Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Stars of the 1970s (image and text-heavy edition): Juliana

On Google Archives, I found a scan of an old newspaper article about Juliana. Well, not that old: it's only 33.  And because I love you and want you to be happy, I have typed it up for you with my own hands. Also, I am dense and do not know how to convert image-to-text with ease.

Juliana will be familiar to those of you with vintage George Abdo albums in your record collections: she's the bodacious babe whose image on the covers still inspires rabid fandom. (All images are taken from Radio Bastet's LP Cover Gallery, except where indicated.) Juliana and her husband still perform together, though her photo gallery looks a bit...frozen in time. This is good, not only because it records for all time her wide-leg, black-on-white enormous polka dot pants, but also because it serves as the only online record I could find of what she must have looked like when she danced. Astonishingly, there is no video footage on the internet.

There is a depressing sense of plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose about parts of this article - but at least the move to change the image of the dance isn't entirely recent. May I also say ... shows that run for a week, twice nightly at $4/$5 a pop? Man.

Click here for a review of this album
The Milwaukee Journal 

20 October 1978

Belly dancing – the art gets new interpretation

By Bill Milkowski special to the Journal

Belly dancing, the art of undulation. It’s come a long way from the days when a curvaceous lady called Little Egypt introduced it to America at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893.

Until recently it suggested carnival hootchie-cootchie, but now more and more women recognize belly dancing as good, sound exercise.

One exponent of this Middle Eastern dance is Juliana Khouri, who will bring her belly dancing revue to the Pfister Crown Room Monday night for a two week engagement. She will be accompanied by her dancing partner, Rafael Khouri, and five apprentice belly dancers collectively known as Les Femmes Orientales – plus an Armenian clarinettist named Set Proodian.

The whole revue, called Shiraz, combines the spirit of authentic Middle Eastern dance with the necessary theatrics to entertain American audiences. According to Juliana, her sole stage name, an authentic or purist form of belly dancing simply would not go over well in a night-club atmosphere.

“The act has to be theatrical because in its pure form belly dancing can get very monotonous,” Juliana said in a telephone interview from her home in Coral Gables, Florida. “Our show is meant to be seen and capture people’s attention. So it’s very colourful and elegant, yet it has to be commercial.”

Angelina who?
Juliana admits that her theatrical sense comes from being a performer most of her life. The native New Yorker began her dancing career 10 years ago as a Rockette at Radio City Music Hall and after a year moved on to Spanish dance, performing with many of the top touring companies based in New York City. Within the last six years she has been intrigued with belly dancing.

“I was initially drawn to Middle Eastern dance from the music,” she said, “and I found a close relationship between the Spanish and Arabic styles of dance.”

She characterized belly dancing by the arching torso and undulating movements = patterns with hips, rib cage, arms making circles, arms moving with shoulders in figure-eights, hands curling and opening in snakelike ripples.

But Juliana prides herself in being interpretive and creative within that context. She is constantly adding her own touches, drawing from a background in classical ballet and modern dance. And she works from the improvisation of clarinettist Proodian, much in the same way that jazz musicians motivate and inspire each other to new peaks with the spontaneity.

While there has been a recent boom in belly dancing classes as a means of exercise, Juliana is promoting it as a legitimate art form.

www.raqsploitation.com
“We’re at the forefront of a whole movement,” she said. “Belly dancing magazines are sprouting up around the country and women are organizing to keep the movement growing. I’m hopeful hat people will accept belly dancing as a legitimate dance form instead of looking at it as something lewd.”

She added that there were still areas of the country in which the words belly dancing had negative connotations. She said some women had even had trouble with local authorities in getting licenses to set up studios and classes.

“The officials saw it as a ‘they’re-going-to-ruin-the-neighbourhood’ type of thing,” Juliana said. “But these women are not trying to be sex objects. They just love Middle Eastern dance, the femininity, the costumes. It’s a good outlet for them.”

