Egyptian Chick Magazine September 2019

Egyptian Chick Magazine September 2019

Letter from the Editor:

Greetings everyone! I’m excited to bring back “Egyptian Chick Magazine” after a long hiatus and bring you some fresh and inspiring content. Our guest dancer who we profile along with her mother “Samira” and her daughter dancer “Elayssa.” In fact, the “mother daughter” dynamic is also at play here in a remembrance of my own dancer mother Johanna and a favorite hat of hers.

On another topic there is an article I actually wrote about a year ago about the legalization of hemp and it’s uses in “Ancient Egypt,” etc. Think of this article as “better late than never.” Also, we remember actress “style icon” Valerie Harper who passed away at age 80 last week.

There are a few shopping ideas at the end of the issue- some for lovers of “Turkish” coffee.

Hope everyone enjoys the end of Summer and is prepping for a beautiful Autumn season.

(Donations for the publication can be made at my “Artistic Fund” at this link: https://social.fund/pkbvqt/ )

Thank you, Aziza

My Mother and Her Spanish Hat

by Aziza Al-Tawil

The Iconic Ali McGraw in a Spanish style hat.

One of the many memories of my mother I was left with since her death was the way she loved her “Spanish Hat.” My mother Johanna, before belly dance, had given her all not just to ballet but the study and professional performance of “Flamenco.” (I would learn later that our Roma Gypsy ancestor had a similar fetish for a similar hat, only with the ball fringe around it-perhaps proving just how much we inherit some “feelings” from our forebears, the memory they say “DNA” carries). Johanna’s Spanish hat was a favorite of hers that she wore quite often when I was growing up in NYC. By then it had been with her since probably at least the early to mid 1960’s when hats were still “de rigueur” – in fact the decline of hat wearing amongst men was blamed on John F. Kennedy around the time Johanna probably purchased her big, dramatic “Spanish” chapeaaux.

A young Diana Rigg in one of these “Spanish Hats.” My mother’s had the taller “crown” like this one.

Despite JFK’s effect on the Men’s millinery industry, women’s hats and gloves to a certain extent continued in popularity into the early 1970’s with glove wearing fading first – hats seeming to have a little more “life” left in them being available rather “scattershot” even through the 1980’s. I’ll never forget though how, by the time I was a teen and we had left NYC for Charleston, WV., that hat of hers freaked me out. I was at an age where everything embarrasses you, you are worried about what everyone in school will think and that if you’re too different you will be the “butt” of jokes.

The Ever cool madonna looking quite the “Gaucho” in this one.

I will say that Charleston, WV always had a reputation for finely dressed citizens and some very “swank” department stores like “Stone and Thomas” and “The Diamond.” However, nothing prevented or balmed the horror I felt every time she put that hat on to go somewhere with me in public. (I already had classmates teasing me for wearing dresses, being a “Gypsy,” and it was not uncommon for some lusty, awkward boys to paw at my clothes in the hallway breathlessly saying “Sexy” or “Silkyor “is that color wine?”

My Mother how I love to remember her: In a Paisley “Mini Dress” – here trying on hats at a K-Mart in Charleston, WV. This spanish looking hat is green Felt. Her black Spanish hat I was used to seeing her in was black and woven straw for summer.

Looking back, I think my mother and I should have been “Californians” if not “New Yorkers.” From people I’ve been in contact with from there it seems like it might have been a more “eclectic vibe” than the one in Charleston, WV at the time. After I got out of school we headed for Boston and I started belly dancing again. My mother was still wearing hats when she felt like it from Boston, to Orlando next, then to North Carolina where she passed away in 2012. A couple of years ago, I returned to Charleston, WV where I’ve run into a few school friends. Two things have happened to me since I was a teen. Number one, I’ve forgiven the awkward boys that called me “Gypsy”- I want their hands to touch me again – the light flicker of a finger on my skirt – the burning of my blush as I turned away – I want us all to be young again – only not afraid. After all, I thought a “Pac Man” arcade across from the school was some kind of “den of iniquity” – me who grew up in nightclubs gyrating in bugle beads to the sounds of “Opa!” and “plate breaking.” Just what did I think would happen in a room full of “joysticks?” One of the boys that used to chase me in the halls and try to kiss me died recently leaving a widow and little kids. Yes! I want us young again! Damn it! Tears now…(Oh, Chris, why did you have to die? Love you my friend….)

Then there is my mother. So many mothers leave us and when they do there is nothing to prepare us for this. Just nothing! When they are vibrant, creative, larger than life types it amazes us more. We thought they were “immortal” didn’t we? The second thing to happen to me is that I would give anything on earth to see my mother in that damn “Spanish Hat” again – putting the final touches on herself before we headed out the door. I cry for one more time – one more chance even to be embarrassed by her. In fact, I guess I outright beg God to see her in the Spanish hat again and hear her say to me the running joke: “Ole Sabicas!” As I write this though – I feel the gentle touch of something else. Her spirit beside me – telling me that everything is alright. On the other side our spirits retain all that we loved and we never fear what others will say. Yes, the tears that started are starting to dry. She is right after all. As she always said, “Mother’s are always right.”

