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 to research further into the fascinating duo and explore a complete and professional set of DVDS, CDS, books and other Belly dance orientated merchandise.

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