Don’t let the name fool you, these women are drop dead beauties! Straight from their website…. Embodying the characters of real world femme fatales, this living history belly dance performance tells the unique story of the world’s most powerful women, often too enchanting to be understood and too wild to be bound by love, social hierarchies and rules. An all-star cast of award-winning international belly dance performers resurrect the nuances of the art of seduction and honor the power of femininity while capturing the essence of historical costuming and dance forms as they define each woman. Mata Hari, Cleopatra, Salome, Sirens, Elizabeth Bathory, Lillith and others leap of the pages of history books, paintings, and tin types and reach into your heart.
Founding members Surreyya Hada and Nyla Crystal, originally proposed this idea to me several years ago. Like the “seasoned professional” I am (read in between the lines)!! I heaped praises for their idea and heaped encouragement. Many ambitious ideas have been presented to me, by students (them), musicians, videographers, concert promoters….I usually just take the “let’s wait and see attitude”. all the while, I’m thinking, they want me to be someone else!! OMG! I’ve spent the bulk of my puberty and all my adult life dancing and trying to be more comfortable in my own skin…and I’m supposed to portray someone else…YIKES!!!
Well, I had the pleasure of performing with these lovelies on local turf and had a blast! Then on the road to Aqaba in January 2012, I broke my bow (whole another tale) and when the ideas of bus rides came to be…well, I bailed! Despite getting generous reviews, I realized I’d like to milk my creative juices in other ways. I’ve had this music in mind for many years, and the Dangerous Beauties are the perfect group to bring my choreography to life!! So while the Beauties are on tour, I’m hanging close to home and making a dance for them, just for them! I kind of fancy myself the private choreographer to the Beauties! And as soon as they stay in one place long enough, we’ll put this dance together. In the mean time, Go see this awesome show!! Check out their site, follow on Facebook, read their reviews….They are Dangerous! Uhh, yea…so are my breasts hanging out of that costume! Dangerous, I mean!
On one of those hot summer nights, where nature’s air conditioner had taken the night off….Set the stage.
At the time the Renaissance Fair was still at Black Point and one of the guilds was having a party. I just called them the guild of handsome young buff men in leather and metals! You know the type? Buff, big muscles…vibrant…way before Johnny Depp but that same appealing rogue… ladies, I know you know what I mean!
It was a packed house that Saturday night. It always was, which I was always amazed at…so out of the way…but they offer a real dining experience suitable for all. One year there was a review on Moroccan themed restaurants in the San Francisco Chronicle. There was a comparison between dance shows at Mammounia (where I was) and Pasha (where I would later work) …..the reviewer alluded to something off-color about the dancer at Pasha, I don’t recall exactly what now, but categorized Mammounia’s dancer (me) as your exotic fantasy of the girl next door!! Some weird statement like that, but essentially suggested our place was more family friendly.
Anyway, that night I was headed into the “red room”….remember the small rooms have small speakers. Those of you who know me intimately, I always want my music louder….If I can’t hear it I can’t feel it. I can always tell how challenging it will be by how much noise I can hear even before I go in. It was going to be tough, the guests were really loud.
Well they were loud until I glided into the room, finger cymbals ringing, hips a swaying, all I heard was a collective gasp from all of these effing beautiful men!!!! OK! said self here I go, and we all proceeded to enjoy my dancing. This is all in silence mind you except for the small speaker, the swish of my skirts on my skin, the tinkle of delicate coins on my bra and belt and zilling. As the moments wore on and our mutual awareness meshed (that’s really the only way I can describe it)! and the music began to change to pulsating drumming…my body started to respond. Another sound infiltrated the moment….it took me a moment or two to realize what it was; it was my sweaty inner thighs slapping together as I shimmied! At the same time I realized what it was, so did my audience…now I had groans accompanying me as I danced!
So let me set the stage…early 80’s…San Francisco, Sunset District close to the beach…where in the summer time patrons would be lined up out the door and down the block waiting to enter into a dimly lit den of richly tapestried rooms; each with their own theme, named for the colors of the prayer rugs draped on the walls where the exotically scented and delicately seasoned aroma of lamb and couscous wafted through the air…where the patina of the low brass tables looked like it was centuries old…where they could enter into the mosaic of experiences that are a traditional Moroccan meal. The ritualistic hand washing with rose citrus scented waters, the tea pouring done from so far away the waiter seems to be in another country….
