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  1. #1
    Member Freya's Avatar
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    Default A Weekend in Stockholm/Cairo?

    If you are looking for a bellydance weekend break come to Stockholm to attend the "mini" Stockholm Bellydance festival! I attended the Stockholm festival in May and was so enthused by it, so I wanted to share this with you:

    CAIRO BY NIGHT IN STOCKHOLM
    2-5 NOVEMBER 2006

    Teachers: Prof. Dr Hassan Khalil, Nour, Khaled Mahmoud,
    Mohamed Kazafy, Yasser Al Swery,Nawal Benabdalla and others...

    There will be:

    Workshops
    A Gala Show
    A Lecture & Video night
    Oriental bazaars
    & a ticket lottery with the chance to win a stay, and classes, at the Nile Group Festival in Cairo in November.


    I am so excited about this event! I will be taking classes with Nour, Khaled, and Yasser, and I am really looking forward to it.

    Let me know if you will be in Stockholm !
    Freya

    For more info see:
    http://www.bellydancefestival.se/

  2. #2
    Member Sara Abou Farhat's Avatar
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    Hi Freya,
    I'm defintely interested in this festival but unfortunately am in the midst of pre-show stress!!
    Please let me know - when you come back - when the dates are for next year? Would love to visit Stockholm! Will be seeing Khaled at the Fantasia in London in december & Dr Khalil is just "round the corner"
    But would love to see the dancing scene in Sweden and of course classes with Nour.....well!

    Have fun, enjoy and learn

    Happy dancing,
    Sara Abou Farhat

  3. #3
    Member Freya's Avatar
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    Dear Sarah,

    The dance scene in Stockholm is just way beyond my wildest imagination!! I moved to Stockholm about a year ago and there is such a thriving dance community here. Plenty of teachers, troupes, restaurants where there are dancers, stores, and festivals etc. I have to leave Stockholm for work for a few months this spring and although I am going to Rome, which is sure to be fabulous, I am already starting to feel the onset of a "missing-my-my-dance-school-and-dance-buddies-depression"...

    The next upcoming big event is the Stockholm Bellydance Festival in May 17-20, 2007. It will without doubt be fabulous!!! I attended the festival this May and I was completely in awe of the quality of the teachers, the gala performances (12 solid hours of dance), and the warm and generous spirit of the organizers, teachers, and participants. Really, I cannot say enough good things about that experience. I have been meaning to write a report about the Stockholm Bellydance Festival for Orientaldancer for some time (I had a severe computer crash right after the festival that derailed me). I hope to get around to it soon.

    While the workshops in November are sure to be good as well, the May festival is really the event not to miss. Especially since you are so close by and Stockholm is so beautiful in May!

    Suzanne and Mohamed Abou Shebika who organize Cairo by Night and The Stockholm Bellydance Festival, also co-organize the Nile Group Festival in Egypt. Below are a few links.

    I saw Khaled and Nour perform in May and they are both exquisite dancers: tecnique, feeling, and presentation--they have it all. I am really looking forward to the workshops. Nour's classes are pretty tough apparently so I am a little nervous, but oh well, I won't be perfect but I will be challenged and that's what matters no ?

    Best of luck with your upcoming show and hope to see you in May!
    Freya

    http://www.kairobazar.com/
    http://www.bellydancefestival.se/
    http://www.nilegroup.net/
    Last edited by Freya; 10-08-2006 at 11:53 PM. Reason: text edit

  4. #4
    Member Kiraze's Avatar
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    I wonder why this festival is held at the same dates as Layali Oriental Dance Festival - is Swedish dance scene with some but not too many visitors from neighbouring countries really so big that there is enough dancers to both happenings at the same time? Or is here (again) a question about rivalry between Raqia and Nile Group

    Both happenings sound great (and I will advertise them both also at Finnish forum) but after seeing how dance festivals in Finland have shrunk because of too many parallel happenings I am just afraid that same could happen in Sweden

  5. #5
    Member Freya's Avatar
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    Dear Kiraze,

    It is really too bad that these two festivals are scheduled at the same time. I think it has to do with the fact that Swedish schools have fall break (höstlov) that particular week in November, so there isn’t really another sensible time to arrange a fall festival in the Swedish order of things. I do think, however, that the Swedish dance scene is big enough to support two concurrent festivals.

