Fantasic Faaridah, the raqs star speaks!

imageWe have the pleasure of knowing so many great leaders in the raqs world, from the dancers to the producers and the fans. Over the last few years we’ve watched many surpass milestone after milestone, doing things that no other dance team, show host or group of enthusiasts have done. One of the many include Faaridah of Atlanta Fusion Bellydance who is bringing Suhaila to Atlanta this weekend, one of many great things she is doing in 2014. Please enjoy part I of this interview…

Amoraat Dance Troupe is a professional raqs troupe based in Atlanta, Faaridah is a member

Amoraat Dance Troupe is a professional raqs troupe based in Atlanta, Faaridah is a member

Many may remember Faaridah from RakStar, a raqs conference in Miami that has featured greats like Tito Seif and others from our region of the world. We recently sat down with her to talk about her accomplishments, awards and what’s to come.

Why Rakstar of all the competitions around the world?
Well, first of all, this was my very first competition! I was frightened but my dance sisters kept us driven and focused. RakStar is a very wonderful event. This was my 2nd time attending. The producer, Virginia, runs an extremely well organized weekend and the judges are some of the most talented artists in the Middle East and US. Her shows are very creative and full of life! It’s a huge event and I’m really happy we had a chance to experience it. Not to mention, I really love Miami! It’s such a diverse city, with so much culture and full of action. From the food to the music, there’s just so much to enjoy!

Did you meet any other dancers there and who were the most memorable?
At RakStar, I was fascinated by the dancers from Asia. In this particular competition, there was a troupe from Japan. They were very focused, the ENTIRE time (I tried to make small talk, and they shut me down, quickly…..smile and walk away!). They exuded confidence and determination. They were pleasant but it was clear (to me) that they were there for 2 reasons:
1. To absorb as much as they could from the workshop
2. To Win.

There was also a group of teenage dancers (the Rakettes, I believe). They were age 14 to maybe 18 and really blew me away. From the costuming to how they executed the choreography, you can feel the passion.

It was truly a memorable experience and I’m looking forward to it again this October; whether we just perform in one of the shows or compete again, Amoraat Dance Ensemble will be there!

That’s incredible! It’s good to see you representing Atlanta by roaming the globe, seeing other cities’ communities and bridging the cultural gaps that others may not have the opportunity to gel. We may need to bring the Japanese group over and give them some Atlanta Love, as we have a different style of mingling in our competition circuit. It’s lovely that Japan and many parts of Asia are (and have been really) doing so much in Middle Eastern art. Maybe that’s something we need to bridge here, let’s look at that soon. Wow, you’ve given me some ideas.

Faaridah and team (photos by *Studio Jaki, see below for booking info)

Faaridah and team (photos by *Studio Jaki, see below for booking info)

But I’m curious about you personally…
You host some of the city’s top events, how do you manage all of this and a career?

I really don’t know! I take it one day at a time and I really enjoy what I do. I think the biggest factor is that I have a husband who really understands my passion and accepts me for who I am. I have a very rewarding full-time career working for one of the Big 4 Consulting firms. Dance was something that I did for fun, after work, to create some balance in my life, but after a few years of classes, I became immersed in it.

Event producing was more of an organic venture that I fell in love with. I travel weekly for work, so being able to bring some of my favorite artists to my home city was something that I became passionate about. Traveling out of town for workshops and events can be very fun but also very expensive, so being able to enjoy these events in your own city is something that really excites me. Plus I’m a project manager by profession, so organizing events that I personally like just makes sense! :)

What do you aim to do to make you stand apart from the others?
I try to be true to who I am: a hardworking, committed dancer, performer, career woman and most importantly, a student (for life). I am constantly training (workshops in Atlanta and across the US, 2-3 weeklong trainings annually with Suhaila Salimpour, online classes, and weekly classes with instructors in the cities where I’m working). I also really try to avoid being defined by titles. I enjoy Oriental Dance/”Cabaret,” as well as Tribal Fusion, Bollywood, Bhangra, Salsa, Bachata, Ballet and many other dance forms. I think to really understand what you like or where you fit, you should have a full perspective (and I think there’s still so much more to learn).

