18 February 2011


A lovely lunch with Sam, Zoe and Liz..

17 February 2011

Ethnic Dance Festival

Last month I was given the honor of panelist/judge at the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival Auditions. As any Bay Area resident knows, the January Auditions are as exciting as the formal June Festival. While the Festival offers a juried selection of about 30 artists, the Audition features over 300 artists. That's where the Panel comes in. It was our job to vet all 300+ auditions and make recommendations to the Artistic Directors.
Not surprisingly, I was brought in for bellydance and Middle Eastern dance in general. We had specialists in Mexican Folklorico (there are a lot of Folklorico groups-big groups!), South American and Native American, Chinese and Asian, US and European, African, Indian (lots of Indian!) When we didn't have a panelist for a certain genre, they brought in a guest specialist.
Needless to say, it was an amazing two weekends. We worked non-stop from 9am-6pm each day, with extra hours on the last day. We were given a GIANT binder of applications, notes, stage plots, etc. to read beforehand. Our job was to observe each group as if we'd never seen anything before it..did I mention 300+ acts?! And we were a jury if you will. We were seated in roped off rows in the theater and sequestered in our "chambers" after each 2 hour segment. They did feed us! We were sworn to secrecy. For the rest of our lives we will never be able to discuss the comments that were shared with the other panelists. Which is a relief in hindsight, to know that the panelists who first judged FCBD can't tell anyone how bad we were (I'm smiling as I write this but it's so true.)
FatChanceBellyDance has auditioned many times for EDF, and gotten in on several occasions. I must admit that the first audition back in the early 90s was AWFUL. I can't even look at the video footage, it was so bad-but we were so earnest! At first the comments that we got from the panelists were confusing and often hurtful, as we saw their acceptance or denial as a final judgement on whether we were "good enough." But as time went on and I worked with the organization (World Arts West is the parent organization), I came to understand that they are "judging" for what they want in the festival that year. While of course they want "good" acts, they also might have a theme or special idea and are looking for a fit. I finally relaxed into the fact that the January Audition was just a great opportunity to stage a choreography (yes, we use formal choreography for an event like EDF), get a video and hopefully comments from the panelists. Of course, being accepted to the Festival is a thrill, but just doing the Audition can be fun.
At a moment in time, after we had been rejected several times, I approached WAW and asked what in the world they were looking for. They said, "Good acts." I said, you never choose belly dance. They said, "Because it's never very good!" Really?! "Well", they said, "We also don't know what we are looking for." That made sense. So I recommended Aisha Ali from Los Angeles. They flew her up on a year that we were auditoning. After the audition she called me and said, "I really like what you do, but I have to tell you that what you performed was pure fantasy, not authentic at all." OK, I thought, I can accept that. But then the phone rang and it was EDF offering us a place in the festival. Aha! It is all about a good show.
So here I've come full circle: from fledgling amateur to performing artist to judge. Amazing journey.

16 February 2011

Another day at recording studio ... go Tim!

Jay at the helm, steering the boat. Tim is beatboxing in the sound studio.

Kristine and Kevin listen in (I am taking a break from knitting to take the photos.)

15 February 2011

The next CD

Tim Barsky and Dan Cantrell at Tiny Telephone recording studio in San Francisco. Working on FatChanceBellyDance presents Tim Barsky...stay tuned!

11 February 2011

Vidal Sassoon

As I drove home last night, I listened to a Fresh Air interview with Vidal Sassoon. As you may remember Sassoon revolutionized hair with the "shake and go" cut, as he saw styling and spraying as working against the natural bone structure of the face. The cut became known as "The Sassoon" and was wildly copied (..does this sound familiar?) When host Terry Gross asked him if he felt threatened or resented being copied, Sassoon replied that he was flattered by the imitations (..are you following me here?)

In Sassoon's own words:

"You either create something and you keep it a secret and you die with it, [or] you can benefit the craft," he says. "And in essence ... you're doing something for fashion worldwide. I think that's so much more important — it's something that you leave behind that you probably will be remembered for."

(..Uh huh, I couldn't agree more!)

09 February 2011

..and speaking of Folk Art..

I got an email yesterday from Mel Walsh in Newcastle, Australia:

"Hi, I'm an Australian ATS bellydancer from Newcastle NSW (I visited SF 5 yrs ago for camp Kosmos and did a private class with Carolena). I have also taken to designing crochet dolls as a hobby and have designed one based on an ATS dancer, thought if any of your students are into crochet or craft they would love her. I have the completed doll in my shop at the moment but will be soon posting a pattern for making her. She would make a lovely troupe mascot and I thought of FCBD immediately. Here is the link if any of your girls are interested."

Go here to see more of the doll: http://www.etsy.com/listing/67685065/ats-bellydancer-crochet-doll-carolena

Here is the description:
"Meet Carolena, she's an ATS (American Tribal Style) bellydancer that will appeal to big and little girls alike.

Carolena has a spinning skirt and tassel belt, a choli (that ties at the back), zills on her fingers, a coin bra effect, some dreadlocks and gerberas in her hair.

...however the pattern will be also available soon.

She stands approx 30cm (12 inches) tall.

Carolena is handmade to my own design, crochet with 8 ply acrylic yarn and polyfill stuffing, the silk gerberas aren't crochet but are included with the doll.."

Thanks Mel! I am honored to be immortalized in yarn!

03 February 2011

Folk Art

Today I discovered a new exhibit at SFO. It's from the collection at the Santa Fe Museum of International Folk Art.

Folk Art makes me swoon! It works for me on so many levels.

Enjoy these trunks, briefcases and lunch boxes made from food cans, by an artist in Senegal.

I'll post a new photo each time I come to the airport. Cheers!