Sunday, December 29, 2013

January Preview

Happy New Year from Yalla Y'all!  I'd like to wish all the raqs enthusiasts in metro Atlanta and beyond a very happy and healthy 2014.

The first month of the new year brings us a few very exciting events! If you don't have the time or money to do the workshops that are coming up in January, definitely try to make it to the shows.  We have so much talent here in the Southeast; you're sure to be entertained and perhaps inspired.

Friday, January 3

Majda Anwar
Photo by Charlie Smith

World Belly Dance Alliance Presents "Open Mic Night" for Dancers
8:00 p.m., Steve's Live Music, 234 Hilderbrand Drive, Sandy Springs, Georgia 30328

Join World Belly Dance Alliance for an evening of performances in many styles. Jenny Nichols has pulled this one together quickly, and it sounds pretty awesome.  Don't miss Aziza Nawal, Majda Anwar, Leena of Atlanta Fusion Belly Dance, Qamar of Athens, and many more. Steve's is a fun, laid-back venue with plenty of parking, and owner Steve Grossman has been very supportive of our community.  Full bar and menu will be available. RSVP to the Facebook event for more details!

Saturday, January 11

Abdominal Combinations Workshop with Schadia

1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
Nazeem Allayl Peachtree Corners Studio
In this workshop, you'll learn exercises to help you define, isolate, and strengthen your abdominal muscles, as well as how to control and contrast your upper and lower abdominal muscles for moves such as undulations, (aka belly rolls) stomach flutters, and more.  Click here to learn more and register.

January 16-19

Atlanta Fusion Belly Dance presents their annual Suhaila Salimpour Workshops and Suhaila Live!

Atlanta Fusion Belly Dance, 500 Bishop St. NW, Atlanta, GA
Workshops Thursday through Sunday
Show Sunday at 8:00

Suhaila Salimpour
Photo by Pixie Vision
Once again, Faaridah and Atlanta Fusion Belly Dance bring the legendary Suhaila Salimpour to Atlanta for workshops in several formats, including certification in Jamila Salimpour Technique Level 1, as well as Suhaila Format and a drum solo choreography.  But this weekend is mostly focused on the revolutionary technique and dance vocabulary developed by Jamila Salimpour -- a progenitor of American belly dance, founder of Bal Anat, and the initial driving force behind Tribal Style belly dance.  But Jamila sent her troupe to work both the renaissance fairs and the nightclubs; her technique is foundational to all styles of belly dance.

Sunday night, Suhaila brings the Salimpour Band to 14th Street Playhouse for what's sure to be an epic solo show -- an unusual opportunity to experience this world-renowned performer presenting American belly dance the way it's meant to be, with a live Middle Eastern band.  Click here for tickets.

Visit the AFBD web site or the Facebook event for more details.

In 2013, Jamila was honored with an event called "Reverence," a surprise performance paying tribute to her work and influence. Performers included members of Bal Anat, as well as Rachel Brice, Zoe Jakes, Unmata, Suhaila and Isabella Salimpour, and many more.  Check out this video of photos by Pixie Vision.

Friday, November 29, 2013

December Preview

Come out and share the spirit of the holiday season with the north Georgia raqs community this December!  There are several showcases and workshops to choose from, as well as a unique opportunity to celebrate the Persian Winter Solstice holiday of Shab-e-Yalda.  Don't miss your last chance to see Aziza Nawal performing as a member of Awalim on the 8th!

Wednesday, December 4

Raq the 40 Watt (Athens)

Samira & Friends Perform at the 40 Watt Club
Photo by Celeste Dixon
Doors open at 7:00 p.m., show at 7:30
The 40 Watt Club, 285 W. Washington Street, Athens, Georgia 30601
$5 in advance, $8 at the door

Join some of the most talented performers from across north Georgia for a belly dance show at the historic 40 Watt Club.  The Athens community will come together as your hostess Samira welcomes local troupes Sulukele and Qamar, special guests from Atlanta (including Banat Almeh), and students from the Healing Arts Centre, UGA's Ramsey Center, and Inti'sam.  Tickets are $5 in advance, $8 at the door. See a dancer for tickets or contact

Saturday, December 7

"Carol of the Bells" Workshop with Sabeeya

11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
$30 in advance, $40 after December 5 or at the door
Glow Dance Studio, 4246 S Main Street, Acworth, GA 30101
Sabeeya Sun, director of Glow Dance Studio, will teach an intermediate-level choreography with lots of layering, quick body movements & transition, shimmies, and hair twirls, set to Trans Siberian Orchestra's version of "Carol of the Bells."  E-mail Sabeeya at for more information.

"AFBD's Got Talent: Winter Edition"

Doors at 7:00; show at 8:00 p.m.
Fanoos Persian Cuisine, 6125 Roswell Road NE, Sandy Springs, GA
Atlanta Fusion Belly Dance presents their winter showcase, featuring performances by members of Rafi'ah Dance Company, AFBD's talented students, and some of metro Atlanta's most talented performers.  Show tickets are $10; for $18, your ticket includes a delicious Persian meal (vegetarian options will be available).  Full-service cash bar with drink specials.  Hookah specials too!  Click here to get your tickets.

