Anyone know more about this teacher?

Outi

New member
Maya in Arabic

There was an question about word "maya".

"Maya" as pronounced [maija] is "water" in Arabic.
"Meya" as [meija] is "a hundred".
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Nefertiti

Hi A'isha, I just wanted to state that my mom danced with Jodette at the Worlds fair. Her name was Nefertiti. Jodette was her first teacher and she went on to take from many others. I continue teaching in the exact same way I was taught, except for the fact I choreographed every one of the beginning moves, and a second dance to intermediate moves. It is funny, that now days, people don't dance fast like they used to. But when I watch dancers from Lebanon I find my style is still more in that area. I wanted to learn Cane dance, so I bought Jodette's Baladi tape VHF. It really was good, and I found that I picked it up so quickly because her style is still my style of dance. Just a little history for you, memories.
Dear Ankestamen,
Well, you have just made my day!! Your mother was one of the most lovely women I had ever seen, when I saw her dance in 1974. I am so happy that you wrote and tell her that she was very inspiring to at least one very new dancer, and if they had eyes in their heads, probably to many, many more!!
Regards,
A'isha
 

kalila_raks

New member
Jodette's Belly Dancing Academy

I currently take classes from Jodette. The previous poster pretty much covered all the information I have on her. The photos on her website are rather old. She must be close to 80 now, although no one knows how old she really is because she's been telling everyone she's 49 for years now. The only clue she gives as to her true age is that she says there was a large earthquake in Jordan on the day she was born, July 4. She is originally from Jordan, but she eventually moved to Cairo. Her father is Egyptian. In Cairo she did dance at Badia's nightclub. Her mentors included Badia and Tahia Karioka. She moved to the United States in 1960 after marrying an American man. She began teaching in Sacramento in 1962 out of her house in midtown Sacramento. From there she started doing workshops all over the country and eventually opened a studio. She used to own a shop in Sacramento where she designed and sold clothing, and her clients included Jimmi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. She has photographs to prove this. She started a mail order belly dance supply business which was one of the first of its kind in the United States. I think claims like "THE first" are hard for anyone to prove, but she was definately one of the first. Like another poster said, exaggeration is part of her culture. She exaggerates her compliments to others as much as her claims about herself. However, one should not allow her embellished stories cover up the fact that she does have very authentic roots and she was doing this in the United States very early on. She has also danced for and known some very famous people. Her studio is covered wall to wall with pictures of her with various stars and in various nightclubs singing and dancing.

A word about her singing career. She only sang while she was in the Middle East under the name Kamelia. She was known as Kamelia of Jordan. When she left for the United States, one of her protoges asked if Jodette would give her the rights to her songs. She agreed and the protoge also took on the name Kamelia. When Jodette moved to the United States she concentrated on her dancing and costuming. She used the name Kamelia to dance for a while, but eventually reverted back to her legal name of Jodette.

As to her rivalry with Jamilla, Jodette says that she saw Jamilla after her husband died and made peace with her. They are not close friends, but there is no longer as much animosity. Much of it was that Jodette doesn't believe that some of the things Jamilla and now Suhaila are teaching are authentic, and indeed much of their style is American inspired. She resented that Jamilla took some of the credit for being "the first" because she didn't feel Jamilla was entirely authentic. However, she has mostly let that die and simply concentrates on her own students and on Sacramento.
 

kalila_raks

New member
Addendum re Jodette's business practices

I've seen a lot of claims on this board of Jodette having less than honest business practices, but I have yet to see some specific complaints. I have dealt with Jodette for close to three years now, and I, like Ai'sha, have never had a problem with her in the business aspect of it. (Not to say we haven't had personality clashes, but I think that's bound to happen on occasion with any teacher-student relationship). I agree with Ai'sha that Jodette certainly has some practices that I think to myself "I certainly would never do it that way," but she's always very upfront about what she expects and what you can expect, and she adheres to it. The only dishonesty I've seen in my time at the studio is from some of the students. Jodette commonly starts dancers out with professional costumes with nothing more than their word that they will make payments on them. More than once I have seen dancers take a $500 costume after sometimes only paying $100 on it and walk away without paying the balance. Jodette eats the cost of this. So I would just encourage people to be careful before posting about Jodette's business practices unless you have specific first hand knowledge of them.
 

