What’s in a Dance Floor

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The floors in our sister dance studio AFBD were recently changed. They are floors designed to improve shock absorbtion and to keep performers comfortable. We’re still learning about the floors and asking dancers that stream out of the studio after hours of classes what are their thoughts and how do they feel.

We’ve heard nothing but good things. Several mentioned that not every studio has them. They said they could tell a difference in their level of soreness the next day. Mind you, this was after one of Suhaila Salimpour’s visits. She offered Jamila Salimpour certification course here in Atlanta this time. These floors are very similar if not identical to the floors in her own studio. The dancers we spoke with all reported feeling quite good and not as sore or worn out after their training. That speaks volumes.

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Because the studio is 100% used by AFBD with the occasional use for photoshoots, dance parties, lectures and more, it was not MissBellydance’s decision to make the change. Leadership of AFBD should be credited for this and we hope that all who come by and purchased clothing and classes will benefit from this investment.

Have you taken a class since having the new floors? Let us know and get 10% off your next order from MissBellydance.com

Thanks for reading!
Team MBD

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Take Me Back to Toronto!

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Our raqs archivist returned to Toronto to reconnect with family and the raqs sharqi and Arabic music and dance community there. This trip was quite an investment on all parts of those who travelled and we’re grateful that they used their time there to assist us in connecting with those who appreciate the culture we come from and hold dear no matter where we live in the world.
The highlights of the night were Hany Morgan, Dr. George Sawa, the Arabesque Drummers, a Debke duo, Yasmina Ramzy, the Righteous Rogues of Raqs and Arabesque Dance Company. Enjoy!

Hany Morgan is a genius from Egypt whose skill in music is mind blowing. In addition to teaching and leading several classes over the past two months (and will continue to do so throughout 2018), Mr. Morgan performed multiple times in the show as a tabla player, drummer, zillist and overall support for several sets. He and the Righteous Rogues of Raqs are one of the main reasons we came and they both made it worthwhile. I’m thoroughly inspired to go the extra mile with my sagats courses. I’ve always wanted at least a 1/4th the skill he possesses.

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Again, Mr. Morgan’s skill with the zills was incredible to say the least. It’s been about 3 weeks since I returned from the show and I still can’t find the words to describe his outstanding performance. He’s an artist you must see in person to understand why I would be willing to invest in recordings of his work the way that one might pay 1M Euros to get the copy of anything Mozart’s hands touched. The man is just delightful to the point I wanted to cry. It hurts that we have to travel so far to be in the presence of talent like that. Perhaps I’m jealous? It’s just so hard to hear and see that and then go back to the states where we’re not fostering an environment for good music on that level. I feel we’re so focused on the glamour of the costume and competitions, dance technique and performance. I say to the producers stateside, without music, what are we? Kudos to Tribal Con, Essence of Bellydance and other conferences on the west coast who have music tracks featuring drummers and zillists.

The great Dr. Sawa was also there with his oud, giving us his genius as always. I could have listen to him at least six or seven more times that night. He was one of my favourite memories from 2008 and I’m so glad he is front and center as support and a key part of Arabesque’s history. Check out his books here.

Aside from his writing and commentary, I simply enjoy his presence and listening to what he has to say on a variety of topics. Tonight was another wonderful memory to be stashed away in my memories of Toronto treasure box. I swear, if ever there was a city I wish was closer it’s Toronto. I guess the 2-hour plane ride is close enough and I need to be grateful for it.

The Arabesque Drummers were spectacular! I believe there were more at one time, I could swear Yasmina had an orchestra. This was a smaller number of people and some looked new to the group. Together and with the help of Hany Morgan they did a great job and made the night memorable and worth the trip up.

The Righteous Rogues of Raqs performed earlier in the evening and were exceptional! Valizan and Tim have an electric energy that made me wish I had sat a lot closer to the stage as in years past. Please enjoy this video and understand why they were such a hit!

I first saw them back in 2008 at the IBCC. I loved them then and I love them now. Again, they are such good dancers, they also make me ache for Toronto to be closer. One doesn’t simply watch The Righteous Rogues of Raqs, one is hypnotised by them. There was more than one squeal of “More! More!” after their performance.

Yasmina and Arabesque were also enjoyable and their colourful costumes were a highlight of their sets. While this group looks very different from those I saw in 2008, the grace and enthusiasm is still very present. I look forward to seeing how this new team will grow, leave us spellbound and grateful to be a part of the international dance community.

