Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Can't make it to the Ahlan Wa Sahlan Festival?

Here's a little something for those of us who can't be at the Ahlan Wa Sahlan Festival, which opens this week in Cairo, Egypt. It's my favorite YouTube clip from last year's event. The dancer is Aziza.

Friday, June 20, 2008

A new festival's in the works...

And it'll be in Orange County!! Thanks to troupe Incognito.

Mark your calendar for Sunday, Oct. 12, and plan to be at Mile Square Park Recreation Center in Fountain Valley from noon to 4 p.m. The festivities will include workshops with Sooz, Robin Johnson and others; Middle Eastern food from Chicken Dijon; and all-day performances. How great is that?

Nikki Malero, a member of Incognito and one of the event's organizers, also kindly agreed to share a little more about what they have in store.

Will the event focus on a certain form of belly dance (tribal, cabaret, gothic) or be open to them all?

Open to all.

What is the inspiration for the event? Did you see a need for more local events, or was it something else?

Yes, we want to see more events in the O.C. and South O.C. area.

How will it be similar to or different from other regional belly dance events, such as Raqs L.A. and Cairo Carnival?

Well, it will be smaller, of course. Plus, it is a privately sponsored event. This was the idea of Sherri Higley, Incognito's director and our instructor. So we're hoping that will put it's own little twist to it.

Could you elaborate on the kinds of volunteer opportunities you have?

We need people to help us set up, take down, decorate, check in people to the show and workshops, checking in performers, runners, and whatever else we can think of.

Where should people go for updates?

We will continue to post updates on www.sherrihigley.com, Tribe.Net/Nasira, www.myspace.com/troupeincognito, and the O.C. Bellydance Meetup group, as well as your site. And anywhere else I can think of.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

SPREAD THE WORD, POST EVERYWHERE! We want to advertise this as much as possible. We will also be advertising in The O.C. Register, so we are hoping to have a good public turnout, as well the BD community.

Thanks, Nikki! I can't wait...

(The photo of Incognito above was taken by Richard Lowe Jr. at MECDA's Belly Dance Carnival.)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Didn't go to MECDA's Carnival?

If you'd like to see what you missed, these are terrific photos of what happened on the inside stage. This photographer is awesome!


UPDATE: Richard Lowe now has his pics from the event posted, too. He was stationed at the outside stage and there are lots of great shots, as usual! You can find them here.

Monday, June 9, 2008

MECDA Carnival...the day after

Despite the heat, despite the higher admission price, despite the drive, it was a great festival. I especially loved the new layout for the stages. The Gypsy Camp stage was larger and nicer than it's been in the past, and the inside stage was oriented so the pillars didn't block as many views. So a big thank you to whoever figured out those logistics :-)

It was great to see so many vendors, too. There seemed to be fewer than past years, but there were definitely more than attended Raqs L.A. One vendor we talked with who attended both events said that between the two, he did better business this weekend, but that neither came close to the business he did last year at Cairo Carnival. So it's hard to say whether the drop was caused by competition or high gas prices. It'll be interesting to see whether the rumors about Raqs L.A. moving to Memorial weekend next year come true. Miles has said they'll be announcing the dates soon...

As usual, I didn't see nearly as many performances as I'd hoped. But who can complain when there are so many dance friends to catch up with and shopping to do? I saw at least most of the performers I was hoping to see, and every one of them put on a terrific show. Here are some of the highlights in the order they appeared:

Ya Harissa Bellydance Theater
(I'd never seen this troupe before. Don't they look great?)

Om Sisters
(I've seen the Om Sisters a few times, and I enjoy them every time. They did a cool change of costume between songs. They have very sassy Melodia pants under those silky skirts. That should give you some idea...)

(A featured duo this year, and these photos really don't them justice. I'd heard lots of good things about them, and they completely lived up to the hype. They blew away my theory that slow taxims are much more fun to do than to watch.)

(A terrific dancer, and one of my favorite people.)

Princess Farhana with Donovan drumming
(This was the first time I've seen her perform. She's definitely as good as every says!)

Angelika Nemeth Dance Ensemble, followed by a solo by Angelika
(Easily the best show I saw all day. Totally professional, perfectly executed, and a pleasure to watch. I felt bad for the performer scheduled to appear after them. I think I would've been a no show, too)

Friday, June 6, 2008

Cairo...er, MECDA's Belly Dance Carnival this weekend

So I haven't gotten used to the name change yet, but that hasn't stopped me from getting pretty darned excited about this year's event. Sure, MECDA has gone through some major changes this year, but from what I've gathered by talking to people and reading the online discussions (mostly on Tribe.Net), it sounds like the event formerly known as Cairo Carnival is going to run much the same as it has since it moved to the Santa Anita Racetrack from the Glendale Civic Auditorium a few years ago. (Honestly, Rio Hondo College was still my favorite venue. A much kinder drive for those of us coming from Orange County, don't you agree? And what happened to the rumors about moving to the Phoenix Club in Anaheim? But I digress...)

I'll be attending Sunday, which means I'm sad to be missing the Saturday performance of my great friend Katerina and her Kabuki Dolls. Her pieces are always well-staged and entertaining, so if you'll be there Saturday, don't miss her. The schedule has them on the Gypsy Stage somewhere at the later end of the 12:30 to 1:43 p.m. segment.

The acts I'm going to make a point of checking out on Sunday are the Om Sisters, Tsingani, Princess Farhana and Cleopatra's Court on the Gypsy Stage, and Marina, Kassar, Fahtiem, Mesmera, J.J. and the Habibis, Feiruz and the Angelika Nemeth Dance Ensemble on the inside stage. But the thing about me and festivals is, I go with the best intention of watching a bunch of dancing, and somehow I end up spending most of my time trolling the shopping bazaar. So we'll see how well I resist the lure of shiny, jingly things this time...

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Ban-dal's ch-ch-changes

Over the past few years, Ban-dal has distinguished itself as one of the region’s most popular tribal fusion troupes. These dancers blend traditional American Tribal Style movements with fun, upbeat choreographies to create performances that never fail to entertain. (Think I’m kidding? Check out the troupe’s “Thriller” and “Dancing Queen” videos on You Tube, here and here, respectively.)

Like any troupe, they’ve had a few member changes here and there, but they’ve weathered them all with grace. Now they have a new challenge: Abby Duval, who has held the role as the troupe’s director, is relocating. Here’s her announcement:

“…I wanted to let everyone know that August 1st, I am going to be moving to Arizona for a while” … [personal reasons removed as a courtesy]. … “I plan to be out here ALL THE TIME though, for my family and friends and the dance troupe, Ban-dal is still here, and they are still my life. Ban-dal will still be performing, but just maybe not as much. … I appreciate everyone's support, and hope to see some of you very soon!”

I’m sure I’m not alone in saying we’re going to miss having Abby all to ourselves in Orange County. She’s not only a great dancer, but a great motivator and has been one of the only tribal teachers in the county (thank goodness we still have Sooz and Sashi).

Abby told me today she’s in the process of updating the troupe’s Web site (www.ban-dal.com) with new performance information. Check it, and make a point of seeing these terrific dancers if you can. Abby adds that the Web site will also be the place to keep up with the troupe’s schedule after she moves, so be sure to bookmark it and check it often. And don’t forget to wish her well.

(You might not be able to read the credit on the main photo. It was taken by Richard Lowe Jr. at Gothla U.S. in February, and used with gratitude and appreciation.)