Sunday, December 8
Aziza & Ziah of Awalim Dance Company

Awalim Winter Showcase at Smith's Olde Bar

Doors open at 7:00 p.m., show at 7:30
$15 in advance, $20 at the door
Smith's Olde Bar, 1578 Piedmont Avenue, Atlanta, Georgia 30324
Come and bid farewell to Atlanta's own Aziza Nawal as she performs for the final time as a member of Awalim Dance CompanyAnd enjoy a special guest appearance from Majda Anwar!  Along with Ziah, Aziza, and Majda, you'll see performances in a broad array of styles from the Awalim Apprentices and Banat Almeh student troupe.  Smith's Olde Bar is a great venue with a full bar and dining downstairs.  Get your tickets here!

Inara's Jingle Shimmy at Laziza
6:00 p.m.
Laziza Egyptian & Lebanese Restaurant, 113 North Park Square NE, Marietta, GA  30060
$20 includes dinner (chicken, beef or vegetarian); children $8 (kids under three free)  Join Inara, Sandtrance, Lum'a as-Sahara, Northside Tribe, and Dancers of the Harem for a belly dance celebration.  To purchase tickets, contact Inara at or 678-523-3532

Saturday, December 14

Veil Work for the Modern Dancer with -- Workshop & Hafla (Augusta)

Zaia Hadiyyah of Global Dance
Workshop 2:00 p.m.; Hafla 6:00 p.m. 
Joanie Lamb Hair Salon, 720 Broad St., Augusta, GA 30901
Polish your veil technique in this mixed-level workshop hosted by Evadne Medina.

Global Dance Holiday Hafla & Show

6:30 p.m.
$30 includes dinner; children under 8 and performing students free

Aqua Blue,1564 Holcomb Bridge Road, Roswell, Georgia 30076
Join Global Dance, Heidi Hernandez, Jahara Phoenix, Lacy Perry and Northside Tribe, Teejei, ROK Irish Dance, Luis Damian, and Atlanta SEEDs for a festive holiday hafla.  Get your tickets here.

Saturday, December 21

Shab-e-Yalda Celebration at Fanoos

7:00 p.m. 
$10 + $15 food/drink purchase
Fanoos Persian Cuisine, 6125 Roswell Road NE, Sandy Springs, GA
Miss Belly Dance presents a celebration of the Persian Winter Solstice holiday of Shab-e-Yalda.  This event celebrates the longest and darkest night of the year, and it has come to symbolise many things in Persian poetry: separation from a loved one, loneliness, and waiting. After Shab-e Yalda a transformation takes place -- the waiting is over, light shines and goodness prevails.

This event will feature performances by by Les Raissat, Beth Mendez, Amani Jabril, and Faaridah of Atlanta Fusion Belly Dance.  You'll also enjoy Persian poetry with Tara of the African-Asian Business and Cultural Exchange.  Click here to buy advance tickets.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sufi Workshops in November & December with Adnan Sarhan

There's a fair amount of crossover between Sufism and the belly dance community, so I thought I'd make sure everyone is aware of these upcoming concerts and workshops with International Master Adnan Sarhan.  The schedule is almost too complex for me to accurately capture in the calendar, so I'd suggest contacting Danny Stern for details if you would like to attend one of these events.  You can reach Danny (a longtime student of Mr. Sarhan's) at

Of particular interest to belly dancers are particularly are the drum concerts on Friday, November 29 and Thursday, December 5.  Please feel free to come in costume and dance!  Veils are always especially welcome.

Drum Concerts
Friday, Nov. 29, 7:00-9:30 p.m. (followed by a Sufi workshop)
Location: Muse for Life, 205 Hilderbrand Drive, Sandy Springs, GA

Thursday, Dec. 5, 7:00 - 9:30 p.m.
Location: Unity North Church, 4255 Sandy Plains Rd., Marietta, GA

At these concerts, Adnan will do intricate rhythm that will brings a new orientation to the mind and various centers in the body. Participant involvement will bring depth of consciousness and the spirit. How to get into the moment of the time and to extract the healing from the moment through action. Dancers are welcome to come & dance.

Sufi Workshops
Adnan will also offer Sufi workshops during both of these weekends.
Saturday, Nov. 30, 11:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 1, 11:45 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
I believe these workshops will be at Muse for Life

Friday, Dec. 6, 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 7, 11:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 8, 11:45 a.m. - 7 p.m.      
I believe the location is Unity North Church

Cost; $10 for Fri.,$100 for Sat. & Sun., $60 for single day
Wear comfortable clothing.  Bring a towel or blanket.
For info, call 678-596-8396 or visit

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

November Preview

November will be a fairly quiet month in the metro Atlanta/north Georgia raqs community... don't miss the Unmata workshop show at Red Light Cafe on the 9th!

