Report on the
First International Bellydance Conference
Part One- Lectures, Workshops, Panel Discussions
April 18-22, 2007
by Diane Adams
Photos by Lynette
thanks to GS readers Namire and Ellen for their help
with names. We
need a few more everyone!
Ramzy of Arabesque Academy in
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, this International Bellydance
Conference of Canada, the first ever on the Canadian
dance scene, proved to be one of the top dance experiences
in this reviewer’s 30-year career. It featured
top international artists such as Randa
Kamel, Amir Thaleb,
Sahra Saeeda, Bellyqueen,
Martine Werotte, Sashar Zarif,
Tamalyn Dallal, Rahma Haddad
and also included Yasmina Ramzy, her dance company
and Arabesque Musicians. This conference
was a veritable feast of talent, instruction and ideas
for those who have studied belly dance for years and
are looking for something truly different or just
and panel discussions on everything from Turkish Rom
dance to "Teaching Oriental Dance at the College
Level" and "Analysis of Active Muscle Patterns
and Body Motion in Bellydance Movements" were
presented by pros such as Ferda Bayazit
from Turkey, dancers/academicians, Angelika
Nemeth and Barbara Sellers-Young.
The plethora of topics presented by pros in their
fields are too numerous to mention here. Three
films were also previewed including one from Hong
Kong, one from Tunisia, and Tamalyn Dallal’s new “40
Days and 1001 Nights” filmed on location during a
recent 40-day tour of the Middle East.
Lynette Harper introduced by
the conference coordinator .
Venus explains how her study
Viraj demonstrates movements analyzed.
of Active Muscle Patterns and Body Motion in
Angelika speaks out as Kaeshi
waits her turn. Shira in blue
shirt. Stavros Karayanni
in Black. Andrea Deagon
and Rahma Haddad sit in back.
panel discussion-" Straddling Sexual
Issues in Bellydance."
Suleiman scratches nervously
as Maya scolds him. Shareen
El Safy witnesses.
shows featuring a splendid array of pros were held
on successive nights, each drawing 500 in attendance,
and a final show with all the workshop instructors
and other belly dance greats was held on a third night
at the Ryerson Theatre and drew 1200 attendees.
Open stage performances were held in the afternoon
on two separate days, giving lesser experienced, student
dancers a chance to be seen.
a first attempt at organizing a conference of this
scope, Yasmina Ramzy and her capable staff did a thorough
job. Although more direction could have been
given on how to get around in Toronto (the workshop
center had to be accessed by train and tram), everything
went smoothly, and in typical Canadian fashion, started
exactly on time. A nice touch of providing snack
packs for breakfast and sandwiches for lunch was welcome
due to the almost overlapping seminar, workshop and
show schedules. (The seminars and workshops were from
9 am to 6 pm and the shows began at 7:30.) All seminars,
workshops and two of the shows were held at the spacious
Hungarian Cultural Center. While the sound
system used for workshops could have been better (there
was a lot of echo in the room), the hardwood floors
and humongous, ornate chandelier added to the beauty
and comfort of the room. Vendors offered an
array of goods on one level, and seminars and student
shows were held on yet another level adding to the
convenience of gravitating between workshops and seminars.
Jeannie of BellyElegance
shows me her beautiful costume with snakeskin
print! A close- up to right--> |
This is a Canadian parking meter! There may
only be one on the whole block- find it or you
Amir teaches too a full room
instructor offered top of the line material that was
challenging and satisfying. To highlight just
top Egyptian artist, Randa Kamel
taught 3 days, 2 hrs. each day. One could readily
see the Raqia
Hassan training she received, and combined
with her inimitable style, signature arabesque turns,
and dynamic accents, she outdid herself in provoking
new movement and styling for the participants.
