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ISPAHAN Magazine

Harem Girls


s e l ark

! e r o l a G

André Elbing On tour with André: The Oriental Fairytale

Miriam’s Well Interview with: Miriam Peretz


A story by Maya Sapera

Heike Suhre

Award winning Photographer

& more..

Recipes Shopping Design Ispahan Tips & Tricks and fun stuff..

ISPAHAN Magazine • Issue 5 • 2013/1

ISPAHAN Magazine Editorial

E-mail Editor/Art director Manon Claus Editorial staff André Elbing Galathea mit den Schellen Heike Suhre Maya Sapera Miriam Peretz Yuliya Shtark






online quarterly magazine via (no print)

Coverphoto/Photography Manon Claus

Internet ispahan_magazine_no5 .indd (previous issues via ‘other publications’)

Next Issue

The next issue wil be the Summer issue (Juli 2013).


It is not allowed to copy or use anything from this magazine without permission of the editor. Please always contact us first if you would like to share, show, or redirect on Facebook or other (social) media, internet or print. See page 150 for our disclaimer. Ispahan Magazine©2013Manon Claus


© 2012 Kashka

ISPAHAN Magazine is a publication of The ISPAHAN Oriental Dance Company.

The ISPAHAN Oriental Dance Company is a vibrant and exciting dance group, based in the (south of the) Netherlands. All dancers have a sturdy background: many years of experience in dancing, performing and teaching Oriental Dance. More information is avaliable via: For questions, copy, advertisements or bookings, please contact us via:


Ispahan Magazine now also has a Facebook Page! Please join us! ISPAHAN MAGAZINE FACEBOOK PAGE (click here)

© 2012 Kashka 04 ISPAHAN

Ispahan Magazine, Volume 5 - Winter Edition 2013

Oriental hibernation! It is the beginning of a whole new year and you have probably been asked about your new year’s resolutions..! Do you have any..? Have you started making them come true? To be honest I never make those.. If I want to do something, instead of making a resolution to do so, I simply do it. That’s how this magazine came about too.. Thinking long and hard about it, doubting if it will work, how it will be received, only leads to a lot of ideas never even being tried at all. Trial and error.., that’s more my thing, so if I’ve tried it and it does not work, at least I gave it a shot.. Text & Photographs by Kashka

Those things you dream about, big or small, your fantasies about how it could be, which never actually ‘materialize’: they can become fairytales, seemingly too good to be true. Like starting a magazine without any knowledge or education about how that works. And perhaps also like starting to dance ‘Oriental’ style, for someone who has never danced before.. Often women who are attracted to this dance style have found themselves ‘lured in’ by Harem fantasies and Oriental mystique, made up by the West. Probably to discover (once being an Oriental dancer) that this is eh… quite difficult to find and even not at all appreciated these days by fellow dancers! The strongly romanticized ‘Harem ladies dancing for the Sultan’ is not ‘trendy’ at the moment, for it is an ignorant Western fantasy that has got little to do with Oriental dancing. The fun contradiction is that, at the same time, there are more and more new dance trends that combine Western dancing (or other forms of ‘movement’) with Oriental dance and that IS considered very trendy. Oriental burlesque (not too very different from the dancin’ Harem girls, in my opinion!) and very romantic ones, like ballet pieces are an intricate part of Oriental dance shows nowadays. So I am predicting the ‘rentrée’ (comeback) of the Oriental Fantasy style..: Harem trousers, veiled dancers and dramatic effects! Maybe it is wishful thinking on my part, because I am a sucker for fantasies & fairytales and because I dream of a large dance company (so, join us at the

Ispahan Oriental Dance Company!) to do massive choreographies, musical style. But I sense that in these grim days and harsh reality of financial crisis, recession and all of us needing to cut back our spending in order to pay the bills, there is a need for daydreaming and to be able, when you are dancing, to forget your troubles for a moment.., to live in another place where the music is sweet and the sun bright and we haven’t got a care in the world. So this issue is all about (Oriental) fantasies! If you too make your fantasies come true, you will find that there will be some setback.., most of the time precisely where you didn’t expect it. What this magazine is concerned, I expected to be overwhelmed by articles, written by you. I saw the numerous updates and short stories on social media and know that lost of people write newsletters and blogs, but alas, the input is rather minimal. Since I suspect that you will get bored reading only my input plus one or two interviews, this magazine might seize to exist if this does not change. Thanks to modern technology you, my readers are located all over the world, this platform is therefore huge, much greater than the people in your own circle, you can reach via social media or your own personal web site: so take this challenge and run with it! So join me and dive into the fantasy that is called ISPAHAN Magazine..! Enjoy!

With love, Kashka (editor) ISPAHAN 05

Flower and Herb Ice cubes Sad that the snow and ice have gone? Create your own! With edible flowers and herbs, little pieces of fruit or zest: they will look lovely in your drinks and it is so simple to make that you don’t even need a recipe! Looks great in just about anything..


Selling a Costume?

Or a Service?

PR for your Shop?


1. Maya Sapera Danser, Choreografer and Teacher of Bollywood, OriĂŤntal dance, Kalbeliya & Bharata Natyam style (Photo: Lies Heylbroeck)


2. Miriam Peretz Professional Dancer, Performer, Choreograph and Teacher of sacred dances of the Silk Road 3. Heike Suhre Photographer, Painter, Ceramic Artist. (Photo: Sonny Lips) 4. Yuliya Shtark Professional dancer, Choreographer and CostumeDesigner 5. AndrĂŠ Elbing Professional Photographer at Artistic Theatrical Oriental Photography, Colone 6. Galathea Mit Den Schellen Professional Goldsmith, Oriental Dancer, Photographer, Performer, Designer. 7. Manon Claus Founder of The Ispahan Oriental Dance Company (dancer, choreographer, website and costume designer) Founder of ISPAHAN Magazine (editor, art director, advertising manager & publisher) Professional painter and Workshop Organiser


3 2







This could have been your advertisement! for information and prices.



Photo: copyright of Galathea mit den Schellen







002 | Editorial 005 | Editor’s Page 008 | Contributors of this magazine 148 | How it Works 150 | Disclaimer

086 | Highly recommended! Books & more.. 122 | Upcoming Great Event 126 | Ispahan Shopping 146 | Oriental Parfume

PERSONAL STORIES 016 | Cry Wolf 058 | Interview with: Miriam Peretz 074 | Yes! 110 | Harem Girls

BACKGROUND STORIES 100 | Ispahan News & Agenda 036 | Milaap - Encouters by Maya Sapera



032 | Rose Jam Tartlettes 072 | Tagine meets Zoervleijsch 106 | Fesenjan from Iran 108 | Quince: the love fruit

088 | Yuliya Shtark Costume Design 118 | Oriental Design


018 | Winter in Europe: Galathea mit den Schellen 074 | Heike Suhre Series: ‘Oriental Touch’ &’ Bollywood’ 128 | André Elbing: Oriental Fantasy

056 | Fun Quotes 070 | Tips and Tricks 124 | Inspiring Quotes




© 2012 Kashka

Cry wolf?! Lots and lots of years ago, when I still was a dance student at Salomé’s Oriental dance school, having no real ambition to dance or perform myself (or just being to chicken shit ;-) – just enjoying the lessons, having dance in my life and the group I was in-, both my close friend and me were having misgivings about some of our fellow students.. For at least once or twice a year, new students would arrive and there were always a few of them who thought they were ‘it’. Or were soon going to be ‘it’. And after taking lessons for about a year or so, they would be performing solo, doing gigs and sometimes even teaching, having stopped taking classes themselves. We, my friend and I, shook our heads in disbelieve. We were training for years and were considered to be talented, but would not dream of calling ourselves performers (let alone professional performers). We knew that someone who can hardly dance themselves is not very likely to be a good teacher, but they (largely due to their ‘attitude’) would attract dance students anyway and give them a false idea of Oriental Dancing, thus devaluating this art form. But live and let live.. we never talked about it. No point, really. These girls were going to do so anyway, regardless of our opinion. I have seen and read lots of reports in the Oriental Dance community that touch on the same subject. At what point is someone qualified to call him or herself a (professional) performer, or to become a teacher? I have read things like: there should be rules, there should be a standard, there should be a diploma and ‘the rest’ should not be allowed to do so. Like I have stated before, we can all certainly have an opinion about this, but who are we to set a standard for others to comply with? And which standard should we then all incorporate: yours? Mine? It is a free world. And also: there are some dance schools that already offer diploma’s.. and I know for a fact that at some of those schools it just takes the right amount of money (spend in the dance school, on private lessons, or workshops, or the course itself), in order to acquire this diploma, not a certain level of technique and experience. So diplomas are not necessarily the definition of craftsmanship and I am usually not very impressed with them. Besides this, I personally know dancers that have studied this dance form for years and years, follow workshop after workshop and never get to be really good, and also some who are ‘naturals’ without having had lots of training, so experience is not a good indicator as well. So ‘rules’ are not going to help one bit. And I would encourage everyone to break them, anyway. Be bold, be daring, be different. Let me tell you that this is happening all over the world in all professions. And you are probably even doing it yourself as well: trying your hand at stuff you are not trained to do, haven’t had schooling, are not qualified for. I am a professional painter/artist. But anyone is painting, these days. Every ‘stay at home mum’, every celebrity, everyone who has had therapy…all call themselves painters or artist, put their ‘work’ on the market, having exhibitions and do a lot of talking about their ‘passion’ or ‘calling’ even, which they found after they had a burnout at work and ‘discovered’ painting. You can buy ‘Van Gogh’s’ via Internet in China, most of the time badly reproduced, but for the price of an apple. Am I happy about that? No. I have studied and studied (Ba. in art and beyond), have diplomas and won prices (received grants and scholarships), have exhibited in high profile places, have spent money, time and my entire soul. This was not a carrier choice of mine, this is my life and I have been doing it ever since I could hold a pencil. And most of these ‘painters’ don’t even know how to make their own paint, have had no lessons in anatomy and ‘cover up’ their lack of knowledge by painting in a ‘modernistic style were you don’t have to be so precise’. And not a single one of them thinks twice about the fact that they are giving my profession a bad name, or ruining the market. Nor do they care. Some time ago I talked to a professional coach, who was positively pissed off by everybody calling him or herself a coach nowadays. This person had again had lots of training, study, experience, and etcetera. But the market was ruined by people who didn’t know what to call themselves and thus used the term coach.., oblivious to the fact that this is an actual profession. Not caring about the people that are being affected by their actions. Everybody is a coach. I myself are presenting myself as a designer.., I am producing a bloody online magazine, never had any experience in any of the aspects involved! I always state that I am not a professional and I don’t ask professional prices, but still. Everybody does this. Everybody: if you are trying choreography, if you are trying designing your costumes, if you are trying to make your own web site or leaflet.. Everybody is ‘messing’ with other people’s professions and not always necessarily doing a good job. Some of us learn by doing so, even get to a reasonable level, most of us don’t. The same dancers complaining about ‘colleagues’ that they think give their art a bad name, are also seeking, via internet, amateur designers to make their flyers.., or amateur photographers to do a photo shoot with, hiring amateur musicians, thus endorsing amateurs in doing what they do, not willing to pay the actual designers/photographers/ etc. their fair price. But they do insist that they themselves should be paid the fair amount and that dance amateurs should not be performing and certainly not against lower prices. So every time I read comments like: ‘I think I will quit, because everyone is calling themselves dance instructor nowadays!’, or ‘ all can be professional belly dancers!!! God save us that were investing years on our education....years of joining international workshops..for what?? For nothing i done [ ]’ Or reed about dancers who are saying: either you comply with my standards for fees for gigs, or you are obviously not a professional dancer and should not be performing..’ I always feel a bit sad. It is a free world. Thank God for that. We should not try to found a belly dance police. We should not think that the world needs to run on our standards. Surely we can have an opinion, but live and let live and accept that there will always be someone who, according to your personal definition, is not doing a good job or even hurting your profession, but we probably should even be happy that there are those who follow their own path.