Saturday, November 2

Dia de los Muertos Hafla with Jahara Phoenix & Global Dance (SOLD OUT)

Doors open/Open Drumming & Dancing at 7:00 p.m.
Performances begin at 8:00 p.m.
Global Dance, 1475 Holcomb Bridge Road, Roswell, GA 30076
If you're lucky enough to have a ticket, you'll enjoy performances by Jahara Phoenix, Sherar, Jendayi Dance Company, Global Dance, and special guests!

November 3/17/24

Build Your Own Bra & Belt Series with Mina

1:00 - 2:30 p.m.
Dalloua Dance Studio
Build your own unique, custom-made bra and belt, suitable for any style of dance, in this three-part workshop with Mina of Dalloua Dance. Check out the Facebook event for more details!

November 8-10

Amy Sigil of Unmata

The Human Adventure! Three-Day Intensive with Amy Sigil & Unmata

Atlanta Fusion Belly Dance, 500 Bishop Street NW, Suite F-6, Atlanta, GA 30318
Amy Sigil, founder of the legendary West Coast tribal fusion troupe Unmata, brings a unique series of workshops to Atlanta.  Choreography workshop Friday evening; Unmata's Hot Pot group improv format Saturday; The Human Adventure and Creative Dance Games on Sunday.
RSVP to the Facebook event for all the latest news.

Saturday, November 9

Hafla at Nazeem Allayl Peachtree Corners Studio 

7:00 p.m., 5770 Peachtree Industrial Boulevard #100 Norcross, GA 30071
Dance and enjoy performances by Nazeem Allayl troupes and students at this women-only event.  Snacks and drinks included with your ticket; $10 in advance, $15 at the door. Get your tickets here.

"Belly Dance Gone Strong" Show Featuring Amy Sigil & Unmata

8:00 p.m., Red Light Cafe, 553 Amsterdam Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30306  
Amy Sigil, members of Unmata, and over 25 of the most talented performers in the Southeast will perform! Click here to purchase tickets; $25 in advance, $30 at the door.

Evadne "Vany" Medina

Saturday, November 16

Tango Workshop with Evadne Medina & Egyptian Cane Workshop with Samira (Athens)

Workshops 1:00-4:30 p.m.; Hafla 7:30-9:30 p.m.
Dancefx, Inc, 396 Foundry St., Athens, Georgia 30601
An afternoon of workshops followed by a hafla.  Visit the Facebook event for details!

Saturday, November 23 

Charity Belly Dance Event & Free Mini-Workshop with Qamar (Augusta)

Workshop 4:00-5:00 p.m.; Benefit Hafla 7:00 p.m.
The Doris Building, 930 Broad Street, Augusta, GA
Bring canned or non-perishable food items for admission to Evadne Medina's annual fundraising event, featuring a mini-workshop with Qamar in Tribal Odyssey group improv.  Check out the Facebook event for more information!

Monday, September 30, 2013

October Preview

Lots of spooky raqs fun to be had in metro Atlanta this October!!! 
Jenny Nichols of World Belly Dance Alliance
Photo by Studio Jaki


Saturday, October 5 

Juice Box: The Preview 
Hosted by World Belly Dance Alliance
7:00 p.m., Pera Dance & Event Studio (1015-B Collier Rd, Atlanta, Georgia 30318
Free Admission
World Belly Dance Alliance and Amani Jabril Middle Eastern and World Dance will present a special preview of featured choreographies to be included in the April 12, 2014 stage production of “Juice Box."  More details here.

Art Menage 
7:00 p.m., Hodgepodge Coffee House and Gallery
A performing and visual arts event featuring performances by Kira Lang and Balefire.  RSVP to the Facebook event for details.


Saturday, October 12 

Bollywood Workshop with Jaki & Halloween Hafla (Augusta)
Sponsored by Evadne Medina
Workshop 3:00 - 5:00 p.m.$35 to Paypal ( in advance or $40 at the door, if space is available
Halloween Hafla at 7:00 p.m.
Both events at 929 Hunting Horn Way, Evans, GA 30809
Evadne Medina presents a Bollywood workshop with Jaki Hawthorne of Jahara Phoenix, followed by a Halloween hafla.  Come in costume!  RSVP to the Facebook event for details.

Oakhurst Arts & Music Festival Parade
Parade at 3:00 p.m., Harmony Park
Awalim Dance Company apprentices, students, and friends will be performing in the Oakhurst Festival parade (and most likely some impromptu street performances) with Balkan brass band Black Sheep Ensemble.

Samora with Leyli of Amoraat
Photo by Studio Jaki

Belly Dance by Samora Annual Showcase
6:30 p.m., Nicola's Lebanese Restaurant
An evening of dance with Samora, along with members of her troupe, Amoraat, as well as students, friends, and special guests -- plus Nicola!  Tickets are $23 and include a Lebanese dinner.  Tickets for Samora's current students, children under 12, and senior citizens 60+ are $18. Get advance tickets here.


