A Belly Dance Diary 2004
"Solo-3" with no veil whatsoever! Thanx Maya for this pix! (01/02/04)
2001-2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024, 2025
Herein is chronicled Zorba's on-going voyage of discovery into the magical realm of Belly Dancing. Sometimes major events, more often just baby steps along the way. Presented here in reverse chronological order.
31 December 2004
First Nite Monterey Performance with Wiggle Woman's troupe. It was supposed to be outdoors, and indeed the troupe did one performance outdoors (before my wife and I arrived - I had to come home from an earlier Greek Dance performance and change), but it had been a bit difficult due to loud African drumming across the street. So when we arrived, the troupe was moving further down the street. No sooner had we done so than it started to rain. So we packed up and moved to our alternate indoor venue at the conference center.
Once we setup, we performed 4 sets. 3 troupe dances each time, and various solos. As I'm barely able to do the troupe dances with the normal music, I had an especially difficult time as we only had (live) drums to dance to. In short, I sucked!
Nevertheless, it was fun. I was able to play my Zildjian Zills, as the venue was large enough for their power. I was supposed to do a solo, but we ran out of time. Sigh...
29 December 2004
Not much going on due to the holidays - but tonite was an interesting culmunation of little incidents of the last two weeks:
- Last week, I was admiring a very pretty lime green hip scarf in Jamaica's store.
- For Christmas, I received a pair of long, beaded lime green earrings!
- I also received an earring, necklace, and bracelet set from the in-laws, with several different colored stones, including lime green.
- I decided I had to have the hip scarf - its a fish net hip scarf with iridescent sequins that would go oh-so-well with my new jewelry!
- So I called Jamaica several days ago to have her hold it for me behind the counter.
- Tonite, when I picked it up, Jamaica also "just happened" to have a matching diaphanous chiffon veil!
- I knew I'd been had; but I couldn't let a veil like that go by!
I'm afraid I'm just as bad as any other Belly Dancer - I cannot resist a pretty veil! That makes 16 now - and I've been wanting a super light, diaphanous chiffon veil like this for some time. They're rather hard to find this light. The fact that it matches all this other "stuff" I've acquired recently is just icing on the cake!
3 December 2004
Second year in a row where one of Jamaica's students threw a birthday party at Kalisa's - her 89th! Like last year she danced with her daughter - three times this year! It was way cool, and a nice, big, enthusiastic crowd too.
As for myself, I did "Solo-5/Goddess Dance" with my beloved A'Kai "Rainbow Meltdown" half circle Silk veils, then did "Solo-6/Shemadan" in the birthday girl's honor (Saroyan Tutankhamun Zills)! Despite some arm issues with Solo-6, it was the best I've done it yet - much more confident and relaxed. Solo-5 went well also - of course any time you get on stage with two veils and don't get tangled up in them is a good performance!
What was interesting to me were two "new" students whom I'd never seen before. Not only were they full of life, laughter and joy with their dancing, but they also were in obvious awe of lil' ol' me! I've been in awe of so many of my dance sisters for so long, its kinda weird being on the other side of the coin. Still, they'll rocket past me quick enough!
26 November 2004
Performance at Kalisa's. A weird nite. Very small, but enthusiastic "crowd" - us dancers outnumbered the audience for much of the evening. I did not one, but TWO new dances, "Solo-7", set to an Abdo piece - high energy, "zilly"; and "Solo-8/Serpentina" set to a Light Rain number by the same name.
I had put BOTH of these together just this same day, and plan on gluing them together with some other pieces to make a 5 part routine (my first!). "Solo-7" (Saroyan Tutankhamun Zills) only came off so-so, didn't work as well as it had when I was practicing it (Although a friend in the audience said it was fine). "Solo-8" was somewhat better in my estimation. Either way, these were a learning experience for me and will serve me well in the future!
As I said, it was a weird nite - I think it was the "day after Thanksgiving letdown". 5 dancers, 5 audience which eventually swelled to a whopping 7 or 8. One of my dance sisters, a very lovely dancer, did two fine veil numbers and then one with zills which was QUITE good - but the poor gal was convinced her zills sucked and wouldn't listen to any opinions to the contrary. Her zills were as good as any I've heard, she has nothing to be ashamed of.
Another dance sister danced well, but seemed kind of blue afterwards, then there was my "grand experiment" of two new numbers birthed this same day. Our instructor fell ill with some kind of flu bug and wasn't able to attend. Just weird!
But one very good thing, we FINALLY GOT A NEW STEREO! YAY!!!! No more music stoppages at random intervals.
19 November 2004
A noteworthy day! I've just succeeded in making my very first changes to this WebSite using my new iMac! Yay! It feels a bit clumsy not using the text editor I wrote myself 12 years ago, which of course suited me perfectly - but it is also nice to be out from under the yoke of Micro$oft at last!
18 November 2004
A noteworthy dance performance. A GREEK dance performance. I normally don't record my Greek Dance life here, but just had to note today's costume malfunction. One of the Pom-pons on my Tsarouxia (Traditional Greek Shoe) came off from the right shoe! Right at the beginning of the performance. It looked totally dorky - the shoe with the missing pom-pon looked dorky, and I looked dorky with a pom-pon on only one shoe! Sigh....
12 November 2004
Performance at Kalisa's. Performed "Solo-4/Mary Jane's Dance" (Red Chiffon 3 yard veil) as well as "Solo-6/Shemadan" (Saroyan tutankhamun Zills) in honor of Elanah coming all the way from LA to dance with us. WOW! What a dancer! A real sweetheart too! Thanx Elanah, come back ANYTIME!
As for myself, I think I did fairly well - the Shemadan dance had an interesting ending anyways. Even though we had brought a "different" CD player, it managed to crap out near the end of the Shemadan routine. BUT, thank Goddess for Jenny, one of the regular drummers - she kept the beat going for me and picked up on what to do as I spun to finish my dance!
But wait, there's more! I even danced three of those "formerly frustrating" intermediate class choreographies! The "Story Dance" (Which has always been my favorite), the "Talakik" (which has always been my least favorite) and "The Fish" which I've done a few times with varying degrees of success over the years. Aside from space issues, I didn't do too bad; certainly much better than I would have a week ago!
