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Posts tagged ‘Spiritual Bellydance’

Under Shiva’s Gaze

At the recent Kripalu Intensive, on the last day, Loretta read this stunningly beautiful poem to all of us. It captured our state but took us beyond as well. She has kindly let me share it here.

Under Shiva’s Gaze

Shiva graces our Dancing
As we enter the Great Temple of the Body.

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My Life as a Mad Bellydancer

Pissed. I was pissed before I put on the beads. And though beads were pretty and glittery, they didn’t stop me from being pissed.

I swung my head and I wasn’t lost in a trance, I was screaming a big body scream against having to be pretty, stupid, servant-like. You name it. All the things feminism was releasing me into. When I shimmied, I worked up to being a motor that was past alluring. It was a hard driver. It was earthquake. I might plow around the stage or restaurant aisles, smiling, but I was a snake. I had poison fangs. If you handle me wrong, I’ll kill you.

I found belly dance vocabulary perfect for rage. Before, as a modern dancer, the movement choices were too abstract, too huge or spatial. I could storm around, slicing the air. I could stand rigid. I couldn’t reve up. I really wanted a catharsis and there it was in belly dance, built right in.  Belly dance allowed me to get underneath my rage into my power. All women need this, but particularly my generation who lived on the cusp. Those of us birthed and raised in the conservative 50’s had to fight the repression inculcated in us in early childhood. Militant feminism of the 60’s and 70’s was in full swing. We really couldn’t become housewives. Like it or not, women’s roles were changing and we had to go forward. In my head I wanted this, but inside, I’d been raised to be ‘less than’ a man, to obey. Modern dance was all political posturing, very intellectual, and still very proper. It didn’t allow catharsis and it didn’t get right into the sexual crux of gender inequality. Belly dance let rage and frustration out of my system. Beautifully. Dangerously.

I loved that the costume was heavy. The beads weighed a lot and this seemed to hold me down, to keep me from spinning off and splatting into the walls or all over the patrons. I also loved that the costume, with its revealing-ness and sensuality, gave an initial illusion of female availability. I could be a big, horrible trick. A set up. Or I could back off and smile, waiting behind the costume’s typical assumptions for a good moment to strike.

Book Party #1

Friend, playwrite, director, and Dancemeditator, Kate Temple-West, wrote this about the Skin of Glass premier on Sunday the 6th in NYC:

“Today was Dunya’s book launch for Skin of Glass!

It took place at the beautiful Metropolitan Building in Queens, owned and designed by Eleanor Ambos, who also owns the Harder Mansion/Mill upstate where we will be having our Summer Movement Monestary. All of Eleanor’s sites have a romantic, out-of-time atmosphere, as well as a strong sense of protected space, as this is clearly important to her. The Metropolitan Building is a beautiful red brick warehouse with many magical floors. The second floor where the event took place has an antique library feel, with soaring ceilings, thin Doric columns, beautiful distressed painted wooden floors, and antique furniture. It manages to feel spacious and intimate at the same time.

A screening of Dunya’s Dancemeditation films played as people entered, accompanied by very talented live musicians, Premik Russel Tubbs, Narin (tabla), and Annemarie Wiesner (violin) with live dancers around the perimeter of the theater space who eventually made their way to the stage area in front of the film screen. The Dunyati Alembic dancers, including Nisaa Christie, Anita Teresa, Kate Russel, and Carleen Bevans, interacted beautifully in their meditative state with the film. They were dressed in long flowing silks in light colors of peach, lavenders, and pink, overlaid with cream. They danced with veils of varying shades, mostly doing slow movement, in contrast with the faster movement in the films. It was an excellent intermedia improv. My favorite part was the film close up of Krys Statho chanting Ya Shafi (it means, ‘to heal’), as live musicians played, so that there were no words, only Krys’ lips mouthing. I wish I could think of a more descriptive way to say “it was beautiful”. The chanting and music along with the dancers’ slow meditative veil work felt very healing and profound to me, and I’m always interested when that can happen in a performance context. It is a rare experience.

Then Dunya read, interspersed with some more choreographed pieces with Anita, Nisaa, and Kate on a tiny raised stage behind her, reminiscent of a slice of Dunya’s apartment, on oriental rugs, with colored scarves behind them, and an ornate mirror. — o.k., much more ornate than Dunya’s, but with a similar feel. Their first piece featured the dancers’ undulating spines, and later they did some hand work that made them look like a multi-armed goddess. They were accompanied by dancemeditation practitioner Annemarie’s soulful violin.

Dunya read from the section “Blue Eyes”, and about her experience seeing Butoh master Kazuo Ohno at La MaMa. When she read from the final chapter, “Blood”, about what it means to be a Sufi teacher, it brought tears to many of our eyes.

Afterwards Dunya answered questions from the audience, and then signed books as everyone mingled, chatted, sipped good tea and munched on cakes and tea sandwiches.

We were thrilled that Liz came all the way from Minneapolis to be there! Carlene came from Maine to grace us with her dancing, and Gayla also came a long way, helping out by being the financial end of the book signing. I was the “stage manager”.

It was a very memorable event. I was really happy to be a little part of it, and I’m excited that her book is now available! Hurray! It was also wonderful to reconnect with some beloved Dancemeditation folk.

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