This past weekend, a very dear friend of mine, Tom Ryan, passed away quietly in his sleep. I met Tom (Rashid) when I was nine years old. I worked the front desk for my mother’s classes at the studio she rented in San Francisco at that time. Because I was just a kid, most of the students didn’t really notice or speak to me. But Tom did. He talked with me and listened to what I had to say. Every week he brought me a box of my favorite Japanese candies. And as time went along, Tom become a brother to me. . . the only brother I ever had. We played, danced, laughed and even argued. . . just like all siblings. But we truly loved each other.
Tom loved Middle Eastern music. He constantly played it, often going to sleep while listening to an album over and over again. He was a strong believer in technique and knowing dance history, but where he really excelled was sentiment. Tom understood the music, and he spent hours absorbing the layers and nuances. He had a true artist’s heart; his choreography and performances showed his carefully crafted movements designed to convey the true soul of the music.
Tom was a treasure to the belly dance community, and he will be greatly missed. I feel blessed to have known him and to have spent so much quality time with him over the years. Tom, I love you dearly. Thank you for being my brother and my friend. I miss you, and I will carry you in my heart always!