E Komo Mai! Welcome to my blog.

I'm delighted that you dropped in! E Komo Mai: WELCOME! This blog is basically an online visual journal is modeled after a concept I learned of in psychology 101... waaaaaaay back in college. That concept was somewhere in the chapter on The Significance of Dreams, where it mentioned someone's theory on dreaming about a house usually means that the house represents you. So I have used my actual house (Mauna Lea Manor) to structure my blog. In different rooms you will find different aspects of my life; different interests I like to blog about. This is a way to bring a little organization into my life and thoughts for myself... (dreams are in The Bedroom, Family updates are in The Living room, etc.)
This also, I would imagine, make reading this blog more convenient for you as well. If you are a grandparent interested in seeing photos and hearing stories about my boys, but maybe not so interested in my bellydancing obsession: you can just read what goes on in The Playground. But if you are an Art Collector more interested in my latest work and information on collecting, but not especially interested in my personal life: you'd enjoy The Office. Mauna Lea Manor is sort of the foyer to all the other rooms. If you would like to tour my online portfolio, please visit: www.stephaniebolton.com.
I hope you enjoy your time here ;) & continue to stop by!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

And the winner is.....

AnnaElizabeth also wins a Zen and Coffee discount!!!
Just email (etsy contact) Wren at Zen and Coffee to collect your prizes!!!!
Congratulations ladies!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Portrait is Finished- what do you think?


This painting has ALOT of three dimensional elements.
Her hair is full of them, her bindi, her gloves...
and if you like those gloves- you can get a pair of your own fingerless gloves from
Zen & Coffee Designs just sold her 500th pair of gloves TODAY! (Congratulations Wren!)
These gloves are flying off the shelves & 
YOU have a chance to win a pair for FREE!!!
Ode to Revenge Lace Fingerless Gloves in Black for Gothic, Vampire, Noir, Tribal Fusion, Belly Dance, Steampunk, Lolita, Evening, Victorian, Boho Styles
Just leave a comment answering the question:

What is your theme song?
(leave any links or explanations you think would help your chances)

winner will be announced tomorrow
(If you have any trouble leaving a comment email me & I will add your comment for you)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Portrait Progress...

Progress on Haunani's portrait

Leave a comment telling me
What's YOUR Theme Song?
for a chance to win a pair of Black fingerless gloves 
Ode to Revenge Lace Fingerless Gloves in Black for Gothic, Vampire, Noir, Tribal Fusion, Belly Dance, Steampunk, Lolita, Evening, Victorian, Boho Styles

Check out this teaser from Culture Flux Magazine!

Culture Flux magazine is featuring some of my artwork in a really different way- see the link below for a sneak peek:

kSea makes some really cool video reports on interesting bands, dancers & entertainers.
His reports are very personal and candid looks into the lives of these people who do some really unique and killer things.  Check out Culture Flux Magazine regularly to read & watch & meet great musicians & performers.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Interview with Haunani

Don't forget the answer the question I have for YOU at the end of this interview for a chance to win some terribly cute fingerless gloves by the sensational

Haunani says...

