I am never sure how to refer to Art of the Belly when other folks ask me what I’m doing with my Friday off. A belly dance conference? Convention? An amazing weekend full of insightful workshops and inspiring dancing? That last one captures it best. Baba Ghanoush filled our second annual Art of the Belly weekend with four workshops and three performances each.
-We descended upon two workshops together: Morocco’s “Oryantal and Sulukule Roman Karsilama”, and Nadirah Nasreen’s “Zills!!!” Morocco has such a wealth of knowledge to share, and is inspiringly real in how she imparts it. She clearly delineated the differences between the Sulukule Roman and Oryantal styles of karsilama dances in an accessible and entertaining way. BG loves the earthy Turkish movements, and we’re looking forward to integrating some “catitude” into future dances.
-Nadirah Nasreen should name her workshop “How to Not Be Afraid of Zills.” We here at Baba Ghanoush have been wanting to choreograph a dance with zills, but despite some experience with the lovely finger cymbals, we’ve been a bit intimidated to actually incorporate them into a dance. And then perform it. In front of an audience. Nadirah has an incredible knack of putting you at ease with your zills, and giving you the confidence and the tools to integrate them into your dancing.
-We divided and conquered Shems’s two workshops. Alizarin explored “Stage Worthy Oriental Arms,” learning how the icons of the golden age of belly dance used their arms to enhance movements and to convey emotion. Amy Fae attended “Breathtaking Veil,” which left her with some powerful concepts about dancing from the heart and using veil symbolism to the dancer’s advantage. BG collectively recommends any workshop by Shems that you can shimmy your way into. She not only teaches beautiful movement, but also focuses on dance concepts that can far outlast learning a single move or combo.
-Finally, Alizarin learned new techniques for mastering layered movements and creatively incorporating them into dances with Shiraz in her “Luscious Layering” workshop, while Amy Fae channeled her inner diva and experimented with melting into extended poses in Naimah’s “Bold and Sassy” workshop.
Expect some upcoming Baba Ghanoush performances with bold attitudes, sassy layers, earthy catitude, veils, and zills! Okay, okay, maybe not all at once. (Then again…maybe…)
Amy Fae: I loved watching so many talented dancers while snuggled up down in front with fellow Aubergines and friends. I loved the wide variety of dance and music styles represented throughout the weekend, and am so happy to be part of such a wonderful dance community! New on the list of dance goals: learn to dance on top of a drum.
Alizarin: I really enjoyed watching the dancers who chose to perform to live music be inspired by the house band Ishtar (along with guest musician Brett of Maharal) who play rock influenced versions of classic Egyptian and Turkish songs. I also loved experiencing how diverse our local belly dance community is- I saw performers of every background, gender, age, shape, and style dance to music of all kinds, from classic Middle Eastern to modern electronic and pop music.
You can check out Baba Ghanoush’s set from Saturday afternoon here. Both of us also appeared with Aubergine (video here) on Friday night, and Lazuli on Sunday afternoon.
Baba Ghanoush extends our sincere thanks to everyone who helped make Art of the Belly a success, most especially event coordinators Naimah and Patti of Troupe Amandari. We’re already making plans for next year!
Alright, folks, we’ve been hearing some of the rumors going ‘round, and we’d like to set the record straight. Yes, Amy Fae trod upon a broken glass bead during the Lazuli set. And yes, she did finish dancing the song. She is totally hardcore (thank you). She is in fine health now and probably no longer needs the Charlie Brown band-aid on her foot, and she is eagerly anticipating the epic stories of how a rogue piece of glass attacked her in the middle of the dance, slicing her very foot from her body, yet she continued dancing, and when she got backstage she bravely sat making nary a sound while her Lazuli troupe-mate had to sew her foot back on! What a trooper! (Actually, she cried like a baby and is kind of embarrassed about the whole thing, so you might not want to bring it up to her.) A great thanks to Sam of Lazuli for having a first aid kit on hand, and to all the Art of the Belly staff and Amy Fae’s friends, who anxiously attended her in her time of need and extreme exhaustion. Beware the rogue glass bead!