A Belly Dance Diary 2011
Zorba dancing at Santa Cruz's "Crepe Place" restaurant (09/11/10).
He calls this his "Sacrificial Virgin" costume!
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.
15 December 2011
Several pix of the TFF performance added to the 2011 Gallery, including one of Tempest's beautiful artwork (page 6)!
11 December 2011
A Mirage performance at Tribal Fusion Faire in San Louis Obispo. This year we did a Gypsy style performance! First, was a brand new Shawl dance that we put together in about 8 weeks, followed by our trusty Skirt dance. The Shawl dance went off without a hitch, there was a minor problem in one part of the Skirt dance that several audience members told me that they didn't see it. Good! That's the way on-stage screw-ups are supposed to be!
Did a small amount of shopping, bought a small piece to enhance one of my Tribal belts, and a really beautiful drawing from the well-known Tribal Fusion dancer, "Tempest" (picture coming soon!). I had a good yak with her, and several other Tribal dance sisters of my acquaintance! I'm "kinda-sorta" in the market for a new Gypsy skirt for these kinds of performances. The yellow one I have is starting to look slightly "ticky-tacky", although there's still a good amount of life left in the old girl. However, I'm tired of wearing the same damn costume that I always wear when skirt dancing (As opposed to mere dancing in a skirt), so I want one in another color. I've found a beautiful burgundy colored one, but it was overpriced and not quite as heavy as I'd like. The quest continues...
Tatseena's group put on a very interesting show with 2 Goth fusion chicks stabbing a VooDoo doll of a Cabaret dancer causing said dancer (in "Sacrificial Virgin White") to collapse in eventual "death" on the stage. Then another Cabaret dancer in Isis wings played the role of the Goddess; resurrected the slain Cabaret dancer, and subdued the evil Goth fusion chicks. Pretty interesting symbology for sure!
A good day.
19 November 2011
A private intensive with Cory Zamora! I drove down to her studio in Fresno. We covered a LOT of ground in about 3 hours. We touched on Shemadan, particularly floorwork and the "roll over" portion thereof; we went over the scarf tie which is the same one that The Mighty Siwa uses in our troupe veil number (that has always been a disaster for me in one way or another!); Zill playing, goblets, and cane!
The two real "take home" subjects were veil handling while playing Zills, and cane dancing. Cory, being the old skool dancer she is, never takes her Zills off for veil. I too have done "some" veil dancing with Zills on - with varying degrees of success. What I got today was both a better way to hold the veil with the Zills, as well as the fundamentals of adjusting the veil. No-one else has ever been able to show me something that worked! I had been trying to adjust the veil the way I do it without Zills which basically doesn't work when you add same to the mix. I now know how to do it, its something I already knew - but never applied to this situation as I was used to doing it the "other" way! Its still gonna take a bunch of practice.
Then we worked on the cane dance - which I *REALLY* needed. Besides a much anticipated review of the basic style, we worked on the musicality of the piece I usually use for cane, and she showed me a way to avoid thinking too much and dancing too little. Its still gonna take a bunch of practice.
Came home with one of her performance DVDs too!
13 November 2011
12 November 2011
Workshop with Firefly at the Halanda Studio in San Jose (where I took the Tarik workshops). The subject of this 3 hour workshop was that very popular, albeit non traditional, Belly Dance prop; fan veils!
The workshop was good. I've had a pair of these things for several years without a clue as to how to dance with them. I learned a lot, including the fact that it is best to have them in pairs: a right hand one, and a left hand one. I have 2 right handers - but I'll convert one to a lefty.
Firefly is about the best dancer I've seen with this prop - most dancers get on stage and proceed to dance entirely too long and quickly run out of things to "say" with them. Firefly can command the audience's attention with them - no small feat. She's well on her way of becoming one of the world's foremost performers with this particular prop, much like Ayshe of New York is with wings or Alyne Hazard is with double veil.
As for myself, I'll probably do some dancing with them; but much like the "Wings of Isis", I'll most likely keep it (the fan veil section) short as an accent. Fan veils and wings both are like a different kind of veil - and more limited - but still beautiful if done well.
