Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Instruments of Classical Music Series

Here's a great series you can use to add to your classical music collection, The Instruments of Classical Music Series (click any album to learn more about it):

To keep abreast of news and interesting links on Classical Music, visit or subscribe to @Classical_Music on Twitter. Want an RSS feed of just Classical Music posts? Here you go!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Cat helps loved ones gather before patients die

This is an amazing story of a cat who "works" in a hospice. He predicts patient deaths in time for the human workers to get all the loved ones gathered:

This New England Journal of medicine article is great, and the Washington Post discussion is also a great read.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Jawaahir Dance Company: Library Performance.

Elena and Shari do an Egyptian Ghawazee piece, Risha a Tunisian pot dance, Zuleika an Egyptian Shamadan (Candelabra) dance, and Cassandra performs Raqs Al-Assaya (cane dance.)

Zambra Mora by Toha (my dance name) at the Burnsville International Festival

Didn't know this was out there---surprised to find video of myself on the web!

Here I am, in red, performing a Zambra Mora at the Burnsville International Festival. After that, Rebecca (in green) from Jawaahir Dance Company, performs an Algerian Nailyat number.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Great Jawaahir dance videos including Tunisian and Ghawazee

I'm delighted to share these latest videos with you! I'm even in one of them!

You will love this wonderful video of Cassandra. It's just too short, though!

Here's Jawaahir Dance Company doing a Tunisian pot dance, choreographed by Cassandra --(I'm in this in a dark blue melaya mostly to right of center.)

Jawaahir Dance Company doing a ghawazee piece, choreographed by Cassandra:

Let me know what you think -- Happy Summer!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Dave and I are back in the Twin Cities

Twin Cities Night skyline... for now ('cuz who knows, anymore?)

Dave and I still own a home here and our tenants were moving out. About the same time, he got a lead on a job here. So we just very quickly decided to get back here ASAP.

We both left Philadelphia at the same time on a Friday night. He drove the Budget truck full of all of our worldly goods, and got here in record time--17.5 hours! --then slept at his mom's. I drove our car, outfitted to house our cats for the 2 day drive --they would have to stay in the car until Sunday anyway, so I took more time.
Kitties' first road trip! They sometimes perched on the way-back in the car to watch the traffic, sometimes got under the passenger seat--and they were champs, using the porta-litter box while the car was moving! For a long while, both were in their [opened] carrier sitting beside me looking through the front windshield as I drove: Two small heads at my elbow.

We were able to get in the house on Sunday (tenants had through Saturday to get out) only to find that tenant's animals had badly damaged the carpet. We had help moving out the carpet and with some other stuff.

We will be selling the house, so there is a LOT to do. We've painted everything, and the new hardwood floor goes in this weekend--after rigorous sub-floor scrubbing with Nature's Miracle, the pet odor remover. Dave had a truckload of boulders delivered (he has a friend in the boulder biz) to create a boulder wall off our deck. He's doing a lot of other landscaping things too, to help this house stand out from the pack of otherwise similar homes in this 'burb just west of the Mini-Apple.

Within days of being back I've had gainful employment--in each of the "things I do for money!" A voiceover gig, then filling in doing traffic reports for 7 radio stations here, and now teaching a private dance lesson on Sunday.

The possible job for Dave, the one that got our tails here so fast, might yet pan out, too. Just today he set up an interview for early May. Could it have been any more perfect? He needs this time to complete the house and get it on the market, then time to prepare a presentation. (It's a marketing position at a technical college.)

I'm also going back to teaching a bit at the Cassandra School--at least filling in. Others have naturally taken over all my old classes. So things are looking up!

(And it stopped snowing!)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

From under a beer truck to health food ...

While we're buried under the massive project of getting our house ready to sell, we did take 90 minutes to go eat in a wonderful HEALTHY new restaurant, The Golden Chalice, in Chanhassen, MN.

