Flamenco and Raqs Sharqi – Relatives in the Art

The history of Flamenco dance is so vast. Most historically conscious dancers know that this art has its origins in India and if you watch movies like Gypsy Caravan (the documentary film) or read/study with Aunty Rocky (Morocco) both can give you some really amazing insight to this art and its background. Many bellydancers love to borrow from this particular dance. It is not wrong but there is a respectful way to do that. We’d like to again, remind our readers that we are sponsors of the Flamenco Arabe Dance Seminar coming up in less than 6 months. This workshop will allow you to learn the roots of Flamenco technique, ask questions and get a better understanding of how it can be fused without confusing your audience.

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We do want everyone to take some time to look at the great artists of this era via video. Who are your favourites past and present? Let us know your thoughts. Two interested fans will be entered into a drawing to win two skirts that are perfect for this workshop. Just respond in the comments section or leave us a note on Facebook.
Can’t wait to see everyone there! Again, you can register here.
-Team MBD

Dancing, Dining and Diversity

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Soraiah Saied of Egypt

Top Egyptian Star Returns to the City
Last year Sorraiah Saied came into our personal lives and stole our hearts. She is by far one of the most amazing instructors we’ve ever encountered and we are overjoyed at her return to Essence of Bellydance 2016. We hope she continues to be a featured star and sister to this outstanding Raqs Conference. Get the schedule here

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Classes are comfortable and the crowds are friendly…

We hear so many stars, fans and conference attendees rave about Essence and how they can’t wait to return. We agree. It is one of the top notch stops on the dance calendar that we prepare long in advance to attend. The hotel is incredible with modern condo style luxury suites at phenomenal prices. It’s situated in the heart of a very happening and upbeat city that is diverse and easy to navigate thanks to local transit and car services. Most restaurants close around 2am-3am and really famous southern spots stay open all night with 24/7 menus like The Diner franchise located at pulsepoints around the city and deep into the suburbs. Atlanta is one of the best places to host an event and it is home to our favourite annual dance events.

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One of Soraiah’s top pics – Photos by Studio Jaki

Atlanta is also home to our main HQ, MissBellydance.com. For over 13 years we’ve been raqin’ out with fellow Atlantans and keeping our prices low because we make a lot of our costumes ourselves. Come say hi to members of our team at Essence of Bellydance. We’d love to meet you in person. We’ll be doing trivia and other fun things online that weekend. Those who are present will be able to pick up prize packs and discounts on their favourite costumes. So much to look forward to this September. We can’t wait to spend it with Sorraiah Saied, Team Essence and YOU!

Keep it Raqin’
-Team MBD

Flamenco Arabe Workshop – Save the Date!

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In February we’ll be celebrating the Art of Flamenco with some really great dancers. Flamenco is what we and others consider a sister dance to Raqs Sharqi. You can learn more about the workshop using this link. We’ll let them educate you on the amazing footwork, hands, music and history while we focus on the fashion.

In recent years many dancers have fused Flamenco with their art. Full 25yard skirts are often used in that fusion and we’re giving away two skirts (one for the winner and one of their friends) plus two free spots in the actual workshop. It’s a great chance to be a part of this interactive learning opportunity. All you have to do is tell us why you want to learn about Flamenco or what it means to you. Winners will be picked at random and in true MBD style we’ll be giving away other gifts as entries come in. Send them via our FB page. Just post them to our wall.

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We can’t wait to hear from you and to give away these great skirts. If you’re eager to get a skirt now you can grab one for your own raqs treasure chest. There’s also some great jewelry. Just take your pick here. If you register for the workshop and end up being one of the winners you will be refunded. Have a great time and let us know how  much you love Raqs Sharqi and the art of Flamenco dance.

Amazing Memories of Amar Gamal

 

Coming up next weekend, Amar Gamal will be in town to teach a raqs workshop. Our resident historian and raqs traveller discussed with fellow dancers what it was like to take from her.

I was so thrilled when I learned that Amar Gamal was coming to our area. I had been fascinated by her work  since the day I saw her on the Gordon Elliot show back in like…1999? I remember visiting a friend from Kenya’s home to watch her on this episode as I didn’t have cable in my dorm room. She and her roommate were kind to turn off the news and switch the channel to The Food Network for an hour. This was a big deal because they were big on watching nothing but news. However, seeing the previews of Amar made them turn the channel and watch her with me for an hour.  Afterwards I searched for Amar Gamal online as I do with dancers who just floor me. I learned as much about her as I could and then went to study with her in Nashville’s International Community with her host Monica John.

