Sphinx (Louvre, Paris). 
© Sharif
Photography 2006

Belly Dance Blog 2007

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 2008.

- o O o -


December 28: Belly dance at the Cypress Lounge.

Our friend Aruba is trying to organize more belly dance venues in our area, and tonight she has organized an evening at the local Cypress Lounge. Aruba and Imzadi both dance two sets, with various props. It's pretty crowded, a lot of supporters have shown up, and the evening is deemed a success: we'll have a follow-up evening soon!
See my pictures for some of the highlights.


December 20: Final poi spinning class - playing with fire!

I want to learn poi juggling and eventually integrate it in my dance, so I have taken some classes offered by Marina. Tonight is the final class, and we go to the beach to actually set our poi on fire! We have learned several moves in class, and having a teacher to point out what's right and wrong has proven very helpful. There are both new and pretty experienced spinners in the class, so we have a nice mix.
We get some last minute instruction and a demonstration, and then the first newbie gets to try it out, taking over from one of the experienced spinners. She does well, and that makes us just a bit less tense. Now it's my turn, and I will start the poi myself. First we soak the wick material of the fire poi in fuel, and then drain the excess by spinning it around quickly in a bucket. Then we light the poi and I have to get busy spinning them, or my hands will get very hot! So far I have practiced my moves with a rather light set of LED poi, and I have had very little time to get used to the heavier set. But I get the poi spinning and find it's actually easier and less scary than I thought. After a while I feel comfortable enough to try a butterfly, which gets some cheers from the audience. In a second set I even do the double corkscrew (an overhead/in-front horizontal spin), and I get to do a third set as well. It's a fun and exciting experience!
Nakisa takes pictures with long exposure to show the movement of the poi - it's not like we were spinning flamethrowers! Apologies for my poor costuming, it was selected for being a bit fireproof and dispensible, not for looking good in a picture.

Backward spin Fire hoop Double corkscrew Fire baton
(Click on any picture for a larger version - photography by Nakisa & Sharif). See selected pictures (8 pictures), or browse Nakisa's web album.


December 2: Suhaila Salimpour drum solo choreography workshop.

A while ago we signed up for a drum solo choreography workshop with the legendary Suhaila. Today is the day we get to meet her again (we saw her perform a couple of times, and met her at her booth at Rakkasah). As we have been warned by others, her workshops and classes are no picnic! It's a real workout, you'd better bring a towel, like in the gym. Fortunately, we have had some preparation through Crystal's classes - the warmup is very familiar, although Suhaila adds some extra information that is very helpful to me. I manage to hang in during the drumsolo choreography training, but often the subtleties of the hip movement are lost on me again when we move on to the next parts. Still, it's a good very training and I think I have picked up a couple of useful things. Highly recommended!


November 17: Belly dance at the Crepe Place.

Today we go to the Crepe Place in Santa Cruz for the weekly lunch belly dance performance there that is organized by Helené. The four dancers performing are all familiar faces for us, and we enjoy taking pictures of their performances. With the mixed sunlight and shade it is not easy to get good photographs, but we manage to get some nice shots. See the album for some of the highlights.


November 16: Performance at Bellysema Mystique Show.

Tonight we drive to Monterey again for the Bellysema Mystique Show. Lana has graciously invited us again, and we gladly accept. I do a solo performance to "Dawn" by Santana, with a very slow introduction. It's a dance I prepared for one of Sese's classes that I am currently taking. It comes out nicely, and I am enjoying the dance - this is such fun music! We take pictures, and watching them I definitely see a couple of things to improve, especially about the initial pose. Lana is gorgeous as ever with her Wings of Isis, and we have a larger audience than the previous time we went.

Lana Andrea Sharif Sharif Sharif Lana
(Click on any picture for a larger version - photography by Nakisa & Sharif). See selected pictures (15 pictures).


November 11: Yousry Sharif Workshop Students Show.

As the second part of our photography assignment this weekend, we take pictures at the show put together for the students of the Yousry Sharif workshops. Quite a few performers sign up for us to make them a CD with pictures of their performance, and we hope to convince the rest to do likewise Smile.
There is a nice variety in the dance performances, and a high level of skill among the performers. It is fun to take pictures of such good entertainers! We have posted a few examples of the pictures.


