Elated About Lunar New Year – Year of the Horse

Lunar New Year Dragon

Lunar New Year Dragon

Lunar New Year has been fun thus far. I spent the first weekend of it at the Taipei Cultural Arts Centre in Dunwoody. Saturday was packed with what could have well been over 500 people in an auditorium, many standing near the stage watching group after group do cultural dances.

imageThere were so many gorgeous dance routines on the stage, I don’t even know where to begin. Some of my favourite dancers included those with water sleeves, long sleeve dances and those from the western most sections of China. I thought I saw Turkistan represented as well but I’m not sure…the dance movements, the very pronounced wrist twirling and intricate outfits reminded me of that area. I love the culture in that part of China because it’s so close to what we do in our own African, Middle Eastern, African/Asian communities. To see these traditions come to life every year by our local Asian community is heart warming. The goreous clothing, beautiful hair styles and soul grabbing music, it’s hard not to swoon and praise the dancers and performers. This was really touching.

One of my favourite dances was that of a soloist wearing an outfit that seemed to represent every ethnic group that has ever roamed the eastern hemisphere. There were the traditional dropped ruffles found in Spain and West Africa, she had the wrists and hip movements of someone in Egypt and Lebanon, the music could have been a myriad of any place in the east and she herself was just stunning and performing with fantastic rhythm! I don’t even know how to describe it, you just had to be there.

imageThere was an additional group that was described as a women in their 70s and 80s who dance together often. They were very youthful in colourful dresses and jingling hipscarves. They danced to the PCDolls, “Loosen Up My Buttons?” Is that the name of the song? They were darling with their intricate hip movements and big smiles on their faces; bright, bold and stellar!

This year there were many non-ethnic chinese families. Lots of African-Asian Exchange members and their families, some swirled and multi-national, I felt right at home. I loved that! This is a really good sign. I was happy to see all of the different cultures, cheering on the children and young adults. I met one lady doing research on our community and detailed too her my experience as an African living in a majority Asian community for many years. There were also several officials up for re-election and they spoke, giving words of encouragement and helping us better understand how important it is to get out and vote as we need to have a place/representation at the table. I think I cheered and clapped the loudest on this because I firmly believe in being active on the political front.

As with any cultural event you get those that have no idea what any of this means. There was one group of youngsters who were very loud and made stereotypical newbie comments thinking this was going to be full of anime characters and aficionados… ummm, no. This isn’t AWA, this is Lunar New Year, and though some of us were dressed in Asian streetstyle clothing, which is elaborate and mistakenly “character” in itself, we were not there to see our favourite video game icons. We were there for ancient traditions and to gather and see those of mulitple generations’ dedication to carry the torch for their ethnic group, there’s nothing comical about that.

Sunday in Orient Square is always my favourite, love this lion and dragon group.

Sunday in Orient Square is always my favourite, love this lion and dragon group.

Lunar New Year remains one of my favourite holidays and I go to great lengths to spend two days dancing and celebrating with the dragon these holiday weekends. I really take it seriously and do hope that in the coming years we have a well-defined dinner, dance weekends, hotel hobbit parties and anything else we can squeeze into the 15 days. Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Thanks for reading!

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Review: Open Mic Night @ Steve’s Live Music hosted by World Bellydance Alliance

Our local raqs fanatic, reflects on a recent show:

Amira Bey, in a salute to Toronto's Legendary Yasmina Ramzy

Amirah Bey, in a salute to Toronto’s Legendary Yasmina Ramzy

This was the 1st “bellydance” focused show of the year in ATL’s Raqs Community (excluding the private events that took place during the New Year celebrations). To start, Allah Yustur warmed up a bit before the first dancer, Christy sang a version of the song my cousin sang for Shab-e-Yalda. It was great to hear it again, one of my favourites.

image “Big Shout Out” to all the performers wearing MissBellydance.com tonight at the show. What an extraordinary thing to see. The first four performers wore one of the popular sets from their Tribal Fusion line. I know the staff will be more than happy to see the pictures. If you’d like to have yours eatured on their social media site, just upload it to their FB page and a discount on your next purchase will follow.

Here is a list of dancers this evening

Qamar (drove in from Athens and included female tabla players (zaghareet to that!))

Qamar (drove in from Athens and included female tabla players (zaghareet to that!))

Oleandra
Northside Tribe
Oliva
Tamar
Sabeeya
Radeyah
Scarlett
Isha
Omega
Jenny
Amirah Bey
Amani Jabril
Majda
Leena
Mina
Aziza Nawal

Steve is very supportive of Atlanta's music scene.

Steve is very supportive of Atlanta’s music scene.

The program started on time with Jenny coming to the microphone as well as the owner of the venue, Steve. He gave us a great welcome to the start of the 2014 Raqs year and later invited World Bellydance Alliance to have more programs there. The crowd went wild with support and joy.

Omega did justice to the region, mabrook wa shukran for that great presentation!

Omega did justice to the region, mabrook wa shukran for that great presentation!

One of the major highlights of the night was seeing Omega perform. She moved to Athens from Gainsville, Florida. Her raqs presentation was one of the top pieces of the night. It was extremely professional, very few hiccups and she looked stunning dressed in her red bedluh embellished with silver workings, beads and other elegant additions. She was the exact image of what you find at top Middle Eastern programs. Dancing to a popular tune on the eastern front, her technique and overall execution of moves was dynamic. You felt every single move, her passion and dedication. I was highly impressed…it was so good I was near tears. Mabrook Omega! wow! Powerful and passionate in a most respectful way.

Amani is one of nation's top experts on cultural dance.

Amani is one of nation’s top experts on cultural dance.

