Letter from the Editor:
When I first conceived this magazine and named it, I remember thinking that I wanted it to be for the woman who is very eclectic in taste, very intellectual, and very interested in the vast mysteries of our universe. The kind of lady that shows her interest in the world through her own personal style with clothing and jewelry perhaps, and is the kind of person that travels or would if she could, to exotic ports of call. She’s also the kind of woman that gets excited when they say they have found a new tomb in Egypt or is outraged and disappointed to hear that pollution is destroying the “Parthenon.” She loves a good “ancient mystery” too.
Having said that, I can think of no better person to profile this month than the late Jan Gallione, “belly dance enthusiast,” searcher of “Eastern Philosophies,” preserver of “Indian Burial Mounds,” and acclaimed artist in her own right. I hope everyone enjoys my memories of Jan. What readers may also be struck by was the “love story” between she and her husband the British Artist Adrian Frost and the tenderness between them on the journey of their “self expression.” April is “National Poetry Month” and that is also apropos as Jan and Adrian were always “poets” as well as “artists.”
Also, please enjoy my poem, “If Only” and a piece of art from my youth.
I’m also happy to share a few smiles from “Team Egyptian Chick Magazine” at the 8th Annual Bowl-A-Thon for the New Hope Animal Rescue Chapter in WV. Included is a link so concerned individuals can donate ” even now.
Egyptian Chick Magazine is published by:
Aziza Al-Tawil “Editor in Chief”
Billy Jack Watkins, “Research Assistant to the Editor”
Josephine Homonai, “Fashion Consultant and Model”
“The Body Electric” – Remembering the Artist and Friend Jan Gallione
By Aziza Al-Tawil (Article was amended on April 8th by this Author. I had another wonderful memory to share!)
I will never forget that day on 57th Street in Manhattan when my belly dance pupil and friend Jan Gallione came up out of the subway there by the Coliseum Bookstore and rushed toward me with concern. I believe I was wearing vintage clothing that day. I had loved MGM musicals and had spent the last couple of years as a member of the Carnegie Hall Cinema and had let this carry over into my private life-taken to wearing bobby socks and saddle shoes, cute retro dresses and a sailor hat-not a soft folder upper type sailor hat but one made of straw that stayed in one shape.
This sweet young woman, about 9 years my senior, placed fifty dollars in my soon to be 14 year old hands and hugged me. She had responded when I told her that my mother and I were leaving New York City in a hurry as my mother’s battle with a recent bout of “Narcolepsy” sleeping sickness had abated and her bid to “Home School” me was now a lost cause as far as her bitter foe the “New York City School System” was concerned. My grandmother had sent us six hundred or so dollars for train tickets and to ship the contents of our small studio apartment to Charleston, WV. We were broke. Jan’s fifty was much needed. That smile of hers was welcome as well!
Looking back, I realize that Jan and I were standing in the “heart” of NYC, the neighborhood that I grew up in and held dear. Right there we stood at the corner of Broadway and 57th St. and not too far away was Mariella’s Pizza Place, The Carnegie Hall Cinema, the Museum of Modern Art, The Bombay Cinema, The Donnell Library-so many places that I used to hang out. It was just unfathomable to me that in just a few short days-or perhaps hours, I would be leaving my birthplace and home for good and leaving behind my good friend Jan.
Jan and I went into the Coliseum Bookstore to look around a little. She went to one section and I to another. In my sadness I picked out one souvenir of New York, something so I would never forget where I came from: The softcover edition of “The Films of John Garfield.” Then we met outside where we waved to each other goodbye as Jan descended into the NYC subway clad in a jacket over an “India” blouse and blue jeans which was about her signature look during the time I knew her. I turned and hurried back home-“West” on Fifty Seventh Street to our apartment building, “The Henry Hudson Hotel.” I would see the last of my sunsets over New Jersey.
When my mother and her husband arrived to live in NYC permanently in 1955, just ahead of them, having made the move a year or two before, was their fellow dancer friend from Charleston, WV Doris Rose. Doris had been in the Helen Cox Schrader dance troupe with Bill and Johanna and had been a part of an adagio team herself. A former strong man bodybuilder who was not too much of a dancer was her partner, hoisting her high in the air. Doris was a beautiful girl of French and Indian extraction who was from up the “Coal River” in WV. One time the entire Schrader troupe had performed a piece called “Jungle Drums” and everyone had worn leopard print outfits. They dubbed Doris “The Wild Woman of Coal River” with her dark snappy eyes and dark hair. Doris was a wonderful dancer but unfortunately had an early start to a problem with her hearing that grew gradually worse over the years.
By the time Bill and Johanna arrived to NYC, Doris was pursuing a modeling career and was dating an Englishman named Michael. They all had a joyous re-union and then oft were off to see “the sights” together like Broadway, museums and “The Cloisters.” Unfortunately, Doris, despite her great beauty and figure, was a trifle short for “high fashion” modeling which even then was a bit reserved for fairly tall women and Doris was more “medium” height. She did model on some “Detective” magazines as the glamorous woman in peril screaming at an unseen “assailant” (Doris herself was “assailed” one time when a strange man ran up behind her coming up out of the subway but managed to get away-like many women of West Virginia, she was not only beautiful but strong).
Not too long after Bill and Johanna moved to NYC as their permanent residence, Doris met lawyer John Gallione and married him. She still had creative pursuits and interests but was now mostly “settled down” and together they had three daughters: Gail, Jan, and Joy. Gail had an interest in the “performing arts” and Jan had an interest in the “visual arts” primarily.
I remember getting to know my mother’s old dance friend Doris during my childhood. She was still married to John and still living in the East Village. Doris was a very spiritual person at that time having gotten heavily into “yoga” and going to “Ashram Retreats” in the mountains. In fact it was Dori Gallione that had introduced us to a new sensation called frozen yogurt (at least it was new to us!). We used to meet for lunch all over town, have a cottage cheese and fruit plate at one of the department store cafes like “Bergdorf Goodman” or “Gimbels,” and of course there were trips to “The Village” to a “Vegetarian Fast Food” joint. Dori in fact would have been a vegetarian like the “Yogis” recommended if it weren’t for her hubby I recall her telling us. All the yoga and her past dance experience gave Dori her slim and strong physique which was often in a jumpsuit with a drape over top like something out of “Halston’s” latest collection. She was always stunning and tan and healthy looking for her age.
Jan had just finished “The High School of Art and Design” and had a few years under her belt at “Fashion Institute of Technology” when she decided to take belly dance classes from my mother Johanna and I when we were living at “The Henry Hudson Hotel.” This was a truly fun time because we had been holding classes on the 24th floor roof when the weather permitted-and sometimes when not! I can remember my “earth mother” Johanna getting excited by impending storms and continuing to dance on the roof terrace even as the skies darkened, the wind whipped, and the rain came tumbling down. Then, with great exuberance she would finally return inside the hotel hallway laughing for joy.
