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 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!))

Northside Tribe
Amirah Bey
Amani Jabril
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

Juice Box: The Preview

imageLately I’ve been completely speechless and in awe watching the mental workings of so many great dancers in the Atlanta area as well as Toronto, Houston and Miami. It’s the talent, thought process and dedication to an art that can’t seem to win a respectable place on the world’s stage for the painful stories rising out of the east, overshadowing the amazing educating entertainment scene. While the horrors of those suffering should be front and center we as artists and fans hold fast to the idea that the art itself can heal us and keep us going…it acts as a great tool to remind us of who we really are and what the culture can do and is doing…and what we trust it will be known for again. We send our love and support to the effort for peace in the region in many ways and one of them is through keeping the art, music and dance alive abroad so that the world can see part of “the region’s best.”

In Atlanta, that dedication of reminding the world what else the Middle East and Africa is includes oustanding presentations of live music, bands of ex-pats and immigrants’ kids and a yearning to show the culture in the most respectable light. The entire summer saw conferences, festivals and shows featuring some of the best love for Raqs Sharqi, Middle Eastern and African music as well as a showcase of fashion and cuisine. Last night at Pera Dance and Event Studio the ladies of World Bellydance Alliance and Amani Jabril Middle Eastern and World Dance took the effort of presenting a positive side of the culture up a few notches…well, let’s just say one will need a ladder to reach the level of enlightenment they bestowed upon the attendees of Juice Box: The Preview.

What I expected was an hour of quick raqs clips one right after the other. Instead we got a small 2 hour seminar with passionate performances. It was like watching a raqs documentary come to life…a 3D version of a live show with interviews. Words will never sum up the “myriad of marvelous” they presented. It was a gift and a treat…and it was free of cost. From the generous spread of food to the numerous lighting changes and gorgeous physiques of all involved it felt like a celebration of culture, of academia and the ability to look at raqs in a way most people never experience. They took us inside their minds in the most intelligent and entertaining way. Those around me were nodding and engaged…staring in awe. We were enraptured. All I could think was…ohmigah, we have to wait til when to see this live? Are you kidding me? I need this tomorrow, that kind of awesomeness can not be teased.

Without giving away the show in advance as we were asked not to video tape or disclose their plans, the night will give you more than just historic dance but a deep understanding of how this art is approached by a variety of people that are exposed to it. You see a dancer who is introduced to raqs and her growth in the dance scene, you meet the expats’ daughter who is able to link her own culture to it; she takes you on a journey and you meet the historian who lives and resides within the culture’s art every single day. Juice Box will change you completely, you won’t see Raqs Sharqi in the way you’ve seen it before and you might not ever call it “bellydance” again…this is something else entirely. This is something beyond the stage, beyond the surface of even the most amazing of performances, this is …the next level!

Juice Box
Coming February 2014
Location: Live performance on an Atlanta stage
Featuring: World Bellydance Alliance, Amani Jabril Middle Eastern and World Dance plus members of Atlanta’s international community and cultured society
Tickets: On sale in December 2013