Aziyade

Well-known member
As to her rivalry with Jamilla, Jodette says that she saw Jamilla after her husband died and made peace with her. They are not close friends, but there is no longer as much animosity. Much of it was that Jodette doesn't believe that some of the things Jamilla and now Suhaila are teaching are authentic, and indeed much of their style is American inspired. She resented that Jamilla took some of the credit for being "the first" because she didn't feel Jamilla was entirely authentic. However, she has mostly let that die and simply concentrates on her own students and on Sacramento.
Thank you for posting this. It's so nice to know that they made peace!
You should encourage Jodette to post or at least write about her life so people can learn more about her! Does she have any performance videos of her style of dance, or maybe her students dancing that way? I'd love to see them!
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Jodette

Dear Kalila,
Jodette may or may not remember me, but please give her my highest regards and tell her M'a khalis al shukur, "with purest thanks", for starting me off on the right foot, so to speak in the art of Egyptian belly dance! I feel that because of her influence in my early dance days, I am able to really SEE things about the dance that I otherwise would have missed.
Regards,

A'isha
 

kalila_raks

New member
Jodette's Life

Jodette, unfortunately, does not know how to use the internet! She even has me sometimes perform simple tasks for her like emailing. Her website is maintained by somebody else. I'm not really sure who. However, there are some stories about her in the book "Belly Laughs." I think you can get it on Amazon. She also has books that she has made that Ai'sha mentioned that are compilations of news stories and book excerpts about "the legends." Interspersed are some of her personal narratives as to her experience with them. She has instructional DVDs and also performance DVDs for sale as well. I would reccomend calling the number on her website to inquire about ordering any of them.
 

Kharmine

New member
Jodette, unfortunately, does not know how to use the internet! She even has me sometimes perform simple tasks for her like emailing. Her website is maintained by somebody else. I'm not really sure who. However, there are some stories about her in the book "Belly Laughs." I think you can get it on Amazon. She also has books that she has made that Ai'sha mentioned that are compilations of news stories and book excerpts about "the legends." Interspersed are some of her personal narratives as to her experience with them. She has instructional DVDs and also performance DVDs for sale as well. I would reccomend calling the number on her website to inquire about ordering any of them.
Kalila_raks, I am very curious to know Jodette's take on the origin of the American term "belly dance."

It would be interesting to know exactly what she remembers about first hearing it, and her opinion of its origin.
 

ankestamen

New member
Dear Ankestamen,
Well, you have just made my day!! Your mother was one of the most lovely women I had ever seen, when I saw her dance in 1974. I am so happy that you wrote and tell her that she was very inspiring to at least one very new dancer, and if they had eyes in their heads, probably to many, many more!!
Regards,
A'isha
:lol: So glad to make your day. For the fun of it, go to my website at: Ankestamen

You will see a few pictures.

Needless to say, Nefertiti passed away in 2000. I never had any video of her, only a bunch of pictures. I did however, create a book "Nefertiti Presents, Belly Dancing the Basics. The book has only pictures of her in it. She blessed it before her passing. It sells on Amazon.com as a tribute to her Legacy. I'm glad she inspired you and I know of many others. There are many grandbaby bellydancers in the Phoenix Valley who learned from her many teacher students.
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Nefertiti

:lol: So glad to make your day. For the fun of it, go to my website at: Ankestamen

You will see a few pictures.

Needless to say, Nefertiti passed away in 2000. I never had any video of her, only a bunch of pictures. I did however, create a book "Nefertiti Presents, Belly Dancing the Basics. The book has only pictures of her in it. She blessed it before her passing. It sells on Amazon.com as a tribute to her Legacy. I'm glad she inspired you and I know of many others. There are many grandbaby bellydancers in the Phoenix Valley who learned from her many teacher students.
Dear Ankestamen, I am so sorry about the koss of your mother. In the photos on your website, she is every bit as lovely as I remember her. What an incredible bone structure!! She was also a really nice person.
Regards,
A'isha
 

ankestamen

New member
Dear Ankestamen, I am so sorry about the koss of your mother. In the photos on your website, she is every bit as lovely as I remember her. What an incredible bone structure!! She was also a really nice person.
Regards,
A'isha
Thanks A'isha, Yes, she was very pretty. That is one thing that I never got her great bone structure. Or her long legs. I got dad's looks, not bad, but short. Anyway I still continue teaching her style and way, and enjoy every minute of it. Talk to you later.
 

kalila_raks

New member
Dear Kalila,
Jodette may or may not remember me, but please give her my highest regards and tell her M'a khalis al shukur, "with purest thanks", for starting me off on the right foot, so to speak in the art of Egyptian belly dance! I feel that because of her influence in my early dance days, I am able to really SEE things about the dance that I otherwise would have missed.
Regards,

A'isha
A'isha, I keep meaning to pass your message to Jodette, and I apologize for not doing so already. Is there any other name she would know you by, or did she know you as A'isha?
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Jodette

A'isha, I keep meaning to pass your message to Jodette, and I apologize for not doing so already. Is there any other name she would know you by, or did she know you as A'isha?
Dear Kalila,
Since I started with her, I did not have a professional name, but later when I sponsored her for a workshop, I was already known by A'isha.
Regards,
A.
 

sausanacademy

Premium Member
Jodette (Silhi) Johnson

Hi, Kalila:

I want to thank you for posting your support for Jodette. She is truly a gem. Her ties to Egypt and the dancers there makes her the real thing, and I'm very lucky to have had her as my first teacher. I'm hoping to drive up there in March sometime to do an interview of her.

