Leonardo's Male Drawing


Belly Dance Blog 2005


Here's an ongoing description of events in my belly dance journey, in reverse chronological order. Performances, workshops, festivals...
Enjoy, and check back regularly!


More recent events are described in Belly Dance Blog 2006.


- o O o -

 

December 16: SeSe's class.

For the final lesson of SeSe's Monday night performance class we have to put together another dance and perform it for our fellow students. The assignment is very broad, we just have to apply everything we learned in class so far (!). Nakisa and I decide to use this opportunity to study the duet that we learned from Kamaal on the Arabian Nights at Sea cruise. We have put the instruction video on DVD already, and I make a list of the moves for reference. During the week we have a good time getting our routine together, and it works out pretty well in class. We get some good feedback on improving it to get more out of it, like doing synchronous moves relatively close together, and looking at each other in passing. With some more work we may very well perform it somewhere soon, but perhaps we'll have to add something on to it first, because it is really short (just over two minutes). Probably next year...

All the students came up with really nice performances, and we all seem to have progressed nicely in this class, despite differences in experience. Roni did an especially good job in her improvised dance - her new costume really inspired her, I just wish I had my camera ready in time!

 

December 14: Jingle Belly hafla.

With our local bellydance friends we try to organize a hafla every month, and this time Aruba has opened her home for it. We have a great time finding costume pieces to use in her extensive wardrobe. It must have been the tequila shots, but somehow I feel really free dancing and into the music, and am able to try a few things that I haven't done before. We do some fun dances together that are easy to learn, and also do an exercise from SeSe's class where three dancers work together on different levels. I enjoy dancing with Zurah Malikah, challenging each other with our dance moves and gestures. A very enjoyable evening!

 

December 9: My eleventh performance, at Kalisa's.

We make the trek to Kalisa's again this evening, to perform together with our friend Aruba. I don't have a new dance to show, but I do have some changes in my costuming. This week I have been scrambling to finish a new veil in copper and black color to match my harem pants. And on Monday I received my new custom-made black dance shoes, courtesy of Aruba! I don't really need them here, but it is nice to try them out. Nakisa goes up first, and does a reprise of the performance she did last Saturday in her white costume. She is getting more and more comfortable with being up there on stage, good for you!

Just like last time at this venue, I perform "Shine" and "Low Rider". I have made a new CD where the second song is recorded a lot louder so they have a better balance. A couple of things I improvised during the first song as I momentarily lost track of the choreography a bit, and struggled a bit to control the veil after the first set of single-handed turns. But nobody noticed that, and I have a lot of fun playing with the audience in the second song. I improvise a bit, tease one of the lady dancers a bit and do some side figure eights for good measure. Janette, the organizer of the evening, gives me (and my teacher SeSe) very nice compliments, and invites me to perform at the next event in her studio. Our friend Nicole tells me that she likes my veil work the best of the whole evening, and she insists that it has nothing to do with her desire to get home again safely in our car...

We see a lot of other dancers perform: Aruba engages her husband again to play zills for her (very high status!), Zorba does a nice show and sees his veil put to good use by Janette. Lynn does a routine with three(!) veils, and Maria gives us another beautiful performance. I get to share in the tip jar again, nice! A lot of dancers, and an entertaining evening for everyone!

Veil spin back Veil spin front Final pose
(Click on any picture for a larger version - photography by Nakisa). More pictures

 

December 3: My tenth performance, Marrakesh Express.

We perform at the Marrakesh Express, a local dance event that is organized by Siwa a couple of times a year at Dancenter. Nakisa performs her song Venus for the second time, and she does a good job! She notices that she was much less nervous during the performance than earlier. She is wearing a beautiful white costume from Aruba, and that also really inspires her!

As we each have only five minutes or less, I do only one song, "Shine". The performance goes well, I feel reasonably confident and I really like this song. Not bad considering that just this morning I returned from a weeklong business trip to Asia, and I have not had a lot of time to practice. I have changed the moves a little to include more high/low contrast, and especially the low swoops come out really well. There is one hitch where I step on my pants (are they now too long?), and during the butterfly turns the veil is not on my shoulder well enough, and that puts me off balance for a couple of seconds. The audience is very appreciative, and we both get a lot of compliments afterwards! We have the video camera on the tripod to record the whole thing, and this time there is enough light for a reasonable movie recording (nothing professional, mind you).