November 10: Mediterraneo Music And Dance Show.

Our fellow dancer Suzanne organizes a set of workshops with the famous choreographer Yousry Sharif this weekend (we have other obligations and can't attend them this time). She graciously invites us to be the official photographers for both weekend evenings! We are honored, and of course take our new responsibility very seriously. Today there is an evening show with two bands (local favorites AZA, and the Georges Lammam Ensemble) and invited dancers.
We arrive early to tune the camera settings and find a good spot. AZA really gets the crowd going, a lot of people join the open floor dancing. After the band change the dancers make their appearance, and both the band and the dancers put up a nice and inspired show. We get some really nice shots in, although not all dancers get favorable lighting. We have posted pictures of both bands and the dancers. See selected pictures (20 pictures).


October 25: Halloween Marrakesh Express.

Tonight we visit the traditional Halloween version of the Marrakesh Express show. Nakisa has signed up to perform a new piece, an expressively dramatic piece set to the music of the Sorcerer's Apprentice. She pulls it off very nicely! We watch some of our friends do very nice and playful performances.
See selected pictures (16 pictures).


October 24: Performance at Bellysema Mystique Show.

Tonight we venture to Monterey to perform at the weekly Bellysema Mystique Show, organized by Lana. It's the weekend before Halloween and so that's the theme of the evening. There are only a handful other performers, but they each have several separate pieces ready so they can fill the evening. I do a solo performance to "Farscape" and a short improv to "My Music Intro". At the start I am a bit confused because the music is very distorted and I am not sure if it's even my music that's playing... After listening carefully it improves and I start my routine about 30 seconds in, which does not help to be relaxed in my dancing. But the costume inspires, and the audience enjoys the performance, and by the second song I get into a better groove. We'll be back!

Jill Sharif Sharif Lana Isabela
(Click on any picture for a larger version - photography by Nakisa & Sharif). See selected pictures (15 pictures).


October 2: Bellyqueen Dance Theatre.

Tonight we have a performance of a New York-based belly dance troupe, Bellyqueen, right here in a small theatre Santa Cruz. They are on a tour on the West Coast, and Vashti has succeeded in contracting them for an evening performance in the Cayuga Vault.
For a while they were an evening show in one of the Las Vegas casinos, and it is obvious that would have worked well. They have a varied and well-organized act, and they are all good and beautiful performers in their own right. I roam around the room taking pictures, and despite very little light I am pleased with the results. I also get to meet the renowned belly dance photographer to the stars Michael Baxter - awesome! See selected pictures (19 pictures).


September 23: Desert Dance Festival.

This weekend is the nearby Desert Dance Festival in San Jose. This year it's located in the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, a very nice location that we have to visit again in it's own right. Unfortunately, the airconditioning of the main auditorium is not up to the amount of people at the show, it's really hot and humid inside. They promise to do better next year.
We can come to the all-weekend festival only from late Sunday afternoon because of other obligations, but it's worth it! We see some friends perform, Hassan, Amara LaRo, Baktiari... I take a lot of pictures from a not too good position in the audience with my fast non-zoom lens, but some come out really well. See selected pictures (27 pictures).


August 25: Sese's 20th Anniversary Show.

This evening we have a big show for Sese's 20th anniversary of performing and teaching belly dance. A lot of her students past and present will perform to celebrate the occasion. In the past four months we have been working on a dance in 80's style, like the Solid Gold Dancers, performed to the song "What A Feeling" from the movie Flashdance. It's all very much over the top, and will be really fun to watch! With 15 dancers and a small stage we are circling through the side entrances all the time. I get to make a very dramatic rockstar style entrance halfway the show and remain on stage for the remainder of the song. We have been practicing a lot and adding extra rehearsals to make it run smoothly.
After waiting for the room to fill up with audience, we start our performance. Leila and Imzadi do an exaggerated dramatic skit to the slow intro, and then the first groups of dancers come on and the audience starts seeing the comedy of it all. By the time I get to make my entrance they are really digging it, and their reaction really lifts me up as a performer. This is so much fun! We finish our dance without a hitch and get a nice applause.
We get to watch many dancers we don't see very often and enjoy the show. Sese gets an MP3 player as a present from the dancers, with all of the music she uses in class preloaded. She always jokes that she's very attached to her 8-tracks, so bets are being taken now if she's actually going to use it....