How do you define “Belly Dance”?
I see it as an ancient feminine dance associated with birthing. This dance, like most forms of ancient dance, has evolved with the times. It now has many different braches of the dance forms such as tribal fusion belly dance or cabaret.  
How & when did you first encounter belly dancing? 
Honestly, my first intriguing factor was at Ross’s Dress for Less when I was looking through some of their fitness DVDs and videos. I wanted to get fit and belly dance seemed like a fun and motivating way to do it.  
How long have you been dancing (professionally/teaching)? 
I started cabaret style belly dance in 2003. That same year I switched it up and began studying tribal fusion belly dance. Where did you grow up and where do you live now? 
I grew up on the Windward side of O’ahu. I currently live in Kailua.  
Where is the most interesting place that belly dance has taken you? 
Hmmm…I think I’m still waiting for that.  
Who were some of your mentors/teachers/inspirations along the way?
Well, I definitely view Kalae (artistic director of Shakti Dance Movement) as a great mentor. She gives me great inspiration, however all of the gals of Shakti Dance Movement are very inspiring and the best dance partners eva! I do find much inspiration from all members of the Indigo (Rachel, Mardi, and ZOE!), Kami Liddle, Zafira, and TribalTique. 
What valuable advice would you like to pass on to novice dancers? 
Practice! It produces a strong dancer, makes you more comfortable in the dance, and it really shows on stage. Also, facial expressions are important to work on too such as smiling, smirking and eye contact. 
What is the most unusual experience you have had belly dancing? 
I did read Kalae’s questionnaire, and I really don’t think that anything can top that experience. Right in the middle of our performance our host stops us from dancing because he finds out it’s Tara’s birthday and demands all his male friends give her a lap dance! Way crazy! So funny!  
Do you have any other special talents/skills/occupations besides (or that compliment) your belly dancing?  
I have a 3-month-old baby. She is my world. When I do have time for myself, I like to do crafts (sew and crochet). 
Why do you love belly dancing?
Dancing has become a passion for me over the years. The movements are fun and so beneficial for your body and soul. The costumes are fabulous and fun too! I loved even being a pregnant belly dancer; it made belly dancing for me that much more meaningful.  
What is your favorite music to dance to? Why? Any favorite bands/groups/artists? 
I like the drums; it makes you wanna move. Beats Antique and Raquey and the Caveman are fun to dance to.  
Favorite Colors?
I’m attracted to earthy shades of color: greens, blues, browns, plum.  
Favorite Quotes (regarding dance or life):
“Everything we do, we do for love. The beauty of love is that in giving it away, you are left with more than you had before”. –David Simon  
What is it like being a belly dancer in Hawaii? Do people wonder why you aren’t dancing hula (lol)? Are you able to find an audience for this kind of dance where you live or do you need to travel to find (or create) opportunities to perform? What kind of events/venues have you performed at?
I love being a belly dancer in Hawaii. I think tribal style is a unique dance form and it stands out and really makes an impression on audiences. Of course since we live in Hawaii, people do compare hula to belly dance. There are similarities like certain hip movements. The type of dance we do is always evolving and Shakti Dance Movement is always evolving too. I think we’re always trying to be innovative with the choreography and consuming. Costuming is a huge part of our dance because it adds so much interest and sometimes emphasizes certain dance moves. I do think that there is a wide range of audience for the type of dance we do…I think other dancers appreciate what we do because they can relate to us as dancers. I think that other [cabaret] belly dancers for sure relate to our dance. Other audiences are people interested in art or fashion, and the club scene…but not “pop” type of clubs more underground clubs/music. We do travel to California (SF Bay area) to perform and learn and get inspiration. The tribal style of belly dance is huge in that area. There are many dance festivals popping up across the US. The largest one being Tribal Fest held in Sebastopol, CA. I have performed with Shakti at many different venues, most of the venues were at nightclubs and community events. We have put on a few productions of our own, showcasing dancers we sponsored to the islands to teach and perform.  
You did study Tahitian style dance before you discovered belly dance. What similarities or differences do you see in these two dance forms? Do you ever combine them in your choreographies? 
The similarities are mainly the hip movements such as “figure eights”, “hip bumps”, and “umi”. Those types of hip movements are almost always in the choreographies we do.  
How long have you been dancing with the Shakti Dance Movement tribal fusion dance company? How did you discover this company and did it take any special training to become a part of it? 
Since 2004. I found Kalae’s class at the local dance studio. She used to teach on Sundays and it worked with my schedule so I started taking her class. Found that it was a great workout so I stuck with it. I saw her troupe, at the time, perform and thought it was amazing. So I asked her if I could dance with them. I guess she thought I was good enough and started teaching me choreography to a beautiful Indian (Odissi) inspired piece. I’ve been dedicated to the dance ever since. Joining Shakti Dance Movement has created some beautiful friendships in my life.
You have studied with many well-known instructors, how were you able to come by these experiences? Do you regularly travel to access training from these instructors? 
Being a part of Shakti has broadened my belly dance horizons and I have been introduced to many different amazing dancers…not just belly dance. We do regularly travel to Tribal Fest ever year to take classes and gain inspirations.  
When you are performing are you usually performing choreographed dances or improvised dances? Or perhaps a combination of the two (if you are combining, how so?) 
Most of our performances are choreographed by either Kalae or Natalie. If I ever do improv it’s usually a small solo section incorporated in our choreographed dance.

