Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sunday, October 4th: Medieval Festival

The 2009 Schedule for the Medieval Festival at Fort Tryon has been announced! The Royal Procession begins at the Front Gate of the Gardens at 11:30 am. After that, I'll dance with Scott Wilson at the Triangle Pub at 12:30 p.m. Then we'll roam to the Riverside Market Theatre to perform with my fabulous group the Sisters of Bast at 1:30 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. This year's Sisters include: Carrie, Carolina, Hana, Lateefah, Alexandra, and Mariana. At 5 p.m., I'll dance with the cast of dancers and musicians at 5 p.m. on the Pageant Wagon Stage.

Purists ask: How does belly dance fit in with Medieval Europe? It doesn't. But nevertheless, I'll be wearing a chain mail costume for the occasion.

The Festival is free and maps are available when you arrive at Fort Tryon. Please note that while there is subway service to 190th street on the A train, there is no shuttle bus running to the Cloisters. Expect a good 1/2 mile walk to the museum and to make your way through the festival. In addition to belly dance performances by Manhattan Tribal and Aleeyzah, make time for jousting, mead, Medieval and Celtic Music, dance lessons from the SCA, and purchasing homemade goods from the many local craft vendors. And oh yes, Medieval fried dough. Though last year's rainy weather made for gorgeous pictures, I hope this year's Festival will bring sun.

For Festival transportation information:
For a detailed program:

Current Class Music: NYU

For current classes running at NYU and beyond, we are using a song from the album Ah W Noss by Nancy Ajram. We're using the second track on that album, Baddala3 alek. I couldn't find the song on Itunes, but you might be able to find the track or the full album on other sites. Nancy Ajram's website is For those working on the routine at the Medieval Festival, we are using Hossam Ramzy's Baladi Plus album for rehearsal. For new students, please see previous posts for music recommendations:

I couldn't resist this perfect "orientalish" picture from Wikipedia.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sisters of Bast 09

This year, a set of new Sisters will perform at the Cloisters! This picture is from 2007; see more pictures at the link below. Curent class music:
Hossam Ramzy's appropriately titled:
Arabian Knights on his album Baladi Plus, available at the ITunes link below.

See you at the Festival!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Medieval Festival at Fort Tryon Park on Oct. 4

The Medieval Festival takes place Sunday, Oct. at Fort Tryon Park surrounding the Cloisters Museum. I'll be dancing with students this year. Festivities last from noon-6 pm ish. There are dancers, musicians, josting swordsmen, kings,, queens, etc. Dress up for occassion or just gawk! For more information:

Fall Dance Classes Begin at NYU

Fall dance classes begin this week at NYU! You must be a member of Coles Gym and/or a student to take the following courses:

On Tuesdays and Thursdays: Beginning level from 3:30 to 4:25 p.m. and Intermediate level from 4:30 -5:25 p.m.

On Fridays: Intermediate Level from 1:30-3:25 p.m. and Beginning Level from 3:30-4:25 p.m.

Register September 15-17 at Coles Gym, noon-8 p.m.

Questions? Call me: 347-782-1357.

(Photo: PunkDolphin)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Orientalists' Desire: Define and Explain

In a review of Judith Thurman's new biography of Isak Dineson, aka Karen Blixen, in the Nation, Joanna Scott dissects Dineson's stories ("Seven Gothic Tales) and her famous memoir Out of Africa. The memoir troubles Scott more than the stories. In the stories, Dineson allows the characters representing the native people of colonized Africa to speak for themselves. Scott writes of the memoir:
The memoir is about Dinesen's love of East Africa--the cultures, the landscapes, the animals. The feeling that saturates the book is reverence. Dinesen doesn't pretend to be an expert on the country; much of what she encounters puzzles her. But she is respectful of indigenous traditions and protective of the people. ... Dinesen's typical strategy in the book is to name something, define the name by a set of associations and then unravel her own definition.

Scott continues, considering her stereotypes at times blatant an other times insidiously naive. She doesn't call Dineson by the label Orientalist, but the implication pervades this consideration of a writer I certainly admire. Dineson's detailed descriptions mixed with invention, give a dangerous implication of authority, Scott claims just before quoting well known Kenyan author Ngugi wa Thiong'o who called Out of Africa : "one of the most dangerous books ever written about Africa."
Though inspired by love and a desire to understand the culture she'd immersed herself in, Dineson's attempt to "define" the people and customs and even the natural world reveal her lack of knowing.

I was recently taken to account by a musician for considering a certain style of belly dance "more Lebanese" and another "Egyptian." There is good dancing and bad dancing, he said. By creating labels, and then creating definitions to back up these labels (even "traditional" or "authentic"), it seems we distance ourselves even farther from what we're trying to understand. Like this blog, for instance. Am I trying to justify by explanation?