5 November 2011
Performance with "Damascus" at a MECDA event all the way up in Los Altos. We danced the Tambourine Dance and Orville's Dance. Over all, I, and the troupe, did pretty good. I'm still having problems with my skirts in Orville's dance - the slick, tight mermaid skirt (which is on top) is hard to grasp at short notice. I also managed to turn the wrong way once!
Still, it was a fun event, saw a number of people I know, and bought a nice hair flower for only $5.00. This was also the first public outing for my new navel piercing! As this was a "large hall" type venue, it probably wasn't particularly visible.
30 October 2011
29 October 2011
Performance with Dancers of the Crescent Moon at Santa Cruz's Crepe Place restaurant. We danced Halay, the basket dance without baskets, and a zill dance to the song Sashkin. This was the first time I've ever performed this particular dance - the song however is quite familiar to me as I learned a totally different choreography to it with Sahar.
I also performed an impromptu solo to the Turkish song Siseler, playing my Grecian Zills for both this and the troupe dance.
Unable to show off my new piercing as we were in folkloric (Read: covered belly) garb.
27 October 2011
After all the anguished thought, worry, and angst about it, I said "To Hell with it, I want a navel piercing!" Tom at Staircase Tattoo did the honors - my wife who watched said that he "did everything right" (from a sterility standpoint). UPDATE: I had occasion to show it to my doctor the next day, he was very impressed at how neat the piercing was - "no inflamation whatwoever!" So it looks like it has every chance of healing up nicely - I'm doing saline soaks 3X daily.
15 October 2011
Here it is, almost the end of 2011, yet pictures from last year continue to arrive. Several new pictures from the 2010 ANAS cruise have been added to the 2010 Gallery.
9 October 2011
Its been over 3 years, time to check both links pages for broken links. Usually, I lose a number of linked articles about male dancers, but not many actual male dancer site links. This time, however, most of the article links still worked, but a surprising number of male dancer sites are gone!
25 September 2011
ANAS, day 3.
The last day was a bit of a disaster - I started with "Rockin' Raq Sharqi Combos" with Princess Farhana. This went well - I learned some abdominal techniques that I've never seen anywhere else. The best part is that I can actually do them - I have weak abs to start with and have difficulty with a lot of the advanced abdominal stuff.
Then I went to a veil class with Fahtiem - that I had been waiting the entire weekend for. I collapsed in a dizzy, nauseated heap after about 10 minutes. A similar thing happened to me in Jill Parker's class on the 2008 cruise. A dance sister gave me a clue - possibly I'm not drinking enough water! In any event, the veil class was spoiled for me.
The farewell hafla was great - as it usually is. Light Rain played - their music just sets me on fire! - especially when they're live. I even won a CD in the raffle!
24 September 2011
ANAS, day 2.
I took 3 classes this day. The first, was "Drum Solo Secrets" from one of my fave ANAS teachers, Paulina, the second was "Catchy Tribal Fusion Combos" with Ashley Lopez (that is really useful for any style of Belly Dance), and the last was a very good Zill class with Fahtiem.
23 September 2011
Arabian Nights at Sea, day 1. Debarkation on the Carnival Paradise. I took a class called "Strike A Pose: How to Make the Camera Love You" from Princess Farhana. Much of this was simply common sense, good dance posture/technique and/or good photography technique. However, there were some surprises! I have a habit of posing with a raised hip towards the camera - best to drop the hip instead to lengthen the torso line. A worthwhile class.
20 September 2011
An online dance sister pointed me at some pictures of the Tarik workshop, so three of them have been added to the 2011 Gallery.
18 September 2011
A performance with "Damascus" at the Santa Cruz county fair. As I'd been out of town for a couple of weeks, I was unable to attend dress rehearsal thus was ineligible to dance the troupe dances (A great policy that I'm behind 100%). So I therefore performed a solo. I had intended to perform to Natacha Atlas's "I Put a Spell on You", but The Mighty Siwa had already burned a performance CD with the same music that I use for my cane dance. So I danced that instead - but without a cane. I wasn't too happy with my performance, but was told that it was anywhere from "good enough" to "beautiful" - so I'm mostly content.