Sadly I was too excited and star struck to complete the work she had prepared for us. Her style was full of amazing technique and passion. There were elements of other dances (Modern and Jazz I believe) for her transitions and that segued into these smooth, amazing bursts of pure raqs sharqi as she shimmied or hip dropped. Her raqs presentation was filled with effortless energy as if she was gifted with this ability to move flawlessly and I don’t doubt for a minute that she was simply born with this talent. Every move was so sharp and perfect it was overwhelming to the point I started crying (tears of joy) watching her. She mastered it so well with her own outstanding personal touch. I was floored with amazement.

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Nawar and Amar at Essence of Bellydance 2013

The workshop wasn’t hard but I definitely felt challenged.  Had I been in better shape physically (I had been diagnosed with some stress-related blood sugar issues and was quite ill when I went to see her) and not been so star struck I would have lasted a lot longer. One of the well-trained dancers in the workshop (Gina) was really killing it. Amar was quick to praise her and acknowledge her skill so we had another body in the room from which to follow in an effort to master the steps. Amar remained very visible and worked hard to make sure everyone understood the moves. We learned technique first and after lunch we did a short choreography where we were able to use the techniques we went over earlier. The level of professionalism and fusion of Modern and Jazz were perfect. There’s a way to fuse other dances and then there’s a way to make a mess of it. Amar Gamal’s inclusion of the additional dances was refined, beautiful and perfect. The entire workshop was a turning point for me.  I’ve always thought raqs sharqi was beautiful and I felt a since of pride in it…but my goodness, I never realised how good this art form can look until I studied with Amar.

The workshop also reinforced my belief that one really must dedicate quality time to the art outside of weddings and haflas with your family. I think we as kids from the culture have to get away from the idea that just because we are from (insert Mideast/African nation or the child of those from the region) we are going to be automatic pros. I never saw myself as such but I expected to master the art pretty fast and I did not in this course.  Despite having taken modern and ballet, I was still behind and didn’t know some of the terminology. I always promote spending time in the culture and that goes without saying. But, if one is going to be a pro, spending time with the music, in a classroom setting alongside a teacher who can give you industry terms and critique is also key. After this workshop I wanted to give  several hours a day to this art in order to produce a flawless look.  Amar’s workshops will jumpstart you to the next level in raqs sharqi.  If you want to be on the pro circuit or add finesse to your raqs art, then get with her.

Will you be able to dance like her after this workshop? I don’t think Amar can be replicated. I’m not sure any amount of time can produce a clone so gorgeous and skilled but she can be saluted and honoured in your work when you put forth the effort. I’ve seen people who studied with her and continued to perfect their raqs presentations with her guidance. They are some of the people you see at top competitions today. So it’s well worth the investment. To start that process, go to her classes and workshops. You will see the difference in your own approach to raqs sharqi immediately. I’m one of the fortunate ones to have had that opportunity and now AFBD has followed up with another chance to study with her. Eventhough I’m recovering from an injury, I still plan to be there and absorb as much as I can. -AA

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Courtesy AFBD, Amar Gamal

Wow, what insight! MissBellydance.com will be in studio the entire weekend as the workshops take place in our home as well. We’re offering a couponcode to those who need to buy things early. You can contact us online and we’ll send it to you. We’re going to look into an in-store pick up option for those who are local. That way you can come in and pick it up when you arrive to events.

Thank you so much for being supportive of Atlanta Fusion Bellydance. If you have not registered, be sure to take a moment and do that here. See you in the studio!

-Team MBD

Swap N Shop & Help Kittens!? Oh yeah!

This weekend we’re excited to give a portion of our sales to Cats in the Cradle no kill shelter. You can join us on site at MissBellydance.com to take advantage of $40 belts for costumes, 25% off professional costumes and so much more. You can also learn more about the shelter and help them with their costs. This shelter provides so much for cats and you can visit them!

Learn more at the weekend Swap N Shop featuring vendors like MissBellydance.com and many more, plus a big party in honour of Prince will follow at Atlanta Fusion Bellydance (their studio is on site). Snag a purple ticket with this link. Can’t wait to meet everyone! Gonna be a lot of fun for a great cause!
See you there!

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PROUD SPONSOR of Essence of Bellydance 2016

Once again we’re excited about Essence of Bellydance! This year we’ll have representatives present throughout the entire weekend. We’ll be selling just a few of our popular items and also offering you a chance to pre-order or come by our place, during your time at the festival, to try on different things you want to buy. May we recommend the following?

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Beilasi worn by Karma Karmelita of Atlanta

 

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Allow us to make a plug for Studio Jaki who will be doing photoshoots on site. Sign up!
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save 10% on your future order at MissBellydance.com when attending this event.

 

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Spinning Spirit worn by dancer Karma Karmelita of Atlanta

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All of this and more are available on www.missbellydance.com – write to us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Instagram to learn more about each outfit. We’ll be posting videos throughout our time there. Click here and join the fun!