Musician Dr George Sawa translates
and explains to Randa that
she is receiving the Giza
Awards for best video performance and instructional
Yasmina and Randa
watches Amir Thaleb teach as he shows off for
Thaleb, of Argentina, was a powerhouse, full
of energy and years of dance experience, who also
taught 3 days. Rahma
Haddad, a second-generation Lebanese Canadian
turned out an excellent workshop on dancing to chiftetelli
Werotte, originally from Europe and now based
in Quebec, gave a technically challenging class that
featured her training in ballet, modern and jazz dance,
combined with Reda
signature directional changes.
Zarif, based in Toronto, and one of his dancers,
discussed the ethnography of Azerbajani dance and
led participants through an exercise in meditation,
chanting, and an Azerbajani dance combo. [more
from Ellen Weissbuch --Sashar Zarif is a Canadian
citizen from Azerbajan and is an internationally known
teacher and artist who is based in Toronto. In addition
to dancing and teaching dance, Sashar is an extraordinary
singer and percussionist, who sometimes sings, dances
and drums with incredible force.}
gave a comprehensive workshop on working with props—everything
from cane to sword to candle, demonstrated by Kaeshi
and her very capable fellow dancers.
Saeeda teaches with the assistance
of a drummer
the last day of the conference, Yasmina
and four of her musicians treated dancers to instruction
on working with live music. There was something for
everyone, and a plethora of styles and varied technique.
lunchtime sunbathing on the front steps of
the Hungarian Cultural Center
belly mama attempts to catch the instruction
as baby practices kicks! (click photo to enlarge)
from Ellen W- Well, the "belly mama"
is Lesya Starr, one of the
first and certainly the most creative "Oriental"
teacher/dancer in Barcelona, Spain, where
she has taught since 1991.
The baby is Asha, who, has
been dancing since her soul came to this earth
and will be 1 year old on August 4th}
Sahra poses with students
Namire (is to left in black
pants) and Mary de Luca from
Randa poses with friend from Texas
Randa and Dr. George poses with Stephanie
Biak (left) and Beth Frynyk
(right). They are from Manitoba.
1- Lectures, Workshops, Panel Discussions- posted
Performances- Page 1- Thursday Main Stage-
Part 2- Performances-
Page 2 - Friday Main Stage
Part 2- Performances- Page 4
- Saturday Gala Performance at Ryerson
2- Performances- Page 5 - Sunday at Myth Restaurant and
IBCC dates for next year- April 23-27, 2008
a comment? Send us a
Check the "Letters to the Editor"
for other possible viewpoints!
Interview with Kay Taylor by Leila
Kay seemed a bit older and wiser to the ways of Cairo, many people
assumed she was my manager. They would address their questions
about my fee or my experience to Kay.
The Bou-Saada Bus by Yasmela
single one of us could play an instrument, sing, dance, run a
sound board, set a stage with backdrop, lights, monitors and microphones,
plug them in, and put them away. We made our own costumes and
our own drums and used duct tape in a thousand creative ways.
While we never made a living from it, it was our way of life.
Our experiences will bond us forever.
How to Charge What You
Are Worth by MIchelle Joyce
first step to becoming an effective negotiator is to emotionally
detach yourself from the outcome. If you can’t walk away
from the deal, you have already lost.
The Devil's Details, Show
Ethics for Professionals, Part 1- Booking a Party by Yasmin
When a dancer
looks good, she, or another, will get called back to perform again.
When she looks bad, customers might be turned off to our lovely
art form forever. Therefore, a bad dancer not only ruins things
for herself, but for all of us
How We Got our Video Groove
On by Zari
however, it seemed that getting a video is like getting a gig:
sometimes, you have to create your own opportunities.
Antique Textiles: Renewed Life for Dance by Najia Marlyz
we often danced for many little luncheon gigs in offices and other
places as a surprise birthday gift—to the music of our own
solo sagat. Now, that is a skill that I have never seen anyone
repeat since the early seventies!
A Marriage Made in North
Beach by Amina Goodyear
stage was alight with the flames of the candelabrum’s candles
and the eerie glow of her costume. Fatma’s costumes were
always comprised of material that glowed in the dark as her show
began with no light—except for “black light”.