Top Egyptian Star Returns to the City
Last year Sorraiah Saied came into our personal lives and stole our hearts. She is by far one of the most amazing instructors we’ve ever encountered and we are overjoyed at her return to Essence of Bellydance 2016. We hope she continues to be a featured star and sister to this outstanding Raqs Conference. Get the schedule here
We hear so many stars, fans and conference attendees rave about Essence and how they can’t wait to return. We agree. It is one of the top notch stops on the dance calendar that we prepare long in advance to attend. The hotel is incredible with modern condo style luxury suites at phenomenal prices. It’s situated in the heart of a very happening and upbeat city that is diverse and easy to navigate thanks to local transit and car services. Most restaurants close around 2am-3am and really famous southern spots stay open all night with 24/7 menus like The Diner franchise located at pulsepoints around the city and deep into the suburbs. Atlanta is one of the best places to host an event and it is home to our favourite annual dance events.
Atlanta is also home to our main HQ, MissBellydance.com. For over 13 years we’ve been raqin’ out with fellow Atlantans and keeping our prices low because we make a lot of our costumes ourselves. Come say hi to members of our team at Essence of Bellydance. We’d love to meet you in person. We’ll be doing trivia and other fun things online that weekend. Those who are present will be able to pick up prize packs and discounts on their favourite costumes. So much to look forward to this September. We can’t wait to spend it with Sorraiah Saied, Team Essence and YOU!
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!
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!
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.
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!
It is with great pleasure that we announce an exciting opportunity for superfanatics of Raqs Sharqi and bellydance. For the past 8 months we’ve been promoting and sharing the awesomeness that is Essence of Bellydance. This team has continuously put together a grand showcase of Raqs art. Through past partnerships and vending we’ve been able to be involved. We want everyone to take advantage of the amazing learning opportunities through their exquisite events. All of their programming, bellydance extravaganzas, iconic raqs sharqi fashion shows and more are well worth the travel and time spent. The team behind Essence of Bellydance is one of a kind with international instructors, global thought leaders and big time enthusiasts who have dedicated themselves to the art.
Three things we want everyone in our fan circle to see are as follows.
On Saturday the 13th of September, Bellydance Evolution will steal your heart with Alice in Wonderland, you will see Bellydance in a whole new way…it’s innovative yet classic and beautifully done. This is one of those can’t miss shows and you’ll be sorry if you did. Make plans to be there both nights!
The Fan Experience
There’s nothing more amazing than returning home from a great weekend of excitement and unbelievable bellydance classes. Fan Flock has partnered with Essence of Bellydance to bring you a full fan experience. For just $5 you get entered into a raffle to win some great prizes from this event. Don’t delay, get your raffle ticket today. You can buy as many as you want to increase your chances of winning a really cool fan souvenir plus the opportunity to be featured in our blog about your love for the art. Click here to buy raffle tickets to the fan experience.
We’re beyond excited about the work that Essence is doing. It’s a wonderful resource and service not just to the southeast but to the world as a whole. Come one, come all and join in one of the biggest Bellydance Events of the year!