The Awesomeness of Ozgen

Last week, on a very hot Sunday, Atlanta Fusion Bellydance hosted a super cool workshop with Ozgen. I first met him in Toronto during the IBCC. One of the panels he spoke on was about Men in Bellydance and he contributed to the event with some great insight. I appreciated his work and what he provided. So, when Faaridah told me he’d be in town, I knew I had to clear my schedule so I wouldn’t miss him. I’ve been making some improvements to my health. Right now missing physician appointments and being absent from taking great strides at swim meet and activities designed specifically to get me back on track are not an option. However, I rescheduled my swim meet for the 4th of July and told my physician that missing Ozgen wasn’t an option either. His work is a part of my healing and wellbeing. Ozgen did not disappoint.

Ozgen taught Turkish Romany and also Turkish Technique/Choroegraphy. I felt these were important because this was his first time in Atlanta. I understood that some dancers may not be familiar with his work if they don’t travel internationally. Given that, I felt this would be the most comprehensible and give them a foundation that would allow them to enjoy his future workshops. Ozgen did not hold back on the complexity of his work. I attended the second half of the day’s workshops which included the technique course. To the naked eye or non-traveller one might think he taught a complex choreography. But there was more to it than that. There were parts and nuances that I’ve always admired about Turkish dancers. Specifically, when he lifted his arms on a travelling step, his stance and posture was very regional. Every time he went through that part in the choreography I swooned. And there were times when the class would just stop and watch him because he was just so enjoyable to just soak up and appreciate.

Swoonfest
I felt guilty because I had come simply to watch him dance. I wanted to remember the moments from IBCC Toronto and just watch a master at work. He really has some clean lines and culturally specific combinations that make him one of a kind. I felt blessed sitting there and at one point he just enjoyed the song as we watched. He danced around and Stewnell and I simultaneously fluttered in our seats in admiration. We looked at each other and said, “Isn’t it beautiful?” simultaneously. We were on cloud 9 the whole workshop. I could have watched him for hours. He said later that this was a more feminine style that he was teaching and that his own personal performances were a little more indicative of a masculine take on the dance. I saw that in Toronto and was impressed as well.

Dinner & Dancing
We went to Café Istanbul in Decatur afterward. Ozgen was very patient as the restaurant opened an hour later than scheduled. They used to open at 1pm on Sundays but today it was 5pm and we were under the impression (and according to online) that they’d be open at 4pm. The waitress came at 4:45pm and graciously let us in a bit early. She was alone and prepared all the drinks, sides and took our orders. She was also able to converse and chat with Ozgen in language and she also spoke Portugues do Brasil so I had a good time chatting with her as well. She was exceptionally kind. The bread was fresh so my little gluten intolerant body was able to eat it without the issues that come from bread mixed with preservatives. I mean, down to the details it was really great and Ozgen danced for us as well. It was an absolutely perfect Sunday.

Room for Improvement? No – Just Want More!
I don’t think there was anything that could be improved for this workshop. The venue was comfortable. The timing was early enough on Sunday that you didn’t get home too late. Ozgen delivered a solid set that everyone could take home. He allowed us to video tape it in the end. I feel that he was generous to give us a dance at the end of the day as that’s usually something stars do for an additional fee. He was animated and fun. I do agree with him that an information or chat session would be good to include in the future where we hear the low down or down low on what is happening from his point of view (or anyone’s point of view). He mentioned how much he enjoyed the panels in Toronto and how important and helpful they were. I agree. Dancers have stories from their travels and culture that we need to hear in order to truly be ensconced and related as we portray their art. I feel if there had been time AFBD would have had that. AFBD is not one to skip the important things.

One thing that works in our community is themes. I feel it would be beneficial if AFBD took this to another level with a full line up of dynamic men. A mini-conference at a great hotel featuring Egyptian Tommy King, European Rashid, North American Nath Keo for Fusion and perhaps a wonderful raqs celeb from South America. I’m always asked to note something that can be changed because surely nothing is perfect but this was as good as it could get so the only thing to do is just keep going by highlighting more men. So, onward and upward! Let’s keep the momentum going!

