Advice for New Troupes & Dance Teams

MissBellydance.com would like to say Mabrook to all troupes that had their debut at Attack of the Bellydancers 2017. Our archivist sent us photos and information about the show that left us very excited about the new dance teams in Atlanta. Just some advice from inside the sewing halls of our store as we want to see you continue and thrive in Atlanta! We’re here to support you!

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Sabia, Maiea and Hasna dancing together! 🙂 We love this!

1. Don’t give up. It’s easy to start something and then let it fall because you got busy

2. Set goals for the group. Aim to perform at x conference or something by x date

3. Be friends first. Do not take yourselves too seriously…encourage each other and call each other out when you see one falling. Be pillars for each other in the most kind and supportive way

4. Stay creative! Don’t get to comfortable in any stage of our work, always think of what you can do differently but with respect to the cultures you represent in every way

5. Remember your roots and the roots of the art/dance – needs no explanation

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Persica! 

Congratulations and let us know what we can do to assist. Reach out to us here on our blog or on social media to get coupon codes for dance. All those who attended the show may remember that we are giving you a 20% discount on orders of $50 or more now until the first day of Fall. We can’t wait to see what else you bring to life for our beloved international town, community and raqs world! We’re also happy to hear that  money for SEEDs Atlanta was raised! The Atlanta Culture Club will be making a donation as well this year! Very happy to be involved in that! More info and praise coming from our way!

Thanks for reading
-Team MBD

Elaborate and Elegant – Costumes for You!

Oh there’s nothing that compares to getting a new costume at the start of the year. You plan all of the places you’re going to wear it. You want to look elaborate, not gaudy, elegant without the kitchen sink of accessories. There’s a method and a know-how to getting dressed for a successful show or raqs presentation. This week we’re looking at the elaborate costume and how to jazz it up without going overboard. We also want to hear from you!

Our Tempi set is a fine example of elegant raqswear that has plenty of embellishments. You’ll want to wear a set of bangles with this and a lovely veil. Much more would be a bit over the top but hey…sometimes over the top raqs! What do you want to see accompanying this ensemble? Let us know.

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Coastal Jewel references the edgier styles we see on both coasts. From hard core rocking raissat in Los Angeles and Seattle, to bold city bound dancers killin’ it in the cafes of New York and Miami. We’re pairing this with our silver sets. This one being one of our favourites. But is that what you would do? Let us know. Tell us, how would you pair your accessories for this elegant and elaborate raqswear?

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All entries can be sent in via several ways. Post this blog entry on our Facebook page or tweet it to us on Twitter. You can also reply in the space below. All who participate will be entered to win a set of silver jewelry from MissBellydance.com and we can’t wait to see what you pair with these costumes.

Elaborate your elegance!
-Team MBD

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.

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

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

Essence of Bellydance 2015 News – The Cool Perks of Competition

We’ve been discussing competitions and opportunities to showcase the cultural art that you’ve learned. We are thrilled that so many appreciate it enough to invest in it by going to classes, perfecting the craft and absorbing cultural aspects. Essence of Bellydance, as mentioned before, is working hard to make sure your hard work will have a prominent stage on which to show your passion for Raqs Sharqi. Their Essence of Bellydance Competition takes place this coming September in Atlanta Georgia. All details are listed on their website as well as instructions on registering. To better understand the environment and staging for EOB2015, have a look at past event videos we’ve included.

Why Compete/Should You Compete?
This is a chance to not just show your appreciation for the art but also to network and get feedback from those working in the Raqs industry globally. There are two competitions, one titled “Oriental Competition” and the other “Fusion Competition.” Judges include Luna of Cairo, Soraia Zaied, Petite Jamilla and other notable names. There will also be an audience choice winner  who will earn a trophy as well. The prizes range from gift bags and tiaras to $1000 in cold hard cash – not a check…but actual cash. MissBellydance.com will also be giving away quite a few grand prize packs for several winners. It’s certainly going to be worth one’s while to showcase their love and talent for the dance.

Extra Info
Be sure to read the competition page carefully and understand that there will be preliminaries for the soloists. Troupes will be officially registered once all participating competition performers in their group have paid in full. So keep that in mind and make sure your fellow raissat know that so you don’t miss out. This is a great opportunity to meet the stars, gain new fans and interact on the conference circuit which is one of the best ways to be successful and continue in the art stateside. We want you to feel encouraged and excited about it so reach out to Team Essence or even us here at MissBellydance.com with your questions.

We’re very excited to be a part of the Essence of Bellydance celebration of Raqs Sharqi and we look forward to seeing you there!

Annual attendees, remember how much fun we had in 2013 & 2014? You’re gonna have fits of joy at 2015!

Team MBD

International Dance Day – 29 April

Khaleegi workshop with Kay Hardy - studying Raqs Sharqi and dances of the East are great ways to celebrate and honour International Dance Day
Khaleegi workshop with Kay Hardy – studying Raqs Sharqi and dances of the East are great ways to celebrate and honour International Dance Day
Every year dancers and fans of dance art celebrate International Dance Day with festivals and performances. There is an actual council and committee that work toward keeping this day as an important one in our lives. The focus is not just for dancers but for those who may not be aware of national dance or those who are not particularly “involved.” This day raises awareness of dance education and helps people become a part of the wider dance communities that are active around the world.

