A Little Raks Sharki in the Evening

I met my dear friend Connie at Don Quixote’s in Felton at 7:00 pm. We found a table with a view of the stage where the musicians were preparing and the dance floor where we would soon see the lovely ladies of bellydance. “How’s Charles?” Connie asked. “How’s Lisa?” I asked. We caught up with all the trivia that makes up the bulk of our lives and began making our greetings with the gathering crowd.

Siwa and Connie at Don Q

Siwa, statuesque with hair down to there, greeted Connie with a hug. Connie and I met in Helené’s classes but Connie also studied with Siwa. I, for unknown reasons, had never had a formal introduction to Siwa, though I have been at many events with her. Her eyes sparkled with pleasure as she shook my hand with a tight squeeze.

We also caught up with Bev and her husband Gordon, her daughter Rachel and her husband. Gordon (and I hope I remember your name correctly) filled me in on Rachel’s bellydance studies and what HE has learned from it. He watched Rachel develop from a very shy young woman into a confident, and beautiful raks soloist. I met Rachel when I started with Helené and have enjoyed witnessing and participating in that process. One of these days…and maybe if I put it in writing it will really happen…Rachel and I will do a Tunisian duet. I promised her mother.

The music started with Doug Adamz (violin and recorder) and Bill (mandolin) of Light Rain with our own Uncle Mafufo (Armando) on drum. Everyone in the house (SRO) was in high spirits and all the artists were in high form. First performer of the night was Ma’Shuqa with her soaring Isis Wings. After that its all a blur. Helené was exceptionally beautiful. When Helené is in her dance zone, she is one of my favorite local dancers. She has a tremendous volume of knowledge and experience to draw from and a strong technique. We also saw SeSe—best I’ve ever seen her; Siwa majestic in her signature color, orange; Janette Broner, from Monterey, came up as a special guest; and as usual, Crystal closed the show.





Everyone performed in the same style, raks sharki. Raks sharki is a relatively modern style that developed in Egyptian cafes in the 1920-30. Sharki is a hybrid form deriving from the more folkloric Egyptian dance called “baladi.” Over time, dancers have included shapes and stylings from Western ballet, Spanish flamenco, and from Indian and Persian dances. Sharki is versatile enough for every dancer to improvise and include their own personalities. For example, SeSe, who also teaches clowning, always employs humor, while Crystal accentuates her movement with aggressive popping. So while they were all performing in a single bellydance variant, each dancer was distinctive, each performance personal. At the end of the evening, there were hugs all around. Siwa hugged me like an old friend.

Siwa and Renée

I love our nights at Don Q’s and we are all grateful to Helené for organizing such a terrific showcase. Til’ next time…

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