Juliana and Shiraz will perform twice nightly at 9 and 11 p.m. through Saturday, Nov. 4. Cover charge will be $4 a person on Monday through Thursday and $5 on Friday and Saturday.
www.raqsploitation.com

Magic costume: stays in place with hope alone!


...because behind every great dancer, there's a great moustache

Monday, 27 February 2012

Harem dancers: Chelo Alonso

Welcome to Monday, everybody! After today, only four more days until the weekend. Hold on.

Thanks to those of you who have already voted in the poll. Of the few votes so far, it looks like we're all OK with a bit of fake belly dancing from the movies, so before I lose your mandate let's enjoy the stylings of Italian star Chelo Alonso. Unlike so many of the harem dancers featured thus far, Chelo really was a dancer (rather than a model/starlet).

I say 'Italian star' advisedly. Chelo was born in Cuba in 1933 as Isabella Garcia, which explains her rather evocative nickname - "The Cuban H-Bomb". She started her dance career at 17, but her wild, sensual style was at odds with the more restrained classicism of Cuba's National Theatre, and she wound up in Paris at the Folies Bergère. (Allegedly, she was the resident "belly dancer" but I can't find anything to suggest she ever studied Middle Eastern dance.) Her exotic looks and unrestrained sensuality made her something of a sensation and had her favourably compared to Josephine Baker.

In 1961 she married production manager Aldo Pomilia, whereupon she went into semi-retirement. Her last film appearance was in 1969. When Aldo died in 1986, Chelo moved to Tuscany where she bred cats(!) and ran a restaurant. Her disappearance from showbiz was so neatly done that even her IMDB entry seems unsure as to whether or not she's still alive.

This first clip is from 1959's Sign of the Gladiator, and is another gem unearthed over at Peplums, who said of it:
I got hold of a beautiful print of the film which is a vast improvement over the faded and subtitled copy everyone was stuck with for decades. This film was impossible to get a hold of in English and widescreen. Now that I have it my life is complete.

Her Cuban jiggling is anachronistic though.
Be cool, everybody. I already took to the comments on that blog to express my disagreement with that final statement. This is the scene that cemented Chelo as one of the great sex symbols of late 1950s/early 1960s B-grade Euro-cinema. No mean feat, considering that the 'real' female star of this film was Anita Ekberg!



Here she is again, dancing with a gauzy veil in Son of Samson (1960). The bit where she hurls away the apple is pretty funny, but after that she launches into a series of vigorous hip twists and circles that look more like raqs than anything I've seen in one of these films before. Those of you strangely immune to Chelo's charms may instead be diverted by the presence of champion body builder Mark Forest in this scene:



In Goliath and the Barbarians (1959), Miss Alonso got two dance scenes (this is both of them). In the first, she gets a hysterically badass faux sword to dance with. In the second, she gets to dress up like Xena, Warrior Princess, play with fire and spin around until she collapses:

Friday, 24 February 2012

Funky Friday: Zayne's 'Shake It'

Singer/dancer Zayne has a new video out ... starring Tara Lee Oakley and Giselle (i.e. 'real' belly dancers)! In my humble opinion, this is a great way to start your weekend.

Zayne claims that this is THE belly dance anthem of 2012. If you dig it, you can find more of his music via his Facebook page.



^Shimmies off humming to self^

Thanks to Maelle!

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Why so quiet, Jilly?

My darling calamari pieces,

I really am trying to get through all my mail, I promise. Your Aunty Jilly would never leave you in the lurch intentionally. But I am trying to avoid being tagged by Ron O'Dor: ever since news broke that I can fly, my life has just become one long chase scene!

Presumably you all think I mean 'tagged' as in 'tagged on Facebook'. Alas, for we non-humans, being tagged is a rather more literal and painful affair.

