So what'd you think about last night's episode of "California Gold" on the Raqs L.A. event? I don't ordinarily watch the show and I wasn't sure what to expect, but I thought Huell Howser covered the event in a fun and entertaining way. He interviewed several dancers, including Mesmera, Ansuya, Petite Jamilla, Leela and her Salome Jihad troupe, and a few other dancers I didn't recognize (That was one drawback of the show: a few of the people he interviewed were never identified. So if you know who they were, I'd love it if you could enlighten me in the comments section).
Howser also interviewed Bellydance Superstars producer Miles Copeland, who organized the festival along with Marta Schill, and the vendor who was selling Saroyan zills and swords (which she demonstrated), as well as belly dance costumes and hip scarves. Howser seemed fascinated by all the merchandise, but then who isn't?
I'm glad we got to see some dancing, too. The show included short bits of some of the live dance performances, but the producers also spliced in segments from Petite Jamilla's double veil instructional DVD, "Unveiled," and a DVD performance from Ansuya.
I don't know what time Howser and his camera crew were shooting, but it was unfortunate that the auditorium looked nearly empty throughout most of the episode. There was a shot or two of a performance taking place on the stage with only a few people in the audience that had seating for more than a hundred. I felt so sorry for the performers!
But all in all, it was a great representation of our dance community that emphasized its positive aspects. My favorite quote of the show came from Mr. Copeland himself when he described what belly dance is about to Howser. "It's an artform about the real beauty of a woman," he said, adding that it was for all ages and sizes. Very nice, I thought, and very true. In my book, it boils down to fun, fitness and friends. I guess I would add "fashion" in there, too, because we do love our costumes, don't we?
If you'd like to buy a copy of the episode on DVD or VHS, you can do that here.
Here's Howser with Leela and Salome Jihad for the final wrap-up of the show: