What have I missed?

Ariadne

Well-known member
Alright, so I keep wondering and now I'm going to ask. I have been out of touch with the BD scene for a good three or so years (thanks to health issues). So what have I missed?

Who are the major performers now?

Who is doing the teaching workshop circuit?

What is new in each of the styles?

I keep hearing about "Tribal Fusion" performances going off the deep end, how so?

And can anyone post some examples of good performances in various styles I've missed?
(Though that should probably go in the Performances section.)
 

Aniseteph

New member
I'm not sure that I know what's going on in the big wide belly dance world any more either! I've not been to any big name events for a while: not sure there are many any more (or hmmm, maybe there are and they are just advertised in places that pass me by...). The nearest one went a bit big name megaworkshop £££ and felt too much about being for pros and wannabe pros for me. Having decided that things Tribal and TF are not my bag I don't get involved with that side at all.

There's been a lot of shaabi about, although people's take on it seems to be pretty varied, so a shaabi workshop or performance could be anything... Burlesque workshops don't seem to be so high profile though bollywood keeps on and hula has appeared. Fan veils are no longer the latest thing, dunno about poi as that seems to be more on the TF scene. Now we have the technology there's LED lights in wings and stuff, but that's kinda gimmicky. Wings is wings and pretty boring once you've done a big entrance IMHO - what are they going to do in a workshop, teach you how to flash your LEDs in time with Egyptian rhythms? :shok: (Please, no).

Competitions got higher profile, though I don't know whether that's a good thing. I suppose it attracts competitors to your event, but I get very bored watching the type of technical hit-every-accent stuff that happens. If that's belly dance I don't like it much.
 

Daimona

Moderator
On the global scene, I don't know.

Locally bd interest seems to be in a through as there are less activity both in weekly classes and festivals, although some more advanced dancers are still keeping it up and some use competitions to build a name. Technically fluent, slim and elegant dancers dancers and teachers from Eastern Europe seems to be the thing at the moment.


Very locally some of the dancers* finally dear to think outside the pure Egyptian box (i.e. oriental, balady, saiidi, drum solo and the occasional shaabi) and some of the advanced amateur dancers have finally starting performing with their own choreographies as well. When at least 2/3rd of the choreographies performed in the local haflas are usually choreographed by the same teacher for years it gets slightly predictable (nothing wrong about the dancer, she makes a lot of great choreos for herself and her students and she is a magnificent dancer and teacher, but I kind of like variation). For the next hafla in April, there will even be one dancer doing double silk veil (I've been the only one doing this the past decade, so it is nice to see others as well).

*) i.e. other than me and my dance group which have had a mantra of doing things differently with our performances ranging from Vintage Egyptian and drum solos via flamenco fusion, tribal fusion and bollywood to theatrical shaabi and pure fantasy.



The absolutely latest thing is that a lot of my local fellow dancers are being harassed on fb and are closing down their fb profiles.
 

Ariadne

Well-known member
Having decided that things Tribal and TF are not my bag I don't get involved with that side at all.
I've been thinking that the divide between Traditional/Cab styles and Tribal/Fusion styles has grown even wider in the last few years or is it my imagination?

There's been a lot of shaabi about, although people's take on it seems to be pretty varied, so a shaabi workshop or performance could be anything... Burlesque workshops don't seem to be so high profile though bollywood keeps on and hula has appeared. Fan veils are no longer the latest thing, dunno about poi as that seems to be more on the TF scene. Now we have the technology there's LED lights in wings and stuff, but that's kinda gimmicky. Wings is wings and pretty boring once you've done a big entrance IMHO - what are they going to do in a workshop, teach you how to flash your LEDs in time with Egyptian rhythms? :shok: (Please, no).
lol Ok no, I would rather not see that either. I do wonder though how the extra weight in the veils from the lights affects their loft. Do they make enough difference to affect how you use them?

I can't cry over Burlesque waning mind you. I never really felt it belonged with BD in the first place.

Competitions got higher profile, though I don't know whether that's a good thing.
Really? I thought several had closed. Have they been replaced with new ones or am I just mistaken?

