Monday, December 5, 2011

My List of Belly Dance Festivals

I've redone my official website and the link has changed for my list of the belly dance festivals in the United States. You can now find it here:
If you have an update to any of these festivals, please email me at deanna at deannacameron dot com.
Happy dancing!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Shimmy Showcase is back!

I know, it's not exactly news to many who love Shimmy Showcase that those clever organizers have found a new home for their weekly belly dance gathering at Viento y Agua Coffee House (4007 East 4th Street, Long Beach). It was announced about a month ago, but I've been writing my brains out for NaNoWriMo for the past month and am just now coming up for air. (Yes, I did make it to 50K words, thank you for asking!) If you aren't familiar with NaNoWriMo (short for National Novel Writing Month), you can find out more about this craziness here. But you're probably more interested in who will be dancing at Shimmy Showcase, right? I thought so...

This Sunday, starting at 5:30 p.m., Abraiha will present Tahma, IrinaXara, Nadirah, Jade, and May.

On Dec. 11, my good friend Katerina will present a program that includes live traditional Turkish and Sufi music by Saf Mavi. The featured dancers will be Katerina & the Kabuki Dolls, Strawberry Butterfly, Akasha Star, Sarah al Nour, Taji, Lee Ali and Marguerite.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Shimmy Showcase, RIP

Katerina called last night with the sad news that her special Shimmy Showcase planned for Sunday evening would not be taking place because iCandy was closing. I know, I could hardly believe it myself. Local belly dancers and fans of belly dance have been so fortunate for so many years to have the weekly Shimmy Showcase at the coffeehouse formerly known as Coffee Haven (1708 E. Broadway).

It seems every dancer in Southern California has performed there at one time or another. For the past nine years, under the nurturing care of its team of showcase coordinators, it has been a welcoming and friendly environment for new dancers; a casual, no-fuss venue for veteran dancers; a stage for experimental and innovative interpretations of belly dance; and a place where anybody with the desire could enjoy a few hours of Middle Eastern-inspired dance and music.

In an email, showcase's administrator Xandra said that while upcoming shows have been canceled, the coordinators will work to find a replacement venue and would welcome any leads. You can reach her at

You also might want to check the group's blog for updates:

Photo: Katerina performing at Shimmy Showcase in March 2009.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Cairo Caravan 2011 recap

My how time flies when you're locked away in a writing cave. Has it really been nearly two weeks since Cairo Caravan? Hardly seems possible. The whole weekend was amazing.

On Saturday morning, I had a lot of fun talking about the Ghawazee dancers who performed at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair (dim lighting made it an intimate affair) and talking to everyone who stopped by the table I shared with my friend and fellow author Shauna Roberts.

I saw so many old friends, met Facebook friends in person for the first time (I'm looking at you Liliana!) and made quite a few new ones, too (Mindy, Kareenah, CheriMarie, Nichole, Marguerite, Darleen, Nanette, Denell, Arlene, Lonnie, Veronica with her darling daughter, Lana, Tammy, Marianne, Cindy, Stephanie, Lisa, Jolie, Melisa, Sherree, Vivi, Pamela, Aruba, Toni, Monica, Jocelyn, Trish, Betty, Denise--maker of the amazing "Prop Transporter," Ma*shuqa, Antoinette, Amy, Amber, Connie, Jennie, Carol, the fabulous Penny Rose, Poppy, Oscar and JoAnn!).

I spent so much time gabbing, I didn't get in nearly as much shopping or see nearly as much dancing as I would have liked. So I was extremely happy to get an email from Lee Corkett with a link to his gorgeous photographs. You can see them here:
So if you missed this year's event (or were too busy shopping, or gabbing like I was) be sure to check them out.
Keep and eye on MECDA's website for news on next year's event.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Friday Night at Cairo Caravan

My Friday at Cairo Caravan:

* Drive to Queen Mary.

* Check in with the festival organizers.