80's dance troupe 80's dance troupe Jalilah Khadijah
(Click on any picture for a larger version - photography by Debra Michelle & Sharif). See more pictures (25 pictures).


August 10: Shiva Lounge.

Today we have a special Shiva Lounge to celebrate International Belly Dance Week, and guest star (and workshop leader tomorrow) is Sandra. We're glad we stayed until her performance, because she is a fabulous dancer. In the second set I take some pictures with available light (despite dire conditions), but in the third set I switch to (muted) flash photography. See selected pictures (16 pictures).


August 4: Cabrillo Music Festival.

Today we have a music and dance festival in Santa Cruz thanks to the performing arts section of the local Cabrillo College. This includes a belly dance performance by some of our local celebrities, and to live music! The hourlong show is performed without a hitch, and I especially like the rendition of "Raks Africa" by the live band and the belly dancers together ("Heya! Heya!"). I take a bunch of pictures to offer a view from the audience to the dancers. See selected pictures (16 pictures).


June 23: Performance at Hafla Santa Cruz, and Desert Rose competition.

Every year Vashti organizes an event called Hafla Santa Cruz with performers lining up through a call-in. A few months ago I managed to obtain an early evening performance spot in this event. In addition some nagging has resulted in the honor of being one of two official event photographers (the other being Carl Sermon, a famous professional dance photographer and the husband of Ma'Shuqa). So for most of the day I am busy trying to get good pictures of the dance performers to make good on my free event access. By the time my performance slot comes up, I am already a bit tired, but I perk myself up and get ready. I do my new routine to "Kashmir" again, to get some more mileage from all the time I spent creating that dance for the Soloist Showcase. I have practiced a bit more and added a few turns, and made it a bit more precise here and there. It all comes out quite well, and I get a nice applause from the audience and some nice compliments afterwards.
The next day I return to take pictures of the Desert Rose dance competition. It's a great show and I have learned a few things about my camera in the meantime, so the pictures come out better. The level of the performances is really high, especially of the soloists. But this photography is real work, my fingers start to cramp every now and then! Fortunately, there are longer breaks in the program today, and things work out well in the end. A busy but very fun weekend!

Bibi Verbatim Debra Michelle Firefly Sharif Sharif Zorba
(Click on any picture for a larger version - photography by Sharif & Nakisa). More Hafla Santa Cruz pictures, Desert Rose pictures


June 9: Performance at Motion Pacific Recital.

Today we have the final performance for all the dance classes organized by Motion Pacific. My class with Sahar is the only belly dance class at this dance school. Well, her beginning and intermediate classes, that is. There will be mainly young kids performing in ballet and hip hop, and only a few adult classes. The show is in the early afternoon, and we don't expect much of an audience - mainly parents of the kids in the other classes.
We arrive at 10:30 and start doing some stretching and get to do our dress rehearsal. The stage is really big at the Henri Mello Theatre in Watsonville, but we can fill it with our troupe of twelve people total. Four students of the beginning class will do a short choreography in the middle of ours, and join us doing duets. We are on at about 3pm, so we have some time to spare and use it to practice our routine some more in the courtyard, and get some instruction from Sahar on keeping the energy up and playing out to the audience.
When our call time comes up I enter the stage in total dark to do our opening scene with Sahar. I don't see her anywhere and for a moment I am quite confused, but then I spot her. We do our opening act and get into our routine nicely. When I spot a few unexpected familiar faces in the front row I lose track of my steps for a bit, but otherwise things go quite smoothly. The audience really likes the performance, and we get quite a few compliments afterwards!

Opening scene Sahar's stick dancers Suzanne shines Belly sticks Sahar solo
(Click on any picture for a larger version - photography by Nakisa). More pictures


June 8: Performance at Shiva Lounge.