Jan was a true delight from the minute she showed up at our studio apartment there at the “Henry Hudson.” As I said, Jan liked “India print” cottons, and also wore sandals a lot. This was a divine period in NYC history when you could buy neat things from street vendors like colorful “wrap skirts” from India and “Mary Janes” and “Annie Hall” shoes from China. The city had a special vibe at this time, even though in reality, the city was just not the same glorious city that old friends Doris, Johanna, and Bill had moved to in the 1950’s. Back then, New York was overall very safe, and very classy. Jan and I were growing up in an era that was to be known as very “dicey.”
I was mature for my age at about twelve so Jan almost felt like a “peer” and treated me more like one. When she wasn’t at our apartment or on the roof taking lessons, she and I would sometimes meet up and go to cultural events when my mother was too busy with her other work to go. I remember one time Jan and I went to support the new “Alpar Center” in Manhattan opened by Farhat and Alexandria Alpar and Ozel Turkbas. It was a special show of Northern Indian dances by Najma Ayashah. Najma was a striking and beautiful performer, filled with incredible grace. One of her dances represented the Northern Indian “Gypsy” and she used a tambourine. Her outfit, if I recall correctly had white, hot pink, and green throughout. She wore a head veil.
I have a funny memory of running into Jan at the “Carnegie Hall Cinema” where I was a member. She was on a date with someone and we cried out to each other before the lights went down and the movie “Arthur” with Dudley Moore and Liza Minnelli began. I remember that the movie was turned up too loud and that, coupled with his accent, I could not understand hardly one word Dudley Moore uttered as the drunken millionaire!
Another time I remember Jan’s excitement at the impending “Simon and Garfunkel Reunion Concert” which she and her friends were going to attend in Central Park and that I was disappointed when I could not really “invite” myself to this historic event. (My mother and I had attended many free performances of the Metropolitan Opera in “The Sheep Meadow” and I wondered why this would be any different.) This was the one time that our age difference seemed to matter. While I was good friends with Jan, and my mother and I were both mentoring her belly dance journey, I was still too young to run around at night with Jan and her friends from the Fashion Institute of Technology). I would not see the famous concert until PBS aired it about 20 years later!
Belly dancing was getting to be a sparse affair at that time in New York since “Greektown” on 8th Avenue had shut down completely leaving only a couple of places in a few spots around the city’s boroughs to perform. Jan had gotten me a modeling gig for her and fellow “Art Students League Students.” I posed in my red bugle beaded costume and some of the artists had showings in SoHo that included the painting of me. It was interesting to see how different artists perceived me.
Jan and her graduating class also held a Middle Eastern Fashion Show and Performance with my mother Johanna and I at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Jan took some striking black and white photos of me in costume.
After months on and off of private tutoring Jan in the art of belly dance it would come to pass that I would never see her again. The sad day she brought me money and went down into the subway was the last time we would ever see each other.
Actually, Jan’s generosity, and her mother’s as well, was nothing new. West Virginia folk are used to sharing “hand me downs” as they know kids grow “like weeds” and it’s hard to keep up with the demand. When Jan brought me clothes from she and her two sisters one time I was so excited I could barely contain myself. They were beautiful! One dress I dubbed my “Leslie Caron Dress.” I loved old movies and had loved the dancer Leslie Caron’s films including my favorite “Daddy Long Legs” with Fred Astaire. The dress Jan gave me was white with a halter neck and had a matching bolero jacket. All over the dress were little pastel embroidered flowers. The skirt was full and straight out of the 1950’s. I wore it with one of my hats and a pair of vintage glove when I used to go to Fifth Avenue to “window shop” and pretend to be a “grand lady” of yesterday.
After moving to West Virginia to be near my grandmother, I wrote a letter to Jan. Several months later I received a reply in the form of a postcard from where she was staying in England to further her studies. She mentioned how glad she was we had gotten to dance together.
My mother attempted to reach out to Doris a few times years later and was not sure why she did not get a response except that Doris was extremely hard of hearing.
The real reason my mother could not reach Doris would not be explained for many, many years.
In the era of “Facebook” it’s sometimes hard to remember that there was a time when people lost touch-perhaps because of moving around the U.S.A. or perhaps even further afield. Trying to find people if their phone was “unlisted” was nearly impossible, or if you didn’t know what city they were in, etc. Between my mother and I being in show business and taking off for new cities within just a few years of being in Charleston and Jan being an artist-the inevitable happened. I did think of Jan on and off through the years and wondered if our paths would ever cross again.
After the “age of the internet” I found out firsthand the “miraculous” re-unions that could occur thanks to this technology. I found a “half-sister” through my father that I did not even know existed. Sadly, she had been put up for adoption by a grief stricken woman with a “shamed” family who insisted she give her child away and years later, initially had her files opened for “medical reasons.” Since my sister Renee’ was also fascinated with knowing her real identity she had pursued more info through the years culminating in a post on a mutual friend’s “guest book” (a musician who knew my father) and I saw her post there while looking for something else entirely. Since she said who her father was I contacted her immediately. After e:mails and calling each other for a year, we finally met.
We had three joyous “in-person” meetings until one week I noticed she did not answer my e:mails as quickly as she usually did. Then, about a week later, her fiance’ Terry called me and said that they had been in a car wreck and that he had survived but Renee’ had been killed. He told me she was the “love” of his “life” and that he figured he “get over it one day” but didn’t know “when.” He said that the accident occurred because she had wanted more tropical fish for her aquarium and that he had tried to tell her they should stay home, but she insisted, and that on the way back they had hit “black ice.” He told me, “I thought you should know.”
I contacted her adopted family and they were understandably upset. The fact that Terry and my sister had engaged now and then in some serious arguments fueled their suspicion of him and his role in her death. While I was not there I honestly believed it was an “accident”-he had seemed to love her very much when they had visited, so I prayed for everyone concerned and my mother and I started on a very dark period of grief over the loss of this half sister of mine who was in my life for just a short time (2006-2008) but was indeed a “gift.”
As for Jan Gallione, I looked for even a trace of her on the internet now that it was taking off as a “people finder.” Strangely enough, I was not finding anything and perhaps was not savvy enough as a “researcher” to think of “googling” names of her known relatives.
After starting this magazine in April of 2016 I became interested once more in finding the truth about Jan’s whereabouts because I was featuring an “Artist of the Month” now and then and was hoping to feature her as “thanks” for the past kindness she had shown myself and my late mother who passed away in 2012. One initial clue disturbed me: I found the “New York Times” obituary of her father John Gallione in 2000, but when it listed his family “survivors” she was not among them. She was referred to as “the late Jan Gallione.” I was completely floored- knowing she was not that old-wondered if it had been that horrendous taker of female lives “Breast Cancer”-not a clue-and could find no mention of what was responsible for her death.
Heartbroken, I set about finding out what happened to my friend. By now there were some more clues available. One notice posted with a couple of her paintings stated that she had been “A wonderful artist who was winning awards, showing in very prominent galleries, and invited to important artist residencies. She had an exciting and promising future as an artist which unfortunately did not get to play out with her untimely death at age 34.”
