Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Two cool things to tell you about...

First, Ansuya has launched her online video class series on her Web site and it looks great. You can see for yourself here (click on the "Free Sample of Online Bellydance Class" link on the righthand side of the screen). The free sample class is the first in what will be weekly lessons, which will each be between 45 and 60 minutes. The cost is $12.50 per class, and it allows the viewer to pause, rewind, fast-forward and watch the lesson as many times as you'd like during the logged-in session. However, because it's a streaming video, the lesson cannot be saved to your computer and saved for a future viewing.

At the end of the free sample class, Ansuya also brings in Ozzy for some dance instruction with live drumming, runs viewers through cool-down exercises, answers a Myspacer's question about dancing with snakes, sits down with Ozzy to talk about the dancer-drummer dynamic, discusses costuming and her term "caba-ribal-usion," performs in full costume with Ozzy, and ends on a funny note with a few outtakes.

The second cool thing is that Google now hosts Life magazine's archive of historic photographs and it contains some terrific images of Samia Gamal from the March 1952 issue, including the famous photographs showing her movements highlighted by a continuous stream of light. There are also 1942 images of Tahia Carioca. Another cool thing is you can order framed prints of these images. You can find the archive here, and type the dancers' names in the search field to see the photographs.

Monday, November 24, 2008

One writer's view on the Bellydance Superstars ...

I came across this pair of articles from Wendy Liberatore, a reporter with the Daily Gazette in Schenectady, New York.

This one is a preview of the Superstars' performance in that area on Saturday night. There's some interesting background on the Superstars, mostly based on information gleaned from an interview with Miles Copeland. Petite Jamilla also is interviewed.

This one is a review of the show. Liberatore gives it high marks for the most part, but she does have some less than glowing things to say about the tribal performances and the general skill of Jillina as the lead choreographer. She also starts the review with what I interpreted as kind of a snarky statement: "Belly Dance Superstars is a cheesy name for a polished, flashy, almost-ready-for-Vegas spectacle."

Is it just me, or does that come off as unnecessarily mean-spirited?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Like the new look?

I'm trying out a new background. What do you think?

Monday, November 17, 2008

How to become a belly dance pro...

Leyla Najma has written a terrific article on how dancers can build their dancing reputation and elevate themselves out of amateur status. You can find it here.

Najma is a professional dancer and instructor based in New Mexico who has studied with Mahmoud Reda, Madam Bousy and Zohair Zaki. She also regularly writes for such belly dance publications as Zaghareet, Jareeda and The Chronicles.

For more about her, visit

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Dancing in a bubble

I just came across this video on YouTube. I've never seen anything like it -- so of course I had to share it.

The dancer is Gemma, who co-founded the 1,001 Nights dance company in Paris in 1999.

If you'd like to find out more about the performance group or Gemma, visit them here.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Worse than a watched pot...

Does time ever move more slowly than when you're waiting for a custom made costume to be delivered from Egypt? I have to say no...

Today begins week 10 of my wait ... Ugh...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

"America at a Crossroads: Dissonance and Harmony: Arabic Music Goes West"

If you're interested in Middle Eastern music, you won't want to miss this telecast. Here's the show's description:

Since the attacks of September 11, the U.S. relationships with the countries of the Middle East have become increasingly strained and confusing. But citizens are not governments, and where governments are about politics, citizens are about culture. Where politics is often dedicated to objectives, spin and formality, culture goes deeper and defines real, everyday experience.

DISSONANCE AND HARMONY presents a rare portal into a vital and entertaining world shared by both Western and Middle Eastern cultures, the world of music. The film examines the struggles and successes of five very different Middle Eastern artists in their homelands and then tracks their experiences coming to the United States to the city of Los Angeles to collaborate with Western musicians.

Featured Middle Eastern musicians are: Saad El Soghayar (Egypt), Tareq Al Nassar (Jordan), Wael Kodeih (Lebanon), Tania Saleh (Lebanon), and Ilham Al Madfai (Iraq). Featured Western musicians are: Gustavo Santaolalla, the Academy Award-winning Argentinean musician and composer; RZA, the imaginative leader of the internationally celebrated Wu-Tang Clan; Nile Rodgers, a gifted guitarist-songwriter-producer and major influence on the U.S. music scene for over 30 years; and Charlotte Caffey, songwriter and guitarist from the renowned all-girl band, The GoGos.

For local show listings, visit