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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Ep 33. Kristin Raeesi: Do You Realize How Often You See Domari & Romani Dances at Belly Dance Shows?!

This is a truly helpful episode for everyone who aims to fully understand traditions and folklore related to belly dance. I'm so excited to feature Kristin Raeesi, a Romani researcher, activist and performance artist.

We often think about different folklore styles separately: Ghawazee belongs to Egyptian culture, Kawliya to Iraqi. But did you realize that their roots have so much in common? Also, this interview made me rethink my understanding of belly dance, and start questioning how much Indian influence there is in this art form... Wanna know where all those thoughts came from? Listen to this insightful interview with Kristin who takes us on a tour across Romani, Domari and Lom cultures and its influence on belly dance.

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Ep 32. Best of: What Makes Me Fall in Love with Belly Dance - Stars Answering

Have you ever taken a minute to think what exactly makes you fall in love with belly dance? Not when suddenly someone asks you this question, and you need to come up with some answer on spot... But really thought, for yourself?

Listen to answers from our guests! This episode is a compilation of previous interviews, and it's an epic doze of inspiration. You'll hear from Julia Farid, Luna of Cairo, Marta Korzun, Cassandra Fox, Lebanese Simon, Sadie Marquardt, Alex Delora, Meher Malik, Nada El Masriya and Valerick Molinary.

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Ep 31. Jillina Carlano: How Food Can Influence Your Dance

OMG! This is beyond what you ever dreamt to receive as tips and insights into a artist’s life. Jillina Carlano is back on the podcast and this time she is taking us on a tour across her health and nutrition secrets!

How food can benefit your dance? What to eat before and after shows? Is there a healthy way to pump up your energy level during crazy festival times? Discover what Jillina uses in her daily life as an active dancer and producer! Not only that! She is so awesome that after we finished this interview, she suggested to do a special video for you guys, showing what she keeps in her fridge and pantry store. So don't forget to check the links below, and get all amazing content from fabulous Jillina! I can't thank enough to this brilliant, open and super supportive woman!

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Ep 30. Marina Shishkova: Secrets of Winning Competitions

It's our 30th episode!!! And I have with me such a talented and adorable dancer, Marina Shishkova! She is the winner of the Golden Crown "Rana" 2017, Miss Europe 2016, and a long list of other competitions. This girl has 370 medals and 10 crowns under her shimmy belt! Want to know her "secret sauce" of preparing for contests? Then listen to this episode. You'll definitely get charged up by a load of positivity and inspiration just by listening to Marina's voice. Many laughs guaranteed! :)

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Ep 29. Lebanese Simon: Rising Above Obstacles

Lebanese Simon was born and raised in Northern Lebanon. Currently he resided in Houston, but his passion for oriental dance brings him all across the globe.

Simon reveals his story of falling in love with belly dance in the early years of childhood, and the multiple obstacles that he had to face on the path to his dance dreams. We also discuss what it means to be a male belly dancer, and how the voice in your heart can lead to your destiny. Never let anyone stop you from dancing, and never take the freedom to explore dancing for granted.

Simon also shares insights into the work of his Al Awtar Zaffa Group, and what makes it one of the most successful zaffa groups in the USA. Want to know more about Lebanese weddings and different kinds of Dabke? This is an episode for you!

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Ep 28. Nada El Masriya: How Studying Folklore Can Make You a Better Belly Dancer

This week we are mixing belly dance and folklore worlds, and specifically, explaining why they are so closely connected. 

Nada El Masriya, native Egyptian dancer, explains how much folklore influences belly dance, and why you can't be a successful belly dancer if you don't study traditions and culture. Also, get ready to discover what is wrong with the term "modern beledi", and be impressed with Nada's view on how Western artists influence the art of oriental dance. She also shares thoughts on what is the main disconnection between artistic innovations and traditional canons of belly dance, and gives valuable tips on how to achieve that "Egyptian musicality" that many dancers are aiming for.

This and more in the incredibly deep conversation with amazing Nada El Masriya!

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Ep 27. Meher Malik: Fusion, Confusion and Female Objectification

Wow, wow, wow…. This is a discussion that had to happen a long time ago, and I’m very grateful and happy that we got a chance to talk about all those subjects with amazing Meher Malik. She is such an incredible artist who stands up for her beliefs, choices and rights, as well as inspire many women around the globe and particularly in India to follow their truth too.

Meher was discovered by the majority of this world after her successful participation in the popular TV show “India Got Talent”. However, her activities and contributions started far before this career highlight. In the interview she tells about her resistance and later acceptance of fusing Indian and Arabic cultures, and how many similarities can actually be found between the two. We also talk about how Indian society views dancers and what role TV played in Meher’s dance life. She also shares struggles regarding stereotypical attitudes towards dancers, and how she deals with objectification from the male side… We can be victims and just talk about those problems, or we can actually take some real actions about it.

Open, brave, bold and true to herself… I deeply believe that this conversation will be hugely empowering to everyone who listens.

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Ep 26. Orit Maftsir: Fantasy of the Golden Era Belly Dance

Today we are traveling on a time machine to the times of Golden Era Belly Dance!

Orit Maftsir talks about her dance story and the inspiration she got from old Egyptian movies, and how she transported that Golden Era atmosphere to the modern belly dance scene. We also discuss differences in the trading process of belly dancers and ballet dancers, where there is a fine line between copying and finding your own voice, as well as what is so special about Orit’s Eilat festival.

Here are just a few of my favourite quotes from this interview: “The more I was freeing my spirit with the people, the better my body got”. “The dancer is a visual illustration of the music”. “Songs are made as stories”. Enjoy!

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Ep 25. Oscar Flores: I Needed an Opportunity to Live My Dream

This conversation only gets better and better as it unfolds! Oscar Flores is a world-known belly dancer who teaches and performs all around the globe, but I bet you have no idea even about half of the projects this artist is working on.

Here are only some of the topics that we've discussed in this episode:

- His incredible story on how the transition from a successful 10-year career in banking into a new artistic life looked like.

- Oscar's experience with a popular Chinese TV show, and the balance between artist's persona and real life.

- How he manages to direct five dance troupes all across the world, while travelling and developing his solo career.

AND SO MUCH MORE! I can’t wait for you to dig into this episode, and listen to all the wisdom Oscar has to offer you.

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