* Find authors table (second level, awesomely renamed "Thebes Level" for the festival).

* Find my friend and tablemate, Shauna Roberts.

* Set up the authors table.

* Move authors table to a spot with a view of the stage (and the terrific dancing!)

* Set up the authors table again

* Find the Boiler Room, where my morning lecture is taking place.

* Wait for eyes to adjust to the room's darkness, search in vain for additional lighting, and -- finding none -- seriously consider changing focus of talk from the belly dancers who performed at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair to belly dance ghost stories or something more suited to a scary dark place like the Queen Mary's Boiler Room.

* Sell first book of the night -- of the festival! -- to the lovely and talented and vivacious and darling and -- well, you get the idea -- Ansuya. This Bellydance Superstar has always been a superstar in my book, and I finally had the opportunity to tell her how inspiring I found her Santa Monica classes to be waaayyay back when BDSS was just a glint in Miles Copeland's eye. (Yes, this was a big fangirl moment for me, hence, the goofy grin in the picture...)

* Meet Liliana, a Facebook friend I have never had the pleasure of meeting in person before, who stopped and chatted and let me sign a book for her.

* Meet and sign books for several sweet and delightful ladies who stopped to chat and share our chocolate.

* Drive home, exhausted but happy, to rest up and be ready to head back in the morning.

Still wondering about those ghost stories, too...

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Booksigning at Cairo Caravan 2011

MECDA's Cairo Caravan -- the biggest annual belly dance event in Southern California -- is just around the corner, and I'm pretty excited the organizers asked me to come and talk about my debut novel, The Belly Dancer.

If you have a copy, bring it, and I'll be thrilled to sign it. If you don't, I'll have copies for sale throughout the run of the festival, thanks to the wonderful independent bookstore folks at Laguna Beach Books.

The 3-day event at the Queen Mary runs from 4 to 9 p.m. Friday (with a promised special surprise for Friday night attendees until 11 p.m.), 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

It'll be a full day of shopping, performances, workshops and food. Tickets at the door are $5 for MECDA members with card/$18 for non-members per day, or $10 for members with card / $35 for non-members for the weekend.

This year, my friend and fellow author Shauna Roberts will be reading from and signing copies of her novel, "Like Mayflies in a Stream," a story of ancient Mesopotamia and retelling of the epic Gilgamesh, at 4:30 p.m. Friday as part of the free lectures series.

My discussion, reading and signing will take place at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, also as part of the free lectures series.

If you can't make the lectures, I hope you'll stop by the booth Shauna and I will have. We'll be signing (and selling) copies of our books. I hope you'll stop by and say hi.

Need an incentive? I'm giving away free bookmarks and chocolate :-)

For more information about the festival, visit

Friday, May 27, 2011

O.C. Belly Dancer Spotlight: Marlena Shaw

Falling in love with belly dance is a vivid memory for Marlena Shaw. It was two decades ago, on the first day of a community college dance class in Irvine.

And she’s never been the same.

Her instructor’s soulful dancing and the rhythms of the Middle East and North Africa immediately connected to a lifelong passion for artistry and music that she had inherited from her parents as a young girl, according to her website ( She immersed herself in the dance form, and soon moved from student to performer and instructor.

Today she is an in-demand performer with a busy schedule of private events who still makes time to participate in local festivals and showcases. She’s also a popular instructor who teaches all levels of Egyptian-style belly dance at the Bea Hive Dance Studio in Garden Grove and Westminster Performing Arts Center, as well as private instruction.

Her next appearance is scheduled for Saturday, June 4, at MECDA’s 34th annual Cairo Caravan. You can find her at 12:22 p.m. on the Luxor Stage.