Do you remember in the news last October, the woman who was crushed by a beer truck? No one could see her Subaru beneath the truck, so she tapped out 'shave-and-a-haircut' on her horn?' Then the EMT's realized her horn wasn't an electrical problem, but a human trapped under the truck.

That's our friend, the author Debbie Johnson.

She survived the beer truck accident (after weeks in the hospital) and we want to help her survive her restaurant venture.

If you like healthy food--or are just a plum foodie--please go eat there this week. And if you know anyone with food allergies, diabetes, or celiac disease, Debbie's food is all good stuff, low-glycemic, gluten- and sugar-free.

It's amazing she can make it all so delicious, yet so healthful.

Dave and I had the hummus platter, then he had a ginger stir fry while I had a cashew-curry dish. Awesome! I had to take my dessert home, a "tart" tart (they also offer a "sweet" tart and many other desserts.)

Everything was delicious--and I also noticed that the food really imparted a feeling of life to me that I rarely get with restaurant food.

The atmosphere is just lovely too. Soft music and lighting...(but brighter lighting in the Gallery area of the business.) Here's a link to their web site with directions, lunch and dinner menus, the phone number, hours and more:

Please go this week. Yum!!!

Postscript: Debbie met the love of her life and has moved to be with him!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Important classical music links you should know

Here are some good answers to a few of the most common questions (click the links) about classical music resources on the internet:
Who are the most important composers to know, and how can you find their music to listen to?

Here's a list of over five dozen of the most referenced and otherwise significant composers. Clicking the last name link will take you to a page where you can click the name that appears in bold red to download and listen to music by the composer:
  1. Wagner, Richard
  2. Bach, Johann Sebastian
  3. Debussy, Claude
  4. Stravinsky, Igor
  5. Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus
  6. Beethoven, Ludwig van
  7. Liszt, Franz
  8. Schoenberg, Arnold
  9. Chopin, Fryderyk
  10. Schumann, Robert
  11. Brahms, Johannes
  12. Mendelssohn, Felix
  13. Strauss, Richard
  14. Haydn, Franz Joseph
  15. Rossini, Gioachino
  16. Ravel, Maurice
  17. Palestrina, Giovanni Pierluigi da
  18. Berlioz, Hector
  19. Corelli, Arcangelo
  20. Gluck, Christoph WRvon
  21. Tchaikovsky, Pyotr Il'yich
  22. Bartók, Béla
  23. Mahler, Gustav
  24. Monteverdi, Claudio
  25. Webern, Anton
  26. Weber, Carl Maria von
  27. Handel, George Frideric
  28. Lully, Jean-Baptiste
  29. Rimsky-Korsakov, Nikolay
  30. Fauré, Gabriel
  31. Mussorgsky, Modest
  32. Franck, Cesar
  33. Meyerbeer, Giacomo
  34. Berg, Alban
  35. Satie, Erik
  36. Schubert, Franz
  37. Verdi, Giuseppe
  38. Scriabin, Alexander
  39. Dukas, Paul
  40. Gounod, Charles
  41. Borodin, Alexander
  42. Hindemith, Paul
  43. Vivaldi, Antonio
  44. Massenet, Jules
  45. Sibelius, Jean
  46. Bach, Carl Philipp Emanuel
  47. Cage, John
  48. Bellini, Vincenzo
  49. Reger, Max
  50. Varèse, Edgard
  51. Grieg, Edvard
  52. Paganini, Niccolò
  53. Glinka, Mikhail
  54. Gershwin, George
  55. Chabrier, Emmanuel
  56. Scarlatti, Alessandro
  57. Hasse, Johann Adolf
  58. Frescobaldi, Girolamo
  59. Lasso, Orlando di
  60. Sammartini, Giovanni Battista
  61. Buxtehude, Dieterich
  62. Busoni, Ferruccio
  63. Gabrieli, Giovanni
  64. Couperin, François
  65. Balakirev, Mily
  66. Prokofiev, Sergei
  67. Salieri, Antonio
  68. Josquin Desprez
  69. Dvorák, Antonin
  70. Stanford, Charles Villiers
To keep abreast of news and interesting links on Classical Music, visit or subscribe to @Classical_Music on Twitter. Want an RSS feed of just Classical Music posts? Here you go!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Why share yourself with others?

