Raqs Stars As Neighbours! Jacques Al Asmar in Atlanta

Jacques Al Asmar in show
Jacques Al Asmar in show

It’s not every day a Raqs Star becomes your neighbour. For those in Atlanta, they are getting used to this. They are no strangers to stars showing up and moving in. The lastest star to Raqs Atlanta (literally), is Jacques Al Asmar. Our resident raissa was eager to introduce him to the community. She began with this great interview.

Why Atlanta, Jacques? What brings you here and how long will you stay with us?

JAA: Atlanta was my first pick. The truth is I wanted to be spiritually grounded. Please don’t confuse that with religion. I wanted to be close to a life coach, who I work with closely. I plan on staying as long as it takes to cross into the dimensions I want to explore in life. I have to admit I miss San Francisco, but I’ve accomplished a tremendous amount of personal growth in Atlanta.

Tell us what has been your most memorable childhood/young adult memory of Raqs Sharqi.

JAA: Great question. During our family summer vacation in the mountains of Lebanon, I recall being around 5 or 6 years of age and watching Nadia Gamal, who was our neighbor in Lebanon practice with her band. Little did I know that I would end up begging her to let me sit-in during rehearsals and begin imitating her moves.

JAA1As an adult, I recall a trip to Cairo with Amina in 1997. We arrived late at night and most of the shows that featured current working stars were sold out. We ended up in a dive watching about 20 amateur belly dancers perform till 8 am. It’s one of the rare nights where I walked away with complete satisfaction

When did you know you were ready to do this professionally?

JAA: I still don’t think I’m ready and I doubt I will ever call myself a professional in the field of Raqs Sharqi. It’s an education without graduation.

How often do you travel for dance?

JAA: My travels have slowed down due to my hectic schedule of current studies. However, I still travel internationally to teach and perform at least 2 to 3 times a year. My favorite destination is the annual conference in Beirut.

What are your hopes for your time in Atlanta?

JAA: I hope to get to know the dance community and allow them to get to know me. I like building families wherever I am. Atlanta is great city. It needs more Middle-Eastern nightlife and venues that can feature live bands and performers. You never know, I may end up investing in an Arabic nightclub.


We are so excited about him being here and wish him the best. We will do what we can to support his endeavors and plans as brothers and sisters in the industry. Jacques Al Asmar will be seen around town at some upcoming events and more information will be available on the Raqs Atlanta Blog.

Thanks for reading!

Halloween and Harvest Time – Let’s Get Dressed!

bD2Halloween and Harvest time are big for bellydance haflas. We’ve created a special section on our page separate from our cultural costumes that will allow you to wear something appropriate for the season. Our focus is primarily for those who are performing at shows or haflas this month. You’ll perhaps have a ton of students and friends who are not familiar with bellydance or those who brand new? If so, it’s a great time to introduce them to beginner costumes and accessories for dancers.

Enjoy the selections on our site and let us know if you need a professional costume for extremely important events this season. It’s that time of year! Alert us in advance and we’ll give you an estimate on how much time it will take to get the outfit made to fit your measurements of choice.

Please be careful this year, plan accordingly, go with a friend and send us photos of your Halloween and harvest time adventures!

Care for a Caftan? How about a Thobe?

Urban Shimmer Series
Urban Shimmer Series

A large percentage of our raqs fashion has a history behind it. These are clothes that we see in our own countries and cultures. Of recent, we have gone a bit further to do our best to incorporate some of the latest styles seen not just on dancers in the east but those in attendance and in the audience. We look to our friends and our own closets for inspiration. We are continuously peeking out the window, headed to the cafes and asking ‘what is really in style?’

One item that rarely goes out of style are thobes and caftans. They serve multiple purposes but are worn most notably for preserving modesty. Our resident raissa explains…

I saw so many people in workshops and conferences running around in really cute classwear. Some were in short belly bare cropped tops, some tube tops, others in spaghetti strap camisoles and a myriad of bottoms including boy shorts or capris plus a coined or fringed hipscarf. When it was time for lunch or just some casual strolling between classes, these attendees were covering up in big sweatshirts or clunky jackets as there doesn’t seem to be a thin, covering to wear atop a nice classwear set. I kept thinking, wouldn’t a beautiful jilbab or something similar be much more elegant for covering their unique workout wear? So, we thought of this. The Chebba Hoodie, The Pera Hoodie and the Urban Shimmer series.

Pera Thobe
Pera Hoodie (can also be used as casual thobe for modest wear)

Pera Hoodie – This garment is long and meets the ankles. It’s made of a durable patterned fabric and closes with a string tie. Though fairly sheer you can see that it does the job of masking one’s classwear fairly well. It’s also used for regular fashion and to preserve one’s modesty. It’s lightweight and can be folded neatly into most carryalls for travel. We hope you’ll find it as useful as we have. Get a few as gifts for your friends, makes a great item for birthdays and special milestones.

Check out our other selections in our new arrivals on missbellydance.com

Thanks for reading!



Music Lesson with a Legend: Dr. George Sawa

Our resident raissa shares a great music resource with everyone today. It’s a music lesson from well respected Dr. George Sawa!

From Dr. Sawa's FB page, join him online via his site for great  cultural information.
From Dr. Sawa’s FB page, join him online via his site for great cultural information.
I met Dr. George Sawa at the International Bellydance Conference of Canada in 2008. I was immediately enraptured by his wonderful knowledge…particularly that of music. Thrilled that he was offering some online mini-courses and resources, I felt it crucial to share.

The first one covers sagats or zills (finger cymbals) which we trust you all know are used by dancers but also by musicians. For years, playing sagats for a dancer was a notable place in a band. However, over time, many dancers began playing them while they danced. Either is fine, there is no right or wrong but there is an art to playing them. See Dr. Sawa’s video

Another in the series is on playing the Qanun. This is a vital instrument in the world of Middle Eastern dance and is often accompanied by a list of other great items that together can make an orchestra. I saw Dr. Sawa play this LIVE on one of the many outstanding performance nights at the IBCC festival (which is sadly no longer running but there are many other great things happening at Arabesque/with Yazmina Ramzy). Enjoy this instructional, it’s very helpful for those who are interested in taqsims.

For more great music and authentic resources, visit http://www.georgedimitrisawa.com

New Arrivals for Fall at MBD!

After a month of travelling to various dance communities and spending a wonderful 5 days at Essence of Bellydance IV with Bellydance Evolution, we are ready to roll into the Fall Festival Season. This year MissBellydance.com is proud to present new items in Pera Prints. We’ve been to various parts of the globe and our home country to bring you a taste of our culture and fashion experience.

imageThis fall we’ll share several new outfit and styles that fit everyone from petite to plus and all with a modern aesthetic. Our first two outfit are the Pera Paisley. This deep blue matches nicely with the print. It is flexible and stretchy with a wrap middle, allowing you the extra comfort you need. It is also very stylish with nice edges and a great fit. image

imageThis also comes with a ruffled capped sleeve and each piece can be purchased separately. The skirt twirls and swirls beautifully. We recommend it for the fall and spring. These and many other cool styles will be featured each week for the next few months. Pair these items with your favourite jewelry. Buy a Mazaag CD to take to a party and make a nice evening of music and fashionable merriment. Send us a picture when you do! We’ll also be highlighting some of the great costumes shares of the summer season, thanks to all who submitted pictures these past two seasons.

Pre-order your outfits today! Check out all of our new arrivals and watch this space!

Thanks for reading!
Team MBD

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