As expected Amani Jabril and Aziza Nawal‘s sets were super stellar. Amani performed her immaculate Classical Persian in full traditional attire. She returned to the stage later in that gorgeous long sleeve mosaic dress with her hair smoothed and long while dancing with a white veil. It was breathtaking and stunning. Amani is also hosting a great event this year, the 3rd Dancers’ Intensive. So be sure to check that out.

Aziza’s big crowd pleaser was a classic modern raqs set accompanied by her award winning drum solo…one of the many I should say. She wore a very well-made bedluh that she later revealed she designed and sewed it herself. Nice job lady!! It’s certainly worth a few hundred to say the least. Absolutely gorgeous print.

Jenny’s set was also sleek and hot. She did what she’s best known for…these passionate fusion routines packed with power and finesse. Fans just lose themselves watching her, it’s a mass of amazement…hard to get enough of it. I dare say the photographer was smitten to say the least…his eyes danced as much as she did. I feel ya brah…I feel ya…she’s good eh? Great scott, stuff like that’ll shake your faith.

Majda was wonderful to do her coveted double veil routine to one of Raquy and the Cavemen’s songs. It is a stunning piece, completely captivating and beautiful, Masha’Allah. I love it even more every time I see it. It’s just dynamite and something extraordinary to behold.

The entire show was extremely diverse and filled with very skilled individuals. From female tabla players to live musicians…this was a perfect way to start the year!

Thank you World Bellydance Alliance, Steve’s Live Music and all of the wonderful stores and dance entities that donated prizes for guests. I’m really looking forward to shows like these which are not only intimate but filled with passionate people who have worked hard to get where they are and are still striving for excellence in this art.

The very talented Allah Yustur Music Ensemble closed the show with cherished  classics from the region.

The very talented Allah Yustur Music Ensemble closed the show with cherished classics from the region.

Thanks for reading…
*Photos courtesy of Stephanie Colletti & Rana Raqs

Shab-e-Yalda Event Atlanta (2013)

imageThe Atlanta International Community is known for hosting some pretty fun events with a strong cultural focus. Shab-e-Yalda 2013, sponsored by MissBellydance.com and Global Sound Scene is to be another spectacular night filled with salutes to this Persian Holiday.

Amani Jabril of Amani Jabril Middle Eastern and World Dance celebrating Raqs Atlanta's 15+years of service to the International Community with Andye (co-founder of RA & AABCE)

Amani Jabril of Amani Jabril Middle Eastern and World Dance celebrating Raqs Atlanta’s 15+years of service to the International Community with Andye (co-founder of RA & AABCE)

Guests will be treated to an amazing show featuring some of the Atlanta Dance Community’s culture loving crews like Les Raissat, known for their well-loved ethnic dance routines and shows. Beth Mendez “Doniazad“, a friend of the African Asian Business and Cultural Exchange is also performing. She’s known for her 1001 Nights theatrical event some years ago as well as being a top hit at cultural events. She was recently picked by MissBellydance.com as one of their principal models for videos. Award winning Amani Jabril of Amani Jabril Middle Eastern and World Dance will be presenting her gorgeous Persian repertoire that is always stunning. Tara of the AABCE will read poetry with a special guest from Iran, plus Majda of AllahYustur and Awalim Fame. We may also see Tallita of Brasil. Then the amazing Faaridah of Atlanta Fusion Bellydance will close the show with her team. It’s to be an amazing night, steeped in the warmth and camaraderie known to Shab-e-Yalda worldwide.

MissBellydance.com will be offering gift bags for each VIP guest.

MissBellydance.com will be offering gift bags for each VIP guest.

VIP seating is available for $10 and grants guests a premium front row seat plus a gift from MissBellydance.com. The $15 dollar dinner is separate and you get a free appetizer with your entree when you mention the facebook advertisement. So, our suggestion is you buy the ticket, print out the flyer on the Fanoos facebook page and bring it with you so that you get more for your money and make the most of your evening.

Having more culturally focused events in Atlanta is a great way to keep the traditions alive for all that now reside here from abroad. Fanoos is a perfect location for it given its amazing floor space, vast menu that includes Persian specialties and it’s a hotspot for raqs shows and amazing international singers and guests. What a great way to round out the year. Truly looking forward to it!

Fanoos Atlanta

Fanoos Atlanta

Shab-e-Yalda, a Persian Holiday
December 21st 2013
Fanoos Persian Cusine -6125 Roswell Rd, Sandy Springs
7pm-9pm
Featuring Atlanta’s Amazing International Community Dancers and Guests
Visit this link to purchase tickets: http://www.eventbrite.com/event/5076483900/eorg

 

 

Bienvenue, Welcome, Ahlan!

Valizan (Canada), Andye (Nigeria-USA), Ziah Ali (USA) hanging out at Mosaic, 16+years of Global Raqs Magic

Valizan (Canada), Andye (Nigeria-USA), Ziah Ali (USA) hanging out at Mosaic, 16+years of Global Raqs Magic

Ahlan waSahlan! Salaam wa Merhaba, Marhaba, Salut, Bienvenue et Shukran Jazillan for visiting Raqs Atlanta. We enjoyed 15 years as a private group of international concert, conference and show attendees. We are now ready to go public and share our dedication to the global arts community. Here we will post information about upcoming shows, music programs, visiting celebs and meet & greets. It’s all about having a really good time enjoying our culture, language and being ourselves with no apologies. Our motto remains the same, “All things international like me!”

Moderator and Contributors:

Nagwa, Andye, The Diasporic Team, Atlanta African Asian Business and Cultural Exchange, MissBellydance.com and our partners in dance.