One of the surest ways to feel good--about yourself, about the world-- is to help others in some way.

Shoveling someone's driveway, being the highway Good Samaritan, or volunteering for an organization that does good works are guaranteed ways to help create a world we all want to live in. (I have more than one friend who feeds the homeless whenever they can. Another uses her bellydance skills to entertain and teach at women's parties where everyone contributes a few bucks--and all the money goes directly to cancer patients.)

Here's an article about sharing yourself with others to get you started.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Bellydance news search from around the world!

I now have a link to belly dance in the news on my Mideastern dance site. Click bellydance news and enjoy! (And it changes all the time, 'cuz it's news.)

Toha, Sarah Larson belly dancingAlso, over to the right here on my blog, and on my web site, I now have a search box that allows you to search the entire World Wide Web for ALL things related to belly dance, Raqs Sharqi, Middle Eastern Dance, Oriental Dance, etc. Just click in the box, type in your search terms, and it will ONLY give you results related to your search terms AND "belly dance."


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Dove's Campaign For Real Beauty: My entry

Dove's Campaign For Real Beauty had a GREAT idea--hold a contest for a commercial for their newest product, Dove Cream Oil Body Wash

I put in a video entry to the contest, but unfortunately, my husband and I had less than an hour to edit the video due to an unexpected trip and technical difficulties before the deadline came up.

But thanks for all your votes! We had a great time dancing with the girls at Caryn's academy in getting footage for the video. We wish we could have made them all stars!

Our rating placed us on a par with about 7th place in the finalists -- although due to judging, we didn't make the final cut. Hopefully our next project we will be able to devote more time to.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Rock the Casbah in Algeria!

© 2005, Universal Music

Algerian singer Rachid Taha's remix of The Clash's Rock the Casbah was sent to me by a friend. Fun to hear words like 'bogeyman' and 'caviar' in an unfamiliar Algerian dialect. More information at this website: Arab Culture and Civilization: A collaborative web project from NITLE.


Sunday, January 07, 2007

Baba says ... are you listening?

An interesting story began at one of my restaurant dance gigs ...

My music started and I came out on stage. I noticed a table of 4 to the left of the stage--3 women ranging from 35 or so to 55 or so, and a man about 60. They watched my show pretty attentively while they ate and enjoyed each other's company. When it came time for me to go around for tips, at their table they had a few questions.

One woman introduced everyone and did virtually all the talking. The man was from India while the women were different ethnicities--European- American (white), African-American, and European (don't remember from where.) The white American woman who did all the talking had a pleasant smile, and kept her eyes on the man as she talked to me. He continually grunted to get her attention and used sign language, which she interpreted.

"Baba says," (she began each sentence this way) "That is a very beautiful costume."
I smiled and addressed him, thinking perhaps he read lips. "Thank you," I said.

"Baba says, 'that looks like a very expensive costume.'"
"All nice costumes are expensive," I chuckled.

"Baba says, 'where did you get that costume?'"
"Actually, I got this one from a belly dance vendor who purchased it in Turkey. It's my only costume that I didn't have custom-made for myself in Turkey or Egypt. I'm glad you like it." (This is my one from Faye's Originales, out of Atlanta. She had brought it, and other wares, to vend in Minneapolis at the Cassandra School.)

"Baba says, 'how much did that costume cost?'"
"Oh, well, it was about $800."

"Baba says, 'it is very beautiful.'"
I thanked them both and began to move to another table. Another grunt from Baba.
"Baba says, 'would you be available for a party at our house?'"
I said, "yes, let me just finish up here and change, and I'll come back out and chat with you then."

