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Last month I traveled to D.C. or my aunt’s 60th birthday. My aunt and cousin have both taken/ are taking classes at the famous D.C. belly dance studio, Sahara Dance. My cousin spoke so highly of Sahara’s well known owner Rachel, that I decided to send her a message to see if she would like to meet up for an interview. Lucky for us, she said yes! yay!

We decided to grab coffee at Whole Foods and sit and chat/interview. Let me just tell you – this woman is amazing! Not only is she the founder and director of Sahara Dance, she is also the director of both of Sahara’s dance ensembles, Raqs Sahara and Raqs Caravan East, she created an intensive teacher training program, and…oh yea – she’s an incredible dancer!

The path that led Rachel to creating Sahara dance included learning from some of the best. She studied with both Autumn Leah Ward and Yousry Sharif as well as Sahra Saeeda (whom she also did a dance enthnology tour with in Egypt), Yasmina Ramzy, Haida, Faten Salama, Aida Nour, Jillina and others. All of this training allowed Rachel to cultivate her own vision for belly dance. She focuses on community, mindfulness, celebration of all body types, and developing belly dance as an art form.

I really can’t say enough good things about Rachel. When I was editing her interview I couldn’t stop smiling watching it – she’s just such a warm person, so wise and articulate, warm and sweet, humble, inspirational and incredibly cool. I hope you guys enjoy getting to know her as much as I did.

For more background info on Rachel visit the Sahara Dance site.

*disclaimer – the filming quality is a little low budget, content quality is high ;)*

TBB: How did you get started in belly dance?

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrPlZ-K5dgI]

TBB: What type of belly dance/ME music speaks to you the most?

RKB: I love Egyptian dance, I love Egyptian music, I like a lot of different types of music that fall into the belly dance genre or can easily be adaptable to belly dance movement, but  Egyptian is my first love.

TBB: What is your favorite song right now?

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIn7FIexx8I]

Listen to White Flag by Gorillaz feat. Syrian National Orchestra :

[spotify id=”spotify:user:1272124796:playlist:5E0SMWQXJWsrhXiXo5tXa5″ width=”300″ height=”80″ /]

TBB: Who were some of your belly dance mentors?

RKB: Autumn Leah Ward  is my first teacher and probably my largest influence and then from there Yousry Sharif is certainly a big part of my dance training, Yasmina Ramzy, Sahra Saeeda, Hadia, and then going to Egypt and studying… there are a lot of influences, but those I think would be primary.read more

 

“Brothers of the Baladi are the ‘real deal’ –– a fresh take on an ancient idea“ –The Beat Magazine

Unique is the perfect word to describe the grammy nominated band Brothers of the Baladi. Their style is one of a kind, “the quartet combines traditional acoustic Middle Eastern instruments and songs with western instrumentation, exotic rhythms with familiar grooves and vocals in seven languages (Arabic, Turkish, Farsi, French, Spanish, Armenian and English) to create a unique and highly rhythmic dance music.”

Brothers of the Baladi is headed up by the multi – talented and very cool Michael Beach, who in addition to providing the lead vocals, plays doumbek / Arabic tabla, mizmar, mijwiz, def, riq and davul. The band also includes talented musicians J. Michael Kearsey, Clark Salisbury, and Charles Pike. Michael credits composer/ conductor, David Amram and the Middle Eastern band Sirocco as some of his/the bands influences. Brothers of the Baladi has also had the chance to collaborate with artists like Moroccan born Tariq Banzi and drummer Michael Shrieve.

Learn more about the history of Brothers of the Baladi here.

LISTEN!!!!! BELLY BEATZ PLAYLIST: BROTHERS OF THE BALADI 

Brothers of the Baladi has been going strong for 30 years and dropped 11 albums!

I had such a hard time putting together this playlist because all the songs are so good!!!!

[spotify id=”spotify:user:1272124796:playlist:6xKLzCcfNghcoaD9d72OlB” width=”300″ height=”80″ /]

You can also buy their music here 🙂

And don’t miss Michael’s solo album – Hands of A Thousand Dances

[spotify id=”spotify:user:1272124796:playlist:2GUmcd6aXCn2TD7YuaLu5e” width=”300″ height=”80″ /]

 

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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

“Nadia Gamal is the greatest cabaret oriental dancer in the Middle East…she expresses pure spirituality with her arm movements but then those hips begin to move and she pulls you right into the earth!” ~Ibrahim Farrah

This weeks #TBT post is inspired by my interview with Aszmara! When I asked Aszmara ” if you could meet any dancer from the past, who would it be and why?” Her answer was, Nadia Gamal, although she actually had met her before- lucky duck!

