Ep 68. Matias Hazrum: Creating & Playing Music for Belly Dancers

Matias Hazrum is a world known arabic percussionist, musician, teacher and composer. He was born in Argentina (Buenos Aires), but his origin comes from Syria. Matias is a high level professional not only in playing the drum, but also in playing keyboard and other instruments of arabic percussion such as mashar, daff, rek and others. He worked on stage with such great names in the bellydance world including Saida (Argentina), Amir Thaleb (Argentina), Virginia Mendes (USA), Jillina (USA), Amar Gamal (USA), Sharon Kihara (USA), Yana Tsehotskaya (Ukraine), Anna Borisova (Russia) and many more.

In this interview you will learn about:

  • Dancer & drummer dynamics on stage: who follows whom?

  • How to communicate your dance ideas to a drummer

  • Finishing a drum solo improvisation in sync with a drummer

  • The process of creating individual custom-order songs

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Ep 67. Oreet: Belly Dance as a Fitness Workout

Inspiring and empowering woman all around the world, Oreet has developed her unique certified fitness program SharQui which is a beautiful blend of fitness workout and belly dance! Oreet has 20+ years of experience as a fitness and dance instructor. She has been featured on NBC, ABC, CBS, and CNN to name a few and have the titles Bellydancer of the Year, Jewel of the Nile, Entertainer of the Year and Middle Eastern Dance Champion of North America.

In this interview you will learn about:

  • The role of belly dance in the culture of Israel

  • How Oreet dealt with the constant feeling of not fitting in

  • Where the idea of belly dance fitness workout came from

  • Differences between teaching a regular belly dance and fitness belly dance class

  • How belly dance can serve as a cardio and strength workout

  • The reaction of belly dance community on her fitness project

  • Genius business tips on how to present and promote your dance class

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Ep 66. Aliah & Vladimir Kluchenkov: About Belly Dance Industry & Working as a Couple

What a treat we have on today’s show! Welcome one of the most creative and successful couples in the belly dance industry, Aliah and Vladimir Kluchenkov! They are constantly travelling all around the world with Aliah being a professional bellydance performer, instructor, judge, and costume designer, and Vladimir being a videographer, photographer and graphics specialist. Also, they put together an international annual dance event “Dance Weekend in Warsaw with stars”.

In this interview you will discover:

  • When to buy costumes at festivals, and how to choose the best outfit

  • Tips on stage lights and event logistics for festival organizers

  • The importance of having a professional photo and video portfolio

  • The value of attending belly dance festivals

  • A bunch of funny stories on how Aliah and Vladimir work and travel together as a couple!

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Ep 65. Tips on Creating Choreographies

It’s a MINI episode with Iana!

Have you ever felt frustration trying to create a dance: “Oh, I don’t know what should I do with this music? How to even start putting a choreo together? This is too complicated, too scary, too stressful….”

Well, here are some of the tips I’m sharing in this new podcast episode:

  • Listen to the song as many times as possible. 

  • Find out the translation of the lyrics. 

  • Start with improvising and listening to your body.

  • Understand that your first draft won’t be perfect.

  • Break down the structure of the song before you start. 

  • Study the work of other dancers.

  • Don’t think only about movements. Think about the audience’s attention.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback.

Want more? Listen right now to the new episode! 

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Ep 64. Nathalie Hatab: How to Organize a Belly Dance Festival

Nathalie is known for her grace, fluidity and precision, as well as for her belly dance event, the Annual Miami Bellydance Convention! Nathalie was featured in many music videos and television shows such as Timberland’s Music Video (Indian Flute), R- Kelly’s Music video (Whine for me), MTV music Award 2005, Opening Act for the Cirque du Soleil “KA” in Las Vegas, Fox Sports awards, and many more. She has also performed for many celebrities like Shaquille O’Neil, Gloria Estefan, Emilio Estefan, Jason Taylor, Method man, and Alonzo Mourning. In the summer of 2008 she brought to South Florida the first Miami Bellydance Convention festival held at the Intercontinental Hotel, bringing performers and instructors from all around the world. More than 2,000 people have attended this event during the past 10 years.

In this episode we discuss:

  • How the Miami Bellydance Convention was born.

  • How Nathalie chooses dates for the event, and coordinates it with the busy schedules of invited artists.

