Behind the Bra Top

imageBra tops are a common garment worn by bellydancers in both the western and eastern raqs world. They are often accompanied by a belt and skirt or connected in many ways to a costume and always emphasizing the bust.

Decor on the bras can represent lots of different things. Wearing lots of metal has lately been associated with “raqs & rock”… a sort of fusion of western rhythms with eastern ones manifested on a costume. For at least six years we’ve seen a mesh of western couture in the east producing a new look that has been revved up by the dynamic and creative eastern beaders and costume makers. We’ve found this one to be absolutely stunning and created an ensemble to celebrate the style.

imageTraditional beading is still very popular, with simple gold, copper or silver dots covering the bras. We’ve accentuated this one with a gorgeous belt. This costume is versatile and can be worn to represent a number of genres in the dance.

Tell us what styles bring out your raqs best. Post a photo to our facebook page and we’ll enter you to win an MBD prize pack for dancers.

Gems of the South -A Bellydance Competition

imageOur Resident Raissa spent some time at the Gems of the South Bellydance Conference this weekend. She shares with us her thoughts. If you’re interested in being a part of this unique competition next year be sure to contact Mina of Dalloua Dance:

Dalloua Dance presented ‘Gems of the South’ this weekend just outside Atlanta Georgia. This was a raqs based conference that provided not only opportunities to compete but also workshops with truly skilled instructors like Amani Jabril and Naima Sultana.

There was a Saturday night Gala show with some impressive and diverse
performances including a variety of show girl, modern burlesque and African
inspired sets mixed with Raqs. I know that will ruffle some feathers as there
has been a push to keep burlesque and bellydance separate. Trust me, it wasn’t
what one might assume. As a conservative and traditionalist in African and
Mideast art forms, I too have avoided cheering on or encouraging the meshing of
these two types of art simply because removal of clothing and being ultra sexy
have two different meanings in the East. However, what was showcased at the Gems
Gala show was tasteful and presented very well.

It was quite a mix of entertainment in that one minute we’re watching one genre
and the next something completely different. It worked for this program.

Prices to attend and participate were very reasonable. I paid about $26USD for a
VIP seat. I was second row and could see everything clearly.

Our friend and raqs model Faaridah was a guest judge at the event.

Our friend and raqs model Faaridah was a guest judge at the event.

The program began at 10am in the morning. It was a full day of competitions and
workshops featuring a variety of participants. There were a mix of ethnicities,
age groups and skill levels. Many attendees said that everyone that performed
brought their best to the table and there weren’t any one-off oddities…meaning
things that were so far out and non-bellydance that it left an audience
confused. It was instead a really focused conference featuring the various
genres that are umbrella’d in Raqs.

This will most likely be an annual conference so be sure to connect with Mina of
Dalloua Dance to get info on 2014′s competition.

Amani Jabril

Amani Jabril’s performance was top notch!

I do feel that Amani Jabril, as expected, brought the most exciting cultural raqs presentation for the evening. She presented hard core raqs sharqi in the first set as well as Iraqi Qawali/Qawliya style for a second set that blew us away. I went insane with her excellent choice of music, perfect costume and crowd pleasing moves that would have made most Iraqi’s squeal with pride that the nation was not only represented well that night but that a sect of the culture often ignored was praised and highlighted. Amani is an asset to any cultural dance conference because she does “bring it like that.” I see the desire to depict the true Middle East catching on again in the West, but still of all the dancers present, Amani was the main one that presented the region eloquently and with a righteous spirit that let you know she meant business on that stage.

Other notable performances were that of the Gems with their showgirl piece
featuring feathers, silver beads and tushy tail boas. This was very different
with not a stitch of raqs sharqi…simply shiny and fun. It would have made a
great show opener and I hope to see more of those pieces as welcoming sets to
grand nights of culture and dance.


I did return the next day (Sunday) and was granted permission to watch the final
two competitions of the day. There was Onyx/The Alternative bellydance
presentations where one expected the experimental styles and tribal fusion.
Following that were ThePearls/Troupe performances. I’ll elaborate on what I saw
in a different detailed review for my Raqs Atlanta pals.

