• Bellydance Blossom
    Festival
  • Join the Revelation
  • May 5-7, 2017
  • Harbourfront Centre, Toronto, Canada

Testimonials

"Please, please do this again! So many of us are hungry for this type of event that digs so much deeper into the dance and the cultural responsibility that comes along with it."


"A fantastic weekend and so unlike every other belly dance festival!"


"It was above and beyond what I could have imagined. It was so great to connect to so many like-minded people, to be inspired to learn so much. It was the perfect combination of artistic and academic, spiritual and conscientious, fun and meaningful.."


"Wonderful complex event - very fulfilling and well balanced between performance, education and inspiration."

About

The Bellydance Blossom Festival is an all-immersive experience where international dance artists and scholars engage with each other in creative collaborations and meaningful discourse.

Internationally known Master Teachers are invited to teach, perform and participate in discussions where possible. All registrants are highly encouraged to participate as a dance artist, choreographer or speaker in one or more of the various categories; Collaborative Works, Explorative Works, Blossom Talks, and Panel Discussions.

All participants are encouraged to take part in all discussions. Collaborative artists will explain their creative process working across international borders and across Bellydance genres and styles.

Join the Revelation

Follow on Twitter @BellyBlossFest

See Facebook Page and join Facebook Group

Imagined and created by Yasmina Ramzy, founder of the International Bellydance Conference of Canada.

Blossum group faces

Workshops

MASTER INSTRUCTORS
Attendance at all workshops is included in registration fee & not available separately
Mohamed Salah standing in traditional dress

Mohamed Salah

Mohamed Saleh has traveled the world with the Reda Troupe since 1995 but started his career in Egypt's Childrens Troupe performing all over Egypt. He has worked in the Opera House in many styles of dance including Modern and Contemporary. Mohamed has worked with Mahmoud Reda, Hassan Affifi, Walid Awni and Dr. Magdi Ezz. As a creative choreographer, his work is presented on national TV and at many festivals. He is now a soloist in the Reda Troupe, a featured teacher in Ahlan Wa Sahlan Festival and sought after in China, Japan, Korea, Ukraine and Italy. He has won many awards and recently is a graduate of the Academy of Arts.

Master Workshops

  1. Moshahaat
  2. Saiidi
  3. Mejance
Mo Gedawi

Dr. Mo Geddawi

"Dr. Mo Geddawi is able to mold the body and mind within the confines of Eastern dance of his students with an integrity and knowing quality that makes of them recipients of Eastern folklore that is authentic in spirit and delivery and not a plastic facade of sad mannerisms that is unfortunately being taught by so many of the "unknowing". Quote from Ibrahim Farrah Arabesque 11, March/April 1987

A true Renaissance man, he was co-founder of the legendary REDA DANCE TROUPE as well as the company's lead male dancer. Along with Mahamoud Reda and Farida Fahmy he performed before kings and head of states throughout the world. He took part in ground breaking research on music and dance in Egypt for the Reda Troupe. Dr. Mo Geddawi received several awards from the Egyptian government for his contributions to the Egyptian dances.

Master Workshops

  1. Creating Choreography - dance class
  2. The Golden Age of Raqs Sharqi in Egypt- lecture
  3. The Cult of the Zar - lecture
Khairiyya Mazen seated in costume

Khairiyya Mazen

She is the last Ghawazi dancer stilling performing of the famous Banat Mazen family. She is charming and sweet. The history that emanates from her makes a powerful presence as soon as she enters a room. No one can resist her charm and fascination. The real, real, real deal.

For those that are familiar with the International Bellydance Conference of Canada and the original line-up the first Bellydance Blossom Festival know that this will be my 4th attempt to get Khairiyya out of Egypt. I once vowed to bring her to Canada before I die and everytime I try and fail, I swear I will never try again. Alas, I can not help but try again. I will spend one month in Egypt this Spring during which time, I hope to secure every possible measure that she leave Egypt for the first time in her life. If not, we have 2 great master teachers and a third ready to fill Khairiyya's spot if needed...but hopefully, we will finally have Khairiyya here.

Master Workshops

  1. Dance Class
  2. Q&A with Audience
  3. Dance Class
Hany Morgan standing in robe

Hany Morgan

Hany Morgan began playing percussion at age five and performing at age seven. Raised in a musical family in Cairo, Egypt, he was surrounded by musical art and taught to play the derbeki (Arab drum) by his father. The Morgan family performed played ancient religious coral music in the time of King Farouk. Hany has been the lead drummer for Egypt's famous El Tanoura Troupe in the Sufi tradition for 15 years. He has toured many countries with this large ensemble sponsored by the Egyptian government. As well as composing and teaching, he records and tours with many other musical and dance productions world wide.


Blossom Talk Speakers


Is Your Approach to Belly Dance Culturally Appropriated?

Shira headshot

Is Your Approach to Belly Dance Culturally Appropriated?

Challenge yourself with the tough questions about your approach as an artist who is using a dance from another culture as your medium. Learn to recognize possible pitfalls so you can make informed choices when creating and promoting your work.

Shira

Shira is known worldwide for her work as a researcher, author, lecturer, and publisher of information on Middle Eastern dance, music, and culture. She has been interviewed by the New York Times and Wall Street Journal for stories on Middle Eastern dance, and is highly sought after as a contributor to magazines centered on this art form. For continuing education, she has traveled three times to Turkey, twice to Morocco, and twelve times to Egypt.



Recreating the Sound of Bellydance Music of the Golden Era

Recreating the sound of bellydance music of the golden using an antique qanun from 1880 and playing one of the earliest piece “Raqset el-Hawanem,” in the old style.

George Sawa, Toronto, ON, CA

George Sawa with Qanun from 1880

George Sawa was born in Alexandria, Egypt. He has over 50 years experience in Arabic music performance, history, theory and has performed and lectured extensively worldwide. George has been the musical director for several productions of Arabesque Dance Company, and taught Arabic music for hundreds of dancers worldwide. His CD, The Art of the Early Egyptian Qanun, was nominated for a JUNO Award in World Music in 2009. His, Egyptian Music Appreciation and Practice for Bellydancers, has won international acclaim and is an invaluable companion to bellydancers all over the world. A companion set of two DVDs was produced with Lulu.

George Sawa with Qanun from 1880

Recreating the Sound of Bellydance Music of the Golden Era

Recreating the sound of bellydance music of the golden using an antique qanun from 1880 and playing one of the earliest piece “Raqset el-Hawanem,” in the old style.

George Sawa, Toronto, ON, CA

George Sawa was born in Alexandria, Egypt. He has over 50 years experience in Arabic music performance, history, theory and has performed and lectured extensively worldwide. George has been the musical director for several productions of Arabesque Dance Company, and taught Arabic music for hundreds of dancers worldwide. His CD, The Art of the Early Egyptian Qanun, was nominated for a JUNO Award in World Music in 2009. His, Egyptian Music Appreciation and Practice for Bellydancers, has won international acclaim and is an invaluable companion to bellydancers all over the world. A companion set of two DVDs was produced with Lulu.



The Intriguing Mrs King: How Samia Gamal Brought Belly Dance to North America

In 1951, Samia Gamal’s whirlwind romance and marriage to Shepherd King, a 25-year-old Texas oil millionaire, made headlines across North America. Navigating contentions of race, gender, culture, and morality, Gamal ultimately situated belly dance to become a staple of the North American nightclub circuit in the 1950’s and 60’s, and a recreational fad a decade later.

Andrea Deagon

Andrea Deagon

Andrea Deagon’s most recent academic article, “Orientalism and the American Belly Dancer,” appears in the Oxford Handbook of Dance and Ethnicity. Her novel, The Dancer From Tyre, a sweeping tale of dance and magic in ancient Alexandria, will be available from Amazon in May.

Andrea Deagon

The Intriguing Mrs King: How Samia Gamal Brought Belly Dance to North America

In 1951, Samia Gamal’s whirlwind romance and marriage to Shepherd King, a 25-year-old Texas oil millionaire, made headlines across North America. Navigating contentions of race, gender, culture, and morality, Gamal ultimately situated belly dance to become a staple of the North American nightclub circuit in the 1950’s and 60’s, and a recreational fad a decade later.

Andrea Deagon

Andrea Deagon’s most recent academic article, “Orientalism and the American Belly Dancer,” appears in the Oxford Handbook of Dance and Ethnicity. Her novel, The Dancer From Tyre, a sweeping tale of dance and magic in ancient Alexandria, will be available from Amazon in May.



Belly dance as a Site for Social Activism

Belly dance lives at the intersection of the communities of North Africa and the Middle East and related diaspora and the popular culture that has embraced it. This presentation concentrates on the impact of the popularization of the dance on individual lives and on society in general. My overarching framework is the concept of social activism as promoting a revision of thinking regarding some aspect of society.

Barbara Sellers-Young, Toronto, ON, CA

Barbara Sellers-Young

Barbara Sellers-Young is a Senior Scholar and Professor Emerita at York University where she served as Dean of the School of Arts, Media, Performance and Design and Professor in the Department of Dance. She was previously a Professor and former Chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of California, Davis. She has also taught at universities in England, China and Australia. Recent publications include Belly Dance, Pilgrimage and Identity and an edited volume with Anthony Shay Oxford Handbook of Dance and Ethnicity.

Barbara Sellers-Young

Belly dance as a Site for Social Activism

Belly dance lives at the intersection of the communities of North Africa and the Middle East and related diaspora and the popular culture that has embraced it. This presentation concentrates on the impact of the popularization of the dance on individual lives and on society in general. My overarching framework is the concept of social activism as promoting a revision of thinking regarding some aspect of society.

Barbara Sellers-Young, Toronto, ON, CA

Barbara Sellers-Young is a Senior Scholar and Professor Emerita at York University where she served as Dean of the School of Arts, Media, Performance and Design and Professor in the Department of Dance. She was previously a Professor and former Chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of California, Davis. She has also taught at universities in England, China and Australia. Recent publications include Belly Dance, Pilgrimage and Identity and an edited volume with Anthony Shay Oxford Handbook of Dance and Ethnicity.



Blossom Mission & Movement

Proposing a plan of action for all participants to take to their communities that will help further the Bellydance Blossom Festival message and its effect on participants. Measures that can be taken by this community to help spread an attitude of respect for the art form and thereby help to ensure a future of inspiration. To be more aware of our actions and how they affect the world view of Bellydancing.

Yasmina Ramzy

Yasmina Ramzy portrait

Yasmina Ramzy is a visionary and a highly acclaimed choreographer committed to the presentation of Bellydance as high art. Since 1981, she has performed over 10,000 times often for royalty and heads of state and throughout the Middle East. Yasmina has had the unique privilege of performing for several years in Syria with the famous master musicians of Allepo. As well as creating the renowned standardized Arabesque Academy curriculum, she teaches in over 60 cities on five continents. She founded Arabesque Dance Company and Orchestra, Arabesque Academy, the International Bellydance Conference of Canada (IBCC) and the Bellydance Blossom Festival.

Yasmina Ramzy portrait

Blossom Mission & Movement

Proposing a plan of action for all participants to take to their communities that will help further the Bellydance Blossom Festival message and its effect on participants. Measures that can be taken by this community to help spread an attitude of respect for the art form and thereby help to ensure a future of inspiration. To be more aware of our actions and how they affect the world view of Bellydancing.

Yasmina Ramzy

Yasmina Ramzy is a visionary and a highly acclaimed choreographer committed to the presentation of Bellydance as high art. Since 1981, she has performed over 10,000 times often for royalty and heads of state and throughout the Middle East. Yasmina has had the unique privilege of performing for several years in Syria with the famous master musicians of Allepo. As well as creating the renowned standardized Arabesque Academy curriculum, she teaches in over 60 cities on five continents. She founded Arabesque Dance Company and Orchestra, Arabesque Academy, the International Bellydance Conference of Canada (IBCC) and the Bellydance Blossom Festival.


Panel Discussions Speakers


Creating & Connection Communities

Why do we want community? How does it serve us? What are the challenges and points of friction? What are the solutions? How do we expand the circle of influence of Middle Eastern dance beyond our regular venues and festivals so we can reach more people and progress our art forward?

Panellists

Kaeshi Chai (10 min opening remarks)

Kaeshi Chai

Kaeshi Chai is a NYC based dancer and teacher trainer who co-founded the professional company, Bellyqueen, and PURE (Public Urban Ritual Experiment), a global community of artists focused on healing and social change. Kaeshi has performed and taught internationally, and is an alumni member of the Bellydance Superstars, and Jillina’s Bellydance Evolution. She curates the weekly Djam Under Jebon show featuring live music and dance and teaches at the Bellyqueen School of Dance and Steps on Broadway. Her mission is to develop bellydance as a stage art and explore its powerful, healing properties.

Cassandra Shore

Cassandra Shore in gold patterned dress

Cassandra Shore is one of the world’s foremost practitioners of Arab dance, recognized for artistic intensity, sumptuous mastery of the form’s technical complexity, lyrical grace, and musicality that sets her apart from other artists. Schooled in classic Modern styles, Cassandra embraced Arab dance, consciously grounding her style in cultural immersion with performance, research and study in the expat community as well as Egypt and North Africa. Searching for ways to move Arab dance “beyond the museum,” - creating original choreography for this vibrant living art form - in 1989 she founded Jawaahir Dance Company, dedicated to cultural authenticity, artistic excellence, and a spirit of exploration in traditional and contemporary Arab dance.

Sarah Mayne

Sarah Mayne

Sarah L Mayne, Owner/Founder of BellyDanceGR, Ambrosia Theater and Director for Delkash & Allspice Dancers. When she was first introduced to this art form in 1999. In 2003, Sarah began demonstrating and teaching her personal friends as a way to connect with the community. As the community grew and local venues began to contact for performances, she formed the Delkash Dancers Company in 2005 and began the pioneering commitment to Mideastern dance in the West Michigan area. Sarah has performed in more than 3,700 showcases across America, Canada and Europe. She’s had the pleasure of sharing many of those stages and studying with the finest Mideastern Dance scholars of our time. Artists such as Camelia of Cairo, Mohamed Salah, Yasmina Ramzy, Hossam & Serena Ramzy, Artemis, Tayyar, Morocco, Mona Habibi, Kaeshi, Rachel Brice, Zoe Jakes and many more. She has been the principal director and choreographer with over 300 produced shows, including BellyDance nights at San Chez Café & Cabaret, and 5+ years at the Shiraz Grille. Sarah will join Yasmina Ramzy for Planet Egypt in March, 2017.

Rahma Haddad

Rahma Haddad headshot

Of Lebanese heritage, Rahma has a Bach. of Phys Ed. with a background in modern, folk, Afro-jazz, and gymnastics. A performer & teacher of “bellydance” since 1975, Rahma is a recipient of two Canada Council grants with an impressive record of workshops and live and media exposure nationally and internationally. A teacher of teachers, her desire is to pass the torch and preserve cultural essence of the dance.

She uses historical and cultural elements of the Middle East in a contemporary context to create a style of dance covering the range from art to entertainment, while retaining the sensuality, joyful grace and athletic demands of the dance.

Yasmina Ramzy

Yasmina Ramzy portrait

Yasmina Ramzy is a visionary and a highly acclaimed choreographer committed to the presentation of Bellydance as high art. Since 1981, she has performed over 10,000 times often for royalty and heads of state and throughout the Middle East. Yasmina has had the unique privilege of performing for several years in Syria with the famous master musicians of Allepo. As well as creating the renowned standardized Arabesque Academy curriculum, she teaches in over 60 cities on five continents. She founded Arabesque Dance Company and Orchestra, Arabesque Academy, the International Bellydance Conference of Canada (IBCC) and the Bellydance Blossom Festival.

Kaeshi Chai Cassandra Shore in gold patterned dress Sarah Mayne Rahma Haddad headshot Yasmina Ramzy portrait

Creating & Connection Communities

Why do we want community? How does it serve us? What are the challenges and points of friction? What are the solutions? How do we expand the circle of influence of Middle Eastern dance beyond our regular venues and festivals so we can reach more people and progress our art forward?

Kaeshi Chai (10 min opening remarks)

Kaeshi Chai is a NYC based dancer and teacher trainer who co-founded the professional company, Bellyqueen, and PURE (Public Urban Ritual Experiment), a global community of artists focused on healing and social change. Kaeshi has performed and taught internationally, and is an alumni member of the Bellydance Superstars, and Jillina’s Bellydance Evolution. She curates the weekly Djam Under Jebon show featuring live music and dance and teaches at the Bellyqueen School of Dance and Steps on Broadway. Her mission is to develop bellydance as a stage art and explore its powerful, healing properties.

