*WARNING! VERY LONG lol!*
So recently I attended my first major bellydance convention and participated in my first bellydance/raks sharki competition. I thought I would share my review of both the convention and the competition.
First of all, it was the Miami Bellydance Convention (MBC). Aside from some hiccups in reference to the competition that have left me with my knickers in a knot so to speak I enjoyed my trip to Miami. The conference had a fantastic location in Downtown Miami ( Miami Intercontinental Hotel -MIH) with nice rooms, reasonable rates, and great facilities for a dance convention (IMO anyway lol). The stage for the competition and gala performances was really quite nice (minus some squeaky noise issues) for a temporary stage. The rooms were a nice size for the workshops. The staff of both the MBC and the MIH were both super friendly, helpful etc. My only complaint about the venue was that the air seemed stale, I would have like more fresh air/ventilation but I suspect this would be a problem at any hotel/large venue that is indoors.
There were a large number of instructors for a variety of different workshops which started on Saturday and ran until late Monday afternoon. Unfortunately the Friday night an hour before the Opening Gala started I walked into the corner of a door while ranting and almost knocked myself out cold. I got a lovely golf ball sized bump just above my left brow bone and a notable concussion. I had to deal with dizzy spells, nausea, light headedness and fatigue all weekend THis resulted in me having to sit down in a couple of the workshops I was talking or leave the room because I thought I would be sick which was saddening because there were some great instructors and I really really wanted to take in as much as I could. The main reason I decided on this event/convention to be my first because one of my all time favourite dancers, Saida was performing and teaching there. She is based out of Argentina which is a 10 hour or so flight from Ontario so I thought Miami was an excellent compromise. I went to both of her workshops and just loved this woman. She is a lovely instructor, and incredibly sweet and humble. I was amazed at just how modest and humble she is considering her dance accomplishments which made her even more inspiring. She is also 6 months pregnant and still danced amazingly!!!!! just WOW! Her husband (Yamil Annum) also taught 2 workshops and I attended both of those. He is an incredibly talented dancer with extensive training in a variety of styles and a fun instructor (even if he hardly speaks any english lol). Getting the chance to see them perform live and learn from them really was one of the highlights of the trip for me.
And the ultimate high point of the experience was when I got on stage to do my Caribbean Fusion Solo in the Opening Night Gala My mom actually didn't think it was a good idea for me to perform considering the large bump on my head that I had been icing pretty much up until 20 minutes before I got on stage and had a hard time walking in a straight line. BUT I did not come all the way to Miami to NOT use my opportunity to perform a Caribbean Fusion solo LOL. I figured if I fainted mid dance it was well worth the attempt. Thanks to Adrenaline the performance went really well and I got wonderful feedback about the performance all throughout the weekend. And the best part when I got onstage and my eyes adjusted to the light who was there in the front row, Saida and Yamil. I never thought I would get to perform and see Saida in the front row. It was such a thrill/rush to see someone who was one of the first dancers you fell in love with and who is such an inspiration right up there. I remember thinking "Wow it's Saida.... Don't fall" LOL. The next day in Yamil's workshop he spotted me and asked "Flowers?" and I was like "yes that was me in the flowers" And despite not knowing much english he then said " Fantastic dancer, very original" and then did a little butt shake/umi and smiled (I can only hope that that is in fact what he meant to say LOL). It was so nice to hear that! I also happened to run into Saida in the coffee shop on Sunday morning in the hotel and got a chance to tell her face to face what an inspiration she has been and how beautiful her performance was only to find that she recognized me as "flowers" also. She thanked me graciously for my kind words and gave me a big hug and kiss and then said I was a good dancer also and welcome in Argentina any time. *sniffle.. tears of joy... happy dance*
In other workshop news I also went to one of Aubre Hill's workshops and wow that woman is phenomenal as an instructor and performer. Highly recommended. I went to her workshop since I knew she was a very different style from myself, very glute based in her dancing but quite different from Suhaila Salimpour who is also Glutes based. It was super challenging for me at parts but she really is a great instructor in addition to being a great performer. Very glad I got the chance to learn from her, even if it was only 1 workshop.
I also took a workshop with Nathalie (of Dreams Bellydance in Miami and the organizer/founder/powerhouse behind the MBC) and really enjoyed it. She is really fun, explains things well, and just has a great energy about her. I didn't get to talk to her much over the weekend as she was super busy but what I did get to experience I liked. I have a lot of respect for the effort she makes and the hard work that goes into running such an event and I think she did an awesome job.
In total I went to 7 workshops, I would have gone to a couple more but unfortunately my concussion had slowed me down The 6th workshop was a seminar titled "The business of bellydance" which had 4 different speakers who lectured about how to become a professional and be successful. The speakers were Nathalie ), a business lecturer and web designer who's name I can't think of at the moment, Nourhan Sharif of Sharif Wear and Tamalynn Dallal (side note, really loved her performance). Sadly this workshop resulted in a very negative experience at MBC and ties into my experience in the competition.
I think actually I will let this be the first post and post the competition review in the second post.
In summary, overall had a great time, I met some lovely other dancers who I hope to keep in contact with. Had some fun. Learned a lot, was humbled, was enlightened, was challenged, and was inspired.
If you get the chance to ever learn from Aubre, Saida, Yamil, or Nathalie I would recommend them all. Saida was my favourite but that is also because I just love her style
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