Last fall 2003 Delilah captained a Visionary Belly Dance East Coast Caravan Tour ensemble. They called it the "40 Days and 40 Nights Tour", because that's about what it would take to realize their goal of touring the east coast from as far north as Boston to as far south as Miami. As part of her entourage she brought with her the famous Sirocco musicians known as Uncle Mafufo (or Armando) and Sulyman El Coyote, as well as her lovely daughter Laura Rose, who was to debut the beginning of her career in belly dance. The tour coincided with the release of the brand new DVD's "Delilah's Belly Dance Workshop Volumes I, II, & III ", as well as Uncle Mafufo's new "Riqs and Defs" DVD. Each stop along the way comprised an array of drum, belly dance and music classes, as well as talks and performances. Each performance featured Delilah, Sirocco, Laura Rose and local guest dancers. The story of their incredible journey is caught in intimate detail in the form of photos, promo pages and Delilah's and Laura Rose's personal web blogs, on the Visionarydance.com Web site. It begins at http://www.visionarydance.com/Caravan/TourMain.html; from there you can access all sorts of interesting pages. It will be there for a couple more months and then archived for posterity.
East Coast Caravan Tour;
40 Days and 40 Nights
July 4th; I sat down and assessed all the invitations stacking up on my desk to come to the East Coast and teach and perform . All right, I thought to myself; why not a tour then? I called up five of the inquirers and proposed my idea of a tour where I would bring the live music of Sirocco with me. Kind of like Delilah's Visionary Belly Dance Retreat goes on the road! They were all excited and ready to do whatever they could to make it work. This moved me deeply. For the next week I figured out what I would need to make this all come together. I wrote it all up and hit the phone hard. I would need to enlist a few more sponsors and fill in many dates to make this all work. I eventually had 15 ports of call.
July 11; Superstar producer Miles Copland called me and asked if I wanted to sponsor a Belly Dance Superstar workshop when they come to Seattle on the Lollapalooza tour in August. I'm astounded because I had no idea about their tour. Miles was asking me to do exactly what I had been on the phone asking people to do for me all week! What a coincidence! I decided I should take him up on the offer so I could learn more about how hard the task was that I was asking people to do on the east coast. I told Miles I would like to sponsor two instructors at two different locations on the same day. (Who says 2 belly dance workshops shouldn't take place on the same day in one city? Seattle's a big city; it can support it! Besides they are doing different styles and they would only be here for one day. lets do it!) I sponsored Rachel Brice in a Tribal/Yoga workshop and Jillina in a Modern Egyptian workshop with only 6 weeks notice in the middle of summer, while I was also putting my own tour together that would begin in October. I was also planning my Maui Retreat for January 2004 and finishing up the promotional preparations for the new DVD's. I was a very busy belly dancer all summer long!
It was interesting to note the differences in the goals of the two tours. The Superstars' venues were mostly huge rock and mainstream presentations to recorded music. Our tour was aimed at smaller more intimate venues, directly to the women who know, love and practice belly dance - and with "live" music. By being peripherally involved with the Superstars it was like experiencing a bit of both styles of touring. Belly dance has never been bigger. The variety of opportunity that is posing itself out there for dancers is very exciting and there is so much to look forward to. I am very optimistic about the future of belly dance! During this time I coined the phrase "today everyone seems to have belly dance on their mind; tomorrow they have coin hip scarfs on their hips."
July 18; Went shopping for costumes for Laura Rose at the two-day Mediterranean Fantasy Festival and announced and handed out flyers about Rachel's and Jillina's coming workshops in Seattle.
August 1-31; This was a month of planning and finishing up all our projects, including a ton of graphic design and printing. One of the big perks in doing this tour and managing it myself was all the combined publicity we could do to support all of our sponsors' individual efforts. There was a ton of momentum beginning to build. By early August the Superstars ended their tour early and cancelled the rest of their Lollapalooza tour dates (Seattle included). However they felt it was very important to honor all commitments to workshop sponsors, so they flew Jillina and Rachel Brice up. I picked them up at the airport and the three of us had a fun dinner together. The next day I went to half of Rachel's workshop and half of Jillina's. They are both fabulous instructors and it was so fun to have them in Seattle.
