Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Interview with Sadie Bellydancer

                                                              Interviewed by Jamil

Sadie is an International performing artist, instructor and choreographer who is recognized worldwide as one of today's most exciting Belly Dance artists.  Sadie has  released over a dozen instructional and performance DVDs and has visited over 15 countires teaching and performing Belly Dance. She is also one of the most viewed bellydancer on youtube (over 9 million views).

Firstly we would like to thank you for participating in our interview...

I would like to begin by asking you a fairly obvious question:

1) Sadie, apart from being an international superstar, you are probably the most famous belly dancer viewed on Youtube. How has your clip '' impacted on your international career?

I would have to admit that it has given me a lot of great promotion worldwide. Most people I meet in bellydance know me from my YouTube clip. However most sponsors book me because of my instructional DVDs, where they have seen that I can teach and have experience doing so. The YouTube clip helps draw in the crowds once I have been booked for an event.

2) Being from a non-arabic/turkish background and born in a Western country, what challenges or obstacles do you feel that you have encountered in your current journey to the status you have acquired today?

Honestly, I have not felt that being an American, not of Middle Eastern decent, has hindered my career path in any way other than personally. Recognizing that Middle Eastern dances and music are part of a culture of which I do not come from has often times made me reflect on how I fit into all of this. Being typically American, I have long been removed from my own cultural roots but being American also means I have been exposed to so many cultures as my country is a melting pot of all, yet I still do not belong to any of them. From the very beginning of my bellydance journey I never felt appropriate imitating a particular style or dancing to music with lyrics that I did not understand, in fact I found this to be rather disingenuous so my style developed from me expressing myself in ways that was in tune with the music I was hearing and still true to me. A few years after I began my studies of Middle Eastern dance I was introduced to the most compelling music I had ever heard, the music of Oum Kalthoum. For awhile I would just listen in awe of how this woman who was signing in another language which I did not understand could make me feel so many things. I had such a profound respect for this music that I didn't even dare to try and dance to it, I even thought maybe I should not dance to it because I did not have the cultural pass to do so. However it inspired me deeply and I knew there would be a time and a place for it later. It has only been in the last few years that I feel confident enough to approach a piece of music like Oum Kalthoum's from a dance perspective. At some point for me, the music and culture sank deep into my bones and psyche. I have been around it long enough and have had enough candid experiences that I feel I can appropriately and genuinely feel, express and enjoy this culture even though I am not from it. In sorts, I have been adopted into it. This is just my personal experience and a personal obstacle that may have kept me from maturing faster than I could have but as I always say, its the journey and not the destination that matters. In the last few years I have performed in over 20 countries as well as had both Dina and Fifi Abdou of Egypt personally compliment my dancing, for me, this has been a sort of personal validation that I am doing something right and crossing through to all cultures around the world!

3) You seem so comfortable and controlled when you are dancing. When performing what goes through Sadie's mind? Do you have any specific thought processes that result in the beautiful polished technique that your audiences are privileged to view?

That is a fun question. Every time I go on a stage it is different for me. In general I always want to make sure I am connecting with my audience no matter how big or small. I always feel a tremendous respect for those who have come to support me and watch me perform and I want to do my best to please them. Sometimes I feel as though everything is in slow-motion, other times it goes by so fast I wonder if I even danced? I always have some degree of nervousness and I like that. It keeps me on my toes and keeps me respecting the process. I always start with a short meditation or prayer of gratitude before going out and depending on how everything else falls into place I may be calmer and able to be in the moment more, I notice this to be the case when I feel really confident about the choreographies or songs I am dancing to or the crowds energu is really portive and strong, or I may be more nervous and really approaching it from a technical perspective, this usually happens when I personally don't feel as confident. Its a melding of art and science I would say. As I grow as a person and a dancer I always feel like I have more to offer on the stage and I look forward to how life's trials and tribulations will translate through my dance.

4) What hints could you offer to professional dancers that want to make it as internationally renowned as yourself?

Patience. I have learned that many dancers have very little patience. So many of my students seem only to focus on becoming a "professional". The process and journey will unfold before you, you just have to be patient enough to see that. For, me this was never my goal. In fact I was so shy at first I never even dreamed to be professional, I just kept doing what made me happy and that was to dance and to become better at it. Eventually opportunities presented themselves for me. It was a slow process. Also dancers really need to focus more on refining what makes them unique and what sets them apart from the rest. That is what will make them stand out and rise in popularity. Too many dancers imitate or refine themselves to look like their favorite dancer or the best Egyptian style dancers, etc. The fact is no one wants to see that, they want to see you! There is already a Dina, a Randa, a Rachel Brice, a Sadie, etc........... who are you and what do you offer that is unique from the others. We can learn steps and techniques but to be polished, to have charisma and grace, to have a stage presence, all these things take time and wisdom and that will not come over night or even in a few years time.

