Monday, October 27, 2008

Registration underway for Tribal SDstyle festival workshops

Sooz, one of our favorite tribal teachers in Orange County, will be teaming up with Rachael to teach a workshop on duets for ATS at this year's Tribal SDStyle festival, and you don't even need to bring your own partner. Dancers will be paired on the spot.

Other workshop leaders will be Laura Rogan, Steven Eggers, Ayse Cerami, Politti Ashcraft, Olu, Kirti Sristava, Sabrina, and many more.

Tribal SDstyle's daytime performances and marketplace will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 8-9 at the Coronada School of the Arts in Coronado, a few minutes outside downtown San Diego. Find out more here. An evening show with performances by the instructors will begin at 8 p.m. Nov. 8 at The CoSA Theater. For more information, visit the Web site at

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

"Worldfocus": Egyptians Express Views on America video segment

So I was channel surfing last night and I happened to come across this "Worldfocus" news segment on Egyptians' views on America.

The nearly 4-minute clip includes several interesting man-on-the-street-type interviews with ordinary Egyptians about their views on Americans (they seem to like America and Americans in general, but don't like Bush or the recent government's military policies). There's also some history on U.S.-Egypt political ties and Egyptian government officials' views tossed in. Some of the interviews take place in a multi-story shopping mall n Cairo that looks like something you'd find in any U.S. city, complete with a Radio Shack, McDonald's and Papa John's pizzeria.

The journalist is Hoda Osman, who spent her first 26 years in Cairo and returned to sample current opinions, according to the organization's Web site. You can also read producer Sally Garner's blog post on the segment here.

Tonight, another segment on Egypt is set broadcast, this time focusing on women who choose to wear the veil. I've already set my DVR. If you're interested in tuning in, you can find show listings for your area here.

Friday, October 17, 2008

O.C. Bellydance Festival -- Oct. 12, 2008

If you haven't already heard, the first-ever O.C. Bellydance Festival, which took place at the Fountain Valley Recreation Center on Oct. 12, was an amazing success. The ladies from Troupe Incognito did a terrific job organizing, and they had everything so under control, you'd never know this was their first event of this size. (Right: Incognito gals Nikki and Renee.)

Although the event started at noon, I rolled in around 8:30 a.m., along with the other volunteers, to help them set up. We checked people in, posted signs, offered help to the vendors who were setting up inside the main hall, where the performances took place, and to those that were set up on the patio just beyond the workshop room.

I had to cut my volunteering short, though, so that I could get ready because this festival also marked the first time Marlena Shaw, Enala and I performed together. Despite being able to practice together only a few times, our troupe Al-Sukkar managed to pull off a choreography. A lot of credit goes to Marlena, who filled up a good chunk of our allotted time with her drum solo :-) (And thanks and credit go to Richard Lowe for this photograph of us dancing.)

After our 12:30-ish performance, we changed back into our street clothes and got busy shopping, visiting the vendors both inside the hall and out. There were lots of familiar faces -- Tribal Bazaar, Melodia Designs, Geisha Moth, Enchanted Designs, and so many more. There was also a definite slant toward tribal style, both in the vending and in the performances.

For anyone who might've had doubts, I don't think there's any question that tribal style is alive and well in O.C.

And my favorite part of the day? Watching all the great performances on the stage.

Here's just a sample:

Almase Arabesque

Kashmir, dancing to live drumming by Gorkem and Vernon


(In addition to be a terrific dancer, she's one of the great coordinators for the weekly Shimmy Showcase at Coffee Haven in Long Beach.)

Troupe Masala

Sooz & Azuluna

(I love that they incorporate Carolena's dance prayer into their performance!)

Om Sisters

(Doesn't she have the most amazing hair?)

(This is the first time I've seen her dance. Wow, can she pop and lock!)

MC Laura Sutherland (who, BTW, was nonstop funny all day long) introducing Tribe Roman Morga -- who are always a favorite. Drumming in the back is one of my favorite people in the world, Katerina.

