Gilded Serpent presents...
Habibi Hawaii 2005
A Report by Tammy
skies and sun-kissed palms provided the perfect backdrop for Habibi
Hawaii, Honolulu's Premier Bellydance Festival and Celebration.
Every October, Taj Productions promises a veritable "Bellydancer's
Paradise" of Middle Eastern dance workshops, performances,
bazaar shopping and cuisine, and this year's celebration was no
was something for everyone, from veteran performers, instructors
and choreographers to avid enthusiasts and novice dancers like
Preview Dinner Show
The gala opened on Thursday, October 6, with an intimate Preview
Dinner Show at The Pyramids Restaurant on the edge of
Waikiki. Egyptian frescoes bathed in warm desert hues and the
tantalizing aroma of owner Tarek Guirguis' menu
of Egyptian and Mediterranean specialties--beef and chicken shawarma,
falafel and spanakopita--transported us to another place and time,
setting the stage for the spectacular show to come.
The air was
charged with anticipation. When Shadiya glided
into the restaurant in a luxurious cabaret costume rich in shimmering
fuchsia fringe, one could almost hear a collective sigh from the
spellbound audience. My husband has always said that in Shadiya
you can feel her pure energy and passion for the art, and he's
right--her graceful and charismatic style is electricfying, and
her mastery of the zils reflects her commitment to authentic Egyptian
Mahina, Shadiya's eight-year-old daughter, who
we were told has been performing for four years. She was pure
joy to watch--shimmying across the room in blue velvet and chiming
golden coins, she captivated the audience with her Saidi dance,
her golden cane a blur. To see a dancer with such charm and talent
at so young an age was a treat--truly someone to watch in years
to the scene, I had never seen American Tribal Dance--so when
Kalae entered I was blown away by the sheer physicality
of her performance. Her sinuous floor routine left me longing
for the flexibility and abdominal toning of youth. If this was
a preview of the diversity and showmanship that Habibi Hawaii
attracted each year, then I was hooked.
came Shoshanna. Every year Taj Productions works
hard seeking out the most talented visiting performers to lead
Habibi Hawaii's intensive workshops. This year they hit the jackpot
with Shoshanna, 2004's Belly Dancer of the Year and director of
Ya Habibi Ensemble. I had signed up for her workshops
over the weekend and wondered what her dancing would be like.
She immediately captured the audience’s attention with her dramatic
flair and refined technique. Her style can be both playful and
alluring--when she establishes eye contact with you, she makes
you feel like she's performing for you alone. And her isolations
and combinations! That night she established herself as Belly
Dancer of the Year. But I was intimidated--how could I possibly
keep up with Shoshanna in her workshop?
The Habibi Hawaii festival itself opened on Saturday and Sunday--two
full days of bellydancing fever, beginning with intensive, four-hour
workshops on both days.
If I had some
trepidation about keeping up in Shoshanna's workshop, I needn't
have feared. Her sessions promised tricky techniques, dynamic
combinations and lessons in the dramatic art of the four-yard
veil. Could she challenge experienced dancers and beginners alike?
I looked around me. Sure enough, I saw some of Hawaii's most talented
dancers among the attendees, side-by-side with beginners like
warm and vibrant personality immediately put us all at ease.
Her ready laughter and ever-present smile was a salve to my
aching arms as I followed her movements, only to find myself
entangled in my impossibly long veil.
Shoshanna do it? She makes it look so easy! Nevertheless, I came
away with a deep appreciation for the beauty and drama a four-yard
veil can add to a performance. The next day Shoshanna led us through
grapevines and mayas, Arabesques and attack shimmies, challenging
combinations, and subtle posturing and facial expressions that
add drama. Time flew by and I felt like three years of lessons
had been condensed into four hours on each day. Shoshanna promised,
and she delivered--the workshop left me tired but deeply inspired,
ready for more.
workshop I was lured by tables and racks of beaded bedlehs and
hip scarves, breezy silk veils, an artist's palette of velvet
tops, and glistening gold and silver galore! Earrings and anklets,
baubles and bangles. Henna painting to make you feel like royalty.
Crystal lamps from the Himalayas and body-melting massages. Add
to this the mouth-watering aroma of The Pyramid's cuisine, and
I had no choice but to seriously go over my budget.
up that afternoon as the heart of Habibi Hawaii came to life--performance
after performance by some of Hawaii's most talented dancers and
troupes, resplendent in sumptuous costumes. Each dance was a feast
for the eyes, and the diversity of the performances--from sword
choreography to Israeli and Saidi folkloric dances--was a testament
to Habibi's calling as a mecca for bellydancers across the Pacific.
And not just from Honolulu; on the mailing list I spied visitors
from Las Vegas, Arkansas, and the Big Island, to name a few.
instructors, spectacular performances, authentic cuisine and Eastern
bazaar shopping, all in the paradise we call Hawaii--I'm sold.
I'm practicing my zaghareet--Habibi Hawaii 2006, here I come!
a comment? Send us a
Check the "Letters to the Editor"
for other possible viewpoints!
Belly Dancer USA Competition, Canyonville,
Oregon, June 11-12, 2005, photos and report by Saroya Ahlaam
and her supporting staff need to be commended for their hard work
and effort. It was a smooth running event that was well organized
and a joy to attend. I’ll be back next year!
My Incredible US Tour by Maya
trip was almost two months of intensive adventure and provided
an exchange of experiences with many dancers.
Arabesca: A Different Approach to the Student Recital by Vashti,
Photography by John Steele
the student recital. There is nothing like watching fledglings
leaving the nest, discovering their own creative wings and flying
off into the wonderful world of belly dance.
How MECDA Began by Feiruz Aram
(Middle Eastern Culture and Dance Association) is a nationwide
organization which began in 1977 for the purpose of organizing
working dancers, sharing information between teachers...
The Egyptian Category 2005
of The Belly Dancer of the Universe Competition, report by
February 19-20, 2005 in Long Beach, California, photos by GS staff
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.