Dec 192012
 

Tis time I take a moment to say Happy holidays and Happy New Year to all those that take the time to read my ramblings. May you all be blessed with cheer, beer and… whatever else you wish for as 2012 comes to an end… and speaking of end.

All is well that ends well and despite ‘end of the world prophesies’, some good things have come out of 2012. We were blessed to have another year of happiness filled with good friends, good music, relaxing times and fabulous dancers of flamenco, belly dance, ballroom, etc. etc. Granted the world has seen a few dark clouds; however there are also plenty of things left to celebrate. Like we’re still here…assuming we are since this gets printed in 2013.

My ability to attend events has been limited recently, but Rachel Reich’s “Raq’n Around the Christmas Tree” was once again a success, gathering plenty of toys to benefit needy children and providing an amazing performance on December 6th.  Rachel and all those kind hearted entertainers that participated and performed for the good of innocents remind us all of the light that exists, even during questionable times.

Now the lovely ladies of that troupe will be dancing their way into the “Birth 2012 Louisville” festival on December 21st and 22nd and continuing to spread good cheer. Unity in Louisville is providing the space and Al Hamsa and Raqia’s Stars will be providing the dancing entertainment Friday at 10 pm and Saturday at 4 pm. Festival goers will be treated to a vibrant display of swirling veils and positive energy as these elegant dancers perform Egyptian, American Tribal, Spanish Arabic fusion and many other styles of dance.

The festivities at Birth 2012 are planned to make every moment a celebration of life via song, dance, meditation and music over the entire 24 hour period. Some of the greatest musicians in Louisville, like Tyrone Cotton and John Gage will be taking the stage and reminding listeners why the blues never gets old. There will also be special meditation and prayer times scheduled throughout the event.

It is time to say goodbye to 2012, and New Year’s Eve has a promising event lined up as the Va Va Vixens will take the stage with Blue Moon Circus at Art Sanctuary. These hoop spinners, belly dancers, and sideshow gurus’ and gals will provide a few hours of rip roaring, Vaudeville style entertainment to greet 2013 and say goodbye to 2012. If you haven’t seen the Vixens… their amusing and exotic antics are sure to offer a unique way of ringing in the New Year.

I prophesize a few more good shows to wrap up 2012 and hope you all have happy and safe holidaze, filled with positive energy.  My fingers are crossed that all comets keep their distance and the world finds a way to make 2013 an even better year.

 

 

Nov 202012
 
raq

This article will be a preview instead of a review as December marks the El Flujo column’s 1 year anniversary. Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of watching and writing about some amazing local and international dancers, and some very touching benefit performances. One such benefit show being “Raq’n Around the Christmas Tree”, which ironically was the subject of this columns first article.

What is Raq’n Around the Christmas Tree? It is a group of caring individuals that play music and dance to benefit less fortunate children and provide them with toys for the holidays. These donations are given to the kids under the guise of Santa, but Mr. Claus is actually Rachel Reich of the Raqia Belly Dance Studio in New Albany, IN. She founded this toy drive back in 2009 but the participation has increased yearly, as have the benefits for the children. In 2011 the toy drive had 180 guests and 623 toys donated for AIM, the AIDS Interfaith Ministries of Kentuckiana.

December 6th will bring about the 4th Annual Raq’n Around the Christmas Tree at the Holiday Inn located on 411 West Spring Street in New Albany Indiana. Admittance is a toy or a $10 donation with all proceeds benefiting less fortunate children sponsored by AIM.

The evening will start out with a ‘Taste of New Albany’ from 6 pm till 7:30 where attendees can eat, drink and be merry. Adding to the serene environment will be the tunes of Il Trobadore and the Indianapolis Premier World Music Ensemble. The ever graceful Isabelle Celester Murray will be the featured dance artist during this portion of the show.

From 7:30 to 9 pm the room will come to life with colored veils, tinkling bells and fluid movements as the belly dancers take the stage to headline the evening’s entertainment. This year’s show will feature Al Hamsa, the Gypsies of the Nile and Raqia’s Stars including Raqia. These ladies will dance their hearts out for no other reason but to put a smile on the faces of children again this Christmas. Raq’n Around the Christmas Tree is a reminder of what holiday spirit should be about.

Speaking of holiday spirit… I’d really like to say Happy Holidaze (or Holiday depending on your frame of mind) and a Happy New Year to my gracious LMN readers. Thank you all for sharing and spreading a passion for the art of music and dance. Now as we draw near the end of 2012, I look forward to future shows and tapping away at these keys to continue ‘El Flujo throughout 2013.

