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Events: Belly Dance

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More Farhana DVDs

PRINCESS FARHANA: Belly dance... sensual and mystical, its origins shrouded in mystery, is the world's oldest form of dance, one of the most pleasurable to watch and probably the most fulfilling to learn and practice. Through a fortuitous chance meeting at the age of thirty-two, mutli-faceted artist, best-selling author and rock and roll icon Pleasant Gehman discovered belly dancing. After years of punk rock rebellion, debauched cross-country indie-band tours, substance abuse, low self-esteem and bulimia, this twist of fate literally changed her life.

Embarking on a dance career with no training at an age when many professionals are considering retirement, she reinvented herself as Princess Farhana, and became an international belly dance star. Candid interviews with stars and well-known authorities in the field such as Rachel Brice, Tonya & Atlantis, Rachel Lazarus Soto, Marta Schill, Samantha Riggs and Kajira Djoumahna bump up against the opinions of starry-eyed students and hobbyists.

Performances by Princess Farhana, John Compton, comedian Margaret Cho, Blacksheep Belly Dance and Tempest illuminate the range of styles and how each artist puts a personal signature on the world s oldest dance, as it s performed today. "Sometimes we need a solid reminder of why we dance ... what it brings to our lives and how we got hooked in the first place!

'Underbelly,' a new documentary by Steve Balderson of Dikenga Films not only helps us refocus on our love of dance, but gives us food for thought as well. The documentary is a year in the life of Princess Farhana (Pleasant Gehman). The Princess has had no 'ordinary' life and therefore this is no ordinary movie: it s not your momma's belly dance! (and yes, there is adult content).

Her career spans from her Punk Rock girl band days in the 80's, where she booked clubs in Los Angeles and was known as almost a 'mythical' person; to her bellydance career of 16 years where she has starred at Hollywood's Moun of Tunis; to her burlesque career of 12 years.

And while the documentary focuses on Princess Farhana, it also gives us extra insight into the history of belly dance, the evolution of different dance styles, and why so many dancers are drawn to this beautiful art form. The movie follows the Princess through workshops across the US, in Canada and England, as well as on a belly dance cruise to Mexico. We follow her in her travels, watch her teaching classes, and accompany her to rehearsals and backstage where we re allowed to watch and listen to her interactions with other dancers. This gives us a real feel for the kind of instructor and performer she is ... as well as an appreciation for her sense of humor! The interviews and conversations with Princess Farhana are supplemented by interviews with other dancers and performers who talk about her fun, down-to-earth teaching style and her beautiful performances.

The Princess is obviously a well-respected, beloved member of our belly dance scene with her classical oriental dance style. In fact, she was the 2006 winner of Zaghareet Magazine s Golden Belly award for Favorite Cabaret/Oriental Dancer. And since she s often included in many tribal and fusion events across the country, that speaks for her diversity as a performer. The many wonderful interviews with other performers are a really strong part of the documentary. The interviews are very candid, opinionated and UNCENSORED which means they are also very personal and we feel as if the performers are really sharing their feelings with us. Some of the names are those that we have come to know as authorities in our field such as Tonya & Atlantis, Suzy Evans, Marta Schill, John Compton and Kajira Djoumahna, just to name a few. There are also interviews and dance clips of many other performers such as Rachel Brice, Jim Boz, Tempest, Rachel Lazarus Soto, Margaret Cho, Lee Ali and other dancers that all have their own personal views to offer.

We learn a lot about why they started dancing, and their personal feelings about the dance as well as about themselves. We get into issues such as the Goddess within, satisfaction with your own body, the life changing experience of dance, the feeling of power as a woman, and how dance celebrates your body. There are so many experiences shared in this movie many make us laugh and some might bring tears to our eyes but all together they manage to reinforce our own feelings about dance! The many dance clips presented in the documentary give us a chance to see performers that we might not have had a chance to see before and also give us a glimpse into how many different personal interpretations there can be in our dance form.

In fact, I would have liked to have seen even more performances, but that probably would have added an extra hour to this already 95 minute production! There are discussions (both pro and con) of male belly dancers, different dance styles, and the more recent controversy of burlesque as it relates to belly dancers. The opinions are gutsy and honest, and we re given a lot of personal insight ..". -- ZAGHAREET MAGAZINE (print magazine Jan 2008 issue)

Advanced Sword Video Princess Farhana: RAKS AL SAYF: ADVANCED SWORD TECHNIQUE AND CHOREOGRAPHY - 78 minues running time.

