The Gilded Serpent
ad 4 Belly Dancer of the Year Contest

Last year's winner, Piper, awards the Grand Prize trophy to Zaheea! while the 1st Runner up, Nuwal, looks on.

The Gilded Serpent presents...
Bellydancer of the Year Pageant
May 19th, 2001
Editorial by GS staff
Photos by Susie Poulelis

Are the dancers setting the trends, showcasing the trends, or simply trying to appease the judges? This was one of the questions we pondered during Leah Aziz's 28th Bellydance of the Year Pageant. A well produced event with talented performers, the Pageant afforded us the luxury to sit back, enjoy the dancing and philosphize the genre.

While the young dancers showed us hope for the future of bellydance, a few familiar faces easily held their own.

Barbara Malone continues to make us groan with her traditional "Barbara" jokes. We have heard about her collection of forgotten veils for so many years now, that we would really miss the veil jokes if she left them out in future years. Barbara, a retired radio personality, has been the Mistress of Ceremonies for 20 years and, all joking aside, continues to keep the show running smoothly.

Claudia gives a solid start to the show with her expressive movements and good zil playing. She performs to Soroyan's Aziza and although we hoped for a bit more facial expression, we feel she is the strong leader through most of the show.

Wearing a fire colored costume to match her firy red hair, Cira displays good technical talent, but needs to mature into the sensuality needed for this dance. Her strength is shown in her smooth, sweet veil work.
Sihaya's performance is a contrast to the others, yet showcases her ability in floor and veil work. We predict that her wholesome style is not what the judges are looking for in this event.

Nahiya makes a great entrance and captures the audience quickly. Her style is sharp and clean. We enjoy her for the most part, but feel there are a few too many "up" thrusts in her hip movements.
Shayla is another stage veteran who wows us with her ability and style. She was half of last year's winning duet and we feel she is another contender for the trophy this year.

Yasmeen is calm and poised during her athletic sword work and reveals her passion during a sultry, dark veil routine.
Sabiba shows us what Zorba's regular audience has known for years. She's got some moves that make us doubt that she has a daugther the age of most of her fellow contestants. Her drum solo is so fierce that she loses a few strands of beads - worthy of extra points in our book!. Her grace and musicality come across well and fill the room. Our only wish was for a more a smooth musical mix.

We feel Sabiba is a tough act to follow, but Zaheea! is up for the challenge. She enters with a spinning viel and entices us with incredible energy which is maintained throughout her entire performance. Another splash of beads during her drum solo makes us wonder if Sabiba has started another trend. We like her playfulness and connection to the audience. A good coach could help Zaheea! deepen her style, but the judges are wowed.
Taught by her mother, Sultana Gamal, Zahia Gamal shows a promise of great things during a smoldering violin taksim. Athough it took some time for her to warm up to the audience, she ended her performance with some seductive hip drops accentuated by just the right amount of quivering flesh. She also tricks us with a fake ending showing us that she's more comfortable than we originally thought.

Nawal reminds us of a slinky cat, using her veil to accent isolations. The Puerto Rico native includes spinning double veil and a candle dance in her routine. She has a sexy smile until she loses her bra, which takes her offstage for quite some time. The audience shows great support, yet she is obviously shaken, and continues to look upset through the end and into the award ceremony. Although she may have believed the accident cost her the trophy, we feel her dancing was not as sophisticated as Claudia, Sabiba and Zaheea! Clearly her demeanor was not worthy of an award.

From left to right: Grand Prize winner Zaheea!, 1st runner up Nuwal, 2nd runner up Sabiba, 3rd runner up Claudia, 4th runner up Shayla and Congeniality winner Yasmeen.
The Gilded Serpent 
 Cover, Articles, Contents, North Beach, Comics, Columns, Archives, Calendar, Letters, Ad Guide, Ed Guide, Volunteer, Bazaar, About Us, Web Design