Okay- wanna know how to score your very own set of Zen & Coffee fingerless gloves?

Ode to Revenge Lace Fingerless Gloves in Black for Gothic, Vampire, Noir, Tribal Fusion, Belly Dance, Steampunk, Lolita, Evening, Victorian, Boho Styles

Just leave a comment answering this question:

What's YOUR theme song?
(you can provide title & musician, link if you like so we can all hear it, and if you think it will help your chances you can explain why its your theme song)


My mini French Exhibition

I have une petite exposition virtuelle!
(a mini virtual exhibition)
Baladi portail de la danse orientale is a beautifully done website all about belly dance...
particularly if you speak French!

The link below will take you directly to the article on their webzine:

Monday, August 23, 2010


The next dancer I will be painting is


Haunani is one of the lovely ladies who will be performing at 

The Nouveau Gypsy
...an art exhibit & bohemian night market!
at the Chinatown Courtyard in Downtown Honolulu
FIRST FRIDAY October 1, 2010 5:00pm - 10:00pm
featuring the artwork of Stephanie Bolton & Ian Haight
and many other fine clothing, jewelry, arts & crafts vendors
LIVE ENTERTAINMENT will include Shakti Dance Movement belly dancers
fan & fire dancers, Henna tattoo artist: Annabel Jenkins & live music
ADMISSION= FREE!  Tell your friends!

I am also SUPER excited about this week's blog sponsor

Wren makes beautiful, saucy fingerless gloves & arm warmers.  A great addition to your look!
(I just bought some cute ones, myself!)

Ode to Revenge Lace Fingerless Gloves in Black for Gothic, Vampire, Noir, Tribal Fusion, Belly Dance, Steampunk, Lolita, Evening, Victorian, Boho Styles

You'll have a chance to win your very own pair of 
Ode to Revenge Lace fingerless gloves in Black
when you come back tomorrow to read all about Haunani!
See you then!

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Congratulations to Tash!
...who wrote


Flash forward 10 years from now…. It’s summer 2020… where do you see the art of bellydance?


It's the summer of 2020 and (I think) belly dance has become; Increasingly popular, not just as a dance form but as a performance art.
With many people embracing what belly dance is ; a beautiful art form, and not what some precive it to be an inappropriate stripper dance (which its never been!) but old stereotypes die hard and some will always believe this. But people are coming to see belly dancers, whither its big stage productions or tiny venues there going to the dances. It isn't a huge cultural phenomenon but its gaining more of a market., and who knows it might be soon!
Dance studios are starting to have more belly dance classes in all kinds of styles, and in larger cities whole belly dance studios are showing up. Due to a recent realization that dance is good for young bodies elementary schools are starting to offer dance as part of the curriculum and not just an add on for P.E..
Belly dancers have looked back (and forward) and are incorporating all kinds of long forgotten dances, and are inventing whole new styles, who knew that fire dance was embraced so whole whole heartedly?

Its very hard to say where any dance form will be in 10 years, each has its own life and breath that shapes itself, each dancer almost just swinging in the breeze.
Zanbaka has chosen you to be our lucky winner!
You have won a free copy of 

To claim your prize, please email me your mailing address so I can send you your book!
Thank you so much to everyone who joined in the game!

If you didn't win- try for next week's prize!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Baby Present for little Mr. Roberts ;)

I took an e-course on creative business know-how by Kelly Rae Roberts 
(which I highly recommend- more on that below)

and I made friends with some of my e-classmates

Sonya is one of them & she thought of this great idea:
since most of us are a bunch of artists
she is collecting quilt squares of our artwork to make a baby blanket for our teacher's new baby
(did I mention Kelly Rae Roberts was pregnant ...& still is... during our course?)