Veil entrance Veil swoop Veil spin back Veil spin back Final pose
(Click on any picture for a larger version - photography by Katharine). More pictures

 

November 21: SeSe's class.

Again we have to show the results of our assignment for SeSe's class. We have to dance to a new song with focus on stage use and projection. I use the choreography to "Shine" I made recently, although I know that it is not a shining example of stage use - most of the dance is turns in center stage. But there is only so much time I have to create performances and practice! The performance goes well, and I think I am projecting better this time around, although I am still intimidated by the whole setting. It is a different thing performing for an audience that does not know all the details about you and your dance, and just expects to be entertained, and being scrutinized by your peers! But I get a lot of compliments, and some good feedback about adding high/low contrasts and moving about on stage a bit more. And everybody loves my new veil - I think I could start a business making them... (How to make one).

 

November 11: My ninth performance, at Kalisa's.

Our dance friend Aruba planned to go to Kalisa's this evening, and we decide that we might as well go with her and speed up my schedule. I planned to go a week or two later, so I have to scramble to get something together. A while ago I found this really cool piece of music through my Rhapsody Internet music subscription service. It's called "Shine" by Bond, a band consisting of four young women playing string instruments. Very upbeat, strong almost house-style rhythm, and middle-eastern influences. So in the course of a week I put together a new veil choreography that works well with this music. I use several moves that I learned from a Veena and Neena DVD, and a very cool new move that I learned in SeSe's class. I am very happy with the result, and can't wait to show it!

The performance goes very well, this is my best one yet! I have my nice new copper and black costume and the new big 10' half-circle red-and-black liquid lamé veil I made. The audience is already very appreciative when I enter, striding with my veil high behind me. My choreography works out well, I remember everything in time and know that I can improvise if I miss something. People clap and cheer, and they definitely seem entertained. For the second song I do "Low Rider", and that one went excellent! I am getting good at conveying the high status and just look and walk to impress. It's fun! Nakisa makes a video recording, it's quite dark but good as a reference. There were a few minor glitches that I can work on, and facial expression can still use some work. But I am feeling really good about this performance! My former colleague Earl and his lady friend Zoya came to see the show, and they were not disappointed. We have a good time dancing to more music after the show, and I feel quite good about that too, I am getting the hang of improvising belly dance a bit now.

This performance also marks a major milestone in my belly dance career: I made my first five bucks in tips! Janette made a point of letting me share in the proceeds of the tip jar. Not quite enough to cover costume costs, travel and lessons, but it is a start... I guess I am not quitting my dayjob just yet.

Veil entrance Veil turn Veil pose Final pose Royal walk Layback
(Click on any picture for a larger version - photography by Nakisa). More pictures

 

October 30: Halloween Parade.

We go to the Santa Cruz Halloween Parade on Pacific Avenue with a group of bellydance friends: Aruba, her husband Brad, Zurah Malikah, Roni, Anita, Nakisa and me. Of course we all have a costume on, although it is not a bellydance costume. It's great people watching and at times we get to show off our dancing skills a bit to live music. After most of the group has left we finally see the famous Santa Cruz drumming girls, led by Theresa. No Halloween is complete without them!

 

October 16: Dancing to Live Music class.

As part of the Luna Gitana Festival we signed up for a five-hour class in dancing to live music, led by our teacher SeSe. The class is pretty full with about twenty students, most of them with years and years of experience... In the morning we are introduced to each other and do some exercises, pairing up to copy moves from each other and learning to dance in a natural way without thinking about it much. In the afternoon we are introduced to the band, Armando and Michael Gruber, both very well known regional artists. They teach us about dancer-musician interaction, and we do some exercises about that. Then we get to dance to them individually, at first a short time each in a row. Then we do a game where four or five dancers are doing one tune, and we can tap each other to take a turn dancing. Finally, we dance to a whole ten-minute sequence (intro, veil, drum solo, finale) with four dancers per set. My part is the drum solo. I was a bit intimidated by the whole thing with such proficient fellow students, but it all turned out pretty well. My parts went pretty well in general, and I was pleasantly surprised with really "getting it" at times. At least once I forgot about the whole tap game thing because I was having fun with the dancing, and the drum solo went well too. At one point I really felt the musician/dancer interaction where the drummer picked up a percussive gesture just right! Of course there were plenty of ladies who I couldn't hold a candle to, but it was a good experience. I had fun! SeSe said that dancing to live music is an important thing for me, and I think she is right.