5) Sadie, Your style of oriental dance is beyond amazing! Could you explain what were your inspirations to dance in the technical manner that you do?

This came from myself. I was a gymnast and always appreciated the ability for the human body to move and contort in so many interesting ways. Before I even had a large dance vocabulary, I was a very baby beginner, I would turn on the music that inspired me, mostly drum solos, and dance they way I felt my body best reflected the sounds. I mostly did things that are not typical bellydance moves but for me it was how I heard and interpreted the music. Over time this became my dance vocabulary and now its so ingrained into me that it is how I dance.

6) With already so much recognition nationally and internationally, what plans do you have for the upcoming future? Any projects that your Australian followers should be aware of?

Well, as I mentioned before, the process is always unfolding but yes, I do have some plans to produce a show with my friend and dance partner Kaya. We hope to debut it late 2010, thats all I will say for now, but if anyone would like to know more about it, they can join my newsletter which comes out monthly with all my updates. You can do so by going to my website, www.sadiebellydancer.com , click on the "contact" page and send me your info which gets automatically entered.

PS- I hope I will be invited to Australia some day, I have always wanted to visit there! Any interested sponsors can contact me about hosting me for the first time there.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

A story of inspiration

Last week I was surprised with this story. A story that suposed to be sad and dramatic turned to be a story of inspiration and victory! I recommend every single dancer to read it...

Thanks Tracey for sharing your story with us!

Hello to my fellow dancers.

In 2006 I won the UK National Belly Dance Competition in London held by Shafeek Ibrahim.

Just 7 months later I was knocked off my Yamaha XV535 and my left leg had to be removed below the knee as it was so badly crushed on impact.

It was absolutely devastating, but I had met the love of my life three weeks earlier and he stuck by me every step of the way.

Now I have a 15 month old son and I am returning to dance on a prosthetic limb.

I love this dance so much, at times I thought I would never manage to dance again, but I can! maybe I won't be winning any competitions, but that is not what this dance is about. To me it is a celebration of who we are and I still have so much to celebrate!

I am teaching again which I always loved so much and every week I really look forward to it, we have so much fun together. Passing on this dance gives me the greatest joy.

Soon I hope to make my debut performance in the UK at WADA's hafla on 28th November in Salisbury and my lovely fiancee will be there, as ever supporting me.

I know there are a lot of fab women out there who support each other and I would just like to say a big Hi to you and to tell you how wonderful you are. It is friends like these that give me the confidence to return to performing in public.

I have a website, Home. in case you wanted to know more about my story.

If you know of anyone who may benefit from talking to me I would be more than happy to do so.



If you want to know a more about Tracey you can visit her website http://www.liveyourspirit.co.uk/page5/page5.html

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Photo contest winner

Congratulations for Andrew Bell that entered this great picture (above) to the photo contest and won two tickets to Ottoman's Dreams party!
The Ottoman's Dreams is happening this saturday Saturday 21st November 2009 @ Hermanns Bar
Crn City Rd & Butlin Ave, University of Sydney, Darlington from 8:00pm – 2am 

Friday, November 13, 2009

Interview with Neena & Veena

Interviewed by Jamil
There are not many belly dancers internationally who have not been exposed to Neena & Veena 'the bellytwins' at some point in there dance career. These two arian goddesses from East Indian decent currently living in southern California have dramatically revolutionised the art of belly dance as we know it. How? Not only have they performed for some of the worlds most notable icons (such as; Ozzy Osbourne, Tom Cruise, Dick Clark, Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, Gwen Stefani, U2 ... to name a few). And, not only have they released several instructional belly dance DVDs set that has sold MILLIONS internationally, not to mention travelled internationally to promote the art of belly dance. But, if it wasn't painstakingly clear, they are identical twins!!!

My first experience of these two performers was on 'Whose line is it anyway' in which they were cheekily yet respectfully used as props. They entered the stage adorned in blood red costumes, each with a snake and performed a small little choreography, which drove the audience crazy. It was at this point that I understood the aim of these ladies, they were introducing the ART of belly dance to a contemporary western audience who have had minimal exposure. What was so enticing about this, is that while many entertainers have attempted this in the past the bellytwins do it professionally without forgetting the eastern 'sharqi' influence that is so essential to our dance genre.

Please explore with us the enigma that is Neena & Veena and have a closer look into their personal attitudes, opinions and experiences of their 'life in belly dance'!

