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If you’re looking for something fabulous and spectacular to do tonight in Memphis, here it is:

Much Ado About Shimmies

There will be an array of beautiful dancers paying homage to authors and their great works: Edgar Allen Poe’s Mask of the Red Death, Isaak Asimonv’s Robot Visions, Nicolaus Coperneicus’ On the Revolutions of Heavenly Spheres, Homer’s Odyssey, Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Anne Rice’s Witching Hour, Lewis Carol’s Alice in Wonderland, Shi Jin’s Ancient Book of Songs, George Martin’s Game of Thrones, and of course One Thousand and One Nights…and many, many more!!

Come celebrate art in its many forms.

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I just wanted to share one of my favorite dances that our troupe performed in the show this month.  We started working on this dance around March of this year.

The song is Hanging Gardens by Mosavo on the album Mystic Babylon.  The choreographer is Feyrouz.

 

Shimmy Mob Memphis was a success!

We have until May 31 to raise $180.50 needed to reach our goal of $2000. Donations may be made online at fundly.com/shimmy-mob-memphis

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Here's your sign

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On May 10, 2014 Memphis dancers united across groups and differences in support of the Shimmy Mob cause – to raise funds and awareness for women’s and children’s shelters.  This year the Memphis team supported the mission of the Family Safety Center of Memphis and Shelby County, an organization that provides counseling and support services for families affected by domestic abuse and educational services to the community to prevent domestic violence.

To support the cause, please make a donation through: ShimmyMobMemphis until May 31, 2014 or directly through the Family Safety Center’s website (see link above).

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Happy International Belly Dance Day!

Today we unite in dance with women around the world to raise awareness and funds to end violence against women and children.

 

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You can show your support by coming to watch at the above times, or by going to shimmymobmemphis.com to donate or donate directly to the Family Safety Center of Memphis and Shelby County.

 

Other posts on this topic:

Unbreakable

Shimmy Mob 2013 – We’ll Be Dancing to Change the World

 

An en is a karmic bond lasting a lifetime.  Nowadays many people seem to believe their lives are entirely a matter of choice; but in my day we viewed ourselves as pieces of clay that forever show the fingerprints of everyone who has touched them.

Adversity is like a strong wind…[it] tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that afterward we see ourselves as we really are, and not merely as we might like to be.

Friendship is a precious thing…one mustn’t throw it away.

Memoirs of a Geisha 

John Williams’ score for Memoirs of a Geisha is a pretty awesome accompaniment to yoga.  The music is relaxing, fluid, soul-stirring and it works well with a restorative, evening class.  It reminds me of the book, also a soul-wrenching work. The movie is among my favorites.

And so today, when I discovered this video by the beautiful Izzy, my favorite dancer, fusion artist, and teacher, I was moved to tears:

 

Book, score, and dancer in one beautiful work of art.

Yip

This is my cat Lelelelelelele Yip!

Last night a crowd of crazy cat ladies (and men) descended upon the Memphis Brooks Museum for the Internet Cat Video Festival.

While a DJ blasted tunes like The Siamese Cat Song and The Meow Mix Song, attendees prowled around the lobby in leopard print skirts and cat ear headbands.  We purred happily over sparkly feline baubles as we lapped at our  “furballs” – a pink concoction involving rum, coconut milk, cranberry juice, and whip cream.

Then came the main attraction: internet cat videos.

Internet cat video aficionados (Yes, aficionados. I get to use my fancy words because we were at a museum) had already viewed many of these videos at home (or at work).   But gathering together to watch these videos in a theatre packed with like-minded individuals lended the whole affair a certain je ne sai quoi in terms of public image.  It was validating.  High brow even!

It took me back to my belly dancing days on a Costa Rican mountain top when we danced to the beat of thunder pounding on the roof of our pagoda.  (That is a true story I have always wanted to tell in an affected British accent at a cocktail party.  It would make me sound so much more interesting than I actually am. Sadly, I have never been invited to said cocktail party to tell it.  But that’s ok because I’m way too busy at home watching fancy internet cat videos to attend your silly cocktail parties anyway.)  One day during my Costa Rica adventure, I sat in a room with 60 other belly dancer women and participated in a three minute laughing meditation. If you have never participated in a group laughing meditation, let me tell you, the first time is incredibly weird. You will be instructed to basically fake it ’til you make it.  That’s right – just fake laugh nonstop with everyone else until the silliness of it all carries you into complete hysterics. It’s quite a catharsis really.

