Sunday 10 October 2010

Hello lovelies,

This message is full of very interesting stuff! My next round of classes are open to book now and are live on the site. Also, October and November hold some really excellent events, starting this week! I've included All Visual Art's dazzling autumn group show here because, as some of you may know, I've been working with them the past few months. AVA is a tremendously exciting contemporary art organization, and I'd highly recommend getting down to Portland Place to check out Vanitas this week.

Additionally, this Friday sees the return of the truly fabulous Rumpus! If you missed the adult-sized ball pool and wonderfully eclectic mix of cabaret, dubstep, fancy dress and Balkan beats, you should clear your calendar for this one. I'll be performing alongside the Rubbish Sideshow and a whole host of fantastic acts... Follow the link to the Facebook event for more info.

In November, I'll be performing at Patrick Campbell-Lyons's book reading for Psychedelic Days, which is similarly full of surprises. I will also be heading back to Rome and the fabulous San Lo' studios for the Roma Tribal Meeting, which will be wonderful.

Okay, here are the details of classes. Please note--Elemental Movement is required for all new students, and often sells out. If you'd like to attend, please book early!


27 October - 24 November - Elemental Movement* @ the Urdang Academy (6:30-8:00pm) *All new students must register for Elemental Movement before attending other courses!

27 October - 24 November - Pure Drills @ the Urdang Academy (8:00-9:30pm)

28 October - 25 November - Combinations & Experimentation @ the Urdang Academy (6:30-8:00pm)

Full details at


12 - 17 October - Vanitas: The Transience of Earthly Pleasures - 33 Portland Place, London W1B 1QE
Following the huge success of The Age of the Marvellous exhibition, which attracted over 4,000 visitors during Frieze Art Fair last October, All Visual Arts (AVA) is pleased to announce its upcoming fall show Vanitas: The Transience of Earthly Pleasures. Conceived and curated by Joe La Placa and Mark Sanders of AVA, the exhibition is a contemporary update on the four hundred year old theme of the Vanitas first developed in Holland and Northern Europe in the mid to late 17th century. The exhibition will take place in the sumptuous setting of the former Sierra Leone Embassy on 33 Great Portland Street during this year’s Frieze Art Fair from October the 11th until the 17th.

15 October - Rumpus! Vol. 2 - Special Edition!
Super Secret Venue 2 Minutes' from Brick Lane (Venue details sent with tickets)
£10 in advance, £15 on the door, £12 in costume.
Tickets from here:
(To buy tickets without paying a booking fee, pay directly through Paypal to

Five rooms positively bursting at the seams with more unadulterated, high-octane fun than you could shake a very big stick at – the best live bands, a Circus Show and Dubstep, Electroswing and Balkan DJs. As if that weren’t enough, we’ve also got a speakeasy serving up handmade cocktails and featuring yet more live music, a cinema, and even an art exhibition! We’re somehow fitting all of this into one single venue to give you the ultimate indoor festival fun, and 8 hours to play, dance and party. Get dressed up for a discount at the door, and come and join us!

Facebook event:

4 November - Psychedelic Days - A Book Reading by Patrick Campbell Lyons
Filthy McNasty's, 68 Amwell Street, London EC1R 1UU
The night will commence at 7pm and finish late, and is absolutely free!

Patrick Campbell Lyons is an interesting fellow. He formed innovative, baroque pop/psychedelic outfit Nirvana with Alex Spyropoulos in 1967 and they became the first UK band signed to Chris Blackwell's Island label. In fact, they went on to score a number of firsts...first narrative concept album in 1967 with 'The Story of Simon Simopath', pre dating The Who's 'Tommy' by two years. They were the first (and only) band to have appeared on French TV with Salvador Dali - who proceeded to splash blue paint over them – as they performed 'Rainbow Chaser'. And of course, first to come up with the band name...Nirvana. Long, long before Kurt Cobain and Co.

In 2008, Patrick began writing some songs about his life and times in 60s London and had the sudden realisation that his memory of those times was ‘crystal clear’ (which is pretty remarkable given his lifestyle at the time). His initial realisation has spawned an extraordinarily entertaining, time-machined-psychedelic-trip of a book, aptly entitled Psychedelic Days. So, we are delighted that Patrick will be doing readings from his book, bringing his vivid memories to life.