September 1-31st; Laura Rose and I started to gear up. We spent a month working out 3-4 days a week in 12 pound weight belts to increase our stamina, strength, tone and endurance . Can't forget hair, nails, costumes and other details. The realization of the immensity of our tour was kicking in. We were getting very excited!
October 1; We flew to Syracuse and were met by the Syracuse Area Belly Dance Association (S.A.B.A) members. How fun! We went to Kmart and filled the car with supplies for the road: TV, DVD player, coat hangers, garment rack, duct tape, cooler, tarps, mirrors. . . then drove off to Ithaca for our first event. Zajal and June were our sponsors.
Our Show was on Friday, workshop for the arts school on Saturday in Ithaca during the Apple Blossom Festival. Just North in Syracuse on Saturday night was another show and workshop with Ansuya (Superstar cast member). We emailed each other, but we couldn't make her show because we were heading south for our next event on Sunday and Monday. We finally saw her on the last night of our tour in Florida with her Mother Gininie. (more on that later).
October 5-6; Laura Rose and I left right after our workshop to drive half-way to Pittsburgh, so we could make it in plenty of time to the early afternoon dance class sponsored by Rhihanna. Sirocco didnât have to be there until later, so they could take a bit more time and avoid the drive at night. Laura and I spent the night in a funky roadside inn.
One of my side quests on this trip was to do some genealogy while on the road. Laura Rose and I would stop at old graveyards now and then. On our way to Pittsburgh we happened to stop off in the picturesque little town of Harmony, PA, and accidentally found ourselves in a Mennonite/Rabite cemetery where they shot "Night of the Living Dead"! Only a couple of nights later we would find ourselves in the very bar where, legend has it, they discussed the idea of making this historic movie.
Our hotel was across the river from the downtown area. Pittsburgh had a very Gothic feeling, first with its huge old
castle-like structures and then with its Superman skyscrapers - at least for the parts of the city we saw. It was a warm Indian summer night. We performed in a yoga studio up a steep flight of stairs while an expansive display of fire works - a giant sporting event celebration - was bursting in the air over our heads. It popped and sizzled and reflected in the windows. Sirocco started the show, playing to an audience seated on yoga cushions. Despite the sparks in the night outside, the appreciative audience kept its attention on Sirocco's every note and drum beat. Each dancer was received warmly.We all agreed we liked the feel of Pittsburgh very, very much!
October 7; Next was our restaurant dinner show sponsored by Najia. On the way I took a side trip to find the old Engles Mill of my 18th-century ancestors. It was a beautiful drive and, while I couldn't stay long, I saw enough to know I want to go back. We pulled into Najia's in perfect time to rest, refresh and go to the club. The place was packed, warm and cozy with its tangerine walls and tapestries. In the morning I taught a short workshop at Najia's, then we headed off towards Boston.
October 8-12; At dusk we crossed the George Washington Bridge. The full moon hung like an oriental lantern to the left in a steel-blue sky. It was so striking to the eye, our jaws dropped in awe as we fumbled to find our camera. The cords of the bridge unfolded in front of us as the moon danced. Everything glistened in silver. With each dip in the road it was as if she (the moon) bent down to gently kiss the buildings and overpasses and then soared up high in the sky again. It was a moment to be etched in our memories only, because the camera was packed in the back somewhere out of reach. Oh, well.
Sacred Source Productions in Boston had a very elaborate array of classes for us all to teach. Lareina (AKA Lorraine Lafatta) and Lisa did a great job of organizing, planning and net working. We stayed in homes with really wonderful folks. The musicians were with one household while Laura Rose and I resided with the Carr family. The children were so excited . They answered the door and greeted us as "the famous belly dancers who have come to stay with them". They were a delight. We stayed on the third floor of their old Bostonian mansion. It was so beautiful and made for an enchanting playground for the sweetest children we have ever met. They were too young to be out to see the show, so we did a special command performance just for the children on Sunday morning in their living room. Then we went to a scrumptious brunch at Lisa's home.
