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“Becoming a Belly Dancer: From Student to Stage” – A Book Review

"Becoming a Belly Dancer: From Student to Stage"

“Becoming a Belly Dancer: From Student to Stage”

“Becoming a Belly Dancer: From Student to Stage” is a collaboration by Sara Shrapnell, Dawn Devine, Alisha Westerfeld and Poppy Maya. All of these women are experienced belly dance performers and bring their own voice and experience to the content. This is one of the most unique things about this particular book – and one of it’s strengths, in my opinion. Reading it is like attending a panel discussion on entering the pro bellydance track. Through copious photographs to illustrate each point, useful checklists and illuminating sidebars and anecdotes, the reader gets to hear and see each of the author’s unique contributions and perspectives on being a working belly dancer on the scene.

I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Dawn Devine and Sara Shrapnell in 2015 while this book was in the writing process, so I am thrilled to see it finished and out in the world  as a belly dance resource. You can watch that interview here.

This book addresses that tricky transition a serious belly dance student has to make if they want to start gigging and make a name for themselves on the professional circuit at any level – local, national or international. For many dancers, these are lessons learned the hard way – that is certainly how I learned most of them! Classes and workshops abound to teach us movement, choreography, specialty props and musicality, but how do you put your “open for business” shingle out there in the belly dance world?

 

Who should read this book?

“Becoming a Bellydance: From Student to Stage” does a very thorough job of answering the minutiae of that question in approachable, actionable and practical ways. Obviously, it’s target reader is the belly dance student contemplating going pro, but as a seasoned professional who trains up-and-coming dancers, I think it’s a valuable read to remind me of how overwhelming  the business facets of starting out can be – something I may have forgotten or taken for granted after being in the game a while.

A Reality Check

You need to know where you are before you can navigate to your destination. I like that this book begins with some honest self-assessment – it is time well spent for the blossoming student. It continues with advice on how to set clear goals and how to plan the intermediate steps to achieve them. This is key to using this book (or making progress in anything) and the best way to approach the treasure trove of actionable material in this handbook.

The Self-Made Bellydancer

We may not like to think of it this way, but a belly dancer for hire is a product for sale. And just like any product designer, considering their customers’ needs and how to fill them, the belly dancer embarking on the business track needs to decide who they are (and aren’t). The author crew walks through all the public-facing aspects of your persona – your “brand” – that signal to the customer who you are and what you do.  

Dawn Devine, a master costumer known to many in the belly dance world, does a thorough breakdown of the layers of costuming that build your overall look. And as I mentioned before, each author adds their perspective and experience. This book even includes 13 costuming projects from “no-sew” to relatively simple – all very handy additions to a dancer’s wardrobe.

Other pieces of the branding game include what to include in an effective website, creating marketing materials, and tips on photo shoots and getting flattering photos. “Becoming a Bellydancer” also includes guidelines on how to use social media to build your brand – a new skill that is very necessary for the current day dancer!

On With The Show

Performance opportunities run the gamut from short festival shows to full sets in a club with live music. Each one has it’s own set of considerations. What music is appropriate? How do you prepare it? Do you need a contract? And then there’s the “people” part of the equation – backstage etiquette, audience interaction, and the politics of the show lineup. These ladies cover all of these things beautifully because they have all been there and done that.

If you are a belly dance student with aspirations of someday going pro, whether as a paying hobby or if your dream is to be a full-time dancer, “Becoming a Belly Dancer: From Student to Stage” is a valuable reference that you would do well to turn to often to help direct yourself toward your goal. If you are a mentor to dancers in this phase of their training, this book will be just as valuable to you in assisting your students on their dance journey.

 

For more information on the authors, please visit:

Sara Shrapnell’s site

Dawn Devine’s site

Alisha Westerfeld

Poppy Maya

 

March 24, 2017 0 Comments

6 Tips To Close The Deal On a Bellydance Gig

close the deal

Last week, I taught a private lesson that was very different than usual. My student, who has been taking both weekly and private lessons consistently for over 3 1/2 years now, is on the cusp of performing professionally.  An opportunity popped up, so the week’s lesson became how to handle a call from a client looking to book a performance rather than technique and improvisation. When you are seriously invested in the comprehensive training of a bellydance student that is looking to “go pro”, there is so much more than moves to learn!

I thought I’d share a few of the tips I went over with her in hopes that they will be useful for my blog readers here and on the “Bellydance Quickies”.