 

October 15: Luna Gitana Festival in Santa Cruz.

We visit the Luna Gitana performance evening, an annual festival in Santa Cruz. This festival is always dedicated to a special local dancer, and this year that dancer is our teacher SeSe! We see some really good performances of professional dancers of the greater Bay Area. SeSe does an improvisation to music selected by her student Vashti, and her troupe Baktiari does a very nice performance together with her as well. Great show!

 

October 14: My eighth performance, at Kalisa's.

We have a good time at Kalisa's, performing and watching our friends. My girlfriend Nakisa puts in her first solo performance, on the music of Shocking Blue that she has used in class. It goes very well, although she says she forgot a lot of her choreography, and the audience was pretty much a blur except for this one guy smiling at her... Congratulations on a job well done! We get a real treat with a stellar performance by a new dancer, Maria, who we saw in the audience at the Casbah event a couple of months ago. She is entertaining, elegant, joyful and just so much fun to watch! This is the first time I do the whole set of tunes at Kalisa's: "Staying Alive", "Eshtaktillak" and "Low Rider". I have fine-tuned the CD to have a shorter intro and less time between songs. I feel pretty relaxed and confident during the performance, and I have added a couple of things that turn out well (turns, barrel turns and a veil spiral turn). The layback gets a lot of acclaim, and overall the crowd is pretty enthusiastic, although we have seen more responsive audiences here. A nice night out!

 

October 10: SeSe's class.

This evening we have to show the results of our assignment for SeSe's class. We have to dance to a new song with focus on projection. I have practiced a new routine to Il Alem Allah by Amr Diab for a couple of days. It is still quite rough, but there are some nice parts in it. Nakisa does a really good job with her veil rendition of Venus (the original, by Shocking Blue of course!). She is queenly and elegant, and the colors of her costume and veil work very well together. My performance went OK smooth, with some minor errors. However, I have been concentrating more on getting the moves right than on projection, and that does not earn me high marks. I definitely have to smile more and enjoy the dance! But I get complimented on some of the moves I put in, and on the dance in general.

 

October 1: Birthday party Jessica.

After I played a piano gig in downtown Santa Cruz with a jazz quartet, I join my girlfriend at our friend Jessica's birthday party. There is a nice group of dancers, and four of them perform to their music. It doesn't take much convincing for me to also show my routine. I do "Staying Alive" and "Eshtaktillak" with my new harem pants (black and copper) and matching veil. It takes a bit of adjusting to the new veil material, and to the living room performance area. My routine is a bit rusty (haven't practiced it for a while), but it works out nicely anyway and is very well received!

Shoulder shimmy Snake hips
(Click on any picture for a larger version - photography by Scott) More pictures

 

September 30: Hafla at our place.

We throw a small party at our home; the idea is that this will be a monthly rotating event. A nice set of local dancers shows up, but not as many as we would have liked. Our teacher SeSe makes a brief appearance, and brings a belated birthday present for my girlfriend Nakisa. We have a good time with our friends, watching a performance video, making live music (I have prepared some music on my synth), and dancing of course. The Kamaal clock that my girlfriend won on the cruise is the envy of all attendants Smile.

 

September 23-26: Arabian Nights at Sea cruise.

My girlfriend and I go on the Arabian Nights at Sea cruise, sailing from Long Beach to Ensenada and back. It's just an excuse to hang out with a large bellydance crowd! We go with Aruba and her husband, and with friends from Los Angeles. I attend seven two-hour workshops in 2 1/2 days, and don't even get to shore in Ensenada... so much to learn! There are two male teachers, Kamaal and John Compton, so that is good for me. It helps me a lot to see how the moves look on their bodies and how they execute them. We take two classes with Kamaal to learn choreographies for two different duets; even though the songs are pretty short we don't finish learning them completely in two hours. But we'll get videos to practice with! I take a class with Aziza Sa'id to learn more about zill playing, and one with Zahra Zuhair on Egyptian cabaret style dancing. And just to challenge myself even more, I take classes with Fahtiem at the end of the day on Saturday and Sunday. She is renowned for her strenuous warm-up routine, and for good reason! On the last class Reda Darwish does the music with his drum, which works really well.

