Monday, February 15, 2016

Sacred Shapes

The shapes and designs on Paleolithic European artifacts display an ancient language called Proto Indo-European script. Deciphering the meaning of this script would reveal a significant amount of information about the culture, religion and lives of women in Old Europe. Marija Gimbutas began this process. She deciphered the written designs and shapes on thousands of artifacts in what she titled Old Europe, a civilization from 7500-3500 BCE in Europe and Asia Minor (now Anatolia Turkey.) Some of these designs are circles, spirals, waves, straight lines (bi-lines and tri-lines) and chevrons or v shapes. The similarities in theses shapes around the world are remarkable. One can view ancient Chinese pottery for instance and see similar designs to Old European pottery. Serpentine or spiral designs in particular inspired Gimbutas to theorize an ancient world-wide Goddess worshipping culture. Bird Goddess figurines show x’s, v’s, chevrons, meanders and parallel lines similar to those found 15,000 years earlier on vases and ritual objects serving the Bird Goddess. The cow, bull, ox, crescent and egg symbols belong to the category of regeneration. I am particularly enthralled with these shapes because I recognize that oriental dance, demonstrates these same shapes. I see belly dance as an enactment of an ancient language, a language which Marija Gimbutas called the Language of the Goddess. Belly dance may predate the writing of these shapes on pottery or clay tablets as a form of language. There may be some similarities in the meaning that Marija Gimbutas deciphered and the meaning of similar African shapes, yet I will not assume this in my research. I will approach each culture individually in their interpretation of these sacred shapes. Sacred Shapes of Belly Dance In belly dance the sharp or fire-like movements are the straight lines. These movements are hip twists, hip drops, hip lifts and hip V's, torso slides and head slides. All of these shapes can be made with a dancer's floor pattern as well; for instance one may dance in a straight line, a V shape up and back, in a circle, or a spiral, or in a figure eight shape. Undulations are the soft or fluid movements of the dance. These movements are called figure eights and circles in the belly dance community. The figure eights are actually mimicking the snake and when used as a floor pattern may outline a double spiral. Shimmies or vibrations are the third category of movements and vary in direction by the country of origin. Layering one move on top of another, such as a hip shimmy or vibration and simultaneously moving the hips in a circle create the most complex form of belly dance. All of these movements may be viewed as movements that an actual snake would make. A snake is fluid when it slithers and sharp when it strikes. This movement is intimately connected with child birth. The soft undulating movements of the “camel” and then the pelvic drop or sharp pulling in of the abdomen were utilized in the birthing dance we will experience, witnessed through the renowned bell dancer and teacher Morocco. The sleuthing off of the snake skin has been a symbol of the release of the menstrual lining of women as well. Birds are also symbolized in belly dance. The most obvious example is the use of Isis Wings in modern Egyptian dance. Amel Tafsout also uses a more subtle hand flutter in her Algerian tribal dances. The moon is symbolized repeatedly in belly dance through the numerous circular and crescent shaped moves. There are circles and crescent shapes drawn with the hips, the torso, the head, the hair, the arms and the floor pattern of a dancer. In the menarche and birthing rituals women dance in a full moon shaped circle around the celebrant.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Update on my daughter Angelica

My sweet daughter Angelica passed away on Oct 25, 2014. She was given a medicine to put her in a coma to stop her from seizing. When the medicine was taken away she never fully woke up. She was in a partial coma for almost a year. Then finally she just stopped breathing. We found out later that she had a genetic disorder where children have more and more seizures in their teens and then pass away. We are sad for her loss, but it was the best thing for her to pass on. She could not go on living the way she was.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

My daughter Angelica

Hello. This has been a rough year for my family, as my daughter was in and out of the hospital for 6 months of last year and all of this year. Angelica is my beautiful, almost fifteen year old, and she has epilepsy. She recently transferred form Mass General Hospital to Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center in NH. She is doing much better, but she has a long way to go. She has to learn how to eat and walk again. I spend every Friday afternoon through Sunday after noon at the hospital with Angelica, so I'm usually not on-line during that time. By Sunday night I'm ready to teach. I'm looking forward to starting a spring belly dance session.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Making Veils

