Sunday, May 17, 2009
TRIBAL FEST 9
It’s hard to believe it, but I am FINALLY backed in LA after three weeks on the road!
I’ve done “hard time” on Death Row on the set of the “Stuck!” shoot in Macon, Georgia; been in a Tornado Watch, taught and performed Egyptian Cabaret and Burlesque in Buffalo, Missouri, and I just came from Tribal Fest 9 in Sebastopol, California.
Tribal Fest is one of my all-time favorite dance events, and it’s the largest and longest-running alternative belly dance festival on the planet. Located in the wine country of Northern California, the sleepy town of Sebastopol always explodes into a manic, hip-shaking riot in the third week of May when Tribal Fest rolls into town. Dancers come from all over the world to participate, and the place is humming with beautiful women and unbridled creativity all week long! The general atmosphere is kind of like a gypsy encampment mixed with a circus back-lot. Belly dancers from all pop-culture genres- Goth, Steam Punk, Pirate, Ren Faire, Burlesque, cabaret and plain old Tribal were represented. The fashion parade was awesome, as usual- everyone dresses to the nines even if the temperatures are soaring.
This year marked my fifth anniversary of teaching and performing at Tribal Fest. I taught two sold-out classes, one called “Drama Queen” which was all about theatrical presentation I the context of belly dance; the other one focused on all-abdominal belly dance technique. My students came from Taiwan, Netherlands, Italy, UK and all across the USA… and one can only guess what other countries were represented by f the other attendees!
Friday, May 15 was the first of the weekend’s shows, and the dressing room was brimming over with dancers running their numbers and changing into elaborate hand-made costumes. I performed a vintage-inspired fan dance/belly dance fusion, and my set went great. I shared the stage that night with many of my favorite dancers, including the delicately gorgeous Indian dancer Colleena Shakti, elegant in an embellished red velvet costume; awesome sword duo Romka; the ever-gorgeous Rachel Brice; Kiki Kuan, who does Tribal mixed with classical Chinese dance; Tempest, Asharah (in a fabulous duet with a live cellist) and Suhaila Salimpour. Suhaila’s company closed the show in an 18-minute number that brought the house down, including an awesome segment with some fierce Fosse-style chair dancing.
When I wasn’t dancing or teaching, I hung out sipping wine in the hotel hot tub with my travel-mates Natasha and Kelly of Skellramics and our pal Andrea Ferrante. I got to visit with old dance-pals who were also attending, like festival organizers Kajira Djoumahna and her hubby Chuck; Blume Bauer of Belly Dance Gear, Politti Ashcraft of Dancer’s Oasis; Julia of Blue Scarab, Rachel Lazarus-Soto and her hubby Jeremiah Soto of Solace, amazing Bollywood artist and Tall Ship sailor Samantha Riggs; the Tribal Tique gals from Colorado, and the Midwest Tribal Mafia! Those Mafia gals were so impressed with my stories from the “Stuck!” set, they gave me a bottle of wine called “In The Slammer”! Also spent some quality time with Kajira in the closet of the Sebastopol community center, while she simultaneously got a winged skull tattoo from Natasha and Skellramics and gave an interview to Theresa of belly dance magazine "The Chronicles"...all this while Karim Nagy was teacing a class on Egyptian Tahtib right outide the door! I also got an incredible massage from LA-based dancer Heather Shoopman, and got to hang out a lot with two of my favorite UK dancers (and party girls extraordinaire) Tree Russell and Heike Humphreys, who come to Tribal Fest every year!
Now, I’m home for three weeks before more teaching and performing in Salt Lake City Utah for Electric Circus and in Cairo, Egypt for the Ahlan WA Sahlan Festival.
My baby kittens have gotten big and calendar-quality cute…and it’s sooo nice to be back in my own bed. I have a dancing workshop this coming weekend, but it’s here in Los Angeles at Dance Garden. Hopefully, I’ll be able to tear myself away from the baby kitties long enough to un-pack and do some laundry!
**pictured: Princess and UK dancer Heike Humphreys