“Of Lace and Dreams”: A California Dance Dynasty Keeps Traditions Alive

By Aziza Al-Tawil

Samira and her line of “Lion in the Sun” Persian Lace

I recently had the joy of interviewing Jenza, a wonderful dancer from California with some wonderful memories to share about the world of dance she knew and how her mother was a catalyst for the journey.

Aziza: “I know your mother was in the belly dance scene and like many “mother/daughter” scenarios it was something great you shared together. Tell us what got your mother interested in the art form and how did she get started?”

Jenza: “My mother was looking for something to do, so a close friend urged her to go take belly dance with her……belly dance classes presented by the City of San Dimas in 1975.  The instructor was very overweight, but moved like a gazelle – light as a feather.  I think her name was Elaine, but I am not sure.  She was impressed with the instructor, and immediately was hooked.  She got me to join her in the winter session in late 1975. By then, she began making costumes.  By the end of 1976 my mother had a troupe (of which I was a member), made the costumes, and we were involved in performing at the 1976 Centennial celebrations for the City of San Dimas.  She did not become a professional dancer, but instead continued to dance with her troupe in local showcases, and became the best costume designer in the area.  She went into business as Samira-Costume Maker.  She designed Persian Lace costumes, highly embellished Afghani style dresses, and even beaded bra/belt sets.  (she hated beading, but she was commissioned to do these and she did not want to refuse).  Within another year my Mother was the national representative in the field for Lion in the Sun Persian Lace fabric, designed costumes for them, and traveled the USA to festivals and workshops to sell the fabric and her costumes.  She was a mover and a shaker in the belly dance scene, becoming the first Vice President of the Middle Eastern Cabaret Dancer’s Association in 1978.

Jenza and her lovely mother Samira, 1970’s California.

Aziza: “Tell us what intrigued you the most about belly dancing and any memorable events or shows with your mother?”


Jenza: “Belly Dancing intrigued me because it felt “exotic” and “freeing” for me because I was painfully shy.  I was performing after a year in my mother’s troupe.  My first solo performance, however, changed my direction and changed my life.  It was in the Centennial Celebration put on by the City of San Dimas.  I performed to “Inta Omri,” though I wanted “Zaina” as first choice.   The music was prerecorded by a friend from a record.  I stepped out onto the stage shaking, terrified.  Something changed, I found I craved the attention of the audience.  It became exhilarating.” 

“Jenza” Circa 1978 Unknown Photographer


Aziza: “Tell me a little about your journey as a soloist, being in nightclubs. What were favorite clubs or music/musicians to work with? What was your favorite song to dance to?”

Jenza:  “On October 3, 1977 I auditioned for a job at the Cascades in Anaheim, CA owned by Lou Shelby (who owned the Fez prior to this)  I was paid for my audition and was hired for 3 nights a week.  This was my first gig and lasted about 8 months.  I was in heaven, the music was heaven, and Lou Shelby the best boss ever.  He always sat down with me every so often to check in and make sure I was enjoying the job and to get to know me.  He did this with every dancer.  There was no one else like him.  I can’t remember all the musicians that were there, but I do remember dancing to John Bilezikjian for the first time at this club.  And, the up and coming Aziz Khadra who often appeared with John, and made a few record albums of his own.” 

 
Mr. Lou Shelby decided to put together an ensemble show with some of the girls.  I was only interested in solo work, so instead of just letting me go, he called up Van, (can’t remember his last name) the owner of the 7th Veil and got me hired for a new gig.  I began 3 nights at the 7th Veil in Hollywood, CA. in the summer of 1978 and my career exploded after that.  The music there was fantastic but the most memorable thing I remembered was either in 1978 or 1979 the Middle Eastern music students from UCLA would come in to “jam” on Saturday nights for a month of so.  IT WAS SO FANTASTIC…. Extra musicians/students with extraordinary talent joined the house musicians…..it was heaven on earth.  I have never danced to such joyous music.”


“One of the biggest influences I remember was Suhail Kaspar, a drummer who worked everywhere it seemed.  I got to know his style so well and eventually could anticipate every thing he could throw at me.  He had a reputation for quite a big ego and this was true.  I got a taste of that ego one night as I came in to “Haji Babas” where we were working together.  I walked past him and did not say hello.  Later, during my show, he and the other musician’s changed the pace and music to get back at me.  He played something totally unknown with sudden changes in rhythm.   I realized what they were doing and started laughing during the show…as I could not help it.  I could keep up with everything and I surprised the hell out of him.  He had respect for me ever after and I loved that.”

Aziza: “As you went along in your dance life, looking back, who would you say were your biggest inspirations/influences in belly dance?

Jenza: “I saw Bert Balladine and Tonya Chianis in performance when I was a student dancer.  Later I attended workshops by each of them.  Bert taught me how posture, gesture and the breath can bring power to a performance…adding drama to my own style.  I loved Tonya’s exuberant Turkish styling…lively and fun.  I literally took years and years of classes from her.  As for Delilah (of Seattle), she took my breath away.  I saw her after I had been dancing for a couple of years.  Her style was quintessential cabaret….with a heavy influence of Turkish.  To me, she was a goddess.  I wanted to dance like her so much.  I learned floor work from her workshops.  She was my top influence in my early professional yearsand I don’t want to forget, Marina of “The Itinerant Dancer.”  She taught folkloric styles to dancers from all over southern California.  We all were influenced by her and her classes made us all better dancers.

