Tuesday, October 28, 2008

"39 Steps" 39th Halloween Birthday Celebration!!

This is a reprint of the mailing sent out a few days before.


In honor of my 39th birthday, and my current favorite Broadway play "Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps", I will be celebrating in a STATE OF CONSTANT MOTION (and wearing bits of actual costuming from THE 39 STEPS!)!

Please come join me for any or every part of the evening!

We will begin at the very front of the Halloween Parade, as I join Queen Mama Donna's Blessing Band.

We'll start at Spring Street & Sixth Avenue, moving north one to two blocks every five minutes. Please look for us!

We'll be dressed in white with sparkles and jingles, blessing the route, the crowd and the city in honor of Halloween and the coming year!

Meet around 21st Street between Sixth & Seventh Avenue (the Band will head West on 21st), and take the subway down to Soho. (Please call my cell 917-400-5244 if you would like to meet there, otherwise we'll see you later at The Cupping Room or Spiegelworld.)

THE CUPPING ROOM CAFE (W. Broadway & Broome) No Cover

We'll sit for dinner and drinks in this lovely Mediterranean Restaurant, enjoying live music and dancing. NYC bellydance legend RAYHANA will premiere a special tribute to the Great Serena Wilson, who left us too early last year.

We'll head down to the spectacular Spiegelworld, Pier 17 @ South Street Seaport, Fulton & South St, for a "night of witchy devilry for globetrotting vagabonds."

Lots of dancing, food, drink, facepainting, and performances by Alchemy Dance Theater, Sub Swara, Samba Nation and many others.

Cover is $20, but if you RSVP and mention that the DANCE PARADE sent you, or buy a ticket online, it is only $15.

$20 penalty if you don't wear a costume!!!

Happy Halloweeeeeeen!! And hope to see you!!


Friday, October 24, 2008

Obama Raqs Fundraiser!

This evening's Obama fundraiser was a huge success, with a full house and over $800 raised for the campaign.

Check out some of the evening's highlights:


Saturday, October 18, 2008

New York Cares Day 2008!

In spite of today's sudden cold snap (and the nasty cold I've been fighting), I and a bunch of my co-workers enjoyed some major warm fuzzies volunteering for New York Cares Day.

Today's Mission: Paint giant, trippy technicolor murals in an elementary school.

The Victim: PS 84 in Williamsburg.

The Method: Grab a brush and get on a ladder!!

Basically, it was like paint-by-numbers -- only without the numbers, and with pretty cheesy paint (the art director remarked that next time we should get Benjamin Moore to sponsor us into some better materials!).

Using a colored sketch created by the art director, and a chalked outline, we mixed and matched colors as best we could, bringing foods, flowers, blocks and butterflies to life on the school's walls.

I focused on an anthropomorphic raincloud having what looks kind of like a happy accident on flowers and outstretched palms and cups, encouraging all to "Drink It" (trippy, right?).

Cafeteria Mural 2- Me with My Happy Raincloud

On the cafeteria's adjacent wall, fruits and veggies offered themselves to toothy, grinning kids.

Cafeteria Mural 1- Good Food

Outside, a bulbous caterpillar hugged the Pre-K wall.

Pre-K Wall 2- Caterpillar!

And blocks & butterflies graced Kindergartenland.

Pre-K Wall 1- Butterflies & Blocks

I can't help wondering whether the kids will be delighted or baffled on Monday morning......

Or maybe a combination of both. Heck, that worked for me when I was a kid!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Bellyqueen's 10th Anniversary Gala

After months of planning, preparing, promoting and perspiring, the Bellyqueen 10th Anniversary tour was a phenomenal success!

The astonishing troupe completed their six-city tour in the span of a week -- yes, that's right, they drove to five cities in five days, finishing up in Chicago. And then they drove all the way back on October 9th.

And somehow they managed to be in top form by noon on Friday when we all met for tech.

Brad and I held the fort in NYC, promoting the show like crazy -- which really paid off, as we sold over 400 tickets in under a week!

Thank you to everyone who came out!!

Here's a nice pic of me introducing the show. (Many thanks to Sal Romano for his excellent photos!)

Tandava 2

I segued into a Twilight-Zoney spiel as the stage darkened and curtain creaked open... revealing....



This is one of my favorite BQ numbers, having seen it in various stages of development over the past few years. It is a delicious showcase of world dance styles alla bellydance where the dancers start as mannequins, then come to life amid fans, ribbons and cowboy boots, only to be pulled back into mannequin form at the end (hence my TZ connection).

Carousel was an especially appropriate opener, as world dance through the b-dance lens was a frequent theme in the BQ show, and in their work in general.

Another lovely example was the quartet "Move" where tribal and cabaret bellydance are joined by flamenco and bollywood to stunning effect.

Move 1

In keeping with the international theme, Australian beatboxer, hip-hop dancer and rapper Morganics joined NY's Hebraic didgeridoo-sporting rapper Baba Israel....

Baba Israel & Morganics

.... who immediately preceded Bellyqueen's hip-hop bellyesque "gang fight" finale, the Drum Battle!

Drum Battle

On a personal note, this was an extraordinary event for me.

As many of you know, I started my performing career back in the 90s as a stand-up comic. Disheartened by the "scene" I joined a theater company for another bunch of years, until illness kept me off the stage.

