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  1. #1
    V.I.P. Maria_Aya's Avatar
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    Default Lotus Niraja dance, questions !!

    Hi all
    It's great having already 4 members of the Lotus Niraja group in our forum, our dear Makeda Maysa, Sehar, Jahzaal and Ameenah, so I'll be ask all the things I had in mind all this time.
    First of all, want to pay my admiration to the spirit you have and the hard work you do. I havent seen you live but from video's there is a happiness on air when you performe that I really love and enjoy to see.

    Questions:
    How the group was formed? in time? by auditions, it just happened between a group of friend dancers that shared the same vission?

    How many hours you work together?

    How you decided to get into designing your own costumes?

    Do you have a life beside all this??????

    The results are the leader's ideas or you work as a group also?

    I really love that you are all real everyday juicy women away from the skeleton/anorexia type that is showed from tv and media, did you ever had a problem with this, with people hirring you etc?

    What is your dreams as a group and individuals?

    How you compine such variety in different styles of oriental dance? and everything be WOW!!!

    Can you have me in your troupe? lol

    Many many kisses
    Maria Aya, Athens Greece

    p.s. whoever wants to ask plsssssss do !!!

    and some video's for the ones that arent familiar with the group.



    Last edited by Maria_Aya; 04-10-2008 at 07:30 AM.

  2. #2
    Member Jahzaal's Avatar
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    Default Hugs & Kisses

    Thank you sooooo much for your compliments. I will try to answer as much as I can for you about being a member in The NDC. I started dancing under Lotus via private lessons six years ago. She approached me about a year later telling me about her vision of a dance troupe she was forming. Lotus asked me if I would like to be a member of her troupe.( YES!!!! )That's how I became a member of The NDC.
    Hours worked........ ALOT!!!!!!! Just to hear the compliments we get as a troupe. It is so worth it.
    Working closely with Lotus I have learned so much. She can hear a clip of a song and instantly get a vision for the troupe. She is ahead of her game. She loves a challenge. I remember the first song that the The NDC danced too. Everyone told her "That song is impossible to dance too. How are you going to come up with a choreography to that?" She proved everyone wrong and we did it. For her to start off with a challenge, where you can either sink or swim. To me said a lot. She knew we could do it.Lotus never had any doubts in her mind at all. That was The NDC's very first performance. (You wanna talk about pressure) We did not let her down.
    Wow... My dreams. I took to Lotus' vision of The NDC and kind of adopted it as my own as well. I love working with 5 very talented beautiful ladies. We are all like sisters. I wouldn't give the bond up for anything.
    I do dance as a soloist outside of the troupe. I am a requested dancer at The Cazbar in downtown Baltimore (Middle Eastern restaurant ) I do private functions, corporate events, etc... My main focus is the troupe. I work my private gigs around the troupe.
    Do I have a life? Yes. I am the mother of two beautiful girls. My oldest is a Sr. troupe member and dances with the troupe on occasions. I have a regular 9-5 job. My life right now is my family and the troupe. I am very happy. I couldn't ask for anything more. I hope I touched on all of your questions. I would love to have you in the troupe.
    Last edited by Jahzaal; 04-10-2008 at 03:53 PM.

  3. #3
    Member Makeda Maysa's Avatar
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    Hi Maria! Thanks for starting this thread and for asking such wonderful questions. I see that Jahzaal has answered them already, but I'll add my answers, too, so that you can get my perspective. As the newest member of The NDC, I have a bit of a different experience from the rest of the ladies.

    How the group was formed? in time? by auditions, it just happened between a group of friend dancers that shared the same vission?
    Jahzaal already answered how it was formed, but I want to share that I joined the troupe I guess about two years ago now. By then, The NDC was established already and they had started making a big name for themselves nationwide. I'd been a student of Lotus' for two years, so I'd watched the ladies first-hand as they grew together as a troupe and flourished as solo dancers. I'd started my dance training in American Orientale (Cabaret), ATS, and tribal fusion and had moved on to Lotus to get training in Egyptian and Lebanese bellydance styles. I'd fallen in love with her unique style, based in bellydance but with an added dash of her own flavor. Her teaching methods really spoke to me and I flourished in her classes, really finding myself as a dancer. What I love about Lotus (well, one of the things) is that she encourages each of us to find out who we are as a dancer - yes, as a troupe, we are called upon to dance her vision on the stage, but we each hold equal weight and can contribute our thoughts about the choreography and, as solo dancers, she supports us in trying different things. For instance, though I am a part of her glamorous, decidedly cabaret, troupe, I perform tribal fusion as a solo artist.

