Success!! Essence of Bellydance 2015

Photos by Studio Jaki
Photos by Studio Jaki
Wow, we’re still trying to wrap our heads around the oustanding talent displayed at Essence of Bellydance 5. This was perhaps one of the most intricate and layered conferences we’ve partnerned with to date. There are a lot of people involved behind the scenes of this festival. They volunteer their time, energy and resources to make it spectacular. Being behind the scenes allowed our MBD team a glimpse into what it takes to truly celebrate Raqs Sharqi in a respectful way that makes people want to come back again and again not just to this art but to this particular extravaganza.

First off, dance fans are already signing up for next year’s EOB…like right now! There’s an early bird special – all inclusive weekend available. The comments and reactions from fans have been very positive and the team was already planning 2016 just as 2015 got off the ground. They are a super group of dedicated show hosts in that they don’t let anything fall out of place. They really go the extra mile not only checking in with the fans, attendees and of course, the well-pampered stars but also with each other. Faaridah has a true sisterhood of support behind her that helps create something so outstanding you just have to be there to see it! Watch this space for 2016 details.

Ready for next year? EOB 2016
Ready for next year? EOB 2016

The Competition
This year MissBellydance was a major sponsor of the EOB bellydance competition. We requested our friend and archivist Andinha to be on the ground and make sure the winners received gift bags featuring gift cards, merchandise and little extras from our team. We want to thank all of the amazing stars like, Aziza Nawal, Petite Jamila, Issam Houshan and Sorraiah Zaied to name a few, who worked hard to make sure everything was conducted fairly. This was very difficult for us as a company to be limited to “rewarding only a few.” We feel that raqs sharqi is an inclusive past time, a passionate ceremony so to speak where souls mesh on the dance floor together. The idea of “who is the best” is not our philosophy. However, we can get behind the idea of celebrating those who take it to the next level and that’s exactly what the top 3 winners did in each category.

The Fashion Show
An extended Shukran Jazillan to Lady Zaied also cheered us on in the fashion show and was enamored with our raqs lifestyle wear. Her reaction to the pink outfit shown above was priceless! We’ve got your outfit Sorraiah. It’s being custom made just for you! We love and appreciate your legacy and your work past, present and future.

Big thanks to our models who really wore MBD well. Items were quickly requested for purchase in the hours following the show. We appreciate your hard work and time spent promoting the brand.

Photos by Studio Jaki
Photos by Studio Jaki

Continued thanks to Faaridah and Team Essence for taking such good care of raqs in Atlanta by hosting an event that was enjoyed by so many fans and lovers of the art of Bellydancce. This conference featured not just international stars but a myriad of dance teams from Atlanta working together to make the city shine like the sun. You all take care of your stars and you go out of your way to make events positive and memorable, this is not easy feat. Mabrook to each of you and shukran!

Sincerely,
Team MBD

*Special thanks to Studio Jaki for her outstanding talent and quick turn around with the photography. There are no words to describe how incredible her dedication is to this industry. Jaki, you are more than appreciated!

Team Essence – The Engineers Behind the Magic (continued)

Register for Essence of Bellydance www.essenceofbellydanceatlanta.com
Register for Essence of Bellydance http://www.essenceofbellydanceatlanta.com

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!

MissBellydance.com proudly supports Essence of Bellydance
MissBellydance.com proudly supports Essence of Bellydance

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.

Faaridah
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

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

Raqs Stars As Neighbours! Jacques Al Asmar in Atlanta

Jacques Al Asmar in show
Jacques Al Asmar in show

It’s not every day a Raqs Star becomes your neighbour. For those in Atlanta, they are getting used to this. They are no strangers to stars showing up and moving in. The lastest star to Raqs Atlanta (literally), is Jacques Al Asmar. Our resident raissa was eager to introduce him to the community. She began with this great interview.

Why Atlanta, Jacques? What brings you here and how long will you stay with us?

JAA: Atlanta was my first pick. The truth is I wanted to be spiritually grounded. Please don’t confuse that with religion. I wanted to be close to a life coach, who I work with closely. I plan on staying as long as it takes to cross into the dimensions I want to explore in life. I have to admit I miss San Francisco, but I’ve accomplished a tremendous amount of personal growth in Atlanta.

Tell us what has been your most memorable childhood/young adult memory of Raqs Sharqi.

JAA: Great question. During our family summer vacation in the mountains of Lebanon, I recall being around 5 or 6 years of age and watching Nadia Gamal, who was our neighbor in Lebanon practice with her band. Little did I know that I would end up begging her to let me sit-in during rehearsals and begin imitating her moves.

JAA1As an adult, I recall a trip to Cairo with Amina in 1997. We arrived late at night and most of the shows that featured current working stars were sold out. We ended up in a dive watching about 20 amateur belly dancers perform till 8 am. It’s one of the rare nights where I walked away with complete satisfaction

When did you know you were ready to do this professionally?

JAA: I still don’t think I’m ready and I doubt I will ever call myself a professional in the field of Raqs Sharqi. It’s an education without graduation.

How often do you travel for dance?

JAA: My travels have slowed down due to my hectic schedule of current studies. However, I still travel internationally to teach and perform at least 2 to 3 times a year. My favorite destination is the annual conference in Beirut.


What are your hopes for your time in Atlanta?

JAA: I hope to get to know the dance community and allow them to get to know me. I like building families wherever I am. Atlanta is great city. It needs more Middle-Eastern nightlife and venues that can feature live bands and performers. You never know, I may end up investing in an Arabic nightclub.

JAA

We are so excited about him being here and wish him the best. We will do what we can to support his endeavors and plans as brothers and sisters in the industry. Jacques Al Asmar will be seen around town at some upcoming events and more information will be available on the Raqs Atlanta Blog.

Thanks for reading!

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