This competition and conference had a lot of good energy. It was very welcoming,
the venue was pleasant, easy to get to and was very cute, clean and a place to
which I would return. I wouldn’t mind attending this again and I hope that more
ethnic dancers will bring the culture front and center with performances and
participating as spectators. Gems of the south certainly has what it takes to
please those who are passionate about “dance as an art.”

I have so much more to say and look forward to discussing and promoting this
event in the coming weeks. Thanks to all who made this possible! Mabrook Mina!
Shukran Jazillan!

Bellydance Spotlight: Anasma & Beatbox Guitar

This month we are happy that our studio will feature World Bellydance Alliance on several occasions. They’ll be teaching every Tuesday night from 7-9pm and will also host a workshop featuring Anasma of France.

From the WBDA website:

Anasma will be featured this year in Atlanta with World Bellydance Alliance

Join us for a weekend of dance and music as World Belly Dance Alliance presents the talented Anasma, Pete List and Rob Mastrianni of Beatbox Guitar in “Collaboration and Creation: The Edge of Music and Dance”!

The weekend will consist of workshops featuring both Anasma and Beatbox Guitar, a lunch discussion lecture, and Saturday night show followed by a hafla after party!

All workshops and the lunch discussion lecture will be held at Pera Dance and Event Studio.

The Saturday night show and hafla will be hosted by Steve’s Live Music in Sandy Springs, GA. Atlanta band favorite,Aviva and the Flying Penguins will kick off the evening followed by headliners, Anasma and Beatbox Guitar, who will be sharing the stage with some local dance favorites you know and love! You’ll want to stick around for the hafla after party following the show! Pete and Rob will be providing the music, so you’ll want to come ready to dance and have a good time! Why would you want to be anywhere else??? Enjoy a great show and come hang with us and say hi to Anasma, Rob, and Pete!

The shop will be open before, during and after the workshop. All attendees will receive 5% off purchases of $40 or more and 10% off $60 or more.

Staying Fit in 2013…

Okay, so right now in North America the holiday season is underway and we’re full on it as well with sales and cool costumes…and responding to fans  between bites of brownies and sweets on our desks. So, let yourself live a little…enjoy your wine, cheese, sweets and sugar. Dine and dance all night. But starting the 2nd of January we encourage everyone to take a good assessment of their health and well-being. What can you do better in 2013 as far as “your health?” Did you set realistic health goals in 2012? Did you meet them? Did members from your troupe make a group plan to do x,y,z and accomplish it? Either way, we’re going to do this together in 2013. It’s the Yoga Bellydance Pledge to Fitness!

Most dance troupes include Yoga in their routines and general fitness as a great way to stretch the body and prepare it for dance. We believe in this. It’s  a great idea. Our resident Raissa follows Deepak Chopra’s yoga instructor and friend Tara Stiles. We know it works and is a great way to help your body tone and feel better. We’ve also invested in it. Right now at our online store we’re offering yoga mats and other yoga gear for our friends and fans who practice this very important movement. So, were offering you, our readers, to take the Yoga Bellydance Pledge… a commitment to yourself to practice, 2 days minimum out of your week, Yoga and also bellydance. This will lift your spirit and help you stay in shape. This is not a pledge to lose weight…it is a pledge to activate your body’s immune system.
Two responders will win a Yoga Mat and a cd of bellydance music to help them continue this way of life. All we ask is that you, or you and your troupe commit to doing Yoga and bellydance two times a week. Make it fun. Wear some cool fusion costumes while you do it. Pack an extra hipscarf and really let the fringe sway in class. Make it fun!! Most important do it for you! Be all about your fitness life!  
To participate find any of our Yoga Products on our Pinterest page, Google+ and Twitter. Comment with your Retweet, or RePin  of one of our Yoga or bellydance items with the slogan, “I pledge to Yoga and Bellydance” and you’re automatically entered to win. If you need encouragement or are not able to meet this pledge on your own, let us know…we’ll try to help you through it. In this busy world it is so hard to find time for ourselves when commitment to work, family and so much more keep us away from taking care of our bodies. Make 2013 a year that also includes you! Best Wishes from our team to yours!