The NY Theatrical Belly Dance Conference 2010
A Five Day Exploration of Dance Styles, Intention, and Content
Review by Thalia
Photos by Sal Romano, Stacey and Clement Lespinasse, Brian Feister and Brian Lin
posted October 12, 2010
For the past three years, dancers Anasma and Ranya Renee have been developing the New York Theatrical Bellydance Conference. This July, the Conference evolved into a five-day event featuring instructors and speakers from across the United States, Canada, Spain, and Sweden, a full schedule of workshops, panel discussions, three curated programs at the Dance New Amsterdam (DNA) Theater, and less formal shows in local nightclubs featuring live music. The programs at DNA featured solo and company performances aimed to demonstrate a variety of theatrical treatments of belly dance. Performers included Dalia Carella and the Dalia Carella Dance Collective, Alchemy Dance Collective, Kaeshi Chai with Bellyqueen and PURE, Samara and her Mosaic Dance Theater Company, Dunya and the Core Alembic, the Not the Jamal Twins: Ranya and Roula, Fahtiem, and Angelika Nemeth.
Theatrical Belly Dance in Performance
I attended shows on Friday and Saturday night inspired by the lens of these two panel discussions.
Some of these "theatrical" works focused more on staging and aesthetics; some used narrative; others focused overtly on intention and meaning; and, a minority stayed true to traditional cabaret or folkloric modes.
Both programs benefited from the experimental pieces. As an audience member, I enjoyed having no idea what type of piece might come next. There was no danger of the evening turning into the exhausting "hafla" experience that churns out one solo dancer after another.
New York Gothic bellydance group JeniViva and Mystical Hips perform "The Broken Branch of Aeon." From front: JeniViva, Erica Joan and Karen X.
More photos coming of the DNA Shows, dinner shows, workshops, the shopping trip.
Ready for more?
- The Muwashahat with Mohamed Shahin and Karim Nagi
The Muwashahat genre is inspired by tenth century court poetry of Arab-Andalusia, developed when Arab intellectual and artistic culture flourished in Spain. The rhythms are complex.
- Review: "Allure of the East:Orientalism in New York, 1850-1930" at the New York Historical Society
This small one-room exhibit with its narrow geographic focus–the city O. Henry dubbed “Baghdad-on-the-Subway”–presents much for dancers to consider. As belly dance continues to gain popularity, what is this continuing "allure" of the Orientalist inspired arts? When is attraction to this aesthetic drawn from a desire to understand other cultures and when is it driven by desire to market ourselves?
- Tarot:A Fantasy Belly Dance Concert
The large, well rehearsed cast–musicians, temple maidens, acolytes, and servants with a variety of props–deftly played up the campy quality of the piece, contrasting the work’s darker messages about the fickle cycles of gain, loss, and impermanence
- 9-1-10 Expanding Traditional and Innovative Approaches, Report from the Theatrical Belly Dance Conference, Part 1: The Panel Discussions, by Thalia
As with any new label applied to the genre, a question of definition consistently arises from fans and skeptics of the burgeoning theatrical belly dance category. Wisely, the organizers have incorporated panel discussions in the Conference’s roster of events since its formation.
- 10-6-10 Overcoming Public Assumptions, The Birth of Bellydance in Jakarta by Christine
One thing I often encounter is the public’s assumption that ‘bellydance’ will tone your stomach and muscles and that it is for weight loss. Another is that bellydance is a vulgar, erotic dance used for seducing men. I am still trying to get the message to the public that both are untrue.
- 10-5-10 Reptile Illness, What is Wrong with My Snake? by Neferteri Baiddou
Reptiles are good at hiding their illness because in the wild they would be easy prey. This makes it challenging for those of us who have them in our homes.
- 10-4-10 From the Street to the Virtual Cafe, The History of Shaabi by Amina Goodyear
There were several movements throughout the world that seemed to simultaneously create music in the genre called "cassette culture". Most notably this type of music was evident in England and the U.S. with punk music, in Jamaica with Reggae, in Algeria with Rai and in Egypt with Shaabi music.
- 10-1-10 Ask Yasmina #14: Pro Dancer vs Religion, Importance of Training, Khaleegy Music by Yasmina Ramzy
Then, I would speak to them about being authentic. If Bellydance was chosen with conviction, love and integrity, then their relationship with God would remain real and honest and maybe one day they might win back the respect of her family. It was still a huge risk, but at least, they could have comfort in living an authentic life.
- 9-26-10 A Dancer’s Perspecitive: 2010 Yaa Halla Y’all Belly Dance Competition by Iman, Photos by Carl Sermon and MsShuqa
Yaa Halla Y’all is an action-packed, four-day event for all styles of
Belly dance: Tribal, Alternative, and Cabaret.
- 9-16-10 To Berlin and Back, Bridging Cultures Through Belly Dance by Jasmine June
In this way, he demonstrated that belly dance isn’t something that is defined by culture. Rather, it is an art form that can be perfected by anyone who puts their mind to it, and it’s an art form that can be used to bridge cultures rather than divide them.
- 9-15-10 Sausan’s Birthday Party Video report on the Community Kaleidoscope
On August 22, 2010, Sausan held a show featureing "fellow vintage dancers" including herself. She cooked a huge buffet. Enjoy the clips of these dancers: Asia, Alana, Una, Stasha, Amina Goodyear, Nisima, Neyehma and Zelina. We missed the others, Sorry!
- 9-13-10 Visit Beirut! Peace Brings Prosperity and New Dancers by Mark Balahadia
However, it was now finally peaceful in Beirut this year. The Lebanese resiliency and ability to rebound from crises is what encourages many of its citizens to live life to the fullest extent, and this passion is what lures tourists and expatriates every year.
- 9-10-10 Our London Scene: A Guide, Clubs, Events, and Resources by Anne White
Hi to all our state-side friends over “The Pond” and elsewhere! For those intending to visit London, I thought you would like a “What’s on in London?” guide to spice up any intended visit–whether now or future.
- 9-7-10 Cult or Bellydance Class? Cartoon by R Mut
"Pity those who do not study on our path, for they know not what they do not know!"