Will the Real Cleopatra Please Stand Up

Dec 6th 2011

Perhaps she didn’t really take her bath in asses’ milk. Maybe she didn’t dissolve a pearl in her wine cup to impress Julius Caesar with the abundant richness of her country. And she did not meet him by emerging from a rolled-up rug at his feet. (It was actually a hemp bag, carried by a servant, in a daring ruse to bypass palace guards who were out to kill her.) The real persona was much more fascinating than the legend.

Cleopatra, queen of Egypt, waged a brutal civil war, assassinated two siblings to keep her throne secure, and had sex with two of the most prominent Romans of the day. Her royal barge included a gym, library, shrine, baths, and an aquarium; her palace glittered with onyx, garnet and gold. Her country’s agricultural output was the breadbasket of the ancient world. She was a living goddess to her own people, and ruling queen of the most fabulously wealthy nation in the Mediterranean. Continue reading...

Who is This Man?

Dec 1st 2011

Who recognizes the man in this drawing? He was the ultimate showman, known all over the country, featured on dozens of album covers, and followed religiously by his own set of devoted groupies. He trained a host of dancers, including my first teacher, Adonna, and settled for only their best.

Although some of the album covers were hopelessly corny by today’s standards, his presentation and showmanship were timeless and right on target. The recordings are still backing dancers’ performances today. Continue reading...

Improv with Intention! - Aurel’s latest workshop at Ancient Art Studios, Berkley, MA

Nov 16th 2011

It’s a scary idea, improvising. Sounds like you’ve got to make something up on the spot, with a whole bunch of people watching. And worse - with a live band!

Aurel at Ancient Art Studios had a different idea, and taught a workshop about it. Continue reading...

A Joy Forever

Nov 1st 2011

I stood at the bottom of the Spanish Steps, Rome swirling all around me in a sunny Italian summer. Tourists strolled, vendors were everywhere, hustling a range of goods from gorgeous fine art to plastic rosary beads and brandy in fake 13th century bottles. And suddenly, there she was. A woman in a painting, looking right at me, leaning slightly back on a pillow, balancing her pearls delicately between her fingers. I felt I knew this woman. She spoke to me. I couldn’t take my eyes off her.

I had been stopped in my tracks. I walked on, doubled back, looked at the painting again. I chatted with the artist, checked the price. I loved it. But operating on a travel budget, I hadn’t planned to spend money on something like that. I produced a million reasons why I shouldn’t buy it. I didn’t need it, I couldn’t afford it, it would be awkward to manage on the plane, my funds were slated for other things. Continue reading...

Quickies: The Freddy Elias Ensemble

Oct 7th 2011

Here are some quick sketches I did of the Freddy Elias Ensemble while they were playing at Melina's Moody Street Circus family reunion concert. Melina Melinda Pavlata, her mom, the internationally famous Rhea of Athens, and Melina's sister Piper, all danced to the live music of Freddie, Mike Gregian and the Kokoras brothers, Nicky and George, and tunes from their latest album, "Elegant Music for Bellydance." Then, we couldn't help it, we all got up and danced, too. If I keep working on these drawings, maybe I'll eventually get a bigger picture, which I would really like to do. It takes a million sketches to get something that doesn't look like it took a million sketches.

Above: Freddy and Mikey Gregian mixin' it up Continue reading...

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