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Excited About Ozgen

One of my fondest memories of bellydance was at the International Bellydance Conference of Canada. In 2008, they hosted Tito Seif, Aida Nour and several incredible stars from around the globe. Ozgen was among the list of instructors and I learned a lot being in his presence.

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Ozgen in Toronto at the IBCC

Ozgen is a great instructor but he also has a wealth of knowledge about men in dance and what goes on from a man’s perspective. I’m not sure about now but being a male dancer at that time, you heard a lot of stories about odd reactions to men being on stage and how rare it was in the west for men to dance. Now, those of us who grew up in the culture are fully aware that men dance. Men taught me everything I know about raqs sharqi and I do feel like Ozgen contributed to that knowledge during the conference.

In addition to being a great instructor and advisor in the world of cultural dance, in particular, Turkish dance, he also has some really great energy and dance style. I’m excited about him coming to Atlanta, hosted by Atlanta Fusion Belly Dance. He will be teaching several classes and it is worth your while to get his perspective on where we are today in the industry as well as learn his technique in Turkish Romany. To say I’m excited is an understatement!

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Attend Ozgen’s workshops by registering here. You’re going to have an amazing time and learn a lot! He is really down to earth and easy to with which to work. He’s very handsome and quite kind. I added that top picture because that’s my fondest memory of him even more than seeing him on stage. I loved listening to his advice along with everyone that spoke that Saturday afternoon. It was such a great memory that I wish I could repeat in modern times. Nothing beats that conference and the panels. I’m so glad he was there and added to the experience.

This is one of those workshops that you won’t forget. It will ground you and help you have a better grasp on Turkish culture and global entertainment. The one thing we all want to do is represent the region well. For those that were not raised in the culture, this is an opportunity to touch, be engulfed and surround yourself with incredible knowledge through music and dance. I’m supposed to have a medical procedure that day but I’m rescheduling so I can be there. It’s that important to me. Can’t wait!!

From Good to Great to Gold – AFBD, Raqs Royalty of Atlanta

This is dedicated to the late Queen Harish for whom we owe for promoting dance in a way that celebrated all of us. He will be missed and may the Universe guide us and keep his spirit near.

Atlanta Fusion Bellydance’s 10th-anniversary show was a production that embodied the art community of Atlanta. Hosted by one of the newest members of the ATL International Community, Mr. Cortez, it began on time and was VERY organized. The venue was easy to reach by GPS. The Yelp reviews note that there is no parking but there was valet and it was managed by some of the most polite young men with which I ever left my car. Big shout out to Byron on that team.

The community showed up in support of AFBD, lots of families, grandparents and international community members. The dining hall for the dinner that followed was quite lovely and well decorated. There was fruit and cheese for guests and the staff was really nice at the location. The seats were cushioned and comfortable for the most part. Myself and the young man beside me were a bit wider in the waist and therefore the seat, while soft and enjoyable, did pack us in like sardines. I’ll be glad when I’m well and things like that are no longer an issue. Other than that I’d consider having an event there because it was just so well done. Not too informal and not OTT Black Tie, heels only. Locations like these should be the STANDARD for all shows and only go up from there.

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From the front entrance to the flowers on the table, the place was decked with decor.

Check-in was smooth as well. I lost my VIP wristband within minutes of receiving it and the AFBD team were able to get another for me within seconds. While I do not suggest one be as careless and aloof as I was this evening when getting myself through the door, it’s nice to know that they weren’t horrified and I didn’t have to pay another VIP fee to replace it. Thank you, Deonce!