Princess Farhana is known for her grace, fluidity and precision while dancing with balanced props. On this exciting follow up to her "Belly Dance and Balance, The Art of Sword and Shamadan," Farhana will help you take your sword work to a higher level. Her comprehensive teaching style and easy-to-follow directions will illuminate the intricacies of combining balancing with advanced movements. Featured here is technique such as undulations, layered shimmies, arabesque and floor work, including splits, all done while balancing swords. Also included: a full warm-up, advanced choreography with a step-by-step breakdown, costuming and performance safety tips, concluding with a demonstration of the choreography in a costumed performance by Farhana.

"Princess Farhana's explanations are clear, easy-to-follow and fun. Her videos have lots of information and they open and close with costumed performances ... her amazing personality and joy in dancing are clearly evident in the performances. Her first two videos were something I thoroughly enjoyed, so when I picked up "Raks And Rolls" and "Raks Al Sayf," I knew I would love them as well!" -- M. Antoinette Garcia, Zaghareet Magazine

"Princess Farhana is intelligent, articulate and an excellent communicator. As a teacher, she has the unique ability to break down movement in a way the student will understand." - Zahra Zuhair, master teacher and performer.

"Princess Farhana's clear instruction, warmth and humor as well as her beautiful dancing, are encouraging and infectious. Highly recommended!" -- Andrea Ferrante, Habibi Magazine


Belly Dance Classes with Princess Farhana

Learn this beautiful ancient art from a well-informed teacher in a supportive atmosphere.
Ongoing Beginning and Mixed level Belly Dance classes with emphasis on:

*Egyptian-style and Folkloric Technique

*Finger cymbals and veil work

*Musical Analysis



Princess Farhana teaches a Wednesday Night  Belly Dance Class at Dance Garden in Los Angeles. Classes are on-going, mixed levels  (advanced beginner through performance-ready) and cover Egyptian as well as other styles of belly dance technique including: shimmies and layering, abdominal work hand and arms technique, combinations, improvisation, veils and finger cymbals. For more information: email

Private instruction also available, especially for sword or shamadan.
Contact Farhana: 323 460 4890 for more information or
Email: for more information


Princess Farhana appears at:
Moun of Tunis Restaurant, 7445 1/2 Sunset Boulevard (at Gardner), Hollywood, Ca. 90069, Wednesday thru Saturday evenings. Seating at 7:00, dancing begins promptly at 8:00 - Reservations a must!

Belly Dance Showcase at Moun of Tunis - 3rd Thursday of every month. The Moun of Tunis Dance Showcases have spaces for 5-6 dancers (of all levels) every month. Sign up to dance by calling Princess Farhana at (323) 460-4890. Reservations are more than strongly recommended. For reservations call Moun of Tunis at (323) 874-3333.


The history and use of balanced props in Oriental Dance is as subject to speculation as the dance form itself, but performers have always used balanced props to display their grace and skill. Raks shamadan, performed by a dancer crowned with large, flaming candelabra, is an Egyptian wedding tradition, dating from the time before electricity. Shamadan-bearing dancers lead the zeffah al-arousa or bridal procession through the darkened streets, illuminating the newly married couple, a tradition that is continued today. Because of its spectacular effect, the dance was also performed theatrically, as part of both cabaret and folkloric Oriental performances. Some believe that in the 1920’s, Badia Masabni brought the dance to the stage of her Cairo nightclub, The Casino Opera, where legendary Golden Age dancers like Tahia Carioca and Samia Gamal began their careers. Others credit a pair of Egyptian dancers from the Mohammad Ali Street district of Cairo, Shoufika and Zouba Al Koptiyyah, as having actually created the dance around the turn of the last century.

Folkloric dances from Egypt include balass (water jug) dance, where the vessel is held on the shoulder and sometimes balanced, and raks assaya, where the performer manipulates a cane, twirls it, and if skilled, balances the cane on various parts of the body. Tunisian and Moroccan dancers balance clay pots (or stacks of them!) on the head, as well as large brass trays, sometimes laden teapots, glasses.

The origins of sword dancing are unclear; though it’s roots seem to be in North Africa or Turkey. Many 19th century Orientalist paintings and lithographs depict scenes with musicians playing as jewel-bedecked women dance with curved scimitars atop their heads. Exotic and glamorously dangerous, sword dancing is extremely popular today in cabaret and gypsy –style performances. The modern version of this dance form has been attributed both to noted dancers Leona Wood and Jamila Salimpour, whose troupe Bal Anat was a precursor to the American Tribal style of belly dance.

Please be aware that working with balanced props can take years to perfect. It requires absolute stability of the head and neck, and flexibility and power (especially in the upper thighs, abdomen and arms) for floor work. The heightened isolation skills, mental concentration and slower movements necessary for balance will have a very positive affect on your overall dancing. You will need to practice - a lot. Above all, please remember: SAFETY FIRST!

Happy dancing, Princess Farhana




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