Hi Neena and Veena

firstly I would like to thank you for willing to participate in our mini interview,here in Australia we are fortunate enough to have direct access to your belly dance instructional DVDs, CDs and your new book.
Furthermore, I would like to congratulate you on such a great career thus far, as a belly dance duo you have impacted the belly dance genre in such an original and creative way.
Neena&Veena: Thank you very much – and for your introduction! We’re honored to be a part of the mini interview!

I would like to begin by asking you a fairly obvious question, what inspired two twins of mostly east Indian decent to initially explore the art of belly dance?
Neena&Veena: We were exposed to Middle Eastern music when we were pretty young, because we do have some family that live there. We are mostly East Indian – born and raised in California, US. We loved the music, but never thought we be bellydancing for a living.

You have an impressive performance history. Would you recap the most interesting and memorable performance experience that you have each encountered to date?
Veena: I don’t know if there is only one most interesting and memorable performance experience… we’ve had many that have stood out. One is the show at Sting’s house. That was pretty fun. Another was the week-long event in Jamaica. That was wild. Wow… so many!

You both have an amazingly beautiful and refined individual and collective dance technique. What belly dance style technique do you each personally enjoy performing and would you consider this to be the main style that you convey to your audiences?
Neena&Veena: Thank you for the compliment. We are Egyptian-based in terms of belly dance style. But we are a troupe – a troupe of two. And because we’re twins, we think alike, so our movements are symbiotic, in sync, and harmonious. Bellydance is an art form…and a great way to exercise.

Could you please elaborate to the Australian readers what belly dance allows Neena and Veena to express both as individuals and as a duo, And how do you facilitate this concept through your performing and teaching?
Neena&Veena: When we perform or teach, we are guided by the music. How the drums are played inspire the hips. The violins or kanoon inspire the upper body. Bellydance is a wonderful way to express yourself. The more you dance, the more the creative juices seem to flow, and you are guided and inspired by the music. If you’re a duo or troupe, you have some limitations but also you have more options in terms of choreography.

What advice could you offer dancers who want to excel internationally in the art of belly dance? Neena: I would say work hard and practice. But also, don’t “try” to be famous internationally. For us, it just happened because we were promoting bellydance as a way to get healthy, and we were passionate about it. Pursue your passion and dream, whether it’s bellydance or anything else. The right doors will open.

Many dance forms hold the misguided perception that belly dance as a genre is a technically simple and unstructured dance style. What would be your personal opinion to such an ideology? Veena: Belly dance is generally a technically simple and unstructured dance style. But that’s the beauty of it. The movements are very natural to the body, and the choreography can have little limitations. I believe that’s why it is so popular.

With an array of instructional and fitness DVDS, CDS and now a book, along with a busy dance schedule, what are the future plans for bellytwins? Are there any goals or projects that the Australian dance scene should be on the lookout for?
Neena&Veena:We stay pretty busy – we’re currently in development for some television projects, a bollywood dance tour, and another book.

Thankyou very much for your responses

please feel free to visit www.bellytwins.com to research further into the fascinating duo and explore a complete and professional set of DVDS, CDS, books and other Belly dance orientated merchandise.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Caroline of Cairo Workshop in Sydney

Caroline will be in Australia!
Sydney on SUNDAY 29th November
Melbourne SUNDAY 8th November

Workshop 1.Shaabi awi! - Choreography to “Assalayah”
This workshop will give dancers an authentic feel and understanding for what shaabi really is. It will not be just oriental or folkloric moves done to a shaabi song as so many claim shaabi to be, but real moves and gestures from the backstreets. There will also be a discussion at the beginning to define what shaabi is, how it has changed, different types of shaabi music, similarities to baladi and more.

A workshop not to be missed where you will have a rare chance to discover another side of Egypt through the eyes of a local.

Time: 10am-12:30pm (2 ½ hours)

Cost : $65
Workshop 2.Modern Egyptian Choreography

A modern Egyptian choreography, to a well-loved Arabic song “Ainaby” by Karem Mahmoud (who also sang “Samra ya Samra”). This classic song is a must for every dancer’s repertoire used by dancers such as Zizi Mostapha but one that has not been overdone so still sounds fresh! Full of emotion and changes to keep the dancer and the audience interested. Loaded with moves from the great Egyptian dancers and choreographers past and present. In this workshop we will break down the techniques, steps and combinations and put them all together to create a dance full of life!

Time: 1:30pm-4pm (2 ½ hours)
Cost: $65

Workshop 3.Oriental Instruments and Movements

Which instrument is best to do turns to, which ones are mayas better suited. Do you shimmy to an accordian? Can you do a camel with the oud? What must you not forget with the kanoon? What about dancing to the voice? Does this have you wondering? Then this workshop is for you. Dancers will gain a greater understanding Oriental Music through the different instruments and movements that can go with them. This in turn makes the difficult task of choreographing so much easier and add texture, variety and feeling to your dance.