© 2012 Kashka



Photo: copyright of Galathea mit den Schellen


Photo: copyright of Galathea mit den Schellen




Photo: copyright of Galathea mit den Schellen


Photo: copyright of Galathea mit den Schellen



Photo: copyright of Galathea mit den Schellen




Photo: copyri


ight of Galathea mit den Schellen

Mit Den Schellen

Dancer & Photographer series Dancer & Photographer The fourth episode in this series of portaits. This time it is all about Galathea: dancer, photographer, and Goldsmith! Galathea Mit Den Schellen studied at the Erasmus Gymnasium, Rotterdam and is a Jewelry Designer/Goldsmith, apart from dancer (and a regular visitor/performer at fantasy fairs and Middle Ages markets), costume designer, photographer and is simply always looking for the beauty in little things. She also likes to edit pictures to give them a sense of enchantment. In short: a very interesting young lady, keep a close eye on her!

Earring design by Galathea Mit Den Schellen



Photo: copyright of Galathea mit den Schellen


‘Sabah al-ward’- Morning of Roses Rose Jam Tartlettes with Cream Topping by Mercedes

These tartlettes are a delicious start of a beautiful sunday morning, or perfect for afternoon tea.

Rose Jam Tartlettes with Cream Topping Ingredients: 1/2 recipe Pâte Brisée or pie crust 1 cup rose petal jam 1 egg 1 tbl orange zest for topping: 1 cup heavy cream 1/4 cup mascarpone 2-3 tbl sugar 1 tsp each orange flower water and rose water 1/4 cup finely chopped pistachios How to make: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Prepare the crust and fit it into mini-muffin cups or tartlette pans. Stir together the jam, egg and orange zest and fill the tartlettes. Bake 10-15 minutes, until set. Let them cool thoroughly on a rack.

Meanwhile, use an electric mixer to beat together cream and mascarpone until they hold stiff peaks. Beat in the sugar, flower water and two tablespoons of the pistachios. Before serving, dollop cream over the tartlettes. Sprinkle the remaining two tablespoons pistachios over the top of the tartlettes. -Tip: Not all rose petal jams are created equal, and their quality can vary widely. The best are from Baleed, a specialty store in Damascus. Most import stores carry a decent Greek or Lebanese version, and in New York Kalustyan’s house-made version is quite good.


Photo: copyright of Galathea mit den Schellen


This could have been your advertisement!!

e u s s i t x e n e h t s s i m t ’ t n o D




Harem Girls


s e l ark

! e r o l a G

André Elbing On tour with André: The Oriental Fairytale

Miriam’s Well Interview with: Miriam Peretz


A story by Maya Sapera

Heike Suhre

Award winning Photographer

& more..

Recipes Shopping Design Ispahan Magazine deals and fun stuff..

ISPAHAN Magazine • Issue 5 • 2013/1


Timeless conversations in Dedicated to K Milaap is the Hindi word for encounters. Milaap denotes a history of cultures in contact with each other. Due to modern communication technologies and globalization, international borders fade out and distances between countries in the world become smaller. The increasing diversity and multiculturalism of the global community is ever present. Milaap forms the future of intercultural dialogue. It represents the encounter and symbiosis between Indian and European cultures. Milaap is the name of a twofold project: a documentary and the creation of an intercultural music and dance performance. KALBELIYA The departure point for the project is Rajasthan, located in north-west India. A typical Rajasthani dance style, the Kalbeliya dance, forms the basis for the dance creation. The music, on the other hand, originates from a more general Rajasthani concept. Since the Kalbeliya dance forms an important part of the project, some more explanation might be useful. In 2010, the Kalbeliya culture was recognized as world heritage by UNESCO. The additional attention this recognition brings along is likely to make the Kalbeliya dance evolve even faster than it has in the past. The UNESCO describes Kalbeliya as follows: Kalbeliya songs and dances are an expression of the Kalbeliya community’s way of life as snake handlers of the yore. The women in flowing skirts dance to the beat of the ‘khanjari,’ a percussion instrument, and the ‘poongi,’ a wind instrument. These instruments are made by the Kalbeliyas themselves using natural materials. On the occasion of Holi (the festival of colours), the Kalbeliyas perform a special dance. It is remarkable that in today’s context, the Kalbeliya’s traditional music and dance has evolved into a creative and contemporary version that enthralls audiences worldwide. The music of the ‘poongi’ has a sinuous quality, which makes a dancer swirl and dance like a serpent. The songs also portray the creative and poetic acumen of the Kalbeliyas. The Kalbeliyas are reputed to compose lyrics spontaneously and improvise songs impromptu during a performance. The vast repertoire of songs covers all the rites of passage in their life. Though their traditional livelihood of snake handling is relegated to history now, the Kalbeliyas have preserved their cultural practices and established an identity for themselves through their performing arts. The Kalbeliyas are an itinerant community who ascribe their origin to Guru Kanni Pavji (one of the masters of the mystical Nath Sect) who granted them the gift of handling snakes. In traditional rural society, Kalbeliya men would carry cobras in cane baskets from door to door in the village while their women would sing and dance and beg for alms. In so doing, they passed on mythological stories that revered the cobra and advocated non-killing of the reptile. So, if a snake inadvertently entered a home, then a Kalbeliya would be hastily summoned to catch and take the serpent away through non-violent means, such as music, without killing it. 36 ISPAHAN


n the spirit of the Sapera’s Khatu Sapera Kalbeliyas have traditionally been a fringe group existing at the periphery of the mainstream society. Largely, the Kalbeliyas live in spaces outside the village where they reside in makeshift camps called ‘deras.’ With their belongings on the back of donkeys, and with a few hunting dogs of the ‘Lohari’ breed, the Kalbeliyas used to move their ‘deras’ from one place to another in a circuitous route repeated over time. With the experience and received wisdom of generations, the Kalbeliyas have acquired a unique understanding of the local flora and fauna, and are aware of herbal remedies for various diseases. This is also an alternative source of income for them. With the Wildlife Act in place, the Kalbeliyas have moved away from their traditional profession of snake handling. Now, their performing arts are a major source of income for them. Fortunately, their art forms have received widespread recognition within and outside India, and their economic status has improved. However, performance opportunities are sporadic and the whole community is not involved in it on regular basis. Hence, many members of the community work in the fields, or graze cattle to sustain themselves. Nonetheless the entire community is today known for its performing art tradition. The Kalbeliyas have a great tradition of song and dance, which is a strong marker of their identity. Women sing and dance while the men play on musical instruments. The music and dance of the Kalbeliya have a distinct relation to their earlier profession as snake charmers. The Poongi is the traditional wind instrument that the Kalbeliya men play to a specific tune to capture snakes. >>


Nowadays, women dancers wear black flowing skirts with tinsel and mirror work and they try to replicate the rhythmic movements of a serpent’s body through their dance. Poongi, a two feet long wind instrument used by Kalbeliya musicians, is unique to them. They make the ‘poongi,’ from locally grown gourds that impart a plaintive tonality to their music. Giving rhythm to the ‘poongi’ is the ‘khanjari’ - a percussion instrument made of wood and hide. Besides these, there are other instruments including the ‘ghuralio’ – similar to the harp but unique to the Kalbeliyas. When the Kalbeliyas go around the village from door to door, they sing from their wide repertoire of songs about the rites of passage in life. It is noteworthy that the highly entertaining Kalbeliya songs also disseminate mythological knowledge to the people through stories. They have many traditional dances like the ‘Loor’, which is performed during the festival of Holi. During this joyous festival of colours, groups of Kalbeliyas perform in village squares and streets while playing with colours with the community. Moving from house to house, the Kalbeliya men play the one-sided drum called the ‘chang’ or the ‘daph,’ while women sing and dance. Most of the ‘Loor’ dance songs are full of fun and gaiety. ‘Matku’ is yet another traditional dance performed by the Kalbeliyas routinely. In this dance, the dancer’s upper torso is used more actively with flowing hand gestures. The men are traditionally attired in colourful ‘safas’ or turbans, white ‘kurtas’ and ‘dhotis’ (shirt and unstitched lower garment) and embroidered footwear called ‘mojdies.’ The women’s traditional costumes consist of a ‘ghaghra’ (pleated skirt) and a ‘choli’ (fullsleeved upper garment) that comes down till the knee. Other significant features of their make-up are the use of traditional tattoo designs and ‘kajal’ or kohl. Over a period of time, the Kalbeliyas have improvised on their costumes and jewellery. They have begun using new make-up techniques and have added more instruments to their music. The ‘ghaghra’ or the pleated skirt is enlarged manifold by using eleven meters of cloth. The ‘ghaghra’ along with the upper garment called ‘jhumpher’ is richly embroidered with mirror work and embellished with silver thread. Similarly Kalbeliya jewellery has also undergone creative modification. They also use an embroidered colourful waistband called ‘patto’ decorated with small mirrors and cowry shells. There are colourful bangles, and ‘phoondi’ - tassels worn by women. This creative process of change has made the Kalbeliya dance more vibrant and vigorous in its steps. The dancers have added many acrobatic features into their dance, like bending backwards to pick up a ring from the ground with their eyelids, and so on. Dancers spin in circles with swirling skirts to the beat of a percussion instrument, taking the dance to a crescendo. The Kalbeliyas have re-invented their dance form very creatively for the continuity and preservation of the tradition, to attract audiences, and to overcome their poverty. 38 ISPAHAN

