November 10, 2007


The magic carpet ride continues. I am in Banda Aceh once again, but let's rewind a moment...How did I get back here after two years?
For the past two months I have been on tour, dancing and teaching throuhout Asia. The first stop was Seoul, Korea. My friend and fellow dancer, Gino organized workshops and classes in both Seoul and Jeju Island, in the south end of the peninsula. Although Belly dance is relatively new to Korea, the dancers are quite proficient. Their hand movements are really graceful, because of the hands in traditional Korean dance.
The most amazing treats were "Jinjelban". You pay the equivalant of ten dollars, and enter an area of hot and cold pools and saunas. After that, the men and women join together and enter mineral lined saunas, each with their own healing properties: Crystal, jade, sulphur, etc. line the walls. They are open 24 hours and people often spend the night, so there are lots of snoring bodies laying about. Also open 24 hours are the "Massage by Blind" centers where you drop in at any hour and adept blind men give great massages.
Korean food is the most gourmet, as well as unusual and unidentifiable that I have tasted. I wasn't so sure about biting into a sea slug or chomping on a bowl full of chicken anuses, but everything else was amazing!
Next stop: Shanghai.
Wow! The Isis Bellydance Club has 1200 students with branches all over this gargantuan city. Shanghai is a mix of Jetsons style modern fantasy buildings with traditional Chinese, European colonial, and a combination of the two architectural styles.
The hospitality and food in Shanghai were really a treat. Each afternoon and evening, I was treated to two hour communal meals with a wide array of unidentified and delicious dishes swirling about on a lazy susan. We toured the culinary delights of Shanghai, Canton, Schezuan, and Xinjiang.
You can see some samples of the evening performance on Just type in the name Tamalyn Dallal. You can also see teachers from the Isis Club perform- Sophie and Estelle. Beautiful! I got a great write up in the Shanghai Daily. Log onto
Hong Kong was next on the agenda. The city invited me and a tribal dancer, Susan Frankovich from California to take part in the opening of the Mediterranean Festival, which involved two weeks of performances and workshops. They made a giant back drop for one of the stages with our photos blown up to hypersize. and we shared the stage with Hong Kong's own Mey Jen and the Oasis Dance Co., as well as Flamenco dancer Clara Ramona, who was flown in from the Phillipines along with her musicians.
As the sky grew dark, the Hong Kong skyline behind us came alive with lights as each building collaborated in the most outragious light show on earth: Multicolored lasers lit the sky, and animated multicolored characters danced across the buildings.
Of course, the best part is Hong Kong itself. I had the pleasure of showing Susan all of my favorite haunts and introducing her to my friends. There is nothing like a hike (yes, there is hiking in Hong Kong) across Lamma Island, a lush green paradise that one must take a boat to get to. Around every corner is a surprise, farms, views overlooking a sea of sampans, tiny villages, and lots of great local food along the way.
Onward to Singapore, and Samra's Pyramid Dance School. Singapore is a lively, pastel painted city where everything is in order, tidy, but not so dull as the islands pristine reputation would suggest. All events were held in "Kampong Glam", the traditional Muslim quarter where streets have names like "Ali Baba", "Arab Street", and "Kandahar". A big mosque dominates the area and old shophouses offer beautifully sequinned and embroidered textiles, Persian carpets, Turkish lamps, and of course,Samras bellydance store with everything sparkly.
Singapore is alive with three cultures, Malay, Indian, and Chinese, as well as four religions: Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity, following their traditions peacefully side by side. Of course, the food is out of this world! Every neighborhood has at least one "Hawkers center", like very exotic food courts where you can share plates of all of the above delicacies.
Although Indonesia might be mistaken for one big traffic jam (too many cars and not enough infrastructure), it is a highlite of this trip. I have been revisiting the people from my book: If you haven't gotten this far in "40 Days and 1001 Nights", please take the book and start reading it....Incredibly, one Indonesian woman bought the book and read it all in one night! She was awake enough to to talk about all the people and places with me the next morning.
I gave a talk and showed the book and film at the Islamic University in Bandung, where Mr. Bambang, the Islamic lecturer written about in my book teaches. Everywhere I went, he proudly exclaimed that "Tamalyn is a bellydancer who wants to help America understand that the Muslim world is more than what they see on the news." I ended up bellydancing everywhere we went as well, but in quite covered attire. People were very receptive and showered me with flowers and gifts.
In Jakarta, Indonesias over sized metropolis, Christine Yaven has really made her mark, introducing the art of belly dancing to her country. She now has a beautiful school and while I was there she sent dancers to explain about the dance on national television, lectured and taught movements for post natal women, and organized shows in neighboring cities.
Two decadent days were spent at the posh but very affordable Javana Spa. We were treated by massages, body wraps, facials, and the like. We hope to be able to organize an Indonesian Belly dance- spa retreat for next October- Will keep you posted.
Now, I am in Banda Aceh, meeting up with the folks at FBA and discovering even more talented local musicians and dancers. I'll save that for the next installment.
Until then, enjoy the book. If you don't have it yet, log onto and press "Buy Now".
Tamalyn Dallal

The book is available, "40 Days and 1001 Nights", One Woman's Dance Through Life in The Islamic World, by Tamalyn Dallal
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