Belly Dance Classes for Fun, Fitness or Serious Study of Middle Eastern Dances

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Hey All,

All classes are online and continue for the foreseeable future. I’m doing basic beginning classes in 6 weeks sessions, with 2 weeks off in-between. You can do drop-in, but consider it a progressive series. meaning we build upon last weeks.

The higher-level classes are ongoing.  If you want more info, you can read about it here and if you want to sign up Questions?

If you want to dance, you know where I’m at!

Balady, Beledi, Baladna or Balady Progression

Example of a Balady Dress with a little Saidi styling to go with

Beledy, baladi, balady…beledy tet, balady, or progression….

However you spell it , it is considered by many to be the heart and soul of Egyptian or Arabic music, a perfect buildup of anticipation to a climatic drum solo or a segue into another folkloric song. It’s a “Must Know” for any serious student of Middle Eastern Dance or music.

It can refer to My country, a rhythm, structure, a style of dance, a style of dancer, a class of peoples, or a section of a traditional 5-7 part cabaret style show in which it is danced usually right before drum solo.

There are progressions that can be categorized as Tet ( which Sahra Saida categorizes as “male” in origin and most likely originating in the Said region of Egypt and further exemplified in Amina Goodyear’s recollection of early lessons with Fatima Akef in the 70’s) where toe touches, taps and saidi like adornments of the accents flavors the progression. It is also characterized by the org (organ in modern times or /accordion way back) creates an accent in the music that begs for movement and in opposition to the common musicality rule of late..down on the down beat which I first heard taught in the 80’s by drummer Souhail Caspar.

There are progressions that can be categorized as Baladi Awad (Woman’s Style, again thanks to Sahra) which have a different feel, that can be easily be felt in comparison to the Tet. Which I won’t try to explain with words as you’ll need to feel both of them to understand!

There are older folk songs like the ones listed below that have the elements of beledy and have been historically part of the 5-7 Egyptian Style Routine, mentioned earlier. You could easily count on any musician from the region and age..lol to to know these. I laugh because the whole “routine” of any evening of entertainment with a dancer is no longer happening as the norm, but an exception in the US and many musicians are younger and may not have played music when this genre was popular, included in the dancers show and almost without exception a played in Arabic nightclubs.

Songs

Bint Al Sultan (Daughter of the sultan) Ahmed Adaweya.
Ya Hassan ghouli Tet wahada kabir into masmoudi kabir
Beledy Ya Wad/tet
Sheek Shak Shook
Habibi Aiyni
Aminti Billah Beledi Tet

Musical Elements

Taksim or Awwady
you may also see it spelled Taksim, Taxsim, Taxim, or Takasim. It is an Arabic word which means “division”, and refers to the section of music where a specific instrument is playing a solo. The Arabic taqsim is improvised—in a restricted sense—according to traditional patterns, and is almost never played in the same way twice. Musically speaking, any solo instrument improvising in the Arabic taqsim structure is playing a taqsim, including the drum taqsim that dancers usually call the drum solo.
Sekkat Transition
Melodic with drum accents
Me-Atta
In traditional Arabic music, this refers to the question-and-answer that goes back and forth between a melody instrument and a drummer.
Medium Maksoum into
Fast Maksoum Sahra says her musicians called it saeria, RanyRenee  calls it ingerara, mine called it fuss(fast) and may go into Fellahi.
Can end with  a drum solo, or slows down and merges into another song.

An Egyptian Musician’s Perspective
http://www.shira.net/baladi.htm

A really good example of some of the musical elements of a balady

Hayatim ya hassan a ghouli

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mrCbiG0v9Ns

Fifi

https://youtu.be/I7opiTZO47g

Our little class study of a progression

Pure Improv at a wedding


Fini

Khalis

 

 

BellyDance in Dubai

Photos, L-R, top-bottom on taken on a i-phone 6 .

