For Love of a Dancer
Something very special happened Sunday night at Red Violin. People came together, a lot of people came together. Not for a baptism or a brith or a wedding or a funeral, but for a life celebration.
Okokan Productions’ Sophie Giraud and Juan Carlos Bulnes — who promote live Latin, Cuban, World, Jazz and Brazilian music at Red Violin — organized “For Love of a Dancer,” a fundraiser for 32 year old dancer Luna Yatsula who is battling with a rare adreno-cortical cancer.
People who had not seen Luna for years turned up or somehow found this night and this place. Red Violin’s phone was ringing off the hook as people called in well after 7:30pm as the place filled.
Erica, who used to dance with Luna and lost track of her seven years ago, turned up to see her friend. “We used to collaborate and dance together.” Erica said. “I had been looking for her for a long time when I noticed the announcement.”
Ali, Luna’s husband was almost overwhelmed by the support and affection the dance community and others gave.
Afro-Samba Diva Guiomar Campbell said, “This is what friendship is. Luna connects through dancing and movement. Luna! We love you.”
Iranian Singer Toktam — with husband Askhan on keyboards and Hossein Kondazi — introduced her set by saying, “Luna, we all love you. We’re going to the 70s ‘I’ll Survive.’ ” And, she launched into a Middle East version of that disco classic. The words much more poignant now.
Nadir danced with Ali Kurdi and the Atlal band. Zeki and his 13 year old son were on drums. Luna first started dancing with Atlal.
Halfway through the evening, Luna herself said, “You turned me into a dancer! … People I worked with for many years… Nadir played at my very first show.”
Briefly acknowledging her struggle, Luna continued, “For all of us – be hopeful, if this turns out well, you will be the first to know.”
The celebration continued with renewed vigour and purpose. Throughout the entire evening, their little son Mehdi blissfully slept as only a young one can, confident that things will turn out well.
Significantly, women danced – flamenco, samba, belly dancing – from all over the middle and near east. Their dances celebrated passion, strength, artistry and determination. It was the women who physically demonstrated that they are one with Luna’s battle. Watching their faces, one could see the passion and energy that they passed on to her.
Over 28 performers plus staff and volunteers came together to make this special night happen.
“For Love of a Dancer,” also assisted the birth of a new band, working title, Cafe Cubano. Ten members, five from Valentin Los del Caribe and five other musicians came together.
They are:Yanni, Vocals; Jorge Betancour, band director and keyboard; Ranier and Alex, Trumpets; Aris, Conga; Biscaino, Bongo; Luis Celix, Timbales; Junior and Joel on Chorus; Frank, Bass.
People were able to contribute through a raffle, three tickets for $5.00, for some very nice prizes. Lula Lounge donated a dinner and show. Red Violin donated a dinner and a show. Pomegranate, an Iranian restaurent on College Street donated a dinner. Pikto Lab and Gallery contributed a “Supersampler” camera. And, Roy Thompson Hall donated two pairs of tickets to see Peru Negro.
All this while successfully operating her own dance school in Granada, Spain.
As an instructor, Luna is a very sought after, and has taught repeat, sold-out workshops in Canada, Spain, Lebanon, India, Mexico, UK and Dubai.
Luna is known as a sincere and generous teacher who focuses on, expression, musicality and individuality. Luna works with students not only to improve technique and skill but to tap into their inner spirit and get to the art and soul of the dance.