Welcome to our Blog! Here we share the newest trends of the world Belly Dance! Enjoy!
Belly dance festivals & competitions nowadays is a huge industry that thrives all over the world (Especially USA, Latin America, most of European & Asian countries and, of course, Egypt). Festivals are a great opportunity to fully plunge into belly dance education with world renowned dance teachers. Enormous amount of workshops to choose from, spectacular gala shows, intense competitions, splendid after parties, new connections, new ideas, inspiration and knowledge are far not all the benefits you get to experience if you decide to attend a belly dance festival!
If you want to grow quickly as a dancer participating in such events could be a great investment, although is costly sometimes. The best way to go about it is to buy all-inclusive packages which allow you to attend all workshops, gala shows and include a competition participation fee in all categories. Depending on a size of a festival and a country the festival is held in the fee could be anywhere between AUD $500 to AUD $4000, obviously exclusive of accommodation, transport and meals, but it is so worth it!
For me personally takeouts of each festival I attended were incredible! It was not about how many choreographies you learn, not about whether you win a competition, it was about making new connections, about learning from and performing in front of experienced dance professionals. The most important is to be fully present in the moment, be open and grateful for the constructive feedback you get regarding your performance. When I was at The Summer Bellydance Festival in The Netherlands I was chasing Mercedes Nieto, Esmeralda Colabone and Anusch Alawerdian to get their opinion about the areas I needed to improve in my dance. It was huge for me and I was amazed when Mercedes had given me an overview of my comp number ”Remember that part of your drum solo when you face backstage and do shimmies with “X” step, I think it would be great if you gain more control of your shimmy so you are able to change shimmy speed faster and clearer”. The judges had watched over 40 dancers performing that night and she remembered my piece in details!
Competitions are the most intense part of a festival. Especially at large festivals with over 100 participants things can get delayed. There are occasions when competitions go on till 3 am (that’s in Russia where contests are very popular due to the mentality). If you are attending a large festival and compete you must be ready to wait, sometime for half a day till your number is called out. Normally you are allowed to see the contest, which means you need to be relaxed and confident enough to see your opponents doing their best to win. It was not easy when I had to wait for 6 hours for my entry at the World Bellydance Competition in Singapore in 2015. I watched every single performance before mine. There were mainly Chinese contestants there, who are very technical, disciplined and humble. To top that off it was my first ever belly dance competition and I performed in a pro category. I was totally terrified when it was my turn to perform, but I just surrendered to the stage, as I had done everything possible including months of practice and research. Afterwards, when Khaleed Mahmud was presenting me “The Best Choreography” award I told him it was my first competition. “Well I hope it’s not the last” he replied. I doubted that I am ever to do it again. I was wrong!
The most important, once again, is to keep your mind open, be ready to get out of your comfort zone, enjoy, celebrate and soak as much information as you can!
Here’s the list of largest upcoming BellyDance Festivals and competitions around the world
Cairo Mirage, Moscow hosted by Katya Eshta, 12-19 March 2018 www.cairomirage.com
NYCairo Raks, hosted by Mohamed Shahin, 19-22 April 2018 http://www.nycairo.com
Raqs Of Course, hosted by Randa Kamel and Mohamed Shahin in Egypt 25 June - 2 July 2018 http://www.raqsofcourse.com/new-page.html
Ahlan Wa Salan, hosted by madam Raqia Hassan in Egypt in July 2018 http://www.raqiahassan.net
Miami Bellydance Convention, hosted by Nathalie Zarate in USA, August 2018 http://www.miamibellydanceconvention.net
Cairo Festival Budapest, hosted by Mercedes Nieto in Hungary, 3-6 May 2018, http://cairofestival.com/
Bellydance Weekend, hosted by Martín Salvatierra and Pablo Salvatierra in Argentina, 10-13 May 2018 http://www.bellydanceweekend.com.ar
Love practicing to darbuka anytime, anywhere?
Today I am sharing with you the exciting invention of the world-famous drummer Artem Uzunov!
Artem is one of the most innovative Middle Eastern drummers today. The winner of the International Olympiad of arts, unique percussionist who perfectly masters game on ethnic drums. His music album "Let's Do It" is beloved and danced to by belly dancers from all over the world!
Teaching and performing for many years Artem was passionate about sharing his knowledge of rhytmhs with dancers and other percussionists around the Globe. This is how Darbuka Rhythms App was created! The very unique application you can access on your smartphone to play all Middle Eastern rhythms, to test your knowledge, and even create your own drum solos!
Here's a small demo of how it works:
The app is available in App Store and GooglePlay!
Not only Artem is a first class percussionist, he also creates amazing clay darbukas!
To find out more about Artem's art visit www.artemuzunov.com.
Enjoy dancing to darbuka anytime, anywhere!
