The Role of the Raqs Ambassador

We’ve said it before some years ago that the role of a dancer in the Middle Eastern Arts community is one of an ambassador. With the rampant fear that runs through world, particularly the fear we see from people who literally refuse to go to a bellydance show, it’s important to be a very good ambassador and one that is inclusive and caring to your audience. Not only is it important to get the actual dance represented correctly, it’s crucial that we inform the audiences about the nature of the dance. It is a family past time for many and is done by everyone including men and women.

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Photos by Studio Jaki

Restaurants and festivals who are looking to get the crowd involved can hand out hipscarves to the crowd. This is a fun way to get everyone up and excited about a little shimmy. It’s exciting to see the look on people’s faces when they start wiggling  and the coins and fringes are jingling around. So many great dancers include a set where they get wrapped up in a dancer’s veil.

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Another thing is to have plenty of great music. Teach your audience a song, the refrain from a chorus. Do something to break the ice and the fear of the many cultures around the globe. When people are afraid, they don’t come to your events or festivals. This just creates a negative domino. It’s up to us as dance ambassadors to show the joy of loving each other. Middle Eastern Dance is a great way to initiate inclusion and support. Gather with your fellow dancers, grab some hipscarves and great music. Bring your community into the dance circle. Let’s be the beginning of the bridge.

 

 

Get Ready for Regional Tunes

Our resident archivist travels to spend time with bands every year. There’s new music in the region. You ready for it? Let’s explore…

From Andinha: It’s important to keep up with what is going on in the Middle East and Africa as well as the international communities where people from the region are residing. This is where you’re going to find the root of the dance you love as well as its development. This is to what producers in the dance world need to be paying attention.

Recently, I included in a show review examples of what is popular in the region or what is being celebrated. I don’t see enough of this in the United States’ cultural dance communities. I see it only in our international circle, nations specific community centres and that one time a year that a generous donor partners with an incredible producer and brings bands from back home on tour ([Cheb] Khaled, Hakim, etc.). Groups like A-Wa are currently touring.  Balkan Beat Box is their producer? That’s what I heard on a radio interview. I’ve seen BBB as well years ago. I remember spending, like, the last $40 I had on me to get a ticket to their show because it was so important for me.

It’s rare that I find  regional music and learning about the cultures that make-up raqs sharqi of no interest to dancers. Most Middle East dance enthusiasts want this music. They don’t want to be “behind” the times. Take a moment to hear the newest and latest music in the region. Encourage your friends to evolve with it. Reach out to these bands, become a fan, learn their backgrounds and what dances they would do with their music. Ask them to come and perform if you can. Be involved with the actual region you’re representing as ambassadors through dance. Here’s my latest fav… A-WA band.

Thanks for reading! Thanks Andinha for keeping us up-to-date.

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

International Dance with DJ Amix – Atlanta Event

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Saturday Nights are for dancing with DJ Amix. Taverna Plaka is the place to be this weekend as our favourite turns it up with the best mix of international music. DJ Amix is an Atlanta icon who has been delighting audiences for years with his amazing parties and events. We’re happy to support him in his work.

Mix and mingle with many of the city’s international crowd along with other dancers and friends. This is a party everyone looks forward to! Don’t just take our word for it. See for yourself on Saturday.

DJ Amix International Music Mix and Party
Taverna Plaka – 2196 Cheshire Bridge Rd
Atlanta Ga 30324
RSVP and more info 

We’ve seen some of our fans there sporting MissBellydance.com on many occasions. We thank you! Have a great time!

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-Team MBD

The Purple Hafla

Purple HaflaDearly beloved bellydancers, we are gathering this coming Sunday to celebrate the ruler of hearts, the man who helped us get through this thing called life. We’re going to go crazy in the name of the Purple Reigning Royal himself, Prince.

Sunday 26 June at 3pm, The Purple Hafla will take place at Atlanta Fusion Bellydance located within MissBellydance.com’s warehouse. Straight back through to the studio you will be delighted with a show that features a number of amazing Prince fans who also bellydance and celebrate the art of Raqs Sharqi. MissBellydance.com will be present with lots of giveaways and portion of sales going to the charity:

What To Expect?
Swap & Shop
From 3pm-5pm there will be dancers selling and even giving away used and brand new costumes.

The Show
The show starts at 5:30pm and features a stellar line-up of fans and friends  Visit this link to learn more and get your Purple Half tshirt.