Great Show Open
One of the highlights of the show was the video that was produced (impeccable editing – I should know. I worked at CNN for over a decade and editors are gods and goddesses, you gotta get it right, it’s an art). This video featured the core members of AFBD and a few guests speaking about the beginnings of the company including the former studio prior to their move to the current space. As a long time volunteer with MissBellydance.com, I feel having them so close is another reason MBD is still in Atlanta. They have been a huge inspiration and very encouraging. The video commentary was quite touching and focused primarily on their relationships with each other and the sisterhood they have formed. The entire visual was reminiscent of the early Bellydance Superstars productions with chimed openings and middle east charmer rhythms. I feel it should be a documentary and submitted to the library of congress or at least submitted for a PromaxBDA award. Really great material there!

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Excellent Video!

 

Show Highlights

Fatin and Aziza lead the first performance along with familiar faces that I see at all the shows. The highlight of their performance was the Isis wings whose significance was explained in the video shown prior to this show opener. While Aziza and Fatin were dominant and prominently featured in this piece with amazing stage presence and their famous, pristine raqs presentations, the other dancers presented strong skill. I remember when several of them started dancing and they have grown to be confident and an asset to the community. Well done!

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Heidi was also a wonderful addition to the show. She combined several styles and danced to music that saluted her Cuban ethnicity/heritage/roots. I was happy to see her mother there who is also SUPER supportive and another strong asset to Atlanta’s dance comm. She was like a swan, graceful and beautiful. I could have watched a few more pieces with her as a solo. I kept thinking members of Balkan Beat Box would also appreciate her performance. Very Nice! Que pasa contigo? Usted, habibti! Usted! Oh yeahhhh!

Mina was in the show this evening. She’s been a strong supporter of AFBD for several years. She’s often at their shows and I know she appreciates their work. This set was one of my favourites of the evening. I loved her ensemble, a dazzling body stocking with a matching full panel skirt that swayed with every move. The ambiance hue was violet and lavender. It was gorgeous and she danced well. Really enjoyed this set from her. The music was perfect and fit the essence of the event. This was “well fused” and, again, I enjoyed every bit! More of this!!

I’m known for saying who stole the show and tonight it was Aziza Nawal and her team. I see you, Carole Ann and you look AMAZING dancing to my all time favourite Iranian singer, Moein! Together they danced to a mix of top cultural favorites from the region including Iran. They started off with a nice Saidi piece spinning canes like pros. Then they segued into one of Moein’s most known songs that is often classified as “classic bandari” – yes gawd! Boloooo!! Boloooo! Boloooo Masha’Allah! This was my absolute favourite set of the night (and there were many who nearly took its place but this remained the best set for keeping true to the root of rhythm in the region and doing a segue …as fusion is often presented in the region…a clear segue). Beautiful!! Yani, helowa!!

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This was especially amazing for me because I can remember dancing around with Aziza and Amani at Taverna Plaka during my raqs superfan years. The rare occasion this song came on I’d go nuts on the dance floor spinning and leaping in the air as if it were a wedding. That was 10 years ago and it was a joy to see her carrying that spirit and skill well into the future. She did this song justice and I pray we get to see more and more of her in the coming years doing sets like this with great dancers like that!

*Aziza did a second set this afternoon – a solo – and it was just as powerful as the group piece. She danced to a classic as if it was second nature. Those close to me know I moved to Atlanta for two reasons. My dream job called and I wanted to be in an international community a lot bigger than the tight-knit but tiny (10,000 vs. 100,000) one I was in. I saw one photo of Aziza on the cover of a magazine and I literally packed a bag and waited for an offer. When it came, I moved the same day and threw a stone over my shoulder. I thought being in ATL was going to be even bigger and better and it was for a very long time because of artists like Aziza who kept our culture alive and kept it real. She is a big reason I stayed happy and sane. I owe her!

Next Steps in Presentations

With that said, I feel it’s time we start celebrating our top artists to the fullest. We need singers. That song and many others featured tonight are famous because of the greats who sang along with the dancers. Some of you may know them as the “man in the suit” and Fatme who continued her fame right alongside great raissat like Dina. We gotta get some men in suits on stage singing with these local legends. I guess I better get my abbayah dusted off and the sheet music. Where’s Christy? Let’s. do. this.