See the quilt square I made- and others- HERE

...now about this e-course:
If you have any aspirations to get your artwork published
publish a book
build a blog worth reading
figure out how to make social networking work for you
create a website to show & sell your artwork online
get your art in galleries - show at crafts shows
get licensed
She will explain the ins & outs of these things and more
with VERY INFORMATIVE interviews of the editors of magazines and book companies and
award-winning blogsters who give you insider tips!!!

It is a great course!

Since baby is on the way, she doesn't know when she will be offering it again, but never fear!
She created an e-book course that you can do on your own from the class material!
Just click on the badge below to get your copy!

150√ó240 flying lessons badge

THE Versatile Dancer!

Portrait of Zanbaka by Stephanie Bolton
Please remember if you leave a comment answering this:
Flash forward 10 years from now…. It’s summer 2020… where do you see the art of bellydance? Has it grown in popularity? Are the old stereotypes a thing of the past? Are there more theatre productions? Are there more bellydance studios? Are there classes offered in schools and higher educational institutions? What new innovations have bellydance artists incorporated? What elements of tradition of folkloric roots has the dance retained? 

Describe how you envision bellydance to be 10 years from now!

...you may win a copy of Zanbaka's book

the first book in the Versatile Dancer Series!
(pictured at left- black cover)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Zanbaka Painting Sneeky-poos...

Here are a few glimpses of my portrait of versatile dancer, Zanbaka...

Okay... perhaps you are guessing this... but I admittedly have a "thing" for Shisha mirrors- it is true!

On a personal note (hehe- no pun intended but...) I painted onto some sheet music I used for the background because I wanted the musical notes to peep through... you see, Zanbaka's book gave me a new, clearer understanding of how music is written... how it works and what that means for the dancer.
Particularly in regards to using ziller to accompany music.
She helped me to SEE music and so I wanted music to be SEEN in her portrait.

The arches of Granada, Spain... drawing on her experiences there.  Her third book is illustrated with some beautiful photographs of Spain and you can tell the beauty of this place is very much a part of her inspiration.
Here you also the see the image transfers of photographs of her that I also collaged my canvas with, so they would weave in and out of view through the paint.
(more examples of this below)

I loved this velvety metallic wallpaper I found.  The scrolling design felt like it fit the ambiance I was trying to create.  There is also Zanbaka's photo that I printed onto old pages of a weathered book & used for background.  Below that, black lace,... more flamenco infuence.
Postal stamping adds the suggestion of travel = gypsy. 

Please remember if you leave a comment answering this:
Flash forward 10 years from now…. It’s summer 2020… where do you see the art of bellydance? Has it grown in popularity? Are the old stereotypes a thing of the past? Are there more theatre productions? Are there more bellydance studios? Are there classes offered in schools and higher educational institutions? What new innovations have bellydance artists incorporated? What elements of tradition of folkloric roots has the dance retained? 
Describe how you envision bellydance to be 10 years from now!

You have a chance to win Zanbaka's book
The first in the Bellydance for the Versatile Dancer Series!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Interview with Zanbaka

Interview with Zanbaka

How & when did you first encounter belly dancing?
My freshman year of college in ‘95…. There was a class offered through the UW Electives catalogue for a bellydance class with (my future bellydance teacher!) Mish Mish. I would have to say what got me to class was my interest in music at the time… I was listening to a lot of Dead Can Dance and other obscure music that had a world music feel. I studied years of ballet, tap, and jazz growing up and lost interest in my teen years. This new (and scary) venture turned out to be a serendipitous opportunity that ignited my passion for dance when I reunited with it as a young adult… and it truly changed my life and I wouldn’t be the same today without it.

How long have you been dancing (professionally/teaching)?
More than a decade now…..wow, has it been that long?