  1. Open it up. Start the conversation about booking by asking a simple, open-ended question like “Tell me about the party you are planning.” The key to making a good booking at a good price is getting good information. You don’t want every gig you get an inquiry for – trust me. Bachelor party? No, thank you.  This is where you initially screen the booking to see if it’s a good fit for you.
  2. Now shut up. Listen more than you talk. Your client will most likely tell you more than you thought to ask about the nature of the occasion if you get them started and give them a chance. Clarify specifics briefly as needed, but let them tell you all about their big plans. It is just as important to understand the size and formality of an event and the vibe they want to create as it is to know how long the show will be and at what time.
  3. Take notes. Take notes while you are listening to the client describe their vision for the party, wedding or corporate event they are planning. You will, of course, need to get more specifics like the exact address later to write up the contract, but you can gather much of what you need from being a good listener and asking a few well chosen questions. I keep a small notebook in my purse just for this in case I get a call while I’m out and about. I use the same notebook for calls I take at home, that way I can keep all potential client information in one place. I  put the date I received the call on the page too, so if I haven’t heard back from a client in a week, I call to see if they are still looking to book. You’d be surprise how many say, “I’ve been meaning to call you this week – thanks for checking back!”.
  4. Don’t jump the gun!  Clients are sometimes (often) in a hurry to get a price out of you. Make sure you have all, and I mean ALL the information you need before you give a price. Usually the first time I get a “premature ask” I deftly redirect with a question about other specifics I need to set an accurate price. What is the address? If I’m at my computer, I run it on Google Maps while I have them on the phone. There may be a travel fee. For example, here in the Phoenix area, if someone is in north Chandler, it’s a 20 minute drive from my house. If it’s south Chandler it could be over 45 minutes. During rush hour it could be 90 minutes!  Is this a wedding? Toasts, speeches, receiving lines… wedding receptions almost always run behind schedule. Figure extra time into the cost. And those are just two examples of the many things that could affect your quote.
  5. Paint the picture. Even if your potential client isn’t pushing you for a price, it is in your best interest to delay pitching your price. The more you can help the client build a mental picture of the lovely and exciting show you will plan for them, discuss the logistics of music hookup and how to get in and keep it a surprise for the guest of honor, the closer you are to sealing the deal.
  6. Keep your mystique. This is one paradox of   the bellydance biz . Remember that what the client is seeking is exciting, glamorous entertainment for their event. They saw your gorgeous, elegant photo on your webpage and thought, “I want HER to dance for our wedding!”  Yes, you need to be thorough and professional in your business dealing, but if you are “all business” and too cold in discussing the details, you can blow the magic your photo created. It may not work in your favor for getting booked. It takes lots of practice to finesse the client call with just the right balance of business and charm so they stay excited to have YOU grace their event.

Keeping all this in mind as you guide the client through a booking call takes practice, just like your choreography! The more you do it, the more situations you have to navigate and different types of events you have to organize, the better you’ll get at it. Honesty, I didn’t fully realize how much I’d learned over 16 years of taking bookings until I spontaneously had to give a “booking call lesson” last week and it all came spilling out!

If you are also starting to book professional work and would like more comprehensive coaching on how to handle client calls, I do offer lessons on Skype or Google Hangouts. I can take you step-by-step through an initial client call, booking and follow-up, including role-playing exercises (where I can play the indecisive client, the “price shopper”,  and a total pain!)  so you can learn to close the deal like a pro! Email me for more information.

January 13, 2016 3 Comments

2 Tech Tricks for Your Belly Dance Business

I have many times said that I spend an awful lot of time at my computer considering my business is bellydancing! As things get increasingly digitized and globalized, the computer and internet have become more and more embedded in my day-to-day business. I can’t remember the last time I used a music CD for a show. Even teaching isn’t always in person anymore with the advent of online lessons. Private party clients sign and return contracts and deposits without ever leaving their keyboard.

Recently, I’ve found two tricks for Google Calendar that have helped me – I hope you find them useful too.

Managing Scheduling For Different Time-Zones

Since I’ve started doing online private lessons, I have had to figure out scheduling for different time zones. This is complicated by the fact that I like in Arizona, which does not observe daylight savings time. I used to use a converter site or a phone app (I never did find one I really liked) but now I don’t have to because Google Calendar can take care of it – you just have to do a little setup one time.

