Tuesday, April 28, 2009

An anniversary...

I was just looking back at some earlier posts and noticed that it's been a whole year since Scribbling Gypsy debuted. Boy, how time flies! When I started this blog, I was hoping to create a place where Orange County dancers could find news and updates on local people and events. So I've been stunned by how many readers extend far beyond our Southern California borders.

Since my first post on April 23, 2008, the blog has been visited by readers in 98 countries and every state in the nation. The most viewed story is my posting about an interview Dina did with The National newspaper in the UAE, where she expresses her concerns about the future of belly dancing. The second most viewed story? My interview with Miss Montana Jennifer Hepner, who was one of the two Miss America contestants this year who performed belly dance routines as their talent. When news broke in late March that Miss Montana had been arrested on suspicion of DUI a couple of weeks before the pageant, the clicks to that interview skyrocketed. (She has since pleaded not guilty and filed a petition arguing that the traffic stop and arrest were illegal, and that the arresting officer did not follow proper procedure.)

It's been a fun year, and I've thoroughly enjoyed sharing information about so many of the wonderful people and events that make up our local belly dance community, and also the news and issues that affect us from all over the world. And if there's something you'd like to see or hear more about, please drop me a note at scribblinggypsy@gmail.com. I'm always open to suggestions.


Friday, April 24, 2009

Raqs L.A. Returns This Weekend

The Bellydance Superstars' Raqs L.A. festival returns this weekend to the Glendale Civic Auditorium for two days of performances, workshops, shopping and more.

Workshop leaders on the cabaret side include Sonia, Issam Houshan, Petite Jamilla, Sabah, Jayna and Suhaila Salimpour. On the tribal side, leaders include Kami Liddle, Samantha Hasthorpe, Zoe Jakes and Moria. Prices at the door are $45 for 2-hour workshops and $55 for 3-hour workshops, and all workshop attendees will receive free festival admission. Check http://www.raqsla.com/workshops for available spaces.

Shopping and performances on the open stage will run throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday, and a special Bellydance Superstars show will take place at 8 p.m. Saturday. ($38 at the door.) Think you have what it takes to join this world-class troupe? Auditions for both cabaret and tribal dancers will take place at 6 p.m. Sunday.

Festival admission is $10 per day at the door. The Glendale Civic Auditorium is at 1401 N. Verdugo Road, Glendale. Check http://www.raqsla.com/ for more information.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Market at the Casbah 2009 recap

The 11th annual Market at the Casbah, organized by local belly dancer and instructor Deborah Peterson and Wanda Lee Sundberg at the Fullerton Senior Community Center on Saturday, was an incredible event with lots of vendors, great workshops by Angelika Nemeth, Middle Eastern food, and nearly continous performances throughout the day.

It was fun seeing Angelika (who ran out to see a student's performance before the first of her two workshops began), as well as Serena, Laura and Veronica -- whom I haven't seen in months because being pregnant has kept me out of dance class. I also got to visit with Najma, Mara and Shauna Roberts (a writing friend who is now taking belly dance classes in the Inland Empire!)

My good friend Enala and I also spent a lot of time at the O.C. Bellydance Connection table (generously donated by Deborah) to say hi to Rachel (who gets the credit for starting what has become a really robust local meetup group for belly dancers), as well as meetup members Gigi Lenker and Elena Wise.

We also had a great chat with belly dance costumer extraordinaire Doyne, who told us a terrific story about how he turned the tables on some Internet scammers (you have to ask him about it -- it's a great story!) and I had the opportunity to say thank you in person to Mher of Hollywood Music Center, and its sister company http://www.bellydance.com/, for his generous donation of raffle prizes, which I'll be giving away at my July 25 Book Release Party & Benefit (more info on that later, or you can check here). He also helped me replace my outdated VHS version of Fat Chance Belly Dance's Tribal Basics tape with a brand new DVD version.
Here are some pics:

Westside Belly Dance Project

Tribe Roman Morga
The view of the floor
Taji and the Johara Dancers

If you're interested in dancing next year, reservation forms will be available in January. You can find out more at http://www.marketatthecasbah.com/.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

More trouble for female dancers in Pakistan...

The BBC is reporting that an Islamic group with close ties to the Taliban has banned women dancers who perform in a traditional spring festival featuring Sufi music and dance. Even more troubling, the group's clerics asked for and received approval from the district's police to do so and were accompanied by members of the police force when they arrived Monday to ask the dancers to leave.

You can read the full story here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7987383.stm

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Another loss to our O.C. belly dance community...

I might be late to the party on this one, but I just learned that the BellyDancingDiva.com site is up for sale. Since its inception, the site has been a nice outlet for local teachers and dancers to get the word out about their classes and upcoming performances, as well as a place to read about belly dance-related topics like makeup and costuming.

I admit I was a little disappointed when the site started to reach beyond our region to include dancers and teachers from elsewhere in the country. But that was just selfishness on my part. I liked having this site dedicated to our own dance community. Maybe that was unrealistic...

Still, there's a chance someone could step in, buy the site and keep it going. The site says domain ownership isn't set to expire until July.

We'll just have to wait and see...

Market at the Casbah on Saturday

The annual Market of the Casbah returns on Saturday to the Fullerton Senior Multi-Service Center for its 11th year with lots of performances, live music by John Bilezikjian, shopping and two great workshops with local legend Angelika Nemeth.

In the first workshop, "Folkloric Styles to Enhance Your Dance," which runs from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m., Angelika will teach participants how to "add folkloric styling to your dance routines," including "appropriate music, body postures and costuming for Saidi, Khaleeji, Zar and Debke." The cost is $40 at the door.

Then, from 3 to 4:30 p.m., she'll present "Polishing Your Performance: Now That You Know the Steps Let's Dance!" In this workshop, participants will learn "how to use breath, phrasing, dynamics, transitions and expression to take your dance from the ordinary to the extraordinary!" The cost is $35 at the door.

I'll be there to watch and shop, and I'll have some of the super-pretty promo cards for THE BELLY DANCER with me. If you'd like one, just ask -- they're free :-)

The festival opens at 11:30 a.m. and closes at 6 p.m. The Fullerton Senior Multi-Service Center is at 340 W. Commonwealth in Fullerton. For more information, check http://www.marketatthecasbah.com/.