Who were some of your mentors/teachers/inspirations along the way?
So many! I’m a big believer in giving credit where credit is due… if I’ve gained a huge revelation from an hour long class or if someone’s inspired me through years of study, I feel it’s important to acknowledge that. Mish Mish, Yemaya (formerly of Seattle), the original ladies of Goddess Squad, Troupe Rose, Dalia Carella, Rubina Carmona, all of the wonderful dancers I’ve has the opportunity to collaborate with in ensemble settings, Oscar Nieto, Sara de Luis, Carolena Nerricio/FCBD, Paulette Rees-Denis/Gypsy Caravan, Yasmela (Shelly Muzzy), Elizabeth Dennis, Melissa Ruby, Madam Habib, Ratna Roy, all of the instructors at Mendocino Music and Dance Camp, Tamalyn Dallal, Jill Parker, Artemis Mourat, dancers who have inspired me from afar Romani Urban Tribal Bellydance, John Compton/Hahbi Ru, Rachel Brice, Zoe Jakes and I’m sure there are many more!

What valuable advice would you like to pass on to novice dancers?
No matter what level of dance you’re at or what your goals are….. Learn how to embrace constructive criticism and feedback with gratitude, grace, and an open heart. This can be a very difficult process if you’re new to dance/movement classes. (And I must mention if you feel that your instructor is being verbally abusive… by all means, RUN!) Understand that when an instructor picks you out to give you feedback, it’s usually because they see something special in you, and want you to reach your full potential. In our society, corrections or feedback are often regarded with negativity… but in dance, we must use these as tools to fuel us, evolve, progress, and push us forward.

What is your favorite or signature style of belly dance that you teach or perform? Do you have a specialty that people recognize you for?
I love all styles of bellydance…. I’ve never really put restraints on myself as far as studying a particular style. I think there’s something to be learned from studying with various teachers who specialize and are comfortable within a particular style. I a love being a bellydance chameleon, but I also think it’s important to be able to recognize ‘bodies of movement’ that are commonly accepted within each style genre and to be aware of those differences when creating your own pieces. With each project or piece I may gravitate toward a certain body of movements depending on the tools of dance composition, purpose, context, solo or group, or what the music calls for.

Do you have any special projects you are working on personally that you would like to share about? 
 In the bellydance world I’m working on video-documenting some of my old choreographies right now, some new pieces, and outlines for my companion videos for my books and all the other details that go along with that big project.

Why do you love belly dancing?
So many reasons! The music…. the grounded, earthy movements that compliment a woman’s body so well…… the dichotomy and contrast of slow, sinuous movements and sharp, rapid, percussive isolations….. the melding of cultures that has influenced the many branches of older and newer forms of bellydance….. the transformative experiences that that some people gain through studying bellydance, especially the aspects of self-love and body acceptance (within healthy boundaries, of course!), the opportunity and gateway to learn about other cultures, history, current events, etc., I feel that no matter what differences we have across the globe, art is what makes us civilized and art transcends language/borders/religion/politics.

What is your favorite music to dance to? Why?

My obsession with music is akin to those people you see on the ‘hoarding reality shows’ on tv. I’ve got boxes of cd’s in storage and external hard drives that seem to
fill up too fast. As much music as I’ve acquired, I’ve always been pretty picky with music that I dance to. I love to dance to Middle Eastern Music as well as Non-Middle Eastern World music. I really like to honor the origins and context of music no matter where it comes from and when making a set of music, compiling pieces so there is a flow and a purpose to it and making sure the pieces relate to one another. My current fav’s have more to do with musical elements… I’ve really been infatuated with the piano, cello, all sorts of rhythms and syncopation, female voices singing in harmony, the deep tone of frame drums, and the intricacies of flamenco singing.

Favorite costume elements? 

My latest costume acquisition is a professionally made Bata de Cola, which is a Flamenco dress or skirt with tiered ruffled and a long train or “cola”. Dancing in it is a dream… and thankfully I haven’t hit the floor yet… those things are dangerous!
Lately I’ve actually been paring down my costume collection to things that are really immaculate, unique, meaningful, rare or well made. I’ve disassembling old pieces that I made in a rush (sewing until the late hours before a big performance, anyone?) and recreating them into something new. I did this with a bangle belt recently that’s adorned with my favorite tribal pendants and coins. Every time I’ve flown with it in my carry-on, it’s a given that I’ll get directed to the bag inspection queue.