    Personally I would have liked to take a class with Raquia as well as Randa, however, I have seen both Khaled and Nour in action so my choice is clear. Also I was thrilled with the general atmosphere at the Stockholm Bellydance Festival, so I would not miss a repeat experience even if will be on a smaller scale than the large May festival. Furthermore, when I first moved to Stockholm, I was a student (for a short period of time) of the organizer of the Layali festival at the dance school were the Layali festival takes place. I was not very happy there, for reasons needless to elaborate upon. Suffice to say that after many years of searching for “the ideal teacher” and dance community—I finally found it at Egyptiskt Kulturcentrum in Stockholm, owned by Suzanne and Mohamed Abou Shebika, the organizers of the Cairo by Night Festival and the Stockholm Bellydance Festival. I value the quality of teachers and the joyful spirit there, so if forced to make a choice between Layali and Cairo by Night, my choice is clear and easy.

    The teachers at Egyptiskt Kulturcentrum have a consistently high level of professionalism, the curriculum has a well thought out pedagogic structure, and courses are available in all the different Egyptian styles. Students that are committed to the dance, beyond the first introductory course, are encouraged to take a full range of classes in the various styles. It is not possible to advance to the “professional” level until the dancer has mastered the cane, veil, cills/zagat, Melaya laf, and is confident and comfortable with a wide variety of shimmies and layering. Usually this means at least five years of training. This, to me, bespeaks the measure of seriousness with which the dance is treated, as well as the quality of the education at Egyptiskt Kulturcentrum. While the head teacher Suzanne/Zeina teaches all the intermediate/advanced/professional classes, she also teaches a few beginner classes. She is, in other words, always in engaged with the entire student body of the school, as opposed to limiting herself to the advanced students. In addition, there are several other extremely accomplished teachers who teach beginner/advanced-beginner, and technique classes, as well as children and youth. These teachers all take advanced/professional classes with Suzanne/Zeina, as well as from many other Master Teachers. As I perceive it, they have the opportunity as well as full freedom to continue developing as professional dancers, without the burden of “student-teacher rivalry” or any misconstrued ideas of “loyalty.” There are more than 500 students at this school from age 7 to 70, ranging from beginners to professionals. If only I had begun dancing here years ago, I would have been a much more accomplished dancer! As it is, I am steadily improving!

    With respect to your question about a “Raquia and Nile Group rivalry,” I need to clarify: the Stockholm Bellydance Festival and Cairo by Night “Mini” Festival, are both organized by Suzanne and Mohamed Abou Shebika and NOT the Nile Group. Teachers from the Nile Group do, however, participate in both festivals as teachers, as well as performers. Suzanne and Mohamed Abou Shebika are CO-organizers of the Nile Group Festivals, in collaboration with many other Egyptian teachers. I refer you to Suzanne/Zeina’s article in the Gilded Serpent: http://www.gildedserpent.com/art32/z...groupcairo.htm
    With regards to my personal opinion of such a “rivalry” I can only speak from my own experience of the Egyptiskt Kulturcentrum dance school, as well as the Stockholm Bellydance Festival. Suzanne and Mohamed run a school and arrange festivals, which are characterized by high standards of excellence, but above all by LOVE for the dance. “We are all like family here” said Khaled Mahmoud, with much emotion, at the last Stockholm Bellydance Festival, and there was certainly a feeling of warmth and generosity that pervaded the entire festival: A love for the dance and generosity of spirit that I associate with Suzanne and Mohamed, the teachers and my fellow students at Egyptiskt Kulturcentrum, as well as the members of the Nile Group. I am not a professional dancer, and I am inexperienced in the world of dance festivals and workshops, but the love for the dance was genuine and you don’t have to be a professional to recognize that.

    Forgive me for writing such a long response, but your reference to a “Raquia and Nile Group rivalry” was admittedly a loaded question. I was compelled to respond in such a lengthy fashion for three reasons: Firstly, I am an academic so it is my nature . Secondly, I wanted to answer your questions and clarify a few things about the organizers of the festival. Thirdly, I am by vocation, and personal persuasion, firmly committed to the notion of “excellence in education and performance.” I believe that Egyptiskt Kulturcentrum and the events organized/co-organized by Suzanne and Mohamed Abou Shebika represent precisely that. It saddens me that the reputation of Suzanne and Mohamed, for whom I have the deepest respect and appreciation; the local community of teachers and students that they have fostered; the festivals that they organize and co-organize; as well as the teachers of the Nile Group associated with them—all of which have given me and my fellow dancers so freely of their knowledge and expertise—should be sullied with intimations of foul conduct. I have not yet had the chance to participate in one of the Nile Group Festivals but based on my experience from my school in Stockholm, and the Stockholm festival, I am sure that it will be a tremendously valuable educational experience as well as immensely enjoyable.

