(From Andye) These are solely my opinions, my thoughts and experiences at Mosaic 2013. I state these observations from the point of view of an international community member with 15+years of Raqs Sharqi attendance and former teacher and ethnic line dancer. I trust that those I saw are fully aware of the cultures they choose to represent -under the umbrella of “bellydance.”
I have to give thanks to Jenny Nichols of World Bellydance Alliance for encouraging me to attend the show which led to me purchasing a ticket to the entire event as a spectator. Oftentimes I’m unsure if I’ll be in town so I have come to buy tickets closer to the show dates…which is not what I like to do. It’s always best to take advantage of the early bird rates for conferences. I can’t stress that enough. So, one day, while having lunch at Fanoos with Lady J, I pulled out my mobile device and bought a ticket. Later I saw that Valizan would be there and so that prompted a super fan fit. I hadn’t even looked at the line up and I really didn’t care. I just knew it was going to be two days of non stop raqs presentations and panels…and that’s more than any raqs fan could ask. A whole two days of non stop raqs! Aiewa!
I skimmed the directions. I barely read the details. Up to the day before I thought the program was at the hotel Mina had chosen previously. I’m a hotel hobbit, anything at at a hotel makes me happy so I was looking forward to camping out in a ballroom (glamping) and enjoying all of the performances and talks. So, I see something like, “It’s at the Wyndham.” I check the map and it’s even closer to me than I thought. I go to the Wyndham across the street…and that’s not the hotel. So I’m standing there, the hotel staff and guests are staring at me in my blue Japanese Loli wear. I quickly call Jenny. She lets me know that I’m not at the right hotel and guides me to one further away, closer to Fanoos. Oops! Next time, I’ll be sure to read the directions and not get caught up in the excitement.
I got there just in time to see Valizan and Ziah do their awesome performance. I had to give them a standing ovation. It was such a joy to see these friends of 16years, fans and friends of Fat Chance Bellydance (Valizan has a sister studio to FCBD) do a very classic ATS number in colourful ensembles. It was historic to have them open the show and a smart move by the host as these two are more than just leaders in the ATS community, they too, through their work and perserverance are icons.
A lot of great performances followed including Mina’s daughter and sister-in-law in a spinning poi routine. There was burlesque included and a variety of performers. I should add here that during the event, there was a random comment about the concern over bellydancers on stage with burlesque. It was marketed as a variety show so…a variety of dance styles were expected.
(update) *Because the type of raqs sharqi (bellydance) that I grew up with was of fully covered ladies doing modest performances that had nothing to do with sex, I can see where some are concerned about the two being next to one another.* I am not comfortable with burlesque being compared to or matched with raqs presentations because raqs is one thing and burlesque is another. I was thankful that descriptions of the event made it clear that there would be a variety of performances so that no one would assume that all of these things are bellydance versus a variety of performance art. If you wish to argue with me about that, fine. We can pull out our facts and debate but again, Burlesque and Bellydance are not the same, I don’t care if the two have shared a stage at past venues and events, it’s not because they were related…it’s because of something else entirely. Just because you see a singer and a piano player in the same venue doesn’t mean they both sing well. They specialise in two distinct forms of entertainment and performance. If only Sol Blume was alive today so we could make a panel. Where are the children of his friends? Maybe they are open to discussing it. We could have an entire symposium.
Performance Highlights of the weekend
My favourite performances were the same people I always go nuts over. Jenny Nichols, Heidi of Jahara Phoenix, who did a routine to an instrumental version of Macklemore’s Thrift Shop, Fonda of course, because her Burlesque performances are always classy and beautiful and free of “side show.” Valizan’s Egyptian performance (an improv that looked like a well thought out choreo) was welcomed as was Naima’s amazing improv. There were flow artists with amazing light shows and glowing instruments that just took you to another place in time, totally appreciated the fact that they were there and Galina did a fine job that following Sunday morning.
Karma’s costume was beautiful. It was a blue and gold cascading skirt with gold bra top. She wore her hair down and gave a very dramatic performance. She has a commercial look to her dance persona and I was told she has or is moving to Atlanta. If she’s interested in dancing in the various establishments I think she’s going to get hired fairly quick because she delivered a presentation that was not just “commercial” but also had just enough “ta’arab” and thus it felt rather true to some of the eastern shows and what one would see at international community conferences.
Also, the young woman from Seattle, the one that was the first raissat to perform with Cirque Du Soleil, her costume was very beautiful. The colours of rust and red worked well.
This show had two moments that were very “interesting.” One of which was one of the featured teachers giving one of the event hosts what looked to be a sort of a lap dance? What was that? What was she doing?
The second was the woman who moved to the front row stealing someone else’s seat, causing the child that was sitting on the third seat to run away becaue the lady was clearly under the influence of too much alcohol. We thought she was the parent or relative…maybe a neighbour of one of the performers. It wasn’t until she said, “oooh I hope the next one that comes out is real pretty!! Oohhh she is, Yay!!” that we knew something wasn’t right. She continued to carry on yelling and making comments that embarrassed Lady Fonda, her sweet friend Mr. Jim and I to bits. We looked at each other and then looked over at Mina. Mina got security and the woman was escorted out along with her date…who didn’t seem bothered by her behaviour at all.
The vendors were diverse and nothing felt like a repeat. All styles of dance and lifestyle wear from Moonlight Diva were available. I got a new pair of hair sticks and colourful clips from two shoppes. They are quite lovely
Overall -This event is great for those that are just obsessed with Raqs Sharqi. If you love to watch dance all day long and enjoy a bit of burlesque and flow arts then you’ll really have a blast at Mosaic. It’s worth the ticket price, in fact I think you get a little more than for what you pay. The hotel was immaculate and the staff was very friendly. It was certainly ideal for a conference.
Applause to Mina for a well thought out event, for her quick action regarding the distrubing audience member and the great atmosphere. I hope I get to attend others. The concept is perfect and a great addition to the awesome shows we have here in Atlanta. Mabrook!