Karma Karmelita was also in the show and danced to what I believe was one of Nagwa Karem’s hits. Karma was as powerful as expected and a roaring success with the audience. To not have her featured in a show is equal to risking failure. She is a must!

 

Jenny – my goodness. She is just supreme. I love her style. It’s all JENNY and the nods to various cultures is just the icing on the cake. I ADORE Jenny Nichols! Her husband knows it and heaven bless her mother, I feel her spirit knows it too. I love that lady. I even have a doll that I found in the American Girl Store that I was drawn to because she reminds me of Jenny. It’s sitting in the front room right now in a pretty dress. I might bring her to class but I don’t want Jenny to freak out. There was a running joke that Jenny lived inside one of my Hello Kitty bags and if you opened it Jenny would pop out and dance for you. Well, with my doll, we’re close enough. Okay, enough Jenny fanning…

Her video was excellent and I feel if you’re a true fan of this community you gotta get a copy. I know I want to put a digital version on my website and several other places including celebrating it on MissBellydance.com. Her performance, from costume to choreography along with Haliesha and team was OUT OF THIS WORLD. I LOVED IT. So fusion and so professional! Much like Karma, Jenny is ESSENTIAL FOR SHOWS. She has it all! Nice job! More please…more Jenny and team! Also, I want the jackets they were wearing…like seriously. I need that STAT!

Kalinka was also featured in tonight’s celebration and she brought the house down in a very spiritual way. KALINKA was EVERYTHING! While watching her and enjoying her energy, I was able to see where we lack support for great artists like this. This performance was perfect. The costume, the song, her stage presence…all of it. Yet, we were a little quiet. I know part of it was because we were mesmerized. It was very hard to pick one’s chin off the floor but the music was there to get us up. Had she been performing for an Egyptian or Lebanese audience, jackets would have been thrown on the stage and people would have been up in the aisles. She was THAT good! I had the hardest time watching her because I WAS FORCED TO SIT STILL THROUGH SOMETHING SO MAJESTIC I FORGOT WHERE I WAS!

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I don’t know what venue or place we can have these shows and still have a substantial stage plus the ability to stand up and SUPPORT great dancers in regional fashion (literally and figuratively). I wanted to get up and slap the stage, take off my tie and swirl it around. But if I had I would have been a show within a show. I should have got up and sat next to Nicolas so I could sing and clap culturally. Instead, I was sitting with the new guy from Turkey and neither of us were “ourselves.” Kalinka’s performance was a wake-up call that we need to reevaluate the opportunity to praise a dancer the right way. She deserved a few jackets at her feet and flowers too. TAO BONITA!!! Now THAT right there…that’s raqs sharqi! Muito obrigada, Kalinka! You did that!

The show close was AFBD’s teachers dancing to a great classic that I used to play on raqs cocktail repeat. I found it in the stack of music at my cousin’s market in my teens. I loved it. It was a great way to end the night! Another winner!

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Many thanks to Leena and her girls for wearing MissBellydance.com’s Soraiah Star couture!

Honourable Mentions
Mad Hatter Dance Company’s sword piece was beautiful and showcased the technical artistry of our community.

Maddie was a delight with a full Maghreb tea tray filled with flames. She not only danced but did floor work and intricate isolations showcasing her skill. She’s a great showman! Has been for years! Much appreciated!

Magnolia – her costume was incredible. She wore a bedluh that was embellished with what looked like broken mirrors strategically covering the bra and belt. That costume could have come out and danced on its own and we’d have been amazed. It was super nice!

Lessons Learned:
Always bring cash! In future, when there is valet, we need to know so we can tip them accordingly. I gave him a dollar because that was the only change I had on me. Not cool. They were as wonderful as the performers and deserved to be tipped. So, lesson learned, when at raqs shows, bring cash because there’s usually a cash bar and lots of other things where credit cards are not accepted. This is the first venue I’ve been to without an ATM.