11 November 2004
An interesting occurrence in Wiggle Woman's intermediate/advanced choreography class. Last week (11/4) I had just had it "up to here" with the intermediate choreographies. They were too complex, they were being changed too much, blah, blah, blah. And I told Wiggle Woman as much! This was the cumulative effect of weeks or maybe even months of frustrations.
Fast forward to tonite - I danced these choreographies WAY better than I ever had even dreamed of! Nowhere near perfection, of course, but so very much better! Even the dreaded Talakik which has been giving me fits for months.
It didn't occur to me until I was on the way home, something the wise Wiggle Woman once told me: "You have to break down before you can break through!" I definitely broke down last week, and it sure looks like I broke through this week!
2 November 2004
I now have BOTH of the late Nadia Gamal's dance canes! My wife, when she saw Nadia's video (Review Here), turned to me and said "Get the other cane if you can!". So a cane duet may very well be in our future! This cane is very similar, but not quite identical to the first one (which is in the video), and has similar energy!
Also added one new picture to the very top of Gallery 4. Check it out!
29 October 2004
Performance at Kalisa's. Did "Solo-5/Goddess Dance" with my "Rainbow Meltdown" silk half circle veils. Came off pretty well, the audience was nicely responsive. Had one minor mishap with the veils - they decided to wrap themselves around my head but I was able to do a good recovery and finish nicely. The audience really liked my barrel turns! Jamaica even liked my performance!
Then I danced with Troupe Diva, doing the good ol' reliable Tsiftetelli and "Spanish attitude dance". Was a bit crowded on stage.
The big news of the night was my wife doing her debut of her "Solo-2", which came off VERY well for her. I'm so proud of her!
21 October 2004
A "downer" day as far as dance goes. Had an unusually hard day at work, so arrived at dance class tired, beat up, and with a sore back. Needless to say, I wasn't worth much. Although I really wanted to dance, and dance enthusiastically, I just couldn't. Of course, this does nothing good for my self esteem - feeling like the world's worst dancer! So rather than be mopey Joe, I went home early and climbed into the hot tub. Aaaahhh! Much better. Two aspirin and I'm off to bed - a good night's sleep will make the world much better!
17 October 2004
Zorba's new dance tray!
Finally purchased a "tray" to start working on, you guessed it, tray dancing - traditional Moroccan or otherwise! I'll eventually add "stuff" to it, but need to get used to the tray alone - you can't do Shemadan in lots of places, a tray will be a great alternative.
This one is actually a Japanese serving tray made of wood, instead of the more usual brass or silver. I don't know if this is good or bad, but it only cost $10 at a local antique store.
Added a new Video Review for Horacio Cifuentes's "Elements of Oriental Dance Techniques", a Second Review for his "Contemporary Oriental Dance Techniques, Vol. 1"; then completely revamped the Video Review page, breaking individual reviews out to their own pages. Whew! That was a LOT of work! I'm off to practice now, I have to keep up with Lynette - a dance sister with whom I share a friendly rivalry!
9 October 2004
Got that Video Review done for Nadia's video! The one page format I'm using will have to change, and change soon, but I'll keep it for now.
Had a private with Wiggle Woman. She showed me the fundamentals of adding floorwork to my Shemadan routine as well as adding a finale to it. I have my work cut out for me! Then we discussed arms.... (!)
8 October 2004
Four pictures of the performance of 1 October. Look in Gallery 5 starting with the second picture from the top.
I also received the new DVD "Nadia Gamal, The Legend". I had ordered it due to my newfound interest in Nadia Gamal - since I DO own her cane!
Look for a mini-review of this DVD "soon" in my Video Reviews page, but for now suffice it to say that Nadia was an AWESOME dancer, and the DVD is a must have for anyone interested in good Belly Dancing in general, or her dancing in particular!
1 October 2004
Raks Al Shemadan, AKA "Solo-6" at Kalisa's with my Saroyan Grecian Zills! Went well, very well. I'm emoting better than ever and received *MANY* compliments. Among others, a gal and a couple of guys stopped me outside when I was leaving and told me the dance was "beautiful". That means a LOT, especially coming from a guy!
But the most memorable came from the very hard to please Jamaica! While I was performing, I saw her watching me with a look of pure joy on her face - a look I've seen many times, but never directed my way. She told me afterwards that my performance was "fabulous"! I've been waiting literally for years to truly impress her - I've finally succeeded ! Of course, she then proceeded to tell me how I could improve - but that's what she's supposed to do, she's my teacher!
It will be a bit before I do it again, as I really want to truly "finish" the Shemadan routine - I want to add the traditional floorwork to it as well as a finale. Going to try to use the same music, but won't rule out switching if that seems to work better.
Lest it be overshadowed, I also did my beloved "Solo-4/Mary Jane's dance" with the 3 yard pure white silk veil I originally bought from Jamaica for the 4th of July parade. Figured it was time this veil got some stage exposure. I did the heaviest emoting of my career to date with this dance - this one is the easiest for me to emote with.
I also scored one of the famous "This Cat Swings at Kalisa's" T-shirts, courtesy of the legendary Kalisa!
26 September 2004
I dragged my sore and battered body out of bed for day two of Arabian Nights at Sea!
I took a second class from Aziza Sa'id on performing and stage presence. Another outstanding class! Then, as I'm obviously a glutton for punishment, I took a veil class from Fahtiem! Outstanding, outstanding class! After surviving another intense warmup, she taught several really cool veil tricks - I think this will take my veil dancing to "the next level". All these classes and dancing wore me out - I actually sat and watched the last 20 minutes or so of this class - this was the first time I've ever collapsed in a class! I wasn't alone by any means.... (!)
In the evening, there was a hafla. I had originally signed up to perform in it, but had to back out due to being absolutely exhausted! But it was a lot of fun and we saw a lot of good dancers!
I most definitely can highly recommend this cruise. There were several other instructors that I didn't have the opportunity to take from this time. Yes, we (my wife and I) pre-registered for next year's cruise!
25 September 2004
First workshops at the Arabian Nights at Sea Belly Dance cruise!
First, I took "Perfecting the Instrument" from Aziza Sa'id, who is an outstanding teacher! Then I took "Hand, Wrist, and Arm Articulations" from the legendary Fahtiem. Oh Goddess, the warmup! Her warmup lasted almost a whole hour, and beat me up but good!
