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Gilded Serpent presents...
The Belly Dancer of the Universe Competition,
The Fusion & The Divine Categories
held February 19-20, 2005
in Long Beach, California

report by Amy Bonham
photos by GS staff

Previous categories covered so far-
Little-ages 5-9 years, Junior-ages 10-17, Egyptian, Troupe
Yet to come- Universal

Dorit wins the Fusion Category!
Divine Category
  • Zafire-Southern California
  • Kamar-Southern California First runner-up
  • Deborah-Southern California
  • Zelina-Northern California
  • Vichelle-Southern California, Champion People's Choice, and Congeniality
  • Ashana Hanada-Southern California
  • Fahtiem-Southern California
  • Judeen-Southern California
  • Kamaal-Southern California
  • Ma*Shuqa Mira Murjan-Northern California
Deborah (runs Market at the Casbah in Fullerton) or Zafire?

Kamar of Southern California

The "Divine" category requires that entrants have at least 20 years of dance experience. I wasn't planning on reporting on this division so I was able to sit back and root for our homie Zelina. My heart sank a bit when one of the contestants before her started using the same music, "Shik, Shak, Shok". I've seen this happen before (remember when it seemed like EVERYONE was using "El Mashal?") and it must be unnerving for the one that has to dance on the "rerun". They must be wondering if the judges are comparing the different interpretations of the same song or are just tired of hearing it again. Luckily, the dancer used just a snippet of the song. Zelina looked sexy and well, DIVINE up there in her spaghetti fringe costume. I want to be just like her when I grow up.

Champion Vichelle is the president of the Desert Communities chapter of MECDA (Middle Eastern Culture and Dance Association). She looked amazingly calm for someone who runs an active troupe of girls (ages 8-15 years).

Fusion Category

As Atlantis said "I would hate to have to be a judge in this category." There was a lot of creativity and strong technique in the fusion division, making the decision difficult.

They started the fusion category of this competition two years ago. Luna wrote an article for the Gilded Serpent about her participation in the contest that year. I speculate that they originally introduced it to allow American tribal and pseudo-Rom style dancers an opportunity to participate and be judged against dancers of their own style. But this year, it was more of a showcase for inventive and fun character dancing. Dancers are cross-training in ballet, modern, jazz, and other forms of ethnic dance and they are fusing them in interesting ways


  • Fahtiem-Southern California
  • Amina Goodyear-Northern California
  • Judeen-Southern California
  • Kamaal-Southern California
  • Mesmera-Southern California
Southern California

Kali was a pop princess in holographic lamé pants. She took us on a trip to the disco. Very precise, with clean little locks in her choreography. I think when dancers do small clean movements, it makes people LOOK harder and pay attention.

Southern California

Alexandra wore a richly detailed red and black costume. She worked with a dramatic "tent" of red and black bat wings. Goth dancers take note: great prop.

No picture available yet!
Southern California

Najah's costume made her look like a delicate Chinese doll. The character she portrayed had that feeling too, with artful little glances and coquetry. I assume she made that wonderful elaborate costume, since she is a costume designer.

No picture available yet!
Texas  First runner-up

Sa'adiyya came out in a simple pale galabiya-like dress and did a lyrical and fluid veil bit. She then tied the veil around her hips for the faster portion. She did a bit of zar and her hair seemed like a second veil at times. I would call her piece a modern dance that referenced Middle Eastern motifs and movements. It takes skill and know-how to do that well and this dancer had both.

Northern California

Rico, Rico, RICO! Take one of those big nipple rings out RIGHT NOW and use it to securely fasten your belt onto the rest of your costume. Do it NOW.

Like Janet Jackson, Ricodancer had a wardrobe malfunction. As in Janet's case, it wasn't clear to some in the audience whether it was an accident-on-purpose or not. Janet's nipple jewelry was the surprise ending. In this dancer's case, the nipple rings were in full view at the start under a see-through red mesh top. When his belt went south, the situation was made even more unnerving by lacy black tights underneath. Once something like that happens, it is very difficult to recover the momentum of the performance. Also his music was very fast and driving and he seemed to tire before the ending. Points to Ricodancer for calmly kicking the belt out of the way when it slipped and continuing. Points also for being the lone brave male among all the contestants.

Southern California

Titanya's character was a playful wood nymph or forest fairy. The costume, in rich, earthy golds and greens, included tiny horns on the dreaded hair-do and magical face paint. She really invoked her namesake from A Midsummer Night's Dream. The choreography included little hops and rolling on the floor. With sweeping, welcoming arm movements she invited us into her forest glade so she could work her techno spell on us.