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#GoCrazy!

Thanks for reading and if you’re in need of therapy, friendship sessions and more which go along with the mourning process, please reach out to us on Facebook. We’ll link you to several groups online who celebrate Prince everyday.

AFBD: History of Hosting Cultural Events

AFBDWhat is so special about events sponsored by Atlanta Fusion Bellydance and MissBellydance.com? There is a real commitment to fun! These events provide an opportunity to go beyond the norm in our industry. This is more than watching people dance, this is your chance to get up and be a part of the energy through cultural exploration of fashion in our industry. For more than 5 years AFBD has hosted bellydance conferences and workshops that received rave reviews. People travel far and near to see unique artists in a fun and exciting setting. MissBellydance.com has been proud to sponsor and support these amazing dance conventions.

AFBD is dedicated to carefully designing schedules and workshops that appeal not to just to dancers but also cultural dance education enthusiasts, ex-pat families, professors and their students. These events open up discussion on how we view and respect ethnicity in dance, the business side of our craft as well as how to incorporate creativity. Bellydance Fashion Week will be right in line with a focus on culture and why we do the things we do. It’s a perfect opportunity to look at the political past and the creative future.

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Costumes will be available to purchase during Bellydance Fashion Week

We encourage you to grab your friends and family for a week of history, a look at what’s driving current trends and get a peek at the future. We’ll not only walk down memory lane but make new ones that will last a lifetime.

Register today – Click Here

See you there!

-Team MBD

Latin Tribal Fusion Dance Class – 19 April #BDFW 2016

BELLY DANCE FASHION WEEK (1)

On Tuesday April 19th, attendees at Bellydance Fashion Week will have the opportunity to study with Heidi in a Latin Tribal Fusion class. Latin Dance has had such an impact on the Raqs world over the years. There are so many traces of Latin art and movement in modern Middle Easter dance that sometimes it’s difficult to tell which was borrowed from the other. When you look at the migration patterns and even the shape of the continents you can see there was a clear connection and that kinship continues today.

Heidi’s class will focus on fast footwork, exciting turns and more mixed with the Tribal vocabulary found in groups like Hah’bi Ru and Bal Anat. It’s an excellent chance to work with an amazing instructor and performer who has roots in Latin culture.

On a side note, Heidi is a member of the Salsa Belles. She has courses and classes all year round. The entire group is a fantastic. Heidi brings that same energy and excitement to everything she does. Have a look at their video…

We can’t wait to learn as much as we can from Heidi and are very grateful to have such a wealth of knowledge and talent as a part of our circle of friends!

And in true MissBellydance style, we’re offering a little trivia based on this exciting week we have ahead. Reply below in the comments or if you’re seeing this on Facebook, reply. You can also tweet us the answer to be eligible to win a prize pack from MissBellydance.com. Ready? Here’s the question. Name the series of shoppes in Egypt famous among tourists and locals or having just about everything you’d want to buy. Hint: It’s often referred to as a market.

Can’t wait to see you in class and hear from you in the comments!

-Team MBD

 

Event Reminder: Caravan of Dancers – November 14th (Miami)

We’re happy to share the event of a great group in Miami, Florida. Our friends are hosting the Caravan of Dancers on the 14th of Novemeber. See the flyer below and be sure to get your tickets early: http://www.caravanofdancers.com

www.caravanofdancers.com
http://www.caravanofdancers.com

Featuring Mario Kirlis

Again, get your tickets early!

*Many thanks to our friend Zizi Zabaneh & Fusion Gitana for taking the time to host such a multicultured event.

Gotta make it to Miami! Rakstar 2015

image Rakstar International Bellydance Festival is back with an all-star line-up featuring top names in Raqs Sharqi and Middle Eastern Music. Favourites like Yousry Sharif, Tito Seif, Mercedes Nieto, Amir Sofi and more will grace the stage in Miami starting September 30th through October 4th.

Attendees get 4 days of intensive workshops with international master instructors, 3 gala shows and more. Rakstar is designed with all levels in mind. Register here and be sure to follow the conference on Facebook and Twitter.

This event is on the top tier of raqs conferences in the South East and United States. Fans travel from all over the globe to be there in Miami alongside these icons and raqs greats. Be ready for more than just bellydance. It’s an opportunity to mix and mingle with your favourite dancers, musicans and local international community plus make new friends. It’s a MUST SEE event.

