Ep 5e. Erhan Ay: Your Energy is Everything!

Who wants to know more about the Turkish belly dance scene? This episode is for you! Listen to my conversation with Erhan Ay about his dance career, the modern dance situation in Istanbul, and some insights into his creative approach!

Erhan Ay is a professional male belly dancer based in Istanbul. Since he was a child , dancing and acting were his biggest interests. He graduated from Contemporary and Modern Dance at Istanbul Yıldız Technical University, and worked as a teacher in many dance schools, including the famous Burçin Orhon Dance School. Since 2012 he has been performing as a solo belly dancer and choreographer at Hodjapasha Arts and Cultural Center.

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Ep 52. Julia Farid: About Artistic Fulfillment, Individual Style and Teacher-Student Relationships

Julia Farid joins me on today’s show! Julia is an internationally travelling teacher and performer, director of a dance school and costume atelier, as well as an event organizer. Also, she is a dear friend and a huge source of inspiration for me!

This is already the second time she is featured on the podcast, and in this episode she talks honestly about her artistic path, frustrations and some disappointments she faced recently, and how it pushed her to seek further development to regain joy and fulfillment in dance. Also, a big part of our conversation was dedicated to teaching activities, and specifically how to maintain healthy and professional relationships with students. Hope you’ll enjoy it!

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Ep 51. Tamalyn Dallal: Following Her Heart & Destroying "Us Vs Them" Stereotypes

I had already relistened to this conversation several times! Wow! Please welcome a treasure of wisdom and experiences, Tamalyn Dallal!

She has done nearly everything in her 42-year Middle Eastern dance career: from performing for stars such as Sean Connery, Michael Jackson and James Brown, the president of El Salvador, Saudi Arabian princes, and the King of Jordan (to name a few), to mentoring dancers such as Amar Gamal, Bozenka, Virginia and others. Crowned Miss America of the Bellydance (1995), Tamalyn has performed and taught in 44 countries. She was one of the original Bellydance Superstars, has written three books, produced two music CDs of Africa's oldest band, the Ikhwan Safaa Musical Club of Zanzibar, and dance documentaries, including Zanzibar Dance, Trance and Devotion (2011), and Ethiopia Dances for Joy (2013).

In this interview we discussed such important topics as the authenticity of belly dance and its historical roots, 21st century division between West and East (us & them), Tamalyn’s travel adventures, and music experiments with Zanzibar Orchestra, as well as current trends of judging and criticizing each other within the belly dance community. I hope this conversation will encourage you to think deeper on certain subjects, and always seek your own opinion instead of blindly following the mass.

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Ep 50. Best Of: Belly Dance on Television

Wow! This is our 50th episode! Can you believe it?

In today’s episode I decided to highlight the very important topic of belly dance representation on television. TV is one of the most powerful tools to spread awareness and get people involved in learning belly dance, but on the other hand, it’s a tricky medium that often spreads misinterpretations, and may even harm the prestige of the art form.

I put together a compilation of interviews in which we touched the topic of belly dance on TV. You’ll hear the founders of Orientalisimo, as well as stories of dancers who did performances on popular TV channels: Meher Malik, Alla Kushnir, and Brenda. Hearing all these stories and opinions back to back provides a very interesting prospective on the subject!

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Ep 49. Zaina Brown: Travelling On Her Own Across the Middle East And Beyond

In this episode I’m happy to feature the work of a member of our belly dance community Zaina Brown, who recently released her book "Fire in the Belly: A Memoir of Falafel, Flings, and Shiny Things". Zaina is a professional bellydancer, relentless traveler, writer, and filmmaker. Her documentary “Traveling Bellydancer In India” (2015) is the winner of the Canadian Accolade Award, and has screened at a number of film festivals in the US.

In this interview we talked about her extensive experience working as a solo dancer in the Middle East, North Africa and beyond, finding a solution to her dance depression state, as well as an overview of geographically and culturally different dance worlds. She also gave valuable tips on how to find contracts if you are new to the scene, and how to find out if internet inquires are really legit offers. Enjoy the episode, and use the advantage of learning from someone else’s experience!

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Ep 48. Soumaya MaRose: Dance in Everyday Life of Moroccan Diaspora Community

What a mind-blowing conversation! Today I’m joined by Soumaya MaRose, born and raised as a Moroccan woman in Belgium.

She talks about her upbringing and experiencing dance in daily life of her community. We discuss the issues around shikhat dancing, and common mistakes belly dancers make on stage that actually can be seen as very vulgar behavior. Also, Soumaya shares invaluable insights into her experience within the festival world, and how she was received there as a native dancer participating in competitions. You also will hear the cutest story about how Mona El Said became her dance teachers without even knowing it, lol!