Lastly, I took Kamaal's "That 70's Dancer", which was a lot of fun. Played my Saroyan Grecian Zills at this one.
18 September 2004
Added a new article on Selecting a Veil. Still needs a bit of tweaking, this version is preliminary. Also have done a little bit of graphics tweaks throughout the site.
10 September 2004
A wonderful nite at Kalisa's!
I did "Solo-5/Goddess Dance" with my beloved "Rainbow Meltdown" double half circle silk veils, and then did "Solo-6/Shemadan" with my Shemadan (obviously ), and Saroyan Tutankhamun Zills!
Both went well. I'm getting much more confident with the double veil, and am gaining confidence rapidly with the Shemadan. It amazes me how much support a dancer needs from others to pull off a performance like this. In this case it was one dance sister to light the candles after I had donned the Shemadan and my Zills (Thanx Thiem!), another dance sister & instructor (Thanx Janette!) to relay "ready" to the sound guy (and photographer, thanx Michael!) so the music would play at the right time.
I was complimented by several, including a thirty-something middle eastern male who told me "I've never seen a man dance on a stage like that, you were wonderful!", and his friend who told me "You have the Magic!". Very heartwarming indeed.
Also were notable performances by guest dancers Valeria, Hala (who is teaching a workshop tomorrow that I won't be able to attend due to performance commitments), and Najma, who came up from southern California. Wonderful dancers all.
It was a late nite, I'm tired!
4 September 2004
I finally got a guestbook script that I both liked and that worked. Check it out or Sign it! All old entries have been preserved, being hand imported from the old Lycos GuestBook. Am I tenacious or what?
No more annoying ads, or for those not running NetScape - no more pop ups!
30 August 2004
Zorba in street attire with Nadia's Cane
It took its sweet time getting here from Montreal; but at long last I was able to hold the cane of the great dancer, Nadia Gamal, in my very own hands! The feeling of awe at the first touch of this sacred object was profound. Can you tell I like things with provenance?
One of only two, this cane came to me just as Nadia had left it when she passed on in 1990. So the next "big thing" for me to master is cane dancing - I hope I can do it well enough to honor Nadia's memory! Its slightly short for me (could use another 6 inches or so), but I'll "put up" with that just for the honor of dancing with something that was once her's! Its very light, even for a dance cane, and handles very well, its almost like it has a mind of its own and won't let whoever dances with it fail. Yea, I'm definitely in awe...
Time to remember all those things I learned in Rebekah's cane workshop almost a year ago! Fortunately, Wiggle Woman is also an accomplished cane dancer, no doubt she'll be helping me on this quest as she most graciously has with my others!
28 August 2004
Casbah Cabaret. What a nite!
First, my lovely wife did her very first solo!!!! YAY!!! She did a 6:33 long Egyptian piece - WAAY better than my first solo was!
Then I did my very first Shemadan (Candelabra) performance! I'm calling this one "Solo-6/Shemadan". This was also "kinda-sorta" my first drum solo performance. The music I use for this is "drum solo-ey", and I do a fair number of drum solo moves with it.
Overall, I was pleased with it as a first performance. I missed a couple of cues in the music and the usual first time performance boo-boos, but overall it came off well. I was surprised at the audience reaction - they went nuts over the simplest things, like "choo-choo" hip lifts in a circle. Then they REALLY went bonkers when I started playing my Zills (Saroyan Tutankhamuns). I guess everything takes a different perspective when you have 11 flaming candles on your head!
I joked afterwards:
- One Shemadan: $140
- Several private lessons with it: $75
- The look on the sound guy's face when I brought it out: Priceless!
Hope to have some pix in a few days...
18 August 2004
Jamaica has asked me to help her sell an absolutely stunning male Belly Dance costume. It won't fit me or I'd be wearing it instead of selling it for her. Check it out!
15 August 2004
Due to overwhelming response to my "Dream The Impossible Dream", I have opened a Café Press Store featuring this wonderful picture! More items and more pictures coming soon. In the meantime, if you don't see your favorite item yet, just ask me!
7 August 2004
Added a new article "Dream The Impossible Dream". Think you've danced it all? Try this (at your own risk!).
17 July 2004
Just added the first cut of a brand new Video Review page, a project I've been working on for some time. For the time being, the (mini-) reviews are all contained on one page; but may be categorized if this arrangement becomes to unwieldy. Enjoy!
16 July 2004
I love these veils from A'Kai Silks!
YAPAK - Yet Another Performance At Kalisa's! I did "Solo-4/Mary Jane's dance" with a new Organza four yard veil I bought from one of my dance sisters (Thanx Jamie!). It is bluish-purple on one side, and reddish-pink on the other. Nice veil. However, it is a lot wider than any of my other veils, and that caused an interesting problem.
During the beginning of this dance, there is a portion where I drape the veil over my head and let go of it completely to do some interesting armwork. Due to this veil's incredible width, there was far more weight in the front than there was in the back - it wasn't balanced. It slowly started to slip. Just as I finished the armwork and re-grasped the veil, it slid off my head entirely! But as I had simultaneously grasped it, it came out looking like I had intended it that way! Proves there's such a thing as dumb luck!
I also did double veil to my "Veil-1" number - the first time I've done double veil to that particular piece AND the first time I've done a full length D.V. routine with the silk veils (and thanx again to Michael for the beautiful photograph!). Came off well. I've started realizing that the trickier silk veils need to be worked with, not against. They just simply won't always do exactly what you want them to onstage, so the performer has to "go with the flow" and simply "deal with it"! Amazingly, this realization makes my D.V. dancing go a LOT easier, and the result is, of course, much better!
I also did the "Fish dance" with my wife and one of our dance sisters. This is one of Janette's class choreographies. I hadn't attempted this dance onstage since February of last year - let's just say this rendition of it was "sub-optimal" on my part and leave it at that! Janette did have me play my Zills (Saroyan Grecians that just happened to be in my dance bag), but that was about the only thing I did decently! I do have problems with Choreographies, sigh...
13 July 2004
Zorba on TV! I was featured on the "Life in the (831)" human interest segment on both
KION 46 and KCBA 35! They did a good job with the story! Very bad digitization on YouTube.