Time: 4:30pm-6pm (1 ½ hours)
Cost: $45

Where: Flamenco Dance Studio
585B King Street, Newtown

Directions: South end of King Street,
closest railway station: St Peters

Full-day discount: $165

Enquiries and bookings: email c_evanoff@hotmail.com

Monday, November 09, 2009

Arabic makeup

I was looking on youtube for some different and inspiring make up looks. Every weekend when I am working (bellydancing) I always do the same style and recently I got sick of my own face! I found these videos which is really helpfull if you want to try something new! So I decided to try my artistic abilities...I asked a friend to "lend" her beautiful face (thanks Nicolina) and following her instructions I tried to put theory into practice. The only problem was to find the same eyeshadow colors used in the video, but you can always use something similar!

Have a look in the result!!!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Saida Bellydancer

Friday night and I cant stop looking and searching new videos, new articles and new dancers...today I decided to share with you some videos from one of my favourites contemporary bellydancers. Her name is Saida (born in Argentina) and she is part of Bellydance Superstars. I love her moves! She is creative, very clean and has an impecable technique. If you want to know about her you can visit her website (she provides an English version)

Who is your favourite bellydancer?

Here is some of her videos:

Dont forget to send the best picture you have taken from a dancer and have a chance of winning two free tickets to Ottoman's Dreams!The entry closes midnight of 14/11/09. The result will be announced on Monday 16th November 2009 and the winner's photo will be posted in this blog (limit of two photos per person).

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Marwa and Sobhi Tawfic Concert in Sydney

We had the pleasure of participating of these both singers'concert last Saturday. What a challenge! We had 30 minutes to come up with a choreography for approximately 7 songs...well, so far we did a good job girls...at least it looked very synchronized! After dancing with Marwa we were invited to stay and dance in the stage with Sobhi Tawfic…a beautiful classical song! I loved the energy and to experience an authentic Lebanese party!

From left to the right: Robyn, Popi, Marwa, Lidia and I

Sobhi Tawfic photo by Lidia Dudina

with Marwa

Sword Workshop in Sydney

Have you read  Hathor Dance Studio November Newsletter? If you havent, click on this is the website now!

Also have a look what is happening this weekend in Sydney!
Dramatic Sword Choreography

Sunday November 8
Latin Soul Studio
Level 2, 292 Church St, Parramatta

"Slow, Slinky, Sexy.....Sword with elegance, Devi style"
Workshop open for Oriental and Tribal dancers. Intermediate/Advanced Level. Beyond Beginners welcome but must be familiar with sword work. This is NOT a Tribal Choreography. It is a fusion piece with ATS flavours aimed at dancers of all genres. You do not need ATS technique to participate.

Current Hathor Dance Studio students will be invited to perform this choreography as part of El Mirage Xmas Show @ Sidetrack Theatre December 20th.

You do not need to perform to participate (by invitation only)

BYO Sword.
Online payment through our shop page http://www.hathordancestudio.com.au/devi_class.html

For booking enquiries please contact Jrisi 0409 243 764


Sunday, November 01, 2009

I am sooo happy with all the support and emails I have been receiving after creating this blog. It was amazing to realise that I was not the only one feel isolated  whitin our community. I guess because everyone is always so busy therefore we never have time at all to meet up. But from now on we are having many Haflas and events going on and this is a good opportunity to catch up and support our friends in their projects! This week I have been particularly busy preparing interviews and putting together some researches I consider intersting to post here. I have to specially thank Jamil for all the help he has given me! This blog would not be the same without our team work! THANKSSSSSSSSSSSSSS Jamil!

I received a email from Shiva (posted bellow) asking for suggestions to a day and place where to have his xmas party. I hope you all help him out to organise it.

Hello bellydancers and bellydancerettes,

I am looking to organise our very own bellydancer's xmas party this year. We seem to always be entertaining others so its about time we entertain ourselves.

Also to make new friends and build burnt bridges. At the moment plans are being seen to have a function at Al mustafa in Glebe but if any has suggestions please let me know. Also the date would be in 4 weeks either on a thurs or Sunday, when a lot of people have finished exams.

This would a great way for all the professional dancers in Syd to unwind, have a few bottles of wine and pig out on carbs before the onslaught of the xmas period:-)

Looking forward to every1's attendance.


So stay tuned for the next posts! There are many surprises to come!

Alla Cushnir Ukraine's Got Talent 2009 5th semifinal