Cassandra Shore

Cassandra Shore is one of the world’s foremost practitioners of Arab dance, recognized for artistic intensity, sumptuous mastery of the form’s technical complexity, lyrical grace, and musicality that sets her apart from other artists. Schooled in classic Modern styles, Cassandra embraced Arab dance, consciously grounding her style in cultural immersion with performance, research and study in the expat community as well as Egypt and North Africa. Searching for ways to move Arab dance “beyond the museum,” - creating original choreography for this vibrant living art form - in 1989 she founded Jawaahir Dance Company, dedicated to cultural authenticity, artistic excellence, and a spirit of exploration in traditional and contemporary Arab dance.

Sarah Mayne

Sarah L Mayne, Owner/Founder of BellyDanceGR, Ambrosia Theater and Director for Delkash & Allspice Dancers. When she was first introduced to this art form in 1999. In 2003, Sarah began demonstrating and teaching her personal friends as a way to connect with the community. As the community grew and local venues began to contact for performances, she formed the Delkash Dancers Company in 2005 and began the pioneering commitment to Mideastern dance in the West Michigan area. Sarah has performed in more than 3,700 showcases across America, Canada and Europe. She’s had the pleasure of sharing many of those stages and studying with the finest Mideastern Dance scholars of our time. Artists such as Camelia of Cairo, Mohamed Salah, Yasmina Ramzy, Hossam & Serena Ramzy, Artemis, Tayyar, Morocco, Mona Habibi, Kaeshi, Rachel Brice, Zoe Jakes and many more. She has been the principal director and choreographer with over 300 produced shows, including BellyDance nights at San Chez Café & Cabaret, and 5+ years at the Shiraz Grille. Sarah will join Yasmina Ramzy for Planet Egypt in March, 2017.

Rahma Haddad

Of Lebanese heritage, Rahma has a Bach. of Phys Ed. with a background in modern, folk, Afro-jazz, and gymnastics. A performer & teacher of “bellydance” since 1975, Rahma is a recipient of two Canada Council grants with an impressive record of workshops and live and media exposure nationally and internationally. A teacher of teachers, her desire is to pass the torch and preserve cultural essence of the dance.

She uses historical and cultural elements of the Middle East in a contemporary context to create a style of dance covering the range from art to entertainment, while retaining the sensuality, joyful grace and athletic demands of the dance.

Meiver De La Cruz

Yasmina Ramzy

Yasmina Ramzy is a visionary and a highly acclaimed choreographer committed to the presentation of Bellydance as high art. Since 1981, she has performed over 10,000 times often for royalty and heads of state and throughout the Middle East. Yasmina has had the unique privilege of performing for several years in Syria with the famous master musicians of Allepo. As well as creating the renowned standardized Arabesque Academy curriculum, she teaches in over 60 cities on five continents. She founded Arabesque Dance Company and Orchestra, Arabesque Academy, the International Bellydance Conference of Canada (IBCC) and the Bellydance Blossom Festival.



“Bellydance” In Our Own Image – Terms, Trends & Identification

What does the term “Bellydance” mean and encompass? Do we need to identify the styles and name them? How do styles differ between cultures and countries and cities within those countries? How can we identify ourselves in the dance world? What are the effects of trends? Do trends determine styles?

Panellists

Andrea Deagon

Andrea Deagon

Andrea Deagon’s most recent academic article, “Orientalism and the American Belly Dancer,” appears in the Oxford Handbook of Dance and Ethnicity. Her novel, The Dancer From Tyre, a sweeping tale of dance and magic in ancient Alexandria, will be available from Amazon in May.

Ayana, Johannesburg, ZA

Ayana

Ayana — Performer, Principle/owner of Desert Jewels Dance Company — established in 2009. The company offers a blend of classical and modern Egyptian, folkloric and western cabaret tuition. Ayana, is an internationally trained teacher, certified/accredited level 3 instructor — Académie de Danse Orientale Sandra — Nice France. Ayana continues to enrich and pursue her education in the beautiful art form of Oriental Dance — attending international workshops. She has performed in a number of international festivals like :- Roh Masr – Spirit of Egypt - Mohamed Kazafy and Yasmina of Cairo; 5-6-7-8 RAQ IT! - Jillina; Enta Omri - Serbia, Oriental Fever - Croatia

Siobhan Milner

Siobhan Milner

Siobhan (originally from Christchurch, New Zealand) is a researcher, dancer and artist based in Montreal, Quebec. With a passion for movement in all forms, Siobhan undertook research into injury incidence and risk factors in belly dancers at the University of Otago in 2014 at the School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences. She presented this research at several conferences and to the New Zealand belly dance community. Currently, Siobhan is completing a Masters in Rehabilitation Sciences at McGill University and continues to make dance and art an integral part of her life.

Willow Chang

Willow Chang

Willow Chang is an artist who's life is an exercise in cross-cultural fusion & learning.

A mixed race person who grew up in multicultural Hawaii, she cross trained in disciplines of music, dance & art: from Hula to Classical voice & for the past 23 years, Middle Eastern Dance. She believes it's essential to find where influnces cross pollinate- from pop culture, philosophy, travel or sacred practice. She values hearing a wide array of insights, while choosing language that is sensitive and respectful. She believes it's important to balance innovation & tradition, while respecting a continuum with elders & those with unique experiences.

Jo Anne Zingo

Jo Anne Zingo

Jo Anne Zingo (Zada Al Gaziyeh), is a lifelong dancer who took her first Bellydance lesson at twenty-six. Personal ongoing study with instructors in the US and abroad began in 1978. She has instructed and coached dancers, formed and managed a dance company, established relationships with musicians and found a place in the community for social contribution through educational and erformance opportunities. "Edutainment" dominates the community experience. We continually define and redefine ourselves as artists, our and our connection to the Arab world both over time and as we work with diverse community groups to stay engaged and relevant.

Andrea Deagon Ayana Siobhan Milner Willow Chang Jo Anne Zingo

“Bellydance” In Our Own Image – Terms, Trends & Identification

What does the term “Bellydance” mean and encompass? Do we need to identify the styles and name them? How do styles differ between cultures and countries and cities within those countries? How can we identify ourselves in the dance world? What are the effects of trends? Do trends determine styles?

Andrea Deagon

Andrea Deagon’s most recent academic article, “Orientalism and the American Belly Dancer,” appears in the Oxford Handbook of Dance and Ethnicity. Her novel, The Dancer From Tyre, a sweeping tale of dance and magic in ancient Alexandria, will be available from Amazon in May.

Ayana, Johannesburg, ZA

Ayana — Performer, Principle/owner of Desert Jewels Dance Company — established in 2009. The company offers a blend of classical and modern Egyptian, folkloric and western cabaret tuition. Ayana, is an internationally trained teacher, certified/accredited level 3 instructor — Académie de Danse Orientale Sandra — Nice France. Ayana continues to enrich and pursue her education in the beautiful art form of Oriental Dance — attending international workshops. She has performed in a number of international festivals like :- Roh Masr – Spirit of Egypt - Mohamed Kazafy and Yasmina of Cairo; 5-6-7-8 RAQ IT! - Jillina; Enta Omri - Serbia, Oriental Fever - Croatia

Siobhan Milner

Siobhan (originally from Christchurch, New Zealand) is a researcher, dancer and artist based in Montreal, Quebec. With a passion for movement in all forms, Siobhan undertook research into injury incidence and risk factors in belly dancers at the University of Otago in 2014 at the School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences. She presented this research at several conferences and to the New Zealand belly dance community. Currently, Siobhan is completing a Masters in Rehabilitation Sciences at McGill University and continues to make dance and art an integral part of her life.

Willow Chang

Willow Chang is an artist who's life is an exercise in cross-cultural fusion & learning.

A mixed race person who grew up in multicultural Hawaii, she cross trained in disciplines of music, dance & art: from Hula to Classical voice & for the past 23 years, Middle Eastern Dance. She believes it's essential to find where influnces cross pollinate- from pop culture, philosophy, travel or sacred practice. She values hearing a wide array of insights, while choosing language that is sensitive and respectful. She believes it's important to balance innovation & tradition, while respecting a continuum with elders & those with unique experiences.

Jo Anne Zingo

Jo Anne Zingo (Zada Al Gaziyeh), is a lifelong dancer who took her first Bellydance lesson at twenty-six. Personal ongoing study with instructors in the US and abroad began in 1978. She has instructed and coached dancers, formed and managed a dance company, established relationships with musicians and found a place in the community for social contribution through educational and erformance opportunities. "Edutainment" dominates the community experience. We continually define and redefine ourselves as artists, our and our connection to the Arab world both over time and as we work with diverse community groups to stay engaged and relevant.



Sexploitation & Sexpectations

Where is the thin line between too much sexual expression and what is representative of the art form? What is our responsibility to represent where that line is? Are commercial expectations of sexual expression detrimental to us? What is appropriate for child dancers? Is there a body type expectation?

Panellists

Mo Geddawi

Mo Gedawi

Dr. Mo Geddawi is a true Renaissance man, he was co-founder of the legendary REDA DANCE TROUPE as well as the company's lead male dancer. Along with Mahamoud Reda and Farida Fahmy he performed before kings and head of states throughout the world. He took part in ground breaking research on music and dance in Egypt for the Reda Troupe. Dr. Mo Geddawi received several awards from the Egyptian government for his contributions to the Egyptian dances.

Sarah Mayne

Sarah Mayne

Sarah L Mayne, Owner/Founder of BellyDanceGR, Ambrosia Theater and Director for Delkash & Allspice Dancers. When she was first introduced to this art form in 1999. In 2003, Sarah began demonstrating and teaching her personal friends as a way to connect with the community. As the community grew and local venues began to contact for performances, she formed the Delkash Dancers Company in 2005 and began the pioneering commitment to Mideastern dance in the West Michigan area. Sarah has performed in more than 3,700 showcases across America, Canada and Europe. She’s had the pleasure of sharing many of those stages and studying with the finest Mideastern Dance scholars of our time. Artists such as Camelia of Cairo, Mohamed Salah, Yasmina Ramzy, Hossam & Serena Ramzy, Artemis, Tayyar, Morocco, Mona Habibi, Kaeshi, Rachel Brice, Zoe Jakes and many more. She has been the principal director and choreographer with over 300 produced shows, including BellyDance nights at San Chez Café & Cabaret, and 5+ years at the Shiraz Grille. Sarah will join Yasmina Ramzy for Planet Egypt in March, 2017.

Vanessa of Cairo

Vanessa of Cario headshot

Vanessa has trained extensively in classical dance genres (holding a BFA in Ballet from Texas Christian University) as well as Dance Orientale. Vanessa danced for 8 years in New York City, where she met Gamila El Masri — who became her mentor. Leading her to learn more about Egyptian Folklore, Gamila ultimately prepared Vanessa for her next journey — Egypt. Living in Egypt since 2008, Vanessa has danced full-time as a soloist. The first American woman to create a Production Company in Egypt, she has also been hired by the renowned Balloon Theatre in Cairo — to perform and train dancers.

Rahel Claman

Rahel Claman in blue gown

Rahel is a full time dancer, dance teacher and yoga teacher from Vancouver, BC. She began her love affair with Raqs Sharqi at the age of 15 and has been teaching since 2008, though she considers herself an eternal student and travels the world to train with as many dancers as she can. Rahel is the founder and choreographer of the Helwa Dancers, as well as the producer and artistic director of her annual showcase Ya Helwa. Rahel's background in acting, drumming and psychology help her to appeal to the human experience, and evoke story telling through movement.

Yasmina Ramzy

Yasmina Ramzy portrait

Yasmina Ramzy is a visionary and a highly acclaimed choreographer committed to the presentation of Bellydance as high art. Since 1981, she has performed over 10,000 times often for royalty and heads of state and throughout the Middle East. Yasmina has had the unique privilege of performing for several years in Syria with the famous master musicians of Allepo. As well as creating the renowned standardized Arabesque Academy curriculum, she teaches in over 60 cities on five continents. She founded Arabesque Dance Company and Orchestra, Arabesque Academy, the International Bellydance Conference of Canada (IBCC) and the Bellydance Blossom Festival.

Mo Gedawi Sarah Mayne Vanessa of Cario headshot Rahel Claman in blue gown Yasmina Ramzy portrait

Sexploitation & Sexpectations

Where is the thin line between too much sexual expression and what is representative of the art form? What is our responsibility to represent where that line is? Are commercial expectations of sexual expression detrimental to us? What is appropriate for child dancers? Is there a body type expectation?

Mo Geddawi

Dr. Mo Geddawi is a true Renaissance man, he was co-founder of the legendary REDA DANCE TROUPE as well as the company's lead male dancer. Along with Mahamoud Reda and Farida Fahmy he performed before kings and head of states throughout the world. He took part in ground breaking research on music and dance in Egypt for the Reda Troupe. Dr. Mo Geddawi received several awards from the Egyptian government for his contributions to the Egyptian dances.

Sarah Mayne

Sarah L Mayne, Owner/Founder of BellyDanceGR, Ambrosia Theater and Director for Delkash & Allspice Dancers. When she was first introduced to this art form in 1999. In 2003, Sarah began demonstrating and teaching her personal friends as a way to connect with the community. As the community grew and local venues began to contact for performances, she formed the Delkash Dancers Company in 2005 and began the pioneering commitment to Mideastern dance in the West Michigan area. Sarah has performed in more than 3,700 showcases across America, Canada and Europe. She’s had the pleasure of sharing many of those stages and studying with the finest Mideastern Dance scholars of our time. Artists such as Camelia of Cairo, Mohamed Salah, Yasmina Ramzy, Hossam & Serena Ramzy, Artemis, Tayyar, Morocco, Mona Habibi, Kaeshi, Rachel Brice, Zoe Jakes and many more. She has been the principal director and choreographer with over 300 produced shows, including BellyDance nights at San Chez Café & Cabaret, and 5+ years at the Shiraz Grille. Sarah will join Yasmina Ramzy for Planet Egypt in March, 2017.

Vanessa of Cairo

Vanessa has trained extensively in classical dance genres (holding a BFA in Ballet from Texas Christian University) as well as Dance Orientale. Vanessa danced for 8 years in New York City, where she met Gamila El Masri — who became her mentor. Leading her to learn more about Egyptian Folklore, Gamila ultimately prepared Vanessa for her next journey — Egypt. Living in Egypt since 2008, Vanessa has danced full-time as a soloist. The first American woman to create a Production Company in Egypt, she has also been hired by the renowned Balloon Theatre in Cairo — to perform and train dancers.

Rahel Claman

Rahel is a full time dancer, dance teacher and yoga teacher from Vancouver, BC. She began her love affair with Raqs Sharqi at the age of 15 and has been teaching since 2008, though she considers herself an eternal student and travels the world to train with as many dancers as she can. Rahel is the founder and choreographer of the Helwa Dancers, as well as the producer and artistic director of her annual showcase Ya Helwa. Rahel's background in acting, drumming and psychology help her to appeal to the human experience, and evoke story telling through movement.

Yasmina Ramzy

Yasmina Ramzy is a visionary and a highly acclaimed choreographer committed to the presentation of Bellydance as high art. Since 1981, she has performed over 10,000 times often for royalty and heads of state and throughout the Middle East. Yasmina has had the unique privilege of performing for several years in Syria with the famous master musicians of Allepo. As well as creating the renowned standardized Arabesque Academy curriculum, she teaches in over 60 cities on five continents. She founded Arabesque Dance Company and Orchestra, Arabesque Academy, the International Bellydance Conference of Canada (IBCC) and the Bellydance Blossom Festival.



When Art & Bellydance Collide

Many belly dance performers speak of "art" when they discuss the choices they make and the pieces they put on stage. But... what, exactly, does art mean when it comes to this dance form? What happens when ethics, social justice, art, and belly dance collide? Is Bellydance art or entertainment or both?

Panellists

Shira (10 min opening remarks)

Shira headshot

Shira is known worldwide for her work as a researcher, author, lecturer, and publisher of information on Middle Eastern dance, music, and culture. She has been interviewed by the New York Times and Wall Street Journal for stories on Middle Eastern dance, and is highly sought after as a contributor to magazines centered on this art form. For continuing education, she has traveled three times to Turkey, twice to Morocco, and twelve times to Egypt.

