A Special Evening of Belly Dancing, Bellyhood Consortium, featuring @eric-boucher on the doumbek!
Have you ever heard of the Arabic word “Hafla”?
This signifies a “gathering”, “get together”, “party” or “ceremonious social event”. Though a bit immersed into the belly dancing communities in many areas where I have lived over the years, this passed weekend was the first time I was introduced to the term and what a gathering it happened to become.
My partner, Taissia, and a handful of her students had prepared a special presentation showcasing the advanced students and herself. Meanwhile, I’d be the token live drummer, so to speak… Many names have been tossed around as to what could be the official groups name and so far one name seems to have stuck in my heart and soul: “Bellyhood Consortium”.
(From left to right, elated in the afterglow of our performance: Haley, Carla, @eric-boucher, Taissia and Louise. Photo credit: Lynette Harper.)
For so many years, about 15 by now, I have been asked to play for bellydancers in settings of all kinds, from super casual hang outs to performances made for audiences in their hundreds, to playing for individuals and small groups in teaching settings, which has been the case with Taissia students for the passed 6 weeks. In this case, we had been invited to perform at one of Taissia best friend's place, Lynette, an incredibly talented dancer who, over the years, has practiced a variety of styles from the Mediterranean regions and abroad. This humble abode was about to rumble…
The procession of guests, mostly women, one young girl and, @integra-mare and I, came with an array of foods from the crossroads of the Mediterranean; Olives, feta, figs, dolmades, etc. An assortment of delicacies from all over the world accompanied the main theme and, soon after the great majority of people had showed up, the foods and conversations were up roaring the early evening. Dispersed through the living room adjacent to the kitchen, laughters and sounds reflecting the levels of scrumptious tasting sustenance elevated themselves along with the resounding throb of Arabic music. For the newly acquainted with this sort of gathering excitement, joy and shyness combined with colluding spirits were exchanging looks among the experienced. For the latter, a palpable thrill was building. Not that anyone was trying to eat faster than their neighbours but there was a definite objective in mind: Dancing!
At one point we must have been about 20, all packed in this small living room where music, warm vibes and joyful exuberance cooperated in a melting pot of cultures both socially and musically. The heat was rising and the energies building, the dancing solos had started and the group of women congealed as one forming as big a circle as they could, including all.
Now that playfulness had set the pace within the group of women, the natural warmth and mutual recognition of womanhood rose to the surface while a celebration of their being emancipated itself and, like wild fire, spread over each and everyone present featuring one and two and three dancers at the same time within the confines of the small circle. As if the ring couldn’t bare its entanglement, the energy was brought out and lead into a spiralling snake by two of the leaders of the group, women who created a dynamic of group movement resembling a round of follow the leaders trailing behind them every single participants.
I couldn’t contain my joy and excitement to have been part of this event, to my eye this resonated straight back to the very source of what we call today belly dancing with the celestial memories of countless generations of women who gathered over the millennia to rejoice in life, womanhood, dance and music, family, friends, and community dancing to and with each others’ recognition, all elements, their ancestors and the ones yet to come.
It came time for our little troupe to perform and, after a small interlude of dancing with Lynette, I sat back down, and we all welcomed the proud group in their newly changed outfits. It was show time and, since I had anticipated recording the show, organized the filming and got ready for the drumming. So, without further ado, here’s a small taste of the evening with “The Bellyhood Consortium”:
Performing for you here were Tassia, Louise, Carla and Haley with their dance performance choreographed by Taissia, for the musical piece by the legendary percussionist and musician Hassam Ramzy and his ensemble entitled “Zaar Naar”. The “zaar” rhythm is an Egyptian sufi folk rhythm used in transe inducing practices of healing. The dance pays dues to the transe nature of this rhythm while including elements of humour and playfulness and the ever present sensuality. You might have picked up on the cheerful demeanour and delight of sharing in the dance that each performer radiates with as the dance evolved. As you might have noticed, I happened to be drumming on a doumbek, actually given to me by the friend through whom Taissia and I connected a few years back but that is another story all together...