Aziza: “In your area of the country did you notice the “dying out” of the club scene and if so how did it effect you?”

Jenza: “Yes, I did notice and was disturbed by the passing of an era.  I danced professionally from 10-3-77 to 10/1994.  The clubs began disappearing one by one until there were only a few left.  I had to drive to another county to work by the 1990’s (Orange county) and there was a larger population of Persians and Lebanese in Orange county it seemed.”

Aziza: “And your daughter is carrying on the “tradition” I hear?

Jenza:My daughter began dancing at the age of 16.  Her dance name was originally “Sa-Elayssa” which meant “with all her heart” in Romanesh according to her father ( a full blood Romani whose family came from Serbia and Russia).  She later changed to name to just “Elayssa” both professionally  and personally.


She was already very good by then, but came into her own in her 20’s.  She worked as a belly dancer and as a “go go dancer” in Hollywood, CA and as a belly dancer in San Francisco..  She reached a high level within the community.  You can see her in many IAMED video’s from the 90’s and beyond.  She danced with the famous troupe Yalail (Janaeni and Ansuya Rathor) for a time, went to India with them.  She was the creative director for the troupe Desert Sin, a troupe that performed Fusion pieces.  She topped off her career with her own troupe called Elysium Dance Theater of which she danced traditional, Persian folk dance, and Fusion.  

I believe I already talked about my mother.  She continued to make costumes even after the store “Lion in The Sun” closed down in the early 80’s.  During the 90’s and the 2000’s the gypsy skirt was popular.  I saw a gorgeous full multilevel gypsy skirt at “Rakkasah” during that time period.  My Mother was with me and said I know how to make that, lets make some.  We made and sold many of those 12 yard monster skirts together.for about 10 years.   I am retired now (though you never know, I might get into it again just for fun).  My Mother is retired and 83 years old this year.  My daughter retired from the dance to be a Mother and I am a proud grandmother of a beautiful 3 year old boy, Lucas. ” 

Hopefully for all of us, “”Jenza” and Family will continue to delight audiences for years to comeAziza

Hemp Legal In U.S.: It’s Uses in Ancient Egypt

By Aziza Al-Tawil

Seshet from Luxor

There has been a lot of talk about the recent legalization of “hemp” and “marijuana” and the products derived from them. There has been a long history of hemp and cannabis in the Middle East. In fact, “Qanbes” the Hebrew word for “Cannabis” is mentioned as the word for “Hemp” in relation to clothing that was made from the fiber.

Cannabis pollen was found on the mummy of Rameses the II and all other Royal mummies.

Cannabis on “Papyrus.

The Goddess Seshat’s symbol from ancient Egypt is a contextualized seven-leafed plant (she is a scribe, which means she is a magician).

The first ritual acts of temple building were accomplished by the pharaoh, who played the role of the creator deities. He was aided in this and related tasks by Seshat, goddess of measure, who helped him stretch the cord used to survey and orient the plot. Pyramid texts identify the plant used to make cord and rope as “smsm,” the Egyptian word for hemp.

There are types of Cannabis that come in 5, 7, and 9 leaf varieties

It is known that cannabis was used recreationally during Nile-flood celebrations in the 12th Century, and that it was present in Egypt thousands of years before that found on the mummy of Rameses II (1275-1229 BC), and in the tomb of Akhenaten (1352-1336 BC).

Modern research shows that Egyptians used cannabis, and knew about its aphrodisiac properties. For example, experts at L’Oreal perfumes recently teamed up with the Centre for Research and Restoration of French Museums, and reconstructed “Kyphi” perfume, an aromatic mixture used by pharaohs to prolong their lives and enhance their sex drives. These perfume experts and Egyptian scholars told the media that one of the key ingredients of the Kyphi perfume was cannabis!

Dabke Dance-Learn Easy: https://egyptianchick.com/how-to-dance-dabke-with-samir-hasan-2/

Remembering “Rhoda”: A Style Icon from the 1970s Has Left US

By Aziza Al-Tawil

Charming Childhood” – Young dancer Valerie harper in Cape with finger cymbals.
RHODA,” Valerie Harper, with that famous scarf, circa Season 1, 1974-1975.

Was terribly saddened to hear of the passing of Valerie Harper, the star of the quintessential 1970’s New York sitcom “Rhoda.” My mother Johanna met Valerie briefly when they marched together in the “women in communications” group in a street demonstration against the prevalence of “smut and crime” that proliferated in Mid-Town Manhattan at the time.

Valerie as “Rhoda” really rocking a peasant blouse look

For me, “Rhoda” represented the kind of woman I yearned to grow up to be. One bold enough to say what was on her mind yet feminine and still retaining a touch of vulnerability.

Valerie harper as Rhoda wearing a really cute 1970’s style sweater with purples, Gold, and Black.

Rhoda’s creativity in work as a “window dresser” and in her own personal style was also encouraging to those of us girls who embraced our “free spirit.”

“Rhoda” with coin Necklace on a hilarious episode of the “Mary Tyler Moore Show” wherein she talks mary into going to a meeting of the “The Divorced People’s Club” even though neither had ever been married.

