Sunday, November 27, 2011

Turkish Belly Dance

If you took belly dance classes many decades ago you may have taken the classes from a Turkish dancer. Turkish belly dance is the foundation of what we call American Cabaret belly dance. From the costuming to playing zills and the dance itself, it is quite Turkish. If you were a belly dancer in the 1960s and 1970s, that is the style you danced.

Starting sometime in the 1980s the Egyptian style started becoming popular.  By the 1990s both Egyptian and Tribal had become popular.  As a result the Turkish style/American Cabaret became less popular, with fewer dancers learning the style.  I believe that some just thought it was outdated and some belly dancers evolved into the Egyptian style.

We are starting to see a new interest in this style of dance, and I am so glad that we are.

Two of the finest dancers in the field of Turkish dance are Eva Cernik and Elizabeth Artemis Mourat. If they are teaching anywhere in your area, you would greatly benefit from classes from them.  Or invite one of them to teach a workshop in your area.

Eva Cernik
The Second Awards of Belly Dance
Eva and Artemis are both featured in some of our performance DVDs and Artemis teaches Turkish Style belly dance.

Suzy Evans

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Give Thanks and Be Grateful

On this Thanksgiving, I would like to offer the following advice:

Before you go to bed each night, please think of 3 things you are grateful for. 
They can be big things or small things. 
You will wake up every morning a more grateful and better person. 

To all of you have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Suzy Evans

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Magical Belly Dance Era of the 1970s

I believe that I was truly blessed to have started belly dancing in the 1970s.  It was a special decade for the dance.  Ask anyone that took lessons and performed or taught during that time. It was a golden era!

The 1970s belly dance era was post-hippie, but we still had a bit of that free spirit in us.  It was all about American Cabaret belly dance.  There was no other type of belly dancing at that time. Big chiffon 7 panel skirts, often times made of Persian lace.  A chiffon veil, coin and/ or beaded bra and belt.  Most us made our own costumes or had them made for us.  My first teacher made extra money by making costumes. No imported costumes from Egypt or Turkey.  Can you even imagine that?

I look back at pictures of me in those costumes. Some were rather simple, but I did save up the money to have a coin bra and belt made. Most of us only had 1 or 2 costumes.

And the music!  It was wonderful, it spoke to you!  No CDs back then, or downloaded music, it was all on albums.  There was no 1000s of titles to choose from;  record releases were few and far between.  It was Eddie the Sheik, George Abdo as well as others. We couldn't wait for the next record to come out.  And boy did we wear those records out!

I took belly dance classes at least once a week, sometimes from more than 1 teacher. It was the highlight of my week when I would drive up to Hollywood after work to take lessons from Marie Silva who owned a belly dance studio - a rare thing then.

Once in awhile some of us dancers would get together and go to one of the Arabic clubs/restaurants. I remember going to Haji Baba's and Ali Baba's and Abu Nawa (sp?).  I remember going to see Bal Anat,   featuring a young Suhaila, who came down from San Francisco at one of the clubs in Hollywood one Saturday night.

I think we cherished and appreciated the small thing more back then.  Probably because we were not inundated with "stuff" every minute of the day.  Life was more simple back then, at least compared to today. And maybe that's also what made it more special too.

I'll write more about the 1970s in future posts. It was so much fun!

Leave your 1970s experience in the comments section.

Yes, this is me circa 1977. Can't believe I was wearing glasses.
Suzy Evans  The International Academy of Middle Eastern Dance

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Complete Look of a Belly Dancer

Let's examine the elements of the complete look of a belly dancer.

1. A good costume. That doesn't mean it has to be new or top of the line, just make sure it looks good.  Not frayed or cheap looking.  You can find inexpensive costumes that don't look like they cost $5.

2. Hair.  Brush it, style it, curl it, add extensions, do whatever you have to do to have totally rockin' hair!  Look in the mirror and make sure it looks good, front, back and sides.  No bank teller hair.  It's a pet peeve of mine.  A belly dancer will be wearing a $1000 costume and have bank teller hair; this is not what your audience thinks of when they think of a pro belly dancer.  Your bank teller hair is for,,, well working at a bank.

3. Makeup.  Not too much not too little. Learn what looks best on you. What looks good on someone else does not mean it looks good on you. Go to a makeup artist and have them show you how to apply and what colors look good on you. It may take you some time to master your makeup.  And yes, its another pet peeve of mine that you'll see a dancer with no makeup or way too little makeup.

4. Attitude. Have a great, positive attitude at all your gigs. Always remember you are a professional and a shining example of belly dance.  As a matter of fact it is your responsibility, as you may have people in your audience that will be seeing a belly dancer for the first time.

Suzy Evans
Vasha Hatal
Now this girl has got the complete look of a belly dancer down!

Monday, November 7, 2011

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Do a Little Belly Dancing Every Day

Most of us do not have the time to rehearse and practice belly dance every single day of the year.  However on the days when we are not doing a full rehearsal, take a minute or 2 just to belly dance.

Here are some suggestions:
When you are sitting at a red light practice your zill patterns. You don't actually need the finger cymbals to rehearse the patterns. Use your "air zills".  (get it?)

Belly dance in the bathroom when you are brushing your teeth or doing your hair.

When you are home alone and just bumping around the house, turn on some Middle Eastern music and belly dance from room to room.  Great way to practice traveling steps or combinations.

If you are sitting at your desk looking at FaceBook or whatever, you can practice upper body movements; torso or arms.

You may not want to belly dance out in public on a street corner, as people have been locked up for less. :)

If you have other suggestions leave them in the comments sections of this blog.

Why should you do this?  Lots of reasons.  It gets you thinking about belly dancing, it could lead to more practice, its fun and it will up lift any day. You could turn a bad day around.

Suzy Evans
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Here's a lovely photo of Lilla Varese
I bet she belly dances a little every day