The Kalbeliya song and dance forms are a matter of pride for the community, a marker of their identity. They were on the margins of the society but they persisted with their cultural practices, innovated and carried them out with faith; and now they are recognized artists of a great talent and repute. The Kalbeliya songs and dances are transmitted from generation to generation by direct observation and participation from childhood. Their songs are a part of an oral tradition and no texts or training manuals exist HISTORY - Maya Sapera, Khatu Sapera and Kalbeliya Maya has invested many years spreading Indian dance styles in Belgium (Kalbeliya, Kathak, Bollywood ...). She has trained students and started up many projects (Al-Ghorba, IndiAra, Gori KaDance Orchestra Brass Band, Orchestra Gori KaDance AGNI). She was also invited as choreographer for various projects (a.o. Aiko, Flemish Opera Youth and Music, Journey of Jan Marmenout, the new project of Osama Abdulrasol, for TV, Burvenich ballet school in Antwerp, musicals, ...). Observing and training others contributed to the development of Maya’s body awareness. She felt like the time had come to create a project around herself, her own artistic and physical potential, which often came at the last place when she was working with other people. For this project, Maya chose to work with motivated artists who devote their lives to art. This project seeks to create a group performance of world class that transcends the individual performances of the artists. In Europe, Maya can be considered a pioneer in Kalbeliya dance for two reasons. Not only was she the first European Kalbeliya dancer, but also she was the first to pass on her knowledge in her teaching of the Kalbeliya dance. In fact, after a thorough analysis, she developed a didactic system to pass it on. Before, such a system did not exist. Rather, the Kalbeliya dance was part of an oral tradition, passed on from mother to daughter, at home or during festivals. Through extensive research and examination, Maya developed a special bond with this particular dance style through Khatu Sapera. Khatu Sapera is belonging to the Kalbelia community, living in the Kalbelia neighborhood of Jodhpur (Rajasthan). It was on one of her tours through Europe with “Musafir” that she met Maya. Khatu stayed one week with Maya to exchange dance movements and ideas. It was the beginning of a growing friendship. Khatu was amongst the first dancers to tour abroad with Kalbelia dance. She’s technically a very good dancer and she knows how to mesmerize her public. It was Khatu who made it possible for Maya to be introduced in this community. They shared house, food and stage together. It’s an honor for Maya to share the stage and create together with Khatu. >> ISPAHAN 39

© 2012 Kashka


© 2012 Kashka


Different cultures mean different perspectives, so also about costumes. Although originally completely black, in the course of time also red, yellow and blue became part of the typical Kalbeliya costume. Quite controversially, in 2006, Maya decided to wear a white costume on stage for one her performances. At first, the Kalbeliya community remained in favour of black because the word kala, as in Kalbeliya, actually means “black”. Traditionally, black is the colour of the Cobra Snake, which they consider a god whereas white was expected to attract “bad luck”. Maya, on the other hand, defended her choice and argued that saped (white) is part of the word Sapera, which is another name often used for the same community. They laughed and acknowledged that she had a point. Later on, other dancers too started to wear the white color. Today, the dance creations developed by Maya are quite innovative but keep in touch with traditions. Khatu in her own way, is doing the same. This will make their encounter even more interesting. The encounter of two sisters Maïté Baillieul, the film director of the documentary, is also the sister of Maya Sapera. Although their personal bound was always very strong, they never had a chance to work together on a professional basis before. Maïté Baillieul is the person behind the creation of the documentary MILAAP. As an artist, she has already proven that her work can be both valuable and personal, as can be seen from her graduation project entitled “Centers Peta Fuga” (2005). She received the highest distinction and was selected for “Coming People (SMAK)” and ‘Young Artist”, after being selected by Hans Martens. In fact, it was this project that awakened the filmmaker in Maïté. In 2010 she received support from the VAF for the screenplay of her feature film “The death of Fritz”, which is now in preproduction. Although Maïté quite explicitly chooses to dedicate her skills to the profession of filmmaking, from video art to feature film, the exploration of the documentary genre arose from a spontaneous idea and years of dialogue between two sisters. Maïté Baillieul considers MILAAP as a new learning opportunity and an introduction to the field of documentary. She takes the artistic responsibility and very carefully considers every step of the process to make it result into a successful and interesting product accesible to a wide pubic. Coincidentally Milaap, which means encounter in Hindi, is an opportunity for the two sisters Maïté Baillieul and Maya Sapera to encounter each other artistically. As they respect and understand each other very well, their strong bond creates an extraordinary working atmosphere, which comes with an energy boost. THE DOCUMENTARY Milaap (‘encounters’ in Hindi) tells the story of the Belgian Maya Sapera and Indian Khatu Sapera, both acclaimed dancers and specializes in Kalbeliya-dance, the Sapera or gypsy dance from Rajasthan. Through an intimate and unique portrait of Maya and Khatu the filmmakers try to translate the complex and erratic nature of the artistic


MILAAP - ENCOUNTERS process to the big screen. Which confrontations do the dancers and musicians come across to result into a contemporary crossover performance in which not the variety, but the endless encounters between people, dance and music are the main point? This behavior documentary would like to register very accurately the evolvements of the protagonists Maya Sapera and Khatu Sapera while getting to a creative product. This will be viewed from both cultures: the Western and the Indian point of view. The process of creation is the central theme. How do different artists with heterogenic experience and expertise come to a unique composition of dance and music? The developments of the main characters Khatu and Maya make the leitmotiv of the documentary; their close environment, the Indian and Belgian musicians Mahabub Khan, Sattar Khan, Nathan Daems, Guinevere Schneider, Mohamed El Mokhlis, Jan Marmenout are the musical actors. Each one is a very talented as well as experienced musician with a worldwide stage experience. Each one enters an intense relationship and co-defines the artistic process as well as the result. Their story will be included in the movie. The specific Kalbeliya context will become a peculiar and fascinating road. In this documentary the filmmakers will play with ‘rhythm’ and ‘time’. While following the process which Maya and Khatu are going through, they are very aware of the way in which they are able to transfer in depth a versatile amount of information to the audience by means of the images. Thus the film is about ‘a’ process and not ‘the’ artistic process. The makers of the documentary choose how to display the object. Naturally, their choices will be subjective. The fragments will be selected carefully in order to achieve the goal. In this documentary, the process will be approached through the dance and through the protagonists themselves, with the rather rational approach from the Western community on the one hand and the rather intuitive, spontaneous and emotional approach on the other hand. These are two completely different cultures. The process will not be approached from the differences, but from the persons. People often think in categories, which is in contradiction with the evolution of the world toward globalization. This presentation is not anymore about the European musician merging his music with Indian musicians, but it is rather focusing on the universal character of music and dance. Good and experienced musicians work across (country) borders. The music is created by people experiencing music as a common tongue. ‘How do the protagonists manage, during the strenuous time in which they work together, to create a high-level cross-cultural dance act that pleases both the Western and Indian society?’ is the main question. The choice for a human behavior documentary is obvious. The particular behavior of the dancers and musicians inherent to the artistic process will be followed in their specific context: India-Belgium. The human behavior that will be recorded is of a very special kind. Few people in the world are conscious about it or have an active part in it. On the one hand the documentary makers show something they do not know, on the other hand they show the creative nature of the human being in his everyday actions, regardless his cultural background. >>


The process is interesting and how the main characters think and feel about it. The documentary tries to bring out what moves them from within. An intimate portrait will be pictured. The protagonists will be turned inside out. The title ‘MILAAP / ENCOUNTERS’, refers not only to encounters with others, but also to the encounter with oneself. A balanced mix of interviews, conversations and purely visual recordings will allow this portrait. All this will be researched in confrontation with the older generation, the original Kalbeliya-material, and the final presentation. The confidential bond between Maya and Khatu will nourish the immersion and the veracity of this documentary. There is a need of openness and trust to allow the camera and the team to penetrate into something, which is as a whole invisible. This very specific point of view guarantees a very intimate and personal portrait in which universal values are uncovered and cultural differences seem of secondary importance. We don’t approach our subject from a preconceived problem but focus on what comes together, without ignoring any ‘cultural’ complications. THE STAGE PRODUCTION Themes of the Performance Milaap The performance combines a western structuralised approach with a more instinctive, spontaneous and emotional Indian approach. Feeling is the starting point for the development of the production. “Feeling“ refers as well to the feeling of the artists as to the feeling the artist evokes in his public. Worldwide feelings are the source of art and creativity. As such, it is nothing but logical to take this as a starting point. The Indian music is widely known for its raga system. A raga could be compared with the Western modus or with the Arabic maqam. The tone distances are determined, but the tonica is variable. There are ragas linked to a specific part of the day and there are ragas that are linked to a certain feeling. These characteristics will be used consciously while building the performance. The artists are creating their own music for this project, but attach also great importance to the use of long-forgotten texts and melodies which enable them to keep the tradition alive. Specifically, Mahabub, Sattar Khan and Wahid are descendants of a musicians’ lineage that passed the knowledge by the oral tradition (Chunkar community). The father of Mahabub and Sattar was a very wise and respected man. Before his dead he dictated as much lyrics as he could to the family members surrounding him. This archive can be used to retrieve some of the forgotten information that Indian musicians dispose of which for a while appeared less appealing for a Western public. The dance visualizes the music and the feelings it excites. Dancers use daily actions and convert these into movement. The Rajasthani patrimony is the starting point, “here and now” the final destination. We will use and share tradition, alternated and enriched with a more global universal language of dance. Human feeling and body control are universal, regardless of the dance codex that is used. In the traditional community of the Kalbeliya – the community where Khatu belongs to - one is already experimenting and crossing the artistic and traditional borders.


Khatu experiments today with the integration of different dance styles in her own dance. These other dance styles are: Kathak, Oriental dance, Bollywood and other folk styles. Maya processes today the dance traditions that she grew up with, in a personal contemporary Indian dance language, in search of a flow and perception of movement in every little particle of the body. She wants to feel her body from the inside and from the outsight. The ingredients of this new dance are: Bharatanatyam (Indian temple dance), Kathak (North Indian classical dance), Kalbeliya, Bollywood and her perception of the movement, the feeling, the space and the body. It is in this context, with a desire to exchange, that the dancers meet again as equal and experienced personalities. Maya and Khatu seek to obtain a balance between the different energies. Hard and soft, powerful and delicate, tough and elegant, etc. Dreams and intuition are facing reality, but also work with, and evolve into reality. Dreams function as seed for reality. Dance behind a screen of fantasy is the inseparable shadow of dance in reality. Feelings are the motives that give life to or destroy our dreams. The bodies and the music enforce these feelings. The dance is the body, the music the breath. Time and rhythm are used consciously in the music and dance. Slowness represents the east, speed the west. However, this will not be considered in a very strict way, since life itself is not so strict. We stand on the bridge between two cultures, which are completely different, yet both human. We approach the process and the characters not from the differences, but from the human being himself. Often we think in categories and that is in contradiction with the evolution towards a globalized world. This presentation is not anymore about the European musician merging his music with Indian musicians, but it is rather focusing on the universal character of music and dance. Good and experienced musicians work across (country) borders. The music is created by people experiencing music as a common tongue. A PROJECT IN PROCESS Taken from Maya’s diary In Belgium Two years of extensive brainstorming preceded the first practical steps. Dreams are the first seeds. For me dreams are not just dreams. They are the beginning of beautiful projects, which might take place after one year or after ten years, but which will eventually become reality. Some people envy my profession as a dancer, because I do not have to work from nine to five or sit behind the computer the whole day. The first practical steps consist of writing, writing and writing‌ even as a dancer: writing to put the project on paper; writing to contact people; writing to look for funds; writing to official people; writing to find the matching artists and so on. After writing comes of course the fun part to meet these people and that is always interesting. Sometimes there is a click, sometimes not, but it always fascinates me. >>


We screened the artists based on feelings and technical skills. The musicians first rehearsed in small groups to see if they could cope with the Indian way of working. On the 12th of December 2012 we had the first

meeting with all musicians. We were lucky, it was a match. Everybody brought some ideas of his own, which we tried out in group. That gave interesting results. In February 2013 we will have our first musical try-out in public. In India

In December I went to India for prospection. Mainly I had appointments with people who represent

organizations, but I had also a first dance encounter with Khatu after six years. I was totally confident that Khatu was the right person to work with and so she appeared. She is openhearted, talented and beautiful.

