Margo got the small theater that belongs to the El Medina Theater to book the entertainment. Good for her. Great news. She is such a hard worker. This was last night.
Khaled called us down for breakfast. We sat and chatted with him and the Maitre-De. Very nice, helpful people. Selim Assaf, Walid’s cousin picked us up at noon in his Hummer with his son Carl. So nice! Took a beautiful ride in the Hummer to his Mom’s house. This house in Wadi Sharur was Walid’s grandmothers and he spent a lot of his childhood there. Had a wonderful lunch with the entire family. Walid’s Aunt, Selim’s Mom, his wife and children. Plus his brother Raghib, wife and children and his sister and family. This house belonged to Assaf side of the family. The houses is upgraded beautifully. The Aunt lives on the first floor and Raghib and family live on the 2nd and 3rd floor. He runs the AC company with his brother. Great family all the way around. Made us feel very welcome. Pretty neighborhood. Houses all stone. Only regret is my camera was packed. Want to go back. Lovely people. Can see why Walid loved it so much. Rained lightly here and a little bit cooler than the city.
We then drove to to his grandmother’s house on his mother’s side of the family. This Melecki’s house. Located on Mount Lebanon. Another house Walid spent so much time in. This house has had no guests in four years. No one lives here now. Very quaint. All stone. Nice large rooms. We arrived at exactly 6pm. Only know this as the entire area went black as we pulled in the driveway. It was much colder here than in Beirut. Thank God I brought sweaters and socks for both of us. This place is so village and so old Lebanon. It’s name is Bkshtay. Guess it means dragon. The house is now just a summer house for family. I realize I could live here just fine. Four rooms is enough for us. There are only the two of us. Who needs eight rooms in CA with patios enclosed and gazebos etc. Just more to clean. Needs some work. Think the roof needs repair and there is war damage on a couple of outside walls. Talal is coming up tomorrow. He is taking us out to see the sights near Aley. We left a bag in Selim’s car. Talal will get it for us. It was all the costumes etc that I purchased plus passports. We need them for sure. My error I should have done a last check. I was concerned about us finding our way around the house. Should have known better than to trust the men. Sent Selim and Walid to buy candles at the corner store. Reminds me of West Wareham. The only corner store! We lit candles and found the gas for the stove. We needed heat. The store owner’s son came up at 7pm to make sure we had all we needed. Now, how wonderful is that. He does not even know us though his father remembered Walid. We have heat, a stove, electricity (sometimes) and water. So much for the comforts of home. The power came on sometime during the night and scared us half to death. The TV, the radio and lights came on. We had gone to bed and it was really cold. By daylight we will sort it all out.
The side picture is of Lebanese kemenjas or violins. Taken at Moussa Castle on Thursday. A definite buy next trip.
We got a late start to the theater today. Guess we are just a little worn out. Arrived at the theater and felt like I was back at Faisel’s in NYC. Music was coming from every direction as classes were in progress. Watched Bob teach. He is fabulous. Missed getting his business card but he is a friend of both mine and Walid’s on FB. Want to interview him. Lucia is growing in leaps and bounds. Just hope she is aware of how to use new material when she returns home. That is when you know if someone really benefited by the trip. Really like Simon from Texas. So many wonderful people here including Theresa from Kansas City, Amani Jabril from Georgia, Claire from Germany, Mario Harb from Lebanon. Plus of course Amani and Ali from Lebanon with Karin and Nour. I will never forget Margo and Francois. This is just a few. We waited so long to come here. And here we are with the stars of stars in Lebanon.
We had lunch with Simon Claire and Mario. Great company. Nice restaurant. Sure hope to meet all again. Wonder if Mario will be agree to do some filming for us when we return? He was sad today as it is the last day of the festival.
Finally got the list of who will be in the show this evening. Lucy is in. I am on the jury. Under pressure but very honored to have this seat. Neena has decided to use Toros as her agent. Margo is willing to help her even with a safe inexpensive place to live while in Lebanon. Lucky girl. Wish I was 25 again.
