August 2007Volume VI

A Dancer Like No Other...Rachel George!

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I first met Rachel some 8 years ago, back when I was just getting serious about Bellydance. I was in Portland, Oregon on a business trip and had the pleasure of spending a wonderful evening chaperoned by the lovely and now famous Aziza of Montreal (formerly of Portland). She was nice enough to give me a tour of the city's Middle Eastern dance hot spots and also introduce me to her budding protege', Rachel! Little did I know that Rachel and I would meet again some 5 years later in my own town of San Diego.

Having studied privately and almost exclusively with Aziza, Rachel began to blossom as a Middle Eastern performer. She entered a local dance competition..the Double Crown...and took second place. Two years later she took first place in the Professional Category and first place in the Duet Category with none other than Aziza herself! Rachel continued to perform successfully throughout Portland and soon decided to expand her horizons with a move to beautiful San Diego. She decided on San Diego because of it's proximity to a new dance master she had begun studying with--none other than the legendary Suhaila Salimpour based in Berkley, California (See the May 2007 HipSlinger Newsletter archived on my website for a complete story on Suhaila and her legendary mother, Jamila Salimpour). Rachel had fallen in love with the Suhaila format after stumbling in on one of Suhaila's classes and finding herself challenged to the core...something she wasn't accustomed to. She promptly enrolled in a week long intensive workshop during which she called her long time dance mentor Aziza in tears to tell her that they had been "doing it all wrong!"

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As a fellow bellydance artist, watching Rachel perform for the first time can be quite intimidating. Nevermind the fact that she looks like a professional fitness model with her pretty face, tan skin, athletic physique and statuesque height. Rachel is also one HELLUVA good dancer. Her technique in the form of ultra-sharp isolations, incredible layering and mind-blowing belly work is a sight to behold. It's no wonder she became a sought after performer and instructor in San Diego almost overnight!

Check her out on YouTube: Click HERE!

I promptly began taking private lessons in her converted garage with wonderful results. It was Rachel who introduced me to the Suhaila format which I now base my own teachings on and study almost exclusively (I'll be attending the Level III week long intensive this month!)

After approximately one year, Rachel returned to Portland to pursue some personal goals. We were so sad to see her go and she was definitely sad to leave her life here. Of course she continued to excel in the dance field by winning first place titles such as 2006 Emerald Rain Aphrodite, 2006 Miss Bellydance USA and most recently, 2007 Entertainer of the Year at the well-known Wiggles of the West Competition in Reno, Nevada. In addition to her titles, Rachel has also released a performance DVD, "Exotic Hips" which is distributed by Peko Records (Hollywood Music). She continues to study with Suhaila Salimpour by attending week long workshop intensives whenever she can. In fact, Rachel was one of the first to achieve Level II certification in the Suhaila format and is gearing up for the Level III test soon.

Aside from being such a phenomenal Middle Eastern dance artist, Rachel is also one of the nicest and most down-to-earth people I know. I am proud to call her a friend and am thrilled to be sponsoring her for a workshop and show right here in San Diego on the first weekend of September. Rachel will be giving a 4-hour workshop on drum solo technique (her specialty) and improvisation. As an added BONUS, Frank Lazzaro, lead drummer for the award winning Middle Eastern band Middle Earth will be providing live drumming in addition to some rare insight into working and dancing to a live drum. The chance to study with these two masters is one you don't want to miss and one that any dance student from the beginner to professional level can gain from. The workshop will be held Sunday, September 2nd from 10 to 2PM at the Stage 7 Dance Studio in North Park. Tuition is just $60 ($65 at the door).

You also won't want to miss Rachel's live solo performance the night before. Saturday, September 1st at 8PM, Rachel will be performing to live music by Middle Earth along with guest dancers Dilek, Mimi and myself (Vilia). The show will be held in a new venue called Caesar's Cafe' near downtown's Gaslamp. This restaurant has actually been around for some time but is now under the new and capable ownership of Chris Sarwan - previous owner of the famous Mama's Bakery. Chris has some amazing plans for presenting the finest in Middle Eastern music and dance entertainment at this elegant and spacious location. With a large dance floor and stage, coupled with a spacious dining area and outside patio, Caesar's Cafe' promises to be a future hot spot for Middle Eastern food and dance afficionados. Serving the finest in authentic Lebanese cuisine, you won't want to miss checking out this new locale.

Cover for the show is just $12/person. Dinner purchase is required. You can pre-order tickets by visiting and clicking on the information link to view fliers and access Paypal. Be sure and reserve early to get the best seats!

See you at the show!!!

Audience Etiquette

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As bellydancers and bellydance performers, we strive to do our best when performing in front of an audience taking care to exercise the greatest in professionalism and skill with our dance. However, as a performer you will often find yourself on the other side of the fence or stage lights an audience member watching and supporting your fellow dancers. This is even more true for bellydance students and afficionados who have no desire to actually perform but love witnessing the beauty of the dance.

As an audience member, it might be surprising to learn how important your role is to the success of a performance! In my experience, the energy of the audience in terms of participation and excitement is often the determining factor on whether or not I leave the stage feeling that my show was either an invigorating success or a miserable failure. I'll bet you never realized how much power your attitude holds in this area. The next logical question is then, how to be the best audience member possible?

Here are a few ideas on how one can actively contribute to a dancer's performance from the sidelines:

1. Participate physically by clapping and cheering at appropriate times during and after the performance. This is one of the MOST important things you can do. Audience participation will often push the dancer to higher levels of performance and artistry.