On the final night we see some fabulous people perform to live music, and a really nice costume show. The music by Light Rain is great; they have an awesome sound for such a small group. Zorba does a good show to live music with double veil in his beautiful new costume. Great job! Perhaps I'll be confident enough to do that next year...

It is great fun and we meet a lot of really nice people. All in all an excellent experience, and we're pretty much signed up for next year!

 

September 17-18: Desert Dance Festival.

In the morning my girlfriend Nakisa performs with the Bellydance Basics troupe at the Santa Cruz County fair. Their show is well received, but the venue (outside in the early afternoon sun) is hardly an intimate belly dance setting.

In the afternoon and the next day we visit the Desert Dance Festival in San Jose, which is real close for us. This is a smaller event than Rakkasah, but larger than any event that is organized in Santa Cruz. We see a couple of males dance amongst many ladies and troupes. We see Jim Boz and Zorba on Saturday, and Numa'ir on Sunday. They all have very different dance styles, and put up a nice show. Zorba surprises us with a very beautiful outfit in yellow and orange, and a well-prepared show that comes across real nice. His first large stage show! I hope to be ready for that some day too...

 

September 15: Real Men Belly Dance class with Jim Boz.

A nice workshop, fortunately I could keep up OK and wasn't shocked by the information about male belly dancing. Jim Boz is a very positive and upbeat teacher who knows how to correct without discouraging. The students formed a motley crew of 6 males and 2 females, with very different dressing styles. I was probably overdressed, even in my regular workout garb (I do wear a vest to class that I also use for performances). Surprisingly, most of the students didn't seem that much ahead of me, although I had the least experience, I think. Of course the ladies were in a league of their own...
Jim first gave a talk and basically left most of the "masculinity" of the dance to personal taste, citing differences in the origin of the dance and between dancers (males and females). He proceeded to do some dancing exercises and dealt with posture, hand positions, isolations, and basic moves. It was good to learn this from a male teacher, although most of it I had seen and done before. Jim has a very interesting dance style that combines grace with power nicely, and he moves very naturally and with fluidity.

 

September 11: Start of my Internet site.

Today I start my Internet site by applying for a domain name and hosting services. I have used and admired Zorba's site for a long time, and want to do something similar. My fears that he would not appreciate that were squashed when he encouraged me in person to start a website! I set up a structure and some content in a word processor, and work on getting the material up in the next few weeks. For now it is kind of a "Zorba lite" website, but I am sure it will evolve into more and more my own thing over time.

 

August 31: My sixth performance, Burning Man at the Iron Rose hafla.

We are at the Burning Man festival in Nevada and know that one of the camps organizes belly dance classes and a hafla. We participate in the classes and enjoy the performances afterwards. I brought my music and part of my costume (it is very dusty there, so you should not bring anything that you care a lot about) and perform my intro music and "Staying Alive". I am the only male performer and my dance is fairly well received - of course I can't compete with some of the very limber lady dancers... We have fun talking to other dancers, dancing together and hanging out.

 

August 29: Silk dye party with Aruba.

Aruba organizes an afternoon party at her house of dying silk material for veils and what not. Beforehand we are all joking about it like "We are all going to dye!" and "No, everyone who comes to the party wants to dye."
I make a set of 3-yard silk veils with a fire-inspired color pattern (yellow/orange/red/black bands) by laying them on top of each other they have pretty much the same pattern. I also make a green and black 2-yard chiffon piece that I can use for a headwrap. Nakisa makes a very nice orange and yellow veil. We have a good time in the warm weather playing with the coloring and using loads of water spraying to remove excess dye, not aiming too precisely...

 

August 27: My fifth performance, Casbah in Monterey.

