This week we’re excited about Suhaila Salimpour’s return to the studio hosted by Atlanta Fusion Bellydance. AFBD manages our 2,000 sq ft space adjacent to our large bellydance warehouse. AFBD are not just friends, but our family and we work together to promote top talent around the world in our raqs and bellydance industry. This year the calendar is already filled with many amazing shows and dance learning opportunities. We invite you to reach out and put Atlanta Fusion Bellydance events on your calendar. This week while you shop, sign up for one of the many classes Suhaila Salimpour is teaching. We love it when she’s in town!
MissBellydance.com is right up front awaiting to welcome you with open arms as you enter the amazing studio space that AFBD have transformed into a raqs wonderland. Here are some things to expect this year.
February 4 Sassy Jazz Fusion Belly Dance with Babette & Leyla Soleil @ AFBD
February 25 Flamenco Arabe Workshops sponsored by Diane Adams featuring Najmah Nour @ AFBD. Register now!
March 11 BollyX Instructor training @ AFBD
March 19 Atlanta’s Got Talent hosted by Faaridah of AFBD & Jenny of World Belly Dance Alliance. Performer registration opens January 5
April 28-30 Michelle Sorensen worksh ops @ AFBD. We’re excited to host this fusion belly dance star! One of our faves! Registration opens January 16 !!
April 30 AFBD Spring Showcase featurin g Michelle Sorensen
June 10-11 AFBD’s 8th Anniversary Weekend. Join us for our biggest celebration to date, featuring a huge stage production with world-renowned guest artists! Stay tuned for more!
Eshta Amar’s course was offered online during Bellydance Fashion Week. We’re grateful the team made that available.
There’s so much going on in dance! In particular, there are opportunities to enter competitions in dance this fall. From coast to coast dancers have the opportunity to make a name for themselves through presenting their best of bellydance and raqs sharqi. Showing off your top skills is best done in a great costume.
Some competitions require dancers to submit one video where they are wearing regular dance clothes and not a costume. We have understood that this is for judges to see the bare skills at the preliminary level before narrowing it down to the top 10 for competition. We suggest wearing something that still makes you look and feel good like frilly cute things. Be sure to check all of the requirements. You may have to wear something very plain but if you don’t have to then go all out with some awesome casual and cute raqswear.
For men in preliminaries, a great shirt, a vest and or cool harem pants will do you fine. Pair it with a great hipscarf and a comfortable t-shirt. You can raqs ’em and flatter ’em with cute styles and still stay within the rules. We wish everyone the best as they compete this summer and fall!
Hope to see you all at upcoming shows and more!
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
Dearly 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 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.
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.
As mentioned last week, it takes a lot to put on a great show. It’s fantastic when you have a great team of people to support you and that’s one of the plusses with Essence of Bellydance 2015. One of the highlights of the event are the shows. These are front and center ceremonies of the conference’s events where not just workshop attendees are delighted with incredible dances, fashion and a chance to see some of the world’s top artists perform but also the city of Atlanta as a whole. Everyone is invited! What a task the stage managers have to make sure it all runs smooth.
The two behind this gargantuan task are Rana and Na’ilah of Team Essence. Their job/to-do list is entirely too heavy to compile. The heart of the work is liaising with all of the different moving parts. There’s the coordination of the music with the fashion show coordinator, making sure the fashion show team knows when to go on, coordinating the ALL-STAR line up with the Exective Producer, the competitions’ stage strategies, keeping the show team alerted when it’s time to get on stage. Over 30 different people, from the models to the dancers, will enter and leave the stage on each night. Making their entry and exit an art is an art in itself…and these two ladies orchestrate that.
All year round Team Essence is fast at work making sure these Bellydance Conferences are the most amazing, memorable events the town has seen. It boosts tourism in Atlanta and adds to the cities vibrant music and dance scene. Who wouldn’t want to be huge part of that?! This is legendary!
Thank you Team Essence for your outstanding efforts! We love highlighting your work and will continue to do so! MissBellydance.com happily stands behind this type of outstanding effort. We are offering Team Essence 15% off their raqs sharqi and bellydance needs now til November. We’ll also give the same to our readers in honour of the hard work that goes on pre and post show. Readers, just send us a photo of your Essence of Bellydance ticket or registration via Facebook and we’ll send you a code to use at our online store. We’re thrilled and excited to help you all remain at the top of the industry!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
In 2009, MissBellydance.com hosted a dance studio called Pera/Pera Dance and Event Studio. This 2000sq ft. space was home to many of the community’s raqs sharqi and bellydance workshops. We enjoyed a number of guests brought to us by groups like Les Raissat who hosted Aunt Rocky/Morocco and Shira. Bellydance by Samora, World Bellydance Alliance, Ziah of Awalim, Amani Jabril Middle Eastern and World dance plus several others. Recently through even bigger partnerships and chats, we’re now happy to say that Atlanta Fusion Bellydance has made it their home. The rebrand took place last Sunday and the entire studio has been transformed in colour and spirit with their magical touches.
The 2-hour event was well thought out. It was filled with guests and supporters and all were treated to an amazing buffet of food from Lebanon (hummus, baba ghanooj) to Brasil/Brazil (coxinha) plus class demonstrations and great fellowship with other industry fans. Local stars such as Amani, Aziza, Samora, Jenny Nichols, Heidi Hernandez and Jaki Hawthorne were in house as well.
The salsa demo done by Heidi made a believer out of me, sparking great memories of dancing in our old international house. It made me want to sign up for the class just so I can enjoy the dance with traditional and contemporary Latin music associated with this genre. Faaridah and her team have a lot of great things planned and it’s all exciting.
For those who are still interested/have general questions about the space or like using it for meetings, etc. you can still reach out to using the contact page on fb. However, to submit a formal request/get OFFICIAL APPROVAL for your event, use the RENTAL REQUEST link so that Faaridah or myself can respond to you personally. Looking forward to a fantastic year with AFBD at the helm! Full Speed Ahead!