God bless Valerie! She outlived the diagnosis given her a few years ago through will power and sheer “joie de vive.” Any girl should be glad to have such role models.

With a somewhat “Rhoda” vibe, the author Aziza with a fancy “headwrap” before a “Kwaanza” drumming show a few years ago.

Some Exotic Gifts for Everyone

Whether you like belly dancing, or Turkish coffee even, you’re bound to find something in Aziza’s shop on “Red Bubble.” The items featured below just “scratch the surface” – the same designs are available on up to 60 or so different products. Visit http://trashpunk.redbubble.com for more great ideas.

Lightweight sweatshirt- Men’s and Women’s “Turkish Coffee Lovers Gift” Idea!
Vintage Belly Dancer Johanna on Colorful Coasters

Egyptian Goodies at Amazon: https://egyptianchick.com/egyptian-goodies-at-amazon/

Egyptian Chick Magazine September 2017

Egyptian Chick Magazine Cover for Sept 1017

Letter from the Editor:

I recently did a short video show again for people from Kuwait. I had the pleasure of wearing a new creation of mine and it included a “Cape Veil” made out of some material I had in my collection for 20 years. I was very pleased with the results. The “Cape Veil” probably came into prominence around the 1980’s. I personally never had one, I continued to use regular veils with the costumes my mother and I made. So I admit it was quite fun to finally have one of these. The fabric may or may not be “Persian Lace” but is a lovely pattern.

Thinking of Houston as I made my debut there when I was one year old. Been a “pro” ever since. Hopefully, people will take seriously the issue of “climate change” and stop shoving it “under the carpet.” God bless everyone that was effected by “Hurricane Harvey.”

pizap.com15042545447292

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”

Contact azizaaltawil@gmail.com

Egyptian Black Seed Oil and it’s Miracle Curative Properties

by Aziza Al-Tawil

As a young girl in NYC, I remember how much I relished with excitement our trips to Brooklyn’s “Atlantic Ave.” If we weren’t performing somewhere at night there were trips during the day the most exciting aspect of which was the smell of the spices in the big barrels outside the shops. The most delightful was the smell of cumin and “Falafel” was such a favorite because of that spice’s domination thereof. In a way it was no surprise to learn as I grew older that these same wonderful spices had health properties as well.

I’ve always been interested in “Natural Health” because I was brought up that way with a mother that knew something about the Appalachians and herbal traditions. She descended from “First People’s Indigenous” American tribes and was also interested in anything they used. Her own experience as a belly dancer who was around Greeks a lot  led her to the main herbal treatment that really helped me when I had “hyperthyroid” disease and that was “Hymetis”-also known as “Sage” which I drank as a tea.

As far as “Black Seed” (“Nigella Sativa”) – AKA “Black Cumin Seed” – it’s a remarkable herb with amazing curative properties. Found in “Tutankhamen’s Tomb,” centuries later the prophet Mohammed said that it was “a remedy for all diseases except death.” Christian and Islamic traditions consider it a “blessed oil” – in Arabic “Habbatul barakah, literally the “seed of blessing.” 

  • Analgesic (Pain-Killing)

  • Anti-Bacterial

  • Anti-Inflammatory

  • Anti-Ulcer

  • Anti-Cholinergic

  • Anti-Fungal

  • Ant-Hypertensive

  • Antioxidant

  • Antispasmodic

  • Antiviral

  • Bronchodilator

  • Gluconeogenesis Inhibitor (Anti-Diabetic)

  • Hepatoprotective (Liver Protecting)

  • Hypotensive

  • Insulin Sensitizing

  • Interferon Inducer

  • Leukotriene Antagonist

  • Renoprotective (Kidney Protecting)

  • Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha Inhibitor

In the modern time there have been many studies of the pharmacological properties of the “Black Seed.” Many of the illnesses they say it cures or treats include the following: Type 2 Diabetes, Helicobacter Pylori Infection, Epilepsy, High Blood Pressure, Asthma, Acute Tonsillopharyngitis, Chemical Weapons Injury, Colon Cancer, MRSA, and Opiate Addiction.

“Vitalute” Organic Cold Pressed “Black Seed Oil.”

Anyway, I’ve loved regular cumin for a long time in Middle Eastern cooking. It might be time to give this variety a try.

Kabbalah Manifestation Secrets

“Lady Popular”: a Fun Game from Bulgaria

By Aziza Al-Tawil

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Two characters from Lady Popular in front of a recent Egyptian Backdrop.

If you enjoyed paper dolls as a child then you would probably really dig “Lady Popular,” an online dress-up game invented in Bulgaria several years ago. It was so “popular” they came up with an “International Edition.” There are many “special events” within the game that enable players to get their hands on unique dress, backdrops for their characters, and even furniture for a multi-level apartment.You can even have cars and pets. So far there have been many chances to have components for dressing your doll in a belly dance costume including Carrie Fisher’s sensational outfit from “Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi” (1983). I’ve had some nice experiences since I was asked by a lovely Bulgarian lady to join her club in “LP.” I’ve met and chatted with a lot of cool ladies from around the world and we even mourned together when one of our ladies passed away at the young age of fifty three. We dressed all our ladies in black and then we all voted for our deceased friend to go to one of the podiums. The dear lady made it to the “top” posthumously and perhaps unlike some other things in the world proved that women really can have close, sisterly connections and not just “competitive” ones.