Your photo is on the cover of Kajira’s twice sold out editions of the Tribal Bible ( that now sells for no less than $200 online)- since I have never seen one in person, can you tell me about what that book is about and why you are on the cover?

(Awww! I can send and loan you my copy, if you’d like!!!!) I was fortunate enough to be in touch with Kajira when she was looking for artwork/photo submissions for the 2nd edition of her book . (What I would give for an original 1st Edition!) I was so surprised to be included on the cover collage and *extremely* honored. Kajira has put together such a wonderful piece of work. I’ve heard rumors of another edition to be printed and I hope the rumors are true!

You have written the most comprehensive belly dance instructional book series I have yet to encounter (Belly dance for the Versatile Dancer vol. I, II, III). Would you like to tell me about when you decided to take on the task of making a truly useable “textbook” for teaching belly dance? What is the philosophy employed that make your books so very accessible?

Thanks for your kind words, Stephanie! The whole thing began with a pretty serious health issue. I took a step back from teaching group classes and cut a few other dance commitments out to relax and enjoy life for a while! One late night, I was going through my stacks of class handouts and notes and thought to myself… I should really compile these into an organized manual for my students! From there the manuals grew into different volumes for each level or subject and after a while I decided I was going to self-publish on the off chance that other dancers might find the information helpful, too. Once I made that decision, it really helped solidify my vocabulary for explaining *how* certain isolations are oriented or what directions a movement should take. The whole process has had a profound and transformative effect on how I explain things when I teach and I feel the process has made me a better instructor.

What made you decide to make the upcoming book in this series a compilation of work from multiple authors?

There are so many talented dancers, researchers, historians, ethnologists, etc, out there that I felt a second hand offering with the same writing style and voice wouldn’t be as rich and diverse as a collection with all the contributors and their points of view. I want my readers to experience a taste of these great contributors, even if they’ve never studied with them in person. If we can all raise money for a non-profit while we’re at it, then everyone wins!

How many books will be in the entire series once it is complete? What is coming up?

Hopefully Seven… but maybe more?
IV. History, Styles, & Fusion with Fortitide w/ guest writers)
V. Floorwork, Veilwork, Props & Dangerous Diversions
VI. Choreography & Free Form Improvisation
VII. Zanbaka's Repertoire for Tribal Group Improvisation [[[My experimentations in Group Improv which are influenced by work in Flamenco, Orissi, and Folkloric Bellydance, and new takes on dynamic formations]]]

And will any of those upcoming books include the work of other authors like the fourth?
I hope so! We shall see!

What would be your ultimate dream for your books?

I just hope that they’ll always be around, many years from now, for people to enjoy… and hopefully enhance their dancing. I also hope to produce some videos to accompany each volume sometime in the near future.

You are also an accomplished flamenco dancer as well. When did you begin to study this dance form (was it before or after belly dance)? And how were you exposed to it?

I always describe bellydance as my “gateway drug” to flamenco. I took a workshop with Dalia Carella at Caravan Studio in Portland, OR over a decade ago. The high level of dance that she demanded in her workshops, the attention to detail and rhythm, the respect for drawing from fusion forms that she emphasized in her workshops was truly inspiring.
As soon as I got back to Seattle, I ravenously hunted down information for Rubina Carmona’s Flamenco classes, Sawe’s West African Dance classes, and Dr. Ratna Roy’s East Indian Orissi classes. Ratna’s classes were in Olympia, an hour or so drive away from Seattle, but after much begging and arranging for a Seattle studio for her, she agreed to make the trek here on a weekly basis. The next six months were filled with rich rhythms and dance with my zealous attendance to classes. Mondays, I went to an early Flamenco class and taught my bellydance classes later on that evening. Wednesdays I went to Sawe’s lengthy West African dance class with a huge ensemble of live drumming accompaniment hammering out poly-rhythms. Thursdays I had troupe practice. Saturdays more Flamenco, and Sundays I pounded out choka excercises in Ratna’s class. As the demand increased for more group and private classes in my teaching schedule and taking on a student troupe, I had to give up my regular attendance at Orissi classes. When Rubina invited me to join La Pena Flamenca de Seattle, I had to make a choice between that and the time conflict with Sawe’s class. Flash forward many years to present day, Bellydance and Flamenco are still battling it out for alpha dog position in my schedule and priorities. I still drop into other dance classes and new classes as my schedule allows, at least for the experience of being back in the beginner’s point of view.

