Something old, something new makes the second annual Cairo Shimmy Quake 2015 an event you can count on!
by Vicky “Vichelle” Schell
photos by Carl Sermon
posted January 9, 2016
Event review – Cairo Shimmy Quake, held June 6-7, 2015 in Glendale, California, USA
Although this is only the second annual Cairo Shimmy Quake, it arguably has a history that is decades old, rich in Middle Eastern culture and dance. Currently it is produced by Marta Schill-Kouzouyan and Diamond Pyramid and a bevy of trusted colleagues. While still trying to regain its former following in the local belly dance community, it still brings together everything that the modern belly dancer could want. Both days are filled with workshops by expert instructors, shopping opportunities, the outdoor patio drum circle and a constant flow of dance performances on a real stage. The highlight of Saturday is the evening show, while Sunday’s schedule included a "mini Belly Dancer of the Universe Competition". So best to go for the whole weekend if you possibly can.
Marta Schill-Kouzouyan is well known among California’s belly dance community for bringing top level instructors to Los Angeles for a weekend of workshops and featuring them in an evening show and this year was no exception. The evening show, called A Choreographer’s Eclectic, was created by Kamala Almanzar and included the following performers; Tito Seif, Kami Liddle, Maryam, Amanda Rose, Aubre Hill, Princess Farhana, Sabrina Fox, Sumaia, Aubre Hill’s Lumina Dance Company, Luxora Dance Company, Kamala Almanzar, Karin Jensen’s Mandala DanceWorks, Co. Nouveau, Nasila, Sababa Dance Company, Jenna & Phoenyx: Bellydance Rising, Tamra-henna’s Henna & Dates Dance Theater.
I attended on Sunday, the weather was beautiful and parking is an LA bargain at $6 (including in/out) in a shaded structure beside the convention center. As I approached the entrance, I was greeted by the sound of the drum circle on the front outdoor patio area. Welcoming rhythms became welcoming greetings, as I came across friend after friend, then I got to the entrance table!
For me, returning to Glendale is a homecoming in every sense of the word.
Besides the fact that I was born in Glendale, the Civic Center was home to my favorite belly dance event, Cairo Carnivale, an event I helped organize over a decade ago. My high expectations were met by a relaxed atmosphere with a bustling undertow that only live performances can bring. The dance performances were in full swing, the event spanned the upper floor of this facility with seating for the shows, vending spaces, a dining area for the food from the kitchen, and large restroom facilities.
Dining out at Middle Eastern events is always a treat for me. They had a great selection of full meal plates, ala carte items and of course vegan selections. I would say my favorites included the falafel sandwich and the shawarma chicken plate. The baklava was so good that they ran out on Saturday. Shopping is always fun and there was a good variety of vendors. As usual I found several booths I kept going back to. I got to speak with Harry Saroyan and was glad to see that his finger cymbals and coins will be back in production. After a quick viewing of the vending area for something I don’t have or haven’t seen (aka usually items beyond your traditional BD attire), I planted myself in the chairs to enjoy the dancers.
This photo: Nilay. Top photo: Cris and the Ya Ayuni Dance Co
This event facility offers dancers a top rated experience. Whether you’re a pro or a first time performer, you will have little to complain about. There is a roomy back stage area for the dancers’ changing area, well-lit makeup mirrors, and a backstage bathroom! The stage has real wings to enter from unseen and a market scene backdrop. Giving your performance the support it deserves was Moonlight Magic at the DJ booth and Arnie’s Video Productions capturing the dancer’s performance for posterity.
I am such a fan of the Belly Dancer of the Universe Competition and I was curious about a new opportunity being offered to dancers that day, a mini BDUC Competition. Each contestant performed a solo appropriate to a BDUC 2016 Category (3 minute to 3:15 second). The highest score won a fabulous package for the BDUC 2016 event including: entry into their 2016 chosen category, workshops and tickets for the entire event. I enjoyed this and it was a mini-glimpse into the event. Each performer’s entertainment value was judged by the audience and a people’s choice winner was also selected. I would like to take a moment to say to the competitor’s “Girls, you all danced beautifully and you each had an element of the dance that I hope I bring to my own performance”. Each category is specific to a style or part of the dance and you can’t win if you don’t meet the requirement, except of course, as the People’s Choice Category. It was close, but a very discerning audience selected the same dancer as the judges. Following this we were graced with the dancing of the 2015 Champion of Champions, Jasmina of California. Her performance left no doubt as to her talent and skill and demonstrated the level at which these dancers need to be.
The Fez Documentary was also previewed on Sunday, after the CSQ event. This film by Roxanne Shelaby captures the historical and social impact of the Fez Restaurant which was operated by her father in the Los Angeles area, and was the heart of the bellydance and Arabic social scene. With the recent loss of the beloved musician John Bilezikjian perhaps it’s a reaction to the loss, or just a reminder, to maintain connections to the people and things we love.
They say you can’t predict the earthquakes but this is one you can count on. As a true California girl, I enjoyed being in the middle of the Quake. Shimmy On, Cairo Shimmy Quake till next year!
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