Learn to Dance any Dabke Style

Gifts from Cathy

by Aziza Al-Tawil

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Was pleasantly surprised when my neighbor gifted me with 2 interesting books about Egypt the other day. One was a “Scholastic” book  about the country and the other was the autobiography of Jehan Sadat, a brave woman like Jackie Kennedy in that she saw her beloved husband Anwar Sadat assassinated in October of 1981.

The book reveals that Jehan had an English mother and an Egyptian father and was raised in Egypt. I remember so well the turbulent incident of her husband’s death and all that it meant in the world to different people with different opinions on what the correct course should have been in the political realm over there. 

Anyway, I look forward to reading the books!

New “Cruelty Free” Luxury Cosmetics Line

Rhythms for Belly Dance in the Golden Age of the Greek Taverna:  A Simple Primer

by Aziza Al-Tawil

Recent discussions with friends have given me pause to write an article about what the most popular rhythms were for belly dance in the “heyday” and how to understand how that influenced a person’s “Act” or “Set.” In the “Heyday” of the 1950’s and 1960’s in some cities the Greek Taverna dominated the “scene” as Greeks tended to have a very good knack for entertaining “The World”-not just themselves. Despite a lot of “bad blood” between so many people in the Near and Middle East the Greeks had a way of harnessing what made the people “alike” not different. Examples of this, for instance, was that the first song played by the band to kick off the evening was always a “Paso Doble.” Some forms of “rhumba” were played to add a touch more “Latin” to the proceedings also, but the main fare of the evening highlighted the shared culture of Greeks, Turks, Armenians, Arabs, Jews, and various other ethnic groups like Albanians, Assyrians, Phoenicians, and just about any others you could think of who once called parts of “Asia Minor” their home.

New Yorks City’s “8th Avenue and 29th Street” scene boasted  an impressive array of nightclubs within just a small area. Nicknamed “Bouzoukee Blvd” – it exploded in popularity right after Melina Mercouri made her big splash in “Never on a Sunday.” The song and the film were a worldwide hit and so the search for all things “Greek” was on. 

The foreign stars from Athens, Istanbul, Cairo, and other famous hubs of belly dance culture flocked to NYC, Chicago, Boston, and other Metro areas. Besides a culture that had a wealth of “line dances” there was also a tradition of “belly dance” in several countries. If you were a belly dancer in Greektown you were trained in all the rhythms to play on Darbucky because you were expected the night you worked not just to dance once or twice but to sit on the bandstand all night and play percussion for the other dancers. In other words, on percussion, dancers were considered musicians also.

The main rhythms that were acknowledged as true “belly dance” rhythms-where you can really show your “stuff”- was “Tsifte Telli” (Turkish/Arabic Spelling “Cifte Telli”) and “Arapiko” (Greek/Turkish for the rhythm known in Arabic as “Maksoum”). Now, you might ask, “What is the difference and why is one credited to an “ethnicity” namely the “Arab” and the other not?” Well, for one, it’s the actual rhythm that tells the tale.

One group of people with a thought or two on Middle Eastern music from a “musician’s standpoint” are, believe it or not, the “American Jazz Musician.” Jazz musicians, with a heritage of their own coming out of a part of Africa, of course mixed with some other musical styles like American Indian, European, and even Gypsy, found themselves easily drawn to the mesmerizing rhythms of the world of belly dance. (Yes, in it’s “heyday,” many musicians like Dizzy Gillespie (“A Night in Tunisia”) flocked to 8th Ave. and 29th St. to get some inspiration from the the great music going on there.

I remember when I was working with some Jazz musicians we had a conversation. They observed that a lot of Arabic music has rhythms where the accent is on the “Back Beat” and that Gypsy music as well as Turkish music tend to have more rhythms that accent the “Downbeat.” In fact in Turkish some that come to mind right off are “Cifte Telli,” “Karsilama,” and “Laz” (“Laziko” in Greek)-no doubt if I really stop think of a lot more of their line dances, I would probably find more of that example. The “downbeat” on a traditional drum is the “Doum”- or center of the drum. 

By contrast, many Arabic rhythms have the “accent” on the “Back Beat,” (or the “Tek” which is the outer rim of the drum) one strong example is the “Maksoum,” which we stated in previous sentences here was considered such an “Arabian Style” that in Greek/Turkish was called “Arapiko” – which in essence “dance of arabs,” the same way “Hassapiko” is “The Butcher’s Dance” in Greek, “Laziko” is “Dance of the Laz” people of the “Black Sea,” In fact the dance of “Hassapiko Serviko” is the name of a “Hassapiko” with Serbian Balkan influences. (Speaking again of the “back beat” in Arabian music don’t forget an old saying that Arabic belly dancers tended to dance “behind the beat”).

The portion of these words that are “siko” or “iko” seem to be a “call to action”- as it means to “stand up” or “get up.” For instance “chorepsi” or “horepsi” is the actual word for dance. But when “iko” or “siko” is present it’s like saying “Get up and dance the butcher’s dance with me” (“Hassapiko”) or “Come on get up and let’s dance like the Arabs (“Arapiko”). 

