~~ Monkey Mumblings ~~

~ An occasional account of Monkey Mayhem and Magic amid mere mortal dancers ~


March 10, 2004

'Papier Mache...' Never has a phrase been whispered by a Monkey been filled with such dread and hysteria! OK, maybe not never - but never before 8pm or so on that particular day. Our rehearsals have been so entertaining lately, we have been quoting ourselves to our own delight and laughing uproariously - now isn't that what FUN is all about? We are all so entertainingly perfect in our glass houses... 'Now just hand me that fur covered rock over there.'

Oh yeah, and we've actually got new material developing quickly. Not just for performance, but inspired content for the website, and of course the 'Making Of the Monkeys' video. I sure hope that features the choreographic technique we will never do without again: Duck Transference Technology. You'll have to wait for the movie, I'm afraid...

~ Javarah

February 17, 2004

Holidays, travelling and website outages - O My! The Monkeys collectively decided a break was needed, so we're focussing our efforts on the Showcase in April. But where would we be without our Monkeys? We meet every week currently - and that's pretty low pressure. I think last night's rehearsal at Aviva's was 2/3 chit-chat, rehashing old jokes and enjoying a luscious meal. Now THAT'S what I call rehearsing!!

Of course, we all get the performance bug weekly, so there have been several "what about this event that's happening BEFORE April" conversations... Somehow sanity strikes [unfair!], because we've managed to stay in rehearsal for 2 months so far. Good Monkeys... Good Monkeys!

In the works, and without giving too much away: time travel, prosthetic devices and more great music than you can shake your tail at!

~ Javarah

December 27, 2003

How much fun was playing Monkey version of the Rockettes? TOO MUCH FUN! We got a lot of great 'press' from our entracte performances in Penguin's South Pole Christmas, not the least of which was from ArtsWest's Artistic Director, Michael Harris. He brought us in twice as 'special guest artists' for the annual Voices of Christmas event ~ an absolute thrill for us!

Hot on the Christmas trail, despite Monkey travel to the corners of the country, were several private event performances. We're looking forward to an awesome 2004. First off - a short break from too many performances. We're ready to dive into some of the mayhem we began last year that hasn't been fit for public consumption yet.

Awww! Aaaaww! EEEEeeee! Eeeee! Happy New Year from the Fuzzy Monkeys!

~ Javarah

November 19, 2003

I'm directing the Monkeys among others in Penguin's South Pole Christmas. I'm directing, choreographing and performing in this show. All of this on top of a year of extreme personal stress and high emotions. Not perhaps the wisest choice but there you have it. The Monkeys keep me grounded firmly in who I am, what I enjoy, who I love and why I'm here. They bail me out when my creative juices can only get us as far as the bigger artistic picture and the actual steps are a mystery. Thank goodness I have them. Here's my director's note for the program, that pithy and pretentious section where the director tries to convince the audience that the show has a deeper meaning:

"The holidays are a tough time of year. Under the twinkly shine of lights, tinsel and cheerful music lies a pressure to make everything perfect. The perfect gift, the perfect family gathering, the perfect holiday experience. Perfect, of course, as defined by TV, movies and other media sources as well as our own nostalgic rose-colored memories of the holidays when we were children.

"Welcome to Penguin's South Pole where the families and holidays are not perfect. We are definitely different holiday fare. But maybe we will encourage you to peek back at traditions from your own life and to invent new traditions as life throws change in your path. Continuously redefine the holidays for yourself. Forget about perfect. We aren't Dickens, Tchaikovsky, Currier & Ives, Rankin/Bass or Nordstrom. And neither are you.

"Relax and take joy with the ones you love. Happy Holidays to all."

Sure, some of the plays during the evening have deeper themes but we're a holiday show that includes a quirky bellydance troupe for goodness sake. Overall though, I gotta lighten up. More Monkey time!

~ Sanafi

November 2, 2003

After plenty of anticipated freaking out about not knowing what the stage set-up would be, all Five Monkeys kicked non-monkey butt [if I do say so myself] at Theatre Babylon's 10th Anniversary Divination Party last night!

We actually did 3 sets, had 3 costume changes, and made at least 3 last minute 'how do we deal with that globe thingy that is stapled to the floor in the center of the stage, plus the lit candles at knee level, plus the cool drapey decorations at veil level, plus all the people walking through to get to the buffet?' It was awesome - and there was, in fact, no freaking out at all. People were very cool, including all the awesome theatre supporters, and our ever-present super-Minion, Devin.

This Monkey would do multiple set shows like that every week!

~ Javarah

October 11, 2003

Prostituting Genius started up again last night, and did we have the perfect set for this venue? You bet your sweet a**. Not to give away our set... the event moved down the street from Odd Duck to Union Garage, but is still on Capital Hill, and last night in the 2nd stage space we all got to 'GO TO HELL' in a Dante's Inferno-inspired PG.

OK - I'll give away our set - we revived a crazy bit I like to think of as the Butt Suite, and some Monkeys call the T&A Set. This is what we came up with for private consumption in August, but it was too fun to keep to ourselves. 'She's a Brick House' is fairly mild, but you can't beat 'Baby Got Back' for lewdness & humor. Or for that matter - getting stuck in your head for months at a time...

Despite the KING of sound technical errors, we impressed the crowd, dressed as devilish dancers.

'...Oh my gawd, Becky - look at her butt...'

~ Javarah

September 15, 2003

2 out of 5 Monkeys performed old favorites at Emerald Sanctuary Bellydance Retreat''s private hafla. What an AWESOME event! Every dancer could benefit from the intense focus on all things dance. I don't know about anyone else, but I learned new things, was reminded of old things, and got to hang out with some terrific people at camp [my ideal lifestyle]. And you can't beat swimming in a mountain river - brrrrr.... exhilarating!