14 September 2011
A drop in class with Mindy which was both fun and informative as her classes always are.
17 August 2011
Video of my Carnival of Stars performance is now on the video page.
16 August 2011
14 August 2011
Two workshops and a private with the famed male dancer, Tarik Sultan!
Tarik and I have an interesting relationship - this was our first face to face meeting, but we've corresponded via the 'Net for years. We've had some spirited, yet friendly debates - although we're probably about 97.4792031004% in agreement about male dancers, what they should do, how they should do it, and what they should wear; the remaining small disagreement has been the subject of lots of discussion!
So anyway, I jumped at the opportunity to study with him - and I can say that he's the "real deal". There's not many male dancers whom I trust enough to take a class from - but I'll study under Tarik anytime! No stupid male tricks, no masculinizations, no nonsense. Just very beautiful dancing (dare I say "pretty"?), a very caring heart and patient teaching style. He understands the concept of "Masculine Beauty", something I've been writing/ranting about for years.
The first workshop was on balancing - he's famous for balancing a Shisha on his head whilst dancing. So we first practiced with water bottles for a vertical object, then trays for horizontal. As I'm an experienced balancer, I did pretty well in this one - but that's not to say that I didn't drop my objects - especially the water bottle which was very hard! The tray was easier - and I even managed to do the "roll over on the floor with tray on my head" thing (on the 3rd try) - I've always had problems with that. I was also able to successfully balance the tray on the bottom of my foot while rolling over - but I wasn't able to do the handless transfer from head to knees and back; I'm just *NOT* flexible enough.
The second class was on Shaabi dancing - the social/street version of the staged Belly Dancing that we do. It was a lot of fun, and I was able to observe Tarik's beautiful dancing at close range - and try to blunder along...
What was the big surprise to me was that I was the only male in the classes! I was sure that one or two of my dance brothers would be there. I'm certainly not one to take a class from a male instructor just because he's male - quite the opposite. But I never dreamed that I'd be the only male in a Tarik Sultan class!
Then there was the private lesson with him - an opportunity I was *NOT* going to pass up! It wasn't cheap - and it was worth every penny. I wanted feedback on posture and my ongoing issues with "gooshies" (upward vertical-8s) and (conventional) shimmies. A lot of sweat on my part (at the end of the whole thing, I smelled so bad that I could smell myself! ) resulted in some feedback that I couldn't have gotten anywhere else. My question was "Are these problems caused by: A) Differing body (read: Hip) structure between male/female bodies, B) Weirdnesses of *my* particular body, or C) Piss poor technique?
The answers were kind of "all of the above". Without going into a bunch of boring detail, the executive summary was that I need to allow my feet to rotate outward in my stance (A & B); I need to use a great deal less power in my shimmies (C), and he showed me the muscles I needed to be thinking about on Gooshies (A,B,& C). My hand posture is too stark/strong - which goes back to Janette telling me from time to time: "Soften your hands". There was more, but that's the crux of it.
The performance pix from COS have arrived, I've added two more to the 2011 Gallery. I think that's enough!
13 August 2011
Mirage performance at HaflAdira in San Jose. "Flock of Seagulls" and our skirt dance. Some very cool dancers performed, including our very own Firefly. Our performance went well too! Adira, the gal who puts it on, was most gracious to us!
In addition, there was a mini-workshop by Ma*Shuqa!
11 August 2011
Four more pictures from Saturday (8/6/11) trickled in and have been added to the 2011 Gallery. I'm still waiting for my CD to come - hope to add a couple "flying skirts" pictures with a bit more motion.
8 August 2011
Two early pictures from Saturday (8/6/11) added to the 2011 Gallery. More are on the way!
