Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Count Your Blessings

With Christmas just around the corner, its a good time to think about how blessed we are.  No matter what your circumstances, if you are financially sound or not, whether you are physically challenged or have great health; there are many things we can be grateful for.

I remember a conversation I had with a young man several years ago.  He had a horrific home life.  No father in the house and a mother who was an abusive drug addict.  I could fully understand why he was depressed and felt he had no hope.  When I told him he was actually a lucky person, he thought I was crazy.  He just needed to change his psychology.  I told him every night before he went to sleep to think of 3 things to be grateful for. Initially he said he could not think of anything, so I helped him get started.
"I am healthy, I have friends, I am young, I have many opportunities to become anything I want to be, I just ate delicious hamburger today...."

And then I told him to start helping other people.  At first he did not grasp this concept.  I told him that if he just did some small thing to help someone everyday, it would change his life.  Helping does not necessarily mean giving someone money.  There are many ways to help someone that don't cost anything.  
Pay somebody a compliment everyday, someone you know or a stranger. Go visit someone in an adult care facility, pick a person that does not get visitors. Give somebody a flower.

This young man is now doing much better.  He's got a job and is on his own.

Suzy Evans

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Black Belly Dance Costume

Is a black belly dance costume like a black pair of shoes?

You just can't have too many belly dance costumes. Let's face it, costumes are half the fun of belly dance. As a matter of fact some belly dancers became belly dancers because of the costumes.  A friend of mine started her career in dance because someone gave her a cheap belly dance costume for Halloween.  She started taking lessons and got hooked.  That was about 15 years ago.

As far as owning a black costume, I think it is like a black pair of shoes.  You can't have just one pair. So ladies, don't feel guilty if you just have to have more than one black costume. Sure, men never understand it, its just a girl thing.

Belly Dance-O-Rama
Sadie wearing a fabulous black costume in Belly Dance-O-Rama

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Dynamic Combinations Ava Fleming DVD

Dynamic Combinations - Traveling in Style with Ava Fleming was Ava's first instructional video produced by IAMED.

I approached Ava about what she wanted to teach on a DVD.  We tossed around ideas and decided on combinations, but with a twist.  Ava wanted to do something unique with her combos - they would all be traveling combinations.  These combos could be used to travel onto a stage, move you across a stage if you wanted to work the other side or use to move off stage.

Ava's combos on this DVD are truly amazing. They are complex and interesting.  Check out the video clip for this DVD on our site.  Click Here for more info and the clip.

Suzy Evans

Friday, December 2, 2011

Hollywood Babylon Anniversary

Its hard to believe:  This week marks the 10th Anniversary of the show Hollywood Babylon. How is it possible that 10 years have gone by?  It seem more like I was there just last year.

Our show Hollywood Babylon happened in December 2001. I would like to share some stories about that show.  It was a special show in many ways, and it stared some great talent.  Sadly, one of those talents will never been seen again in any show.  I'll explain later.

Here's the all star line up: Anaheed, Rania, Anisa's Orientale Beledi Troupe, Marula, Brandi, Dondi, Jillina and the Sahlala Dancers, Marguerite, Leyla and Saharan Silk, Princess Farhana, The Tut Sisters and Mesmera.

We had a combination of live music by Al Kimie and recorded music.  The show was held at the Burbank Center Stage in Burbank, California.  This is the only time IAMED produced a show at this venue.  I'd love to go back and do another show there, but its difficult getting a date locked in because the theatre holds its own productions.

The attendance at the show was not what I expected.  Burbank Center stage has about 200 seats, we filled about 100.  I believe the problem laid solely with the 9/11 attack which had occurred just a few months prior, and this is after all a dance from the Middle East.

Our photographer we hired was asleep at the wheel and most of the photos he took were not useable. Note to photographers: Be sure to always bring a telephoto lens.  Fortunately, Var Daghdevirian saved the day and took most of the photos that you can now view in on our photo gallery.

The show also served as a fund raiser for a local dancer who suffered a heart attack and needed help with her medical bills.  We had a great silent auction with wonderful items that were donated.  Most people in attendance bid on at least 1 item.  I don't recall the amount we ended up raising but it paid a big chunk of her medical bill.

Leyla, the dancer and director of Saharan Silk died in an accident in Hawaii several years after this show occurred.  She had moved to Hawaii and apparently slipped and fell to her death from a cliff.  During her belly dance career she won the Belly Dancer of the Year contest.  She is sorely missed in our community.  In Hollywood Babylon she danced with her newly formed dance company, Saharan Silk. If you watch the video you get a good taste of what she and her dancing was like.  I wish there was more of her performances out there on video.

And of course, what show is complete unless there is a controversy!  It was all about Dondi's costume.  Dondi, who graces the cover of the Hollywood Babylon DVD, was wearing a couture costume.  She bought it during a recent trip to Turkey.  It's very see-through with those few certain areas covered.  Geez... there was a lot of talk about that costume!  A few people were out right offended about the skimpy costume.  I myself, do not care for vulgar, non authentic costumes, but this costume was an authentic costume.  Its quite normal for Turkish dancers (the ones in Turkey) to wear very skimpy, revealing costumes.  Thankfully most people loved the costume and Dondi's performance in it.

Brandi gave us a rare treat with a Moroccan Guerda dance.  Her entourage included dancers and her own Moroccan band.

Jillina and her dance company The Sahlala Dancers put in some truly special performances.  The girls did a beautiful Armenian piece with candles.  Jillina and her dancers performed a pop Bollywood/belly dance number.  These numbers were later used in the Bellydance Superstars shows. 

Jillina put in 2 of the best belly dance performances in her career on Hollywood Babylon.  A superb drum solo and my personal favorite; a taxseem to Om Kalthoum music.  In the later she wore a gorgeous flesh colored couture Egyptian costume. 

Dondi brought down the house performing her now infamous Marilyn Monroe dance.  She perfected this performance just for this show.  Later it also appeared in the Belly Dance Superstars shows. 

Looks like Miles Copeland got ahold of the Hollywood Babylon video and decided to borrow the numbers and talent from this show.  Its certainly not the first or will it be the last time people copy what I produced. 

Marula and her dancers were all wrapped up as mummies and performed an interesting choreography billed as the Tut Sisters. 

Multitalented Marguerite not only turned in a beautiful American Cabaret performance, but she jumped in with the band as its singer. 

And then to top it off we had our very own movie star as our MC.  Lance Henriksen star of Millennium, Aliens, Aliens versus Predator, etc. introduced the performers.  Some of his fans found out he would be there and came to the show to see him. 

These are just some of the stories surrounding the show. I've shared as much as I can remember right now. With all the complications, controversies, etc it stands as one of my most memorable and favorite shows. 

I have put the Hollywood Babylon DVD on sale this month, because I think everyone should have this outstanding DVD.  Most of you were not at the show, but this is the next best thing and it was captured beautifully on video.  A clip of the show can be seen on BellyDance.org site.

See the following links for:
Hollywood Babylon DVD
Photos for Hollywood Babylon
Hollywood Babylon Video Clip on YouTube

Suzy Evans
International Academy of Middle Eastern Dance