New York, Champion

Dorit was the winner of the Jewel of the Nile Pageant 2004 on the East Coast. This contest cross-markets with the Belly Dancer of the Universe Pageant and they sponsor their winner in this event. There is something of a tradition of excelling in both events. In 2003, Azhia, the Jewel of the Nile winner, took home the Belly Dancer of the Universe Universal category trophy that year as well.

Dorit wore dramatic tomato red and black adorned with cowrie shells. Her black sheer fingerless gloves/sleeves highlighted her sinuous arms and contrasted with her pale skin and jet black hair. She used that dramatic familiar song from "Songs from the Victorious City". When she segued to "Rock the Casbah" by the Clash, the audience really responded to her high energy. Her routine included graceful jumps and a dramatic back drop as a finale

Northern California, People's Choice Award

Shabnam strutted her stuff to "The Stripper", using giant ostrich feather fans as props alá Sally Rand. The shouts hit the fans as the girls from her Troupe, Ooh-la-la, sitting behind us in their matching black Shabnam T-shirts, yelled their support. Dressed in a nude-colored costume with rhinestones on the straight skirt and simple bra, and with her Betty Page bangs, she nailed her character using locks, bumps and grinds, and extended freezes. She tossed her long hair free from its prim topknot during the drum solo and teased the audience by stripping off her gloves and throwing them out into the crowd. I was sort of hoping she would take off more it was so much fun but maybe she was following the script from Gypsy, the 1962 film with Natalie Wood. In it, Wood, as neophyte stripper Gypsy Rose Lee, drives the audience wild but only takes off one glove.

Northern California

A sultry Spanish maja in black and maroon, with a dark rose in her hair, Shoshanna used a fan as a prop. She handled it as delicately as a feather. The latter part of the routine was a driving guitar song that invited us to get up and "baila" with her. That part included fast spins and the de rigueur skirt-flapping that is used in the "Sparabic" style.

Northern California

Nitara worked with a silk veil and sword. She extended the traditional sword dance repertoire and brandished her sword with martial arty flair. Unfortunately her music was muffled.

Southern California,  Congeniality Award

Shonda was a crowd favorite. A stunning Glamazon with a rainbow veil, she wore a calypso-influenced costume consisting of a red velvet jumpsuit with rainbow flares and armband. She used the "contraction and release" moves often associated with African dance, did some flirtatious floor work and also used a fan as a prop. When she did some fast pelvic locks the audience went berserk. It was almost as though the stage was too small for her, her energy was that raw and powerful.

Northern California

Meow! Tamia came out with a goldfish in a bowl balanced on her head and a Catwoman mask over her face. She was wearing a black pleather bra with glitter on her abdomen and pants with an unusual chiffon drape. Black gloves with "kitty claws" and cat foot covers added to the feline mystique. She did a slow dramatic back bend and used rock and roll music. She was sinuous and feline and projected "catitude" with tiny movements and poses.

Tamia's muse, Felicia!

Ed note- So sorry the pictures we obtained are not turning out very well! We will continue to show you what we have, but your photos are welcome and appreciated, especially as we try to fill out the categories below. Thanks!

BDOU 2005 Category Photos yet to come- Universal

Next year's event has been upgraded!
The 16th Annual Belly Dancer of the Universe Competitions
and International Dance Festival

February 18 and 19, 2006, Saturday and Sunday of President's Day Weekend
Spacious New Location- Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center
300 East Ocean Blvd, Long Beach, CA 90802,
Vendors both days- 2 shows - 11 Competitions- 16 Workshops

Have a comment? Send us a letter!
Check the "Letters to the Editor" for other possible viewpoints!

Ready for more?
10-16-05 The Egyptian Category 2005 of The Belly Dancer of the Universe Competition, report by Amy
7-16-05 The Junior Division of the The Belly Dancer of the Universe Competition photos by Lynette
4-29-05 Power Failure Halts Troupes & Finals Categories, The Belly Dancer of the Universe Competition, report by Amy Bonham, photos by GS staff

5-13-03 Fusion Category added to Belly Dancer of the Universe Competition by Luna
"You know, we're really making history here..."

3-12-03 Belly Dancer of the Universe Competition 2003 Photo Report by Lynette
Sponsored by Tonya & Atlantis and held in Long Beach, California. Finalists are expected to be able to improvise spontanious choreography!

10-26-05 Interview with Mahmoud Reda Part 3: Film & Future by Morocco
If you know about photography, then it will help performing for the movies or for television because usually the choreographer stands beside the director of the movie.

10-17-05 How MECDA Began by Feiruz Aram
M.E.C.D.A., (Middle Eastern Culture and Dance Association) is a nationwide organization which began in 1977 for the purpose of organizing working dancers, sharing information between teachers...



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