    Finally, I wish to add, that I am not a professional dancer nor do aspire to become one. As a young scholar I need to focus on my academic career and I cannot afford the level of commitment, or intensity of purpose, I believe is needed to become a truly exquisite professional dancer. I have a lot of respect for those who excel, or seek to excel, in their performance and interpretation of the music, and those who are knowledgeable about this dance form and who teach it well. I am an “amateur of dance” in the true sense of the word: a lover of the dance who dances for pleasure. I do aim for perfection but I do not aim for professional status or gain, hence I state my opinion freely in this matter without concern for monetary gain or position in the dance community.

    I realize I have written a dissertation-length reply to your question(s)! While I could blame it on my academic penchant for thoroughness, I think it has more to do with my respect for, and love of, the dance!


    Freya
    Last edited by Freya; 10-10-2006 at 03:00 AM. Reason: text edit

  6. #6
    Member Kiraze's Avatar
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    Freya, thanks for clarifying some things

    That "rivalry" was brought to my mind because of some previous happenings colored by misundertandings, rumours and I guess also some truth

    Anyway, here was previously some discussion about Khaled and Lubna in Finland and how there were very little attendance in the workshops and I was afraid that same could happen in Sweden - I myself would be more than happy to come to see e.g. Nour who is my favourite dancer of current Cairo scene so I really wish the festival (both festivals) all the best and I hope that my advertising at Finnish forum could attract at least some Finns to come there (it is so short trip anyway at least from Turku).
    Unfortunately information about this happening came little bit late (of course some are with closer contact with organizers) as for many Finnish dancers these dance forums on internet have been the only place to find about what is happening in Sweden/Estonia/Russia and OMG even in Finland :eek:

    BTW I think that there should be some way to make communication between dancers of neighbouring countries better - previously many Swedish dancers/teachers visited e.g. Oriental Dance Festival of Finland in Turku but nowadays co-operation seems to have diminished

  7. #7
    Moderator Safran's Avatar
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    Despite of the timing (at the same time with our own festival in Estonia), it is still great to hear that there is so much happening around. Travelling to Sweden for festivals is not really that complicated for us - just take the overnight boat and arrive to Stockholm fresh in the morning (assuming you haven't spent your night drinking in the boat's karaoke bar ). A couple of girls in my studio attended a dance event in Sweden in spring, but unfortunately I have no idea what it ws exactly.

    But indeed, communication between the dance communities in the region is somewhat incomplete. I know my teacher is in close contact with Finland and Latvia, but no idea about Sweden though So yes, it is odd that we learn about events through all-international forums, but at least we've got that!

  8. #8
    Member Freya's Avatar
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    Dear Kiraze and Maariku,

    I agree, there should be some more information exchange regarding festivals in the region, as well as elsewhere I might add. You both reminded me that I have not posted the Cairo by Night Festival as well as the next Stockholm Bellydance Festival in the calendar. I really like the calendar feature on this site and I wish the forum members would post more of the events in their area. Wouldn't it be nice to plan our vacations around dance festivals?

    Kiraze, I think I recall the Khaled and Lubna workshop discussion. Wasn't there only six participants in Khaled's workshop? Great for the workshop participants I would imagine, but not so good for the organizers. Also a bit sad since Khaled is such a great dancer.

    Maariku,
    There were indeed several dancers from Estonia at the Stockholm Bellydance Festival. I believe a few of them performed on the "open floor" in the café during lunch hour, and they were really good. I also seem to recall two girls from Estonia that looked almost like twins but they were friends and not related at all

    If you do come to Stockholm on the boat I will almost be able to see you from my appartment window! I'm very close to the Estonia ferry boat. I have not visited Estonia yet. Maybe it's because I have some mild anxiety about the karaoke bar...I am a die hard karaoke fan you see...who knows what the consequences would be...

    Freya

  9. #9
    Member LeylaLanty's Avatar
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    It seem to me that over that last few years there has been a lack of communication in Stockholm area about dates for festivals. Wouldn't it be better for everyone if those who plan such big events would discuss dates with each other while planning the events? I don't understand how this kind of conflict has happened so often.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiraze View Post
    I wonder why this festival is held at the same dates as Layali Oriental Dance Festival - is Swedish dance scene with some but not too many visitors from neighbouring countries really so big that there is enough dancers to both happenings at the same time? Or is here (again) a question about rivalry between Raqia and Nile Group

    Both happenings sound great (and I will advertise them both also at Finnish forum) but after seeing how dance festivals in Finland have shrunk because of too many parallel happenings I am just afraid that same could happen in Sweden

  10. #10
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    There can only be lack of communication if there is a pre-exsisting communication. SBDF and EKC where the first organizers of a festival in Stockholm and usually announce their dates in good time for others to take into consideration.

    The fact that others choose to boicot or schedule their events at the same time is unfortunate, but may be deliberate in some cases. It happens all over the place. We see it happen even here in the US.

    DaVid

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