Friday, January 29, 2010

Hey, you're never too old to belly dance...

Despite what Piers Morgan of "Britain's Got Talent" might think, 71-year-old Jan Price of Aberdare is certainly not too old to be belly dancing. She looks great, if you ask me. (Yeah, I know, no one did, but I'm putting in my two cents anyway...)

It was extremely rude of him to buzz her off before she even had a chance to show what she could do.

"Piers said that women of a certain age like me should think before they got up to dance - he obviously thought I was too old," Price says in the article.

You can read the full online BBC article here:
And there's a great audio interview with Price, too. Access it just below her picture.

Pics from NAMM 2010

Mr. Scribbling Gypsy (my darling husband, Austin) was awesome enough to take these snaps at this year's NAMM Show, which is one of the largest music product trade shows in the world. It was held January 14-17 at the Anaheim Convention Center.

These are some scenes from the Remo booth:

Master drummer Donavon Lerman and Ed Lee

and international drumming star Issam Houshan

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Update on the belly dancing ban at a church in Georgia

Here are a couple of updates on the belly dancing ban at a church in Georgia.

The first is a letter Jezibell Anat wrote when I asked for more info about her troupe being disinvited from that fund-raising benefit (which you can read about here:

Hi DeAnna -

Thanks for contacting me. I did not realize this was going to spark so much interest. So here's more info - I know the details may seem cumbersome, but I think it will clarify things for those outside the area:

The Miller is a historic theatre in downtown Augusta that has deteriorated, and restoring this building is part of the mission of the Symphony Orchestra of Augusta (SOA). Four high school seniors wanted to raise funds for the Miller as their senior project (seniors have to design and implement a special project as part of their graduation requirement). So in association with SOA and other mentors, they planned an event consisting of an afternoon talent showcase, with community judges. All the acts would pay $10 to compete, and the top ten would perform in a benefit in the evening. The location was West Acres Baptist Church - the church was not sponsoring or organizing this event at all but was simply renting the space to the students for this benefit.

Michael Ryan, the student who had started this project, contacted me in November about performing in the showcase. Half of Eastern Star was out of town that weekend, but the rest of us decided to participate because it was a benefit. So we put in our application and fee, and no one said there was any problem with the belly dancing. Joyce, a member of Eastern Star also submitted a belly dance she had done with other friends to"God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen", and a couple of other belly dancers were scheduled for the showcase as well.

On Thursday Michael called and said there were some concerns about what we would wear. We talked about belly dance costumes, and I said we could cover our torsos if that was a problem, but he said everything would be OK. On Friday afternoon he called again, and he was very upset. He said they'd just had a meeting at the church, and the church refused to allow any belly dancing, even if we were covered up. Michael said that they had known we'd be belly dancing for over a month, and he offered to refund our fee. He said it was very unprofessional of them to ban it the day before the event, and that he would never rent their space again, but for this event he had to comply. Other forms of dance were OK, just not belly dancing.

I don't know why the church people changed their mind on the belly dancing. The only thing I can think of is that there was an article in the local paper on Thursday mentioning that there would be belly dancers, so maybe that offended someone -

My first thought was to pull out completely, but the kids had put a great deal of effort into this, and not participating would only hurt them. Joyce and I talked - the other member of Eastern Star was sick that weekend, so Joyce reworked "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" into a lyrical piece, and I did a zambra in a dress to "La Isla Bonita." The other belly dancers made theirs lyrical as well, so everyone still danced. It was just very upsetting that our specific dance form was banned, and at the last minute.

I studied, taught and performed in New York City for many years, so I am used to a liberal environment, and a professional belly dance scene. Things are very different in Augusta, GA.


I really appreciate that Ms. Anat took the time to share more information about her experience. Many of the comments that have been added to her letter to the editor on the newspaper's Web site have also tried to implicate Ms. Anat's affiliation with the Wiccan religion as the reason the church barred her troupe. If that had been their concern, I don't think they would have barred the other belly dancers who were scheduled to perform. So it seems other forms of dancing were allowed, some of which even had dancers dressed in skimpier outfits than the belly dancers.

The second on is that there is now a letter from a member of the West Acres Baptist Church ( that is worth reading. This member seems to have made his judgement that belly dancing was an inappropriate dance form to include in the benefit because he had seen it a few times when he was a young man. It's unfortunate that it seems he and his fellow church members who were in on this decision didn't take the time to view the performances of the dancers in question. If they had, maybe they would have a different view of our dance form.

Friday, January 15, 2010

And the winner is...

Thank you to everyone who entered the contest for this lovely "All the Pretty Snakes & Belly Dancers" 2010 calendar. Unfortunately I could only pick one winner, and that person was selected by my unbiased and incorruptable contest official (well, she could probably be bribed with a squeaky toy or anything with bright colors, but that didn't happen, honest!)

And the winner is:
Nikki Hedrick

(insert applause, trumpets, mass hysteria)

Congratulations, Nikki! I'll be sending you an email message in the next couple of minutes to get your mailing address.

Everyone else, thanks for playing and please remember that I'm planning more fun contests throughout the year, so please check back to often to see what's up for grabs.

Also, if you are dying to get your own copy of the "All the Pretty Snakes & Belly Dancers," they are still available from their creators Weathervane Arts & Tribal Bazaar, as well as Amazon and Etsy.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Belly dancers excluded from church benefit*

I came across a letter to the Augusta Chronicle, a newspaper in Georgia, from Jezibell Anat, director of the Eastern Star Dance Theatre belly dance troupe, and I find it more than a little troubling.

Her troupe was invited to participate in a Jan. 9 fundraising show to help a local theater and symphony orchestra. Very nice. But one day before the event (one day!), they were informed that belly dancing was not allowed by the Baptist church where the event was to take place.

Now that's very unfortunate.

The reason for the ban isn't included in the letter, and it sounds like Anat wasn't even told what the church found objectionable. Was it the usual, tired misconception (too similar to stripping?) , or something new? We don't know.

I'm trying to contact Anat to find out more, and I'll update this post when (or if) I can reach her.

Either way, this kind of thing only perpetuates the kind of discrimination and dim view that uninformed people have about belly dancing and I applaud Anat for raising the issue.

You can read the letter for yourself here:

* Update: Another belly dancer who was scheduled to perform at the event says the revealing costumes were the reason the church gave for disinviting the belly dancers. Also, she said a high school dance troupe wore costumes that were more revealing. So... seems to me like it might be a case of people who don't know much about belly dancing making the wrong assumptions about what belly dancing is. People, it isn't stripping. In fact, it can be downright modest.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Starting the year with a great giveaway...

Did you read the previous post about the "All the Pretty Snakes & Belly Dancers" 2010 calendars the people at Weathervane Arts and Tribal Bazaar put together? Well, thanks to a wonderful friend I have not one but two of them, which means I have one to give away to some lucky contest winner. I know -- what a great way to start the new year, right?

To enter the contest, visit my Web site at and follow the contest link.

I'll be choosing a name at random on Friday, January 15. There are more details on the contest page.

Don't miss your chance :-)