October 13, 14, 15; We shipped some stuff home, other stuff ahead of ourselves on our road trip. The van was too crowded and we were getting tired of shlepping everything around with us. We had a pleasant drive to Tiverton, Rhode Island, where Barb Donahue had planned a reception, a couple workshops and a small concert. It was here we came to a serious dead stop. The threshold of the charming little community center was dangerously awkward and had no railing out the door onto the green. Hanya, Uncle Mafufo's wife, tripped and fell on her left wrist! She heard it break and knew it was bad. She had to be taken to the hospital 10 minutes before we were due to go on stage. Armando was so worried and we all felt so horrible. Barb's husband Mark was so masterful in the face of this emergency. He took charge and carried the weight of this burden for us. If something like this had to happen to one of us on the road, we were in the best of careful hands. The verdict was that Hanya would need surgery. She bravely got on the plane and flew home with her arm in a splint, to be nursed by her daughter Nina back in San Francisco. I told Hanya, "Go, rest, heal and I'll fly you back out on tour when you are ready." As it turned out, she would rejoin us in Atlanta in a couple weeks.
October 18. 19. 20; Off we went to stay across the street from the Rakkasah East Festival for 3 days to vend and perform. Sirocco and Laura Rose performed while I ran into New York City to teach a workshop sponsored by Laura Lee and Nadia Moussa for 35 women.
October 21, 22, 23; Then we went into New Your City. Laura and I stayed across the street from NYPD close to Time Square. Guess who we ran into while sucking up the New York City atmosphere? Mezduleen and her husband Bob! We hung out on the street corner together for a while and gave them a verbal rundown of our crazy tour!
The next night we danced at the Lafayette Bar and Grill with the lovely Nadia Moussa of Bliss Dance video fame. The Lafayette is a famous little place for shooting episodes of Law and Order as well as hosting all sorts of performance art. The owner, Dino Bakakos (also a film maker), does his best to make artists feel right at home. He wined and dined us and treated us really well! Art work was featured on all the walls, and there were table cloths on all the tables in this beautiful wood-paneled establishment. It was really a pleasure to perform in his club. There were many famous new York dancers and musicians in the audience: Dalia Carella, Natasha Sands, Rania, Dick Barsamian and Pat Olson of Pangia, to name a few. Laura Rose performed another crazy cartwheel in her performance. Sulyman put her up to it. He told her about the Turkish gypsies he knew who did cartwheels and barked while they danced. I don't think he's making it up? He tried to teach us all a Turkish gypsy song an d we couldn't get it out of our heads for the rest of the tour. It was very, very fitting for our gypsy caravan.
We had one more night left in NYC. What say we try to crash "The Daily Show" and meet John Stewart? Laura Rose and I are big fans of John's. Low and behold we got in with the help of our angel Neil! (Wish I could go into more detail but this article is already turning into a book; so I must be brief)
October 24-26; Now we were off to DC. Unfortunately Laurel Gray was booked in Canada. We only got to see her briefly at Rakkasah East, but we got to stay in her apartment with her funny cats while she was gone. We pampered ourselves with pedicures and manicures around the corner from her house and visited the much needed laundromat. The Joy of Motion was a big professional dance school. Lots of action going on all the time and the dancers all looked so happy and enthused. We had two sold out workshops and two sold out shows in the Jack Guidone Theater. Brad Sidwell sponsored the drum and music workshop at Artemis's studio and another little dance workshop was arranged on the spur of the moment by Mina. To our surprise the Washington Post sent a reporter to one of our performances and we received a very favorable review along with a photo.
