Category Archives: Behind the Flame

Stage Names for Belly Dancers

Dante's Gypsy Circus, Ladi Blaze, fire fan dancer, stage names for performing artistsA stage name is a fun way to bring out your alter ego and bring pizzazz and a little mystery to your performance. Some stage names are created by the owner and some are given by others. As for me, I’ve been called several names (some I won’t mention) but the one that stuck was Blaze. The name Blaze was given to me by fellow coworkers well before my career in the fire arts. I had a passion for hair color and for several years in my 20s had a hair style that involved sharp shades of red and blond that reminded my friends of an open flame. This nickname followed me for years, so when Lauren and I started the troupe  it seemed only appropriate that Blaze be the name I would use.

We wanted the troupe to have a circus-like feel and felt that nicknames would add to the character of the performance. We sat down one day with Tommy and David (two of Dante’s original members) and picked out the name for the troupe as well as ourselves, so that Lauren could create the website and documents to get us started and make us an official group. I believe that stage names are a fun way to add ambiance to the stage and create a well-rounded fantasy and show for the viewers. Besides that— “Lady Blaze the fire eating belly dancer” has a much better ring than “Andrea the fire eating belly dancer!” ~Ladi Blaze

Dante's Gypsy Circus, Dex, fire poi spinner, stage names for performing artists

Photo courtesy of David Scorcher / MetroMix

There are those who call me…Dex. 😉

I think a stage name allows you to express a part of yourself that may not be seen or shown in day-to-day life and that’s why I use one. It reminds me of actors in the theater: they’re on stage as characters, not themselves.

Speaking of theater, that’s where my stage name came from. In high school, instead of Danielle people would call me D or Lil’ D. In one particular play I had to wear a spandex body suit. My best friend, Eric, thought that was quite comical and started calling me “Spandex” which he shortened to “Dex.”

When it came time to choose my stage name for Dante’s I thought back on those times and it made me smile. Eric passed away several years ago and I chose Dex in homage to him. ~ Dex

Dante's Gypsy Circus, Megan, tribal fusion belly dancer, stage names for performing artists

Photo courtesy Kate Lawniczak

I chose a stage name to create a feeling that my dance persona was exotic and from a far-away place. I found the name Azara (usually pronounced Ashara) on a website listing Arabic, Farsi, and Turkish names and their meanings. Azara means fire in Farsi; I chose this because I wanted to dance with fire. I had also decided to use Azara with the z sound to make it somewhat American since I was performing an American version of a Middle Eastern art. The name never stuck, but years later I have a baby boy and have named him Asher, which is a name that originates in the Middle East and sounds similar to the stage name I choose years ago. ~ Megan

Dante's Gypsy Circus, Cherie Dawn, stage names for performing artistsThis topic came up because a friend of mine recently asked me personally for advice on how to choose a name. Mine was easy, since it’s my birth name; I especially feel close to it because of the reference to our sun, that glorious star of fire.

I asked my friend, Lauren (of Circus Mojo and Nocturnal Arts) what has inspired her to search for a name. “Well, I’ve been considering it for a little while now, not only as a mechanism to stand out that makes me more easily remembered, but also to create more of an alter ego persona that I feel like will help me more easily adapt characteristics of the characters I want to portray when I perform,” Lauren said. “Because although I’m always me, there isn’t a library, doctor’s office or even address with whom I don’t share the exact same name.”

I thank Lauren for inspiring this as a topic of conversation! As you read this, what are your thoughts on having a stage name? Pros? Cons? How did you find yours? Comment away…
Cherie Dawn

Taking the Stage with Tribal Fusion Belly Dance in Dallas

It didn’t take long for our dear Britney to find a group to make her feel at home when she landed in Dallas recently for an internship. We’d like to thank the Circus Freaks for welcoming her, and for inviting her to their Open Stage recently, where she performed tribal fusion belly dance.

tribal fusion belly dance solo during Circus Freaks open stage in Dallas, Texas
Image courtesy of Alicia H

“I applaud the Circus Freaks and Creative Motion for creating something huge here,” said Britney. “They’ve attracted a community of artists, new and experienced alike, to collaborate and improve their skills together. Everyone has something new and different to offer and everyone feels free and encouraged to try new things.

