photo by André Elbing
My Winning Experience
Jouvana and Roland's
1st Bellydancer of the World Contest
of the 1st Place in Solo Raks Sharki
and 3rd Place
Solo - Fusion Fantasy Categories
15th Annual Leyla Jouvanas International Festival
of Oriental Dance took place in Duisburg, Germany,
November 23 to December 2, 2007. The guest stars and teachers
included Aziza of Canada, Sharon
of Bellydance Superstars, Hind of Morocco, Magdy
Maria Shazadi of Mexico City, but
Jouvana & Roland,
Christian and Seetha and many
many more. Dr.
Mo of Egypt participated
in the event as well, giving workshops on various topics throughout
the week. The festival drew more than 4,500 visitors from various
countries around the world.
the event was packed with 10 days of workshops and ended with
a 2 day gala show. But for the first time now the Festival
also included (and started off with) an international contest
named "Bellydancer of the World". Aziza, Magdy el
Leisy, Schachlo, Maria Shazadi and Hind were in the jury. Leyla
herself judged as well, but Maria Shazadi replaced her whenever
students of Leyla’s dance studio competed.
a personal note: I've had some doubts about entering this
contest because of the ‘big’ title attached to it, but
thought I decided to go for it anyway.
towards a goal really helps me to focus and setting the stakes
pushes me beyond my comfort level as a dancer. But
convinced me even more was the fact that the guest teachers
be the judges in this competition, which meant we would
be able to ask for specific feedback afterwards.
Author with Aziza
Judges or Jury
1 - Workshop with Aziza
it would be less stressful to arrive a day early, a friend from
Holland and I checked in on Friday and took a veil workshop with
Aziza in Leyla’s Studio on the day before the competition.
wonderful as always.. She is truly a warm-hearted teacher who
generously shares her passion for this dance form with her
students. Her veil work is so fluid and graceful, and I am
amazed again and again at the new tricks and beautiful poses
she keeps coming up with.
talked with Leyla for a moment after the workshop. She had
been working day and night for weeks trying to put everything
together and was still answering phone calls and emails on
the spot. I have nothing but admiration for the massive amount
of work she puts into this yearly event, while still taking
the time to help out students, guests, and visitors.
Magdy el Leisy in the Studio as well and asked him to pose
for a quick picture with us.
2 - The Contest
After months of preparation this was the day contest time! I
would be dancing in 2 categories, Solo Fusion/Fantasy and solo
Classic Oriental/Raks Sharki.
was held in a giant sports hall in Duisburg. There was a big
bazaar in the front of the hall and there was a nice big stage
on the other side. The audience was seated in rows directly
in front of the stage, and the judges were on an elevated platform
was a short solo performance by the judges and guest stars.
It was fun and inspiring to see them dance, each performer
their own speciality and style. There was a quick break after
the show and a few minutes later the first participants started.
For the Fusion/Fantasy
Solo, I had prepared a piece using "Isis Wings" half-choreographed
with floor work. The audience was great (I heard some zaghareets!)
and the dance went well, but my nerves did get to me a bit
during the first drum solo improvisation..
I was not
able to watch many of the performances that day, but what I
did see looked quite good. For example Fériel Rodriguez (France)
danced Argentino-Oriental Fusion with great stage presence,
and I was very impressed with the technique and polished style
of Leyla’s student performance troupes. They won several awards
that day (Fantasy and Fusion for groups and for formations)
and they were loved by both the audience and participants.
soloist drum solo improvisations, I ran to the dressing room
to change costumes, jump around a bit and clear my head for
the next category.
Classic/Raks Sharki solos started, the Fusion/Fantasy category
dancers had to go backstage once more to hear the announcements
of the 5 highest scores. What struck me most about that moment
was the positive attitude of the contestants backstage: people
were literally cheering each other on behind the curtain.
figured out which order we had to go on, I heard Leyla say
my name through the speaker. A moment later I heard her say
'3rd place'. At first I was not sure if I had heard correctly,
but looking at my friends jumping up and down back in the audience
I realized it was true! My first award! I was over the moon,
so I kept smiling for the rest of the evening.
place for this category went to Fériel Rodriguez of
France and second place went to Manon Garin (also
3rd place for the Fantasy/Fusion category helped
me dance with more confidence during my solo for the Classical/Raks
second drum solo felt much better as well. I was able to really
hear the music and connected with the audience. I was told
by several people that the joy and playfulness I was feeling
also radiated off the stage.
A few moments
later, the dancers of the main category had to go backstage
and wait for the final announcements. After the third and
second place were called out (Suleyha-Munhira and Caroline
Lemm), we looked around and tried to guess which dancer
would be named for the first place. When I heard “Khalida”
through the speakers again I could see my friends jump up and
for the second time this day, way back in the audience.
Aziza were dancing on their chairs as well, and then quickly
came up to the stage to congratulate the winners.
It was a
long day altogether, 263 participants danced in thirteen categories,
and the people were quite tired at the end. What struck me
most about this day was how smoothly the competition went (despite
the large number of participants and groups there were no big
delays or problems), the great, amicable athmosphere, and last
but not least the fun loving and professional attitude of everyone
involved, organisers and participants alike.
so much Leyla and Roland for making this all possible and setting
up this wonderful event!!
of the competition (5 highest scores per category only) and more
information about the yearly festival can be found at www.leyla-jouvana.de
a comment? Send us a
Check the "Letters to the Editor" for
other possible viewpoints!
Wasn’t About the Trophy: The North Valley Belly Dance
Competition in Oroville, Ca. 2006 by Salima
I have done many things in my life and by forcing myself
to have other performers judge my performance, I have motivated
myself to step up to the plate and accomplish what I had set in
my mind to do.
in Germany, The Summer Festival and the International Raks
Sharqi Contest 2006 by Dondi S. Dahlin.
photos by Klaus Rabien, Berlin, Germany. "It is
also an easy out for judges who need to find a reason to drop
a dancer’s score…especially if the competition is
with the Dance: a Performance Critique of Aziza by
There are several dancers on the scene that I admire and enjoy watching again
and again, but I just saw one that made me stop in my tracks, sit right down
on the floor, and pay attention.
the Community Kaleidoscope --Gig Bag check # 8 with Sharon
Kihara of the BDSS!
Bellydance, A New & Ancient Reality by Jehan
trend has been growing steadily since I can remember, but caught fire recently,
due to the instantaneous broadcasting of ideas and styles on the worldwide web
and the proliferation and availability of video for this generation of dancers.
Wa Sahlan 2008, Not So Welcoming this Year by Yasmin
have gone up everywhere, and Egypt is no exception. The reality hit me as soon
as I walked into the Mena House. Bottled water was $4.00, where out in the
street the same bottle was $.50. A bottle of beer was $10.00. Internet connection
was $30.00 / hour. At those prices, life's little pleasures didn't seem important
at Raqs LA, One Dancer’s Journey Back Home by Emily Farasha
was a nice variety of vendors, mostly leaning towards the cabaret style of
costuming and props, although there were vendors catering to tribal dancers
as well. Dancing on two open stages provided constant entertainment with a
variety of performance types.