Monday, August 24, 2009

'An Evening at the Cleopatra Club' Recap

Boy, Aziza Sa'id and her dancers really know how to throw a party! I had so much fun at their "Evening at the Cleopatra Club" on Saturday night in Riverside. I arrived knowing only my OCC/RWA chapter mate Shauna Roberts (pictured with me in front of the lovely table they decorated for me to sign books. You can't see it, but the table is swathed in gorgeous burgundy fabrics with Moroccan lanterns -- tres chic!) But by the end of the night, I felt like I'd known these ladies for years. They are such a warm and friendly group, and I can't thank them enough for making me feel welcome.

And it's no wonder they attract such a large group to their haflas! There was plenty of food and drinks, music (some of it live!) and lots of dancing. Yes, they even made me dance during the open dancing, too -- no one had any sympathy for my post-pregnancy whining about weight, stiffness, aches, pains, etc. -- and I'm glad they didn't... 'cause it was fun out there!

Here are some of photos I took of the dancers from my gorgeous little book-signing spot

Etoile performing with Isis wings

Zaheen Sa'id performing with silk fans (an astonishing piece that she insists she'd only worked on for a few days. Must be a testament to her talent becuase it was the best fan performance I've ever seen!)

Siri performing a fun cane dance

SeylenaTroi dancing with zills, and boy, can this lady play! When the taped music stopped, she created a very entertaining exchange with the audience with just her zills and dancing. A true pro :-)

This troupe piece was mesmerizing to watch. It was sort of the same idea as a circle dance, with one dancer passing the spotlight to another, but instead of going in and out of the circle, the dancers passed the spotlight simply by touching a neighbor.

This was the beginning class's troupe performance. (You can see Shauna in the center -- go, Shauna!)

And of course Aziza! What a pleasure it was to watch her dance. So much great energy and warmth -- and you can see it all in her smile!

I wish I had a photo of troupe Diatribe from Victorville -- an awesome trio whose performance I really enjoyed. Unfortunately my little camera just didn't do them justice. But take my word for it, these ladies rocked (or raq'd?).

For information on future "Evening at the Cleopatra Club" events and other special events at Anahata Movement Arts (3742 Tibbetts St., Suite 202, Riverside), visit

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Signing in Riverside at 'An Evening at the Cleopatra Club'

The fabulous Aziza Sa'id has invited me to sign copies of THE BELLY DANCER on Saturday at "An Evening at the Cleopatra Club," which is her monthly hafla in Riverside, CA.

In addition to the booksigning, there'll be dancing -- lots and lots of dancing -- as well as live music and food.

The event will be held from 7:30 to 10 p.m. at Anahata Movement Arts, 3742 Tibbetts St., Suite 202, Riverside, CA. For more information, call (951) 276-YOGA (9642) or visit

I'd love to see you there!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sept. 4 Booksigning and Showcase in Laguna Beach

If you weren't able to make it to Merry's in Long Beach on July 25 for the Book Release Party and Benefit, you'll have another chance on Friday, Sept. 4 to get a signed copy of THE BELLY DANCER and see some pretty terrific belly dancing, too.

Laguna Beach Books (1200 S. Pacific Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach) will host the hour-and-a-half-long event, starting at 6:30 p.m., and these are the performers who have signed up so far :

JJ & the Habibis
Sooz & troupe Azuluna
Hipsy Gypsy

with Ed Lee & friends on doumbek

The dancing will take place in the brick courtyard between Sapphire Laguna restaurant and the bookstore. It's a lovely location on Coast Highway with an ocean view. Street parking is always tricky on on a Friday evening, so arriving early is advised.

Any questions? Please drop me a note at deanna AT deannacameron DOT com.

Hope to see you there!

Friday, August 14, 2009

8/16 Jewels That Raq show canceled...*

I just heard that this weekend's performance is off. I'm trying to find out if the others scheduled for later in the month and September are still on.
Stay tuned...

* 8/18 update -- The other shows are still on :-)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Jewels That Raq review, by Jheri St. James

The "Jewels That Raq" dinner show has returned with a five-show series at Tapas Restaurant in Newport Beach. The first show, on July 26, kicked off the series, and it will continue on Aug. 16, Aug. 30, Sept. 13 and Sept. 27.

Veteran dance instructor and performer Jheri St. James attended a show, and I'm thrilled to be able to share her review.

Dancer Aziza Said once said that audiences only remember three things about a belly dance performance: 1) if there are costume problems, 2) what props were used, and 3) if they experienced an emotion.

Seven gorgeous dancers wore a luscious menu of costumes with nary a problem in sight at Tapas Restaurant, 4253 Martingale Way #A, Newport Beach, California 92660, on Sunday, May 17. “Jewels That Raq” (“dance” in Arabic) featured most dancers named for a jewel—Emerald, Citrine, Ruby (Perizad) and Pearl. Edenia and Pilar were guest artists of “Jewels That Raq” that night.

Meliza, principal dancer, opened the show with a classic, highly polished and articulate Orientale performance. Emerald danced with the Isis veil—huge gold lamé sparkling and swirling wings. Citrine followed with a traditional taxim veil dance, and then Ruby gave us a powerful drum solo exhibition, feminine and athletic. Edenia entered as a Tribal Fusion-style dancer wearing a collage of black textures and a lovely smile. Pilar presented a Spanish-flavor number, and Emerald swirled and shimmied to a veil/drum solo. Meliza then closed the first act doing amazing, lithe floor work with two serpents around her neck, creating a compelling aura of friendly danger. One of my students reacted to the snakes. We will both remember that dance, but for different reasons. This is belly dance never seen in restaurant venues.

The second act began with Pearl doing a veil dance to the masmoudi kabir rhythm. Citrine twirled a very heavy ornately fringe-beaded cane. Ruby veil danced in an accomplished Turkish style, then came Edenia, our friendly tribal dancer, followed by Pilar dancing to a favorite Lebanese song of mine, and Emerald doing salsa style. Ruby gave us a brisk finger cymbals dance, and Pearl came on again with a smashing drum solo, which brought the solos to a close. Meliza and the entire troupe then came out and invited birthday celebrants up to dance, and all the dancers’ invited others throughout the room to join them onstage, and extensively for photo ops with the dancers.

Overall, this evening presented the audience with an opportunity to see belly dancing performed with enthusiasm in the styles of many world cultures—Spanish, Egyptian, Turkish, Lebanese, Salsa and American. This evening’s entertainment met all of Aziza Said’s criteria. The costumes were dazzling and problem-free. The props were a satisfying variety—cymbals, veils, cane and snakes. People obviously felt happy for an evening out in such an artistic Bohemian environment, and the sparkling “Jewels That Raq,” who really rocked Tapas in Newport Beach that night!

Your fan,
Jheri St. James