Top 3 photos of the “Darth Vader Wand, unknown dancer at an outdoor desert safari, Tannoura dancer at Safari, Warda, me and my BFF partying into the wee hours!

Dubai, one of 7 emirates, collectively known as UAE , is situated on the Persian Gulf. By some reports the work force is 80-90% expats, and from what I saw the professional belly dancers are 100%. Favored are the very petite and very young of course! The small sizes of the majority of dancers, gave the illusion of prepubescent to me, that maybe because I’m getting s little long in the tooth as the saying goes! Although not considered a place of destination for Belly Dance per se like Cairo, there are abundant nightclubs and cabarets featuring full length dance shows, with incredible musical accompaniment and soulful singers. Like Cairo, the shows start late and go into the wee hours of the AM. Shisha and alcohol fueled (but not too much as public intoxication is a no no) is the way to enjoy these evenings. And of course a hearty appetite! The mezzas are divine and generally 2 coursed, hot and cold. In the states I’m only used to a first course, but when in Rome … Or Dubai..you get what I mean!

The Belly Dance shows are what you would expect… Well kind of.

First, it is illegal to tip the musicians, singers or dancers. So no money showers, no tip necklaces, no discreet palm shakes after the show. In addition to no tipping that means that none of the entertainers leave the dance floor. Even during the folkloric section where it’s generally acceptable to even go out into the audience to do a greeting or photo-op with distinguished guests.  Instead, tipping is done by the audience through a token purchase of champagne and it turns out that its cheap champagne! So bottles of champagne are placed on the dance floor with these mega-sparklers and poured either for the singers and band members, but no money exchanges hands.

The dance shows are typical five or seven parts with lots of folklore and every dancer had a gulf dance included in her set, some more vigorous than others. A lot of props were seen, the dancers started their marjence or majency with poi veils, fan veils or Isis wings. An interesting prop, new to me, was the Darth Vader wand! This prop was accompanied by a Saidi  or Debkhe song. The pictures below do not do the prop justice! They expand with an ever changing array of colors, designs and symbols. Ranging to country flags, club name and logo, national icons like Feiruz and Oum Kalthoum, and I swear I saw Sara Palin on one of the Darth Vader Wands…

The dance itself is very fast with a very modern musical interpretation. Which left many audience members reminiscing about Fifi, Mona, Sohair etc… Per conversations overheard at neighboring tables.

If you are looking to take a dance class while you are there, look up Warda. An expat from Brazil, living in the region for well over a decade definitely has the feel for the Gulf.

If you are looking for an adventure and dance and or shopping is your thing, Dubai will be sure to please.

 

It’s all in the Music

DSC_0333Middle Eastern Dance aka Belly Dance..it’s all in the music!

I’ve often said to my students, unlike any other dance, our dance is intrinsically tied to the music. Learning music, theory and rhythms is a big part of a serious students journey.
Music facilitates our understanding of the movements. It’s that important. I’ve been very lucky to have had opportunities to work with amazing musicians for extended periods of time (like years) and that experience alone  expanded my understanding of the dance, comparable to the years of efforts spent in the dance studio.
This is why I like to offer live  music opportunities for students who choose the path of performance. For this reason, dances are made to explore music. There is a symbiotic relationship between the two.

Things to remember:

Even if you choreograph a dance to a recording, technical snafus occur. Including, but not limited to:
The DJ plays the wrong song
The electricity goes out
Poor sound system and it’s not loud enough or the applause from your audience is drowning out the music and all your well laid plans.
Your DJ is on the other side of a banquet room and you won’t be able to catch his eye and or he won’t understand your pantomime to go to the next song. If you are dancing right next to him, and he doesn’t understand your language.
Electricity goes out….you have zills right? Can you hum it? A beautiful moment happened a couple of years ago in Acapulco at a dance performance I was attending. The sound system was crap! It was interrupting almost every single dancer and group, some were so frustrated they left the stage, others kept dancing in hopes they could catch the musical cues when the music returned. The organizer of the event and her large dance ensemble  closed the set and of course the music tanked. The audience started humming the piece and the dancers finished the piece, it was magic!

