“Mesmerizing...electrifying...and fascinating…a glorious lesson
in the full scope of what this art form really is all about.”
Can bellydance heal the body, stimulate the soul and change your life?
Blood on the Veil: A Bellydancer's Journey… makes a compelling case! You won't be able to tear your eyes away from the stage during this thrilling “monologue-in-movement” – a full-length solo show that combines enchanting storytelling and commanding dance moves. Discover bellydancing's fascinating historic roots as well as the many misconceptions surrounding the art form, and enjoy guest performances by top bellydancers showcasing the dance’s many styles and traditions.
For more information, please visit our “About the Show” page .
I touched down late last night in beautiful Phoenix and am so excited to meet the wonderful local dancers who have been preparing to join me in this production!
Although Blood on the Veil is a monologue, in early 2013, I added some segments that could include other performers.
So now I am joined in every show by between four and as many as twenty local performers!!
The show begins with a dynamic emcee (Dayna, in the Phoenix show) who introduces the audience to the event, and then brings up two pre-show act showcasing contrasting styles of bellydance. These can be solos or group acts -- the only requirement is that they be of different styles.
The local producer (in this case, Mahin, pictured in the center, above) chooses from among the local talent, and will usually look for a Tribal act and a Cabaret act, though in some shows we've had other interesting pairings such as folkloric/oriental, shaabi/American cabaret, gypsy fusion/pop cabaret fusion, and so forth.
The Phoenix show will feature Adrianne (at left) performing American cabaret, and Divine Chaos, performing their unique blend of world fusion tribal style.
At the end of the first act these and other guest performers join me in a special showcase of the various props used in bellydance (made possible by the local stage manager -- who will be TC, in Phoenix), which culminates in a riveting Egyptian cane dance (raks assaya).
The Phoenix show will feature Adrienne, Mahin, and Melisula, pictured above, wearing the brand new Blood on the Veil tank tops!.
At the start of Act 2, the audience is treated to a performance by a Master Teacher -- this is a dancer who is over age 45 and has been performing/teaching bellydance (any style) for more than 30 years.
For audiences new to bellydance, this is a rare treat that quickly dispels any notion of bellydance being about young girls wiggling for men's pleasure.
The Master Teachers -- in Phoenix, we are honored to be joined by the phenomenal Jazmine -- demonstrate the profound depth, skill, and magic of bellydance at any age.
Every show, I am so honored to share the stage with such powerful talent and warm hearts.
Thank you, Phoenix, for bringing the production here! See you tomorrow night!!
He understood why "women....are upset...about the images that are being fed to them," and admitted, "It's awful ... As far as magazines go, the air brushing and slimming and all that, well that's just hell."
"But please," he begged, "leave me my good looking film and television actors. I'm getting old and loose and I like to be reminded of what it once was like. Hot is hot. It keeps us going. Some joy, please."
So I thought about this for a while.
Now, I am someone who feels strongly that the emphasis on beauty (especially upon women) is damaging to women personally, and to the culture as a whole.
And I thought about the breathtakingly beautiful actresses I love to watch, who also deliver strong, committed performances (Charlize Theron, Kiera Knightly), the actresses who aren't conventionally beautiful but whose talent makes their unusual features all the more striking (Meryl Streep, Emily Watson, Helen Mirren). And then, of course, I thought about the actresses who are physically beautiful, and yet whose acting is thin and self-serving to the point of being unwatchable. (Unfortunately, it is the latter who dominate network television, though this is changing in film and premium cable.)
And I responded with this (slightly modified) comment to Don's entry:
The problem isn't so much not wanting beauty in media, but rather that the definition of "beauty" (certainly where women are concerned) isn't really beauty at all, but conformity to a very narrow set of Barbie-esque physical characteristics that are unhealthy to the point of being grotesque.
But women are told that if we don't conform to this standard, we won't be valued – as sexually desirable women, or as people since a host of negative qualities are assigned to larger people (laziness, gluttony)!
And men are so conditioned to value the Barbie standard, that they will override their own natural impulse to see beauty in women who don't fit the mold in order to maintain status with their male friends.
I have known quite a few men who have rejected women they admitted to being attracted to – physically and intellectually – in favor of a Barbie-esque "beautiful" woman to whom they didn't feel much innate attraction, but whom they believed their friends and family would value more and thereby grant them higher status.
In terms of media, the double-standard is evident.
You say, "Don't take away the beautiful women." But look at the men. They are all different shapes and sizes, and they all get the girl... who always looks the same: slim, young, even-featured, and usually large-breasted.
It is said that Cleopatra was the most beautiful woman in the world, but that was not because her physiognomy was so special, but rather her charisma and intelligence were irresistible.
In a meme, Emma Thompson is quoted as advising actresses, in response to demands that they "lose weight", to ask, "Is this important for the character?" And if it isn't then they should ask the casting director to tell them that what they want is a model, not an actress.
In the early '90s, balding, aging actors like Patrick Stewart and Anthony Hopkins became sex symbols – based on their power as performers and men. Women found them very beautiful indeed. It's said that Patrick Stewart telephoned a woman suffering from ovarian cancer, and a few minutes of his sonorous voice caused the disease to go into remission.
So it's not that anyone wants less beauty in the media; in fact, we want more of it, in all of its stunning, fascinating, riveting, and transformative variety.
In over a decade of bellydance – often regarded as a quintessentially sexually beautiful dance form – I have come to understand that beauty comes from feeling and expression, from vitality and confidence, far more than from physiognomy.
How tragic and ironic it is that the mutilation of plastic surgery destroys an actor's very ability to express feeling, thought, and intention. By paralyzing their faces to fit some godforsaken prefabricated image, actresses are destroying their very ability to move the audiences they are hoping their stretched faces will attract. They destroy their ability to emote, as well as their ability to respond authentically to the people and circumstances in the drama they seek to convey.
Consider this recent comment in a Salon.com article about dehumanization: "If a researcher disables your ability to imitate another’s facial expression, such as by asking you to hold a pen pursed between your lips or by injecting your face with Botox, your ability to understand what another person is feeling drops significantly. Botox dulls your social senses right along with your wrinkles."
Beauty is about expression – humanity – and the industry that believes itself most committed to beauty is doing everything it can to destroy it.
And as audience members, we are allowing our own unique appreciation of the world around us to be dictated and flattened.
What we want is an experience of beauty, where a thing is beautiful to us because it resonates deeply. This kind of beauty is arresting and powerful, sometimes even disturbing, because it tells us something about ourselves – and we don't always want to know about ourselves.
The beauty of physiognomy may be pleasing and comforting, and to be sure it has its place in the culture. But it doesn't give us anything new or nourishing or unique, it simply recycles the current images that we are told to value – and if we do as we are told, then we will be valued too ... or so we are led to believe.
But if we let ourselves respond naturally to the world around us – regardless of what we are told to believe – to find what is beautiful to us, uniquely, and enjoy that beauty for its own sake rather than as a way to seek acceptance and approval from others ... how vast and beautiful and joyful might our lives become?
And how might our appreciative gaze nourish the world itself, in its magnificent variety, into greater and greater beauty?