Do you find your belly dance influenced by flamenco? Or vice versa? Are you influenced by other dance forms or are there other forms of “cross training” that you practice?

I think both forms lend themselves well to enhancing the other, once you’ve studied both for a while. “Cutting and pasting” movements from one into the other can lead to disastrous results and can appear really gimmicky…which is probably true for any venture in fusion. With a mindful approach, the layers of foundations complement each other very well. Flamenco arm carriage was a huge asset to my early experimentations in tribal group improv, because at that time there were no tribal improv/ATS instructors in Seattle (although Seattle has quite a great history
of Jamila style/old-style/classic tribal). Present day in my belly dance pieces, Flamenco has given me so much in regard to attention to fractional and unique rhythms, body lines and composition, turns, and emotive expressions that honor the full spectrum of universal life experiences: the good, the bad, and the ugly as opposed to just the positive side of the emotive spectrum.

Do you think that “cross training” is important in learning to become an exceptional belly dancer?

I think it can definitely help! It really depends on the individual and their background/experience, but other kinds of dance, yoga, pilates, martial arts, fitness, strength training, can all be extremely helpful in enhancing dance and dance longevity. The most important thing is to never stop learning, always be open to new experiences in movement, new music, and new ways to think about movement in a cerebral sense.

For a chance to win a FREE copy of Zanbaka's first book in the Bellydance for the Versatile Dancer Series: FOundations, please leave a comment answering this question:

Flash forward 10 years from now…. It’s summer 2020… where do you see the art of bellydance? Has it grown in popularity? Are the old stereotypes a thing of the past? Are there more theatre productions? Are there more bellydance studios? Are there classes offered in schools and higher educational institutions? What new innovations have bellydance artists incorporated? What elements of tradition of folkloric roots has the dance retained? Describe how you envision bellydance to be 10 years from now!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

proudly announcing...

The next belly dancer I am interviewing...

Zanbaka is recognized throughout the Pacific Northwest for her well-conceptualized performance pieces, researched fusion styles, and elaborate group and solo choreographies. In addition to teaching numerous workshops locally and nationally, she is sought after as an instructor by absolute beginners who want a thorough foundation in technique to seasoned performers who want to challenge their limits.

Zanbaka is also the authoress of a fabulous series of books designed to teach belly dance in a variety ways:  

The Bellydance for the Versatile Dancer Series.
*pictured at right
These books give a very thorough exploration of key concepts in this art form.
Her approach really opens the door to endless possibilities for growth & mastery in any style of 
belly dance.
I particularly appreciate how she narrows down a simple terminology for communicating what she wants you to do with your body.  As an instructor who was taught by several different people, I know that I have been bombarded with several different names to call and ways to explain the same moves.  
Her approach to explaining the moves leaves no room for miscommunication so I think it is a great resource for instructors, so they can learn better communication skills with regards to explaining to their students what they would like them to do.
I highly recommend these books and this week you will have a chance to win 
Volume One: Foundations!!!
(regularly $45 + shipping)

Just leave a comment answering Zanbaka's question:
Flash forward 10 years from now…. It’s summer 2020… where do you see the art of bellydance? Has it grown in popularity? Are the old stereotypes a thing of the past? Are there more theatre productions? Are there more bellydance studios? Are there classes offered in schools and higher educational institutions? What new innovations have bellydance artists incorporated? What elements of tradition of folkloric roots has the dance retained? Describe how you envision bellydance to be 10 years from now!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

And the winner is...

 who wrote:

HanRuthie said...

The first thing that comes to mind is offering food and drink when someone arrives at your home for a visit. A comfortable place to sleep and a fresh, clean place to wash up, with necessities carefully placed for the guests convenience--but all this is just action, ringing hollow if it isn't done with thoughtfulness. So, to me, hospitality is an outward showing of your inner thoughtfulness, consideration, and ultimate respect for the guest--whether your offering is an expensive tea or a glass of water.

