Emily Brown begins a new job and a new life, and decides to take a chance on dance. Thanks to Kemsit, she changes from nerdy accountant into an exotic belly dancer.
Jordan Ramzy, co-worker of Emily’s and office hunk, keeps his private life separate from his job … until he gets to know Emily.
Kemsit’s studio brings the unlikely pair together. Will their cultural and religious differences keep them apart, or can they learn to dance to a different drummer?"
It was not to be.
My parents had one car, and my mother did not drive. Getting me to and from class would have been a problem. I said that I’d take the bus, but that was not an option. Finances also came into play, and dance classes seemed frivolous. Anything dealing with the arts was considered impractical, and a waste of time in our home.
When I turned eighteen, and had my driver’s license, and an automobile, I signed up for adult ballet lessons. I enjoyed them, though it was bittersweet when the instructor told me that I had an amazing foot turnout, and would have been a wonderful ballerina.
I saw that Middle Eastern belly dance was being offered through a local adult continuing education program. Since I had the goal of learning at least two new skills a year, I signed up. My other skill that year was figure skating, and I thought that I’d be the first belly dancing figure skater!
My first teacher was local legend, Katina. Katina learned belly dance from cabaret dancers, and was featured at clubs in Cleveland’s old Greektown. She was an old school cabaret dancer who had led a very full, and fast life. When I studied with her, she was married with infant twins, and worked with her husband. She was very “real life,” and talented.
My studies continued with another local legend, actress and dancer, Basha. I thought that she was mesmerizing, and her class fun. Her warm-up song was a man singing about his wife the dancer, and how she would do the “bump, bump, the bumpity bump.” I instantly fell in love with belly dance. It was so natural, so exotic and marvelous exercise. One didn’t need experience to dance, and age wasn’t a factor.
I absorbed belly dance. A highlight during the early years was taking a workshop with famous Armenian musician, Eddie “The Sheik” Kochak, and watching the professional dancers perform at a show.
My love of belly dance continued. When I couldn’t find a local teacher, I studied with VHS tapes. My favorite inspiration was Delilah from Seattle. Her series of tapes covered it all, including Turkish drops, and coin tricks. I became Nailah (“success” in Egyptian Arabic), my dancer alter ego.
Time moved on, and new instructors appeared. I studied with a variety of them. I attended workshops, and eventually became a member of a performing dance troupe Dayim Lahib (“Eternal Flames”). We performed a two-hour show at a local Moroccan restaurant. We danced a few group numbers and solos. This experience introduced me to the world of entertainment: dank basement “dressing rooms,” working with drummers, dealing with the public and how the show must go on. I loved it!
The troupe fell apart, and the opportunity to teach came up at a local ballet studio. I found another love, instructing new students, and helping women discover their inner genie.
Through the years, I taught at numerous dance studios and fitness centers, was accepted to instruct at the prestigious Chautauqua Institution in New York State for over a decade. I danced before their Dance Circle, the first non-ballet performer to do so, appeared in an advertising campaign, was profiled in The Chautauquan Daily, and was a guest on Jamestown radio. I continued performing at special events, workshops and danced with a local Celtic-World Music band, UZIZI. While traveling in Egypt, I danced on a Nile River cruise ship.
As an author, I combined dance with writing, as the local and national Belly Dance Examiner, an online newspaper. Later, I wrote for Bellydance Superstars’ magazine, and other dance publications.
The idea to write a book on dance, in conjunction with a fictional series entered my mind. I let my imagination take hold, and Pharaoh’s Daughters was born. This is the first book in an ongoing series. Available exclusively on Amazon.
I hope that these books inspire you in many ways. My desire is that you will be motivated to attend a Middle Eastern belly dance class. Go release your inner genie …