It also mentioned that her work had been shown at the Fendrick Gallery in NYC (records at the Smithsonian Museum of Art) and that she had residencies at Yaddo, The MacDowell Colony, The Millay Colony for the Arts Awards, National Academy of Design Annual Exhibition (1985), and that she was the winner of the “Julius Hallgarten Prize for a painting done in the United States by an American Artist under 35 years of age.”
Digging deeper, I found a list of her fellow graduates at “UC Davis” where she had received her “Master of Fine Arts” in 1989, several years after I last laid eyes on her. In fact, I still did not know, when and how she passed. I made a few connections with some of her former classmates. Shelby Harris, still an artist today, said he remembered Jan as “A lively girl!” and that she had married a visiting professor named Adrian Frost (This info fit in with why I saw a mention of both Jan and Frost listed together on works that are archived by “The Smithsonian Institution.”) Shelby Harris told me she died in a car accident but did not know exactly where. Another classmate, artist April Funcke, encouraged me to continue my search and her note also explained to me that Jan and her husband, the artist Adrian Frost, had been in a car accident together and that Jan had perished while her husband survived. She told me to be sure that when I found him, to “Tell Adrian that April said hello.”
This stunning bit of information hit me like a bolt. It resonated completely with me because of what happened to my sister and Terry. I immediately felt a kinship with Adrian Frost. I felt I had an understanding of what it had been like for him to have been “the one who survived.”
I familiarized myself now with Mr. Frost and his work, watching a 2012 performance of his “Memphis Blues” presentation that is on “YouTube.” I also found a wonderful clip called “More Memphis Blues” that featured a wonderful modern dancer Tamara Jonason interpreting “physically” Frost’s art and poetry. I also saw a clip of Adrian interacting with the art loving public at a Eureka Springs Art colony in another YouTube clip. “The Memphis Blues” series is one of Frost’s odes to the “Heartland” of America-a journey I would eventually find out that had once included my lost friend Jan. Quotes from “Old Man River” intersperse with song and his own original poetry. Adrian Frost is actually a “performance artist”-a phenomena that often includes music, spoken word, dance, and visual art.
Struck immediately by the handsomeness of Mr. Frost, an Englishman for sure, yet with a touch perhaps of the “English Gypsy,” the type of Englishman that have the heavy, “Tyrone Poweresque” eyebrows that smack of the “Black Irish”-the eyebrows Liz Taylor got from her father-they hint at romances of “ladies” with “traveling” men or perhaps even those Spaniard invaders of the 1600’s. No matter, I could understand my Jan’s fascination with this unique and talented person.
Knowing what happened to Adrian and Jan though, I found myself holding back from contacting him. I was overwhelmed with the similarity to what had happened to my sister. I was waiting for a “right time” when I felt I could say something to him that would not hurt him somehow. I had a bit of fear of hurting this man-thinking I was ripping off the band aid or scab that had formed to get him through the rest of his life. I truly had to think it through. Then one day, after a few months, I decided to make the connection.
Mr. Frost turned out to be a delight. He was actually thrilled to hear from me and the apprehension that had vexed me was for naught. Through subsequent e-mails from him I was able to fill in some blanks about Jan’s life after our parting on 57th Street. Jan had followed up on her interest in belly dancing with actually going to live with “Bedouins” in the desert. In other words, she had traveled the world. Jan had met and married Adrian while at “UC Davis” and they had embarked on an interesting but sometimes hardship filled life together as they were not oft in one spot too long either due to the nature of Frost’s residencies at various schools around the country.
I was also thrilled to find out that my “Cherokee Sister” Jan had actually gone back to her roots and involved herself in the preservation of Indian Burial Mounds ( The Ho-Chunk Nation and their famous “Effigy Mounds” in Wisconsin) and had been on “Vision Quests.” I had remembered that her mother “Dori” was Cherokee like my own mother and it seemed apropos that she would become taken with “Native American” concerns long after leaving the “Big Apple” behind. Ironically, my mother and I were on a spiritual trip to the Cherokee reservation in North Carolina along about the time Jan was in nearby Asheville according to resumes and “itinery” Frost sent me and we didn’t know it.
I was a late comer to the film “Fame” which was a sensation around the time I was around Jan the most. I only just saw it for the first time in the last few years. The song “The Body Electric” from that film brought tears to my eyes and even though Jan had graduated from the “High School of Art and Design” and not the “High School of the Performing Arts” (I believe her sister Gail did though) the movie and the song took me back to what it was like to be in New York City when art could still thrive and the city was still mostly an affordable place to live. I felt that Jan’s had indeed been “The Body Electric”-that woman that Walt Whitman sang the praises of in “Leaves of Grass.” “The Body Electric “as a term has also been borrowed by author Ray Bradbury.
Jan Gallione had initially been a part of the “European School of Art” when I knew her. Adrian Frost, the son of Sir Terry Frost, literally hailed from a family of artists, his brother Anthony also following in their famous father’s footsteps. Sir Terry Frost was a famed “Abstract Expressionist” from England. Adrian’s style is more of a “Post Dada” modern art with strong usage of “collage themes” and written and spoken word. Jan’s graduation piece from “UC Davis,” called “The Labors of Clementine” with a thread of that famous song running throughout, literally “brought the house down” when she performed it. She was embracing a type of art that was very American at this point-in other words-she had “evolved.”
In 1994, Jan Gallione was the same age as my sister at the time of her death and their birthdays were just a few days apart. Both strong willed Aries women they usually did what they wanted to-admirable in many cases and sometimes dangerous in others-they forged their own paths and destinies.
To Adrian, Jan was like a Cherokee Princess, something to adore as if a childhood dream came true. Therefore, when moving to Arizona, and she, “with child,” at the time, asked to turn around and return to Wisconsin and her unfinished projects with the burial mounds, Adrian accepted her request after trying to reason with her about the bad weather failed.
I finally knew the truth about what happened to Jan Gallione. Like my sister, her life ended on a stretch of highway, Jan’s in a snowstorm near Council Bluff’s, Iowa and my Renee’s in Southern Indiana on post “Valentine Day” black ice.
As a child, I would cry uncontrollably when hearing the song “My Darling Clementine.” My mother would say, “But it’s a funny song! It’s not meant to be sad. It’s not real.” Even though my mother tried to point out to me that it was “satire” I would cry out “No it isn’t. Clementine is real! She’s dead Mommy!”
The search for Jan held many spiritual and psychic qualities for me. Even my friend Liza DeCamp, proprietress of “Magnet Queen” in Tennessee, got caught up in the excitement. She did not know Jan but graduated the High School of Art and Design” a few years after Jan did and was able to find her yearbook photos and info for us.
Currently, Adrian Frost is working on an art film series in collaboration with Ada Athorp called “Furies” (a modern day take on ancient Greek heroines). He is proof that the “artist” must continue to seek inspiration and passion on the journey of life.
In fact, as long as there are artists like Adrian, Jan, and of course myself, seeking new inspiration in every day, I know in my heart that the “Body Electric” will never really “die”-but the “soul,” the real “spark,” will live on.
“If Only” – A poem by Aziza Al-Tawil
I wish someone could welcome the morning with me
open my eyes to the sunrise
and help me to “see.”
I’m so afraid of the day without the touch of “love”
The light for me only
and others who are lonely with no other things to speak of.
