John Compton Tribute

"Valentino is alive and well, dancing in Sunnyvale"...San Francisco Chronicle

"John brings a solid, aggressive presence to the dance as he overwhelms crowds with his crisp spins and dramatic tray routines"...Middle Eastern Dance Association, Vancouver British Columbia

"Dressed in the manner of the ancient caliph, he swirls his way into dreams, it's as if Valentino has come back to life."...San Francisco Examiner.

The eyes, brilliant and blue. The gaze, captivating and mysterious. Poise, grace, hypnotic movement and many years of discipline create the mystique, the magic, that is John Compton.  John Compton is America's first dancer in the "Khawal"  genre. "Khawal" was what they called the "dancing boys" in Egypt during the Ottoman Empire when it was taboo for women to dance in pubic.  

He first performed as a featured soloist in Jamila Salimpour's Bal Anat Troupe in 1973.  He played large Syrian cast finger cymbals and made the tray balancing act his specialty.  He became a star within the Bal Anat Troupe repetoire, then in Patti Farber's folk dance ensemble, Baba Ganooj.    Within the  troupe, John preferred to dance solo and remembers being influenced by postcards of Moroccan men dance with a tray on their heads.   

After Bal Anat there was Las Vegas and then several years at Finnochio's on Broadway in North Beach, San Francisco.   His six-year contract introduced him to tourists, circus performers, transvestites and transsexual characters, and many celebrities such as  Bette Davis and comedian Martha Ray.  In 1976 he formed his own show ---an opening extravaganza for the King Tut exhibit at the De Young Museum in San Francisco.   He is the Co-Founder and Co-Director of The Hahbi'Ru Middle Eastern Dance Ensemble.  He  shares this position with Rita, also known as Rebaba.  Hahbi'ru is an early term for the Bedouin tribes who wandered the Arabian deserts enriching themselves by taking what they pleased from the many countries they traversed.  The colorful Hahbi 'Ru' Troupe's focus is on the Old World Folkloric style, quite different from the Cabaret style or American Tribal style most people think of when they picture Middle Eastern dance or belly dance.  Their dances are based on tradition with a bit of creative & colorful flair.

Today John Compton is performing throughout the U.S. with the San Francisco Bay area being his home base.  John's dance is a delightful mix of fun, technique, musicality and humor, and physical strength.