Show time was followed after a reception which was like a who’s who of Lebanon’s tv and arts people. Walid got interviewed. He was so emotional that I will be surprised if he is on the clip. He is so happy to be back in Lebanon. Showtime! I sat front and center with Toros the agent on one side and Margo on the other. Show was great! Lucy started the show and also came in 2nd. A great audience! She danced beautifully and really deserved the position. She was powerful and danced well. Walid could not join her on stage as planned. I understand, it would have made an unfair advantage. She won on her own power. San Diego finally on the dance world map.
After the show we went to a restaurant to celebrate. There was Talal Itani, Margo, Lucia, Lorna, Walid and I. Got to bed about 2:30am. Glad the time changes today in Lebanon so I can make up an hour of sleep. Tomorrow at 4am the girls leave. We will leave the hotel that has been our home for 10 days. The staff and people there have been wonderful. On our return we will visit them. They all really impacted our lives and our visit. We go to Walid’s grandmother’s house in Bkheshtey. This will be our home for the next week. His cousin Selim Assaf will take us to his mother’s house which was Walid’s other grandmother’s house in Wadi Sharur. More relatives. I do love Lebanon.
Another fabulous day. This morning I taught my class. Power went out as I started but came back on as soon as generator kicked in. I taught from 9:45 till noon. great class. I come alive when I am teaching. Especially when I have good dancers in class. I covered both Sattouta and Amouna. They loved Sattouta. just fell into place after being at Beit el Din yesterday.
Had my Dunkin Donuts. Talked with Mario Harb awhile. He seems to like us as he has befriended Walid. Also had a long chat with Maya Goarry of Italy. So sweet! Then Amani Jabril of Georgia and I came up with an idea to work together for another tour to Lebanon but not a festival. need to pick select people to attend. Walid and I are also talking about doing more things in Lebanon. I want to research the dance here. I got a new watch. it is cute and different from what I usually wear. Came back to hotel to change clothes. Then it is back to the theater. Amani Jabril asked me to critique her class. i really like her so am happy to oblige. Walid renewed his phone. Sophie the French girl asked me if I would like to go to France and teach. I can do that. I would love to.
Amani, Ali and Nour are back to normal. The whole thing is winding down. They have so much responsibility. Must be a relief.Tonight is student performance night.We will be there to support. Neena should dance. Get out there. Margo will help her but she will have to work her butt off. Margo can get her a place to live that is inexpensive and safe. she also has an agent. he wants her to study Kaleegy for Ramadan Shows. It is a start. She will really need to work hard but she is young and can do it if she really want s to. Again thank goodness for Walid.
Francois Ramieh was Margo’s fiance for 10 years.He is a fabulous dancer and choreographer. Cannot wait to see how the girls made out. Georgia took the Orientale with Francois and Lucy took the veil class with Margo.
Show was did not really exist . Only one girl was prepared to dance. Theresa from Memphis. Too bad but she was game. Do not understand why some of the others thought they were good enough for the competition. They should have been more realistic and been in this show. Theresa did an fine job. have to give her credit. She is a nice girl. Knows Cindy/Shahira from Knoxville. Afterwards we went to Stambouli’s with the girls. Food was excellent. Nice surroundings. Got home about 11:30pm great evening and meal.
Got up at 7am. Walked to the theater. Had breakfast at our Dunkin Donuts. Tour bus picked us all up about 8:30am. Went to Moussa Castle. What a fabulous place for folklore. Got a Phoenician alphabet + ship. Walid got an “I Love Lebanon” piece. We then went to Beit el Din. The President’s summer palace. One hall had hundreds of pictures of Sabah. So interesting. I knew she was an icon but did not realize to what extent. We went to the Wax Museum. Famous people in Lebanese history. Took Walid’s picture with so many people. Had lunch on the road. Typical Lebanese lunch. Then we drove down to J’Beil (Byblos) Fabulous place!