Especially on the stage, she starts to shine. I was only a little worried whether there would be a real artistic exchange. But although I do not find it easy to express myself in Hindi, we succeeded. She listened to

the aims and evolutions of the project with much interest and willing to learn and to give. On the 31st of

December we performed together on stage in Jaisalmer, at a show organized by Gazi Khan Barna. This was the best opportunity to start dancing together. It was a typical Indian rehearsal where we were interrupted several times, but I was really happy because we could already start working on something. In the end,

during the performance itself, we each separately danced. That gave us the chance to enjoy each other’s performance after so many years.

India, especially in Rajasthan, is a country where sometimes you have to surrender yourself to the

circumstances. Often endless patience is required, especially because women have so many obligations

before they can leave the house. If we got one thing done in a day, it was a success. I planned also to search for a documentation centre and some important people in the field. I stayed six days with Khatu, but it’s

only in the last three hours that I could assemble all the necessary… and that is also so typical: everything always turns out just fine.

After all, we visited many places in six days. We met in Jaipur. From there we went to Jodhpur, to Khatu’s family. They are really heart-warming people. I had a great time there. From there we went to Jaisalmer,

where we performed for New Year and where by coincidence we met Tony Gatlif, the filmmaker of Latcho Drom and Vengo.

ARTISTS The whole creation evolves around feeling. As such, the artists have been screened on this basis. Mahabub and Maya searched for those personalities who wake up and go to sleep with their art, who live for art. Of course they looked for artists with technical strenghts, but that is mostly the case with such personalities. They were looking for talents who are open to dialogue and who easily integrate “foreign” information. Therefore the artists should be able to free themselves from familiar structures.The artists they chose are not concerned with their appearance to the outside world, but with their inner artistic self. The following artists were selected to create the music and dance for this performance in both Belgium and India: © 2012 Kashka



DANCERS Maya Sapera Maya Sapera is the leading personality of the performance “Milaap / Encounters”. She devoted her live to Indian dance. In need of creativity outside the classroom, in need of artistic exchange and professionalism and because of the good synergy, Maya chose this time to work with the Indian dancer Khatu Sapera. An overview of some of the most important projects and happenings she was involved in is presented below. Maya was Laureate in “The Best Belgian Dance Solo” (1993) and had the chance to be an artist on Laureates’ tour led by Alain Platel. She met Alain for a second time during the project Solo Soli and from thatmoment they stayed in contact. Till now Alain is supporting her where possible. Together with Niki Constantinidou she created her first productions: Al-Ghorba (2003) and IndiAra (2005). Since 2002 she’s working with Mahabub and Sattar Khan for the trio Khan Brothers and the bigger group Rangeela. With Mahabub she joined the Va Fan Fahre, a cooperation which resulted in the creation of the group Gori KaDance Orchestra. The latest being a dance and music Bollywood group which toured during two years and stood at Couleur Café. Maya had the chance to work for Sidi Larbi Cherkoui, the Opera of Flanders and in 2011 she won the first price in the Bollywood discipline in Duisburg (Germany). Khatu Sapera Khatu was one of the first dancers. She experienced the evolution of the dance scene from very close and knows the traditional form of the dance. It was logical for Maya to choose Khatu Sapera for the realization of her dream. Coincidentally, both are currently engaged in the search for a new dance language. Khatu is searching new music to have new input for her dance. She has toured the world several times with her Kalbeliya dance, with the most prestigious groups such as Musafir and Nitin Hersh. Now it’s time for something new. She is very motivated to take part in this project. MUSICIANS Because Mahabub and Sattar are the basis of the Indian music part, they have been closely involved in the search for musicians. A real chemistry is what we seek. Mahabub and Sattar Khan are two brothers and descendants of a Rajasthani music community, which adorned the houses of the maharaja’s with its art. They have been working sometimes together and sometimes separately for several projects. They toured the world several times. Mahabub, a gifted singer, hears in everyday sounds tones to improvise on: the sound of an engine, a car, electricity or ... Sattar taps his fingers on everything he finds. He is the specialist of rhythm. Sattar also plays smaller instruments like the double flute, harp, kartal and wapang. Mahabub was the right hand of Hamid Khan Kawa when he founed the internationally well-known group Musafir 15 years ago. Later Mahabub founded the trio “Khan Brothers” with his brother as well as the even larger group “Rangeela”. Rangeela consisted of 6 Rajasthani musicians, 1 fakir and 2 dancers. Rangeela gave a survey of different Rajasthani music and dance traditions. >>


© 2012 Kashka ISPAHAN 47

Hamid brought together several Rajasthani traditions -Kalbeliya being one of themunder the group “Musafir”. They didn’t play the Pungi or the Khanjara anymore, but the Dholak and harmonium. These instruments are considered in India more refined. Their first dancer was Gulabi Sapera. Later, Khatu Sapera toured around the globe with them. This is how Mahabub and Sattar Khan got to know Khatu Sapera. The last two years the brothers toured with “Babel” a production by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Damien Jallet (Eastman Company). Maya has been working for ten years with them. Both brothers are among the best in their field. And the three have a special connection on stage. Jan Marmenout is the first Flemish ethnic musician. He studied and experimented with various ethnical musical instruments. He gave his life to music. He committed himself only to the projects that really interested him. He specialized in the fujara (a Romanian flute) and he plays in a cheeky way on stones. He has a collection of special instruments. His passion is to dialogue with dance. Maya and Jan worked for the first time in 2005. His open approach to music is complementary to the knowledge of Mahabub and Sattar. Together they will be able to open borders. Mohamed Al Mokhlis worked from his second musical project with Indian influences. After a first meeting in 2003 between Mohamed, Maya and Mahabub, Mahabub and Mohamed met each other again in the group “Soraya” - an Indian-Arabic music group. They have mutual respect for each other. It was a dream of Mahabub to create a project and that Mohamed would be part of it. That dream now came true. Mohamed’s love for Indian music, his overwhelming emotional music, his masterful technique ... will be a benefit for the project. Guinevere Schneider: Mahabub accidentally discovered her at the school of his daughter. He fell for her fragile voice. Until recently, her voice filled her living room. Yet, since the beginning of this school year, she’s getting in contact with people and wants to share her passion with the public. She was very excited when we asked her to join. She also plays the harp, which will give a sweet extra timbre. With her classical formation, her feelings and her love for improvisation, she is a good counterpart to the Indian singers. Wahid Khan is a passionate young musician from the same musical community as Mahabub and Sattar. He came to Belgium several times before to be part of the projects of the Maya Sapera Dance Company. We chose Wahid on the basis of his skills on the harmonium. He’s also a very good singer. He already played with Mohamed, Nathan, Jan and Guinevere in the past. Nathan Daems is a young and promising jazz artist. In 2010 he won the contest “Young Jazz Talent Ghent” with his group “Nathan Daems Quintet”. His love for Indian music brought him into contact with Sattar Khan and so with Mahabub and Maya. He immersed himself in oriental music. So his background and skills fit perfectly in Milaap. We chose him because of the “jazzy touch”.






PRACTICAL: You can be part of it! 21 February 2013: first public try-out of the musicians in the café of “De Centrale”, Gent, Belgium. - You can be part of the public. Approximately 15 February – 15 May 2013: crowd funding supported by the Flemish television “CANVAS” - You can be part of the documentary by gifting small or bigger funds. 18 March – 2 April 2013: working and filming period in India. We are sad to announce that you cannot be part of that part. 15 juni 2013: Try-out of the whole project in de Turbinezaal of De Centrale, Gent, Belgium. - You can be part of the public.

FACEBOOK You can follow are project on Facebook: You can follow us on You can follow us on CREDITS This project is a production of IDEA productions and the Maya Sapera Dance Company, supported by Europalia, De Centrale, De Ingang, Zephyrus Music, Eden Services, Les atelier de Lizani. We are still looking for sponsors and partners!

Sponsor this project and become pa Maya Sapera & Maïté Baillieul;


art of it!


Picture perfect girls - Picture perfect world?

Looking at the stars of todays Oriental Dance scene, we see -whitout exception- gorgeous beautiful, glamorous women, who are wonderful dancers, They set the bar high.

And besides the fact that everyone faces difficulty in life, they (seem to) have all it takes t be a star. Ambition, a good physique, style, musicality, creativity and grace.. Their confidence give them starquality, their experience gives them confidence. And we admire them, are inspired by them

But perhaps the ones we should admire even more so, are the ones who are not -and never wil be- a star, but dance anyway, the ones who give it their best shot, push their boudaries knowin they don’t comply with the current beauty standard or needed physique for dancing. The one who are critisized, but do it anyway, the ones who endure pain while dancing, but put on a brav face. the ones who are insecure, the ones who have physical disabilities or are far to scared an anxious to perform. This is a tribute to them. Keep on dancing. You are a star.



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Miriam Peretz On the Sacred dance of the Silk Road

Interview with:

z t e r e P m a i r i M

Hello Miriam, nice to meet you! You are currently based in the Bay Area (San Francisco, US) and are a performer and dance school director, busy with teaching, choreographing and organising (dance) shows, as well as your own solo performances, is that right? Can you tell us a bit about your (cultural) background? Who is Miriam Peretz? What should we know, to know you? Yes, I am currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area, however I am a bit of a gypsy spirit and tend to go between Israel (my original birthplace) and the Bay Area. I was born in Israel, but raised in the Bay Area, California since a very young age. After graduating high school I moved back to Israel, and since then have developed a strong dance following both in Israel and the Bay Area. My background is Moroccan Sephardi, and I am very connected to these roots. You specialise in ‘the sacred dances of the Silk Road’ & Middle Eastern dance and have travelled through many countries/ cultures and studied their dances.