    Two years ago, when the troupe decided to hold auditions, I did audition. I was so enthusiastic that I was the first person to respond with my application! Thankfully, I was accepted into the troupe and, though it was a struggle for me, I have integrated into the troupe well and they have really made me a part of the family. Dancing in The NDC has helped me achieve my dream of becoming a professional dancer, while also giving me the opportunity to make new friends, who have now become my family.


    How many hours you work together?
    Many! Many, many, many. That's how we've become family so quickly - we spend many waking hours together, not only rehearsing, but studying DVDs, taking workshops, working on costumes, traveling, performing and just hanging out. We enjoy every minute together.

    Rehearsals can be a bear. They are hard, hard work and Lotus is a strict taskmistress. But her attention to detail is what has caused this troupe to grow in our knowledge of the dance, the music and the culture and has given each of us a craving to know even more. What I do know is that every time we take the stage, we are prepared. We have drilled, rehearsed and picked apart each routine until we can dance it in our sleep.


    How you decided to get into designing your own costumes?
    Lotus' mother, Maz, is our exclusive costume designer. Each NDC costume is a Maz creation and each is handmade with love and genius-level skill. Her visions are sometimes so expansive that I can't even imagine how she comes up with them! And each costume, while similar, is made slightly different to address the needs and the look of each individual dancer.

    Do you have a life beside all this??????
    Yes, we all do! I am a mom of a beautiful four-year-old daughter. I'm a wife. I have a full-time job in the government and I'm also a makeup artist and beauty blogger.

    We all have lives outside of the troupe, but we fit it in because we love it so.


    The results are the leader's ideas or you work as a group also?
    I think I already answered this before, but the choreographies start with Lotus' visions and then she gives us leeway to insert our ideas and thoughts. So, though they are Lotus' visions and dreams, they are very much a collaborative effort. All of us put in much hard work.

    I really love that you are all real everyday juicy women away from the skeleton/anorexia type that is showed from tv and media, did you ever had a problem with this, with people hirring you etc?
    Thanks! We, as a troupe, recognize that women and beauty come in all shapes and sizes and we celebrate each other's beauty - from the thinnest to the "juiciest." What we look to be is a troupe of exquisite dancers. We're not looking to fulfill a stereotype of beauty, but rather to share with the world that beauty can come in a variety of forms and that, no matter our size, we have come to dance!

    What is your dreams as a group and individuals?
    Lotus' dream for the troupe is that we continue to grow together and that we become even better, even tighter, even more precise in our choreographies; that we try new styles and new ideas; that we reach the highest heights.

    My dream for myself is that I continue to be a contributing member of The NDC and that, as a solo dancer, I continue to learn more and more about the wonderful world of bellydance - that I am prepared, knowledgable, graceful and powerful every time I step on stage. And that, when I step off stage, I have entertained my audience and they want to watch me dance again.


    How you compine such variety in different styles of oriental dance? and everything be WOW!!!
    Well, that's a result of Lotus' training in very different styles and our commitment to educating ourselves through classes, workshops and DVD studies. Also, we each have our own specialty - like I said, I am educated in tribal, as well, and, for instance, Jahzaal is a wiz at raqs assaya.

    Can you have me in your troupe? lol
    Sure! How soon can you get here from Greece?

  4. #4
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    Hi Maria,
    I guess I am late responding, since my troupe members answered most of your questions. So I will answer from my perspective. I have been dancing all of my life and decided to try something different, so when I came across bellydance about 5 years ago, I figured, why not? I didn't know anything about the dance and had not seen any dancers or troupes but Lotus had a kiosk in the mall at the time, so I signed up for class. Well that first time I came to class and my body wouldn't do what I told it to, I didn't understand. The moves that she made look so simple, weren't just coming naturally and it made me determined to get them. So I started attending classes regularly and eventually I was there everynight, so Lotus started to tease me that they would set up a sleeping bag in the corner for me. About a year after I started classes with her, she invited me to become a member of the troupe(which was one of my original goals once I saw them rehearse), so that is where my journey with the NDC began. Since then it has been an adventure and we have all grown as dancers, but most importantly, they are my family. So I guess the answer to your question "How the group was formed?" would be in time with all of us coming in in different ways.