2. Smile at and make eye contact with the dancer to show your respect and enjoyment for what she is doing. I've seen some audience member completely ignore the dancer while eating and talking to their friends and I have to wonder why they even came to a place with bellydance entertainment!

3. Give the performer(s) your full attention. Refrain from talking, walking around and especially leaving during a performance. The worst feeling is when a whole table gets up and decides to leave in the middle of your set. Come on! The majority of dance shows are no more than 20 minutes long. Unless your house is burning down, be courteous and wait for the show to be over to make your exit.

4. Keep negative comments to yourself. Unfortunately there is a lot of jealousy and cattiness among dancers in this field. Human nature's tendency toward's gossip and criticism often rears it's ugly head. Keep your comments positive and never know who you might be sitting next to...

5. If you see the dancer do something that particularly impresses you, clap or cheer to let her know you like what she did.

6. If permitted, be sure and tip the dancer. The most authentic and complimentary way is to shower her with bills while she is dancing. You may, however, tuck bills into her costume but try to stay away from cleavage and crotch areas...stick to the sides and back. Even if you are a female, tipping in an inappropriate place can make the dancer and other audience members uncomfortable.

7. Only get up to join the dancer if you are invited by her to do so. DO NOT overstay your welcome. Watch for the dancer's cue to sit down or simply thank her and excuse yourself from the dance floor after a brief time.

8. Guys...if you are invited to the dance floor, maintain an appropriate distance. In other words, don't touch the dancer or get unusually close. If you don't know what to do, simply sway to the music, smile and clap while the dancer moves around you.

9. If tips fall out of the dancer's costume, there is no need to call her attention to them. (Do you really expect her to stop dancing, bend over and pick up money in the middle of her show?;) Rest assured that the venue's staff will get the tips to her after the show.

10. Be sure and compliment the dancer if you see her after the show. Just tell her what you liked and appreciated about her performance. - HINT: Try to honestly compliment her dance skills. Complimenting her costume or music alone is often taken to mean you didn't really like the performance and are just looking for something nice to say.

I'd be really interested in feedback regarding my suggestions. If you as a dancer and/or audience member would like to share your ideas, please feel free to email them to me at

Enjoy the show!

Upcoming Events...

********** SHOWS! **********

Thursday, August 2nd & Fridays, August 10, 17 - Vilia performs at the Marrakesh Restaurant in La Jolla. Enjoy an exotic Moroccan dining experience featuring two dance shows (7:30PM/9PM). Reservations recommended.

Friday, August 3rd, Jennifer performs at Armenian Cafe in Carlsbad. Enjoy two dance shows (7PM/8:30PM) with live music by Tatool!

Saturday, August 4th - Jennifer and Christine perform at the Bird House Grill in Encinitas. Show starts at 7:30PM. Come enjoy authentic Turkish Cuisine in a fun and friendly atmosphere!

Fridays, August 10th and 24th - Jennifer performs at The Bird House Grill in Encinitas. Show starts at 7:30PM and features 2 dancers!

Saturday, August 11th - Vilia performs at the Bird House Grill in Encinitas. Show starts at 7:30PM and features two dancers!

Friday, August 31st - Jennifer performs at Marrakesh Restaurant in La Jolla. Enjoy an exotic Moroccan dining experience featuring two dance shows (7:30PM/9PM). Reservations recommended.

Saturday, September 1st - Currently reigning Miss Bellydance USA and Entertainer of the Year!!! Multi-Award winning dancer Rachel George of Portland, OR performs LIVE at Caesar's Cafe in Downtown San Diego. Show features the live music of Middle Earth with drummer Frank Lazzaro along with dance performances by Vilia, Dilek and Mimi. Admission is just $12/person (Dinner purchase required). Visit to purchase with Paypal or call Vilia at (858)232-7417 to reserve your spot at this exciting new venue!

Tuesdays - Jennifer performs at Marrakesh in La Jolla. First show starts around 7:30PM. Reservations recommended.

** See the "Relevant Links" column to the right for restaurant websites and location information. **

********** WORKSHOPS! **********

Sunday, September 2nd - Award winning dancer/choreographer Rachel George of Portland, OR will teach a drum solo and improvisation workshop with Middle Earth drummer Frank Lazzaro. Learn Rachel's signature, jaw-dropping isolations and drum layering techniques along with innovative combinations to make your drum solos sizzle. Tuition is $60/person for four hours of master instruction with LIVE drumming! Reserve your spot quickly as this workshop will fill up fast. $65 at the door. Visit for Paypal or call (858)232-7417.


For Detailed Class Descriptions
Click Here!

Middle Eastern Dance Basics
Sat 11:30-1PM
UCSD Rec Center
9500 Gilman Dr.
La Jolla, CA 92037
(858) 534-3772
Registration Form (pdf)

Beginning/Intermediate Technique
Wed 7:30-9PM
La Jolla YMCA Firehouse
7877 Herschel Ave.
La Jolla, CA 92037

Intermediate/Advanced Performance & Technique
Sat 2:00-3:30PM
Stage 7
3980 30th Street
San Diego, CA 92104

Private Coaching by Appointment


** Existing Students ** Bring a friend to class and receive your class FREE!

** All Students ** Purchase a 6-class card and receive a FREE half-hour private coaching session valid for six months.

Relevant Links...