Where, when and why did it all start for you? I actually started dancing at a very young age. In fact my mother gave me my name Miriam after the Miriam of the Bible who led the Israelites out of slavey to freedom with dancing and tambourine playing with the vision that I would become a dancer. Honestly, I have never really been very interested in anything other than dance and music. Dance and movement have been my means of communication with the world since childhood. Throughout my school years I delved into many forms of dance including- Contemporary, African, Cuban, Hawaiian, Flamenco and Middle Eastern. I also trained in the Brazilian martial art, Capoeira for many years. Every night of the week I was at a different dance studio, filing myself with as much culture and movement as I possibly could. It felt very much that I was searching for the dance form that would fulfill my souls ultimate expression in

this lifetime. After graduating high school I went back to my homeland, and from there traveled through the Middle East. I visited Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, Tajikistan and Spain. In all of these locations I sought out dance, and seeing and experiencing as much as I could from the most authentic places. Living in Israel and being immersed in rich cultures of the Middle East, it became clear to me that my soul most deeply resonated with dances from the Middle East. I felt like I found my home. At this time I was performing with Arabesk Oriental dance company, teaching classes, and training in Flamenco. I also studied music and dance at the Jerusalem Academy of Oriental Music. There I focused on Middle Eastern percussion, Persian music theory, and Central Asian dance (with Galia Akilov from Uzbekistan.) While attending this school I would spend hours listening and being transported by the sounds of the Persian music ensembles. I quickly fell in love with Persian music. This love affair sent me on a long journey to discover and

learn as much as I could about Persian & Central Asian dance. I was lucky to return to the U.S. and become a member of Ballet Afsaneh, a dance company focusing on dances from Iran & Central Asia. I stayed a member of the company for over 12 years, serving as a principle dancer, featured soloist, choreographer, and assistant director (for five years.) Over the years, I continued to go back and forth between Israel and the U.S. and was fortunate to retain my place with Ballet Afsaneh in the Bay Area, and also continue to build my following in Israel and Europe. During my world travels I completed a residency in Dushanbe, Tajikistan where I had the most wonderful and intensive dance training with Padida Theater. After just a couple of weeks into my stay I was performing on huge stages with the company, and was able to bring home to the U.S. enough dance inspiration to choreograph dozens of pieces. Also during my travels I did several Flamenco intensives in Spain, studied privately in >> ISPAHAN 59

in the authentic setting of a Turkish Roman (gypsy) woman’s home in Istanbul, Turkey, and attended several dance festivals in Egypt. So in your dance school in San Francisco, you teach Persian dance (classical, contemporary, folk and mystical), the art of turning (whirling), central Asian dances (from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Afghanistan), Turkish Roman dance, Egyptian dance (Saidi), Moroccan Schikhatt (‘marriage’ dance), dance Midrash and much more. Who are your students? Is it a (culturally) mixed group, or do you find that a lot of dancers have affinity through their origins, with those cultures? I am currently teaching out of two main studios in the Bay Area. Unfortunately neither are “my” studio, but are wonderful studios that attract a very diverse crowd of students. I do hope to one day open my own studio. Among my students there is a good mix of Iranian and American students. There are also people from many other cultures, and often I have visiting students from Europe. In my class you can always find a very diverse age range, starting from teenagers going all the way up to women in their 50’s. I also find that both professional dancers and totally amateur dancers find their place in my class. I like to create a strong community feeling in my classes, and many of my students have become very good friends. For many my classes are more than a dance class, but a weekly ritual and community building experience. Through learning about all these dances, I presume you noticed similarities, a common ground, something that suggests a shared origin of dance in this region (and certainly alongside the Silk Road, there has been a lot of cultural cross-pollination)? Or was your attention drawn more so to the derogatory aspects between the different cultures/regions? Can you tell us a bit about both? Across the Silk Road you can find many similarities in the various regions dance styles. Of course the Iranian empire at one point expanded to include all of Central Asia. Especially during the period of the Sassainian dynasty and even into the Classical period of Iran when Islamification started the arts flourished, and there was a great deal of traveling and sharing of culture. 60 ISPAHAN

When the countries were divided and superficial borders drawn, dance styles were labeled according to their region, however many of the styles retained great similarity, and many of the dances in fact belonged to more than one region/country. Some of the distinct characteristics found across the Silk Road include the intricate and delicate hand positions and elegant sweeping gestures of the arms and torso, and many different forms of spins. Throughout the Silk Road you can find that many dances have a lot of turning, and often conclude with a climactic spin. Also during the Soviet regime in Central Asia, there was a lot of Russian influence on the dance, and especially its presentation. A once common solo dance style was all of a sudden seen on big stages and performed in perfect unison by twenty dancers. Also a lot of the ancient dances were “de-spiritualized,” and became more of a spectacle form with the Soviet influence. Most dance forms started out as folk dance, ritual dancing.., is every dance form ‘stage ready’ or did you have to make a translation for the podium? And how does, for instance, contemporary Persian dance relate to the ‘original’? Because of the history of Iran and repression of dance under Islamic regime there is little documentation of many of the dances. Folk dances stayed very much alive through the generations, but there was also a whole tradition of “Art” dance, and also “Classical” or “Sacred,” dances, many of which flourished just prior to the revolution. These dances were often improvisational and sometimes set to Sufi poems, or danced in temples or at various Zoroastrian worship celebrations, and also on theater stages in professional productions. It is almost impossible to find documentation or preservation of many of these dances. There are engravings, paintings (such as the Miniature artwork,) some text, and of course the dances of other Central Asian countries which seemed to have a less broken lineage, that one can look to and see a glimpse of what these ancient Iranian dances might have looked like. These threads can be woven together to create some very strong images and ideas as to what some of the dance styles looked like. Both in Iran and world wide there seems to be a new and excited interest in discovering the potential of Persian “Art” or “Classical” dance and also “Sacred” dance. As an artist I am most interested in interpreting the music and sometimes poetry (found in the lyrics of the songs) in a highly personalized way. Of course I take great inspiration from the sources mentioned above, but at the same time I do not limit my >> ISPAHAN 61


dance vocabulary. In that sense I am more of a fusion artist, and try to stay away from calling my art “traditional.” At the same time I perform for Iranian audiences all over the world, and continue to receive huge amounts of honor, gratitude and often tears following my performances. Iranians often tell me that what I am performing is totally authentic, even though I might be very cautious to use such a label. So in some way what I am performing I think does express the Iranian aesthetic and culture, even if I infuse my art with contemporary or other dance elements. Iranians are also often shocked when I tell them I am not Iranian, but actually Israeli. I feel this alone is a beautiful opportunity for healing, and creating bridges. I do rarely perform “traditional folk dances,” unless I am in a group of women and asked to perform for a specific event. As an artist I am more and more finding my unique voice and creating a form that is heavily infused with Central Asian aesthetic, but yet incorporates my full life experience of as both a dancer and a spiritual seeker. I am also a dervish and part of the Mevlevi order, and this influences almost everything I create in the world of art. I am very interested in your ‘Miriam’s Well project’ (an interfaith performance collaboration exploring sacred dance, music, and spirituality from the Muslim, Christian, and Jewish traditions). It is a very ambitious and beautiful goal. Can you tell us how the symbol of the well, or more specific the translation of that symbol into the dance project, can bring the healing and solidarity that are often so difficult to achieve? The Miriam’s Well Project is an interfaith performance piece that interweaves live music, theater, spoken word and dance. Miriam’s Well endeavors to reveal the commonality and interconnectedness of the three Abrahamic faiths, through a shared story and archetype. The work focuses on three female figures—Miriam, Maryam, and Mary who experience “revelations” at the well. The well is a universal symbol of nurturance and blessing, through life-giving waters, and in many traditions becomes a sacred metaphor or symbol of knowledge and wisdom.

As all three women reach deeply within to find the core essence of their being, it is revealed that they all connect to the one source. Water is the source of life, a human necessity; its abundance, a blessing in every tradition. The scarcity of water in the Middle-East has become a serious crisis, potentially even more dangerous than the religious and territorial conflicts. The very basic need to share water binds the people of the Middle-East together. Without peace the well will soon run dry. More than a performance, or a political event of any kind, Miriam’s Well endeavors to create a safe space for inclusive, sacred ritual shared across boundaries that can have resonance for a great diversity of people. Miriam’s Well is very much a culmination of my artistic and spiritual work in the world. After living over a decade in Israel and watching the constant tension and aggression among the Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities, a deep sorrow grew in my heart. As an artist, Miriam’s Well is the ultimate expression of my yearning for all the religions living in Israel to see the one source that all draw life from. Throughout history, we have faced a lot of polarisation by political and religious leaders of all kinds and in some cultures there is little tolerance towards ‘infidels’. In some cultures dancing is even prohibited. Was it difficult to find (religious) artist (musicians, dancers, singers, etc.), willing to participate in this project? And what reactions did you get, when you first started thinking/talking about wanting to do this, was it considered to be controversial? Doing the Miriam’s Well project in the bay area, California I did not really run into any conflict or controversy. It is actually slightly unfortunate to me that my artists themselves did not come from strong religious backgrounds. For some of them the conflict came up within themselves as they found themselves representing a religious tradition they might have come from however no longer really practice. For many of the artists it brought up un-healed wounds connected with their religious background and practice. One very strong moment for many of the artists was during Maryam’s dance, when she stood on >> ISPAHAN 63

Photography / credits:

Page 58: Stephen Kane Photography * Page 59: A Benifit Wishing You Well Cheb I Sabbah / Raymond van Tassel Photography http://raymondvan Page 60-61: Lisa Tilton Design (web site Miriam Peretz: Page 62: Eye of Passion Photography * Miriam’s Well Grace Cathedral, San Francisco Dancers: Kristen Sague, Hannah Romanowsky, Em Mahdavia Page 64: Brian McMahon Photography * Page 65 & 66: Eye of Passion Photography * Page 66/67: Bismillah Photography Page 69: Raymond van Tassel Photography *


an, Aliah Najmabadi en Miriam Peretz.


the platform of Grace Cathedral (one of the most beautiful and grand Cathedral’s of San Francisco) and received the Muslim call to prayer and then followed with a full traditional prostration. I am sure this was the first time this has been done at Grace Cathedral. I feel like a lot of the interfaith work in some ways encourages a diluting of religious practice, and for me I think there is a great beauty in being able to be fully immersed in ones religious practice, yet at the same time understand the unity of all people and be able to respect other paths. I think that this approach is more helpful in situations like in Israel, where people are so passionate about their practice and faith. For me the ultimate Miriam’s Well performance needs to happen in the Middle East, and I do hope to bring it to Israel and collaborate with artists there from the Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities. There is much praise in the reviews of this project, do you think you have actually reached people, succeeded in ‘changing’ their minds and bridged the gap, what the US audience is concerned? I don’t know really how much the piece “changed” anyone’s mind about anything. The San Francisco Bay Area is already so progressive and integrated, I don’t see as much a need for bridging of gaps as I do in Israel and the Middle East. I do know that there were many tears shed and emotionally moved audience members. I think more than shedding light on the topic of “peace and unity in the Middle East,” audience members were forced to watch and appreciate highly “religious” art and here the prayers of the Muslims, Jews and Christians sung and danced in ways they never have before. After reading this post: “Miriam’s dance classes transcend technique and choreography; they compel the dancer to become a poet, a conduit of creative intention, a vessel for music. I always leave class with ruminations on transcendence, with heightened presence, and


with the sensation that I participated in something beautiful.”, it is clear that you work with ambitious, sensitive and intelligent dancers. How do you attract and inspire this ‘type’ of dancers to take on this journey with you? I feel very blessed that wherever I have gone in the world, amazing students have found me and come to my classes. I find that my student body actually attracts more like minded people. And in this way we become a community, a sacred dance circle. For your Europe fans there will be an opportunity to study with you, in depth in a beautiful and relaxing spa setting in the countryside just outside of Rome. Can you give us the details? This coming Summer of 2013 (like all summers) I will have a Europe tour. My tour schedule can be found on my web site under the link Calendar. This Calendar will continue to update, but so far I will have workshops in Rome, and also Morlupa, Italy (at a beautiful countryside spa,) Madrid, Barcelona, and Israel. My retreat in Morlupa (just outside of Rome,) July 4-7th will be an especially great opportunity to study with me in depth in a beautiful, intimate, and healing setting. Spaces will fill up, so I encourage pre-registration soon. Also for a sneak preview of my class, Sacred Dance of the Silk Road go to this link: watch?v=INRA7uRQvXc

this interview, Miriam! Thank you very much for

*Web site *Miriam on Facebook peretz.3?ref=ts&fref=ts ISPAHAN 67

artistic statement/ Miriam Peretz:

‘Dance speaks a universal language that expresses the infinite ways of the divine. It reaches beyond cultural and religious differences to express the deepest dimensions of our being, in a way no words or book could ever do. My love of dance and movement has led me on a life-long journey through many different lands and cultures. These cultural exchanges have inspired me to search for ways that dance and the arts can help bridge cultural gaps and create respect, love and unity among people of different backgrounds. I also believe that dance is an important path for personal healing as it offers a uniquely powerful means of expressing deep emotion and spiritual yearning. Dance has been my means of communication with the world, my tool for unlocking the wisdom within my unconscious. My form is traditional yet contemporary, inspirational yet highly disciplined, and more than anything devotional. My artistic inspiration is drawn from many sources including the beautifully expressive dances of the Silk Road, and the Middle East; the dramatic landscapes of desserts found throughout the Middle East; the path of the Mevlevi whirling tradition; and the poetry of the great Sufi mystics Rumi, Hafiz, Omar Khayyam.’




