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SO HERE’S THE DEAL:

Samara was born as Tahira in Baghdad, Iraq, 1963. She was born into a traditional Muslim family that wanted her to study engineering in Lebanon. They were not to pleased when she decided to do something more…creative. After moving to Lebanon, Tahira took the stage name, Samara, and became very inspired by Nadia Gamal, whom she asked for lessons. Nadia taught Samara three dances and advised that she develop a unique style.

Samara took that advice to heart and man did she come up with some unique stuff! She incorporated Polynesian, Greek and Indian and Spanish dance inspiration into her routines. She was also influenced by nature, for her NYE show in 1995, her concept was – the sea. “Her show opened with a huge clam shell on stage. As the music started, the lid was raised, and Samara slowly emerged, representing a pearl. Her costume was of the elaborate Lebanese variety, all in pearls,” (Samara: Sayyida Raks Sharqi, Best of Habibi). Even beyond incorporating different forms of dance, Samara had music written just for her (she also had her own band), and even used some American New Age fusion in her sets.

Samara’s distinct style gained her popularity and the name “Sayyida Raks Sharqi”(*) from the Lebanese press meaning, “Mistress of Oriental Dance.” After her first three years dancing in Lebanon (1981-1984), she began traveling and dancing around the world, ushering in her golden age from the mid 80’s-early 2000’s. She started out traveling to the cities of  Kano and Lagos in Nigeria and Abidjan in the Cote d’Ivoire. She later traveled to Europe and Arab countries as well.

Being so popular Samara had to regularly switch up her show, she would do this every 4-6 months, adding in new inspirations and music. She wanted to keep her fans on their toes and felt it was necessary for her to keep growing as an artist. She always wanted to out do herself, which in my opinion, is the best form of competition.

Learn more about Samara here.

Why I <3 HER:

You’ll see when you watch the videos! She is completely mesmerizing, I couldn’t stop watching video after video and I tried really hard to not make the longest youtube playlist of all time lol 😛 She’s very lively, incredibly creative and on top of that she has amazing technique. I’m also fascinated by her fusion of different styles, especially with all this talk I’ve been seeing recently about styles/categories of belly dance.

I hope you all enjoy the playlist!

xoxo

N

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLjrrLz1h329-zpqReULnJZZd7m61raLOc]

*I don’t know why Raks has a K and Sharqi has a Q…anybody?

Hey guys! So I finally got to post this week! yay!

Last week when I was updating the blogs color story I was using a book called “Living In Morocco” for inspiration. The images in the book are unreal – just completely stunning. If you don’t have it in your collection, I highly recommend you getting it here. At least with me, bellydancespiration extends beyond the dance itself and trickles into home decor, fashion etc. So I hope you enjoy and get some ideas! My personal favorites are the blue gilt sofa against the blue wall, the babooshes and the luxurious salon – but I don’t know… I love them all! Let me know what you think! ( I also snuck in an image from Vogue… couldn’t help it…)

Oh  – and to add to the mood…so you can imagine yourself sitting poolside, drink in hand, in a luxurious home in Morocco – listen to the playlist below.  The album in the playlist is all Moroccan belly dance and was introduced to me by Anahid Sofian – it’s sooo good!

xoxo

N

ATTENTION TRI-STATE BELLY DANCERS: It’s time for another of Anahid Sofian‘s amazing ateliers, Atelier Orientale – New Voices!

The legendary Anahid Sofian has put together a roster of amazing dancers to perform at her studio (29 west 15th street, 6th floor) on November 9th from 5 – 7 pm.

This show will shine a light on performers/choreographers that are really pushing the boundaries of Middle Eastern Dance. The performances will range from traditional to contemporary to experimental. Each piece will be an original work, full of depth and spirit.  It’s going to be very inspirational and who doesn’t need some #BELLYDANCESPIRATION???? 😀

Check out the featured performers!

Brenna Crowley/ Zilla Dance Ensemble

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4j0pyh-44Yc&list=UUHLImw4IjzpSw6csJdF3Axg&index=10]

Brenna is always full of energy and personality – she’s so much fun to watch!

Calixta Starr

here is a piece that Calixta was a part of 🙂


Kaitlin Hines/ Raqs Uncommon

 

The Kandake Dance Theatre for Social Change


Nisreen

 https://vimeo.com/87922014

I’ve gotten to see Nisreen dance a couple times and she’s great!

Tatianna Natalyja

btw Tatianna also reads Tarot cards – so cool!
Uza Mitra

Uza is just the coolest- check out TBB’s interview with her here!

Oh, and remember, Doors open at 4:30 pm and there will be a wine and cheese reception following the show – YUM! 

Updated Atelier Flyer-2

 

Yesterday my friend Raissa and I performed a duet at a Halloween belly dance event called Spooktacular hosted by legendary dancer Layla Mary. It was so much fun!  Raissa and I decided to be elves – Lord of the Rings style. We wore elf ears and capes and danced with candles to Ocean Depth from the album Music from Intro to Bellydance with Dolphina.