The fact that she actually knew Badiya Masabni, Taheyia Karioka, Samia Gamal, Mohamed Abd El Wahab, Fareed Al Atrasch, and Abd El Halim Hafez, not to mention the movie stars I now follow on Arabic TV, to me, is fascinating. Over three decades after my first class with her, she invited me to teach a workshop for her. I was so very honored. I have been invited back to teach ever since.

BTW...I know that she has a Myspace.com page and I, myself, am putting together a Tribe.net page for her. I already have a Tribe.net forum for her Nu Heb Jodette - tribe.net. Join it and stay informed.

Again, much thanks. She is one dynamic lovely human being.

-Sausan
 

sausanacademy

Premium Member
Jodette -- In Person

Hi,

I know this thread has kinda died out...but I've opened up opportunities for anyone to join in field trips to Sacramento to rub elbows and talk with Jodette. We've had two field trips so far, and each has been a total success. She is from that era; knew Samia Gamal and Taheya Karaoka, and danced with some of the greatest in the business. If anyone is interested, please reply to this thread or email me offline at sausanacademy at gmail do com.

Looking forward....

-Sausan
 

KhezlaDurr33

New member
Anyone know more about Jamila Salimpour? I understand that she was a circus performer, but she's given different stories about her ethnic background, how she learned to dance, even her husbands.

There's a whole slew of stories on The Gilded Serpent about the North Beach (San Francisco) belly dance scene in the '70s in which she and her Bal Anat company feature prominently. It's alleged that Jamila was pretty dictatorial and ruthless, particularly with students who went on to perform or teach independently without her blessing, but that she could be kind and supportive to people she liked, as well.

One gets the idea of some serious competition verging on war among belly dancers in Northern California in those days! I haven't seen the like in other parts of the country, although I'm sure it existed in one form or another.

I truly recommend the North Beach memories series, and wish there were more collections like this available: Welcome
I have been around in belly dance since 1973, self-taught from the book Serena Technique of Belly Dancing bc I was in a rural area, added info w/ other books, videos, watching any dancers I came into contact with. A friend of mine (passed on) named Diana Rhodes who was the first belly dancer in St. Louis MO (she learned in Chicgo from a Turkish dancer named Samira Samira) said that Jamila started as a TAP DANCER, and the info about her being with a circus was the only info that Jamila would admit to. However, other info Diana gave me was 100% truth so I have no reason to doubt the tap dance info.

In the 1970s there was a student of Jamila's who studied with her 6 years, used the name of Aida, and suddenly left and dropped off the face of the earth. She was a fantastic dancer, and apparently there was a conflict between her & Jamila bc Jamila was grooming Suhaila and looked upon Aida as competition for business. So Aida left, we heard rumors in Missouri that she was dancing here there and everywhere -- you can't hit a moving target -- and perhaps may have settled in Michigan. That was in the days before the internet.

Jamila was self-taught by copying dancing she remembered seeing in Egyptian movies plus whatever she learned from native dancers later that she hired for her cafe. So what she cobbled together was a mish mash. I always thought she was trying to copy Serena's idea of a "technique". The late Paul Monty always said, "Serena is THE teacher!" In fact, she was with him when he was awarded his Ph.D. His thesis on the history of belly dance in America is available through the archives that I believe are kept through the Univ. of Michigan, even tho he got it from NYU.
 
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KhezlaDurr33

New member
I came across the web site of a belly dance teacher named Jodette in Sacramento who claims to be the "only authentic teacher in America," the "first teacher in America," the one who "brought Baladi and Candelabra" to the United States, etc. Jodette's Belly Dancing Academy

Which puzzles me because she says very little about her background, nothing about what makes her the "first" and the "only authentic" anything -- and I don't remember reading anything anywhere else that gives her the kind of credit she's claiming.

The web site is written in rather garbled English and doesn't provide much information about her. Several Gilded Serpent references say that she has had a dance studio in Sacramento since forever, that her last name is Johnson, that she was a child prodigy in Jordan, that she was looking for students at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire back in the day when Jamilla Salimpour's dance troupe was performing there in the '70s-- and that's about it.

I'm still piecing together belly dance history in the U.S. and would like to know where this teacher fits in. Anyone know anything more?
From 1975-1977 I was the owner of Carolyn's School of Middle Eastern Dance in Columbia, MO, and I hired Paul Monty from NY to organize the belly dance workshop I promoted. Paul and I talked often, and he was quite aggravated about Jodette hurrying up to put on a workshop just one week before a workshop he had scheduled in that same area for a client of his. He regarded it as a bitchy attempt to grab the business, thereby decreasing the number of ppl coming to his workshop. He said it was a common maneuver with belly dancers, that type of competitiveness for the workshop money.
Jodette is actually from the middle east, and since American dancers were learning 2nd and 3rd hand, that could be the basis for her claim to be authentic.
 

