Marv and Olouse

Marv and Olouse
Bandon, OR. 1981?

Friday, November 30, 2012

Very early on we started running the troupe like a band, with regular rehearsals twice a week, three times if we were working in new material and getting ready for a tour. It evolved to where we had a repertoire of a certain number of pieces that we did for the year and we mixed and matched for the various shows we had contracted. Some sets leaned toward the more educational, ethnic side and others were flat out belly dance designed for taverns, bars, rock 'n' roll. We rehearsed as a full group, musicians and dancers, because when the dancers weren't dancing they were part of the band, and eventually, the musicians danced too. About the middle of our 10 year active run, we added singing. John Zeretzke's incredible ability to play several instruments really added to our ability to explore different music from a wider variety of countries. Some of the experiments were more popular than others, some dances were favorites of the group and some that were audience winners were loosers in our minds. We had a whole set of troupe language and set phrases that meant nothing to anyone but us...I guess you could say we were tribal, but the intention to be a "tribal dance troupe" was never conscious. It just evolved. Below are some rehearsal pictures. However, the first one is called 'The boys in the hall". It is a companion piece to "The girls in the hall". Both were taken at the Western Washington State Fair in Puyallup. We played there 2 years in a row, parking our bus at the back with the other carnival caravans, which we thought was wonderful. One evening after the show we came back to the bus to find the aisle occupied by a life sized wooden cut out cow. Randy the Roadie just couldn't resist.
This last one is Marj at the Fair with her new sword!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Screwing around, on stage, off stage, back stage, on the bus, in general.
Girls in the hall, Puyallup Fair, early 80's

Janet and Lani on the bus

Outdoor show? On one of the islands? Help?
The Ladies

On the street, Eugene, OR

Pt. Roberts
Setting up in 105 degrees, Banning, CA

The Bousaadettes with the Atlantics, political rally, Maple Ridge, B.C. Canada

Candle Dance done with masks (Jennifer and Yasmela)by Shayla
Algerian with Sahira and Yasmela

Drum Dance by Cassima

Jennifer started taking flamenco classes from Maestro Teo Morca and wanted to incorporate that into her dancing. We read a little about Zambra Mora and saw some Rom dancing from Spain. From that, she and John worked up a routine. He learned a Romanian violin piece and she choreographed this piece that used shawl work. It was quite good!
We did group publicity photos from the very beginning of the troupe. I found some of the originals, in fact, I found the very first one where we built a tent of Inidan bedspread tapestries from the 1960's, put some props in it and had a friend take some shots. Carol Fulcher and I are standing on the left in back. Muz, Marty and Steven Brown are the musicians, and CeCe and Jennifer are lounging in front.
Obviously we got a little more sophisticated at this process. We started selecting two shots a year, one on the ethnic side, one in more cabaret style poses so we could supply our employer with the appropriate shot. This one was taken before Marj retired. I always liked this shot and even have it in color, although printing 81/2x11 color photos was cost-prohibitive back in the day. We could never justify printing them up to actually use, so they sit in my box of photos, looking nice.
And this one was done right after she left when Gwynne Stutzman actually moved to this side of the mountains to join the troupe! Both of these are "ethnic". We tried to mix it up. For more educational shows we presented several folkloric dances with program sheets or real full on programs that gave a little history about the dances and areas they came from. At bars and taverns, nightclubs and such, the shows showed more skin, were more "rock n roll". We were a Rock n Roll Belly Dance Troupe.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

It's hard to do the troupe chronologically. The best I can do is done with a faulty memory, my memory, so I hope anyone who remembers better or differently, will chime in and share theirs. Once we had the bus painted and primed, John Zeretzke and Muzzy worked on the interior. They installed a long couch with a lifting seat that served as the storage area for our sound board and light cords, lights and miscellaneous equipment including rolls of duct tape. Four bunks, 2 on each side of the aisle, were built in the area behind the couch and before the hatch. There was a side door and an overhead hatch area in the middle of the bus that held a rack for costumes, shelving for props and storage for the backdrop and stand. Behind that were four more bunks, one on the bottom with a slide out platform that made a double bed for Muzzy and me. All the bunks had curtains for privacy and storange underneath for suitcases and make up bags. The cozy bunks were pesonalized with hanging net bags for snacks and books and whatever. At the front of the bus, two double seats faced one another with a table inbetween. On the passenger side, a double seat faced the front door well. Long overhead shelves stored a stereo, tapes, books and the cribbage board. A small refrigerator for water, juice, etc. completed the living room. It was Marj who invented the Golden Griddle Syrup water bottles we used on stage. She even made decorative glittery covers for them! She was the first of us to have a serger sewing machine. The bus was deluxe, a rolling hotel. John Zeretzke joined us when Jon Parry decided to return to his first love, country fiddle playing. As we bid goodbye to Hank Ababa, John, Al Tamiz, was an excellent addition. We found him stowed away one night after an infamous Pete's Tavern gig. As we pulled up to unload, John leapt out of the back, eagerly helping us unload, and overwhelming us by his entusiasm.
Muzzy says we got involved with the NCAA, the National College Arts Association, after a suggestion by Kevin Mijkut at Western Washington University. It was a group that block booked entertainment for colleges throughout the US. There were regional conventions held every year. Acts applied to showcase and have a promotional booth, and then booked shows with colleges. For our first showcase, held in Spokane, WA, Cecelia, John, Muzzy and I booked a room in the Davenport Hotel where the convention was held. We went over first to get checked in. The next day the rest of the troupe caravaned over from west of the mountains with the equipment. We all stayed in one hotel room. After our successful 20 minute showcase, we manned the booth and started booking contracts for our first long tour. Once we had a few anchor colleges booked, we filled in the time by contacting local dancers in the area and soliciting their help in securing gigs in restaurants, taverns, small halls. We also offered workshops to the communities of dancers. By doing this, it was viable to be on the road for one to three weeks, playing every day in a town close enough to drive to from the last show. It also meant we had to produce publicity materials, including a logo, blank flyers, publicity suggestions, tech sheets and contracts. Whew! It was a business. All of this was done before computers, cell phones, and even fax machines. We worked out set lists, one for restaurants and taverns, one for colleges and families, either one long set or 2 shorter ones with intermission. Our format was worked out in those first three years and it was the one we followed, with tweaks, for the life of our troupe.
CeCe and me at the Davenport Hotel, Spokane, WA 1978?
And yes, we sold T-shirts too!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