    We spend a lot of time together, rehearsing, talking, brainstorming and just generally hanging out, probably about 4 times a week or more when we have a show coming up. We rehearse a lot but we spend a lot of time goofing off too!!!

    As Makeda said MAZ does our costumes. I think that between her and Lotus and their visions of what they want a particular choreography to look like, there just weren't costumes available for a good price that reflected their ideas. Plus it lets us be original and have some imput into what the costume will look like vs. just buying something that everyone else has already.

    I have a pretty boring life outside of dancing. I work in insurance but dancing has given me the ability to become someone else on stage and travel to places I may never have gone before. And I get to dance!!!!

    As far as dreams for the NDC: One of our goals this year is to put together a series of workshops for performance troupes. Most teachers teach for solo artists and we would like to educate dancers on working with one another in a troupe dynamic. Under Lotus we have learned how to break down a stage, retain theatrical quality, combine with a desire to showcase each dancer in a troupe setting. Even if all of us are not looking to eventually be solo artists, Lotus refuses to have "back up dancers." With the troupe formations and choreography, the idea is to showcase each member in the forefront. There are so many troupes that we have seen where there is a star and then her backup dancers, but we would like for the audience to see 6 very distinct dancers, each with a different personality and style, who are able to dance together while still retaining their own uniqueness. Our goal from these workshops would be to teach how to dance dynamically with focus on entertainment and troupe unity.

    The other questions I think the ladies answered with what I would have said, so I won't add to those. I hope this helped and thanks again for the interest. Oh I forgot, you asked about joining the troupe. No problem! Maybe we can come visit you in Greece?

  5. #5
    V.I.P. Maria_Aya's Avatar
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    Thanks girls for the answers !!!
    You are really admirable and a role model on my opinion on bellydance groups
    On Saturday 3 May, i'm having my monthly 3 hour theory class (its included to all levels, so there are depending the day, gathering of 20 to 50 students from all levels) and our subject is gonna be .... taram tatam:
    Lotus Nijara !!!!! video's, style, costumes, vission !!!
    I'll post photos from the day, you helped me alot for the inside, and we all send you good energy from Greece to continue the good work

    Maria Aya

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    V.I.P. adiemus's Avatar
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    Ahhhh! what a treat! I hadn't heard of your troupe before - thanks Maria for introducing them to me! And what wonderful dancers you are - and such generous sharing of your thoughts and backgrounds to us here, thank you so much Makeda Maysa, Sehar, Jahzaal and Ameenah!
    oh, and more videos pleeeeaasse!!

  7. #7
    Member Makeda Maysa's Avatar
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    Maria!!! That is so awesome - I can't believe we're a topic for study! Wow! I will be sure to tell the rest of the ladies, in case they don't check here for a couple of days (I'm an addict, so I'm here every day!)

    Thanks for asking all these wonderful questions and giving us the opportunity to share our thoughts. And I promise we'll get some more videos up soon!

    Hugs and love to you all!

  8. #8
    Member Jahzaal's Avatar
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    Maria- WOW!!!!! I want to take that class. Like Makeda said that really is awesome!!!! So I will be on the next flight to Greece!!!! Hey ladies!!!!!!
    Troupe trip to visit Maria in Greece
    Watch out Maria you may have 6 homeless women knocking at your door soon

    Adiemus- Thank you for your compliments!!!! Lotus did mention that she will be posting more clips of us very soon.

  9. #9
    V.I.P. adiemus's Avatar
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    ...ever thought of a trip to New Zealand?!!

  10. #10
    Junior Member Lotus Niraja's Avatar
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    Hello Maria.

    The NDC members have informed me about this topic. I apologize for the delay, as my schedule keeps me traveling and busy. Thank you Makeda, Jahzaal, Ameena, and Sehar for filling in the details for me.

    First thank you for the compliments. It is nice to know that we are also appreciated outside of our national borders.

    Let me see if I can answer some of your questions, especially since they have already been tackled!

    1. How the group was formed? in time? by auditions, it just happened between a group of friend dancers that shared the same vission?

