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.
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!
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.
As 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.
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.