My favorite so far. Ruins of Phoenician and Roman villages etc. Castle is from Crusader times. I am so hungry for Lebanese culture. Past a carantina (slums) which looks worse than anything I have seen in or near Tijuana. Poor people it is so bad. We shopped at the Souk in Byblos. Found a really nice little shop. Want to go back again. Purchased 5 Lebanese costumes with matching Druze Ladies hats. Should have got more. All we need is pale gold harem pants and ties. We then went to Tony Hannah’s Restaurant on the sea shore for dinner. It was fabulous. Typical Lebanese spread. Mounir taught a Lebanese Debke class right is the restaurant. I love Debke but did not enjoy class. He is a good teacher but style too modern for me. Sat back and watched and ate fruit. So fresh, as everything is in Lebanon. Afterwards we drove back into Beirut. A full day of fun. So inspiring! . Bus took us right back to our neighborhood and our hotel. We purchased a bottle of wine from down the street at Rouchie. We then relaxed. A wonderful day with wonderful sights that will be with me forever. I love Lebanon. A wonderful experience. Would not have missed it for the world. Two more days and the festival is done. Sad! Will enjoy tomorrow. I am teaching on the stage at 10am. Have all my notes ready and my handouts plus scarves. Excited to be teaching here.
Today is the first day of classes. 1st class 9:45am . Not sure what to take yet. Time to get ready though and walk to the theater where classes are being held.
1. Mounir Malaeb – Modern Lebanese Oriental Caracalla Style. Very modern. Not my cup of tea very much Margo’s. Reminds me of modern classes I took years back. Even the music is ultra modern. Excellent teacher. Started with basic chasses and arabesques. Then a lot of floor work great class if you like modern. He is the choreographer for El Bosta. Quite a star.
2. Mounir Malaeb -Debke Really interesting. The debke style I see now choreographed and on TV. Taught a choreographed dance. Traditional mixed with oriental but looking folkloric. Staging is what makes it. The piece he taught was choreographed in 1985. His choreography. Might even be in El Bosta. Will have to check. Very strong and wonderful. Reminiscent of the Bobby days when some of Caracalla were in NY. A very energetic class. Had it in the old days but not now. I enjoyed watching this class . Really enjoy watching the younger girls dance. Guess I have found my place for the week. 2 wonderful classes. 2 more to go. Mounir wonderful. Have his booklet. Very interesting career. Wonderful experience to be engrossed in the dance world again. Feel like I have aged so much in a year. Maybe because I have let it happen. I did not have a problem following Yousry or Anwar last year. Do I have to accept the fact that I am nor 25 any more? But I still love the dance world. Cannot believe I am sitting now in Dunkin Donuts is a sidewalk cafe and we are having lunch in Beirut. City does not feel strange at all.The weather is beautiful around 80 degrees.
3. Amani – A Kathak based fusion oriental piece. Beautifully done. Saw shades of Nadia Gamal in her work again. Excellent choreography. Very fast paced. Even some of the moves reminded me of Pharaonic moves. Amazing work. Amani says that the dance did not start in Egypt but in the center of the Arabic countries like Iraq and branched out from there. Walid always said the dance originated in Iraq. That it came from the courts and maybe the temples. Have to do more research on this subject. Wonderful class and so inspiring. She is an excellent instructor.
4. Georgette Gabbara – Lecture/Class – She says craft before entertainment. Dance lets you know you are alive. Craftsmanship before performance. Dance is sculpture. An artist like a potter getting rid of the ugly. Learning is the way to open all doors. You cannot be so-so. Got to to be powerful. What an inspiring woman. She is 74 and such a lady. The term Madame Georgette Gabbara suits her well. She still runs a studio and has invited me to visit. Her class was wonderful. I am so inspired. She has decided to write also. I feel I have found a friend in her. I feel like I could cry. She showed us three (3) wonderful videos. 1. “Waiting” 2. “The Poem” 3. “The Door” All different and very emotional. She was a very close friend of Nadia Gamal. This woman has touched a nerve in my soul.
It is now time for the preliminary competition. I wish Lucy and Georgia the best of luck. Amani tells me that everyone loved Amouna. Thank you Bobby for your inspiration. This trip is because of you and for you. I am glad Walid is having such a good time, too. He is so happy to be here.