10 July 2004
Working ever closer to my Shemadan debut. Privates with Janette have been fruitful, so I'm actually starting to think of a date - perhaps in August! As a result, I really needed to tear out the cheap-o tacky foam padding inside the crown. Yuk, what a mess! I should have torn this crap out the day I received the Shemadan instead of waiting - since I've decorated the (outside of the) crown, my options for removing the unexpected stubborn glue on the inside were limited. Sometimes, even in this "feminine world", good old masculine instincts work best: Power tools! Careful application of a wire wheel equipped electric drill solved the problem.
I then padded the crown with "Mole-Foam". This is a Dr. Scholl's product, "moleskin" backed by high density foam with industrial strength self adhesive backing. Invisible and very comfortable. We'll see how well it sticks and holds up over time...
I've also come to the conclusion that despite it being a bit tricky to handle, I really am preferring silk over Tissue Lamé for half circle veils. They just fit better with my floaty style of veil dancing - the Lamé doesn't float nearly as well, and just takes too much power for my style.
I'm still going to keep my faithful pair of Lamé veils ("Tweedledee" and "Tweedledum") for workshops (some teachers have fits if you bring silk to a double veil workshop), plus "you never know!".
9 July 2004
Performance at Kalisa's. This was taped by a local TV station for an upcoming human interest story about your's truly! Unfortunately, unlike last week, the crowd was fairly small, and "lukewarm". I did "Belly Gram 1 (short version)" with my Tutankhamun Zills and dragon's blood veil. Later, I also did "Solo-5/Goddess Dance" with my "Rainbow Meltdown" double silk veils. Thank Goddess for several of my dance sisters who were in the front row "feeding me energy", they enabled me to dance far better than I otherwise would have been able to - and that reflected back to the the general audience, getting them more into the spirit of things.
Also had one older man of M.E. extraction who looked the other way the entire time I was on stage (which has happened before with this particular demographic) - but was complimented by a younger M.E. guy!
Stepped on a tiny, sharp "something" - an all too common occurrence. Whatever it was was still in my foot when I got home, but worked its way out in the shower. Fortunately, the wound then bled...
4 July 2004
4th of July Parade in Monterey. We had 3 drummers and any number of Belly Dancers (including my wife!). I used my new white silk veil as hip enhancement while I played my Zildjian Zills as I 3/4 shimmied my way down the street! Janette had a pair of Isis wings! Lotsa fun, except I had forgotten that there are horses in parades...
3 July 2004
Recovered the CDs from Kalisa's where I left 'em. Also recovered one belonging to a dance sister - I dropped it off at Jamaica's store for her.
2 July 2004
Performed at Kalisa's. As is often the case, an "interesting" nite. We were VERY short of dancers in the beginning, I ended up going on first with "Solo-3" with Saroyan Grecian Zills, and a brand new pure white silk veil I just purchased for an upcoming performance. I really didn't intend to do Solo-3, I had just tossed the CD into my dance bag "just in case". Good thing - it wasn't quite "Hello, glad you're here, let me take your cloak, where's your CD, put your zills on, grab your veil, you're on NOW!" but it was close!
I also did "Solo-5/Goddess Dance" with those wonderful silk half circle "Rainbow Meltdown" veils. Not bad - the veils behaved themselves pretty much although one of them was slightly twisted when I had them separated and single handing them. I did a barrel turn then got rid of the offending veil and danced single veil for a few seconds - then it was time to dump the remaining one anyway.
This nite is a good example of WHY I harp on dancers to NEVER bring their original CDs to a performance venue - I left two of mine there! I most likely will recover them - they are well marked with custom labels - but if I don't, its no big deal to burn new ones from the masters at home!
Lastly, Caroleena came down from Santa Cruz to perform with us - she's always a pleasure!
27 June 2004
Workshop with Carolena Nericcio of Fat Chance Belly Dance. Quite different from other workshops I've taken. Instead of pure technique, we learned how to lead and follow and switch off the lead in the tribal style. This should prove useful in the future - there certainly is no reason why this couldn't be applied to cabaret style as well.
26 June 2004
Casbah Cabaret. I did "BellyGram 1 (short version)" with my 4 yard purple chiffon veil and Saroyan Grecian Zills. Came off well enough, the crowd was very enthusiastic and I was complimented by several - including a group of young M.E. males.
22 June 2004
A performance for the local Alliance on Aging's weekly luncheon. A crowd of reportedly 122 people - the largest they've ever had! They actually had to turn people away, apparently this has never happened before. About 1/4 to 1/3 were men, the rest were women apparently all wanting to see just what in tarnation a male Belly Dancer was all about!
What a blast! The crowd was very appreciative of my efforts! I did my "BellyGram 1" (Long version) with my red/black tie dye "Dragon's Blood" 4 yard veil and Saroyan Grecian Zills. For an encore I did "Solo-4/Mary Jane's Dance" (I was able to announce what this was all about) with my dark red chiffon 3 yard veil.
The positive feedback was addictive - I really think I danced well. So did a number of the ladies (and one brave man), who tipped me! I was moderately surprised that this type of crowd would be so enthusiastic as well as knowing how to tip a Belly Dancer! Turns out that they've had female Belly Dancers in the past.
A whole lot of fun - I just played the way Janette would have wanted me to! I was emoting heavily. Remind me NOT to use a four yard veil in this kind of venue, it was a bit much in the close quarters - I ended up stepping on my veil at one point as well as a minor tripping on my own harem pants. But all in all, I did quite well I think.
19 June 2004
Slight revision to Gallery 6, the first and third pictures for the 02/28/04 Casbah Cabaret performance have been replaced with better ones. Thanx to Alan, as usual!
18 June 2004
Performance at Kalisa's. I did "BellyGram 1 - short version" (11 min) with Saroyan Grecian Zills and black/red tie dye veil. Went off very well. Tourist season is in full swing and the place was packed. They were very enthusiastic!
I'm starting to (finally) use movements I know, but haven't used outside of class. Little forward hip circles and a couple of veil moves. Why? Cause that infuriating Wiggle Woman kept squawking at me to go to her choreography class. It's working!
Two guys in the audience partially overheard by my wife: "Uh, that's a man..." "Yea, he's pretty good, you should watch him."
I was also complimented by a 50 something man of obvious middle eastern origin. Since this demographic is the least accepting of male dancers generally - this was very nice!
