Gilded Serpent presents...
Bellydancer of the Universe

by Mia

Puerto Rico is kind of a small island, not that we’re cut off from the world or anything, but we don’t have huge hafflas or competitions here. In fact, after about two years of classes and training we have to travel outside our country to keep up with the whirlwind of innovation that is bellydance.

I’ve been blessed enough to attend some of the best workshops ever given in the U.S. and in Canada and, through these, I became acquainted with the competition arena. Andrea Farese, a very good friend of mine, spoke to me about some of them and Bellydancer of the Universe seemed possible once I calculated the amount of time it would take to prepare for such a huge competition. I applied for two categories: Egyptian and Universal. From the get go I knew Egyptian was a long shot because in Puerto Rico there really isn’t anyone that teaches any “pure” style and, true to my education, I was unable to place in the finals. Thank goodness the Universal category was a different story; I was in my element.

While in the waiting room I noticed I was the youngest in there with the least amount of experience. Although I felt confident in my abilities, it was nerve wrecking and just as I was about to walk down the hall towards the competitor’s entrance, I realized I had never in my life found myself happier.

Even if I didn’t win I was going to cherish this experience for the rest of my life. After the first-round performances, I was able to place in the finals. Now, the finals really got to me; I was so excited when I heard my name called as one of the finalists and I nearly freaked out when I was in the waiting room ready to compete. I had come to the competition with my little brother, AlHassan, and was exhausted from having to make him practice, practicing myself, and having competed twice already in Egyptian and Universal preliminaries, so I was worried about my performance in the universal finals. I took it in stride and as I was on-stage my second wind kicked in and I danced all the dance I had left in me to share with the world. I literally gave it all I had. I was once told by a teacher that my lack of technique was refreshing, and apparently the judges agreed.

When the winners were being announced later that evening I held my breath as the third and second runner up were called. There were only two of us left now, and the first runner up was called…….”Oh my GOSH!!!! That wasn’t my name, I won!” Finally, my name was called as the winner of the category and I was Bellydancer of the Universe 2008.

I felt like crying, which is totally cliché, but I was just so happy my hard work paid off. I was honored and relieved and amazed, well, I was euphoric!

It was truly a blessing to have received such a prize at my age and to be representing Puerto Rico. It was a fantastic experience and I hope to do it again very soon. Every bellydancer should go through something similar and be proud of the fact that unlike other sports, in bellydancing there is a true sisterhood that allows us to grow in the dance and heal the world one shimmy at a time.  

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9-8-08 Carl's Raqs LA Photos, Best from the Stage on the Lower Level, Photos by Carl Sermon text by Carl Sermon, Ma*Shuqa and Marta Schill
held May 17-18, 2008 Glendale Civic Auditorium, California, produced by Miles Copeland and organized by Marta Schill

12-7-05 The Universal Categories of The Belly Dancer of the Universe Competition, report by Amy Bonham
held February 19-20, 2005 in Long Beach, California, photos by GS staff

12-8-06 It 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.

10-17-06 Judging 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 tough."

See our listing on our "Mining for Gold" page under- Contests and Pageants, right column

See other recent contest winners on our Community Kaleidoscope

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For this year’s fashion event, Ms. Lambru chose to display her costumes in the context of a Berber wedding.

11-11-08 Omar Faruk Tekbilek demonstrates the Ney video by Lynette
Also incuded are short performance clips of Omar with the instruments and band members as well as his wife, Susie, performing a few Turkish style dance gestures

11-7-08 Gift of the Muse: Finding and Using “Dance Energy” by Najia Marlyz
The concept of “Dance Energy”carries with it a power that appears to compel the dancer to move without conscious thought or excessive effort.

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