1. Go to the gear icon in the upper right corner of Google Calendar and select “Labs” from the drop down menu.

2. Scroll down to the “World Clock” and click “enable”.

3. Now when you want to schedule something, you enter the time and can select a different time zone if needed. For example, when my student in North Dakota wants a 4:30 pm lesson, I put 4:30 pm as the appointment time and select Central Time. Google enters the appointment on my calendar for 2:30 pm Arizona time. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this function!

Keeping Gig Contracts Handy

The second trick I learned was that you can attach documents to calendar events. I find this very useful with gig contracts since I create and store all mine on Google Drive.  I attach them to the event in my calendar so I can very handily review the details a day or two before as I’m making final preparations for the job.

1. Go to the gear icon in the upper right corner of Google Calendar and select “Labs” from the drop down menu.

2. Scroll down to the “Event Attachments” and click “enable”.

3. You will now have an “Add Attachment” link below the description box when you create a new event.

At the time of this post, you unfortunately cannot view the attachments on your phone. Get on that, Google! I don’t know if it works on tablets – if you try it tell us in the comments below.  I still find this feature insanely useful.

Do you have any tech tricks that have helped you do your bellydance business more efficiently? Share them in the comments below…

April 9, 2015 2 Comments

2015 DBQ Bellydance Challenge: Vote for the Finalists!

I am so excited to be moving to the next phase of the DBQ Bellydance Challenge!  Thank you to everyone who submitted their ideas – there’s a lot of wonderfully creative people out there!

We now have 5 semi-finalists with very diverse projects. It’s time to cast your votes to select the 3 projects we will be following throughout 2015. Through the “Daily Bellydance Quickies”, we’ll be checking in with the creators and getting a little peek behind the scenes of their projects as they come to fruition.

Read through their proposals and then cast your vote!

Meet our contestants….

Choreography Project 

Louise McClung, Katy TX

The goal however, is to create a completely new choreography to a different song every two weeks. I’ve always enjoyed improvising while performing. As I picked up more responsibility (kids, pets, caring for parents, dance companies) I found myself dedicating less time to preparing for each performance. I was starting to feel like it was just more work. I needed a way to explore the music in a new way. I needed to challenge different parts of the creative process. I enjoy the challenge of being systematic. Not just living the music, but creating something other people could reproduce. For this challenge I’m mapping, writing, and filming (in order to make something reproducible) before I call it done. It’s strange, the biggest hang ups are not the “big” things. So far it’s that I get caught up in songs that I love and have trouble focusing on writing things down.

 

“Becoming a Bellydancer” Book

Sara Shrapnell, Pleasanton, CA

 

 The book by Sara Shrapnell, Dawn Devine, Alisha Westerfeld and Poppy Maya Becoming a Belly Dancer will aim to provide valuable information, learned-in-the-trenches tips, and guidance for dancers who are ready to take the step from student to performer. Sara Shrapnell, author of “Teaching Belly Dance” and Dawn Devine, author of “Cloth of Egypt” and 13 other belly dance and costuming books, including the bestselling “Embellished Bras” and the now classic “Costuming from the Hip”, are teaming up to bring out a new book in 2015. Between them, they have more than 50 years of combined experience as performers, teachers, dancers and costume designers. Alisha Westerfeld is exploring the established and upcoming talent of the Bay Area to bring her beautiful photography to the project. International belly dance celebrity and costume designer Poppy Maya brings her own special brand of “Additional Awesomeness” to the book, and the input of a young dancer, currently making her living through belly dance. The authors hope to bring the warmth, support, and humor of a teacher in absence, a true friend and a trusted advisor who has only one main goal: you. We want to focus on helping you be the best prepared physically and mentally for the challenges of performing for friends, family, the dance community, and the greater society, both in person at public venues, and via media available on the internet. The book will cover improving your dance skills, good practice habits, preparing physically and emotionally, critiquing, picking your music and venues and dancer etiquette. In addition the book will include extensive sections on costume design and selection, sewing and no sewing costumes, accessorizing, hair and makeup and presenting to the world the very best belly dancer that you can be. It is our hope that the reader will find this book a useful and inspiring tool that will help them be ready for the big day, so they can dazzle, impress and wow with talent and style. Currently just four weeks old, our baby book is already growing and we are aiming for a Fall launch. We have pictures available of all four authors and can provide images of our process.

 

“Killer Isolations DVD”

Kamrah,  Chicago, IL

 

“Killer Isolations” is my first instructional DVD! It will focus on strong movement, with strength training and drills to sharpen up those isolations! And a performance will be included! Currently, all of the filming has been finished, but there is still a lot of work to be done. The editing is nearly complete, but there is still voice-over work and polishing left to go!