And the final performance of the day, our hostesses, Troupe Incognito.
Thank you for a great day, ladies!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Jillina's coming to O.C.

Rania just forwarded the information on this great opportunity to study with a master belly dance instructor:


One Day only in O.C.!

Sunday, Dec. 7

2 to 5 p.m.

At Global Rhythms Dance Studio, 10184 Adams Ave., Huntington Beach


Cost: $60 in advance; $75 at the door

This workshop will include a powerful and exciting choreography set to modern oriental fusion music. Participants will learn dynamic floor patterns, drum solo techniques, khaliji, and flowing combinations to use with their own style in this dramatic routine.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Bedouin Bazaar 2008

It's been years since I've gone to Bedouin Bazaar in San Diego, but I couldn't resist the opportunity to take the Ghawazee class offered by Sakti Rinek this year. And I'm so glad I did!

I believe all modern American belly dancers owe a debt to the Ghawazee dancers because they were the nation's first introduction to Middle Eastern dance when they performed as part of the Egyptian installation on the Midway Plaisance during the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. Not only does Sakti possess an amazing wealth of information about the art and history of the Ghawazee style of dance and culture, she's also truly enthusiastic about sharing that knowledge and deeply committed to keeping the spirit of this tradition alive (it's a sad fact that it is on the brink of extinction).

She's also committed to doing it in a way that is a lot of fun, as well as educational.

To start our workshop, which I took with friends Marlena (green hip scarf) and Mara (in the orange hip scarf), Sakti explained about her costume, which was a modern version of the traditional Ghawazee costume, and offered students a 10-page booklet she'd put together of Ghawazee images, history, costuming details, basic movements, finger cymbal patterns, and combinations that can be worked into choreography. At $1, it was the best bargain of the day!

Next up, Sakti got us into the right posture (knees more bent than classical belly dance, chest lifted) and then we dove right in to the basic steps, like the Ghawazee Basic No. 1, which is a marching style of step with a vigorous hip shake; the Ghawazee Basic No. 2, with hips bouncing side to side; and various choo-choo, shimmy steps and chest drops. Most of these movements involved an amazing amount energy, and it was astounding to learn that Ghawazee dancers were sometimes hired to dance for up to seven hours at a stretch. While the 10 or so of in the workshop huffed and puffed, Sakti sailed through it all with ease--that certainly says a lot about the fitness benefits of the Ghawazee dance style.

In our two-hour workshop, she taught various combinations, demonstrated how to dance with partners (Ghawazee style is a group dance and not really meant to be danced solo), and demonstrated how to incorporate cane and zills into the dance.

At the end, I was completely exhausted, but exhilarated, too. She says she'll be back in Southern California to teach in November, and I do hope I can make it. If you're interested, you can e-mail her at To learn move, visit

Still to come: Pictures and note from Sunday's first-ever O.C. Bellydance Festival. OMG, was it amazing! I can't wait to share more about it later this week.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Don't miss the debut of the O.C. Bellydance Festival

We're gearing up for a busy, busy belly dance weekend in SoCal!

Bedouin Bazaar kicks things off in San Diego on Saturday, and then on Sunday, we have the chance to support our very own, Orange County-based festival when the O.C. Bellydance Festival debuts at the Fountain Valley Recreation Center in Mile Square Park.

Workshops will be offered with Robin Johnson (8-10 a.m.), Politti Ashcroft (10 a.m. to noon), Sooz Hall (noon to 2 p.m.) and Elizabeth of She'enedra (2 to 4 p.m.). The cost for each is $40 at the door.

Vendors who will be selling their wares include Tribal Bazaar, Geisha Moth, Enchantress Designs, Left Coast Trading and many more.

Twenty-five performances are lined up, beginning with JJ & the Habibis at 12:05 p.m. and culminating with the festival's hostesses, troupe Incognito, at 3:53 p.m. In between, you can check out performers like Perizad, Kashmir, Om Sisters, Blue Damsel, Tribe Roman Morga, and many more.

