My heart is full of gratitude and wonder. “Yalla,” our 6th night club show production at The Paris Cabaret Dinner Theater in Stoughton, MA sold out on November 9, 2019. To all of the guests who came and made sold out show number 6 happen, you are amazing. If you, dear reader, were one of them, thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Everywhere I looked that night, there was a face saying to me, the musicians, or the dancers, “Give it your all. We want to see your ideas and be a part of this with you.” I felt vulnerable as I was debuting new material inspired by recent studies in Egypt. The guests warmth and curiosity blew the collective minds of the cast, musicians, and me.
Paris’ dinner theater following are some of the most wonderful friends of the arts. I’ve had the gift of their support for every one of these 6 shows. These spirited folks are curious and open minded about seeing the world through the lens of arts and culture. Another major element in the room comes from this incredibly supportive community of friends in dance I’ve met along the way; colleagues of mine, students from my studio and former students, dance friends and spouses and kids of dance friends. Still other lovely folks were simply dragged there on that night, and you also are very special to me, as you didn’t plan to be part of the art happening that night but you contributed anyway!
The privilege of welcoming every guest to all of these shows, and especially November 9th, is so rich but here are two elements of importance:
First, I always strive to present artistic and sophisticated moments which leave no doubt about belly dance’s place on the world stage. I loved it dearly from the start and felt how misunderstood it was. I saw the venues shrinking. I could not sit idly by. I began producing shows featuring musicians and dancers long before I was a headliner.
To draw people toward the message of “it’s an art” as a creator of the Paris Cabaret night club dinner theater shows, I’ve danced with a few different strategies. I began with a lot of humor and whimsy because I’d met so much negativity in my journey. It seemed the humor in my shows was a big help in connecting with folks. As I went along, though, I outgrew this strategy. Some of this was a personal growing up that I owe to the wonderful audiences and the material itself. Both showed me they actually did not need the jokes. As I began to introduce the musicians who stole my heart and who teach me so much, to reference great icons and eras of dance and culture, and to share colorful folkloric dances through the exceptional work of the Alwan Folkloric Dance Ensemble, the work and artistry stood on their own. The audiences seemed to love the shows even more without the campy-ness I began with.
This is an important element of my gratitude. I thank every person who comes to learn, support, or even to critique because they have helped me to evolve as an artist and to evolve the vision of these historic shows. Relationships teach us so much about ourselves. In the arts, the partakers are as integral as the creators. I am deeply honored to be blessed with such great audience friends and the resulting sold out show – especially when the performance industry continues to decrease in size.
Second important element of import is that I never foresaw myself performing this art. I first belly danced for personal healing and wellness. I had incredible mentors on pedestals and I had a background in the arts so I dared not consider myself part of the elite professional status of my teachers. So, to find myself here, years later, blessed with performances and guests enough to produce 6 sold out and unique dinner theater shows is astounding to me.
A true surprise. My passion and hope to share the art in an elegant and theatrical way was met by an incredible opportunity I’d never have imagined could actually happen to me.
Again, in closing, my deepest thanks to everyone along the way who helped give life to what once were only visions. I speak for the Alwan Dance Ensemble of whom I am a proud member, the George Maalouf Ensemble, and the Paris Cabaret when I thank you for your incredible enthusiasm and outpouring of support. I also send hearty thanks to Bruce Mount whose photography is inspiring me to reach higher as well – see his work in the photos attached. Also to Dylan Masson who videographer the show. To Jocelyn and Thalia, huge back stage supporters of the costume and hair management departments. And, of course, to Paris and the Paris Cabaret Staff who have welcomed each of these 6 productions with open arms.
If you missed Yalla on Nov 9th and wish to catch it or if you want to go again, there is a strong chance we will repeat this show. Paris Cabaret invited us back and we had an blessed and long waiting list for Nov 9th. Another Yalla is possible.
OH – and To our surprise guest dancer, the effortless Inara Smith, you were so brave and lovely!