Thursday, October 31, 2013

Before Egypt Was

A couple of weeks ago I attended an art show in Culver City. I only took a few photos while there.  This was one of them. I found this piece very interesting.

Before Egypt Was
Eduard Buk Ulreich
Oil on Canvas, Circa 1940

Monday, October 28, 2013

Brain-ella - The Belly Dancing Brain

Brain-ella – The Belly Dancing Brain

Recently I was reminded of one of the times I was the MC for a belly dance event. During the 1990s I was the MC for a monthly showcase in Studio City at The Marrakesh restaurant and sometimes would MC other events.

I unexpectedly ran into Anisa earlier this month at a non-belly dance show in North Hollywood.  Anisa produces the dinner show King Tut Returns every October. This year marks her 18th anniversary of the show. Incredible!  Time flies by too fast.

I was the MC for the show the first couple of years. The first year I MCed as Elvis and second year I was myself except that the show started off with my friend Brain-ella.  Yes, Brain-ella.  She was yet another of my crazy creations, this one especially for Halloween.

I found a high quality rubber-like brain at a store - not one of those cheap plastic kind of brains. Since brains are brains and have no limbs or a torso; the only way I could give her a belly dance costume was wrapping a silver sequins belt around her middle. I then sat her on a stool on the stage.

The script for the show is either lost or stuck in a box in storage somewhere but basically it went like this:

“Hello, I am Brain-ella; the belly dancing brain. Yes, I know I don’t have legs and arms to dance, but I do have great rhythm, I can even shimmy if I try real hard.  Don’t you love my costume?  I designed it myself.

Brain-ella is not my real name. It’s my dance name. We belly dancers always have a dance name. I did consider other dance names such as:  Sarah-Bellum, Thala-mus, and my favorite: Medulla Oblongata.  
Please do enjoy the show.”

I bet the belly dancers that happen to also be brain surgeons reading this are just doubled over in laughter right now.

Unfortunately I don’t think I have any pictures of Brain-ella, but I do have some great memories.  Have a great Halloween! 

Brain-ella looked something like this, but more awesome...with a very nice sequin belt.

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Monday, October 14, 2013

The Joyous Debke Dance!

The Joyous Debke Dance!

If you have experienced Middle Eastern Dance for any length of time or gone to an Arabic night club you have probably seen and experienced an energetic and fascinating dance called the Dabke. I refer to it as the most joyous dance in the world! 

According to one folk tradition, the dance originated in the Levant where houses were built from stone with a roof made of wood, straw and dirt. The dirt roof had to be compacted which required stomping the dirt hard in a uniform way to compact it evenly. This event of cooperation is called ta'awon and from here comes the word awneh, meaning "help." This developed into the song Ala Dalouna, or roughly translated "Let's go and help". The dabke and the rhythmic songs go together in an attempt to keep the work fun and useful.

I didn’t realize there were numerous ways to spell Dabke. I’d been spelling it “Debke”, which is one of many ways to spell it.

The word Dabke is also transliterated to"dabka","dabki", "dabkeh", "debke", "debkah", "debki", "debka" is an Arab folk dance native to the levant.

The dance is popular in Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, Bosnia, Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. A line dance, it is widely performed at weddings and joyous occasions. The line forms from right to left. The leader of the dabke heads the line, alternating between facing the audience and the other dancers. 

World Record Debke:
In August 2011, a group in a Lebanese village Dhour El Choueir, Lebanon set a new world record. Organized by Dhour El Choueir Summer Festival, a human chain of 5,050 was made and currently holds the world record.
Dhour El Choueir event broke the record set by Tollab, Lebanese Student Federation in Montreal, with the participation of "La Troupe Folklorique Les Chevaliers du Liban" that had made a human chain of 4,475 people dancing the dabke for more than five minutes straight at Montreal's Marcelin Wilson Park.
Tollab had itself broken a record of 2,743 set by a group of Israeli Arabs in Acre, Israel. An earlier record of 1,700 had been set in Toronto.

Guys doing the Debke!

Everybody doing the Dabke!
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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Top Tips to Get Belly Dance Gigs

Top Tips to Get Belly Dance Gigs

These gigs would apply to performing at parties, restaurants and teaching.

Here they are in no specific order:

1.   Personal networking - Attend local events of any kind, business and social. Be sure to have plenty of business cards to hand out. Don’t just limit yourself to the dance community; everyone is a potential employer.
2.   Social Media – You need at least a FaceBook account. Add and interact with new friends that are both in and out of the belly dance world.
3.   Call and pay personal visits to: Gyms, dance studios, restaurants, other dancers, and friends old and new.
4.   Make partners with other dancers you admire and respect. Collaboration can only help your career in dance.

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