Oh, to lead the life of Tamalyn Dallal. In 1990, she founded Mid-Eastern Dance Exchange, the first belly dance studio in Miami Beach. Over the next 15 years, she trained many of the most successful dancers on the global belly dance scene (yes, there is one), including Amar Gamal, Bozenka, Hanan, Samay, and Virginia.
"I felt like the Forrest Gump of bellydancing," says Dallal modestly. In other words, she won't take credit for developing all that talent. She just happened to be in the right place, at the right time.
Well, she's not staying in one place anymore. Like any belly dance star, she travels the global circuit to give workshops in places like Morocco, Spain, and Argentina. She also has a regular gig teaching for two months every year in China, bankrolled by the Chinese government.
Since 2005, when Dallal left Miami, she also has been
exploring traditional dances around the world. She is making a series of
documentaries called Dance on Film that takes her to far-flung locals
like Mongolia and Zanzibar, a tiny island off the coast of Kenya. That's
the subject of her most recent feature: Zanzibar Dance, Trance, and
Devotion. For the next few years, she'll be returning to East Africa to
make Ethiopia Dances for Joy.
Dance on Film is independently
funded. Which brings Dallal back to Miami this week for a fundraiser in
the form of a "historical and theatrical dance performance," called Qanun. Miami's own superstar Bozenka will be there, along with local
luminaries like Francesca and Alexandra. Visiting artists include Jacqui
Lalita from Los Angeles and Leilaa Hiromi from Japan.
star of the show, though, will be the ancient 78-stringed lap harp
called the qanun. Scholars debate whether this instrument originated in
ancient Egypt or ancient China and have traced its descendents to the
European dulcimer and the Appalachian zither. One thing's for sure: the
qanun is extremely difficult to play. Dallal has enlisted the only guy
in South Florida who can play it -- Syrian-born Elias Kilzi -- to
accompany the dancers in the second half of the show.
instrument is "really gorgeous," says Dallal. Listening to it may also
bring unexpected benefits. "In Turkey, they would play it for mental
patients," she points out. "That was the only music that could calm them
See Quanan at 8 p.m. on Saturday at the Art of
Bellydance Performance Space, 1431 Alton Road, Second Floor, Miami
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Beach. Tickets cost $15 in advance and $18 at the door. Half of the
proceeds go to the Dance on Film project. Call 305-538-1608 or visit artofbellydanceflorida.com.
--Celeste Fraser Delgado, artburstmiami.com