Saturday, October 19 

Little Five Points Halloween Festival & Parade
2:00 p.m., Little Five Points
One of Atlanta's favorite fall events returns, featuring Awalim Dance Company with live music and the unique Tribal variation some call "parade ATS."  Don't miss all the costumes, fun, and food! Click here for more event info.

Nouveau Noir Workshop with Tempest
2:00 p.m., Atlanta Fusion Belly Dance
$25 Early Bird pricing
The legendary Tempest will be in town and is offering a workshop at Atlanta Fusion Belly Dance.  In this class, Tempest will teach sassy combinations that capture the elegant form, fluid movement, and dramatic stylings of the early 20th century. Click here to register!  RSVP to the Facebook event for all the latest details.

Nazeem Allayl Studio Show
7:00 p.m., Cecil B. Day Hall at Mercer University
Join teachers, troupe members, and students for the studio's twice-yearly showcase.  Check the Atlanta Belly Dance web site for ticket sales and more details.

A Night in the Oasis Presents: Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Gamer Oasis
8:00 p.m., Kavarna, 5:00 at door, kids six and under free
Get your geek on at the Halloween Oasis!  Join Mina, Mariana, friends, and special guests for an evening of performances inspired by fantasy, science fiction, and gaming!  Visit the Facebook event for more info.

Sunday, October 20 

Nazeem Allayl Studio Show
6:00 p.m., Cecil B. Day Hall at Mercer University
Join teachers, troupe members, and students for the studio's twice-yearly showcase.  Check the Atlanta Belly Dance web site for ticket sales and more details.

Saturday, October 26 

Qamar at Lickskillet Artists' Market in Athens
11:00 a.m., Lyndon House Arts Center, 293 Hoyt Street, Athens
Free admission
Athens' Qamar Tribal Odyssey Belly Dance will perform at the Lickskillet Artists' Market, an indoor/outdoor festival featuring art, music, kids' activities, food trucks, and more. Come out and see Tribal Odyssey group improv, as well as group and solo choreography... plus live drumming!

Wild Rumpus Halloween Parade in Athens 
7:00 p.m., downtown Athens
Classic City belly dancers congregate for the fifth consecutive year for the Wild Rumpus, produced by the legendary 40 Watt Club.  Parade participants are to line up in costume at Clayton & Pulaski Streets at 7:00 p.m.

Aziza & Ziah of Awalim Dance Company

Sunday, October 27 

Awalim Halloween Carnivale
6:30 p.m., Sketchworks Theater
3041 North Decatur Rd., Scottdale, GA 30079

Tickets $15 before 10/19, $18 after that date 
After a three-year hiatus, the Awalim Dance Company's Halloween show is back by popular demand!

This year's extravaganza will feature silly and spooky performances by Awalim's company members and Banat Almeh troupe members... plus special guests including Inara, Rafi'a Dance Company, Jenny Nichols, Halleya, Lacy Perry and Oleandra, Northside Tribe, and more!  Click here to learn more and get your tickets.  Check out the Facebook event for all the latest updates.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

September Preview (Better Late Than Never!)

Jill Parker
(Photo: Taboo Media)
Dragon Con has put your intrepid reporter a little behind on posting all the details about raqs events for September!  The month starts off with a huge bang when four superstars come to town for Essence of Belly Dance in Buckhead. For the remainder of the month, the fun will be happening mostly in Athens and Augusta, two communities that are growing quickly!

September 6-8
The Essence of Belly Dance
Atlanta Marriott Hotel & Convention Center
Don't miss this opportunity to study with and enjoy the performances of four raqs superstars!  Workshops with Amar Gamal, Sadie, Mira Betz, and Jill Parker Friday through Sunday.  Gala and fashion show Saturday evening -- doors at 7:00, show starts at 8:00. Click here to purchase tickets!

Saturday, September 7
Sword Workshop at Global Dance
2:30 - 5:00 p.m.
1475 Holcomb Bridge Road, Roswell, GA  30076
Learn the basics of Raqs al Sayf with Zaia Haddiyah
See Facebook event for more details.

Saturday, September 14
Makeup Mini-Workshop with Rajni and Hafla (Augusta area)
Workshop at 5:00 p.m., Hafla starts at 7:00 p.m.
929 Hunting Horn Way, Evans, GA 30809
Get stage makeup tips from Athens' own Rajni (Jenny Kay-Williams) in a free workshop, with a party to follow.  Hosted by Evadne Medina.

Global Dance Opening Celebration Cocktail Party
6:30 - 10:00 p.m.
1475 Holcomb Bridge Road, Roswell, GA  30076
Contact Global Dance for details.

Sunday, September 22
Drumming Intro Workshop with Marcus Octavius (Athens)
4:00 - 5:00 p.m.
Healing Arts Centre, 834 Prince Avenue, Athens, Georgia 30606
Learn the basics of Middle Eastern drumming with Greenville, SC's Marcus Octavius. Cost is $10, payable at the door.