I suppose it attracts competitors to your event, but I get very bored watching the type of technical hit-every-accent stuff that happens. If that's belly dance I don't like it much.
Yeah... the taste of everything and look how awesome I am in a few short minutes style. It kinda misses the point. I know there isn't time in a short competitive piece to show your artistry but still... When I started with learning BD I looked at all the different pieces from floorwork to drum solo's to veil and I wanted to learn it all. My goal was to be able to pull off an old style vintage show with 6 or more types of performances. Even if I never did (since there doesn't seem to be much call for that anymore) just knowing I could would have been enough.

Can you still find that kind of variety anywhere anymore?

Technically fluent, slim and elegant dancers dancers and teachers from Eastern Europe seems to be the thing at the moment.
Can you give me some names?

Very locally some of the dancers* finally dear to think outside the pure Egyptian box (i.e. oriental, balady, saiidi, drum solo and the occasional shaabi) and some of the advanced amateur dancers have finally starting performing with their own choreographies as well.
That's pretty cool. Even if it's not as active it sounds like you have a good group there.

For the next hafla in April, there will even be one dancer doing double silk veil (I've been the only one doing this the past decade, so it is nice to see others as well).
I'm not sure I've ever seen that.

The absolutely latest thing is that a lot of my local fellow dancers are being harassed on fb and are closing down their fb profiles.
Seriously? Why are they being harassed? Do you know who is doing it?
 

Daimona

Moderator
Can you give me some names?
Marta Korzun, Katerina Shereen and Dana Sahar comes to mind.
Of course they aren't the only ones and there are other great dancers from other countries as well, but I'm not really updated on the latest, hottest dancers at the moment.

That's pretty cool. Even if it's not as active it sounds like you have a good group there.
Previously, only the local teachers performed their own choreographies at the annual hafla so it is good to see that there are new faces coming up doing their own things too.


I'm not sure I've ever seen that.
Re: double veil, just to emphasize that I've been the only one in my very local dance club so far, not in the rest of the world of course.
But I've made a point out of introducing new things locally.



Seriously? Why are they being harassed? Do you know who is doing it?
It is one man with several profiles.

And all the dancers have done is post beautiful dance pictures of themselves on fb as well as announce that they are interested in belly dance. Dancers who haven't posted dance pics online have not been contacted, so I'm guessing the visual part is important when he is choosing his victims and who to stalk and harass.
 

Aniseteph

New member
Ugh. There's been an item on our national news today about bringing in laws to make it illegal to have fake social media profiles for trolling, perving or other evil purposes.

LED props - not been up close but I imagine they are better on wings than on a fine silk veil! I'd expect it to be a bit like casting a fishing net. Proptasticality for the next event I'm going to is fan veils, balancing trays and shemadan - nothing terribly WTH? or cutting edge there. I'd like to have a crack at shemadan for the lols but don't see myself investing. Also the balancing niche at our local hafla is pretty well covered by someone who can actually do it.
Ariadne said:
I've been thinking that the divide between Traditional/Cab styles and Tribal/Fusion styles has grown even wider in the last few years or is it my imagination?
It feels like that to me, although maybe that's just my POV in that I know what I'm not interested in and take a lot less notice of it. It makes sense that if both branches develop, people will recognise that some sort of generic middle ground is a bit nothingy. Several dancers I know have feet in both camps, but the teachers I know tend to be one or the other.

Competitions-wise I can think of three biggish festivals here that have had them in the last few years, plus a stand alone competiton. I don't remember competitions being around when I was a newbie. I was in no position to take part of course, but I would have noticed they were there.

We've had a few theatrical belly dance shows in the last few years. I'm not sure whether this is an ongoing thing where it's what you might do when you have enough decent dancers /resources to put on a full length show, or a trend that people will put a company together for. I think one of the ideas is to appeal to a general audience beyond the BD scene, but I don't know how well that works, and do you have to play the exotic harem card to sell it? :confused:. I've seen some awesome theatrical fusion done by amazing performers, and some right old self indulgent codswallop that is best saved for private haflas IMHO.
 

Ariadne

Well-known member
It is one man with several profiles.

And all the dancers have done is post beautiful dance pictures of themselves on fb as well as announce that they are interested in belly dance. Dancers who haven't posted dance pics online have not been contacted, so I'm guessing the visual part is important when he is choosing his victims and who to stalk and harass.
... This is why I think that keeping performance arts and personal identities seperate is a good idea even if you're an amateur. There are some sick people out there.

is there any chance of finding out who it is and doing something about it?
 

