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Toronto Skyline
Gilded Serpent presents...
A Report on the
First International Bellydance Conference of Canada
Part One- Lectures, Workshops, Panel Discussions
April 18-22, 2007
Toronto, Ontario

by Diane Adams
Photos by Lynette


Special thanks to GS readers Namire and Ellen for their help with names. We need a few more everyone!

Hosted by Yasmina 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 inspiration.

Conferences 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 Jennifer Watkins, the conference coordinator .

Shira takes a question

Venus explains how her study was conducted.
Viraj
demonstrates movements analyzed.
"Analysis of Active Muscle Patterns and Body Motion in Bellydance Movements"

Lively Discussions!
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.

 

Andrea Deagon listens

Two 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.

For 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.


Vendor 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 pay dearly!

Amir teaches too a full room

Each instructor offered top of the line material that was challenging and satisfying.  To highlight just a few:

Featured, 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 for 2007.
Yasmina and Randa both cry!
Randa watches Amir Thaleb teach as he shows off for her.

Amir 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 rhythm. Martine 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. 

Sashar Zarif
Sashar Zarif

Sashar 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.}

Bellyqueen gave a comprehensive workshop on working with props—everything from cane to sword to candle, demonstrated by Kaeshi and her very capable fellow dancers. 


Sahra Saeeda teaches with the assistance of a drummer
On 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.


Canadian lunchtime sunbathing on the front steps of the Hungarian Cultural Center

 

A belly mama attempts to catch the instruction as baby practices kicks! (click photo to enlarge)
[more 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 Italy .


Randa poses with friend from Texas


Randa and Dr. George poses with Stephanie Biak (left) and Beth Frynyk (right). They are from Manitoba.

Part 1- Lectures, Workshops, Panel Discussions- posted 5-18-07
Part 2- Performances- Page 1- Thursday Main Stage- posted 9-6-09
Part 2- Performances- Page 2 - Friday Main Stage
Part 2- Performances- Page 4 - Saturday Gala Performance at Ryerson Theatre
Part 2- Performances- Page 5 - Sunday at Myth Restaurant and Lounge

IBCC dates for next year- April 23-27, 2008

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

Ready for more?
5-17-07 Interview with Kay Taylor by Leila of Cairo
As 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. 

5-8-07 The Bou-Saada Bus by Yasmela
Every 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.

5-6-07 How to Charge What You Are Worth by MIchelle Joyce
The 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.

5-4-07 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

5-1-07 How We Got our Video Groove On by Zari
Ultimately however, it seemed that getting a video is like getting a gig: sometimes, you have to create your own opportunities.

4-18-07 Antique Textiles: Renewed Life for Dance by Najia Marlyz
In fact, 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!

4-17-07 A Marriage Made in North Beach by Amina Goodyear
The 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”.

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