Of course, MissBellydance.com is completely onboard these efforts. We’ll be highlighting the website for IDD and reminding others to celebrate and honour dancers in their communities. We’re also offering a discount of 12% using code “justdance” for all orders of $75 or more. In the future, we’ll be reaching out to other dance teams such as Atlanta Fusion Bellydance and create a broader celebration of this incredible day. Meanwhile we want to know what your plans are for this holiday. Send us photos, tweets or tag us on Instagram with your International Dance Day photos. As customary, we’re giving away prizes to five submissions from our IDD prize drawing. We’ll also feature the winners in blog posts and on our social media.

Let’s share International Dance Day together! Happy Dancing!
-Team MBD

Adoring Donna Mejia

Donna Mejia, capturing hearts and praise at Tribalcon XI
Donna Mejia, capturing hearts and praise at Tribalcon XI

Adoration for Donna Mejia, a well-loved scholar in the arts. Explore some of her work through the heart of our Resident Archivist…

Teacher, Scholar, Designer, Amazing Mother…I can go on and on… adding to that spiritual leader perhaps for those in the raqs world who are moved emotionally by her contributions and praise her work continuously …and rightly so. Over the past few years I’ve gone on and on about how awesome she is. I can barely find the words because she leaves me absolutely speechless.

Donna Mejia is someone you just HAVE to meet. She has several courses coming up and wonderful videos. Follow her on her Youtube. She also has a great website. Lady Mejia also sews and if you saw her elegant ensemble at TribalCon you’ll want to follow her sewing blog.

I could go on and on about Donna Mejia for days. And I have. Past blog posts, recently cataloged on the AABCE page feature a few of my OMG – Donna Mejia moments. Others also talk about how amazing her seminars are in addition to the presentations she has put on at Smith College. In addition to her amazing stage work, I am a huge fan of her lectures.

Why lectures? Because each one…
-Provides a firm foundation for all levels of Mideast dance and enthusiasm in the raqs world
-Raises questions and help each individual think through their personal decisions in this art
-Helps dancers see the bigger picture and how their actions and roles play in the ribbon of history
-Gives a voice to the unheard, showcases and shines a light on the roots of the art
-Fills a void, provide checks and balances for areas of Raqs Sharqi that others just don’t “think” about.
-Makes “Raqs Sharqi” make sense and cents: helps many understand in what they are investing and provides the industry with a better method of presenting the art as valuable and worthy in arenas where it is often ignored.

But don’t just take my word for it, go see for yourself!

Here is a list of upcoming appearances:

Colorado: American College Dance Conference Northwest Regional Conference

NYC: 11 Reflections on September (by Andrea Assaf), @ La MaMa Theatre

Orlando: Bellydance Masters

Washington D.C.: Sahara Dance Studio

We are grateful for this great share by our archivist. Donna Mejia is a wonderful supporter and educator. We appreciate her work as well! We know many of our fans are her fans as well and love to take pictures of themselves in her presence. So, send us your selfies with Donna Mejia! Post them to our Facebook page. Share with us what you love most about one of her recent lectures and where you plan to see her next. Let’s continue to share and promote her great work with everyone around us!

Thanks for reading!

Curiosity Corner: Is “Exposure” a Respectful Form of Payment?

Barter  or come to an agreed upon rate for dancers and musicians
Barter or come to an agreed upon rate for dancers and musicians
“We don’t have a budget, but you’ll get lots of exposure!” Many have heard this at some point in their performance career. While it’s certainly not happening to all, it’s happening to enough for it to be a major topic in the raqs world.

Our volunteer raqs archivist said the same…
“It’s odd to learn that a dance troupe is performing in exchange for exposure to a room full of paid ticket holders at an event. Dancing for fun, dancing as part of attending a conference as a trainee, participating in a holiday event, dancing to help a cause and bartering are different things. But actually expecting a dancer who just paid x amount for her costume, hair, nails, toes, you name it….gas – shall I go on? – to dance for free is flat out disrespectful. I’ve even learned of some cases where the host says things like, “It just wasn’t in the budget.” But at the end of the night when money is being counted, it sure looks like it could be in the profits! We may really need to examine how we approach or accept this idea of “exposure” as a form of payment.”

We feel dancers (and musicians) in this art as well as other performance industries deserve to be paid. Good or bad, amateur or professional, if that person has taken time out of their day to get dressed up and travel to the event destination and entertain guests then that’s time they could be using for other things. Paying someone for their performance is a form of respect. This is not a reference to tucking bills into belts either, but a legitimate check with the troupe’s name on it or an envelope of agreed upon cash.

While getting involved in booking entertainment, musicians and cultural dance leaders, troupes and others we hold dear in our industry has a learning curve, we know that expecting a full show in exchange for exposure doesn’t cover the cost of training, costumes and so much more. Everyone enjoys exposure and can get it in many ways but exposure shouldn’t be the only form of payment. To expect a raissa to accept that as their only currency can be terribly insulting. Honouring a dancers’ rates or negotiating an agreed barter or price is all a part of respecting the art.

Thanks for reading,
Team MBD

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