Here are some hightlights…

The strong parts of the show were definitely the musicians, the supportive icons such as Dr. Sawa, Valizan, Tim and the closing number by Arabesque as a troupe. For those things, I would gladly return and I pray I can. Yasmina and team’s work from many years ago produced life changing moments for many of us who continue to travel to Toronto for inspiration and authenticity. There’s nothing like seeing this dance performed by those who are truly dedicated to the art and in some cases have a direct tie to the culture(s) from which it originates. Yasmina is continuously in Egypt and stays close to the root and its continuous development there on the soil and the diaspora. This is important. I trust her new students will follow suit and absorb the dance from teachers there as well as cherish their time with Hany Morgan.

For over a decade I have praised Arabesque, certain that there are few that compare, they were the standard. I want their legacy to continue in that same light and I feel Yasmina’s dedication to bringing Egypt to Toronto and vise versa is the solution to ensuring a successful future…I want to be there for Arabesque 60 and all the good things inbetween!

Thanks for reading!

Egyptian Intensive Workshops with Jacques al Asmar

Our Resident Archivist talks about the upcoming workshop featuring Jacques al Asmar this month!

We’re excited about Jacques Al Asmar’s workshop this weekend! It will focus on Egyptian dance which is something from which every dancer can benefit. Jacques is energetic off-stage so we know that his workshop will be just as exciting as it is to be around him. I think what workshop attendees will discover from Jacques is the essence and root of raqs sharqi that so many really need to see in order to weed out a lot of things that aren’t beneficial to mastering our art. Jacques isn’t a time waster he just gives it to you as it is.

A lot of people rely solely on YouTube for their raqs education then go out and try to start classes, promoting themselves as these great teachers who are influenced by the people they see on YouTube. Many of us know that is not how this works. Raqs Sharqi has a lot of elements to it that are best learned in person not just by satellite and videos. With Jacques’ Lebanese background and having danced in Egypt as well as on the West Coast with top names, he’s exactly what we need.

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I’m going because I enjoy Jacques’ presence more than anything. All of my early teachers were men and I appreciate everything I learned from them – from relatives and extended family in the market to Tarik Sultan, Nath Keo, Sal Maktoub and many others that I followed over the years. It’s a joy to have their energy in Atlanta and with Jacques here permanently we are truly blessed!

Jacques Al Asmar
Intensive Egyptian Workshop
4800 Briarcliff Rd NE 30345 Atlanta
Every 3rd Sunday at Cosmic Energy Fitness Studio
Next one – 19 November, 2017

MissBellydance.com at Essence of Bellydance 2017

Big thanks to the dancers that wore our skirts, accessories and more during the Essence of Bellydance Festival! We appreciate it! Our archivist wrote her review about the show and here are some highlights from her report.

Is Essence Worth Attending? YES!

Essence is always exciting. No question. This year was my favourite year of all the EOB events I’ve attended. Having Suhaila Salimpour sitting with us, Jacques al Asmar, Mohammed Shahin and the core raqs community plus a plethora of international guests that flew in from as far as Germany and Northern Asia was the icing on the cake. It’s not that it’s not an international conference to begin with…but it’s hella awesome to see so many from around the world go through the trouble of travelling alllll the way from the far corners of the globe to spend 4 days with us in Atlanta. We’re a cool crowd, I have to give us credit for that. A lot of people WANT to be here and perform in this community. We love art and are obsessed with many of the artists…and it shows!

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Be sure to check out Studio Jaki and see about getting some prints

Mohammed Shahin was one of the headliners and presented his signature Tanoura Masri with the colour lights – I’d seen him present this in Vegas and was again just crying like a wailing superfan by the time it was over. Again, that is just a religious moment for me and a full circle moment given I used to sit for hours in my teens reading about what the café guys were doing – thank you distant relatives in the region for all those great entertainment updates that introduced me to this style of whirling. Now, thanks to EOB17, I was able to see it live again – this being a fourth time for me. I just wanted to go stand backstage and hug him for an hour as if he were a living doll just waiting for love from a new doll keeper. I could talk about him all day but I’ll stop now or I might end up writing a book about the experience as I’m known to do.

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Atlanta’s own Amani Jabril performed a real Iraqi raqs set to Mohamed al Salem’s “Galb Galb” and it was so perfect she “Came up out of her jewelry” as the MC said. This piece was one of the three most important pieces of the raqs presentations of the night. When you visit the region, THAT is the level of energy and emotion that you will see. If you’re expecting to witness rapid head slinging and people looking as if their necks are going to snap from the over the top hair spinning you will be disappointed. That is just simply over the top interpretation of Iraqi dance. There are many dances of Iraq and they do include lot of hair and beautiful movements with the hips and shoulders but few look anything like what’s been going around in the video circles of the many dance boards. If you stick to what Amani presented and those like her from the region, you’re going to grasp a grace that is unique to that specific area and the ethnic groups that inhabit it…and it will be appreciated by locals and original people of the area.