At any rate, sitting in the dark laughing for 15 minutes nonstop with crazy cat ladies was just like that but weirder and even more wonderful because there was no fake laughing involved.  I watched grown men laugh until they cried over cat antics. And then I laughed until I cried. We all laughed and cried and it was this amazingly beautiful communal experience.  It was!

And so I will leave you with a few of my favorite videos from the evening.  For best results, make them big screen and gather a few friends (or strangers) to watch. Enjoy!

Dancing is when you rise above worlds, tearing your heart into pieces and giving up your soul.

 –Rumi

Dancing to change the world – does the idea seem a bit grandiose to you? It did to me too at first blush.

But each day I see a little more clearly how the dance we choreograph – step by measured step – through life’s ever-changing rhythms is the world.

Mallika Sarabhai’s Ted Talk recently forced me to reconsider the power of the arts.  Her video (embedded below) takes less than 20 minutes to watch.  If you are strapped for time, the first 5 minutes alone are quite enlightening.

Last May I had the pleasure of dancing in Shimmy Mob 2012 with the Memphis group.  Shimmy Mob is an international flash mob event that raises awareness and funds for women’s and children’s shelters.

The video below will give you some idea of what this event is like.  It is a “mash up” of the dancers across the world who participated.

So why raise awareness and funds for these shelters?

Consider the sobering statistics:

Every 15 seconds a woman in America is battered (UN Study on the Status of Women, 2000). Almost a third of female homicide victims are killed by an intimate partner (FBI, Uniform Crime Reports, 2001).

Only about a quarter of rapes or attempted rapes are reported to the police (U.S. Justice Department). Many victims of rape do not report violent acts against them because they are ashamed, fearful of not being believed, or afraid of further violence. Of the reported rapes in the U.S., around 18% of females have survived a completed or attempted rape. I use the word females here instead of women because children make up a large proportion of this number: 12% were younger than age 12 when they were first raped and nearly 30% were between the ages of 11-17 (National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 2010).

Of course this is not just a “female problem.” Boys raised in violent homes are 10 times more likely than those raised in non-violent homes to later abuse their spouses (Family Violence Interventions for the Justice System, 1993). In 2010, of the 200,000 rapes or sexual assaults that occurred in the U.S., around 15,020 of those were among males (2010 National Crime Victimization Survey, Department of Justice).

Numbers offer a depersonalized, abstract answer to the “why?” question. For additional answers, you might consider listening to the voices of individuals who have experienced violence personally.  I recently read two vastly different and fascinating perspectives from self-proclaimed “predatory teen-aged girls.” These perspectives, which can be found HERE and HERE reveal two truths which seem to be on opposite ends of the spectrum.  There again is that paradoxical tension, which is, in the words of Parker Palmer, the “power that wants to pull [the] heart open to something larger than itself.”  It’s enough to make your head spin if you think about it.

As for me, I’ll be dancing because my head looks pretty ridiculous spinning without the rest of my body.

If you want to join us in the dance for this cause, registration is now open to participate in this year’s mob.  It will be held on World Belly Dance Day, (yes there really is such a thing) which falls on Saturday, May 11, 2013 this year. The choreography is beautiful and accessible to beginners.  You do not have to have belly dance experience to participate.  Check out the website shimmymob.com for more information about how you can join us.

This year locally we will have team leaders in Memphis (Lucie) and in Southaven (Penny).

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

–Margaret Mead

 

Yesterday a group of belly dancers represented Memphis in Shimmy Mob, an international flashmob event designed to raise funds for women’s and children’s shelters in local communities.  It was an honor to dance with this group of ladies.

Many thanks to Debra Parmley for organizing the event, to Jasmine  of Dance with Jasmine for leading choreography practices, and to the folks at Singleton Community Center and the Buckman Performing and Fine Arts Center for donating practice space!

And of course, a big thank you to the YWCA of Greater Memphis for the work they do in our community.

Thanks also to Liz London of Memphis Raqs who donated the proceeds of her show last night to the shelter.

 

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