Gilded Serpent presents...

Packin’ Up and Moving!

Moroccan Dance Fest Relocated Under Pressure

Report assembled by Lynette
posted April 22, 2012

2 days ago a Gilded Serpent advisor sent me an Al Arabiya news link regarding the Mediterranean Delight Festival I attended last year in Marrakech as a guest of the producer Simona Guzman.

The following is an excerpt of the Al Arabiya article– (beware of the noisy video ad that starts in the right column):

Morocco dance festival goes belly up over fears for Israelis

A belly dance festival which was to have been held in the southern Moroccan city of Marrakech was cancelled Friday over fears for its Israeli dancers, the organizer said.

“I cancelled it because I didn’t receive any authorization and I was afraid for the safety of my participants,” festival producer Simona Guzman told AFP.

Islamist members of parliament and pro-Palestinian associations had criticized the invitation to the Israelis for the May 10 festival.

Criticism over the Israeli presence was first heard last year when the festival was also held in Marrakech, but the event went off without mishap. Some 18 countries, including Britain, Japan, Russia and the Netherlands, were due to have taken part in the festival which was first held in Istanbul in 2010.”

I wrote to several dancers who also attended last year, all of whom confirmed that the festival has been moved. Simona responded also and sent me the below letter that she sent to all the participants. She is moving her festival in time and place due to the threats she has received from certain Islamic factions because of the involvement of Israeli dancers. It was to be held in just a couple of weeks from now in Marrakech. Now it will be held a month later in June at a new spot she found near Athens Greece.

In addition to the above, her festival website was hacked by a claimed Palestinian group, and threats were left on her Facebook page (See screenshots below and the VIDEO!).

Site hacked

linked to full screen version

FB page threats
FB page threats

El Arabia:
Some also objected to the festival altogether on the grounds that it violates the values of a conservative society like Morocco and encourages the “propagation of vice,” as they put it. 
The pictures of belly dancers on the website, they added, offers insight into the “indecency” the event is bound to promote.

Simona also states about her experience with the media- “They went against participating of Israelis teachers. They said that we do competitions to attract the Moroccan dancers and we attract them with prizes like participating in Las Vegas, “the city of corruption and prostitutes”. They didn’t even check their facts and wrote that Turkey didn’t let me to organize my festival there.”


Simona’s letter to participants

My Dear Friend,
Due to the rise of the Islamist regime in the past year in Morocco, lately the "Mediterranean Delight Festival" is slandered and criticized against belly dancing in general and the festival itself. A lot of tasteless things were said against the festival, mostly because of ignorance. Some describes belly dance as a "pornography" and argue that the goal of the festival is to corrupt the Moroccan youth and that the goal of the festival’s competitions is to seduce the innocent Moroccan girls by offering them international winning prizes. All of the Arabic media in the Arabic world is reporting constantly against the festival and reports that many massive protest will take place during the event’s dates.

While the pressure increased, we were asked by the Moroccan authorities to ask for an authorization to produce the festival in Moroccan Territory, a thing that was never asked before. We were suppose to receive an immediate confirmation, but the Moroccan bureaucracy has its own time, and time is running short. Furthermore, security authorities asked us to cancel the event for the safety of the participants.

With deep sorrow and with no choice, after many months of hard work and great financial resources that I put in this event, I decided to keep moving forward without letting down the participants: I found a piece of heaven in Loutraky, Greece, in the 5 star Hotel and Casino Resort "Club Hotel Loutraki" on the Mediterranean shore, half an hour drive from Athens. The selected dates are June 7th-11th, 2012 in order to give you, the participants enough time to prepare properly with the traveling errands.

Producing the festival in the new location will force me to put more resources in it. I’ve decided, with the help of my loving and supporting family, and in spite of the fanatic Moroccan Islamists movements, to continue and strengthen the awareness for the art of belly dance and not surrender to the extremists.

My dear friends! I know that the changes is causing you all a great sorrow and maybe additional expenses, but despite of all, I would love if all of you will make a small effort and join us for the festival in Club Hotel Loutraki, Greece. I, Simona, as the festival organizer, put a lot of financial and mental efforts because of this change. Even though the prices of the hotel in Greece are higher than in Morocco, all of you who already registered to the event will not need to add any extra payment.

I personally ask each and every one of you to fight this hideous and ugly phenomenon that tries to show the art of belly dancing as low, cheap and pornographic. A fight against racist who turns the art of belly dance to dirty and cheap. Our victory will be by increasing the number of participants. There is no doubt that "Club Hotel Loutraki" and the Greek people will receive and embrace us and our art with open arms. Please make a small effort because I did a huge one!

I would like to thank all of the festival teachers that expressed their disgust from the Moroccan racism and received an immediate decision without any doubts to join us in Loutraki, Greece.