Mabon Hafla (Athens)
6:30 p.m. 
Healing Arts Centre, 834 Prince Avenue, Athens, Georgia 30606
Following the drumming workshop, dance the night away at a hafla!

Aziza Nawal accompanied by Denys Proteau
(in fez; they're cool) at TribalCon 2013
Saturday, September 28
11:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. at Floorspace Studio
A day of workshops with Atlanta's own Aziza Nawal and Denys "Musik Karadeniz" Proteau of Columbia, SC -- followed by a hafla with performances . Click here to order workshop passes, show tickets, and meals.

Hafla at Hendershots: A Night of Middle Eastern Dance & Music (Athens)
7:00 p.m. at Floorspace Studio
Performances by Aziza Nawal, Sulukele, Jenny Nichols, Pittsburgh's Hakan, Evadne Media, CA of Jahara Phoenix, and more... plus live music with Denys Proteau!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Preview: South East Mosaic Dance Festival

A new festival is coming to metro Atlanta during the weekend of August 17-18:  South East Mosaic.  This event combines belly dance, burlesque, and flow arts in a series of workshops, as well as ongoing performances and a gala show.  It all takes place at the Wyndham Atlanta Galleria.

Of particular interest to raqs enthusiasts are workshops and performances from several well-respected performers and teachers.  Here's a profile of each of them (in no particular order), along with a summary of the workshops they'll be offering.

One of the few male dancers performing and teaching belly dance, including American Tribal Style® (his is the first certified "Brother Studio" of FatChanceBellyDance®), Valizan leads the troupe Shades of Araby and teaches at a number of studios in Toronto.  He be traveling all the way from Canada to bring his knowledge and skills to Mosaic. Valizan will be teaching a class in the traditional Egyptian stick dance, "Tahtiib: Hit You With My Rhythm Stick!"

Heidi Hernandez
Photo by Studio Jaki

Heidi Hernandez
Metro Atlanta raqs enthusiasts are familiar with this Cuban beauty from her performances with Jahara Phoenix Dance Company and as a soloist, as well as her ongoing classes in Lawrenceville. A lifelong student of dance, Heidi has experience in ballet, West African, salsa, jazz, lyrical, Afro-Cuban dance, and more. She will offer a session called "Spin Like a Top and Stop on a Dime," in which students will learn how to find their turning "sweet spot" and execute controlled spins.

Karma Karmelota
Photo by Color Envy

Karma Karmelita
If you've ever wanted to study belly dance with a real live mermaid, here's your chance! A recent transplant to metro Atlanta from Pensacola, Florida, Karma is a professional belly dancer, fire performer, and mermaid. Her workshop is called :The Mermaid Concept: Liquefied Motion," and will include a choreography for intermediate/advanced Oriental or fusion dancers. Karma's dance style is influenced by her underwater work as a professional mermaid.

Known for her expertise with props as well as her pioneering work as a gothic belly dancer, the"blue-haired maven of mayhem" will travel from the Washington, DC area to teach and perform at Mosaic.

Photo by Pixie Vision

Mavi will teach two workshops.  "Dance on the Dark Side" will focus on core elements of gothic belly dance.  Mavi will teach several brief choreographies representing different styles of gothic belly dance, provide examples and insight on appropriate music, and more. Mavi will also share her personal philosophy for creating gothic inspired belly dance performance pieces, with an emphasis on stage presence and channeling your dark inner diva.

Mavi will also offer "Intermediate Fire Fans/Fire Palms for Dancers," designed for dancers with fire prop experience. Participants will learn basic combinations that link easily together into a choreography easily adapted for traditional or electronic music. Learn to add spice and drama to traditional fire performance, emphasizing framing, flow, footwork and expressive interpretation.
Naima Sultana
Photo by
Cunningham Photo Artists

Naima Sultana
Charlotte, North Carolina's Naima Sultana is known for her fluid style. If you were at the recent World Belly Dance alliance show with Beat Box Guitar, you witnessed her uniquely lyrical approach to the drum solo.  She will offer a class called "Drum Solo Flow," designed to help dancers break out of their percussive "pop and lock" box in drum solos by teaching them to hear the sounds of the drum as if it were a melody, while respecting the musical traditions of the tabla. This class is appropriate for intermediate to advanced dancers of all styles, or beginners who love a challenge.

ShoShannah Estell
Photo by Michael Baxter

ShoShannah Estell
ShoShannah hails from Augusta, Georgia, where she is the co-founder of Hip2Hip Studios, co-creator of BellyRok, founder/creator of shobelly productions, and artistic director/choreographer of Asuhndree Fusion Dance Company.  She will teach a class called "Seamless Fusion," a unique workshop that borrows principles and techniques from Modern, ballet, lyrical, belly dance and yoga to help every level of dancer polish and bridge movements together seamlessly.