Mo Geddawi

Mo Gedawi

Dr. Mo Geddawi is a true Renaissance man, he was co-founder of the legendary REDA DANCE TROUPE as well as the company's lead male dancer. Along with Mahamoud Reda and Farida Fahmy he performed before kings and head of states throughout the world. He took part in ground breaking research on music and dance in Egypt for the Reda Troupe. Dr. Mo Geddawi received several awards from the Egyptian government for his contributions to the Egyptian dances.

Vanessa of Cairo

Vanessa of Cario headshot

Vanessa has trained extensively in classical dance genres (holding a BFA in Ballet from Texas Christian University) as well as Dance Orientale. Vanessa danced for 8 years in New York City, where she met Gamila El Masri — who became her mentor. Leading her to learn more about Egyptian Folklore, Gamila ultimately prepared Vanessa for her next journey — Egypt. Living in Egypt since 2008, Vanessa has danced full-time as a soloist. The first American woman to create a Production Company in Egypt, she has also been hired by the renowned Balloon Theatre in Cairo — to perform and train dancers.

Cassandra Shore

Cassandra Shore in gold patterned dress

Cassandra Shore is one of the world’s foremost practitioners of Arab dance, recognized for artistic intensity, sumptuous mastery of the form’s technical complexity, lyrical grace, and musicality that sets her apart from other artists. Schooled in classic Modern styles, Cassandra embraced Arab dance, consciously grounding her style in cultural immersion with performance, research and study in the expat community as well as Egypt and North Africa. Searching for ways to move Arab dance “beyond the museum” - creating original choreography for this vibrant living art form - in 1989 she founded Jawaahir Dance Company, dedicated to cultural authenticity, artistic excellence, and a spirit of exploration in traditional and contemporary Arab dance.

Kaeshi Chai (10 min opening remarks)

Kaeshi Chai

Kaeshi Chai is a NYC based dancer and teacher trainer who co-founded the professional company, Bellyqueen, and PURE (Public Urban Ritual Experiment), a global community of artists focused on healing and social change. Kaeshi has performed and taught internationally, and is an alumni member of the Bellydance Superstars, and Jillina’s Bellydance Evolution. She curates the weekly Djam Under Jebon show featuring live music and dance and teaches at the Bellyqueen School of Dance and Steps on Broadway. Her mission is to develop bellydance as a stage art and explore its powerful, healing properties.

Shira headshot Mo Gedawi Vanessa of Cario headshot Cassandra Shore in gold patterned dress Kaeshi Chai

When Art & Bellydance Collide

Many belly dance performers speak of "art" when they discuss the choices they make and the pieces they put on stage. But... what, exactly, does art mean when it comes to this dance form? What happens when ethics, social justice, art, and belly dance collide? Is Bellydance art or entertainment or both?

Shira (10 min opening remarks)

Shira is known worldwide for her work as a researcher, author, lecturer, and publisher of information on Middle Eastern dance, music, and culture. She has been interviewed by the New York Times and Wall Street Journal for stories on Middle Eastern dance, and is highly sought after as a contributor to magazines centered on this art form. For continuing education, she has traveled three times to Turkey, twice to Morocco, and twelve times to Egypt.

Mo Geddawi

Dr. Mo Geddawi is a true Renaissance man, he was co-founder of the legendary REDA DANCE TROUPE as well as the company's lead male dancer. Along with Mahamoud Reda and Farida Fahmy he performed before kings and head of states throughout the world. He took part in ground breaking research on music and dance in Egypt for the Reda Troupe. Dr. Mo Geddawi received several awards from the Egyptian government for his contributions to the Egyptian dances.

Vanessa of Cairo

Vanessa has trained extensively in classical dance genres (holding a BFA in Ballet from Texas Christian University) as well as Dance Orientale. Vanessa danced for 8 years in New York City, where she met Gamila El Masri — who became her mentor. Leading her to learn more about Egyptian Folklore, Gamila ultimately prepared Vanessa for her next journey — Egypt. Living in Egypt since 2008, Vanessa has danced full-time as a soloist. The first American woman to create a Production Company in Egypt, she has also been hired by the renowned Balloon Theatre in Cairo — to perform and train dancers.

Cassandra Shore

Cassandra Shore is one of the world’s foremost practitioners of Arab dance, recognized for artistic intensity, sumptuous mastery of the form’s technical complexity, lyrical grace, and musicality that sets her apart from other artists. Schooled in classic Modern styles, Cassandra embraced Arab dance, consciously grounding her style in cultural immersion with performance, research and study in the expat community as well as Egypt and North Africa. Searching for ways to move Arab dance “beyond the museum” - creating original choreography for this vibrant living art form - in 1989 she founded Jawaahir Dance Company, dedicated to cultural authenticity, artistic excellence, and a spirit of exploration in traditional and contemporary Arab dance.

Kaeshi Chai

Kaeshi Chai is a NYC based dancer and teacher trainer who co-founded the professional company, Bellyqueen, and PURE (Public Urban Ritual Experiment), a global community of artists focused on healing and social change. Kaeshi has performed and taught internationally, and is an alumni member of the Bellydance Superstars, and Jillina’s Bellydance Evolution. She curates the weekly Djam Under Jebon show featuring live music and dance and teaches at the Bellyqueen School of Dance and Steps on Broadway. Her mission is to develop bellydance as a stage art and explore its powerful, healing properties.



Hot topics – 10 minutes Alloted to Each of 5 Topics in Random Order

What is the Egyptian “It” Factor?

Does it originate in technique, language, folklore, cultural references? Can it be identified?

The Value of Tribal & Fusion Dance

Are these forms part of Bellydance or something entirely different? Could the Middle Eastern style Bellydancers learn important values from this community with its leanings away from commercialism?

Everyday Activism - The role of the the artist for creating social change.

Artists have the power to bring light to important issues and shape the way people see the world. How do we create positive social change that touches our audience and fellow collaborators so they become ambassadors?

The Ethics of Performing at Cultural Events as a non-Arab?

Should we even be doing this? If so, what is our responsibility when presenting ourselves in these venues?

What is the Bellydance Soul?

Can we identify it and where can it be found?

Panellists

Sausan Molthen, CA, USA

Sausan Molthern in pink outfit

A dancer since 1958, now with a solid background in Egyptian culture, cuisine, arts, and dance; including management, presentation, teaching, entertainment, production, and food preparation, Sausan is an Artistic Director/Master Teacher in Classic Egyptian Style, Owner/Chef of Al-Masri Egyptian Restaurant, and Baker/Distributor of Bitchin’ Baklava.

Since 1999, Sausan has worked closely with the Fine Arts Museum, the Ethnic Dance Festival, and the Natural World Museum in San Francisco; the International House and the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology at U. C. Berkeley; and Stanford University, Palo Alto, participating, producing, choreographing, and/or directing numerous events.

Barbara Sellers-Young, Toronto, ON, CA

Barbara Sellers-Young

Barbara Sellers-Young is a Senior Scholar and Professor Emerita at York University where she served as Dean of the School of Arts, Media, Performance and Design and Professor in the Department of Dance. She was previously a Professor and former Chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of California, Davis. She has also taught at universities in England, China and Australia. Recent publications include Belly Dance, Pilgrimage and Identity and an edited volume with Anthony Shay Oxford Handbook of Dance and Ethnicity.

Shannon Bishop

Shannon Bishop

Shannon Bishop is an instructor and performer from State College, PA (USA) specializing in Egyptian Raqs Sharqi and the folkloric dances of Egypt. She is the owner of Black Cat Belly Dance.

Alia Thabit, NY, USA

Alia Thabit head shot

An Arab-American and a NEST Juried Artist, Alia Thabit specializes in performance, composition, and improvisation for groups and soloists. She has danced on four continents, in eight countries, and fifteen states, produced myriad events, directed a dance company, presented numerous workshops and seminars, and performed internationally with world-class musicians. Alia believes that each of us is filled with our own unique beauty and magic, treasure waiting to be found. She recently published the book, Midnight at the Crossroads: has belly dance sold its soul?, which emphasizes creativity and self-expression grounded in traditional Oriental dance values.

Ayana, Johannesburg, ZA

Ayana

Ayana — Performer, Principle/owner of Desert Jewels Dance Company — established in 2009. The company offers a blend of classical and modern Egyptian, folkloric and western cabaret tuition. Ayana, is an internationally trained teacher, certified/accredited level 3 instructor — Académie de Danse Orientale Sandra — Nice France. Ayana continues to enrich and pursue her education in the beautiful art form of Oriental Dance — attending international workshops. She has performed in a number of international festivals like :- Roh Masr – Spirit of Egypt - Mohamed Kazafy and Yasmina of Cairo; 5-6-7-8 RAQ IT! - Jillina; Enta Omri - Serbia, Oriental Fever - Croatia

Sausan Molthern in light rose outfit Barbara Sellers-Young Shannon Bishop Alia Thabit head shot Ayana

Hot topics – 10 minutes Alloted to Each of 5 Topics in Random Order

What is the Egyptian “It” Factor?

Does it originate in technique, language, folklore, cultural references? Can it be identified?

The Value of Tribal & Fusion Dance

Are these forms part of Bellydance or something entirely different? Could the Middle Eastern style Bellydancers learn important values from this community with its leanings away from commercialism?

Everyday Activism - The role of the the artist for creating social change.

Artists have the power to bring light to important issues and shape the way people see the world. How do we create positive social change that touches our audience and fellow collaborators so they become ambassadors?

The Ethics of Performing at Cultural Events as a non-Arab?

Should we even be doing this? If so, what is our responsibility when presenting ourselves in these venues?

What is the Bellydance Soul?

Can we identify it and where can it be found?

Meiver De La Cruz

Sausan Molthen, CA, USA

A dancer since 1958, now with a solid background in Egyptian culture, cuisine, arts, and dance; including management, presentation, teaching, entertainment, production, and food preparation, Sausan is an Artistic Director/Master Teacher in Classic Egyptian Style, Owner/Chef of Al-Masri Egyptian Restaurant, and Baker/Distributor of Bitchin’ Baklava.

Since 1999, Sausan has worked closely with the Fine Arts Museum, the Ethnic Dance Festival, and the Natural World Museum in San Francisco; the International House and the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology at U. C. Berkeley; and Stanford University, Palo Alto, participating, producing, choreographing, and/or directing numerous events.

Barbara Sellers-Young, Toronto, ON, CA

Barbara Sellers-Young is a Senior Scholar and Professor Emerita at York University where she served as Dean of the School of Arts, Media, Performance and Design and Professor in the Department of Dance. She was previously a Professor and former Chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of California, Davis. She has also taught at universities in England, China and Australia. Recent publications include Belly Dance, Pilgrimage and Identity and an edited volume with Anthony Shay Oxford Handbook of Dance and Ethnicity.

Shannon Bishop

Shannon Bishop is an instructor and performer from State College, PA (USA) specializing in Egyptian Raqs Sharqi and the folkloric dances of Egypt. She is the owner of Black Cat Belly Dance.

Alia Thabit, NY, USA

An Arab-American and a NEST Juried Artist, Alia Thabit specializes in performance, composition, and improvisation for groups and soloists. She has danced on four continents, in eight countries, and fifteen states, produced myriad events, directed a dance company, presented numerous workshops and seminars, and performed internationally with world-class musicians. Alia believes that each of us is filled with our own unique beauty and magic, treasure waiting to be found. She recently published the book, Midnight at the Crossroads: has belly dance sold its soul?, which emphasizes creativity and self-expression grounded in traditional Oriental dance values.

Ayana, Johannesburg, ZA

Ayana — Performer, Principle/owner of Desert Jewels Dance Company — established in 2009. The company offers a blend of classical and modern Egyptian, folkloric and western cabaret tuition. Ayana, is an internationally trained teacher, certified/accredited level 3 instructor — Académie de Danse Orientale Sandra — Nice France. Ayana continues to enrich and pursue her education in the beautiful art form of Oriental Dance — attending international workshops. She has performed in a number of international festivals like :- Roh Masr – Spirit of Egypt - Mohamed Kazafy and Yasmina of Cairo; 5-6-7-8 RAQ IT! - Jillina; Enta Omri - Serbia, Oriental Fever - Croatia


Pre-Arranged Partnerships


Vintage Baladi

Movie Tableau — Cairo, early '80s...smoky nightclub. Spotlight on gorgeous dancer as she mesmerizes the audience — undulating to the dramatic and funky music. There is mystery in the air...

Vanessa of Cairo

Vanessa of Cario standing no background

Vanessa has trained extensively in classical dance genres (holding a BFA in Ballet from Texas Christian University) as well as Dance Orientale. Vanessa danced for 8 years in New York City, where she met Gamila El Masri — who became her mentor. Leading her to learn more about Egyptian Folklore, Gamila ultimately prepared Vanessa for her next journey — Egypt. Living in Egypt since 2008, Vanessa has danced full-time as a soloist. The first American woman to create a Production Company in Egypt, she has also been hired by the renowned Balloon Theatre in Cairo — to perform and train dancers.

Rahel Claman, Vancouver, BC, CA

Rahel standing with blue veil

Rahel is a full time dancer, dance teacher and yoga teacher from Vancouver, BC. She began her love affair with Raqs Sharqi at the age of 15 and has been teaching since 2008, though she considers herself an eternal student and travels the world to train with as many dancers as she can. Rahel is the founder and choreographer of the Helwa Dancers, as well as the producer and artistic director of her annual showcase Ya Helwa. Rahel's background in acting, drumming and psychology help her to appeal to the human experience, and evoke story telling through movement.

Vanessa of Cario standing no background Rahel standing with blue veil

Vanessa of Cario Creates for Rahel Claman

Vintage Baladi

Movie Tableau — Cairo, early '80s...smoky nightclub. Spotlight on gorgeous dancer as she mesmerizes the audience — undulating to the dramatic and funky music. There is mystery in the air...

Vanessa of Cairo

Vanessa has trained extensively in classical dance genres (holding a BFA in Ballet from Texas Christian University) as well as Dance Orientale. Vanessa danced for 8 years in New York City, where she met Gamila El Masri — who became her mentor. Leading her to learn more about Egyptian Folklore, Gamila ultimately prepared Vanessa for her next journey — Egypt. Living in Egypt since 2008, Vanessa has danced full-time as a soloist. The first American woman to create a Production Company in Egypt, she has also been hired by the renowned Balloon Theatre in Cairo — to perform and train dancers.

Rahel Claman, Vancouver, BC, CA

Rahel is a full time dancer, dance teacher and yoga teacher from Vancouver, BC. She began her love affair with Raqs Sharqi at the age of 15 and has been teaching since 2008, though she considers herself an eternal student and travels the world to train with as many dancers as she can. Rahel is the founder and choreographer of the Helwa Dancers, as well as the producer and artistic director of her annual showcase Ya Helwa. Rahel's background in acting, drumming and psychology help her to appeal to the human experience, and evoke story telling through movement.



Amy Leung creates for Christina Brown

Amy Leung, Toronto, ON, CA

Amy Leung moving veil

Amy Leung is a Toronto based dance artist. As a lead dancer in Arabesque Dance Company & Orchestra, her highlight performances are with Cirque du Soleil in the Pan Am Opening Ceremony, on the Gala Stage of the International Bellydance Conference of Canada and in Arabesque productions of NOOR, JAMRA, and SAWAH at Fleck Dance Theatre. Amy's professional training is with Yasmina Ramzy having started with Judy Reynolds and Roula Said. In addition to her regular raining, she has taken workshops with international artists including Dina, Fifi Abdou, Mahmoud Reda, Sahra Saeeda, Raqia Hassan and Luna of Cairo. Amy is a senior instructor at Arabesque Academy, rehearsal coach for the Arabesque Student Troupe and a sought out solo artist in the Toronto area known for her Arab nuance and emotional range.

Christina Brown, Toronto, ON, CA

Christina Brown

Inspired to try the Artform from childhood memories of dancing around the living room with her Auntie, Christina began taking local classes and quickly developed a passion for the dance. She began serious studies at Arabesque Dance Academy in 2010. She is a current founding member of Arabesque Student Troupe under the direction of Yasmina Ramzy. Her training also includes numerous workshops with well-respected dancers in the community locally and abroad.

She gravitates towards the more classical style of dancing, earthiness, feeling soft yet strong & grounded.