This interview will certainly bring you a range of emotions: from fun laughs to sad and deep realizations.

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Ep 47. Sandra: Rules Of Improvisation

What can be better than starting a new year with a portion of belly dance inspiration? Especially if we are talking to such an amazing artist and teacher as Sandra!  I have discovered her work several years ago by attending one of her workshops on improvisation and musicality rules. If you’ve never heard about Sandra before, I’m excited to be the one who introduces her to you.

Born in Tunisia, Sandra grew up surrounded by oriental music. Her father animated the most famous oriental nights in Paris in his cabaret, and produced one of the greatest Egyptian orchestras in the 70’s, called “Abdel Aziz Mahmour”. Her mother was a singer/interpreter of Oum Kalsoum songs. Sandra is choreographer, Master of Dance, certified professor and a member of International Dance Council UNESCO. In 1986, she created the “Sandra’s Method”, a teaching methodology based on a codification and a classification of repertories. She is often referred to as a "Queen of Tarab", and in this episode she shares her opinion on current music and dance trends.

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Ep 46. Mercedes Nieto: What Does It Take To Be a Touring Artist?

We are continuing our conversation with Mercedes Nieto from last week. In this part of the interview Mercedes shares the reality of touring life, how she manages to recover in between trips, and what she learned as a result of such lifestyle. We also talk a lot of festival organization, the meaning and benefits of such events for different dance goals, and the overlap between artistic and business interests. I’m sure this conversation will be interesting for anyone, but it will be especially useful if you are dreaming about a travelling career, or thinking about putting together an event.

Also, as I promised there is a special announcement about my new project, so don’t postpone listening to this episode.

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Ep 45. Mercedes Nieto: Social Media Traps

Can you build a dancer career entirely via social media? Would belly dance festivals disappear in the future? How does social media influence dancers and the field in general? We discussed this and much more in today’s episode with the truly magnificent Mercedes Nieto!

Mercedes has been dancing and deepening her knowledge of Oriental Dance since 1997. During her dance journey she won multiple awards both as a soloist and with her troupe. Today she is one of the most requested teachers internationally travelling, as well as the organizer of the prestigious Cairo!Budapest Festival in Hungary.

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Ep 44. Best Of: Everything About Dance Contracts

During the last months I have received a surprising number of messages inquiring about tips on getting dance contracts in the Middle East. I guess people have already started planning their New Year resolutions and cardinal career changes for 2019, lol! So I decided that it’s a good time to put together one more of Best Of episode highlighting artists who talked about dance contracts in previous interviews.

This episode features Kateryna Siham, an active dancer and vlogger in different Arab counties, Amar Lammar, with her 12-year career performing daily in the Middle East, and Brenda, where she compares the experience of working in Egypt and other countries. Hope you’ll enjoy it!

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Ep 43. Igor Kischka: Always Be True To Yourself!

This interview will definitely challenge your perception of belly dance as well as stage world in general. Please welcome extremely talented and mind-blowing Igor Kischka!

I hope that after listening to this conversation you’ll feel empowered and unique! We all have our specialness and the only way to find your own artistic voice is always to be true to yourself, always do your best, and always to learn and expand your knowledge. Igor who is extremely successful, yet very humble artist, shares his dance story of how belly dance entered his life, how he managed to communicate his passion to his family, and how he doesn’t let anyone’s opinions and stereotypes to stop him from enjoying the essence of dance. Never let the surrounding «noise» to sound louder than the dums and taks in your heart! 

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Ep 42. ASKianaDANCE: How to Promote Your Local Solo Gigs

This mini-episode is a part of ASKianaDANCE show where I answer your dance questions! Specifically in this part I’ve separated two related questions: tips on how to start promoting yourself as a solo performer, and how to start performing in restaurants. Hope you’ll enjoy it!

Have a question about dance? Ask anything you want to know, and Iana will answer in her new ASKianaDANCE show! There are already two videos released, and you can find all featured questions and Iana’s answers at www.ianadance.com/ask, as well as submit your own question there. :)

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Ep 41. Maria Sokolova: From Accounting to a Belly Dance Career!

She was seconds away from having a completely different lifestyle. And by seconds, I literally mean seconds. She felt frustrated in the beginning of her training to the point that she wasn’t even sure if she had the necessary muscles to perform belly dance movements. She was hesitant if her belly dance career would have any development since she got pregnant right at the time when everything just started working out for her. And yet, here she is: super successful full-time belly dancer Maria Sokolova, an award-winning professional artist based in California, a teacher, performer, and director of her student troupe ALMAZ.

