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I am a writer, editor, reviewer and dance teacher based in Perth, Western Australia. You might enjoy my books - The Dagger of Dresnia, the first book of the Talismans Trilogy, is available at all good online book shops. Book two, The Cloak of Challiver, will be available again shortly. Book three, The Seer of Syland, is in preparation. I trained in piano and singing at the NSW Conservatorium of Music. I also trained in dance (Scully-Borovansky, WAAPA) and drama (NIDA). Since 1987 I have been writing reviews of performances in all genres for a variety of publications, including Music Maker, ArtsWest, Dance Australia, The Australian and others. Now semi-retired, I still write occasionally for the ArtsHub website, and I still teach dance at Trinity School for Seniors, an outreach program of the Uniting Church in Perth.

My books

The first novel of my trilogy, The Talismans, is available as an e-book from Smashwords, Amazon and other online sellers. I do have paperbacks of The Dagger of Dresnia at the low price of $AU25 including postage within Australia. I also have a short story, 'La Belle Dame', in print - see Mythic Resonance below. Book two of the trilogy, The Cloak of Challiver, will be available again shortly. The best way to contact me is via Facebook!

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The first two books of The Talismans trilogy were published by Satalyte Publications, which, sadly, has gone out of business. Book one, The Dagger of Dresnia, is up on the usual bookselling web sites as an e-book, and I have a few hard copies to sell to those who prefer Real Paper. Book Two, The Cloak of Challiver, will be available soon. The easiest way to contact me is via Facebook.

The Dagger of Dresnia

The Dagger of Dresnia
Want a copy? Contact me at satimafn(at)gmail.com

The Cloak of Challiver

The Cloak of Challiver
Available again as an ebook soon!

Mythic Resonance

Buy Mythic Resonance

Mythic Resonance is an excellent anthology that includes my short story 'La Belle Dame', together with great stories from Alan Baxter, Donna Maree Hanson, Sue Burstynski, Nike Sulway and nine more fantastic authors! Just $US3.99 from Amazon. Got a Kindle? Check out Mythic Resonance.

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Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Dance like nobody's looking



I recently attended my very first Middle Eastern Dance Festival. Middle Eastern dance, especially belly dancing, is very popular in Australia, and several states hold annual festivals. The Western Australian one, founded by Keti Sharif  enjoys national renoun. Several hundred participants turned up at the Juan Rando Dance Academy in Subiaco  to attend workshops for four full days, with four different classes running simultaneously. There were two evening performances and a one-day market as well.

Barbara Wolfencamp (Zahraa)
Guests-of-honour were Ozgen from Turkey and Tamalyn Dallal from the USA. I was fortunate enough to get places in workshops with both these fine artists, as well as those with Australian doyennes Belyssa   and Zahraa (Barbara Wolfcamp). It was a fitness trial for me as it’s been many years since I’ve danced for four hours a day, but although I was tired and sore I managed all the classes and did not notice my concentration slipping until the last couple, when I felt I was struggling a bit to stay focused and pick up unfamiliar material.

A quick rundown of the workshops' content – on Thursday I did Barbara's class on various Persian styles of dance. I especially loved the classical section as the movements are smooth and graceful and the music has varying time signatures. (Here in Perth the Egyptian style predominates and most of the music is in 4/4 time.) After lunch I took Ethnic Potpourri with Tamalyn, who taught us moves from Ethiopia and Zanzibar, among other places. Tamalyn has a wide knowledge of various folkloric styles, as has Belyssa, whose class I attended on Friday morning. She taught us moves from Morocco, Nubia, and the desert Bedouin tribes, some of which are very earthy. Very earthy indeed, in fact.

Then it was back to Tamalyn for an improvisation class using tools such as 'writing' our names with various body parts and drawing on the four elements together with the idea of 'consistency', thinking of substances such as honey and dark chocolate! It took me right back to my days at WAAPA,  back in the eighties, when I did a class of that kind several times a week.

Ozgen
I had a day off on Saturday, having realised before I registered that at my age I was probably not going to be able to sustain four days of classes, and I returned on Sunday with energy renewed, which was just as well because that was when I had my only workshop with the indefatigable Ozgen! Once again I was reminded of my days at WAAPA, but this time it was character classes that were recapped. Ozgen concentrated on Turkish Romany dances, and some of the steps are very tricky. The steps themselves would not be too hard, studied one at a time – most of them can be a seen as variants of what in ballet is called a pas de bourrée - three steps that travel in any direction. However, the time signatures of 9/8 and 5/4 were very challenging, and there was a lot of material to cover. 

Tamalyn Dallal
My mind had become a tad fuzzy by the time the last class rolled around, this one on Orchestral Taqsim with Tamalyn. She is very knowledgeable about Middle Eastern music and instruments, so this class was a fast study in music as well as dance.

Overall, the WAMED festival broadened my knowledge and understanding of Middle-Eastern and North African ethnic dance, as opposed to the more commercial ‘belly dance’ which owes as much to Hollywood as to the Middle East. I hope I will still be fit enough to do it again next year. I was very pleased to see that there were at least a dozen women of about my own age, proving that dance is not just for the young and beautiful!

4 comments:

Sue Bursztynski said...

Sounds like you had a great time. I did belly dance for some time and loved t. I had a wonderful teacher, a Greek lady from Egypt who was plump and a grandmother and danced in track suit and sneakers - better than pretentious types who come to class in costume. When she moved to the other side of town, where. I just couldn't travel, I tried to find another teacher, but found no one I liked as well. I did once dance with my class in a festival and gawped at the male dancers. It's a Turkish thing, among others; we had some Turkish boys at my school who danced; when I met them on their way to class, they said they were going to "training". (Okay, lads, I want you to get out there and slaughter those other belly dancers!)

Jo said...

Sounds like fun. Never tried it, I have heard of classes here but never thought about enrolling. Couldn't do it these days, but I understand it is a great way of trimming the body.

Satima Flavell said...

Yes, it was a very stimulating festival. Belly dance is indeed good fitness training, especially if done in conjunction with a more aerobic activity as cross-training. I would say belly dance, gym training with weights and cardio, and a yoga class or two each week would be an ideal training schedule. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find a yoga class that I like at a price I can afford, so I'm just doing belly dance and keep fit classes. I've realised how important physical activity is as we get older - they are saying now that it's the best preventative against dementia.

Heheh, Sue - I'd love to see teams of boys competing for a dance prize! I suspect it might come to blows quite early in the piece. And people whose native dance it is are often amazing teachers.

justine rehan said...

I was tired and sore I managed all the classes and did not notice my concentration bingo online slipping until the last couple, when I felt I was struggling a bit to stay focused and pick up unfamiliar material.

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