Squids can fly? If you are a member of the relatively small community of squid aficionados you've known this for a while.
But if you are a normal person with just a passing interest in cephalopods and all their many diverse abilities, the fact that these underwater creatures also occasionally get from point A to point B by flying above the water for distances of up to 164 feet at a time might just blow your mind.
Ron O'Dor, a marine biologist at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, and co-author of a poster called "Squid Rocket Science" presented at the American Geophysical Union’s Ocean Sciences Meeting in Salt Lake City, said squids have good reason to fly. It is not to avoid predators, as was previously thought, but rather to save the animal energy as it migrates across vast expanses of ocean, O'Dor said. ...
O'Dor, who hopes to publish a paper about squid flight soon, says there is still much more research to be done to understand the ins and outs of rocketing squids.
He is trying to get funding to tag species of squid that he suspects of flying, to see how much they fly and at what times.

By the 'nads of Neptune! Mr O'Dor sure does stink, and if he finds out that I can belly dance too I am utterly fried!

Obviously I can't tell you where I am now - but here's a wee clue: Uppham Beach in Tampa Bay, Florida. It's the most spectacular hafla location ever! I will be back to being your favourite aquatic agony aunt as soon as the heat dies down. Meantime, I have to fly (ha!)!

Bestests,

Jilly xo

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Let them bite you, because trolls are toothless!

This is for those of you who post videos of yourself on YouTube and are generous/brave enough to allow comments on them.

You've probably been told that you're too old, not old enough, too fat, too thin, too short and too tall to be a good dancer, and anyway, since you own a goldfish/aren't an Arab you've no business belly dancing anyway. You know, the really constructive, insightful and knowledge-based criticism, respectfully framed, that focuses on your technique and musicality thereby enabling and encouraging you to become a better dancer.

Naturally, you eagerly search these comments out, since they are a refreshing change from the requests for close-ups of your pierced navel and tempting offers to become some faceless droolsock's main squeeze.

It's worthwhile stripping the loincloth off the mouth-breathing trolls who dog your every online move, the better to laugh at their pathetic, flaccid, eeny-weeny opinions. It's also good to remind yourself that the bilious sludge spewed forth by the haters isn't personal: haters gonna hate, because that's what they do.

Here's a quote from a recent piece by Guardian columnist Charlie Brooker, which neatly encapsulates this idea:
I tend to ignore both criticism and praise, because I encounter so many dissenting assessments of my own value as a writer [dancer], or even simply as a collection of atoms, it all becomes meaningless noise. At any given moment, I've jumped the shark, returned to form, lost it, nailed it, provoked laughter or silence, impressed or bored the reader [viewer]. After years of carefully skim-reading the comments under my own articles [videos and photos], I can only conclude that none of you have the faintest bloody idea what you're on about.
With Charlie's words ringing in our ears (shaking before our eyes?) let's play a little game. Can you guess from the following YouTube comments who the dancers under discussion are? There are only two dancers here - one is very famous and the other is relatively obscure, though neither is Arab (hence the useful feedback along the "only Arabs can belly dance" lines). Needless to say, all comments are reproduced verbatim except where I could not help myself and user names are included to damn the guilty. Good luck!
  1. chetkh: Hahahahaah!! Yap a horse indeed.nice outfit though shame about the rest...maybe she should take up African dancing instead...she'd be good with the random jerky shakes.lol!
  2. shahzodaify: no one can compere to real Arabic women no matter how hard you try to dance belly.... MASHALLAH TO REAL ARABIC WOMEN ;)))))
  3. smashingpumpkin999: Haha! That was a mock of bellydance!
  4. Lousifer7: my eyes hurt me... i havent see worst video of belly dance even a 2 year old have more feeling in her movements than the lady of the video
  5. Mahidahoan: Arabic Women are the Best Belly Dancers--
  6. shahrzadbellydance: i hate her dance!
  7. liladanseuse28: Her costume is really vulgar :( @clipco1 Yes I agree. She sucks! Horrible! She tried to make some moves that doesn't fit at all in this Raqs Sharqi song. She killed this song! :(
  8. lidz77: meh, not my syle but she deff does have talent. its just to jerky for me, ruins it. wich is ashame thouhg couse the music is rockin
  9. bellysiren: she lets her stomach just sit there when shes doing isolations in her upper body....not very flattering and her style of dancing is odd
  10. sandyw329: the beginning is so weird, i wouldn't even choose the music to begin with. but personal difference. she seems really spaztic, like the sudden weird contraction. i dunno....definitely not my style
  11. raalaa: now that's what i call bad dancing...did she learned from a striper [sic - I'm sure the commenter meant 'stripper' - The Raqasa] how to dance!!!??( is kind o' bad for me to say that ...but...wtf!!!?)she has no talent...anyway
  12. amorsecreto3000: Thanks for the feedback. I am no expert, but it was immediately clear to my eyes that there is no artistry here. [Emphasis added.]
  13. loopopdedak: uhm this is't belly dance just cuz she usses belly dance music en shimmy's;) And arabic prof. dancers often don't have a busy choreographies cuz it isn't 'bout walkinG around 'nd shimmy at the same time. The reason of arabic prof. belly dancers that there choreographies aren't busy is cuz thay have 2 dance a lot 'nd lonG on a performens, NOT just one sonG;)
  14. lustrousorchid: I've been told that the difference between Arabic dancers and American dancers is that Arabic dancers aim for simplicity. This does not mean the MOVEMENTS are simple (they aren't by any means), but that their choreographies aren't as busy.
  15. tempusdance: @lustrousorchid: YES! She dances like [she's having an] epileptic attack!! he he
...and if you guessed that comments 1 to 5 were on an old clip of champion Ukrainian dancer Alla Kushnir, then well done! Comments 6 to 15 were trickier, because they were all left on the same video of a performance by ..., wait, I've got it written down somewhere ...  ^The Raqasa gropes for her notes and adjusts her reading glasses^ ... erm, "Suhaila Salimpour".