In the performance class with SeSe I have prepared a choreography for the song "Low Rider" by War. A pretty masculine song with that low singing voice, and the rhythm lends itself well to belly dance! SeSe prodded me to play with being aloof and being inviting/entertaining between chorus and verse. She also put in some theatrical gestures for good measure. This will be the new song's maiden voyage!
The stage in the Casbah venue is really small (6' * 6'), and so I can forget all the training about using the whole stage - no problem, you can hardly turn around without falling off! The room is pretty packed with 20-30 people. I do the routine I did two weeks earlier at Kalisa's, and even the veilwork works out pretty well, despite the small stage. There is a bit of confusion at the end of the second song, because they don't know I have another one coming... But then it starts and I slowly rise up and make a wide gesture to the audience. When I do my "royal walk" forward, I hear some surprised sounds: they are impressed, it works! I manage to do the switching between emotions fairly well, and that is a lot of fun. During practice I added a ploy where in one of the "aloof" parts I first do a layback halfway, making everybody think "that's as far as he gets", coming up and then do a complete layback anyway... it's so much fun to play with people's expectations! One member of the audience stood out, she was pretty much beaming at me, and told me later on that she was thoroughly entertained with my dance. Thank you, Maria! It is such a pleasure to see that, and it really lifts you up as a performer. Hope to see you perform soon yourself.
Again, my girlfriend made a video. I still seem to be a bit bashful and not stretching out my arms completely. Well, there's always something...

 

August 12: My fourth performance, at Kalisa's.

I am a bit reluctant to go back to Kalisa's with not much change in my dance routine, but am easily convinced by others to do it anyway. Of course most of the guests at Kalisa's will be new to it (the audience consists often of some 20-30 people). Anyway, my new routine is just not ready yet. At least I have added some introduction music (an excerpt from "O Fortuna" from the Carmina Burana) to my music so I can have a more dramatic entrance than last time. And I have extended the veil routine a bit, incorporating what I learned from Hassan.
I wasn't feeling quite well beforehand, but again, I have a great time performing here! I get off stage and back on again a couple of times and actually manage to interact with the audience a bit. The choreography works out fine and I think I am getting some of the finer points right this time. All the dancers congratulate me on my progress, and we have a good time talking with them.
No video recording this time, because last time the results were disappointing due to light conditions. But with the new silver backdrop the stage is much brighter, so it would have worked fine! We have some nice pictures, though.

Sharif Sharif Sharif Sharif Sharif
(Click on any picture for a larger version - photography by Nakisa) More pictures

 

July 17: Double veil workshop with Hassan.

Zorba points me to a double veil workshop by Hassan that is organized by Jamaica. It turned out to be a very good workshop! I was one of the least proficient pupils, but I was amongst a bunch of really experienced dancers (Isabela, Lana, and of course Jamaica). I think I got a lot out of it, a longer workshop would really not have made sense for me. There's only so much you can absorb in one session (and so much spinning you can do!). I will work on the moves we learned and see what I can integrate of them into my performance. Some of them work pretty well with a single veil as well - handy if you lose one during the performance! I may have to use the video camera to practice, as you cannot see very well yourself how the moves are looking.

 

July 9: Hafla Santa Cruz.

A nice belly dance even right here in Santa Cruz! Some 20 performers are invited to show off their talents. We learn a couple of no-no's from some of the performers (DON'T chew gum during your performance! DON'T perform in a black costume when the stage background is black!), but have a good time in general. SeSe shows off her improvisation skills when the music she brought starts to stutter in the CD player; instead of the music she gets the audience to clap to a beat for her and dances to that! We buy a nice Isis pendant for me to match my Egyptian-style belly dance costume.

 

July 8: Pizza Parlor.

We accompany our friend Aruba to the Straw Hut Pizza in San Jose for her performance, and get to see some more of the local belly dance celebrities.

 

June 24: My third performance, at Kalisa's.

After performing at Masala Imports, Isabela invites me to come to Kalisa's and perform there! So today we take her up on her offer, and go to Monterey together with our friends Aruba and her husband.

When I ask if I can perform, Janette, who organizes the evening, is very hospitable although she has never seen me dance (or perhaps because...). She invites me to come upstairs to the stage area and get changed. After some deliberation I end up in the sixth spot in the lineup of dancers, closer to the beginning than the end. That works fine for me. I have to improvise a bit, because my choreography starts pretty much right on the first beat of my music. So I don't have any music to use when I get up on stage! That worked well at Masala Imports, but not here. So I ask to start the music when I am ready on stage, and slowly walk on in silence with my veil around me. That works out OK. I am momentarily confused when the music starts, because I think it is the wrong song - both "Staying Alive" and "Eshtaktillak" start with a drum intro... The audience seems to sense that, and when I regain my bearings and relax into the first song they become very supportive indeed. Everybody is clapping and cheering once they recognize the tune, and I find myself unable to get that smile off my face for eight minutes straight! I am having a blast! This is definitely my best performance so far, I feel much more relaxed and in control. It all seems to fall in place. Afterwards I get a lot of compliments and encouragement from the other dancers, and Janette says I can come back any time I like. My girlfriend makes me the best compliment: she says that the first two performances she thought I was just being very brave to go on stage, but this time she felt that I was really dancing and looking good.

