(PA) Blood on the Veil: A Belly Dancer’s Journey Towards Healing, Transformation, and the Divine Feminine

Blood on the Veil: A Bellydancer's Journey Towards Healing, Transformation and the Divine Feminine


Carol Tandava Henning's

one-woman monologue in motion, interwoven with performances by a variety of guest dancers. A story in seven parts, it tells a tale of courage in the face of adversity. It is an immersive, intimate look into the birth of a dancer's soul.

Carol Tandava's is a story of anguish, endurance, and triumph, eloquently delivered and danced with hard-earned confidence. She’s been through the mill, and has clearly come out the better person for her troubles. Her character, forged in struggle, takes the stage to inspire the world with the power of the human spirit.

She tells of her inability, during adolescence, to accept her body for what it was - and what it was becoming. Through her story, she reminds us of the pain of self-disapproval and the shame of the mirror. It's a sad and personal story, but told from the safe, distant vantage of maturity. She's been through it… this, and much worse. While devoting herself to self-improvement through physical fitness, she suffered traumatic bodily injury. It was a series of physical wallops, each a serious setback in its own right, that eventually opened her up to the healing power of dance; specifically, belly dance. We hear of abdominal and back injuries, major surgery, and herniated discs. This story of physical and emotional healing, told with passion and gentle humor, is transformative; the audience, like Tandava, may emerge with a new perception of strength…and of beauty.

The show draws on a variety of cultures and musical traditions. We hear the stories of the props familiar to fans of belly dance; their backstories are explained as they are demonstrated in dance. Candles, fans, and finger cymbals bring the stage to life. We learn to see the costumes and accessories as more than mere adornments. Misconceptions about the art are exposed and overturned though entertaining autobiographical recollections. We’re taken from New York, through Cairo, to New Jersey as the story unfolds. It is a breathtaking trip.

Tandava is not alone in all of this. The guest dancers pop in and out to link her to the dance community at large. In what may be the most joyous segment of the show, Tandava and her friends join in a demonstration of cane dancing. Here the ensemble really comes together. They clearly enjoyed what they were doing.

The movement never ceases; even when her feet are still, Tandava's spoken words are articulated with arms, hips, and lips. There is nuance in her fingertips. Her manner of communicating is a joy to experience. Her story is not to be missed.

Editor's note: This performance took place on June 5th, Community Education Center, Philadelphia.

Dave Gallagher is a computer programmer from the Philadelphia area with a life-long passion for discovering how things work. Following decades of an analytic approach to the world, his love of dance was born the moment he first saw


perform; the scales fell from his eyes. Here was something that he didn't need to understand; here, fulfillment came from simply appreciating. He now enjoys exploring the diverse worlds of dance.

Amy SmithComment