6 August 2011
Double performance at the 2011 Carnival of Stars. First, I did a new arrangement of some old favorites - I swiped the cane dance, and the drum solo from "Routine-2", called it "Solo-15", and took it to stage with Nadia Gamal's cane "#1". Had lots of compliments, but the one that really struck home was from the director of the Desert Dance Festival (DDF), Dunia. She gave me some very good - no, make that EXCELLENT - feedback. The bottom line was that what I need to improve is subtle enough that I'm doing a hell of a lot right. And I know how to address her critique - which is a very good thing too. I need to take a remedial workshop in Sai'idi style for the cane dance (its been awhile), and I need to practice the technique she suggested for my drum solo. Later in the day, she pointed out a very good dancer who was doing the same suboptimal thing I was in *her* drum solo! Its really great to have feedback like this!
In addition, I keep saying that I "normally" don't wear skirts for solos - but in reality I have been with increasing frequency, especially if its a "dancing for dancers" show. For this solo, I actually wore 2 skirts - under a (well, my one and only) dress. My Majida dress from "Damascus". It REALLY shows off shimmies, hipwork, etc. and was perfect for a cane dance as it covers the midriff for cultural correctness.
I worked a 2 hour volunteer shift as stage manager, then it was a duette with The Mighty Siwa as (Daughters of) "Damascus" (It was very easy to change into my harlequin costume for this performance as it shares the same two underskirts and pantaloons as the Majida dress). We danced the tambourine dance, and the dance dedicated to my father, "Orville's Dance". We really nailed the tambourine dance, it was really spot on. Orville's was pretty good too - this is a tricky choreography, and I only made a couple of minor mistakes.
Afterwards, I was able to actually sit and watch a number of very good dancers, including Helena Vlahos who obliged us after her stellar performance with her famous quarter flipping trick. I was lucky enough to come home with one of the quarters!
Last, but not least, Cory Zamora danced. She's just awesome, what can I say? Beautiful, "Old Skool" American Cabaret - no one does it like Cory!
Performance pictures are on order!
5 August 2011
A Tribal workshop with Laura Walker. All of Mirage went - I had heard about Laura from one of my DCM dance sisters, so I approached her about her class. She wanted to do a workshop with us as she is currently only teaching beginning Tribal - and what a wonderful workshop it was! We were all VERY impressed, and plan on taking additional workshops with her - and if she starts an intermediate level class, we'd like to be in it.
4 August 2011
Pictures from 24 July added to the 2011 Gallery.
This is the five month anniversary of my father's passing - he's never far from my mind...
24 July 2011
Performance with The Mighty Siwa as (Daughters of) "Damascus" at Santa Cruz Raks - which has returned to "Michael's on Main" in Soquel. We did the same set as on 28 May: Tambourine, Pom-Pom Perot, and "Orville's Dance"; wearing our brand new "Harlequin" costumes. Very good crowd, lots of fun, all the (other) dancers were great, got some tips, etc. Very happy.
14 July 2011
This picture, and one other, from last weekend's performance are now in the 2011 Gallery:
9 July 2011
I don't normally like performing outdoors - but today's performance was an exception. It was by invitation by the organizer - the 2nd annual "Faerie Barter Market", held in a Redwood grove above Santa Cruz.
The energy was just "right", nothing like throwing your head back and looking up at 300 ft Redwood trees! I performed an "unnamed solo" comprised from Natacha Atlas's "I Put a Spell on You", followed by Light Rain's "City of Dreams"; playing my Zildjian Zills.
People really liked my performance, and I received two compliments from dance sisters: My Zilling, and my costume! The gal who complimented me on my Zilling wanted to know who taught me (Mainly Jamaica, Janette, & more recently Janelle.); while the gal who complimented me on my costume said "the entire ensemble just works". I found this particularly joyous as I was wearing my very first Belly Dance costume, made by the late Mary Jane Skopos (of "Mary Jane's Dance" fame), topped off with a very recently purchased earring/necklace set as well as a matching sparkly hair flower. This was also one of the very rare occasions that I wore a skirt in a solo performance - the venue and the audience just seemed to call for it - all five Belly Dance performers were skirted today, which is fairly rare. I guess they all felt the same way I did.