Live music snafus:

Music or songs are different versions than you know
The band played it differently than they did the last time
The arrangement is all wrong
The band doesn’t know it or doesn’t know the finale.
It’s Ramadan and the keyboard player doesn’t want to play for the dancer

No matter how many recordings of the song or music you listen to, or even if you have had the band play it for you dozens of times before, there is no guarantee that it will be played the same way again.

While I generally prefer live music, I’ve been dancing long enough to have had a few musical nightmares.  Really, kind of like, me wondering to myself….what possessed you to become a dancer???

I was working at a nightclub that my regular band and singer had brought me to work with them. It was kind of an interim place until we could get our show back into a club that seated more than 100 people. (The club where we had worked together for 10 years had closed.)
During the transition…I stayed at the old club, while the band went to the new one. Of course all the parties involved knew what we were doing, so there were efforts all around to keep both owners and audiences  happy.
Two weeks went by with fill in musicians I had worked with before. Fun shows, happy audiences and owners. Third week, not so much. In place of the four piece band was a keyboard player with an additional drum pad machine. Nowadays,  the keyboards have drum machines built into them. They are like computers and can be programmed…or so I’m told. This musician had a classical opening piece or majenci, taxim/takseem and a saidi piece programmed in. I was pretty impressed how well the music was going and we were all having a great time. Then he started playing Salamet Om Hassam….and kept playing it. I mean he kept playing the opening verses, over and over again. Over and over again. over and over again.

Over to another nightclub, different night, different keyboard player, who I have worked with before.  Beautiful opening music. I love dancing to the richness of the classical majenci…it’s really for me a show case of art, not just entertainment.  Well, I guess it also is for this particular keyboard player. In the takseem/taxim section of the opening piece, he elaborated. I mean taxim means solo and improvise literally, so I get that, but these are classics!  I didn’t know Korgs could play a jazz solo….His solo went on long enough for the drummer to leave the stage and go to the bathroom.Thankfully, there was a wedding party, where I could occupy myself with pictures and audience interaction.

Another night, different keyboard player. It’s Ramadan, no keyboard player for the show.

Another night club, different band, different state, keyboard player doesn’t show up.

All of these things can and more will happen. Rule number #1, don’t panic. Rule #2, keep dancing, or not!

 

 

 

 

So you are Invited to a Wedding.

Image

I’ve performed in literally hundreds of weddings  with audiences who are Egyptian, Jordanian, Palestinian, Syrian, Persian or Lebanese. There have been some interesting combinations of ethnicitys marrying each other also. An Egyptian marrying outside of their culture to a Samoan. A Jewish Egyptian marrying a Syrian Druze. Needless to say, I know my music and I know how to “do” a wedding!
A musician I’ve worked with (Arab) was getting married and was inviting all of his (older: age and length of acquaintance)  friends as guests and his newer friends to work. So many of the musicians and several other professional dancers I’ve worked with were in the wedding party and not performing. Of course I was excited to attend an evening of great music and dance.  Well, it didn’t turn out as I expected…don’t get me wrong, it was a great party. I’d envisioned a 10 piece orchestra, no, just a 3 piece.  Thankfully they were the most seasoned of the pros there and the rest were in the wedding party and guests. So despite not being a 10 piece orchestra, the music was rocking!

So speaking about the music, the dancers.  The first dancer slayed me, or her choice of music did, literally. She was a lovely dancer…but her music was better suited to drilling in a dance studio than entertaining a discriminating audience. So irritating and inappropriate that it distracted me from any enjoyment of her show.

Enter second dancer, who was also lovely. Her musical choices were dynamic and appropriate for a wedding show. Her musical choice connected every member in the audience to her dance and the cultural traditions in which she was representing.