Amy Leung moving veil Christina Brown

Amy Leung creates for Christina Brown

Amy Leung, Toronto, ON, CA

Amy Leung is a Toronto based dance artist. As a lead dancer in Arabesque Dance Company & Orchestra, her highlight performances are with Cirque du Soleil in the Pan Am Opening Ceremony, on the Gala Stage of the International Bellydance Conference of Canada and in Arabesque productions of NOOR, JAMRA, and SAWAH at Fleck Dance Theatre. Amy's professional training is with Yasmina Ramzy having started with Judy Reynolds and Roula Said. In addition to her regular raining, she has taken workshops with international artists including Dina, Fifi Abdou, Mahmoud Reda, Sahra Saeeda, Raqia Hassan and Luna of Cairo. Amy is a senior instructor at Arabesque Academy, rehearsal coach for the Arabesque Student Troupe and a sought out solo artist in the Toronto area known for her Arab nuance and emotional range.

Christina Brown, Toronto, ON, CA

Inspired to try the Artform from childhood memories of dancing around the living room with her Auntie, Christina began taking local classes and quickly developed a passion for the dance. She began serious studies at Arabesque Dance Academy in 2010. She is a current founding member of Arabesque Student Troupe under the direction of Yasmina Ramzy. Her training also includes numerous workshops with well-respected dancers in the community locally and abroad.

She gravitates towards the more classical style of dancing, earthiness, feeling soft yet strong & grounded.



Shira Creates for Habeeba Hobeika Dance Co.

Nubian Dance

Shira created this choreography based on what she has learned studying with Ahmed Awedony, principal dancer for the Aswan Governerate Dance Company in Egypt.

Shira, Iowa City, Iowa, USA

Shira headshot

Shira is known worldwide for her work as a researcher, author, lecturer, and publisher of information on Middle Eastern dance, music, and culture. She has been interviewed by the New York Times and Wall Street Journal for stories on Middle Eastern dance, and is highly sought after as a contributor to magazines centered on this art form. For continuing education, she has traveled three times to Turkey, twice to Morocco, and twelve times to Egypt.

Habeeba Hobeika Dance Co., Toronto, ON, CA

Habeeba Hobeika Dance Co, Luxor Melaya

Habeeba’s Dance Studio and Egyptian Dance Ensemble, founded in 1986, is a company skilled in the rich variety of cultural dances found across the Middle East. Born and raised in Alexandria, Egypt, choreographer and artistic director Habeeba Hobeika spent much of her childhood travelling throughout Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. These experiences instilled in her a deep pride in Middle Eastern culture and a desire to perfect the art of Raks Sharki, bringing it to the stage for the world to appreciate.

Shira headshot Habeeba Hobeika Dance Co, Luxor Melaya

Shira Creates for Habeeba Hobeika Dance Co.

Nubian Dance

Shira created this choreography based on what she has learned studying with Ahmed Awedony, principal dancer for the Aswan Governerate Dance Company in Egypt.

Shira, Iowa City, Iowa, USA

Shira is known worldwide for her work as a researcher, author, lecturer, and publisher of information on Middle Eastern dance, music, and culture. She has been interviewed by the New York Times and Wall Street Journal for stories on Middle Eastern dance, and is highly sought after as a contributor to magazines centered on this art form. For continuing education, she has traveled three times to Turkey, twice to Morocco, and twelve times to Egypt.

Habeeba Hobeika Dance Co., Toronto, ON, CA

Habeeba’s Dance Studio and Egyptian Dance Ensemble, founded in 1986, is a company skilled in the rich variety of cultural dances found across the Middle East. Born and raised in Alexandria, Egypt, choreographer and artistic director Habeeba Hobeika spent much of her childhood travelling throughout Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. These experiences instilled in her a deep pride in Middle Eastern culture and a desire to perfect the art of Raks Sharki, bringing it to the stage for the world to appreciate.



Florence Leclerc creates for Grace and Beauty Ensemble

Debout

Run. Head first. Live and love fast. Fall. Stand up. Fall again. Stand up again. Fall a million times. Take a deep breath. Stand up a million and one.

Florence Leclerc

Florence Leclerc head shot

Florence is a multi-award winning dancer and choreographer. She is known for her elegance, her grace and the quality of her choreographic work. She dances in various restaurants and festivals, is a member of the professional collective Ya Eshta and the new choreographer for Al Sahirat, in Montreal. Florence is one of the most sought after choreographers and teachers in the oriental dance community in the province of Quebec.

Grace and Beauty Ensemble

Grace and Beauty Ensemble abstract

Grace and Beauty Ensemble as been created by Florence Leclerc in the fall 2016 as an extension of her choreographic solo work. The goal of this Ensemble is purely artistic and explorative and the dancers differ depending on the projects. The pieces are choreographed by Florence, with some inputs of the dancers when needed.

Florence Leclerc head shot Grace and Beauty Ensemble abstract

Florence Leclerc creates for Grace and Beauty Ensemble

Debout

Run. Head first. Live and love fast. Fall. Stand up. Fall again. Stand up again. Fall a million times. Take a deep breath. Stand up a million and one.

Florence Leclerc

Florence is a multi-award winning dancer and choreographer. She is known for her elegance, her grace and the quality of her choreographic work. She dances in various restaurants and festivals, is a member of the professional collective Ya Eshta and the new choreographer for Al Sahirat, in Montreal. Florence is one of the most sought after choreographers and teachers in the oriental dance community in the province of Quebec.

Grace and Beauty Ensemble

Grace and Beauty Ensemble as been created by Florence Leclerc in the fall 2016 as an extension of her choreographic solo work. The goal of this Ensemble is purely artistic and explorative and the dancers differ depending on the projects. The pieces are choreographed by Florence, with some inputs of the dancers when needed.



Vanessa of Cairo creates for Ya Eshta

Modern Oriental Entrance

This piece is created for the beautiful dancers of Ya Eshta — specifically for their upcoming commercial contracts. Wishing them all the best!

Vanessa of Cairo

Vanessa of Cario in blue standing

Vanessa has trained extensively in classical dance genres (holding a BFA in Ballet from Texas Christian University) as well as Dance Orientale. Vanessa danced for 8 years in New York City, where she met Gamila El Masri — who became her mentor. Leading her to learn more about Egyptian Folklore, Gamila ultimately prepared Vanessa for her next journey — Egypt. Living in Egypt since 2008, Vanessa has danced full-time as a soloist. The first American woman to create a Production Company in Egypt, she has also been hired by the renowned Balloon Theatre in Cairo — to perform and train dancers.

Ya Eshta, Montreal, QC, CA

Ya Eshta

Ya Eshta is a Montreal based dance collective that celebrates and showcases the rich beauty of Middle Eastern dance arts. Founded and artistically directed by Angelica Jordan since 2013, the dancers present polished and dynamic group choreography for various commercial and artistic events. The group is defined by a supportive and collaborative environment, resulting in a uniquely versatile voice that is defined by the individuals within Ya Eshta.

Vanessa of Cario in blue standing Ya Eshta

Vanessa of Cairo creates for Ya Eshta

Modern Oriental Entrance

This piece is created for the beautiful dancers of Ya Eshta — specifically for their upcoming commercial contracts. Wishing them all the best!

Vanessa of Cairo

Vanessa has trained extensively in classical dance genres (holding a BFA in Ballet from Texas Christian University) as well as Dance Orientale. Vanessa danced for 8 years in New York City, where she met Gamila El Masri — who became her mentor. Leading her to learn more about Egyptian Folklore, Gamila ultimately prepared Vanessa for her next journey — Egypt. Living in Egypt since 2008, Vanessa has danced full-time as a soloist. The first American woman to create a Production Company in Egypt, she has also been hired by the renowned Balloon Theatre in Cairo — to perform and train dancers.

Ya Eshta, Montreal, QC, CA

Ya Eshta is a Montreal based dance collective that celebrates and showcases the rich beauty of Middle Eastern dance arts. Founded and artistically directed by Angelica Jordan since 2013, the dancers present polished and dynamic group choreography for various commercial and artistic events. The group is defined by a supportive and collaborative environment, resulting in a uniquely versatile voice that is defined by the individuals within Ya Eshta.



Abigail Bellydance creates for Rania Bellydance & Daniella Wieclawek

Rubin's Vase

Abigail, Hamilton, ON, CA

Abigail

Abigail has taught and performed classical bellydance for over a decade. A powerful presence with delicate touch, her style is deeply feminine, expressive, authentically rooted. Widely experienced in Egyptian sharqi and Arabic folkloric dances, Abigail aims to uphold traditional essence and cultural relevance throughout her work. Trained by Badia Star, Hannan Sultan and Nada el-Masriya, Abigail was a senior instructor at Toronto's Egyptian Dance Academy (2007-2014), helping countless dancers develop their passion for bellydancing - including Rania and Daniella in EDA's Folklore Troupe. Abigail currently lives, teaches and performs in Hamilton. She is thrilled to revisit her hometown for Blossomfest.

Rania Bellydance, Uxbridge, ON, CA & Daniella Wieclawek Port Severn, ON, CA

Rania & Daniella back to back

Rania and Daniella began their dance journey at the Egyptian Dance Academy in 2012. Dancing together with the studio's Folklore Troupe under Abigail fueled their addiction to belly dance and they quickly realized how well they dance together. They compliment each other in style and skill set, and garnered the nickname of Dance Twins in the local dance community. After creating and performing several pieces together, as well as individually, Rania and Daniella are honoured to be performing together again at The Bellydance Blossom Festival, and are excited to be working with Abigail for the first time in several years.

Abigail Rania & Daniella back to back

Abigail Bellydance creates for Rania Bellydance & Daniella Wieclawek

Rubin's Vase

Abigail, Hamilton, ON, CA

Abigail has taught and performed classical bellydance for over a decade. A powerful presence with delicate touch, her style is deeply feminine, expressive, authentically rooted. Widely experienced in Egyptian sharqi and Arabic folkloric dances, Abigail aims to uphold traditional essence and cultural relevance throughout her work. Trained by Badia Star, Hannan Sultan and Nada el-Masriya, Abigail was a senior instructor at Toronto's Egyptian Dance Academy (2007-2014), helping countless dancers develop their passion for bellydancing - including Rania and Daniella in EDA's Folklore Troupe. Abigail currently lives, teaches and performs in Hamilton. She is thrilled to revisit her hometown for Blossomfest.

Rania Bellydance, Uxbridge, ON, CA & Daniella Wieclawek Port Severn, ON, CA

Rania and Daniella began their dance journey at the Egyptian Dance Academy in 2012. Dancing together with the studio's Folklore Troupe under Abigail fueled their addiction to belly dance and they quickly realized how well they dance together. They compliment each other in style and skill set, and garnered the nickname of Dance Twins in the local dance community. After creating and performing several pieces together, as well as individually, Rania and Daniella are honoured to be performing together again at The Bellydance Blossom Festival, and are excited to be working with Abigail for the first time in several years.



In-Toy Omri Ensemble — concept and direction by Isra

Dream in Colours

Dance in its truest form is an expression of human emotion unbound by genre, age, culture, appearance or ability. To let go, reveal from the heart and evolve one’s movement with child-like playfulness is to find the way home.

In-Toy Omri Ensemble

In-Toy Omri ensemble's logo

In-Toy Omri is an ensemble of musicians and dancers brought together for this festival, to explore the concepts of inclusiveness and childlike creative expression. A play on words, "In-Toy Omri" pays homage to Oum Kalthoum's, "Enta Omri". In-Toy makes reference to the group's uniquely accessible musical instruments. Reminiscent of "Intom", the Arabic plural of "you" alludes to the inclusive nature of dance and music. In this way, "You are My Years (Life)" points to the artist's devotion to music, dance and creative play.

  • Christine Bartolome (Isra) — Toronto, Canada
  • Bishr — Aswan, Egypt
  • Hani — Alexandria, Egypt
  • Janet Fryer — Toronto, Canada
  • Garrry Norman — Toronto, Canada
  • Taraneh — Toronto, Canada
  • Claudia Chavez — San Salvador, El Salvador
  • Layla Vanessa — São Paulo, Brasil
  • Laura Asdrubal — Les Abymes, Guadeloupe, French West Indies (F.W.I.)
  • Romain Vieillot — Les Abymes, Guadeloupe, F.W.I.
In-Toy Omri ensemble's logo

In-Toy Omri Ensemble — concept and direction by Isra

Dream in Colours

Dance in its truest form is an expression of human emotion unbound by genre, age, culture, appearance or ability. To let go, reveal from the heart and evolve one’s movement with child-like playfulness is to find the way home.

In-Toy OmriEnsemble

In-Toy Omri is an ensemble of musicians and dancers brought together for this festival, to explore the concepts of inclusiveness and childlike creative expression. A play on words, "In-Toy Omri" pays homage to Oum Kalthoum's, "Enta Omri". In-Toy makes reference to the group's uniquely accessible musical instruments. Reminiscent of "Intom", the Arabic plural of "you" alludes to the inclusive nature of dance and music. In this way, "You are My Years (Life)" points to the artist's devotion to music, dance and creative play.

  • Christine Bartolome (Isra) — Toronto, Canada
  • Bishr — Aswan, Egypt
  • Hani — Alexandria, Egypt
  • Janet Fryer — Toronto, Canada
  • Garrry Norman — Toronto, Canada
  • Taraneh — Toronto, Canada
  • Claudia Chavez — San Salvador, El Salvador
  • Layla Vanessa — São Paulo, Brasil
  • Laura Asdrubal — Les Abymes, Guadeloupe, French West Indies (F.W.I.)
  • Romain Vieillot — Les Abymes, Guadeloupe, F.W.I.


Iza San & Pierre Khoury co-create for Iza San & Pierre Khoury

Khalass Estehi

This is a story of anguish, frustration, desillusion and break-up in a romantic relationship, showcasing male/female oriental dancers that will express new avenues through contemporary dance. Nassif Zeytoun expresses the feeling of being tired of his lover's excuses in his modern new hit song: Khalass Estehi.

Iza San, Montreal, QC, CA

Iza San

Iza San is a multi-award winning artist who has been recognized by her peers thanks to her quality of movement, her lines and her ease with the public. Iza has won the title of Miss Starlette 2014 at Miami’s Rakstar festival and People’s choice award at AQDO Bellydance competition, 4 years in a row. In addition to her middle-eastern dance training, Iza has been perfecting her ballet and contemporary dance vocabulary by studying dance at Cégep St-Laurent in Montreal. Iza San’s Journey wouldn’t have been the same if she hadn’t been part of these several ensembles (SYTYCD Canada 2011, Ethereal Tribal, Ballet Oriental du Canada, Ya Eshta).

Pierre Khoury, Montreal, QC, CA

Pierre Khoury

Pierre Khoury is a Syrian dancer who earned great reputation in Quebec through his charisma, technique and showmanship, with his specialty being classic oriental, dabke and whirling. He acquired solid foundations with mentor Khadija Jabiry. In 2011, he launched the monthly evening shows "Belly Dance With a Twist", of which he also became the artistic director. Being a psychology teacher at University of Montreal, he uses his psychology training in dance coaching. He will be featured as a judge for the oriental dance competition of Festival Accès Asie in 2016 and was recently a featured dancer in the theatrical production, Follow your Heart, directed by Evolution Dance Theater.

Iza San Pierre Khoury

Iza San & Pierre Khoury co-create for Iza San & Pierre Khoury

Khalass Estehi

This is a story of anguish, frustration, desillusion and break-up in a romantic relationship, showcasing male/female oriental dancers that will express new avenues through contemporary dance. Nassif Zeytoun expresses the feeling of being tired of his lover's excuses in his modern new hit song: Khalass Estehi.

Iza San, Montreal, QC, CA

Iza San is a multi-award winning artist who has been recognized by her peers thanks to her quality of movement, her lines and her ease with the public. Iza has won the title of Miss Starlette 2014 at Miami’s Rakstar festival and People’s choice award at AQDO Bellydance competition, 4 years in a row. In addition to her middle-eastern dance training, Iza has been perfecting her ballet and contemporary dance vocabulary by studying dance at Cégep St-Laurent in Montreal. Iza San’s Journey wouldn’t have been the same if she hadn’t been part of these several ensembles (SYTYCD Canada 2011, Ethereal Tribal, Ballet Oriental du Canada, Ya Eshta).