Amani’s suave demeanor and regional hair tosses followed by a variety of footwork and travelling steps were executed perfectly. Of all the dancers I’ve known on the circuit these past 11 years (her career is longer than that), she has always stayed a few steps ahead of the times introducing more than just bedluhs and beladi rhythms to her community, students and followers. She is certainly a force and will remain one as it’s just her nature to work hard at staying true to the region that she also calls home. Amani isn’t someone you call as a filler to a show she is a MUST HAVE when you want to make a statement that your production is committed to greatness! Remember that!

For more information on Essence of Bellydance and how to get involved and possibly win one of our cool prize packs if you enter the dance competition visit our Facebook page and theirs to see all of the links and amazing opportunities to be a part of this community dance picture!

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Speaking of photos, be sure to reach out to Studio Jaki and explore the amazing photos she captured for the event. Both Amani and Jaki will be in our studio this October and we’ll take along on the fun of a MissBellydance.com fashion photo shoot!

Summer Shows Continue!

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Photos by Studio Jaki

It’s time for the Summer Show Photos! Send us a photo you attending a festival or show this summer while wearing a costume or dance attire from MissBellydance.com! You’ll be entered to win a $50 gift certificate to our online store. We’ve been to quite a few shows this season and they’ve all been quite exciting. From dance classes, to lectures and a night of fantastic debuts for new troupes; we loved them all!

Post your photos from the events on our Facebook page or tag us on Twitter or Instagram @missbellydance! We’re giving out discount codes and putting your name in the drawing. If you’re submitting a troupe picture, the person who submits the photo will be given the gift card if they win, but all of the troupe will be allowed to use the coupon code.
Can’t wait to see your photos!

-Team MBD

Getting Ready for Festival Season

In just a few weeks we’ll start what is known as Festival Season. During this time we honour ceremonies and celebrations from a variety of cultures that are close to us. From religious to the secular we’re looking forward to recognizing every single one of them. It’s crucial during this time to remember to do research and translations on some of the songs we’re either asked or expecting to perform to for audiences.

Spiritual Dance attire in the west often consists of long skirts and robes (and sometimes thobes) replicating the ensembles that are actually worn in the east today. If you’re looking for the basics of spiritual and modern dance adaptations let us know. You can find an ensemble for men in our new arrivals sectionmen in our new arrivals section.

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We’re always excited to know where our fans and followers will go and celebrate their favourite fall festivals and ceremonies. Send us photos of your journeys through cultural dance and more. We’ll be giving away prizes once a month to those who send us photos with the hashtag #FallFestival starting September 21st until the 21st of December. Let us know how we can help you prepare!

-Team MBD

The Fabulous Forums of the Raqs World

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IBCC 2008

Right now, all across the social sphere are chats and conversations about raqs sharqi, global dances from the region and music conversations. We want to say thank you for continuing the conversations because they are truly important. Getting to the root of a dance and learning the whys and hows of the region is essential for growth. We believe that no matter what your level in this art, lectures and forums are a key component to being a good dancer and a great fan.
In 2007, 2008 and onward, we had several dancers, enthusiasts and instructors from our dance community in Atlanta join an amazing group of people from around the world in Toronto, Canada. Our resident archivist was there and still marvels at the amazing information and experience of the International Bellydance Conference of Canada. Here her words about the good ole days!

It was a great conference and just about everyone I had ever loved in the dance world was there minus some of the legends from the 50s. Nath Keo, Tito Seif, Mark Balahadia, Shira of Shira.net, the group formerly known as Arabesque and a million others it seemed were there. People I had only had the opportunity to read about online or see when a relative from back home was raving over “this guy named Tito is amazing!” were there…it was a dream come true. I fell head over heels for this conference. My favourite parts w, aside from the incredible shows, were the lectures. We talked about everything from men in dance to the stigma of being ibn raissa… I mean, the presenters held nothing back. I’m happy that these conversations continue. If you ignore it, your presentations suffer. You have to be a part of the talks to really understand what you’re presenting. A class is the first step but take that conversation to the next level at a forum. Dance education is key! -Andinha

Houston Oriental and Folklore Dance Festival is another great conference to attend that features great shows and competitions!
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What forums do you attend? What classes do you take to get more than technique? We’d love to hear from you! And if you’re headed to shows this summer or have been to plenty, reach out to us here on our blog or send us an email on our Facebook page so we can give you a coupon code to save on your next purchase with MissBellydance.com

Thanks for reading!