Dance Recess

Jahanara, Meridian, ID

Bellydance is too good for us, in so many ways, for only a few people to do it! The concept of Dance Recess was born because of something I learned in a summit for creating healthy communities: Sitting is the new smoking. Dance Recess takes the work out of the workout, and conducts fun. Educational North African Dance Fitness Classes at places of work, or wherever people gather together. Dance Recess addresses western health problems with eastern dance! Unlike current popular dance and dance fitness styles, bellydance is a better core workout, and less damaging to joints, which means it is accessible to everyone at any fitness level. Dance Recess instructors are also cultural ambassadors, showing students what is good and beautiful about Arabic cultures, and increasing appreciation for Arabic music. Unlike traditional exercise classes, Dance Recess includes a social portion, which studies have found to be as important for health and longevity as the exercise. Dance Recess appeals to populations which have been ignored by traditional exercise, and gives non-traditional exercisers a motivation to move!

 

Glitter Love Couture Bespoke & Beautiful Dance Design

 Karen Carrie, Laguna Niguel, CA

I have been known for a number of things but two that stand out….leaving a trail of glitter wherever I go and spending countless hours pouring over fabric, drawing and designing costumes. After 10 years of putting my dream of dance/burlesque/theatrical costume design on the back burner I feel it is time to get out there and make my dreams come true! I saw this contest and thought it would be an amazing motivator!

CAST YOUR VOTE HERE

Voting closes on Saturday, February 28th. The 3 finalists will be announced in the March 1st edition of the “Daily Bellydance Quickies”.

February 16, 2015 20 Comments

Back In The Day – What It Was Like To Be A Belly Dance Star in the 60’s & 70’s

Are you ready for a trip in the bellydance time machine? We’re turning back the clock about 40 years to a time when glamorous bellydancers graced the stages of big clubs almost every night of the week. I chatted with Roxxanne Shelaby, a California-based bellydancer and daughter of Lou Shelaby, owner of some of the most well-known Arabic clubs of the west coast.

Mahin: Tell us about yourself…

Roxxanne: My name is Roxxanne Shelaby and I am of Lebanese and Brazilian heritage. I grew up in my father, Lou Shelaby’s Arabic nightclubs, The Fez and the Cascades in Southern California. I have been belly dancing since I could stand up, started performing at the age of 5 and began my professional dance career at 15 at the request of Farida Fahmy principal dancer of the Reda Troupe from Egypt. I teach and perform nationally and internationally as well as produce Belly Dance events.

M: How is it that you came to know Farida Fahmy at 15?
R: She was living here and going to UCLA with Sahra C. Kent who is my closest friend. I met her through Sahra. They were planning to bring the Reda Troupe to perform at an Arabic festival in LA but the visas didn’t go through. So at the last minute Farida trained Sahra, Kamala and Latifa of Arabesque Dance Co. and several other dancers to perform in their place. I was just hanging out with Sahra and went with her to one of her rehearsals and they happened to need one more dancer so I was standing in for the “mystery dancer” since they didn’t know who they would choose yet. Farida liked my dancing and asked me to do it.

Roxxanne dancing with Arabesque Dance Company including Sahra C. Kent and Kamala in the late 80's.

Roxxanne dancing with Arabesque Dance Company including Sahra C. Kent and Kamala in the late 80’s.

M: What a lucky break! Did you perform in your father’s clubs?
R: It really was a lucky break!
Unfortunately not, I was too young. My dad sold The Fez when I was one and the Cascades when I was 14 but I did social dance a lot at the Cascades and we had a one- hour folkloric show choreographed by Sahra which I memorized because I saw it every night and would go home and perform in my bedroom.

M: I’ve worked for many Middle Eastern family owned restaurants and though I was usually treated very well, I was also aware that they did not see performing as a bellydancer to be fit for their own daughters. Can you comment on this?
R:  <laughs> You’ve opened a can of worms! I will do my best to be PC.

