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Hey Guys! So I’m late to the game with this one – but tomorrow  Ahmed Hussien is having a workshop in NYC  –   FACEBOOK PAGE !!!!!

ALSO his 3rd annual Spring Immersion is coming up in March! If you want to take class with a fantastic teacher and hang out in Southern California (like I do btw) then you should definitely mark your calendar!

Want to learn more about Ahmed? Read this short interview he did with The Belly Blog! 🙂

TBB: Being that you started dancing so young, what is your first dance memory?

AH: My first memory is dancing on the old Opera House in Cairo Egypt that was built in 1886. And I danced as the only child in the Don Juan ballet representing the Cairo National Ballet.

TBB: When did you know that dance was something you wanted to pursue as a career?

AH: Being that young, you don’t make a decision. I started the academy when I was 8 years old.  So it’s not a decision that I made but was a decision was put in front of me. I was guided and encouraged by an older cousin. He saw something in me. He noticed that I was very talented and active. He suggested that I needed to be placed in a program with either in music or dance, something. So I went and applied to the Higher Institute of Ballet and was accepted.

TBB: How has your ballet background influenced your classical oriental style? From where else do you draw inspiration?

AH: All formal dances relates to each other. And they all also have the basic form from ballet. It gives you grace, lines, flexibility and provides you with musical interpretation. Grace is the most important quality that ballet training can provide dancers. Music gives me the inspiration. There is nothing to draw inspiration from without the music.

TBB: What is the most difficult challenge you’ve had to overcome as a dancer? How did you grow from it?

AH: Maybe not finding the right music, the right venue, the right stage, poor lighting and/or sound. You learn by adapting to different situations. The show must go on. I came from Egypt and I adapted to life in the US. Adaptation is what you do in dance.

TBB: What has been your favorite moment in your dance career?

AH: Being on Broadway. I learned a lot about how things work. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity  to experience the processes of auditioning, planning, creating choreography, costuming. It’s amazing to see your final work on stage.

TBB: What is your favorite song right now?

I don’t have a favorite song. There is so many pieces of beautiful music and I like them all. I feel like it’s not fair to select one over the other.

 

Fair enough Ahmed! 

 

Learn more about this great dancer on his website!

 

 

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