Friday, February 26, 2010

And the February contest winner is...

Thank you to everyone who entered the contest for the brand new, jingly red hip scarf. The winner was selected, once again, by my unbiased and incorruptable contest official. I admit, she was a little distracted this time. I was unfortunately cutting into her nap time ...

And the winner is:



Congratulations, Marci! I'll be sending you an email message in the next couple of minutes to get your mailing address.

To everyone else, thank you for playing! I'll be posting a new contest soon, so please check back to often to see what's up for grabs.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Lessons Learned from the 2010 Belly Dancer of the Universe Competition, by Marlena Shaw

Note: Marlena Shaw is a wonderful dancer and dear friend who set out to compete in the Egyptian-style category of this year's Belly Dancer of the Universe competition, which was held over Valentine's Day weekend at the Long Beach Convention Center. I asked her to write about her experience, and she generously agreed. Thank you, Marlena!

As far as the competition, I would have to first say that this was my first experience ever competing. I wasn't sure what to expect. Tanya and Atlantis do an amazing job organizing the whole event - it was very professional and well done.

My experience in the dressing room was good. I met several of the girls and made friends with Zondra from Georgia. She was so sweet, a typical Southern belle, and we nervously chatted as we got ready to compete, putting every accessory on, looking in the mirror more than enough times and waited to find out what our order was to "prove our Egyptian" stuff. Zondra was first and I was third in the lineup out of, I believe, 24 young ladies. We both agreed that was good so we would be able to watch the other dancers after we were done.

The assistant escorted us down the back hallway to get ready to go onstage after our name was announced. Zondra was waiting to go onstage as another dancer and I waited and chatted in the hallway waiting for our turn. She was tall, from Northern California and had a custom-made costume by her mother. It was beautiful and so was she.

We discussed the music requirements and I casually asked her about her drum solo. She said, "Drum solo? I thought that was only for the finals." I felt really bad telling her she was supposed to include a short drum solo in her preliminary performance. She also mentioned that she decided to enter the competition just a couple of weeks prior.

Well, much to my surprise, she ended up one of the finalists anyway. I guess all my months of preparation and costs, including a professional music editor cutting my music just perfect (including a drum solo), my diet to lose weight, and the early morning practices in my living room really didn’t make a whole lot of difference in the competition.

As I finished my "Egyptian piece,” I felt pretty good, at least I thought. After changing and then watching the other dancers (which by the way were amazing), I thought I was in the "Egyptian category," but to me it looked more like American Cabaret or Lebanese style of dance. Most of the dancers I saw were filling in every second of the music with choreography, pops, locks, shimmies, etc. with not a lot of feeling. I did see a few that looked like Egyptian style dancers, but not the majority. I was thoroughly disappointed and felt even embarrassed. I felt like I was misinformed about what I was supposed to do, the requirements, the style. It seemed that a lot of people were coming up to me and saying, "I loved your Egyptian piece, what are these other girls doing?"

So, either I am out of the current Egyptian style and unaware of what Egyptian is anymore, or maybe the "new Egyptian is Lebanese," which is what the rumor was. Anyway, one of my friends who was there (who has been around for quite a while) was disappointed as well. I guess this is what happens every year. People are scratching their heads saying, "was that Egyptian?" as they watched a young energetic dancer on the stage.

I must say that it was a good experience for me as a whole. I worked hard and feel like my dancing is better for it. I also gained a lot of confidence that it doesn't matter if you get a trophy or not, what matters is that you dance true to the style you are, and each of us has our own unique style in some way.

Well, that's my experience with BDUC. I'm waiting to get my judges scores and hopefully will learn something from them.
You can find the results for this year's competition here.
And the lovely photo of Marlena was taken by the always awesome Rachel, founder and humble leader of OC Belly Dance Connection meetup group.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Foreign belly dancers in Cairo

Here's an interesting article about the relationship between foreign dancers and Egypt's belly dancing industry.

It comes from the McClatchy Washington Bureau, and you can read it here.

Also, check out the video clip. It's a 43 second drum solo by Aleya Pena of L.A.

Coming attractions

You meet the nicest people in the darnedest places... On Thursday I was speaking at the Romance Authors' Tea for the Friends of the Huntington Beach Library, and I had the good fortune of meeting Michelle, a fellow pupil of Angelika Nemeth. She told me about a couple shows coming up that will feature Angelika, as well as other local belly dancers.

At 6:30 p.m. Feb. 28, the "Orchid Dance Show -- A Global Experience" will take place at Orchid Restaurant. The show will feature Angelika, Fahtiem and Lee Ali, and all proceeds will be donated to the relief efforts in Haiti. Tickets are $30 at the door, $25 in advance, and include dinner and the show.

The restaurant is at 3033 S. Bristol St., Costa Mesa, and the phone number is 714-335-7349.

The second show is "World Dance -- A Colorful Celebration of Movement & Ritual" at the Orange Coast College Robert B. Moore Theatre at 7 p.m. May 21.

The show is directed by Angelika and, according to the flier, performances will include classical dances from Southern India, dances from Egypt and Persia, Latin dance styles, African drumming and songs from around the world.

Tickets are $10 for the 7 p.m. performance, and a free concert will be held for schools at 11 a.m. Call 714-432-5967 to register classes.

To buy tickets or for more information, call 714-432-5880 or click here.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A new giveaway for February

What's red and gold and jingles all over?

The new hip scarf I'm giving away in the February contest over at, of course!

To enter the contest, visit my Web site at and follow the contest link.

I'll be choosing a name at random on Friday, February 26. There are more details on the contest page.

Don't miss this chance to add to your collection :-)