I'd never heard of her, but despite these very negative comments, she really isn't that bad. In fact, with a bit of work she may even be able to make a living as a belly dancer one day. Good luck, Suhaila!

You should read the story behind the creation of this image!

Monday, 20 February 2012

Egyptian Cabaret (12 February)

On Thursday I danced in public for the first time in about 18 months. (I know, I'm going to do it more often this year - promise!)

It was a shamozzle.                vvvvvvvbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbtyghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh                                              ggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg   LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO LLLLLL;

Ha! So sorry about that. My cat walked across the keyboard, and she so evocatively described how I danced that night (please note her final, hearty 'LOL') that I couldn't delete her contribution. Many thanks to Bernadette for her co-authorship of today's post.

Bernadette, mouser and dance critic par excellence
Where was I? Oh, yes. As I was saying ...

On Thursday I danced in public for the first time in about 18 months. (I know, I'm going to do it more often this year - promise!)

It was a shamozzle. I can't speak for anyone else in the group performance - although I couldn't really see what everyone was doing, they all seemed to be dancing beautifully - my gallumping presence down the back can surely be excused. Arabesques and heel taps became simple turns (there wasn't room for anything fancier - more of that below). In my defence:

  1. The choreography was finished (almost) on Tuesday. There was no rehearsal on Wednesday, so we had to try and finish learning it at the venue. We tried practising in the bar area that had been curtained off for us, but (a) Shariff needed the space to work with his saaidi stick, and (b) most of us were barefoot and I kept finding bits of broken glass on the floor. It was very dark, so we were all a bit paranoid about cutting our feet. Obviously, the dark, bitterly cold outdoor smoking area with its rough concrete and smouldering butts scattered around was a better option. With only a tinny iPod for a sound system, we shook our stuff while the smokers pretended not to watch, and I tried not to think about the rats the size of dachshunds that Shariff claimed to have seen in that very spot. Oh London, is there no end to your horrifying Dickensian glamour?
  2. Zara (of Zara's Zouk fame) collared Shafeek and asked what we should do to finish. The other seven of us in the group were also mildly curious about this. [Sidenote: Zara and I have only just met in person, and by chance, in Shafeek's class after emailing each other a few times. All hail the intertubes!] "Well," said Shafeek, the evening's organiser and our teacher/choreographer/tormentor, "I have this crazy idea. But I don't know. Maybe." And then he left, to go and rearrange the furniture around the performance space or figure out where all the other dancers were or something. It turned out that the crazy idea was to grab members of the audience and get them to dance. I picked on the one person who really, truly did not want to dance. Of course. She was nice about it, though.
  3. There had been half a chance that Shafeek would dance with us so we could follow him. But as soon as we saw the teeny, tiny space allocated to the eight of us, we knew there was no way that was going to happen. And that there was no way I'd be able to do a barrel turn without seriously injuring another dancer/a musician/a member of the audience. So I didn't barrel turn. I really hope I don't get told off in class on Tuesday for that!
But after about three minutes, it was all over. I didn't die, and I stayed alive with a smile on my face. And the rest of the night was splendid, because I got to sit and watch some awesome dancers and I also got to catch up with some friends I spotted in the audience. Perhaps I also really embarrassed Tara - and myself - by being a bit overly effusive about how great her performance was, but seriously. Geeze, Tara is really good:


Finally, I've never posted a picture of myself on this blog (I HATE having my picture taken). But this is funny because we got photobombed by Shafeek, resulting in me moving my arm to a position where it looks like it's been broken in about eight places, and we're all smiling because we haven't been out to dance yet:

I'm the one kneeling behind Shafeek. And Shafeek's the only dude in the pic, so, y'know. Work it out. 
Yeah, I'm not young, svelte and gorgeous. Get over your shock and suck it, world!

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

It's aaawwwwnnnn...

OK, so this thing tomorrow night is really happening. Holy shit. Time for the game face!

Of course, when you say you're performing to people who don't have any form of performance experience themselves, most of them probably imagine that the backstage environs are terribly glamorous. Y'know, something like this:


When in actual fact, 90% of the time, it's something like this:


*sigh*

Anyway, if you're around Shoreditch in London tomorrow, this is where I'll be at:

www.arabiandancetheatre.com/people/

Stalkers, now is the time to show yourselves!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Breaking it down

CLICK IMAGE TO EMBIGGEN

Many thanks to Artemisia of Belgium for posting this on Facebook!

On a separate note, I was wryly amused to see somone I follow on Twitter calling out her troupe for bad behaviour:
Sick of troupe members who come late to class and don't read their emails and then bother me by asking what is happening. ARG!
I feel you, girl. But at the moment I'm feeling the pain from the other side. On Thursday I'm supposed to be performing with my class. I think. At least, I put my name down to do it, but that's as far as it's gone because I've heard nothing since.

The costuming hasn't been confirmed, how many of us are going to be in the show hasn't been (publicly) settled, and nor has the running order. To top it off, tonight is our last chance to finish the choreography.

That's right. The choreography isn't finished. Obviously, therefore, none of us know it. Wish us luck!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Original moonwalkers: Bill Bailey, Jeffrey Daniel and ... Dick van Dyke?

I snapped this pic outside a dance class in west London
It's hard to innovate. Every time I think I've come up with a "new" step combination I'll realise much later that I've actually ripped it off someone I saw on YouTube/took a lesson from. Sigh. The trick, I've discovered, is to just do a move so well, and so publicly, that everyone assumes it's "yours". For example, if I say "moonwalk" you say Neil Armstrong Michael Jackson, right?

You're not wrong, but you're not quite right either.

From c.1955, Mr Bill Bailey:



And this is Jeffrey Daniel, in his days as a member of Shalamar, representing the whole group and their hit A Night to Remember on Top of the Pops back in 1982. This performance was a year before Michael Jackson, one of Jeffrey's biggest fans, did the moonwalk on TV:



Jeffrey is still going and teaching! He hops off the couch at about 3:49:



Website: www.jeffreydaniel.com

But the moonwalk isn't just for cool guys:



Stupid old joke alert!

"Dear Sir:

Several years ago, I entered your office determined to become an actor. You refused to represent me unless I changed my name, saying that although I was handsome and talented, no theatre would put my name on a marquee and I would never get work. I objected, saying my name had been proudly carried by men in my family for generations, and I stormed out of our meeting in a rage.