If only you were here to fill my heart
to lift up my head
from this silent bed
and make this “new day” a “new start.”
In honor of Adrian and Jan:
New Hope Animal Rescue “8th Annual Bowl-A-Thon” Nitro, WV April 2, 2017
By Aziza Al-Tawil
Sunday, April 2nd, was indeed a joyous day for the staff of “Egyptian Chick Magazine.” Thanks to “Town N Country Lanes” in Nitro, WV and Karen Maes for organizing the event. Thanks to Lee and Jerry for playing with us. Billy Jack Watkins, our research assistant, had not been bowling in 30 years but still did us proud! I had not been bowling in about ten years and this was only about my fourth time total doing it! I was also not so bad “considering!” Met a darling “Black and Tan Coon Hound Mix” named “Pugsley.” He was a real sweetheart and I hope he finds a home. Check out the photos from our fun day and if you would like to donate to them please go to this link New Hope Animal Rescue West Virginia Chapter Donation Page
Thanks to the following donors:
D.J. Adams, Marion Cerrato, Kathy Claypool, Ron Kerr, “London Church of God,” June Staats, Kathy at Luna, and several anonymous donors.
Was absolutely thrilled to find this CD (Available in digital download here) which is also available in “Vinyl.” It was tough for a while to really find Middle Eastern music that really could be set up like an old 5 and 7 part routine without having to just scour through cd odds and ends. (Some of the stuff they put out in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s just sounded like background music for a restaurant not a show). The other crazy thing was realizing that a lot of “public domain” stuff was out there that ended up on new “CD’s” without crediting the original musicians or sources. In fact, they took it a step further and just renamed the stuff and came up with fake bands. That aspect of it remains a problem but I’m happy to report that at least a really good release has come out to serve a lot of tempo changes and the music is divine and sounds more like a show.
Even though we all just love and still appreciate the shows we can do to “live music” it’s great to know that there is a “lively” option with Arabic music to do a show with. (I can elaborate more on Greek choices in another post, etc.) The Arabic music was one of the worst to suffer the post “synthesizer” age.
The CD is called “Arabian Fantasy“ and it is gorgeous! From the stellar version of “Ah Ya Zein,” the lovely “kanoun” infused “Taksim Layali,” to a fabulous drum solo “Beat of the Harem,” you just can’t beat the choices here to mix and match for a show.
The link for the “Vinyl” Version is here:
I recognize one of the tracks from one of my old Naif Agby records and the name they give it does not match, so again, beware of fake names given to these songs and bands, but they are surely a delight to dance to!
“Moon River”: Memories of Nejma and Her Crochet Costume, Toronto 1962
By Aziza Al-Tawil
My mother had very fond memories of performing in Toronto, Canada in the Summer of 1962. She remembered the timing well because she had only been belly dancing since the previous Winter, and the Henry Mancini theme song to “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” could be heard almost any time of day on radio stations up there. Many nights, putting on make-up in the dressing room and getting her costume on was accompanied by the refrain “Moon River wider than a mile, I’m crossing you in style some day…”
Also, appearing with Johanna at the Westover Hotel was an amiable and memorable dancer named Nejma who shared the bill with her. It used to be the custom that performers in show business exchanged publicity photos when they worked together. This time was no different but was made even more special by the fact that my mother got three amazing shots of Nejma in a truly exotic and fabulous costume that was primarily crochet. My mother Johanna said the costume was Turkish made but whether it has the crochet beading on it I cannot see from the photos. That is an entire technique in itself, but either way the costume is brilliant.
Her chosen photographer for “publicity” appears to be a “Gary Amo” of Detroit.
Sam Wagman of the “Toronto Merry Go Round called the girls “the two sparkling new authentic dancers” at “The Westover Hotel” which was being managed by a guy named Joe Gollub. Nejma was called “Queen of the Harem” and Johanna was called “Petite Johanna-the Darling of the East.
Belly Dancer Mystery of the Month
by Aziza Al-Tawil
Thanks to my fiancé’ Billy Jack Watkins finding it on “YouTube” I got to see a mystery belly dancer in the opening credits of the 1974 William Shatner flick “Impulse.” The music was divine, very Anatolian, and the dancer was in a nightclub that seemed to have a multi-tier seating arrangement. I investigated the film further and found out it was primarily filmed around Tampa, FL and the nightclub scene was at “Bartke’s Dinner Theater” on S.R. 60 so not sure if some dancers from that area at this time in history might recognize the place. The dancer is listed on IMDB as Paula Dimitrouleas and sadly this is the only credit listed for her. Would be curious to know if she worked mostly in belly dancing and whatever happened to her. By the way, despite some naysayers, I believe the role of a very mentally deranged killer who had a traumatic experience as a child is one of Shatner’s greatest acting performances. Check it out.
Dabke Around the World: Same Dance-Different Variations
By Aziza Al-Tawil
Never forget the time I was playing the flute and my mother was drumming at an outdoor festival in Charleston, WV and a bunch of people started doing Dabke together. Or, I should say, were “trying” to do Dabke line dance together. The fact of the matter is, just like the teacher here mentions, they were from different countries and therefore had different ways of doing it. At one point all these young people stopped and laughed and asked each other what their respective countries of origin are. The answers varied from Iraq to Syria to Jordan to Saudi Arabia. It was quite interesting. They laughed about their differences but never really got the dance together. (My father and mother actually used to do a very old style Syrian Dabke you don’t see much any more). The teacher here seems very experienced and you can probably learn a lot from Dabke 101:Learn How to Dance Dabke.
A Warning Letter:
Water-toxoid syndrome.. find out if you’re infected..
Revealing this dirty little secret since WWI
Are you slowly being poisoned?
There’s a deadly pandemic that’s completely rampant right now, and if you wash your clothes with detergent.. you’re likely affected.
If you care about your family, your children, and your longevity please drop what you’re doing right now and watch this video..
We’re very happy to announce that Dr. Artsvi Bakhchinyan and the State Museum of Lit and Art has published their book “Armenians in World Choreography” and has included our “Editor-In-Chief” Aziza Al-Tawil among the top performer/choreographers in the Middle Eastern Dance field who hail from Armenian blood. More details soon about where you can get a copy that includes the bios of famous dancers from many genres including ballet and modern. Aziza is proud to be included with other dancers in history of the likes of Tamara Toumanova, Leon Danielian, and others.
Egyptian Chick Magazine is published by:
Aziza Al-Tawil “Editor in Chief”
Billy Jack Watkins, “Research Assistant to the Editor”
Josephine Homonai, “Fashion Consultant and Model”
Hi friends! The weather is lousy and after the frenzy of the “Holidays” it’s time to take a break from our regular issue. That will resume in February with some articles worth waiting for. Right now, the only way I can think of to beat the “Winter Blues” is to stay inside with a robe on and look at “EBay” and work on my costumes for Spring performances. With that in mind please check out the sale of Johanna and her “Oasis Ballet” company original publicity photos-all that’s left from the original printings in the 1960’s. These were when they developed negatives in a darkroom and of course these have a beautiful glossiness to them you don’t see much of any more. The above shot was Maria Stevens favorite photo of Johanna. She left the photo of Johanna (taken by theatre photography legend Martha Swope) up in her NYC club “The Arabian Nights” until it shuttered it’s doors.
