Gilded Serpent presents...

Ana Ra’asa Showcase

Ahava does Fifi

Egyptian Bellydance Past & Present

by Ahava

photos by Carl and MaShuqa
posted May 10, 2011

In the Fall of 2009, I came up with the idea to produce and direct my very first show. After having lunch with my friend, Samar, I walked away from our meeting, feeling as if a seed had been planted.

Throughout the years, I’ve been extremely fortunate and honored to have been featured in various stage productions and DVD projects. After doing shows for a while, I started to pick up a few things, noticing all of the hard work that goes into putting a professional show together. I have always known that I wanted to produce a show myself but felt that I didn’t have enough experience to do so, and I also felt that perhaps I was too young and would not be taken seriously. Nevertheless, after reassurance from close friends and family, I took the first steps towards my dream.

Inspiration

I’ve always admired Saida of Argentina because she continuously produces great shows every year.  Her shows feature the students and instructors from her dance academy, and they are always in a theatre with professional lighting and sound. Every year, there’s a different theme. I wanted to bring something similar to the Bay Area.

My purpose for doing this show was to bring Bellydance to the stage.

We have such amazing talent in the Bay Area, and I feel that those dancers deserved a stage to showcase such amazing talent.

Dancers

There was an amazing cast for the Ana Ra’asa Showcase. This year’s theme was “A Tribute to Egyptian Dancers of the Past and Present.” I had given the cast a list of dancers ranging from Naima Akef and Zizi Moustapha to Dandesh and Randa Kamel. Each cast member was to choose one dancer to emulate. They were required to study costuming, hair, make up, mannerisms and of course, dancing.

After everyone chose her dancer, I created the time-line:

Challenges

My main challenge was finding the venue. I wanted something that was suitable, but affordable at the same time. What I realized along the way was: if you are hoping to book in a theater, you either have to book more than one show (for example, a show on Saturday and Sunday). If you’re planning to book your show on a Saturday evening, good luck! Those slots are taken very quickly! If none of the above, then you will find that the venue charges a ridiculously inordinate sum of money. Because all of this money was coming out of my humble pocket, I had to choose wisely.

Finally, I found La Pena Cultural Center in Berkeley, CA. It had a stage, a dressing room, professional lighting and sound; they handled the ticket sales, and advertised the show on their website and calendar, which gets dispersed throughout the Bay Area. On top of all of that, they were affordable.

Promotion

Initially my show was supposed to be in January, but because of scheduling differences, it had to be pushed forward to the first Sunday of February.  Considering the fact that I am not a sports fan, I was totally oblivious to the fact that that particular date, February 6th, in fact, was Super bowl Sunday! However, now it was too late to change the date.

Contracts had already been signed. So we crossed out fingers and hoped that people could break away from their television sets that evening to see our show.

In the Summer of 2010, I had the entire cast pose in a photo shoot for the advertisement for the show. We found a great photographer, Topher Adam, who had never photographed Bellydancers, but was excited about the theme of our show. It was important to me that we all worked with the same photographer for the promotion of the show. Additionally, thanks to Tabitha’s husband, we got a great design for our postcards.

Outcome

The day of the show, I found myself calm and collected. Finally, after a year of preparation, the day had finally come! In the end, our showcase was a complete success. The audience attendance far exceeded my expectations, and the show received great reviews from those who attended.

Strangely enough, a few days before the show, the uprising protests in Cairo took place. It was a coincidence that the same time Egyptian people were fighting for democracy and freedom; half-way across the world, six American women were praising six Egyptian women who had made a lasting impression in their lives.  Since the show was about Egyptian dance, it was only appropriate that we acknowledged the situation that was happening in the Middle East.

I was completely elated, even six days after the show was over. We had successfully put on a quality show, bringing the dance to the stage, where it belongs!

Brazilian Sharki
Zahara does Brazilian Sharqi

Drum Solo Ahava Style

Author Ahava does a drum solo

Jhermanie
Jhermanie does Lubna

Lebanese Style
Samar does Lebanese style

Midnightin Cairo
Jhermainie performs "Midnight in Cairo"

Modern Love
Tabitha performs "Modern Love"

Oriental
Salena performs Oriental

Salena does Nagwa Fouad
Salena does Nagwa Fouad

Samar does Samia Gamal
Samar does Samia Gamal

Tabitha does Soheir Zaki
Tabitha does Soheir Zaki

Zahara does Taheia Cariocca
Zahara does Taheia Carioca

 

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