Celebrating Dance

This weekend I went to Celebrating Dance, a bellydance festival held in Torquay and run by Afra Al Kahira. It’s the first time I’ve been, and I was delighted to be one of the guest teachers. I taught two choreography workshops. The first was to an unusual version of the classic “Inta Omri”, played by the rock band Khalas. I usually prefer to dance to classic versions of Oum Kalsoum’s music (see my videos page!) but this one has such power and drama that I just had to do something with it. Anyway, it’s become a firm favourite of mine and I’m glad to be able to share it with other people. I think the choreography was a bit of a shock to the system for some students in the workshop, but they all tried really hard and got through the whole thing in just two hours. Phew!

On Sunday I was using more conventional music – “Zeina”. I think this song is so beautiful and simple that it would be a shame to dance all over it. Not everything has to go at 100 miles an hour and have 5 different layers at all times! We were able to take our time and really listen to what was happening in the music and think about how that could be reflected in out dancing. For anyone who was in that workshop, here is the video of Samia Gamal dancing to “Zeina”:

Samia Gamal

There was a show on Saturday night featuring the guest teachers: Yasmina, Khalida, Artemisia, Vashti, Emma Pyke, Deborah, Covert Bling, Nikki Livermore, Sara Shrapnell and me! I was slightly disconcerted by the number of vampires in the audience 🙂 but they were all very enthusiastic. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the show.

One of the lovely things about the festival was the fact that everything took place in the same venue, you were never more than 5 minutes away from anything. The hotel is part of a sprawling leisure complex with an old-fasioned air of English Riviera grandeur, very close to the sea – not that there was any time for playing on the beach (although I did sneak in a few lengths of the pool inbetween workshops)! Here’s a photo of the room where Yasmina taught some workshops:

The Arlington room

There was really nice food available, served in time to allow us all to get to the evening events. I’ve never been to a bellydance festival where you can have a three course meal with wine before the show! I could get used to this…. if only Torquay wasn’t so far from where I live!


This was Candi’s farewell performance at Jewel of Yorkshire, a 10 minute vision in pink. It was magnificent! Settle yourself down and enjoy:


Candi took her inspiration from the Argentinian dancer Asmahan, who no longer works in Cairo. Asmahan was famous fo her grand entrances, coming on dressed as a giant flower or the goddess Isis, or being carried on in a shell or a heart-shaped box! I think every dance teacher who was in the audience that night now wants to dance their own epic piece. Noone is going to allow me 10 minutes of stage time (yet!) so I’m planning something for my students instead. You’ll have to come back next term to find out what it is…

Arabian Dance Theatre

This year’s Arabian Dance Theatre Show, “Unity in Diversity”, takes you on a dance journey across the Arab world with dances from Morocco, Tunisia, Yemen and many other countries (and Egypt of course!). I went to the opening night last night and thoroughly recommend going to see it, it’s a high quality show from an excellent cast of dancers. A lot of the dance styles are ones you don’t often see at the average hafla or festival show, hopefully this will spark some interest amongst the dance community. I know I’m very keen to learn some debke now!

The show is on in London tonight, and in Bristol on 16th October.


Edit: it looks like the London show has now sold out!