With friendship, love and a big hug,
Simona Guzman

"Here is a Moroccan preacher on Youtube who went against us: Watch at minute 2:10 & 3:10"


The festival has been moved from
Marrakech, May 10-16, 2012

Club Hotel Loutraki near Athens Greece June 7-11, 2012
For more information on this festival-

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Have a comment? Use or comment section at the bottom of this page or Send us a letter!
Check the "Letters to the Editor" for other possible viewpoints!

Ready for more?

  • Serpent Tour 2011 Journal- London, Madrid and Marrakech! NEW VIDEO UPDATE-7-8-11
    An experimental travel blog. Let see how it goes! The plan is to update this page frequently.
  • Moroccan Dreams: My New Festival in Marrakech
    There is a mixture of faces in one region. There are so many different cultures that live in harmony –in the same place– that it is difficult to remain indifferent.
  • Video Interview with Hakima of Morocco
    GS met Hakima at Simona’s Mediterranean Delight Festival held in Marrakech in June 2011. Hakima is a native Moroccan dancer. She was teaching workshops an performing. She had a friend help us with translating. 
    Hakima now lives near Barcelona in Spain. She can also be found and contact on Facebook Check out her hair braiding during the drum solo!
  • Video Interview with Natalie Becker of St Petersburg, Russia,
    Interviewed in Marrakech, Morocco at the Mediterranean Delight Festival produced by Simona Guzman in June 2011. Natalie and her daughter, Natalie (nickname- Ebru), are from St Petersburg, Russia. Natalie tells about her start and first mentors. She tells of her daughter’s launch into bellydance as a career. We have more videos coming with Natalie also talking more about the Russian style of Bellydance. Anna Borisova assists.
  • Interview with Nawarra of the UK and Morocco
    We met Nawarra in Marrakech, at Simona’s Mediterranean Delight Festival held there in June 2011. Nawarra grew up in Casablanca graduating from the university there. She now lives in Leed, near Manchester in Northern England. She has a troupe there, teaches and also takes several tour groups per year back to Morocco. She explains to us the term "sha’abi" and how it is used in the Moroccan dialect of the Arabic language.
  • Simona Minisini of Italy Video Interview
    In June, 2011, Gilded Serpent was present at the Mediterranean Delight Festival in Marrakech, Morocco (produced by Simona Guzman). There we were able to get some time with Simona Minisini of Palmanova, Italy. She told us about her school, the coming World Dance Tropy Competition and her own history in Oriental dance. She and her husband Igor have a studio called Club Sunshine with mutiple dance rooms, 2 pools and a "Bed and Breakfast". This video also included a sample of her performance at the festival in Morocco.
  • Ask Yasmina #14: Pro Dancer vs Religion, Importance of Training, Khaleegy Music
    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.
  • Beyond the Restaurant: How Can We Bring Bellydance to a Wider Audience?
    But I’m under no illusions. That audience wouldn’t be present if wives, daughters or friends weren’t performing. And despite people saying we’ve opened their eyes to the beauty and spectacle of bellydance, the truth is that ours is still very much a niche and hobbyist dance genre.
  • Dollars to Donuts: Thoughts about Proper Compensation
    I want to demonstrate a different perspective of compensation that one does not often hear these days. I dance because I love to dance.
  • Is Bellydance in a Downward Spiral? Ask Yasmina #18
    When compiling the information for the programme, some of the dance artists in the company asked us not to use their real name for fear of complications with their main employment.
  • When Victoria was Queen — And the Ghawazi Ruled, Amusing, Illuminating, and Disturbing Tales of 19th-Century Encounters with the Ghawazi
    The first dancing of all ghawazi is simply moving about to the music and undulating the body. Then waves of motion are made to run from head to foot, and over these waves pass with incredible rapidity the ripples and thrills, as you have seen a great billow in a breeze look like a smaller sea ribbed with a thousand wavelets. All is done in perfect time with the music.
  • Dancing on Stemmed Glassware! A Dangerous Specialty for the Stage
    The highlight of my performance was sliding the glass out from under my heel with my hand and going into a backbend.
  1. Jinjirrie

    Apr 24, 2012 - 04:04:40

    You might be interested in some facts about the cancellation of the belly dancing festival and information from BDS Maroc which I’ve included in the post.
    The supposed ‘hack’ that you reference in your blog is of a non-existent site, the domain name has no owner, and there’s no record of it ever being on the net.
    The festival was rejected across the Moroccan community, because it represented normalisation with apartheid Israel and is thus a target for boycott.  The festival also appropriates Arabic culture and rebrands it for western consumption. Disgracefully, the actual festival site at features versions in many languages, including Hebrew, but is not supplied in Arabic.