-Team MBD

Summer Dance Classes

There are a lot of summer dance classes being hosted around the world right now. As May wraps up Festival Season, in comes Summer Conference Season where you can pick from a variety of countries to visit and get your Raqs Sharqi fix as fast and furious as you want it. We’re looking at local options which include Jazzy Fusion Bellydance with Leila Soleil at our sister studio Atlanta Fusion Bellydance. Later this summer there’s the Attack of the Bellydancers show and, of course, Essence of Bellydance which is one of the largest dance conferences in the southeast!
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In Florida, New York, San Francisco, Houston and other major cities, festivals and events continue to grow. You know this! Try to go to at least one and be sure you are well prepared and stocked up on dancewear, modern dance leotards for comfort, hipscarves for bellydance class and even leg warmers and jackets that you can wear for those extra cool hotel conference ballrooms!
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It’s gonna be a blast! Get your tickets and take lots of pictures! We want to see you! Submit a photo to our Facebook page or tag us! We’ll be sure to enter you to win one of our cool summer dance dazzling gift bags filled with all kinds of cool things!

Thanks for reading!
Team MBD

Flamenco Arabe Featuring Fantastic Bellydancers Diana and Najmah Nour

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This weekend we’re excited about having Flamenco Arabe conference at our studio hosted by Diana and Najma. This workshop is designed for dancers of both Flamenco and Bellydance plus many other genres. You’ll learn a lot and walk away with skills you take to your classes and to the stage.

We held a contest last year and the winners were to receive two 25 yard skirts. We’re happy that Saniyah of Shimmies with Saniyah, a local teacher, performer and choroegrapher here in Atlanta won the skirts, a spot in the workshop for herself and a friend. She answered a trivia question correctly and was chosen in a drawing as the winner. Mabrook and Felicitions to Saniyah!

If you’re coming to the workshop let us know. Send us a picture of you eagerly packing your suitcase or headed on over in your car. We’re giving away one more 25 yard skirt to a person attending. Can’t wait to see you in class and at the show. For more information please visit this link where you can also register.

Diana presents Flamenco Arabe Seminar & Show Saturday February 25, 2017

An exciting day of dance fusing Flamenco and Middle Eastern dance styles with master instructors Najmah Nour (NY) and Diana (GA) followed by a Spanish Fusion showcase featuring a mix of Flamenco and Middle Eastern dance styles.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Location: Workshops at Atlanta Fusion Belly Dance followed by showcase at Global Dance Eileen Keegan Theatre

12:00pm-2:00pm Baile del Mundo with Najmah Nour
Learn how to emcompass the muscular and passionate strength of flamenco while keeping the fluidity and softness of Belly Dance with some of her core technique that will blend into a passionate choreography to an old Sephardic Ladino song.

2:30pm-4:30pm Gypsy Flamenco with Diana
Diana will teach the art of using veil like the Spanish Manton (shawl) and a short Gypsy-style Flamenco fusion choreography.

8:00pm Flamenco Arabe Showcase

$45 in advance $50 at the door
Full Day Pass (2 workshops and show) $100
Register now: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2564790

About the Instructors:

Najmah Nour seamlessly combines traditional and modern in her Flamenco Arabe dance form. She fuses elements of Contemporary, Middle Eastern, and Flamenco dances to help her embody a unique style. Najmah’s dance speaks the soul of Flamenco and the heart of Belly Dance. Her love for Middle Eastern dances and Flamenco has merged themselves together because she grew up dancing in the living room with her Spanish/Cuban family and she was exposed to belly dance at a very young age. Najmah expresses the powerful and dynamic aspects of flamenco while keeping the feminine and soft quality of Belly Dance.

As a teacher, she brings her years of study and her immense generosity of spirit to her many students, and is a much sought-after workshop instructor in the Southeast.

Diana
With over 30 years experience as a performer and instructor, Diana is one of Atlanta’s most cherished dancers! Her 13-year background in ballet and folkloric dance in the western New York area, have allowed her to offer a wide range of Middle Eastern dance styles. In 2003, she received permission from critically acclaimed Yasmina Ramzy of Toronto, Canada, to recreate Yasmina’s dance, “Venus” from the Descent of Ishtar Ballet, for Company Mezza. Specializing in training for the advanced to pro level dancer, many of Diana’s students currently perform in Atlanta area restaurants, and are instructors/performers on cruise lines and dance studios. Diana is also an active Flamenco student of Malita Belloso at Calo Gitano!

See you there!

-Team MBD and Andye

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