Some ideas in what not to use in a show for a wedding.

Tarab...enjoying the music as a guest.

Tarab…enjoying the music as a guest.

 Drum drills….anything that repeats for convenience sake, like perfect for the classroom is not what you want to use.
A remix…Even if it’s to a well known song…just don’t.

A 9 minute majenci or opening piece. I love the elaborateness of this format, works great in a nightclub where you have a 40 minute show. When was the last time you saw a 40 minute show? My point, your show is only a very small part of an elaborate evening planned on showcasing the bride and groom.  Save that 9 minute opening for when all eyes are on you and you are a big part of the evening’s entertainment.

Some ideas in what to use..

A short dynamic majenci, yes there are many of them available.  Some are classics or remakes of classics. Using music with multiple rhythms makes your job as a dancer so much easier. Double points if it has a strong beledy or baladi beat, every one can connect to this rhythm, even if they don’t know the name of it.
A classic folkloric song, there are a lot of choices depending on what ethnicity of your audience.  Chances are the parents are involved in the payment of your performance, and if you can connect with the elders in your audience with your musical choice (as well as the women and children)…you’ve got a winning combo.

These are a just a couple of ideas.  Teachers, don’t withhold valuable info from your students, it makes us all look bad in the audience’s eye. Students, if you don’t know, ask.

Belly Dance Tantric or Tantric Belly Dance?

I should probably just call it one of the weirdest things that has ever happened to me in my performance career.  Long before Tantric and Belly Dance were ever used in a sentence before, or used to describe a style.  Which I don’t do, but this experience felt tantric when it happened 25 yrs ago even though I did have moments of eww in remembering it! I was performing at Mammounia in SF in the late 80’s to 2008 when it burned down.  In one of the small rooms..in the “red” room….hot, sticky, smoky, packed with so many people and their excitement, making it hard to hear the music.  Dances and locations like that often have their own rhythm and musical accompaniment even if everyone can’t hear it. Audience’s breath, your breath, sound of the utensils, hand clapping, hand slapping, my costume..my finger cymbals!  I was performing for a group of people who later became some of the leaders in the Tantric Movement in SF so one woman’s response to me isn’t much of a surprise.  A small room often leads to a sense of intimacy that that can be a challenge for a dancer to navigate, but I’ve always manged to protect my boundaries, but this woman’s touch was so unthreatening….one single index finger came up to my bare, damp waist and caught several drops of my sweat and brought it to her mouth and licked it.  I told you, I should have called this post Way Bizarre!DSC06625

17 Books For Serious Study of Middle Eastern Dance

glassesYes, I love to read and I read a lot.

Below is a list of books that have inspired me in different ways.  Some are primarily about Belly Dance, some the crafting of dances, others offer inspiration for creativity.

