Monday, May 19, 2008

Raqs L.A. -- the day after

I thought I was playing it safe by taking just one workshop yesterday. But I'd forgotten how many drills, combos and plain hard work Ansuya can pack into two hours! The workshop ran from 11:10 a.m. to 1:10 p.m., but my great friend Enala and I arrived a few minutes early. While we waited, we watched a little of the workshop taught by acclaimed dancer and instructor Morocco as she taught from the main stage of the Glendale Civic Auditorium. When our session with Ansuya began promptly in the Terrace Room, she kicked it off with a warm-up. Then the hard work came: She ran us through an Indian combination, then moved on to a Spanish combo, then a gypsy combo, then a tribal combo and finally an African combo. Phew! We definitely got our money's worth. She was tough, but she was also great about taking questions and breaking down moves, and her sense of humor also made it fun. And thank goodness for the handouts! They break down each move and make it easy to continue practicing on our own.

Ansuya also shared some exciting news with us: She's planning to offer an online instruction series through her Web site that will allow her to demonstrate technique, as well as interact with students, perhaps as soon as August. Isn't technology great?

After the workshop, Enala and I met up with our other great friends Diane and Mara to watch the performances on the main stage and do some shopping. The event's layout was basically the same as it was for Cairo Carnivale during the years that event was held at this venue. Performances ran throughout the day on both the upstairs main stage and a secondary stage downstairs. We saw Bellydance Superstar/Desert Rose troupe member Jayna perform, and Petite Jamilla was on the printed schedule but didn't appear. We were a little disappointed because we'd been looking forward to seeing her. Other beautiful performers we did see were Fahtiem, Angelika Nemeth's Dance Ensemble, students from Anisa's School of Dance, to name just a few.

Vendors were also set up on both levels, and many of the most popular belly dance vendors were represented: Dahlal International, The Velvet Gypsy, Artemis Imports, L. Rose Designs, and many more.

The crowd was quite a bit sparser than has been the case for past Cairo Carnivals, but it was certainly strong for a first-year event. A popular topic of conversation throughout the day was if or how this new event will affect next month's Belly Dance Carnival (which is the new name MECDA has given the event formerly known as Cairo Carnival).

Guess we'll have to wait and see...

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