M: It’s an issue many dancers don’t understand! I know I didn’t really process that and make peace with it for several years.
R: Middle Easterners have a tenuous relationship with belly dancing (and in many cases with performing in general). They love the dance and want to have a dancer at every possible occasion. However, they would not want their own women to be professional dancers and in many cases for their sons to be musicians or performers. Artist are not considered as highly as other professions. And in a traditional culture where women are not supposed to draw attention to themselves in public, being a professional dancer on stage-drawing attention to themselves and wearing a provocative costume goes against their conventional ways.
My dad used to tell a story that illustrates this well. When he was in middle school in Boston, he and his sister performed in the school talent show. He played the violin and she sang a popular song at the time, something like “Dancing Cheek to Cheek”. When they got home, they both got a spanking from my grandfather – my aunt because she had the audacity to stand up in front of people and draw attention to herself and my dad because he was the male and supposed to protect his sister’s reputation. In this case we are not even talking about belly dancing but 2 teenagers performing a harmless song for their friends. But it shows how many feel about performers in general.
Also, here in the west we have dancers who are highly educated women. In the old country, they are not used to and they don’t understand how a woman like myself for example, who is an elementary school administrator can also be a dancer and loves to dance, and dances for many reasons beyond looking sexy or getting attention.

M: I recall this being a very confusing feeling when I first started out. I thought that maybe they really did look down on me even though they were very kind and almost always had me sit down to dinner with them.
R: They don’t hold women who are not of their culture by the same norms, so its ok for you to dance. They probably love your dancing and love you…and might not necessarily want you to marry their son
M:  <laughs>

R: My dad was the only musician/club owner who tried to bridge this gap. He taught the Arab musicians and patrons that these women (dancers) were good women, they dance because they love our music and culture and they are intelligent and often very well educated.
M: Historically speaking, what years were your family’s clubs open?
R: The Fez was owned by my family from 1959-1970 then sold but remained open until 1979. My dad bought The Cascades in 1976 and it was open until 1985.

M: Being a working dancer back then was so much different than now, it would seem. Having seen both first hand, what would say is the difference in the dancer’s importance in the club’s entertainment overall?
R: At my dad’s clubs the dancer was the star. She worked in one place and had a following. The people came to see her! She only danced to live music and especially at The Fez, danced for a mixed audience of Arabs and Westerners. This shaped their dance. They learned to dance in a more authentic way because they were dancing for the people of the culture.
They made their own costumes and learned by watching other dancers.There were really no teachers then and certainly no classes.

Advertisement for The Fez

Advertisement for The Fez

M: Were the stars of the clubs in that era doing this as a 2nd job or as their primary source of income?
R: From what I understand the majority of them only danced. They were dancing 6 nights a week usually.

M: How many shows per night and how long were their sets typically?
R The Fez had an upstairs room and a downstairs. Downstairs was a formal dining area with a stage and upstairs, “Sinbad’s Cave” was a more intimate space with low tables and cushions on the floor and the dancer danced in a smaller space closer to the audience. They danced at least once in each and possibly more depending on the crowd. There was also more than one dancer at the club. Their set was 45 minutes – can you believe that?
My dad believed in having different styles of dancers and he would rotate them every few months so the audience wouldn’t burn out.

M: Did the dancers venture into the crowds near the end of their set as is common these days?
R: At my dad’s clubs the dancers stayed on stage and were not tipped on the body. Money was showered over them or made into a necklace of dollar bills.

M: Yes, I’ve seen money necklaces – what a great way to be tipped!
R: Yes, I remember customers at the Cascades spending all night with the stapler and some dollar bills (or 10’s and 20’s) coming up with interesting ways to put the bills together for the dancers!

M: How did the dancers’ pay rates compare to current rates? Have you ever done a conversion with adjustment for the years?
R: Thats a great question. I would need to look into it – I don’t want to miscalculate. I can find out!

M: Do you know what the dancers were paid then?
R: Antoinette who was one of the first dancers said she started off at $5 a night – but that was around 1960.
(She looked up the conversion during our interview)
$5 in 1960 is equal to $35 now.

M: As many dancers who have worked with a band know, dealing with tips can get dicey. Do you know what was customary back in the day as far as sharing or dividing the tips with the band and dancers?
R: Yes, the tipping practice was that all the tips were put together and 1/3 went to the dancers 1/3 to the musicians and 1/3 to the house.

M: About the musicians – how large was the band and were they of mixed backgrounds?
R: The band was usually 5 members or so in the old days (60’s to mid 70’s). There was an oud, a drum, a violin, a singer and maybe qanoun or tambourine. They were mostly of Syrian or Lebanese heritage and some Arabs of Armenian descent and maybe a Persian or two. Then it started to change there would be a keyboard and maybe an electric guitar and there was an influx of Egyptian musicians.