  • How much in advance does she start preparations for the event.

  • Struggles of combining motherhood and festival organization.

  • Visa procedures for artists and participants.

  • How to deal with stress.

  • Best advertising for your event.

  • Nathalie’s advise to starting events.

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Ep 63. Veronika Shulkevich: Young Generation of Dancers

Today we talk with Veronika Shulkevich, a young star of the belly dance world scene. At the age of 16 she is already a teacher at Ahlan Wa Sahlan (Egypt) and Cairo Mirage (Russia) festivals, the founder of Dance School VEROSHDANCE, a certified teacher of the League of Bellydance Masters of Russia, International Belly Dance Union, and International Association of Eastern Dance (IAED), as well as winner of multiple competitions including Ahlan Wa Sahlan, Cairo Mirage, Ah Ya Elbi, Yalla Yalla Festival, El Hana Festival, Cup of the World according to IDF, and many other awards.

In this episode we discuss:

  • How Veronika got involved in belly dance world at the age of 5.

  • What are the differences between teaching classes to kids and adults.

  • Her experience at belly dance competitions.

  • Combining active dance training with school.

  • Teaching Skype classes and creating choreographies for other dancers.

Listen HERE

Ep 62. Kamilia: Dreaming of a Big Supportive Community

Originally from Brazil, Kamilia had made a stunning career as a professional performer in Lebanon, Arab Emirates and Egypt. Today she is a teacher, artist’s producer and event organizer with a big dream of creating a supportive and welcoming community of dance professionals. Her passion for belly dance started at the age of 6, and since then that passion brought her to multiple stages across the Middle East and beyond. She was the youngest dancer at LBC TV, and had guidance of master teacher Caracalla, along with other amazing mentors. At some point in her career, Kamilia was performing with an orchestra of 45 musicians, singers and 6 dancers for her show, being featured at the top 5-star hotels in Cairo along with such stars as Lucy, Mona Said, Fifi, Dina, and Hendeya.

In this episode we discuss:

  • How Kamilia got interested in belly dance.

  • The beginning of her performance career in Lebanon.

  • The importance of understanding Arabic soul in dance, and never stop studying.

  • The concept of Arabic musicality, and her methodology of teaching foreign dancers.

  • Main pillars of successful interpretation of the song.

  • Being a producer, and mentoring other dancers on their career path.

  • The story of her stage name.

  • The Ishtar Congress in Abu Dhabi.

Listen HERE

Ep 61. Donna Carlton: Myths and Scandals Around Little Egypt

What do you know about the historical figure of Little Egypt? Be ready to be shocked after listening to this episode, because Donna Carlton shares her extensive research on this topic, and unveils a lot of misinformation circulating on the Internet!

Donna Carlton established the International Dance Discovery in 1987, selling dance accoutrement. She began teaching group classes at Lynda Mitchell Yoga Studio in 1989. She published the “Middle Eastern Dance Video Sourcebook” annually from 1989-2005. In 1995, she published her book “Looking for Little Egypt” about the history and perceptions of Middle Eastern Dance in USA.

In this episode we discuss:

  • How did Donna get involved in the research project about Little Egypt?

  • What was significance of the 1893 Colombian Exposition in Chicago?

  • Scandalous performances of Little Egypt.

  • Was Little Egypt a real person?

  • The origins of Hoochy Kootchy melody.

  • Does Little Egypt have anything to do with original Middle-Eastern dancers?

  • The origins of the term “belly dance” in English language.

  • The influence of Little Egypt on the modern belly dance scene.

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Ep 60. Wael Mansour: About Ballet Training & Music Production

In this episode we are featuring Egyptian master teacher Wael Mansour, who studied Egyptian dance and ballet at the National Academy of Folklore and Theatre, as well as worked with a number of companies, including the Elkawmeia and Hassan Hafifi Group. In this interview we discussed such questions and topics:

  • The importance of ballet training for belly dancers: what to do, what not to do, is there an age limit to start practicing ballet, and more.

  • Different stages of his dance career, and why he left the Balloon theatre in Cairo.

  • The process of music production: from an idea to the CD release.