 Lady M
Lady M
Lady M is a local performer who specializes in both belly dance and exotic dance, and can be seen performing regularly in several metro Atlanta restaurants.  She frequently travels forth to Louisiana to perform with her troupe, Tribal Happenings, and at the Louisiana Renaissance Festival. Lady M will teach a conditioning class,"Strength and Flexibility for Dancers," a program she developed that uses conditioning exercises, ballet, modern dance, yoga, and exotic dance movements to strength and lengthen the dancer's body.

South East Mosaic is produced by Dalloua Dance CompanyClick here to learn more and to purchase tickets!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Preview: Essence of Belly Dance 3

Jill Parker
Essence of Belly Dance is back and bigger than ever September 6-8. This weekend-long event will feature four outstanding teachers and performers... two of whom are generally associated with Tribal Fusion style belly dance, and two with Oriental belly dance (or what some call "cabaret," though that word seems to be falling out of favor). All four of these women have much to offer belly dancers of any style -- their skills and knowledge cross genres to help dancers build a solid foundation. Here's a brief profile of each:

Jill Parker
Mira Betz
Considered by many to be the founder or "mama" of contemporary tribal fusion belly dance, Jill Parker has been a seminal force in our art form since her days as an original member of FatChance BellyDance. Jill is the founder of the influential troupe Ultra Gypsy and the director of the Foxglove Sweethearts.  She is committed to bringing solid Oriental technique to the world of tribal fusion.

Mira Betz
Another legendary performer often classified as a Tribal Fusion dancer, Mira Betz has studied Middle Eastern and North African dance extensively, and has been teaching for over 15 years. She was a founding member of the Aywah! Ethnic Dance Company, which featured many of today's most prominent dancers performing a myriad of folkloric styles.

If you do a search for "belly dance" on YouTube, the first result you'll see features Sadie Marquardt. She is an immensely popular performer, considered by many to be the "queen of the drum solo." Sadie has produced multiple DVDs and maintains a full schedule of performing and teaching worldwide. We are fortunate to have her here in the Southeast!
Amar Gamal

Amar Gamal
Another seminal force in the raqs world, Amar Gamal began her studies at
13 with the legendary Tamalyn Dallal. She went on to become a founding member of the innovative New York troupe Bellyqueen, whose performance inspired the development of the Belly Dance Superstars tour.

These four extraordinary women will be teaching technique and choreography classes Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at the Atlanta Marriott Buckhead Hotel & Conference Center. Passes are available for single days, single workshops, or the whole weekend.

Local and regional raqs favorites will join the four featured performers for a gala show Saturday night. The event will also include a fashion show!

Don't miss your chance to learn from, get to know, and enjoy these ladies!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

August Preview

Lisa Zahiya
Photography by Pixie Vision
Saturday, August 10
Shimmy Mini-Workshop with Lisa Zahiya - "“I’ve Got 99 Problems but a Shimmy Ain’t One″
2:30 - 4:30 p.m., Atlanta Fusion Belly Dance
AFBD's summer mini-workshop series continues with guest instructor Lisa Zahiya of Asheville, NC's Studio Zahiya. Lisa will cover a variety of shimmy techniques, proper usage, creating variety, level change, layering and more!  Admission is $30 -- click here to register.

Sunday, August 11
Awalim Apprentice Dinner Show
7:30 p.m., Nicola's Lebanese Restaurant
Awalim Dance Company and student troupe Banat Almeh will present an evening of fun and dance, with range of tribal, classic, and fusion performances with a special focus on soloists and performances by the Awalim Dance Company. Ticket price is $20.00 and includes a full Lebanese dinner with dessert -- click here to get your tickets. Bring your hip scarves for a hafla after the show with Nicola himself!

August 16-18
South East Mosaic
Wyndham Atlanta Galleria
This new weekend-long festival, produced by Mina of Dalloua Dance, combines belly dance, burlesque, and flow arts. Workshops, performances, and a gala show Saturday evening will offer a true mosaic of popular art forms. Instructors and performers who may be familiar to raqs enthusiasts include Mavi, Valizan, Naima Sultana, Heidi Hernandez, Lady Morrighan, Shoshanna Estell, and Miss Mongoose.  Click here for more info on the workshops being offered... click here for showcase tickets.

Saturday, August 17
TURKU in Concert (Savannah)
Banat Almeh at TribalCon 2013
3:00 p.m., Jepson Center for The Arts
If you're in the Savannah area (or up for a road trip), here's an unusual chance to see a band that's become very popular among Tribal dancers in particular:  TURKU, Nomads of the Silk Road. This
performance is part of the Jepson Center's opening of a new exhibition, “Allure of the Near East: Treasures from the Huntington Museum of Art’s Touma Collection.”  Visit the Facebook event for more info.

Maddie with Fire Fans
Photo by Anderson Smith Photography

Saturday, August 24
Intro to Belly Dance with Fire with Maddie
2:30 - 4:30 p.m., Atlanta Fusion Belly Dance 
A newcomer to the metro Atlanta scene, Maddie, a specialist in performing with fire, will share technique and safety tips for candles, candle tray, shemadan, fire sword and fire fans. Participants will be able to “try out” all fire props in order to get a feel for them. Maddie will also have candles available for you to use in class and teach a fun “double candle” choreography to get your started on your belly dance fire journey. Admission is $30 -- click here to register.