The patrons who lined up were the up and coming…the artists and bohemians… pre-med from UCSF, the gay crowd pre HIV…..they were the movie stars and Superbowl winners…they were the family next door and the family from the Midwest on their California vacation…
If any of you have worked in this type of place there usually is a big room and several small intimate rooms off of the grand room (Where unfortunately the speakers are smaller, I hate that)! In the large room you have the center…this is where I learned how to dance in the round…it is the small rooms that taught me to make magic in one place…of course this is is all to taped music…YES, even before CD’s, so you had better have a bag full of cassettes that you liked, the WHOLE side…not just one cut!!
It was one hot evening…you know the ones that are rare in the Bay Area; where natures air conditioning is taking a break for a day or two. A night that that held the heat so much that I sweat as I changed.
I’m sure I’m like alot of people, the summer ignites my sensual side, not in a sexual way, but in a sense way. My body is literally more open as I am, more receptive to people, their emotions as well as everything around me. This might be particularly true for bellydancers, it’s an integral part of the experience if you are not on a proscenium stage,,,that’s my experience anyway. In addition to listening to your music and performing, there are other layers of consciousness occurring simultaneously. Observing the audience, the dynamics between each member of the group, the group dynamics…whose engaged with you, who is shut off from you. Plus my observation of me, how I’m feeling. Am I staying open and receiving as much as putting forth, or is it bouncing off the walls and returning to me without touching my audience. Physically I want to stay in an observant mode; the hundreds…ahh, the thousands of improvised performances have contributed to my teaching curriculum.
So enough babble, let me tell you about one of those hot summer nights!
Body Lessons and Self Massage for Dancers
I have danced for close to 35 years and many of those years dancing hard!! For well over a decade of that time I was performing over a dozen 35-40 minute shows a week. Often those shows were accompanied by pulsing live music and enthusiastic audiences with finales ending in turkish drops and head tossing zars. Fortunately I’ve essentially been injury free, never having canceled a show or missing a day of my regular day jobs. In 1994, in the midst and height of my performing career I was involved in 4 car accident. I was rear-ended, then broadsided (on the driver’s side) and then I proceeded to rear end the car in front of me. Needless to say my car was totaled, however, I was pretty much unscathed. I was able to crawl out of the passenger side window…none of the doors opened. That was a Sunday night coming home from performing at a wedding, by Thursday I was back to my full function!
I’ve always been interested in the body and its function. So much so that it has fueled my choice in avocation and vocation. Well, after that accident, it ignited in me a desire for more information beyond my clinical hours of cadaver exploration and clinical anatomy. I had explored methods like Feldenkrais, Alexander, Rosen, Rolfing and many other paths to better function not only for myself but for my students.
My methods are culled from my own experiences and explorations as well as a results of hundreds of books , articles and thousands of hours of intensive clinical study.
These exercises are essentially for self-care for any body, whether it’s a dancer’s body or you are sedentary. They are especially helpful for an aging body….middle age..when the movement patterns of our youth start to show themselves as dysfunctional and as our muscle memory is imprinted with these responses. Where sporadic aches and pains in youth that were often dismissed as a nuisance or often ignored, start to become a daily occurrence or interfere with our enjoyment of daily life and our normal activities. These lessons are potent tools for any body, however, (and I know this is true from experience)!! It’s hard to entice or convince a body that can do anything it wants…that she needs fixing…the message is more enticing or becomes more urgent when there is pain.
They are therapeutic for their “feel good” benefit and with regular practice used for an anecdote to a stressful life..with enough time, use and examination of these methods, they prove to be a powerful tool for identifying any muscular patterns that are problematic.
When I was younger, these tools were for when my body was in crisis, so to speak…wake up with a sore neck, hip etc. As I age, I’m finding them even more beneficial and essential for my day-to-day function. They serve me in my day gig, where I’m on my feet all day, they serve for when I’m sitting at the computer. For me they prepare me for a “ready” body, a free body, so I can dance!
Join me in an afternoon of Body Lessons and Self Massage for Dancers
Saturday June 16, 2012 at Suzie’s Studio in San Rafael, Ca.