I took up bellydance to recover from the illness (which included abdominal surgery and 3 herniated discs), only to be led straight back into comedy!

Because of my stand-up experience, I've been asked to emcee bellydance shows for about two years. Now, this is mainly extemporaneous patter ... I hadn't written any actual jokes or routines in over a decade.

Then, a few days before the show, Kaeshi told me she needed me to "fill" about 15 minutes while the band struck their setup.

Uh... huminahuminahumina....

Of course I said yes. And promptly broke into a sweat.

I'd had some ideas kicking around for a while, but never solidified anything -- until the night before the show.

It's always kind of amazing the way these things come together.

If you'd told me last year I'd be joining the prestigious Bellyqueen, doing a full stand-up set before an audience of over 600 ... AND that the performance would be filmed for an upcoming DVD release.... well, I don't know what I'd have said....

But I certainly would have wanted whatever drugs you were taking.

This has been an extraordinary year for me in so many ways. And I can't thank all of you enough -- teachers, fellow students, friends, family and (though I hate to use this word) "fans"! Your support, appreciation (yeah, and tolerance, sometimes :-> ) is so appreciated.

So, SO appreciated.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Bellydance Night at The Grisly Pear - 10/5/08

First -- a huge, hearty thank-you to everyone who came out on Sunday! You were an awesome crowd!

And to those of you who couldn't make it -- we had a full house, so there was no room for you anyway. :-P

Seriously, though, it was a wonderful show, hosted by the ever-gracious Leni and Scott Wilson. And two of my very favorite musicians joined Scott's band, Efendi: maestros Rami ElAasser on dumbek and David Kuchermann on riqq.

In the hustle and bustle of scrambling into my new costume, I forgot to give my camera to the friend who'd agreed to video me ... So there is no video I'm aware of.

But there were TONS of photos -- many excellent ones by Sal Romano, whose lovely work is posted below and on my flickr page.

Here is my entrance to Beyolunda ...

Entrance - Beyolunda 1

... next was the veil dance to Bir Dimet, where I revealed my gorgeous new costume.

Veil Dance - Bir Dimet

Threads look familar? Could be because this stunner is a hand-me-down from the transcendently stunning Darshan.

Next came the candle dance, which inspired several generous patrons to start throwing money around...

Candle Dance - Chiftetelli 1

Sticky, sticky money... :->

Candle Dance - Chiftetelli 2

And please -- no jokes about rolling in dough...

Although it was fun. :-D

Now, onward to the Bellyqueen 10th Anniversary Gala.

Hope to see you there!!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Shimmying with the Fishes!

So I just got my SCUBA certification!!

Getting Fitted at the Dive Shop

It was a long, tricky road (or river, as the case may be), but the good people at Kings County Divers stuck with me.

I'd started waaaay back in the fall of '06, hoping to go diving during the TASCA sailing trip to the Virgin Islands. A good friend was interested in joining me, and he was already a certified diver, so I figured I'd join him.

But then he couldn't make it, and I couldn't afford the ever-increasing airfare. And that was that.

Plus it started getting mighty chilly.

With everything-in-the-world getting in the way, as usual, I didn't pick up lessons again until early fall of 07.

I took two pool lessons, but then was hit on the head by the little punks in my neighborhood. With stitches in my scalp, I was forbidden to submerge.

That brings me to spring 2008.

FINALLY I finished the pool work -- mostly. I had a lot of trouble with the "mask clearing" exercise.

Basically, you have to flood your mask (or, preferably, remove it altogether) underwater. You put it back on, and breathe out through your nose until the air pushes all the water from the mask.

Easy? Maybe for some people. But the water rushing in against my over-sensitive sinuses gave me a full-blown panic attack.

I took a few more weeks off, and then was caught up in the summer's heavy performance schedule.

But Mia at KCD kept in contact with me and scheduled me for my first Open Water session in mid-September. But, before I could do that, I had to prove I could clear the mask (that was the late-evening conflict on 9-11).

So I went to the pool at 9pm and somehow, magically, my phobia had vanished. I was able to pull off the mask and put it back on.

Next we were off to Dutch Springs for Open Water 1.

Various Diving Classes Make Their Way to the Water

I did four dives in two days and was half-way to my certification.

Two weekends later, we went out to the bleak Oak Beach in Captree State Park (near Jones Beach) for Open Water 2, plus a night/limited visibility dive.

People Fishing Near the Dive Site

We were supposed to go to Montauk, but the day's nor'easter forced us west.

The current was ferocious, and I got pulled nearly 300 yards in under a minute. The water was so turbid, I couldn't see my outstretched hand. But this gave us very good compass practice and I safely navigated my way to shore (which feels really weird in a strong current when you can't see anything... it's like you constantly are swimming in circles to keep the compass needle straight).

Two of my fellow students swam with a flag:

... and Setting Up the Dive Flag

Unfortunately, the damp weather brought out every bloodsucker imaginable (except, maybe, for lawyers), and they did THIS to my back!!

Mosquito Attack!!!

I counted over 100 bites!!

Happily, I'm all better now and just returned my gear to the dive shop earlier tonight. And Mia gave me my Diver's Certification Card.


You can find more photos of my fishy adventures, here on my flickr page where, mysteriously, this video of me struggling into my dive suit has gotten some attention.

In only a few days, it's gotten nearly 400 hits and been favorited! Weird!