11 June 2004
Performance at Kalisa's. First I did "Solo-3 with veil prelude" (Saroyan Grecian Zills and multi-colored chiffon veil), then I did my new "Solo-5", which includes a spot of double veil. I used my new pair of "Rainbow Meltdown" silk half-circle veils for the first time!
Zorba doing a barrel turn.
Both performances went well - quite well (Despite more CD player woes during "Solo-3"!). I'm emoting better. I'm also praying before I go onto stage! The crowd was fairly small, but very enthusiastic and nice.
I had all kinds of chickensh*t problems getting ready, although fortunately none of them followed me onstage. Safety pins wouldn't pin, fringe and tassels kept tangling, I stubbed my toe about 3 times on the same thing (backstage), veils didn't want to be folded, Zill bag closure broke, etc.
More PICTURES! Look at the bottom half of Gallery 6 for several new pix from the featured performer nite of 20 February!
5 June 2004
An outdoor, daytime performance with Troupe Diva! Not as big a rush as the last time, as the audience was rather small; but I still love dancing in the troupe with my dance sisters! This time my lovely wife danced with us!
We did the Circle Dance, the Tsiftetelli, the Spanish Dance, the Drum Solo (not me) and the sword dance (not even close). Followed by free dancing into the audience. I played my Zildjian Zills, which work wonderfully outdoors with their powerful tones.
Did some practicing when I got home - "Solo-5" is ready to go next time I dance at Kalisa's. This one is set to a Desert Wind number that I've heard a few times, but had a very hard time finding it. Jamaica had it for sale, I bought it, and I love it. Its only 3:27 long, starts with double veil (with my new silk half circle veils), then the veils go away and I just dance to the music. I call it my "Goddess Dance" as it comes from a sequence called "The Goddess Dance Cycle". I'll dedicate this one to my Patroness, The Goddess Athena.
It may pair up well with "Solo-4" or "Mary Jane's Dance"; add something upbeat on the end and I'd have another 3 part routine, very different from my first.
30 May 2004
Got a call from "Wiggle Woman" this AM congratulating me on my performance last nite - she's never done that before! After all the carping she has done to "let go" and let the passion flow, I guess I'm beginning to get it!
PICTURES! PICTURES! PICTURES! I re-worked Gallery 2, all but one of its old pix are gone, instead it now has the long awaited pix from the People's Choice competition of 24 April as well as several shots from the Marrakech Express performance of 22 May! Check it out!
29 May 2004
Wiggle Woman's Casbah Cabaret. I did "Solo-4/Mary Jane's Dance" by default. I was going to do a brand new Solo-5 or a double veil routine - but due to house guests this last week, I hadn't had time to practice so it was an old number.
Good thing though! I had prayed to Athena for help with feeling the music and dancing well. Prayer works - I got it! I've never felt this way to this extent with this (or any other) dance. The crowd went nuts! I've never gotten this response to this dance! What will happen when I dance "Solo-3" with this much passion?
22 May 2004
Performed at Marrakech Express the quarterly Belly Dance showcase in Santa Cruz. I was performing along with some of the greats of Belly Dance, such as the mighty Siwa with her Dancers of the Crescent Moon, Rossah, Sese, and several other very talented dancers!
I did good ol' "Solo-3 with veil prelude" (Saroyan Tutankhamun Zills and my ever faithful red & black tie dye veil), and Sese announced me as "Zorba, The Veiled Male" which got a chuckle out of the audience. My dancing went pretty well, there were a couple of minor rough spots, I felt my isolations crumbling - but overall I was quite happy. Had a good time on stage! The audience (about 30) was very energetic - I danced right up the aisle at one point! I was well received.
I would like to thank the ever gracious Vashti, the Mighty Siwa, and the unflappable Sese for having me as guest dancer!
Unlike many of my performances, I should have pictures of this one within a day or so, although it'll probably take a week or so for me to get 'em posted here. A co-worker was there with his digicam! Thanx Duane!
21 & 22 May 2004
Workshops with Rossah of Las Vegas. The first (21 May) was on the traditional Moroccan tray dance, the second (22 May) was Sai'idi dancing. Both were lotsa fun, and very informative!
I guess I'm really starting to become halfway decent at this Belly Dance stuff - both her workshops involved what I would consider fairly advanced movements, and I was able to keep right up!
16 May 2004
You never know when someone's going to hand you a picture - a photographer handed me this one the other nite at Kalisa's of my double veil performance of 03/26/04. I also stuck it into Gallery 6. Here I'm wearing my Eyescream jewelry ensemble, necklace, headpiece and earrings (which are kinda hard to see). I cannot say enough good about this jewelry!
14 May 2004
Performance at Kalisa's - the first in a month! Did "Solo-3" with just the veil intro (Green silk 3 yard veil ("Greenie", my very first veil!)), not with the veil prelude (Saroyan Grecian Zills). Also did "Veil-1", with my purple organza. For only the second time in my short dance career, I got rid of the veil before the end and danced without it. Unlike the first time, I wasn't in trouble with the veil, I just felt like dancing without it - so I did!
Crowd was etsi-k'etsi, I've danced for far less responsive folks, and I've dance for far more responsive folks. All in all, not a bad evening and Wiggle Woman says I was emoting far more - a good thing!
Costume repair time! I was wearing my light weight "dainty" chain and bell belt. At one point during Veil-1, my veil got caught in one of the little bells in the back. A quick tug freed it, but also parted one of the strands. An easy repair.
6 May 2004
At the insistence of the ever insistent Wiggle Woman, I walked into my very first ever advanced level class - her choreography class. After I got over looking around at the VERY advanced dancers and feeling like "What the **** am I doing here?", I actually enjoyed it and learned a lot! To be sure, I blundered through more than I learned, but learn I did!
Much to my surprise, a couple of dancers didn't know much veil-work, and apparently only one dance sister, plus myself, know how to do double veil (although the dance sister in question is way better at it than I!). It feels good to be up on something, ANYTHING in the presence of these Goddesses!
5 May 2004
Male dancer Numa'ir's lovely wife Naiya was kind enough to let me swipe this pic of myself at the People's Choice competition from her site. Others will be along eventually, they're in my wife's film camera. Remember film?
24 April 2004
I was Hennaed for the event!
