The Belly Dancer of the
February 19-20, 2005
Long Beach, California
report by Amy
photos by GS staff
Nemeth in pink hat, Aisha Ali,
Zahra Zuhair, Amina
Goodyear , and Anisa
15th annual Belly Dancer of the Universe contest took
place February 19-20, 2005 on one of the rainiest
weekends in Long Beach, California on record for that
time of year. Willow Street outside the Grand Willow
Street Center was a raging river on Saturday morning
and the rain continued through the weekend with intermittent
dry spells. The weekend included dance workshops and
competitions in seven categories:
(in order of appearance)
won the Belly
Dancer of the Year last year.
For this category, she did a very
fast-moving, sophisticated choreography
that conjured up the "dallae" flirtatious
Egyptian archetype. In a black and
silver velvet costume with a mermaid
skirt, she bounced to a peppy baladi
vocal and segued into a dramatic and
sexy organ/accordion section. She
accented the vocal parts expertly
and ended by blowing us a kiss.
Leilainia had unsettling problems
with her music, which was marred
by distracting static. I felt this
beautiful girl was in the wrong
category. She came out with a sword
on her head and immediately went
to the floor into a pose with one
leg up. Her music was a medley of
pop Arabic, hip-hop and Olé-Olé
Spanish. She did fast undulations
and big pops and locks that didn't
read well on her petite frame. Also
the bronze green of her costume
didn't show up well under that stage's
lighting. Certain shades of green
have that problem, I've noticed.
had problems with the lighting when
they started this category that they
couldn't address until after the first
contestants had performed. They decided
that it wouldn't be fair to give the
better lighting conditions to the
subsequent contestants so they left
Karawan came out in her liquid gold dress
with red rhinestone accents, I thought she
looked like an Egyptian queen. She was classy
and regal, with her hair in an elegant chignon.
Karawan, who is married to one-third of the
Lammam Brothers Arabic music ensemble, is
a classical Arabic music maven, so I wasn't
surprised that she picked a lesser-known Umm
Khalthoum song, "Esaal Rohak". I noticed that
she was really working a lot of the subtleties
in the music in her dance. She really knows
how to work the dynamic in a dance: going
from soft to hard, from kitten to lioness
as the music takes her. She mimed and mouthed
the words to the songs several times, although
it was not a vocal track. I wonder if that's
wise if you have a non-Middle Eastern audience
and can't be sure that the audience and judges
are familiar with the lyrics.
was the Princess of Cairo in a black skirt
gored with fuchsia with a diagonal fuchsia
strap on the bra and belt and a pretty headband
framing her smile. It was an excellent interpretation
of this popular Egyptian dance tune, with
fluid transitions, and assertive traveling
moves. I like it when a dancer goes on the
prowl. At times I thought she was channeling
Fifi a bit, with her radiant, yet calm and
Southern California People's
wore a purple chiffon skirt with fuchsia insets
that flared beautifully when she danced. She
started with her back to the audience, which
can be hard to pull off. During the kanoun
taxim she did hip shimmies while following
the bass drum background with big chest drops.
She also had a fake ending. We thought she
was done, but she picked up her veil again
and gave us a swirling, fast finale with lots
of audience eye contact.
was smooth and dramatic in emerald green and
gold. Nice interpretation of another old Egyptian
dance favorite. I think it was Sitt El Hosn.
Another audience favorite and another dramatic
back drop finale.
in vibrant orange chiffon over a gold lamé
underskirt, got the audience rocking to the
Saidi part of her dance. When she moved to
the back of the stage and paused for that
old familiar boom-boom tekka tek drama of
the drum, she pulled us all into the drama
with her. As Bobby Farrah used to say, "there
isn't an Arab in the world that doesn't know
what to do when they hear and see that". As
in put your hands together and GROOVE with
was in shocking fuchsia chiffon with a ruched
bra and a flower over her ear. The skirt had
a fringeless belt with cut-outs. She seemed
a bit tentative to me at times but had a nice
soft quality. Again, the audience seemed to
like the Saidi part, and it seemed to be her
Texas Second runner-up
was the winner of the 2003 Belly Dancer of the Year contest. She
was also runner-up in the fusion category
that day. In fuchsia chiffon with flowing
sleeves that enhanced her arm movements, she
manipulated a beautiful fuchsia, teal and
mauve veil with great drama. Later in the
dance she became playful and outgoing. The
whole effect was graceful, youthful, and fresh.
Yet another music problem caused some bad
sound system feedback during her dance.
Lucia's costume of liquid gold mermaid
skirt with champagne chiffon panels
looked outstanding under the mediocre
lighting and highlighted her graceful
moves. Maybe I was influenced by the
bad weather we'd been having, but
she was like the sun coming thru after
a rainy day. Sort of like an art deco
statue electrified. Another happy
Saidi portion. As I recall, she ended
on a fade-out of the drum solo, which
I thought was an odd choice.
provided by contestant, thanks!
was beginning to hyperventilate by
this time, thinking that I didn't
know what Egyptian dance is, when
Rahana came on. Thank you, Rahana.