West African ITS Workshop with Wendellyn Lodapo (Augusta area)
5:30 p.m., 929 Hunting Horn Way, Evans GA 30809
Evadne Medina will host South Carolina's Wendellyn Lodapo, who will explore the evolution and interpretation of dance as it performed within the West African diaspora. Wendellyn will teach in a improv style, creating a vocabulary that can also be used in choreography.Visit the Facebook event for details.

Sunday, August 25
Hot Egyptian Combos - Master Class with Amani Jabril (Athens) (SOLD OUT)
3:00 - 5:00 p.m., Floorspace Studio
Sulukele Dance welcomes Atlanta's Amani Jabril in her first teaching appearance in Athens! This session in advanced Egyptian technique will cover technique and combinations grounded in Amani's deep understanding of both contemporary and ancient Middle Eastern culture.

August 30 - September 2
Dragon Con
Downtown Atlanta
Belly dancers, costuming enthusiasts, and geeks of all flavors flock to Atlanta every year for this science fiction and fantasy convention.  The Silk Road track offers workshops in belly dance and classical Persian dance; the Silk Road Expo performance event (this year it's Saturday at 4:00); costuming classes; and many other sessions devoted to Asian arts, crafts, and culture. Click here for the 2013 Silk Road track schedule, and join the Facebook group for all the latest news.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Meet Artemis Mourat: An Interview with the Crossroads and Origins Instructor & Performer

Check out a great interview with the one and only Artemis Mourat, brought to us by guest blogger Raksanne (Julie Thurlow)! Raksanne is a freelance writer, as well as one of my troupemates in Banat Almeh. We'll be learning from Artemis and performing together this Saturday at Crossroad & Origins!

Artemis Mourat is best known for her specialized workshops in Turkish Oriental and Turkish
Romany (Gypsy) dance, both of which she’ll be teaching at Crossroads and Origins this weekend! Mourat is a dancer, teacher, writer and historical scholar. She’s won multiple awards for her dancing. In fact, if you look up belly dance in the Oxford University Press International Encyclopedia of Dance, you’ll find her picture. After reading an array of Mourat’s well-versed articles (some of which could possibly end up in the book she’s currently working on) I was curious about about a few things. So, I caught up with her for an interview -- this is what she had to say.

What do you love most about Turkish Oriental dance?
I love the energy of it. It is passionate and powerful, and Classical Turkish Oriental never lost its Romany (Gypsy) roots.

Artemis Mourat
How did you learn Turkish Romany (Gypsy) and Turkish Oriental dance?
My family are Greeks from Turkey and we can now trace our history there for over 1000 years. My first time seeing Turkish Roma dance was when I was 14 at a Sunnet (male circumcision) party in Istanbul. I was mesmerized. Then I first learned about the Romany and Oriental versions of Middle Eastern dance while doing field research in Turkey, starting in the 1980s and continuing to this day.

Back then, I took lots of footage with my big old video camera, which I had to hold on my shoulder. Later, while there, I bought video footage when it became available but I had to go to the Turkish porno shops to get it (THAT was an adventure!  I was so bad for their business because all the men ran out the back door when a woman walked in that eventually the shop owners would just hand me the videos with dance on them at the front door and I would slip them the money). I took this footage home and studied it thoroughly (slow mo is our friend).

At one point, while home, I listened to nothing but Turkish music and did nothing but Turkish dance for two entire years (my poor husband). Total immersion. I saturated my brain with all things Turkish until it felt as if it got in on a cellular level. Then I swapped steps with my buddies Dalia Carella and Eva Cernik. I worked extensively with Tayyar Akdeniz, who is Turkish and who does excellent Turkish Roma dance. We became dance partners and toured and performed together for several years, and we put on the Folk Tours Middle Eastern Music and Dance Camp in the U.S. and in Turkey for several years. We had lots of classes in Turkish as well as Arabic music and dance. And I also studied with the wonderful Reyhan Tuzsuz.

Eventually I put together all the dance material that I knew in the manual which accompanies my
annual Five-Day Turkish Intensive. It is amazing how making a "manual" forces you to evaluate and organize what you know! And when Yasmin Henkesh and I put together our "Viva La Difference" intensive, which compares and contrasts Turkish and Egyptian dance, things came together for me on an even deeper level. We got together night after night and asked each other; "How would you do that step/move/gesture?" We could really delineate what the similarities were and where there were very clear differences. We watched hours of each other's footage. There was wine involved and it was fun and fascinating for us both. We had many "Aha!" moments. When you study something comparatively, it highlights the differences more clearly, things gel, you see the big picture from different angles.

 It has been quite a journey. It also showed me how American Cabaret became what it was. That is a vivacious version of Oriental dance that combines pan Arabic (not just Egyptian) and Turkish Oriental dance with American "showpersonship." I prefer the name "Vintage Orientale" since, in my opinion the only true "American Cabaret " dance started in Vegas. Vintage Orientale is an excellent example of a fusion dance that became its own genre.