1. How would you describe your style of belly dancing?
Classical Egyptian

2. How long have you been belly dancing, and how’d you get started?
I took my very first belly dance class in 1991 at Irvine Valley College with an instructor named Kahena. When I heard the music and watched the way she moved, I was fascinated with the soulfulness she had and never saw anyone dance like that before. It almost seemed like the music was coming from her movement of her body instead of from the stereo. I was instantly eager to learn more about the culture, music and dance.

3. Who are your favorite or most influential teachers?
My most influential teachers were, of course, Kahena, with her knowledge and soulful expression. Then Fahtiem who was playful and feminine. Later I discovered Angelika Nemeth and studied with her for about four years, taking her college course at Golden West College and at an international studio in Santa Ana. I studied with several master teachers over the years, taking workshops and classes to keep up with what's new and to learn more in-depth knowledge and technique. I would have to say that the instructor that has been most influential for me (as there are so many) would have to be Sahra Saeeda. I have completed two of her Journey thru Egypt intensives and probably have spent the most time in her workshops trying to soak up all that she has learned in her extensive history of Egyptian dance.

4. What is your favorite place to dance?
My favorite place to dance would have to be at any event with an Egyptian audience. They truly appreciate the music and internal expression of the dance.

5. What music do you most like to dance to?
Anything classical Egyptian and, of course, I like the Oum Kalsoum songs. I also love Abdul Halim Hafiz music and all the classics. I love dancing to the qanoon, oud or the nay during a taxim. The most wonderful is, of course, dancing to live music!

6. What was your most memorable performance?
There have been so many memorable performances. One that comes to mind would have to be during a retreat in Idyllwild a few years back with Zahra. That Saturday evening, the band drove up so we could dance to live music. I remember dancing to Gamil Gamal, and feeling like I was floating the whole time. Then, the drum solo was so fun, dancing while Gorkem Somer played the drum. I was standing right next to him and playfully communicating with him with my hips. There is nothing greater than performing to live music.

7. What is your dance regimen?
My dance regimen changes all the time. I teach two nights a week and dance at a regular restaurant gig as well. I spend a lot of time preparing and thinking about class, especially when I am choreographing. I listen to a lot of music, picking just the right piece and then going over it with different combinations of movement. When I am performing at an event, I pick my music and then listen to it in the car while I drive and dance to it in my living room/studio. If I am not performing, I will put in a DVD and follow with the instructor to keep my technique up and stamina. My most favorite time to practice is putting in a DVD of a classical old Egyptian style dancer like Tahia Carioca, Fifi Abdo or Soheir Zaki, and try to imitate them. I also have a trampoline that I bounce on with weights in my hands early in the morning before I get ready for work, along with sit-ups and stretching.

8. To you, what separates an accomplished dancer from an amateur?
Honestly, I would have to say that to me an accomplished dancer you would have to have an understanding of the rhythms in the music and to be able to recognize the instruments in a piece of music. Some understanding of the different styles. Good technique and posture are very important. Accomplished dancers would mostly have to be confident in their ability to improvise, their skill in using props such as a veil, cane or sword. To me, one of the most impressive skills is to be able to connect with people while they dance, have a healthy balance in dancing for yourself and dancing for your audience.

9. As there is always room for improvement in dance (just as there is in all art forms), what are you still working to improve?
I'm trying to learn some more modern Egyptian moves to add some "pizzazz" to my repertoire. I watch some YouTube videos and try to pick up some new moves.

10. How long have you been in Orange County?
For most of my life I've been right here in O.C. My family is from the South Bay area (Torrance), but we moved here to Westminster when I was in middle school.

If you would like to know more about Marlena, or check out her performing and class schedules, visit

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bellydance Flash Mob in Brussels

Come on, you know wish you'd been there for this!

The video poster, raqscongress, wrote on YouTube that the event took place Saturday, March 6, 2010, in the center of Brussels. It was part of an effort to promote Bellydance as an art form. And is part of the International Raqs Congress activities. You can find out more about them here:

The event was presented by Together in Life NGO ( and Salwa (

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Two April 30 events

Click on either flier for a larger view...