However, in the weeks following I reconsidered. After much reflection, I decided to heed your advice. Now I am a famous actor with many roles and known to millions worldwide. Having achieved this fame and fortune, it is often that I think back to my meeting with you and your insistence that I change my name.

I owe you a debt of gratitude, so please accept this check with my humble thanks, for it was your idea that I change my name from Coque Von Lesbian.

Very sincerely yours,
Dick Van Dyke

Friday, 10 February 2012

Jilly the Colossal Squid vs The Green-Eyed Monster


Dear Jilly the Belly Dancing Colossal Squid and Agony Aunt,

Last week sumthing terible hapend & i dont kno what 2 do. I was in belly dance class with my friend & the teacher told me i was a good dancer but she didnt say nothing 2 my freind about her dancing being good & now shes mad @ me & thinks i am trying 2 make her look bad. and then her bf [boyfriend] said to her "well Olivia IS a good dancer" and now she thinks i am going to steel him away but i would never coz hes got chest hair & zits & is gross & so i told my friend ew no way but it made her more angrier.

Pls jilly i am only 15 this is recking my life. pls look the clip of a party we went 2 on youtube and tell me if i am really a gooder dancer than her (i dont have a video of us belly dancing soz). she is the 1 in the skanky top who looks like abitch.

Thx

Olivia


Dear Olivia

Have you ever read Shakespeare's Othello? Your beautifully expressed, heartfelt letter put me in mind of the immortal words of Iago:

"O, beware, my lord, of jealousy;

It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock

The meat it feeds on..."

The teenage years are tough, or so I am given to understand from multiple viewings of The Breakfast Club. I reached sexual maturity when I was about three years old, so puberty was pretty much over before I even realised it had started. That your species has evolved to spend such an inordinate period of time as weak, vulnerable juveniles is just one reason why it's so mystifying that, of all of the lifeforms on the planet, it's yours that's the apex predator.

I digress, however. Back to you. Or, as you would put it Olivia, "bak 2 u".

Indeed, I did look at the YouTube clip you supplied a link to but redacted because, well. Really. Frankly you and your friend are terrible dancers, but in fairness to you both I suppose it's quite hard to dance to a song called Cheers (Drink to That) and retain your dignity. Have you ever thought of paying attention in your belly dance classes?

In any event, Olivia, I'm afraid that there is not much you can do. You have nothing to apologise to your friend for apart from calling her boyfriend "gross". As to your friend's fury I can do no better than to echo the wise words of Ru Paul's mother, as quoted by Ru Paul on Oprah back in the day: "Stormy weather always passes."

Finally, let me thank you for giving me the excuse to publish my favourite photograph of all time. It's a 1957 pic of Sofia Loren and Jayne Mansfield at Romanoff's in Beverly Hills. The occasion was a "welcome to Hollywood" party for Sofia, and I think you'll agree Jayne did a sterling job of showing Sofia what Hollywood is all about. And think on this: of the two of them, who's still alive, eh? Eh?

I hope this helps.

Bestests

Jilly xo

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Harem dancers: Liana Orfei

These are yet more examples of the "harem dancing" (i.e. fake belly dancing) that featured in old movies. Today's clips are a bit unusual in that they both feature Italian star Liana Orfei. Liana has featured as a Babe of the Month over at Peplums, which is where I first heard of her. I'm guessing that Liana was Italy's version of Julie Newmar - a good-looking starlet who could dance a bit but never became particularly famous for it. What I most like about Liana's style is that she reminds me how far I've come since my first class. That sounds bitchier than I mean it to, because she's certainly very charismatic and I guess audiences enjoyed watching her throw shapes.

She made her last film in 1971, having savoured roles like Camilla, Queen of the Vulga in War of the Trojans, Queen Texen in The Giant of Metropolis, Dalila the Philistine Queen in Hercules and Samson (synopsis: "Three strongmen hunt down a murderous sea monster"), The Lion Tamer in Casanova '70 ... you get the idea.

