May 2007/Volume III

The Salimpour Saga: Three Generations of Dance...

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Suhaila Salimpour is coming to San Diego this month for a two day workshop of choreography and technique featuring her innovative format as well as the work of her legendary mother, Jamila Salimpour!!

So what’s the big deal about Suhaila or Jamila Salimpour? Some of you have little idea as to the contributions to Middle Eastern dance these two have made so I thought I would present a brief synopsis to inform you as to why this is a workshop and/or show that is not to be missed!

Let’s begin at the beginning with Jamila Salimpour who can be described as the Mother of Middle Eastern dance in the United States. She certainly was a pioneer when it came to exposing Westerners to belly dance through her performances and especially through her teaching format. Many of her students went on to become famous in the belly dance world as performers, instructors and company directors.

Jamila began performing as an acrobatic dancer with the Ringling Brothers Circus at the age of 16. She began studying Middle Eastern dance and music which she soon began performing at cultural events and ethnic clubs in Los Angeles and San Francisco. In 1952, Jamila began teaching and developed a terminology and method of breaking down the movements she had learned from the native Middle Eastern performers she had observed and worked with. She published a dance format manual, the first ever text which systematically categorized Middle Eastern Dance movement. Since then, every dancer knowingly or not has been exposed to the indelible mark Jamila made in the world of Middle Eastern dance. Jamila's original phrases and names for dance movements such as Turkish Drop, Maya, and Basic Egyptian were the beginning of a long process to add structure and definition to the art.

In 1969, Jamila formed “Bal Anat
, the first “tribal-style dance troupe in the United States. As a belly dancer and co-owner of the Bagdad Cabaret nightclub in San Francisco, Jamila worked with many artists including Algerian water glass dancers, Tunisian pot dancers, male tray dancers and magicians who presented many varieties of Middle Eastern entertainment. The sword dance, mask dance, and snake dance were seen for the first time in “Bal Anat. The resulting show inspired a whole generation of American belly dancers, giving way to the rise in popularity of the Tribal Belly Dance genre that exists today.

At one point during Jamila’s performing career, she married Persian drummer, Ardeshir Salimpour, and gave birth to their daughter, Suhaila and Jamila's legacy was passed on. In addition to training with her mother, Suhaila began studying ballet, jazz and tap dance from an early age. In later years she added modern dance and hip-hop to her repertoire. Her teaching career began at the age of 14.

After being the first Belly Dancer featured by Arab American Television, Suhaila toured the Middle East and Europe. She returned to the US to open her school - offering the first certification program available in Belly Dance. Through years of performing and touring, Suhaila realized the necessity to create an organized system for teaching and training. Suhaila's unique vision began to take shape when she embarked on rewriting her mothers Dance Manual. The result is an evolution which maintains the purity of her mother's original work and adds the systematic and progressive teaching methods found in the classical dance forms. One unique characteristic of Suhaila’s method involves the use of the gluteus muscles to create the hip vibration known as the shimmy. This is a movement Suhaila has perfected to the point of being able to shimmy with legs straight and even going down into a split! It is this type of muscle control that makes Suhaila’s format and technique stand out from the rest.

Today, the Suhaila Salimpour Format and School of Dance enjoy worldwide success. Dancers who train with Suhaila quickly realize her method of teaching allows them to excel in their art beyond any other training they have received. I myself have attended weeklong workshops with Suhaila and Jamila and am Level II certified in the Suhaila format. I plan to attend the Level III week long this Summer. Suhaila’s method is one I have incorporated into my own teachings with wonderful results. I’ve found it to be a powerfully straightforward way to help students understand and master Middle Eastern dance movements quickly and effectively. My own formal dance training and teaching experience in ballet, tap and jazz has made this format all the more attractive to me as it involves conditioning, strength, stamina and an intense focus on technique.

Please don’t miss the chance to study with Suhaila and her talented assistant, Tiffany Biscomer. There will also be a show at Greek Palace on Saturday, May 26th showcasing Suhaila, Tiffany and a third generation dancer - Suhaila’s amazing daughter, Isabella. Additional performers from San Diego will be showcased as well including myself, the HipSlingers and Dilek “Turkish Delight
. Workshop is Saturday/Sunday May 26 & 27. Show starts at 7PM. Tickets are $25 and include a full buffet. There is no reserved seating so be sure and arrive early.

Hope to see you there!

For more information on Suhaila and Jamila, go to In addition to information on her workshops, videos, CDs and new studio opening in Las Vegas, there are some wonderful biographical articles written by Jamila and Suhaila giving a unique perspective on Middle Eastern dance then and now. Don’t forget to sign up for their free newsletter!

Turquoise on Turquoise: The European Cafe' Next Door...