Another installment of the Shiva Lounge dance nights at E3 Playhouse tonight, and I am performing the stick dance with Sahar's troupe. I have taken up classes with Sahar a few months ago when she started rehearsing a stick dance, because it is based on a originally male dance (in fact a Middle-Eastern martial arts form). We're doing it with a smaller troupe tonight as a prelude to the full performance tomorrow. I have been practicing the steps at home for a bit and we have put together some nice finishing touches in the last few classes. Despite a couple of hitches we manage to put on a very upbeat and energetic performance, and things turn out pretty well. The audience is pleased and we have a good time too!
I take a lot of pictures of some of the other dance performers (again with the flash because it's really dark at times), and a few come out really well. Rebekah does a very beautiful performance and is really engaging - that always makes for good pictures. A fun evening!

Sahar's stick dancers Sahar's stick dancers Sahar's stick dancers Rebekah Janelle
(Click on any picture for a larger version - photography by Nakisa and Sharif). More pictures.


April 28: Performance at Sese's Spring Soloist Showcase.

The culmination of the efforts of sixteen of Sese's students to create a solo performance piece: we all get to show our creations on stage at the Pacific Cultural Center. We have been working on these pieces since January, so about four months, and have seen each other's piece grow and get tweaked and improved in class. It's a great way to concentrate on a single piece and really go deep to the level of polishing and intent. Both Nakisa and I have put a solo piece together and will be performing.
I am doing a dance to an instrumental version of "Kashmir" (originally by Led Zeppelin). It starts out very dramatic and then becomes just fun! My routine comes out well with just a small hitch that I am able to gloss over. Afterwards we talk some more and congratulate each other, and I get some good reviews from my fellow dancers and the guests. We see some fabulous performances by our friends from class and take lots and lots of pictures (with mixed results due to operator error...).

Samira Phedra Zurah Malikah Sharif Sharif Fadila Geisha Moth
(Click on any picture for a larger version - photography by Sharif and Nakisa). Many more pictures: Highlights (32 pictures). Don't forget to use the slideshow!


April 22: Performance at Crystal's Student Night at the Menara.

Tonight our teacher Crystal organizes her semiannual student night, and this time (because the previous location closed) in the Menara restaurant in San Jose. Nakisa and I have promised to perform a duet together. Fortunately we have already practiced the two Kamaal duets from the Arabian Nights at Sea cruise for the party last week, so we don't have to start practicing from scratch.
We arrive a bit stressed at the restaurant because we did not bring directions and looked for it in the wrong place, but after changing into our costumes we have some time to relax. We are sixth in line, and our dance works out very well and is well-received. We have been practicing to get it tighter and more synchronous, and that is paying off. In fact, people who have seen us do it a year and a half ago do not recognize it's the same routine! After our routine we finally enjoy the food; Nakisa is very pleased with the vegetarian menu.
Unfortunately, the place is very dark with mood lighting, and flash photography pretty much ruins the atmosphere. I pretty much give up on it quickly, but one of our dance friends volunteers to take pictures, so here are some pictures of the event.

Crystal Fifi Brendice Juniper Sharif & Nakisa
(Click on any picture for a larger version - photography by Sharif, Debra Michelle and Scott). More pictures


April 14: Performance at private party.

Today Nakisa and I will perform at a private party in Aptos, close to where we live. The hosts of the party found my website and invited me and a lady dancer to come perform at their Middle-Eastern theme party. Due to the Aziza show it is hard to find a lady dancer, and eventually Nakisa agrees to do it together with me. That allows us to perform our duets, of course... Our first paid gig together! We practice a lot beforehand to get a thirty minute show together. I have to brush up my double veil handling and sword balancing, and Nakisa works on a cane dance and two other pieces, and of course we practice our duets together as well. So we will have a varied program.
We arrive at the house a bit early and sneak in through the side door to keep the show a surprise for the guests. We have already scoped out the location beforehand to check the space and sound system, and the host has given us directions on where we can change. We wait for a while and finally get in touch with the hosts and they herd the guests to the main room. I come up first and do my double veil piece to "Shine", and a short improv to "My Music Intro". Then Nakisa appears and does a cane dance and "Ar Vai Vai". In the meantime I change my costume and come up to do a sword dance to a slow version of "Misirlou". Now Nakisa has changed her costume and she does her Soloist Showcase piece, and finally we do the two Kamaal duets from the Arabian Nights at Sea cruise together. The guests are very appreciative and start joining us at times, so we have to adapt to that! After the scheduled performances we give some information about the dance and teach them posture and some basic moves. We have a great time talking with the guests and hanging out with the crowd. A very fun experience!