Make your own pompons real easy! information via:

Amanjena Resort, just outside of Marrakech information via:


PS & TRICKS Bellenza: how to throw a party Marrakech style? information via: decorate/an-arabian-nights-bridal-showertheme-a-feast-for-the-senses.html



Home Made ‘Tagine meets Zoervleijsch (Dutch Stew)’ This is a recipe that I invented by accident, like I alsways do, I just ‘mix and match’ with whatever is in the fridge. It has elements of a Dutch Stew (stoofpotje) and has an Oriental touch because of the dates and apricots. I have tested it on several dinner guests, these past months and they were asking for seconds, so I guess they liked it! This recipe will take a long time to cook, because the meat has to simmer for 3-4 hours (depending on the quality of the meat) and you will have to keep an eye on it, regularly to keep it moist enough (add water if necessary) and stir every once in a while. (Please note: The mixture is much darker than the picture suggests and there is a lot more sauce..mmm.. just forgot to photograph it myself .) Serves 4 Prep Time: 5 minutes (and some chopping along the way) Cook Time: 3- 4 hours (if you use thick slices of meat , it will need close to 4 hours) Ingredients: A. butter and oil 6 thin pieces of Sukade Beef (a cut of beef from the chuck) 3 tablespoons red pesto 6 laurel leaves 3 tablespoons Balsamico vinegar 3 slices of gingerbread B. 10 medium sized tomatos (chopped) 1 green paprika (chopped) 3 spring onions (chopped) more gingerbread if needed (to thicken the sauce) dates (chopped), approx. 10 dried apricots (chopped) approx. 10 Preparation: First heat the pan, with the oil and butter and then put everything listed under A. in the pan, in that same order (let the meat roast for a couple of minutes on both sides, before you add the rest). Stir. Add boiling water and simmer for about 2 hours on low heat. (The water should just cover the ingredients.) -watch/ stir every 30 minutes or so, to prevent it from burning, add water if neededThen add every listed under B. (ingredients) and let it simmer for another hour (or two, or until the meat falls apart into very small pieces). -watch/ stir every 30 minutes or so, to prevent it from burning, add water if neededFind the laurel leaves and remove them. Serve with (roasted) bread, potatosalad, mashed potatoes or fries.

Enjoy! Kashka. ISPAHAN 73

C a m e r a L i g h t s Action! Heike Suhre is a very succesful photographer, based in the Netherlands (born in Germany). She is able to create a totally different world in her photograph series; it feels familiar, but then again it’s not. The result is a dreamy (sometimes more nightmare) kind of story telling, that evokes instant magic. It’s like looking into the ‘evil queens’s mirror’,, what do you see? Creating an atmosphere is not just a lot of hard work and a good ‘eye’, you will also have to find the right, professional people to work with, like make-up artists, costume/set designers and of course the model herself is a key factor. Quality is not someting that just ‘happens’. Heike studied art at the Arts Academy of Enschede (AKI Netherlands) and has had many solo exhibitions in Europe. Works of hers can be found in private and public collections in many countries. Heike is an awarded artist, she recieved International Masters of Photography 2012/13 award and the ‘De Grote Paul’ award in 2012 (named after Photographer Paul Huf). She therefore finds herself in the company of Erwin Olaf, Anton Corbijn, Patricia Steur and Govert de Roos (to name just a few). Besides Photographer, Heike also makes ceramics and paints. We are very honoured to be able to show you some of her work.


© 2012 Kashka

© 2012 Kashka

© 2012 Kashka




© 2012 Kashka



© 2012 Kashka


© 2012 Kashka




All photos are copyrighted to Heike Suhre © Heike Suhre None of the photographs on these sites may be used elsewhere without her written permission.

Credits: Series ‘Oriental Touch’ (Pages 74- 79) Photography: Heike Suhre Model: Evelyn Dylann Geldens Make-up artist /hair: Hulya Dilber Series ‘Bollywood’ (Pages 80- 85) Photography: Heike Suhre Model: Marieke Oldenburger Make-up artist: Marian Velthuis

Heike Suhre/ Contact Facebook:



Highly Recommended..

Sherazade is a runaway teen searching for her identity. She is s

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The Art of Improvisation Join us for an evening of fiery a

musicians of Persian classical music in the world today. After man Iranian composer, Tar and Setar player, Mastero Hossein Alizadeh Tombak player, Pejman Hadadi in concert. Classical Persian music has always been a very meditative and spiritu view at one of the living legends in the world of world music. Visit:

Palaces and Gardens of Persia In both decoration and

Persia consistently refer to paradise. ” The very word itself refers to a perfection, derived from an early Iranian term for “the Shah’s royal h

The fine touches of heaven that lie behind the colorful tiled façad richly illustrated and scholarly work. Enter gardens with intricate fou from underground aqueducts dating to the 6th century. From ancie of Kashan to the ornate domes of Ispahan, here is a glorious phot ornamentation along the 3,000 years of the region’s architecture.

Isfahan, Pearl of Persia Asiya Once one of the larges

that sits across timeless trade routes. It became the glittering capi 16th century. Shah Abbas I (1587–1629) in particular helped to tra architecture rich in form and surface decoration. Reprinted for the first time in 40 years, this astounding survey provid the early 20th century and features dozens of photographs, engra from across the centuries that make Isfahan the cultural crown of Ir


seventeen, Algerian, and a run-away in Paris. Although onal depth and little education, Sherazade remains outs, political activists and junkies. Though, Sherazade tely free because she was not herself and she wasn’t

Gifts by

and meditative improvisation with two of the foremost ny years of collaboration, the legendary and revered h again joins the renowned Iranian percussionist and

ual music, and we will enjoy the up close and personal

design, the grand buildings and gardens of traditional a sense of heavenly hunting grounds.�

des of palace pavilions and mosques still shine in this untains and majestic ponds fed by water that is sourced ent mirrored shrines of Shiraz and geometric gardens tographic timeline drawn in water, brick, and ceramic

st cities in the world, Isfahan is an ancient metropolis ital of Iran’s greatest dynasty, the Safavids, during the ansform it into a city rich in art, cultural wonders, and

des a history of the city from its earliest days up through avings, and examples of the tilework and architecture ran.




s Galore..!

Designs by Yuliya ISPAHAN 89

Designs by Yuliya

Yuliya lives in the United States, but grew up in former Soviet Union’s Republic Tajikistan. She descends from designers, amongst which her father who was assigned by a philharmonic theatre to create beautiful costumes Yuliya inherited her talent from him! Some of his designs were even worn by Malika Kalantarova - a renowned

As a little girl, Yuliya loved going to work with him at the theatre and meet the dancers, listen to music and wa ‘I always admired the beautiful and elaborate work of my father and also of many other Russian designers who

‘Being a professional belly dancer requires a simple knowledge of sewing, and I always felt the need to add my appliqués. Well,this is how the whole thing started! I gathered a ton of different materials and tried to recreat process I realized that I absolutely love to create beautiful things and it feels really therapeutic. I also absolutely love to share my work with dancers, friends and customers, to make this Art form even more g


m a very artistic family of musicians, artists and costume for very famous dancers and performers, so it is obvious d star of National and folkloric dance.

atch him create magical costumes for the stars! o were using the most expansive quality materials!�

y own touches to simple costumes, by adding stones and te a Russian design in my own way. During the making



Yuliya’s trademark: Swarovski stones and the ‘Y’ of Yuliya!




Yuliya’s Designs are all very unique, very sparkly and very precisely made. She uses prescious stones and every item is custom made. The use of many different stones makes for a dazzling effect on stage, with stage lights shining onto it. And you can imagine what a fairy princess you will be, dancing in such a costume!



Besides being a skilled Costume Designer, Yuliya is also a Professional Bellydance Artist and Choreographer.

Yuliya Shtark E-mail: Phone: 973-479 6929 (US/NY) Facebook: pages/Designs-by-Yuliya/42933 4370457468?ref=ts&fref=ts Web site: http://www.


ISPAHAN Magazine

Harem Girls


s e l ark

! e r o l a G

André Elbing On tour with André: The Oriental Fairytale

Miriam’s Well Interview with: Miriam Peretz


A story by Maya Sapera

Heike Suhre

Award winning Photographer

& more..

Recipes Shopping Design Ispahan Magazine deals and fun stuff..

ISPAHAN Magazine • Issue 5 • 2013/1

How many other magazines you know are for free?! To be able to keep it that way your help is needed! Write, advertise, promote.. Thank you!

‘Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others, unsuccessful people are always asking: What’s in it for me?’

w e N


! s w Ispahan Agenda

Shujana will be performing in Heerlen (Netherlands) on the 24th. of

February 2013, at the International Bellydance Festival. She can be seen dancing a solo performance as well as a group choreo with her students.

Kashka will be performing in AINSI, Maastricht (Netherlands) on 5 & 6 April 2013, in a Modern Ballet/ Butoh fusion dance, in collaboration with Mieke Verhooren’s Butoh dance school Inazuma and Dance Platform VIA 2018.

Ispahan will be performing at Asiya’s Raksa Gamila annual Party, on April 28th, 2013.

So come and see us dance!! And then there is our

IspahanOriental Dance GroupWorkshop:

Ispahan-4- Flexibility Interested in this Workshop?

Would you like to participate in this workshop or would you like us to give this workshop (‘Ispahan 4 Flexibility’) at your venue/ host us? Please e-mail us!




Oriental DanceCompany

Dancing.. Š 2012 Kashka

102 ISPAHAN your party?

Ispahan Website What you can find on the ISPAHAN Oriental Dance Group web site: • • • • • • • • • •

How and why ISPAHAN was founded, how we operate, our vision and our good cause. Information on our group name, background stories and some cultural information as well. How to book us (for both private and business parties). How to join us (if you are an Oriental Dancer) Our performance schedule (in case you would like to see us dance) and a brief history of past performances. Videos and lots of pictures of past performances & photo shoots. A blog, of all our ISPAHAN adventures, updated frequently, so you can taste the atmosphere and feel part of our team. Information on al ISPAHAN dancers, their background, projects & links to their personal pages. Our ISPAHAN fan store, were revenues go to our good cause, and much, much more..