6 July 2011
12 June 2011
Pictures from 2010 keep trickling in, so I added a couple of new ones in the middle of the 2010 Gallery. I also added a new one to the 2011 Gallery a couple of days ago.
28 May 2011
Performance with The Mighty Siwa as (Daughters of) "Damascus" at Santa Cruz's "Crepe Place" restaurant on their outdoor stage (As pictured at the top of this page, but different costume). Danced 3 troupe dances: Tambourine, Pom-Pom Perot, and the new skirt dance that we named after my father "Orville's Dance" (He would have loved it.). All went well, especially since we were dancing in brand new "Harlequin" costumes. I slid around a bit - Siwa is a fanatic about footwear and the stage is slick. I then danced a solo a bit later, "Solo-8/Serpentina" which also went well.
Small audience, but the performance got me invited to dance at an upcoming Pagan event! I was also complimented on my (standard) shimmies - those who have followed my progress over the years will know that standard shimmies have always been difficult for me, I'm much better at the various ¾ varieties.
22 May 2011
This one will be remembered as "What could possibly go wrong?"!
Driving over to "Santa Cruz Raks" at Severino's, I suddenly realized that I didn't bring a cover up. Uh-oh. Oh, OK, I have a veil - problem solved. If that was the only thing that went wrong tonite, it would have been stellar!
Ok, so this was a double performance for me - first with "Dancers of the Crescent Moon", then after a costume change, I was to do a solo.
About T-minus 2 minutes to our curtain call, Siwa noticed that I had my assuit dress on inside-out! I hadn't noticed, my wife hadn't noticed, my dance sisters hadn't noticed, the dress looks almost the same either way. I'll have to ask Imzadi who was front row center in the audience if she noticed (UPDATE: She didn't.). But needless to say, I was a bit self conscious about it - but the performance went well. We did three of the DCM dances: Halay, the Sa'idi, and our basket dance. My basket didn't fall off, I only made one minor mistake that I recall, and the crowd went nuts! All was well...
Except there was more yet to come! I changed into my white cabaret "Sacrificial Virgin" costume. Appropriate, by the time I was done I felt like I'd been sacrificed! First, I realized to my horror that I'd forgotten to bring my cabaret jewelry. Crap! Well, the folkloric earrings will do, but this necklace just has to go. Ok, so I'm a guy, I can get by without a necklace. So here I am, about to do "Solo-3 with veil prelude" (first time I've done this since March of 2009). This number requires me to dance with my veil while wearing my Zills - an "old Skool" skill that I'm not entirely comfortable with. I also had my "floating sleeves" that I wear with this costume, and the veil was my orange/red A'kai FOUR yard veil. Asking for trouble...
And trouble I got, but not from that. The veil behaved itself admirably, the sleeves didn't tangle into the veil or Zills as I had feared, I was complemented (afterwards) on my Zill playing, the dance went well, the crowd went wild, etc. Buuuuut - that old bane of my existence, sound problems, reared its ugly head. About 2/3rds the way through the dance, the music cut out cold. Total silence. Thank Goddess I was playing zills, I just kept on going. First, I continued as if the music was still playing, incase it came back on. Then when it was obvious that it wasn't going to, I switched to a cappella mode and continued dancing - the crowd ate it up. I continued for about the same amount of time that the music would have lasted, did a pirouette, and stuck a pose. The crowd went NUTS!
So, despite all the problems - most of them self induced - the evening was still a success!
18 May 2011
Added 4 new pix to the 2011 Gallery! Today also is the 1st birthday of my tattoo!
14 May 2011
Two performances in one day. First, was under the aegis of Didi's student troupe, Raqs Nahaash where I performed a Duette with my dance sister Nikki - who was leading. She did a GREAT job too! I'm not ready to lead Tribal style, but Nikki was wonderful! This was at Santa Cruz's "Crepe Place" restaurant - I had a GREAT spinach crepe!