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Ep 59. Amir Thaleb: Art Needs Discipline & Respect, Not Labels

We have the pleasure to connect today with one of the most significant stars in the modern belly dance scene, Amir Thaleb! Amir is an Argentinian dancer of Syrian descent. Belly dance entered his life around his teenage years, and since then his list of achievements and contributions only keeps growing: receiver of UNESCO recognition, the GIZA Award, the "Ugarit" and "Kalil Gibran" awards, author of the successful book “La Milenaria Danza del Vientre, el lenguaje oculto”, teacher and mentor of numerous famous belly dancers who perform all around the world!

In this interview we discussed such questions and topics:

  • How belly dance entered Amir’s life, and how Nagwa Foaad became his first teacher without even knowing it.

  • His teaching approach, and a 6-year belly dance school system that he built in Argentina.

  • What are the must-have skills for professional dancers.

  • Difference in dancers’ mentalities around the world.

  • Amir’s opinion about various ‘styles’ of oriental dance.

  • Performing belly dance with masculine energy on stage.

  • Amir’s recent play that he defines as possibly the most powerful and significant project of his creative career up to this point.

Listen HERE

Ep 58. Best Of: How to Start Performing Solo

In this episode I’m bringing together experiences of three dancers who are active performers at their local dance scenes: Valerick Molinary, Maria Sokolova and myself. :) We are going to share tips and stories on how to start performing solo, what to do for booking your first gig, what to keep in mind while performing at a restaurant or someone’s party, how to collaborate with other dancers in your community, and what kind of mindset and business skills you should develop in order to be successful in this industry. Are you ready for your first paid dance show? Find out by listening to this episode!

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Ep 57. Idil: Misconceptions About Turkish Style & The Concept of Dance Movement Therapy

This interview features Turkish artist Idil Ö Idilsu, who is also a fire-breather, fan of heavy metal and certified dance movement therapist! Are you intrigued already? Then don’t postpone listening to this episode.

You will learn about some common misconceptions regarding Turkish belly dance style, and folklore dances as Çiftetelli and Zeybek. Also, Idil explains the concept of dance movement therapy, and how dance can be used for therapeutic purposes. She uses elements of kinesthetic reaction to emotion in her teaching activities, and releasing memory that is stored in our muscles.

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Ep 56. Daliya: Improve Your Dance Every Day

Get ready to receive a portion of inspiration from fabulous Daliya! She is a professional dancer, choreographer, and teacher born in Tbilisi, Georgia. Her multiple awards include CIS Cup and the Cup of the Black Sea among professionals, the 7-time winner of international bellydance festivals in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Belgorod and Voronezh! Today Daliya is based in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, but travels all around the world with performances and workshops!

In this interview you will have a glimpse into Daliya’s individual training, her inspiration and motivation to constantly improve dance skills. She will also share her tricks on how to gain more energy before practice, and how to inspire and guide students on their own dance journey. If you follow Daliya on social media, you definitely know that this lady is a real fire, and I can’t wait for you to listen to this interview!

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Ep 55. Vanessa of Cairo: Professionalism & Kindness as Keys to Success

This week I have the pleasure to talk with amazing Vanessa of Cairo, who will absolutely blow your mind with her dance experience and wisdom!

Vanessa is an international performing artist, instructor & choreographer whose credits include regularly teaching at the Nile Group Festival in Cairo. Residing in Cairo, she performs in many Five Star hotels including The Four Seasons, The Hyatt, The Marriott, Hilton Dreams, and others. Previously based for six years in Sharm El Sheikh, one of Egypt's most prized ​tourist destinations, Vanessa is believed to be the first and only (American) woman to start a production company in Egypt.

Want to know what is the key of her success and long-lasting career? Dive into this interview right now!

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Ep 54. Margarita Darina: The Role of Costume in Dancer's Look

In this week’s episode I interview one of the most beautiful dancers of Russia, Margarita Darina. She is an internationally known teacher and performer, costume designer, director of MarMar dance school, organizer of the annual festival Marhaba Festival, and one of the teachers at the Nile Group festival in Cairo.

A big chunk of our conversation was dedicated to the topic of costumes: starting from the costume-making process and some tips for beginning designers, to the subject of dancer’s sexiness and the role of costumes in her look. Margarita Darina also shares some cute details about her festival, and what is her individual touch to this event.

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Ep 53. 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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