Also, by popular demand [and excessive nagging] - [not to mention we couldn't stop singing the song all weekend] - Kasima & I reprised our Festival Suite, and I discovered choreography I didn't even know was there!

~ Javarah

August 31, 2003

Totally inappropriate! Yes, we finally put on a set that went over the bellydance edge. Let's just say we're proud of our assets. Photos of Festival to follow, if they meet the censor's rating [heheh]....

We did reach a new level of interconnectedness - with just one rehearsal [where we learned our choreography]. We're having fun with some improvised group work, too - its time we learned more about ATS and regular 'fusion' bellydance. You never know where we'll go next! Hip-hop, square-dancing, flappers and we can never escape good ole funk and an excellent guitar lick.

~ Javarah

July 20, 2003

OK - we made it: MedFest! Despite trying our best to have NO rehearsals, and attempting to get at least one person stuck on an airline during the performance spot, we performed 'Peter Gunn' and some old favorites. Not sure what I think about that orange wig - it seems to have a fan club of its own. [Note: I still haven't posted a picture of it as of September...]

Fun was had. We stood up to the pressure, and of course - the Babs kick bootay for letting us go on late, so Javarah [me!] could be onstage instead of in the audience [even though I begged the Monkeys to go on without me]. Wee haw!

~ Javarah

July 3, 2003

Jim Boz told us we were dangerous and it only opened the door for us to how dangerous we could be. At rehearsal last night, we were playing around to some awesome funk from the 1980's and early 1990's and not a one of us said 'You know - this might be considered tasteless.' I can't tell you more, but consider yourself warned.

In true Monkey tradition, we're keeping relaxed about practising. We decided to revive some of our favorites for MedFest, but last night was the last rehearsal with all of us before our performance on July 20 at 2:08pm. I can't think of any other group which would be so casual... Its going to be so much fun!

~ Javarah

June 21, 2003

Saqra's showcase rocked! But that was so long ago [April?!], who can remember the details? It was thrilling to get favorable commentary from dancers we truly admire: Jim Boz, Sister Caravan & The Laughing Women, among others. I know we'll make this trek again - Saqra is an amazing person!

We revived our Disco Klezmer Rouge set for Prostituting Genius at the end of May, and - lickety-split! - turned around with a new performance three weeks later for the June PG. Last night, for the first time since our debut last August, all 5 monkeys performed together! We tested our new 'Stomp/Inchallah' treatment - now called 'Sisters Daughters Stomp Inchallah' [in my brain at least], but ended up leaving the 'Daughters' out for a later performance. Our motto: 'Don't Blink' is apparently still with us. We love short sets that are really great, rather than longer sets that are too rough - but eventually we'll stack them together into longer show.

Prostituting Genius is a great production event - on hiatus for the summer, but hopefully we'll get to participate again. Karen Milling and the rest of the group are very funny, and work exhaustively to pull together diverse acts for a great evening of entertainment. It can be hit and miss, but our friends in the audience have all enjoyed the diversity: stand-up comedy, monologs, singers & musicians, performance artists, short plays, poets, and I'm sure there are many more yet to be seen. We're glad to bring bellydance to a more 'mainstream' [OK that's a very tenuous use of the word - it is Capital Hill, after all] audience.

Tomorrow we'll find out if/when we get to perform at MedFest!!!

~ Javarah

April 7, 2003

What a busy month! We're getting down to the wire for our first out-of-state gig; AND its my first trip to Saqra's Showcase, too. We were so excited about our new 20's suite & Stomp/Inchallah, that for a moment we forgot poor Aviva is still on the mend. So to save energy & improve artistic quality, we've re-worked our first two sets: Delta Disco and Klezmer Rouge into - AT LONG LAST - a full-length [9-ish minute] program. Whew! Of course we couldn't leave the costumes alone either, and I'm looking forward to seeing the full effect at our dress rehearsal on Wednesday.

What would a Monkey Journey be with Minions? We have no less than three Mister Monkey Minions as part of the caravan to Oregon. I'm not holding my breath to see if we can get them into the Monkey Suits, though...

~ Javarah


Hi all! Our Monkey journey has been unfolding for several years [since 2000], but - as you know - we are casual in everything. Today I thought I'd start writing down exactly what goes on [in my head, anyway] as we put together our various Monkey projects. Hopefully, my sister Monkeys will be able to contribute from time to time. They are each extremely intelligent, occasionally giddy, people, so *I* certainly would enjoy reading their thoughts...

Our Aviva has been recovering recently, and I miss having her dance with us - but I know soon she'll be feeling better than she has in years and years, and I'm so glad for that! Currently we're brainstorming our project-to-be-completed for April's Showcase in Oregon. Not that we don't already have at least 15 projects partially worked through - but it has to be the right one for the moment. Sadly, only 4 of us will be Monkeying About in Oregon next month - but at least Aviva will be back with us: woo hoo!

I for one am still disappointed about our last costumes. They are awesome in person, and tragically gross in photos and video. What to do!? What to do!? It appears the rule of thumb for bellydance - that one must 'look like a clown or a whore' to have the correct amount of makeup on - must also apply to costuming. We love the idea of fancy costumes, but our focus is on dance at the moment, not construction. Where are the minion seamstresses when you need one? And that big trunk of gold, too?

It was awesome to be well-received for our short piece at Hasani's Hafla. I think our new nickname is 'Don't Blink or You'll Miss Them.' We do always have fun, whether our costumes are perfect, or not ~ and that's what it's all about!

~ Javarah