Turn the pre-show music down! There is no reason for pre-show music to be that loud. It was so loud I missed my opportunity to bond with the new Turkish guy and his BFF. We tried to speak but ended up in silence because yelling over each other was just crazy. When having shows with pre-show music, it would be best to have two people come down front and test the volume. If you can’t have a decent conversation without your throat hurting, then it’s too loud.

STELLAR SHOW

It was more than respectful of the occasion and paid homage not just to the work they’ve done but also to the region where raqs sharqi originated. It was not overrun with one style, the performances were inclusive and the whole event was the epitome of what many artists aim to achieve in this town. Big thanks to Faaridah for pushing through. There’s nothing easy about being a show producer. It’s far from cheap, it takes a good solid year to plan and even when you have support one can sometimes feel very alone. Faaridah found a way to bypass those obstacles completely with an incredible team in tow.

When you see AFBD’s name on a production you IMMEDIATELY clear your calendar because you know it’s going to be worth your time. She has given Atlanta’s dance comm (and the southeast’s) something to look forward to for over a decade! We are truly grateful!! I wish AFBD several more decades to come! We’ll be 86 years old making zaghareets in the lobby of the TWELVE and local parades! Insha’Allah!

Review – Attack of the Bellydancers Show

After not being able to go to the Attack of the Bellydancer’s show last year I made sure I was in attendance this year. Highlights of the show for me were the following:

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Sig Sawyer the MC – always an excellent choice for a show. He knows how to work with a mixed crowd. In this case, the raqs knowledge pendulum was swinging on every end…from the experts, gurus and enthusiasts who can name every single genre of raqs to those who found some of the sets comical due to their lack of knowledge in the art. Yes, I’m calling someone out. But we’ll get to that later… First, my favourites.

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Majda – her set looked to be a choreography and drum solo combined. Her whole presentation from costume to intricate turns and moves made it a really beautiful piece. As I watched her I thought how awesome it would be to have her at a wedding. That’s the kind of pristine, polished and energetic material you want when you’re aiming for glam!

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Persica was also really beautiful as mentioned on my Facebook wall. What stood out was that dynamic and well thought out entrance. The combination of the gorgeous make-up and beautiful fuchsia bedluh costumes made them stand out in an extraordinary way. It’s been such a long time since we’ve had polished troupes in bedluhs of the same colour. It’s hard to accomplish and honestly, Arabesque of Canada is about the only dance ensemble that still does it well. So, to have a taste of that in Atlanta via a new dance group is truly welcomed! Each troupe member was committed to the piece and you could tell they enjoyed performing for everyone. Loved Jendayi’s expression throughout this set. Can’t wait to see what they do next! *Please note, Jendayi’s JDC is back! They will debut Desert Stories in 2018. Buy tickets now.

Raqs Razi has always been a delight on stage. Tonight, she was extra delightful in every sense of the word… she was “extra” in the most amazing way. I heard something about her dance being a salute to the 70s. I could see that with the cool shades and fur coat that I’ve seen in some 70s movies. I was a toddler in the 80s so all I remember is Boy George, Duran Duran and Tears for Fears. The big furs were not in my childhood aesthetic but the memory of the Kuti Family dancers has never left me and THAT is what I thought of when I saw her in the elaborate garb. Her costume was stunning and the dancing was delightful. It was the old school ethnic North and West African style steps that you still see today at highlife shows. It was tastefully done and quite impressive. I wanted to jump out there and sing “Do Your Best!” Her aesthetic is just toooo cute! Let the pictures speak for themselves.

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Everybody wanted to take a photo with her in that gorgeous outfit! Maiea & Raqs Razi

Equally enjoyable was the Shimmy Collective! This troupe is made up of Hasna, Maiea and Sabia (the show director). I feel like the video can speak for itself. There’s nothing else to say…their set was very strong for so many reasons. Watch it carefully and see how well they timed their movements with the music. This is rare of late. There’s some kind of trend to just catch beats with an element of surprise for the audience. Not with this group, they went all out with a classic and solid set that matched every note in the song. Ahhh, I miss that! They are another group I hope to see more of minus that name. Shimmy Collective? Come on… How about Banat Soleil or Raqs el Hob? Something powerful and strong to match the direction in which they are going. That name isn’t worthy of their strength.