  • Badia Masabni the Legend by Jodette  This book is priceless in its accounts of the legend.
  • Daughter of Egypt by Marjorie A. Franklin  This is an important book for any serious student of Egyptian Dance. The legacy of Farida Fahmy and the Reda Troupe.
  • Oriental Belly Dance by Kemal Ozdemir  The history of Turkish  kocheks and chengi.
  • The Secrets of belly Dancing by Roman Balladine & Sula This little paperback stays part of my collection for its historical and sentimental value.
  • The Tribal Bible by Kajira Djoumahna The title says it, it really is a Bible!
  • Serpent of the Nile Wendy Buonaventura  A beautiful book, since its first edition, I know their have been some criticisms of the legitimacy of all that has been presented…but.
  • Dynamic Belly Dance by Ramona  I have yet to put this book to use as I rely on my music for inspiration for choreography. But this is a useful tool for fusion dancers etc and me and later date!
  • The Belly Dance Reader by The Editors of GildedSerpent A collection of essays from experts in the BD field. I particularly liked Alia Thabit’s and Venus Marilee Nugent’s offerings.
  • The Art of Making Dances Doris Humphrey The standard college level workbook, the essential nuts and bolts of making dances and staging.
  • Intimate Act of Choreography by Lynne Anne Blom & L. Tarin Chaplin  Inspiration for the Dance maker in you.
  • The Moment of Movement by the above authors Inspiration
  • Maps to Ecstasy by Gabrielle Roth I adore this book, and while it is no replacement for her work in person, it will have to suffice as she has passed away.
  • Doorway to Ecstasy by Sherry Brier Sherry reveals her story of growth as a dancer and offers a blueprint for your own discovery.
  • Dance of Psyche Rhythm of Consciousness by Dr. Christina Fragasso-Kolakouskus Campbell  An intimate look at her relationship and healing which emphasizes the unifying significance of music and dance in our culture today.
  • A Woman’s Book of Power by Karen Andes aka Aruna   uses Dance to Cultivate Energy and Health.
  • a big new free happy unusual life by Nina Wise  While Nina is not a dancer per say, she is a mover and offers big inspirations for dancers.
  • Dances with Veils A Journey to the Divine Feminine by Mezdulene Bliss Mezdulene weaves her own personal story within the context of Belly Dance in America’s timeline.

This is by no means meant to be a complete list, just what is in my pile today!  Any of my ongoing students who would like to borrow, feel free!  You know the drill; a book report when you are finished.

Is it El Kawliya, Qawilya or Kawleeya

El Kawliya, Qawilya or Kawleeya?

Hell, I’m not even sure how to pronounce it yet! One thing I know is that I have had so much fun learning about this dance.  Reading about it, watching YouTube videos, trying to disseminate it in my body.  So you who know me, I’m not a writer.  I made my apology about my amateurish attempts at writing from the get go, when I started this.  But I do love to study dance and I am a note taker. I’ve got notebooks from 30+yrs ago, that I still refer to.  Now, I’m putting it here for myself and you if you want it.
So, first things first.  This dance is not new.  It has been around for longer than I have danced 30++. When I started dancing, most of us didn’t know where Iraq was on the map, never mind know about this dance.  It wasn’t in the news, until the last decade or so.. There were no writings about it or YouTube videos.
The first dancer I saw do this Malayeen. I loved the wild music and hair flipping, but didn’t get it. in 2010 I was seeing Yana  adored her and the dresses she wore with this new style of dance I was learning.
In 2012, I watched her dance live in Eliat, Israel. Amazing!  Too bad the music has been muted in the link. Read a little about it in Amina’s blog and I referenced it here.  Then 2 years ago, found this video. All this time mind you, there were lots of Russian and Ukrainian dancers emulating Yana, that were a delight to see. Last year, I read about an Iraqi woman residing in London, Assala Ibrahim who is the expert and compiled this awesome, fricking video, if you missed the 1st time I linked to it.  Told you I was amateurish! Of course there is this woman, I think of her as an Arab Lady Gaga.  She’s amazing, a chameleon.  Singer, dancer extraordinaire. I don’t know if Lady Gaga is all that ( I don’t know her work, because I’m too busy studying Kawleeya! but I do know about her meat dress). Myriam Fares, this video has been around a few years, and I still adore it and her, she is all kinds of  inspiring to me. FYI, a few Arabs I know,  well everyone over 40, hates her!
Of course there has been an immense amount of coverage of Iraq in recent times as shown in these posts from NYTimes.
Last summer GildedSerpent published Amani Jabril’s observations.
OK girls and boys, homework is over.  Except, I’m so excited to have Sabrina of San Diego come and teach us Kawleeya next month. She is the West Coast expert She is a multi awarded dancer who I consider  the West Coast expert and actually has taught this Iraqi folk dance in Egypt!  How exciting is that.  We’re so lucky.  You students are so lucky I just shared all my notes with you too!

Kawleeya with Sabrina

Kawleeya with Sabrina

Magic Carpet Ride Checklist before Takeoff!

