Saturday, March 28, 2009

Reflections Dance and Fitness studio in Anaheim to close

Our local belly dance community has been growing with more classes and more instructors for so long that it is with great sadness that I received this news from local instructor and performer Marlena:

Due to the troubled economic situation of so many businesses and families, people are forced to budget and eliminate any extra expenses. Reflections Dance & Fitness is closing as of March 31, 2009. Therefore, my Thursday classes will no longer be available in the Anaheim location. This is a very sad situation. I will miss teaching there and all the great people, especially the owners, Jessica and Ify. My heart and prayers go out to them.
We must keep our chins up and dance the sadness away!

If you're looking for a local class, there are still many out there. Check Marlena's Web site, as well as the sites for Angelika Nemeth, Sashi, Sooz, Lilla Varese, Tina Enheduanna, and the OC Bellydance Connection. If you know of others, let me know and I'll be happy to post those, too.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Gothla US: The Divining Recap

It wasn't your usual day on campus at Cal Poly Pomona on Saturday. Gothla US: The Divining brought out the Gothic belly dancers, Steam Punkers and the people who love to watch them for a day filled with workshops, shopping and performances.

The festival officially started on Friday, with workshops and the Motif experimental gathering, and continued on Sunday with more workshops and a special Gothla night at The Chamber at Club Bravo in Anaheim.

On Saturday, the festival's performers and vendors took over Ursa Major hall in the Bronco Student Center, while the workshops were held in the Orion room. I spent most of the time checking in the wonderfully eclectic mix of performers at the entrance, but here are some snaps of the scene before my shift started:

The always entertaining Raine was mistress of ceremonies and introduced performers, conducted raffles, led the fashion show and kept the show on track.


Some of the Victorian-themed merchandise on display

The henna booth



Geisha Moth merchandise

More shopping
Tempest's popular shrugs and corset belts

More shopping

In the afternoon, Elysium Dance Theater literally brought the place to a standstill with this inspired performance:

To see more (and better) photos from the event, check out Richard Lowe Jr.'s site at

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Gothla US returns this weekend, March 6-8

In February 2008, Gothla US: The Conjuring brought the first major Gothic belly dance festival to Southern California, with workshops, shopping, a full day of performances and a nighttime gala of some of Gothic belly dance's most popular performers. The turnout was amazing, with participants coming not only from all over the region, but across the country and even overseas, to take part in what co-founders Sashi and Tempest called a "festival celebrating dark fusion at its finest."

This weekend, Gothla US returns with a steampunk attitude as Gothla US: The Divining: Cogs in Motion, and it promises to be even bigger and better at its new home at the Bronco Student Center at Cal Poly Pomona. Tempest and Sashi will be teaching workshops, as well as Asharah, Callisto of Sweden, Anaar, Lee Ali, Marjhani and Shakra.

The event kicks off on Friday with workshops and Motif, an experimental gathering for Gothla participants that combines music, dance and ritual. On Saturday, the festival will be in full swing from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. with workshops planned throughout the day, as well as vendors, performances, a fashion show and live music. Admission is $15 at the door. A gala featuring workshop leaders and other elite performers follows later in the evening ($20 at the door). On Sunday, the festival wraps up with more workshops and a special night at The Chamber nightclub for participants from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Want more details? Check out
I'll be volunteering at the dancer check-in desk from 12:30 to 3 p.m., so stop by and say hi :-)

Monday, March 2, 2009

Sunday trip to Merry's and Shimmy Showcase

We headed down to Long Beach on Sunday afternoon to share in Merry's celebration of the New York Times bestseller THREE CUPS OF TEA, about author Greg Mortenson's efforts to build schools and reduce poverty in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Shop owners Merry and Dallas hosted the three-hour party, which featured tribal belly dancing by the Om Sisters and male dancer Marked Khalil, along with dancing and live music by tribal troupe Oojahm. In addition to enjoying the live entertainment, guests were treated to belly dance lessons, nibbled on gingerbread camel cookies, sipped champagne, and made donations to Pennies for Peace, Mortenson's humanitarian foundation.

This was such a great event, and I can't wait until July 25, when Merry and I will be celebrating the release of my debut novel, THE BELLY DANCER, with another big belly dance party at her shop. I'll have more details on that very soon! (Here you can see Merry with me and my ever growing pregnant belly! And if it looks like I'm holding onto that new purse for dear life, it's because I was not going to set it down for one second -- even to take a picture -- because I didn't want anyone else to snatch it up. It's my new favorite thing...)
The THREE CUPS OF TEA celebration will continue at Merry's at 6 p.m. March 11, when Jamshed Rasul will speak on art and culture in Pakistan, and a silent auction will raise more proceeds for Pennies for Peace. If you're in the area, stop in and check it out!

And of course, since we were in the area, we stopped in at the Coffee Haven to see the Shimmy Showcase. My very good friend Katerina was dancing in true ATS fashion with Sooz and Alexiis, along with four of their students, to live music performed by the Ansuz ensemble, led by Fernan Cobian. The dancing was awesome and the live music was concert quality. It was such a terrific way to end an already terrific day.