Moroccan Dance Fest Relocated Under Pressure
Report assembled by Lynette
posted April 22, 2012
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!).
linked to full screen version
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,
"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-
Ready for more?
- 5-31-11 NEW VIDEO UPDATE-7-8-11
An experimental travel blog. Let see how it goes! The plan is to update this page frequently.
- 5-11-11 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.
- 9-9-11 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!
- 4-10-12 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.
- 12-6-11 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.
- 11-12-11 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.
- 10-1-10 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.
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.
- 4-18-12 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.
- 4-17-12 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.
- 4-16-12 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.
- 4-12-12 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.