  2. Alfredo

    Apr 24, 2012 - 01:04:26

    If your interest is truly in helping the Palestinian people it would help your cause greatly if you could realize that at all times in history it has been the dancers and the musicians were usually the ones to bring people together over and above ideological and religious differences and are as a group most likely to NOT be the supporters of any “apartheid” system…
    If one wants to boycott, then boycott the monsters, don’t just boycott someone because they might be a citizen of a country that you don’t like and seem to have a complete and blind hatred for. There are more citizens of Israel and Jews in this world that actually care about changing this system than you realize. And no, they won’t submit to simply being “pushed into the sea” as many of your friends seem to advocate. There ARE other solutions… In the meantime stop persecuting those of us who wish to come together in dance.
    “Appropriating Arabic culture and rebranding it for western consumption”?? Please… how much of western culture have you “appropriated”? Even the computer and the cell phones that you used to write about and sabotage this festival with, could be considered as having been “appropriated from western culture”.
    Is it possible to look at it in a way of that there are aspects to all cultures that are enjoyable and beautiful and deserve to be shared with the world and if they affect another culture with their beauty, then so much the better. Hardly an “appropriation”, just a sign of one place that we can share.
    Let the rest of us learn to enjoy our lives together…  or is THAT something you might have fear of? If so, I invite you to let go of that fear for that fear is what keeps people at each other’s throats..including Israelis and Palestinians…. and now Moroccans?… that’s sad…
    Yes, someday normalization with Israel is going to happen and someday Israel’s normalization with Palestinians and other Muslims is going to happen too… That is the day we all can live and pray for.
    And someday all will realize that dancers are not prostitutes by nature and that dance is not “pornography”.
    Meanwhile please leave our dance festivals alone…. Better yet, come and enjoy them and see what people coming together through dance and music can create and model for the world…
    …and if you are an Arabic speaker, possibly you can help set up web pages in Arabic so the dance festival’s publicity can be more inclusive…
    I mean it… there are other solutions besides hatred…

  3. Jinjirrie

    Apr 24, 2012 - 05:04:29

    I suggest you quit with the ad hominem and assumptions about me, and focus on the issue of normalisation which the Festival represented so you understand why Moroccan people across the board rejected it.
    “The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) has defined normalization specifically in a Palestinian and Arab context “as the participation in any project, initiative or activity, in Palestine or internationally, that aims (implicitly or explicitly) to bring together Palestinians (and/or Arabs) and Israelis (people or institutions) without placing as its goal resistance to and exposure of the Israeli occupation and all forms of discrimination and oppression against the Palestinian people.” [2]  This is the definition endorsed by the BDS National Committee (BNC).

    So long as Israel’s oppression continues, any engagement with Israelis (individuals or institutions) that is not within the resistance framework outlined above, serves to underline the normality of Israeli occupation, colonialism and apartheid in the lives of people in the Arab world.  It is, therefore, imperative that people in the Arab world shun all relations with Israelis, unless based on co-resistance.  This is not a call to refrain from understanding Israelis, their society and polity.  It is a call to condition any such knowledge and any such contact on the principles of resistance until the time when comprehensive Palestinian and other Arab rights are met. ”

    When white South Africa practised apartheid, it was performers who visibly led the way in resistance and boycott of that regime, refusing to play Sun City, to normalise the segregation and bantustans.
    If such events as the Mediterranean Delight Festival wish to avoid boycott,  they need to reorient themselves in the light of the request by Palestinian people for co-resistance.
    Thus rejection of Israeli apartheid, colonialism and oppression by supporters of boycott, divestment and sanction is political, not religious. There are fundamentalists in most religions who take a prudish hardline against pornography etc, yet this is not the crux of the matter in this case. Israel is no exception for example, with its orthodox Judaic sexists who demand segregation on publc transport, spitting at women whom they regard as immoral, amongst other outrages.
    Your request that an Arabic speaker should translate the Festival page is disgraceful and patronising – if the Festival was not an orientalist manouevre to rebrand Arabic culture and to place the Israeli stamp upon it as surely as Israel has rebranded hummus and other Arabic products, the page would already have been translated to Arabic as a mark of cultural respect to the Arabic country, Morocco, in which it was planned to be held.
    You also might note that it is Israel who has been pushing Indigenous Palestinians into the sea since 1947 – a deliberate genocide planned by zionist northern europeans which continues to this day.
    Please take the time to learn more about BDS, and support the struggle of Palestinians by adherring to their guidelines for resisting the oppression which apartheid Israel inflicts upon them.

  4. Barbara Grant

    Apr 26, 2012 - 08:04:32

    This is a shame, on so many levels. If you take a look at Simona’s promo video (on her website) it is very well done. It showcases not only the dancers and local (I assume) musicians, but Morocco as well, with its arts, architecture, handcrafts, etc.. So this year, Simona and some others will take a bit of a financial loss, but the festival itself will go on and I’d believe, build up over time. Local Moroccans, who might have benefited by the income an increase in tourism brings will lose financially.