Ariadne

Well-known member
Proptasticality for the next event I'm going to is fan veils, balancing trays and shemadan - nothing terribly WTH? or cutting edge there. I'd like to have a crack at shemadan for the lols but don't see myself investing. Also the balancing niche at our local hafla is pretty well covered by someone who can actually do it.
That's sort of how I feel about swords. I would love to give it a try some day but I wonder if there is a point.

It feels like that to me, although maybe that's just my POV in that I know what I'm not interested in and take a lot less notice of it. It makes sense that if both branches develop, people will recognise that some sort of generic middle ground is a bit nothingy. Several dancers I know have feet in both camps, but the teachers I know tend to be one or the other.
That makes sense.

We've had a few theatrical belly dance shows in the last few years. I'm not sure whether this is an ongoing thing where it's what you might do when you have enough decent dancers /resources to put on a full length show, or a trend that people will put a company together for. I think one of the ideas is to appeal to a general audience beyond the BD scene, but I don't know how well that works, and do you have to play the exotic harem card to sell it? :confused:. I've seen some awesome theatrical fusion done by amazing performers, and some right old self indulgent codswallop that is best saved for private haflas IMHO.
As much as I wish otherwise I think theatricals may be the future of the art. I honestly wonder if club/diner performances are all but dead.
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
... This is why I think that keeping performance arts and personal identities separate is a good idea even if you're an amateur. There are some sick people out there.
And I'll add one more: Do NOT use your "real" name in public areas of the Internet. So-called "social media" sites that insist on your real name are very bad for you. The only place anyone will find my legal name is behind a company's paywall - in other words, the GP never sees it.
 

Aniseteph

New member
Ariadne said:
As much as I wish otherwise I think theatricals may be the future of the art. I honestly wonder if club/diner performances are all but dead.
Interesting... I have idle thoughts but no answers! And I am leaving aside the "we are saving this because people in the ME don't value their dance" argument which always leaves a nasty taste IMO, and focusing on belly dance in a more global sense.

If it's the future of belly dance as professional performance... I've no idea where pro dancers are working nowadays - restaurants, clubs, private parties, weddings? or how it compares to the past. It's going to be so location-dependent. And where does teaching come in to that? What's the main income stream?

For the amateur/ hobbyist scene, how much does any of that matter, apart from keeping teachers in business by doing gigs? If belly dance has a lower public profile you aren't going to get the people who want to learn because they saw a dancer somewhere, but how often does that happen? In my experience people comes to classes because they heard about them and thought it might be fun, not for serious wannabe pro dance tuition.

Art-wise, is the club/ restaurant performer dancing for people who know/appreciate what they are hearing and seeing? If you have to dumb it down so much it's barely belly dance anymore it's not the future of anything.

As for theatrical performances, whether it's as a bunch of individual numbers or narrative, I'm not sure whether it's the future of anything or just another trend. Who is the audience? It's the old Bellydance Superstars thing again - does it raise the profile and draw in the general public? Or is it a more aspirational take on a friends and family recital, with a slightly larger catchment area? I think both can be good things, but they do different things and I wonder how sustainable it all is if you are not very clear who your audience is.
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
That's sort of how I feel about swords. I would love to give it a try some day but I wonder if there is a point.
Drop it the wrong way once and you'll get the point. ;)

[I've been thinking that the divide between Traditional/Cab styles and Tribal/Fusion styles has grown even wider in the last few years or is it my imagination?/QUOTE]
I think it has and that suits me fine. They are not just two different styles of belly dance, they are two different dances. That is not saying one is better than the other, simply that putting them together is like calling cricket and baseball all cricket simply because they both involve a ball and bat.

[... This is why I think that keeping performance arts and personal identities separate is a good idea even if you're an amateur. There are some sick people out there./QUOTE]
I learned this the hard way almost forty years ago and things are exacerbated by the internet and ease of cyberstalking. When I was a legal assistant, part of my job was to track down witnesses and defendants who were dodging subpoenas. I had no sophisticated means of searching, no specialized training (I learned by trial and error), and yet managed to find the person I was looking for every time.