Also, I was interested to find out that a recent development has the Turkish word for Arab, namely “Arap,” has been used by some younger Greeks as an “ethnic slur.” Apparently, this has been the case since the war over “Cyprus” occurred with Turkey in the Summer of 1974, and by the 90’s Greeks in large numbers were turning their backs on shared roots with Turks and Arabs-some Arabs being “Christian” does not seem to matter-it’s as if they were lumped together with those dastardly “Ottomans.” Not to mention that certain cultures started “de-romanticizing” the “Roma”-“the “Gypsies”- to the point that they just didn’t want them to be themselves anymore. Turkey itself tore down their district “Sulekule” – itself the inspiration for many a Turkish song. Sadly, without “romance” our spirit dies and we’re just another group of people that get turned on when the world gets too crowded.

So, keeping that in mind, there is some talk of not wanting to call the rhythm “Arapiko” that name anymore. My only problem with that personally is that it’s basically saying “Arab” is a dirty word if it’s spelled in the “Turkish Fashion”  with a “P.” As an artist who hates to stir the “cauldron” of hate over all this is a bad idea. I wouldn’t let a handful of people dictate the change in meaning whether it’s over “Cyprus” or “9/11.” (Also intriguing are a small handful of other dances in different regions in  Greece called an “Arapiko” which are not only not done to “Maksoum” they don’t resemble each other at all-yet the question is: “Are they not related then to an Arab influence? If not, why then are they called “Arapikos” as well?” This provides food for thought. Two of the three dances in question feature just two men- one is a sword dance, the other a rather free form type dance, and the third almost a “mime piece” like something from ancient theatre.

Some interesting commentary on this latest development can be found on Shira’s Website – notice some footnotes under the info about Stelios Kazantzidis and his song “Ehis Kormi Arapiko” visit the page on her site here Arapiko Footnotes on Shira’s Site(Shira is now assisted in Greek translations and Greek folklore by dancer Panayiota Bakis Mohieddin, the director of the “Arab Hellenic Folklore Institute” located in the Boston area. Another page with some Greek words translated are here Words for Dancers to Know in Greek.

As for the rhythms that were “not popular” in the hey day for belly dancing I can mention two “right off the bat” that were not. Along about the late 1970’s to the late 1980’s there seems to be a craze to “belly dance” to the fast “Hassapiko” or “Kasop” rhythm as an “opener” or “entrance” piece. Some cases of this seem to be “on purpose” and in some other instances it seems to be a drummer veering off from the “Malfouf” rhythms, a popular fast rhythm amongst the aforementioned belly dance rhythms. It definitely suits just certain portions of a show though. The fast “Hassapiko”/”Kasop” can certainly be done for a brief time in an act with the hopping steps but you sure as heck don’t try to “belly dance” to it you would break a leg! Yet, I’ve seen video of some poor dancers trying to dance around to it as if they are about to have a heart attack. In the classic age, right before this you made fast entrances to fast “Cifte Telli” or “Fast Arapiko” (or you could enter “slow” for drama in your act-I always opened with “Miserlou” and entered with “mystery.”) The craze for a “break neck” speed opening in a very “frantic” un-danceable fashion seems to lie with the “Modern Egyptian” craze.

One type of dance that fits pretty nicely into a belly dance act is a “Saidi” cane dance. It was not that popular in America until the 1980’s I’d say but is not a bad choice as far as a rhythm goes. It is the second rhythm I can think of that was not that popular in the “heyday.” 

While “YouTube” is a wonderful source to watch many different dance styles from different eras the sad news is there is very little to show of the “Nightclub” or “Cabaret” show “set-up.” A lot of old “Egyptian Films” are a joy to watch but they have a “tableau” that fits in with their “story line” and sometimes the male love interest is singing to the woman, or vice-versa, etc so you’re not really seeing a five to seven part tempo change act.

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Wonderful album by Nina Record Co. with a lovely painting of Greektown NYC dancer “Lucy” by Val Arms and K. Prentoulis. Lucy was of Cuban descent. This record has a great rendition of “Apose Pou Eho Kefia” which is an example of the “Maksoum” rhythm being called an “Arapiko” by Greeks.

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Interesting back cover article of “Bring on the Bouzoukee”- not a “corny” description of the “Bouzoukee Scene,” but a rather “apt” one being that it is approved by Val Arms of the Greek newspaper “The Atlantis” and the Greek “Nina” records head honcho George Valavanis. This was the second “Long Play” album by “Nina” the first being “Festival in Greece” – a huge hit – featuring the “Continental Tenor voice” of Nicos Tseperis.

The more you explore old records and read info about rhythms the more “savvy” you will get when listening to them yourselves. Even though many old records are labeled correctly once in a while you will find a mistake. One Greek record I have has labeled something more like a “rhumba” an “Arapiko.” (Incidentally, The song “Miserlou” can be played to a rhumba rhythm quite nicely-it just sounds a bit different from the “Maksoum”/”Arapiko” because the “accents” are different. However, it does fit nicely).