“Just in the past few weeks I’ve been able to discover so much more fun in hooping because of the fellow hoopers here and their encouraging environment. I would love to bring even a small part of this group’s spirit back to Cincinnati to share with everyone.

“I encourage anyone in the Dallas area to visit one of the Circus Freaks’ many events to make new friends and be inspired!”

Click here to watch video of Britney’s performance, along with “moralistic hallucinations” and more entertainment, courtesy of Circus Freaks.

Personally, I’m inspired by Britney’s initiative of showing up in a new city, finding like-minded people, and jumping into the fun. Get inspiration on how and why you should put yourself out there as well! ~Cherie Dawn

Thank You, WordPress | A Look At Our 2011 Online Statistics

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,400 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 40 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Merci | Danka | Gracias | Thanks

Years ago, Oprah Winfrey (yeah, I’m referencing Oprah here…what? ;)) suggested we can daily list five things that we’re grateful for. “I used to keep a list of my “five things” religiously even if the best thing on it was “my cat didn’t throw up today.” Now more than ever I have so much to be thankful for. For example, Dante’s is finishing up our fifth season and have our foot on the gas as we head into 2012.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought it’d be fun to share with you the things that a few of us are individually grateful for.

“I’m thankful for my healthy baby boy and my endlessly supportive, patient husband. I’m also thankful for the friends I have in Dante’s and for the art form that has brought us together.”       ~ Megan


Photo courtesy Kate Lawniczak

“I am grateful for my family, my good health, all of my awesome friends and my partner Matt who makes my world a whole lot brighter.” ~ Britney





“Personally, I’m grateful for my better half, Dwayne, because I couldn’t reach even half of my potential without him supporting me all the way. Also, I’m thankful for my parents, who take wonderful care of our two little guys while we’re out making a raucous; and each of my brothers and sisters in Dante’s and our surrounding community for their endless support in this bohemian ride.” ~ Cherie Dawn

“My wonderful partner and sweet sisters for supporting and pushing me.”
~ Master Pokes

Photo courtesy John Hergenrather




“I’m thankful for my wonderful family and friends teaching me to not sit and let the world go by, for my tribal brothers and sisters being the rhythm in my drum and for my husband whom I love dearly.” ~ Dex


We all sincerely wish you a happy Thanksgiving day, filled with good company and lots of pie. 🙂

Performing with Live and/or Recorded Music

“Live music beats canned music any day of the week, no matter what.” I overheard this comment recently, and have to say that it resonated in my mind. We’ve been honored to work with many musicians, and in several different capacities. It’s the best – the slight unpredictability, the crisp sounds coming from a variety of instruments, and the energy musicians provide is unparalleled. Of course, canned music has its benefits as well (like when you hear a specific song that grabs your pulse, and you absolutely have to dance to it, and only it)…all in all, I think there’s simply a time and a place for both.

Dante's GypsyCircus with Crazy Legs at the Madison Theater

Crazy Legs put on a heck of a show at the Madison; and we loved sharing the stage with them.

This past weekend at the Madison Theater, we had the pleasure of performing to both. We danced our tightly knit choreographies (interspersed with one tribal improvisational number), and were also invited to perform to the live music of Crazy Legs (the headlining band) as well. What a blast! We enjoyed the best of both worlds in one fell swoop.

Dante’s is working on putting together a band specifically for our shows, so stay tuned as we begin this new adventure. And please wish us luck! 🙂 If you’re a Cincinnati musician who’s interested, contact us!

All best,
Cherie Dawn

Belly Dance and Burlesque

When I heard today that a local performance group portrayed a belly dancer in a strip-tease scene, I felt a little sick. I’ve seen a few high-level burlesque performances; they’ve told stories of love, mishap…timeless tales that we can all relate to. They’re entertaining.

But belly dance, to me, is a spiritual, respectful, and sacred form of movement art that unifies women around the globe, celebrates history, and is making history. I, along with many of the belly dancers I know, work hard to maintain a high reputation for it. Yes, it’s sensual; there’s no denying that, but it’s a celebration of the female form in a positive way that honors women.

