) after discussion with Wiggle Woman about doing "BellyGram-2" (Long version). We decided it would be too long considering the place was overflowing with Belly Dancers. I used my King Tut Zills and four yard "Dragon's Blood" veil - it went off well.

There were a LOT of stellar performances tonite. One dance sister debuted a costume that she had majorly rebuilt - it had originally belonged to a regular dancer at Kalisa's back in the 60s! I like things like that - with provenance.

16 February 2007

Kalisa's. Huge crowd, standing room only! Started out at about 75% on the enthusiastic scale, but by the end they were all at 110%! I did "Solo-3", which I haven't done in a while (although it is a part of "BellyGram-1", playing my "King Tut" Zills. It was magic, the energy level was incredible - and I rode the energy wave to the top and beyond!

A ton of dancers, including Sharif who is really showing good form these days. Didn't get back to the car until midnight.

9 February 2007

Kalisa's. Very large crowd. Not as large as last week, but plenty large enough. Very enthusiastic! I used my "Grecian" zills and my four yard red/blue/whatever varicolored chiffon veil to dance a BRAND NEW routine - "BellyGram-2" (short version) which I've been working on for 1.2 forevers.

It is a five part routine, a 30 second slow intro with no dancing, then a fast, "Zilly" number (Light Rain's "The Gypsies") followed by a beautiful veil piece (of course!), a short Taqsim, a fairly long drum solo, and a finale. Then a pause for bows and applause followed by a surprise short exit piece.

The yet to be performed long version is a six part routine which adds a cane number between the veil and the Taqsim. I hope to debut it at Kalisa's also, probably at the final blow-out party.

A lot of firsts tonite for me with this new routine. The "short" version of this one is slightly longer than the "long" version of "BellyGram-1" at 12:21, whereas the "long" version of "BellyGram-2" tops out at over 15 minutes. It is the first "real" drum solo I've performed, although "Solo-6/Shemadan" is drum solo-ish. Its the first time I've EVER performed a Taqsim - which was helped immensely by Aradia's workshop on the subject at last year's Arabian Nights at Sea.

Lastly, it is my very first "full", traditional Belly Dance routine. "BellyGram-1" is only a three parter, and doesn't include the "required" Taqsim and drum solo elements. Wiggle Woman told me I did very well (even though I forced her to tell me something I needed to improve - she said "arms" (of course)), and I received great applause and many compliments. So I'm happy overall - even though I *did* do a hard hip slide to a non-existent drum beat at one point in the drum solo! grin!

8 February 2007

The first report this year for Piano

2 February 2007

Kalisa's. Word of the impending End is getting out. Huge, and I mean HUGE crowd. Also a HUGE number of Belly Dancers. It was a magical nite - the crowd was wonderful, and so were the dancers. We had everything from a gal who has only been taking classes for two months do her first solo (and did it very well), to a gal who had started her career at Kalisa's 30 years ago (and still has "it").

Everything was just "on". Jamaica did a wonderful dance, as did everyone there. I did "Veil-5" with a borrowed 3 yard light silk veil (Thanx Lynn!) because bonehead me forgot to bring a veil. I was a bit afraid as the dancer before me (Lynn) had done a high energy number, and here I was going on with a sedate veil piece. I had this happen once before with the same routine, and I didn't do well. Fortunately, I guess experience counts as I was well received and had lots of compliments, even from a couple of younger middle eastern guys (Who expressed surprise when they learned I wasn't gay (whatever!)!).

26 January 2007

Kalisa's. Medium-large crowd, pretty enthusiastic! I did "BellyGram 1" with my new red/orange A'Kai four yard veil and my Saroyan "Grecian" Zills.

Was tipped by a GUY - he tipped several of us dancers. He also spoke at least a small amount of Greek - he greeted and thanked me in Greek, and I thanked him in turn for the tip in Greek. Its nice to hear the language!

One of the regulars, a middle eastern man who has always been encouraging to me, wore a red Fez tonite - it made him look like the spitting image of the famed musician Mohammad El-Bakkar! Another younger man of middle eastern extraction, was obviously uncomfortable with my presence. Most of the younger M.E. men like me, but this one was one of the exceptions. Can't win 'em all...

20 January 2007

Disturbing, but not entirely unexpected news has reached me - Kalisa's will be closing at the end of February as the building has been sold. frown!

The funny thing is that I would have been there last nite, except - ONCE FREAKIN' AGAIN - I'm sick. At least it isn't allergy related this time - I think that's under control - this is some kind of Flu bug. frown!

Janette has been saying for the last several years, we have Kalisa's until we don't. Kalisa herself will be celebrating her 81st birthday in a couple of weeks. This will be the end of an era, much like the long gone Cabarets of North Beach in San Francisco immortalized on the Link opens in new window Gilded Serpent WebSite. "The Living End of Cannery Row" as its been since 1958 - Belly Dancing every Friday nite! I'm sure it'll go out with a bang - and I'll be there assuming I'M NOT FREAKIN' SICK!

The only silver lining is that Janette says we'll be doing "Casbah Cabaret" (at her studio) more often. smile!

6 January 2007

First performance of the new year - Casbah Cabaret. Had lots of dancers; medium sized, friendly enough but somewhat lukewarm crowd. I did "Solo-4/Mary Jane's Dance" with my brand new Link opens in new window A'Kai four yard rectangular red/orange silk veil.

It wasn't my best performance - the veil gave me some minor problems and my wife reported that my hands could have been smoother. The veil is un-hemmed, I'm going to have to get that fixed...

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