If a belly dance was played to a particularly more Latin or French sounding rhythm it was said to be done in a more “Continental” style. A “Continental” style of playing was sometimes known quite well by the foreign musicians because, as stated before, they were well versed in “International” music and trends. One instrument that gave quite a bit of “Continental Flair” to Middle Eastern and Greek music was the accordion. (Interestingly enough, the people of India became fascinated with a similar instrument, the pump organ and it was adapted into a “portable” instrument called now the “Harmonium” because there was no use of tables at the time in Indian culture. This was around the 1860’s, but many years later there was a bit of a backlash against the harmonium as not being “Indian” enough in origin for use in “folk music.”)

I remember being amazed one time to see what had been I believe a very pricy “when new” keyboard by “Yamaha” that had the “Arapiko” beat on it’s selection of “programmable” beats. (Talk about “International!”

As with any of my articles, take as “food for thought”- further research can be done. I’m sharing what I know from experience with music as a dancer and as a musician as well.

 

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Mystery Belly Dancer for September 2017

By Aziza Al-Tawil 

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Graceful and lovely, it is hard to tell who this dancer was in “Honeymoon of Horror” (1964).

Well, despite the fact that belly dancers were really quite graceful demure beings compared to some other “exotic” acts of the era, they did hold enough “sensuality” to make their way into cinema fare known today as “sexploitation.” As a “genre” it has intrigued people because who wouldn’t want to “strip” a few layers away from a much more “prim” generation and see what they were really capable of. One such film, “Honeymoon of Horror” (1964) AKA “Orgy of the Golden Nudes,”  has a mystery belly dancer that is quite lovely in a party scene that boasts more outrageous fare (namely the “Golden Nude”- a human female version of the “Oscar” award statue). 

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Charming belly dancer from the “sexploitation” horror film “Honeymoon of Horror” (1964) 

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“Orgy of the Golden Nudes” playing in Pasadena at the same time as the mainstream film “Topkapi” which featured Melina Mercouri and another belly dancer, this time, in Turkey.

Our little belly dancer has beautiful graceful hands and appears to have her “zil” on the correct hands. Would love to know who she is. The writer of this flick is Alexander Panas. I’ll say that’s Greek and perhaps a reason to see a belly dancer in his script. I do know one thing. It’s probably easier to decipher through IMDB the identity of the gal painted gold than it is to find out who our belly dancer is.

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Alternate Title for “Honeymoon of Horror” (1964) was “Orgy of the Golden Nudes.”

Egyptian Chick Magazine December 2016

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Letter from the Editor:

After an exhausting election season with the “DAPL” tragedies playing out in the background it is hard to fathom we are coming upon a season of great peace and hope, yet we are, and I for one am ready for a few moments “Peace.” This month’s issue recalls some interesting people I met just a couple of weeks ago and attempts to reveal at least a little about their spiritual movement based on the teachings and practices of ancient Egyptians. As a small child in the 1970’s I recall the first post “Civil Rights” era “Back to Africa” movement and to think of that sort of spirit returning to the African diaspora again was quite compelling to me.

As a dancer, singer, and actress, I find great comfort in “making a joyful noise.” With that in mind, I wish our Jewish friends a “Happy Chanukah” and share some images of “Miriam” from the art world. A story about “Miriam” might have been better suited to “Passover” but I felt like putting her dancing shoes on anyway!

Some shopping segments include “Egyptian Glass” Christmas ornaments, African fashions, and gift baskets for friends overseas and domestically.

I also want to wish everyone a Happy Kwanzaa and a Happy New Year. May 2017 be more peaceful for all of us.

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“It Takes a Village to Raise a Child”- A Visit to the Earth Center Proves the Adage

By Aziza Al-Tawil

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Khefisah Nejeser and Kasabez Maakmaah.

One day last Summer, while picking up a pizza, I was very intrigued by a brochure and a newspaper I picked up touting the Charleston, WV branch of the “The Earth Center: For Promoting and Preserving the Kem Culture.” Seeing  how the theme of the materials were based on Ancient Egypt I was immediately fascinated even though I had never heard of this group before. Charleston, WV has always been a unique city and really, despite alternating periods of “boom and stagnation” it’s always seemed to retain some level of the “eclectic.” So, in some ways, I was not shocked that something like “The Earth Center” was here.  I said to myself, “I’ve got to meet these people and do a story on them!” Well, even though it took me several months to get around to it, I finally got the chance and attended a lecture on Ancient Egyptian Spirituality. The lecture was to be presented by Kasabez Maakmaah, a healer and teacher who came here from the Chicago location.

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From Left to Right, Dre Pitts, Menzeba Hasati and baby Naba Ramez, and D’Oud Herman.

Upon arriving at the center we were greeted with great “old world” hospitality by Khefisah Nejeser, a recent graduate, and by Zaqhau, the very first person to graduate from the Charleston, WV location which has been here five years. Zaqhau, the true embodiment of a village elder and wise man told us to remove our shoes and politely hung up our coats with a warm yet serene smile. He wore a long white caftan and as more of the participants showed up all the more lovely African outfits were to be seen. As far as the center, coming here brought me back a little to the times I used to go to the Hare Krishna temple in Boston for Sunday chanting and vegetarian dinner. Even though most of my life I have considered myself an “Orthodox Christian,” I have always been interested in what other people believe and what shapes their spiritual lives.

