Ep 75. George Sawa: Digging Deep Into the History of Egyptian Music

Historian and musician Dr. George Sawa is the author of multiple books. He has published over 50 articles on Arabic music in journals and encyclopedias, and is frequently invited to give lectures and concerts worldwide. In 2005, he received the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from the Egyptian Ministry of Culture for his research in Arabic music history. His CD, The Art of the Early Egyptian Qanun, Vol. 1, 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, having been translated to multiple languages.

In this interview you will learn about:

  • Similarities and differences between Western and Arabic music in 10th century and now,

  • Different meanings of the term "tarab",

  • Why popular interpretation of muwashahat dance is wrong from a historical point of view,

  • What is maqam,

  • How to interpret and dance to different instruments in songs.

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Ep 74. Hassan Khalil: The Roots of Oriental Dance

Prof. Dr. Hassan Khalil lived in the time of the great oriental dancers like Naima Akeef, Samia Gamal, Tahiya Karioka, and even lived in the same neighbourhood with some of them. Later he also worked with Nagua Fuad and Suheir Zaki and many other famous dancers. He is a master teacher and choreographer for many of the most well known Oriental dancers all over the world. Khalil was the director of the Balloon Theatre, the general director of the Oum Kalsoum Theatre in Cairo, as well the general supervisor for folklore in the Ministry of Culture in Egypt. He is also the founder of the famous folk dance group, the National Ensemble of Egypt.

In this interview you will learn about:

  • The nature and roots of dance itself,

  • Differences between Pharaonic and folklore dances of Egypt,

  • Influence of the Turkish Ottoman harems in oriental dance,

  • Behind-the-scene stories of the Golden Era period,

  • How the ancient history of this dance influence current belly dance trends

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Ep 72. Mario Kirlis: I Believe In The Freedom of Art

Mario Kirlis is an Argentinian musician and composer that is known for his extensive work in Arabic Music. He has been a mentor for a number of South American musician and belly dancers to approach the Middle Eastern art, and he has inspired artists all across the world.

In this interview you will learn about:

  • Mario Kirlis’s most memorable music-dance collaboration

  • The story of creating “modern baladi'“, also known as “Mario Kirlis baladi”

  • Most common mistakes dancers do in music interpretation

  • Logistics of directing a music orchestra

  • Why Arabic musicians never play a song the same way twice

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Ep 70. Gigi Dilsah: What Does It Take to Be a Belly Dancer in Turkey

Gigi Dilsah is a passionate dancer and teacher. She began her dance training early in ballet. As she grew up in a conservative family in Istanbul, she also spent a lot of time in the USA where she found freedom and opportunities to explore belly dance. In Istanbul she's known as Dilsah, and in the U.S. she's known as Gigi. Now, combining two names along with extensive training, she shares her knowledge of this dance form via private classes in Istanbul, as well as touring across the USA.

In this interview you will learn about:

  • Belly dance as a part of daily Turkish life

  • Common stereotypes about belly dance in Turkey

  • The role Romani dance plays in the typical Turkish belly dance program

  • Proper costume for Turkish Romani dance

  • Artistic limitations of having a stage name

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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 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.

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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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