YES-OUI-JA-SI!! Everybody likes the word ‘yes’, because it is a happy-go-lucky word. It is a confirmation, a validation and many more things in such a tiny word. In the same line of thinking, lots of people don’t like the word ‘no’, but ‘no’ is highly underrated and might actually be far more important in a persons life than ‘yes’ is.! ‘No’ means you have to start being creative, because you want to try to turn it into a ‘yes’. So you have to examine the ‘no’ and figure out another path. Saying ‘yes’ to ’the dress’ is most of the time preceded by a number of no’s right? It also means you have to start thinking about why the ‘no’ was thrown your way, what caused it and what part of your question or actions lead up to the ‘no’. It means you have to start thinking about yourself, critical thinking and showing responsibility for your actions or questions and their consequences.. In fact, you might actually become grateful for a ‘no’. A ‘yes’ never makes you think, you just accept it and move on. Easy is not the same as good, instructive or helpfull for your own development and insight. If you have an inquisitive mind, you probably stumble on ‘no’ a lot: because you try a lot, therefore you fail a lot. And failing a lot sounds negative, but it’s not. It means you don’t choose the easy path, the road of the least friction in life. It means that you are actually quite brave and not scared to encounter a brick wall (or a ‘no’), for a ‘no’ can be rather painful, of course. It means learning along the way, not being defeted by misfortune. These days, lots of children grow up in ‘broken homes’, were parents understandably don’t want to be ‘the rotten one’, but as a result children are far less often being told ‘no’. Mum is their best friend, or like a sister to them, instead of a figure of authority. Also at schools there are far less strict rules and the teacher is called by his first name, because he grew up in the sixties and does not like authority himself. So kids grow up with a lot more freedom and a lot less ‘no’ in their life. Which sounds great. But there is a downside: not getting used to hearing a lot of ’no’, a lack of boundaries and feelings of entitlement. Some can’t even handle hearing ‘no’. We have all met people who, after hearing ‘no’ got mad at you. They didn’t start thinking, they didn’t investigate their own influence or responsibility, they just got mad and that’s that. Problem solved. The bearer of the word ‘no’ must be a bitch. People surround themselves with what we call in Dutch ’ja-knikkers’ meaning: ‘people who tend to always agree with you’, to avoid even more no’s and having to question yourself even less.


We can see the consequences of people not being able to accept a ‘no’ everywhere. There is a lot of violence at football fields, when the referee blows his whistle, for instance. Also fraud is happening on a much larger scale (welfare fraud, healthcare fraud, by ‘normal’ regular people). The fine lines of what’s right and what’s wrong are crossed much easier, common decency only applies to others. On every walk you take in a beautyful natural landscape, you will find rubbish, entire garbage bags left by people enjoying the countryside as well, but throwing their junk into it. And if you correct a small child who has been disrespectful, you can expect a visit from his dad, who threatens to throw a brick through your window. So the aversion to the word ‘no’ leads up to, what we call in Dutch ‘het kortje lontje’: a short fuse, getting really angry, really fast, shouting, swearing, cursing and even death threats: try putting your opinion on Twitter..! The word ‘respect’ is heard so often these days, but has become a hollow phrase. Friendships are cancelled because a critical question is too much to handle and an alarming number of young adults are pushing their boundaries, binge drinking or using substances at such an early age, actually damaging their minds. Obese children are also an example of parents not being able to say ‘no’. And try telling a smoker that they can’t smoke in your house... it is getting better, but a couple of years ago they would look at you as if you were the one who was asocial. There are enitre cultures where saying ‘no’ is so unacceptable, that people rather send you into the wrong direction, than admitting they don’t know the way (usually run by dictators, who don’t want to be contradicted). And we all know that being a ‘people pleaser’ causes a lot less ‘ripples in the ocean’ and might be an easier way of living, but there comes a time in your life when you want to be able to speak your mind. And perhaps even be appreciated for it. Telling someone ‘no’ requires ‘balls’, you need to be quite gutsy these days to speak your mind. Lots of people are rather lied to and told ‘yes’ than have to listen to or think about a ‘no’ they weren’t expecting. On social media we don’t hear a lot of no’s. It’s a lazy and self centered thing: I say something nice about you, you do as well and we all live in a plastic fantastic world. And indeed, a ‘no’ is confronting, sometimes unpleasant. But no’s are part of live and they teach you something. That’s why a ‘no’ leaves a far greater impression on you than a ‘yes’, because it is evolutionary important. It is far more important to establish your boundaries, than a pat on the back. Discipline and uprightness might be oldfashioned words, but ‘no’.., is sometimes not quite as bad as it seems. So next time someone hands you a ‘no’ and you don’t get your way, don’t discard it so fast, for you might miss a learning experience!



Fesenjan (Iranian Special Occasion Dish)* Fesenjan is special occasion food in Iran. It is traditionally made with duck or pheasant in the north of the country, along the Caspian sea. Ingredients: 1/4 cup olive oil 2 small onions, sliced thin 3 garlic cloves, minced 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg 2 1/2 cups walnuts, finely ground 2/3 cup pomegranate syrup 2 1/2 cups stock or 2 1/2 cups water 2 tablespoons sugar 1 tablespoon salt 2 teaspoons pepper 1 1/4 teaspoons saffron (optional) 2 limes, juice of 2 1/2-3 lbs bone-in poultry, of choice

How it’s done:

Heat the butter or oil over a medium heat in a large oven. Add the onions and sauté until wilted and translucent. Add the garlic, cinnamon and nutmeg and sauté, while stirring for another 1-2 minutes. Stir in the walnuts, pomegranate syrup, the stock, sugar, salt, pepper and the saffron. (Adjust sugar and salt to taste.) Bring this mixture to a low boil and let it simmer 1/2 hour. Add the chicken and let it all simmer on a low heat for another 60 minutes or more, until the oil seperates from the sauce and swims on top. Halfway through the cooking time, add the lime juice to taste. The sauce will thicken and darken during this cooking time, and the oil will begin to render out of the walnuts. Add water or stock if necessary, to prevent the sauce from thickening too much and scorching.

Additional tips: It is a thick, rich, sweet-sour dish that improves in flavor the next day! Pomegranate syrup is available in most Middle Eastern and health food stores. If it is unavailable, you can use an equal amount of frozen, concentrated cranberry juice. The flavor is roughly the same. You can use a whole bone-in chicken if you like. Cut it into 8 serving pieces and remove most of the skin. The bones will give the dish a richer flavor. Only North Iranian dishes usually include garlic. This dish will be served when you visit an Iranian family. It is just like our american potroast or stew, for example, usually cooked it in the cooler month. There is no right or wrong way to cook it too sour or too sweet. Every Iranian has a different opinion about this dish in regards to and sour or sweet. So eat it the way you like it. Total Time: 2-4 hrs 15 mins Prep Time: 15 mins Cook Time: 2-4 hrs Servings: 6-8

Bon Appetit! *If you don’t want to use a whole chicken, your favourite pieces would be fine too!

Serve with plain white rice.


Quince : the fruit of love


here is something very alluring and mys the oldest-known fruits in the world, and gods of Greek and Arabian mythology. T summer. The yellowy, golden pear-shap leaf of a mature tree.

The fruit is edible when cooked, but the tree is also ornamental qualities.

Among the ancient Greeks, the quince was a ritual offe Aphrodite and remained sacred to her. Plutarch reporte her kiss before entering the bridal chamber, “in order unpleasant” (Roman Questions 3.65). It was a quince th that Atalanta paused in her race. The Romans also used for stewing quince with honey, and even combining th

Cultivation of quince may have preceded apple cultu the fruit in Song of Songs, may have been a quince. Th The very strong perfume means they can be added in flavour. Adding a diced quince to apple sauce will enh relatively firm, tart quince. The term “marmalade”, orig the Portuguese word for this fruit

In Iran, quince is used for making jams (or as it said in cold water to make a sweet drink. This drink sometimes to make a stew (with beef stew) which is served with ri In Italy it is used as the main ingredient of some local be confused with mustard), in which quince fruit jam produce a spread that is used on boiled meat, mixed w

In Lebanon and Syria, it is called sfarjel and also used to pomegranate paste (dibs rouman) with shank meat an mince meat) and is called kibbeh safarjalieh. In Pakistan red. The resulting stewed quince, called muraba is then the fruit is available, it is a popular ingredient in a seaso and flavoured with cinnamon and other herbs and spic (Source: Wikipedia) The “Fruit of Love”: They dined on mince and slices of quince, Which they ate with a runcible spoon; And hand in hand on the edge of the sand They danced by the light of the moon. ~ “The Owl and the Pussycat,” by Edward Lear 108 ISPAHAN


sterious about the Quince. It is supposedly one of d is steeped in folklore and legend as the fruit of the The tree itself is beautiful when full of fruit in late ped fruit is set off gloriously against the dark green grown for its attractive pale pink blossom and other

ering at weddings, for it had come from the Levant with ed that a Greek bride would nibble a quince to perfume r that the first greeting may not be disagreeable nor hat Paris awarded Aphrodite. It was for a golden quince d quinces; the Roman cookbook of Apicius gives recipes hem, unexpectedly, with leeks.

ure, and many references translated to “apple”, such as he flesh of the fruit turns red after a long cooking time. small quantities to apple pies and jam to enhance the hance the taste of the apple sauce with the chunks of ginally meaning a quince jam, derives from “marmelo,”

Farsi “Morabba”). The extra syrup of jam is mixed with s served by adding lime juice. Also, Iranians use quince ice. l variants of a traditional food called mostarda (not to m is mixed with candied fruit, spices and flavorings to with cheese etc.

o make jam- Mrabba sfarjal. In Syria, quince is cooked in nd kibbeh (a Middle Eastern meat pie with burghul and n, quinces are stewed with sugar until they turn bright n preserved in jars and eaten like jam. In Morocco, when onal lamb tajine and is cooked together with the meat ces.






Victorian crystoleum - Harem scene after thecanterburyauctiongalleries

In the previous issue the dichotomy between the admiration of Oriental dancers and the classification of them not being ‘haram’ at the same time, in Egypt was discussed. This time it’s about another form of dichotomy: the Harem fantasy. The word Harem is actually derived from the word haram, meaning forbidden. The Harem was a forbidden place: a sphere of women in a polygynous household, their enclosed quarters forbidden to men. A Muslim harem does not necessarily consist solely of women with whom the head of the household has sexual relations (wives and concubines), but also their young offspring, and female relatives.

The idea of a Harem is typically associated in the Western world with the Ottoman Empire. The Imperial Harem of the Ottoman sultan, which was also called seraglio in the West, typically housed several dozen women, including wives. It also housed the Sultan’s mother, daughters and other female relatives, as well as eunuchs and slave servant girls to serve the aforementioned women. During the later periods, the sons of the Sultan also lived in the Harem until they were 16 years old, when it was considered appropriate for them to appear in the public and administrative areas of the palace. The Topkapı Harem was, in some senses, merely the private living quarters of the Sultan and his family, within the palace complex. Some women of Ottoman harem, especially wives, mothers and sisters of sultans played very important political roles in Ottoman history, and in times it was said that the empire was ruled from harem. But as interesting as that sound, a lot of women in the harem (mostly concubines) were not there out of their own free will. For the perpetuation of the Ottoman Dynasty and service to it, beautiful and intelligent slave girls either were captured in war (mainly Christian Europeans in the Balkans), recruited within the empire, or procured from neighbouring countries to become imperial concubines (Cariyes).