Thanks to you I could stop groping
in my bag for my inhaler. I could
sit back, breathe calmly and watch
while you took-care-of Egyptian-business.
The controlled small shimmies; the
emotion-filled delivery; the building
of the tempo and energy; the whole
package was wonderful and VERY Egyptian.
actually met Rahana briefly at the
Dina workshop last year. During her
dance she reminded me a bit of that
Egyptian diva. Something about those
small sideways traveling moves done
while moving in a circle and the way
her hair fell over one eye. Her asymmetrical
clingy red costume with one sleeve
had a tummy panel that allowed her
tattoo to peek out. I think it was
during Rahana's performance that I
came to an epiphany: Egyptian dancers
rarely look like they are trying too
hard, which is very difficult in a
also owns a dancewear boutique and
vends at dance shows. She has a line
of cute dance-logo tanks and T-shirts.
You can see some of them in the upcoming
Gilded Serpent feature on dance T-shirts.
must have been hard to be the last
dancer after this many contestants,
but the audience stayed with the performers
all the way. This was despite the
distraction of shopping going on all
around the room. I enjoyed the calm
and gentle feel that Nitara projected.
She used a pop male vocal and used
finger cymbals, unusual in this category.
She was in maroon and iris gold/blue.
wore a slinky cobalt blue halter dress
accessorized with lady-like silver
heels. It seemed a little long for
her, and she had to tug at it a bit,
but it was a lovely line. Her song
was a Fairuz-like female vocalist
with a heavy drum machine. She also
sang along for part of it. She was
saucy yet demure, a charming combination.
She tossed her silver assaya in the
air. I liked her ending of twirling
turns with the cane.
Southern California Third
runner-up and Congeniality Award
the person in the seat next to me said, "when
you go to Egypt, you see dancers that dance
like that all the time." This dancer and her
performance were the embodiment of the Egyptian
concept of "Eshta"*. In a bubble-gum pink
bedla and skirt, she was butter-smooth with
really clean technique that was a joy to watch.
Someone told me that she is the daughter of
Lou Shelaby, one of the brothers
that owned the famous Fez and Cascades
nightclubs in Los Angeles. Lou
Shelaby was also a violinist, I believe, so
talent apparently runs in the family. Roxxanne
must have been watching great dancers since
she was small, and it shows. She also performs
with and is Assistant Director of Sahra
Kent's "Ya Amar! Middle Eastern Dance
Company". No wonder her Egyptian chops are
creamy, rich, often used to mean deliciously
voluptuous in Egypt.
note- So sorry the pictures we obtained are
not turning out very well! We will continue
to show you what we have, but your
photos are welcome and appreciated, especially
as we try to fill out the categories below.
BDOU 2005 Category Photos yet
year's event has been upgraded!
16th Annual Belly Dancer of the Universe Competitions
and International Dance Festival
February 18 and
19, 2006, Saturday and Sunday of President's
New Location- Long
Beach Convention and Entertainment Center
300 East Ocean Blvd, Long Beach, CA 90802,
both days- 2 shows - 11
Competitions- 16 Workshops
a comment? Send us
Check the "Letters to the Editor"
for other possible viewpoints!
The Junior Division of the The Belly
Dancer of the Universe Competition photos by Lynette
10-17 years, held Saturday, February 19, 2005, in Long Beach,
Power Failure Halts Troupes &
Finals Categories, The Belly Dancer of the Universe Competition,
Part 1, Sunday Evening, held February 19-20, 2005, in Long Beach,
California report by Amy Bonham, photos by GS staff
Street outside the Grand Willow Street Center was a raging river
on Saturday morning and the rain continued through the weekend
with intermittent dry spells.
Fusion Category added
to Belly Dancer of the Universe Competition by Luna
"You know, we're really making history here..."
Belly Dancer of the Universe
Competition 2003 Photo Report by Lynette
Sponsored by Tonya & Atlantis and held in Long Beach, California.
Finalists are expected to be able to improvise spontanious choreography!
Zaharr's Memoir, Part
11- The Minerva
do Greeks know about Belly Dancing anyway?” He just grabbed
my hand and we headed toward the door. Grumbling, I followed him
inside and I was startled to see a big stage with a large wooden
dance floor right in front of it.
Rhythm and Reason
Series, Article 5, Cymbals & the Music by Mary Ellen Donald
that’s not the rhythm. As I say at the beginning of each
workshop, “Rhythm is the patterned arrangement of sound
A Weekend with Horacio & Beata Cifuentes, Part 1, by Dondi
is it about certain workshops in which the profundity and joy
of the workshop stays with you long after it is over?
Haft Paykar: "Seven
Beauties" Seeking Love and Enlightenment in 12th Century
Persia, Reviewed by: Rebecca Firestone, performed on April
2, 2005 produced by Laurel Victoria Gray . Even
when a show attempts to borrow at least the external forms from
some body of myth or literary work, it is unusual for the producers
to be as aware of the allegorical content as Gray is of the deeper
meanings behind Haft Paykar.