This is from Attack of the Moors aka Kings of France aka I Reali di Francia (1959). Her costume is lovely and I'm quite envious of her sandals!



And here she is as Merith, leaping about in 1961's Nefertiti: Regina del Nilo:



PS

I'm wondering if clips like this are as interesting to you as they are to me. When I started this blog I had half an inkling I wanted to document these kinds of dance scenes, because when I started out back in the Caboniferous Period they were my version of YouTube. Now that YouTube actually exists maybe collating them on this blog is redundant, but I have to admit that I have a real soft spot for them because they were my gateway to actual belly dancing (and the costumes are often sensational). If you have an opinion, please either politely let me know in the comments below or vote in the poll at the top of the right-hand sidebar. Thanks!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Roll up, roll up: Stunt belly dancing



In her 2002 book Snakehips: Belly Dancing and How I Found True Love, Anne Thomas Soffee writes entertainingly (if not, to my mind, with utter veracity) about her early performing days - including in shows on carnival mid-ways. Of course, belly dance in the west has a long association with circuses and fairs. There's Sol Bloom and the introduction of the term "belly dance" at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893, the UK's Sorcha Ra, and Jamila Salimpour's start as a rider of circus elephants.

In tribute to the men and women of the fairground, let us pull back the tent flaps, spread the sawdust and gorge ourselves on candy floss for what promises to be The Greatest Show on Earth. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I give you the Sensational Stunt Belly Dancers!

First up, the originator of the term "stunt belly dancing", the lovely Medu Sirena. She was last seen on this blog as the star of last May's post on belly dancing underwater. Here she is as "The Uncanny Marina", eating fire and writhing around on a bed of nails:



And what's this? A challenger on the bed of nails stunt? Let's have a round of applause for Sabrina!



Now, silence please, for the Queen of Neon, Natasha Veruschka. Natasha is The World's Only Sword-Swallowing Belly Dancer:





What's all that commotion in the back row there? How's that, madam? You claim the Queen of Neon is NOT the World's Only Sword-Swallowing Belly Dancer? Do you have proof of this outrageous claim? Who are you?




That was Kiri aka Betty Bloomerz of Philidelphia! Amazing! And of course there are belly dancers who perform with snakes but we're a circus, not a zoo.

Though perhaps snakes are safer than swords. I don't know if the belly dancer with horrible internal injuries mentioned in this story from Scientific American is Kiri or Natasha. Either way ... get well soon, babe.

Next show's at ten! Tell your friends!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Good to meet you: Tufaha of Bahrain

From 2009, this is an interview with Bahrainian belly dancer Tufaha ('Apple' - no, I don't think she's a Coldplay fan):

Q&A: 'My Boyfriend Insisted I Quit Dancing, My Answer was No', Inter Press Service, Tuesday, 14 July 2009 (posted by Global Issues).

This is Tufaha:


And this, I THINK, is also Tufaha, in action in the same year as this interview (2009). However, as is often the way of these things, this dancer is billed as 'Tofaha'. Even if it's not the same person - though I strongly suspect it is - this clip is worth watching both for proper tipping etiquette and for an example of how to rock it Bahrainian styles. OK, so it's not very elegant (how do you do those rolls and NOT get carpet burn?) but, seriously, y'all, I am going to have to up my floorwork game* 'cause this is off the hook:



*Or, indeed, get a floorwork game.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Weird Wednesday Woo: I vant to suck your ...

Sometimes, you'll be reminded of a near-forgotten celebrity in the strangest way and you'll realise that actually, yes, you ARE interested in whatever happened to Thingum Majig.

To whit, the "Sexy Vampire Menstrual/Post-partum Goddess Pad" from Etsy shop Mimi's Dreams:


A flash-in-the-pan '90s pop star is an unlikely poster boy for total commitment to women's health issues, but our main man here deserves the honour. He wasn't lying when he said:

"If there was a problem/Yo, I'll solve it."


On behalf of women everywhere, Vanilla Vampire, thank you.

Hat-tip to Dangerous Minds for publicising this whole new take on vagina dentata.