  5. Fatemah

    May 8, 2012 - 10:05:59

    its not a shame …. im a female and an arab from middle east when i was just a teenager and i heard about the israeli and palestinian war i thought it was just a civil war between 2 arabs fighting between arab jews and musim jews meanwhile the christians are in beween

    but all they did was could have split it in half 50/50 and that war was over 60 years and ofcourse i thought that was strange even aswell egypt was even lebanon and syria was involved in that war until all the sudden all arabs were in a fight with israeli until i realized something pretty much strange from isreal

    1. when i look at the photos and newspapers even fro the western photos aswell , those israelis have blue eyes and blonde hair, even green brown and red and i thought thats strange that i high percentage have western features and not a single arab is in that government.

    2. alot of racial insults towards arabs and it shocked me because its like for example china , japan , korea and philipenes may make fun of and insults each others culture, style and language thats understandable but it will suprise you when a japanese man will look at an asian with disgust and use racial slurs and you maybe thinking are’nt you asian aswell

    3. non stop accusing us of being nazis and their talking about europe and the holocaust , so let me get this straight , you guys have two countries , one in europe and one in middle east that you invaded and bull dozed alestinian homes and did you know that europe and the United Nations even warned and told isreal not to get in and build settlements in palestine teritory which these westerners refused  to listen and they did

    4. yes i know that they emidiatly get and make forgeiners as citizens from any race , this is trying to turn it into a multi-culture so that it makes sures to trick people that israel is not invade by just europeans making the thinks its just black and white but adding gray area just to to trick pple

    5. no i don’t believe that europeans such as germans will turn other germans into soap and turning them into lampshades the scientest who studying and said it was false were murdered. wether you like t call me a holocaust denier , us arabs were accused of it when i believed it and i then read in the newspapers in the west on how westerners are jailed for more than 5 years for saying it was not real but if you say pearl harbour was not real pple would’nt care but as for the other they police will come and get you. through my research and how they exposed the witnesses with evidence that shocked me and got me so boiling angry that they manipulated my emotion especially when they lie saying egyptian women don’t drive cars and many more lies and manipulation against us but its your own choice to research about the holohoax 

    its good thing morocco stopped them , the western tourist are nothing but drama queens who like to laugh at others and call them 3rd world countries and backwards for wearing their traditional clothing and if worn western clothing perverted western men will call them whores and even if they refuse to drink they’re called backwrds again so its highly impossile for natives to entertain and satisfy guest without them ruining the non drunken fun and if they get drunk they wake up and say oh it was fun but i don’t remember a single thing and when they realize they got robbed for falling asleep drunk they blame the whole bloody country

    just look at what the westerners french , russian , british and americans did to the egyptian bellydancers , they bombed egyptian cities in the 50s for egytians trying to gain back their beloved mother country and later on they gave alcahol and cocaine drugs to the women and raped them , when they got pregnant the mother was jailed for having illegal sex and even killed by the partner for cheating 

    yes call us backwards for when a partner murders i know that in the west even the wife shot and killed her cheating husband    

    more than 70 percent of women are in prison from 1970s-80s and 90s its the most highest number than the men when westerners introduced drug dealers and worse of them all is when they throw the half western children out in the streets and drug dealers recruit them especially the girls to seduce rich men and even forgein men thinking that they have money so they could steal and they even get the man drunk and lure him at a street corner and then a gang will kill him and steal alot by searching his ID home
    THE IMAGE OF BELLYDANCERS WERE RUINED AND THE ART WAS CONSIDERED AS SOFT PORN but thankfully the old famous bellydancers still kept their respect because they never associated with a westerner as for the ones who did lost their beauty and self esteem 

    in the 80s bellydancing got back on its track but there still cancer in the country and its not islam without religions you have no idea how lost people could be especially with self committing suicide and causing a high percentage of more people harming others .

    during the 80s bellydancing came back to life but the problem was forgeiners coming over here and claiming to be bellydancers the business owners thought oh the price was less is good and she could do better and follow the music. Wrong . the owner lost many customers because the art was no longer there with her non stop chest shimmy towrds the customers as if she’s flirting and gets offended when the customer does not slip money in her chest which ofcourse is an offense to customers and the owner because the dancer is suppose to perform the art not just seduce and touch the customer’s face which got his wife offended 
    yes women do visit the cafes with their partners to see the art but was’nt expecting that 

    there was a big argument to ban public bellydancing but stupid forgeiners refused to leave it alone and focus on something else but no they want the destruction of family and life . they did this to make these westerners leave and let the egyptian women get their jobs back and start over on how the real egypt was like
    its kinda like having a restart button

    but could’nt or else your nothing but a 3rd world backwards country and when they do change its not enough your just a jealous copy cat 

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