I wrote a piece about the Bou-Saada Bus for The Gilded Serpent. You can find it at I won't reiterate that article here nor repost those photos. However, there is always more to tell. The Wet Paint Bus generously lent to us by the band of the same name, got us on our first mini tour.
Upon return, we decided we needed our own bus. There were eight of us, plus, at times, children, dogs, equipment, costumes, etc. Taking several cars was impractical, expensive, and could lead to all kinds of delays with people not showing up on time for the gig, cars breaking down, getting lost. A bus would take us all together, all of our equipment and costumes, and could even provide a place to sleep, thus cutting down costs and simplifying logtistics. I don't think any of us expected to make a living from touring, but we didn't want to have to pay to do it. And, bands had tour buses, we were a band, of sorts, why not us? So Muzzy and Marty drove to the bus graveyard down by Tacoma and found our 1952 Kenworth Pacific bus for $500. It had a 30 gallon gas tank that didn't get us very far down the road before we had to refill, so our Roadie at the time, Gary Pagano, and Muzzy, welded on and wired up an extra 100 gallon tank. Once it was all working, we always started out with the 100 gallon tank first. Switching to the 30 gallon while underway was always an adventure because the bus coasted for a while before the new tank engaged. We went on one tour with the bus it's original yellow school bus color. You can't run a bus legally with "School Bus" on it unless it is, so we painted out the S and h and it was a "C ool Bus". After that trip, we organized a pot luck for the troupe and friends, handed out yellow rain gear, and had a wet-sanding party in the rain.
When the bus was adequately sanded, we found an empty warehouse down by the Fairhaven boat yard, rented a compressor and painting equipment, and painted the body beige and chocolate. At the peril of starting a fire in the old wooden boatshed, we ran flood lights for 24 hours to dry the paint.
A good friend and graphic artist,Marilyn Bennett, painted a winged Egyptian symbol of longevitiy above the front windows. An orangey red sun dominated the center of two Isis wings. Green snakes curved on either side of the sun. Along both sides of the bus body, just below the windows, Marilyn lettered "Bou-Saada Dance Troupe" in rich chocolate with silver accents. On the back, the name was repeated with Bellingham, WA beneath it. It was a sight to behold!

Friday, November 23, 2012

This was our fantasy version of a "Basket Dance". Kelleen was tiny, barely 5 feet tall, and quite light. Marty and Muzzy carried out the basket and set it on the side of the stage for a couple of dances while she crouched inside. Then they set the basket in the center of the stage and Kelleen came out...
This was our first double sword dance. Cecelia and I had matching swords, before we got the ones we had later. They were elegant from a distance, but clunky and not well balanced. Because we couldn't come to an agreement who would be the permanent sword dancer, we compromised by turning it into a double. I think this was taken at a show in Olympia and I think Carol Fulcher may have been with us in the background, but I could be mistaken. This photo was from a group of large black and whites taken by a newspaper who reviewed our show. Steven Brown was our first violinist.
Me, Yasmela in one of my first pieces of assuit cloth. Taken at Pt. Roberts in 1975. This became an annual show for us, the first week of August, up in Pt. Roberts, WA, a unique point of land that can only be reached by going into Canada and around and back down into the US. This was a much beloved weekend fair. Every year we camped up there with fellow performers, artisans, families and friends. We entertained during the day and at night we got together and played music, camped on the beach. Every single year for 10 years, the Orca whales came through the narrow channel right off the beach, breaching and playing. Luckily (and somehow magically), they never came during our performance. When they were sited, cries went up and everyone rushed to the shore to watch the mystical spectacle of the summer migration. We all felt blessed to see them.
I did my first large performance at Brooks Hall in San Francisco, an International Folkdance Festival, as a member of Nakish's Troupe in 1973. I thought being the Glass Dancer would be easier than trying to figure out how to move around the floor with my limited repertoire. I grossly underestimated the skill it takes to hold an audience while balancing on three water glasses and waving my arms around. This photo was taken at the first Fairhaven Salmon Barbeque in Bellingham's Southside Hippie Haven. I have another photo that Muzzy took of the crowd. It's nice to have those shots now because all of that land, that open land, is gone. As a side note, we took the Glasses Dance to a pinnacle of wonder that I have yet to see equaled. Hee hee hee. And Muzzy took a lot of photos of the crowd from the stage.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Back row, Jon Parry, Marty Saltzman, Cenguiz, Muzzy, Mustapha Center, Cassima, Yasmela, Alia Front Kelleena, Sahira
Victoria Peacock, 1975
Cecelia Comartin, Cassima, Shelley Muzzy, Yasmela, The Greenhouse, Bellingham, WA 1975
Kelleen O'Brien, Kelleena, Jennifer McIntyre, Sahira, Marj Staples, Alia, Cassima, Yasmela and violinist, Jon Parry, 1975