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"I'M EXCITED!"

Interview with
Princess Farhana

by Marcel Bieger

"A short time ago, Her Royal Highness, Princess Farhana, deigned to write to us about her life. But a short time before her appearance in Munich, Germany, we wish  to know some more things, like what will she show on stage, what  awaits students in her work shops, since when is "burlesque" en vogue again, and what about her own line of costumes, and, and, and ... so why don't you take a look for yourself ... "
Can you tell us something about the burlesque scene in the US?

There has been a thriving burlesque scene in America since the mid-1990s, and it’s still growing. I was an original member and featured performer in the America’s first neo-burlesque ensemble, The Velvet Hammer Burlesque, which was founded by Michelle Carr in 1995, spearheading the  burlesque revival in the USA … now, it seems like there are burlesque troupes everywhere in America.

The Velvet Hammer lasted for thirteen years … we had three documentary films made about the company, as well as a coffee table book called “The Velvet Hammer Burlesque”, which was released by a German publishing house, Die Gestalten, in 2008.

Many of the  top international  burlesque performers based in the USA started with the Velvet Hammer, like Miss Dirty Martini, Kitten DeVille, World Famous Bob, The Poubelle Twins (beautiful identical twins who also do Lucha Libre, masked Mexican wrestling) Julie Atlas Muz, Kate Valentine, and myself.

The  new movie “Burlesque” with Cher and Christina Aguilera is making burlesque even more popular with the general public, but  the  performers and fans in the burlesque scene are kind of disappointed with it, because it’s not an accurate portrayal of the genre.

As a “cross over artist” (which suits you better than “fusion” or “fantasy” artist) what do you think about “Tribal Fusion” – are there any similarities between them and you?

Even I’m not even sure what to call myself! I’m a belly dancer and a burlesque dancer, but under the belly dance umbrella I do neo-classic Egyptian style, American Cabaret style, Gothic Belly dance, lots of different folkloric dances from the Middle East and North Africa, sword dancing, and various vintage/fusion oriental styles … and as for burlesque, I do classic American Burlesque, fan dancing, conceptual/theatrical burlesque, was an assistant in two different precision bullwhip acts, and  also some comedy sketch dances! And during a recent belly dance set in Las Vegas, I got sawed in half by a magician in the middle of the show! So … I usually just say “dancer”. 

I love Tribal and Tribal Fusion, and I work at a lot of Tribal/Fusion events, especially Tribal Fest, where I have taught and performed for seven years in a row. I think that even though I don’t have a Fat Chance Belly Dance, pure Tribal background that I share a lot of similarities with straight-up Tribal Fusion dancers, mainly a love for creativity, making something new, and thinking outside of the box.
Please tell us something about your instructional DVDs, what’s the idea behind this project (and where can an European dancer buy them?)

I have been making instructional/performance DVD’s since 2003. I co-produced eleven of my own, and also have appeared on many performance DVDs put out by Hollywood Music Center and Cheeky Girls productions.

 My instructional DVDs  cover a variety of topics, one is all abdominal/muscular movements, three are instruction for sword dancing, there is a burlesque one, a fan dancing one … you can buy them directly from my site www.princessfarhana.com or from www.amazon.com or from www.hollywoodmusiccenter.com or from www.aladdinscave.com

I have performed in Egypt, France, Spain, Switzerland, Portugal, Belgium, toured all over the United Kingdom four times, Canada, Mexico, and all across America, including Alaska and Hawaii. By the time I get to Munich, I will have also performed in Finland and Estonia. I have been to Germany twice, but never danced there, I’m excited! And I love Munich, I spent a lot of time there, years ago - what a beautiful city!

What can we expect, when you perform in Munich?

When I perform in Munich, I am planning on doing a theatrical vintage oriental fusion piece, based on dancers from the turn of the last century, like Mata Hari. The music I use for that was recorded in Istanbul in 1925. Although I will have a cabaret costume with me too, so ... Maybe I will do two sets? Not sure!


What unbelievable things will students see at your work shops, why are they a once in a lifetime occasion?

The students in my work shops I hope will have fun! We usually laugh a lot, I love a fun, open class. But by the next morning, they will be cursing my name because their abdominal muscles will be so sore!

My line of costumes will be making its debut at the end of the summer, 2011. It’s “Princess Farhana ForKing Of The Nile”. I joined forces with Egyptian costumer Yaz Taleb, from King Of The Nile. When I was in Cairo last year, we started working. Originally, he’d asked me where my unique costumes came from, and when I told him I made them, he offered me a partnership as a designer. It was a dream come true because, I’d always wished I could have what they have in Egypt - a whole staff of people making my designs, and beading them! When I was in Cairo, I was leading a tour of 17 belly dancers, and teaching and performing at Ahlan Wa Sahlan, and then, like, running over to Yaz’s to work on the proto-types … it was pretty crazy!

The first collection will include some hand-beaded hip scarves and some class wear I designed, and  five belly dance costumes, all based on my own antique-looking self-made costumes, with elements of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. They will be created each with a few color options, and some with glittery stones, others with Assuit and coins. A couple of the designs will be straight-up cabaret, but three of them will be suitable for that OR fusion - I wanted the collection to be diverse. Yaz was just here in Los Angeles and we finalized some new sketches, a couple of the prototypes are already finished, and they came out amazing!

PRINCESS FARHANA IN MUNICH: Feb. 12th - Feb. 13th 2011
PRINCESS FARHANA'S HOMEPAGE:
Would you mind telling us something more about your fashion line, other than is already mentioned above?
You are starting a tour through China, where else abroad have you performed already?
www.princessfarhana.com
Photos ©: 1 "the Silvas", 2 Don Spiro, 3 Michael Baxter, 4 Maharet Bryant
Graphic und Layout: Konstanze Winkler
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