Bellydance Online – Another Way to Learn

There are a lot of thoughts around this topic and we’re in agreement that one should definitely take advantage of classes in person. However, for some, that’s not always possible. As much as we agree one can’t do all things online because one can miss the benefits of being social, you can still gain a lot from web-based raqs sharqi courses. Like it or not, they aren’t going anywhere and we’re happy about that.

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Suhaila Salimpour offers a highly-praised online course http://www.salimpourschoolonline.com

During Bellydance Fashion Week, several courses were made available online. We did have attendees tune-in and leave comments. They interacted from the comfort of their homes. If only things like this were available years ago for those with broken legs, the sick or those who were just too far away to take a two-day trip half around the world.

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Eshta Amar’s course was offered online during Bellydance Fashion Week Atlanta. We’re grateful the team made that available.

As with anything, use the internet responsibly. Use online courses to gain skills and become better at the art vs. avoiding the social aspect that is a part one’s dance community. We look forward to making many things available via web-based alternatives and not just our clothing. We understand that sometimes a fan just can’t make it. So kudos to those who are offering these classes and thinking outside the box. They are bound to bring in more interest and encourage us all to get together in person for some quality raqs time.

Thanks for reading!
-Team MBD

Aziza’s Got Performance Skills!

 

Aziza NawalJoin Aziza Nawal today at Atlanta Fusion Bellydance during Bellydance Fashion Week as she demystifies becoming a professional Belly Dancer and teaches performance skills. This workshop will discuss musicality, how do engage with a variety of audiences (on stage, restaurant setting, outdoors, etc…), costuming, stage presence and more!

Aziza Nawal has been involved in Oriental Dance (belly dance) for over 15 years. In addition to regular and guest appearances in restaurants and stage shows throughout the U.S., Aziza Nawal was the winner of the Middle Eastern Dance in North America competition in 2002, placed Third at the 2005 Double Crown Competition and finished 3rd Runner-up at the Belly Dancer of the Universe Competition in 2006. She has appeared on WGCL’s “Good Morning Atlanta”, Fox Television’s “30 Seconds to Fame” and recently featured on “Yildiz Yagmuru”, a live variety show filmed in Istanbul, Turkey. Aziza Nawal has always continued to enrich her dance education by pursuing many styles and has proven her diversity by becoming member of Awalim Tribal Dance Company in 2009.

As an instructor, Aziza Nawal has taught ongoing group classes and specialty workshops in the Southeastern United States since 1998. She was a featured instructor and performer at the Annual Mabruk Festival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and has also taught workshops in Seattle, Washington, and Tulsa, Oklahoma.

 

Click Here to learn more about today’s Performance Skills class during Bellydance Fashion Week. Use code BDFW2016 to save 10% on orders this week. Stop by in person and stock up on accessories, costumes and more at http://www.missbellydance.com’s in-house boutique.

#KeepShimmying

-Team MBD

 

Meet Mehmet & Aya at Shimmies & Shiraz

 

Aya1Ever desired to run off to Turkey and sit with locals to learn the intricate side of raqs sharqi and culture? Well, you don’t have to go very far. MissBellydance.com has roots in Turkiye/Turkey and during Bellydance Fashion Week 2016 you’ll get the chance to study and learn a few fashion tips from locals. Both Aya of Istanbul and Mehmet will be around on Friday to go over how to accessorize your costume featuring the latest trends in dance both here and in Turkiye.

You’ll get to hear first hand what is trending and what is new plus how to feature it on your own outfits. Bring your favourite costume, hipscarf or accessory as well as any embellishments you want. You can also buy some on site at MissBellydance.com where the workshop will be held. It’s a perfect chance to be absolutely creative while learning about the culture and trends in the country as well as what’s going on outside in the raqs world.

Join us next week at 7pm! RSVP here: http://atlantafusionbellydance.com/node/270

Dancing with Diana – #BDFW2016

Diana1If you’ve never seen Diana dance  you haven’t lived. Charm, grace, talent and more for days. It’s really an impressive moment in our dance on a global scale. Her students often embody that same spirit and seeing them together is a joy. Therefore we’re bringing Diana to Bellydance Fashion Week for one of her spectacular Flamenco instructional workshops.

This course will focus on combining the strength and power of Flamenco with its sister dance Raqs Sharqi and Middle Eastern Dance as a whole. It will include footwork, Rroma stylings and emphasize handwork that compliment the dance. It’s going to be a truly special occasion that you don’t want to miss.
Course is $25 per person and takes place on Wednesday the 20th of April at Atlanta Fusion Bellydance, the studio within MissBellydance.com’s facility. Feel free to tell your friends and neighbours who are interested in this art. It is guaranteed to feel inclusive and empowering. Sign up for this class and or the full week of events using this link.

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