Sunday, January 27, 2008

Show at DROM

Just got back from the DROM show -- which went really really well. In addition to being a fabulous dancer, choreographer and teacher, Oreet is some kind of promotional genius. She packed the place. And it was a truly lovely crowd.

And the talent was stand-out, drop-dead amazing.

One of the things I love the most about emceeing is that it gives me the opportunity to say nice things about the people who have inspired me.

I got a lot of compliments on the emceeing, but the truth is that when I did stand-up oh-so-many years ago, I don't think I was especially good.... perhaps because at the time it was mostly about me -- my ego, my image of myself, and how well I was doing, and yada yada yada.

And there is something perverse in my nature that makes me want to serve something larger than myself. And I think that serving these wonderful dancers -- and through them that divine energy of dance, performance, comedy, whatever. And somehow that makes me better, funnier, more enjoyable. And I enjoy it all so much more, myself.

Yesterday I caught Charlie Rose's interview of Jerry Seinfeld, and Rose asked him why Larry David hadn't had Seinfeld on Curb Your Enthusiasm more often.

And Seinfeld replied that neither he nor David was interested in "serving" anyone's ego or agenda or anything other than "the comedy gods... And if you respect [them]," he added, "they will keep you in their graces."

And those graces are lush and bountiful indeed!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Quote of the Day

"Everyone must, from time to time, make a sacrifice on the altar of stupidity to please the deity and mankind. " - Albert Einstein

Friday, January 18, 2008

Yay! I'm Raquy's Messenger of the Month for February 2008!

So, here is the bio I submitted to Raquy today (which I then revised like four times, probably driving her batty with emails saying, "Oops...I forgot to add such-and-such...!").

I figure it will be posted on her site at the end of January. I'll include a link when it's up.

Raquy Raqs!!!
Four years ago, Tandava (Carol Henning) would have considered the possibility of becoming a professional bellydancer and avid dumbek student about as likely as becoming a trapeze artist.

Although she had performed for many years as an actor and stand-up comic, she found the stage unfulfilling and all but abandoned it to the workaday joys of computer programming.

In mid-2004, however, her struggles to recover from a severe back injury led her to bellydance -- first with Oreet, then with Kaeshi and Ranya, and onward to many, many student showcases, where she began to feel at home and alive on stage again. But still something was missing…

In late 2005, she first experienced Raquy's dazzling prestidigitation at Oreet's annual showcase, immediately bought all her CDs, Dumbek Fever, a dumbek, and signed up for Raquy's Catskills Retreat, where she continues to return whenever possible.

Now she performs frequently in New York as a dancer and, returning to her stand-up roots, as an emcee at many bellydance shows. She's honored to perform with Raquy's Messengers and promises to get her double-decker snap in shape by the next Retreat.

And she is signing up for the next class at the Trapeze School of New York.

For schedule, contact and commentary, please go to

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Gauging the Greenshift

A friend recently sent me a NY Times article, Can Burts' Bees Turn Clorox Green, about this true, honest-to-God, home-grown, mom'n'pop enterprise.... that developed into a company worth $913 million -- at least to Clorox, which purchased it last November.

Like Ben & Jerrys, Tom's of Maine and other eponymous leafy green companies (also bought out by larger corporations Unilever and Colgate, respectively), they have a "Greater Good" policy that values environmental responsibility, natural ingredients, animal rights, responsible trade and, yes ladies and gentlemen, employee benefits.

"The premise is that if companies are socially responsible, profit will follow," the article states of Clorox's motive, "[Their] research recently found that 53 percent of consumers planned to buy more eco-friendly products this year and that 47 percent were willing to pay 20 percent to 25 percent premiums for them."

In short, and to my cynical mind: for all their greenspeak, profit is still king. They, like so many companies, are going green not because it's good, or responsible, or will help us and our planet in the long run, but because it's fashionable. And, with current energy prices, it's less costly.

Burt's Bees, Tom's and Ben & Jerry's became the companies they were as a reflection of the values of the people who created them.

But corporate America is created and run by people whose value system revolves around profit. This is not necessarily bad, but it can't go unchecked.

And one way that it can become good is if we, the purchasing public, remember the power of our dollars -- because their professed "values" will always follow and attempt to reflect ours, enabling us to influence these companies in a less profit-centred, more socially responsible direction.

And maybe this influence will last long enough to be entrenched enough in their business method too make it costly to reverse when fashion switches back again...

Monday, January 14, 2008

Dark Knight of the ROTFLMAO

OK... I can't resist.

A friend send me this link and now I'm obsessed -- at least until I've posted it and then can get on with my life.

Behold -- The Dark Knight: 1966 Style:

I have high hopes for the incomparably delicious Heath Ledger, and I loved Nicholson, but Casear Romero will always be THE Joker to me. As one commenter to the above video noted, he refused to shave his mustache for the role, so they had to cover it up with clown face.

Here is the source material -- the latest retooling of Batman, with Christian Bale reprising the role this summer.

And here's one done with the Keaton/Nicholson Batman/Joker. It's cute too, though the guy who did it apparently had some trouble synching up the lips:


Anyway -- back to work!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Back from Dumbekistan

Five days gone and I'm finally recovered from Raquy's Fabulous Winter Retreat.

I mean, she doesn't beat us or anything (at least not in any way that we don't want), but wow what a workout!

We had a very small group this time... maybe about fifteen people. But all of us were intermediate to advanced, so she gave us Jehan to learn -- one of the finger-bending solos on her recent CD, Naked.

The other students didn't seem to have a hard time with it, but I struggled... and struggled. It didn't help that the very first day I came down with The Worst Cold Ever and spent most of the weekend honking my schnoz (much to the amusement of fellow retreater Amanda, who was recording everything. "Yeah," she said on Sunday afternoon, "it's like every five minutes --- hoooonk!!" )

I had initially tried to do the piece using turkish doubles, but I finally gave up on that and considered myself lucky if I could beat out the rapid teka-TEKs in an even rhythm by pounding my hands really, really fast.

My cold finally broke on Sunday afternoon, when Raquy asked me to teach the bellydance class -- something I'd never done at a retreat before.

I was barely coherent enough to think of a lesson plan, but the non-dancers beat out a sweet groove that put us in a happy, hip-swaying mood, so everyone enjoyed the class. AND my nose calmed down for the whole hour.

The final performance on Sunday night went pretty well... I danced to Leylet Hob, which, like the class, went better than I'd expected. And we got through Jehan without embarrassing ourselves too much. But notice how focused we all are...

.... probably because we didn't know it well enough to kick back and enjoy it. (That's me in the blue costume, by the way... my spankin' new Eman Zaki.)

But Raquy tells me that the reprise this past Wednesday night at Galapagos was stellar since everyone had had the chance to really practice it. Unfortunately, I had a prior commitment at Je'Bon, but there's a chance we'll get to do the piece again.

Until then I must practice, practice, practice!