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Legacy Oral History Online Collection

Miller Audio Clip and Transcript

Miller Audio Clip

Interviewer: Anne Hawkins

AH: You talked about an Arabic and Greek tradition; where did you fit into those traditions?

JM: Ummm

AH: How different are they?

JM: The Arabic and Greek music are very different. When I first worked at a Greek club, I hadn’t danced to Greek music, and I remember getting up there and thinking, “This is so fast!” I remember just trying to keep up. Arabic’s slower than Greek.  It’s quite different. The instruments are different: the Greeks have the bazouki, the Arabs have the oud.

AH: How were you trained?

JM: Well, I was trained first on Turkish music, which is different than Arabic music. Bert was using Turkish and Armenian. The Arabic music fits belly dancing in a special way. In that sense, the Arabic music was easier to dance to.

AH: Let me interject something at this point. I remember going to see Never on Sunday with you, all those years ago. You reminded me of Melina Mercouri, and I wondered if aspects of the Greek dance attracted you; I know that had a strong influence on you.

JM: For sure it did. Let’s all go to the seashore! Oh God, that’s my idea of the solution to life, absolutely. The Greek folk dancing and the music were wonderful. And she was very important to me. She was a real role model.

AH: And she is political, as a matter of fact.

JM: That’s right, she is very political. One thing about her is that she’s so sexual , and she’s older. And for me, finding role models to be sexual as I grow older has been very important. And belly dancing has given me one way to do that. Most other dance forms don’t even give you a way to continue dancing. Past thirty! 

©Museum of Performance + Design

Jamie Miller
Miller Audio Clip and Transcript