Baba Ganoush

By Dick Oakes

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THIS IS HISTORICAL INFORMATION ONLY


Baba Ganoush

Baba Ganoush

Baba Ganoush was a group formed by Patty Farber.

In 2015, Patty wrote:

I was studying at UCLA in the late 1960s, in the dance department. I fell upon Elsie Dunin's Dance of Yugoslavia, and fell madly in love with the music, dance and costumes. I also studied Dance of Yemen with Margalit Oved Marshall, who had been a soloist with the Inbal company of Israel. She was remarkable, and the source of several of my company's dances, including the Camel Dance.

I was teaching jewelry making and macrame at Everywoman's Village in Van Nuys in the early 1970s, and took some belly dancing classes from Diane Webber, who was a celebrity solo dancer who closed down the Renaissance Faires in Agoura with a huge following.

I had found the Faires in the mid 1960s via my parents' friends, who had a craft coop. Soon I applied for my own booth, and was accepted.

So while studying with Diane, the entertainment department of the Faire requested that she add some line dances to her show, and she asked me to help with that, as well as costumes. That was the birth of The Perfumes of Araby.

I was deeply involved with folk dance, had taught modern and folk dance in Liverpool, England in a women's College in 1970 to 1971. During the summer of 1970 I was privileged to spend the summer in Yugoslavia with Elsie, visiting towns and villages, and studying at the folk dance seminar in Badija, Croatia, where I happened to be Tony Shay's dance partner. He invited me to join AMAN when I returned after my year of teaching in England. I was thrilled.

When I returned, I was asked to audition for AMAN, and was not chosen, which was a crushing disappointment, but I think that fueled me to start my own troupe. I had met Sharlyn Sawyer and Cathy Balk living in Preston Ranch in Sonoma County, and met Solomon Felthouse at the Faires. I asked him to play music for the audition for the Pattersons, and Stu Brotman joined him.

With some difficult twists and turns we were hired, but we eventually asked Pitu Guli to do the music, as Sol was in the Flamenco group and they would not pay him twice.

We did our first rehearsals in Van Nuys and Subsequently in Cloverdale, and Pasadena. We performed for two years, 1973 to 1975, but there were five seasons in all with Northern and Southern Faires.

In 1975, a very awkward and complex conflict grew out of some friction with another dance troupe, and after a bitterly painful time of negotiation, we were discontinued from the Faire, along with the Flamenco group and others. Eventually Eastern dancing made its way back into the Faire, with many talented dancers and musicians, including Darioush Sami, Don Brown, and a host of others.

Our era was a highlight of my life, as I was able to express my love for Balkan and Middle Eastern dance, choreography, costuming, and joy as we introduced the Faire goers to this glorious world of dance.

In 2015, Miamon Miller wrote:

The swirl of so many intertwined memories: the shows, playing in front of Steak on a Stake, the heat and dust, the coolness of the early morning before the Faire opened with its mixed aromas of hay and Turkish coffee, the rehearsals in Cloverdale in that funky commune where we slept in the church, the Northern Faire with its weekend round-trip bus trips to Los Angeles, playing in the Bay, being up all day and staying up most the night. Fantastic dancing and intense music-making. Thank you Patty for your creativity, patience and wonderful leadership and thank you one and all for this most special time...
Miamon

In 2015, Sharlyn Sawyer wrote:

So immensely, forever grateful to everyone in the merry Babganoush – Pitu Guli band, and for all of the beautiful memories!... and life lessons... :-) But most of all to dear dear Patty... for so many many reasons... waaaay to numerous to list! Patty, may your deep creative well never run dry, and your world always be filled with rampant joyous color. Thank you once again for putting up with my teenage self, for teaching me to be brave and fearless in creativity, while you patiently trained me in so many of the artistic skills that truly made me who I am today.
With love and gratitude,
Sharlyn

In 2015, David Shochat wrote:

As I read this, I keep running into the fact that there is no "Like" button. Let me add my thanks for the addition to the website. Once again, I am amazed to see pictures of the group that I don't recall ever seeing before. As I have said before, participating in this group was a high point of my life. Still a brilliant memory after 40 years.
David

Here are some of the performers:

Female dancers: Patty Farber, Mish-Mish (Panayota) Sklavos, Sharlyn Sawyer, Cathy Balk, Cathy Shochat, Katy Leaventhal, Linda DeNike, and Barbara Slade.
Male dancers: Dave Shochat, Steve Theodore, Neil Siegel, Doug Davis, and Larry Modell.
Musicians: Mark Levy, Chris Yeseta, Ed Ledell, Miamon Miller, Stuart Brotman, Stewart Mennin, and Andy King.
Guest musicians: John Bilezikjian and Darious Sami.


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Baba Ganoush