Amazing Memories of Amar Gamal

 

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.

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Nawar and Amar at Essence of Bellydance 2013

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

Amar Gamal
Courtesy AFBD, Amar Gamal

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!

-Team MBD

Holiday Haute Couture for Raqs Sharqi & Bellydance

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We’re officially in the archway of festival season. That means we’re in the most celebrated time of year on the planet. It’s the lead up to New Year’s Day. We’ve got Yalda and other spiritual holidays to look forward to celebrating. That means dances, shows and events from now until the end of the year and beyond. Are you ready? We are!

Our festive suggestions are bedluhs and amazing veils for this season. It’s a little warmer than usual on the earth this time. Enjoy these glitzy, glammed out styles with bright shining accessories that twinkle like stars under the stage lights. Be memorable in strong colours, sweeping fabrics and prints.

This season’s top 5 are here. Take your pick.
Holiday Holly Pink
Full on Fringe
Beladi Best
Lebnaniya Lustre
Dazzled

Which one did you get? Let us know, send us you order confirmation via FB and we’ll get you a cute bracelet or earrings to match. Limited to one per email. Don’t forget to take a picture when it arrives so we can feature you and your event in our blog. We love to tell the world what our friends and fans are up to!

Happy Dancing!
Team MBD

New Costumes for November

image Happy Harvest everyone! It’s that time of year when we gather together to be with friends, do fun things, dance and enjoy the spirit of friendship. That also means holiday shows…and lots of them. This year we have a variety of bright colourful spinning skirts and tops to match the mood of the season.

Our new prints are bold and colourful. We’ve gone beyond the traditional deep reds to more vibrant hues, golden tones, slate greys and even yellow. Each skirt has a matching top with either elastic on the bodice edges so that it stretches to fit comfortably or adjustable ties. The waistline in the skirt is also elastic.

image Be sure to grab these quickly before they’re all gone. Makes great troupe wear and knowing how creative our friends and fans are, you’ll find a way to make it something you could wear everyday. We want to see that. Place your orders by clicking here and here. We’ll get these out to you as fast as we can.

Thanks for reading!
Team MBD
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Bellydancer Spotlight: Say hey to Kate!

courtesy of Kate H.
courtesy of Kate H.
We love it when you send us pictures of you in your MissBellydance.com attire. We’ve made so many new friends and we want to feature as many as we can in costume. The creative ways you make MissBellydance.com a part of your performances has been outstanding. We love to show off your hard work and dedication to the art.

Kate and friends bellydance
Kate and friends bellydance
This week we feature Kate H. who wore MissBellydance.com to her recent performance for their new fans. A hipscarf, skirt and top were part of her ensemble. She looks great! We’ll be sending Kate an additional complimenting hipscarf and a pair of zills. Wishing her a great future in the art.

Kate and new fans!
Kate and new fans!

Did you wear MissBellydance to a recent show? Let us know!
*You can also save 15% on purchases of $75 or more by using the code “treat2015” this month.

Thanks for reading!
Team MBD

Caftans, Cover-Ups and Cloaks

image It’s officially cold on the East Coast. How about where you are? Beat these chilly temps by staying warm in a cover up from MissBellydance.com. These come in velvet and cotton. Both are long and you can wear them over layers.

Cover ups, regional cloaks and jackets and more are often worn for modesty. Ours are made with the entertainer and modern day “mode” or fan of fashion in mind. Consider these as a way to not only knock off the chill but to look stylish without going totally bare. Your costume should be saved for the stage, so don’t dare to share too soon. Get yourself a lovely cover up and jacket to conceal your magic before the majestic showcase.

Chebba Jacket
Velvet Cloak
Short Jacket
Traditional Embroidered Thobe
Black Sheer

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Enjoy and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram this month for hipscarf giveaways!

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!

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

Be Fantastic and Fashionable at Fall Festivals

image Classes have started and our new website is adorning great deals all this week to those in need of stocking their studios. We’re getting ready for shows, conferences and an entire semester so to speak of Raqs Sharqi. Of late, we finished off a great summer with Andrus Ramir. The Raqs Weekend was a hit for Atlanta fans. Ebony Quails was in Atlanta with Atlanta Fusion Bellydance and the calendar continues to fill up with even more events in the city’s interntional communuity. There are live music shows and so much more on the way. We’re excited to say the least and want to help you look great for these upcoming raqs dates.

If you’re performing, making a guest appearance or there as a supportive fan, let us know. We’ll get you draped in the cutest of clothes. We’ve got dancewear, fanwear and jewelry that is perfect for more than just the stage. If you’re on our Facebook page you’ve seen the numerous discounts and opportunities to save on your raqs wardrobe. They’ll continue all this week. Be sure to like our page and follow us on Instagram and Twitter to keep up with the cool deals.

image And we want to hear from you! Let us know what raqs fun you’re getting into this fall. Are you coming to Essence of Bellydance? Will you be hosting a show or student recital? Are you taking classes at your University? Let us know about any of these and we’ll enter you to win the September prize pack at MissBellydance.com to be announced during #EOB2016. We can’t wait to hear from you! Raqs on!

Thanks for sharing!
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.

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

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