You have quite an extensive collection of antique pictures of women and dancers from North Africa, the Middle East and of the Roma throughout the world. How did your collection get its start?
My dad was a stamp and coin collector and my family always loved history so it was not a far reach for me to fall in love with dance related ephemera. I began collecting in flea markets in other countries. I was living on the road and traveling from country to country dancing. There were times when I lived on peanut butter but I always managed to have the money for the postcards and pictures. Then I began to buy things in the U.S. at ephemera conventions before there was any such thing as the internet.

Can you tell us something interesting about the Romany culture that people might not know (perhaps something you’ll be expanding on at Crossroads and Origins)?
Each of the Roma cultures have their own specific dances. There are some shared aspects but the dances do differ from place to place and from ethnic group to group. That is why Roma people are offended when outsiders simply fluff up their hair and dance with gusto without ever taking a lesson and call it a "Gypsy" dance. These are fantasy or perhaps interpretive Roma dances and there is nothing wrong with that. Some of it is really good dance! But performers should use labels to help identify what they are doing. And the authentic forms are SO COOL, that people who are interested in this style and culture should dip into that well and drink the waters. In doing so, they are honoring the cultures that they are portraying. They can then fuse what they learn into their fusion forms or perhaps they will want to sometimes do the authentic versions.

I always fuse Turkish Oriental with Turkish Roma in my shows. And I sometimes do skirt too, which is not a Turkish Romany dance at all (although we used to think that it was). Skirt dance as it came to our Middle Eastern dance world in America was the wonderful fusionary creation of Dalia Carella in the mid 1980s. She mixed some Roma and non Roma dances to create it. Then a few of us from that era branched off and created our own versions. It works amazingly well with Turkish 9/8 and we all love it! You see? This is the value of fusion dance. It allows for the birth of new art forms.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

July Preview

With lots of people busy with vacations and other summer activities, July will be a fairly quiet month in the metro Atlanta raqs community. Don't miss Crossroads & Origins! If you can't make the workshops, the show is going to be absolutely amazing.

Saturday, July 6
Artemis Mourat
Summer Costuming Classes with Sulukele Dance in Athens
1:30 - 3:30 p.m.

FloorSpace Studio, 160 Tracy St., Athens, GA

Sulukele's weekly series of costuming classes continues with a mermaid skirt workshop.

July 12-14
Crossroads & Origins
Classes at Muse for Life, 205 Hilderbrand Drive, Sandy Springs, GA 30328
Show and Saturday lecture across the street at Steve's Live Music, 234 Hilderbrand Drive

A two-day intensive (beginning with dinner Friday evening, catered by Nicola's) with two master instructors and performers, Amel Tafsout and Artemis Mourat.  Gala show Saturday evening.  A la carte pricing is now available!  Register here.  Produced by Ziah of Awalim Dance Company.

Saturday, July 13
"Bellynesian" Workshop
1:00 - 4:00 p.m.

Nazeem Allayl Little Five Points Studio,
1394 McLendon Ave NE, Atlanta GA 30307 
Learn a belly dance/Polynesia fusion choreography.  Click here for more information.

Saturday, July 20
Summer Costuming Classes with Sulukele Dance in Athens
1:30 - 3:30 p.m.

FloorSpace Studio, 160 Tracy St., Athens, GA
Make a pair of harem pants in the final session of this series! 


Saturday, July 27
Dance Around the World Workshops with Zaina & Andrea
11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Gotta Dance Atlanta, 1778 Ellsworth Industrial Drive NW, Atlanta, GA 30318 
In celebration of National Dance Day, learn
Samba with Andrea and Bollywood dance with Zaina Zahra, along with other international dance styles. Click here for more info.

Saturday, July 27
A Night in the Oasis: Summer Bazaar!
8:00 - 11:00 p.m.
 Kavarna, 707 East Lake Drive, Decatur, Georgia 30030
Join a variety of local performers in the latest in this series of raqs showcases, produced by Mina and Mariana of Dalloua Dance.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Crossroads & Origins Update: A la Carte Pricing

Amel Tafsout
If you can't spare the time or the cost of the whole weekend, here's great news:  Crossroads & Origins is now offering individual/a la carte pricing by day, by teacher, or by class:
  • If you want to focus on North African traditional dance, you can choose all of Amel Tafsout's workshops (Trance Workshop, Ouled Nayl Dance, and Tunisian Dance) for $130.
  • If your interest is Turkish dance, you can attend Artemis Mourat's workshops in Turkish Orientale and Turkish Romany dance, as well as her lecture/discussion, "Knowing Your Roots," for $130.
  • If you can only come on Saturday, workshops and discussion for that day are $139.  Sunday workshops are $100.
  • Individual workshops at $45 each.
Click here to register for the sessions of your choice (or the whole weekend) or to buy show tickets.