After yesterday I started thinking about what it takes to make a really good duet. When we first began choreographing our dance Raissa sent me a video of a hip hop duet : Alex and Twitch. This video has all of the elements needed to pull off a duet (watch below!). The duo move together and in opposition. At some points they are doing different things, but those different things work perfectly together and create a dance thats completely in sync and on beat. Then they come back together and move simultaneously. All these different dynamics make for a very entertaining dance that holds the audiences interest.

Dancing in a duet can be nerve racking, well at least for me. I hate the idea of messing up and it effecting the other person. That’s why it’s so important to dance with someone you really trust. Especially when dancing with fire lol. Seriously though, trust is key!

Communication is also a must. When choreographing, it’s important to really hear each others ideas and test them out. When I was in design school, one of my teachers said the most important element of design is play. Never be afraid to play around, experiment, etc. I think about that all the time with dance.

Of course there are so many elements that make a great duet, and I’ve put together a video playlist of some very inspirational duos. There are, hip hop, modern, ballet  and belly dance duets.

Check them out!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLjrrLz1h3299FwymbBT9aoKrip-ugSpyn]

Let me know what you think!

xoxo

TBB

A couple of weeks ago, on September 11th actually, I got the chance to head over to Queens and interview the fabulous Ranya Renee. Ranya invited me into the apartment she shares with her two adorable cats appropriately named Samia and Mona. We sat down in her living room decorated with a wall of very cool masks, mirrors, and beautiful/funky pieces of furniture like a sea shell encrusted table. We started chatting and before I knew it over an hour passed! So I’m sorry for the delay in posting this interview, I had to figure out my iMovie situation – I’m not the most technologically savvy. Before we get started, here is some background on Ranya: Ranya moved to NYC in 1992 to work as a theater director. She ended up spending more and more time belly dancing and eventually it became her number one focus. Ranya specializes in Egyptian style and is known for teaching theatrical performance skills and for her “Breathwork for Performance” method. Ranya has taught and danced all around the world and come out with several instructional dvds. I feel very lucky to have gotten the chance to pick Ranya’s brain and learn more about her. Without further ado…here is my interview with Ranya Renee…

TBB: How did you get started in belly dance?

RR:

Check out some of the dancers/choreographers Ranya studied with! Serena Studios Gamila El Masri Ghassan Fadlallah – this link just has a tiny bit of info, and you can watch one of his choreographies here. Ramzi El Edlibi and read more about him here.  Bobby a.k.a. Ibrahim Farrah Yousry Sharif Shareen El Safy Sahra Saeeda Shoshana

TBB:  What was your experience gigging?

RR:

TBB: When did you decide that Egyptian style was the way you wanted to go?

RR:

Check out some of the greatest NYC dancers that Ranya was able to study with: Dalia Carella Aszmara Elena Lentini Serena 

Ranya discusses learning Arabic and how it affected her dancing.

  [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnxWfOm4WmM] Simon Shaheen

Anahid Sofian….where should I start????? Anahid has been a HUGE INSPIRATION in my life. Not only is she an incredible dancer, but she is the symbol of perseverance and strength.

You guys might have seen the What’s Coming Up posts promoting Anahid’s 35th anniversary show, well, Crain’s NY Business wrote an article about it and about Anahid’s studio. They also shot an absolutely beautiful 4 min. documentary of Anahid. You can really get a sense of her passion and love for oriental dance. She never gives up and she makes things happen for herself. Take a look below and read the article here!

 

 

Popular Rai artists (L to R): Cheb Hasni, Cheikha Rimitti, Khaled

 

This past weekend I went to Anahid Sofian’s Saturday class (www.anahidsofianstudio.com). Anahid is the best because she exposes us to all different forms of Middle Eastern and North African dance and music, like Rai. In the past I  have danced to Rai, and Saturday she brought it back – woop!

SO WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH RAI????

Rai is cool because of it’s content and it’s beat. Rai literally means “opinion,” it’s full of passion and expression. It’s rebel music, sung by the youth for the youth about poverty, police harassment, survival, alcohol, sex and love.  In a way, in terms of message, it can be compared to hip-hop in the early 90’s – Tupac, Biggie, Nas, Public Enemy… that kind of thing.

Anahid explained to us that Rai rhythms are mostly 2/4 and 4/4 with the heavy beats on the 2 + 4 like Western music instead of the 1+ 3 like Middle Eastern music.  When dancing to Rai you use your whole body to express yourself, it’s very loose and free with African tribal influences when appropriate.

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SO HERE’S THE DEAL:

Princess Madiha was born and raised in Syria. Her mother came from a royal bloodline in Syria, and although her family did not have the money that came with it, they did have their titles, hence the “princess”.

Madiha was born with a love of music and dance, she told Gisselle Fobbs for her “The Best of Habibi” interview, “My mother told me that my cousin came over one night when I was about 40 days old and played the rababa while I was lying by the fire in my cradle. While he was playing his instrument, my feet were kicking in time to the music.”

When she was five, Madiha watched a film with Samia Gamal. This was her first exposure to oriental dance, and she was hooked. She said, as a child, “Whenever I heard someone
walk by the school playing a transistor radio, I felt compelled to stand up and dance. Every time I did this I got sent home from school.”

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