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**Vilia & Christine**

“My inspiration and vision of The Turquoise, Cafe Bar Europa, is to recreate the feeling of the small, local bars of southern Europe. Places where the people stop and gather, to hear the news, catch up with friends, relax and enjoy a coffee and a fine pastry or a small meal and a glass of wine.

So it states on the home page of “The Turqouise
website as written by its proprietor, Basilio Ceravolo. As San Diego’s only 21-and-over European coffeehouse in north Pacific Beach, I’d say he’s met his vision quite well. This European style café, bar and bistro features a full bar and live music every night of the week including jazz, salsa, Cuban, Irish, blues, flamenco and even a tango night with complimentary dance lessons. It also features tasty Southern European tapas for indecisive diners who can’t choose one dish. Anyone who's backpacked through Europe will feel right at home with the Mediterranean menu of tortilla Espanola, cheese plates and paninis as well as their wonderful sangria and wines.

The Turquoise definitely contains an ambience that is a world away. With scarlet-painted walls and hardwood floors, flickering candelabra, vases of flowers, cozy furniture and an upright piano, you too can get caught up in the fantasy that you're sitting in a storefront caf along the coast of Spain, France or Italy. Besides its tucked-away romanticism, the Turquoise, Cafe Bar Europa is notable for the live music it presents Wednesday through Saturday nights. The music is staged in a partially secluded listening area behind the bar, with its own tables and chairs. However, you can still enjoy it throughout the 177-capacity tavern.

As a Middle Eastern dance afficionado, I am most drawn to the live music and bellydance show every fourth Sunday of the month featuring the music of Middle Earth and local Middle Eastern dance perfomers. I performed here just last month and really enjoyed the charming atmosphere and friendly vibe. Be sure to join us this month on Sunday, May 27th (8PM) as we celebrate the "Suhaila Workshop After Party" featuring a performance by Dilek, San Diego’s own “Turkish Delight
! Cover is just $10 and includes a free bellydance lesson so you have no excuse not to join in on the open dancing thtoughout the show!

The Turquoise Cafe' Bar Europa is located at 873 Turquoise Street in Pacific Beach (92109). Their website features a complete calendar of events as well as menu and directions. See the sidebar for their link!

Upcoming Events...


By popular demand, I have started a new Intermediate/Advanced level bellydance class for those wishing to push themselves to a higher level of technique and performance. This class includes stretching and conditioning exercises to build stamina and strength, advanced combinations, drills and instruction on the use of props such as finger cymbals, veil and candle tray. There will also be a focus on performance preparation in which Middle Eastern rhythms, stage presence and improvisation will be explored. For those wishing to, or already performing professionally, this is the class for you! Performance opportunities will be available. Class time is Saturday from 2:00 to 3:30PM at Stage 7 in North Park. Click HERE for the complete address, directions and tuition information.


Meleah of San Diego is hosting the legendary Suhaila Salimpour in a two-day workshop (May 26/27th). Price is $150. Don't miss this chance to study with one of the best. A show featuring Suhaila, will take place on Saturday evening, May 26th at Greek Palace in Kearny Mesa. Cost is just $25 for the show and complete buffet. If you can't make the class, you MUST see the show. Suhaila is phenomenal and you will not be disappointed!
Click HERE to view a flyer with more detailed information.

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

Friday, May 4th, 18th and 25th & June 1st, 15th & 29th - Vilia will be performing at the Marrakesh Restaurant in La Jolla. Enjoy an exotic Moroccan dining experience featuring two dance shows (7:30PM/9PM). Reservations recommended.

Saturday, May 5th - Vilia performs at Greek Town Buffet in El Cajon. Show starts around 7:30PM. No reservation required. See side bar for location information.

Friday, May 18th - Jennifer performs at Zorba's Greek Buffet in Chula Vista. Seating begins at 8PM. $10 Minimum.

Saturday, May 19th - Vilia to perform in Divine Dance Night 2007 at the Agua Caliente Racetrack in Tijuana, MEXICO. Come see Middle Eastern performers and companies from all over Mexico performing under one roof! Doors open at 8PM. Show starts promptly at 9PM. Tickets are just $10. Food and drinks not included. Call Vilia or Niral (011-52-664-216-0770) in Mexico for tickets!

Saturday, May 26th (7PM)- Vilia and The HipSlingers perform with Suhaila Salimpour at the Greek Palace. (8878 Clairemont Mesa Blvd.) Buffet and show - $25.00. Contact Meleah (619)280-8424 for tickets.

Sunday, May 27th - Suhaila Workshop Afterparty!! Show features Dilek performing at the Turquoise Cafe' Bar Europa in Pacific Beach. Starts at 8PM - 873 Turquoise Street featuring live music by Middle Earth, drumming by Frank Lazzaro and an introductory dance class!(21 and up) $10 Cover

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. **


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.