The Fountain Valley Recreation Center is at 16400 Brookhurst St., near the corner of Brookhurst and Heil Avenue. Tickets are $10 at the door. For more information, visit or e-mail Nikki at

Hope to see you there!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Gypsy Groove II: the video

The video quality is a little iffy, but it'll give you a taste of some of the great performances we had on Saturday.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A peek at last night's Gypsy Groove showcase

We had an unbelievable night last night at the second Gypsy Groove Belly Dance Showcase. The dancers and drummers filled the House of Grind in Foothill Ranch with their wonderful talent, and the crowd couldn't have been more amazing. It was terrific to see so many friendly faces, from the lovely ladies of the O.C. Bellydance Connection Meetup group (Rachel is my hero for all that she's done to bring our Orange County belly dance community closer together), to former belly dance classmates I don't get to see nearly often enough (especially, you, Angelica and Betty!), and of course Diane, whose love for belly dance rivals even her love of horses, and who drove all the way from Long Beach to support our event!

The night started with live Middle Eastern drumming by Ed Lee, Jennifer Laemmer, and my wonderful husband, Austin Cameron.

Linda was our first dancer for the evening, and she performed a lovely Egyptian cabaret piece wearing a stunning tangerine costume. She's a former member of the troupe Rakassah Al Zaman and has studied with some of the best teachers in the area, including Angelika Nemeth, Fahtiem, Jheri St. James and Tina Enheduanna.

Next up, we had Sarah al Nour, who's been studying and performing belly dance for almost a decade and currently teaches at the Anaheim Family YMCA. Her piece drew inspiration from orientale and American Tribal styles, yet Sarah's modern fusion of the two -- along with her own darkly glamorous aesthetic -- made for a very entertaining two-part performance that incorporated recorded music and dancing to live drumming.

After our mid-show break and with the help of the drummers, I demonstrated a beginning combo -- 4 counts pestle, 8 counts vertical figure eights, 4 counts shoulder shimmy with a rocking step back, repeat other side. Easy, easy :-) The ladies and young girls brave enough to try it out on the dance floor looked fabulous and some of them even had their own hipscarves with them. Talk about prepared!

Then it was on to our first-ever troupe performance at Gypsy Groove: a terrific set by Sooz & Azuluna. I couldn't believe these beautiful ladies only started performing together in July. They're a student troupe led by Sooz Hall, who teaches in Santa Ana and Fullerton, and they're dedicated to the pure American Tribal Style format. Just look at these ladies -- they're stunning, and I can't wait to see more from them.

I have to confess that Sooz gave me the biggest surprise of the night, too. She told Diane and me that she recognized us from a performance we did at Market of the Casbah with one of our former tribal troupes, Tribal Fire, and I nearly fell over in shock. Why? That performance was almost seven years ago! Funny how it sorta feels like yesterday, and it sorta feels like a million years ago. She's a doll for her kind words, and she made me want to pull out my old Flying Skirts .

Our final performance for the night was a traditional Egyptian cane dance by Linda, and again she dazzled the audience with her dancing and another amazing costume, this time a purple velvet beledi dress with long and dramatic chiffon sleeves. Wow!

Then our drummers went to work again, and we opened the floor to anyone who wanted dance -- and boy did people want to dance! We had first timers and beginners, pros and seasoned veterans. It was so much fun, I can't wait for the next time :-)

Here's our group photo:

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Gypsy Groove belly dance showcase returns Saturday

Here's the flier for this Saturday's Gypsy Groove belly dance showcase, which will be held at House of Grind in Foothill Ranch. You can see a bigger version of the flier here.

The parking is free and plentiful , the cafe is comfortable and casual, there are lots of seats, and there's no cover charge (though tips for the dancers are greatly encouraged)!

If you're in the area (or planning to be), I hope you'll come out to join us for some great Middle Eastern drumming, belly dance performances and, if the crowd is up for it, some open dancing, too!