Karri Duke's People's Choice Belly Dance Competition! I competed in the "Palace Dancer" (Less than 6 years B.D. experience) category - my first competition ever! No, I didn't win anything, didn't expect to - what I did expect was a fun time and a learning experience. I got both! Oh boy, what did I learn? Among other things:
- This venue demands that you wear red or a compatible color. Everything is red! The carpet and most especially the lighting. So you need to wear red, silver, gold, black, or something like that. Not blue like I was! You could tell who was familiar with the venue, they were all wearing red!
- "Under six years experience" is a HUGE variation. Most in my category were better than I, but not all! Some of them were better than some of the gals in the "Professional" category. Nuts, even *I* was better than some of the gals in the "Professional" category!
- There was a "Professional Male Dancer" category. I wasn't in it as this was my first competition, blah, blah, blah. Now that I have my feet wet, next time.
- Like everything else, taste is subjective. This competition was judged by ballot from the audience. I agreed with some of the majority decisions, but not all (of course!).
- I find that I still get annoyed with shirts on male dancers, I just can't help it! Again, taste is subjective - but I know my preferences too! There are worse things, at least two dancers wore boots of all things - and one gal even performed in what appeared to be (rather tight) jeans! I'm sure some didn't like my costume either, so it cuts both ways.
- Overall, it was a humbling, yet at the same time very inspiring experience. One of my favorite troupes, Una's Troupe Nijmeh put in an appearance. The male dancer in it (Marko), whom I'd never seen before, was an inspiration; a HUGE inspiration. He was fluid, graceful, and came across masculine BECAUSE he was a male - NOT because of the artificial masculinization I see all too often. And yea, he showed plenty of skin and knew his way around a veil - quite well, thank you! I always respect a male who isn't afraid of a veil!
- If I never hear Sahra Sa'idi again, it will be exactly 37 seconds too soon! This is actually a VERY nice drum solo number - but did EVERYONE have to use it? It's not anyone's "fault" or anything, it just happened that way - but I must have heard it 10 times!
- I was complimented on my costuming, jewelry and Hennaed hands (and my dancing!). I was even complimented by a fairly elderly man of obvious Middle Eastern extraction - these are usually the least accepting of male dancers! Hopefully some of the pix my wife took will come out and you'll see 'em in a few weeks. Watch this space!
- Oh, how was my dance? At my level, I give myself a 9 of 10, 10 being my personal best at this point in time. My wife says I looked particularly good, but she's prejudiced! I did "Solo-4", or "Mary Jane's Dance" with my orange Chiffon veil. Not my most spectacular dance, not the best crowd pleaser, not the longest, nor the most technical. But it is the one I feel the most, and is probably my most beautiful. For getting my feet wet, the perfect choice. I give myself a 9 'cause my veil got tangled (butterfly wings effect) and at at least one point I was so nervous that one of my hands started trembling/flopping while doing snake arms!
- Which reminds me - I didn't play zills. Next time, I probably will. Remind me to bring my Zildjians - this venue needs LOUD zills, all that red carpet eats the sound!
- Oh yea! Nearly forgot! One gal did a (very nice) "tray full of candles" dance! This means I could do Raks al Shemadan at this venue! Hmmm....
18 April 2004
Added a number of pictures to Gallery 6 from the Feb 20 performance at Kalisa's where I was one of the featured performers! Thanx go, as always, to Alan Messick for these excellent pictures!
16 April 2004
Performance at Kalisa's. Solo-3 with veil prelude (orange Chiffon veil and Saroyan Tutankhamun Zills). Very good performance if I say so myself - and this proves that audience is everything. After having some rather dead crowds at Kalisa's recently, these folks were a breath of fresh air! Dancers dance better with a responsive audience!
Later I did Solo-4, "Mary Jane's Dance" (With my purple Organza veil). This is when things got interesting! The cranky stereo at Kalisa's has been intermittently acting up - tonite it was my turn to have it happen to me. Sound problems suck!
So I just went with the flow and made the best of it! When the music would cut out or play herky-jerky - I'd herky jerk along with it. I pantomimed a gun and blew that stereo away! Just shrugged, laughed, and made the best of it! The audience ate it up! At the very end of the music, there is a deep drum BOOM! I used that BOOM to kick at the errant stereo - to thunderous applause!
At least it waited until I had dropped my veil before it started acting up! I was congratulated on my showmanship and stage presence.
7 April 2004
Spoke today with a lady who saw my performance of 26 March and had very complimentary things to say about it. I gave her one of my business cards. She then asked me a question I'd never been asked before: "Are those earrings clip-ons?" in reference to my "Silver Rope" dangles I was wearing at the time. So I removed one of them to show her the post - not only are they pierced earrings, but that I have 64 pairs right now! I guess she'd never seen a male with earrings like me before!
This anecdote is only vaguely B.D. related, but I was so amused that I thought I'd share anyway!
4 April 2004
Wow. WOW! WOW O WOW O WOW! What a RUSH!
Performed with Jamaica's Troupe Diva at the annual Pacific Grove "Good Old Days" Street Faire. We started with a all new dance, the "Zill Dance", dancing only to our own Zills, then continued with other favorites, the Circle Dance, the Tsiftetelli, the Scarf Dance (Not me yet), the Spanish "Attitude" Dance, the Drum Solo (Not me yet, but I'm close on this one), and the Sword Dance (Not me). Followed by free dancing into the audience.
This was SO cool! The feeling of "oneness with the Sisterhood" was incredible to this male. Very powerful. Very cool. I was SO very proud and honored to be dancing with Troupe Diva!
I played my Saroyan Tutankhamun Zills, although this would have been a perfect venue for the Zildjians. Unfortunately, due to their considerable weight and my sub-optimal sewing skills, I was down an elastic on one of them and didn't have time to repair!
This was also my very first B.D. performance out among the general public as opposed to a Belly Dance venue or a semi-private situation. I'm sure many of the "Unwashed Masses" didn't quite know what to make of me. One guy approached me afterwards and wanted to know if I had "lost a bet?". Ha! I think I flabbergasted him when I told him I do this all the time!
I also sent off my registration fees for Karri Duke's people's choice Belly Dance competition. Goddess help me!