International & Middle-Eastern Night

at the Bea Hive Ballroom in in Garden Grove

An Evening of Live Music and Belly Dancing

at Sam's Mediterranean Kabob Room in Monrovia

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Renaissance Faire 2011

I think we may have picked the hottest day of the year to visit Ye Olde Renaissance Faire, but who cares about 90-degree weather with great friends like these.

There's no shortage of handsome and chivalrous young men at the faire, and this one's mine. (Lucky me!)

Michael, the kind and generous official faire photographer, has taken my pictures these past few years, so I felt brave enough to ask him to be in one with me. Thanks, Michael!

The Danse Macabre folks are always fun to watch.

Faire folk are so clever. He's an Old World deep sea diver.

Kindra, the lovely and talented henna artist at work here at the Maharani Mehandi tent, is responsible for....

My lovely henna design. Thank you, Kindra!

Of course we spent a lot of time here at the Trader's Market stage. It's where the belly dancers perform.

This is Baba Ku. I always enjoy watching these lovely dancers and listening to these amazing musicians.

The other group that performed on the stage was Seraphim Mora, and they also had great dancers and terrific musicians.

When the Queen's Progress interrupted their performance, the group offered this lovely salute.... The bow... And here she is -- God save the Queen. And the performance continued without a hitch... And here was my big deal of the day, a Hearts Delight corset. Fitted by the master of corsets himself, Vincent. I can't even begin to do justice to this man's skill. Yes, ladies, he is that good.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Market at the Casbah 2011

Market at the Casbah is a wonderful belly dance festival that takes place every spring at the Fullerton Senior Multi-Service Center. This year's event took place Satuday, April 2, and offered a full day of performances, shopping and food, thanks to the amazing organizational efforts of Wanda Lee Sundberg and Deborah Peterson. Here's a peek:


Below is my festival buddy, Alane, and drummer Ed Lee, who was scheduled to perform later in the day with Saf Mavi, accompanying Katerina and the Kabuki Dolls.

Azure Moon is the lovely 3-lady troupe who kicked off the performances just before noon.

Next up was Celia, a soloist with loads of style and grace. Not to mention an awesome costume...

How cool is this jeweled foot cover?

Ah, Azuluna -- I always love to watch these ladies dance. They are the student troupe for Sooz, who teaches ATS in northern OC.

Marla is more often seen as half of the Raks Bahlam duo, but today she performed an exquisite Egyptian solo. Gorgeous!

Roz and the Dancing Sands are always popular. The three young girls also performed a Bollywood-style choreography on their own, which they choreographed themselves. It was fun to watch their enthusiasm--and talent!

Essence of the Orient came up next, and yes, they raq'd it!

Cynthia is such a talented dancer and she just gets better and better every year. And I love her costumes! This one is a show-stopper. I wish my photos did it justice.

JJ and the Habibis -- It is impossible to watch these ladies and not have a good time. They are so much fun to watch!

And JJ (Jeri St. James) performed a terrific cane solo, too.

Next up was Medea and the Desert Mirage Dancers. And not only did they fit 12 dancers on this tiny stage, they performed with zills (and sounded great) and veils, too! Just to give you a flavor of their fun act: They opened with Red Elvises' "I Wanna See You Bellydance"

Gabriella from San Diego was next up, and she really shined in this lovely minimalist belly dance costume. Stunning.

Mariposa, who studies with Sylvia Xica Gitana, danced a Spanish-Arabic flavored tribal fusion piece.

And each dancer wore an amazing crocheted hip scarf. So pretty!

Taji and the Johara dancers came out next, and they were a lot of fun to watch. Great dancers, and they play zills, too!

A bit later in the day, Cyriana danced to live music provided by the legendary John Bilezikjian and his band.

So that's a bit of what you might have missed. If I misspelled anyone's name, please drop me a note and I'll be happy to correct it.

Happy dancing!