I’m only selling photos that I’m able to keep a few of as souvenirs. These photos were kept in a safe place and are in wonderful condition with no signs of wear. They are not from an agent’s file, etc., therefore they were not rifled through over the years. (Some of the other photogs represented in this collection are Kriegsmann, Jack Mitchell (“Dance Magazine”), and Diaz, NYC. There are also some Flamenco and Adagio photos going up soon). The link to the sale is below and will help this magazine expand and continue and possibly help fund some other creative projects. If you like the magazine so far, please consider buying one of these great shots. I have over 20 listings. Here is the link : Vintage Belly Dancer Johanna Original Photos on Ebay.
Esma Redzepova is Gone!:
By Aziza Al-Tawil
I’m very sad to report that “The Queen of the Gypsies,” Esma Redzepova has passed away at age 73. She was born in Skopje, Macedonia, when it was part of Bulgaria, started singing at ten years old and went on to represent her people and their songs to the world including command performances for various world leaders. She and her husband, bandleader and manager Stevo Teodosievski, fostered 47 children.
A wonderful CD called ” Gypsy Carpet” is available at Amazon (Click title for details). I was listening to this and am particularly fond of the song “Bistergan Man” (“You Forgot About Me”). I made a “YouTube” video when I heard the news, remembered another favorite song of mine she performed “Sastalise Tsigane”- a song which I heard many renditions of growing up in the Greek Tavernas which were truly an international scene.
On YouTube: Aziza Al-Tawil Remembers Esma Redzepova
Love my Gypsy Passions in Fashion:
Letter from the Editor:
Well, the last few months have been a “roller coaster.” This magazine endorsed Bernie Sanders and his progressive ideas for the Presidency of the United States. Since then, nothing positive has come to light about the way he was treated, yet, we’ve had to move on for fear of even worse. The disaster of the “Standing Rock” protests at the reservation that straddles North and South Dakota give us pause and make us realize that now is a ripe time for a resurgence of “The American Indian Movement.” (As of today at least 2 policeman have turned in their badges telling their bosses that this was not what they “signed up for”). I could not help but think as I watched this incident “unfold” over the last few weeks what the iconic Tom Laughlin would be thinking about now. Truth is, if “Billy Jack” had not died in 2013 at the age of 82, chances are, if he had any strength left at all he would be with them. Delores too. The Reverend Jesse Jackson, representing the “old guard” of “activism” did make it there on a horse and was greeted by actor Mark Ruffalo.
The crisis goes on beyond damage to “Native” artifacts, in fact it threatens the very water people drink. (Coming on the heels of all of this is the ridiculous verdict that the perpetrators of the armed “takeover” of the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge are innocent. In other words, if they were a First Nations people or black they would have never made it to trial, they would be dead). Also, it has not been but a couple of years since those of us with a heart were horrified at the cruel treatment of “Baby Veronica” and her Cherokee military vet father Dusten Brown. It seems to be “open season” once more on native rights.
Another hero of mine that stirred the pot of “Activism” in my heart was Tom Hayden, and hearing of his death several days ago brought back memories of reading his autobiography “Re-Union” when it came out. Tom Hayden was another champion of “Civil Rights” whose bravery took him into dangerous places in the 1960’s South where some did not return “alive” as well as the protests at the tumultuous Democratic Convention of 1968. In fact, our Bernie Sanders saga was similar to the “fractious” 1968 Democratic Party divisions when 80 percent of primary voters had voted for “Anti-War” candidates yet delegates crushed the “Peace Plank” of the “Platform” resulting in the “shut-out” of Senator Eugene McCarthy.
Discovering heroes like Tom Hayden and even Ceasar Chavez and Martin Sheen was sort of a part of the 1960’s nostalgia that started up around the late 1980’s. The twenty and thirty year mark of some important achievements were coming up around that time and it was actually a time to reflect-on what went “right”- and what went “wrong” with our “idealism.”
I do know that if Tom Laughlin and Tom Hayden were brought to life and made young again, they’d be right there on the front lines of “Standing Rock.” In their spirit “Egyptian Chick Magazine” “Stands with Standing Rock!”
Gifts from Eleni
by Aziza Al-Tawil
I was thrilled to meet with my former dance pupil and longtime friend Eleni upon her return from a trip to NYC a few weeks ago. My mother Johanna and I had trained Eleni when I was a child during the heyday of belly dance and we re-connected a few years ago when I returned to Charleston, WV to live while a film I’m in was being shot here. Eleni had reminisced about while in NYC several years ago she managed to snag a private class with Serena, my mother’s old pal from her years at the “Egyptian Gardens.” They had a great time and Serena complimented Eleni’s skill at dance as learned from Johanna, etc. Eleni was therefore touched to hear of Serena’s death not long after the private lesson.
When we first met Ellen she had gone out into the world at college age to experience new things. Her adventures saw her from everywhere from a dairy farm in Virginia to cocktail waitressing in New Orleans. She remembers the first time she decided to look into belly dance classes, “I saw an article in Cosmopolitan about it and said, wow that looks like fun-I want to do that!” She reminisced with me about a lot of different things that Johanna shared with her in conversation. Even that “Arab men think a woman looks sexy in black.” I can remember working a Greek Church function with “Eleni” when I was a child and she was excited to report to my mother that I had shown her how to get tips. Ellen’s parents were nice too-having us to dinner one time-I remember her mother gave me a long string of pearls like flappers wore. I even danced the “Charleston” wearing them when we did jazz dancing with the “Strawhatters” Dixieland Band.
Back then Eleni had a boyfriend that dabbled in drumming and they had spent time on an “Ashram” at one point. One time Ellen and Michael met us at the Charleston, WV Amtrak Station. They were floored that my mother had “14 suitcases and a baby.” I might have been seven on that trip back but I was still considered a “baby!” By the time we returned to Charleston again when I was a teen, Ellen, who had become a registered nurse, had married a young, local lawyer who shared her passion for championing “rights.”
So when I heard that Eleni was headed for NYC this last time, I told her about the Serena Museum at “Showplace” gallery in Chelsea. Eleni stayed in Astoria, Queens but made sure to go over to Manhattan to catch the exhibit. Even though she went on a weekday when the exhibit is only viewable from windows, she still said it was a marvelous experience. She enjoyed the exhibit so much that she was kind enough to bring me some souvenirs and gifts. She brought me pamphlets and cards from the Serena Exhibit and to my delight a stunning, vintage, “Art Deco” style mesh choker with onyx accents, and also a delightful and educational postcard from the “Ellis Island” museum. This is how thoughtful “Eleni” is and has always been. Just knowing her is a “gift in it’s own right.”
