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
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.