There have been all kinds of articles , how to’s and blogs about the art of performing belly dance. Read them! They are important! Someone may expose you to an idea that you may never have even thought of, or inspire you in a direction in your dance you may never have considered.

Fueled by your love of the dance you are learning and motivated by the dancers you have seen share their art, you want to too!

More than likely your first experiences will be dancing at community or dancer generated events. You know what I mean, haflas, recitals and festivals. You’ll be dancing for other dancers, among a long line up of other dancers.
You’ve worked really hard, taking regular classes and workshops.
You can step hip in a dozen different ways, snap your hips like no one’s business, undulate and figure 8 in a variety of ways. Your costume is well put together; skirts not to sheer, too long, too short, your belt stays in place and doesn’t limit your movements, your bra keeps your breast contained and stays on. You’ve got the grooming thing happening, hair, makeup, nails.

The Art of Middle Eastern, or Belly or Raks Sharqi is intrinsically tied to the music.  Ahh…dancer girl, this is the fuel for your magic carpet ride and one of the most important elements to your show being successful..You’ve been listening and studying the music, the classic composers, dance music, pop, tarab, shaabi. You can identify regional compositions and know your fusion from  Oriental.  You listen to it with your eyes closed, with headphones on, with the volume up loud and your windows rolled up while you are driving and you dance to it for your dance practice.
You know your music so well, you hear what it tells you to do and you have enough technique to instantly choose from a repertoire of appropriate movement.
“Oh, I’m going to do the choreography that I’ve been working on in class, it’ll be perfect”, you say. OK, you read that thing about the music, and enough technique? Good because you will need to remember that. Even in the best of conditions, enough space, music loud enough, appreciative audience, knowing your dance inside and out there are many variables that can and will happen eventually if you perform long enough.
You get to the event and realize it’s the size of a postage stamp with people all around you, or it’s in a bar, long and skinny or worse yet, no stage, just around tables. Yikes! The choreography your teacher made you is made for a big stage, has long sweeping phrases and staged for frontal viewing.

Think Fast! Adapt your dance to your conditions. This is when you have to use a different set of skills. You have to be that dancer who brings to life that music using your body as the canvas; like a painter who paints a picture.

Improvise! Remember all the technique and musical study you’ve been working on…this is how you apply it!

So that choreography, that you worked so hard on, will be a distant memory as it undergoes a metamorphosis as you dodge waiters, patrons going to the bathroom, or the wandering, enthusiastic, infant of the event hostess! That’s OK, because you know the music and before you know it you have made your own made in the moment dance!

The Art of Belly Dance unlike other dance forms and particularly in this setting (small) is interactive.

It’s going to be three-way between you, your music (even if it is canned) and the audience. “Oh, that’s OK, I’m dancing just for myself”. Well, if you are dancing for yourself, it’s easier to stay at home and do that! Acknowledge your audience! They are sharing this special occasion with you and granting you their attention. This doesn’t mean you have to go around and shake people’s hands (although I have) as you enter, but a smile and eye contact goes a long way in connecting you with your audience.

Don’t forget when that magic carpet ride is over and you are disembarking, to thank your passengers (your audience)! So that they may remember the ride fondly!

You are ready for take off on a magic carpet ride!

Next up….refueling with unleaded, leaded or diesel, refreshments, side trips, checking your passenger manifest and decorating on that magic carpet ride!

This is a very expensive carpet ride...don't worry those white spots are just the flash....this is my 25K ride.

She Dancing through Time

I call her She.  Just like captains of sea going vessels name their boats, or guys name their cars a feminine. I just call her She. She has been with me since before puberty.

I’m a life long dancer. What does that mean? Well, I’ve been making dances for myself and my friends since I was a small girl. When I say small, I mean even before I started school. I was one of those little girls who danced through her house, backyard and everywhere in between and when I stopped long enough to answer the question; “what do you want to be when you grow up”…a ballerina I would scream as danced away!