26 March 2004
Friday nite at Kalisa's. Did two dances, the first was double veil to my "Veil-3/Agonia". Since this is lower energy than the Glykeria numbers I've used the last two times, it wasn't so out of control and I felt pretty good about it.
A bit later I did "Solo-3". I was going to do it with the veil intro (not to be confused with the veil prelude), but due to confusion backstage I suddenly needed to be onstage NOW, so I grabbed my Zills (Saroyan Tutankhamuns) and onstage I went. Geez, a fellow can't even have time to get his veil in order!
This one went pretty well - I think I did the best zilling of my career! I had several compliments. Also, the performance of 24 March somehow gave me better audience skills. I was making better contact with the audience and was smiling and even spontaneous!
25 March 2004
Thursday nite practice. Worked on double veil - and actually learned a new trick with them - not a particularly easy one. I can only describe it as drawing figure-eights with them in the air, it takes strong arms and you have to move quickly in the bottom half or the veils will tangle!
Also worked with the Shemadan some more, and even lit it again. Next is to try playing Zills while balancing it. Lit. I'm actually foolish enough to believe it won't be that hard....
Also added a new Guest Article, reproduced here from the author's WebSite by permission.
24 March 2004
My very first "Give Back" performance for some lovely old folks at a local Alzheimer's daycare center. I did my "BellyGram 1" 3 part routine ("Dragon's Blood" veil and Saroyan Tutankhamun Zills), then followed that with Solo-4 "Mary Jane's Dance". For this latter I used a brand new 3 yard dark burgundy colored chiffon veil I picked up at Rakkasah. Bought it on Sunday, took it into battle on Wednesday!
Anyways, the seniors really seemed to enjoy my performance. Not a high energy crowd, as you'd expect, but very interested in me and my performance. Lots of sparkling eyes! This was a VERY fulfilling performance for me!
20 & 21 March 2004
This is the third year in a row my wife and I have attended this HUGE Belly Dance festival. My wife purchased her first bra/belt set (really cool), we both bought misc. "stuff", harem pants, veils, jewelry, etc. Oh yea, I also picked up a very nice CD with Zeffah music on it. The rest of the CD sounds pretty good too!
Saw some really good dancers of course! Met some on-line friends in person. It was exhausting, but fun!
18 March 2004
I did it! I can't believe it, but I did it!
"What's he babbling about now?" you ask? I did it! I lit it! I lit my Shemadan (Candelabra) for the first time tonite! My usual Thursday nite practice session - first I practiced twice with the unlit Shemadan, then twice more with it lit. Even did some rudimentary floorwork! Cool, no, make that HOT!
Now to improve the dancing that is going on underneath the Shemadan. Its not bad, its just not all that good, although my isolations look great! I didn't even get any wax on me, and I was dancing topless as is my custom when practicing at home. The music I'm currently using is a bit advanced for me - I like it but its not easy for a junior level dancer like myself to dance convincingly to. I'm going to look for some Zeffah music at Rakkasah.
6 March 2004
Attended Marrakech Express, a quarterly Belly Dance performance in Santa Cruz. One gal, Toba?, did a beautiful double veil dance with 3/4 circle veils - it wasn't the semi-controlled disaster my D.V. dancing is right now! I either need to manage the power of Glykeria's music better OR go back to something with a bit less power (Such as Agonia that I used for my first D.V. performance - that one went fine.)!
Also saw a male dancer Ganapati. I had first seen him at Rakkasah 3 years ago and remembered him immediately. Good dancer!
5 March 2004
Performance at Kalisa's. Did my new "Veil-4, power double veil". It was a bit rough. Parts of it were fine, but like on 28 Feb, I failed to tuck both veils in behind when I tried this again. This trick gets shelved until I figure out what I'm doing wrong. I was also dancing a bit too "large" for the tiny stage - the veils were hitting the wall at one point!
To make it even worse, the crowd was dead, Dead, DEAD!! You just never know what the crowd is going to be like at this venue! But, my barrel turn was fine and Alan (our photographer) got at least one good shot of it! The pix from 20 Feb will be available to me soon - I'll post the best of them here!
1 March 2004
Added 3 pictures to Gallery 6 of my second double veil performance on the 28th. More pix soon!
Also did some updates to my Tips Page, mostly having to do with the fabled Shemadan.
28 February 2004
Double Veil performance at "The Casbah Cabaret". This is Wiggle Woman's new once a month show she started last month (I was sick then...). This was an "interesting" performance!
"One performance is worth ten rehearsals" is a favorite saying of mine. I definitely learned a LOT from this one! I used new music - two short songs by the Greek female vocalist Glykeria that just make my blood boil - VERY powerful! These Tissue Lamé veils need more power than I'm used to giving veils. This music does that! I'm calling this one "Veil-4, Power Double Veil".
For the most part, the performance went well. Of course there are little things along the way that you remember - this is where the "worth ten rehearsals" comes in. But then there were the "interesting" bits:
1) I was "inside" the two veils at one point and decided to tuck them in my waistband at the rear so I could do "wings". BBZZZZZZZTTT! Wrong! Only one of them got tucked, the other one flew free. So I recovered from that as gracefully as possible and went on.
2) Flung an earring into the audience. I was wearing a pair of 2-3/4 inch thin white gold hoops. Bad idea, just a bit too big for what I was doing. Not quite sure how it happened, either a veil or a finger caught it and TWIIIIIIINNGGG!!!
3) The person in charge of the sound managed to hit the wrong button and stopped my music early. Fortunately, it was only about 30 seconds early, so I had done most of what I was going to do anyways, but the ending was definitely sub-optimal as a result.
25 February 2004
Added a new gallery, Gallery 6! It currently has pictures from my performance (BellyGram) for Kalisa on 30 January.
22 February 2004
Added a site map. I learned a long time ago that it is best to create and maintain one BEFORE the site really needs it! It's a bear to go back and create a site map when the site gets big!
I was graciously given permission to use a neat animated veil dancer as a link to the map page - I'll probably eventually change the color to something that is culturally more gender neutral, but I just couldn't pass this image up!
