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The Tribal Berber & the Afghan Hound


Janet Keates and Izmar Sokitoem at Hadassah

Janet Keates has been exhibiting and involved in Afghan Hounds since 1968, during which time she has owned and exhibited eight Afghans all of which had imported bloodlines. Her current dog, Ethel (Izmar Sokitoem at Hadassah) bred by Anita Doe, sire Izmar Hiyaraki with Afterglow owned by Anita Doe and Mike Gadsby, Dam Fermoy Farrah (imported from David Roach, Australia).

In 1971 along with a group of friends she formed the then titled Birmingham Afghan Hound Training Club. The late Dennis McCarthy contacted Janet expressing excitement at the new endeavour, which catered for the training of both show and pet Afghan Hounds. This led to an appearance on BBC TV plus regional radio and press coverage. The club was revolutionary for its time and covered many areas that other breed clubs were not involved in. this club even gave groundbreaking displays of Afghan obedience. Janet’s two home bred Afghans, Nazhan Moonlight Serenade and Nazhan The Carpet Bagger were members of this team, the club them went on to achieve championship status and still runs strong today.

Jahadi Chaiwan, sire Nor ch Boxadan Junior Jumper, dam Jahadi Ajanti, Janet’s beloved Victor did very well in the breed winning BOBS and Hound groups, BIS but his claim to fame was appearing on This Morning with Richard and Judy, winning pet look-a-like in 1993. This led to an article by Rosie Millard about them in the Daily Telegraph’s front page spread. Victor later became the mascot of Janet’s Bellydance troupe and Turkish Delight, Birmingham’s then top Bellydancing troupe.

This led to other television appearances, local radio and press coverage including the Michael Barrymore Show, BBC Style Challenge, The Holiday Show with Nick Knowles, Birmingham Live TV, Cable TV, Central TV and BBC Drama Turkish Delight starring Denise Welch.

Ethel started her show career quite well, winning best of breed, and it was planned to campaign her extensively until a whirlwind of American Tribal Belly dance changed Janet’s and her Bellydance Troupe’s lives completely.

Janet began Bellydancing and performing in 1991 and taught classes from 1995, forming First and Main troupe Khalgani (taken from winning Afghan Hound Kalisuki Khalgani, sire, champion Montravia Dun-Dun.v.Bornia State, dam, Sanas Enchanting Star). The name Khalgani is Persian and means Imperial. Always a lucky name for him and she felt sure it would be for the troupe also. It has proved to be so.

Khalgani began performing in theatres (namely the Queen Mother Theatre in Luton, Banbury Mill Theatre, The Elgiva Theatre in Chesham and Solihull Library Theatre) dancing a mixture of Middle Eastern styles but it wasn’t until 1998 that Janet decided to raise the standard and explore new territory turning to the historical roots of the dance.

History states that the dance started in India with Nomadic tribes which travelled throughout Afghanistan, Persia and the Middle East stretching as far as Spain. Each tribe that settled in each area amalgamated the cultural traditions into their own and created particular styles of dance. It is also thought that these tribes travelled with their faithful hunting hounds and that these ancient hounds could have links to the Afghan hound we know and love today. It was this parallel that excited Janet into exploring Tribal Bellydance.

With the aid of her husband and co-exhibitor, Derek Keates, who has an interest in computers and has supported both Janet and her troupes from the beginning, a search on the internet brought them to American Tribal Style Bellydance. Although termed "American" this is a style based on a fusion of Indian, Afghanistan, Turkish, Tunisian, Moroccan, Egyptian and Spanish Styles of dance and is not linked with American Indians. Developed in San Francisco by Jamila Salimpour in the early 1960s American Tribal Style is completely different to your common Cabaret style Bellydance as it returns to the traditions handed down from mother to daughter of women dancing for women at life celebrations such as births, marriages etc.

The costuming differs by each dancer wearing many layers of pantaloons, skirts, scarves, tassel belts, and an abundance of jewellry which represents the "dowry" that would have been worn by the traditional "Ghawazee" tribeswomen. Turbans are wound from at least three yards of fabric and ornately decorated with original Afghanistan and Indian jewellry.

The make-up is unique to the nomadic peoples of the Middle East with dark kholed eyes, dark lips and facial tattoos worn for protection from the sun and evil spirits and a chin marking denoting tribal membership and status.

Applying this costume is very empowering; this is a complete contrast to the image of a usual Bellydancer.

The dance itself is mainly improvised with each member supporting and relying upon her sisters, the dancers become interconnected, dancing as one unit, a family, a real Tribe.

Khalgani are the pioneers of American Tribal in the UK, their first professional performance was held on the 4th July 1999, American Independence Day! Janet believes that this date, plus the choice of troupe name became a good omen. The performance created a whirlwind of interest from dancers and non-dancers alike.

Though initially learnt from videos imported from America, Janet was so impressed by Dancer/Instructor Paulette Rees-Denis of Gypsy Caravan, Portland OR who produced the videos that she organised Paulette to instruct workshops in the UK for further knowledge of American Tribal. Khalgani has since been featured in her US Publication "Caravan Trails".

Khalgani are also due to appeared in the revised edition of Kajira Djoumahna’s "The Tribal Bible" as the first American Tribal Troupe in the UK.

The highlights of Khalgani’s career so far has been as show closers at The Waterman’s Theatre, London (2000) in an Oriental Matinee featuring the country’s top professional performers in Arabic Dance, and to be invited by top Bellydance Organisation MADN to hold a workshop and demonstration at their 2002 AGM attended by instructors and performers nationwide to share their Tribal talents.

Khalgani have featured in both television and the press and perform regularly at MADN staged events, theatres, festivals, carnivals and cultural events.

For more information on Khalgani and Hadassah Show Dogs log on at www.hadassah.co.uk