Anasma, Kaeshi, Nathalie
DVD Shoot Adventure
A Bellyqueen & Peko Collaboration
After performing all
different styles of dance professionally throughout my life, I
became a member of “Bellyqueen” in April 2004. Bellyqueen
is a New York City based Bellydance company that was created by
Amar Gamal and Kaeshi Chai in
1998. It has since grown to 7 members strong from all different
countries and dance backgrounds- Susan Frankovitch,
a tribal dancer from California with a very strong American Tribal
Style (ATS) background whose style specializes in pops and locks.
Fayzah Claudia has performed Tango professionally,
has a background in ballet and is a pyrotechnic whiz. Anasma
is one of our newest recruits from France. Half Tunisian and
half Vietnamese with a dash of Turkish, her theatre and hip-hop
experiences blend into her classical Bellydance style. Sandralis
is another fresh recruit who’s from Puerto Rico. Her Belly
dance company was award winning and she has the most amazing talent
for make-up artistry. Elisheva, (myself),
a dancer whose life-long academic dance training has brought her
to professionally perform Modern dance, Breakdance, Hip-hop, Theatre
Jazz and Belly dance. Amar Gamal has a very extensive dance background
and is a world champion Bellydancer who has won multiple awards,
best known for her Oriental Style. She is a soloist for
the Bellydance Superstars and continues to tour the world performing
and teaching. Kaeshi Chai, the artistic director of
Bellyqueen, also toured with the Bellydance Superstars, and is
a co-founder of P.U.R.E., a community of dancers and musicians
who share their art for peace and healing. Her extensive
travels around the world performing, teaching and learning have
influenced the vision of the company. Bellyqueen’s work is original
and cutting edge, a collaborative effort fused with many world
It was in
October of 2006 that we were invited to Los Angeles to record
a performance DVD for Hollywood Music Center/PeKo Records.
journey started with very stressful conditions.
the group’s e-tickets had gotten lost in cyber space and Kaeshi
and I were going to be separated from the rest and put onto
a long stand-by list.
found myself wondering how I could check my bag with all my costuming
in it without having a ticket on record, but the curt airline
agent had no problem doing it. To start this trip without
tickets or luggage was just the tip of the “stressed-out iceberg”,
but cold none-the-less. Now, where is all that gear going…and
will I go with it? There is a saying “If it wasn’t for bad
luck, I would have no luck at all”. These small words have
always seemed to pull me out of the most desperate situations
and even given me hope in getting past them. It was at this
true time of judgment that these words gave me strength, endurance
and in the end, a powerful performance.
is not what I would call my first personality strength, but the
experience at HMC’S DVD shoot gave me a renewed relationship with
it. I found myself throughout the week to be both excited
and scared beyond belief. My first lesson was remembering
to pack everything, a lesson I never seem to learn quite right.
I always have the chance to borrow my fellow dancers costuming
or make-up, but this trip wouldn’t allow for such privileges.
I made more than one trip to the convenient store- eyelashes “check”,
hairdryer “check”, and how did I forget a brush?
spent countless hours preparing for this moment and I never
seem to be prepared enough.
stress of waiting for my luggage to arrive in the middle of the
night and picking up those items needed that were left at home,
it was time to rest up and show them what we’ve got. Each
day of this shoot was a new experience, meeting different dancers
of all styles from all places. I spent the week rubbing
elbows with some of the most current well-known Bellydancers,
giving me a sense of accomplishment I have worked hard to earn.
I was inspired time again by watching up close and personal performances
( Canada ), Willow Chang, Louchia, Ariellah,
The Nekyia- just to name a few. The Bellyqueen
girls were permanent fixtures for the week, while the other dancers
would come and go throughout. As each day came to pass, each
one of us BQ girls would help the other- whether we needed a little
makeup artistry, or someone to pin us in, someone to clap us on,
or even watch our solos for the millionth time just to make sure
we have it down.
The day came
for my solo- a day I had prepared for feverishly with the hopes
of showing the world my own hip-hop/modern dance/bellydance fusion
style to a brand new sound of Bellydance music- beat boxing combined
with Middle Eastern drumming.
thought I had left my bad luck mantra at the airport, but I
soon found that it followed me right through the studio door.
on my set are lit; time is of the essence. I am instructed to
‘hurry up and dance’ as I take my position in front of the cameras
and a studio full of peers and onlookers.
I began my
first recorded solo with such high expectations and would not
let myself fall into bad luck’s hands. I take position and
see a bleeding foot- I mean really bleeding everywhere.
Take two: I dance through my HIGHLY choreographed intro when all
of a sudden I hear a big voice behind the cameras telling me where
to move to and where to dance, breaking my concentration and really
confusing me. Oops.
Take three: I get through about 30 seconds of dancing and part
of my costume breaks so completely apart that its not even ignorable,
smacking me in the face over and over.
A fourth take involves not hearing the beginning of my music,
a part so important to me in the choreography that I insist I
The flames are still burning, black smoke filling
the studio, time pushing the patience of everyone involved.
How I wanted so badly for bad luck to leave me alone already.
I take a deep breath, bow my head for a 5th time and-
voila. The intensity and mayhem of the situation joined
forces and ran head first into my choreography, creating a passion
I could only imagine.
5 days and 13 choreographies later is a DVD that represents each
one of us in our own personalities.
was during this shoot that my bad luck mantra had survived its
own name, and even given me the power to push my personal limits.
As I watched the finished product of our dramatic week on film,
I realized that disguised beneath bad luck’s façade was an enormous
amount of good luck pushing my boundaries and guiding us all
through our numbers.
stress and crazy happenings had forced me to find new sources
of power and confidence and in the end a renewed appreciation
for the all bumps in the road. The crew at the family
owned and run company of Hollywood Music Center made this shoot
such a great experience with their hospitality, delicious catered
food from local “Carousel” restaurant every night, and I can’t
forget HMC’s owners Moses and Mher
cheering us on with zagarets throughout all of our performances
in the recording studio, keeping our smiles on and the energy
fresh all the time. This group of professionals has produced
DVDs this year of some amazing dancers and their newest work.
After a week of watching everyone up close and personal I cannot
wait to take home every DVD.
click for enlargement
Back Row: Nalini, Elisheva,
Kaeshi, Fayzah, Nathalie, Anasma, Sandralis, Willow Chang,
Amar Gamal, Scott Sterling, Aubre, Elise, Mira Betz
Bottom Row: Princess
Farhana and dancers, The Nekyia
DVD is available through Peko
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