Lately I have been exploring new ways of making silk belly dance veils. I buy the veils already made, and then I spray paint them in my bath tub. I also dip dye them on my stove. I created a pair of half circluar veils recently buy using a fork to make a spiral and securing the bundle witha rubber band. I then dipped the whole bundle into the dye bath for 15 minutes. This created a beautiful tie dye effect. I may add wooden dowls to these veils to make wings. I have used squirt bottles in the past also and I would like to explore this method more, especially so I can make a rainbow veil. I find my self daydreaming about colors I want to dye or paint all the time. For years I have sold veils to my students. I could definitely see myself making enough veils to sell on the web; I just don't know how profitable it would be.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

My 1st belly dance teacher

My first Belly dance teacher was Nasrine, or Nancy Barber, now Nancy Tomanski. I studied with Nancy every week for 5 years straight. I had an unusal devotion for my teacher, in comparison to the many students who jump from one teacher to the next. Nancy taught Turkish cabaret, veil, zills and Arabic cane. Her teacher was Judy Said in LA, a descendent of Jamilla Salimpour, the mother of the renowned Suhaila Salimpour. Suhaila's style has turned very Arabic, but is still wonderful. I have an affinity for the Turkish style because of it's freedom to use space and whirl. Nancy's style was very bouncy, she adds a bounce to most of her isolations, giving her style of cabaret a bit more folk styling. Nancy said that Judy was also good at Isreali dance; this maybe where the bounce comes in.

I performed as part of Nancy's Boston Oriental Dancers in Boston but before my time with the troupe, I used to watch them perform at the Averof Restaurant. When the owner asked Nancy to fire one of her plus size dancers, she said no and quit performing with the troupe at the Averof. I love Nancy's conviction for this! My favorite part of watching Nancy dance was how she entered the stage. She would make a loud trill with her tongue, a zagareet and run on the stage zilling. Then she would come into the audience and dance on the tables. I sometimes call my style "dancing on the tables Turkish."

Friday, January 22, 2010

Dark Poetry, Painting and Dance

I'm reading a great book called Poetic Medicine by John Fox. I began writing a dark poem about some past trauma and much to my surprise it was very powerful. I discovered that my current nervousness when driving home from work at night is connected with the fact that my subconscious mind still thinks my step father is at home; and he was a scary person. This was a profound connection to me. I decided to paint the Dark Mother Kali in connection with the poem. Kali is a Hindu Goddess who kills demons, the ones in our minds of course. I painted Kali stepping on Shiva as she does to connect us with God, except I imaged her stepping on my dead stepfather rather than Shiva. I also make a stepping gesture with my foot to remind my subconscious that my stepfather is really dead. This is a simplified version of a profound experience, but I was thrilled at how powerful it was to combine poetry, art and dance and all in the "dark." If you'd liket to write a dark poem about a heavy subject from you past or present, write me about your experience.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Welcome to Dance of the Dark Mother

Welcome to Dance of the Dark Mother. This was the name of the paper I wrote for the California Institute of Integral Studies, CIIS. They must of liked the paper because I was accepted to their PhD program in Women's Spirituality. I will begin this August taking classes online and occassioanly in person. Since I live in NH, it will be great to get back to San Francicso where the spirit is literally out in the steets. I thought that's where most of the Women's Spirituality was happening in this country, but I have discovered that New England has a lot of spiritual women and some of them are priestesses of the Dark Mother! Please join me in introducing the cyles of birth, life, sexuality, death and rebirth to women who honor the Goddess, the mother and the crone. It is through darkness that we emerge into the light and with each cycle that we return closer to the sacred earth and the divinity within ourselves.
Dancing in the dark,