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
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