Essentially, The Earth Center organization consists of three parts, “M’Tam” which are the “schools,” “Firefly Publications,” and “Ankhasta Herbs.” After a fun and witty opening about how everyone one was feeling after the recent “election,” Kasabez began his lecture with some sobering remarks about how mankind has really always had to deal with varying degrees of unpleasantness. It was explained to us that the spiritual path that is learned and followed through The Earth Center was Ancient Egyptian religion that was taken with people to other parts of Africa and survived, namely West Africa and Burkina Faso. The Dogon Civilization took the ancient Egyptian spirituality and way of life with them to West Africa around the time of Persian conquest around 400 BC. As the old ways died out in Egypt, they took on a new life in another part of Africa.

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Khefisah Nejeser and Nezeziah Maakmaah and baby Kanafera

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Menzeba Hasati, baby Nama Ramez, Zaqhau, Nezeziah Maakmaah and baby Kanafera.

The calendar still used in the culture is the “Sidereal” calendar and weeks are seen as “Decans”-I pointed out that it was the same in “Astrology.” In fact it was pointed out that these ancient Egyptians used “Astrology” for finding favorable times for planting, getting married, etc. November is Scorpio and indeed is presided over by the ancient Egyptian Goddess of Scorpions “Sekhet.” “The Earth Center” was first founded in Burkina Faso by Master  Naba Lamoussa Morodenibig and was part of a renaissance of African culture during the time of their fight for independence (At that time the country was known as “Upper Volta”). Of course the religion is “polytheistic” in nature and has elements of ancestor worship or “respect” like “Shinto” does. The movement came to the United States in 1996.

I asked a few of the people there what first drew them to the movement. For Zaqhau,  a professor of English and Philosophy speaking six languages,  who came to Charleston 30 years ago, it was because he missed the “Traditions” of his native Cameroon. For Khefisah: ” Zaqhau was my favorite professor at State. One day he showed up on my FaceBook and invited me to an event at the Earth Center. I had always been interested in Kemetic culture (of course then it was just Egyptian to me) so when I came I knew immediately I was where I belonged!” Another, D’Oud Herman, found that after 30 years of being a Muslim he was not entirely comfortable with race relations in the religion and began to seek out something else. He found what he was looking for spiritually in The Earth Center. Menzeba Hasati loves to cook traditional African foods and is their resident expert now.

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Zaqhau, D’Oud Herman, and Menzeba Hasati photo by Billy Jack Watkins.

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Menzeba Hasati and baby Naba Ramez.

I enjoyed the afternoon with these very hospitable folks and anyone interested in learning more about them and their community projects around the world can visit their site here at  http://theearthcenter.org/

Magic Carpet Ride Anyone?

Learn Dabke Dance from Any Country 

“Make a Joyful Noise!”

by Aziza Al-Tawil

In celebration of Hannukah we highlight a woman from Judaism that celebrated a great triumph by making a “joyful noise” unto the Lord-Miriam and friends with their “timbrals” and tambourines: “So Miriam, the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbral in her hand: and all the women went forth after her with timbrals and with dances.” Even though this story has more to do with “Passover” I couldn’t resist a story of women dancing!

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Tomic Psalter, Bulgaria Circa 1360, tempura on paper, The State Historical Museum, Moscow 

 

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Miriam’s Song Unknown


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Anselm Feurbach, “Miriam with Tambourine.”

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Marc Chagall, “Miriam and Dancers,” 1958

 

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Miriam, Unknown Illustration

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Richard Andre, London 1884, “The Coloured Picture Bible for Children.”

 

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Chludov Psalter Mid 9th Century Miriam Dance

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Egyptian Christmas Ornaments: Display Your Passion

By Aziza Al-Tawil

Some wonderful Egyptian glass ornaments are available through Amazon. Why not share your passion for the “eclectic” during this wonderful season. Photos will link you to their deals on items shown.




Wholesale Designer Handbag Directory 

African Fashions for the Whole Family

By Aziza Al-Tawil




Click on photos for clothing details and prices at Amazon. 

Gypsy Christmas: Some Vintage Images

By Aziza Al-Tawil

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Children’s Book about Gypsy Caravan and Christmas.

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Irish Gypsy Christmas Art

Turn the World Into Your Office

Friends Overseas? How About Gift Baskets to Spread Some Holiday Cheer?

By Aziza Al-Tawil

If you are like many belly dancers who are into taking seminars with name dancers and musicians then you may be one who has made a ton of friends on your travels around the world. Thanking friends or people who have taught or inspired you may prove challenging at such distances-so why not a “gift basket” to say you are thinking of them long after the show is over?

Congratulate them with Champagne! Or even send a “Lego Toy” with a gift to the delight of a child or “the young at heart.” Even a lovely Poinsettia! “Gift Baskets Overseas” ships to over 140 countries worldwide.

Also available for our friends that celebrate “Chanukah” there are themed gifts including “Kosher.” All this and so much more (Like Holiday Specials!) at “Gift Baskets Overseas.”

Stumped about gift giving for the men in your life? If it is to be shipped domestically then “The Bro Basket” may be exactly what the doctor ordered. Just how many of us gals could put together “The Golfer’s Delight” basket without a little help?

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Info on how to donate or advertise to keep “Egyptian Chick Magazine” afloat please contact the “Editor in Chief” Aziza Al-Tawil at azizaaltawil@gmail.com for further info.