Shelley “Yasmela” Muzzy – Founder of “Bou-Saada Troupe”- Passes Away
By Aziza Al-Tawil
I had the pleasure of knowing Shelley Muzzy on Facebook through a now defunct group “1970s Belly Dance.” Shelly fought a long hard battle with Ovarian Cancer and it was inspirational to see her continue her love of life and colorful things in the world for as long as she was able. She was the founder of the “Bou-Saada” dance company along with fellow dancer “Cassima” that toured the Pacific Northwest, Western states and Canada in a bus living a very enviable carefree and artistic lifestyle that looking back seems the epitome of the “Hippie Era.”
In fact before moving to Bellingham, Washington she was in San Francisco studying from Jamila Salimpour and then performing in Nakish’s dance company. In recent years I know that Shelly went on a few pilgrimages to favorite places in the world including not just foreign countries but the old “Haight Ashbury District” of San Francisco. After retiring from dancing in 1990, she kept up in her later years her love of exotic textiles, jewelry, and beads running the “Bijoux Trading Company” on Etsy and I enjoyed talking with her a time or two about ethnic beads, etc.
Her dance instructors included Jamila Salimpour, Nakish, Rhea, Aisha Ali, and Mardi Rollow of “Aman Folk Ensemble.” She was a contributor to Ibrahim “Bobby” Farrah’s groundbreaking magazine “Arabesque” in the 1970’s/1980s and was also a staff writer for the original “Habibi” Magazine.
Since their marriage in the 1970s, Shelly had the love and support of the man she called “Mr. Muzzy,” a fellow with an interesting background himself having appeared in some of the “Our Gang Comedies” as a child.
You can learn more about “Yasmela” and reference her articles at this page of “The Gilded Serpent” magazine website.
I know many people are already missing this special woman.
“Vintage Belly Dancers” for November:
Aziza Al-Tawil and Billy Jack Watkins Halloween Short film “Dark Gathering 2: The Hunt for Pristinia” has arrived on “YouTube.” If you like Mel Brooks, Monty Python and Hammer films you will love this little film. It is a sequel to last year’s “Dark Gathering”.
Egyptian Chick Magazine “Halloween Supplement” October 28th, 2016
“Countess Dracula”: Gypsies and Belly Dancers
by Aziza Al-Tawil
Had the great fortune to see the fantastic performance of horror legend Ingrid Pitt in Hammer’s “Countess Dracula” (1971) a couple of weeks ago on the CometTV channel.
Her performance as the despicably selfish Elizabeth Bathory of Hungarian history was so brilliant I actually applauded in my living room at the conclusion of the film. Indeed, the whole cast was excellent and I consider it to be one of Hammer Film’s best. The version I saw, while a bit bloody, was truly not as graphic as it could have been and in a way the story benefitted from that rather than was depleted somehow. I do believe CometTV may have edited out a scene or two, but the overall film was sensational anyway-nothing seemed missing from the narrative.
The dancing in the film was interesting and was a nice addition to a film already lush with period costuming evoking Medieval Transylvania where they moved the locale from Hungary to fit more into the “Vlad the Impaler”/Dracula connection. The dancer in the café, Hulya Babus, wears a charming costuming with a pillbox hat. This costume fits well as a lot of the patrons are wearing “Turkoman” and “Tatar” influenced outfits-such as might be some of the passers through in this region at this time.
Some people who have seen the film, compare the presentation to a “Greek Tragedy” in moral, theme, and tone. This is a brilliantly achieved component of the film.
(Another film that was interesting to me from a dancer’s standpoint was the “New Wavy” 1985 flick “The Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf.” This time, the presiding sexy lady of horror is Sybil Danning, and the scenes of townsfolk including gypsies and musicians that was filmed in Czechoslovakia are quite colorful and entertaining).
The timing was quite fortunate for watching “Countess Dracula” as it would only be a couple of weeks later that Billy Jack Watkins and I would start on the sequel to last year’s Halloween flick “Dark Gathering.” As an actor everyone knows that it’s great to draw inspiration from others. 2 of Ingrid Pitt’s best “Countess Dracula” and “The Vampire Lovers” are available in a set at Amazon-click here for details…
Aziza Al-Tawil “Scream Queen”: The New Publicity Pictures
The actress, and founder and editor of “Egyptian Chick Magazine”, soon to be seen in director Joseph Anderson’s new flick “Gravecaller,” got in the spirit of “Halloween” and Ingrid Pitt, and posed for new publicity shots. The film, wherein Aziza plays a fraudulent psychic in the 1980s, will be released soon and we can expect a major announcement about just that in the next few weeks. Stay tuned for more info.
“Dark Gathering 2: The Hunt for Pristinia”
Coming this Halloween 2016
by Aziza Al-Tawil
Last year’s Halloween short from my company “Al-Tawil Films” was “Dark Gathering.” The professional court Jester Rodolpho finds his kind suddenly out of favor in England so he travels to a strange foreign land in the Mediterranean to meet his new employer whom he thinks is a “Countess” but is really an evil “Sorceress.” He is in store for a surprise when he arrives late-just when she needed his help in preparing for a sinister event at her abode.
This year’s sequel finds the sorceress “Vindictiva” wanting to send her lackey “Rodolpho” on a special mission against the good natured Goddess of the forest “Pristinia.” Last year’s short was rather “Monty Python” meets “Hammer” in spirit. This year it may be a tad more “Mel Brooks.” (Just recently watched “Dracula:Dead and Loving it.” More great timing for inspiration!)
Filming on “Dark Gathering 2: The Hunt for Pristinia” continues and the film should be out on YouTube by Halloween night. Here are a few stills from the shoot so far.
Letter From the Editor
Was terribly disappointed to hear that politicians in Egypt are trying to keep their clock set back to “the Dark Ages” by pushing this whole “Virginity” test of women thing. Amazing that the humiliation and torture of women still seems to be the main agenda in so many countries in the Middle East. Apparently, no one cares about rape, or other issues that actually matter. We must uplift our sisters who are continually beat down by these societies and stand vigilant for their fair treatment. “Egyptian Chick Magazine” only promotes and condones the humane treatment of our fellow men, women, children, and animals. We are “Progressive” not “Regressive.”
In the Mid-Atlantic of the United States we are entering into the “Fall” season and the changing of the leaves will be the “big show” here soon. For those who enjoy the “Halloween” holiday and it’s “dress-up” and “fantasy aspects,” they will shortly be able to express themselves in full measure.
All of the ladies featured in our magazine this month are very creative indeed and also enjoy the fun at “Halloween.” They made interesting subjects indeed for the October issue. Just wish all women could have the kind of freedom we have.
Right now, “Egyptian Chick Magazine” is taking donations so we can upgrade the site to be more “monetized” and have higher quality visuals and editing tools. Expansion and a broader budget (we have virtually no budget now) will allow us more freedom in planning fashion shoots, location shoots and interviews, and give us more SEO planning tools. If you have enjoyed the magazine and you would like to help, the link is here:
Treska (Made in America!)Exotic Jewelry and Accessories:
“Girl of a Thousand Faces”
by Aziza Al-Tawil
15 Year old Elizabeth Tweel always knew she loved art, but then she saw a face painter during “Career Day” in the 5th Grade and she was hooked on “Stage and Special Effects” make-up. The Charleston, WV area teenager performs with her school’s theatre class and show choir and plans to go to an arts oriented college afterwards so she can one day turn her talent and hobby for make-up into something for the professional stage and screen.