KhezlaDurr33

New member
Jamila, dance, etc.

Dear Aziyade,
I know a lot of people who do care that they were misled by Jamila, and since then by others. Some of the people who have told me how much they had to "unlearn" in order to dance authentically are indeed VERY unhappy about it. To spend one's time, money and guts and soul to learn something, only to be told years later that it was not real has been pretty difficult for some people.

I was fortunate to have started with Jodette precisely because she understood the dance from an Arab perspective. I got from the beginning that something was just "Off" somehow in a lot of what was being represented as belly dance on the West Coast. It took me some years to put my finger on it, and I am sure that I was not alone in having this feeling.

That being said, I was fortunate to have started when I did, because the dances from the Middle East and North Africa were just being brought back at about the time I started, by people like Morocco and A'isha Ali, there was an influx of the first Arab students into the American universities, and there were more immgirants to the U.S. from Arab countreis, so I was in a prime postion to learn a lot from a lot of different sources. I took full advantage of that.

I did study with people who were teaching what was then just called "bellydance". I spent about 5 years floundering around wondering what was wrong...why I wasn't seeing it right, etc. Then the magic thing happened and I got to see a video of Sohair Zaki. I got myself in tune with what Jodette had taught me and on track, and have not looked back. I had a few things to "unlearn" myself, so I can sympathize with those who studidd and thought they were getting the real thing. I think we can give Jodette credit for being ahead of her time on that since by 1974 she was already clearly defining her dance as "Egyptian" in order to point out that she was teaching authentic dance and not "hokum". Of course, she pissed off some people. Jodette hersef was probably not any angel, either.

One of the probelms with many of those dancers from the Jamila generation was they were afraid to utter these three little words: "I don't know". Rather than admit they did not really understand what they were doing, many of them wanted to appear to be the biggest and best authority in the field, and claim that they knew all about all the dances.( I see this as a continuing trend when I see people who have been dancing less than 5 years claiming to teach about 20 different dances when they have barely had time to begin to learn one!!) It became very competitive and pretty ugly all up and down the West coast and from what Morocco has said, back East as well.

So,the dance legacy then became fraught with competition and angst and a foundation of nonsense. We see where that has led, and today we get are graced with like Sadie and Kaya, Pirate belly dance, belly dance mixed with everything and anything and its all "okay". Except that we can't get recognized by any other dance form as having legitimacy because we don't even know what we are doing ourselves much of the time. People who have tried hard to make sure they stay within the realm of reality where the dance is concerned are often considered to be nasty purists who have no right to restrict the creativity of other people. People who could care less about the dance are out there doing whatever they want in its name. Our audiences walk away about twice as confused as when they walk in, after seeing performances of "Bellynesian" and Scottish bellydance.

If those first dancers had taken the time to be real with what they were doing, I think the dance would be much more respected than it is now, and people would understand the importance of authentic dance. I think that fusions and creative endeavours within the dance would be attempted with a lot more intelleigence and knowledge if the first dancers had only put their egos aside and taken care of the dance itself. I can say that I am encouraged that people are now taking the time to at least consider that the ethnic dances as they come from countries of origin are important, and we finally are giving some thought to stopping calling it all "belly dance".

Regards,
A'isha
I was teaching 1975-77 Serena technique, and was immensely flattered when an Iranian student of mine named Roya visited her family back home in Teheran. They pressed her to dance for them since they heard she had been taking lessons in America. After she finished, they told her, "You have a good teacher, you are learning the real thing."
 

KhezlaDurr33

New member
Jodette (Silhi) Johnson

Hi, Kalila:

I want to thank you for posting your support for Jodette. She is truly a gem. Her ties to Egypt and the dancers there makes her the real thing, and I'm very lucky to have had her as my first teacher. I'm hoping to drive up there in March sometime to do an interview of her.

The fact that she actually knew Badiya Masabni, Taheyia Karioka, Samia Gamal, Mohamed Abd El Wahab, Fareed Al Atrasch, and Abd El Halim Hafez, not to mention the movie stars I now follow on Arabic TV, to me, is fascinating. Over three decades after my first class with her, she invited me to teach a workshop for her. I was so very honored. I have been invited back to teach ever since.

BTW...I know that she has a Myspace.com page and I, myself, am putting together a Tribe.net page for her. I already have a Tribe.net forum for her Nu Heb Jodette - tribe.net. Join it and stay informed.

Again, much thanks. She is one dynamic lovely human being.

-Sausan
when I click on the link for Jodette's page at tribe.net, the link seems to be broken. Can you supply a corrected link? Thank you.
 
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