April 13: April Shiva Lounge.

Today's Shiva Lounge is also the start of the of the Aziza show weekend. We see some good performances and have fun with the open floor dancing and meeting our friends. It's dark as always in E3 Playhouse, so it's almost impossible to take pictures without the flash. As a result I have to discard quite a few of my shots, but some come out pretty good after all. See the gallery (8 best pictures).


March 31: Marrakesh Express Live.

Tonight we have another installment of the Marrakesh Express Live saga, with Orient'al performing live music for the dancers. We have not signed up to dance and instead enjoy the performances, talk with our friends and take pictures. See the gallery (12 best pictures).


March 17: Performance at Rakkasah!

Today we first have a wedding ceremony of a couple of friends in Carmel, and then drive to Richmond for the Rakkasah festival. For probably the first time I am really stoked to go out and perform. I have practiced diligently and can't wait to show off my work at this big event! We arrive around 3pm, and after checking in we have some time to greet our friends and browse around a bit. We visit the Cabaret stage where I will perform for a little bit, and I find it is actually smaller than I thought. But when we return the room is quite busy, and a lot of our friends still arrive to cheer me on. The show is a bit behind schedule, and so I am waiting in the aisle all dressed up for 15 minutes or so, glancing at the stage from the side. That last group does not seem to want to finish... and is it me or is it hot in here? I'll be glad when I can open that veil!
Then finally I am announced and I enter the stage. The room is packed, there is hardly any standing room left! The nerves subside quickly when I see some friendly faces in the audience, and then the music starts. I perform my old standbys "Farscape" and "Il Alem Allah", although I have changed the choreographies quite a bit to make them flow better and keep up the interest. They come out really well, and I am having a blast performing! Of course there is the occasional minor mishap but everything works out as well as could be expected. I am smiling a lot and improvise and add a turn here and there just for the heck of it. The audience is very friendly, they start clapping halfway the second song, so there's no need to encourage them... When I strike my final pose, I get a very loud applause, and after I have left the stage lots of compliments from my fellow dancers. I feel very good about this and I also think I have finally found a good way to present myself on stage - a good mindset if you will. Yay!
We take lots and lots of pictures at both stages, and enjoy some really stellar performances, most notably SeSe's groups, Naheda, Fahtiem and Willow. Of course we must miss out on some really good stuff, there's just too much going on! We stay over for the night and party with our friends from Sese's class. We do some shopping (we eventually go home with a three foot Anubis statue) and run into Naheda in the cafeteria. She is extremely nice and is very pleased she can speak German with us for a while Smile. We return to the main stage and get to see Dancers of the Crescent Moon, and then we head home. It was quite a weekend!

Sharif Sharif Sharif Sharif Suhaila Naheda Fahtiem
(Click on any picture for a larger version - photography by Desma, Scott Schappell & Sharif).
Many more pictures: Highlights (34 pictures). Don't forget to use the slideshows!


March 9: Performance at Shiva Lounge.

Tonight we have another Shiva Lounge party at E3 Playhouse. Vashti has honored me with an invitation to do a performance, and I gladly accepted. As she mentioned to all invited dancers, it's also a great opportunity to prepare for the upcoming Rakkasah! There are nine dance performers/groups in total in three shifts, and there is a nice variety in dance styles and costuming. The place is quite crowded, a lot of people of the swing dance crowd have stayed on as well.
I want to dance early, so I can change in some lighter dance gear afterwards - I really don't want to get my nice blue costume all sweaty! And in fact when I arrive I learn that I am in the first group. I hand over my materials and quickly change into my costume. There is only time for one song, so I do "Il Alem Allah" which I also will do at Rakkasah. I have practiced the routine diligently and added a few changes and new moves to increase the interest. It turns out really well, although I have to change a couple of things on the fly because the venue is really narrow. There is a lady sitting in the front right corner where I do some of the turns and isolations and she is having the time of her life, to the amusement of the rest of the crowd. I can't help visiting her area a couple of times, of course! Smile After I take my bows I get some really nice compliments from my fellow dancers, some swing dancers I know and my new teacher Sahar. A good start for Rakkasah!
The open floor dancing is very well attended, and we all have a good time dancing. I take some more pictures, but it's hard to make them do justice to the performers!