 

Jul 162012
 

One thing summer time always brings is street performers and July 2012 has been no exception. An evening walk or a drive through the highlands can often provide plenty of unexpected entertainment.

As the sun drops down, the streetlights become spotlights on the simple concrete stage we commonly call a sidewalk. There is no schedule, elaborate stage props, bright lights or billboard signs to announce the presence of local street performers. In some cases, they just stop, drop and entertain because they enjoy performing for passing crowds. Sometimes they just enjoy performing for themselves. To be honest, it is often the latter I find more entertaining as they are truly at one with their gift.

In July and August, the street becomes a live gallery with a new sound or step every few blocks. From one moment to the next, you may hear an old blues harp reminiscent of the bayou or a cool old cat filling the air with jazzy melodies, thinking back to days long gone.

Sometimes friends cross paths and gather to play hand drums, flutes or guitars. Their melodies often carry positive energy with tribal beats and wandering rhythms. Occasionally someone might even sing or chant a few lines. They all just get lost in the mood and become mesmerized in the moment.

It is not uncommon to see a casually clad belly dancer moving gracefully among the passersby, or swirling between musicians just for fun. Hooley Hooper’s are occasionally spotted near certain establishments in the Highlands too. They tend to play like children twirling about their sparkling hoops, yet they do so with the grace of a cat.

I’ve even seen the occasional break dancer spinning in a parking lot… which though amusing, actually looked painful. There are also those on the streets that cannot dance…at all… yet they do. These brief but disturbing images are usually caught in passing while stifling a giggle.

The Highlands also has its share of buskers, who can be any of the above. The difference is Buskers have fun, gracefully accept tips and have a secret, but traditional bardic code. Apologies, as I can say no more of it.

Street performers can be dancers, guitarists, drummers, or clowns. It doesn’t matter as long as their having fun and people around them are moved by their energy.  These modern day bards can often lift or lower someone’s mood in a matter of seconds with a well-played note.

Street Bards or Buskers may not be on a stage in a club, but they don’t require one. In some ways they are the true independents, free spirits that still feel what they do and don’t play by a set schedule. Next time you see a bard along the street, take a moment and check it out. You may find yourself waking up to a world you never knew existed.

 

Upcoming events:

August 9th, 10th and 11th Va Va Va Vittles at Headliners located at 1386 Lexington Rd.

Dec 232011
 

Tis the season…. And as a new columnist to LMN, I’d like to wish all you readers a happy holiday and pleasant journey into the New Year. May your festivities be filled with joy, and the hangovers be mild. Oh, and don’t drink and drive if you can help it. The possibility of starting the year 2012 with a DUI does not make for a cheerful beginning.

In the spirit of the season, I’d like to bestow a little recognition to Rachel Reich, of Raqia Belly Dance/The Studio, in New Albany, IN.

Rachel is a professional belly dancer who has been recognized and awarded by Louisville Magazine for her grace and talent. Now she deserves some props for her heart felt efforts to help some needy children during the holiday season.

Rachel initiated a benefit show in 2009 called Raq’n Around the Christmas Tree. Her kind gesture has now become an annual event which provides less fortunate children with gifts at Christmas. This year marked Rachel’s third show. The Grand, located at 138 E. Market St. in New Albany, Indiana hosted the benefit performance on December 1st.

Raq’n Around the Christmas Tree ended up having 180 generous guests in attendance. There were 623 toys donated, which will benefit Aids Interfaith Ministries of Kentuckiana. All those toys will light up the faces of quite a few children on Christmas day.

Rachel was not alone in her anonymous effort to spread some good cheer for the holiday season. Her merry band of Santa’s helpers included performances by Al Hamsa, Gypsies of the Nile, Il Troubadore, Classical Choice, DJ Jack, Music on the Move Entertainment Services and Raqia’s Stars. All these entertainers willingly donated their time and talent without asking for anything in return.

Ironically, the children who benefit from the generosity of those that donated time and toys will be thinking of a jolly fat man in a red suit as their benefactor. In reality, their secret Santa’s were a group of graceful belly dancers, who twirled their hearts out just to make them smile.

It would be nice to see more incredible acts of compassion such as this taking the headlines away from shoppers using pepper spray during frenzied holiday shopping sprees.

If you’d like to see some of the amazing images from this event, you can do so by copying this link.

http://www.facebook.com/editprofile.php#!/media/set/?set=a.2722256143062.139846.1456836955&type=1