Your in dance,
I have a question for you today! .
What do you like more: to improvise or to perform a well-prepared choreography?
Surely, there are many factors that may affect the preference: the occasion, the audience, the venue dancing to live music or recorded audio and many more. I personally prefer to perform choreography that I am confident at least I need to know the music. Especially, if it’s a large stage with professional lighting, large audience and I am wearing that new 3 kg costume. To top that off dancers also have a privilege to connect the audience to the music.
Being a professional belly dance performing artist implies you are good at both improvising and performing choreography. Today I would like to share with you some quick tips that work best for me when I improvise.
I find that focusing on breath during dance is one of the most helpful techniques for a successful performance, whether it’s a choreographed piece or improvisation. Not only it grounds you but it keeps you going for longer, even if it’s a high energy tabla solo.
I use a simple breath technique learned from my dance mentor Irina Daliya (Russia) where we take a breath before we make a move. We inhale through the nose and exhale through the slightly open mouth, by keeping the corners of the lips slightly lifted in a “mysterious smile” while exhaling ( Please, make sure you practice it in front of the mirror first if you like to use it. We want to look natural, relaxed and seductive).
It might sound trivial but connection is our everything, whether it’s connection with the music, the live band or the audience. The most powerful points of connection are your eyes and your chest (That’s why it’s so important to keep your chest open and have a strong posture alignment, but it’s a separate blog post). You need to stay present throughout the whole performance. If you are present you can consciously choose whether to make an eye-contact with the audience/band/drummer, or to take a moment to go inwards and sort of let the audience into your world. The balance of these two definitely enriches your performance.
When you connect to the music that contains melody put on a rhythm (ex. Baladi progression after a taxim part when the drum rhythm kicks in) you have two choices: to follow the melody or the drum rhythm. The best way is to alternate. By doing this you demonstrate your musical literacy, that you know where is the melody and where is the rhythm.
Be captivating from the beginning to the end
The vital role in keeping your crowd engaged is your 100% presence wrapped in your dance skills. Your energy has to flow over the top and your dance moves have to be practiced to the automatic level (like walking) so when you improvise your body politely gives you the right move in the right time. As the saying goes “the best improvisation is a well-prepared improvisation” meaning that it takes a lot of work to build up your improvisational skills and the only way to do it is to turn your favorite music on and improvise! And of course, it’s great if you have a dance mentor, who can give you constructive feedback so you could grow faster.
There are many different ways to enrich your improvisation, it’s good to play with it to find out what suits you more:
- 1. Speed. This is about how you deal with the 4/4 rhythm, the basic rhythm you find in most Arabic music. You can break it down to 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &. By counting out the “&” you effectively create double-time, which you can switch to for a while then back to the slower 4/4. Varying speed is another way to add texture.
2. Big vs small moves (ex large hip circles vs pelvic circles). When it comes to a size of the move fast moves are best small and neat, slower flowing moves are opposite, we normally take our time and show off the amplitude (especially if it’s a deep hip circle).
3. Rule of 3 & pause (3/1). We would commonly apply this rule on to 4/4 beat (3 and pause is a breakdown of the 4/4 rhythm) when we repeat a move three times and pause instead of making it the fourth time.
3. Levels. Depending on what music calls you to do, you might want to be lifted on your toes or opposite, go into a floor work.
4. Travel steps. You can use all different shapes for your travel steps such as circle, square, diamond and more. Professionals suggest to keep you travel symmetric (if you go left, balance it out with going right afterwards). With the travel pattern we keep in mind the whole variety of travel steps we can utilise: camel with flat-toe-toe-toe step, small hip circles, flat-toe steps with layered hip moves (classical or reversal maya, up/ down hip accents), jewels, 3-point turns etc.
5. Change of directions. It’s great to show the audience all your profiles, as well as work facing backstage. By the way, hip drops/pops look more amplitudinous and overall winning when you right/left profile to the audience.
6. Arm work. Is always twice slower than your hip work. If you speed up your hips (ex shimmy) your arms don’t follow, they slow down. Our emotions in dance are mainly expressed through the arms. Arms can beautifully frame the body work, but can also be the main tool (ex: during taxim, accompanied by a ney or a violin)
7. Shimmies. There is a huge choice of shimmi techniques you can use depending on the music (vibrations, ¾, large shimmies, choo choo shimmies with or without layering). The more of it your body feels conformable with the better for you!
Needless to say that the subject of improvisation in belly dance is way broader and includes many different aspects. But these small on-the-go tips have helped me to build up my improvisation and, the most important, get more connected to my audience and other industry professionals I work with day by day in Australia and abroad!
Please comment below if you have any suggestions, if there is any topics you would like to discuss. We dearly appreciate your feedback!
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