Baba grunted his agreement, and I finished my finale and went back to the dressing room to change. I came back in regular clothes, with a business card for Baba. Excited grunting began.

"Baba says, 'we have a distinguished guest coming to visit from India next week. He is a goldsmith. You wouldn't believe the beautiful things he makes. Anyway, we are having a party to honor him, and we would like you to be the entertainment. Are you available on the 19th, and what would you charge?'"

I asked for more details, where the party was (it was in a far-flung northern exurb of Minneapolis) how long they would want me to dance (2 separate times, 2 costumes, 20 minutes each) and other details that affect my rate, and asked for $300.
They said no problem. They'd call me with the details during the week. The woman finished the conversation by giving me Baba's card, and said, "Baba has been silent by choice since 1961." The card said that, too. "Baba ______. Silent-By-Choice since 1961."

If you call those strange noise grunts silent.So he could hear! Okay, whatever. Different strokes.

A few days later, the European woman called to interpret for Baba, who grunted in the background. "Baba says, 'we would like you to come by and see our house and how we live, and if you like it, and decide which room would be best for you to dance in.' Grunt. 'We have a lot of art and things that we wouldn't want to be harmed.' Baba says, 'when can you come by to see our home?'"

I had a very busy week, their place was pretty far away, gas prices were ridiculous, and at the time I was driving a gas guzzler. And an extra trip there was really not necessary. Also, why would I care how they lived?

I said, "tell you what-- I'll come about an hour early on the 19th and take a look. You could see how much space I needed at Jerusalem's--that's a pretty small stage, after all. I'll dance wherever you want me to."

I heard grunting. I truly thought they were concerned about the best space for me to dance. I continued, "the main thing, for me, would be a preference that it not be on carpet. If you have an uncarpeted room, that's best, but if you don't it's no problem, anywhere is fine."

We finished the conversation saying, see you on the 19th. I decided, whatever was up with these folks, Dave would definitely be going with me as my roadie. It was hard to tell, with the "conversation" part of things being so different from what I am used to, whether there would be other things different than I might expect as well. Especially the "how we live" part. I don't mean to be judgmental, I just want it to work properly for dance with normal consideration for the dancer.

They called later and canceled the gig.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

A Typical Gig Story

I've always wanted to blog my gigs, and it's high time I got started!

I'll begin with my very first night at Jerusalem's in was in January of 2000. I was standing in the kitchen in costume, warming up a bit, and keeping my eye on the clock. Jerusalem's shows are at 7:30 and 9 o'clock regardless of how full the restaurant is--let me just say this is a wonderful system! I could always tell my students exactly what time they could see dancers at any of several venues in the Twin Cities. Dancers could plan their acts, they knew when to be ready and when they could leave! More on that later.

So I'm standing there when a customer walked by me on his way back to his table from the men's room. He looked me up and down and said, "Are YOU the entertainment tonight?" (knowing I HAD to be--who else stands in the kitchen of a Middle Eastern restaurant in stage makeup and beau coups sparkles?) I nodded and he said, "OH BOY!!!"

That was my welcome, my first night at Jerusalem's.

He was a regular customer who I saw many times with his wife over the next 6 years. They were always attentive, and always tipped--'though never extravagantly. In fact, one night as I made my way around the tables, he said, "It's my birthday tonight! Know what that means?" I said, "It means you'll FINALLY get up and dance with me tonight?" He said, "No! It means I can tip you TWO dollars!!"

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Sohair Zaki: an elegant brilliant Oriental dancer from some decades ago.
This appears to have been filmed sometime during the 1960s and 1970s, when a more burlesque and silly performance style prevailed in film.

Sohair Zaki's performance itself is classic and beautiful. You can read about Egyptian Cinema here. The two guys in the video appear to be Samir Ghanim and Ahmad al-Daif. Here's a link to the video on Metacafe (where they misspell her name).