Incredible story from an incredible woman, that at the same time would sound so familiar to you! I’m sure you’ll be able to recognize yourself in many aspects of this talk. Listen, share and keep dancing! :) 

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Ep 40. Alla Kushnir: Not Only Luck Makes You Number 1

How can you build a successful belly dance career? Alla Kushnir, internationally acclaimed dancer, winner of “Al Rakesa” TV-show, finalist of “Ukraine gots Talent” and Lebanese World Championship “Hezzi Ya Nawaim” among many other competitions, proves that just luck is not enough. You need to be ready for when that lucky ticket arrives, and this can be achieved only through every day work and true dedication to dance.

In this interview we talked about different stages of Alla's career, how every project and competition changed her life and pushed her forward, as well as her current lifestyle in Egypt with an average of 25 shows per week in high seasons! Want to know about all these? Dive into the episode right now!

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Ep 39. Sadie Marquardt: Reclaiming Feminine Power

Wow! This is such a breathtaking in-depth conversation that I believe it should be included in all belly dance curricula to listen to! Sadie shares her view on a holistic balanced lifestyle, and what role belly dance plays as a spiritual practice. She also talks about how to stay true to yourself and your dance, even when it becomes your profession, as well as fascinating qualities of this dance form that helps to heal and reconnect to your feminine energy.

We also had an mind-blowing discussion about whether belly dance is actually related to any ancient sacred dances, and Sadie shared amazing insights into her own research in this topic, giving references to her mentors and literature resources. Honestly, it’s one of those treasure conversations that I wish we could continue for hours and hours. An absolute must-listen!

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Ep 38. Samantha Burnstein: Can Folklore Be Authentic on Stage?

Today I’m joined by beautiful artist Samantha Burnstein who specializes in the folklore dances of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and some other North-African and Middle-Eastern countries. We had a fascinating talk about the essence of folklore, different levels of “staginess”, and the huge disconnect between two worlds: belly dancers who love folklore as an addition to their main focus of oriental dance, and actual communities for whom those folklore styles are part of their cultures. Many interesting points to challenge your mind!

Samantha also gave valuable tips on how to think critically and analyze any information, instead of blindly following teacher’s words or the Internet “experts”.

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Ep 37. Alida Lin: How to Control Your Music As a Dancer

Wanna stop being afraid of dance improvisation? This might be the interview you have been waiting for! Our guest Alida Lin gives valuable insights and tips on how to “control” your music when dancing to a recorded CD, how to communicate with a drummer during drum solo improv, and how to translate music through different parts of your body.

We also discussed the belly dance situation in Taiwan, and nuances of festival organization there.

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Ep 36. Alla Vatc: On a Journey Between Borders, Cultures, and Different Dance Styles

I truly admire today’s guest, Alla Vatc who after 7 years of training and teaching had decided to start learning belly dance again from scratch, who shaped herself as a true professional artist, and showed that everything is possible if you work hard enough.

Discover about her dance journey and how she is able to run a successful international festival in China while based in Russia, as well as managing her dance travels all around the world. Also, we had an interesting discussion regarding the influence of other dance styles on belly dance training, and Alla shared her stories of unpleasant “failures”, and how she overcame them.

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Ep 35. Olga Aida: In the World of Costume Design

Do I need to tell how excited I am to release this interview? I believe you are excited just the same way to listen to it, and your eyes spark just by mentioning the name of Olga Aida, one of the brightest costume designers in the belly dance scene today!

In this interview we talked about how Olga Aida got involved into costume design for dancers, how her creative process looks like, and her secrets of producing top-quality and comfortable outfits for dancers, as well as keeping high standards of professional costumes. Want to know more? Dig into this episode!

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Ep 34. Brenda: Building Dance Career in Cairo Without a Manager

Want to know if it's possible to be a successful belly dancer in Egypt but without a manager? Find out how Brenda combines a busy artistic life with being her own boss and managing a whole team of people around her dance activities. This is quite a different way of navigating Cairo business from what we've heard previously on the podcast!

Also, Brenda shares her experience of being a participant of Al Rakesa (The Belly Dancer) show, and how simply following Dina's posts on social media changed her life completely.

This is one more of those hardcore episodes that highlights both sides of "glamorous" belly dance career. Be ready to be shocked, but I promise you a happy ending. :)

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