Pierre Khoury, Montreal, QC, CA

Pierre Khoury is a Syrian dancer who earned great reputation in Quebec through his charisma, technique and showmanship, with his specialty being classic oriental, dabke and whirling. He acquired solid foundations with mentor Khadija Jabiry. In 2011, he launched the monthly evening shows "Belly Dance With a Twist", of which he also became the artistic director. Being a psychology teacher at University of Montreal, he uses his psychology training in dance coaching. He will be featured as a judge for the oriental dance competition of Festival Accès Asie in 2016 and was recently a featured dancer in the theatrical production, Follow your Heart, directed by Evolution Dance Theater.




Explorative Works - Ensembles


Jawaahir Dance Co., Minneapolis, MN

Title: TBA

Contemporary unconventional use of Near Eastern dance.

ahlanwasahlan

Jawaahir Dance Company is dedicated to presenting Middle Eastern dance as a living art form at its highest artistic level, to bringing the rich folkloric heritage of the Middle East to the theater stage, and to providing education about the dance in its authentic form for dance students and the general public.

ahlanwasahlan

Title: TBA

Contemporary unconventional use of Near Eastern dance.

Jawaahir Dance Co., Minneapolis, MN

Jawaahir Dance Company is dedicated to presenting Middle Eastern dance as a living art form at its highest artistic level, to bringing the rich folkloric heritage of the Middle East to the theater stage, and to providing education about the dance in its authentic form for dance students and the general public.



Earthshakers, Toronto, ON, CA

Tutti Frutti Shaabi

An evolution of last year's "Phenomenal Woman". Taking the hands on belly moment from choreography "Ya Gamid" to a new level. choreography by Yasmina Ramzy and the ES creative team.

Earthshakers

Directed by Yasmina Ramzy, Arabesque Earthshakers is an ensemble of female dancers with more of everything, who celebrate the joy of voluptuousness. "Earth Shaker" is the name of one of the most defining blues albums by Koko Taylor who uses the term in her song "I'm a Woman". This powerful ensemble is full of robust bodies, personality and attitude. Since Earthshakers debut in 2010 at the International Bellydance Conference of Canada they have been invited to perform in numerous venues and events including Queens Park Canada Day Celebrations, the CNE International Stage and Harbourfront Centre's Kick Up Your Heels Festival. Where ever they perform, they rock the house with joy.

Earthshakers

Tutti Frutti Shaabi

An evolution of last year's "Phenomenal Woman". Taking the hands on belly moment from choreography "Ya Gamid" to a new level. choreography by Yasmina Ramzy and the ES creative team.

Earthshakers, Toronto, ON, CA

Directed by Yasmina Ramzy, Arabesque Earthshakers is an ensemble of female dancers with more of everything, who celebrate the joy of voluptuousness. "Earth Shaker" is the name of one of the most defining blues albums by Koko Taylor who uses the term in her song "I'm a Woman". This powerful ensemble is full of robust bodies, personality and attitude. Since Earthshakers debut in 2010 at the International Bellydance Conference of Canada they have been invited to perform in numerous venues and events including Queens Park Canada Day Celebrations, the CNE International Stage and Harbourfront Centre's Kick Up Your Heels Festival. Where ever they perform, they rock the house with joy.



Roula Said Ensemble, Toronto, ON, CA



Sisters of Dance, Halifax, NS

Mysterious Violins

This piece explores the effort to avoid movement that is familiar within the body while seeking emotional presence, in intention as well as expression using a stark, simple music composition.

Sisters of Dance

United by their love of Arabic music, culture and dance, Sisters of Dance united in 2008 to express their creativity, to push through boundaries and to inspire personal growth. While performing with other dance companies in the Halifax area, Sisters of Dance provides opportunities for the dancers to explore self-directed group choreography through shared ownership. The group has performed at community and belly dance events in Halifax for almost 10 years.

Sisters of Dance

Mysterious Violins

This piece explores the effort to avoid movement that is familiar within the body while seeking emotional presence, in intention as well as expression using a stark, simple music composition.

Sisters of Dance, Halifax, NS

United by their love of Arabic music, culture and dance, Sisters of Dance united in 2008 to express their creativity, to push through boundaries and to inspire personal growth. While performing with other dance companies in the Halifax area, Sisters of Dance provides opportunities for the dancers to explore self-directed group choreography through shared ownership. The group has performed at community and belly dance events in Halifax for almost 10 years.



Elemental Explorations

Eight dancers of Arabesque Dance Co. embody each of the four elements of earth, air, water and fire. Choreography by Yasmina Ramzy and ADC dancers creativity.

Arabesque Dance Co., Toronto, ON, CA

Arabesque Dance Co.

Where music and movement become one, where ancient and modern blend, where East and West merge. Arabesque is a dance and music ensemble that embodies creative contemporary sensibilities steeped in a rich and ancient Arabian tradition. Seventeen male and female dance artists directed by Yasmina Ramzy and eight acoustic musicians directed by Bassam Bishara and Suleiman Warwar weave together seamlessly the infinite and ornate intricacies of refined and redefined Arab art. Soaring emotional waves, smouldering passion, earthy raw spirit and unearthly spirituality; all are experienced memorably in an Arabesque performance.

Arabesque Dance Co.

Elemental Explorations

Eight dancers of Arabesque Dance Co. embody each of the four elements of earth, air, water and fire. Choreography by Yasmina Ramzy and ADC dancers creativity.

Arabesque Dance Co., Toronto, ON, CA

Where music and movement become one, where ancient and modern blend, where East and West merge. Arabesque is a dance and music ensemble that embodies creative contemporary sensibilities steeped in a rich and ancient Arabian tradition. Seventeen male and female dance artists directed by Yasmina Ramzy and eight acoustic musicians directed by Bassam Bishara and Suleiman Warwar weave together seamlessly the infinite and ornate intricacies of refined and redefined Arab art. Soaring emotional waves, smouldering passion, earthy raw spirit and unearthly spirituality; all are experienced memorably in an Arabesque performance.



Gentleness

With the three core members of the ensemble, choreographer Yasmina Ramzy will depart from the usual high energy entertainment emphasis of this ensemble and explore a nuance of movement that is a very new challenge for the dancers.

Arabesque Student Troupe, Toronto, ON, CA

Arabesque Student Troupe in Purple Pants

The Arabesque Student Troupe directed by Yasmina Ramzy represents the talent of the advanced students of Arabesque Academy. The ensemble expresses high energy creative dance interpretation based in the feminine dance styles of Egypt and a variety of Middle East Folklore and Fusion styles.

Arabesque Student Troupe in Purple Pants

Gentleness

With the three core members of the ensemble, choreographer Yasmina Ramzy will depart from the usual high energy entertainment emphasis of this ensemble and explore a nuance of movement that is a very new challenge for the dancers.

Arabesque Student Troupe, Toronto, ON, CA

The Arabesque Student Troupe directed by Yasmina Ramzy represents the talent of the advanced students of Arabesque Academy. The ensemble expresses high energy creative dance interpretation based in the feminine dance styles of Egypt and a variety of Middle East Folklore and Fusion styles.


Random Partnerships


Kaeshi Chai (NY) Creates for 3 Soloists

Internal Dialog Externalized

3 dancers share their secret feelings about what it is like to be on stage.

Kaeshi Chai, New York City, NY, USA

Kaeshi Chai's Ensemble picture

Kaeshi Chai is a NYC based dancer and teacher trainer who co-founded the professional company, Bellyqueen, and PURE (Public Urban Ritual Experiment), a global community of artists focused on healing and social change. Kaeshi has performed and taught internationally, and is an alumni member of the Bellydance Superstars, and Jillina’s Bellydance Evolution. She curates the weekly Djam Under Jebon show featuring live music and dance and teaches at the Bellyqueen School of Dance and Steps on Broadway. Her mission is to develop bellydance as a stage art and explore its powerful, healing properties.

5 Soloists

Kaeshi Chai Ensemble 4 Soloists
  • Kaeshi Chai — New York, NY, USA
  • Nourah — Toronto, ON, CA
  • Saqqara — Binghamton, NY, USA
  • Siobhan Milner — Montreal, QC, CA
Kaeshi Chai's Ensemble picture Kaeshi Chai Ensemble 4 Soloists

Kaeshi Chai (NY) Creates for 5 Soloists

Internal Dialog Externalized

3 dancers share their secret feelings about what it is like to be on stage.

Kaeshi Chai, New York City, NY, USA

Kaeshi Chai is a NYC based dancer and teacher trainer who co-founded the professional company, Bellyqueen, and PURE (Public Urban Ritual Experiment), a global community of artists focused on healing and social change. Kaeshi has performed and taught internationally, and is an alumni member of the Bellydance Superstars, and Jillina’s Bellydance Evolution. She curates the weekly Djam Under Jebon show featuring live music and dance and teaches at the Bellyqueen School of Dance and Steps on Broadway. Her mission is to develop bellydance as a stage art and explore its powerful, healing properties.

5 Soloists

  • Kaeshi Chai — New York, NY, USA
  • Nourah — Toronto, ON, CA
  • Saqqara — Binghamton, NY, USA
  • Siobhan Milner — Montreal, QC, CA


Sausan Molthen (CA) creates for Julie Middleton (ON)

Honeymoon

A 7.30 minute piece composed by Mohamed Sultan (wife of Fayza Ahmed) for Nagwa Fouad, circa 1980.

Sausan Molthen, CA, USA

Sausan Molthern in light rose outfit

A dancer since 1958, now with a solid background in Egyptian culture, cuisine, arts, and dance; including management, presentation, teaching, entertainment, production, and food preparation, Sausan is an Artistic Director/Master Teacher in Classic Egyptian Style, Owner/Chef of Al-Masri Egyptian Restaurant, and Baker/Distributor of Bitchin’ Baklava.

Since 1999, Sausan has worked closely with the Fine Arts Museum, the Ethnic Dance Festival, and the Natural World Museum in San Francisco; the International House and the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology at U. C. Berkeley; and Stanford University, Palo Alto, participating, producing, choreographing, and/or directing numerous events.

Julie Middleton, Hamilton, ON, CA

Julie Middleton

With over thirty years of dance experience, almost fifteen in Middle Eastern Dance, Julie brings a lifelong love of dance to every aspect of her dance life. Julie manages and teaches at BellyFlow in Hamilton, helping to share the importance of this art form to many in her community. As a dancer with the Arabesque Dance Company, Julie has had many amazing opportunities including performing with Cirque du Soleil in the Pan Am Opening Ceremonies, and performing in the Toronto Gay Pride festivities. Julie has been known to her students and audiences to bring joy and light to her dancing.

Sausan Molthern in light rose outfit Julie Middleton

Sausan Molthen (CA) creates for Julie Middleton (ON)

Honeymoon

A 7.30 minute piece composed by Mohamed Sultan (wife of Fayza Ahmed) for Nagwa Fouad, circa 1980.

Sausan Molthen, CA, USA

A dancer since 1958, now with a solid background in Egyptian culture, cuisine, arts, and dance; including management, presentation, teaching, entertainment, production, and food preparation, Sausan is an Artistic Director/Master Teacher in Classic Egyptian Style, Owner/Chef of Al-Masri Egyptian Restaurant, and Baker/Distributor of Bitchin’ Baklava.

Since 1999, Sausan has worked closely with the Fine Arts Museum, the Ethnic Dance Festival, and the Natural World Museum in San Francisco; the International House and the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology at U. C. Berkeley; and Stanford University, Palo Alto, participating, producing, choreographing, and/or directing numerous events.

Julie Middleton, Hamilton, ON, CA

With over thirty years of dance experience, almost fifteen in Middle Eastern Dance, Julie brings a lifelong love of dance to every aspect of her dance life. Julie manages and teaches at BellyFlow in Hamilton, helping to share the importance of this art form to many in her community. As a dancer with the Arabesque Dance Company, Julie has had many amazing opportunities including performing with Cirque du Soleil in the Pan Am Opening Ceremonies, and performing in the Toronto Gay Pride festivities. Julie has been known to her students and audiences to bring joy and light to her dancing.



Gretchen Clare (DC) creates for Layal Marie-Anne (QC)

Title: TBD

Gretchen Clare

Gretchen Clare

Gretchen Clare has studied belly dance in Washington, DC for seven years, and enjoys multiple styles including Egyptian cabaret, ATS, and tribal fusion. She performs regularly as a soloist and with the companies Raqs Caravan East and Sahara Tribal at her home studio – Sahara Dance, and with a new live music group – Hamsa. As a choreographer and performer she draws on all these different experiences to do everything from very traditional balady to modern tribal fusion. When not dancing she is a librarian, and is fascinated by studying the history and culture of belly dance and Egypt.

Layal Marie-Anne, Quebec City, QC, Canada

Layal Marie-Anne

Layal is a passionate dancer of French origins who began her studies in Middle Eastern dance in 2012, drawing strength from her formation in classical ballet and modern-jazz. Currently residing in Montreal, Canada, her education in dance is greatly influenced by well established dancers such as Mercedes Nieto, Aziza, Ruby Beh or Azad Kaan, and turkish legends such as Nesrin Topkapi and Tanyeli.

Her fervent and energetic performance brings delight to her audience both on stage and in restaurants. Driven by her profound love for dance and music, she is in constant pursuit of new inspiration to broaden the expressiveness of her style and to marvel her audience with original and spectacular creations.

Gretchen Clare Layal Marie-Anne

Gretchen Clare (DC) creates for Layal Marie-Anne (QC)

Title: TBD

Gretchen Clare

Gretchen Clare has studied belly dance in Washington, DC for seven years, and enjoys multiple styles including Egyptian cabaret, ATS, and tribal fusion. She performs regularly as a soloist and with the companies Raqs Caravan East and Sahara Tribal at her home studio – Sahara Dance, and with a new live music group – Hamsa. As a choreographer and performer she draws on all these different experiences to do everything from very traditional balady to modern tribal fusion. When not dancing she is a librarian, and is fascinated by studying the history and culture of belly dance and Egypt.

Layal Marie-Anne, Quebec City, QC, Canada

Layal is a passionate dancer of French origins who began her studies in Middle Eastern dance in 2012, drawing strength from her formation in classical ballet and modern-jazz. Currently residing in Montreal, Canada, her education in dance is greatly influenced by well established dancers such as Mercedes Nieto, Aziza, Ruby Beh or Azad Kaan, and turkish legends such as Nesrin Topkapi and Tanyeli.

Her fervent and energetic performance brings delight to her audience both on stage and in restaurants. Driven by her profound love for dance and music, she is in constant pursuit of new inspiration to broaden the expressiveness of her style and to marvel her audience with original and spectacular creations.



Rahma Haddad (BC) creates for Amy Wilson (OH)

'Expression'

Choreographer’s task: to use elements of choreography to create visual appeal.

Performer’s task: to express a personal relationship with the music (as opposed to choreographed imitations).

Rahma Haddad, Vancouver, BC, CA

Rahma Haddad headshot

Of Lebanese heritage, Rahma has a Bach. of Phys Ed. with a background in modern, folk, Afro-jazz, and gymnastics. A performer & teacher of “bellydance” since 1975, Rahma is a recipient of two Canada Council grants with an impressive record of workshops and live and media exposure nationally and internationally. A teacher of teachers, her desire is to pass the torch and preserve cultural essence of the dance.

She uses historical and cultural elements of the Middle East in a contemporary context to create a style of dance covering the range from art to entertainment, while retaining the sensuality, joyful grace and athletic demands of the dance.

Amy Wilson, Cleveland, OH, USA

Amy Wilson standing pose

Amy is a dancer with the Angela Prato’s Gems of Egypt Troupe. She is a life long dancer, but she began her Middle Eastern dance training in 2012. She enjoys traveling across the United States and Canada to participate in dance workshops and to further her education in Middle Eastern dance and music.

Rahma Haddad headshot Amy Wilson standing pose

Rahma Haddad (BC) creates for Amy Wilson (OH)

'Expression'

Choreographer’s task: to use elements of choreography to create visual appeal.

Performer’s task: to express a personal relationship with the music (as opposed to choreographed imitations).

Rahma Haddad, Vancouver, BC, CA

Of Lebanese heritage, Rahma has a Bach. of Phys Ed. with a background in modern, folk, Afro-jazz, and gymnastics. A performer & teacher of “bellydance” since 1975, Rahma is a recipient of two Canada Council grants with an impressive record of workshops and live and media exposure nationally and internationally. A teacher of teachers, her desire is to pass the torch and preserve cultural essence of the dance.

She uses historical and cultural elements of the Middle East in a contemporary context to create a style of dance covering the range from art to entertainment, while retaining the sensuality, joyful grace and athletic demands of the dance.