    The NDC did not start out as friends, but as strangers who came together and created a family. The NDC began as a desire. My 'desire' to take bellydance to a professional performance level with a team effort. In 2004, I had a group of dancers that were mostly hobbyist. We had fun, but I desired a traveling dance team of dedicated dancers with a focus on theatrical arts. I was blessed with several dancers that wanted to take troupe dancing to a new level with higher standards. I began with 3 dedicated members that eventually grew to 6.

    Presently, we are an audition-only troupe. Like most professional dance companies, one must apply and be selected to join. We keep the audition process serious with not just the talent portion, but with an interview segment. We also do a drill down of what a typical day, typical week, and a typical year is like for the NDC. We tell you yes, it is fun, but it can be tiresome. You miss your family and it is a considerable investment of time and finances. We are up front from the beginning that this may not for some people. Then, we narrow the line up down and the NDC ladies themselves select the final members. But…it does not end there! All new members must complete a probationary period before we obligate you to a contract. If you change your mind, there are no hard feelings. We also have a wonderful group of associate dancers that perform with us on a regular basis, but cannot commit to troupe rigors at the present time. These individuals are like family also!

    2. How many hours you work together?
    We work many, many hours. Not just in rehearsal, but also in monthly troupe meetings, outings and also brainstorming sessions to collaborate on choreography, costuming, events, and gigs. We spend a lot of time together and being a close group of hard working ladies makes it easier! It is not a stretch to say we rehearse upwards to 3-4 days out of a week at least 3 hours times a week. This time is very precious to us, as it is a creative time and a bonding time also.

    3. How you decided to get into designing your own costumes?
    My mother, MAZ, is our costume guru. My mother feeds off of our choreography and my design ideas. I cannot draw to save my life, but MAZ can sketch any idea with colors, swatches, layers, designs, etc. She helps bring my ideas to life. MAZ has a degree in Art & Design and has worked in the design industry for numerous years before making bellydance costumes. In her youth and during her tenure as a dancer with a dance company (not Bellydance), she became familiar with dance costuming. So I enjoy originality in costuming and dedicated handwork, plus the benefits of working close to someone I cherish and love in a business relationship.

    4. Do you have a life beside all this??????
    Oh, yes. I have a wonderful husband and niece that I consider my daughter. Two fur babies (dogs) that are spoiled and command a lot of attention. My husband I both ride touring motorcycles and we love to travel on holiday internationally. I also do a lot of volunteer work, my focus being on at-risk teens and the elderly.

    5. The results are the leader's ideas or you work as a group also?
    Both. The general idea begins as mine, the Director's. I select what we want to represent and then I allow ample time and space for creativity from the NDC members. An idea that is not used today may possibly be used tomorrow! This keeps me from being a dictator, but gives me control of what is performed on stage. The NDC and I both have the power to veto each other. I listen to them. They are a very intelligent group of women, so I can't put much past them. We have known each other so long, they can pretty much run themselves. In The NDC, everyone is given a voice; there are no drones, back up dancers, or underlings. Everyone is a force to be reckoned with, just each in her own unique way. I love that about us!

    6.I really love that you are all real everyday juicy women away from the skeleton/anorexia type that is showed from tv and media, did you ever had a problem with this, with people hirring you etc?
    Never! We stay busy. It has actually given us a platform and has made us even more unique. In a crowd of bellydancing troupes, we stand out in various ways. At first, it was quite novel, now I believe it has given us an edge that sets us apart from dance groups. Although we range from sizes (US) 4 – 16, our various sizes have polarized other dancers to accept themselves and to help put a visual on dancers of all shapes and colors.

    7.What is your dreams as a group and individuals?
    To entertain our audience and to make them happy. That has always been our dreams and goals from the very beginning, as it is now. That is most important to us. Our audience ALWAYS comes first.

    8.How you compine such variety in different styles of oriental dance? and everything be WOW!!!
    The NDC is comprised of various cultures, religions, races, etc. so our theme stew pot goes pretty deep! We take various aspects of our current lives and put them onto the stage. There may be a Middle Eastern song that may be telling our story, so we will dance to that. Every dance term, we decide what our message will be. Our style is modern and contemporary, but we love Raks Sharki and all the classics. We love the option of fusing it all together or breaking it apart and dancing to a classical song that melts you heart!

    Thanks for the opportunity to talk about The NDC. I hope your program goes well!!

    All my best,

    Lotus Niraja
    Lotus Niraja - Shimmilicious!
    Shimmilicious!

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