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Atlantis with Harry Saroyan
Gilded Serpent presents...
The Belly Dancer of the Universe Competition,
held February 19-20, 2005
in Long Beach, California
The Universal Category
report by Amy Bonham
photos by GS staff

Previous categories covered so far-
Little-ages 5-9 years, Junior-ages 10-17, Egyptian, Troupe,
Fusion and Divine

Contestants in this category were to display the all-around capabilities of a well-rounded dancer. Compulsory sections included 6/8, 9/8 and playing of cymbals. The mandatory sections make it challenging to put together a piece of music with smooth transitions. The finalists were supposed to perform to live music at the evening show to determine the winners. See here to find out what happened!

Judges included: Ashana Hanada, Mesmera, Ma*Shuqa Mira Murjan, Harry Saroyan, Marta Schill.

(in order of appearance)

Northern California

Andalee wore red and silver with a liquid silver skirt that showed off the tattoo in the small of her back. I thought her music was very challenging.


Southern California  Second runner-up

Rachel was in yellow chiffon and a bindi. She used dramatic movie music and I thought her "Alf Leila wa Leila" was overmixed. She was all about high energy, twirling her fringe at us during the drum solo. She used "Rampi, Rampi" for her 9/8.


Southern California

Sedona wore red assuit with silver binti bells over a grey chiffon circle skirt. I liked her 9/8 section and the hair-tossing she did during her hot Bandari 6/8.


Washington, Third runner-up

Nadira was regal and elegant in burgundy and gold. The haunting oud portions of her solo were particularly well-executed.


Colorado ,  First runner-up

Sadie, in white velvet with fuchsia stripes on the silver bra and belt, gave us a Persian pop number and sang along with her Turkish 9/8.


-Southern California

She wore red and gold and danced to that perennial favorite "Shik Shak Shok". She used Persian music for the 6/8, but didn't reference any Persian dance moves, choosing to do veil instead. I found it dissonant to see only American belly dance moves during that kind of music. She also did a beautiful back bend into a drop.


Southern California  People's Choice Award

Her purple and silver really set off her dramatic black hair. She also chose "Rampi, Rampi" for her 9/8 and enhanced the requisite skirt flapping with Turkish arm gestures. The audience was boogeying with her during her Bandari section, so I'm not surprised she won the People's Choice prize. I thought her zill work stood out.



Sa'adiyya entered in all three categories and shined in all of them. She used red-gold Isis wings and wore a purple/mauve chiffon circle skirt with gold bra and belt. I think that was a fall covering her real hair (which she had used so effectively in the zar section of her fusion piece). She ended her 9/8 with a death drop.


New York 

  Dorit wore a red full skirt that unfortunately blended a little too well with the red back-drop curtains under the imperfect lighting. She used "Ghanilli Shwaya Shwaya" and played cymbals during the drum solo. The Jewel of the Nile pageant (which Dorit won this year) must be a strong competition, too, because she is very polished.

Northern California   Champion

Competition queen Shabnam is a contest pro. I think she has a Double Crown title and was first runner-up at Belly Dancer of the Year last year. All the other times I've seen her perform, she's been wearing what I've come to associate as her trademark style: a straight skirt with simple adornment over her slim hips. This time she was wearing a more sophisticated choice, a fabulous fuchsia two-piece dress with flattering cut-outs on the sides and more daring cut-outs over the thighs. She did double silk veil, kneeling floor work and sharp accented head slides.


Southern California

Jasmina was soft and feminine in pink and silver. Her 6/8 was a dramatic and driving Bandari. The 9/8 was a cute and sexy piece with clarinet.


Northern California  Congeniality Award

Shoshanna also entered in all three solo categories. I get a headache just thinking about how much stamina and creativity this takes. For this performance she wore deep teal and worked with a silk veil. I know that Shoshanna has studied with Elena Lentini in the past. Elena worked with Mabou Mimes and I wonder if that's related to Shoshanna's strong acting skills. She can convey so much passion with small gestures. She also ended with a death drop.


Northern California

Tamia shed her cat persona from the fusion category and evoked the mysteries of India. Her deep cobalt and gold costume reminded me of the Egyptian goddess Nut bending over the night sky. Her music was sort of "Indian snake-charmer goes baladi." For her finale, she did a torso-twisting kneeling back bend over the lip of the stage. She was a great finish to a very strong line-up.

BDOU 2005 Category Photos yet to come- The Saturday Night Party

Next year's event has been upgraded!
The 16th Annual Belly Dancer of the Universe Competitions
and International Dance Festival

February 18 and 19, 2006, Saturday and Sunday of President's Day Weekend
Spacious New Location- Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center
300 East Ocean Blvd, Long Beach, CA 90802,
Vendors both days- 2 shows - 11 Competitions- 16 Workshops


Have a comment? Send us a letter!
Check the "Letters to the Editor" for other possible viewpoints!

Ready for more?

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