My real name does appear online via newspaper/magazine articles and professional sites but much of it was beyond my control and I don't much like that aspect of my job. Still, so far the only weird responses I've gotten have been via my dance information which lists only my business e-mail as a contact. Embroidery doesn't seem to attract nut cases the way belly dance does.
 

Roshanna

New member
We've had a few theatrical belly dance shows in the last few years. I'm not sure whether this is an ongoing thing where it's what you might do when you have enough decent dancers /resources to put on a full length show, or a trend that people will put a company together for. I think one of the ideas is to appeal to a general audience beyond the BD scene, but I don't know how well that works, and do you have to play the exotic harem card to sell it? :confused:. I've seen some awesome theatrical fusion done by amazing performers, and some right old self indulgent codswallop that is best saved for private haflas IMHO.
Yes, this seems to be the big thing in the UK at the moment - big, narrative theatrical shows. I was in one of them last year.

My feelings about it are mixed - I don't think bellydance is actually particularly well suited to ballet-type storytelling, but a lot of dancers seem to think doing this 'elevates' the dance or makes it more appealing to non-bellydancers. There's also a double-bind when it comes to subject matter, because using stories with a Middle Eastern setting can very easily turn into orientalist harem fantasy cheesecake, but using bellydance to tell a story that *isn't* set in the Middle East can come across as quite baffling to a general public audience (and bellydancers can be blind to how incongruous the juxtaposition is, because we see bellydance as ubiquitous). The dance in these theatrical things also sometimes tends to veer away from being distinctively bellydance, into a sort of generic theatrical dance with the occasional torso isolation or shimmy. This goes for artsy-fartsy theatrical fusion pieces at haflas, too...
 

Daimona

Moderator
The dance in these theatrical things also sometimes tends to veer away from being distinctively bellydance, into a sort of generic theatrical dance with the occasional torso isolation or shimmy. This goes for artsy-fartsy theatrical fusion pieces at haflas, too...
I second this. Plus that it removes itself from the closely linked musical interpretations and being the music while belly dancing.

Apart from my shaabi choreographies I've always hesitated to call my theatrical choreographies bellydance, even if the movement vocabulary comes from belly dance and the music have been interpreted through the ears of a belly dancer. It simply isn't belly dance even if it is heavily influenced by it.


But are there other trends going on at the moment?
 

Roshanna

New member
I can't remember if anyone has already mentioned this, but Iraqi dances, and to a lesser extent modern khaleeji styles, have been very trendy for the last few years.
 

Sophia Maria

New member
I can't remember if anyone has already mentioned this, but Iraqi dances, and to a lesser extent modern khaleeji styles, have been very trendy for the last few years.
THIS. Definitely this. Iraqi Khaleeji-Kawliya is huge. I don't mind that it is becoming a big thing, because I truly admire it. It's kind of funny though, if you think about it, because dancers (including me) start assuming that we should know at least the basics of it, even though the dance is QUITE different from oriental dance (even though it can include hip articulation and shimmying). I took a workshop with Soraia Zayed on it in 2014. I love it, and I plan to take a workshop with Assala Ibrahim the next time she swings by NYC. The only problem, though, is that because it's trending, there's so much misinformation...one dancer does something, another assumes that's the way to go, 2 more dancers copy her, on and on until you end up with a parade of girls ABSOLUTELY FLINGING their hair every which way, and missing the actual technique, beauty, and history of it. At one point someone pointed out that truly tasteless performance had been made by one dancer who stripped out of niqab and proceeded to fling her hair around.

Niqab stripping. Don't do it. So tasteless and ignorant.

Other than that, what's going on in the dance world? There's actually a ton of stuff--disclaimer, I really specialize in Egyptian style, so I can't tell you much about other styles. There are so many big-name festivals that I have to seriously pick and choose where I spend my time and money. I'm a huge fan of Mahrajane al Sharq which happens every year in Paris, and Nourhan Sharif's Egyptian Weeklong in NYC. But there are so many happening all over the place, it seems in every capital of every country at least. Paris, London, Madrid, Berlin, NYC, Cairo, Houston, Moscow...Argentina, China, Mexico, you name it.