5. The Preliminary Competition:
A really long evening with some really good and some not so good dancers. Lucy and Georgia did really well. I hope they are both in the Saturday night competition. Walid and I both had to jury and we were not told till the last minute. I guess that way you have no time to not accept. That was fine but caused a little confusion on our part. We walked home around 11:30pm. Was not scary at all. City feels safe. Maybe because we are in a Muslim neighborhood. Muslim’s do not drink or take drugs so it was safe. Such a peaceful city so hard to believe not long ago they were at war.
A full and wonderful day of dance. Thank you God for this wonderful experience of being in a dance world and in Beirut no less. Tomorrow we go sightseeing all day. Cannot wait!
Wonderful Day! Had breakfast in the hotel. Made our way down to the theater and hung around for awhile. Had my Dunkin Doughnuts coffee fix finally. We did a walk through of our shows. Walid and I had a minor accident.on stage.Went to the pharmacy for medicine. They were wonderful people there. The doctor check my ribs. Just severe bruising.Walid accidentally rammed the back end of his drum into my lower left side of my ribcage and upper stomach. Nothing broken thank goodness. He also landed with all his weight on my foot. The medicine sure helped. Neena did some Reiki on me too. By Wednesday just a little sore and red. The Arnica Gel plus pain pills made all be well. Accidents do happen.
Last night Walid was interviewed and cried for the lost Lebanon.It is broken and he loves it so. The show went well even though there were some lack of organization. Two numbers before ours Amani realized my girls were to go on right away not us. We were to close the show. Walid had to find the girls in the audience. Lucy and Georgia did an awesome job. I was so very happy for them. Walid assisted them on drum. Now, Walid and I were closing the show but we now have no Tubl Beledi. Our show makes no sense with just a drum. I was saying without tabl no show. Walid was going to borrow one from one of the musicians but now our place in the show had been moved we were without. Ali forgot about a Tubl for Walid. He just had too many things to think of. Margo’s show was interesting . it was Caracalla based and very modern. Was very creative and well executed though. Walid talked one of the musicians into selling him his Tubl. I was worried about being out of shape but I looked great in comparison to others. At least in my eyes. Made me feel good.
Amani was so very well organized up to this point. But show needed help. Walid was in the thick of things with photographers and musicians. He was wonderful. I am so lucky to be blessed with a husband that loves me. Our show went very well. Bobby was with us. All in all a great show. All teachers were well represented and the show from the audience perspective was fabulous. I am happy we are here to enjoy it all. We are part of Lebanon.
Woke up early. Feel a little better today. Walid wants to go to the water front today. This is fine with me. Have been wanting to see The Rouchie (Pigeon Rock). The girls came by and we walked down there. Had coffee and hot chocolate then ordered lunch while looking at the spectacular rock formation in the water.We then walked on the Corniche. took pictures the whole time.Walid and Georgia found a back to change some money and we met back at our hotel lobby. Delightful time. We then walked the girls back to their hotel Purchased a phone and Lucy purchased some last minute gifts.When we got to Royal Gardens Hotel we ran into Ginger and one of her girls. We chatted a while and then Nour showed up.We then went to Barbers for dinner. Had a great dinner. We walked back past our hotel towards the Rouchie and found a little store that sells wine and liquor. Then came back to our hotel and had a glass of wine in the restaurant. Hamadand took the girls back to their hotel so they did not have to walk at night. I prepared my costume for the show the following night. Amani called . We met in the lobby and chatted. Her and Ali are as sweet as I thought they would be. We had a very nice visit. Ali looked familiar to us. Turned out he was with George Wassouf when he came to Boston and also attended the hafli we were at. Plus he is a great guitar player.he was telling us about it. Amani reminds me of Nadia Gamal but is definitely her own person. So gracious. So glad we got along. Tomorrow the festival begins. Everything is so exciting. Neena is here in the hotel too. Check out our webpages for pictures. http://Destination Dance.webs.com