21 February 2004
Student nite at Kalisa's. Only did one dance, "Solo-4, Mary Jane's Dance", with my purple Organza veil. Saw some wonderful dancing - an interesting nite. One of my dance sisters flattered me very much by confessing that her veil was "not her friend" and asked for advice from ME, of all people! She insisted that I am a veil expert (She's WA-AA-AY my senior dance-wise.)! Ok, so I tried to live up to my billing and gave her some advice - and she went on stage and was absolutely GORGEOUS with her veil! A natural if I ever saw one!
20 February 2004
Featured performer nite at Kalisa's - and I was one of the featured performers! The lovely Morgan was the other - I hope to have some pix soon (I'm still waiting for pix from Kalisa's Birthday!).
First the good news - I FINALLY did double veil!!! YAY!!!!
I was on stage 3 times, the first was to do my 3 part BellyGram routine - it went well enough except I got slightly tangled in my veil during that part. Started to wrap itself around my feet, but I caught it in time ("Dragon's Blood" Red/Black tie-dye veil & Saroyan Tutankhamun Zills).
The second time was to do "Veil-1". I admit it, I got cocky. I paid! I wanted to do this wrap thing where I wrap the veil around my head with an eye-slit to peer out of. Ok, so I'm in the middle of trying this (I've done it before) and I blanked. Result: One majorly tangled veil. Sigh.... However, practice and training took over and I was able to recover smoothly enough - but was moderately annoyed with myself by that point. However, I partly redeemed myself as I then remembered how to do it and pulled it off successfully the second try (Purple, blue, red, whatever varicolored Chiffon veil).
Lastly, as the finale to the show, I did my FIRST EVER double veil performance. I didn't push the envelope - of course double veil is pushing it anyways! It came off well - VERY well. I was able to get in, get out, break and rejoin flawlessly. All my dance sisters told me it looked VERY good! So I'm content. At long last my dream that I named my WebSite for has been realized! I'm sure Alyne would have been proud of me! This was, of course, the first appearance onstage with my pair of Tissue Lamé half circle veils I purchased at Alyne's workshop last year, which I have named "Tweedledee" and "Tweedledum"! I used the same music I use for my single veil "Veil-3" number.
And then Wiggle Woman pulled a fast one on me! She asked me to remain on stage after I was finished with my double veil routine - she put on "Chicky" (I *HATE* that song - but it does have an infectious beat!) and had me dance while she egged the audience up to tip me! I can't complain, it was fun and I came home with $23 in tips!
All in all a fun evening - I just wish I'd done a bit better with my single veils. Can't win 'em all!
31 January 2004
Workshop with the fabulous Karri Duke, otherwise known as "The Little Package of Dynamite"! Boy is she! Her workshop started with a bang, and kept on going for two solid hours. Don't miss one of her workshops or performances! Anyone who can execute a "Turkish Drop" is impressive, but when I saw her perform in the evening, the Drop was the icing on a very impressive (and high energy) performance! WOW!
30 January 2004
Kalisa's 78th Birthday bash at (you guessed it!) Kalisa's! What a nite! I did my "BellyGram 1" routine with my multi-colored chiffon veil and Saroyan Tutankhamun Zills for Kalisa! Went off very well - hopefully I'll have some pix in a few days. Used a new veil wrap with the veil held to my wrists with a pair of hair ties, looked really cool.
My wife danced with Janette's troupe and even played her Zills for the very first time in performance! YAY!
My dance sisters are always supportive, accepting and encouraging of my dancing. Sometimes too much - they hesitate to offer corrections when they see something I could improve! For only the second time, one of my sisters offered some advice (A simple way to dramatically improve my snake arms) - this is SO VALUABLE! The poor gal hemmed and hawed and "beat around the bush" because she was so nervous that I wouldn't welcome her advice. Needless to say I thanked her profusely, and will implement her advice immediately!
10 January 2004
Saturday nite student nite at Kalisa's. "Solo-3" with veil prelude. Its been a while since I did this, was a bit scared of doing veil and zills at the same time, but all went well. Used red/black tie-dye "dragon's blood" veil and my trusty Saroyan Grecian Zills! Also wore a belly drape for the first time - only one of my costumes is suitable.
9 January 2004
A Friday nite practice session. Fooling around with different music. I'm starting to find that I understand music that I haven't before. I also found a Greek piece by the popular Greek singer Glykeria that just brings out pure passionate POWER!!! So much that it's totally out of control! I'm going to need Wiggle Woman (Janette) to help me deal with it!
3 January 2004
Workshop with Alexandra King! Drum solo techniques and zilling. Very cool. This was just what I needed after taking Kamaal's! drum solo workshop 2 months ago (Still working on my own drum solo).
2 January 2004
Performance at Kalisa's. Did "Solo-3" (without veil prelude) and "Solo-4" (w/orange Chiffon veil). Both went well. VERY, VERY enthusiastic crowd, a LOT of fun to interact with! The fabulous Alexandra King was there - gave an absolutely breathtaking performance. She even complimented me on my dancing and zilling (Saroyan Grecians) - she's most gracious!
Earlier in the day, I started practicing with my new Shemadan. I set it up with 2 of it's 3 tiers, seems about right for a beginner. It's actually fairly easy to balance the Shemadan, but it's going to take quite a bit of practice to look good at it! And that's BEFORE I light the candles!
This diary has become HUGE and difficult to maintain. Therefore I have broken it into 3 parts, 2001-2002 (the beginnings), 2003, and 2004. This makes it far easier to maintain, I can use my favorite, but 64K limited editor on it (instead of WordStar or some icky GUI editor); and it will load far faster for folks just wanting to see the latest entries! Also got my booking form up and running!
1 January 2004
Zorba goes pro!
Yep, after having several inquiries, I've decided to "throw my hat in the ring" and accept paid performances. Wiggle Woman says I'm ready to do this, so I had some business cards printed up, and made several changes to the website to reflect my new venture.
Most obviously, gone is the "Male Student of Belly Dance". Although I'll remain a student for life (what dancer isn't?), "Male Belly Dancer" is a title I'll take for myself, at last. Paid performances will be fun and will teach me a LOT!
Coming soon will be an on-line booking form - there are some technical issues the web host provider must take care of before I can write the booking page. In the meantime, the booking page merely re-directs folks to email me.
And no worries, other aspects of the page will remain the same. This diary, the galleries, the tips, the articles and rants will all remain and be expanded upon as they ever have.
Check out my new card! Low resolution here, but shows the commonality with this WebSite!