Thanks so much for playing!
I hope you enjoy your
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Monday, August 9, 2010


There is writing on the wall in French, German, & Arabic.  An Algerian design going down the left hand column.  I actually had my sons go along the beach collecting cowrie shells for me to make the necklace actual shells but they were all too large and would have made her look like Wilm Flintstone so I just painted them very raised to look more dimensional.
Real shisha mirrors along the true sari fabric edge.

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Can you Share what Hospitality means to you?

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This painting will be viewable in person at this event:

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A work in progress...

Real fabric Sari edge

See the finished painting tomorrow!

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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Photos I am working from...

An endearing smile!  
She has special eye for combining textures and pattern.
Unfortunately, sometimes the photos people send me are a little too small for me to really use but I do appreciate the fluid pose of this last one by Denise Marino.

Come back tomorrow for some glimpses of the painting!

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Can you Share what HOSPITALITY means to you?

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Interview with Amel Tafsout

I have to say that when you are speaking with Amel, you get this feeling that you are talking to a really exceptional human being.  She has a longing to express her sincerity towards others.  She has ideas she wants to be understood but she is also patient and she listens.  She has a such a wealth of knowledge, speaking several languages and having travelled extensively sharing her love of dance.
This interview is going to read a little differently than the rest because I did phone interview with Amel.
I took notes on her responses but did not write word for word, so I am recounting our conversation as best I can.  

How did you first encounter belly dance?

I am Arabic.  I did not encounter it, I grew up with the dance and seeing Egyptian movies.

Do you have a specialty?

Maghreb dance is my specialty- the dances from the 5 North African countries... not including Egypt, Egypt belongs to "the Middle East".
I never danced in restaurants.
I dance on stage.  I am part of a culture.  I am not a copy of an "Algerian dancer"; its me on stage.

Where are you from originally?

Algeria- I learned from my grandmother.
I now live in the US, Oregon but I did live in Germany, France, and England.

How long have you been teaching?

35 years

What kinds of things do you teach?

Frame drum, dancing, and singing.  I give workshops on this, bring it back as one, not separate.
I give lectures and teach costuming.  I would like to offer more workshops on costuming to teach people what they can do with a piece of fabric without sewing it.

Who are your inspirations or mentors?

My grandmother and the women of my tribe- we are Berbers.
My culture: Algerian women.

What is the most usual experience you have had bellydancing?

When you are an instructor, you go to places when you are teaching and you sometimes encounter people who forget you are a person.  It has surprised me sometimes how people forget to extend hospitality.  They love the dance but forget to learn the culture: the culture is very much about Hospitality.  People double book themselves, they don't take time to be a person and you don't feel respected.  Things are not organized properly, you are sleeping badly and then you are expected to work.  I find it sad.  Dancers should respect each other and honor each other.  This dance is about honoring each other.  If you show each other respect & hospitality you can all go home happy.

What advice do you have for dancers?

It is important to me: the spiritual side; opening the heart of women.
I do breathing and Sufi.
Sometimes in a workshop the women there are not connected with each other, they just see the back of each other; losing the call.  The call is to enjoy- you can learn easier if you are relaxed - it's about the heart.  If they could just feel the movement and silence; they will dance differently.
I give time to notice every dancer who is there.
I dance with each one of them.
I want to touch their heart... and usually it happens.
That is my work.
So they can be connected to their call.
Each dancer has something very special.

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Just leave a comment answering this question for a chance to win:

Can you share what Hospitality means to you?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


The Dancer I will be painting in my Belly Dancer Series is 


Amel Tafsout is one of those people whom exudes a deep respect and appreciation for people.
Her dance journey is one of blessing others, by helping them gain more than knowledge of dance steps but the whole shebang: culture, costuming, and self expression.
She has lead a compelling and interesting life which she is going to share some of it with us tomorrow!
I hope you will return tomorrow to learn more about my conversation with her and see the progress of my painting of her.

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The Portrait of Amel Tafsout will be exhibited at this event...

email mauna.lea.studios@gmail.com for more details