Amy Wilson, Cleveland, OH, USA

Amy is a dancer with the Angela Prato’s Gems of Egypt Troupe. She is a life long dancer, but she began her Middle Eastern dance training in 2012. She enjoys traveling across the United States and Canada to participate in dance workshops and to further her education in Middle Eastern dance and music.



Rahel Claman creates for Riviera Ronit

Im Nin'alu

Honouring as well as innovating on the beautiful traditions of the Jews of Yemen, this piece aims to complicate the narrative that Jewish and Middle Eastern identities are always separate or in conflict. Instead, we want to celebrate their common cultural and musical heritages. The song we've chosen was originally a poem written by a Yemenite Jewish mystic in the 17th century, and it has seen many exciting iterations in contemporary music.

Rahel Claman, Vancouver, BC, CA

Rahel standing with blue veil

Rahel is a full time dancer, dance teacher and yoga teacher from Vancouver, BC. She began her love affair with Raqs Sharqi at the age of 15 and has been teaching since 2008, though she considers herself an eternal student and travels the world to train with as many dancers as she can. Rahel is the founder and choreographer of the Helwa Dancers, as well as the producer and artistic director of her annual showcase Ya Helwa. Rahel's background in acting, drumming and psychology help her to appeal to the human experience, and evoke story telling through movement.

Riviera Ronit, Toronto, ON, CA

Riviera

A Toronto-based dance artist, Riviera has been part of Arabesque Dance Company since 2015. Her formative training was with Melissa Gamal and Yasmina Ramzy, and she has also studied with international stars like Raqia Hassan, Saida Helou, and Camelia of Cairo. Riviera has choreographed large ensemble pieces for UofT's Only Human Dance Collective. Her highlight performances include Dance Ontario Dance Weekend and the Opening Ceremonies of the 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games.

Rahel standing with blue veil Riviera

Rahel Claman creates for Riviera Ronit

Im Nin'alu

Honouring as well as innovating on the beautiful traditions of the Jews of Yemen, this piece aims to complicate the narrative that Jewish and Middle Eastern identities are always separate or in conflict. Instead, we want to celebrate their common cultural and musical heritages. The song we've chosen was originally a poem written by a Yemenite Jewish mystic in the 17th century, and it has seen many exciting iterations in contemporary music.

Rahel Claman, Vancouver, BC, CA

Rahel is a full time dancer, dance teacher and yoga teacher from Vancouver, BC. She began her love affair with Raqs Sharqi at the age of 15 and has been teaching since 2008, though she considers herself an eternal student and travels the world to train with as many dancers as she can. Rahel is the founder and choreographer of the Helwa Dancers, as well as the producer and artistic director of her annual showcase Ya Helwa. Rahel's background in acting, drumming and psychology help her to appeal to the human experience, and evoke story telling through movement.

Riviera Ronit, Toronto, ON, CA

A Toronto-based dance artist, Riviera has been part of Arabesque Dance Company since 2015. Her formative training was with Melissa Gamal and Yasmina Ramzy, and she has also studied with international stars like Raqia Hassan, Saida Helou, and Camelia of Cairo. Riviera has choreographed large ensemble pieces for UofT's Only Human Dance Collective. Her highlight performances include Dance Ontario Dance Weekend and the Opening Ceremonies of the 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games.



Nourah (ON) creates for Helene EdenKassar (ON)

Yearning for your love

Emotional piece uncovers feelings and passion of a soul in agony whose heart yearns for his prohibited love. Their momentary joy fades too soon, leaving her in a state of melancholy. Love is a hurricane.

Nourah, Colombia//Toronto, ON, CA

Nourah with red veil

Nourah grew up surrounded by Latin music and movement. She discovered Bellydance after trying out a Tribal Dance DVD, and began formal training in 2011 with Oksana and Abigail at the Egyptian Dance Academy. Interested in exploring different methodologies, she continued her training at rabesque Academy with Melissa, Sarita, Amy, and Yasmina. She started as member of Arabesque Academy Student Troupe, and currently performs with the Egyptian Dance Company around the GTA. Nourah has trained vigorously with Nada El Masriya since 2014. In addition of regular workshops with Mohamed Shahin, Randa Kamel, Sadie, Luna and Raqia Hassam. Her dance is smooth, exciting and effortless.

Helene EdenKassar, Guadeloupe/Toronto, ON, CA

Helene EdenKassar

Helene was introduced to dance at the age of 4. Throughout her childhood, she explored various types of dances: ballet, samba and free jazz, before discovering her true passion: Middle Eastern Dance. As member of the trio EdenKassar, Helene and her group travel to train and perfectionate their art. Winner of 1st place as “Rising Star” at Egypt Raqs in Oakville (2016); also, obtained 1st place at the Adwae Sharquyat Festival's Competition in Montreal (2014), and 2nd place in a duet of Heshk Beshk Torino's Competition (2012). She joined Arabesque Dance Company on November 2016. She currently travels frequently between Guadeloupe and Canada to participate on EdenKassar's creations and to continue developing her personal style.

Nourah with red veil Helene EdenKassar

Nourah (ON) creates for Helene EdenKassar (ON)

Yearning for your love

Emotional piece uncovers feelings and passion of a soul in agony whose heart yearns for his prohibited love. Their momentary joy fades too soon, leaving her in a state of melancholy. Love is a hurricane.

Nourah, Colombia//Toronto, ON, CA

Nourah grew up surrounded by Latin music and movement. She discovered Bellydance after trying out a Tribal Dance DVD, and began formal training in 2011 with Oksana and Abigail at the Egyptian Dance Academy. Interested in exploring different methodologies, she continued her training at rabesque Academy with Melissa, Sarita, Amy, and Yasmina. She started as member of Arabesque Academy Student Troupe, and currently performs with the Egyptian Dance Company around the GTA. Nourah has trained vigorously with Nada El Masriya since 2014. In addition of regular workshops with Mohamed Shahin, Randa Kamel, Sadie, Luna and Raqia Hassam. Her dance is smooth, exciting and effortless.

Helene EdenKassar, Guadeloupe/Toronto, ON, CA

Helene was introduced to dance at the age of 4. Throughout her childhood, she explored various types of dances: ballet, samba and free jazz, before discovering her true passion: Middle Eastern Dance. As member of the trio EdenKassar, Helene and her group travel to train and perfectionate their art. Winner of 1st place as “Rising Star” at Egypt Raqs in Oakville (2016); also, obtained 1st place at the Adwae Sharquyat Festival's Competition in Montreal (2014), and 2nd place in a duet of Heshk Beshk Torino's Competition (2012). She joined Arabesque Dance Company on November 2016. She currently travels frequently between Guadeloupe and Canada to participate on EdenKassar's creations and to continue developing her personal style.



Layla Vanessa Creates for Charlotte

Faces of the Femininity Essence

The dance flows between the archetypes of the femininity essence: Wise Woman, Mother, Lover, Maiden, and Girl, dancing the complexity of the inner woman expression.

Layla Vanessa, São Paulo, Brazil (currently based in Toronto, ON, Canada)

Layla Vanessa standing in costume

Layla has lived in Florida, New York and in many cities across Brazil, acquiring knowledge and sharing her belly dance experience as a choreographer, teacher, dancer and leader for the essence of femininity. She has trained with many teachers, including Lulu from Brazil, Kahina, Nur, Amanda Rosa, Sadie Maquardt and Yasmina Ramzy. Outside of belly dance, Layla spent several years studying rhythmic gymnastics, ballet, modern dance, samba, drama, music and was also enrolled in the Dance Program at College. She has continued to deepen her studies on the feminine with Soledad Maria in her Formation of the Feminine program and sees dance as a way of transforming the inner feminine world into movement.

Charlotte, Egbert, ON, CA

Charlotte

Charlotte has always been drawn to the arts, whether it was music, painting or dance. At age 19, she became fascinated with the art of belly dance and began training at Arabesque Academy with Yasmina Ramzy as well as other dance artists Melissa Gamal, Sarita Gayle Alvarez, and Amy Leung. Charlotte is a member of Arabesque Student Troupe and Folklore Troupe and has performed regularly at dance shows and festivals in Toronto since 2013.

Layla Vanessa standing in costume Charlotte

Layla Vanessa Creates for Charlotte

Faces of the Femininity Essence

The dance flows between the archetypes of the femininity essence: Wise Woman, Mother, Lover, Maiden, and Girl, dancing the complexity of the inner woman expression.

Layla Vanessa, São Paulo, Brazil (currently based in Toronto, ON, Canada)

Layla has lived in Florida, New York and in many cities across Brazil, acquiring knowledge and sharing her belly dance experience as a choreographer, teacher, dancer and leader for the essence of femininity. She has trained with many teachers, including Lulu from Brazil, Kahina, Nur, Amanda Rosa, Sadie Maquardt and Yasmina Ramzy. Outside of belly dance, Layla spent several years studying rhythmic gymnastics, ballet, modern dance, samba, drama, music and was also enrolled in the Dance Program at College. She has continued to deepen her studies on the feminine with Soledad Maria in her Formation of the Feminine program and sees dance as a way of transforming the inner feminine world into movement.

Charlotte, Egbert, ON, CA

Charlotte has always been drawn to the arts, whether it was music, painting or dance. At age 19, she became fascinated with the art of belly dance and began training at Arabesque Academy with Yasmina Ramzy as well as other dance artists Melissa Gamal, Sarita Gayle Alvarez, and Amy Leung. Charlotte is a member of Arabesque Student Troupe and Folklore Troupe and has performed regularly at dance shows and festivals in Toronto since 2013.



Yasmina Ramzy Creates for Leanna Mendolia (postponed from last year due to injury)

Ehdono El Ayam sung by Warda

Yasmina Ramzy, Toronto, ON, CA

Yasmina Ramzy portrait

Yasmina Ramzy is a visionary and a highly acclaimed choreographer committed to the presentation of Bellydance as high art. Since 1981, she has performed over 10,000 times often for royalty and heads of state and throughout the Middle East. Yasmina has had the unique privilege of performing for several years in Syria with the famous master musicians of Allepo. As well as creating the renowned standardized Arabesque Academy curriculum, she teaches in over 60 cities on five continents. She founded Arabesque Dance Company and Orchestra, Arabesque Academy, the International Bellydance Conference of Canada (IBCC) and the Bellydance Blossom Festival.

Leanna Mendolia, Hamilton, ON, CA

Leanna Mendolia

As a dance company member of Arabesque Canada, her performance highlights are: dancing on a television series, the International Stage at the CNE, numerous Dance Ontario Dance Weekends, the full scale production of Sawah (2014) and with Cirque du Soleil in the Pan Am Opening Ceremony (2015). Leanna also performs as an ensemble and soloist with the Arabesque Entertainment Agency. Over the years, Leanna's dedication and passion has made her a popular teacher in her hometown of Hamilton. In 2015 she started her own studio, BellaDance, as a testament of the art forms power to revitalize and empower oneself.

Yasmina Ramzy portrait Leanna Mendolia

Yasmina Ramzy Creates for Leanna Mendolia (postponed from last year due to injury)

Ehdono El Ayam sung by Warda

Yasmina Ramzy, Toronto, ON, CA

Yasmina Ramzy is a visionary and a highly acclaimed choreographer committed to the presentation of Bellydance as high art. Since 1981, she has performed over 10,000 times often for royalty and heads of state and throughout the Middle East. Yasmina has had the unique privilege of performing for several years in Syria with the famous master musicians of Allepo. As well as creating the renowned standardized Arabesque Academy curriculum, she teaches in over 60 cities on five continents. She founded Arabesque Dance Company and Orchestra, Arabesque Academy, the International Bellydance Conference of Canada (IBCC) and the Bellydance Blossom Festival.

Leanna Mendolia, Hamilton, ON, CA

As a dance company member of Arabesque Canada, her performance highlights are: dancing on a television series, the International Stage at the CNE, numerous Dance Ontario Dance Weekends, the full scale production of Sawah (2014) and with Cirque du Soleil in the Pan Am Opening Ceremony (2015). Leanna also performs as an ensemble and soloist with the Arabesque Entertainment Agency. Over the years, Leanna's dedication and passion has made her a popular teacher in her hometown of Hamilton. In 2015 she started her own studio, BellaDance, as a testament of the art forms power to revitalize and empower oneself.



Ariane Vega (QC) creates for Delkash Dancers (MI)

Transic Delight

Using existing dance material that the choreographer deconstructed to be reorganized into a contemporary structure in order to extract its emotional essence and give a different perspective to Bellydance.

Ariane Vega, Montreal, QC, CA

Ariane Vega

Ariane Vega (choreographer) was trained in the ballet, modern and contemporary styles. She moved to New York City and fell in love with BellyDancing that she pursued as a professional level for 10 years. She worked with Opéra de Québec, Orchestre Symphonique de Québec, Le Fils D'Adrien Danse and Cirque Du Soleil as well as being a freelance dancer and group fitness trainer. She performed in New York, Montreal, Toronto, Quebec, Paris and Buenos Aires. She also has a bachelor degree from l'Université Laval (Québec) in Sports' intervention. She now lives in Toronto Canada.

Delkash Dancers, Grand Rapids, MI, USA

Delkash Dancers

Delkash Dancers (ensemble) are based out of Grand Rapids, Michigan under the artistic direction of Sarah Mayne. The current members of Delkash for this project include Sarah Mayne, Tracy Paauwe, Erica Baumann and Whitney McCue. Delkash is dedicated to upholding the integrity of this art, culture, and dance through thoughtful and deliberate creations, celebrating the world's oldest dance in an ever changing and evolving culture.

Ariane Vega Delkash Dancers

Ariane Vega (QC) creates for Delkash Dancers (MI)

Transic Delight

Using existing dance material that the choreographer deconstructed to be reorganized into a contemporary structure in order to extract its emotional essence and give a different perspective to Bellydance.

Ariane Vega, Montreal, QC, CA

Ariane Vega (choreographer) was trained in the ballet, modern and contemporary styles. She moved to New York City and fell in love with BellyDancing that she pursued as a professional level for 10 years. She worked with Opéra de Québec, Orchestre Symphonique de Québec, Le Fils D'Adrien Danse and Cirque Du Soleil as well as being a freelance dancer and group fitness trainer. She performed in New York, Montreal, Toronto, Quebec, Paris and Buenos Aires. She also has a bachelor degree from l'Université Laval (Québec) in Sports' intervention. She now lives in Toronto Canada.

Delkash Dancers, Grand Rapids, MI, USA

Delkash Dancers (ensemble) are based out of Grand Rapids, Michigan under the artistic direction of Sarah Mayne. The current members of Delkash for this project include Sarah Mayne, Tracy Paauwe, Erica Baumann and Whitney McCue. Delkash is dedicated to upholding the integrity of this art, culture, and dance through thoughtful and deliberate creations, celebrating the world's oldest dance in an ever changing and evolving culture.



Alia Thabit (NY) creates for RakSultana BellyDancers (MI)

Alf Leila wa Leila

Love, loss and life’s obstacles; this interpretation of the beloved “Alf Leila wa Leila,” tells the story of one's struggle to follow her heart’s desire. Michigan Arab Orchestra musical arrangement.

Alia Thabit, NY, USA

Alia Thabit head shot

An Arab-American and a NEST Juried Artist, Alia Thabit specializes in performance, composition, and improvisation for groups and soloists. She has danced on four continents, in eight countries, and fifteen states, produced myriad events, directed a dance company, presented numerous workshops and seminars, and performed internationally with world-class musicians. Alia believes that each of us is filled with our own unique beauty and magic, treasure waiting to be found. She recently published the book, Midnight at the Crossroads: has belly dance sold its soul?, which emphasizes creativity and self-expression grounded in traditional Oriental dance values.

RakSultana, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

RakSultana

With Jazz, Ballet, Tap, Dutch folk dance, cheer and gymnastics, the six members of RakSultana began belly dancing with a range of skills and experience. Thinking these various talents would be their strength, they first focused on fusion numbers. But after years of counting beats, and assigning steps to every music measure, all that fusion became confusion. The emotional connection was lost.

So in 2011 they started over—from the beginning: from the music, the floor, their hearts. Now their strength is in why they love Middle Eastern Dance, and why they stay together: its part of who they are.

Alia Thabit head shot RakSultana

Alia Thabit (NY) creates for RakSultana BellyDancers (MI)

Alf Leila wa Leila

Love, loss and life’s obstacles; this interpretation of the beloved “Alf Leila wa Leila,” tells the story of one's struggle to follow her heart’s desire. Michigan Arab Orchestra musical arrangement.