Beforehand, in the dressing room Thiem, the dancer before me in the lineup, was practicing in front of the mirror. I was standing behind her (she is not very tall) and did some moves too, and that looked pretty good together. So afterwards she proposes we do a duet together in the future! She likes my veil work, and especially a move I do with the veil floating around me and reversing its direction twice, and says she is going to try that at home. Well, they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!

My girlfriend made a video recording, but the stage is rather dimly lit so it doesn't come out very well. Just good enough for educational purposes, I guess...

Sharif Sharif Sharif Sharif Sharif
(Click on any picture for a larger version - photography by Brad Carson) More pictures

 

June 4: My second performance, at Masala Imports.

I have always liked the music of "Staying Alive" by the Bee Gees; it seems such a good start of a dance! So I decide to use it, but not without changes. I get a MIDI file from the Internet and start changing it for my purpose: remove the disco beat, put in a belly dance rhythm, change the instruments to Middle-Eastern variants, prolong the intro, add a few breaks... It takes a lot of work and tweaking, a couple of days' worth of time, but eventually I have something that is acceptable. I put together a choreography, where I fill the intro with very Egyptian moves for best effect. It's so much fun to play with audience expectations!

So for my second performance at a Masala Imports hafla I now have two songs. I start out with Staying Alive. For a moment I am confused because the music does not start right on (volume was too low), but then I get into it. I am still pretty nervous, but it is good to notice the point where the crowd starts recognizing the tune. I try hard to be serious about my dance, after last time - I really don't want to be the funny interlude, I'd like people to appreciate the dance for what it is! One of the lady dancers is very patiently waiting with my veil to hand it to me for the second song, where I do "Eshtaktillak" again. Although I am much more confident with it now, the wind is not helping to make this work out very well. Also, looking right into the sun makes it hard to keep your facial expression in check! The crowd is appreciative, but not as much as the first time. But I get a compliment from my teacher Moira! All in all this second performance wasn't as pleasant as the first, but it is one more step in becoming a real belly dancer... Again, my girlfriend made a video of the performance.

Sharif Sharif Sharif Sharif
(Click on any picture for a larger version) More pictures

 

May 27: DaVid at Kalisa's.

Our belly dance friend Siwa mentions that a very good male belly dancer will perform this evening in Kalisa's, a nice small belly dance place in Monterey. We go there together with her and Aruba and her husband. We get to see DaVid, Hassan and Zorba perform, all male belly dancers; it's good to see them all dance, and it's obvious they have very different styles. Of course, a good number of ladies dance as well. We took some nice pictures.

 

April 23: Belly Dancers Showcase.

My girlfriend performs in the Belly Dancers Showcase with the Belly Dance Basics troupe. A very colorful performance!

 

April 16: My first performance, at Masala Imports.

I am outside the Masala Imports store on the pavement under the awning. The weather is nice and sunny, not too warm. I am wearing my red silk pants, my black vest, coin belt; I have my red veil... The worst that can happen is that I fall down and make a total fool of myself, right? I tell myself I am totally prepared for that, but still I am pretty nervous. It's a good thing that I have practiced like a madman for the last few weeks to memorize my choreography, because I can't think straight for the first minute or so of my performance! My body does the moves on autopilot, and eventually I calm down a bit. The audience is very receptive and supportive, clapping to the beat and cheering me on... I can't help but smile at them! Some moves don't come out right or not at all, but all in all it works out as well as could be expected. Our friend Veronica has her birthday, and she is a good focal point for my head-snap turns. Then the final windmill spins and... it's done, I've made it to the end! My five minutes of fame! My girlfriend has made a video that proves very useful learning material. Afterwards I find that most people really like my performance - but I got one reaction from a child that I did a "funny dance". Looking at the video I can't really blame her, I need to work on how it comes across. But in general people have a lot of respect for a guy that stands up to do this and gives it a shot, and I got some really nice reactions. The storeowners invite me back for the next time, so I will be there on June 4th again.