I know it’s super late, but I had to really go into detective mode to get some info on our girl Nadia. I even searched for old Arabesque articles on EBay and I found one! Hehehe….ANYWAY… here’s the deal with Nadia:

Nadia Gamal was born Maria Carydias in Alexandria, Egypt, 1937. Her mother was Italian and her father, Greek. Nadia first began dancing in her mother’s cabaret act which performed at the Casino Opera in Cairo (opened by Badia Masabni), she performed European folk dances. Being part of her mother’s act allowed Nadia to study many different types of dance; ballet,modern,jazz, tap and acrobatics. However, her passion was for oriental dance ( Nadia didn’t like to call it “belly dance”). At the age of 14, she got her big break. While on tour with her mom’s act in Lebanon, one of the oriental dancers in the group became ill, and after proving that she could fill the role, she was allowed to do so. And the rest is history! …but I’ll tell you more anyway :p

Nadia’s career took off and she was featured in numerous Egyptian and Indian films. In 1968, she was the first oriental dancer to perform at The Baalbeck Festival in Lebanon. It’s a festival that celebrates world music and dance – both classical and modern. It’s held in an ancient Roman acropolis, which is pretty cool. She also danced at the Cairo Opera House, for King Hussein, and the Shah of Iran. She toured the world – Asia, the Middle East, Europe, Latin and North America.

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I always loved the ethnic dot make- up look. I want to experiment with it, and I found these great images for inspiration! I hope you guys like them and get inspired!!!

xoxo

TBB

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Badaweyah Kareem is an NYC based dancer, choreographer and teacher. Raised in the midwest, Badaweyah spent much of her life performing on the stage in some way shape or form from the time she was just six! Over the years she has been a violinist, stage actress, and night club blues singer. Her love of music and performance brought her to NYC. Here she spent some time researching Bedouin and Berber culture and was re-introduced to classical Egyptian music and then to belly dance. Now she performs frequently in New York and has even performed at Lincoln Center. She has also danced at the Ahlan Wa Sahlan Festival in Egypt!

The first time I saw Badaweyah dance was last year at an event called Pandemonium hosted by Jerry Bezdikian. Badaweyah mesmerized me with her unique and authentic style and stage presence. There is so much depth to her dance you can sense the history behind it, even in her name, which translates to Bedouin in Arabic. A couple months ago, I got to know her better when we worked together at the Theatrical Belly Conference, she had the best stories to tell (which she will share with you below) and I learned so much just from listening to her. I got to see Badaweyah perform again more recently and knowing more about her, it was even easier to see how much passion and soul she brings to the dance. This past Saturday, I was lucky enough to be able to interview Badaweyah in person, so watch below!!!!

Also take a peek at Badaweyah’s webiste!

 

TBB: HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN BELLY DANCE?

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LpoaqtThMqw]

 

Learn more about the Tuareg People

 

 

Learn more about Morocco a.k.a. Aunt Rocky 

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SO HERE’S THE DEAL:

Kitty was born in 1927 in Alexandria, Egypt to Greek parents. She was famous for her fusion of western and oriental style and she danced in almost 50 films! Unfortunately, that’s about all the info I could find on this vintage beauty.

WHY  I <3 HER:

Her positive playful energy and her smile 🙂 of course she has some killer moves too 😉

 

 

I love a good headpiece – hope you can grab some inspiration from these beautiful images, including illustrations from one of my favorite illustrators Edmund Dulac – all from pinterest 🙂

 

I first saw Alia dance at JeBon, a restaurant in NYC, a couple of years ago. I was completely captivated. Alia has a really special way of drawing her audience in and mesmerizing them with even the smallest movement. Everything she does is so smooth! She is a dance veteran and a former student of Ibrahim Farrah. She has also been inspired by Elena Lentini, Dunya McPherson, Azza Sherif, Tamalyn Dallal, and Leila Farid. Alia is an accomplished dancer and teacher who has danced on three continents, in six countries, and fifteen states.

Alia is  also the creator of a cool concept/ online motivational tool called the 90 Day Dance Party Challenge. When I found out about it, I jumped at the opportunity to participate. In this challenge, Alia asks you to dance for 20 minutes everyday, to any type of music. She sends the most amazing prompts and inspiration ( or love notes as she calls them  🙂 )  your way to get you going. My favorite part was getting the love notes, it is so apparent how much time and thought Alia puts into each one.

Being a part of the dance challenge, and seeing Alia dance, sparked my curiosity. I wanted to learn more about her, and luckily I got the chance!

Listen to Alia’s interview above and read along below, where you’ll also find links to some of the things she talks about AND… Listen to her playlist :D. 

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Hey Guys – So here’s the deal; if you want to promote a show or an event The Belly Blog would be more than happy to help! Please send your request via Facebook, Twitter, or email : thebellyblog13@gmail.com and your ad/flyer will be posted on Wednesday as part of the WHAT’S COMING UP WEDNESDAY post 🙂

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YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS THIS…

CLICK HERE TO SEE ANAHIDS TROUPE PERFORM!

 

 

Inspired by the dances Anahid Sofian videotaped at the Moroccan Dance Festival in 1974, “Morocco” was the first dance she choreographed for her newly—formed company. The company debuted the dance at their inaugural performance in 1979 at the Casa Galicia (Webster Hall) NYC in 1979. Anahid was awarded a NY CAPS grant for choreography for the dance, which the company performed again at Carnegie Hall in 1980 at the NY Ethnic Dance Festival.