Her father Brian shares her love of the “macabre” and often joins in the fun during seasons like “Halloween.” In fact, West Virginia has been known to be somewhat of a hub of paranormal activity. One event the Tweels enjoy is the “Mothman Festival” in Point Pleasant where visitors can join a host of informative activities relating to the famous “Mothman Prophecies” incident that foretold of the “Silver Bridge Collapse” in 1967. Other famous monsters in WV include the “Flatwoods Monster,” the “Grafton Monster,” “Bat Boy,” and good old “Sasquatch.” West Virginia is also no stranger to ghost tales and UFO sightings.
Elizabeth in natural make-up. This young lady is going places!
The Tawil and Tweel families honor the memory of their late cousin Danny Thomas, comedian, actor, humanitarian and founder of “Saint Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital” in Memphis. Please donate today.
“A Dancer’s Passions”: Desideria Masheed
by Aziza Al-Tawil
Desideria Masheed is known as “The Jessica Rabbit of Belly Dance,” but who really is this red headed, passionate, and talented lady? No less than a very highly trained dancer well versed in the technique of ballet, Flamenco, Latin, and of course Belly Dancing. Growing up in a show business family in NYC seemed to literally set the stage for her childhood entry into the world of dance. Her father was a famous magician and her mother was a dancer.
By her teens, Desideria was a performing artist herself, working as a dancer, percussionist, snake charmer, “Pin-Up Model” and costume designer. Her beauty, versatility, and fire got her work with many top bands from “Latin” to “Rock” including Carmen Carrasco, Raquel Lima, “The Afro Andes,” “Jon Astor Band,” and even punk legend “Joey Ramone and Cheetah Chrome.” These were exciting times that found her hanging out with the likes of Tito Puente, Celia Cruz, and La India and performing for celebrities like Bruce Willis and Demi Moore and Al B. Sure around the New York and New Jersey area.
Desideria has been a “diligent” dancer trained in ballet since age 3,and in Jazz, Afro Cuban, Samba, Flamenco, and then Arabic/ Oriental and Indian dance starting in the 90’s. Her first Middle Eastern Dance instructor was legendary Serena.
She says, “I am very into the cultural-but a rocker at heart. I also sing since my teens with bands. I am a second soprano singer and have sung all forms of jazz , blues and rock have been working on songs for my next music project.” She can also balance just about anything on her head.
To those that know her Desideria is also known for her tender heart. Living in Jersey City on “9/11” she volunteered for five days and rode one of the boats across the water to help other workers. In fact, she almost lost her brother-in-law in the incident but he escaped from the second building. Desideria wanted to help all she could but remembers “It was horrific.” She said “it was a very bad time for people volunteering” because they were so “distraught” and in “shock.” So much so, most coming back from the city were “unable to eat.” Desideria and other people from her building in Jersey City lost “co-workers, associates, and friends.” Desideria is haunted by the painful memories of that day but those who her know also know what a “resilient” lady she is.
An interest in ethnic culture is evident in Desideria-she speaks four languages, and is a European, Middle Eastern, and Indian gourmet cook having studied culinary arts for years. She is the first person to tell you that learning new things is one of the greatest things someone can do because it feeds the soul. In her career she has been fortunate to be able to perform in foreign countries including Morocco, Venezuela, and Copenhagen, Denmark with their answer to “David Bowie,” Ras Bolding. Her own ethnic background is very multi-cultural including, Italian, Russian, Gypsy, Spanish with a sprinkling of Kashmiri.
During this “Halloween” season I asked Desideria to reminisce about any black cats that have “tip toed” into her life over the years. She told me that she even had a family of five black cats in Connecticut for 8 years. After moving to Puerto Rico she worked for local rescue organization “Save a Gato” beginning in 2013. She says “All cats are joyful, loving, smart, and loyal creatures. Black cats are special indeed. Like mini panthers-so playfully observant and smart.”
She loves the beauty of Puerto Rico but Desideria is planning to return to the United States because the economy of the island took quite a hit when rumors of the “Zika Virus” began to deter some of the usual tourist trade.
Desideria performs traditional “Egyptian/Moroccan Belly Dance” as well as “Dark Theatrical Cabaret” where she performs her own creation “Raks Shocki” to “Goth” and “Metal” music. She has performed for weddings, festivals, fundraisers, and even hosted her own monthly belly dance show at Mehanata’s Bulgarian restaurant in NYC. She was also featured on the South American TV Show “Blanco TV.”
Desideria is also someone who knows the importance of “spirituality” for personal progress as well as healing. She is a natural health consultant, herbalist, and “Reiki” practitioner 1, 2 & 3 and as of 2010 she has been certified in the “Dolphina Method of Goddess Workout.” On Facebook she runs a boutique gift shop called “Dark Decadence Emporium.” Her first book of poetry was released in 2007. All the years I’ve known her she has been drawn to the “Magical” and “Mystical” of our universe, and with “All Hallows Eve” approaching I can think of no better cover girl for the October edition of our magazine.
Dark Beauty: How About some Basic Black for Fall?
By Aziza Al-Tawil
Egyptian Armenian Hungarian American model Josie Homonai wears the smoky eyes and pale frosted peachy lip look here with a black sweater and scarves.
African Black Soap:
by Aziza Al-Tawil
Letter from the Editor:
Well, here we are, in the last “throes” of Summer and there is so much to “say,” “do,” and “announce” that it’s hard to keep it all straight.
Let me start out by saying that I have even more exciting news about the legacy of my mother’s dear friend, the late Serena Wilson. After I mentioned in last month’s issue that her longtime West Side studio was closing on the West Side and starting a new “lease on life” at “Belly Dance America,” I was excited to learn that a new “Serena Belly Dance Museum” has opened in Chelsea at “Showplace Design Center,” 40 West 25th Street, Gallery 110, New York City, NY. The exhibit, which opened August 21st, will run until December 30, 2016. Serena’s son Scott Wilson and his wife Leni will be there Sundays 12-4:00 p.m. or by appt. For appointment contact firstname.lastname@example.org. This native “New Yorker” knows that what could be a better time to be in New York seeing the sights than the lovely Fall and Christmas season?
The exhibit also brings back some attention to the fact that so many in the “biz of belly dance” have had secret yearnings for a “Museum of Belly Dance” where “collections” could be housed “permanently.” America, once a real “potboiler” of activity in the art of “dance” in general has seen a decline. In a society that ditched music in the schools for more of a bent towards “science and technology” we’ve turned into somewhat of a “Protestant Work Ethic” culture wherein a giant finger wags over us as if to say, “Now, now! Get a REAL job and pay for your own useless hobbies!”
Following along this general theme this month’s issue will include an interesting story about legendary dancer La Meri ( Our “Cover Girl” this month) and a shawl she once owned.