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James was the only male performer of the evening. He did a very classic Egyptian set that was listed as cabaret but far from it (which is debatable because the term cabaret is used in all kinds of ways – see my previous blog post). I adored his raqs work. It was dynamite and also very strong in that he was at total ease as if he does this every single day like a prayer. I was fascinated with his energy, his attire and his background given that he is not a random guy who thought this was cool and decided to just get on stage to be the anomaly. James is straight-up legit raqs. I said at dinner later that night, “that’s money right there…” meaning, “James is the type of dancer I look forward to paying to see.” I could have watched him twice. He got a standing ovation out of me, I was that excited!

Saniyah’s set was also welcomed for reasons that give me goosebumps. First, if you don’t know her background or with whom she has studied, you need to call her and ask. Google Black Orchid Danse and see all the great photos of she, the icons and modern legends hanging out. These greats include, Mohammed Shahin, Tito Seif, Nath Keo, Andrus Ramir, Sal Maktoub, Amani Jabril and of course, Simon Sarkis! These are very strong dancers in our raqs industry. Saniyah has taken courses with all of them, more than once and you can see their influence in her steps and appreciation of the art. When she dances, you know “she knows.” It’s clear that her raqs knowledge is not from a purely westernized, Hollywood trendy DVD or a group of carbon copies. She is carrying the torch here in Atlanta when it comes to honouring the international community and origins of the dance. Her training is pure gold and it shows.

There were other really cute dances and creative pieces that night including that of Ziah and her daughter with their Moana presentation. I believe when this show was first put together, it was a combination of Disney and dance? The theme has moved on but their presentation held on to that aesthetic (which is more along the lines of what I was expecting from everyone) and was very well done.

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The solos by Hasna and Sabia were incredible, both dancers really glowed. I appreciate their use of classic music such as Lamma Badda. Nice work!

Things That Make You Go…hmmmm…

Beatrice… my goodness. That girl worked! She worked hard and has been working hard for a very long time. While it wasn’t the smoothest I’ve , it was clearly steeped in Suhaila goodness and I think Suhaila would have been proud to see her put her mind, body and soul into that set the way she did. The group to which she belongs, The Salimpour Collective, is a major part of a piece of literature I’ve been working on for several months. I am blown away by how Suhaila’s spirit has engulfed so many in this raqs community. It’s impressive to see people master such a unique approach and technique to raqs sharqi. I will definitely talk about this in my publication which turned into a novel in February after realising there was no way in heck I could just post a blog about what I saw and experienced during the AFBD Suhaila 2017 event. More on that at another time and this performance will be mentioned.

More make-up! There were a lot of people that just looked washed out. The lighting was fine in that place, but the lack of make-up on several dancers took away from the beauty of their presentations. This is not to say that make-up is essential and a must at all times. However, on stage it is. I just saw blank faces…almost like ghosts doing beautiful art. It was scary! For those who have very light skin tones, make-up is crucial! Ziah has fair skin but I could see her because she knew how to apply her make-up. I’m not trying to be funny and this is not a political post. This is about being present and visible in your art. From the audience, some faces looked like a blank canvas with hair…and it was distracting. MAC or Prestige (their sister brand that doesn’t cost a fortune) is our friend. Surreal Make-Up who was featured at TribalCon is also our friend. I, too, know I have to wear make-up when my goal is to present to a crowd in this type of art setting. We have several amazing make-up artists from our drag community who can teach us and have taught us how to be “seen” on stage. Let me know if you’d like a lesson. They won’t make you look like the stereotype of drag, you will instead look as good as the mavens of RPDR henny! We’re all in this together! It’s all about the show and it will go on and should go on right! Let’s do this!