Juniper Sharif Imzadi Jamilah
(Click on any picture for a larger version - photography by Nakisa & Sharif). More pictures


February 24: Performance at Kalisa's.

Tonight is the last opportunity to dance at Kalisa's, and again the place is quite full with dancers and audience. I decide to take the opportunity to try out my new dance "Kashmir" that I am developing for SeSe's Spring Soloist Showcase class. As an added dare to myself I will perform in an Egyptian-style costume that is basically bare on top. Pretty much like the well-known ancient Egyptian paintings. I only hope there won't be too much screaming of "My eyes! My eyes!" when I enter the stage... Tina is doing the announcing and she takes my joke up to announce me as "the last topless dancer at Kalisa's". That definitely gets their attention!
I enter the room with arms in genie pose, and walk backwards onto the stage. After a brief blackout before the music starts ("Ummm, how did I start again?") I fortunately remember my choreography well. The dance comes out nicely; I have put in a few new things recently to keep the interest up, and they work well. I definitely have to fill in some blanks and polish all the individual parts, but it's getting there. I manage to keep everything on the small Kalisa's stage, a good thing because there isn't much room left in front of it anyway. The place is packed! The audience seems to be really engaged with my dance and when I finish I get a loud applause.
There are lots of nice performances, and some dancers I have not met before, but it is not a good night for pictures. With the place so crowded it is hard to find a good vantage point, so I am far away from the stage and cannot use the nice small lens without the flash. Even my larger zoomlens does not get me close enough to the dancer at times, and the flash does not quite reach to the stage either. But hey, at least we were there!

Opening pose Basic Egyptian Hip circle Camels
(Click on any picture for a larger version - photography by Nakisa and Sharif). More pictures


February 16: Performance at Kalisa's.

Kalisa's is closing at the end of the month, and every belly dancer who's danced there wants to take advantage of these last opportunities. So right now the place is packed every time with dancers and audience. Tonight we go visit with a large group of Santa Cruz dancers, but only Aruba and I are doing a performance.
We are told to do just one song, because there is such a full schedule of dancers, so I decide to do only "Il Alem Allah". The performance goes well, although I stray from my choreography quite a bit and improvise. The stage in Kalisa's is small and does not work well for me with this song, so I change things and leave the stage a lot. The audience is very responsive and I get a nice applause. We see a lot of dancers, it's a very diverse and high-quality show.
I take a lot of pictures, and actually have to delete quite a few shots on the camera because I am quickly running out of space. One of our belly dance friends takes it on her to shoot pictures of me, and she does a really good job! The two last pictures are interesting: when you view them right after each other, they give a very eerie sense of three dimensions. Try it with the slideshow in the album!

Turn Posing Hip circle Finale 1 Finale 2
(Click on any picture for a larger version - photography by Debra Michelle). More pictures


February 10-11: An Evening with John Compton and workshop.

Every year around Valentine's Day Siwa invites a male dancer to Santa Cruz to perform and teach a workshop. This year she has lured John Compton for a larger evening show with his troupe Hahbi'Ru and their live musicians. We see performances of Dancers of the Crescent Moon, we see Aruba dance in a fabulous new costume, a nice performance by Amara and a beautiful veil piece by Una. I had not seen Una dance solo before, and I really enjoy some uncommon veil moves she showed and all her own stylizations.
After the break John Compton and Hahbi'Ru perform their show. I have seen them several times on Renaissance Faires, but it is always a pleasure to see them, and this time really up close! I take lots of pictures, and some come out pretty well, see below.
On Sunday John teaches a long workshop (five hours, with a break). The morning session is pretty technical, and in the afternoon we do the cymbal dance that he also taught on the Arabian Nights at Sea cruise. This time I am getting much more of it, and for the first time I see the connection with the moves that Moira teaches... She was his student and danced in his troupe for a long time. I get much more from the class than I had expected, and think I will put some of those moves to good use soon. Now I'll have to practice those intricate zill patterns as well!

