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You don’t call Princess Farhana
„Hi, Princess“, or „What’s up, Princess“, you approach her with a curtsy or a big bow and you address her formally as “Your royal Highness” or “Your Grace” – and after that you will soon detect that Princess Farhana is wise and experienced but also witty, gifted with a great big heart and full of the most funny stories you ever heard. Be warned and prepare yourself, ye dancers and artists, because now will speak to you:
THE PRINCESS OF THE FEMMES FATALES

Interview with Princess Farhana

-      by Marcel Bieger

-      Graphic Design by Konstanze Winkler

Your Royal Highness, what is the situation of "burlesque" today, two years after it started its most victorious invasion of the world?

I think that both belly dancing and burlesque are in a huge global trend of popularity right now - and I’m in kind of a unique position because I have a foot in both communities, plus, since I do traditionally based belly dance and fusion, I’m really kind of split between three full genres of dance. I feel a little schizophrenic once in a while, my gigs are so varied. There are burlesque troupes and large festivals all over the world now, and I also get invited to many places to specifically teach Egyptian style, or fusion, or straight-ahead stagecraft cause of my theatre background.  I just take my own work as it comes, sometimes it leans more towards one specific genre of dance but it’s usually an equal mix of things.

How did burlesque's most splendid ambassador, Princess Farhana, fare in the last two years? 

The past two years have been a frenzy of activity.  I’ve been touring constantly for dancing since I was last in Germany. I released an instructional stage make up DVD with my co-producer and co-star De Villa, called “Bombshell: Dramatic Make Up For The Stage, Photos And Glamourous Occasions”, which is doing extremely well, so I’ve been teaching a lot of make up workshops. Here’s the DVD trailer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvjR_bS9_xw

I will have a few DVDs with me at the festival, but they can be ordered here: http://www.princessfarhana.com/video.htm
I’ve also acted in three movies- “The Casserole Club” which was just released this year, “Culture Shock” and “The Case Of The Far Flung Star” which will both be out in 2013. I play Veronica Black, a B-Movie actress in “Far Flung Star” so we also shot a lot of her “films” during the shoot - and I got to do some horribly bad-on-purpose acting for the movies that appear within the film itself and that was so much fun, doing over-wrought melodramatic scenes, the whole cast and crew could barely keep from laughing!

Also, I have a new 3-Day Performance Intensive called “Drama Queen” that I’ve been teaching around the USA, which I hope to bring to Europe soon. It’s all about theatrics for any style of dance; stage dynamics, improvisation, emotional access, calming performance anxiety, dramatic narrative, effects of stage lighting - things like that, which don’t usually get taught in regular dance classes and workshops.

And speaking of dramatics, I am a member of The Dangerous Beauties, a theatrical belly dance fusion troupe with twelve members - from seven different US cities. We have meetings and rehearsals on Skype, and then do shows in different cities. The point of Dangerous Beauties is to re-enact femmes fatales from different areas of history through belly dance. We do obvious ones like Mata Hari, Salome, or Cleopatra, but also obscure ones, like the witch Baba Yaga, or the Hungarian Countess Elizabeth Bathory who was said to bathe in the blood of virgins. Rose Harden of Ultra Gypsy and Elizabeth Strong are members, too. It was founded early in 2012 by Surreyya Hada and Nyla Crystal. We have a show coming up in Texas soon after my return from Germany where Silvia Salamanca is playing the gypsy Carmen, from the opera!
Here’s our promotional video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-b0PcrTZAY

What will you bring for your exited subjects in Germany (oh there will be a lot of French, Swiss, Austrian and other people there, too.)?

I’m looking forward to bringing some old-style Hollywood glamour to Europe and also I’m absolutely sure that whomever I meet at Black Forest Tribal Festival will be completely inspiring to me! That’s one of my favorite things about traveling for dance - meeting so many talented performers!

Your Grace, would you care to explain your workshops in detail, please?

I’m doing a three-hour burlesque class, full on straight ahead Classic American Burlesque, with a lot of history and technique that can be taken “as is” or incorporated into tribal fusion. The other workshop is called “Glamour Garage”, which is a four-hour extravaganza: a stage makes up class, a photo-posing class, and then I will personally coach all the participants through an individual mini-photo session with André Elbing! André is one of my favorite photographers ever; I’ve worked with him in Cairo and so very excited to work with him in Germany.

Right now, I’m working on sketches for the 2013 collection. I really wish I could tell you what it is, and what it’s going to be called because I’m so excited about it, but I am sworn to secrecy. This is the collection that is very post-modern and Tribal Fusion in feel. Seriously, it’s going to be off the hook!  I will tell you we are using the real turquoise glazed ceramic turquoise scarabs that they make in Cairo on many of the pieces, and that a lot of the costumes are unique in that they can be worn in many different ways …

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jYDaoNiYQo

Princess Farhana ist guest at
3rd Black Forest Tribal Fest in Offenburg
www.tribal-festival.jimdo.com
Homepage: www.princessfarhana.com
Photos © : 1 Lapis Bellydance Ice, 2 and 5 Maharet Bryant, 3 André Elbing (www.andre-elbing.de), 4 with kind permission of Princess Farhana
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How is your fashion line blossoming?

My  2011 line of belly dance costumes and class wear, “Princess Farhana For King Of The Nile” is going very well. The Egyptian Golden Age style retro cabaret costumes are really popular, they all had reversible skirts so that the dancer can have a couple of different looks. My skull ‘n’ crossbones hip scarves totally sold out of the first run - and we made hundreds of them! It was so funny, when I designed them and saw the proto-types in Cairo, my partner Yes Taleb picked up the scull scarf, and kind of waved it at me, shaking his head he said,“Farhana, who will wear this?” I said, “Oh, you’ll be surprised - everyone will!” And  that’s exactly what happened!

Here’s a clip from the first fashion show, which took place at The Las Vegas Belly Dance Intensive: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jYDaoNiYQo
What are your future plans?

I already have all of 2013 and some of 2014 booked …  a friend looked at my schedule and asked, “Are you going to pencil in a STOP sign?”

I have been working furiously on my book, “The Belly Dance Handbook”. It’s almost done - so close that I’m itching to get it over with! It took a bit of back seat with everything else going on. It’s not a “how to” and it’s not technique, it’s sort of a road map for dancers, of all kinds. There’s information in there on everything from turning professional to getting over stage fright, to costuming, home drilling, how to build a healthy dance community, that sort of thing. Artemis Mourat wrote the forward and she was also kind enough to let me into her extensive archives to use vintage oriental post cards for some of the illustrations!

I’ve also gotten nice quotes from Kajira Djoumahna and Margaret Cho for the back cover, so I’m really happy - now I just must get it out! Early 2013 are what I’m planning for.

Kajira is currently working on a new edition of “The Tribal Bible” and   she just asked me to contribute some writing for the Fusion chapter, so I’m about to get started on that. And DeVilla and I are currently doing make up tests for the new looks that will be on “Bombshell II”, which will be filmed in probably early February of 2013, out for summer release. I for sure know that it will have a Bollywood look, stage make up for men, and also an entire section on body contouring make up.

In early 2013, I’ll be returning to the UK for the first time in two years, and also going to teach and perform in Australia and New Zealand, so I’m looking forward to that and of course, I hope to be back in Germany again too, if not next year, then for sure in 2014!