One unfortunate thing is that, as a young dancer who has been dancing for 7 years and would really like to get more deeply involved, I find it hard to get involved. It seems everybody and their mother ( and their grandmother) is touring internationally to get to these super-flashy festivals and workshops and judge all these competitions. It's hard to find a lot of pro teachers (and not just ones that call themselves pro) that stay in one place. The scene of international-superstar-touring is definitely way more how the Oriental Dance world is these days. I honestly have very little hope of being able to easily find what one would call a "gig" these days...good restaurant dancing, weddings, live bands...but maybe that's just my pessimism?

As far as who's popular these days, it depends who you ask. Camelia, Sofinar, and Alla Kushnir are big in music videos from Cairo these days, and to be honest they don't do the style that I really want to model myself after. Sadie still tours a lot I think. Assala Ibrahim is becoming quite popular I think, perhaps because people KNOW she's the one to go to if you seriously want to appreciate Iraqi Kawliya. Randa Kamel tours a lot and hosts her own festival. Raqia still teaches! :dance: I'm personally in love with Khaled Mahmoud's teaching. He tours a lot, too, but if you get the chance and want to learn Egyptian style, he is simply excellent.
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
What a great pile of information you've bestowed on us, Sophia Maria! I am so totally out of the wide world of belly dance that I am particularly grateful for it. (Off to look at videos...)
 

Aniseteph

New member
Thanks Sophia Maria. I know exact what you mean about the teachers who spend all their time on the international festivals circuit and not staying in one place. Khaled Mahmoud is or was based within about 20 miles of here. I will concede that travelling the world being adored by hordes of dancers and paid big bucks is probably more attractive than teaching regular classes to hobbyists in a small town in Sussex and turning up at local haflas, but I reserve the right to feel slight miffed, OK?! ;)

It's interesting what you say about not finding local gigs. Is it that they are there but there's too much competition (from all these dancers who keep the international festivals going), or that locally the scene is dead (because all the dancers are off at international festivals...?). Or is the local scene dead and no local dancers, with the international festivals being kept going by interest elsewhere in the world? (Does that make sense???! )

It feels like there are a bunch of interconnected/ disconnected pools of activity. If I didn't have to go paint stuff I would geek out on construction the virtual koi carp pool model of local and international belly dance activity.
 

Shems

New member
Who are the major performers now?
Well, hmm, there are very few of the one's I consider major who aren't also doing the teaching workshop circuit, so I'm going to skip ahead.

The exceptions being a few dancers in Egypt who have been making a name for themselves, but not necessarily leaving their work there to teach as much as some others: Safinaz, Amie Sultan, Shams, Aziza, Camelia

In Turkey, the big name performers are still Asena and Didem, I'm not as keyed in here, but I haven't seen anything recently out of Tanyeli or some of the other dancers who have been popular in recent years.


Who is doing the teaching workshop circuit?
Egyptian teachers Dina, Tito, Randa Kamal, Dandash, Mohamed Shahin, Karim Nagi, Momo Kadous are all still very active teaching. There are several others, but I feel like these are the big names I see regularly.

Didem has started teaching workshops, which is cool, because she was contractually not allowed for a long time when she worked for the IBO show. Gigi Dilsah has become a pretty popular teacher too. And if you are looking for Romany dance I feel like Reyhan Tuzsuz can't be missed. Sema Yildiz is still pretty popular. Stateside for Turkish Artemis is still pretty active too.

In the USA/Canada, the names that have been really active lately are Sahra Saeeda CA, Sadie CO, Aziza (where is she now? Montreal?), Yasmina Ramzy Toronto, and in general a lot of the New York Dancers stay really active, Dalia Carella, Elena Lentini, Nourhan Sharif and others...I'm going to leave out a ton here...

A few of the younger generations of dancers that I feel are really putting some great work out there include Sa'diyya TX, Luna of Cairo, Shaharzad DC, Mariyah NYC, Elena Faye DC, Victoria Teel DC, Miasia, DC (yeah, I have to give a shout out to my local standouts!) I know every locality has their standouts, but these gals have been starting to do some really great work nationally and internationally.

In the fusion world stateside: Jenna Shear, Belladonna, Naimah, and Ebony DC, are some of our local standouts. The other fusion names that are still really drawing attention and making good work include Rachel Brice, Kami Liddle, Zoe Jakes, April Rose, Mira Betz, Susan Frankovich, Alice Giampieri, Illan Reverie, Manca Pavli, Olga Meos...