Aruba Una Hahbi'Ru dancer John Compton
(Click on any picture for a larger version - photography by Sharif). More pictures


February 9: New version of the Hero ActiFruit TV commercial.

Nakisa is visiting her parents in the Netherlands, and while she is there she gets to see my commercial live on TV! We don't have an airing schedule anymore, so we don't know how often it is broadcast, but it is still going. They have now actually made a new and longer version of it. It has more Middle-Eastern sounding music, and it shows more dance moves. They have played some tricks with repeats and speedups to make the moves work in time with the music.
Here's the new video, courtesy of the filmmakers and of course Hero ActiFruit.

To play a full-screen version of the video, click on the YouTube logo in the video player above to find it on the YouTube website.
Obviously, TV viewers will see a much higher definition version of this clip.
You are encouraged to share this clip with your friends - just click on the "Share" button to forward it!

The translation of the voice-over is: "90% of dutch people do not take in their daily amount of fibres.
But now there is Hero ActiFruit - a shot full of fruit fibres.
And those improve your digestion!
New - Hero ActiFruit, a great-tasting shot of pure fruit fibres!"


January 27: Performance at Marrakesh Express Live.

SeSe organizes a special version of the Marrakesh Express event tonight, with live music. She invites Nakisa and me to come perform at this event, as we have taken her "Dancing to Live Music" class in the last semester - it's always nice to be asked! The musicians are Armando and Michael Gruber, together Orient'al - the same group we have practiced with in class. Still, this is my first performance to live music, which is by definition improvised, so I am a bit nervous about it. In fact, most dancers I speak with are nervous about it!
There's fairly a small crowd of audience in the room, probably partly because of the rainy weather. We see some nice performances by our fellow dancers, and the audience cheers them on nicely. I make my entrance with the veil above my head, make a tour around the stage and drop it quickly to go into the actual dance. We all do a three-parter, meaning a fast, a slow and a fast song. I have asked for "Aziza", because I know the changes and accents pretty well (it's a very well-known song in belly dance - almost too well-known...). In the second part I get a taxim (solo) from the flute player, and that works quite OK - it's never been my favorite, but a couple of moves work out well. The musicians respond nicely when I gesture them to pick up the tempo after the second part, and I really get into the dance at this point. The audience is very supportive and I get a very good applause!
Afterwards we talk with our fellow dancers and buy some goodies from Geisha Moth.

Orient'al Nakisa Roni Sharif veil intro Sharif
(Click on any picture for a larger version - photography by Sharif, Nakisa and Desma). More pictures


January 12: Shiva Lounge.

Tonight Vashti organizes a dance evening at E3 Playhouse in Santa Cruz under the name Shiva Lounge. There is a nice lineup of dancers and plenty of time for open floor dancing. It is really cold outside for Santa Cruz, but quite a few people have shown up. Unfortunately Nakisa has a bit of a cold so she's staying home. The open floor dancing starts a bit slow, but after a while it's pretty crowded on the dancefloor. I have a good time dancing to the great mixes and get some nice compliments from several people. A couple of men from the regular swing dance crowd ask me some questions about men in belly dance, and I answer them to my best knowledge. I take a lot of pictures, unfortunately I have to use the flash because it's too dark. An evening well-spent!

Tribal Moon Anne & Jessica Janelle Crystal
(Click on any picture for a larger version - photography by Sharif). More pictures


January 7: Call-in for Rakkasah - I'm in!

Today the yearly Rakkasah festival gives dancers the opportunity to obtain a spot on the performance roster. Contrary to other festivals there is no committee of seasoned dancers picking their favorites, but a tombola in the form of a call-in by telephone. Nakisa and I spend about four hours on the phone, redial after redial, and finally we get through!! So I will be performing to recorded music on the Cabaret Stage on Saturday at 4:48 pm - a nice time slot before dinner time, and the smaller stage suits me perfectly (I have seen all but the best dancers drown on the main stage, especially with recorded music).
Now I have to decide what songs I want to do! I think I will have to use some existing material just to get it solid enough in time for the festival. I definitely want to make a good impression and not embarrass my fellow male dancers - there are so few of them already in this festival!


Previous events are described in Belly Dance Blog 2006.