October 27- 29; off we went to Miramar's in Cross Junction, Virginia for a little R&R. In addition to being a great dancer, promoter, organizer, wife and mother she is a fabulous hostess, and cook. She spoilt us royally. The midweek workshops were well attended and we were feeling no pain. In fact she even had a masseuse / dancer on duty by the name of Dawn Danis, whom we all made good use of! (Thank you Dawn and Miramar!) The receptions given in our honor in all the locations were overwhelming. People were showing up at multiple events and following our Caravan announcements on the internet. They were realizing the awesome adventure we were pursuing. We were becoming adept at living, working and dancing on the road.
October 30-November 1; We picked Laura's boyfriend Justin up from the airport in Raleigh and drove on to Winston Salem. We had to wrestle Armando over sleeping arrangements because he fell in love with Paula Stump's little band of Chihuahuas. All and all we got comfortable and Paula AKA "Gypsy" hosted a big Halloween costume party with prizes. The workshops went well despite it being homecoming week without one empty hotel room to be found in the entire county.
November 1-4; Early morning saw us in our van off for a long drive to Atlanta. Glad to have Justin aboard. He works for DHL so we were in good hands. We stayed with Laura Rose's Uncle Lance and Aunt Sue in Covington, about 40 minutes away from the mini retreat Ramona had cooked up for us. That came off without a hitch. Only wished we could have stayed longer to get more of a feel for the city and hang with Ramona and her family. Good news was that Hanya was back with us!
November 5-8; We then drove another long way to Orlando. Took in a bit of Epcot Center before we buckled down. Sherry McDonald put us up in a lovely hotel right next to the downtown historical area where her Blue Lotus dance studio is located. The vibe in the Blue Lotus was rich with spiritual intention and the show was very reverent to meditation and to the fact that a total eclipse of the moon was going on during the evening. Laura Rose had some friends who were going to school in Orlando come see her perform. At just a certain moment moonlight fell onto the window sill and Laura Rose began to howl at the moon most seriously. I was in the anteroom readying myself when I heard it. It could be none other than my wild-hearted child.
November 9,10, 11; Rob and Sherry Stevens put us up at the Plantation Inn in Crystal River. We were ever so cozy. Everything we needed was right there. On Thursday, after the 3 days of teaching and dancing, they pulled up in the canal in a little boat to take us picnicking and swimming with the manatees in the crystal blue springs. Oh my, what a day to remember.
November 12, 13, 14; Off we went for our final event. We were sponsoring this one ourselves. Back in Seattle Steve Flynn, Victoria (my daughter) and Pine (visionary office manager) had been registering people and answering questions and sending out promotion. Laura Rose and I had kept up our web blogs. We really had a sense of " if we build it, people will come". We were overwhelmed by the amount of folks who flew in or at least sent their love. This was a show to remember. A show about women and the dance they share. I was in the presence of my birth mother Marilyn, my dancing daughter Laura Rose, and my first belly dance instructor Scheherazade with her dancing daughter Carla. (Her dancing granddaughters would have been there too, but it was past their bed time.) Also in the audience was Gininie and her dancing daughter Ansuya . Wow! I still stand in awe when I think of how this dance is passed down from w oman to woman. This tour could not have happened if it was not for their hand-to-heart cooperation, beauty, support and love. Thank You everyone!
After the last show I sent Laura and Justin home and I stayed a couple days in Florida with my folks. We all crawled onto a queen-sized bed and ordered room service and watched TV.
There's no place like home click click.
What I learned from this ordeal was the realization of the power we all have as women, as individuals, and the dreams we can realize when we work together. I know we seeded a lot of new musicians and dancers out there with our teachings. I also taught women how to be sponsors and demonstrated courage and resolve. I hope they will emulate these demonstrations in their lives. Each time I launch a project like this, I become stronger - and I have so much fun besides!
The Tour is now complete!
Read on for some history, and don't miss the Tour Photos or the Daily Travel Blogs of Laura Rose and Delilah on the Visionary Dance web site.