Onca O’Leary is reviving vaudeville in the eastern United States and beyond. In my humble opinion, she’s a goddess. Check out her shows and workshops whenever possible. (Photo ©Robert Stoutamire, 2010)

Madame Onca of the Mezmer Society, the Accidental Circus, Baraka Mundi, and producer of TribOriginal, knows about belly dance and burlesque (and so much more). She kindly had this light to shed: “I think that burlesque in the sense of the striptease needs to remain a separate animal from stage belly dance. However, burlesque was historically a powerful, multidisciplinary tool for reevaluating and reinventing outdated social mores. Between its inherently radical, feminist roots and as a creative, vibrant, anything-goes-for-entertainment-value art form, belly dance has a lot to learn from the other B word about performance, underlying narrative, and stagecraft.”

Wow – do I agree! As a belly dancer, I find it bothersome that someone would misrepresent this genre. I think it blurs the line between the two separate and honorable dance forms, and could have a negative impact on how the general public perceives us. Even today, in 2011, I see eyebrows raise a bit when someone finds out I belly dance…as in, folks don’t realize that this isn’t just about shaking for the menfolk the gifts our mamas gave us.

If you see that Princess Farhana of Hollywood is teaching in your area – take her class! Yes, she, too is a teaching and performing goddess. 🙂 (Photo by Maharet Bryant)

Princess Farhana of Hollywood is another well-respected and uber-talented woman. Here’s what she had to share: “I believe that belly dance and burlesque are both incredible art forms. Historically in America, they have been presented side by side for at least 100 years in theaters, nightclubs, at fairs, circuses and carnivals, and most visibly, in television and film. This has definitely caused some confusion in the eyes of the general public.

“I perform both types of dance, but contrary to popular belief, do not EVER do a striptease while belly dancing, I keep my burlesque acts as “non-Oriental” as possible.

“There are many dancers who are interested in both styles of dance; hence I have been asked to teach and perform burlesque at belly dance events, and to teach and perform (straight up) belly dancing at burlesque events.

“Like Onca, I believe that practitioners of both styles can learn a lot from each other…and the more this subject is discussed openly, the less taboo it will be, the more we will be able to educate others, and the more the general public will be able to understand the difference between the two genres.” ~ Princess Farhana

What you’re reading here is a conversation-starter about the relationship of burlesque with belly dance. Dante’s has been known to perform in burlesque shows, but the sets weren’t related to belly dance; they had other, unrelated themes.

This topic is worthy of discussion, and I invite your input. All opinions are welcome, but I ask in advance that comments are respectful to all. 😉

Cherie Dawn

Dante’s Gypsy Circus is proud to announce that we’re hosting Onca and the Accidental Circus for a show and workshops in May 2012! Click here for the details; she’ll be teaching a workshop that addresses this very topic of which we speak! 🙂

Oh, What a Night!

If you felt the earth shake a little this last week, I can guess that it was during Zahara’s Carnival Noir / Club Bellydance at the Carnegie. In addition to Zahara’s Tangled Web and Dante’s Gypsy Circus, Cincinnati performers such as Aloysius Fox, Alhambra, Anaya Gypsy, Matt the Mime and Loren the Black took the stage, opening for the fabulous Bellydance Superstars.

Laura, Cherie Dawn, and Britney played the role of princesses (yes, we wore white and pink!) in Dante’s interpretation of “Sleeping Beauty,” choreographed specifically for this show. Photo by David Scorcher, courtesy

Ladi Blaze played the part of the witch who cast a spell on our trio of princesses. (Aren’t the horns cool? She made those herself!)  Photo by David Scorcher, courtesy

The goddess of dark (Zahara is front, right), taking her final bow with the entire cast of the show. You can see Dex to the far right; she played the role of our goblin, who naughtily woke the princesses before any prince even had a chance. 🙂

After putting on a beautiful show, the Bellydance Superstars hung out with everyone as we shopped, listened to music, and mingled. Here, they posed with Dante’s. 🙂

“Being back on that stage, solo, was a twist of fate, an act of bravery, and an effort to make some Peace with the Universe,” said our dear friend Loren the Black, who stole our hearts during his a capella rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” He’s posing here after the show with Cherie Dawn and Ladi Blaze.