M: When I interviewed Helena Vlahos a few years ago, she talked about the mixed bands that really were at the root of what ultimately became “American Cabaret” style.
R: Yes but that was in other clubs. My dad tried as much as possible to keep everything authentically Arabic. There may have been an Armenian, Turk or Persian, but they were playing Arabic music for the most part.
My research on The Fez has shown that the dancers there did not do the style of dance we now refer to as American Cabaret. They did play finger cymbals and dance with a veil but they each had their own style and as I mentioned before, they were dancing to Arabic music for Arabs. I’m told that this style of American Cabaret came here from the East Coast.

M: Did the dancers’ shows have any format musically or stylistically?
R: Yes! They entered wrapped in a veil, did a fast number then a taxim followed by something fast then a drum solo and then an exit. I’m teaching a Fez routine workshop!

M: That sounds like fun! Wish I could take that one! Did the dancers every use folkloric styles or props in their shows?
R: Yes, they did. Not so much in The Fez days, but in the Cascades days folklore became popular. They would include Dabke, Assaya, and some Khaleeji among others. We would feature dancers such as a Circassian man who would do a knife dance and an Egyptian woman named Alia who would do a Shamadan dance.

M: I’m imagining all this as you describe it and I feel like I’m being transported to a very exciting place and time to be a dancer! I wish I had a time machine!
R: You and me both! Thank you because this is exactly what my mission is with this documentary – to not only preserve a piece of our history but also to transport dancers, and other aficionados, back to one of the greatest times and places to be a belly dancer!

M: It just occured to me …being a “bellydance star” back then was to be famous among the club patrons and ethnic communities. Now it is to be famous amongst other dancers!
R: You said it!

M: That’s both a good and a bad thing. We’ve become an insular community in some ways.
R: Exactly! So many dancers today have not only NEVER danced to live music but they have never danced to Arabic music. I think all the styles of belly dance that have emerged are great, but we have to know what our roots are – our tradition – then we can go on and take creative license and fuse the dance with other elements.

M: Very true. I feel very fortunate that I danced weekly for years with Arab-born musicians. It was a HUGE part of my education as a dancer. Sadly, my students don’t have that experience available to them where I am based here in Phoenix..
R: IMHO you have not really danced until you have danced for an Arab audience!

M: I agree. That is a completely different experience than an American audience. and a world apart from an audience of other dancers!
R: Yes, and only dancing for other dancers has taken the dance in a completely different direction as well. As a promoter I took on the responsibility of promoting showcases with live music only so that dancers would be able to have that experience. Sadly many of them refused because they don’t know how to dance to live music and wanted to cling to the safety of their recorded music and memorized routines.

M: That is is so discouraging. On the flip side, sometimes when a dancer who IS able to and would love to dance to live music comes to a gig, the owner wants them to dance between the band’s sets to recorded music so the band can have a break. The only thing breaking in that scenario is my heart!
R: Ditto – but the only way that is going to change is by showing them we are good at dancing to live music and that the crowd wants to see that.

The dancer who the downward vertical hip figure 8 movement "maya" is named after.

The dancer who the downward vertical hip figure 8 movement “maya” is named after.

M: So many of our prominent master teachers began their performing careers in those days. Who were some of the The Fez’s stars we would recognize?
R: Aisha Ali, Feiruz Aram, Marta Shill, Helena Vlahos, Janaeni Rathor (Ansuya’s mother) and Tonya Chainis. Jamila Salimpour also appeared at The Fez and had a long standing friendship with my dad.

M: That’s quite a legacy. Did you interview all these women for The Fez documentary?
R: Yes I did!! And there are a few others that are not known by the dance community today but are legendary and are also part of the documentary. One is a dancer by the name of Maya Medwar . She passed on and is not in the documentary, but I did meet her. She is the dancer that Jamila Salimpour named the vertical figure 8 “Maya” after.

M: Ah- thats why her name sounds familiar. I have heard that story before. Im sure their interviews are fascinating – I can’t wait to see them! What’s the status of the project currently and when can we hope to see it?
R: It is almost finished! It will premiere at Cairo ShimmyQuake in Los Angeles on June 7, 2015. Then it will be available for purchase and download.

M: I predict a lot of dancers having a movie night once it is released! It will be quite a history lesson.
R: Yes I hope so! You know we are currently doing a Kickstarter to pay for the documentary. One of the prizes for donating is a movie night with me for a Q & A session in person or via Skype. There will also be private screenings as well.
M:  Thank you so much for the opportunity to get a window into this part of our history. I am so looking forward to the film!

February 12, 2015 7 Comments
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