Internationally...well, I'm leaving out a ton of really important artist already and there is no way I can do this list justice, so I'm just going to throw some names out there: Mercedes Neito, Yael Zarca, Dariyah Mitzkevich, Queenie, Natalie Becker, Kaouther Ben Amor, Amanda Rose, Saida...okay, this is ridiculous, there is no way I can make a decent list of all the amazing talent at work right now.

But this bunch of names will hopefully give you a person or two to look up and a few to remember fondly.

What is new in each of the styles?
Egyptian seems to have gotten pretty technical and athletic compared to what it used to be a couple of decades ago. Randa is a big inspiration here, as are the choreographers with the folkloric backgrounds that like to put a million spins and arabesques in everything. For those not going that direction you will see those going overtly sexy, almost, or totally, raunchy or baudy, think Safinaz or some of the lower brow Shaabi. There are a few that are staying a little more connected to the classic styles, and then everything in between.

Turkish has always been pretty athletic, so it is continuing in that tradition, and I'm seeing some of the Ukrainian and Russian styling show up in Didem's style and I suspect, if for no other reason than her huge media footprint that she is influencing other Turkish dancers styling.

As was mentioned Iraqi Kawleeya dances have become very popular, particularly coming out of Ukraine and Russia, and it is out of those parts we seem to get the most exaggerated versions.

In the US, a very polished "competition" styling has become the mainstream for the American/Arabic/Turkish styles, a lot of energy, some "tricks" and something inbetween the 1970s club styles and the modern Egyptian and Ukrainian styles. You are seeing something similar in South America also. There is definitely a lot of Americans nostalgic about 1970s club styles back to golden era Egypt styles right now, and trying to revive them, in their own way.

Internationally, well, it seems to follow the more athletic polished styles coming from dancers like Dariyah Mitzkevish, Saida, Randa, Mercedes, and so on. Which really makes some of the more juicy softer dancers stand out like Kaouther Ben Amor

Most of the live music clubs in the US are gone now, although there are still a few in some of the major cities. The majority of shows and gigs are to recorded music, some venues allow more "art" than others but they are all about "entertainment" first and foremost. I suspect these will become even fewer and further between until we can swing the other way on this recent wave of popular xenophobia.

Theatrical work has seemed to have picked up in a lot of places. I think there is a precedent for this in the larger tradition of Oriental Dance, like the folkloric dance troupes of Reda's and others that put on huge theatrical shows of slicked up ethnic dance, then there are the large theatrical productions created for films, and the large theatrical shows created for TV by artists like Nagua Fouad. I think it makes sense as the support for belly dance in nightclubs ebbs and flows, dancers look for other venues to put their work out there. It takes several forms on several scales with several different kinds of stories and ideas, but I think it they are all worthwhile routes to take, and the longer this dance exists, the more people will become creative about different ways of presenting it.

I keep hearing about "Tribal Fusion" performances going off the deep end, how so?
Deep end? When were the tribal fusion dancers not off in the deep end? I have seen a whole lot of contemporary dance in there as well as, well, every other kind of conceivable influence, but I think it just seems like it is getting crazier because more folks are involved and bringing their own fantasy or experience from another genre into the mix. For me, I like it when it is great, meh when it is meh, and it pretty much has always occupied its own space for me very separate from the other more traditional approaches to belly dance more closely linked to the middle east.

And can anyone post some examples of good performances in various styles I've missed?
(Though that should probably go in the Performances section.)
yes! I could go on for ages...I'll just pick a couple.
hmmm....

Kaouther Ben Amor, Oriental
[video=youtube_share;T6NPaSv5gNI]https://youtu.be/T6NPaSv5gNI[/video]

Queenie, Baladi
[video=youtube_share;yAkMDZa9dEw]https://youtu.be/yAkMDZa9dEw[/video]

Shahrzad, Um K
[video=youtube_share;REGmG3cwRIQ]https://youtu.be/REGmG3cwRIQ[/video]

Ebony, Tribal Fusion
[video=youtube_share;cNvTm72aGcM]https://youtu.be/cNvTm72aGcM[/video]

Saidi Boys at Raqs Of Course (aka the most fun you can have in a galabeya ;))
[video=youtube_share;aBA9jGahtd8]https://youtu.be/aBA9jGahtd8[/video]

ok, that was a pretty random sampling. :)
 
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