The Not So Cool

Sometimes you gotta call out your audience for better or worse. Also, this is not a school play and should not be approached as such. The audience this particular night was very supportive and knowledgeable for the most part. However, there were a few people that really shocked me. I always promote this show to the international community to which I belong. The stories in the news regarding the treatment of “the different,” the “non-English speaking,” and anyone with a tone deeper than most sand can’t be ignored. It’s clear, we’re in the middle of a really hard political situation. So, these shows are a respite from the criticism of being from or a part of a culture that is not high in the esteem of the western world. Yes, we live here in America. Some of us came with our parents who relocated during a time when immigrants and expats were still “okay” and not seen as the resource snatching sows that we’re sometimes portrayed through various propaganda. Many Americans of all walks of life are working hard to find peace and unity for every citizen and resident and I’m daily grateful for it! Thank you!

One of those efforts is done through showcases of cultural dance. We enter these spaces with expectations of inclusivity, appreciation, admiration and love. When someone breeches that by portraying the dance in a negative, stereotypical way or if someone treats our art as a seductive sleaze fest then sparks begin to fly and our purpose is threatened. Same sentiment if someone laughs at portions of the show that are not meant to be comical. I won’t name which dance was thought a comedy show by the young lady on the front row but I will say this.

Dear Fellow International Community member who sat in front of me on the front row,

I was sitting behind you on the second row. I wanted on several occasions to welcome you in your language and give you and your friends tickets to the next event plus discounts at our local international dance clothing shoppes and more. However, something kept stopping me and in hindsight I’m glad it did. You laughed at one of the performers. It was clear you really didn’t even find it funny but continued to giggle loudly though no one else was. Even your friend looked at you with surprise as you jovially wiped your eyes “from laughing so hard.” Thankfully, you were stopped by one of the kind raqs warriors and the presenter didn’t pay you any attention but kept right on dancing. In future, just hold it. Try to have some self-control. Given the history of your nation (a nation for which I spent many years studying as I, too, have relatives there) and the tough times that many have faced there I expected more acceptance and appreciation of all the dances and genders in the room. I think you let us all down as international residents of our community.

There were others in the audience that did some rather interesting things including the parent who couldn’t get her child to stop disrupting certain portions of the show. I’m all for an all-ages show. It’s crucial that children are given the gift of cultural dance and theatre. But we must remember that they are not the only ones for whom this show is created. We must teach our children good etiquette and stellar manners when it comes to art. Respect is not an option in these very sacred spaces.

The After Party

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All I can say is that after party at Jordan’s Lounge was as good as the show if not more. My nights, of late, are filled with Japanese Street Fashion events, Tokyo Fashion Shows complete with Nippon dolls, mascots and tea parties. I forgot how fun it is to go to a club with a good DJ and just shoulder shimmy with every Eastern Music enthusiast in the room. The highlight of that was having Amani (and her gorgeous hair) around, DJ Spin Sultan leading the show along with stellar performances by Karma Karmelita. I also must say that the locals and students in this club were very receptive.

On several occasions, the guys did these really cool line dances to American music (trap music I think it was called) and were very respectful when we got on the dance floor. They didn’t freak out or call us names. That’s always refreshing in these politically charged times. When DJ Spin Sultan played the Gulf, Region tunes we were joined by some of the Kuwaiti, Iranian and Kurdish young ladies who danced next to us wearing their cute plaid shirts and ponytails. We dined on a ton of delicious food from their great menu. (I still have some left and it’s been 4 days!) Annnnd we were joined by Sabia’s mum of whom I thought was a new dancer just hanging out at the start of the show. Wow!! If you haven’t seen her…have a glass of cold water ahead of time. She’s gorgeous and SUPER NICE!!!

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Dancers of ATL

That’s all I’ve got folks! The show was good, the party was super awesome! People put forth the best of themselves that evening and it showed! To the ill-behaved, a raqs show is neither the time or the place for that type of conduct! Don’t make us call security! ☹

Mabrook wa OPA! ::throws a plate on the ground like we used to…::