Tell us how much you love Rakstar. Share photos of your fun Rakstar experience on our facebook page or theirs and we’ll enter you to win prizes from http://www.missbellydance.com, proud sponsor of this event!

Keep Raqin’
Team MBD

Team Essence 2015 – Engineers of the #EOB2015 Extravaganza

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Have you ever attended a workshop or cultural dance conference and wondered how on earth did they pull that off? I know I have. I marvel at an organization’s kind volunteers greeting us as we walk into their raqs homes and conference convention centers. I’ve been to plenty within the states and outside, most if not all have been nothing shy of amazing. My favourite was the International Bellydance Conference of Canada hosted by Yasmina Ramzy of the prestigious Arabesque. That magnificent event stays in my heart, it’s tattoed on my soul. It was just THAT good. The teams behind these events are what make them so absolutely awesome. There’s so much work that goes into each of these conferences and festivals and those in charge of it go completely unseen or unheard of until the end when the credits roll in the program. I think it’s time we start shining a light on the behind-the-scenes stars of the events and highlighting them throughout the process. One group that certainly needs to be recognized is Team Essence of the prestigious Essence of Bellydance series that takes place annually in Atlanta, Georgia.

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Faaridah

Team Essence is led by Faaridah of Atlanta Fusion Bellydance and is made up of a network of local Atlanta raissat/dancers who are dedicated to the art of Raqs Sharqi. Essence is not this group’s first rodeo, they’ve been in this industry quite a long time and have seen the ups and downs, the good and the bad. In other words, they KNOW what works and what does not. That’s what makes them such experienced and successful event hosts. This year they are again, teaming up with Faaridah, the event’s producer, to continue the tradition of outstanding customer service as well as incredible workshops and heartstopping shows.

Bellydance Evolution - backstage - certainly the best show of 2014
Bellydance Evolution – backstage – certainly the best show of 2014

Last year’s event featured Bellydance Evolution and forever changed the game of raqs sharqi in America. Since then, shows that many of us have attended have taken on a whole new level of skill and talent. It helped solidify Atlanta’s reputuation as a hub for Middle Eastern and Cultural Art. Kudos to them.

Some of the tasks these fine ladies take on can be seen in their bios on the Team Essence homepage. I encourage all to visit the site, read about this great group and say hi when you see them at this highly praised event. They are as important to this production as the stars who are flying in from around the globe to present the art we love so much. One person I want to mention in particular is Kendaly. Aside from always being so well-dressed one has to stop and admire her, she is very approachable and manages her tasks with grace and kindness. She is the co-producer of the event and helps keep the team focused on the various tasks. Be sure to find her and say hi when you arrive!

Kendaly
Kendaly

Fashion at Its Finest
One of the awesome additions to this conference is the Fashion show. This year it is headed by Dahne and Francesqua. The fashion show offers vendors an opportunity to show off their amazing couture for the upcoming year. Much like global fashion weeks, an emphasis is put on the current styles in the industry. Top designers and boutiques bring their best garments for display. This requires numerous models, coaching and coordination. The Fashion show team is an integral part to making this eye catching portion of the event such a success. Many designers’ clothes have been purchased immediately after the show because of the excellent execution of the fashion show team. The coordinators and leads help sell these items via the catwalk and have done a great job doing so. As Tim Gunn would say, they “Make It Work!” #TeamWerkIt

Ahh, the joys of seeing a good show on a beautiful stage! That’s where Rana and Deance come in, two long time dancers in the Atlanta Bellydance community that have remained dedicated to the art. Be sure to check-in with us next week when we discuss the ins and outs of stage managing. You’ll want to hug these two ladies when you see the long list of things for which they are responsible.

If you’re ready for a raqin’ good time, be sure to get registered. Join in the fun of Essence of Bellydance 2015 where a good time is not an option, it is a requirement and is guaranteed. You will be dazzled and delighted from the time you walk in the door and days after when you’re stepping off the plane to your next destination. It is a conference that will stay with you, a wonderful Raqs memory that you’ll never forget! Join us!

Tweet #EOB2015 or #EssenceATL and get entered to win prizes from http://www.missbellydance.com

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MissBellydance.com is a proud sponsor of Essence of Bellydance 2015

Thanks for reading!
Andinha – volunteer archivist with Team MBD

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