The concubines who were introduced into the Harem in their tender age were brought up in the disciplines of the Palace. They were promoted according to their capacities and became kalfas and ustas. The concubine with whom the Sultan shared his bed became a member of the dynasty and rose in rank to attain the status of Gözde (the Lucky), Ikbal (the Favourite) or Kadın (the Wife). The highest position herself was the Queen Mother (Valide Sultan), the mother of the Sultan, who herself used to be a concubine of the Sultan’s father and rose to the supreme rank in the Harem. No concubine could leave or enter the premises of the Harem without the explicit permission of the Queen Mother. The power of the Queen Mother over concubines even extended to questions of life and death, with eunuchs directly reporting to her. The concubines either lived in the halls beneath the apartments of the consorts, the Queen Mother and the Sultan, or in separate chambers. The kadıns, who numbered four, formed the group who came next in rank to the Queen Mother. Right below the kadins in rank were the ikbals, whose number was unspecified. Last in the hierarchy were the gözdes. The favourite consort, who was the mother of the crown prince, as well as the other kadıns, enjoyed a privileged position in the hierarchy of the harem. >> Zatzka/


It is obvious that by rising to another rank, the position of the girl would become better and she would have more power and a better position in the Harem and therefore one can imagine that there was a fierce battle between these girls. The person doing the ‘promoting’ (the Queen Mother) probably had her own bias system and girls would do their best to be on her good side. And most likely would gossip about the other girls. In short, the Harem was for a good part a snake pit.. Female intrigue and even murder occurred. Another way to rise in rank was to bear the sultan a son. But because of the mere size of the Harem, the sultan would father a lot of sons. And therefore the women of the harem would sometimes even murder the sons of other women, to give their son’s better prospects. So the Harem was not a rosy, lovely place where women would spend whole days just being pretty and make music. It was a fierce environment of jealous women, always having to be on guard, having to fear for their own lives and that of their offspring, and a lot of them slaves who were far away from home, kidnapped into a foreign culture, with no hope to ever be able to escape and make it back. Moulay Ismail, Alaouite sultan of Morocco from 1672 to 1727, is said to have fathered a total of 525 sons and 342 daughters by 1703 and achieved a 700th son in 1721. He had over 500 concubines. Ancient Egyptian pharaohs are said to have made a “constant demand” of provincial governors for more beautiful servant girls. Ashoka, the great emperor of the Mauryan Dynasty in India, kept a harem of around 500 women. Once when a few of the women insulted him, he had all of them burnt to death. In Mexico, Aztec ruler Montezuma II, who met Cortes, kept 4,000 concubines; every member of the Aztec nobility was supposed to have had as many consorts as he could afford. Harem is also the usual English translation of the Chinese language term hougong, “the palaces behind.” Hougong are large palaces for the Chinese emperor’s consorts, concubines, female attendants and eunuchs. The women who lived in an emperor’s hougong sometimes numbered in the thousands. In 1421, Yongle Emperor ordered 2,800 concubines, servant girls and eunuchs who guarded them to a slow slicing death as the Emperor tried to suppress a sex scandal, which threatened to humiliate him.


olygyny A lot of recent studies show that polygamy (the most common form of polygyny) is not a very successful partnership form. If you look at the different forms of partnership from the viewpoint of ‘which form is best to raise children’, polygamy is not a very successful one and the monogamous relationship seems to do best. From the viewpoint of raising children safely, what the child needs is a save place to live, food and care to develop and become an adult (who than can in return aid his/her parents in their old age).

Since polygamy very often tends to enhance jealousy between the wives, one being the favourite, the children are not save. And the women are not save, either.


Giulio Rosati (1858–1917) ‘The harem dance’


he boys of the Harem

The Ottoman harem was often called “the golden cage”. After Ahmed III’s reformation of the law of succession to Ottoman throne and decline of sancağa çıkma (system with young princes working as governors of distant cities in order for them to learn how to rule a country), male princely heirs began to live in a part of the palace that was called kafes, which translates as “cage” from Ottoman Turkish. Here the princes had to live in seclusion until they were either executed so as not be a threat to the crown prince, or be released once they became sultans. This change had a very negative effect on quality and abilities of later Ottoman sultans. So we have established that Harems were not very peaceful places, were women are bathing and making themselves pretty. So why do we have this fascination with them? The institution of the harem exerted a certain fascination on the European imagination, especially during the Age of Romanticism, and was a central trope of Orientalism in the arts, due in part to the writings of the adventurer Richard Francis Burton. Many Westerners falsely imagined a harem as a brothel consisting of many sensual young women lying around pools with oiled bodies, with the sole purpose of pleasing the powerful man to whom they had given themselves. Much of this is recorded in art from that period, usually portraying groups of attractive women lounging nude by spas and pools. >>



centuries-old theme in Western culture is the depiction of European women forcibly taken into Oriental harems – evident for example in the Mozart opera Die Entführung aus dem Serail (“The Abduction from the Seraglio”) concerning the attempt of the hero Belmonte to rescue his beloved Konstanze from the seraglio/harem of the Pasha Selim; or in Voltaire’s Candide, in chapter 12 of which the old woman relates her experiences of being sold into harems across the Ottoman Empire.

Much of Verdi’s opera Il corsaro takes place in the harem of the Pasha Seid - where Gulnara, the Pasha’s favourite, chafes at life in the harem, and longs for freedom and true love. Eventually she falls in love with the dashing invading corsair Corrado, kills the Pasha and escapes with the corsair - only to discover that he loves another woman. And it did not stop there. Hollywood builded on this romanticized idea in many, many movies. The Harem was a male fantasy: a bunch of (always) very beautiful women, laying around in seductive poses, barely clothed at their disposal. Willingly. And there was always a dancer. The dancer seemed also very willingly to be dancing for the sultan (does not every man wishes to be a sultan? ;-) and simultaneously stripping their clothes of, one by one.. the dance of the seven veils, thus indicating being ready for sex...

Marlene Dietrich in Kissmet

More Jean-Léon Gérôme paintings here: Dianne Hofmeyr on the Tokapi Harem (Blog): http://the-history-girls.blogspot. nl/2012/11/the-harem-dianne-hofmeyr. html information: Wikipedia


Jean-Léon Gérôme


Albert Einstein: There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.

Š 2012 Kashka 116 ISPAHAN


[ORIENTAL] DESIGN Nina Campbell for Osborne & Little: Campaldino & Bardini wallpaper Information via: http://www.osborneandlittle. com/_brochures/ Nina_Campbell_ Autumn_2010/


Isfahan Carpet Information via: com/product-tp/117452896/ISFAHAN_ CARPET.html Isfahan by Andrew Martin Fabrics, via: fabric/detail/andrew-martin-fabrics/inventor/isfahan/

Persian Garden Fabric, ‘Isfahan Tulip’ Information via: Persian Classics Isfahan Green Round Traditional Oriental Rug - 5’3 Round, via: ISPAHAN 119

Do you like keeping a journal? Or need a new Agenda.. My new favorite web site: product/1/full


‘Enchanted Dolls’ Dunyazade, for sale via: http://www.enchanteddoll. com/blog/?p=2217 Mukhallat Dehan Al Oudh Moattaq - Arabian Perfume Oil, by Ajmal (for him) category25_28/product420/ product_info.html Persian Slippers, custom made.. information via: http://www.enchanteddoll. com/shoes/shoes.html



05 / 06 April


Maastricht (NL) is in the race to become Europe’s Capital of Culture 2018. Part of this event will be the Euregional Dance Platform VIA 2018, an idea developed by the City of Maastricht and the Euregio, and realised by the Maastricht Theater aan het Vrijthof (theatre). Mieke Verhooren, founder and leader of Dance work shop INAZUMA (Butoh dance), conceived the idea of developing a dance production that brings together a number of different dance disciplines as well as a variety of cultures. Her Butoh dancers will interact with Modern Ballet dancers and Musicians, around the theme of modern communication and individuality versus interaction, human contact and warmth.

For this project, we are looking for (small and big) sponsors! Do you love dance/ performing arts and are you willing to support us, please contact Mieke, for more info: / Mieke Verhooren is Butoh dancer and teacher/coach creative skills. She studied pedagogy and Dance & Movement Expression (Labantechniques) in Amsterdam and specialised in Butoh. In her Dance atelier INAZUMA in Maastricht (NL) she teaches (lessons and workshops) Butoh, she also teaches workshops and masterclassed throughout the region and performs regularly as a solo artist and/ or with her students.


<< Your festival could be presented here!! For more info please e-mail: ISPAHAN 123

A little Inspiration





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Alhambra Cuff (MAD Museum Store) by Stella Flame

Scarabee (in gold, silver and rosĂŠ) html Shower curtain Isfahan by Nicole Miller Earrings Circle Drop Filigree Earrings by Jane Diaz (MAD Museum Store) Cookbook Cardemom and Lime (Recipes from the Arabian Gulf ) by Sarah Al-Hamad Review: Available on Amazon (amongst others)



This page: Fashion Photoshooting in the Desert of Sakkara Egypt, for Mona Dolores Fashion. Modells: Ingrid, Chocolaata,Pierrine (France)


This page: Zoom Zoom (Dancer from Paris ) reproduction รก la Vaslav Nijinsky




NDRE: “The world of 1001 Nights is a beautiful accessory that formes a frame work, so to speak and represents a beautiful ‘other’ world, in which the artist/

dancer feels cosy and comfortable for some time and creates a alternate Identity to run free with...


nd since this feeling is, unfortunately, quite limited in time, there is the wonderful art of photography: to capture this moment for eternity. sually though, the main desire dancer who pose for me have, is. to get their art across, to showcase their dance for flyers and Internet presentations.

But if so desired, I fulfill her wishvery happily: I have 1001 accessories for this use. Bedouin tents,Decorations, props, carpets, veils and much more...!”


This page: Mustapha & Anja (Germany) Opposite page: Dunyazade (Germany)


This page: Vanessa (12 years old) Germany



This page: Asena (Turkey) Opposite page: Chocolaata (France)



This page: Mia Shaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;uri (Puerto Rico), winner of Raks Sharqi competition of Leyla Jouvana Festival 2013 Opposite page: Prince Erkan Serce (Famous Turkish Dancer, Singer and TV Star) Cologne (Germany)




This page: Oriental Divas (Switserland) Opposite page: Majodi (Dancer from Paris )


This page: Storyteller (shot at a Middle Ages/ Oriental Market)



Would you like to create y Andre Elbing will be glad Photopgrapher. He is also a of course - Andre can be Tel:+49-(0)2207 703 007 Fax: +49-(0)2207 703 006 Mobil:+49(0)171 777 67 16 Skype: Sultan-von-Samarkand Email: 144 ISPAHAN

This page: Vicky & Ahmed (Germany)

your very own 1001 Nights fantasy? to fulfill your wishes, as a true ‘genie’ available for entirely different photoshoots.. reached via:


The soft smell of roses...



‘Fakhrul Arab’ (Pride of the Arabs)

by Haramain left:

‘Mukhallat Al Manasek’ by Haramain bottom left:

‘Rania’ by Rasasi right:

‘Esraa Oil’ by Rasasi


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ISPAHAN Magazine 5  

ISPAHAN Magazine: an Oriental Dance Glossy. Winter issue.

ISPAHAN Magazine 5  

ISPAHAN Magazine: an Oriental Dance Glossy. Winter issue.