Also on this splendid night we have live acoustic performances from The Garden City Project, Great Western and St Johns Wood Affair, who will be performing their own take on Nirvana classics. And thats not all... joining them onstage will be Patrick and very special guest, the wonderful (ex Sneaker Pimp) Kelli Ali, who will be performing the song 'Tiny Goddess' (originally recorded by Francois Hardy).

19-21 November - Roma Tribal Meeting - San Lo' Studios, Rome

For centuries, the gathering of community has been the wheel of evolution.

We are encouraging artists to congregate in Rome with the idea of sharing and developing an International Community based on traditions and new innovations of Tribal Bellydance.

Within our Oriental Dance network, individual and group expressions give light to new styles and new artistic, captivating creations. American Tribal Style and Tribal Fusion are at the crossroads of change in the panorama of contemporary bellydance throughout the world. From this consciousness of change, we desire to harness and nurture artistic expressions during the Roma Tribal Meeting. It is the first gathering in Italy where ideas of authenticity and fusions are simply an opportunity to grow and become aware of this dance movement; a moment when musicians and dancers can collaborate and recognize their own artistic research.

This event is enriched by the presence of an important part of Tribal beginnings through music; the musical group, Helm, will provide a rich platform of expression reflective of the traditions of the Middle East through classical, folkloric and original compositions.

That's all for now! I hope all is well with you, and if you need more information, get in touch!


Tuesday 5 October 2010

A Cautionary Tale...

So, something's been bugging me lately. I've been thinking about whether or not to say anything, and have ultimately decided to speak up because there are areas of deafening silence regarding ethical conduct in the world of bellydance. While I would prefer to just truck along and do my own thing, pretending nothing's up, that actually aids the lack of transparency that allows this stuff to go on. Instead, I protest.

Here's what happened: Recently, another tribal fusion teacher came and set up a directly competing class at my home studio. She didn't get in contact to ask what my thoughts or feelings might be, or if I had any advice about studio space she could hire in a pinch. She did write to tell me she'd set up her course--once the ink was dry on the paperwork--however she said it was only for six weeks.

Now, lest you think me oversensitive, London has literally hundreds of spaces that could be used for dance. By contrast, I could probably count on one hand the number of dancers in London who are teaching tribal fusion. Statistically, there's very little chance of two instructors of this niche form accidentally setting up shop in the same building.

Additionally, the building in question has been the home of my classes for over three years. The staff there are friends of mine; we exchange Christmas cards, and they have helped me develop my classes for years now.

I was not impressed with the situation with the new tribal fusion class, but, as the teacher had assured me that the situation was temporary, I set aside my annoyance and took her at her word when she said that after six weeks she would be in her own space.

Imagine my surprise when, without even an email to let me know she had done so, she extended her tenure across autumn and winter.

Tribal fusion is a really new dance form. There are not that many people who are established in it to the point of being able to teach; as I said, I could probably count on one hand the number of teachers in London. It seems to me that if one of those teachers has been established in a particular venue for a few years, that teacher's relationships to her students and her venue should be respected.

I slowly worked my class offerings up from one class, to two, to three, each step of the way waiting for space to become available. Waiting for studio space is part of the game in London, as any dance teacher can attest.

To try and circumvent that by setting up a directly competing class in a rare dance form within the building of an established teacher is at the least not very considerate, and, at the more sinister end, quite an aggressive tactic. It amounts to piggybacking--for years, I have spent money on advertising my courses, which has in turn brought hundreds of students though the doors. This makes it really easy for students to swap nights to novel class, conveniently at a studio they already know. Indeed, this has happened, and I don't think it's cool--while I always hope my students will learn with whomever catches their fancy, it's not my intention to inadvertently subsidize a competing teacher with my advertising budget.

I am a small enterprise; the inconsideration of this teacher has put pressure on my relationship with the venue that I've worked with happily for years, and on personal relationships that have grown over three years of me consistently teaching weekly classes there. It's disrespectful, disingenuous behaviour, and I think bellydancers can do better.