Alia Thabit, NY, USA

An Arab-American and a NEST Juried Artist, Alia Thabit specializes in performance, composition, and improvisation for groups and soloists. She has danced on four continents, in eight countries, and fifteen states, produced myriad events, directed a dance company, presented numerous workshops and seminars, and performed internationally with world-class musicians. Alia believes that each of us is filled with our own unique beauty and magic, treasure waiting to be found. She recently published the book, Midnight at the Crossroads: has belly dance sold its soul?, which emphasizes creativity and self-expression grounded in traditional Oriental dance values.

RakSultana, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

With Jazz, Ballet, Tap, Dutch folk dance, cheer and gymnastics, the six members of RakSultana began belly dancing with a range of skills and experience. Thinking these various talents would be their strength, they first focused on fusion numbers. But after years of counting beats, and assigning steps to every music measure, all that fusion became confusion. The emotional connection was lost.

So in 2011 they started over—from the beginning: from the music, the floor, their hearts. Now their strength is in why they love Middle Eastern Dance, and why they stay together: its part of who they are.



Florence Leclerc (QC) creates for Sisters of Dance (NS)

Hakhounak

How to express such intense emotions within a group? How to dance as one and breathe as one, while preserving our own uniqueness? A study of interdependence and natural fluidity.

Florence Leclerc

Florence Leclerc head shot

Florence is a multi-award winning dancer and choreographer. She is known for her elegance, her grace and the quality of her choreographic work. She dances in various restaurants and festivals, is a member of the professional collective Ya Eshta and the new choreographer for Al Sahirat, in Montreal. Florence is one of the most sought after choreographers and teachers in the oriental dance community in the province of Quebec.

Sisters of Dance, NS, CA

Sisters of Dance

United by their love of Arabic music, culture and dance, Sisters of Dance united in 2008 to express their creativity, to push through boundaries and to inspire personal growth. While performing with other dance companies in the Halifax area, Sisters of Dance provides opportunities for the dancers to explore self-directed group choreography through shared ownership. The group has performed at community and belly dance events in Halifax for almost 10 years.

Florence Leclerc head shot Sisters of Dance

Florence Leclerc (QC) creates for Sisters of Dance (NS)

Hakhounak

How to express such intense emotions within a group? How to dance as one and breathe as one, while preserving our own uniqueness? A study of interdependence and natural fluidity.

Florence Leclerc

Florence is a multi-award winning dancer and choreographer. She is known for her elegance, her grace and the quality of her choreographic work. She dances in various restaurants and festivals, is a member of the professional collective Ya Eshta and the new choreographer for Al Sahirat, in Montreal. Florence is one of the most sought after choreographers and teachers in the oriental dance community in the province of Quebec.

Sisters of Dance

United by their love of Arabic music, culture and dance, Sisters of Dance united in 2008 to express their creativity, to push through boundaries and to inspire personal growth. While performing with other dance companies in the Halifax area, Sisters of Dance provides opportunities for the dancers to explore self-directed group choreography through shared ownership. The group has performed at community and belly dance events in Halifax for almost 10 years.



Julie Middleton (ON) creates for Eastside Hips(BC)

Mahchani Bladi sung by Carol Samaha

Exploring the feelings and challenges that come with leaving your "home", whatever that home may be.

Julie Middleton, Hamilton, ON, CA

Julie Middleton

With over thirty years of dance experience, almost fifteen in Middle Eastern Dance, Julie brings a lifelong love of dance to every aspect of her dance life. Julie manages and teaches at BellyFlow in Hamilton, helping to share the importance of this art form to many in her community. As a dancer with the Arabesque Dance Company, Julie has had many amazing opportunities including performing with Cirque du Soleil in the Pan Am Opening Ceremonies, and performing in the Toronto Gay Pride festivities. Julie has been known to her students and audiences to bring joy and light to her dancing.

Eastside Hips Productions, Vancouver, BC, CA

Eastside Hips Productions

Eastside Hips is a dance collective that found its roots in the east side of Vancouver, BC. Co-directors, Leona and Nina D., now living in different cities, continue working together to offer safe and positive environments for individuals to learn, dance and grow. ESH offers classes, dancer development and mentoring, and hosts workshops and shows. Although belly dance has been their main focus for 16 years, the ESH founders both study other dance styles and approaches.

Eastside Hips is proud to create an inclusive dance environment, giving back to the BC belly dance community as it continues to evolve.

Julie Middleton Eastside Hips Productions

Julie Middleton (ON) creates for Eastside Hips(BC)

Mahchani Bladi sung by Carol Samaha

Exploring the feelings and challenges that come with leaving your "home", whatever that home may be.

Julie Middleton, Hamilton, ON, CA

With over thirty years of dance experience, almost fifteen in Middle Eastern Dance, Julie brings a lifelong love of dance to every aspect of her dance life. Julie manages and teaches at BellyFlow in Hamilton, helping to share the importance of this art form to many in her community. As a dancer with the Arabesque Dance Company, Julie has had many amazing opportunities including performing with Cirque du Soleil in the Pan Am Opening Ceremonies, and performing in the Toronto Gay Pride festivities. Julie has been known to her students and audiences to bring joy and light to her dancing.

Eastside Hips Productions, Vancouver, BC, CA

Eastside Hips is a dance collective that found its roots in the east side of Vancouver, BC. Co-directors, Leona and Nina D., now living in different cities, continue working together to offer safe and positive environments for individuals to learn, dance and grow. ESH offers classes, dancer development and mentoring, and hosts workshops and shows. Although belly dance has been their main focus for 16 years, the ESH founders both study other dance styles and approaches.

Eastside Hips is proud to create an inclusive dance environment, giving back to the BC belly dance community as it continues to evolve.



Pierre Khoury QC creates for Katy

Pierre Khoury, Montreal, QC, CA

Pierre Khoury

Pierre Khoury is a Syrian dancer who earned great reputation in Quebec through his charisma, technique and showmanship, with his specialty being classic oriental, dabke and whirling. He acquired solid foundations with mentor Khadija Jabiry. In 2011, he launched the monthly evening shows "Belly Dance With a Twist", of which he also became the artistic director. Being a psychology teacher at University of Montreal, he uses his psychology training in dance coaching. He will be featured as a judge for the oriental dance competition of Festival Accès Asie in 2016 and was recently a featured dancer in the theatrical production, Follow your Heart, directed by Evolution Dance Theater.

Pierre Khoury

Pierre Khoury QC creates for Katy

Pierre Khoury, Montreal, QC, CA

Pierre Khoury is a Syrian dancer who earned great reputation in Quebec through his charisma, technique and showmanship, with his specialty being classic oriental, dabke and whirling. He acquired solid foundations with mentor Khadija Jabiry. In 2011, he launched the monthly evening shows "Belly Dance With a Twist", of which he also became the artistic director. Being a psychology teacher at University of Montreal, he uses his psychology training in dance coaching. He will be featured as a judge for the oriental dance competition of Festival Accès Asie in 2016 and was recently a featured dancer in the theatrical production, Follow your Heart, directed by Evolution Dance Theater.


Explorative Works - Solos


Heart to Earth

The lost art of floorwork. Sensual, mysterious, emotionnal. Sometimes viewed as sexual, this art was prohibited in Egypt since 1952. Reconnect and explore your spirituality and sensuality through connection to earth.

Layal Marie-Anne, Quebec City, QC, Canada

Layal Marie-Anne

Layal is a passionate dancer of French origins who began her studies in Middle Eastern dance in 2012, drawing strength from her formation in classical ballet and modern-jazz. Currently residing in Montreal, Canada, her education in dance is greatly influenced by well established dancers such as Mercedes Nieto, Aziza, Ruby Beh or Azad Kaan, and turkish legends such as Nesrin Topkapi and Tanyeli.

Her fervent and energetic performance brings delight to her audience both on stage and in restaurants. Driven by her profound love for dance and music, she is in constant pursuit of new inspiration to broaden the expressiveness of her style and to marvel her audience with original and spectacular creations.

Layal Marie-Anne

Heart to Earth

The lost art of floorwork. Sensual, mysterious, emotionnal. Sometimes viewed as sexual, this art was prohibited in Egypt since 1952. Reconnect and explore your spirituality and sensuality through connection to earth.

Layal Marie-Anne, Quebec City, QC, Canada

Layal is a passionate dancer of French origins who began her studies in Middle Eastern dance in 2012, drawing strength from her formation in classical ballet and modern-jazz. Currently residing in Montreal, Canada, her education in dance is greatly influenced by well established dancers such as Mercedes Nieto, Aziza, Ruby Beh or Azad Kaan, and turkish legends such as Nesrin Topkapi and Tanyeli.

Her fervent and energetic performance brings delight to her audience both on stage and in restaurants. Driven by her profound love for dance and music, she is in constant pursuit of new inspiration to broaden the expressiveness of her style and to marvel her audience with original and spectacular creations.



"Madrid" from Sayed Balaha's CD AROUND THE WORLD

A study in the similarities of Flamenco footwork and fast hip work of Middle Eastern dance featuring use of the Spanish Manton in place of Veil.

Diane Adams, Atlanta, GA

Diane Adams is a certified dance/fitness instructor, and a 40-year teacher/performer of Middle Eastern dance. She considers her greatest dance honor that of being granted performing rights by Yasmina Ramzy for her company, Zeina Dance, to perform "Venus" from The Descent of Istar production. In 2011, she was presented a Lifetime Achievement Award from Black Orchid Productions, and recently took 3rd place in the 2016 Essence of Belly Dance Competitiion in Atlanta, GA.

"Madrid" from Sayed Balaha's CD AROUND THE WORLD

A study in the similarities of Flamenco footwork and fast hip work of Middle Eastern dance featuring use of the Spanish Manton in place of Veil.

Diane Adams, Atlanta, GA

Diane Adams is a certified dance/fitness instructor, and a 40-year teacher/performer of Middle Eastern dance. She considers her greatest dance honor that of being granted performing rights by Yasmina Ramzy for her company, Zeina Dance, to perform "Venus" from The Descent of Istar production. In 2011, she was presented a Lifetime Achievement Award from Black Orchid Productions, and recently took 3rd place in the 2016 Essence of Belly Dance Competitiion in Atlanta, GA.



"Jemilleh" by John Bilezikjian

A sword piece with limited costuming. I am trying to capture the essence of the piece strictly through movement and expression by not wearing anything other than black.

Victoria Graeco, Toronto, ON, CA

Victoria began studying Middle Eastern dance in 2008 under the instruction of Emilia at Hannan’s Belly Dance Studio, now the Egyptian Dance Academy. She was then approached to begin instructor training under Nada El Masriya. Victoria taught weekly classes there for 3 years. She is currently a member of the Arabesque Earthshakers, under the direction of Yasmina Ramzy.

She would like to take this moment to thank all the studio owners, directors and instructors in and around the GTA for creating and maintaining the various artistic avenues for students and performers alike to learn and express their individual creativity.

"Jemilleh" by John Bilezikjian

A sword piece with limited costuming. I am trying to capture the essence of the piece strictly through movement and expression by not wearing anything other than black.

Victoria Graeco, Toronto, ON, CA

Victoria began studying Middle Eastern dance in 2008 under the instruction of Emilia at Hannan’s Belly Dance Studio, now the Egyptian Dance Academy. She was then approached to begin instructor training under Nada El Masriya. Victoria taught weekly classes there for 3 years. She is currently a member of the Arabesque Earthshakers, under the direction of Yasmina Ramzy.

She would like to take this moment to thank all the studio owners, directors and instructors in and around the GTA for creating and maintaining the various artistic avenues for students and performers alike to learn and express their individual creativity.



A THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS, UNDER THE MILKY WAY

We artists experience life artistically, creatively & culturally. Relationships in music, movement & emotions are essential for alchemy in fusion, creating the thread of continuum, with those who've inspired.

Willow Chang, Honolulu, HI

Willow Chang standing in costume

Willow Chang is committed to the creative process, learning experience & sacred practice. A life-long dancer/singer, she began dance with hula, which brought her to live & perform in Egypt. For the past 23 years, she's focused on Middle Eastern dance. Recognized as Hawai‘i’s premier Middle Eastern Dance artist, for her emotive, elegant dance, on spot musicality & her own costumes design. With a BA in Dance, she dances continues to study: Classical Indian dances, Butoh, Bollywood, Flamenco, Argentine Tango & Modern. Committed to the innovation & traditions of dance, she traveling annually to study & give workshops. Willow’s always honored to share the beauty of this ever evolving art.

Willow Chang standing in costume

A THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS, UNDER THE MILKY WAY

We artists experience life artistically, creatively & culturally. Relationships in music, movement & emotions are essential for alchemy in fusion, creating the thread of continuum, with those who've inspired.

Willow Chang, Honolulu, HI

Willow Chang is committed to the creative process, learning experience & sacred practice. A life-long dancer/singer, she began dance with hula, which brought her to live & perform in Egypt. For the past 23 years, she's focused on Middle Eastern dance. Recognized as Hawai‘i’s premier Middle Eastern Dance artist, for her emotive, elegant dance, on spot musicality & her own costumes design. With a BA in Dance, she dances continues to study: Classical Indian dances, Butoh, Bollywood, Flamenco, Argentine Tango & Modern. Committed to the innovation & traditions of dance, she traveling annually to study & give workshops. Willow’s always honored to share the beauty of this ever evolving art.



Unrequited Love and Addiction

What will an empty heart do to find fulfillment? Arabic music commonly explores the depths of love, loss and emotional turmoils. Do people turn to substances to fill that void?

Raina Bellydance, Uxbridge, ON, CA

Raina Bellydance with yellow veil

Rania stumbled into Belly dance and it very quickly became a passion, she began her dance journey at the Egyptian Dance Academy under Nada el Masriya. Once Rania joined the Folklore Troupe at EDA the amazing chemistry amongst the women of this troupe, and the magic of Bellydance cemented her commitment to this dance form. Since then she has attended workshops with many world renowned dancers, teachers and choreographers, and earnestly studies across Toronto studios to capture more depth and understanding of raqs sharqi. Rania performs professionally, and is currently teaching Belly Dance in Uxbridge Ontario.

Raina Bellydance with yellow veil

Unrequited Love and Addiction

What will an empty heart do to find fulfillment? Arabic music commonly explores the depths of love, loss and emotional turmoils. Do people turn to substances to fill that void?

Raina Bellydance, Uxbridge, ON, CA

Rania stumbled into Belly dance and it very quickly became a passion, she began her dance journey at the Egyptian Dance Academy under Nada el Masriya. Once Rania joined the Folklore Troupe at EDA the amazing chemistry amongst the women of this troupe, and the magic of Bellydance cemented her commitment to this dance form. Since then she has attended workshops with many world renowned dancers, teachers and choreographers, and earnestly studies across Toronto studios to capture more depth and understanding of raqs sharqi. Rania performs professionally, and is currently teaching Belly Dance in Uxbridge Ontario.



Title: TBA

Rahel Claman, Vancouver, BC, CA

Rahel standing with blue veil

Rahel is a full time dancer, dance teacher and yoga teacher from Vancouver, BC. She began her love affair with Raqs Sharqi at the age of 15 and has been teaching since 2008, though she considers herself an eternal student and travels the world to train with as many dancers as she can. Rahel is the founder and choreographer of the Helwa Dancers, as well as the producer and artistic director of her annual showcase Ya Helwa. Rahel's background in acting, drumming and psychology help her to appeal to the human experience, and evoke story telling through movement.

Rahel standing with blue veil

TBA

Rahel Claman, Vancouver, BC, CA

Rahel is a full time dancer, dance teacher and yoga teacher from Vancouver, BC. She began her love affair with Raqs Sharqi at the age of 15 and has been teaching since 2008, though she considers herself an eternal student and travels the world to train with as many dancers as she can. Rahel is the founder and choreographer of the Helwa Dancers, as well as the producer and artistic director of her annual showcase Ya Helwa. Rahel's background in acting, drumming and psychology help her to appeal to the human experience, and evoke story telling through movement.



The Soul's Truth

The dance is sinking in the inside world.When the mind is silent, the soul can breathe and it freely to reveals the inner deep of the soul.