La Meri’s Shawl
by Aziza Al-Tawil
In the 1950’s my mother and her husband and dance partner Bill decided to study Flamenco with the famous Juan Martinez and Antonita. Maestro Martinez was very beloved by his students. In the class with Johanna and Bill was La Meri’s sister Lillian Hughes Newcomer. La Meri was the Louisville, KY born “ethnic dance” pioneer who co-founded the “School of Natya” in NYC with the equally intriguing maverick Ruth St. Denis. By the late 1940’s La Meri’s book on the art of “Spanish Dancing” was in the personal library of Johanna and Bill. (One of their first Flamenco teachers was film legend Rita Hayworth’s uncle Paco Cansino). Lillian liked Johanna so when her sister La Meri had a sale of personal items, she arranged for Johanna to get a “special price” on the shawl.
For years, not much was spoken of about Juan Martinez and Antonita. He was born in 1896 and passed away in 1961. His personal papers (1932-1962), which are mostly in Spanish, were only donated to the “Jerome Robbins Dance Division” of the “Lincoln Center Branch” of the “New York Public Library” in the year 2005. Cataloging and compiling of them was not completed until the year 2014. According to these papers, Juan Martinez was born in Burgos, Spain and began performing and touring with his family as a child. He married Antonia Fernandez whom he formed an artistic partnership in 1938. Johanna seemed to remember that he had a first wife and dance partner who passed away from altitude sickness when they were in Mexico City to perform.
In a book called “El Maestro Juan Martinez Que Estaba Alli,” the author Manuel Chaves Nogales recounts meeting Martinez in Paris and hearing the hair raising experiences he and his first wife Sole encountered when they became trapped in the “Bolshevik” revolution while performing in Russia in 1917. “After a successful tour of the Central European cabarets, flamenco dancer Juan Martinez and his partner Sole were caught by surprise in Russia by the revolutionary events of February of 1917. Unable to leave the country, in St. Petersburg, Moscow, and Kiev they suffered the fall-out of the October Revolution and the bloody civil war that followed. The great Spanish journalist Manuel Chaves Nogales met Martinez in Paris and, shocked by the stories he shared, decided to compile them. The result is this book which narrates the changes the protagonists were faced with and how they figured out a way to survive. Its pages include traveling artists, prodigal Russian dukes, German spies, Chekist assassins, and speculators of a different ilk.”
I viewed an interesting “Press Release” online which came from The Museum of Modern Art dated May of 1941. It declared that for the third in it’s “Coffee Concerts” series it was to “present an entire Spanish Program Wednesday May 14th at 9:00 p.m.” The show was to consist of Spanish folk songs sung by Sophia Novoa and her only accompaniment was to be “tambourine and castanets.” It also mentioned that “Martinez and Antonita” were to be featured. It continued: “The Gaiteros, a group of Spanish peasant musicians, will be headed by a bagpiper, Jose Belion—the only known Gaitero in Now York. The Spanish bagpipe is of Celtic origin but has a smaller bag and only one horn instead of three.”
It continues: “The accompaniment is made up of a bass drum (bombo), a trap drum (tambourine) and two dancers. Also appearing on the program is Jeronimo Villarino, the only known flamenco singer-guitarist in the United States. Oriental in character and suggesting Moorish influence, flamenco folk music is sung and played on the guitar mainly in the south of Spain.”
The concert program was as follows:
“1. Anda Jaleo, Jaleo (Andalucía); Si Quieres Que Te Quiera (Asturias) Jota (Navarra) Sofia Novoa and Jeronimo Villarino
2. Las Majas (Andalucía) Juan Martinez and Antonita
S. Medias Granadinas, Guitar Solo (Andalucía); Caranelos—Street Crier’s Song (Andalucía) Jeronimo Villarino
4. Malaguenas. … Juan Martinez and Antonita
5. Muinera (North Spain); Uyu, Yu, Yu—Swinging Song (Andalucía); Sal A Bailar (North Spain) Sofia Novoa with Tambourine
6. Zambra, Guitar Sole (Andalucía); Los Minerofi Del Fondon—Miner’s Song (North Spain) Jeronimo Villarino
7. Jota Aragonesa. Juan Martinez and Antonita
8. Group of Songs and dances from North of Spain, accompanied by Gaiteros (Bagpipes), Drum Tambourine, and Conchas de Santiago (Cockleshells) Gaiteros and Muinera Dance 9. Vivan Los Aires Morenos (Extramadura); Gamine Don Sancho—Old Ballad (North Spain)j Carretero es mi Amante (Castile); A La Valerosa (Castile); Fado (Portugal) Sofia Novoa
10. Holy Week in Seville 1. Saetas. . .Jeronimo Villarino accompanied by trumpets and drums. Cuadro Flamencos. . . Juan Martinez und Antonita and Anna Maria.”
It also said: “Tickets for single concerts are $1.50.”
Juan Martinez and Antonita were known as wonderful people and wonderful artists. Hopefully, in future, more documents will turn up to shed light on the careers of those in the arts so places like the “Jerome Robbins Division” can preserve the information for posterity.
Remembering Rameses: The Exhibit that Took America by Storm
by Aziza Al-Tawil
In the Spring of 1988 I was dating a neighbor of mine in Boston, MA. He was tall with medium brown hair and very pale blue eyes, and he worked in the banking industry. Originally from Texas, he claimed to be a cousin of our then President of the United States George H.W. Bush. There I was, in the middle of the “hippie folk revival” in Boston, buying protest buttons at “George’s Folly” in Allston, MA and there he was this “conservative” young man a few years my senior. The “whoosh” of my “India” skirts on the stairs must have intrigued him (or maybe it was the days I was wearing “leggings” like all the other 80’s chicks) because after doing laundry together a few times we started “seeing” each other socially. We went for pizza at “Bertuccis,” saw a couple of concerts, went to a Boston Red Sox game in the rain and got glared at by one of his jealous female co-workers. We were attracted to each other but there wasn’t too much of an “emotional connection” so really this was no great romance. Cordial goodbyes were made though when he transferred with the bank to another town a couple of months after we started going out. Though this was but a brief interlude in my romantic life, one thing we did together stands the test of time.
After “King Tut and his Treasures made a splash in this country in the late 1970’s, the “Egyptian Museum in Cairo” decided to go one better and bring a tour even more sensational to America about a decade later, making sure to go to a different set of cities than “Tut.” This Fall marks the 30th Anniversary of the “Ramesses the Great Tour” arrival in the United States. After it’s run in Denver, the exhibit made it’s way to the Boston Museum of Science. It was this showing in the Spring of 1988 that my “banker boyfriend” took me to (Well, at the time he was just a “teller!” He may be a “Bank President” by now!).
Just a few months ago I was in an antique store in Charleston, WV when I saw it. An official “souvenir” set of color slides from the showing at the Mint Museum in Charlotte. I had saved two brochures from the show in Boston but it was really cool to find the color slides. The images are quite stunning and brought back some interesting memories from a time when I was young and marveling at a world which was quite old.
Serena’s Mentor: Ruth St. Denis
Ruth St. Denis in Algouari Dance Drama, Photo trio by Nickolas Muray
Coming soon: “Belly Dancing with Aziza Al-Tawil Cifte Telli and Maksoum”