Well, I didn’t become a”ballerina”, (but took regular classes for 3 years straight in college),which is a good thing, as I would have been long retired now, and my joints wouldn’t be in as good a shape as they are! Through my childhood and adolescence I studied Hula, Tahitian (I lived in Hawaii for a couple of years), jazz and pre-hiphop….don’t what else to call it! I was a cheerleader and a gymnast. By the time puberty rolled around it was becoming obvious I didn’t have a “ballerina” body and was fast losing upper body strength to whip myself around those parallel bars. Didn’t matter, I still loved to dance and continued to study many dance forms throughout the years. In high school, I took a belly dance class, and I was hooked. My first teacher, Lynette  was a partner of Bert Balladine. (No, it’s not Lynette of Gilded Serpent), but they both had a beautiful head of long, blond, big curly hair! Enchanted with her and the dance, I took twice weekly classes from her for 2 years, until she retired. Thirty plus years have passed and I still wonder about her. She then referred me to DeAnn of Dream Dancers and Light Rain fame. Another blond, long, haired beauty! I had the fortune of performing with her troupe for many years and DeAnn was always very encouraging of my continued study even after the troupe disbanded and she quit teaching. She supported me so and encouraged my teaching. DeAnn has been gone since 1998, RIP friend and dancer extraordinaire. So today, I can say that I have taught for over 20 years (and still going strong, Thank You very Much)! I have had the honor of teaching hundreds of lovely women and a few men and some of them have been with me almost all that time!

So, today, I can also say that I have had an amazing performing career! Just imagine, when I started performing, there were no CD’s…we barely had any good cassette tapes. When I mean good…the whole set or side had to be good, to play all the way through. The technology to make a good set via cassette wasn’t easily available. When I started doing private parties, we didn’t have cell phones or a computer for that matter!!! No Google maps, I had paper maps! With no computers, all dance work was word of mouth, or they saw me dancing at a club or a wedding somewhere.

I’ve had the pleasure of entertaining foreign dignitaries, movie stars, and royalty. I’ve had the pleasure of working with my band for over 10 yrs. Yes, they were my band…I didn’t have to rotate or share my nights! I was in what I call the ‘tween generation.  In between Casbah and Baghdad days, where there were several dancers a night doing 40-50 minute sets.  My era, was after that! A lot of club owners were trying to clean house a little after and during all the debauchery of the times! I was lucky enough to work in an era of time where clubs had house dancers. Where my boss would always make sure I was fed, yes dinner and refreshments or even to go containers included.  And safe from any unwanted elements!!It was an era when musicians also had an interest in the music and making a dynamic show for a dancer, after all it was their show too; and if I looked good they did too! When each club closed and another opened (due to economic times) the band, singer and I would be hired by the management. Working with live music in a nightclub environment for appreciative Arab audiences was one of my preferred venue. Even today, I will see some of those customers and out comes the smart phone, where they have downloaded their daughter’s wedding video with me dancing!

At some point, I started to embrace the digital age. Hasn’t been easy! For a couple of years I was thinking I wasn’t smart enough for a smart phone! My mailing lists are now digital, I have a huge digital musical library that gets bigger and bigger. I’ve finally learned how to convert videos for YouTube, have converted most of my cassettes to digital form and have clients prepay via PayPal. I even have  Skype and Face-time students!

Today, five years after I’ve stopped performing regularly (at clubs; there are none left) I still can’t get to bed before 2 am on the weekends! I continue to teach regular classes, choreograph and dance with my student troupe, RaksTerayz and do at a few parties. In addition to my day gig (health care), I teach therapeutic movement (Lebed) to chronically ill patients and my form of “Body Lessons” that I have developed for myself and share my dances for anyone who wants them.

This is a chapter in the story of a little girl who dreamed of becoming  a ballerina and became a life long dancer instead.

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