Sharif Sharif
(Click on any picture for a larger version)

 

April 9: Pizza Raks.

We go to the Straw Hat Pizza in San Jose to watch some of our friends dance. At this point I am still preparing for my first performance. Little do I know that this will become my zeroth performance! A couple of performers present themselves: amongst them Dancers of the Crescent Moon, Aruba, and Zorba. Then during her solo performance Siwa unties her veil, grabs me with it and pulls me along the aisle and on stage. She then ties her veil around my hip and coaxes me into doing some moves together with her. It's a testament to her teaching abilities that this works out pretty well, obviously to the surprise of the audience! We do hip lifts, a hip shimmy and a head slide together. She also shows the amused audience that shoulder shimmies look different if you don't have boobs. Afterwards a lady in the audience says to me: "You practiced, didn't you?" Well, yes, but not this particular set of moves! I have a video that a friend made of this little stint - we actually look pretty good together!

 

April 1: Hafla at Aruba's place.

We are invited to Aruba's place again and get to play dress up and dance in her own little studio. She's a wonderful host and we have a great time.

 

March 30:

I find out that the Masala Imports hafla is on the 16th, not on the 30th. That chops off two weeks from my practice schedule! I decide to aim for the new date anyway, it looks like I can get it together and perhaps I will get a little bit less worked up about it as well.

Moira asks me to show her my routine after the class. It is hardly finished and still quite rough, and doesn't earn me high marks. Well, I still have two weeks...

 

March 19 & 20: Rakkasah.

We go to Richmond for the Rakkasah festival, the largest belly dance gathering on the West Coast. We see a lot of very good performances, and in between we get a chance to go on stage (with a lot of other people from the audience) during the sound checks of the live music. One of our favorite dancers, Naheda from Germany, performed on Sunday, but it is not as spectacular as the previous year. We buy a sword, a veil, a coin belt and some trinkets.

 

March:

Moira proposes that I do a solo performance at the next hafla at Masala Imports. At first I am a bit reluctant, but during the week I decide to accept the challenge. I don't suffer much from stage fright because I have done so much public piano playing in bands and occasionally solo playing, so I think I will be all right.

She provides me with some music and proposes that I use a veil. Now I am really confused, because what should I do with a veil?! I always disliked the veil part of the class because it seemed to consist only of these really feminine seductive moves that don't work well for me. Anyway, I buy material for a veil that is bright red metallic fabric that flows like water and flies real nice with a bit of speed. I start practicing daily with a video by Dolphina to teach myself some veil moves. After two weeks I feel much more comfortable with the idea (and with the veil!). I had expected to get help with the choreography from Moira, but she is very busy at that time. A good thing that I have a musical background, so I put my own choreography together. The music, "Eshtaktillak" from the Very Bellydance CD, is somewhat faster than usual and that works pretty well for my style of veilwork. So my routine becomes kind of a power veil thing. It reminds me a bit of the flag-waving exercises people did in socialist countries, and those were often done by males.

 

February 20: Hafla at Aruba's place.

After visiting our birthday party Aruba invites us to her place for a hafla. We meet some new dancers and Aruba and her husband are great hosts.

 

February 12: Kamaal's class.

Kamaal gives a special class about style, presentation and introductions. It is really good for me to learn from a male dancer for a change (my first time), and to see him perform later on as well. During the introduction Kamaal asks each of us what our goals and style are. He laughs at all the people that say that they just want to learn belly dancing for exercise. He points at the nice vest my girlfriend made for me and says that you don't make that if you don't secretly want to get on stage. I wasn't too sure about that at all, but I guess he was right!

 

January 22: My birthday party.

We invite a lot of people to my birthday party, and a surprising number of belly dancers from my girlfriends' class show up. At first I was afraid that nobody would start dancing, but Aruba breaks the ice for us. Later on at least ten people are dancing together, and others are making music. I manage to coax some convincing belly dance music out of my new synthesizer. We have a great time, my best birthday party ever!

 

Previous events are described in Belly Dance Blog 2004.