Layla Vanessa, São Paulo, Brazil (currently based in Toronto, ON, Canada)

Layla Vanessa standing

Layla has lived in Florida, New York and in many cities across Brazil, acquiring knowledge and sharing her belly dance experience as a choreographer, teacher, dancer and leader for the essence of femininity. She has trained with many teachers, including Lulu from Brazil, Kahina, Nur, Amanda Rosa, Sadie Maquardt and Yasmina Ramzy. Outside of belly dance, Layla spent several years studying rhythmic gymnastics, ballet, modern dance, samba, drama, music and was also enrolled in the Dance Program at College. She has continued to deepen her studies on the feminine with Soledad Maria in her Formation of the Feminine program and sees dance as a way of transforming the inner feminine world into movement.

Layla Vanessa standing

The Soul's Truth

The dance is sinking in the inside world.When the mind is silent, the soul can breathe and it freely to reveals the inner deep of the soul.

Layla Vanessa, São Paulo, Brazil (currently based in Toronto, ON, Canada)

Layla has lived in Florida, New York and in many cities across Brazil, acquiring knowledge and sharing her belly dance experience as a choreographer, teacher, dancer and leader for the essence of femininity. She has trained with many teachers, including Lulu from Brazil, Kahina, Nur, Amanda Rosa, Sadie Maquardt and Yasmina Ramzy. Outside of belly dance, Layla spent several years studying rhythmic gymnastics, ballet, modern dance, samba, drama, music and was also enrolled in the Dance Program at College. She has continued to deepen her studies on the feminine with Soledad Maria in her Formation of the Feminine program and sees dance as a way of transforming the inner feminine world into movement.



A Journey Toward Healing

In this piece Colleen will be fusing bellydance with her rich background as a contemporary dancer, and highlighting both dance styles equally. This is a nontraditional piece and will use nontraditional music.

Colleen M Wilde, Pittsburgh PA

Colleen M Wilde

Colleen Wilde is a performer, instructor, and event sponsor from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She is the owner and Director of Vitality Bellydance & Wellness Studio. Colleen has studied and performed around the world in places like the US, Canada, France, Korea, Japan, Thailand, and Egypt. She considers herself an eternal student of the dance, and is committed to studies in Dance Anthropology and Dance Movement Psychotherapy.

Colleen M Wilde

A Journey Toward Healing

In this piece Colleen will be fusing bellydance with her rich background as a contemporary dancer, and highlighting both dance styles equally. This is a nontraditional piece and will use nontraditional music.

Colleen M Wilde, Pittsburgh PA

Colleen Wilde is a performer, instructor, and event sponsor from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She is the owner and Director of Vitality Bellydance & Wellness Studio. Colleen has studied and performed around the world in places like the US, Canada, France, Korea, Japan, Thailand, and Egypt. She considers herself an eternal student of the dance, and is committed to studies in Dance Anthropology and Dance Movement Psychotherapy.



"Raqs Improv"

“Music is light and the dancer, a prism. When light finds its way through the prism, it is refracted into its many coloured spectrum. This rainbow is the dance.”

In this explorative work, for reasons that will be shared at the performance, Jamiila wishes to experience this feeling of raw organic creation, to be the prism, and analyze how it feels to totally improvise on stage. She will dance to a piece of music that will be drawn on the day of the performance from selections submitted by fellow festival participants.

Jamiila B., Vancouver, BC

Photo of yellow bossum

Jamiila began her journey into the realm of “Bellydance” more than 30 years ago. She has studied Middle Eastern and other forms of dance with many teachers and masters from Egypt, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, India, Europe, and all over North America and has performed for an untold number of audiences over the years. North American Cabaret and Egyptian Raqs Sharqi styles have always been her passion and have remained her main focus through various incarnations of her entertainment career, including that time she was the director of a bizarre neo-vaudeville show that toured the prairies around the turn of the millennium. So, after running way from the circus, quite literally, she now considers herself a semi-retired bellydancer/clown and performs only on rare occasions and for only the most special audiences.

Photo of yellow bossum

"Raqs Improv"

“Music is light and the dancer, a prism. When light finds its way through the prism, it is refracted into its many coloured spectrum. This rainbow is the dance.”

In this explorative work, for reasons that will be shared at the performance, Jamiila wishes to experience this feeling of raw organic creation, to be the prism, and analyze how it feels to totally improvise on stage. She will dance to a piece of music that will be drawn on the day of the performance from selections submitted by fellow festival participants.

Jamiila B., Vancouver, BC

Jamiila began her journey into the realm of “Bellydance” more than 30 years ago. She has studied Middle Eastern and other forms of dance with many teachers and masters from Egypt, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, India, Europe, and all over North America and has performed for an untold number of audiences over the years. North American Cabaret and Egyptian Raqs Sharqi styles have always been her passion and have remained her main focus through various incarnations of her entertainment career, including that time she was the director of a bizarre neo-vaudeville show that toured the prairies around the turn of the millennium. So, after running way from the circus, quite literally, she now considers herself a semi-retired bellydancer/clown and performs only on rare occasions and for only the most special audiences.



Stepping outside the Box

Leona’s steps outside of her box and moves to the voice of Roula Said, a woman that inspired her in 2008.

Leona Planko Finlayson, Okanagan, BC, CA

Leona Planko Finlayson with veil

Performer, teacher, coach, mom and co-director of Eastside Hips Productions with Georgina Daniels (they host workshops, show and more). She took her first class, fell in love and 17 years and 2 kids later, she is still in love. Teaching for 14 years, coaching and supporting dancers to be their best and during this time she created the troupe Y Bellydance in 2008 to provide a positive performance atmosphere for women. In 2016, she relocated with her family to the Okanagan and is rediscovering who she is as a dancer and a teacher.

Leona Planko Finlayson with veil

Stepping outside the Box

Leona’s steps outside of her box and moves to the voice of Roula Said, a woman that inspired her in 2008.

Leona Planko Finlayson, Okanagan, BC, CA

Performer, teacher, coach, mom and co-director of Eastside Hips Productions with Georgina Daniels (they host workshops, show and more). She took her first class, fell in love and 17 years and 2 kids later, she is still in love. Teaching for 14 years, coaching and supporting dancers to be their best and during this time she created the troupe Y Bellydance in 2008 to provide a positive performance atmosphere for women. In 2016, she relocated with her family to the Okanagan and is rediscovering who she is as a dancer and a teacher.



Oriental Motion

Embodiment of music by giving dynamism and meaning to each delicate movement of every body part and turning the whole body into a musical instrument.

Sari Tomomi, Halifax, NS, CA

Sari Tomomi

Sari started belly dancing under the tutelage of Svetlana Skrchinskaya in Japan in 2007. 2 years later, Sari was then appointed as the main dancer of the dance company and instructor. She has been receiving great accolades wherever she performed and from her students for her strong shimmy, physicality, expressionism, musicality, and unique choreography. She pursues this profession as her life work, and she is now teaching in Halifax and surrounding areas, is actively performing all over Maritimes, and also has experience performing in Montreal and Toronto.

Sari Tomomi

Oriental Motion

Embodiment of music by giving dynamism and meaning to each delicate movement of every body part and turning the whole body into a musical instrument.

Sari Tomomi, Halifax, NS, CA

Sari started belly dancing under the tutelage of Svetlana Skrchinskaya in Japan in 2007. 2 years later, Sari was then appointed as the main dancer of the dance company and instructor. She has been receiving great accolades wherever she performed and from her students for her strong shimmy, physicality, expressionism, musicality, and unique choreography. She pursues this profession as her life work, and she is now teaching in Halifax and surrounding areas, is actively performing all over Maritimes, and also has experience performing in Montreal and Toronto.



Ozymandias

Travel through dance to a place where “the lone and level sands stretch far away.” (Percy Bysshe Shelley)

Nisreen, Brooklyn, NY, USA

Nisreen standing

Nisreen is an NYC-based Middle Eastern dance artist praised for her musicality and elegant style. Her work is grounded in Egyptian dance technique, music, and culture. In 2014, she was highlighted as an emerging dance artist at Atelier Orientale: New Voices, presented by Anahid Sofian. She teaches open-level classes in Brooklyn and performs at various locations around New York City. In this piece, she joins her academic background in literature with her avocation of dance.

Nisreen standing

Ozymandias

Travel through dance to a place where “the lone and level sands stretch far away.” (Percy Bysshe Shelley)

Nisreen, Brooklyn, NY, USA

Nisreen is an NYC-based Middle Eastern dance artist praised for her musicality and elegant style. Her work is grounded in Egyptian dance technique, music, and culture. In 2014, she was highlighted as an emerging dance artist at Atelier Orientale: New Voices, presented by Anahid Sofian. She teaches open-level classes in Brooklyn and performs at various locations around New York City. In this piece, she joins her academic background in literature with her avocation of dance.



Searching

We are forever searching, looking for fulfillment, happiness, joy, contentment but are we looking in the right places, are we searching in the right direction. What blocks our search, and how can we overcome it.

Deborah Shaw, Toronto, ON, CA

Deborah Shaw

Deborah Shaw began performing at 5yrs old and has barely been off the stage since. Figure skating, tap, ballet and jazz lead to acting and theatre school. After Theatre Humber Deborah worked in many capacities, Actor, Artistic Director, Stage Manager, Costumier, Dresser and Co-Producer/ Co-Writer. She began studying Bellydance with Arabesque Academy in 2005 and now performs with the ensemble, Arabesque Earthshakers under the artistic Direction of Yasmina Ramzy, she also occasionally performs solo and teaches. 2014 Deborah merged her love of Theatre and Dance into Raqs Macabre (Dance Macabre) to showcase a fusion of theatre and Bellydance and has continued in that vein with last year’s Sound of Silence solo and this years Searching. Deborah is also the Backstage co-ordinator and Costumier for the Arabesque Dance Co. productions.

Deborah Shaw

Searching

We are forever searching, looking for fulfillment, happiness, joy, contentment but are we looking in the right places, are we searching in the right direction. What blocks our search, and how can we overcome it.

Deborah Shaw, Toronto, ON, CA

Deborah Shaw began performing at 5yrs old and has barely been off the stage since. Figure skating, tap, ballet and jazz lead to acting and theatre school. After Theatre Humber Deborah worked in many capacities, Actor, Artistic Director, Stage Manager, Costumier, Dresser and Co-Producer/ Co-Writer. She began studying Bellydance with Arabesque Academy in 2005 and now performs with the ensemble, Arabesque Earthshakers under the artistic Direction of Yasmina Ramzy, she also occasionally performs solo and teaches. 2014 Deborah merged her love of Theatre and Dance into Raqs Macabre (Dance Macabre) to showcase a fusion of theatre and Bellydance and has continued in that vein with last year’s Sound of Silence solo and this years Searching. Deborah is also the Backstage co-ordinator and Costumier for the Arabesque Dance Co. productions.


Schedule (Subject to Change)

Friday, May 5, 2017.

Saturday, May 6, 2017.

Sunday, May 7, 2017.

Exciting creative experiences with Arab musicians

Wickedly Wild Wrap Party

Schedule subject to change

Venue

235 Queens Quay West

Studio Theatre & Lakeside Terrace, York Quay, Harbourfront Centre,

Downtown Toronto, Canada

Harbourfront Centre

Hotel Accommodations

Westin Harbour Castle Hotel

Harbour Castle Hotel, almost next door, on the lake

$169/night for single & double rooms, $30 per extra person up to 4 ppl total

Phone 1-888-627-8559 reserve under group booking code BE01AA

Special rate available until April 6, 2017.

Collaborative Works

Collaborative Works are creative partnerships that are rich in learning opportunities, opening infinite new possibilities for the participants. This is the most exciting performance contribution to the festival and expresses what the festival is all about. Choreographers partner with soloists and/or ensembles they have not worked with before.

Maximum 10 minutes in length which can include an explanation of the collaborative creative process, performance of the new work and a Q&A in whatever order or format the collaborating artists wish.

Role of Choreographer

Role of Performing Artist(s)

Roles of both collaborating Artists

More guidelines and suggestions will be offered to help with the collaborative process. As well, members can exchange solutions and ideas through the Facebook group page.

Choosing Collaborative Partners

Artists can choose who they would like to collaborate with in the Prearranged Partnership category. If wishing to be part of some genuiunely exciting work, artists can chose to enter the Partnership Lottery and be randomly paired up. This lottery will be held January 22, 2017.

Collaborative Work Pre-Arranged Partnership = CWPP (for solos or ensembles)

If a random partnership is found to be problematic, all effort will be made to make new partnerships.

4 categories for Collaborative Works Random Partnership Lottery

(you may choose up to two):

2016 Collaborative Works — Ensembles, Pre-Arranged Partnerships, and Solos.

Explorative Works

Explorative Works are for soloists and/or ensembles who wish to create a new piece that allows the artists involved to step into new territory or present their current style in a new way or with a new emphasis. In other words, creating new work that allows audiences to see the artist(s) in a new light.

Maximum 5 minutes in length.

Explorative Works - Soloist = EW-S

Exporative Works - Ensemble = EW-E

Deadline for submissions is January 17, 2017

Lottery to choose who will perform is January 22, 2017.

2016 Explorative Works — Ensembles, and Solos.

Blossom Talks 2017

Shira: Cultural Appropriation Part 2

George Sawa: Recreating the Soul of Bellydance of the Golden Era

Andrea Deagon: The Intriguing Mrs King: How Samia Gamal Brought Belly Dance to North America.

Yasmina Ramzy: Blossom Mission & Movement

Surprise Blossom Talk - TBA

2016 Blossom Talks.

Panel Discussions 2017

Creating & Connecting Communities

"Bellydance" In Our Own Image; Terms, Trends, Identification

Sexploitation & Sexpections

When Art & Bellydance Collide

Hot Topics

2016 Panel Discussions.

Submissions - due date is past

Selections have been made

Accepting submissions by January 17, 2017. One submission per person per category. Please make each submission in separate email - in the subject line put the the letter code attributed to Performance submissions - to bellydanceblossom@gmail.com

Eligibiliy:

Performance/Choreography = minimum of 4 years or 20 performances/creations.

Speakers for Blossom Talks = minimum of 4 years speaking or teaching experience.

If questionable, eligibility will be decided by a panel of peers (to be named)

All eligible Performance submissions will be put into a lottery and picked until the number of performance slots are full. Any that are not chosen will be on waiting list to take the place of any cancellations. Lottery is held January 22, 2017.

Collaborative Works - Random Partnership Lottery

= CWRP-CS or CWRP-CE or CWRP-PS or CCWRP-CE

- Enter any two of the categories in separate submissions. If you are new to the festival, please include a one paragraph biography, your C.V. and a Youtube clip of your work in the category you are submitting for. Lottery results are January 22, 2017.

Collaborative Works - Prearranged Partnership = CWPP

- Propose a collaboration of any combination of artists that will create a piece together (multi-media and multi-disciplinary arts are welcome). Please describe visualized outcome and name the participating parties and their roles. If the key collaborative artists are new to the festival, please include a one paragraph biography, C.V. and Youtube clip demonstrating their previous work.

Explorative Works = EW-E or EW-S

- Please describe in one paragraph how you are venturing into new creative expression with the work you are submitting. If you are new to the festival, please include a one paragraph biography, C.V. and a youtube clip of your previous work.

Blossom Talks - 13 minutes - visual aids are optional

- Please submit the title of your talk and a one paragraph description. If you are new to the festival, please include a one paragraph biography and your C.V. Blossom Talks are curated this year.

Panel Discussions

- Suggest an interesting and/or controversial topic for discussion that you would like to participate in and /or suggest other artists/academics you would like to see on this Panel.

Submitting

Accepting submissions by January 17, 2017. One submission per person per category. Please make each submission in separate email - in the subject line put the the letter code attributed to Performance submissions - to bellydanceblossom@gmail.com

In order to submit, you do not need to have registered for the festival. However, in order to participate, you need to register by March 1, 2017..

See registration discounts for members of ensembles who are making a submission to perform whether ending up on stage or not.

REGISTER

Honorarium

Registration

Be a part of 32+ hours of ground breaking creative adventures over 3 days

REGISTER (Non-refundable but transfers are allowed)

Join the Revelation

You need to be registered in order to participate in Collaborative Works, Explorative Works, Blossom Talks and Panel Discussions by March 1, 2017.

25% off for group members living in Toronto area who are able to sleep in their own bed for the festival - use code HOMEGROUP when checking out online. Note with registration which group you are with and from what city.

50% off for group traveling from far and needing to stay in a hotel, B and B, or billetting for the duration of the festival - use code TRAVELGROUP when checking out online. Note with registration which group you are with and from what city.

Blossum ad group from behind