Then I went to Salinas to perform at Mariama's "Raks Salinas" which has taken the place of the Cherry Bean performances; it is now at the Pajaro Street Grill. Cool venue, I felt at home immediately. This was my first solo performance since my Dad died - I did "Veil-6/The Dance of Untold Sorrow" for him. It was wonderful - I used my 4 yard A'Kai orange/red veil.
Its good to be back.
17 April 2011
A performance at the latest edition of "Santa Cruz Raks" - this time at Severino's. This one was with Didi's student troupe, Raqs Nahaash. This performance was the best experience I've had in years - the energy level was very high and enthusiastic, the choreography clicked, I felt at one with my troupe sisters, etc. In all, it reminded me of Kalisa's at its best!
16 April 2011
A performance with "Dancers of the Crescent Moon". It was a private birthday party for the (San Francisco) Bay Area's famed Belly Dancer Una! A fun performance, and fun to watch the other dancers. A dancer from San Francisco, "Asia", performed and was quite impressive. She had an L. Rose "Dragon's Blood" veil like mine - its the first time I've ever seen another one (its now out of "print"). She also wore her Zills while she was doing veilwork - as did Una - which always gets my respect.
4 April 2011
I returned to Janelle's class today! As I knew, I'm terribly out of shape. It hurt. But it didn't hurt as bad as I thought it would (although I won't tell HER that! ). Seriously, her class has helped my dancing immeasurably, and will whip me back into shape in fairly short order!
20 March 2011
Its been a long time coming, but I finally completed a review of Cory Zamora's latest DVD: Ultimate Veil Lesson.
19 March 2011
Some tweaks to my article: Basic Skirtsmanship, based largely on feedback from my dance sisters. Thanx gals!
12 March 2011
Rakkasah. First a Mirage performance, we did the same set we did at last December's Tribal Fusion Faire. It went off well. Then I danced with the mighty Siwa, just the two of us, as Dancers of the Crescent Moon - which also went off well. Did the usual shopping, etc. Lotsa of fun, but a long day especially after all my inactivity. A good way to get back into the saddle.
10 March 2011
I hurt. Having not done any dancing for the last 2 months, except Mirage rehearsals; returning to dance classes, plus riding my bicycle to work again, has me hurting. This doesn't include classes with Janelle - I'm waiting a couple of weeks to toughen back up a bit before I do that!
4 March 2011
My beloved father passes at 2:37 AM after a lengthy fight with prostate cancer.
3 February 2011
New Mexico's well known "Amaya" asked several male dancers what we liked best, and worst, about being a male dancer in her "Star Talk" feature in "The Belly Dance Chronicles" (hard copy) magazine. My reply and picture were one of several - mine was actually the very first in the article, and better yet, I was right next to fab male Tribal dancer Steven Eggers! BTW, I recommend this magazine highly!
Not much else in dance news - I'm taking care of an ailing father, so cannot do or plan for much at the moment. Rehearsals for Rakkasah continue though...
I always select a picture for the top of each year's diary page, usually from the previous year. Since my fiftieth year "tramp stamp" tattoo was the big news of last year; plus I danced quite a bit in my white costume (both with, and without skirt), I figured a picture showing off both was in order.
14 January 2011
First, the big news: Mirage has a spot at this year's Rakkasah! This is especially important as many people/troupes who customarily get in, didn't this year. This includes Dancers of the Crescent Moon and Damascus; neither got in this year which is pretty rare. I'm excited for Mirage, disappointed for DCM/Damascus as we'd been working on new costumes and dances for this year's festival.
I updated the 2010 gallery thanx to dance brother and photographer Sharif. He took some VERY nice pix of my ANAS performance.
6 January 2011
The new year starts off with yet another controversial article on The Gilded Serpent, this one about the "Belly Dance Police": I am Become Pure, Destroyer of Dreams... Needless to say, it has drawn both praise (from those who "get it") and condemnation (from those who not only do not "get it", but apparently cannot read or comprehend the English language particularly well). Either way, it has people talking!
I've also added a new gallery for 2011, although at the moment it only has a few old pictures, mostly from 2007, that recently came to lite.