Atlanta Fusion Bellydance wearing costumes by MissBellydance.com -photographer, Jaki Hawthorne of Studio Jaki, the city's #1 Raqs Photographer and more.

Atlanta Fusion Bellydance wearing costumes by MissBellydance.com -photographer, Jaki Hawthorne of Studio Jaki, the city’s #1 Raqs Photographer and more.

That’s a big responsibility…and you do it very well. We admire that. We also love that you are here with us in Atlanta…a major raqs hub.
In your opinion, what makes Atlanta the heart of raqs sharqi in the southeast?

Atlanta is such a diverse city with so much talent! That’s the reason why I stayed here (this was supposed to be a short stop after college, over 10 years ago!). I think out of all of the cities I’ve had the opportunity to visit, Atlanta, by far, has one of the biggest and most inviting raqs sharqi communities. We are really building a strong network here in Atlanta and I think that’s what makes us so well respected. There’s really room for everyone, and as a community, we make it a point to promote that.

Any advice to new dancers?
I would say, keep learning. There’s always room to grow. Meet new people, make friends and respect the differences. There is soooo much to learn from fellow dancers. Don’t limit yourself. Make the best of each opportunity! If you enjoy it, stay focused. Avoid drama J Live your life to the fullest.

We want to thank Faaridah for bringing Suhaila to Atlanta for exciting workshops that really challenge and push dancers to be the best. This year’s workshops and shows are something we’ve looked forward to for months! This is sure to be one of the top events of the year and MissBellydance.com will be right there cheering and supporting this program. For tickets please click here!

Tomorrow we delve into the Suhaila weekend workshop and show highlights in Part II!!

from ATL Fusion BD

from ATL Fusion BD

*Like the troupe photos? We do too! Click here to learn more about Studio Jaki and Jaki Hawthorne photography.

Getting Ready For Conferences

imageThis year MissBellydance has been visiting dance conferences and programs to meet with our friends and fans in the industry. It is a lot of work. One thing we advise all dancers to do before travelling abroad and or for long periods of time is to make a checklist of what you need. Try not to pack in a hurry. Set aside one night to go over everything you may need and check it off one by one.

Of course we are all human. We forget! So in addition to checklist, there are other things to keep in mind when heading out for a bit of hipshimmy.

1. Make A List (you got that already)
2. Pack according to your class schedule. -If you are taking zill classes and know that you’ll be doing tribal ATS performances with zills, add that tribal skirt or top (or something similar) to the days’ outfits.
3. Bring an extra costume -If there is a hafla night with open stage and you want to be front and center, bring a costume and dance in it. Make sure the costume is cross-genre so you can do a number of different moves.
4. Visit the hotel website. Learn as much as you can about where you are staying. Find out if they have airport shuttle service so you don’t have to hail a cab or worry about ground transportation
5. Bring twice as much cash. Often times we think we won’t buy too much or won’t need but x amount of currency only to find out we were wrong. So, add extra to your account or bring a credit card for emergencies.

We hope this helps you out, let us know if you have travel fears, are headed out to your first bellydance conference miles away from home or have general conference questions. We love to hear from our fans and help out in any way we can.

lots of tops and accessories on www.missbellydance.com

lots of tops and accessories on www.missbellydance.com



If you or your troupe performs in one our bellydance and raqs sharqi costumes, send us photo or video to any of our social media platforms.
One winner per quarter will be awarded $75 toward their next purchase.

Happy Dancing!
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What Will You Wear?

A popular style for modest family style dancing and private parties at restaurants...

A popular style for modest family style dancing and private parties at restaurants…

We’re discussing this costume on AskMissBellydance this week. After a weekend of shows and events we’re looking at what outfits work best and which venues. We found that this particular style works best for restaurants and birthday parties and family style events where a more modest, elegant look is required or desired.

We want to hear your thoughts. When dancing for families, conservative audiences and places where there are teens and children, what costumes do you feel best wearing, what is your style?

*All participants in the discussion will be entered to win accessories next week from MissBellydance.com. You will be notified here in the thread. Enjoy!

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: http://www.dalloua.com/Gemsofthesouth.html

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.

Earlier…
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!