Open Dance Night at Steve’s Live Music Summer 2015

Ajaz and Nuzrsat

Ajaz and Nuzrsat

This past Friday, World Bellydance Alliance hosted another exciting night at Steve’s Live Music. This was Steve’s anniversary and we’re all grateful for the venue as they’ve been good to our fusion dance communties in Atlanta. Tonight was another fun occasion that featured a number of dancers from various troupes in Atlanta. Several were some of the community’s very strong, legendary troupes and dancers. It’s always a joy to have them in our midst as well as on the stage.

Act I
Ajaz and Nuzrsat
Olivia and BJ
Salimpour Collective

Act II
Roulette featuring Jendayi
Roulette featuring Heidi
Zeina Dance
Majda Anwar
Heidi, Jendayi and Jenny

Bellydance & Raqs Sharqi Highlights – Open Dance Night allows dancers to perform a variety of dances. Whenever there is someone performing dances from the Middle East and the African continent I enjoy highlighting them. Below are several I enjoyed seeing…

Ajaz and Nuzrsat , orignally from Peru and Colombia, were very pretty in their full ensembles. These two ladies are students in the dance community and they were very supportive of everyone throughout the night. We need more people like this. It didn’t matter what level or what type of dance was being presented, these two were clapping and cheering on their fellow dancers. They themselves are strong students who have understood the basic techniques of raqs sharqi. It was a joy to have them and their family in the audience.

Sabia was another show stopper tonight despite her music being distorted. Those of us who know her could see her full intent and purpose on that dance floor. Her gorgeous red dress made her stand out from others as she aimed to represent the glamorous side of Al Msr. Bravo, we “got it.” If I had to change anything it would be the computer that played the music and I would have covered her in more diamonds and bling. Shine Sabia, lay it on thick…that’s the way. 😉

The Salimpour Collective was another memorable set. They performed that outstanding zill piece that they did at Amani’s extraordinary show some weeks ago. They also segued into a duet featuring Jamie and Majda and damn it was good! I tell you, they brought the Salimour spirit to life in this town. Be sure to look out for this piece (reinforced by Jenni on the side).

The Roulettes…
This concept is made up of songs being put on shuffle and Jenny has to pick whatever shows up. A dancer agrees to dance to the song without knowing what the shuffle landed on. Jenny said there was classic Egyptian, Sha’abi music by Hakim and a ton of other middle eastern music but for some reason it landed on “other things.” Jendayi was the first person to volunteer for the roulette. She got up, the song came on and she showed out, mind, body and soul. I felt she did a great job and I hope future performances will feature this earthy, relaxed raqs style that matches that which you will see at parties and haflas abroad. Heidi blew us away when it was her turn, if anyone has that on video you need to see it. She proved that she is a natural dancer and beyond talented. Again, someone find the video!

Tamar stood out with the music she chose. She did a choreography that was “her very first” from her early dancing years ago with Chandani. It was a routine that included a straight edged tahtib. Hearing that song again was a joy! Always nice when people use exciting music from the region that even the most far-removed from fusion dance would recognize and seat-shimmy to from start to finish.

Zeina Dance again…another one for a video… They really master fusion so well. This time it was with a Raqs-Tango fusion with a spanish verbal intro that excited people like myself as well as other international community members in the crowd. Let the video speak for itself. Pieces like this are worthy of a large stage…it deserves “big lights!!” Bravo y Brava!

Mina’s set was also memorable because of her great music. Another great pop song that was extremely popular right out of the studio by Nancy Ajram. Oul Tani Keda is just one of those “now old school” club classics that would send dancers running to the dance floor, shimmying til it hurt. That’s the exact energy Mina brought…a rush of raqs hot pepper enthusiasm…and that you can never forget as it’s the heart and soul of the pop raqs community! She followed it with a drum solo and the crowd went wild! She’s always fun!

Let’s just be real here, Majda stole the show…she stole it. There. I said it. She started off with a melody of taqsims that meshed into Turkish 9/8 rhythms and blended that on with others. It was brilliant when you stop and realise what she did. She honouored not just movement but also music in that set. It was a perfect Raqs Star’s ritual. You only see that at galas and for to her give that to us was quite generous. Shukran jazillan…I “got it.” Had I still had a voice after being on that Tears for Fears tour for nearly a week I’d have made a proper zaghareet. Masha’Allah ya helowa Majda! Masha’Allah!

Earlier in the evening someone played some music from my region of Africa. I was up dancing around in the dark with Sabia’s fiance (my brother in raqs) and telling him about what parts of Africa and the East have those rhythms. When I heard parts of the music in the next set featuring Heidi, Jendayi and Jenny I was floored at the inclusion of it for the show. Turns out, it was a section in the SEEDS fundraiser that took place earlier this month. What a spectacular piece it was. It was filled with several moves from the cultures that the African continent has influenced. There is no way to describe it, it is again something you have to see for yourself.. this, too, stole the show that evening. Just a full on perfect fusion of cultural dance…we need more of this in our shows. It’s as much a part of Raqs Sharqi as Egypt is realistically and physically to Africa.

Open Dance Night continues in September! Get signed up now! Contact World Bellydance Alliance for more info!

Thanks for reading!

* would like to extend a huge thank you and hug to those who wore costumes, jewelry and other items from the shop. It was noted! Shukran wa T’shukrle!

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